Thursday, May 29, 2008

0 Back-to-Back Runs......


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Today, I ran for the second day in a row. I normally don't do back-to-back runs, but my schedule this week has been such that I felt I had to run the second run while I still had the time to do so. And truthfully, since I still haven't switched over yet to doing early morning runs (OK, let's not even start with the subject of me just not being a morning person in general!), it was one of the few times I could squeeze in an evening run. ;-)

The run began at 7:59 pm. I did 4 laps around the lake (or 2.96 miles) in 36:12, or an 12:13:47 minute mile pace. I'm not surprised at the doggedly slow pace, as I was fairly tired from running the day before. ;-) But no excuses; it is what it is.

Not really feeling like writing that much more, so that's it for tonight's post. Just think, your eyeballs will barely tire from reading this infinitesimally small entry. ;-)

Later,
-C

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

0 A Walk & Then A Run


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Today, I went for a walk with a friend around 5:45 pm or so, (i.e., we did 3 laps around the lake), hung out & chatted with her at a cafe for a while, then saw her off, & returned to lake at 8:02 pm to go for a run. I ran 4 laps around the lake (2.96 miles) in 33:18, or a pace of 11:25 minutes-per-mile.

And now for a brief report of that run: It was a rather windy 70 degrees today, & as I walked back to the lake to begin my run, I noticed that it felt a tad bit chilly in the shade (especially in comparison to the much warmer weather we'd been having as of late!). Of course, after warming up, the temperature felt just perfect, but the slight chill in the air was definitely a bit of incentive to begin running as soon as possible!

Today's run was definitely a challenge. It was one of those runs where I just had to muscle the last lap to finish it out. I ran the first two laps at a good clip, the third one a bit slower, & the last lap at a pace which probably matched the first or second lap.

Usually, I tend to run at a very even pace, but today I ran at varying paces throughout the run. This was due to the fact that I let a bit of the competitive fire in me take hold in the first two laps & the final lap. Also running around the lake were three ladies & a trim, grey-haired gentleman. They all kept a much faster pace than me, & I managed to keep pace with some of them for a time, but then didn't feel so badly about dropping back upon noticing that they hadn't done nearly as many laps as me! ;-)

My stamina was decent, but somehow I just felt like it was much harder to keep up my usual level of energy & speed. Part of it is that I haven't been running as regularly, so my decreased performance really shouldn't be all that surprising!

It's been 3 weeks into the new job, & so far over those past 3 weeks, I've only run at the rate of one run per week, which simply just isn't cutting it. Of course, even though one run a week is better than none, it's still not enough to gain sufficient fitness & health benefits. And frankly, it's not even enough to maintain fitness! ;-)

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So why have I only run once a week over the past 3 weeks? The simple answer is that I'm in an adjustment period with my new job & frankly, my feet ache a lot from having to stand on them for several consecutive hours without any reprieve -- I'm constantly moving throughout the day & rarely, if ever, sit down while I'm at work.

There have been some days in which my feet hurt so much after work that I've just had zero desire to get off the couch after coming home. It's not simply that the couch is a vortex that sucks the motivation out of me, but rather that it's the perfect sweet relief for my tired body & aching feet! Once I'm off my sore feet, the desire to get back on them wanes significantly! ;-)

During the first two weeks after work, I asked for & thankfully received a few foot rubs from Erik just to make it bearable enough to put my feet back on the floor again & walk around barefoot at home!

Now I'm really not a wuss, but if you've ever started a job in which you weren't used to moving around all day & being on your feet for long periods of time without a break, it does take your feet & the rest of your body a while to get used to it!

Contrast that to the past year or two, in which I was fairly sedentary throughout the day, & really only moved around during my regular evening workouts! Truth be told, I actually prefer being active on the job, as I get antsy if I have to just sit around all day at a desk! (When I used to work as an IT systems administrator, I also moved around a lot & of course lifted/moved computer equipment around a lot too. If you can't tell, I'm not one for sitting still very long. ;-) ) However, the pace of my new job & work environment still does take some getting used to, as it's much faster than any of my previous work environments.

The other challenge is my new schedule: The hours of my work schedule are different every day, which has thrown a wrench into my usual running routine, & the adjustment has been "interesting," to say the least. ;-) Sometimes I'll get home from work at 11:45 pm & then have to be up at 6:30 or 7 am for work the next day. Again, I know I'll get used to it after a while, but for now, the net effect is that I've been extremely exhausted. Sometimes I end up falling asleep on the couch as early as 10 pm, which never used to happen before! (If left to my own devices, I'd typically be a night owl; so 10 pm seems rather early to me! ;-) )

Combine all of the above factors, & you've got a recipe for fatigue. ;-) Of course, I know that I'll get used to all of these changes after a while, & that the physical effects are (most likely/hopefully!) short-term.

Of course, the good thing is that the constant motion & standing will only help to build stamina for my distance training & eventual marathon training sessions. And likewise, I'm hoping that the running will help to significantly boost my energy & stamina for an active work & personal life. I'm going to come out of this experience stronger either way.

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Moving ahead: In order to make it all work, I'm going to have to be more flexible in scheduling my runs (no more regular Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday/Sunday PM-only workouts) & find a way to squeeze them in around my new schedule. My runs will also need to be at differing hours of the day -- in the morning as well as in the evening.

Also, I'm also going to have to run when I'm tired & don't really feel like it, even after a hard day's work & lots of moving around. That means finding the physical & mental strength to get past the initial fatigue of this "adjustment period" & likewise make more of an effort. I need to still find a way to work out three times a week no matter what (barring any physical/health impediments). It's probably going to be a gradual process of figuring out what works & what doesn't. ;-) Of course, the hardest part is going to be the mental aspect of getting past the fatigue, but that's also useful experience for marathon training -- The mind has to push the body past the usual limits in order to finish, especially the last few miles. Or that's what I've been told anyhow, & will also be finding out first hand, as soon as a build-up enough of a mileage base to begin marathon-training . ;-)

G'Night,
-C

2 Please Refresh Your Feed Readers


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Hello Everyone,
If you are subscribing through an RSS feed, please refresh your feed readers, so you'll get the new content. I've made some changes to existing blog posts which probably won't show up until you refresh your feedreaders.
Thanks!
-C

Saturday, May 24, 2008

1 Dear Corey......


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A reader recently wrote me an email asking what I specifically did to lose the weight, eat healthfully, & reach my goals. I thought other people find my answer useful, so I've decided to share my general advice here, of course removing any personal references & information to protect the reader's privacy/anonymity:

I think that the biggest challenge for most people is not the physical aspect of doing the activity (i.e., exercise) itself, but is rather the challenge of maintaining the motivation & mental stamina to keep going. Simply put, the reason why I'm still motivated to keep running for months (& years) into the activity has as much to do with my attitude & the way I view running as an activity (i.e., my reasons for why I run, its place as a top priority in my life, & my strong attachment to the sport as something than more than just exercise, etc.), as the importance of formulating/starting with a good, solid blueprint for one's fitness & nutrition goals, & developing strategies to deal with the "emotional"/behavioral aspects of the training & weight-loss processes.

The best way to learn more about this (without me having to write a long, detailed explanation ;-) ) is to start at the beginning of my running blog (http://seecoreyrun.blogspot.com/2007/07/welcome-friends-family-visitors.html) & work your way forward. There you'll find not only details about the actual exercise & nutrition plans I used to lose weight & get into shape (i.e., this info can be accessed by going to the "goals" & "tips" categories in the "Looking for Something?" section on the right sidebar of the blog), but also a lot of useful information addressing the mental aspects of the sport & the training process, (& other surrounding issues, like the challenges of maintaining a healthy, balanced perspective on weight management & body image, etc.).

In order to be successful in the long-term, it's really important to plan out not just the physical steps for getting into shape & losing weight, but also develop coping strategies & guidelines to help you through the emotional challenges as well. I've found that it's really important to be gentle with yourself & also to be fluid in your approach to your goals. Your goals & plans are an ever-changing work-in-progress, & so, will be better used as a general roadmap versus a set of hard-&-fast rules for change.


I certainly understand the challenges of striving to balance a busy schedule with fitness imperatives. It's not just about finding life balance like it's some Zen discovery mission. ;-) It's also about nuts & bolts type of stuff: Setting quantifiable, realistic expectations & goals for oneself, time & stress management, performance metrics & accountability, & about finding & reinforcing one's priorities. It's less about trying to being perfect & more about trying to make progress. I think the key is focusing on what you can change & what IS working for you versus focusing on what you can't change or ISN'T working for you. I know this might seem glib or simplistic, but at the same time, this approach really DOES work.

Regarding the use of external motivators to jumpstart your fitness program: Having used the same tactic myself & looking back upon the experience, I would definitely say that this is only the tip of the "motivation iceberg." There's nothing wrong with doing this, as it'll certainly start you off on your path to fitness, but that in order to stay motivated long-term, you'll need to find deeper reasons to run. For most of us, that self-discovery is not something that happens instantaneously; it's a long-term process, & will most likely happen naturally as you run. As I trained, I rediscovered the runner in me, and it was no longer just about fitness (or weight loss), but became something more.

That's one of the fantastic things about running -- It totally changed my attitude. Now, I'm not saying that I'm suddenly perfect, because you'll see a lot of grouchy posts & missed runs in there too!, but rather, it's that I didn't let the grouchiness & low moments stop me; I learned how to become bigger than the emotions, & not let them waylay or distract me -- I still felt & expressed the emotions, but instead of getting bogged down by them or letting them get the best of me, I gave them voice & then just let them pass over me. (Bad moods are like inclement weather; just wait a while & they'll pass!) Basically, I was determined not to let a little crankiness get in the way of running. ;-)

My biggest & profoundest piece of advice I can offer is to focus on what you have going for you & what you CAN do, because THAT will motivate you to get out the door, & carry you through your training.

It's also really important for you to be honest with yourself about how you think & feel as you move through the training/running process. Having a outlet (i.e., a personal journal or blog!) for this expression can be highly useful towards this end. It'll be easier to hear those internal voices when they are brought to the fore, & once you're conscious of them, you can evaluate their usefulness, & use the exercise as a tool to determine your priorities & further shape your own outlook.

As you've probably already gathered, I likewise talk very honestly about my own personal experiences & challenges on my blog -- I write as my imperfect self, & how I am in the moment, & not about what I wish I was. I try to take it day by day, and step by step. I write about long-term & short-term goals, but find it most useful to focus on the goals of the near & immediate future (i.e., tomorrow or next week, as opposed to 5 years down the road). I find that this particular approach helps me stay focused on the "doing" & "being" part of running, versus getting stuck in the "reflection" & "analysis" parts of the equation. ;-) All parts are important, but the blog helps me table the "reflection" part, & keep it in perspective with the other parts of the process.

You might likewise find it helpful to chronicle your own journey back to becoming a runner, either in a blog or a written diary/journal of your own.

Friday, May 23, 2008

0 Run, Run, Run!


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At 8:19 pm tonight, I ran 4 laps (2.96 miles) in 33:28, or an 11:18 minute-per-mile pace in approximately 66-70 degree weather. At the time I was running, it felt like I was running really fast -- in fact, much faster than my last run -- but apparently it was all in my head! ;-) I've learned from experience that sometimes running at night in a cool breeze can be deceptive. Even when I've felt like I've had a really fast, strong run, I'm often surprised when I check my iPod stopwatch afterwards! ;-) Even though the large & rather unwieldy crowds of people slowed me down a bit tonight, I still felt like I was really motoring past them when I was able to break free!

At any rate, I was definitely putting in the effort, working my heart & legs & not letting up, even as I was tiring towards the end. Mid-way through lap #3, my energy began to flag a bit & I began to slow down slightly & also think thoughts like "Oh, I'd really like to slow it down, or stop, or just go home & plop down on the couch right about now," but then told myself to ignore that lazy thought & keep going, which is exactly what I did! ;-) Thankfully, at that very moment, a really inspirational song started to play on my Pod with an insane number of beats-per-minute that got me all pumped up again to keep going!

Have you ever had that warm flush of energy just rush into you when you listen to a tune that makes your entire being tingle with excitement?! Now THAT's exactly the feeling I'm talking about here. It's a a spontaneous burst of adrenaline-charged energy, spurred on by inspirational music & then it just suddenly morphs into a runner's high!

I literally leaped out ahead of everyone like a gazelle & just breezed past the crowds like they were moving in slow-motion! I just felt this incredible surge of energy, which seemed to come from out of nowhere, & just couldn't stop myself from propelling myself forward like a super-turbo-charged rocket launcher. It was fantastic! The only other time I slowed slightly was to recover from a side-stitch which set in during the second half of the final lap; however I sped up again after it went away, & had a really strong finish. I guess that was my "badge of honor" for all of that effort. Hahahahaha.

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Some final footnotes: Right now, I'm not really following any running plan or program per se. My friend is out-of-commission due to her knee, & so lately I've been doing my own thing. We stopped the CT5K program right before the Day 3 of Week 5, i.e., before the start of the first 20 consecutive minutes of running, so I figured I could easily just skip ahead to 25 minutes (i.e., Day 3 of Week 6) & then do 30-minute runs for a while.

In essence, I'm basically doing the first part of the BOHR program, running 30+ minutes for three weeks, & then seeing where my fitness level is before deciding upon the next step.

Frankly, I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do when my friend rejoins me for our runs. In addition to her being out of commission due to her knee, we're also facing scheduling challenges, due to the fact that my new job & her existing job don't have similar hours. I don't want to resort to doing double runs again (i.e., a joint run followed by a solo run, or vice versa, etc.), as I think that played a role in burning me out a bit last time. Of course, I'm not about to stop running, but I also don't want to have to backtrack to an earlier stage. I also don't want her to feel pressured to run before she's ready, as neither of us wants to see her incur further injury.

A possible solution could be that we still could meet at the lake twice a week, but would only start out running together for only the first few consecutive minutes & then each do our own separate thing. I know it's not anywhere near as social, but atleast this way, we could do some part of our run together.

Hmmmmm. On the one hand I feel sincerely attached to my friend, enjoy running with her, & of course, want to see her succeed (i.e., before we stopped running together, she was just starting to get that internal spark of motivation to keep running), but on the other hand it's certainly important that I run to the best of my ability, & not hold back my own progress. There has to be a way to join together both priorities somehow as a common goal. Hopefully, we'll find a way to make this work.

I'm hoping she'll agree to the above plan, atleast until she's able to "catch up" to me fitness-wise, in as much as is realistically possible. Of course, I'm not saying that we've got to be at the exact same point in our fitness, but I'm hoping she'll atleast be able to get to the point where she can run 20+ minutes consecutively. Then we atleast have a better shot at making our joint runs work.

The additional kicker is that I don't have nearly as much scheduling flexibility as I once had when I ran my own businesses & did freelance consulting, nor do I have very much leisure time these days -- So it's imperative that every moment count! My time is very tightly managed right now, & it's just something new that I & everyone else who interacts with me will have to accept & get used to at this point. This is not said to be rude or insensitive. It's just a fact of my current existence. That's just the way it is.

This also means that I've also not been able to blog or respond to comments quite as often as I'd like -- In fact, my running blog is one of the few & only blogs to which I've contributed to on a regular basis, as running has been the most essential activities to buoying my existence right now & maintaining a healthy perspective on all of the above-described changes.

On that note, commenters, please don't be discouraged by my lack of responses; I've read all of your comments & certainly appreciate every single one! Thank you most sincerely! I really do enjoy listening to your thoughts.

Hope you have a great night!
-C

2 Weigh-In: I Lost 5 Pounds!


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I'm happy to report that I lost 5 pounds since the last time I weighed myself, which was almost a month ago, on 4/29/08!!!! As you can see, I'm keeping my word about not weighing myself too often. ;-) I forgot to take a BF% measurement this morning (on my scale), but just looking at myself in the mirror, I can tell that this number has definitely gone down as well.

Excepting this past week (i.e., my last run was a week ago!), I have been fairly consistent in my running (i.e., 2-3 times per week) over the last two months or so. Plus, my new job is very active, so that very likely also explains a good bit of the weight loss.

OK, well I've got to run, literally. Will check in later with a running report. See ya!

0 Thank You For Your Generous Contributions!


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I'd just like to express a big thank you to the individuals who've joined with me to generously donate money in support of breast cancer research. Thanks so much for your contributions to this very important cause!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

0 The Susan G. Komen National Race for The Cure -- Please Help Support Breast Cancer Research!


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Many, if not most of us, know someone who's been affected by this deadly disease. By donating even the smallest amount, you'll be helping in the fight to eradicate breast cancer. You have the chance to make a difference in someone else's life -- And this "someone" could very well be someone you know & love -- your wife/partner, sister, mother, or friend! Please join me in my efforts to support The Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure! Your generous gift of $5, $10, $20, $50, or any amount is greatly appreciated! Thanks!


Click Here to Donate

1 Racing For The Cure......


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This is kind of last minute, but I decided to participate in the Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure on June 7, 2008, a 5K race for runners & walkers, to help raise money for breast cancer research in order to find the cure! I just registered for the event early this morning, & have also donated to the cause.

I've run the race before in past years, but this time I'll be joining a corporate team. I was originally hoping to run the race, but since almost everyone else on the team is walking, with the exception of one other person, I'm probably going to walk it, so I can bond with my teammates & get to know them better.

Also, quite honestly, I'm not really ready to race a 5K distance, as I've only run for 25-30 minutes only a few times thus far in the last few weeks! I could obviously run the distance in the physical sense, but it might not feel too great afterwards. ;-)

Frankly, I get really annoyed when people say, "Oh, you can do that, no sweat!" Duh, you idiot, of course I can cover the distance, but that's not the point. People who make these kinds of comments are obviously not runners, & don't understand the first thing about race training. What they don't realize is that you've got to walk before you run, both literally & figuratively speaking! ;-) And also they aren't recognizing that race training & physical conditioning both take time, & if you give a whit about your racing performance, you'll need to be both mentally & physically ready to race. Most prudent runners know that training is cumulative, & that you don't just get up one day without any prior (or sufficient) training & decide to run a race. Atleast not the smart ones anyhow. ;-)

I'm not a wuss, nor am I afraid of racing; I just want to be prepared so I can do my best when it comes time to run a race. But anyhow, enough about this. I'm really looking forward to participating in this upcoming event!

Will any of you also be doing this same race (in two weeks time, on June 7th)? (The Susan G. Komen road-races actually place at different dates & across multiple cities across the country, although the National Race For The Cure takes place in DC on June 7th.)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5 4 Laps Around The Lake (Solo Run)


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My friend's taking the night off from running, which is a very good idea, considering the situation with her knee. We're going to reconvene on Tuesday, to see how her knee's doing, & then just gauge it from there.

So I did a solo run starting at 6:30 pm, starting with a 5-minute warm-up walk & then running 4 laps around the lake (or 2.96 miles), for a total of 32:49 minutes, or an 11:05 minute/mile pace. Since this is only my second time doing 25 minutes or more of running, it's fairly decent for where my fitness is right now, but of course, there's a lot of room for improvement.

I don't have any quantifiable data on the pace I did at the end of last August, when I was at a comparable point in the CT5K program, but it makes me feel good to know that my current pace is much better than my pace a few weeks into the BOHR program that I did last fall.

Which means that my fitness level is much better than it was last year. So yay! ;-)

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A final footnote: This time around I'm very cognizant of my attitude surrounding training metrics. Last time around my big mistake was getting bogged down in my performance statistics, constantly measuring various aspects of my running performance, & it led me down a path (with a rather limited focus!) that I'd rather not go down again. Hence, my statement of months earlier about reluctance to focus too much on metrics. Of course, back then I merely stated that I disliked focusing on training metrics, but didn't really specify the exact reasons why. Well, actually I might've stated some emotional reasons for this stance, but didn't really go into the logical reasons at the time. Now, with a bit of hindsight, I can see that I'd been so very focused on it, to the point where it became counterproductive to my enjoyment and performance! ;-)

So with that little piece of wisdom front & center in my mind, this time I'm determined to set a new focus. I think it's possible to use training metrics in a way in which a person can use them merely as a guideline, & sit back & observe in a nonjudgmental manner. So I'm still going to track my performance, but am also going to occasionally take runs that aren't "on the clock," so to speak, so that I'll be able to remind myself that running is fun & not just another task or chore I tick of on my list of things to do.

I'm really determined to do everything to make strides in my running & fitness level, & while I'll still step on the scale every now & then, I'm also not going to focus excessively on the weight-loss aspect of running. That's a side-effect of the running anyhow, provided I continue to eat nutritionally & maintain reasonable portion sizes. If I keep running, & do it three times a week, the weight's bound to come off.

The good news is that just from the few weeks of running I've done thus far (after a previous two-month hiatus from my training), I've already lost a few pounds of those pounds. So yay times two! ;-)

My whole perspective on my weight-loss progress has changed considerably. Whereas before I knew I had to lose "x" amount of pounds or "x" body fat percentage points to get to a certain milestone & probably focused a bit too much on those goals, now my attitude is quite different. Again, I will use metrics for measuring statistics on performance & weight/body fat loss, but am determined not to let the metrics become the central focus!

While I'm obviously not happy about the weight gain/body fat increase that occurred back in February-March (& probably also the first few weeks of April, which occurred even while I was running!), there's nothing I can do to change the past. So, I'm just going to focus on the future.

I plan to not only lose the body fat I regained, but to work my way past this milestone & lose even more! As I mentioned months ago, the goal is still to get down to 14-18% body fat, i.e., the level of a high-performance athlete. Not only will it help my running pace, but I'm looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment that comes from achieving a higher level of fitness. It's not a "numbers on the scale" thing, it's a "fitness & wellness" thing. ;-)

"Here I go again.... going down the only road I've ever known...."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

2 Mini Run + Longer Solo Run


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Tonight my friend & I didn't have much time to run, but we made the most of the time we had. We began our run around 6:40, but only had until 7 pm, because she had to go back to work for an important meeting. So, we did our usual 5-minute warm-up walk, followed by an 8-minute run, 2-minute walk, & 3-minute run, & ended with very short cool-down walk (which was probably less than 5 minutes). It was quick, but effective.

My friend's knee is still puffy, so I urged her to take it easy on the knee. She's a bit worried that once she takes a day off it'll be too easy to stop running, but I told her that I wouldn't let her quit on me that easily! ;-) I expressed that it was more important that she be able to continue running longterm, & if need be, take Thursday off to recuperate & rest her knee. That'd give her until next Tuesday, for our next run, or longer, if she needed to nurse the knee a bit longer.

Then, afterwards I ran an additional 25 minutes (i.e., basically doing the third run of the fifth week of the a href="" target="new">CT5K program).

It was a very good & thorough workout. So good in fact that I reclined on the couch after dinner & ended up taking a little bit of a nap there! ;-) What can I say? I put in a lot of effort earlier tonight, & my legs (& the rest of me) couldn't wait to get a little rest! ;-)

I'm writing this after waking up from that nap. ;-)

The other reason I'm so tuckered is that my schedule has changed significantly (I started a new job a few days ago) & I'm getting up much earlier than I was before. So, of course, the running is all the more important to maximize my energy level. And of course, it's also really important to get to bed early. On that note, I'm heading off to sleep. Have a good night!

-C

Sunday, May 11, 2008

8 What are Favorite Brands of Athletic Shoes & Apparel? Share Your Favorites Here!


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I've got apparel on the brain, probably because I just wrote about JCrew's new yoga line & also, my friend & I will (hopefully!) soon be going to pick out running sneakers together.....

Anyhow, I thought it'd be fun to start a discussion about favorite brands of exercise apparel.

So which are your favorite brands of running sneakers & apparel? Care to share any favorites & why you like them best? Have any brands you've heard a lot of good things about & are curious to try? Also, have you recently discovered any new favorites? If so, I'd love to hear about them.....

Here are my personal favorites:

(Please note, I'm not being paid to endorse any of the below brands. I'm giving you only my straightforward, honest opinions!)

Sneakers: OK, this is probably no surprise, but I'm very partial to Nike. They just fit my feet the best & feel superb on, especially when I've been running for over an hour & my feet are beginning to feel it. I've yet to find another brand of running sneaker that works as well for me. And believe me, I've tried on almost every brand of running sneaker there is. If some brand can do better, I'd certainly try them, but so far, it's been only Nike for me!

Now, of course, I realize there are other very valid & equally excellent brands out there, but I'm saying that this is what works best for my feet. One's brand of sneakers are a very individual choice, & there are many deciding factors -- including fit/feel, style, shoe weight, one's individual stride/pronation & foot arch/dimensions, etc.

(For other sports, I've worn Adidas soccer cleats, & Prince tennis shoes, both of which I really like. And for hiking, I really like Merrell.)

Running Apparel: My current favorites include Champion C9 (for light-weight jackets, & exercise tops & bottoms), Nike, Adidas, SmartWool (especially for socks & tops for layering underneath!), Sugoi, Lowe Alpine (especially for seamless, non-cotton undergarments, which are also great for hiking!), & Shock Absorber (the best darn sportsbras ever!). That's the short-list.

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And, if you're looking for sports-specific apparel other than running (hey, a lot of us runners cross-train!), here are some additional recommendations:

Yoga/General Indoor Fitness Apparel: A few months ago, I discovered a shop called Lucy, which also sells their fitness wear online. They have stylish & mostly practical ladies sportswear, although I probably wouldn't wear it for running or heavy-duty, high-endurance outdoor sports. ;-) If I am recall correctly, I believe the company was started by 2 gals who were former execs at Nike, or something like that. (Feel free to correct that, if you happen to have more accurate or precise knowledge on that subject.)

I should probably add that while I've tried on a lot of their clothes & really liked their styles, I haven't yet bought anything from them. My impressions were based only upon my try-on experiences in the fitting room, & not long-term wear, so I can't speak to issues of garment construction, etc., etc.

But it's not due to lack of interest. I went in there to browse, more out of curiosity than an actual need to buy. Frankly, I've got so much workout wear right now that I can't really justify any additional purchases, atleast not for spring & summer. ;-)

But anyhow, they are worth checking out, if you are looking for stylish fitness or yoga wear.

Hiking: Lowe Alpine, REI, ExOfficio, & Merrell are some brands that I like. Of course, there are others I could recommend, but these are the current faves that spring to mind at the moment.

Biking: I really LOVE Pearl Izumi. I'm incredibly curious to try the Zoot Sports brand as well, which makes clothing not only for biking, but also for running & swimming. It appears they specialize in triathalon & ultra gear as well. Very nice! They look like they've got some rather high-tech, stylish gear. Anyone ever try this brand? Thoughts, opinions?

I see that this brand is also sold through Sierra Trading Post at a deep discount. Wow, select items are up to 69% off, plus new customers can take an additional 15% off their first order. Wow. Very nice!

Skiing/Winter Sports: North Face & Spyder are two favorites that spring to mind. ;-) I also highly recommend Columbia's ski pants & all-purpose, waterproof snow-boots (i.e., they're not for skiing though, just for trudging around outside in the snow!). They fit well & are très stylish too. And of course, Columbia jackets are nice too, although honestly I think that as of late, their jacket styles are not quite as hip or sportif-looking as some other brands out there (i.e., Spyder). Frankly, I'm finding their jackets to be a bit too boxy-looking these days, as I'd rather wear clothing which shows off my shape (especially since I put so much hard work into it!). But I do love the idea of having zip-out layers that you can wear separately or together. They are certainly quality jackets which can be worn for both for skiing & general, all-purpose winter wear.

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Some final footnotes: FYI, I'm extremely picky about my sports apparel & gear. If it's not the best, I don't want it. ;-) I don't mind spending a little bit extra for quality, but of course, am also perfectly happy to buy my favorites on sale. ;-) But I won't buy cheap junk just because it's cheap or on sale. My mantra is quality, quality, quality. After all, if you're wearing your apparel for high-endurance sports, you don't want it to fall apart on you!

Also, I really like multi-purpose apparel, so much of what I wear for running can be used for hiking & other sports, & vice versa. It's a very practical approach & of course, is also much easier on the wallet too!

For more specific recommendations & product details, feel free to browse the archives, or check the labels/categories section of this blog.

Hope you enjoyed this article! And as always, I welcome your constructive comments & opinions....

Thursday, May 8, 2008

3 Run 2, Week 5 (CT5K): That's No Misprint In The Title -- There's A Reason This Workout Smacks of Déjà Vu ;-)


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It was raining outside, so my friend joined me for an indoor workout on the treadmills. While I was waiting for her to arrive, I managed to squeeze in 50 sit-ups, & various arm exercises with 5 lb. free-weights. Since I already did the same workout on Tuesday (albeit without my running buddy, due to her sore knee!), I decided to keep things interesting by challenging myself a bit more -- I increased the speed & incline on the treadmill (to higher than usual levels) during the running intervals. We had a good workout, although my friend's knee was still rather sore & puffy. I'm not so sure it's a such great idea for her to be running right now, as it's probably putting additional pressure/stress on her already-inflamed knee. She's going to play it by ear & see how she feels next Tuesday.

OK, that's a wrap.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

2 Thank Goodness For Glucosamine Chondroitin!


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As many of the regular readers of this blog already know, I've been taking glucosamine chondroitin on a semi-regular basis. I am specifically taking it to strengthen & protect the joints in my knees & ankles, & have found it be genuinely useful/effective thus far.

I don't really feel like explaining all about the supplement -- its purpose, benefits, etc. -- but if you are curious, you can check the below articles for some good background info:

University of Maryland Medical Center article (Overview)
NCCAM article (Results of their Glucosamine & Chondroitin sulfate study)
ConsumerLab Glucosamine chondroitin product review (Paid subscription service)

Anyhow, since my running buddy recently asked me for a specific product recommendation, I thought I'd share the information here, in case anyone was curious about it or considering taking the supplement themselves:

I get triple-strength caplets from CVS. They're nothing fancy, just the generic CVS brand. They come in various sizes (80, 180, etc.).

BTW, it looks like CVS's online store is currently having a 33% off sale on glucosamine chondroitin, if you're interested:

Glucosamine chondroitin (80 caplets)
Glucosamine chondroitin(180 caplets)

A small word of warning: As my running buddy put it, these pills are "freakin' huge." ;-) If you're not accustomed to swallowing large pills (a.k.a., "horse pills"!), you might want to seek out other alternatives.

I imagine you can also pick up similar versions of the supplement at a generic grocery store, Costco, GNC, or The Vitamin Shoppe, etc.

I've also seen ads & information about a product known as Joint Juice, but can't vouch for it as I've never tried it. ;-) Has anyone here ever tried it? If so, what do you think of it, as compared to other glucosamine products you've tried (if any)?

So, does anyone want to chime in here on their own experiences, preferred brands, or recommendations based upon personal use? (Please note, this is not an opportunity for companies to SPAM me with ads, whether bogus or real. ;-) I will only publish comments which are personal testimonies from REAL human beings with valid, verifiable identities, & not from some bot or random username which doesn't have a real name or identity attached to it. Got it?!)

3 Training Notes & Observations


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At present, I'm focusing on taking baby steps to rebuild my running fitness & stamina. Most of you who regularly follow this blog already know how I fell off the bandwagon after a several-week-long bout with illness, & have been struggling ever since to get back on course. The good news is that as I keep going, the struggle is not so much of a struggle anymore. ;-) I feel like I'm ever-so-gradually returning to the joy of running, & am feeling more & more motivated every day to workout & keep my running/fitness commitments. Note, I didn't say everything was perfect (yes, I know, I didn't run last weekend!), but the fact that I went ahead & ran by myself when my running buddy couldn't join me is evidence that I'm moving in the right direction.

Also, the new job will hopefully give my day a bit more formalized, external structure to my day, which is always helpful towards further solidifying one's running routine. While my fashion consulting services, jewelry businesses, freelance writing gigs, & various (i.e., 5) blogs, have certainly kept me busy, I welcome the chance to step away from the computer & see the light of day on a more regular basis! ;-) OK, I'm only (somewhat!) kidding, but right now, I do miss having co-workers & can't wait to re-engage in a prototypical work environment. The rhythm of life is very different when you run your own businesses, & freelance/consult.

Incidentally, I plan to continue my consulting & freelance gigs, although my jewelry businesses are going to be in an indefinite holding pattern. All of these professional activities will definitely be taking a back seat to my new job; that's for sure! And of course, I do plan to continue blogging in my spare time, that is, when I'm not running & enjoying the outdoors, or doing a multitude of other activities!

But anyhow, back to the running: My overall approach hasn't changed. The plan is to take one step at a time, & not jump the gun. I'm going to exercise & eat in moderation, & strive for balance (versus perfection!), putting all of what I've learned to good use.

Once I've established a regular running regimen, & have also built up my overall body & core strength), I'll then start running shorter road race distances again, slowly working my way up to the marathon distance, & then eventually entering my very first marathon race. But of course, I don't want to get ahead of myself. First things first!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

2 Run 2, Week 5 (CT5K): Onwards & Upwards!


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Just a brief post tonight: My friend has a swollen knee, so we walked around the lake & then I went for a solo run afterwards -- Both went well. I gave my friend some suggestions to reduce the swelling in her knee, & hope for her sake that it's nothing serious.

On a personal/professional note, my life is about to change significantly, starting this upcoming Monday. I've accepted a new job in management, & I'm happy to report that it's not the typical desk job. I'll be active & moving around, so I'm very thankful for that. I prefer to keep the remaining details private at this point, but I did want to write about it, as I'm ecstatic about the growth opportunities of this new position, & wanted to make a brief mention of it! So YEA!

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Also, I wanted to give some brief shoutouts to some rather deserving running pals of mine -- Blaine Moore & Steve Speirs, who've both accomplished some pretty fantastic things lately in the wide world of running that deserve to be blogged about & shouted to the skies!

Blaine had an incredible 1st place finish in the Cox Sports Marathon (held on May 4, 2008 in Providence, RI). He even got his mug on TV! He was shown crossing the finish line on ABC 6! (Click on the link to view the footage.) You can also read all about the race on his blog, which contains an excellent, detailed play-by-play report of the race & surrounding events, & if you like, also view the race data on CoolRunning.com. Wow! Congrats on your amazing finish, Blaine!

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Place Div/Tot Div Nettime Pace Guntime Name Age S Race# City/state Teamcat Team
1     1/151    M0139 2:43:27  6:15  2:43:28  Blaine Moore 28 M  438 Portland ME

And not to be outdone ;-), Steve also got some press for his amazing performance in the Frederick Marathon. He was mentioned in the Washington Post no less, for his stellar finish in the Frederick Marathon! He even beat (or rather "whomped"!) his own race prediction (of 2:53) by a few minutes & seconds, finishing the race with an incredible time of 2:51:36, & taking 3rd place overall in the Frederick Marathon, & 1st place in the Masters category! It was his second fastest marathon ever! Wowowowowowow! Whoopeeee!!!!!!

You can also read more about it on Steve's blog. He's got a wonderful report of the race, & there are also some great photos of him running the marathon at various points along the route (which were taken by his daughter).

I'm beaming with happiness & pride for both of them! So congrats, guys! Superfantastic jobs, both of you!

So please join with me in congratulating them on their fantastic & awe-inspiring running performances!

And for those of you fellow running "penguins" out there, I just want to say this: There's no harm in, just for a brief moment, living vicariously through both of their fabulous achievements! ;-) Their accomplishments are certainly a great source of inspiration for the rest of us! And who knows what you can accomplish if you just put your mind to it!

Now, I don't know that I'll ever be running a 2:43:27 or 2:51:36 marathon, or anywhere near it anytime soon in my lifetime ;-), but right now, I'd be happy to just complete my very first one! Then after that, we'll see. ;-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

4 A New Attitude & Maybe Also A New Pair of Sneakers!


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I'm happy to report that the old "Corey" is slowly coming back again. Crabby, angry, petulant, & totally stressed-out Corey has left the building, & has been replaced with a much cheerier & (yesssss, finally!) happier version. And this is no small part due to my return to running & some other developments, which I hope to be able to share with you soon.

Yesssss, it feels good to be BACK!

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On a completely different note, both my friend & I need new running sneakers & have decided to make a joint trip sometime over the next week or so. And I have to say that I'm really looking forward to this trip. Not only is it an opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite (OK, scratch that, second favorite!) high-endurance sports -- er, um, shopping! ;-) -- but it's also a chance to help my friend, (who's basically a newbie runner), so she can find a kick-ass pair of running shoes! (Finally, I can put my knowledge of running sneakers to good use! ;-) )

When it comes to buying running sneakers, I'm like a kid in a candy store. Don't ask me why, but I just really look forward to getting new running sneakers. I love talking with the salesperson about shoe "technology" & the merits of "this pair of shoes versus that one," etc., etc. Yes, I'm such a geek, even when it comes to picking out running shoes. ;-)

At any rate, it's important to be knowledgeable about what's out there on the market, in order to pick out the best/most suitable pair for one's feet & stride. And like any good "product hound" worth their salt, I will usually do my research before I walk into a store, to get a sense of the latest & greatest running sneakers currently on the market, etc., etc.

But it's not just all about the shopping experience either. It's also about the anticipation of picking out that special pair that'll be with you for some odd 300 miles or so, & also about that sentimental attachment that some of us runners form with our running sneakers -- Oh, the memories of the journeys we've taken together! ;-)

The feeling I have about my running shoes is somewhat comparable to the sentimentality that many runners have towards their race T-shirts, race number tags, or other race-day paraphernalia. However, the one big difference is that your shoes are not about one day or one race, they literally carry you through all of those experiences. ;-)

And those are just a few of the reasons why I get really pumped when it's time to buy running sneakers.

So, do any of you have similar sentiments about your running shoes? Do you have any favorite pairs that also hold fond memories for you? Please feel free to share your stories & recollections!

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Footnote: Now, I'm obviously not some superficial ninny, & realize that ultimately the bonds we runners have with our fellow fellow runners are way more important than "bonding" with a pair of shoes when it comes right down to it.

However, I think most of you get that what I'm really alluding to here is that the sneakers are merely representative of the memories of these running experiences. They are a hallmark, or a placeholder -- if you prefer -- of those experiences, but not a replacement or substitute for those memories.

And don't worry, I don't have a problem parting with my sneakers once they've outlived their usefulness -- If they can't be used for yard work, gardening, or some potentially muddy outdoor pursuit, or recycled for charity, I can certainly chuck 'em right in the bin when the time comes. ;-) After all, they are only shoes. Sniff, sniff. ;-) JUST kidding.

It's not like I'm suffering from a mild form of "pack-rat-itis." I might be sentimental when it comes to my sneakers, but I also realize that there's a dividing line between memories & (most) material objects. And there's also a clearly drawn line between being reasonable about what material objects a person decides to hold onto & what they are willing to throw out. And then there are those people who just get plain wacko about it. ;-) As in, they are clutching their material possessions so tightly that you'd probably need to pry their fingers away with a crow-bar. And then issue them all little white uniforms & start pinning their cloth-covered hands to their shoulders. ;-) You'd probably have more luck getting them to clean out the contents of someone else's house than getting them to unclench & give up a few of their own. ;-) No wait, come of think of it, that's probably not a very good idea either. Why encourage them to find junk in other people's houses, so they can just drag it over to their own homes?! Hahahahaha.

Speaking of which, ever watch those home-makeover/organizing shows like Clean House or Clean Sweep? Now there are some real pack-rats on those shows, eh?!!!!

I assure you that no 1-800-JUNK truck will be pulling up to my house anytime soon. ;-)

Speaking of which: That makes me think of those tacky, sensationalized "news" shows that feature "hoarders" or some other frightful DSM manual categorization. Hahahahaha! ;-) OK, it's really no laughing matter, but then again, there's something so pathetically funny about it, nonetheless.

Most people can relate to having messes or piles of stuff in their house that they need to sort through or clean every so often, but can you imagine having so much junk in your house that you can't even find your way to the door?!

I can't help but picture this gigantic animated 50 foot ball of junk -- with shoes, clothing, CDs, papers, etc. -- chasing after these people like it's some big bad googlely-eyed monster! ;-) It's like that scene from the movie Brazil, when the piles of paper take on a life of their own & chase poor Mr. Tuttle & ultimately "consume" him. But anyhow..... What the heck was I talking about? Oh yes, running shoes! ;-)

OK, well I hope you've had fun reading this little tangent. Have a good night & I'll check in with ya later.....

-C

6 Run 1, Week 5 (CT5K): We're On Our Way.....


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My friend & I met for our run at 6:30 pm tonight. It was around 63 degrees, but for some reason felt much colder at the outset. I was wearing a light fleece, which I soon peeled off later after the first running interval. (My friend was also wearing a light layer over her T-shirt.)

This particular run was 4 alternating intervals of 5-minute runs & 3-minute walks. (Yes, been there, done that. ;-) Could probably recite the CT5K plan from memory at this point!) I like these even intervals because they're easy to remember. Even if I should miss the podcast cue (which happens often, due to our frequent gabfests! ;-) ), it's easy enough to look at the clock on my iPod & figure out how many more minutes we've got. ;-)

The run went well. My energy level was very high & again, I had to contain myself from wanting to breakout into a "full gallop." Yes, I can't seem to let go of the "wild horses" analogy from two days ago. ;-)

My friend did a great job -- She finished each interval today without stopping, although I could tell it took her more effort than usual today; she was experiencing a slump in her energy & mentioned that an afternoon snack would probably do the trick. So hopefully that'll help for next time. I'm proud of her for pulling through!

I keep telling her that each time she runs, it'll get easier to complete the runs. (I'm not sure she believes quite me yet -- Hahahahaha! -- but she'll hopefully find out soon enough! ;-) )

Maybe I shouldn't use the word "easy," as each run is it's own experience -- sometimes it's easy & sometimes it's more of a struggle. Rather, what I meant is that her stamina & energy level will gradually increase with each run (i.e., each run is a building block!) & will help her through as she approaches her next running challenge. Building blocks and baby steps. OK, don't ask me what's up with my analogies today. First, it was wild horses, & now it's preschoolers. ;-)

Looking forward to this weekend, it's supposed to be nice this weekend (i.e., in the upper 70's!), so it'll be great incentive to go for a run. Erik's family is coming up for a visit this weekend, but hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in a run at some point.....

Speaking of running this weekend, my friend Steve (a.k.a. cymrusteve of Run Bulldog Run) will be running the Frederick Marathon this Sunday. His goal time is 2:53 (2 hrs. & 53 min.) -- a 6:36 per mile pace. So, let's all wish him a great race!

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