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Wish List Wednesday… Being more flexible

If you asked friends of mine a few years ago what my number 1 social problem was, they might very well have told you that I am too inflexible. At that time it was true- close minded, anxious, and easily frightened I was unwilling to try anything new so my progress suffered. Thankfully that is no longer a big problem of mine, I have overcome that particular difficulty, now I wish to overcome my other inflexibility. My physical inflexibility – which affects me before, during and after my runs. I wish I could change this with some yoga or personal training or something but my expendable income is too small to commit to those things, so I need to explore other options.

This week’s running wish…

I wish I was more flexible!

Set up- Loose and Light, fast and free

I have recently been experiencing more soreness at a higher level than ever before. To get ready for the distance season to come in the fall I have been ramping up mileage (safely) and this has left my joints stiff and achy more than normal along with that good muscle soreness you get after a hard run. I equate the first mile of a run when you are still a little sore to waking up the engine on an old car. Your hamstrings and glutes just dont want object vehemently when you try to get them going like an engine stuttering before revving through and going forward. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.

I dislike stretching immensely. After reading an article that didnt help endurance runners, I stopped all stretching but this was a bad idea for the harder shorter runs I sometimes do.

Lately it has been more so than normal though. Part of it is because I dont stretch enough. I never like stretching, and to stretch before a morning workout (or after a morning workout)  means I need to wake up earlier than I already do. This isnt happening. Or when it is an afternoon workout, I always tell myself to stretch before and after, but I dont. The fact that I read an article recently that suggests that dynamic stretching doesnt help with injury prevention or performance has given me that false justification to not stretch at all.

This lack of stretching, my long commute  and my natural inflexibility has started to really negatively influence my running. I have experienced 2 small foot problems of late, and upon researching both of them they have a lot due to with muscle stiffness and lack of flexibility. Upon placing greater emphasis onn stretching those areas, I have relieved that pain and ran way better. Still I feel inflexible and stiff, still I think that if I could get looser out on the road more quickly my race time would improve. I also think greater flexibility would help me get used to running at higher speeds and give me the extra edge for some PR’s. Most options to significantly improve my flexibility are on the costly side, but there are some moderate options.

The Reality-  Super stiff and super sore

Im fairly inflexible. I had a pediatrician who once told me it would take stretching my hamstrings 45 minutes for them to loosen up. I wish I knew how serious or not he was being at the time, but I feel like he was accurate. Having trained capoeira for 4 years- which places a premium on it- my  flexibility has certainly improved. However  I would rate it as going from awful to slightly horrible. It is improvement, and a notable one but now it is no longer good enough. Even in those classes where we do extensive stretching it takes me way longer to get loose and feel right for the capo activities and movements to come. The extra time (as compared to my peers) that it takes me to get the stiffness out discourages me further so I often avoid it.

I should probably invest more time learning about the physiology of running, especially the bigger muscles. I do feel like I have excessively tight hamstrings which take longer to get churning than they should

I took a couple of yoga classes a couple of years ago and I like how they made me feel after but they were extremely painful during them. Sadly I could not continue because they were not cheap and the good studios for yoga are way out of my way. I tried doing a DVR yoga workout but it was not the same at all.  It definitely pointed out to me, that part of being fit is being flexible and I am most certainly not.

The Ideal Wish- Get loose quickly

I wish that I could stretch for 10 minutes (dynamic or static) before I run and shake the cobwebs out of muscles faster when I started. I wish that not every run began with my muscles “groaning to life” like the Chevy Nova my Dad used to drive when I was younger. I wish that I could touch my toes in any significant hamstring stretch. I wish that after runs, I could stretch for 10 minutes and feel that satisfying feeling that others get from the post workout cooldwon. I wish that I could be more flexible so I could find my speed quicker in shorter races. I wish that I could take yoga (too expensive and too far away currently)  or had the time for a flexibility based classes at my gym.

Stretching your calf is important, and mine have been very stiff lately. I usually do make an effort to do so with this muscle, but once again i found that I have spend excessive time doing so. Otherwise I develop tightness and problems as far down as my foot.

The Possible- How much can you improve personal flexibility? 

I am not sure about this one. I have debates on and off with capoeiraistas about whether or not you can make yourself more flexible. I think every one has a range, and I am not quite sure where I am in my own range. I know circus performer is not in that particular spectrum but I am hopeful that I can at reach least normal. Im also hopeful that if I attend college in the fall, I will have more cheap opportunities to work in a yoga class now and again. I also think that less of a commute and more time walking will mea that my legs will not have a lot of residual stiffness and will shake out easier when I need them to. Until then, I will have to make a better effort to stretch at least big muscles groups before, during and after all workouts. Since I cant be naturally flexible, I want to try to be passably so.

I enjoyed the yoga classes I took, but they were just too much money. Im hoping that as my situation changes, I will be able to go back and use them to build a better base of flexibility

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Runcheap Weekend Thank You To… The Treadmill.. Yep I said it

This weekend’s thank you goes out it to that dreaded run machine that we all find ourselves attached to from time to time. It is more useful than you know. Easy to find, convenient to use, whether while traveling, at home, or at your gym. It means you dont always have to go huge distances to find a good run. Yeah,  it may not be the track in Eugene, or the Big Sur Marathon Route, or in my case even Flatwoods Park; Yet I find it to be an extremely helpful tool in my training. You could too

Thank you Treadmills!

Thank you for your convenience! Thank you for your reliability!

Thank you for your ability to always give me whatever type of run I am looking for, no matter what the conditions are outside!

Thank you for starting me off on my running path!

I was bitterly disappointed this morning when my navigational failures deprived me of a great opportunity. A chance to run the Croom Trail up in Brooksville with old friends and a chance to meet new ones. It is supposed  to be one of the premier running spots in the area for trail runners and it fit my run week perfectly. I missed it today because I couldnt find it. I was angry. I was pissed. I was furious. So what did I do? I went back to my gym, and blasted out 8 miles of hard ascending hill repeats on the treadmill. Then after a spin class, I jogged out 4 more on the treadmill. Frustration over.

Words cannot describe how angry I was at missing out on these beautiful trails this morning. I was happy to stomp that anger out on some hard treadmill miles

Im grateful to treadmills even though runners hate them. Treadmills, if you are runner, are super easy to develop a variety of workouts from. Florida doesnt have a lot of hills? Treadmill has a hill option. Want to avoid the heat for Intervals? Treadmill has speed intervals on it. I use them to build a pretty intense Fartlek workout on Fridays. I also use treadmills for pure speed workouts, gradually increasing speed over a set time. Treadmills are cheap to me because they are found at every gym, lots of peoples homes, and in hotels. No extra time or money spent in search of a good run when you want to stay indoors or your plans fall through.

Somedays indoor running just makes sense, and Im thankful that the treadmill exists for those moments

Treadmills are safe and convenient. I dont have to worry about cars, potholes, and stray animals. They are always close to the bathroom, which comes in handy all too frequently. They have TV so if I dont have to make the decision between a good workout and watching an amaziing game. They are near weights and spin rooms if you want to stack workouts or mix runs with fitness classes. The ability to get one full varied workout involving all of those elements in 1 locations helps hugely with gas and expenses.

When I started running, I was only doing one day a week outdoors and the other 3 on the treadmill.  Iw as intimidated by the wide variety of runs available to me outdoors. The wealth of workouts overwhelmed me by its sheer size. So I used the treadmill to keep my fitness and build my confidence. The outdoors I left for marathon base building. For me and others, I think the treadmill can be a good option for people who dont want to jump into the deep end of the pool when they start to run to stay in shape or get into as a hobby. I didnt want to spend tons on a watch or fancy running sneakers until i was sure I could handle it. My work on the tready convinced me I could.

While I love going up to San Antonio to work hills, it isnt super easy or convenient to always get up there. The only other hill workout option is on the treadmill

The treadmill isnt perfect. I crave the outdoors many days. I crave trails, amazing veiws and scenic locations. I always crave the crisp smells and fun sounds of the open roads as much as anyone. And you certainly cant run in a group on a tready. But its there when you need it. When you live in the disturbing heat of Tampa, that occurs quite frequently.

One of my favorite blogs (runstrongereveryday.com) described the treadmill as a “sometimes workout”. I would agree. Even though now, I run on the road far more often, I know I have that option of going back to that infernal machine and blasting off a good hard run. It may not be exactly the same, but it does work and it is effective. So a huge weekend runcheap thank you to the treadmill, for its reliability, convenience, and possibly variety.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To… Early AM Spin Classes

This weekend’s runcheap thank you goes out to a get what you pay for, worth every penny type bargain. That helped get me in shape to be a runner, and is now one of my most vital forms of cross training to keep me in shape for running strong and cheap-Spin Classes. In this case, the early am spin classes that I first started with.

Thank you early AM spin classes!

Thank you for getting me into shape to be a healthy runner!

Thank you for helping me establish that morning cardio routine!

Thank you for providing that perfect bit of cross training!

Thank you to the 2 great AM teachers that I have!

Without spinning their would have been no running. It is as simple as that for me. The only reason that I joined the gym this last time around was because they had spin classes. I was desparate to drop weight that I had put back on and wanted tht HIIT training so badly. At the time I wasnt into running, it was still an “eh” type activity for me. I dont think I was truly in a physical shape to enjoy it. But a friend of mine took me to a gym and showed me a spin class. After one 45 minute class I was hooked. I drove to a gym closer to my house with spin classes, and signed up that same night.

My spin classes are known as "RPM"

I was exceptionally fortunate. My local gym has spin classes at 545 am on Tuesday and Thursday. This fit my workout schedule perfectly. 45 minute hardcore spin at a gym on my way to work, followed by a shower and change and I would be at work on time without a problem. With solid cardio already accomplished!At the time I had been trying to get a solid morning routine going, and once I found these bedrock tuesday/thursday spin classes everything consolidated around it. I enjoyed the routine of being there those 2 days so much, I started to show up at the gym the other 3 days of the week as well. I hit the elliptical for some fearsome interval styled “almost runnning” workouts each of those days. Every evening of the week, I packed my stuff for the weary morning wakeup. Every 5 am, the alarm buzzed off, and every weekday I was at the gym for my morning cardio. What a great feeling it is to get that cardio buzz in before you even get your day started. For the record  I still love it. I still revel that feeling.  Back then the weight started to fall off as soon as I started spinning, tone started to develop, and on the weekends- I started to do something really weird called “running”. It all started with the spin. It has remained with the spin. When the elliptical workouts switched to hardcore treadmill workouts, the tuesday/thursday spins stuck. They still are that perfect counterpoint to running and a terrific low impact workout. Even now, when the treadmill workouts have been abadanoned, for outdoor morning runs of various types on MWF, I still am excited to head out for my morning (Tues/Thurs) spin.

Their advertisements around the gym are hilariously overdone, but these classes are a guaranteed good workout, especially with top notch instructors

I spin at lot of other times as well. Its an activity I enjoy 4 sometimes 5 rides a week. A class packed with energy and music every time. A guaranteed workout also.. Resistance training-check, Muscle training-check, cardio intensity-check. Every single time.  Despite being a frequent spinner,  the AM class is still my favorite though. One instructor teaches on Tuesday and a different one on Thursday. They are both great. If I disliked how they ran classes, I probably would go irregularly or not at all. But I like the personality and the connection they make in both cases, so I am a constant attendee. The tuesday teacher packs an infectious energy which no human being should have that early in the morning. She finds a different angle for every workout, and is the right combination of “go get it” motivator and regular human being. The Thursday teacher is different. She focuses on form, creates little games with the classes, and remembers peoples personal stories.It is exceptionally hard to teach anything. I know that from personal experience. To do it well that early and with energy that early in the morning is noteworthy. Both of them nail it every time

Every 5 am weekday, I get up to workout, Tues/Thurs spin helped me get in this routine

My gym membership is one of those few expenses that I allow myself as a luxury. I could probably find a cheaper gym, but Im unwilling to give up my 545 am spin as long as I live where I do. I love those classes that much.  When I go to run on the days following, I know that I am just as strong because I cross trained really hard and really well prior. Over the summer, when I dont work, I still get up early to take those classes (and then head right back to bed of course). They are a core part of my running training, one of the reasons my fitness remains so high, and are an excellent experience each time. They keep me running strong for sure. They keep me running cheap by being worth every penny of my membership. Giving me that extra piece of cross training so that I dont go out and overspend on this program or that, this trend or that. I pay for it for sure, but it is worth it.

I have logged many a valuable training hour on one of these. Happily

Without that spinning to get me started and get that initial weight of, I doubt I every would have become a distance/endurance athlete. I doubt I would have been able to cross that threshold from being that guy who just wants to slim down and whose weight fluctuates, to that being that “healthy guy”. From being a guy looking for aerobics to being a runner. So on that note, a huge weekend runcheap thank you to early AM spin classes! See you there on Tuesday and then again on Thursday!  Thank you Krystal and Julie!

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To… My New Balance 480 Sneakers

This weekend’s huge runcheap thank you is a shout out to a pair of running shoes that were my first and are still heavily involved in the sneaker rotation.

Thank you New Balance 480’s!

You were my first running shoe, you never failed me, and you still play a huge role in my training !

Thank you for being sturdy, multi functional and durable so that I didnt need to waste more money on footwear!

My first ever sneaker purchase as a runner. A total success

I have said in previous posts how I am not like other runners who spend hours/days/years/months even pontificating about what running shoes to wear. Just not my thing. Part of it is born out of expense, part out of disinterest.  I find conversations about running shoes particularly uninteresting, although I do admire the designs and colors on race mornings as a distractor. Additionally I should note that I often hear or read about runners cycling through multiple pairs of shoes per year, sometimes as many as three. Wow is what I have to say to that. I obviously dont have the cash flow for that, nor do I have the expertise to know when they need to be replaced. Some people do it by mileage, some do it by changing shoe shape, some people do it by duration of time. Most people who get multiple pairs throughout the year have a system.

I do it more by feel and paycheck. I have the read the articles about suggested mileage but I never remembered the number, and nor do I trust it all that much. I have seen photos of blogs of changing shoe shape and when it is time to change it, but Im skeptical. I have had comfrtable anfd functional shoes for many years with awkward shapes. Besides- ever put on a old pair of worn down shoes and feel how comfortable they feel despite being distorted a little? They are comfortable for a reason, because they still basically work. As far as tread goes, I admit to being confused about how to tell that of a sneaker.

With no “science” to back me up,  I chose to buy shoes when I can or on my arbitraty “its time” type moments. This has happeened twice in my short lived running career. About a year ago when I decided I was seriously getting into running, I deicded to go buy a pair of actual running shoes. Kind of an official recognition of my new interest. I went to Dick Sporting Cards with a gift card and purchased an on sale pair of New Balance 480 Running Sneakers for 60$ (well only 10 with the gift card). I knew they werent the best, I knew they were on the middle to low end of the cost spectrum for a reason. At the time I didnt understand why because I was too lazy to do actual research about sneakers beforehand.  But they looked right and when I put them on my feet, they felt right. I walked and then jogged for a tiny bit  in the store and then they were mine. The whole process probably took 20 minutes.

Those shoes have served my admirably well. They gave me such confidence as a slowly built up mileage approaching my longer races later in the year. There were literally zero problems with them. They debuted on on Midnight July 4th Race where I ran really well for me at the time. With them on my feet, and with no Garmin at the time, I smoked my first Half Marathon- the Blue Moon Half in Palm Harbor with a 1:42. Way better than I ever expected. Then I had back to back 10k PR’s in them in November and December. I knew I put a lot of mileage on  them by this point and that it was probably time for a change. However I held onto them for one more race.

The New Balance 480’s closed out their tenure as my 1st tier running shoe with my first full marathon at Disney in January. I knew it was a time to switch to something new, but it is poor practice to make drastic changes that close to the race. So I waited until my 1st 26.2 was done before buying my new pair of running shoes. I have to admit that I did it with a fair amount of sadness.

The replacement pair. Saucony Shadow Genesis, a little lighter and also a great shoe.

There was nothing particularly wrong with them (I wanted to try something a little lighter for races), which is one of the reasons I still use them. The NB 480’s are now my gym shoe. I lift weights in them, spin in them, take group fitness classes in them, cross train in them, and most importantly run on he treadmill in them. They take a beating because I use my gym all the time. Still, no worse for the wear. A year later and plenty of use and they are still reliable, usable, and comfortable. Thats a good shoe.

Without a lot of extra money to buy different types of sneakers, it is most important to me that a sneaker is durable. These ones have been. As a result, I have only had to buy 1 new pair of running shoes this year. This is a methodology which I will continue no matter what anyone says. The NB’s have sold me on this. They have saved me a bunch of money and allowed me to train healthy and injury free for close to a year now. They have most certainly kept me running strong and without a doubt running cheap. So again, thank You New Balance 480s for keeping me on the road and in the gym every day, upright and training hard.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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