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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

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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

Race Day Dilemma

This weekend I ran the Hare Racing Experience 5k in Tampa on the University of South Florida’s Campus. It was a tremendously fun experience for a small off road race, but one that left me with a little bit of runner’s dilemma.

I chose this race for all of the obvious reasons. It is extremely close to where I live, my friend Becky was running it and of course it was super cheap at $15 for a 5k. Fifteen is really cheap for a 5k in the Tampa area where most 5k’s cost about $25 . The night before the run I also learned that it was an off-road/cross country style race which was an added bonus. Finally, who doesnt appreciate a good pun titled race?

Get it? Hare because its Easter, Racing instead of--- Nevermind, you get it. I love a good pun

On race day I was excited to let fly on this course. 5k’s are cool alternatives to the distance tests I usually run. They are all about speed and just letting go. I love the hard heavy breathing and burning sensation in m throat as I reach for the line. On this course it was no different, plus the trail and grass running added a technical side to the course which made passing and pacing a new challenging type experience. If it was a street 5k, I would have been disappointed with anything above 20. This was not a race for that kind of speed for me. I was ecstatic to come in at 21:09, and then to enjoy the well sponsored post race spread of bagels, classic cookies, bananas, and muffins. This is where the dilemma began.

The race finished on the perfect USF Track, where I clocked in at a solid 21:09

My friends and I stayed for the post race awards. My friend Becky was sure that I had placed in top 3 in the age group I run in. I was not that sure but I know that not that many adults placed ahead of me (The teenagers dusted everyone), so I stayed. When they read the top 3 of my age group (with no times), my name was not mentioned. I was surprised, and disappointed. Seriosuly I was disappointed. It was almost embarrassing. I was disappointed about a measley little 5k? Why? Seriously? Why?

Was it vanity? Well partly. This was a tiny race, and I ran it really well and I really was hoping for some small measure of recognition. When you train that hard, you just want to do well. Pus, with my sister leaving Tampa for Austin this weekend making me feel a little depressed, it could have been a small lift I really needed. Was it accuracy? Somewhat, they announced no times to go with those guys who beat me. As crowded as the small double loop course was, I didnt remember that many people in front of me. What were their times? How much did they beat me by? Was it competiveness? Probably. No one likes to lose and feel mediocre. Especially in an event they should do well in. Yes, I had the personal satisfication of knowing I ran a great race, that I killed that course but still I felt I should place. It was all that with a fair amount of self-confidence doubting that had me leave that race with more than a twinge of disappointment in my stomach

Winners got there picture taken with a life sized Easter Bunny. I didnt have to do this, but should I have?

For a while throughout the day, I let it go. I went for a cool down jog elsewhere, and then out to the park and had a tremendous time playing capoeira with my capoeiraista buddies. Something which restored my good mood and had me raising questions in my brain about the results. By the time I got back to my computer, I desperately wanted to see the results again. I had the gut instinct that a mistake had been made.

I was right. The race results as posted on coolrunning.com place me in 2nd place for my age group of 30-34. This was curious, even more curious was that they had isted my time as 21:32. This is some 23 seconds later than I finished. Im not getting the time I had from my Garmin. I am getting it from the clock I saw when I crossed the line. 21:09, my accurate time might have put me in first place overal if the other results were posted correctly. Not only had they failed to announced my name at all, but my place was also in question

I confess to being mildly angry, but I was still torn about what to do next. Yes I knew in my heart of hearts that I had come in either 1st or 2nd in my age group for real and that should have been enough. However  the results should be recored accurately (there were no chip times), but did I want to make a deal out of a small 5k and hassle people after a fun race. Did I want to be that guy?

The race was for a supremely good cause and I was happy to contribute to it

Well, yes and no. On one hand, the race was run by volunteers who did a damn good job for the most part and it was for the really good cause of epilepsy support. Furthermore, I didnt want to create any drama for a race I would gladly run again (and will if I am still in Tampa next year). It was a cheap race adventure, and I was grateful for it.  So why be a hater? Fair question, but there are 2 sides to everything, On the other hand, every dollar I spend has value. $15 is $15. I dont have a ton of money so any race I do, I like to race well and competitively. There are no throwaway races for me, no matter how small. I dont have the money for that luxury. So when I pay money for a race, I want the results to be recorded accurately. Like I said , I work hard at my training. Plus, if the reward was a small gift card or gift certificate somewhere , I could honeslty use that. I dont have extra spending cash, and every little bit helps. And if I earned it, I do want it. Yep, I was really torn. I wanted to stand up for myself and my cash, but I didnt really want to be that particular person

Not a huge Panera fan, but if the reward for winners was from this place, Einstein Bagels, or Sweet Tomatoes- I would have gladly taken it and used it.

Ultimately, my friend Becky told me to write the race director if for no other reason than to let them know there were some flaws in the recording of their race results and that they might want to improve on it. On these auspices, I penned him an email. I emphasized all the positive qualities of what was a super enjoyable race but pointed out the small flaws in the recording problems. I hope it was taken in the helpful spirit it was intended.  That is how I am lookig at it, a fun story to tell people about a race I would easily recommend again to any interested runners.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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