Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Battle Continues-Treadmill vs. Outside


This blog from the pro's at Nike compares treadmill to outside running...brings up some good talking points but I think it’s a matter of purpose and preference. If you like running at the gym then it is probably more beneficial to continue. If you like running in the freezing cold then again so be it. I do both, I try to run my longest distance of the week outside and hope it warms up quickly.

Introducing Why I Run

I am trying to institute into my weekly posts which will be comprised of original content, involving strictly runners who have participated in cause marathons. I will ask them about their experiences, the highs, the lows, advice for or from other people, why they choose a specific race, etc... It will be called Why I Run. I started this already with a previous post (linked in the last sentence) and hopefully this will help give more insight into this sport\activity. I am working on a few interviews; one is a top runner from Columbia, the others begin with my oldest brother who runs them with his fiancé and range to those whom I have randomly met since I started this venture.

Don't Let This Happen to You

I did and let me tell you guys it hurts. It has actually caused me to miss a run because they so painful and on the backs of both my heels. I went online to see what I did wrong and this article gives some overall tips on avoiding these and includes other information like how and why they happen. It also mentions other places and how to handle them.

Blisters -

Blisters are also caused by friction, heat and sweating. Most of the same preventative measures apply, but walkers will try almost anything to prevent blisters.

Stay hydrated - Same as above, be sure to stay properly hydrated including sodium replacement if needed.

Shoes - As with many other walking ailments, begin with the shoes. Your shoes must fit properly to avoid blisters. Too snug or too loose is always a problem. Ensure that there is ½ inch space between your longest toe and the end of your shoe. Be sure that you have enough room to wiggle your toes inside the toe box, and your heel does not slip when you walk.

Choose shoes that breath well. I like shoes with a lot of fabric or mesh combined with leather rather than a solid leather shoe.

Inspect the inside of your shoes for seams or worn areas that might produce extra friction...

It says that they also sell specific socks and other gear which can help prevent blisters. A few other runners suggested body glide to me. There is dry looks like deodorant and wet which works like a spray. I looked it up and you can get it at Walgreen's for $12 but I found it randomly at CVS for under $7, hey every little bit helps. If you are prone to blisters in certain areas the experts suggest taking extra precaution with those places. Happy trails hopefully blister-free.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I Run-Interview with Meredith Highland

This is my interview with Meredith Highland, because of its length and subject matter I will only be posting two this week.She has a really inspiring story.

Meredith Highland is a self-taught cake decorator at the Touché Touchet Bakery and Pastry Shoppe. I sat down with her to find out why she chooses to run this race and what motivates her to continue on. She and I spoke briefly about her dad (pictured to the left, from who she credits for not only propelling her to race but also for making her who she is today.

Meredith (M), Jen (J)

J: Is this your first marathon?

M: No, I have run other 10K’s to get into shape and I knew this would be a good
opportunity to both get into shape and see the memorial.

J: You choose the Oklahoma City Marathon, why?

M: It has always been something I’ve wanted to do and knew it was the first cause competition I wanted to try.

J: You have a more personal tie to OKC though, don’t you?

M: Yes my dad, Alan Whicher was killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.

J: Do you mind telling me a little about him?

M: Sure, well he was a 20-year-veteran of the secret service. Joined right out of
college, he went to College Park. In 1975, he joined and married my mom shortly after and had me and my brother and sister within in the next ten years. He worked in various places from New York to DC and the surrounding areas in both places. He was actually assigned to the World Trade Center in 1993 when they were first attacked. He was on several vice presidential and presidential details. He worked for Ronald Regan, George H. Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton. He’s actually mentioned in Bush’s first autobiography.

Because of the intensity of the field in those areas we all wanted him to have a less stressful job. So he asked for a transfer to Oklahoma City. There was a federal building out there, the one that was attacked. It was normal for a while, quiet and more importantly my dad seemed more at ease. He was titled Assistant-Special-Agent-in-Charge at that post.

J: And on the day it was attacked what was that like?

M: Surreal…I was 16 and went to school a few miles away from the building. At 9 we felt the doors shake. My teacher asked one of the other kids to go to the door and find out who was there. They reported back that everyone else down the hall was doing the same thing. I knew … in my guy… something was wrong. The loud speaker came on and said that a federal building had been attacked. I immediately went to find my sister and we started calling my mom. We couldn’t get through though. Eventually she called us and said that it was dad’s building and to come home. I did but my sister went with a teacher downtown.

It took three days to find him. He was on the 9th floor (top floor) of the building. His entire office was killed. We had hopes for the first day but after that we knew he wasn’t coming home.

I watched the coverage that day and I remember being with my mom but that’s about it.

J: What happened next?

M: We were surrounded by support from everyone. We moved back immediately to our old neighborhood in Maryland. His funeral was amazing, he was a type-A personality, he was everyone’s friend. Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both came along with officers, friends, family… the church and cemetery were three miles away and it was packed with cars.

J: How is it for you now running the marathon?

M: It’s hard some days and others its fine. I miss him but I know my life turned out
for the best considering. My family is more laid back but close knit. We try not to get bogged down by the small stuff and just enjoy each other.

The interview with Meredith really encompasses her emotions towards her father and her feelings about running. She wants to see the memorial for the first time, as well as taking her running to a personal level.

What Motivates You?

This blog was designed to talk about certain cause marathon runners. In upcoming posts I hope to talk to several runners who are either running or have run in cause races. I hope to find out what motivates them as well any advice they want to give to beginners. First up will be the person who got me into marathon running. I hope to speak to her this week and find out a little more about why she chooses to run and what if any advice she may have.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Maybe Sleeping in is Better

I hate running in the gym, its just stupid, its hot, it smells and frankly really boring. It also is not the most conducive environment for successful marathon running. It was such a beautiful day outside… little cold but nice so I decided to run twice today, in the morning and in the evening after dinner. There is something to be said for running early in the morning while most are asleep. Not only is it the satisfaction of knowing if I did nothing else for the rest of the day, I have already accomplished something. It also has an element of anticipation. While I am not running far, only a few miles, it builds anticipation for the next workout which could be later that day or several days out. This morning I smelled the crisp air, enjoyed the bright sun and was able to run further then normal without the assistance of an IPod. Since you can’t use these in the race it was rewarding.
Later in the evening after I gorged myself on dinner I decided another short run would be a good idea and the pie was just put in the oven. As most can tell the diet part of my training is a little lax right now. It was on this run I learned several new facts about running. The first is that it is NEVER a good idea to run after eating hot dogs as you will taste them throughout most of your workout. Two after dinner running is fine but the amount of people walking their rather large dogs has increased from the early morning. The final fact I learned today was that while evening running is ideal for some, it does not compare to running in the morning for me. All and all a great day of ‘relaxing’.
I found this interesting article it says morning runs are the worst time physically but mentally their better which in a case of a marathoner is perfect since its half mental.

The World Without IPod

I woke up this morning with all the motivation and excitement necessary for a nice long run. However as I reached to add my final attachment, my IPod, horror hit me it was dead. I tried everything from restarting it to quick charging but alas I knew it would not survive the five miles I had planned.

So I entered the world sans music. At first it felt really strange… to strange at times I thought it would ruin my whole workout. However I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not all that bad. It was actually nice not to have to stop or continuously flip through songs. It was peaceful and reflective.

It was so successful I may start going out without music at least once a week (when I run outside),the music in the gyms are just unbearably lame. So it turned out to be a good thing since marathoners can’t use IPods anyway this was a good accident. Funny how things work out…huh

Friday, February 13, 2009

Food for Thought

I work as a baker’s assistant at a local bakery, it’s like a pastry chef without the pay and degree. I asked the group of runners who come in every week what they recommend I try to incorporate. They suggested dark chocolate. Runner's Mag. did an article on this and brought up all its positive qualities. It is loaded with anti-oxidants and the higher the cocoa percentage the better it is for you. It being Valentine’s Day Eve I did some experimenting at work with various fruits dipped in chocolate.

The results: strawberries, raspberries and blackberries- amazing but too traditional. Bananas and apples also good, but not enough. Chocolate covered cinnamon sticks in our Dutch hot chocolate-need I say more. That was a stretch to justify. Citrus and chocolate isn’t the best either. So I was out of ideas and fell back on and found other recipes which are healthy without being hearty. A Grilled Chocolate Sandwich only sounds weird. The Ganache (YUM) can be put over anything and add-ins like flavored liquors, creme de'minth or Irish Creme, make it that much better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Do you know how to tie your shoes?

This may seem a little strange but there are actually right and wrong ways to tie your shoes. Shoes are to a runner what a bat is to a baseball player. If they are too big or heavy they will only hinder training. Once you have selected the right shoes tying them is a whole neither…err.. ballgame. You begin with the lacing of the shoes. They should be done all the way to the top, not to tight because you need adequate blood flow but too loose means an embarrassing moment could await your next run. The real trick is the knotting process. There are two kinds the ref knot and the granny knot. The ref is the correct one to use. Essentially they should be done so the knot is firmly set directly in front of tongue of the show. The granny knot is the easier less presence alternative which can cause the tongue of the shoe to slide making for a less secure and stable fit and feel also creating a heavier delayed pickup. Here is a link to an article which no only diagrams the process but has an informative video. I know I know we were all taught how to tie with the exception of those adults who wear Velcro shoes. However it is important to take into account technique in a sport.

Helpful Websites

Marathon running blogs vary from training guides that are meant to be universally appealing to those aimed for niche audiences. Here are some that I feel are effective.

· Oklahoma City Marathon Blog

· Expert Advice Blogs from Runners Magazine

· Beginners Blog

· Howard County Blog-including sports writers