Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Newbie's Guide to Gear

Have you ever wondered how it's possible for a race as large as the Chicago Marathon to sell out in just a few days?

I know how. Peer pressure.

Though I'd hope that talking someone in to signing up for a marathon is good peer pressure (as opposed to the negative peer pressure your parents warn you about in your pre-teen years).

Peer pressure is alive and well in my workplace. Earlier this year, I convinced a co-worker to sign up for the Chicago Marathon.

As training demands more of us in the later part of July, there are questions.

The same questions I asked Mark the first time I trained for a marathon. He always had good answers, too.

Over time, my friends and I have transitioned from asking questions to answering the questions. Though we certainly don't know it all, we enjoy helping newbies out. There's an excitement to living vicariously through someone else as they train for their first.

Earlier this week I was asked "Where do you get your gear?"

Seems like a simple enough question, right? I didn't have a simple answer.

Endurance athletes can't walk into their local Wal-Mart and walk out with everything they need. (This scenario doesn't work for a variety of reasons, most importantly being that Wal-Mart only sells complete crap. I could go on, but I'll spare you.) Instead, you find yourself on a scavenger hunt for good gear, based on recommendations by other runners and online reviews.

I wrote down a hit list on a large post-it note and handed it off:


Shorts & Shirts: Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, Nike Outlet or a speciality running store. Try a variety of moisture wicking material cuts. Determine your favorite and buy more.

Socks: Buy a variety of pairs a running store recommends. Test them out, then by a small collection of your favorite online.

Shoes: Get fitted at a REAL running store. If you love the shoes they've put you in, continue to buy them. (Don't mess with what works unless the shoe model changes or you find something better.)

Nutrition: REI.com If you're looking to buy 12+ Gus and the like, you get 20% off and free shipping to their stores. They have a wide selection to pick from which will let you test out different brands, flavors, consistencies.

Miscellaneous gear: Fuel belt or the like, Body Glide, a foam roller. Talk with friends to gather their options. Test out items and purchase at a running store or if you know it's a sure thing, buy online.


Six years of distance running gear advice fit onto a post-it. Not bad, I guess.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

4:30 am Run

This summer has proved to be a hot one thus far.

Morning running has proved a necessity instead of a convenience.

However, sometimes even early morning running isn't enough.

Last Friday, for the first time in the five years I've been training, CARA canceled a Saturday long run due to the heat at all their sites. They advised against running Saturday altogether, noting that Sunday's forecast was predicted to be favorable for exercise.

Soon after the CARA email came out, emails flew between a small group of runners. Runners that were somewhat determined to get their 10 mile run in Saturday.

So how does one go about running on a black flagged day?  Run earlier than the 6:30 or 6 am training groups.

5am was tossed around as a meet up time at Montrose Harbor.

My alarm went off at 4:00am. I checked my messages to see Kim had a restless night of sleep and planned to run instead on Sunday. I ate breakfast and put on my gear. I filled my water bottles and made a strong concentration of Gatorade.

It was 4:30. I was ready. And so I went.

Running at 4:30am on a Saturday proved to be much different than at 6. The streets were relatively quiet with scattered police on patrol. I ran down the sidewalk, toward the lakefront path. I could hear my footsteps. A rarity in a city of a thousand sounds.

I wondered how long it would be before I saw someone else with the same crazy idea. I made it just three blocks from my house before seeing the first runner. I decided I would wave or say hi to each runner today. Anyone out at this time had to be partially crazy or a total bad ass.

As George had posted regarding his Friday run, I broke the run into segments. I took time to focus on hydration, stretching and tuning in to how I felt. Today wasn't a day to push through anything. I might think I was tough, but I wasn't going to be a hero for crashing on this training run either.

I was lucky enough to reach my turn around point shortly after the run broke through the clouds as it rose for the day. I had shade on my side on the way back. I barely looked at my watch but to check the overall distance.

I finished right around 6:30. It wasn't a memorable run as to how I felt physically or mentally, but I was happy to have the accomplishment complete for that day.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Training for the [5th] Marathon

Marathon training officially began the week of June 4th.

I'd missed the CARA Super Clinic the weekend before and was preparing for Ragnar. Instead, I showed up to Montrose Harbor for the second week's long run on June 16th. I recognized a lot of faces, but was happy to see Jeff was back and running in the 10 minute group with me.

We finally took the leap into the 10 minute group.

The first few weeks have been hot, but overall good. We talked with a few people last week who are training for their first marathon. We tried to be encouraging and not tell too many war stories (though we stressed the importance of running Cricket Hill).

The weekday runs have been short and sweet - just three or four miles. 

This Saturday is week 5 and our first double digit long run.

Last week someone said we're a 1/3 of the way through training already.

Sounds about right, though it's hard to believe it's gone by so fast.

Very Hot Yoga

Yoga Studio #2 is shaping up to be a great place.

Sara and I have taken a variety of classes here, including a forest inspired class, power flow, vinyasa and hot yoga. The instructors and class sizes have been great.

I'd been meaning to try Hot Yoga for some time. The reason I haven't doesn't have anything to do with Yoga Studio complications, but rather to do with something personal. Sweat.

I have reason to believe I sweat more than the average woman.

I've done my fair share of vinyasa. I find myself, a few minutes into class, staring at my shins in downward facing dog watching sweat cascade down onto the tops of my feet. Then onto my mat.

Now my mat's getting sweaty so my feet and hands slide.

Halfway into class I'm using a towel to keep a firm grip on my mat. I'm the only one doing this. Ok, maybe there's one guy too.

As we began taking classes at studio #2, I mentioned my theory to Sara. We tend to take classes together, so over time, it's become a running joke.

One teacher tells us to 'recall our intentions' for the practice as we hold a difficult pose. One day, I looked to Sara and said my intention was to get Jimmy John's after practice. Last week, I had visions of a Portillo's shake. I'm positive we're not supposed to be thinking of food as we focus on our practice.

Somewhere between the sweat and fast food cravings, I'm pretty sure we're experiencing some good yoga sessions.