Cheating on running: How I accidentally nearly ended my marathoning career

running_cross_trainingI have a confession.  I’ve lied to you for the last month.  I had an affair.  Worse, I hid it from you.  I was worried about my credibility and what you would think of me.  But, I need to come clean.  Here’s what happened.

The truth is that I haven’t run in over a month.  It started after my last half marathon.  I decided to take a break from running for a month or two and do a non-impact type of exercise.  I recommend this approach for a variety of reasons.  It’s nice to give your body a rest and recover from the impact of running.  Your mind also benefits from a change of pace.

My break from running

So I had a month long fling…with yoga.   I fell hard.  My muscles responded to this new way of moving.  I anxiously awaited the end of each class when we would do my favorite pose – lying on the floor (aka relaxation pose)!  Doing yoga made me feel strong and centered.  It also gave me a rare moment of relaxation.  I have trouble doing that!

The end?

 

marathon_injuryLike all affairs though, this one ended really badly.  I pushed myself (shocking, I know) to do things I shouldn’t have.   There was no clear memory of a tear, pop, or specific moment of injury.  One day I just woke up, and I knew it was over.  I was in terrible pain.  I couldn’t walk.  I couldn’t sit.  Something was horribly wrong.

The doctor told me to stop all exercise.  I was shot up with cortisone and ordered to do physical therapy and stay off my leg otherwise.  I intend to cooperate.  So it looks like my yoga affair had some major repercussions on my relationship with running.

Safe breaks from running

I will not be taking up yoga again in the future (except for the relaxation pose).  Don’t let that stop you, though.  Learn from my mistakes.  Take breaks between athletic endeavors and races, preferably with no or low-impact exercises (yoga, swimming, cycling, etc.).   Just remember, it is possible to hurt yourself doing just about anything, even yoga.  So, be really careful not to push yourself too far when doing any exercise, especially new types of exercise!   Have you ever cheated on running?  If so, what did you do and how did it work out?  Leave a comment below and tell us.

14 running safety tips grandma wants you to know

Remember Grandma Barbara?  If you don’t, I caught you!  You skipped last week’s post :).  If you do, today’s post is a result of her urgent plea.  Do Grandma Barbara (and your loved ones) a favor,  and consider these brief tips.  They could save your life.

That’s right, this week we’ll discuss several ways to enhance your running safety.  I have included some links to running safety gear that I use or that is recommended by other runners (I rarely run in the dark, so I asked some trusted runners for help).  I do this from time to time, if I think you will benefit from the information or suggestions.  If you decide to purchase anything through these links,  note that I will I receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you), but please only purchase items that you feel will be helpful to you!

Special thanks to Megan Popielarczyk, R.N., B.S.N., Master’s in Public Health for sharing some of these tips.

14 Tips for running safety:

  1. Keep your headphones’ volume low and listen for drivers.
  2. Make eye contact with drivers to make sure that they see you.
  3. Call out or make a loud warning noise to the driver, when in doubt.
  4. Always wear reflective and brightly colored running gear.  The larger the reflective area, the more likely cars are to see you.  Consider wearing a reflective vest if you must run in the dark. 
  5. Avoid busy roads without a sidewalk/pedestrian lane.  Stay on sidewalks and crosswalks while running.  If you must run on the road, run  facing traffic and keep your eyes/ears open. 
  6. Be extremely careful on hills if there aren’t sidewalks (I run uphill with the direction of traffic, and downhill facing traffic – so drivers have the best chance of seeing me).  
  7. Don’t assume cars will get out of the way for you (slow down and move to the side, as much as you can).
  8. Avoid running in the dark.  If you must, find a well-lit area with other people around (like an outdoor track) and avoid headphones, so you can be alert.  If I run in the dark, I am very careful and run on a highway access road with a very wide sidewalk. 
  9. Utilize a running flashlight (these knuckle lights seem like they would work great) or headlamp and blinking lights when running in low light.
  10. Give vehicles a wide berth (it’s easy to trip and lose your footing when you’re tired).
  11. Run on smooth surfaces to prevent falls/trips and try to avoid jumping up and down a lot of curbs.
  12. Look before crossing or changing directions on roads and paths (you may not see a vehicle behind you).  
  13. Avoid routes where you have to cross lots of busy intersections.  Make sure to always use the cross walk and comply with traffic signals.
  14. Carry a cell phone (cover with a sandwich baggie in a zipper pocket or waterproof armband) and visible identification (I like this running shoe tag) for emergencies.
Note: If you run with your children in a stroller, this is a great opportunity for teaching and modeling good safety behavior.  Point out the different traffic signals you encounter and what they mean.  Explain why you are using sidewalks and cross walks.  Health and safety go hand in hand!

I will continue sharing more running safety tips throughout our upcoming safety series.  Do you have any safety tips?  Share them by commenting below so we can all benefit.

Additional running safety resources:

A plea from a concerned grandmother

road_running_safety_2A concerned grandmother begged me to do this post just for you. What do grandparents have to do with your running? Quite a bit as it turns out.

Barbara, grandmother of five, recently sent me this feedback:

I’m a worrying and loving grandmother [and] would like to suggest an emphasis on colored clothing or some bodily adornment for safety. On occasion, runners are in colors that blend with the colors of nature along the roadways they choose for their course. Highway crews and police and fire are attuned to visibility for a good reason.

Grandma Barbara’s note struck a nerve because I have had road safety on the brain, lately. I just spent a week at my grandparents’ retirement community. I love it there. My grandparents and their friends are amazing people. And the Q-tips (as my grandparents call themselves, given their white hair) have FUN. It’s like visiting a resort mixed with a college dorm environment. We had cocktail parties at 2 PM. We played scrabble to our heads hurt. We exercised (water aerobics or speed walking anyone?). We talked about life.

marathoner_grandmaThis visit’s hot topic: my Grandmother’s driving test. She has failed it several times. This was her last chance to pass the test. We spent a lot of time practicing parallel parking/hitting barricades and running onto curbs. This prompted tales of “worse” drivers my Grandmother knew, who had: driven through a garage door (and parked car), mistaken a church parking lot for a train station, and ran several joggers off the road.

Road running safety

marathon_training_on_roadsUndoubtedly, some of my grandmother’s buddies shouldn’t be on the road. But the geriatric set is probably more concerned (as evidenced by Barbara’s note) and less of a threat to runners’ safety than most drivers. They aren’t texting or fiddling with their GPS. They probably aren’t driving around at night. They likely aren’t speeding past you on a bicycle or motorcycle.

 

Running safety and vehicles

Cars aren’t the only vehicles that we need to be aware of, as runners. A runner was recently tragically killed on our local running trail. She was wearing headphones and collided with a cyclist when she went to turn around. I don’t say this to scare you, but this incident highlights that it’s not just roads and cars that pose a threat. Be aware of all vehicles (cars, motorcyles, bicycles, etc.) and their operators. Pay attention to your safety wherever you are running.

Grandma Barbara is worried about you! Will you commit to running safely? If so, do me a favor and let me know by doing two things:

1) Post a picture of you and your grandmother (or a special friend/family member who you want to stay safe for) to our facebook page.

2) Read the 14 running safety tips in my next post.

 

Post script: This post is dedicated to my sweet grandmother and her buddies who are no longer legal to drive on the road, but that sure as heck won’t stop them from speed-walking on it! May we all live to be as happy and active as they are.

1 piece of marathon gear that I can’t live without (Post 9: Essential running gear)

marathon_gear_most_important

By Joseph Krawiec

My house is on fire, and it’s the morning of the marathon.  Let’s hope this never happens.  Let’s also hope that running a marathon isn’t the first thing on my mind!  But just go with my silly hypothetical situation for a minute.  If I could only grab one piece of marathon gear to use, what would it be?

Anti-chafing balm.  Why?  I chafe horribly.  Even if I ran in my best running gear without anti-chafing balm, I doubt I would make it more than a few miles.  I don’t want to imagine a full marathon’s worth of chafed skin!

The assumptions

Of course, I have made a few assumptions:

Assumption #1: The marathon provides fluids (most do).  Otherwise, I would save my filled-up running water bottle first (I always fill it the night before the race).

Assumption #2:  I have some form of clothing or pajamas on.  No one wants to see me reenact Lady Godiva gone marathoner!

Assumption #3:  The temperature is above freezing.  Otherwise, I would choose warmer clothes!

And if I could grab three more…

marathon_gear_most important_piecesIf I could grab two more items, it would be running socks and running shoes.  Any kind of injury to your foot (blisters, cuts, etc.) is bad news when you are running marathon distances.  Sure, barefoot running has proven more efficient, but I am not ready to run an entire marathon without anything on my feet!

If I could add a fourth item, it would be my running bra (or nipple chafing guards for guys).  No need to explain that one.  It’s just better for us all…

For the runner on a budget

If you must prioritize, this exercise gives you a sense for the most important marathon gear.  But in all honesty, every item in our series “Running gear every marathoner needs” is pretty critical to achieving your marathon goal.  Try to have at least one of each.

To get the most bang for your buck, go for the options that I’ve noted as most versatile (i.e. running capris vs. shorts and pants).  Use/wear these items on long and medium runs only and wash them immediately afterwards (and hang dry).  You may do more laundry, but you’ll have to buy less gear up front and your gear will last longer.  I happily wore the same running outfit for every long run and race for my first two years.  My family could always spot me!

signature_marathon_gear

Same running outfit, different race!

For the runner who’s ready to invest 

If you do have some budget flexibility, add another running top, bra, tights and socks.  This will cut down on the laundry hassle factor.  If you really want to go big, consider the Gear page recommendations.  Items like running watches, headphones, phone holders and running flashlights make marathon training much more comfortable.  They aren’t necessary, but I would have a hard time running without them!

Having several pairs of running shoes is also helpful.  This sounds extravagant, I know!  But there are three reasons:

Reason #1:  Rotating between two pairs of shoes during training gives your shoe soles a chance to “rest”.

Reason #2:  Rotating in a new pair of shoes 50 miles or so before the marathon ensures your shoes are broken in, but not worn out, on race day.

Reason #3:  You can train and race in the same model of shoe.  Shoe manufacturers frequently update shoe models, and I’ve noticed that new models can feel quite different from predecessors.   I’ve had a few meltdowns upon discovering my favorite shoe was discontinued, forcing me to switch models/brands weeks before the marathon.

Your marathoner makeover is complete.  Are you going to have a “signature” running outfit like I did?  Show us!  Post a picture of yourself in your new marathon gear on our Facebook page.

 

Resources referenced in this post:
  • Perl, Daniel P., Adam I. Daoud, and Daniel E. Lieberman. “Effects of Footwear and Strike Type on Running Economy.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2012). The American College of Sports Medicine. Web.