Thursday, December 29, 2011

December in Review

Oh my, how quickly this year has flown by. Let's get to it!

2011 Mileage Recap

January: 66.62
February: 75.69
March: 109.97
April: 103.58
May: 96.99
June: 124.2
July: 151.95
August: 172.61
September: 193.06
October: 125.05
November: 148.0
December: 192.34

Somehow December worked out to be my second highest mileage month of the year, only shortly trailing September. Rock on!

What went well:
December has been a weird month. In terms of the running thing, it was pretty positive. After a two week post-marathon recovery period I started a new plan with a 50-miler in mind. I also decided to switch things up with the plan this time around. So far it's really been working for me. I did have a slip up on week one, which kind of sucked, but sometimes non-running things must take precedence. I re-evaluated the importance of speed work and have begun adding tempo runs back into my training. On Christmas weekend I tackled (and completed!) 21 miles on Saturday and 9 on Sunday for a 30 mile total. It felt super awesome as I head into my first ultra in January.

What didn't go well:
If running went pretty well, everything else really didn't. At least not for the first half of the month. I was a complete stress case between work and finals and a growing to-do list. I finally got my ass in gear mid-month and my attitude began to turn around.

January goals:
I'm going to write a 2012 goal post separately after the New Year. For January, though, I do have some specific goals in mind:
  • I have two races to tackle: PHUNT 50k on the 7th and the Manhattan Half on 21st. Stay tuned for goal posts (and a prep post for the 50k) as those events near. 
  • Make it to one spin or yoga class every week: this is something I've been ignoring, but I need to do it (if only to feel a sense of accomplishment for going). 
  • Keep up swim once a week.
  • Classes start up again on the 12th. Now that I know what I'm up against (after getting through the fall) I'm hoping to transition back into it easily.
  • I have major things to knock off on my wedding to-do list including hotels and save the dates.
  • After a bountiful holiday season I need to re-evaluate my eating habits. Maybe not have dessert every night...
Also, please, please don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

Everyone have a happy and safe New Year!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Long Runs: Part II

If you didn't get to read Part I aka The 21-Mile Run: Survivor Edition you can read it here.

Sunday morning we woke up and gathered around the tree. Sophie decided to hog the stockings.

For the last few years my sister has made a new tradition of making vegan cinnamon buns Christmas morning. It's definitely a tradition I look forward to keeping!

So yummy
This curiously shaped present was for me from Mike. He has been keeping me on my toes for weeks about what he got me.

If gift giving were a competition, and it was between Mike and I, he would always win hands down. He's always very creative and thoughtful, whereas I tend to be practical and uninventive. So this oddly shaped present really was no surprise. And it turns out the pyramid was just trickery!

He must know I love Egypt. And pyramids. 
Once I finally pulled the decoy pyramid off and opened it up I was so shocked and surprised I was nearly in tears. He designed my very own racing shirt complete with my name on the front and back!

I know what I'm wearing at the Manhattan Half in 3 weeks!
Number 18 was also on the back, which is our anniversary. He even wrote "RUNDAY" on the sleeve, as in Every Day Is Run Day!! (especially a day when I would wear this shirt).

I'm so, so excited to wear it to races! He also got me a bib keeper. Now I really wish I had hung on to all of mine from 2011. I did for awhile, but eventually I got frustrated that I really didn't have a proper place for them and they were getting wrinkled so I tossed them. Will be sure not to in 2012 and onward!

Other runner-rific gifts included some much needed foot therapy.

After a few hours of Indiana Jones watching and cinnamon bun digesting we finally made it out for a run. Since my goal was 30 miles for the weekend and we ran 21 on Saturday I just had to get in 9 more. I was actually really happy it ended up being split that way instead of my original plan, which called for 24 Saturday and 6 Sunday. Nine miles isn't what I would consider a "long" run per say, but it's definitely longish and it would be a good test after 20+ the day before.

The best part about this run is that though I had expected to do it alone (which I wasn't looking forward to), Mike and Caitlin both decided to join me! As soon as we starting running I knew I wasn't going to even try to push the pace. This was a recovery run, plain and simple. My legs were a bit sore from the day before, but nothing too crazy. We headed through part of Rock Creek Park again down towards the Mall. Caitlin and Mike did some stair repeats at the turn around. I was too chicken to cross the busy street.

After the turn around we headed back over to Georgetown and got on the C&O Canal for about 2.5 miles before turning around again. It was a beautiful day out. I was actually too hot in long sleeves and crops.

Mike and I on the C&O
Instead of going straight back to my Mom's we took a slight detour and ran the Exorcist stairs a few blocks away. They actually are pretty scary steep when you're at the top looking down.

Ahh don't fall!
Final Stats: 9.18 miles, 1:31, 9:54 pace

My calves were a little tight the rest of the evening, but all in all I'd say the weekend was a huge success. Aside from Ragnar, I think 30 miles is the greatest amount of mileage I've done in a two day period.

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Long Runs: Part I

Hello all! Sorry I have been gone a few days, but you were all probably traveling and enjoying the holiday anyway, so let's face it, you probably weren't glued to your computer like the other 360-some days of the year.

Last week was crazy busy at work. I had a huge workshop to write that I finally finished (and started) over the week. It felt great when I left the office Friday knowing that I had checked something huge off of my to-do list. More reason to celebrate!

The cookie bar at Whole Foods this weekend was also reason to celebrate

On Friday afternoon Mike and I drove down to DC for Christmas. Beyond the usual Christmas festivities, I had two major things on my list: a 24 mile run on Saturday and a 6 mile recovery run Sunday, totaling 30 miles for the weekend.

In theory, I feel really badass doing a 24 mile training run. On the morning of, however, it's basically the last thing I want to do. To tell you the truth, I really despise long training runs. They require a lot of time and effort. Not as much effort as a race when I'd really be pushing the pace, but still, 24 miles is 24 miles. Despite all of that time and effort though, I don't get all of the awesome race bonuses like a crowd cheering me on or a medal at the end. All the more reason to get up early and get it the hell over with.

On Christmas Eve however, my sister wasn't due in at the train station until 11 am and she wanted to run with me. Three hours later, at 2 o'clock, we finally rolled out the door. At that point we had already conceded to only run 21 miles instead of 24 since it mapped out more naturally (only she says...don't worry, I do realize the ridiculousness of that sentence).

It was miraculously 45 degrees out, so I decided to squeeze in one more run in shorts for 2011. Caitlin decided to do the opposite and bundle up.

Notice the halo over my head...ahem, ahem

The only real intention I had for this long run was to do it slowly and just finish it. My 50k is in two weeks. Ideally this long run should have been done last weekend, but my schedule didn't allow for it. My longest run since the marathon at the end of November was 12 miles, so doing 20+ was going to be interesting, but necessary if I wanted to feel comfortable at the race in two weeks.

The 21 miles was divided among two different trails: the Capital Crescent Trail and then, at the 10 mile mark, we would head back south on the Rock Creek Park Trail. On any other 20+ mile run I would have strapped a liter of water to me and stuffed 400 calories worth of fig newtons somewhere in my pockets, but for whatever reason I didn't feel like doing that this time. We headed out the door with no water, two packs of Sport Beans totaling 200 calories for the both of us, our cell phones, and two bagels in each of our stomachs. Andddd GO!

I don't know why only the Cherry flavor was "Extreme," but I will tell you that they were extremely good

The Capital Crescent Trail was mostly a nice bike path on the C&O Canal and then up north into Maryland through the woods. Of course there were a few odd parts...

Scary random tunnel

We did happen upon a few water fountains. Each was a small victory because we did end up getting rather thirsty.

We sang the Rocky song as we approached this one. Success!

The first 10 miles flew by pretty quickly. We walked some of it. I'd say somewhere around .5 miles. Then we got into Rock Creek Park, which was very serene, albeit a little confusing. Some of the roads were closed to bikers and runners, then it would randomly open up again and you'd have to run on the sidewalk or on the actual trail which would diverge away from the road every so often. It was strange.

Rock Creek Park
We walked a little more here because Caitlin's knees were bothering her, but then we realized something rather important: the sun was going down and there are no lights on the Rock Creek Park trails. Oops. I swear this run would not have felt as long if it hadn't been daylight when we left and pitch black when we returned.

We pushed on through the park. I should mention that I did not bring my Garmin on this run (between that, no water, and little food, I'd say this should be called the "Survivor Run"), so we were just estimating how far we'd gone and how much was left to go. I couldn't figure it out by time anymore because we'd walked some and I had no idea what our pace might be. 

Finally we got into some more familiar area in downtown DC and decided to abandon the trail and head up to street level to continue on. At that point the park was just plain scary. We finished the last 3 or so miles weaving through DC streets before we returned home. 

Final Stats: 20.81 miles, ~3:45:00, ~10:48 pace

I forgot to stop the watch a few times when we stopped so I estimated the finish time. We stopped for water 4 times and I ate what probably amounted to one whole pack of Sports Beans by myself. Caitlin ate the rest. It ended up being the most fun I've ever had on a long run, maybe because it felt like an adventure. The company wasn't bad either!

My immediate thoughts when we finished were: That wasn't bad at all. I could probably keep going if I had some more fuel. It's strange to say that those 21 miles were easy. I kind of feel like a jerk to be saying that, but that's how I felt. Yeah they took awhile, but that's exactly what I wanted. I don't expect to run my first ultra all the way through, nor do I expect to finish anywhere near my marathon pace. It's a going to be a whole new ball game. 

I was a little fatigued when we got back so we ordered some organic chinese food, put on Planet Earth and sunk into the couch for the rest of the night. A perfect Christmas Eve!

Stay tuned for Part II of The Christmas Long Runs later this week!

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flashback Run

On Sunday, February 6, 2011 I ran 6.5 miles. It was a special run for many reasons. For one, it was my longest run to date. I was training for my first half marathon. Which brings me to the second reason it was special - it was half of the 13.1 mile distance that I would complete 3.5 months later on race day.

On that chilly winter day I remember heading out mid-afternoon. I decided to go up West River Drive, a road I don't normally run on. I find it boring. It's right on the highway. I rarely run there, even now. I ran about 3.25 miles out until I got to the turn around point at a parking lot. I remember stopping for about five minutes and walking around in circles. 6.5 miles was a big deal. It was only when I had run 6 miles consecutively, just a week earlier, that I has actually started to feel like a real runner. Something about being able to run for one hour straight made me feel like the real deal. After my walk break I turned around a headed back home.

I don't remember the run back, but I do remember exactly how I felt when I was finished. I was both elated and disappointed. Yes, I had completed my longest run so far, but it had felt extremely challenging. The only thought running through my head was "how the hell am I supposed to run DOUBLE that distance?" It seemed impossible.

I don't remember a lot of my runs. How could I? I've been running 5-6 times a week for over a year. But I always remember that run for some reason. At some point yesterday I decided I was going to run that 6.5 mile route. I haven't run it since that day in February.

Blurry pictures are my specialty
It was 59 degrees out, on the first day of winter no less, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to wear shorts. I had hoped it would be a tempo run, but the heat caught me off guard (next time nix the long sleeves). I was drenched in sweat by the time I got home. Even though I struggled, I still finished more than 4 minutes faster than I had almost 11 months ago.

Sometimes we forget just how far we've come. A route that was once my weekend long run is now just part of my average mid-week mileage. I had so many doubts on that day about whether or not I'd actually be able to run a half marathon. Yet 3.5 months later that's exactly what I did. And I did it again 4 months after that. And then two months after that I ran a marathon. And now, in 16 days, I'll be tackling my first ultra.

The point is, you'll be surprised what you are capable of. It's easy to get caught up in disappointments and always thinking that you need to do better. That's why I like doing runs like this. It makes me appreciate all of the progress I've made.

Is there are specific run or workout that you go back to every so often to see hwo far you've come?

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why You Should Feel The Need For Speed

A year ago when I started training for my first half, I had no idea what speed work was. It sounded scary and I didn't know how to go about it. So, for all of you newbie runners looking to included different types of runs in your workout or training plan, this post is for you. This post is also for me though, and others like me, who may have fallen off the speed wagon and are looking for motivation to get back on. I've never felt in better shape than I was when I included weekly speed sessions into my training. In an effort to get myself back into it, here are the reasons why you should hate love speed work:

It will make you faster

No duh. This is a no-brainer. Our bodies are excellent at adapting. It's kind of what we do. If you train yourself to run faster, you will run faster. Eventually it will become easier too.

You will be done sooner

Also a no-brainer. Whether you're short on time or it's 20 degrees outside and your face is freezing off, you will be back inside doing whatever else you need to do more quickly after speed work. 4 miles is 4 miles. But 4 miles at a 7:30 pace will get you home a lot faster than 4 miles at a 10 minute pace.

You will land a PR

Obviously a thousand and one things could go wrong on race day to make you not land that PR you've been dreaming of, but chances are if you've including regular speed work into your training you're more likely to attain it. I ran my first half in May 2011 and finished in 2:01. Four months later, after introducing weekly speed work, I ran another half in 1:52, shearing 9 minutes off my time.

Yay PR Half
It will build your aerobic capacity

Specifically, speed work helps develop your VO2 Max, which is a measure of your body's maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise. The greater your body's ability to do this, the higher your physical fitness level. One really good metaphor I read was "A high VO2 Max is like having a bigger engine in your car. A larger engine gives you a higher energy potential."

You will feel hard core

Like all things that take hard physical work, perseverance, and mental toughness, speed work will make you feel like a badass. I'd say I get about the same amount of gleeful satisfaction after running 20 miles slow as I do running 5 miles of super speedy repeats.

It will make you fearless

Speed has always terrified me. Maybe that's why I'm working on competing in ultras and not track meets. If speed is something that scares you, then adding just one weekly session into your training can help you overcome that fear. Push your limits. See what you're made of. We don't get anywhere if we don't challenge ourselves.

As for my favorite speed workouts, two of my favorite bloggers both wrote posts on them here and here. My tried and true favorite is always mile repeats, but I enjoy spicign it up every now and again!

And just in case your curious about speed work's slower cousin, I wrote a how to about easy runs here.

Is speed work part of your weekly training? What is your favorite speed workout?

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Weekend of Successes

If you visited me last weekend, you know it was pretty much the exact opposite of success. Among last weekend's failures was my inability to complete my 16 mile long run on Saturday. It was pretty disappointing considering it was my first week of 50-miler training. This weekend, however, I got major redemption points and completed my weekly mileage with flying colors!

I'm notorious for never following through with my intentions to get up early on the weekend and get my long runs out of the way. I usually end up snoozing my alarm three times until I drag myself out of bed at 9 am and finally get out the door by 10. This is a problem for many reasons. Between the time actually spent running and my decompression time when I get back I pretty much forfeit the entire day. Bummer. 

But, in an amazing feat that will go down in the history books (!!), I actually work up at 6 am on Saturday and was out the door by 6:30. A little under 2 hours and 12 miles later, I returned home. What a great feeling it was to be done by 8:30 am!

It made me really want to commit to super early long runs from now on. It all comes down to math really: If I force myself to get up and run I'll only regret it for 15 minutes, during which I'll dream about being able to curl back into bed. But, if I sleep in and have to worry about fitting in my run later, I'll regret it all day. The answer is obvious.

After my run Mike and I drove to Long Island to visit my Dad for the night for Christmas. It was a nice time. Food, drinks, laughs, movies, and super awesome New York bagels Sunday morning:


We got back to Philly by noon and, even though I really didn't feel like running, I again forced myself out. I finished my 10 miles, thus completing my first full week of 50-miler training AND my first (of many) back-to-back double digit weekend long runs. SUCCESS!

Success dance

Don't forget to VOTE for me to join Team Refuel! Vote 'Kristin Hoeberlein' once a day now through January 15th!

So, tell me, what part of your weekend was a success?

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Reasons to Smile

Life is hard. Winter can be harder. Sometimes it's tough getting through your day-to-day and negativity can easily seep in, but you don't have to let it! Everyday, whether your happy, sad, or somewhere in the middle, try to come up with five things that make you smile and I bet your optimism will find it's way in afterwards.

Here are five things that are making me smile today:

Happy Friday smile
1. Winter break

Don't get me wrong, I love grad school. And I do feel pretty hard core balancing that and a full time job and an intense running schedule, but even Superman needs a day off every now and then. Last night I finished my last final and danced all the way home and into this morning.

2. Refuel with Chocolate Milk

I'm super happy to announce that I am in the running to receive an athlete grant from Refuel with Chocolate Milk and join Team Refuel! I know a lot of other bloggers who repped for them in Las Vegas two weeks ago and it sounds like they had a blast working with this company.

So pretty please won't you head over there and vote for this girl! You can vote once a day from now through January 15th and you better believe I'm going to be super annoying about it for the next 30 days.

3. Girl Talk

No, not the game (though that was pretty cool too back in the day). I'm talking about the musician Girl Talk, who is actually a guy named Gregg Michael Gillis and he does amazing things with music and mashups. I just rediscovered it on my ipod this morning and now I know exactly what I'm running 12 miles to tomorrow.

4. Cinnamon Nature Valley Granola Bars

Why is it that I can never find a full box of these things? They are delicious (!!), but I've only ever seen the Oats 'n' Honey and Peanut Butter in stores. However, if you buy the Variety Pack they give you two of these, so I stocked up on a few boxes of these at Target last weekend. No surprise they were all eaten by Tuesday and I was sad. Except that this morning I found another one hiding in my pantry! Joy!

5. One Week Until I See My Favorite People

Oh yeah and it will also be Christmas so I guess that's cool too. :)

What is ONE reason you are smiling today?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thankful Thursdays: Grinch Be Gone!

After kicking myself in the butt yesterday and owning up to my issues lately, I think things are finally turning around!

I'm thankful that I got to the pool this morning:

I swam this morning for the first time in three weeks. THREE WEEKS! It felt amazing. It also felt like I swallowed six gallons of water, but hey it's been awhile! I always feel great all day after running in the morning, but swimming gives me an extra special all day kinda feeling. Oh happiness!

Can anyone make swim caps look good?
I'm thankful for running buddies:

I usually dread my weekday runs when I have to do them in the afternoon. I'm tired. I just worked all day. I just want to go home. But yesterday's run was suprisingly enjoyable. A year ago this time I started running right after work because the sun was down by 5pm and I didn't want to run in the dark after I got home. Yesterday my co-worker and racing buddy Julia decided to jump on the bandwagon and try out my strategy. We did 4 x 1 mile long loops near work and chatted the whole time. It was lovely and it flew by. After she left I did a few more fasties on my own. Piece. Of. Cake. Running buddies rock!

I'm thankful that the temperature has evened out...for now:

Last week it was 60 degrees. A few days ago it was 25 degrees. Now it's settled around 45 and it looks like it's going to stay around there for awhile. I'm not dying when I go outside, but I don't overheat on my runs. I dig it.

I'm thankful for extra awesome days at work:

Days like this:

Because the Ancient Egyptians wouldn't want to be left out
I'm thankful for photo booths:

Our office holiday party had a photo booth. And I may have hogged it a little.

I'm definitely getting one of these for my wedding.

I'm thankful for single serving cereals:

I was so excited to get to the pool this morning that I completely forgot to pack my breakfast. Luckily I found this gem at at nearby Wawa. I don't usually buy full boxes of cereal or granola because I will eat it all in one sitting. Single servings are sweet!

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting Rid of the Grinch

November was an awesome month. Really. Freaking. Awesome. December? Not so much. I feel like I should be caught up in all of the holiday excitement, but instead I'm a complete stress case. Kristin the Grinch.

Yes, finals and the semester will officially be over tomorrow night at 7 pm, which means for the next few weeks I can go home at a normal time and not fill up my weekends with homework. And yes, my job generously gives all it's employees the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's as holiday pay. And yes, since Mike and I work at the same place we both get that week off, which means we can spend it together.

But instead of getting giddy thinking of all of these things, all I'm thinking about is how much I have to do at work between today and December 23rd and how much I have to get done during my holiday week. From thank you cards to wedding planning to lecture writing to website building, the list keeps growing. My vacation week is really starting to look like a work week.

The thought of all of it is weighing on me and since the beginning of the month I can see that I've been over sleeping, eating poorly, and zoning out after work and on the weekends instead of getting anything done. And so the list grows and I keep trying to hide from it. It is a vicious cycle. And I'm over it.

The planner in me is always thinking, "It's okay if you messed up, there's a new week starting soon or a new month," but I don't want to wait until January to feel better. December is just a word and dates are really meaningless. I'm ready to start my new month today. This means:

  • Getting the hell up! - Yeah, it's officially winter and 20 degrees in the morning, not to mention pitch black outside. Suck it up. Get up. You'll never regret you did.
  • Putting down the brown food - If everything you ate today was a brownish color, it's time to put down the fork and go grocery shopping. Colorful foods mean more vitamins, more natural, more good better for your body.
  • Knocking things off the list - It doesn't have to be all at once. Maybe just an hour a day, work on something that's been on your to-do list and knock it out of the park. Yes, maybe other things will replace it, but at least they won't be added on top of it.
  • Relaxing - Yoga is not really my cup of tea, but I've had this secret urge to go to a Bikram class for awhile. I need to suck it up and do it. I'll feel better afterwards. Also, maybe a massage is in order.

This calls for some serious Pinterest motivation!


How do you get yourself out of a rut? Do you have any tricks?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Around the Interwebs

My brain is still cramping a little bit since my final yesterday. Good news is that it went really well. Bad news is that all the intentions I had to keep up with it over break have gone out the window. I definitely need a 4 week break from it after that!

Brain freeze!!!!
So, because I'm not coherant enough today to write a real post I'll leave you with these two things:

Fitblogger Feature

The lovely folks at Fitblogger have decided I'm worthy enough to be a featured guest blogger today. Besides their fabulous 'Blog Spotlight" section (where I've discovered many other wonderful bloggers who I now read), they have all sorts of articles on fitness, nutrition, races, etc. Definitely worth a look if you've not visited them before!

Twitter Me This

I might have been on Facebook since it's advent in 2004 (you know, when you had to have a college email address to register), but I missed the whole Twitter boat. A few days ago, though, I decided to get with the times and see what all the fuss is about. And you know what? I kind of like it. I kind of like it a lot. Why didn't anyone tell me!?! It's like Facebook and blogging, but even easier!

But seriously, if you're not on get on and if you are on come find me! :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Weekend of Fails

I failed all over the place this weekend and those fails can be broken down into four main categories: sleep, shellfish, sweat, and studying.

Goal: Get up early and get things done FAIL

I have been so freaking tired the last week or so. I attribute it to the stress of the end of the semester, so hopefully as I finish my finals this week things will go back to normal. I really hope so because it's making me sleep through all of my morning workouts and that I feel like a piece of crap.

Goal: Don't have anything to do with shellfish FAIL

I've never been a big shellfish eater, having never enjoyed the taste or texture. That's a good thing, because about 5 or 6 years ago I discovered I had developed an allergy to it. That day I had some swelling and hives. Three years ago, when I accidentally ingested some, I had trouble breathing and my throat felt like it was closing up.  On Friday night I believe I had a reaction again. Except this time I didn't eat any shellfish. This time I kissed Mike, who, hours earlier at a department holiday party, had eaten two cocktail shrimp and some ceviche. I started feeling it come on during dinner and I thought maybe I just ate too fast. But then I started spitting up globs of mucus on the way home. I didn't even make the connection until I actually verbalized to Mike that I thought it felt like an allergic reaction and that's when he remembered what he ate earlier that evening. I took an antihistamine, but all day Saturday my chest still felt tight and there was a lump in my throat. It wasn't exactly painful, but it was seriously uncomfortable.

My Saturday after Friday night's reaction
The scary part about it is that if that is what now happens when I just get a transfer of shellfish from someone, what the hell would happen if I actually ingested one?! I've read that allergies can get more severe as one ages, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Goal: Get my sweat on with the first weekend of my new training plan FAIL

Remember when I said last week that I was going to do Saturday long runs this time around instead of Sundays? Apparently that's a lot harder to do than I thought. I read somewhere recently that it takes 3 weeks to make something a habit and 6 months to make something feel like second nature. If that's true then, after 50 weeks of being on a training plan in the last year, Sunday long runs have become my second nature.

That aside, there's multiple other reasons why I didn't get in my 16 miles on Saturday like I planned. For one, I slept until 10 am and didn't feel like finishing my run in the PM hours. For two, I was still experiencing an allergic reaction. And lastly, I was a little overly concerned with studying for finals.

Sometimes things don't go according to plan. So, instead, I decided to switch up my days and do Sunday's 8 miles on Saturday morning. Apparently December has finally decided to show up because it was super cold out.

I had a nice run over to a historical cemetery near Penn.

I was really happy I decided to switch up the mileage because I wanted to spend some time with Mike before studying.

Sunday morning I was meant to make up my 16 miles, but, alas, that didn't happen. Silly me starting a new training plan the week before finals. The stress of finals is already a lot, but the added stress of feeling like I have to run is making me go crazy. A few months ago I would have tried to squeeze it all in, probably injuring myself in the process, but this time around I'm letting myself off the hook.

Goal: Split studying between Saturday and Sunday FAIL

Yay finals! But not really. I had every intention of splitting my studying between Saturday and Sunday, but since I felt like crap all day Saturday, I didn't actually start until Sunday, the day before my Middle Egyptian final. Awesome Kristin. Way to go. I'll be doing this all day in lieu of running or anything else.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Runner's Gift Guide

If there's one thing I love as much as running it's shopping! I've always been a big shopper and when I started running in 2010 it didn't take long for me to discover the wonderful world of running clothes, shoes, gear, gadgets, and more. So, needless to say, I think I have a pretty good idea about how to shop for a runner and there's a lot more to it then just a pair of sneakers!

Geared up and ready to run this past summer!
With that in mind I thought I'd showcase some gift ideas for those of you gifting to a runner or for those of you new to running looking to add to your running stash. Whether you're shopping for a beginner or an experienced marathoner there is something for them on this list!

$10 or less

Fuel: If your runner is doing any training runs or races longer than 1-1.5 hours then fueling up is a good idea. Individual servings run a few dollars and are sold by many different brands. You can choose from Jelly Belly Sport Beans to CLIF Shot Bloks to GU Energy Gels to Nuun dissolvable tablets and more. Any fitness or running store should have some in stock. They can usually be found near the checkout.

Foot Care: Surely runner's beat up their whole bodies doing what they're doing (my entire body hurt after I ran the marathon including my arms, abs, etc.), but their feet certainly take the biggest beating. I personally use Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion with Aloe to keep my feet in good shape, but there are many other brands that carry similar creams and some that even have ones specific for feet. If you want spend more than $10, luxury foot care items can be found at places like Sephora. The brand Bliss carries some really nice products including their Softening Socks + Foot Patrol Set. Another nice, but again more expensive, option for this category would be a foot spa bath.

Bodyglide: Oh Bodyglide. How I love thee so. If you've ever experienced any sort of chafing, whether you're doing a sport or just walking around in an uncomfortable piece of clothing, then Bodyglide will definitely come in handy! They have a men's and women's specific version and they come in stocking stuffer size. They last quite awhile too. I've had mine for quite some time.

$25 or less

Digital Sport Watch: If your runner has been running for awhile chances are they probably already have a timekeeping, if not a GPS-keeping, device. But, if your runner is relatively new to the sport or maybe you're buying for someone who wants to take up running, then getting them a digital sport watch may be a good idea. Many different brands make simple sport watches so there are a lot of colors, styles, and features to choose from. Even though I use a GPS watch now, I'd say I still run about half of my mileage with my simpler sport watch just to track my time.

Winter Accessories (gloves, hat, ear warmers, arm warmers): It's that time of year to bundle up! Having a good pair of running gloves and a hat or ear warmer designed specifically for sweat-producing activities is definitely necessary for any outdoor winter runners. Almost all major sporting good brands make these items so there is a lot to choose from with respect to style, color, price, etc. Some of my favorites include Lululemon Running Gloves, The North Face Ear Gear, and Nike Arm Warmers.

Hat or Visor: Some runners may prefer to run without anything on their head, but for me personally, if it's raining out or if it's a particularly sunny day (especially in the warmer months and locales), I need a visor or hat on my head to keep the rain/sun/sweat out of my eyes. Getting a hat or visor that is made of a sweat wicking material is particularly important here. I really like Lululemon's Speedy Run Hat and Nike's Dri-Fit Classic Hat.

Hydration Bottles & Handhelds: Hydration is super important for runners so supplying your runner with a handheld water bottle is a worthwhile gift idea (especially if you live somewhere where you experience 100 degree days like the East Coast did this summer). At first it may sound uncomfortable to hold a water bottle while running, but many brands who specialize in this type of equipment have designed all sorts of ways to limit this discomfort by changing the shape, adding a strap, etc. Trust me, you really forget you're even holding it after a while. Major brands for this include Nathan and Amphipod.

Nathan Shoe Pocket: This thing is a real gem. For those times when your runner may not have a pocket or zippered pouch in their clothing, the Nathan Shoe Pocket comes in handy. It attaches right to your shoe laces and the pocket is nice and deep so you don't have to worry about your keys popping out during your run.

Running Socks: If you've never bought a pair of real running socks (that is, socks specifically designed for running) then you may be wondering why they aren't listed under the "$10 and less" category. The answer is that running socks are pretty pricey, often costing around $12-15 a pair. The good news though, is that they are totally worth it! Running-specific socks are padded in targeted areas (heel, toe pads, etc) and vented in other areas to allow your feet to breathe. Check out any major running goods brand.

Running Literature: This is an especially good gift idea for a new runner. When I first started running I super excited to discover Runner's World Magazine (and I still geek out about it every month when it arrives). If a magazine subscription isn't something that you want to give, then try a running-themed book. I have a short list of ones I've read on my Favorite Things page. I assure you that there are many more besides those though!

SPIBelt: The SPIbelt is no doubt one of the best running gear items that I own. It's expandable enough to hold your phone, keys, credit card, music, even your camera. It also comes in lots of fun colors if you're into that sort of thing.

Mike obviously took this picture to showcase the SPIbelt. Obviously.

$50 or less

Apple ipod Shuffle: Maybe I'm crazy, but I remember the first generation shuffle being at least $100 and only holding about 500 MB. Years later, it has 4 times as much space, is half the size, and can now be yours for a cool $49. As someone who occasionally runs with music, I was really excited to get my near weightless shuffle for on-the-go. If your runner already has a music player, consider buying them an arm band holder for it so it's more comfortable when they're running.

Hydration Waist Packs: While I love my handheld water bottle, there are times when I just want to go hands-free. Having a waist pack is a good substitute. I especially like the Nathan Triangle Waistpack and any of the FuelBelt products.

$100 or less

Running Shoes: Getting someone running shoes as a gift can be tricky. Between all of the different brands, heel to toe drops, and fits (from neutral to stability) it can be a difficult thing to shop for. If, however, you know exactly what type of shoe your runner wears, the size, and perhaps their favorite color then it can be a decent gift idea. Remember to get a gif receipt just in case!

Compression Sleeves & Socks: I'm a HUGE fan of compression wear for the lower extremities. They can be worn before, during, or after your run and help keep the blood flowing. Zensah compression sleeves are on the cheaper end ($40) and come in a variety of colors. For a more expensive option I love CEP compression socks ($60), which also come in a bunch of different shades (blue and red to debut in January!)

Whether a race or a long training run, you will often find me with compression socks or sleeves. I <3 them so much.


GPS watch: A digital sport watch is really nice to get the basics, but a GPS watch can offer a lot more. The feature I love the most is the fact that you can see your pace as your running, which is really helpful if you're training or racing and looking to meet a certain time. They have a lot of addition features outside of that (many of which I probably haven't even figured out yet). Garmin makes some really nice models, including mine, the Forerunner 305. Regardless of which brand you buy, the most important thing to do when considering a GPS watch purchase is to read lots of reviews. I researched them for about a week or so before making a decision about which one I wanted.

Hydration Backpack: For those runners doing really long runs or trail races, a hydration backpack, such as the ones made by Camelbak or The North Face are a good idea. Even though they carry a good amount of water I barely notice mine when I'm wearing it.

Digital Camera: It's always nice being able to document all of the cool places you go when you run (especially if you run and blog!). During the summer I purchased the Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 camera to take with me on-the-go. It doesn't have the best picture resolution, but it's waterproof (up to 16 feet), freeze proof, and drop proof (up to 5 feet), which makes it the perfect camera to take on the run. As always, do your research. There's bound to be other camera out there like it!

Of Varying Prices

Race Registration: If your runner is into racing, then consider purchasing a race registration for them. After all, those race fees really start to add up if you do more than a few each year! Of course, don't purchase any registrations unless you know your runner is available and willing to travel (if required) to the race.

Tech Clothing: I didn't mention clothing in any of the above pricing categories because frankly they can be all over the place. The most important thing to consider when purchasing clothing for a runner is to make sure it can breathe! Tech clothing is made specifically for sweating (and stinking). If your runner lives someplace seasonal, consider purchasing for the current weather. If it's winter, think long sleeves, pants, and jackets. If it's summer, think short sleeves and shorts. That way they can get use out of it right away. And, as always, get a gift receipt just in case the sizing is off!

Fellow runners - Got any other gift ideas?