Monday, December 10, 2012

How Many Pills Does It Take To Get a Runner Going?

As I deal with this knee thing, every day I'm constantly questioning what I can do to get better and stronger. This of course includes resting and icing and working out other muscles that can support the injured area, but in my case (and probably some of your's as well) it also includes a daily regimen of supplements. A part of me feels like I'm being a responsible runner and making sure I get all of the nutrients I need to be healthy. The other part of me worries about what sorts of chemicals I'm really putting in my body and whether its worth it. Right now I take a multivitamin, fish oil, calcium, and glucosamine supplement every day. That's just enough to make me feel like I'm slightly overdoing it.

The bigger problem, however, is not the supplements, but the pain meds. I sort of touched on this in my JFK recap, when I felt forced to take pain meds during the race, which I religiously never do. Even though I try never to take it during or before exercise, however, I have been taking it a lot afterwards. In fact, last week I realized that I have probably taken at least one Ibuprofen after my workouts every day for 5+ months since JFK training started and definitely more than one a day since my knee issue. It just became a standard part of my day and I didn't think twice about it.

As I was mulling over my discomfort last week the NY Times coincidentally published an article about this very predicament. Likewise, Runner's World has a small paragraph in their January 2013 edition about what recovery methods should and should not be employed.

NSAIDS - "Skip it!"

Every time I get injured or have a hard workout I always hear "ice, compression, anti-inflammatory, rest." But is taking Ibuprofen really the answer to reducing inflammation? Or rather, is it worth reducing inflammation if might cause more serious problems down the line? For me, the answer is no, its not worth it. So late last week I made an executive decision for myself not to take it anymore.
My immediate next question was "what can I do to reduce inflammation around my knees (or other injured areas) without taking meds?" Not surprisingly the answer was just a Google search away. Just a sample of the many articles here, here, and here. A number of different foods appear on any one list, but there are a few that keep coming up. Mainly:

- Broccoli (and other cruciferous greens)
- Salmon
- Ginger
- Green tea
- Olive oil
- Blueberries (and berries in general)

Obviously these are all good things to eat anyway, but now that I know they double as good anti-inflammatories I will be upping my intake on all of the above. Luckily these are foods I already incorporate into my daily diet. Broccoli and brussels sprouts are like candy to me and I have green tea every morning and ginger tea every night. So maybe I am already doing a lot to keep inflammation down. And who knows, maybe the Ibuprofen wasn't even helping because I was already eating the right foods.

Load 'em up!

Do you take supplements every day? What are your thoughts on anti-inflammatories?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rehoboth Beach Marathon: Spectator Report

Confession: I was actually signed up to run this race. I know, I know. Its only three weeks after JFK. Stupid, right?

I was actually hoping to decide about signing up for this race the week of, since it is a small event and doesn't usually sell out. After the whole NYC Marathon debacle, however, runners were scrambling for races and I had to make a decision fast or risk losing a spot. So about two weeks before JFK I paid the $130 knowing that there was a good chance that I either wouldn't be ready or wouldn't feel up to running the race. After Baltimore I really had marathon fever though, and I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to run 26.2 one more time in 2012.

Well, we all know what has happened since JFK. A big bunch of nothing! But while I'm cooling my heals and taking a running breather, my husband was still ready to roll with Rehoboth and had been keeping up on training pretty decently. So, at 3:30 am Saturday morning we headed out the door and made the drive down to the beach.

Even though I wouldn't be running the race, I wasn't too bummed to be missing out. Thankfully I was super sore from hot yoga on Thursday and the idea of moving my legs that much sounded terrible. Secondly, Mike has supported me on countless numbers of races, and I really owed it to him to be there and support him from the bench. I was excited to cheer him on and finally have a day that was all about him.

Up for 4 hours and it still dark out

As I said, this race is pretty small. Only about 1800 runners split evenly between the full and half marathon. I think they ended up over selling a little bit after welcoming some of the displaced NYC runners, but it was still way smaller compared to the other two marathons I've done in Philly and Baltimore.

We arrived around 6 am, picked up our packets, and headed back to the car so Mike could change and fuel up. The weather ended up being perfect. It was fairly warm out in the low 50s, but the overcast sky and ever-so-slight mist coming down made for perfect racing conditions.

Super nice Brooks long sleeve tech shirts. And you bet your ass I'm wearing mine even if I didn't run. 

I have actually never spectated a race from beginning to end, so I was really excited to see the elites up front. All guys of course. 

The race ended up starting about 7 minutes late, which was kind of lame. They also didn't seem to have nearly enough port potties for the field size. I don't know what the required ratio is, but I think I saw 10 or less port potties at the start for 1800 people and the lines were about 50 people long.

Finally the race got going, I waved Mike goodbye, and started walking down to meet him again at the 5 mile marker.

It wasn't long after I got there that the first half marathoner came through. He was totally alone with the next guy at least few minutes behind. I ended up seeing him finish the race. He ran a 1:12 half and the second place male was a full 5 minutes behind! Ridiculous.

Mr. So-speedy-it-makes-me-nauseous-to-think-about

Mike rolled past me at mile 5 just under 40 minutes, right on target. He ran his first marathon just two months ago in Baltimore and ran a 3:39:58. His main goal going into Rehoboth was just to set a PR and also pace himself through the first half better.

After mile 5 the runners took of north along the beach and then through a park. It sounded really pretty and serene especially with the fog and mist coming down. I didn't see Mike again until he finished. I stuck around the finish line to see the winners come in and spent some time huddled in the Starbucks across the street. I'm usually great about paying attention to race day weather, but as a spectator I totally dropped the ball and was freezing my tuckus off outside!

When the clock hit 3:20:xx I commandeered a spot right before the finish line with a great view of the runners coming in. Mike may have been skeptical about his running time, but I had a feeling he would come in sooner than expected.

Rounding the corner to the finish!

Mike's final stats: 3:36:40, 8:12 pace and a 3+ minute PR!

In case anyone is curious about how he pulled off two marathons in eight weeks, he took the first week after Baltimore easy, then did five more weeks of 15-20 mile weekend long runs, and a two week taper.

He had really doubted that he would beat his Baltimore time especially after no sleep the night before. I was sad not to run, but thrilled that I got to support him and be there to watch him set a new PR. Of course, after this race his marathon PR is almost a full 10 minutes ahead of mine. The gauntlet has been thrown!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Running Q&A

Just because I'm not running doesn't mean I can't talk running. A runner's survey has been floating around the blogosphere the past few days. I swiped it from this girl. Surveys are fun, so let's do this thing!

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

Other. As in pretzels, Fig Newtons, Swedish Fish, raisins, animal crackers, M&Ms, you get the idea. Once upon a time I actually used gels and all of that crap, but then my stomach decided it wasn't cool with that anymore. It worked out nicely because ultras tend to have "real" food anyway and my stomach is ready to roll with that. My absolute fav? Darrell Lea Liquorice. Mango flavor is the best. Drooling right now thinking about it.

Pre-JFK shopping

2. Race Length: 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

Marathon. Hands down. I love the extra challenge of ultras, but 26.2 miles is just like heaven to me. A 20 mile long run + a 10k race. Sweet and simple. I used to dabble in shorter distances, but eventually decided that I rather save my money for marathons and ultras.

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants, or Other?

Shorts. Specifically Lululemon Speed or Turbo Shorts. I do own one sparkle skirt, but rarely have an occasion to wear it.

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

Water and salt pills during the run. Electrolytes afterwards. I fell in love with Gatorade this summer for post-run delights. 95 degrees and 100% humidity will make your body beg for it.
5. Running temperatures: HOT or COLD?

Cold. 44 degrees to be precise.

6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics, or Other?

I spread the wealth to most of the major brands, but my one true love is the Saucony Kinvara. So many colors, you have to try them all!

7. Pre-Race Meal: Oatmeal. Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?

Banana and Nature Valley peanut butter granola bar.

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?

In a perfect world? Mondays off. That's it.

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it?

Both. I dig it on weekend long runs. I will not run with music in the dark, which pretty much counts out any early morning or evening weekday runs (in the fall/winter anyway). For marathons I usually try to get until mile 17/18 when I need the mental boost.

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?

Pure love baby. It makes me feel limitless (and the cupcakes don't hurt either).

Smiling at mile 49.9

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is It Worth It?

I've been doing a lot of thinking since running JFK two and a half weeks ago. I'm still dealing with knee pain. I tried running 3 miles on Monday and it started to ache at mile 2.5. I biked to work on Monday and Tuesday, which I think was good and bad. Good because I felt like my quads were getting stronger. Bad because bending the knee that much doesn't help anything. This morning I tried to run again, felt pain around mile 2, gave up a half mile later and walked home sulking.

The thinking I have been doing is about whether or not I really want to continue running ultras. Well, I want to do them, but I'm just not sure I want to deal with the aftermath. On the one hand its nice to have a goal race to train for and who knows how many miles I would really put down every week if I didn't have a 50 mile race looming in the back of my mind. On the other hand, in exchange for running so many miles in one day I have to give up miles on other days.

I love to run. I would run at least 10 miles every day if I could. The problem with loving to run so much, however, is that when I have to back off of running because of that big goal race it makes me hate that big goal race.

Other than laying down 50 miles in a single day on November 17th, I feel like I haven't really run much since October. Between a three week taper, which I hated, and the almost three weeks I've spent recovering/injured, which was okay at first but now officially sucks, I've lost a month a half because of JFK.

What would I really prefer to have? 6 weeks of regular running back in my life? Or a challenging race completed and checked off my list? Truthfully I don't know. I love challenging myself with ultras, but right now, honestly, I just rather be running.

Sidenote: This post will probably be completely null and void as soon as I'm uninjured and start wanting to feel like a badass again who runs 50 miles.