runfreeforever

Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Guess who’s back (…….hint……me!)

Wow, I’ve been on quite the hiatus from my blogging life, but worry not, I haven’t strayed away from my running! They say time flies when you’re having fun, and my gosh they’re right. I’ve just been looking back for the first time in a long time at my running goals, ambitions, and ramblings from three years ago, and I’ve realized that much has changed, but so much has definitely stayed the same. I’m into my second year of college already, with midterms, lab papers, and my first full marathon staring me right in the face. Add a pharmacy school application, pharmacy tech certification test, volunteering, working, and some resemblance of a social life and other college-y things, and you could say I’m one busy bee. Running has been one of those few necessary constant things in my life that never fails to help keep me sane when the going gets rough, the stress of life seems overwhelming, or soothe any other wide range emotions.

Since entering college last year, the first student organization I joined was a running club. What I love about our running club here is the diversity among our members. We have three official routes each day we meet, where one goes about 2-3 miles, one runs about 4-6, and a third ambitious team treks 6-8 miles. We have people of all backgrounds come to our bi-weekly meetings, whether they’re freshmen looking for a place to continue running after high school cross country, to graduate students looking for a running buddy, from those who’ve never had a foot on the starting line of a race in their lives, to the ones who’ve already run more marathons and half marathons than I could count on both hands. Regardless of your past in running, anyone is sure to find someone who will fit their ideal pace and strike up an intriguing conversation while they’re at it. Especially with my first marathon around the corner in a few short weeks, it’s great to have a whole group of people who’ve been there and have advice for me and don’t think I’m crazy when I ask if anyone wants to join me on a 20-miler! I’m truly blessed to have such a great community of runners around me here who support me and break up the monotony of solo runs, along with simply being a blast to run with.

Well that’s all for now folks, but keep in touch, there’s definitely more to come!

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Plantar Fasciitis = Plain Frustration

Our conference meet was on this past Monday. I was supposed to run the 4x800m, open 800m, and the 4x400m. I ended up running the 4×800 and half of the open 800, hobbling and limping the second half of the open 800m, and finding a substitute for my 4x400m.

I started out the day with a bit of pain in my arch. I’d been having mild arch problems for the past couple weeks but it went away when I ran and I didn’t think too much of it. But then I did a long run on Sunday, for an hour at a moderate pace, about 8 minute miles. My arch started hurting a bit more after that and my hips hurt a bit too, but once again, I thought I could just push through it, rub it out, and I’d be fine. But my body had other ideas.

I ran my leg of the 4×800 in 2:29, not my best but pretty darn close. I was happy enough. My team ended up finishing first and getting a team PR in 9:41, so I was even happier!

During cool down and the warmup for my second 800 though, my arch would start hurting much worse than before. I told my coach about it and she just recommended that I tried to stay off it as long as I could before my race and that I keep my regular running shoes on for as long as possible, rather than my spikes. She recommended icing it and taking advil later. I know it’s hard to tell, but in retrospect, I wish I just would have scratched that race.

I started out okay in the first hundred meters before my arch started aching…then as I started the second lap it started getting worse…and popping…and by the last 200, I couldn’t even run on my toes anymore without it popping and hurting like crap. I limped all the way down the home stretch and still managed to place 5th in 2:36.94. Not bad for being hurt, I guess. But what made it suck even more was the girl at the end who tried to be nice. I was obviously in pain and she goes, “It’s okay, everybody has a bad race sometimes.” Maybe it wasn’t intentionally mean. But I kinda wanted to slap her. That wasn’t a bad race. That was me shooting myself in the foot and still running on it. That was me get my foot eaten by a ravenous lion, bear, and shark at the same time and still finishing it out…even though I probably shouldn’t have. That was part of me dying on the track, not because of my crappy time, but because I knew that I just did something really really really bad that I shouldn’t have and that may jeopardize the rest of this season. I’ve apparently got plantar fasciitis and I just made it way worse.

I could hardly walk all night after my race or especially the this morning. As the day went by, it loosened up a bit but I was still kinda hobbling around the halls all day. I went to see my school trainer before practice and hoped that it would help to just tape it up. Nope. It made it feel a bit better when I was just walking around, but I didn’t even get a hundred meters into my warmup before I had to stop. I went back inside and ended up on the elliptical for forty minutes, then iced it and stretched until practice was over.

Plantar Fasciitis sucks. A lot. Especially this late in the season, when it’s beautiful outside and all I want to do is run, and the state qualifying meet is tomorrow and the state meet is next week already!

Hopefully ice, advil, and prayer will at least get me through the next two weeks!

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4x400m inspiration

I love the 4x4m relay. It is definitely one of my favorites both to watch and to run. At track meets, it’s always the last event, so everyone on every team always crowds the track, cheering. It’s one of the most intense, competitive, high energy races of the night. And a few days ago as I was watching the olympic 4×4 from this summer, I was so inspired. Just look at those girls’ abs. I want that! They’re so strong, so fit, so fast. And I know I’m not fat or out of shape or anything like that, but I certainly don’t look like they do and I most certainly can’t run like they do!

I’m running the 4×8 and the 4×4 at my meet today. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to pull out any crazy 46-second splits for my 400, but even under a 66 will make me happy! And my 4×8 team is currently ranked 19th in the state, and we need to be in the top 16 to qualify for the statewide meet next week. I want it so badly! Today and thursday are my team’s last chances. We need to drop at least 10 seconds from our time to qualify. That’s gonna be tough. But we’re tough. We can do it if we really push ourselves. If only we could be like those Olympic athletes who make it look so effortless!

I’ll keep you posted (pun intended 🙂 ) on how tonight’s meet turns out!! 🙂

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IT

I know it’s all over the news. Probably every other runner-blogger and non-runner-blogger is talking about it. You know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t live in a hole, you’ve probably heard way more about it and seen more gruesome photos than you’d care to see. And for that reason, I don’t care to post any more. It makes me feel sick, seeing the tragedy that shook so many people’s lives. I can’t begin to imagine what that bomber was thinking, but I’d almost want to say that if only they would try to run 26.2 miles, maybe they could find a better way to take out their anger through their running. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and loved ones of the three people whose lives were taken, as well as those of the 176+ others who were injured.

But then, being a runner myself and aspiring to run Boston sometime in my life, the events of yesterday afternoon make you rethink. I know it’s unreasonable and unhealthy to live your life in fear that you’re gonna be next, but the bombing yesterday really struck home for myself and for runners worldwide. As part of the running community, we share a certain connection through our shared love of running. We understand the pain that we all have to go through, we give advice to each other, we encourage each other, we inspire each other. And sometimes, alone with nothing but our pounding feet on the pavement, the sound of our breath, and the beating of our hearts, we almost feel invincible.

And then our façade is ripped away.

We can’t run from everything. You can train as much as you want, you can run hundreds, or even thousands of miles, but you still can’t run away from danger if the time comes.

And that’s a scary thought.

But what can we do? We can keep running. We can be there for those affected by the bombings yesterday. We can pray for them. Runners are known to be generous, to run to raise money to help other people. And that’s what we’ll keep doing to help our fellow runners and the spectators hurt yesterday. It would be foolish to not be more cautious, in light of yesterday, but we will keep running. Boston will continue to be the famously prestigious race that it is. I’m not taking it off of my bucket list just because of what happened this year. I’m still going to run part of my friend’s marathon with her this saturday. I can’t and won’t let some terrorist change the way I live my life and my dreams. Runners are not invincible, but we are strong. And we will continue to be strong for everyone affected yesterday.

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Run With No Regrets (attempt #3)

I have no idea what is wrong with wordpress, but this is the third time that I have written a blog along these lines. The previous two posted as blank posts with nothing but some tags and a title. And then since I still haven’t been able to say what I wanted to say, I’ve gotta rewrite it YET AGAIN. UGHH!!! I am so frustrated with wordpress! If wordpress had a face, I’d like to punch it. If it was a small animal I’d have it get eaten by a shark. Or a starving lion. Does anyone else have this problem???? This is ridiculous!!!!!!

Sorry. Anyways.

This past week we finally had our first and second outdoor track meets on Thursday and Saturday! And I set new PR’s at both of them!! 🙂 Getting a PR is the best part of running in my mind. I mean it’s always nice to place well, but I am always the most satisfied and excited about my races when I get a PR and beat my old times!

On Thursday I ran the 4x800m relay and the 800m stretch of the distance medley (two 200m legs, a 400, and an 800). I ran the first leg of the 4×800 in 2:32, so I got a PR by three seconds from our indoor meet. There were only two races between the 800 and the distance medley, so I had very little time to recover. I let myself think negatively rather than positively, and I let myself lose sight of my goals. I ended up running the second 800 in an awful time of 2:40-something, and I was very unhappy with it. I know that I didn’t try my hardest and I could’ve and should’ve been able to run it so much faster.

On Saturday, I ran the 4×8 again. I ran it in 2:35, which was slower than I had hoped for but not unbearable. It was really windy coming down the front straightaway which made it especially hard when I was trying to finish strong. My second event was the 800m run, over two hours later. I love having plenty of time to relax and recover so I’m not rushed between events. If only that happened every time!! I kept my thoughts positive and I stayed motivated between events. I was mentally prepared to give it everything in that second 800. I started in one of the outside lanes, which is good so I didn’t get boxed in at the start. I felt good and strong throughout the entire race. Even in the middle to end, when I usually start thinking that I want to give up, all I could think was “No regrets. Have no regrets. Stay tall. I am strong. I can do this. No regrets. No regrets. No regrets.” I finished in 8th place, and without even knowing my time I could tell that I had given it my all and that I’d had an amazing race. I ran a 2:30! I got a new PR by two more seconds!! I only hope that I can keep up this progress and keep getting more PR’s!! 🙂

I just gotta stay positive. I can’t start doubting myself. I can’t give up before I’ve even started. I can’t let myself settle for less than what I’m really capable of. I need to stay strong, tall, relaxed, and fast. I can do it. I know that I can. I need to run without regrets!

run with no regrets

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My Best Friend, the Roller Massager

I’d like to introduce y’all to my bestie, Pro-Tec Athletics’ Roller Massager!

Ta-da!!!

If you ever have tightness or soreness or pain ANYWHERE before or after a hard run or any other time, THIS WILL BE YOU’RE BEST FRIEND TOO!!! It’s a massage roller with four foam sections that feel like angels kissing your legs when you use it. According to their website, “The Roller Massager stretches muscles and tendons, breaks down soft tissue adhesion, and soothes tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues. Deep tissue stimulation and massage maximizes muscle performance and flexibility!” I use it to roll out tightness from my muscles before and after races and tough workouts. At one track meet last year, my quad inexplicably cramped up while I was warming up for an 800. Without one of these, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to run my race with as much pain as I had before I used it. My calves are always so tight and it’s led to worse problems like shin splints and Achilles problems. But when I use the roller massager, it helps release the tension and it feels so much better! There’s also this thing that happens more often after a shorter distance race, like a 400m race or shorter, where your butt cramps up. It’s commonly known among the girls on my team as “booty-lock,” and, let me tell you, it is one booty-kicker. It hurts so bad and you can hardly walk until it’s stretched out. This roller massager helps with that too! And if you’ve got a huge knot in your back, the roller massager has you covered there too. The difference it can make is like magic. From calves to backs to butts to IT bands, this roller is a life saver! It helps reduce soreness and tightness like no other! Here’s a video on how it works:

I’ve also tried The Stick’s Original Roller Massager. While this one has the same basic idea, it’s basically a bunch of hard plastic beads that hurt a lot more than the foam on Pro-Tec’s Roller Massager above. My friend likes it; I don’t prefer it. I guess it’s personal preference, and maybe you’d get used to the way it hurts after a while, but that is not the thing for me.

WHITE/BLUE

 

I’m not trying to sound like a saleslady or anything, a girl I know uses a rolling pin (like the wooden kind you’d use in the kitchen) to roll out her muscles, and it works just as well for her! If you’re sore, there’s a seemingly endless supply of ideas out there to help you! I hope you try out the roller massager though, because it has worked wonders for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you!

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Run Like a Kenyan

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-run-like-a-kenyan/

One of the most dreaded workouts of our track season is the Kenyan Run. I’m not sure how it got its name, whether someone from Kenya does this type of run, whether someone thought it would make you run like a Kenyan, whether it uses the Kenyan style of running…I have no idea. My coach had us do a few of these last year for the first time…and since I ran super slow at my time trials, the splits she wanted me to have weren’t all that bad. For other people who actually ran good times in their time trials, though, it sucked. We did one of these three-mile runs yesterday, and while it did get tough at the end, it wasn’t unbearable. I was feeling pretty good yesterday, so that certainly made it better. The key to the Kenyan run is negative splits.

Here’s how it works:

Add a minute and a half to your fastest most recent mile time. Run one mile at this pace. For the second mile, subtract fifteen seconds from that time. Finally for the third mile, subtract fifteen more seconds. And as always, make sure you warm up and cool down sufficiently.

Negative splits are when you get faster as you go, rather than slowing down. I know that I always have a problem with this both in races and at practice. I have a tendency to start races and some workouts way too fast, slow down in the middle, then try to speed up at the end but it doesn’t always happen… That’s why negative splits and the Kenyan run are great practice so you can practice getting faster as you go rather than slowing down. In general, running negative splits in a race will be more successful than running positive splits and slowing down. If you start slower and speed up, you have more energy to really kick it in at the end and give it all you got. As long as you don’t run too slow for too long at the beginning and don’t speed up enough soon enough, this is a good strategy for some people who have a good sense of pace. On the contrary, if you start much faster than you should, then it’s easier to get worn out early and slow down way more than you should. This is what I do, and I’m sure a lot more people do this too.

One last note, last year at the state track meet, I saw a girl from a 1a school who ran the 1500, 3000, and 800. She was a ridiculously amazing distance runner and I’m pretty sure she won most, if not all of her races. She would start out every race – even the 800! – at the very back of the pack…but then she ran negative splits so she kept moving up and up throughout the whole race. By the end, she would be so far ahead of the pack that you never would have guessed that she started out at the back. Negative splits kinda suck but they work!

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Don’t give up!!

Pinned Image

http://peace-love-run.tumblr.com/page/3

Every year, we start off the new track or cross country season with a sea of new faces…but then tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after, a significant number of them don’t return. Why? Why would they quit when they’re only just getting started? The first two weeks are always the hardest, as your body is adjusting to the stresses. When you’re so sore that you can barely move, that’s just your body telling you that it’s getting stronger and faster. Are they afraid that someone will be judging them if they come in last? I think that everyone has that fear of not being good enough. We all want to be first. We all want to win. We all want to be the one that people watch with awe and jealousy. But unfortunately, there’s only one winner. Being slow isn’t something to be embarrassed about. You’re not racing against anyone else but yourself and the clock. While getting first is always nice, in my opinion, I would be happier about getting a PR and feeling like I gave my all. Don’t least non-runners look down on you. If you keep running even through the pain, you’re stronger than they will ever be. I’ve heard people say that cross country isn’t a sport. They’re so wrong. Deep down, they’re just jealous that they aren’t as strong, fast, and fit as you are!

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t be afraid of people laughing at you or looking down on you if you come in dead last. Don’t let the initial aches and pains of running make you lose your motivation to run. It’ll be worth it in the end if you stick it out and keep putting one foot in front of the other!

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Bye-Bye, Blisters!

Back in eighth grade when I started running on my own (outside of track season), I used to get awful blisters on my feet, especially on my arches. Especially after long runs and when it was rainy or snowy or wet, I’d get blisters so bad that I just wanted to take off my shoes, or I’d favor one leg over the other. If you ever have any ache or pain while running that causes you to change your running form, STOP RUNNING!!! It will only lead to even more injuries!!  But going back to my original point – blisters are so annoying! Part of my problem was due to my poorly chosen shoes, but even a new pair of quality running shoes didn’t cut it for me and my picky feet. But I’ve found a cure. Socks.

I used to just wear whatever socks I wanted – usually thin and 100% cotton. I had no idea that my choice in socks could make that much of a difference in my comfort while running. The most important thing that I look for in a good sock is that they’re made from synthetic materials. Even if they say that they’re sweat-wicking, but they’re made from 100% cotton, I wouldn’t get them. I’d always opt for something with more polyester, more spandex, more nylon, etc., over more cotton. When I started wearing socks made from better materials, I noticed a huge difference in the frequency of the blisters I got. Rather than being every single day, I now only get them on rare occasions! Here’s five of my favorite socks! (not necessarily in order of preference; I like all of them!)

1.)Pro Spirit® Women’s  Cushion Poly No Show Athletic Sock

Pro Spirit® Women's 3-Pack Cushion Poly No Show Athletic Socks - Assorted Colors

I first tried out these socks from Target. At only $5 for a three-pack, they’re budget friendly. They’re made with 79% cotton and 21% Nylon, and while this ratio isn’t ideal, they’re still good at wicking away sweat and moisture.

2.) Running II

I tried these socks from WrightSock, because they’re made specifically to prevent blisters. They’re made with two layers to reduce friction, plus they keep your feet dry and speed evaporation. I haven’t gotten any blisters from wearing them, but they have shrunk in the wash and don’t quite fit my feet anymore…so I would recommend making sure you get the right size before buying these!

3.)Women’s Recur No-Show socks

Besides being super fun, cute, colorful, and comfy, these Under Armour socks are made with a Moisture Transport System to get sweat away from your feet, with a blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex. Plus they have an Anti-Odor system to help prevent all that icky, stinky stuff that nobody wants!

4.) Women’s Grippy II No-Show Socks

These socks, also from Under Armour, are thinner than the previous socks. They’re made with Microfiber Nylon, Nylon, and Lycra® Spandex, and also have the Moisture Transport System. They have OdorBlock, Under Armour’s most advanced system of preventing odor-causing bacteria. They have the little grippy nubs on the bottom of them to help keep you from slipping too!

5.) Nike Cushion No-Show sock

161 - Spark/White

I’m not sure if they make these Nike socks anymore; I had a hard time finding them online. But they fit my feet great and have a specific left/right sock for an ideal fit. They also have a built-in arch that seems tighter than most built-in arches, in a good way. They’re made from Nylon, polypropylene, elastane, and polyester, so they wick away moisture as well.

If you are still having blister problems after you have good socks and shoes (or you have to wear certain socks/shoes for a uniform or something and have no other choice), Body Glide could be your new best friend. It looks a little like deodorant, and you apply it similarly. It helps prevent chafing and friction, and it doesn’t feel sticky or icky anything. I use it when I race or play soccer, when I’m running longer or faster than usual, or running in shoes that don’t fit my feet as well as my regular running shoes for some reason. It works wonders!

I hope these tips help! Happy comfortable, blister-free running!

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Just keep running, running, running!

When I’m running in track or cross country, whether it be at a meet or at practice, there are always those days when I just feel like giving up. I think that mental strength is the hardest part of running. I start races strong, confident, and motivated, but then in the middle when it starts to get hard and my legs are burning but I can’t see the finish line yet, it’s so tempting to give up a bit. It’s always the hardest to stay strong through the third quarter of a hard workout, when you’re tired but you’re not close enough to the end yet. I keep running, but I’m not all there mentally and I’m not giving all the effort that I could be giving. I start thinking things like “why am I doing this, it doesn’t really matter” or “I pushed hard at the beginning, I don’t have to go quite as hard now” or “Ahhhh my legs are killing, this hurts so bad, I just wanna trip over a tree so I can have an excuse to have a bad time!” I know it’s bad to let my mind wander so much that I’m trying to figure out how to get myself spiked or something so I can quit, but it’s so hard to stay focused the whole time. On monday, we ran five miles at a faster pace than usual, between a 7:25-7:50 minute/mile pace. It was freezing and snowing a bit that day, and my legs were numb from the cold but at the same time they were burning from the effort. On the way back of our out-and-back route, we slowed down so much more than we should have, to run the second 2.5 miles over a minute slower than the first 2.5 miles. We should’ve been able to keep up our pace, but it was so hard to stay strong all the way through. If that only happened at one practice, maybe it would be okay, but it happens every single time. Every race, every practice, I can’t seem to keep my pace even and keep it up through the middle and last half. Or if I could run negative splits and get faster as I go on, it would be even better. But my motivation and effort always drops off and I can’t do it. I start to doubt myself and think that I can’t do it, and I give up. I need to be more like Dory in Finding Nemo rather than being like Marlin!

Just pretend like she’s singing about running – when my legs want me to give up and feel like a Mister Grumpy Gills, I gotta just keep running, just keep running, just keep running, running, running! Cuz what do I do? I Run, run, run! Ha ha ho ho ho ho I love to RUN! And when you waaant to run, you gotta run!

If Dory can do it, so can you and I, right??

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