2014 Runner’s Gift Guide

See Val Run // 2014 Runner's Gift Guide

For the crazy and addicited runner in your life. Here’s a few ideas for this holiday season. This list is comprised of a few of my personal favorites and a few that are listed are in constant use in my daily life and have the “See Val Run” stamp of approval (if you were wondering they are the Flip Belt, Garmin GPS watch, Alex Water Bottle).

From left to right
1. Flip Belt in Nuclear Yellow- $29
2. Born to Run – $11
3. Sparkle Athletics Gold Running Skirt – $25
4. Road ID – The Wrist ID Slim – $18
5. Retro Marathon Inspirational Quote Print – $10
6. Garmin GPS Forerunner 210 (multicolor) – $180
7. Alex Water Bottle – $26
8. Run Rest Repeat GoDRY Active Tank – $7 (sale price as of 12/10/14)

I (will) eat hills for breakfast

My husband and I signed up for the San Francisco Rock n Roll Half Marathon next March. We made sure to register before the price increase! No procrastination here (for once)! My husband also was pleased to see that this race has a pretty generous refund policy which includes  injury, illness, and unexpected travel delays. Brownie points to the race directors at the Rock n Roll, I like how you think.

I am a big fan of the Rock n Roll series. I’ve raced in the half marathon in San Jose and full marathon in San Diego. The races are always well organized, high energy and really fun to be a part of. I believe the San Francisco location has only been around for 2-3 years. Last year, I was interested in signing up but one tiny little thing stood in my way.

Actually make that three 300 foot gargantuan things.

The hills are alive with the sound of San Francisco. Call me a baby, but I avoid hills like the plague. And even though it’s always one of those things that I know I should do, I just can never bring myself to add hill training to my workouts.

So. Much. Pain.

But there is that old saying, no pain, no gain right and by signing up for this half marathon I will HAVE to train hills. Hill training conjures up feelings of anxiety and dread. I will have to remind myself that this was a voluntary assignment. I have no one to blame but myself.

Speaking of The Hills, I can’t think of a better way to accentuate a post on hill training than with some gifs from my friends Lauren, Whitney and Audrina. Let’s be honest, life is better with a little Lauren Conrad thrown into it. My not so guilty reality TV pleasure will precisely illustrate all of my current feels:

To answer the question, why am I doing this?
sacrifice wins

I guess I am sort of a glutton for punishment
glutton for punishment

To inspire myself during my inevitable hill workouts:
hills-worse

What I hope to look like after hill workouts:
hills-yay

What I’ll actually look like:
hills-sad

Okay hills, let’s go.

Confessions of A Yoga Noob

After my last blog post, I had some very helpful suggestions from Pscapp and Kristin to try yoga as a possible remedy to my ITBS struggles. I’m willing to try anything if there’s a slight possibility I’ll be able to run pain free.

My experience with yoga is limited to just classes of Bikram Yoga. The first class was a double date. Is there really a better place for a double date than a place where you will sweat out enough liquid to solve California’s drought problem? No, there isn’t. An hour and a half of hot yoga is no joke. I have never sweat that much in my entire life. It was like my skin was just one giant faucet. 

After my first two classes I never went back as the bikram in my area is a little pricey. But with the recommendations to try yoga, I wanted to give it another chance. Life is a tad busy at the moment with work at its busiest season with work events galore and coaching a high school gymnastics team, so going and paying for a class is out of the question. So where do you turn? YouTube!

My most favorite ab workout is on there, why not stream a yoga video?

I quickly realized that I know nothing about yoga and spent a few minutes doing a quick google search about the different types of yoga.

I attempted this power yoga video from Bryan Jones. It was only 30 minutes, which was perfect for my Tuesday morning. I think I may need something shorter, like 15 minutes, but not sure if I’ll get the benefits I’m looking for with a shorter time. It was a good workout, I even started to sweat a bit. One thing I know for sure, running has made my muscles so tight. As a former gymnast, my body and muscles were quite flexible. I’ve noticed that the more that I run, the tighter my muscles become. I held the downward dog position and my muscles screamed at me. Conclusion: I need to stretch more.

Even though yoga may not be my thing, I’m going to keep at it for a while. I’m going to commit to two-three days a week for at least 15 minutes for two months.

Slow Down Everyone You’re Moving Too Fast

restdayLast week I went on a 10 miler. I felt a special kind of bliss getting to run a double digit run again. Towards the end of the run, I started to feel some pain in my right knee. My left IT band has been the source of my problems, but every once in a while I’ll get a flare up on my right knee. No rhyme or reason, just some intense, sharp pain.

I should’ve slowed down and taken more walking breaks, but I was making great time and I just wanted to finish.

I was actually annoyed at my knee. I’ve been doing a regular strengthening routine, foam rolling consistently and running on soft surfaces. Hey Right Knee, stop being so high maintenance! What else do you want me to do?! Rest maybe? No. That definitely can’t be the answer.

But it is.

Taking time off makes me feel weak. It makes me fear losing the fitness level that I’ve worked so hard to gain. It also makes me a little stir crazy.

I’m trying very hard to be in tune with and listen to my body. I’m not training for anything, so there isn’t this need to push myself to the limits. I completed 2 marathons in one year, working through pain and nursing an IT band injury. Okay, body, I get it, you want some rest.

This week I only did two outside runs, which was almost forced onto me since sunny California got some rain this week. Not wanting to come back with soaking wet clothes and muddy shoes forced me into the gym. I logged two elliptical workouts. The nine miler this morning made my heart pine for running outside, it’s just hard to stay on a machine for that long.

I hope this week of rest has helped. I’m chomping at the bit to get back out there.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

When I first started running in 2010, I was slow. I would walk/run most of my training runs, even the short ones. It was a huge feat for me must to finish my first half, which was at a lightning fast 12:01pace. My neatly organized google doc of all my running times tells me that over the past three years, I’ve shaved over a minute off of my average pace during races. Before the Disneyworld Marathon I was doing speedwork in hopes of a PR. The nagging ITBS derailed this plan and I had to switch to the just finish mentality. Post marathon I’m hovering around a 10-10:30 pace. A couple of workouts this week even made it under the 10 minute mile pace (just under 10 at 9:57, but under!). I feel fast. I feel strong.

I started searching some twitter running hashtags and saw people posting about their 7 minute, 6 minute, 5 minute mile times. And then I felt slow again. The happy running high was quickly deflated. Why do I think I can call myself a runner? When people find out I’m a runner and want to talk about it, I always disclaim it with, “Oh yes, but I’m slow.” I guess there’s always been a part of me that has never felt like a “real runner” because of my speed, or lack thereof.

But then I remembered that it’s never been about being the fastest runner. It’s about keeping my body physically fit. It’s about release. It’s about physically challenging myself. It’s about having a stress reliever and the space to let my mind work through some tough life issues on a long run. It’s about pushing myself to things I never thought possible (half marathon, marathons, heck even five miles was an accomplishment when I first started out – when I was in elementary school I almost flunked out of PE because I refused to run). It’s about being out in nature and getting to enjoy and bask in its beauty. It’s about helping discover the wonder of running . It’s about learning life lessons.

I know I’ll never be the fastest (short girl with short legs, not exactly the natural born runner), but this won’t stop me from trying to improve and push myself to new limits and it also shouldn’t stop me from proudly declaring that I am a runner.

Image
(via Our Time to Change)

A mile is a mile, and I am a runner.

Pumped Up Kicks

And so the saga begins of one pair of Newton running shoes. I bought these shoes at the end of November as I had made the transition to a mid foot strike. Lady Isaac is what I ended up with, seemed like it would be a good transition shoe for me.

I notice normal wear and tear, but after my run this week I looked down and noticed a tear forming.

20140130-073702.jpg

Sad face! How could this already be happening?? My shoes were very dirty from running on trails, but I normally don’t notice this type of wear and tear until I’ve already retired them as running shoes.

Distressed, I did the first thing I could think of. I tweeted a photo of my shoes to Newton. Ten minutes after my tweet I got a response from them! See the conversation below:

twitterrrnewton

Turns out I was under the 90 day window of being able to return your shoes to Road Runner Sports. They have a 90 day test run program. You have up to 3 months to decide whether or not you like the shoes, if you don’t like them you can bring them back and exchange them! I ended up calling Road Runner Sports and they suggested that I take them back to a local store so that I could get my new shoes faster.

I swung by on my way to work. The exchange was easy peasy lemon squeezy! Not only did I get a new pair of Newton’s but Road Runner was also in the middle of a 20% off sale, which meant I got a refund of $15. Day was officially made and it wasn’t even lunch time! Can you say running addict bliss?

20140130-073731.jpg
My heart grew three sizes that day, my love for Road Runner Sports and Newton is profound.

As they like to say, #hellobetter.

The Bees Knees (not really)

So folks, it’s been almost a month after my marathon and I’m still in recovery mode. My left knee, everything about it: the outside, the inside, the back. And I may be over compensating because now my right arch has been hurting.

I’ve been very disciplined to stop running once I start feeling pain. Once the pain starts, I force myself to walk. It’s been such a slow process and all I want to do is run. Run far and run long. I’m running about three days a week right now and one gym/cross training day.

I can run about 3 miles without any pain. This morning I was pushing it and attempted to run 6 miles. I got to 4 and then had to walk the last 2 miles. I really should’ve chosen a different route.

I’m looking into different ways I can get back into running. Physical therapist? Leg strengthening exercises? Minimalist shoes (currently reading Born to Run)? Chi Running? 

Do I need to just take a full week off of running?

I’m DESPERATE to get back out there. It feels like a part of me is missing. It’s actually really starting to affect me. Running is my outlet. It’s where I go to think, to clear my head, to get a perspective on things. I think I’m going crazy. Definitely an addict.