No-Sugar April

I’m back after 2 years!  Sorry about the delay.  I was on a mission in Italy.  Hopefully that’s a good excuse.  

So, my family and I are starting a little competition called “No Sugar April” today, which involves exercising daily and staying away from the sweets.  We’re playing for nickelcade points and glory, and we keep track using a complex google doc that has built in ranking systems, bar charts and trash talking sections.  Want to know how to set up your own “No Sugar” competition?  We can help.Image

Bring it on.

Winter Blues and Enduring to the End

I once had a family friend tell me that they “used to run marathons,” but has since stopped and become a couch potato. While I was training for my half, I told myself that I would not become this kind of person, but it appears, faithful blog readers, that I have. The first time I ran post half-marathon was on Thanksgiving day, which is a sad, sad statement about my physical activity-related state of affairs.

I could make a lot of excuses about my lack of running. My knee is still acting up, it’s really cold outside, the sidewalks are icy, and I have a lot of schoolwork on my plate. However, today, I have decided to commit to get back to running, and this post is about my goal to get back in the game.

For motivation, I turned to the internet, where I found an article in the LA times about re-starting a running program.  However, I found some of their tips unhelpful (maybe I’m just turning into a pessimist because I haven’t run in awhile). For example, the author recommends that re-beginners get back to the treadmill. I’m sorry, but I’ve always hated the treadmill. There’s nothing that bores me more. I understand that when the weather gets too cold, you have to have one or you get out of the habit, but isn’t the treadmill the worst way to regain a love for running? Wouldn’t an indoor track be better? Am I the only one who thinks this way?

The article also suggests that you start with a running base by seeing how far you can go in 10 minutes, and then building off of that. This is a great way to get yourself injured. Getting back in the ring, you always over-run yourself, and there’s absolutely no way you’re going to build 10-15% off of an overdone base run daily through the first week and not have an injury or two to deal with.

Nope, the best re-beginner advice I can see is actually not in that article at all — it’s in a different article for runners who are re-beginning after age 45. The article points out that beginner running is meant to be about finding the fun again, and not about timing. They suggest that running re-beginners not go cold turkey, but rather switch up a basic run/walk routine with other forms of exercise to stay in shape. When running is no longer fun, you’re no longer interested. So the best thing I can say is, I’ve got to learn to make running fun again.  And that’s going to be the tricky part.

Ideas on how to make winter running fun?  Post them down here.

Sweet Victory!

I successfully ran the Provo Halloween Half-Marathon on Saturday, October 30.  BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.  Words can’t describe how amazing it felt when I realized that I’d just run 13.1 miles…in a make-shift superhero costume.

And now, I can finally create from personal experience, my top 10 reasons why training for and running a half-marathon is a good idea:

1) For the 6-12 weeks that you train for a half-marathon, you are in better shape than ever.  I should know — I was average weight when I started training, and people still complimented me on my figure after just 4 weeks.  I recognize that I sound like an infomercial, but it’s true.  If that change takes place in a normal figure, imagine the reaction for someone who wants to lose even a couple pounds.

2) I got asked out on an incredible number of dates during training.  3 guys alone asked if they could run with me on a regular basis.

3) You can eat (almost) as much linguine alfredo as you want, and people will just say, “it’s ok — she’s in training.”

4) You join an elite group of people who call themselves “runners” and think they’re cooler than everyone else.

5) You realize that, after 13.1 miles, you can do anything….

6) …including a full marathon…

7) If you train with someone, you learn so much about them on long runs that your friendship strengthens immensely.

8) You get to procrastinate your homework for hours on long run days.

9) You feel like a real athlete…and for a nerd without coordination like me, that’s a BIG deal.

10) The best reason of all — the feeling you get when you cross that finish line is absolutely indescribable.

I hope that my journey thus far has inspired you (yes, you) to get in on the marathon-training action.  I know that I’m looking forward to another half…or maybe even a full…marathon in Spring 2011.  And you can do it, too!

If my top 10 reasons have inspired you to run, I suggest you look up this runner-specific training guide that suits your personal running interests.  And, once you know how to train, this guide to local races from marathonguide.com should help you find what marathon works for you.  Happy training!

If you are a passionate runner like me, I’d like to hear your top reasons for running.  And if not, I’d like to hear about your top reasons…for NOT running…and then, maybe, we can address those together :)

The DIY Ice Pack

Traci Fergus, whose blog “My Journey with Weight Loss” is on the right-hand links column, recently told me about a technique she used to deal with her recent knee surgeries (yes, she had two).  It involves a dixie cup and some water, and I thought it was brilliant, so I decided to share her technique here for those of you who get a running injury in the future:

Ice Pack on Edge:

Small paper dixie cup

Enough water to fill a dixie cup

Freezer

Directions:

1) Fill the dixie cup with water, almost to the top of the cup.

2) Place in the freezer and let freeze for 2 hours.

3) Tear off the top edge of the dixie cup, so that about 2 centimeters of ice are peeking out of the cup.

Now you’ve got an ice pack with an edge.  Hold the paper-covered part of the cup, and rub the edges of the uncovered ice deep into the knee.  This does wonders for a “runners’ knee”-type injury.

If you need a make a quick slushy cold pack on the fly, this DIY article will be of use to you.  And if you need an easy hot pack, this mom has the solution for you in an article on her “This Simple Life” blog.

I’d like to know what you use that works for sports-related injuries, either home-made or otherwise.  And if you try one of these remedies listed in the article, let me know what you think about it!

The Battle of Wounded Knee

This is my “break week” before the marathon, which is tomorrow.  The picture below represents my emotions right now.

Don’t get me wrong — after my 10-mile run with Kiera and Annie last Saturday in the freezing rain along the race course, I felt pretty good about the half-marathon.  However, what I’m most worried about is getting an injury during the first 6 miles, which comprise the steep downhill down Sundance mountain.  My right knee started acting up a little bit on that practice run, so I decided to do some internet research to figure out what the problem was.  And, since a runner can get a million and a half different kinds of injuries, I figured that I’d describe the process for internet disease research so that you can find out what to do if some kind of mild running injury happens to you.

1) I went to one of my favorite sports injury websites, the Sports Injury Clinic.  This site tells you anything and everything about any part of your body that feels wrong, and why that occurs.  Awesome?  Yes.

2) On the site, I isolated my injury using the Sports Injury Clinic symptom checker.  For me, that area was the outside of the right kneecap.  And yes, the site does have an entire section dedicated to injuries of the outside of the right kneecap.

3) In my section, there were 5 different injury possibilities.  Although a lot of them sound the same, I personally think that I have Iliotibial band syndrome, also know (conveniently) as “runner’s knee.”  It’s not always best to narrow down your injury to one option, however, since it’s very easy to mis-diagnose a disease on a website.  The only person who should really be diagnosing you is your doctor.

4) This detail aside, let’s assume that you know what you have.  The site describes the condition of “runner’s knee,” prevention methods, symptoms and treatment options.  Since my running issue is very mild, the site suggests taking it easy on my knee, using cold packs to reduce swelling, and stretching.  However, if it gets any worse, I need to consult a doctor or sports specialist to truly understand my condition.

Another useful site you can use to “self-diagnose” a running injury is WebMD.  It runs under the same principle as Sports Injury Clinic, although it’s not quite as specific on specific running injuries.

The real question is…is this diagnosis accurate?  Should I even be advocating for online diagnosis?  What do you think?

This has nothing to do with running.

Hey!  I’m in a contest for “Worst Date at BYU” and also “Best Date at BYU” and voting begins today!  Vote for Worst Date Entry #6 and/or Best Date Entry I at the Best and Worst Dates at BYU blog!  No login necessary.

And yes, I did actually endure the worst date at BYU.  You’ll have to read it to believe it… :)

Boys Like Girls Who…

I’ve been on a matchmaking spree over the last couple weeks here at the Y.  At BYU, where dating is more the rule than the exception, it’s easy to find loads of friends who are willing to be set up with someone they’ve never met before.  One of my good friends, Brent, was the victim of my most recent blind date set-up, and, unfortunately, it didn’t go terribly well.  I felt pretty depressed about this, considering the fact that I thought he and his blind date matched up pretty well.  They were both smart, athletic, good-looking, funny, and easy to get along with.  What was the DEAL?!?!

When I asked Brent later on what he was looking for in a blind date, the conversation went like this:

Me: “So, Brent, I hear your date with Jessica didn’t go as well as I thought.  What went wrong?”

Brent: “Oh, it really wasn’t that bad.  You did get a few things right — she is smart, and funny, and she likes basketball…”

Me: “So…”

Brent: “Well, it’s just that we didn’t have enough in common, you know?”

Me: “Huh.  So, what are you looking for in a blind date, then?  You know, in case I set you up again.”

Brent: “Ha.”

Me: “I’m serious.”

Brent: “Oh boy.”

Me: “Come on, tell me.”

Brent: “Well, for starters, this is gonna sound weird.”

Me: “What is it?”

Brent: “I need a girl who likes to run.  A lot.”

Me: “You’re kidding me.”

Brent: “No, I’m serious.  It’s a weird thing I have, but I really like girls who run long distance.”

And this, my friends, is just another reason why girls should run…you’ll get set up on a lot more blind dates that way.  Speaking of which, any girls want to go on a blind date with my friend, Brent?  Non-runners need not apply.

For those of you already dating a runner, this article from “The Examiner” can give you some tips on learning to accept that crazy athletic side of your boyfriend/girlfriend (he does swear in there once…sorry about that).  And for those of you actually MARRYING one of these people (brave soul), you can even go over the top with a running-themed wedding. Or even more over the top with a wedding in the middle of a marathon.

BYU students: I want to know what you think about this “I like runners” phenomenon in the dating world.  Is it really better to date an athlete?

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