September 28, 2010

The "Long Run"

My personal track

I keep hearing the term “Long Run” come up.  I did a little research to see how long a “long run” actually is, and from what I can tell, it’s anywhere between 10 – 15 miles all at the same time, consecutively.  No, really!  This may sound funny, but my “long run” is three miles, so there is an obvious discrepancy here!  My daughter calls it the “easy three.”  Well, not for me, smartypants! 

We live at the end of our street on a cul-de-sac.  Our house is the only one on our street, by the way.  And since my husband has a bad back and can’t run, I guess you could say that I’m the fastest kid runner on my block!  Oh, yeah!!!  Of the two-legged kind, anyway.  Let me say that my husband is my biggest athletic supporter ( oops) fan.  We live in the mountains and my paranoid over-protective husband doesn’t want me to run outside alone without protection from mountain lions and bears.  And believe me, I’m easy prey because I’m not about to outrun anything!  Even after 22 years of marriage, my husband still sort of likes me.  So he sits on a stump with his shotgun halfway up our street, while I run up and down eleven times, or approximately three miles.  Of course, the dogs have a great time running up and down too, blasting by me and showing off, looking over their shoulders with their tongues flapping out of the sides of their mouth and telling me to hurry up.  Impudent little mutts! 

Well, I’m all about comfort, and that’s how I ended up this way, but that’s another story and beside the point.  Back to Comfort.  My husband takes the card table and sets it at the top of our driveway on the side of the road, in the shade, and I set up my own Watering Station, so that every loop of the street that I take, I can stop and refresh myself.  And I really need it too, because our street is on a steady incline!  Both Ways! So I run almost up to the top, have a short little breather, and run back down the hill, toward the Water Station.  Basically, I have my own personal track, which is pretty awesome.  And at this time of year, our street is gorgeous! 

Here is what I have at my Water Station:

·         Bottled water (I like Dasani)
·         Iced green tea in a Rubbermaid container with lots of ice (and a bendy straw)J
·         Squirt bottle with cold water (ahhhh, feels so good)
·         Box of Kleenex
·         Chapstick (I like spearmint or mango)
·         Peppermint sports inhaler (they say mint is motivational, and I need all the help I can get!  BTW, it’s only peppermint oil)
·         Mints
·         Bear Spray (in case the shotgun doesn’t work)
·         Pocket notepad and pen (to mark down my laps, because I’m totally capable of losing where I’m at in the process)
·         Handheld tape recorder (because I think of the damndest things while I’m running, but my memory sucks, and if I don’t note it down, I’ll forget.  I may run like an elephant, but I don’t have the memory of one)

Now, my Watering Hole is at home, so I don’t need to bring everything and the kitchen sink.  But if I ever get past a three mile long run and have to run elsewhere, I’d bring other things such as ice packs, snacks, BandAids, Sunbrella and sun screen. 

I’m just saying….the more comfortable you are, the less you’ll mind running.    

September 20, 2010

Running With My GrandDog

Chance in full gear

When I was dogsitting a while back, I decided to take a run with my granddog, Chance.  He is an Olde English Bulldogge (rescued at 6 months), weighs about 80 pounds and is the sweetest, laziest dog you have ever seen.  I absolutely adore my granddog. 

Even though he is a lazy lay-about, if he suspects that he might be getting out of the house, he is all over it.  He’ll follow you from room to room with that cute, inquiring little wrinkle on his forehead, looking imploringly at you with his big brown eyes, and wondering if he could really, maybe, hopefully be going for a walk. Or in this case, a run. 

So we set off on our two-mile run, with me carrying a bottle of water to share between us.  If you know anything about bulldogs, you know that they don’t have a lot of stamina (perfect, I thought, because I have no stamina, either), they drool a lot, they have tender paws, and thin fur.  But I figured, hey, if I can run two miles, he can run two miles!  According to my daughter, he has run a 5k before. 

My first problem was that it was a warm day and he drank more than his half of the water!  Then I was out there dying of thirst, and of course I had to give him all he wants, because that’s what one does for ones granddog.  And not only that, but he totally slimed the bottle, too!  And then he started limping.  He does have shoes, but I didn’t bring them because, well, it’s only two miles, right?  As a matter of fact, he has his own wardrobe; shoes, rain coat, life vest, cooling vest, backpack – he has it all. 

So we rested on a bench, and two little boys rode up on their bikes with their cute little helmets and told me that my dog looked really tired, and looked at me totally accusingly, I thought.  Like my dog was dying and it was my fault!  Yes, Chance had drool on his face, but that’s because he shook his head and wrapped it completely around his nose – that’s what bulldogs do! They slime and drool.  But all I could say was, we’re almost home – bulldogs get really tired.  We haven’t gone that far, for Heaven’s sake!  No, I didn’t really say that last part – didn't want to scare the kiddos. 

I’m just saying....Maybe bulldogs aren’t the best running companions.

Happy 4th Birthday, Chance!

September 15, 2010

Is 4 mph Really Running?

The subject came up recently when my daughter was training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, her very first marathon.  The rules say that you have to complete the marathon in 7 hours or be disqualified, so she calculated that she needed to run an average of 3.74 mph throughout the course.  A speed-walker can do that, right?!

Now, when I think of 3.74 mph, it makes me think that I can do a marathon too.  If I could only get beyond this 2-mile hump I’ve been on for 6 months, I think I could wheeze breeze my way through that 26.2 mile marathon, no problem!  Of course, a 3.74 average means no stopping for any reason whatsoever!  No easy feat when so many other obstacles conspire to trip you up.  Like blisters and heat stroke.  Fatigue.  Diarrhea.    I’m just saying.... 

Okay, I might have to wait awhile for that marathon.   So, to get an idea of where I’m really at, I finished 108 out of 116 on my last two-mile fun-run with the PPRR’s, so needless to say, I am not fast.  With 6 months of running under my belt, you’d think I could do better than that.  When I run at home on the treadmill, I’m even slower.  My comfortable pace is 4mph; that is the pace that I can still talk at, while running if I really have to.  Because that’s what I read somewhere; your running pace should not be so fast that you can’t still talk comfortably. 

But my real question is this: is four miles per hour (4mph) really considered running?  I know there must be speed-walkers that go faster than that, so I really, reallly wanted to know if I was running.  It’s important, right?  After all, I’ve been calling myself a runner, however slow I am.  So I did some investigative running (requiring no actual movement on my part, other than finger action over the keyboard), and found this definition of running on Wikipedia (the italics and bold are mine): 

Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing a human or an animal to move rapidly on foot. It is defined in human sporting terms as a gait in which at some point all feet are off the ground at the same time. This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity vault over the legs in an inverted pendulum fashion. The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from jogging to sprinting.

So here you have it!  I really am running!  Because when I’m running, at some point, both my feet are off the ground.  And not just when I fall down, either!  WooHoo!

September 10, 2010

Why is Running So Complicated?

Why is running so complicated these days? Even when I look up the definition of running in Wikipedia, it’s hardly recognizable as that thing we learned to do so naturally since just about the time we learned to walk. Have you ever seen a baby run? They just do it instinctively on their short fat robot legs that barely even bend at the knees. They toddle back and forth with their arms spread out for support, and grin and laugh at how clever they are. Sort of like how I run now, at 50, only I’m not nearly as cute, and it hurts more when I fall down, and it takes longer to recover. In my own defense, though, I do not pucker up and cry (but I do moan and groan quite a bit).
What I really wanted was an uncomplicated way to lose weight and get in better shape, without having to go to a gym or hire a personal trainer. So I joined a running club (I’m there without fail to run two miles on the first Saturday of every month!) and subscribed to a popular running magazine. So now its official; I am a Runner. Please note the capital “R”. And I swear I don’t understand half of what my fellow runners are talking about! Take these abbreviations, for example:
  • PR/PB:      Personal record and personal best – pretty straight forward. I get this.
  • LSD:         Not the drug, but Long, Slow Distance runs.
  • Master:      Runners over 40 – hey, that’s me! The first time I’ve ever been master at  anything. I  love running!
  • Pick-ups:   Not the attempt to pick up someone of the opposite sex, but accelerations done during a run;   and  they are of shorter durations than Fartleks(?!); and,
  • Fartlek:      Not a typo, I did not mean Fartlets (although at my age, sometimes when I run I have those too), but Fartleks; which is variable pace running – a mixture of slow and moderate running, with short, fast bursts.
There are so many other terms and abbreviations that you could spend a lifetime trying to figure it all out. No offense to the diehards out there, but life is way too short. I just want to run, which I do three times per week. Two hard sweaty miles on the treadmill at 4 mph, which is pretty much my PR and PB. (And yes, 4 mph really is running, I checked – more on that later!)
No LSD, Pick-ups or Fartleks for me, because I am Master!