Currently Wearing: Running Shoes

My training partners during college used to tease me because I was religious about replacing my running shoes. Every 4-5 months, no questions asked, even if the tread was still in tact, Katie would be getting new shoes. Ha. I think part of it stemmed from this fear of getting injured from running in old shoes, but if I’m honest, most of it was the allure of a fresh new pair of trainers.

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the porch outside of our apartment during college….lol not all were mine, but most were mine.

Still to this day I love browsing our local running store when I’m bored ha. I’m not quite as fanatic as I used to be, mostly because we’re on a pretty tight budget, but I still rotate my shoes between 3-4 pairs, and try to replace them after I put sufficient mileage on them. Needless to say, I have tried nearly every running shoe on the market, and friends often ask my opinion on which shoes they should get. Which brings me to my next point: which running shoes really are best? Ask any expert, and they will tell you, it totally depends on your training, your foot contact with the ground (ie pronation vs supination vs neutral), and ultimately how the shoe feels. I like to rotate between 3 different types: an everyday heavier trainer, a lightweight trainer, and a super lightweight racing flat. I thought it might help to break it down by what I’m currently wearing. Maybe this will help next time you’re in the market for a new pair!

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 2blogpostshoes (3 of 5)Purpose: every day, well-cushioned trainer. This has been a phenomenal shoe that I’ve worn primarily for walking, easy miles, long runs, and also running up and down the street  w/ the baby monitor during nap time ha.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Saucony Guide, Brooks Ghost, Brooks Glycerin, Hoka One One BondiPearl Izumi N3

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 1 blogpostshoes (5 of 5)Purpose: this is the same shoe as above, but an older model . Love!

Currently wearing: Nike Pegasus+29blogpostshoes (1 of 5)Purpose: again, every day trainer. This is a super old model, but newer-to-me shoe. I had a gift card to a running store and found these on the sale rack in my size, so snagged them for free! They are a little narrower than I prefer, and a little lighter and more responsive than the Triumph, so I’ll wear them for tempos on occasion, as well as easy miles.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Pearl Izumi N2, Hoka One One Clifton, Saucony Breakthru

Currently wearing: Saucony Kinvara 5Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPurpose: tempo, fast workout, lighter shoe with less stability. I wish I could get away with wearing this shoe for every run, because I love it that much. Just not enough cushion for everyday running in my opinion. Probably on my 7th pair of these! They don’t last as long as a more substantial shoe like the Triumph or Pegasus above, but they are so light, yet still supportive for longer runs. I replace these about every 200 miles.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Brooks Launch, Pearl Izumi N2

Currently wearing: Pearl Izumi N0blogpostshoes (4 of 5)Purpose: uber lightweight, ideal racing flat. Straightforward with this one. This is a no frills racing flat with pretty much zero stability or cushion. I wear these in races from 1 mile to about 10k. For half marathons and longer, I’ll jump up to the Saucony Kinvara.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Adidas adios boost

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#KeepingItReal

You guyssssss, I did it again. Fell off the blog wagon. Good thing I don’t do this blog thing to gain followers, because I think that’s one of the keys to having a regular readership—consistency. Ha. Oh well.

I have a few drafts waiting to be published, as well as a few race recaps, but as I was doing my post-run foam rolling/stretching this morning, I decided I should do a “Keeping it Real” post. I love this movement Lauren Fleshman started. So much.

To bring you up-to-date, I took 3 weeks off running COMPLETELY recently, and I’m just now getting back in the swing of things. I feel awkward, a little pudgy, and out of shape. But, it was absolutely necessary. I felt some twinges in my knee that didn’t feel right, and after a really hard 8 months of training and racing, it felt only necessary to be kind to both my mind and body and give them some rest. So, that’s what I did. Ironically (or really not so ironically), during those three weeks, it seemed like a ton of elite runners I respect (Hellooo Tina Muir!!), wrote key articles on the importance of rest and recovery. That honestly made my time off so much easier, knowing without a doubt I was doing the right thing. Was it optimal timing for the St. Jude Memphis ½ marathon coming up? Nah. But, honestly, I probably shouldn’t have even signed up for St. Jude in the first place with all my crazy running this summer and fall, and zero planned recovery. Whoops. You learn and you adjust. That’s what I love so much about this sport. I’m constantly learning what works best.

So, here I am, 4 weeks out from St. Jude, a little out of shape, but I feel no sad feelings because I truly had a phenomenal 8 months of PRs out the wazoo, and tons of happy running. I can’t complain one bit. After a fun race at St. Jude on December 6th (no plans of PR’ing, just going to run it because I already signed up for it, and it’s a great cause.), I’ll begin a new training cycle with my focus being the 10k and ½ marathon this spring. It should be fun, but also really humbling too because I’ll be running St. Jude with a teeny bit of me wishing I were racing it.

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So, what did I do with my time off? First of all, I didn’t cross train. I chose not to, because a.) I mentally can’t handle the elliptical for more than 10 minutes. It’s awful. And b.) I wanted to rest completely from all cardio.

What I DID do, was be proactive with my time. I visited a few physical therapists to look at some of my weaknesses, including one who specializes in gait analysis, got two deep-tissue massages (helloooo treating myself!), went on some perfect fall walks with Eli, and started working on some muscle imbalances I need to fix before this next training cycle. I really just lived in the present, and tried my best to embrace where I am at the moment, and not freak out about getting out of shape. Trusting the process!

This week was my second week back, and like I said, I do feel awkward, and slooowwww. In the spirit of honesty, all my runs this week were around 9:30-10:30 pace! Yes, that’s correct. I am taking my easy/recovery runs very seriously (something I have always felt passionate about!). How am I supposed to do my 1500 meter pace workouts at sub 5 minute pace, and my 5k pace workouts at 5:30-45 pace like I was doing at the end of this last training cycle if I’m not fully recovered, rested, and ready to hit it in a few weeks? It is impossible to hit those paces if I’m not recovered. So there’s that.IMG_9677.JPG

I hope you are enjoying this fall season, and embracing where you are currently, wherever that may be. Trust the process and live in the present, I promise your outlook will be a lot less frazzled. Happy Friday!

 

 

If I could go back in time: Part 2 of a 3-part series on running injuries

I write this post from the perspective that  SO MANY runners are injured right now! It seems like 1/2 of the runners behind the blogs I follow are dealing with injuries. NOT FUN.

This 3-part series is about what I would do differently if I could go back in time. Maybe you’ll learn something or be able to prevent an injury in the future.

PART 2: If I could go back in time, I would go back and tell myself, “Stop comparing yourself to [insert name]. You aren’t them. Your story and your journey is unlike anyone else’s.” 

d4882846462cc9826325048afc551641If I counted the times I compared myself to others and wished I hadn’t, we would be here all day.

Let’s start by introducing you to my training group. Beth , Audrey, Tiffany, and Jon. These are the people I run with on a daily basis. When I first moved home to Jackson, the group comprised of Beth, Audrey and Jon. They were fast. There was nothing to it. Jon (the super tall guy below) was training for a sub 3-hour marathon, Audrey (blonde hair next to Jon) and Beth (far right) both just ran sub 1:25 in their half-marathons, and at the time I hadn’t even raced a half-marathon before. Wow.

20140515-152117.jpgI learned really quickly I was sloooow compared to these fast folks. It was humbling beyond measure. It felt like every.single.day I was panting for air just on our easy runs. However, I also PR’d in every distance from the 5k to the half marathon because of these people. They are beyond encouraging.

Despite how encouraging they are and how much I absolutely love training with them, I oftentimes find myself comparing my times and my fitness to theirs. I run those extra few miles instead of the amount I planned for that day. Who wants to be the girl who runs the least, anyway?

You can probably tell where this is going.

Last December (2013), I really increased my training intensity as I planned to simultaneously decrease my volume so I could make sure to stay injury free. I wanted to focus on the 5k and even run in a few track meets, so it made sense that I would focus on intervals rather than a lot of long slow miles. Despite my training group being really supportive of this and even offering to run some of the workouts with me, I found myself running extra miles at the end of a workout “just to get in a few miles”, when in reality, I did it because I didn’t want to be the one in the group to stop early. I wanted to finish the run with everyone else.

This was not smart. You can guess what happened next.

While it wasn’t a serious injury, it did put me back a bit and make me reevaluate my training and my approach. I had some pretty intense Achilles pain needing attention and rest.

While reevaluating, I realized I have truly come so far. I’ve shaved AN ENTIRE 20 minutes off my half-marathon time (1.51 to 1:31), taken 7 minutes off my 10K time (1:48 to 1:41), and I could go on and on. I could have never accomplished all I have without my training group I owe them so much.
 

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However, I am still Katie. I am not Beth, Audrey, Tiffany, or Jon. I am Katie, and I have strengths they do not. I have to remember, and I will continue to remember comparison steals joy, it does not create it. Finding what works for you and thriving in that is best. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Thrive in your own skin and use your strengths and talents to build others up. Don’t try to be someone else or do something else just because someone does or says it is right. Be you.

Full Race Recap: Andrew Jackson 1/2 Marathon

Technically speaking, this was really only my second half-marathon to “race” . . . I ran my first half in 2009, after being in India for a few weeks (Read: not much training), I was 30 lbs heavier than I am now, and it felt awesome! You think I’m kidding. Really, I finished and literally thought, “wow! Sign me up for another one!” Maybe it was because I didn’t expect to do well, or I just let loose and didn’t care. Who knows. I loved it, and finished in 1.50, which in my eyes, was great, considering I hadn’t trained much and my goal was simply to complete it. It was a great feeling. To be honest, I was totally clueless as to what my pace even was. I didn’t wear a watch. I didn’t race it. I didn’t “compete” with myself or those around me. I just ran.

My second half was 3 years later. I was much more fit, but I had no idea how to race a half. IM A MILER FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. So, I raced the half like I would race a mile, it’s all the same, right? LOLLLLZZ. Wellll, let’s just say the last 7 miles of the race I cried the entire time, and my “goal” of running 7:30 per mile went out the window when I got the chills/cramps ALL over my body. I could barely pick my feet up, and swore off running the rest of my life. So dramatic. Wait, you mean to tell me drinking coffee instead of water the entire week leading up to the race is going to affect my performance?! Yeaaa. I really don’t wish that 1/2 marathon experience on anyone, even the girl who bullied me in 6th grade. Terrible. I ran a 1:43.

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Fayetteville, AR. December 2012.  100% fake smile

My third half occurred on accident last November during the middle of a normal long run. I said to my friend Beth, “Hey! I think I am on target to get a 1/2 Marathon PR.” We cruised to a 1.39, which was a 4 minute PR for me. Unexpected, fun, but not “official.”

There you have it. Although, I only had 1 experience “racing” a 1/2 marathon under my belt, I knew I was way more capable than what my times show. So, I went for it. Let’s take a look at how all that played out in last Saturday’s Andrew Jackson 1/2 Marathon in Jackson, TN. 20140322-192514.jpgFrom my first disastrous experience racing the half, are you shocked to hear me say the race last Saturday SUCKED?  You shouldn’t be. Well, it sucked. I hurt the entire 13.1 miles.

FRIDAY, March 21. The race was in my hometown. In my opinion, this is a huge advantage. No major schedule changes. I worked on Friday, did my normal routine, yada yada.  Friday evening was marked by packet pickup, taking care of my parent’s zoo while they were out of town (5 dogs in 1 tiny house. yes, it’s NUTS. Love you, Mom and Jeff!), and driving past the town carnival. Trust me, the town carnival was not as magical as this filter makes it look. (Read: creepy old men at the ticket booth), BUT, I do love a good funnel cake. (I didn’t eat a funnel cake, promise). Moving on. 20140322-192459.jpg I laid out my racing kit for the next morning. Wasn’t sure whether I would need the arm warmers at 45 degrees, but they ARE JUST SO CUTE! (I didn’t end up wearing them. Good decision). Also, let me say something about that Nike sports bra: it is one of the best things to happen to me (exaggeration, but really). Hold’s the girls in like a glove. Great for high impact, and no chafing. If you have any sort of blessing in the form of breasts (read: larger than a B cup), go for this bra20140322-191938.jpg SATURDAY, March 22: RACE DAY!
I don’t eat before races. I realize I need some substance. But, I just can’t stomach it. I feel sloshy (you know that feeling I’m talking about–everything inside you is on a roller coaster ride), and will 100% get a cramp. Doesn’t matter if I eat 4 hours before the race. Also, my training runs start at 5:30a.m. every day, so I’m used to training on an empty stomach. I’m not opposed to pre-race meals by any means, but for now, this is what we are going with.

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Got to the race at 7:00 am just in time to see the gun go off for the full marathon. I wished Beth and Audrey (my training partners) good luck, and made my way to the starting line.  My worry going into this race was that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the goal pace for the entire 13 miles. “HOW THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO RUN 13 MILES AT 6.52 PACE?!” My nerves were ALL over the place. I didn’t do much of a running warm up, mostly because I was about to have to run 13 miles, and was scared I wouldn’t be able to finish (DUMB. I should have warmed up at least a little bit.) I did my normal dynamic stretching warm-up, though, and before I knew it, we were off.

Miles 1-3 (Splits: 6:50, 7:06, 6:52)
WEllllll, as fate would have it, the satellites on my watch were lost exactly 5 seconds before the gun went off. HAA. Not the end of the world by any means, but, I couldn’t start the watch until close to a mile into the race.

Felt a side stitch cramp almost immediately. “GREEEATTT. This is going to be a looonggg morning.” Instead of breathing deep and trying to relax to make it go away, I lost all form of logic and just decided to embrace it. The cramp would continue the rest of the race. Besides a couple decent climbs, the first four miles are actually downhill a bit. I knew the familiarity I had with the course would help. It did.

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Miles 4-6 (Splits: 6:53, 6:47, 6:56)
By mile 4, the cramp really started to get in my head, but I was in second place for the females (!). We all know that competitiveness kicks in and sometimes we do crazy things. So, I kept at it, despite feeling absolutely awful.  And then….something magical happened right as we got to aid station numero dos.  This angel by the name of Rob reached me, started to pass me, and I went with him. I held on for dear life, and uttered “I’m hurting,” to a man I had never met. His response was, “I can tell. Breathe, put your hands over your head, and let’s go catch that girl.” So that’s what we did.

We passed the first place female during mile 5. My cramp subsided a little bit. During the minor climb between mile 5 and 6, I decided it would be a good time for the gel. Heck, if my stomach cramp wasn’t going away, it’s not like a gel is going to make it worse. I sipped on the gel between mile 5 and 8…haha, I have no idea why I couldn’t just down the whole thing (it’s not like it’s very big), but I liked taking little sips every half mile or so. Weird.

Here’s Rob. Literally, he was my saving grace. We ran together from miles 4-10. He’s from Chicago, and was down in TN visiting friends. Can’t thank him enough. He went on to run a sub 1:30!

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Miles 7-9 (Splits: 6:51, 6:50, 7:08 [big climb])
I knew these miles were going to be tough. It’s basically a steady 3-mile climb with no break, and I was ready. I kept my focus on the aid station that would be at mile 9, as well as seeing my fiance and his mom. Mile 9 was going to be good in the sense that I could get a mental break. Rob was still by my side, and from what I could see when I looked back, we had a pretty big lead on the second place female.

Seeing them and grabbing a sip of water felt great, and at that point, although we slowed a little coming up the hill, I felt strong (even with the omnipresent cramp still lingering). And then….it hit me. 20140324-082123.jpg

Miles 10-13 (splits: 6:53, 7:14, 7:13, 7:10)
My fear going into this race was that I would get to the last four miles (the most challenging of the race), and bonk. I’d get off track and start running 8 minute miles because I was dead. This was part of my reason for contemplating going out slower (7:15 pace), but in the end, I stuck with my game plan of running 6:50-7, and being BOLD. I don’t regret that decision at all, but I definitely paid for it in the last few miles.

They. were. tough.

We winded through some residential neighborhoods, I still had a lead on the second place girl by a lot (couldn’t see her at this point), and my cramp was all over the place. Hurt so bad. “C’mon Katie. You can do this. 3 miles. Make it up this hill,” was my mantra. Rob pushed on at the pace we sustained for the first 9, and I fell back a little. I knew at the mile 11 aid-station I would see my old teammates volunteering, so I kept that in mind and focused on making it to mile 11. It was not easy.

I got to the mile 11 aid station, and for the first time in the race, I stopped running and talked to my team and college coach for a few seconds. He said, “You look so strong!” HA. My response: ” Good Lord, I feel terrible.”  I sipped some water, and said to myself, “Just 2 more rolling hills of miles.”  Look at the elevation below of the last mile. You can see it’s the opposite of mile 1. We got the joy of the downhill in the beginning, but what goes down must come up, so the last mile was pure hell. I shuffled my feet up the hill, just wanting to get to the finish line. I didn’t even look at my watch going up the hill. It was sloooow. 20140325-095343.jpg

I came through in 1:31.23. First place female, and honestly, a little surprised. My ultimate goal this spring is 1:30, but I didn’t think I would get that close at this race. I didn’t taper, and it wasn’t the easiest of courses. It was a phenomenal test of strength (helooooo 13.1 mile stomach cramp), and I learned a lot during this race. The half-marathon is an animal I’m trying to figure out. It’s an ongoing process of trial and error, and although it seems like I’ve had a lot of error, I’m keeping at it, not backing down. Looking forward to another half here in a month in Missouri. I’ll toe the line and test my strength again. I’ll change what I believe didn’t work last weekend, and tweak it to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a process full of changes and adaptations to trials, as is life. 20140324-082053.jpg

quick re-cap: 8 MIN PR AND I WON THE 1/2 MARATHON!

IMG_3694Here is what you need to know in numbers:

4: number of 1/2 marathons I now have under my belt. (my average p.r between each is seven minutes. LOLZZ)

1: my place today (female).

8: the number of minutes I took off today from my last 1/2 in November of 2013

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13: how many miles during the race I felt absolutely turrrrible.

Look, this was a small race, and my time wasn’t incredibly fast, but let’s all be honest, a win is a win, and it feels pretty dang good, especially in my hometown. I’ll do a race re-cap here soon, but for now I’ll leave you with three solid photos from today.IMG_3798

Also, please note my 84 year-old grandmother in photo above doing the flex while sporting my medal. Win photo of the day without a doubt.

Have a great saturday night! I’m off to get froyo.