Categories
Equipping

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

There may be some controversy about listening to music while you run, but when I’m alone, I almost always train with music. These headphones are Bluetooth and sync up with my Garmin 645 Music watch. They have a mini version, which I got because my head is small, and it’s not too bulky in the back.

Now for those of you who don’t run with music, I understand safety is a big concern. It’s a valid point, that you are less aware of your surroundings with music in your ears, especially for road runners. But these are different! They are bone conduction headphones which means they sit outside your ear so you can still be aware of what’s going on around you. They work and sound just as well as regular headphones, in my opinion, and it’s not like people passing by can hear what you’re listening to either.

Music can be considered a training hindrance for a few different reasons. For starters, it’s easier to tune out your performance and slack off on pace and form. Then sometimes you might find yourself actually running to the beat of whatever song is playing at the time, which may not coincide with your goal for your workout. But on those long, slow runs, sometimes the music helps the miles fly by.

I certainly don’t encourage listening to tunes while you’re racing, but as long as you’re smart about it, I think training with music is fine, and sometimes beneficial for the mental side of running. Just make sure it’s a help, and not a hindrance.

Categories
Not So Random Writings

Cycle of Lies

I came across this book while browsing through an online bookstore. I never really followed the story of Lance Armstrong as it all was happening, so it piqued my interest. But like a juicy, scandalous novel, I couldn’t put it down…

This book has nothing to do with running, right?….RIGHT?!?! I had no idea how involved the sport of cycling as a whole was in substance abuse. Reading this book really opened my eyes to professional sports and drug use – especially endurance sports. How many professionals dope or use some other form of illegal performance enhancements? Lance and his team had such a smooth system, how do we really know the current drug testing really works. What about political gains? We may be better at testing these days, but we also have to assume drug users are also getting better at hiding the truth.

The author, Juliet Macur, did a wonderful job telling the story from an objective standpoint with a variety of sources. Honestly, after reading the entire story, I feel bad for Lance. He had a rough start at life, and didn’t have the best of influencers. He had a disrespectful attitude toward other people even before he really started competing. But none of that mattered after we figured out that he was good, fast, strong – the best in the U.S. He was a poor sport, but that didn’t discourage his fans or sponsors.

Lance wanted to win because he loved fame and he loved money. We wanted him to win because he was American, then we wanted him to keep winning because he overcame cancer. We wanted a representative. But in order to compete and win at a world class level it was obvious he had to use drugs. I’m not saying he was forced to pull the trigger, but did we load the gun? Did we give him too much glory he couldn’t let go of? We put him on a pedestal that made it impossible to be honest and come out unscathed. He was not alone in all this, and yet we let the sport use him as a scapegoat – probably because we felt fooled, angry, and hurt that he lied to us so much and he wasn’t a very nice person. But that doesn’t mean everyone else, his teammates and sponsors (especially you know who), should have gotten off so easily.

What Lance did was wrong, and I would never condone illegal substance use, but I think it is worth noting that we are all fallible. Lance claimed if anyone else was in his situation, they would have cheated, too. I don’t think that’s true, but it’s a fair statement. We can’t really know what we would do when faced with that kind of pressure and temptation. But a big part of Lance’s downfall was his lack of hope. He felt it was hopeless to try to train and compete clean. Though I am more wary now of how clean professional runners really are, I have hope that illegal drug use is fading. Maybe I’m a fool for thinking so. But if I get to a place where I have to choose between winning and racing clean, I pray I choose the latter.

My husband once asked me if, “If you could take a pill (legal) that would guarantee you’d win the Olympics, but die at the age of 60, would you take it?” “Of course not,” I immediately answered. “That’s like…that’s like taking away my cake!” My years of training, sweating, struggling, growing, failing, and learning are my “cake” (chocolate). Racing is my buttercream frosting. Winning, and running fast…that’s just my rainbow candy sprinkles. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE rainbow candy sprinkles, but they don’t taste so great by themselves. I think what I hate most about substance abuse is that it steals away the hard work, dedication, and natural talent that athletes have, and you end up competing against lab science and wealth.

I didn’t mean for this blurb to be discouraging. I apologize if it came across that way. It’s healthy to question, but dangerous to doubt. There will always be cheaters in the world, but they don’t have to outnumber those that play fair. On a side note, the book really is interesting – a good read for a plane travel or a taper period. I’m sure you can find it on Amazon, but I got mine from bookoutlet.com for pretty cheap. Anyway, moral of the story, don’t let cheating and/or cheaters bring you down. Running fast doesn’t have to mean running dirty.

Categories
Equipping

RockTape

Kinesio tape has gotten a fair amount of attention since the 2008 Olympics, though it’s been around for over 35 years. I first learned about it back in massage school, and it seemed pretty neat, but I didn’t really understand the “science” and reasoning my professors gave me as to why it was so beneficial. The one thing I understood was that kinesio tape is different from traditional athletic tape because it still allows and even encourages movement, while athletic tape is used to decrease range of motion. Regardless of my confusion, I tried it (the Kinesio Tex Gold brand) and actually noticed some benefits, so I kept a roll around from then on. I used it periodically when I felt like tendonitis was threatening.

A few years later I decided to go to a taping seminar, but this particular class was by the brand RockTape, and they were/are calling it “Fascial Movement Taping (FMT).” I enjoyed the class and felt like I learned more of the research behind kinesio taping, but the instructor informed us all in the class that the old theories of how to tape were obsolete – whether from the origin of the muscle to the insertion or vice versa, how much stretch to put on the tape when applying, and trying to tape for inhibit or facilitate a particular muscle.

RockTape gave me three main positive outcomes from kinesio tape: swelling reduction, rehabilitation aid, and improvement in performance and recovery. Here’s why:

  1. It decompresses the skin for improved circulation and pressure relief. Because of this, it can immediately reduce the perception of pain.
  2. Sensory nerve stimulation and the brain response. In simpler terms, think about your first reaction when you stand up into a cupboard and hit your head hard. Your first reaction is to rub it. That’s because by doing that, you’re stimulating more sensory receptors which bombards the brain with signals to down grade the amount of pain you feel. It’s called the “pain-gate effect.”
  3. Posture/form taping. This is a pretty easy concept. The back and shoulders are a common spot. When you tape your back while sitting pretty, whenever you slouch back into poor posture you will feel the stretch on the tape and instinctively correct yourself.

Are you ready to try it? It’s relatively cheap, quick, and easy to use. You don’t have much to lose, especially if you’re willing to try ANYTHING to overcome an injury. You can buy most brands of kinesio tape on amazon, or at a pharmacy. Some sporting goods stores may sell them as well. The most popular are KT Tape, Kinesio Tex Gold, and RockTape. I’m partial to RockTape because not only am I certified through them, but their tape stays on longer, they have the largest selection of styles, sizes, and colors (oh yes…it matters), and I liked that the company takes the approach of “here’s what we know, we’re still learning, let’s do this together” approach.

After you’ve gotten the tape, and have an area to try it on, YouTube some videos of taping patterns, just to get you started. You can make up your own patterns based on your personal need, but if you’re new to kinesio taping, YouTube has a lot of ideas. Make sure you skin is clean and dry. If you’re hairy, I highly recommend shaving. After I’ve cut a piece from the roll, I round the edges to help keep the tape from fraying as easily. Before you remove the paper backing, rip both ends of the tape.

     You can either apply from the middle out, or have one end as an anchor and peel off the paper as you go. Be in the position of desired movement or stance when you’re being taped or taping yourself. How much stretch? I would say definitely no more than 50%, but usually I do anywhere from 15-25%. Rub the tape after it’s on the skin for a minute to help in bond faster. They say it takes about an hour for it to bond completely. Viola! You can shower with it, just pat dry when you’re done. Typically you can keep one application on for 3-5 days. If need be, trim any edges that start to peel.

When it comes time to remove it, take it slow, but the older the application, the easier it is to take off. The RockTape H20 is obviously a little harder because it’s meant for water sports, but baby oil does the trick.

If you have sensitive skin, test an area first with a small piece of tape. RockTape is latex free, but sometimes the adhesive bothers a small amount of people. Other contraindications for taping would be open wounds, skin infections, active cancer, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Kidney Disease, or Congestive Heart Failure. The latter few are due to fluid movement in the body.

I recently used/am using RockTape to aid recovery for a foot injury and felt pain relief and had a quicker recovery.

To buy, click here: https://shop.rocktape.com?rfsn=1017568.8dec5

Categories
Recipes

Banana Bread

Banana bread doesn’t have to be on your “do not eat” list when you’re training hard for a race. If you make it with the right ingredients, it can actually be a runner’s superfood! Bananas, of course, have many health benefits, but some key nutrients are potassium, vitamin B6, managanese, magnesium, and yes, even a little vitamin C. Coconut oil is an immune booster, having antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid, and capryilc acid which have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Yogurt (cow’s milk) is a complete protein, with calcium and probiotics. Cinnamon works as an anti-inflammatory and is high in antioxidants. Below is a recipe that I use:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup whole milk greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup agave nector, honey, OR pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour (I use, 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup coconut flour, and 1/4 cup sprouted rye flour, or some other random grain flour)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • If you want, you can add chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, sliced almonds, dried blueberries, etc. Use your own judgement on how much you want in there.

Directions

  1. Grease/spray baking dish(es) and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except whatever additive you decide to use (if any).
  3. Make sure all ingredients are mixed thoroughly, then stir in additive.
  4. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Helpful tips

This recipe makes two loaves, but you can also use an 8×8 baking pan. If you do, try baking it at 325 degrees F for 35 minutes instead.

I use frozen bananas (thawed) because they are much easier to mush. But because they are cold, they tend to harden the coconut oil, making it impossible to mix. So what I do, is heat up the oil on low in a sauce pan with the bananas and get that mixture warm before stirring it into the rest of the batter.

The batter is kind of thick, so you’ll probably need to smooth out the top with a spatula before you put it in the oven.

This is a great post-run, second breakfast meal. It has the carbs to replenish your body and fuel to move on to the rest of your day. It’s calorie dense, but filled with very useful calories. You can also use it as an alternative to common baked goods, if you’re slowly trying to step away from the sweets. If you add chocolate chips, it definitely could pass as a dessert, and then all you have to feel guilty about is the chocolate. Ha! Enjoy.

 

 

 

Categories
dont look

Hot Chocolate 15k 2017

Last year I ran this race and the course was fun and challenging (hills), so I was looking forward to racing it again this year. RAM Racing added an “elite corral” with a little bit of prize money for the first time in the series, but I wasn’t sure if it would draw out more competition or not. I was happy to know I made the cut off time and was gunning for a podium finish. I hadn’t done as well as I’d liked at the half-marathon a few weeks prior and I was ready to redeem myself.

Race morning was relaxed because of a later than usual start time and the luxury of living close to the starting line. After squirting my HoneyStinger Energy Gel over some Cheerios, I got dressed and was off. I found my spot at the front of the starting corral and realized I was the only one with an “elite” bib on (yeah, I felt pretty dumb) and there was no starting corral for those bibs as promised. I guess they didn’t get the word out soon enough? Unfortunately for the other racers, that eliminated their eligibility for prize money. Oh well!

Upon starting the race, my legs felt great. However, my lungs couldn’t keep up (which is usually not the case). I knew I was breathing too heavily to speed up like my legs wanted me to, but I tried my best. After the first four miles, I settled into 4th with little hope of moving up. My pace was steady, but my lungs couldn’t push any harder. It was a peaceful disappointment, realizing this, because I knew with more long runs, my lungs would come back – my skeletal muscles were improving.

Passing the 10k mark, I could hear another female coming up behind me. We were going downhill and nearing the bottom she passed me, but only for a brief moment. Because after the course went downhill, it went uphill – and the quad squad dominated. I regained my 4th place status and stayed there through the finish. After the results were in, I dropped to 5th – a racer from another corral actually took 3rd in chip time. After getting my bag from gear check, I headed straight for the chocolate. It turned out, I was the first 15k racer to get in line, so the volunteers made a big deal about it and offered me two servings. I had to decline, but it was pretty funny.

I didn’t PR or podium finish like I hoped, but I was happy with leg muscle improvement and insights in body awareness and sensitivity. For this training season, I want to peak in November for the New York City Marathon, and I feel like I’m on track to do so. I made some gains and I’m ready to make more. Bring on the Carlsbad 5000!

Final Statistics

Finish time – 1:02:17

Overall – 13th of 3954

Female – 5th of 2809

Age group – 2nd of 381