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On Running, Training

Running On Empty, Strength Training, and Other Running Muses on a Sunday LSD

By Alix J. Shutello

It’s been a while since I have written and for that I apologize.  Work priorities, parenthood, and alas, some sinusitis just took me out the last couple of weeks. I have a story on knee injuries on the way and two very anxious interviewees who are interested in what I am going to say about them!

In the meanwhile I read my issue of Runner’s World this morning and was perturbed about some of things I read today about stretching, strength exercise and shoes, which I reflected on during my 8-mile run today.

It was raining this morning.  I hemmed and hawed over running on the treadmill downstairs or hitting the streets. As I opened the door to let the cat out I was pleased that it was merely drizzling. Maybe I will go outside after all.

Running on Empty
I made some coffee and had a cup, and decided to train without eating.  I made up my mind that on this run I was going to allow myself a couple of small water breaks but that I was not going to carry or ingest gus or gels. I’d run on empty; let my body do it’s thing and enjoy the rain.

For the first time in a week, my head wasn’t throbbing from the sinus pain in my cheekbones. I had spent a good part of Saturday rinsing my nose every few hours. I avoided dairy products and took a ton of vitamins.  Saturday evening I completed my third P90X workout followed by 16 mintues of grueling ab work all focused on core training.  I may not have run last week due to the pain in my face,  but I was able to do over three hours of upper body, ab, and plyometric exericises.

I drank an extra glass of water, laced up and went outside. It was so nice to finally run a cool day without the summer heat. I plugged in my Ipod Shuffle and started my run. The first mile was smooth. I was trying not to run too fast – this was a long, slow, run. I was not to run fast, pace another runner, or use my ego in this run today at all.  I didn’t wear a watch so whether I was running a 9-minute mile or a 12-minute mile it didn’t matter; time was not going to be a factor. If I wanted to slog along I would; or if I wanted to pick up a little I would, but I was not going to race. I was just going to run.

Black Cat!
Along mile two I saw the black cat who often sits along the trail watching bikers, walkers, and runners go by. Today, however, the cat was walking ON the trail and I, being superstitious, worried it would cross my path! Then what?

Fortunately, I ran by the cat before it crossed over the path. The cat is so cute, it’s fat and happy and looks like it has a good home somewhere. My mind drifted off to how last Sunday I was supposed to run 8 miles. I did four.  I was upset about it but aside from the fact that I was not feeling too hot, my knee was bugging me and when my knee is bugging me I make a point of noting exactly where the pain is. You see, a knee that is bugging you is bugging you for a reason, and running through it if the pain is starting to get worse just you say you ran eight miles is stupid if nothing else.

So I ran home and just sucked it up. My 20-mile week was reduced to a 16-mile week. I just had to record it in my log and move on.

Nose Blowing
I reflected on how glad I was that I was running today. My sinus infection came around Tuesday last week and I had been suffering. I felt so crappy that the motion of running would only make my head throb more. I wanted to treat this infection holistically. I was tired of going to the doctor to get antibiotics every time I got one of these things. 

But fortunately, after days of nasal rinsing, rest, and vitamins, I felt great today. My head no longer throbbed, and I opened the door and bounced out (with glee, I might ad).   As I ran, however, my nose started to run.  I was very cautiously and descretely blowing my nose the farmer’s way. Gross, I know, but it had to be done.  My sinus infection is better, but not all the way gone.

My Running Boyfriend
As I hit mile three I was feeling really good but nervous. It was raining really hard and then I heard thunder. I am a freak about lightening and was terrified that with thunder, there would be lightening.  I upped my pace a little because I knew I was not far from our community center, whick is located thankfully, right along the running trail. From there I could call home if I had to.

Fortunately, I had many people on the trail to keep me company; all of us caught now in the downpour. I came up on this man who looked to be 40-ish and I came up right beside him. Normally I would  just pass but today, today I had been let out of the pen of home exercise videos and I was in a great mood. So, I just looked at the guy. He paid me no mind and I passed him.   Because of the the rain and thunder,  I felt comfort in the fact that this man I passed was just slogging along behind me. I decided he would be my running boyfriend for today. The only thing was my nose blowing. What would he think if I did it and he saw me? Well, too bad. He’ll have to accept me for who I am – (push blow!).

Now I use this term lightly. Sometimes I have a running girlfriend, buddy, “partner” if you will. Today it just so happened to be guy just minding his own business.  I liked the fact that he was near me….in the event of a rogue lighting strike (that would only me because I am terrified the sky will target just me), he’d call the hospital. I was so nervous in the rain – this guy became my body guard.

As I neared the community center, the rain slowed.  I ran by the community center and set my sights on getting a sip of water at the railway station.  I looked back and checked to make sure my boyfriend was a) there and b) not gaining on me. I know, no ego!

Strength Training
Assured he was there my mind drifted back to what I had read today in Runner’s World and I was very frustrated.  I am a firm believer that strength exercizes are critical to runners – especially those of us over 30.  Runner’s World mentioned that conventional wisdom suggests that strength training will make you a better runner but that in reality it was not necessary if you just worked your core. The magazine touts how Kenyan’s don’t need to do strength exercizes and that according to Toby Transer, author of More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way, that runner’s arms are only needed for balance and strength training is not necessary. But Mike Broderick, an RRCA running coach commented that “it may simply be that they [Runner’s World] are referring to the fact that to date no controlled studies have been able to demonstrated with statistical validity that stretching prevents or reduces injuries. That of course doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to stretching-just perhaps that there are different benefits.”

I noted that my knee was bugging me a little bit  into my 4th mile but I was also just blah blahing down the trail trying to keep it slow so I needed to pick up the pace. I had stopped to get water and noted that my “boyfriend” had too.  He did not even look at me when he got his water – LOSER. I was not trying to hit on him but I had said hello and made eye contact with everyone including the team of old ladies who biked by and this person could not even glance in my direction. He’s probably disgusted at all my snotting.  Oh well.

Despite myself I almost asked him as he stopped for water at the fountain,  how far he was going but I was afraid a) that he would ignore me completely and b) that he’d think I was hitting on him.

Nevermind! So off I went and turned round about 4.5 miles out knowing I would not come back exactly the way I had come which would allow me to run a full 8 miles.  Going this way I knew would tack on that extra mile but the extra mile would suck – almost all of it would be up hill. 

I ran back past the train depot and let my boyfriend go. He, I don’t think, turned around when I did. I got what I needed out of him for the time being and since it was not raining any more and I was on the easy leg of the trail back through town and to the community center, I felt no need for rain buddy.

After the community center, however, is a nasty hill, which, when you are tired seems to last forever. When you are not tired, you just bounce up this hill. At this point I don’t care who sees me snotting but it’s really no one because I am now running solo. Where’d everybody go? I’d get excited about seeing even some form of life. Then, my foot started to bug me and I started to think about running gear? Do we really need such fancy $100 shoes? My answer? Yes! 

Ok so “back in the day” people ran barefoot and yadda yadda crazy stuff.  Again, Runners World mentioned all that cushioning, support, and stability might be bunk.   I beg to differ hear. Since I switched to a stability shoe I’ve been, well, I’ve been more stable damn-it!  Seriously though I think shoe technology has come a long way and that arch support, motion control that aids pronation or cushioned shoes that help people with other ailments is helpful even if it might be psychosomatic. I doubt it is – my chronic foot issues after giving birth to my first son were instantly corrected with a wide width shoe and good arch support.

As I neared the 6-mile point I was wasn’t tired but a little bored and achy.  Running alone even with music and people-watching can get old. By now, I was leaving the trail and starting a two-mile trek home through the neighborhoods. Judging by the fact that there was a cop standing outside of his car waving people into the local Korean church, it had to be 10:30 am or so. That was good, I should be right on pace for my goal for the day.  As I turned up my street into my development I wondered if my husband would yell at me for being out for an hour and a half or so since when I left I said “a few minutes.” I always say that though.

As I ran past the pool club and up that drasted last hill I hate so much I was feeling the mileage. And I should have. I have not run 8-miles in a while and now I am wondering my Madonna and Kanye West are not helping me much.  The music now is merely annoying and my pace slowing as I finish up that last horrible hill. I walk thorugh the door feeling tired but happy – thoughts of peanut butter and bread fill my mind as I rush to the refridgerator. And my hubby? He was cool. 🙂



2 thoughts on “Running On Empty, Strength Training, and Other Running Muses on a Sunday LSD

  1. Keep up the good work

    Posted by bobbygee | August 3, 2009, 12:56 pm
  2. I didn’t agree with Runner’s World article either. Bad press for beginner runners – IMHO
    And yeah I had peanut butter on my toast!

    Posted by kara | August 12, 2009, 5:55 pm

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