In With The New

In the midst of a depressing foot problem, I realize how important feet are to running (duh) and have set out to learn as much as I can to keep them healthy and strong! This goes beyond finding the best shoe for your foot to knowing when to switch out your old pair for the new.
Remember that I am not an expert and my suggestions are a result of research I’ve done.
As I read various sites, I discovered many different views on the subject, which all seem to make sense to me, so the question is, which one is true?
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In my opinion, the best one is to listen to your body and watch out for signs. A new shoe is fully cushioned and ready to protect your foot. Of course it will break down overtime and eventually you will begin feeling aches and pains as a result of the lack of support. Obviously not all aches and pains are a result of old shoes, so use your judgment.
In order to be sure, it is a good idea to go to a running store and try a new pair of the same shoes and feel the difference.  If the difference is extremely noticeable it’s likely time for a fresh pair.
As far as when you should expect this, I would not go by time (2 months, 4 months etc.) because everyone’s training is different. For example when training for a 5k versus a marathon, clearly your mileage will be different, so you’d have to switch out shoes sooner when training for longer distances. Most sites recommend switching out between 400-600 miles.

Every one is different and this means your mileage, body weight and foot type will be an influence. For example, running on the road will wear shoes faster and a heavy over pronator will wear their shoes out faster than a neutral runner. Changing your running shoes is extremely important as running in worn out shoes increases risk of injury! If you’ve calculated your total mileage in your shoes, checked for physical signs on the shoe and have listened to your body but are still not sure, go to a running store and ask an expert.

How often do you change your running shoes?

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REVIEW: Spirit of the Marathon

I’m a huge sucker for inspirational sports movies, no matter what the sport, however, I am disappointed with the lack of running movies out there! That’s why I was super excited to see four running documentaries highlighted in the August edition of Runner’s World. (As pictured below)
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So, last night after finishing the third Harry Potter book (yes, I’m a nerd), I was bored and decided to watch Spirit of the Marathon, which is of course the first film before Spirit of the Marathon 2 shown in Runner’s World. Here’s my thoughts on the film:

The movie chronicles the training of six runner’s in their preparation for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Four of them being regular people and two elites: Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga. For some it was their first marathon, which was motivating to watch, however, I think I would have enjoyed seeing some more hardcore trainers who also have jobs!

Therefore, I honestly didn’t find their training to be overly exciting or inspirational and there wasn’t much on the training regimen of Kastor or Njenga, which was what I was hoping for. Luckily, the film made up for this in giving a very interesting history of marathons.

In the beginning of the film, they give a brief history of how the marathon began and evolved and became so popular and also spent a lot of time talking about the history of women and running. There was an interview with the women’s running pioneer who entered the Boston Marathon (when women weren’t allowed) as “K.V Switzer”, so officials would think she was a man. During the race, the official made an attempt to remove her, but she just kept going!

It’s crazy to think there was a time women were banned from racing for such ridiculous reasons, one being that they feared a women’s uterus might fall out. Come on, seriously? Overall, the film outlined women’s history in running very well and made me feel proud to be a female runner.

In the end, each athlete’s race in the Chicago Marathon was empowering, especially Deena Kastor, who won the Women’s race. All in all I enjoyed the film, despite some slight changes I would have liked to see, and would recommend to all runners!

I look forward to watching the rest of the running films and will keep you updated! Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve seen any running films worth watching!

Strawberry Overload

It’s strawberry season and I’ve been picking like a madwoman! Since the moment my last exam finished I’ve been looking forward to one of the best parts of summer-strawberry picking! I went at last on Sunday and picked a ridiculous amount.
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Since me and family couldn’t possibly eat all of them, my mom decided to make a delicious, SUPER healthy, grain-free strawberry crisp and I just needed to share the recipe. So, here it is:

Strawberry Crisp:
Ingredients:
-4 cups fresh strawberries (blueberries would probably also work great)
-1/2 t. cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1 cup almond flour
-1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
-1 cup cashews (or any nut of choice)
-1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
-1/4 cup raw honey
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Wash strawberries and place them in baking dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
3. Mix almond flour, sea salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix in the shredded coconut and cashews.
4. Melt coconut oil in a small pan over low heat, and add honey until it’s slightly melted (only enough for it to mix in).
5. Stir your melted mixture with the almond flour mixture, then pour the entire mixture over the strawberries.
6. Bake for roughly 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown.
7. Cut into squares and enjoy!
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I’m well aware that the whipped cream was not so healthy, but it was necessary!
Happy eating!!

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

You may have noticed I haven’t made a blog post in quite awhile and there’s a very good reason for that-I haven’t been running much! As I mentioned in a previous post, I am having an issue with one of my toes as it is curved and forces running impact to hit the tip of the toe, rather than the bottom. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and it never was a problem, until I increased my mileage and suddenly my little useless toe was in so much pain I could barely walk, much less run.

After trying countless toe separators and sleeves, my doctor has finally referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. While I’m relieved to be resolving the problem, I’ve been overwhelmed with disappointment.

Way back when I started training, I had all of the races I wanted to run all lined up with countdowns going for each one, all in preparation for the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon in October. For once I was actually excited about running and was truly enjoying the training experience. I would wake up early in the morning actually smiling knowing I would soon be out the door running. I even skipped some Saturday nights out in order to rest up for my Sunday long run.

I’m sure you fellow runner’s can relate to this running euphoria, but for me it was new. Throughout high school I struggled against girls who were much faster than me and I struggled to run the short distances of track and cross-country. By grade 12, I was completely unmotivated and barely put any effort into training. When I began university I was barely running at all and struggling to find success in my schoolwork and was desperately seeking something outside of school that would make me feel accomplished. I found this in running.

It didn’t take long for me to decide that I needed to run a marathon and before I knew it I was immersed in training and was working harder than ever. As I said before, I had dreamed up what my entire experience would be like and looked forward to every step. This is why it was so hard for me to accept that my foot couldn’t take it.

Once I decided I couldn’t continue training, I learned that I could handle going for a short run one day then biking the next in order to keep my fitness up. But, while it may sound dramatic, I had trouble even enjoying these short runs knowing it was all for nothing and I would lose the fitness level I had worked so hard for four months to achieve.

As I found myself in a running rut, I finally found inspiration while watching the women’s 10k at the USATF Championships. If you watched it or saw the results, your mind probably immediately went to Shalane Flannigan, however, in my circumstances it was Kara Goucher. Kara led with training partner Shalane early in the race but fell back hard and finished fifth. She recently wrote a blog post about how truly disappointed she was with the race and how she thought she was for sure going to place in the top 3. But, as she says in the post, things don’t always go the way you want, but that’s no reason to give up.

She made me realize that you need to set new goals and be grateful for these learning experiences. I now know I was crazy to be that upset by my changed running plans. I’m only 19 years old and have a long running career ahead of me. This will only be a short time off in the long run and I will come back stronger than ever and ready to conquer my first marathon! Sorry to Kara for stealing your post’s title for mine, but it was just so appropriate!

Here’s a link to Kara’s blog post: http://www.runtheedge.com/2013/06/you-cant-always-get-what-you-want/

Clean Eating

Given my strong passion for running, I also am inevitably passionate for healthy eating, as us runner’s know that an important part of training and becoming a stronger athlete is eating right. Therefore I thought I’d make a post about my eating beliefs and healthy food favs!

My first year of university was a huge struggle for eating. I lived in residence and was therefore eating in an unfortunate cafeteria. As a healthy food snob, every meal was a sad walk through the cafeteria past the burgers, macaroni and cheese, pizza and pasta and to the sad attempt at a salad bar. Since eating protein-less salad for every meal wasn’t an option, I let my views slip away for the year and stopped worrying so much about health.

While the freshman experience was amazing, i have to admit I was kind of relieved when it ended and I was able to start changing my ways.

The new lifestyle is simple: eat clean. Eating has become so complicated, with so called “health experts” making obscure conflicting remarks, but living a healthy lifestyle in reality is extremely simple. While it’s only been just over a month since my school year ended, I am not completely there yet and I do let myself cheat still, but I have still established some simple eating rules:

1. Nothing processed. You may think you’re making the right choice with that so-called protein bar or bran cereal, but if you read the ingredients you will see a whole lot of refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and many other un-procouncable unnecessary additions. Therefore, simply stick to real food!
2. Eat your veggies! This may seem like a no brainer, but think of every meal you ate today, how many of them had vegetables in them? I personally find veggies super delicious, but if you find it tough to eat your greens, start out putting them in a smoothie. (I’ll post my smoothie recipe)
3. Stay hydrated and don’t drink your calories. You should be drinking half of your weight in ounces of water each day. (i.e. I am 110 pounds, so should drink 55 ounces per day) Along with tea, especially white and green, water should be the only drink you’re having. Oh and maybe some red wine here or there.
4. Eat a colourful diet. I’m no scientist so have no idea which vegetables or fruits are beneficial for what, but I do know that they are all different. So enjoy variety!

I could go on and on, but these are probably the most important. In summary, just eat clean. Even with my cheats every once and awhile, I’m already feeling so much better. These rules aren’t about losing weight, but simply being healthy, which will in turn be beneficial when running and training!

National Running Day Celebrations

Happy National Running Day fellow runners!

I hope every one was lucky enough to celebrate with a long and tough speed workout like I did! (can you sense my sarcasm?) Today was three sets of two 400m’s and one 1000m, which was in total six 400’s and three 1000’s. I was fine with the 1000’s, but it’s those short and evil 400’s that always kick my butt. I am now desperate for a long stretching and foam rolling session.

Regardless of the pain I’m currently feeling, on National Running Day I feel so blessed to be able to run and to have such a passion for running! If you haven’t run yet today hurry and get out there and celebrate!

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Post-Race Reflections

At last, after a year I was finally among throngs of nervous runners as I laced up and headed to the start line of the Beat Beethoven 8K race. As horrible as the nerves feel in the moment, theres no better feeling than right before the gun goes off, as the excited and scared energy of hundreds of runners fills the humid air.
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Having not raced in a year, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as times and pacing goes but was hoping to be under 35 minutes. I struggled to pace myself and found my kilometre splits were all over the place. As a result I finished in 35:17. While I didn’t quite reach my goal, I am happy with the race and the results and have learned from the experience to not hold back, but rather keep the pace I know I can run.
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Overall it was a really fun event, followed by a delicious pancake brunch to celebrate with my parents. Today I am headed to the doctors to hopefully resolve a toe issue that has been forcing me to hold back from training too hard, followed by a long yoga session to stretch out my sore muscles and clear my head. Hope everyone else who raced this past weekend were happy with their results!