Monday, October 9, 2017

Getting Back to Racing!!!

This past weekend I was in Chicago--a favorite city of mine, with plenty of things to do, see, and eat!

It was also the weekend of the Chicago Marathon, which turned out to be one for the ages, with American runner Galen Rupp winning the men's race (first American man to win it all in fifteen years), and Jordan Hasay coming in third in the women's race (a new princess of American running is born--except she's been at it since she was 16).

Read about them here:

I was staying at the marvelous Palmer House Hotel, a grand old dame of a place, with an amazing foyer and vintage photos of celebrities on every floor.  And everywhere I turned, there were people in town for the Chicago Marathon.  I overheard one man, in his 60s, say this was going to be his *8th* full marathon since he entered his 60s--and that he hoped to finish 26.2 in 3:45. His wife, who after an accident, was now running with a plate in her leg, hoped to finish in 4. (note well: if I'm reading the website for the Chicago Marathon correctly, he finished in 4:04 and she finished in 4:20!)

I also have several Facebook friends who were running the race, and seeing their pictures made me want to race again.  I've shied away from racing since I've gotten older, fatter, and slower, content to run/walk to my heart's content. But I was clearly jealous of the fun and the swag of races, and realized I was missing something I used to enjoy.  I'm sad that I'm not capable of the same speed as I was in 2011 (opening up my page on reminded me I used to be able to run between 9:30 and 10 min per mile in races).  But then I remembered that I used to use racing as a means to get the best out of myself as a runner--and I want to reach for the best within myself again.

So inspired by my fast Facebook friends Penny and Marlon, I've signed up for races in 2018--no marathons, but I'm going to run 7Ks and 10Ks in the spring, then find a really fun half-marathon to run in fall 2018. I'm going to do the Go! St. Louis Mississippi 7K in April 2018 and the Run for 21K in Clayton, Missouri in March 2018 (they have a 7K option).

So what if I'm no longer able to run a 9:30 mile (sob)--I can still have fun, and still get race swag. I miss race swag. And I miss pushing myself to better myself.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Breakthrough or Comeback

It's been forever since I've posted to this blog!

Wanted to post to prove 1) I'm still running and 2) run-walk is the way to go!

I've been using variations on Jeff Galloway's run-walk system for quite some time now. Galloway's contention is that practically anyone can be a runner if he or she alternates running with walking. What I've struggled with is finding the right ratio.  The possibilities are endless, but today's six mile (!) run was at 1 min run, 1 min walk.

You'd think all that starting and stopping would be annoying, but the key is to keep the walk segments brisk.  If the walk is a stroll, you're going to want to keep on strolling, because nothing beats a good stroll. But if you keep the walk segments quick and crisp, as in "no one's beating me to the bargain table" crisp, it's far easier to start running again. 

For more information on the Jeff Galloway system, visit his website:

I may not be as fast as I once was, but run-walk will enable me to complete longer and longer distances, and maybe even get back to doing races!  I'm excited. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Running Without Music

Recently, I've been running without music--no 80s nostalgia playlists, no EDM sessions, no new jack swing back to the 90s with TLC and Bobby Brown.

I'm a huge music lover, so I kind of miss hearing music when I run.  But it was getting to the point where picking the playlist, ordering the tunes, getting the headphones on (how you earbud people keep them in??), and all that jazz (see what I did there) was getting to be a true bother.

When I first started running, I didn't use music at all. Then I discovered Motion Traxx and Podrunner, podcasts specifically designed to help with running.  Then, I fell down a rabbit hole of downloads, mixtapes, dj cuts, and podcasts. I learned about music genres that I hadn't followed much before (EDM, House, electro swing) and trotted many miles to other people's beats.

I may return soon to running again with music, but it's a relief to know that I can get out there and run without having to have music.  Without the distraction of music, I'm much more aware of my surroundings--which often include animals, cars, cyclists, dogwalkers, etc.  I think about all sorts of things when I'm out running, and often, random songs will pop into my mind anyway.  My brain is a treasure trove of pop music from several decades, so I never know what will pop into my head--the B52s, Motion City Soundtrack, Jeffrey Osbourne--who knows?

Mostly, I listen to the rhythm of my own footsteps, the sound of my own breath. I have been using the 10:1 walk ratio promoted by Running Room stores ( and finding it just the thing I needed to get back to runs of five miles or more. I'm not thinking about racing right now, but am enjoying running longer without stopping.

Here's more information on the 10:1 walk ratio:

Whether you choose music or silence or the chatter of a running partner, enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On fitness splainin, or why I won't give fitness advice

What, you may ask, is "fitness splainin?"

That's when someone, presumably knowledgeable about health, fitness, working out, etc, tells YOU what you should do with YOUR body.  Comments like:

"You need a low-carb diet to lose weight."
"All that running is going to destroy your knees."
"Steady-state cardio is terrible for weight loss. You need to do HIIT."
"You need to stretch before you run."
"Spin classes make you fat."

Oy and vey.  So much advice. So many advice givers. So many assumptions that what will work for one person will work for another.  Social media makes it easy for everyone to be an instant personal trainer, health guru, or fitness expert.

I read a lot of fitness/running magazines. Part of the reason for that is that I'm a writer, and I'm always interested in writing on topics that obssess me.  When I was into beads, I subscribed to beading magazines (and there are plenty of those). So I read Runner's World, Running Times, Health, Women's Health, Women's Running, Self and read articles online from Armed with the information I glean from these sources, am I any kind of expert? Hells to the no.

I make it a practice to not give fitness advice.  I love to share/compare experiences with other runners, which I do regularly on and in several running-related Facebook groups.  But I hesitate to offer advice on what someone should do with their fitness time.  And I have no idea how to resolve anyone's fitness injuries!

I personally like to run, to ride bikes (indoors and outdoors), to walk, to dance (on my own, not in a class), and to use ellipticals (the zone out factor is high on that machine).  I have mad respect for those who do a lot of lifting/weight training, but I admit I've not found a way to embrace it (maybe I'm just too antsy). But  I don't tell people who base their fitness routines on lifting that they need to run.

If someone asks me what my personal fitness preferences are, I'm happy to tell them.  But I have to resist the evangelical urge that comes with running. I mean, it helped me lose 50 pounds and get off blood pressure meds--it must be great for everyone!  I got to tamp that down.

If someone asks me how to become a runner, I can only tell them how I became one, which may or may not work for him or her.  Usually I point people toward Couch-to-5K programs, though I never did one myself.

When it comes to fitness, there is a huge morass of contradictory advice out there. My plan, as a person who wants to outlive her parents (who both died too young), is to take in everything I read, see, and hear with an open mind and a questioning brain. So far it's working well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Fitness Goals and Hopes for 2015

2014 was supposed to rock.  It was going to be the year I made 10 mile runs my bitch, the year when I got my half-marathon PR, and maybe even thought full marathon. I was going to rule!

It didn't work out that way. 2014 was the year of mourning. So many losses, punctuated most sharply by the loss of my vivid and beautiful father-in-law, Daddy T. Running became a way to deal with grief, to distract myself from all the unhappiness and sorrow. Working out made me breathe when tears wanted to short-circuit my breath.  I still ran, but it was with a heavy heart. I didn't do any races. Or long runs. I wanted running to help me, and it did, but my endurance was no longer as profound as it had been.  Still, I ran.

So with the new year coming up, I've altered my fitness goals/wishes:

1) To maintain my weight in the 135 to 138 range, but not to flip out if it's not. This weight range makes it easier to run--I don't care about clothing size. Clothing sizes are a bunch of lies anyway. 

2) To run with a joyful spirit, not taking for granted the fact that I can run. My beloved Daddy T. had Parkinson's, so to see him go from someone who walked at a quick and steady clip to someone who could barely move was heartbreaking. I'm not going to take the gift of movement for granted.

3) To stretch and weight train, even though they aren't my favorite ways to exercise. I have neglected these areas, but if I want to run when I'm 70 (and I do), I need stretching and weight training. Thank goodness for planks (because I hate crunches) and dynamic stretches (because I am so antsy).

4) To get "everyday exercise"--running/walking stairs, going for walks after meals, dancing with my headphones on, etc. Formal workouts are great, but sometimes a gal just needs to move!

5) To admire the fitness achievments of others, to be a fitness cheerleader, but not to pressure myself to match or surpass such achievements. People think there's only one way to be a runner, since mostly, in popular culture, runners are marathoners. It's great to run marathons, don't get me wrong. But I like middle distances (five miles through half-marathons). I reject the notion that I'm not a runner if I don't run marathons. But I do love cheering on all sorts of runners. 

6) To cross train: bike, elliptical, row--whatever strikes my fancy!

7) To love my body and thank it often for what it permits me to do. I spent a lot of time this year in the land of body blame. That's a neighborhood not worth visiting. 

So I declare 2015 the year of body acceptance. No more body blaming, scale worship, food lustings, make up exercise, or clothes worries. Essays and poems about the above: yes.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Determination Playlist #2: Happiness!

I should be bummed--a case of shin splints is keeping me from running the Saint Louis Half this weekend. 

But I'm going to stay happy by listening to this playlist:

Everybody Got Their Something," "Like a Feather," and "cantneverdidnothin." Nikka Costa
Shining Star: Earth, Wind & Fire
Serpentine Fire, also by Earth, Wind and Fire
"New Shoes" by Paolo Nutini
Aint No Stopping Us Now," by McFadden and Whitehead

"Move On Up," by Curtis Mayfield
"Shake a Tail Feather" James and Bobby Purify
"Soul Makossa" Manu Dibango

"On and On", Gladys Knight and the Pips
Behind the Groove" and "Lover girl" Teena Marie
"Happiness" and "Yes We Can Can" the Pointer Sisters
"Looking for a Love" Bobby Womack

These songs make me happy during runs, walks, elliptical sessions, stationary bike rides, etc.

Make exercise a place for happiness ;-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Running, Weight Loss, and Body Image

I never felt fat until I lost weight.

There's a lot running has done for me. But one thing running has done that I need to keep in check is make me very conscious of weight gain and loss. 

I'm not talking about the major weight loss that came with eating better and exercising more in all sorts of ways.  I'm talking about the niggling five-pound swing that can make a huge difference on a run. The lighter you are in general, the faster you feel on your feet, and the quicker those PRs come. 

At least, that's what I thought. 

When I was overweight, I never obsessed about the scale. I gleefully bought larger clothes until the spectre of diabetes and high blood pressure (both of which run in my family) motivated me towards better health decisions.

But there's a huge gap between better health decisions and better thinking.  And it's easy to fall into that gap, to take in Photoshopped images and think they are attainable with just one more mile, one more workout, with just more effort. If I wasn't as sleek as people in magazines, it had to be my fault, right?  I just wasn't trying hard enough, running enough, or doing enough. 

I was getting to the point of being hyper-critical about my own body, pinching this pad of fat here, or hating that my stomach didn't look like a "runner's stomach." I started taking cell phone pics to see if I could detect weight gains or losses. 

But recently, I was at a hotel where the mirrors allowed me to see not only my front reflection, but my back reflection. This should have terrified me. I'd been travelling, not eating right, and exercising in spurts.

Strangely enough, seeing my own bare back in the mirror did not disgust me. I realized that had to have gotten over a whole lot of body hatred for that to happen. Being body positive is work, and I am doing it, staring down the societal demons that tell me to dislike my own flesh.

The crux: my body hatred got worse after weight loss, not better. 

It is so much easier to find fault when you have had what is deemed success. So much easier to see every bit of flesh as something flawed to tame. 

The kicker: I really love exercise now, and don't want to spoil that joy by having it become a means to punish an unruly body.

The truth: Hotel mirrors will reveal all, but it is up to me to embrace what is revealed.