Tag Archives: running

Mile 630: How Not to Be the Runner Everyone Hates

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Miles since last time: 320.9
Total miles: 630

Being a runner is a lot like being a woman. It’s fine to be one, but the second you say something about it out loud, most people shout, “JEEZ WE GET IT WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BRING IT UP EVERY FIVE SECONDS GAH.”

And then they hate you.

Since I dislike being hated, I’ve come up with some hip and cool tips to help you not be *that runner* that gets the side-eye and such.

Fall down. Publicly.
Do you run near a busy intersection? Pick a curb and trip over it. At a crowded gym? Fall for no reason. That way, people will know that, despite your unashamed public display of vigorous physical activity, you are so terrible at it that you can’t be trusted to remain upright for an extended period of time. You become an endearing underdog, rather than a brazenly capable individual. Bonus points if someone stops to help you. You may even make a new friend–I hope they don’t murder you for your sweet kicks!

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Do NOT go to a natural form running clinic and then later start a sentence with, “Well, at the running clinic I went to, the guy said…”
Jeez. Do you hear yourself? You may as well be from Portseattaustin, slamming poetry all around (that’s how it works, right?). If you do extra credit running, shut your pie hole about it. Oh, wait–you probably aren’t eating a lot of pie. Shut your balanced-mixed-of-carbs-and-protein hole about it.

Don’t sign up for additional races.
Look, doing one is acceptable, but if you’re going to sign up for a second half-marathon–with the goal of determining whether you can do a full marathon–you may be beyond help. And multiple 5Ks? What even. How dare you, you pretentious, masochistic bastard.

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Don’t buy a special running iPod.
I know you hate running with your phone. It’s giant and annoying. People probably already hate you for having an iPhone 6plus, anyway. This does not give you license to use birthday cash to buy a tiny, cheap iPod nano just for hitting the pavement. Your laptop is so old that it won’t sync properly because it’s already on the fritz, and you’ll have to start seriously considering getting a new computer to justify the purchase you already made. Think about your life choices.

Things to never talk about: injuries, training schedules, changes to your schedule, dietary plans, shoes, or anything related to physical activity.
Face it. If you’re honest, you’re kind of annoyed to have to deal with that stuff, yourself. What makes you think friends, family, and Twitter robot accounts want to hear about it? No one knows or cares what a fascia is. Let them think you’re limping around because you’ve been kicking immigrants out of the country like a goddamn American.

Don’t read books about running.
You did it, didn’t you? You ordered marathon extraordinaire Hal Higdon’s Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. Well, if you insist on reading it, at least have the decency to put it inside a copy of People or something, even when you’re home alone. Big Brother is always watching.

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What running books? I don’t have running books. Do you hear that, Big Brother overlords?!

Don’t write about it, either.
Oh, no. You’re doing it right now. Stop. Stop. I can see you doing–STOOOOOOOP.

Gain weight.
This one’s surprisingly simple because, yes, Virginia, despite things like logic and reason, it’s totally possible–nay, even easy–to gain a significant amount of weight while, say, training five to six days a week for your first half marathon. You may not even realize it due to your love of beautiful, stretchy leggings. Apparently, it can actually be quite difficult to lose weight on a running regimen if you don’t do it right. Because life is weird and the lizard people are conspiring against you.

So just gain some weight. Everyone knows that real runners have a body like Allyson Felix, anyway.

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Why don’t I look like Allyson Felix? Oh, right. Allyson Felix is a goddess and a treasure. Source

Make sure there’s a Panera Bread along your route.
Little Caesar’s also works. Or McAlester’s. Really anywhere that bakes anything will do. You know, so you can huff and puff your way through the smell of freshly made bread products for extra torture. You deserve it.

If someone asks you about running, scream, “THE LIZARDS HAVE WON,” turn clockwise three times, stomp on his/her right big toe, and run away backward while doing jazz hands.
People already think you’re crazy. Might as well give them a show.

There you have it. If you don’t want to be a runner everyone hates, then just don’t ever mention it. If you do, make sure you talk about and show how bad you are at it.

You know, also like being a woman.

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Mile 309.1: 13.1 Things I Would Tell Pre-Half-Marathon Me

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“We won! We won! WE WON! WE WON!”
–“Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down),” Hamilton

Miles since last time: 167 (+ 13.1!)
Total miles: 309.1

I DID A FRIGGING HALF-MARATHON YESTERDAY!

Whoa, sorry. I didn’t mean to shout at you.

BUT I DID MY FIRST HALF-MARATHON.

OKC Memorial Marathon 2016 start line

Can you see me? I’m waaaaaaaaaaaaay at the back. Source

I’m not going to lie–I was a bit worried during the week or so before that it wouldn’t happen. The long runs leading up to it kept getting more and more difficult. The Oklahoma City Memorial Run is kind of a big deal, and I was pretty convinced I was going to die.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t. So, now I go back to not knowing where, when, or how it’s going to happen–what a beautiful feeling!

It turns out you have a lot of time to think as you race (or, in my case, heartily jog and intermittently walk) through the neighborhoods of Oklahoma City, and as I did, I considered what I would’ve told myself twenty-one weeks ago, before I started training.

Here’s what I came up with.

1) Put your Twitter handle on your bib, dummy.
No one cares what your first name is. Self-promote, dammit!

2) Get fitted for shoes NOW.
Sure, Shoe Carnival is going to have a BOGO half-off sale right when you start training. Don’t do it. Those Nikes will do terrible things to your toes, heel, and possibly your sanity and will to live. See a professional early. And then, when you do finally go to OK Runner in Norman, you’re pretty sure that the guy who fits you for shoes turns out to be the male marathon winner. NBD. It’s just probably the closest you’ll ever get to winning a marathon.

2016 Half Marathon Course Map

2016 Half Marathon Course Map

3) NEVER skip a water station.
Sometimes, they’re far apart. You’re going to pass the first one thinking it’s too early and you don’t need hydration yet. You will regret that thought as soon as the last person holding out a wax paper cup is behind you.

4) Get ready to have your ego stroked a bit.
People basically cheer for you the whole time. Even thought they don’t know you, they are so enthusiastic about the race that they happily sit, clap, shout words of encouragement, high-five, and wave signs as they watch you hobble by. Remember the Hall of Gratuitous Praise from Sabrina the Teenage Witch? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Plus, no fewer than five people will even be dressed as chickens, so get ready for that sight.

5) Fight the urge to stop and correct misspelled signs.
Looking at you, “Unstopable” guy. Your heart is in the right place, and I appreciate that. Also, I didn’t think to bring a pen.

6) Don’t stress about missing the turn-off for the half.
You’re going to spend a good chunk of the beginning of the run worried that you will miss the split between the half- and full-marathon courses, causing you to accidentally end up on the wrong path, leading you to fall into Lake Hefner out of sheer exhaustion because you were not prepared to accidentally do a full marathon, which ends up making you part of a balanced breakfast for the giant squid monster that somehow survives down there undetected. (There’s a lot of time for your mind to wander, okay?) However, there are spray-painted arrows on the road and at least four people with bullhorns who announce the correct directions for everyone. You’ll be fine. I mean, there may come a day when that giant squid monster gets you, but April 24, 2016, is not that day.

Race results

6,585th place, baby!

7) You’ll start to get a weird cramp in your right bicep and into your shoulder for no reason.
Yeah, I don’t know what to tell you about that. Maybe you should have practiced your arm swing. It seems there’s a wrong way to do it.

8) Running into the wind is a bee-yatch.
The lighter breezes are nice and will keep you from overheating, but there are stretches where you’ll think, “Wait–why is this air solid?”

9) The Hamilton soundtrack, Foo Fighters, Neon Trees, boy bands, and various other dance/pop hits will help you get through.
For a Broadway musical, Hamilton is surprisingly good for running. However, try not to shout, “VOTE FOR BURR!” along the course, or, you know, while Senator Lankford is speaking.

10) No GI distress!
I know you’re worried, but let me tell you that your intestines are the real champs of the day.

11) After you finish, don’t go directly to get your finisher shirt.
Cool down first, because going from jogging/walking for a long time to standing around in a line in the middle of a huge crowd of people is apparently a bad idea. You don’t need the vomit anxiety.

OKC Memorial Marathon Finish Line

HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIDE

12) There will be burgers at the finish line.
They’ll smell amazing and wonderful, but thought of actually eating a burger will make you a little nauseous. Stick with the banana and bagel. And the chocolate milk, of course. Never deny yourself chocolate milk.

13) You’ll finish.
Yes, you’ll have to walk sometimes. A lot of people will pass you, but you will still cross the finish line, and in slightly less time than you predicted. Honestly, aside from the full-body muscle soreness and right heel/arch pain, you make it out pretty scot-free. You are even mobile enough to go to a David Cross performance afterward. Fair warning, though–the show is upstairs, so good luck with that.

13.1) There’s no–
That’s approximately one-tenth of the sentence I would have written. Fill in the blanks yourself.

So, who’s doing it with me next year???

OKC Memorial Marathon merchandise

Finisher swag!

Mile 129: And Now, For My Next Trick

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“Where will we go?
I’ve got no bright idea.
Where we go, I don’t know,
Til the last good time.”
–iamdynamite, “Where Will We Go?”

Total 2015 miles: 1068
Miles so far this year: 129

Yes, it’s been a long time. I know. I’m awful. Every terrible thing you’ve ever thought about me is true.

Rest assured, though–my time away from weekly Internet writing about fitness misadventures has not been mirrored in time away away from the gym. In fact, I’ve been remarkably consistent. Here are a few key developments over the last six months:

No more calorie counting apps.
After much thinking, I decided to delete MyFitnessPal from my phone. MyFitnessPal has this thing where it lowers your daily goal calorie intake as you lose weight. The last time the app offered to lower mine, it told me I should only have 1200 per day–which was also the absolute the absolute minimum. If I ever logged fewer than 1200, I would get a big warning about how I hadn’t eaten enough, which I then took as license to have a bowl of ice cream–for health!

MyFitnessPal essentially recommended that 1200 was both the minimum AND maximum amount of calories. I didn’t feel I could trust it anymore. I also didn’t really appreciate it’s little judgmental comments after I entered in some foods.

Yes, MyFitnessPal, I know mac and cheese is high in saturated fat, but I need it sometimes, okay? You’ll never understand.

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Yes, please.

Numbers schmumbers.
I haven’t been on a scale since July, which, incidentally, was just a few weeks after I purchased my own scale because my gym doesn’t have one. (Way to plan and spend wisely, Stonebarger.) This wasn’t really a conscious choice–I just got tired of seeing the yoyo-ing every week. I’m sure I’ll dig that scale out of the closet eventually, but not now. At last count, I was still at 100 pounds lost after hovering for several months, and I’m still wearing the same clothes, so that’s good, right? At the very least, I haven’t reversed the last couple of years of work. Better have some celebratory pizza!

No?

Meal planning.
Meal planning and prep make a lot of sense in theory. You work hard for one afternoon, and your food is all ready for you the rest of the week. But you have to THINK and SHOP and PLAN and COOK. I’m currently in a place where I’ll do breakfasts and lunches for the week, but prepping dinners seems like too much work. There’s a line of preparedness that I can’t cross yet. I’ve even obtained some cheap cookbooks to help in the endeavor, although I tend to thumb through them and decide that most of the recipes have too many ingredients and must therefore be extremely complicated.

Baby steps, guys.

My next trick.
Last fall, in a fit of setting goals for myself, I decided that I should do the half-marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Run on April 24. Yes, that’s right–despite my repeated promises (mostly out of spite) that I would not ever become a runner, I have signed up for half of a very long race. Probably because I might be a masochist.

Luckily, Jackie Lease of Jackie Lease Fitness has helped me adapt and expand a Hal Higdon 12-week program into one that should ensure I won’t bite the dust before my next birthday (which is in May, if you want to get me anything).

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Don’t get too impressed by that half-marathon day that’s marked off. I did those 13.1 miles on the elliptical.

 

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In case you’re wondering why “rest” is already marked off for this week, I completely overslept on Monday and had to take it early. I already feel guilty. I don’t need you adding to it.

 

I’m back.
It feels good to be back on the blog again. Plus, when I inevitably die of plantar fasciitis or toe cramps, I’m sure you will all cherish these mile logs with something like indifferent resignation.

You’re welcome.

Mile 2420: Sometimes You Have to Hold Up Your Own Pants

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“Shed this skin I’ve been tripping in
Never to quite return.”
–John Mayer, “Bigger Than My Body”

Miles Last Week: 58
Total Miles: 2420

I made myself a bargain a few weeks ago. I’m not allowed to buy any new clothes until I hit the next big weight loss milestone.

I’m certainly not someone who goes shopping all the time–my philosophy thus far has just been to buy new pants when I need them–but I thought putting it off would be a nice reward for myself.

This would not normally be a problem, but I currently don’t have any exercise pants that fit, as I haven’t needed them since last winter. Capris I have–pants, not so much.

Not surprisingly, this decision against shopping for the moment has come to bite me in the gluteal region.

What follows is a very true story.

On Monday, it was seventy degrees outside. On Tuesday, it was thirty. Gotta love Oklahoma. On Wednesday, I decided I needed to wear actual pants to the gym and not capris.

It’s okay! I thought Wednesday afternoon. I have safety pins and an older pair of drawstring-less pants!

I grabbed that safety pin, tried to jab it through the elastic, and bent the pin beyond usability because apparently the pants are part steel or I have Hulk hands. The jury is still out.

I probably should have recognized this as a bad omen. I did not. Instead, I shoved another safety pin through the waistband, made it work, and went on my way.

Since I started running, my workout has pretty much been a few miles on the treadmill and the rest on the elliptical. My slow weaning from the elliptical is going surprisingly decently, other than some knee pain.

Everything was fine last Wednesday…until about the last two minutes on the treadmill.

I felt a pop. Not a bad, I’m-in-excruciating-pain-and-my-legs-aren’t-working-anymore pop, but an oh-no-I-might-lose-my-pants pop.

That poor safety spin. I imagine that it held on for as long as it could, it’s poor little imaginary hands clasped together as tightly as possible. I assume that I couldn’t hear its pleas of “I’ll never let go!” because I had my headphones in. I couldn’t recognize that it was about to give up. For that, I blame myself.

I may need a min–eh, I’m fine.

I managed to catch the pin before it fell onto the treadmill’s belt and possibly shot across the room. And, friends, I was so dedicated to finishing my jogging miles that I did not immediately run to the bathroom to fix it. I adapted and tried to play it off like “Oh, yeah, I’m walking with my hands on my hips because people do that sometimes even when they aren’t holding up their own pants. Nothin’ to see here.”

When my three treadmill miles were done, I quickly, but not suspiciously, walked to the bathroom with my safety pin and firmly reaffixed my pants.

You know, now that I think about it, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I should just be glad I didn’t accidentally stab my alleged Hulk hands. This bargain is already biting me enough as it is.

Mile 2304: I Think My Gym Has a Room of Requirement

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“’Cause 99 miles per hour, baby,
Is how fast that I like to go.”
–Fitz & the Tantrums, “The Walker”

Miles Last Week: 54
Total Miles 2304

Not too long ago, a doorway appeared in the gym. A neon yellow paper sign was taped to the white plastic tarp that covered the opening. I never ventured over to read this sign because it was across the room and there were usually other people between it and myself. I tend not to socialize much during exercise time.

More recently, the neon yellow paper sign and the white tarp were taken down and people would occasionally walk in and out of this new, mysterious doorway. I still didn’t walk over to see what the doorway led to–because, you know, the risk of exercise time social interaction.

Last week, I started running (mostly pretty slowly and in intervals) on the treadmill. And can I just say–running on treadmills sucks. Of course, running in general is not my favorite, but the treadmill adds a little bit of extra suck.

Part of that may be residual fear of breaking a treadmill (which hasn’t happened yet), but there is also an element of not liking to have my speed dictated by a machine. Surely that’s the first step toward accepting robot overlords, and I’m just not ready for that. With the time change, though, trying to run outside in the evenings after work is kind of out of the question.

If only there were some place inside and not on a treadmill where I could do some interval-ed jogging for a little while every day.

Which brings me back to the new, mysterious, no-longer-tarped doorway.

I poked my head in yesterday and discovered this:

"Because it is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker's needs." --Dobby (a free elf)

“Because it is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker’s needs.”
–Dobby (a free elf)

I may not have walked by three times, thinking about what I needed, but this isn’t Hogwarts and this Room of Requirement may work differently. I definitely feel like my brainpower might have helped this happen anyway. It may not be an indoor track, but it is a large room with a random piece of AstroTurf in the middle–sort of decent for some light jogging in one- to two-minute intervals.

AKA "The Come and Go Room" or "The Room of Hidden Things"

AKA “The Come and Go Room” or “The Room of Hidden Things”

And that’s what I did for the past two mornings this weekend. I see only two downsides to this system:

  1. I can’t really definitively figure out the specific distance or calories burned (which our future robot exercise overlords very conveniently tell you on digital displays). I just sort of guessed based on how far I would get in the same amount of time on the treadmill.
  2. During the week, there are evening classes in the room (which is likely what it is required FOR), so I’ll probably only be able to do it on the weekends. Oh, well. I suppose I can tolerate the treadmill sometimes.

I probably couldn’t magic up a full track because I am no Hermione. Sigh…

It doesn’t matter. I still consider the materialization of this room to be definitive proof that I am not a Muggle.

Also, if we want to start Dumbledore’s Army, I totally know where we can meet.

Mile 2250: A Running Experiment

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“I’m not running. I’m not running.
I’m not running. No, I’m not running.”
–30 Seconds to Mars, “The Race”

Miles Last Week: 62
Total Miles: 2250

I did it. I caved. I ran. I ran not so far away.

But before I can adequately describe the experience, let me first explain my personal three-part aversion to running.

  • Good old-fashioned childhood torture. It is not an exaggeration to say that I was, without fail, always the slowest kid in my P.E. class in middle school. Every time. Whenever our coach would say something like “Okay, we’re gonna run back and forth until you can all do it in thirty seconds,” I would seriously consider pretending to throw up in the bathroom to get out of it because I knew that everyone else was going to pay for my slowness. Who wants to revisit that?
  • A very real fear of breaking a treadmill. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Come on, Amanda. Treadmills are made to withstand much larger people than you. Well, I didn’t say this was a rational fear. I just feel that if a treadmill is going to break, it is going to be while I am on it. My fragile psyche would probably not survive that scenario.
  • Another very real fear of wearing myself out running outside and not being able to get back to my car or wherever. Again, I know what you’re thinking. Just go in a circle. But what if I lose all of my energy at the point farthest from the starting point? WHAT ABOUT THEN?

Okay, now that you understand my deep-seated anxiety, you’re probably wondering what in the world could have convinced me to give running another try. Well…

Maybe I’m just afraid of hitting a plateau. Or my friend told me a lot of things I should already know about stepping it up. Or I finally accepted that running is the inevitable next step, despite my (very well-justified) aversion. Or maybe I just wanted to know if I could do it.

I don’t totally know why, but Saturday morning, I found myself jogging for two-minute intervals on a very small mile-and-a-half route I mapped out. Here are the results:

  • I didn’t die. OKAY FINE. I admit it. Jogging didn’t kill me.
  • R.I.P. R. Killy.

    R.I.P., R. Killy.

    Not everyone is so lucky. About three-quarters of the way through, I found a poor, dead snake that I have since named R. Killy (the “R” stands for “Road,” obviously). It’s probably good that I didn’t see him until I was in the home stretch. Dead bodies are not a good sign.

  • Low impact is WAY different from high impact. The elliptical may have spoiled me. I’m pretty sure I jostled my spleen. And I think I sprained an apparently unstretchable muscle in my calf.
  • I’m embarrassingly sore. Seriously. I went to visit some family this weekend, and I don’t know who had more trouble getting out of a chair–me or my eight-months-pregnant cousin.

So, running nearly killed my muscles, but it didn’t kill me (which was another very real concern no matter what anyone tells me)–that’s the sign of a good workout, right? I guess I should keep doing it or something. I guess, or whatever.

She said begrudgingly.

Mile 1103.5: There’s Something Wrong With Me

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“At least we would know that the sparks didn’t glow,
But we owe it to ourselves to try
So we aim and ignite!”
–fun., “Light a Roman Candle with Me”

Miles since last time: 103.5
Total Miles: 1103.5

I think there’s something wrong with my brain.

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate running–I mean in a super-ultra-mega-mortal-enemy sort of way. Even more than planking.

I trace these very strong feelings back to my middle school days, when I was always, always, the slowest girl in P.E. You may think I’m exaggerating when I say always, but I am not. Every single day, I would see a line of girls waiting on the sidelines of the gym while I wheezed my way across the finish line a solid twenty seconds behind everyone else.

Even when I started taking a cardio-kickboxing class in high school and the instructor would say, “Hey, let’s jog a few laps around the block,” I was still always the last person to come back into the building.

I’m just slow, I’ve never really found much joy in running, and I’ve never had any desire to do it if someone wasn’t forcing me.

I realize that I am probably being unreasonable and that running is supposed to be one of the best exercises you can do, but I really haven’t cared about that for a while. It’s hard and stuff.

Not sure if I should start running, or if I should avoid the whole wheezy mess.

Not sure if I should start running, or if I should avoid the whole wheezy mess.
Source

But lately…hmmm…

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about my most hated exercise.

I’ve been thinking, I wonder how long I would last now.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am more than a little curious as to how far I could go if I just started jogging. Probably not more than a few feet–we’re certainly not talking Forrest Gump mileage, here–but I do wonder.

My mind keeps fluctuating between “How bad could it be?” and “Are you crazy? RUNNING IS NOT ENJOYABLE!”

Someone please tell me what is wrong with my brain. I probably have a tumor, right? That’s the only explanation. Or some sort of delusion of fitness grandeur. I can’t help but feel that the urge to run is either really good or really bad. Am I being masochistic, or trying to improve? I’m quite torn about it.

Here’s the thing: I may be increasingly intrigued by the prospect of testing myself, but I can’t exactly ignore the strong inclination to avoid embarrassing myself again, either. Planking thoroughly won in that battle. Running would surely do the same.

So, will my curiosity outweigh childhood misgivings? Will any of this week’s miles be from running? The scales are slowly tipping that way. Stay tuned.