Lessons Learned in Six Years of Running

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of my first ever 5k.  Here is the adorable photographic proof:

 

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April 25th, 2010.  When I still ran in cotton t-shirts and was cute and young!

Prior to that date I would have absolutely been one of the people who declared they only ran when chased.  I am 100% certain that the only times I had ever run in my life were the days in PE when we had to.  The only sport I ever played was water polo.  I was a theatre kid, NOT a runner.  It changed when I worked at a school that desperately needed after-school activities, but had no budget for materials or supplies.  Hence, a running club was born, and along with my kids I trained and ran my first 5k.

In the six years since then I have taken some long breaks (the entire year of 2012 until Thanksgiving was a notable one).  I have raced just shy of 300 miles, and trained a ton more.  I wanted to share six lessons I have learned, one for each year of my running career so far.

Getting Started is the Hardest Part

Training for my first ever 5k was incredibly hard.  I hadn’t done anything that I would legitimately consider exercise in maybe six years, and running was never a thing.  That meant even with something like couch to 5k, I was sore.  I hurt, I was tired, and it never felt like it was getting easier.  My first 5k was hilly, and I remember actually begging my friend running with me to stop and walk somewhere around mile 2.  He said no, and on we went.  I was mad.  I was slow.  But I kept going.  By the time I made it to where I could hear the finish, I was so happy, I apparently thought flight was an option:

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Here I am, in all my glory, nearing the finish of my 1st 5k.

My final time that day was 37:11, which is a 11:58 pace.  I couldn’t have been prouder.  I made it.

Almost 18 months to the date later, I ran my first marathon.  My time was 4:58:11.  That’s a 11:22 pace.  Training for a marathon certainly took up more time, but it was nothing compared to how hard it was to get myself active.  The strength it took to really develop and stick to a healthy routine, and see myself through an accomplishment, was far more strength than it took to just keep up with the miles of marathon training.  I like to tell people this when they come into the running store and are training for their first 5k and feel sheepish about talking about distance.  Or when people put themselves down when they talk about their speed (or lack there of), and don’t realize that it all comes with time.  We all have to start somewhere.  If you have gotten started, it WILL get easier.  It just might get harder first:)

Never Judge a Runner By Their Appearance

It is very easy to walk around before a race and start making predictions or assumptions about others.  There are moments where you can make a guess based on some clues (if his shorts are about a half inch long, or her bib number is eight, they may be faster than you).  I cannot tell you, however, how many times I have been blown away by a combination of the accomplishments of others, and the arrogance of my own ego.

A favorite memory was around mile 7 of the Baltimore 10 Miler in 2014.  It was incredibly hot and I was trudging my way up a hill.  A gentleman of 76 (I know, because he informed me of his age) came trotting up next to me, chatted with me for a few moments about the weather conditions compared to other years, and then left me in his dust, wishing me a nice race.  Runners sometimes make assumptions based on the age or size of other runners – I’m here to tell you it’s a bad idea.  It doesn’t take a certain type to run fast, just the drive and the effort!

Respect the Distance

No matter the distance, respect it.  I have been extremely guilty of breaking this rule many times.  There is a reason we train.  It is because running is hard.  I have learned my limit, and it is ten miles.  I can fake ten miles.  With zero running for several months, I can go out and run a single ten mile run.  I will hurt like hell for several weeks.  It will not be fast.  A single mile more than 10, and I WILL crash and burn.

Evidence:

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So, it isn’t like I was setting the world on fire to begin with – but those last three miles took me 46 minutes.  It was the worst three miles of my life, and had I walked by a metro station, I would have gone ahead and given up.  Thankfully, it was just a half.

On the topic of respecting distances, we all know a marathon is not a thing to be taken lightly.  Sometimes, our (my) ego can get the best of us.  Let’s say we are having our best running year ever.  Running tons of events.  Setting PRs every time you race.  Just crushing it.  But the last, let’s say, six weeks before your marathon, you fall off the wagon.  Training goes down hill.  You are certain that everything you’ve already done that year will carry you.

It won’t.

2014 was MY year.  I raced every month from February through December.  I set PRs in the 5k, 8k, 10k, and half marathon.  I ran my first sub 2-hour half marathon.  I was training for my second Marine Corp and was sure I would CRUSH my first time.  Was looking to run around a 4:20.  I DID PR that day.  But instead of the 30-some minute PR I was expecting, it was an 8 second PR.  4:58:03.  I was devastated.  I was pissed.  And I deserved it.  I forgot to respect the distance, and it beat me up.

Mix It Up!

If you’ve read this blog for long, you’ve seen me post from lots of different places.  I’m a huge proponent of running in different places.  Run when you are on vacation.  Go on vacation somewhere you want to run.  The new surroundings bring on new energy and enthusiasm, and while they may make you a bit slower than usual so you can take it all in (except that time a dog chased me in Costa Rica), it will help renew your drive to explore!

The above photos are from Texas, California, and Costa Rica.  Follow the blog this summer to see what running in Belize and Ecuador looks like!

But it isn’t just a different geographical perspective you should take.  Sometimes you should mix up the run itself.  Try out something different.  Obstacle courses, color runs, relay races – they aren’t things that you are working for a PR, but they can sure be a lot of fun.  They are also a good way to talk non-runner friends into trying something out!

Find Some Friends!

Speaking of getting folks to try things with you, I cannot express how important it has been for me to find friends willing to run with me.  No matter if it is a single slow mile, or someone that is training for the same event and run a long 18 with me, having company is huge.  My running friends are incredibly varied.  The Metro Milers group spans a huge age range and comes from an incredibly diverse background.  I’ve converted friends and even a husband into people willing to go out and run or race with me, and it has made me a happier runner.  It has also helped to solidify those friendships – nothing to do on a long run but talk!

 Not All PRs are Created Equal

My 5k PR is a sham.  It was set at a race that is 90% down a very steep hill, meaning you can really go FAST.  I actually have taken to giving my second fastest 5k when asked for a PR, because I feel like it isn’t a good representation of what I run.  Some races I am more proud of than others.  My 10-miler PR was set in Baltimore – on a day in the 80s and on a hilly course.  I frequently wonder what would have happened if I was in the same kind of shape on a flatter course.

PRs are fun to try to beat, but don’t beat yourself up over them!  Conditions change, situations change, and age groups change!  I have a time or two been bested by my husband at a race, only to find that when results are posted, I have been in the top 20 in my age group, while he was maybe in the 50th percentile.  We are not all made the same, but we can all work hard to get better.  Maybe just worry more about the run, and less about getting that PR!

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Running in the Grip of Mental Illness

I believe I was 12 years old when I had my first panic attack.  I was laying on a couch, it was December, and we were watching a special where different religious leaders were discussing the after life.  And suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

It has been 20ish years since that moment – and very rarely have I used the term mental illness when discussing things about myself.  I’ll make soft jokes at my own expense – how sometimes things bother me a bit more than others, how during the winter I would like to just hibernate like a bear, how sometimes my brain breaks down on me a little.  The real truth is it has been 20ish years of cycles.  Weeks of unpredictable levels of stability.  Days where getting out of bed felt like a herculean task.  Months where it seems like it is all finally over – where I am steady, happy, and panic attack free.

And then I find myself pulled over on the side of 495, crying hysterically and more than likely traumatizing my two kids who can’t figure out what is happening to their mom.  I don’t like to talk about it, so I don’t.  Just like so many others, carrying the weight of something they don’t really understand, I have become amazing at avoidance.  There are conversations I don’t have.  There are tricks I can use to make others not notice when my panic is mild, and I am pretty much an expert at putting on a happy face at work when internally I feel nothing but turmoil and despair.  I can redirect questions and make you forget they were ever asked.  Thanks to my minor in counseling, I am excellent at keeping others exactly where I want them – just far enough to only see the surface.

And then – there is running.  At times – running has been able to “fix” me.  I’ve gone for a run, or gotten back into the swing of running after a long break, and had it make me feel energized.  I will feel like myself – or at least the version of myself I am when things are good.  People frequently like to remind you how when you are feeling a little down, exercise is great at improving mood and releasing endorphins.  Running with others gives a great social boost – which can also be crucial during the down times.  When I have a steady habit of running, where it is automatic and scheduled into my days and held sacred from interruption, things are typically great.  Unfortunately, no one has a perfect schedule for too long.  Which brings on my next point.

I have also found that sometimes running can make a bad moment or day or week even worse.  There are times that what I need in order to keep moving forward is to be busy, distracted, and focused on specific tasks that require my attention.  There are times when going for a run allows all of the worst thoughts in my head to become the loudest.  Those moments that on another day may become that elusive runners high – those miles where you are almost in a trance with no thoughts in your head, just scenery – those miles become torturous.  There are times when I know logically that a run would really make me feel better if I could just make it happen, but after a single mile I simply don’t have it in me, and then not only do I still feel awful, but I also feel like a failure.

I bring up this highly personal (and admittedly, mildly embarrassing to be publicly sharing) topic, because I am certain I am not unique.  I know there are many people out there who feel like running is a kind of therapy – helping to keep them up, keeping them connected to a community, keeping them feeling physically healthy.  There are also folks out there who would love to be running, or running more regularly, but the war between mind and body is holding them back.

I am occasionally in a uniquely uncomfortable position while writing this blog and discussing my grand running goals and plans, but weeks later finding myself in the middle of a depressive swing – benching me physically and keeping me from achieving what I very publicly declared I wanted to try.  I then find myself back-peddling, trying to find a good excuse to give my reader for what kept me back, instead of just admitting that on some days, the best thing I can do for myself is nothing.

As members of the running community – I can almost guarantee that you know someone like me.  Someone who loves to run, who loves how it feels and the company and the sense of accomplishment of setting out to do something and getting it done.  Maybe it is that runner that occasionally disappears from the track work outs for months at a time.  The friend forever signing up for races and then backing out (I’m not implying all of these folks are struggling – but maybe a little motivation could help!!).  Maybe it is even the overly eager runner, the one who never misses a single opportunity to get out and run.  I know I certainly had a period in my life where everything at home was so hard to manage – any offer of a run would make me basically leap out the door.

I implore you to build relationships with the runners around you (big shout out to the Metro Milers group from Metro Run & Walk and the amazing care I have seen them give each other over the last five years).  Give a call to that runner that hasn’t been showing up.  Remind them you want to see them, go nice and slow with them, and don’t grill them as to why they’ve been missing their miles.  And if you are a runner like me, don’t be afraid to make someone an accountability partner!  Let someone know that maybe if you miss a few runs, to give you a call and help you get back on track.  Join a group, there are tons in this area full of incredibly friendly and supporting runners looking for new friends to enjoy their hobby with.  And on those days where you are really struggling with making it out the door – be gentle with yourself.  Your shoes will be there when your feet are ready for them.

 

-Addie

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Want to love running? Run with kids!

When I talk about running with adults who don’t enjoy it, the reactions tend to be strong.  The most common I hear is “I only run if something is chasing me.”  I think, maybe, these adults forget how much fun it can be to be chased!  All it takes is a few minutes watching children play – true, unstructured play – with all the rules taken away to see the joy they find in running.  All the screaming, laughing, quick sprints and long hauls of childhood.

What happens to us?  What takes away the joy and terror of having the person that is “it” coming for us?  I’m not sure, but I know if you want to be inspired (or re-inspired!), you should try out running with kids.  Not a runner?  That’s okay, too!  Find a couch to 5k plan, and try it out with your kid.  Build up your stamina slowly, enjoy the unplugged time with your child, and I can almost guarantee you’ll hear some more interesting stories than what you normally hear about your child’s day.

I think the hardest thing for self-proclaimed runners about running with kids is that we have to drop our egos.  We are all proud of our PRs – be they distance or speed – but I have to tell you the honest truth.  Kids don’t care about your PR.  What they do care about, is not being told they are doing something wrong.  Being allowed to just move and breathe and be outside, being silly, and enjoying your company – these things will make the run worth it!  The second you try to make a run with your child about you – you lose them.

I’m not saying running fast or running long comes naturally to kids.  I’ve been coaching different running programs for kids for six years now, and many of those kids are working their hardest, and not always loving the process.  Just like with adults, however, when all is said and done, they have a huge sense of accomplishment when they’ve completed something they have set out to do.  This is particularly important for preteens who are figuring out how to navigate life and prioritize their choices.  What an amazing thing for them to see, out of the context of school and structure, that putting work and effort into something can take them farther (literally!!) than they thought they could go.

This Saturday, April 16th, I hope you will come out and join me for a free family trot.  We will do some silly warm ups with the kids, talk about some dos and don’ts for the adults (don’t make it a chore!!!), and then have a chance to do a little running together.  The planned course will just be two miles – one out and one back, but you can always turn around sooner, or head out longer if you so feel so inclined!!

I hope your enjoying this warmer and warmer weather, and I hope to see you Saturday!

~Addie

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What Does Runner Safety Mean (for Women)?

Every time we lace up our shoes to head out for a run, every time we cross a street or a driveway, and every time we encounter unfamiliar creatures – we need to consider safety.  Runners (and walkers!) face a unique set of safety challenges.  Cars, typically, are our biggest threat.  I speak from experience on this one as like most runners, I have had a close call or two with a car that decided to turn without checking the crosswalk first.  I also have had the experience of seeing my dad recovering from being hit by a car while out for his nightly walk – shattering one leg in multiple places and breaking the other ankle.

Now that Spring has sprung (kind of) we are heading out of the darker months, but it is important to remember that visibility is a year round issue, and one that as runners we need to be vigilant about.  We need to remember to use the side walk when it is available – and to ALWAYS run against traffic if the road is your only option.  Assuming a car will see you is never a safe thing to do.

There are hazards for runners that end up sounding funny in hindsight.  Several years ago I wrote a blog post about how while out for a training run in rural Costa Rica, I was chased for a quarter of a mile by a quite small, but quite angry sounding dog.  I’ve also had encounters with deer and foxes – thankfully without being chased, but we certainly equally startled each other!

Lastly, and the most bothersome for me, are the dangers for women running alone.  Most frequently these dangers are mainly of the psychological nature.  I’ve dealt with years of cat calls from moving cars, rude comments from folks I run by, and even once while running down Franconia Road at night, a car slowed to my pace and stuck right on my heel, asking me what the hurry was, where I was going, and what I was doing after my run.  That night was the most unsafe I have ever felt running.

There was something so utterly jarring about the experience.  I was out for my nearly nightly run.  I had run the same route dozens of times, and had gotten to the point where I didn’t even hear the honks and hollers of the cars as they buzzed by me.  Now – that is not to say it is EVER acceptable to have cars shouting at you or honking their horn, but it was something I had accepted about where I ran, and while I found it obnoxious, I never felt like it made me feel unsafe.  This was different.  It was brazen.  This wasn’t thoughtless words shouted out at 45 miles per hour.  This was intentional tormenting.  I can’t imagine anyone has ever successfully acquired a date from stalking a runner in their car, which made it clear this was a power play.  They wanted me to know I was weaker.  It worked.

I got home shaken up and stopped running that route at night.  And that pissed me off.  I was so frustrated that I had to change my habits because of the behavior of others.  At the same time – I found myself grateful that I’ve never experienced anything scarier while running.  I’ve never had anyone physically grab me, or follow me for longer than a block or two.  We frequently hear reports of runners being groped, grabbed, and assaulted on the trails.  We are told we should never run alone, that we should only run in daylight hours.  That advice, while sensible, also just infuriates me.  I hate the idea that I have to change my habits to make up for the poor behavior of others.  What do I do if I can only run at night?  How about if no one else is available to run?  Does that mean I simply can’t?

Let me get something straight – I think it is smart to run with others for many reasons.  It makes the miles go faster.  It strengthens social bonds.  It motivates you to keep going and gives you others to support you if you were to get injured.  There is also, of course, safety in numbers.  A person (regardless of gender) is an easier target alone than they are when in a group.  And yes, of course, it is smarter to run in the day time.  You want to be seen, you want cars to see you, and the risks of someone attempting to hurt you are also going to be decreased due to more people being out and about.  However, there is more that we can do for ourselves than to give up running alone.

What can we do?  Lots!  Run with your phone and use an app that can broadcast your GPS to friends while you are out.  If you don’t want to run with a phone – map out your run for someone (I frequently use google pedometer to check my mileage out anyway), and leave it up on a screen and give a time frame when you should be back.  Lastly – learn how to defend yourself!!  On April 9th we will be joining up with Capital MMA to host a women’s self defense class.  The cost is only $20 and can help you feel safe when you have to run in less than ideal circumstances.

You can register here – https://www.signmeup.com/site/reg/register.aspx?fid=3R2VKH7

Stay safe and come see us soon!

-Addie @metrorunandwalk

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We LOVE Free Stuff!!

Free shirts, free gear, free fun run, free pie…….I mean – who DOESN’T love free stuff?  Particularly when your free stuff could maybe result in EVEN MORE FREE STUFF!  Or – free stuff that results in something as delicious as pie!!!

I know, now I’ve really got you hooked – so here’s the deal.  For the month of March we are running a pretty sweet promotion.  If you come in and buy a pair of shoes and a pair of socks, we will give you a free Metro Run & Walk shirt (your pick on t-shirt, tech shirt, or tech singlet).  Here is some of our staff modeling some of our awesome clothing….

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Now, if the cool new shirt isn’t enough free stuff for you – just wait until April!  Next month, Addie and others will be heading out to local races (cough cough – Cherry Blossom) and out to popular long run routes stocked with coupons for discounts or free stuff.  If we catch you in one of our shirts (or a race shirt from one of our events), we will make sure to reward you!!

 

12029760_10154000629397959_2524274482776698569_oMaybe running around in our gear isn’t for you, but running around with us sounds great.  Maybe you also think pie sounds great.  Join us on Monday (3/14) for our PI DAY fun run 5k.  We will be meeting at the store at 6pm and running about the neighborhood before returning for pie (of the fruit and pizza variety!!).  While this event is free, we ask that you register online so we know how much pie to gather!

https://www.signmeup.com/site/online-event-registration/113410

I look forward to seeing you all on Monday, and out on the trails next month!

-Addie

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I took a runcation. You should too!

Traveling is one of my top five excuses for why I miss runs.  I love to travel, and I use any excuse I can to get away and see something new.  Last week I tried my first real runcation (vacation based on running), and I cannot recommend it more highly!!

My husband and I have had what I would call mini-runcations before.  We’ve spent the night in hotels for races in places like Frederick, Annapolis, or Richmond – but we’ve never traveled much farther than that for a race.  We have a tradition of taking one of the long weekends in winter (either MLK weekend or President’s Day) and stretching it into a longer weekend to go somewhere warm.  We both tend to get grumpy in the winter time, and having a warm weather break, even if just for a few days, really helps us keep going!  Back in September we found out the Austin Marathon was over President’s Day weekend.  I had never been there before, but my husband loves the city – so as soon as we realized there were some great airline deals to be had, we bought our tickets and started training!

Our trip was wonderful and happened to fall on what turned out to be the coldest weekend of winter we’ve had this year (perfect timing!).  When we got back home we both agreed that taking a runcation is a really wonderful way to get to know a new place, and is perfect for recovery.  Why so ideal?  Here’s our thoughts –

Motivation!

Any time you sign up for a race, you have agreed to put your money where your mouth is, but usually it isn’t TOO much money.  Runcations are a different animal.  Airfare, hotels, dog boarding – it is certainly cheaper to just stay home!  But if you need something to really kick you into gear, dropping more money than you are used to can certainly help out.  That isn’t to say taking a running vacation needs to be expensive!!  Southwest Airlines has a TON of sales all the time and a decent frequent flier program.  We were able to book our flights for only $11 – plus we got bonus points for renting our car through one of their affiliates.  Running vacations don’t need to be too far from home, but for us, having a huge change in scenery was wonderful.

Trying out local foods and flavors.

 

I love food.  So much.  Most runners I know do.  Traveling gives you a chance to check out all sorts of different foods.  In Austin it was lots of food truck tacos.  We also visited a local arts flea market to pick up some gifts for kids at home.  There was certainly something novel about getting to carb up with Thai food from a truck.

 

Great way to explore a new city.

 

Races tend to take you through some of the most interesting parts of a city, and the Austin Marathon was no exception.  The race started right in downtown Austin and started with running over the Congress Avenue bridge – known as the home of the biggest urban colony of bats in the world.  The race went along South Congress Avenue, lined with restaurants and small shops, along the river where you could watch kayakers and folks on paddle boards, and finished just passed the State Capitol building.  It was a wonderful tour of the city and let us see some sights that we knew we would want to come back to later on in our trip.

 

Making friends with locals.

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We came to know folks from Austin as exceptionally nice.  They were nice drivers, friendly and engaging in conversation, and generous race spectators.  In this photo I am right around mile five, enjoying a cup of beer and some cake.  Later on in the race there were three other people handing out beer, someone with shots of tequila (I recommend against this one), and cups of champagne.  We enjoyed making new friends at food trucks and while out hiking and enjoying the sites of Austin.

 

 

 

Opportunities for active recovery.

 

Just about every major city in the US is close enough to some beautiful outdoor experiences if you have a car and are willing to make a little drive.  The day after the race we decided to head here for our active recovery – Hamilton Pool.  This collapsed underground grotto allowed for some hiking (hellllooooo quads!!), some quality laying on sand listening to water time, and what I will refer to as an ice bath – a few quick dips in the pool itself where the water temperature was right about 58 degrees.

All said and done, our trip to Austin spanned five days – two travel days, one race day, and one day before and after race to enjoy the sights of Austin.  Because we wrapped our trip around a holiday weekend, this meant only missing two days of work for a five day vacation (and because I am a teacher and one day ended up a snow day – I got super lucky and it was only one day off!!).  We know that it is hard to find time to vacation, but by using long weekends and involving something we already loved (the whole running thing!), it was exactly the kind of vacation we needed.

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We hope you try out a running vacation too!!

~ Addie

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1,000 Miles in 2016 – I Love Math

I’ll be brief today, as my January was nothing worth bragging about!  One thing I’ve decided to do is keep an actual paper notebook with each of my runs.  When I miss a run, I have to write down why.  January had so many excuses!  There are days where I just wrote words like “stupid” or “bad”.  Three days use the word blizzard as an excuse, and another three say travel (even though my hotel had a whole row of treadmills just begging to be used).  I must do better.

I like to do math.  It is part of the reason I love teaching – math is my favorite subject.  I like to create math.  For example – I looked at all my planned runs in January (102 miles worth), and compared it to the number of miles I actually ran (50.74).  My very sad math here shows me that I missed more of my miles than I actually ran.  I accomplished just about 49% of the miles, to be exact.

So now I do February math.  I’ve noted that I have 98.5 miles planned.  I’ve also done the math on needing to run 949.26 miles to hit 1,000 by the end of the year, and having 11 months to do it means an average of about 86.3 miles a month.  For the month of January it means I need to average about 2.97 miles a day (which is less than I have planned, so that’s good news).  I told you – I love math.

Now, of course, I have several planned runs of more than three miles.  Actually, I have a half marathon coming up in less than two weeks (more on that next week)!  I am looking forward to getting my legs back under myself and working out these miles this month (who knows, maybe I’ll even find a way to bank a few extra).

My very by the numbers approach makes some of my running friends roll their eyes, but I know I have at least a few friends that are just as wacky about their stats as I am!  What kind of runner are you?  Are you a tracker?  Or do all of my numbers just make you dizzy?

See you next week as I get ready to head to Austin!

-Addie

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I can’t tell you which shoes are the best.

Good morning!  We hope that none of our friends and community members were stuck in that awful traffic last night, and that those of you getting a day off work today are enjoying it.  Today I wanted to talk a little bit about one of the most common questions we get asked at the store, and why it is impossible to answer.

We love getting to be experts for you.  If there is one thing that runners enjoy, it is talking about running with other people who are actually interested in running (I try REALLY hard to not overwhelm my friends who couldn’t care less with my running habit).  There are lots of questions we can answer.  There are a ton of things we can help with.  There are a few things, however, that are out of our league.  Sometimes it is because it is beyond our range of expertise.  We cannot diagnosis a medical issue (we can sometimes tell you what it sounds like, but we cannot tell you for sure what it is).  We cannot promise a certain shoe or insert or product will be perfect for you, or will fix your aches, or give you a PR at your next race (although we are always happy to tell you what has worked for us and other customers!).  Most importantly of all, and what may be the most frustrating for many customers, is that there is one question we cannot answer at all.  That question – what shoe/brand is the best.

We pride ourself on stocking good shoes.  We stock shoes that we want to run in, or we think others will want to run in.  We stock shoes that we think will give you the best experience possible on you run, and will give you the best return for your money as far as durability.  We stock shoes from many different brands, in many different styles, and we can almost always help you find the shoe that is best for you.  We just can’t TELL you what that shoe is.  Let me illustrate, from my own personal experience, why that is.

Here is the ridiculous pile of shoes that live in my running closet (yes, I have a running closet.  It is necessary):

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 9.41.42 AM

My collection of shoes is excessive, and likely unnecessary.  What I want you to see, however, is the variety.  There are shoes from Brooks, Altra, Asics, Adidas, Saucony, and Nike.  There are premium cushioning shoes (those Brooks Glycerins in the front), and shoes that offer next to nothing in the cushion department (Adidas Bostons, hot pink friends on the right).  I have true neutral, zero drop shoes (Altra Torins), and light stability shoes (Brooks PureFlow).  There are also some trail shoes mixed up in there.  I actively rotate through all of these shoes for any and all of my runs, with the exception of the Brooks Cascadias that I use mainly to hike, and the Altra Lone Peaks that have sentimental value (a gift from a friend that died in a mountain biking accident).

Why so many shoes?  And what in the world does this have to do with being able to help you find your perfect shoe???  Personally, I don’t think there is a perfect shoe.  I think there are a lot of different shoes that are going to feel good on you, for a lot of different reasons.  There are days where I want to do speed work, and even though the difference is probably physically negligible for me, the mental bonus of having a super lightweight shoe is awesome.  The Brooks PureFlows feel like slippers to me, and for some reason are my favorite shoe to wear on a treadmill where I feel like I am banging down on my feet harder than normal.  My Glycerins and my Cumulus are my go to long run shoes.  All of these shoes have a very different feel to them.  The thing is, they all feel good.

When we help you to pick out shoes we look at and consider a lot of things.  Do you need stability?  Do you prefer cushion over light weight, or something in the middle?  What are you training for or are you running just for the fun of it?  What is your foot shape and what brands might best fit your foot?  Do you like shoes to be tighter or looser?  Once we know these things, we do our best to use our knowledge of our shoes to bring you out several pairs that we think you’ll love, but your feet are your feet.  We can’t always tell how you’ll feel about a shoe, and the shoe that is right for you is the shoe that you think feels great, not the shoe that is our favorite.

Now, I am not against shoe loyalty.  We have a lot of folks that have found a shoe the love, they walk in and say things like “Brooks Adrenaline – size 10,” and they end up being the fastest transactions of the day.  My one word of caution, is that over time brands do tend to change shoes ever so slightly.  If you have a shoe you love and it is time to replace it, we are more than happy to bring you out your shoe plus a few that we feel are comparable, just so you can be certain that “your shoe” is still the best feeling shoe for you.  I’ve had folks on more than one occasion express shock when they put on a different shoe and fell in love.

Our job here at Metro Run & Walk is to make sure you are able to work towards your goals with every advantage we can get you.  Sometimes that may be providing you with training advice or just selling you some gels or new socks.  Sometimes that means helping you find the shoe that makes you really WANT to get out there and work.  When it is time for shoes, remember we are here to guide you to the right place, but the shoe that is the best is the one that feels the best to you!

Stay warm out there!

-Addie

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1,000 Miles in 2016

Hi folks!  Addie here, hoping that so far you are finding your goals for 2016 attainable!  My biggest goal for this year when it comes to running is to hit 1,000 miles.  You may remember several months ago I wrote a post about running with limited time.  I shared my fairly absurd google calendar where I juggle social obligations of two kids, my training plan, and all those other things that come up.

If you looked at that calendar, you may have noticed that I like to be a bit of a planner.  I am a list maker, a planner hoarder, and a person that MUST know when my next race is and how many miles I should be running to train.  Not that I necessarily run all those miles, or always get to everything on those to-do lists, but for some reason there is comfort for me in having them around.

I sat down and did the math the other day.  To reach 1,000 miles I need to put down an average of 83.3 miles a month.  Due to my planner tendencies, I already have on my calendar all of the miles I am hoping to run from January until Cherry Blossom in April.  I know that there are a million different websites and apps and things that can be used to track miles, but I have decided that I am going old fashioned this year.  Here is what January looks like so far:

As you can sephoto 3 (2)e, the planned miles for January have me well above my 83.3 required miles for the month to hit my goal.  As you can also see, several days so far have not quite worked out the way I would have hoped!  Of course, some days are planned rest days or involved cross training.  Other days – most notably the ones named as “sad, bad, stupid, days” were days where for one reason or another, I just didn’t get there.  Here we are, half way through the month, and I’ve got only 20 and a quarter miles under my belt.  This is disappointing, but I am heartened by the fact that my “sad, bad, stupid days” only lasted four days, with so far two days (and soon to be three) of getting back on the bandwagon.  There are days where life feels too overwhelming to add anything else.  The days where I work all day and then run two kids to two different activities and then have to manage homework and chores and making sure everyone has dinner (I did resort to pizza already this week).  Then there are those days where everything was wrong, I yelled at the kids, I’m grumpy, things are terrible, and I decide that is the day that I MUST GO RUN.  Those days frequently end up looking like this:

 

Gym trips after 9:00 have become a thing that is not terribly unusual.  I know I’m not sleeping enough, and I have been guilty of hitting the bed without showering more times than I’d like to admit, but it works.  I am hoping that these minor set backs so far this month aren’t setting the tone for my year.  I can’t wait to sit down at the end of the month and do math again.  To see the difference between my miles complete and miles planned (even though I know this number may be a bit disappointing).  To re-calibrate expectations and see what I need to get done every month to keep things going.  I know there will be months that make it easy to get my miles in – when it is warm outside and I’m training for Marine Corps this Fall, for example.  There will also be times like February – when it is freezing and I’ve just finished a race I have been training for.  Those are the months that I will find 83.3 miles (or whatever the new average will be after January wraps up), damn near impossible.  I will check in with you all at the end of the month and let you know how this silly venture is going!

Til next time, take care!
Addie

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On Monday I couldn’t get a treadmill, and I was so proud.

In the last few years I have noticed a very disheartening attitude that seems to float around some communities the first few weeks of January.  There is a scoffing, turned up nose type of attitude that some folks take on that I find a bit repugnant.  This attitude is best illustrated in some of the chatter I hear regarding the gym.  More specifically, the heavier than average traffic flow at the gym.

Monday was my first day back at my for real job (working at the store and posting things on facebook is my play job).  The day was long, the kids were loud, and I had forgotten what it was like to wake up to an alarm clock.  By about lunchtime I was feeling fried and knew I’d need a break that day.  When I saw that my gym had a yoga class that night, I asked my husband if he could pick up our son from cub scouts, and made plans to make a date with myself to shake off some of this back to work nonsense.

I had forgotten the date.  I had forgotten all about things like resolutions, and how so many people tend to take this time of year, with all their good feelings from the holidays and the support of friends and families, to embark on a quest to better themselves in some way.  When I walked into the gym, I remembered.

There were folks milling about the information desk, waiting to meet with the membership folks and get tours of the facilities.  The day care you pass as soon as you come in was absolutely over loaded with sprinting children, and it took about 15 attempts at opening lockers to find one that was empty.  All the while I thought to myself, “this is great.”

People like to complain.  We like to gripe about there not being enough parking spaces, about there not being open lockers.  I hear people making fun of others because they are using the equipment incorrectly.  Walking out I even heard one man say to another, “I can’t wait until February when they are all gone.”

Now, of course, I don’t LIKE struggling to find a locker.  It would be great if I never had to wait for a treadmill.  I am more than happy, however, to make space for anyone who is ready to try to be a version of them self that makes them happier.  I am not suggesting that weighing less, participating in certain sports or having a certain type of body should make anyone happier; I just know that I am happier with myself when I run, regardless of my weight at the time.

Due to my midday brain being less than stellar, I misread the class info.  It started at 7:30, and I had made sure to get there early for the 7pm start.  Now I found myself with 45 minutes to kill, which was perfect because I had missed a run over the weekend and had some mileage I wanted to make up.  I walked up and down the many rows, but there was not a single treadmill to be found.

I settled on rowing instead, and while I rowed I thought about what it was like when I first started running.  How hard it was, and how much I wanted to quit.  I remember going into my first 5k feeling like it was an insurmountable challenge to actually run for three whole miles in a row!  I remember that race vividly.  I remember how badly I wanted to stop and walk around mile 2.5 and how insanely proud I was of my finish time – which for the record was 37 minutes and 11 seconds.  In the five years since I’ve shaved 14 minutes off that time, finished two full marathons, five Tough Mudders, a handful of half marathons, and trained over 50 kids to run their first 5k.  I’ve come a long way to become the “runner” I am today, but I started out just like one of those folks who may have been getting on that treadmill for the first time this week.

If you are reading this and are a runner, gym rat, or athlete of any kind – I challenge you to drop your cynicism this January.  Be a voice of encouragement, not just another hurdle for these new runners to overcome.  Remember that it was new to you once too, and think about how far you have come.  And if you are a new runner, or a runner trying to get back into it – come see me at Metro Run & Walk or shoot me a line on facebook when the going gets tough.  I believe in you, and I’m proud to have you as part of our community!

-Addie

 

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