Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Running in the Smartwool PhD Run Short...

I lift. I squat.  I have a booty and I have thick, awesome, thighs. Why awesome? Because they are muscular. Because I can squat 115. Because I can run a marathon with them. I'm embracing my thunder thighs and bubble butt. They're kinda awesome.


Running shorts to me have long been a necessary evil. I love shorts. I love when short weather finally arrives, and I can toss the tights aside. After all, rainy runs are way more fun when you can enjoy the puddle stomping, right?

My legs, however, do not love shorts. For the past year, I've owned exclusively Nike and Under Armour running shorts. My Nike shorts would slide up my hips, creeping toward my belly button, no matter how tight I tied them. Runs are less fun when you're constantly stopping to re-tie your shorts. Or worse, trying to tie them while running. If I could get them to stay put on my waist, my thighs were regularly eating the material.  and, if I could avoid everything else, my bubble butt risked becoming uncovered if I got moving.

My run routine:  Run, tug shorts down, run, run, pull material out of thighs, run, run, come dangerously close to inappropriate as shorts hike up waist and thighs eat the little bit of material left, run.


I was reluctant to buy pricier shorts though, because why spend the money on a 'quality' pair of shorts only to have the same problem??

Along came Smartwool. I freaking LOVE their socks!   So, I joined their Fan Field Tester program, and received a few coupons for $20 off a $75 purchase. After poking around, drooling, and making a giant wish list, I decided to give the PhD Run Short a try.

I was happy from the start! The internal brief is sooo comfy! It is form-fitting, and elastic enough to conform to your form. It fit me very well, and the wool material continues up through the waistband, so all main next-to-skin points are Merino wool. The tie is stretchy, which gave me hope.  So, on they go for a 3 mile run.   At about 1/4 mile in, I instinctively glanced down. At this point, my Nike shorts are already riding up my waist. It took me a moment to realize the Smartwool shorts hand't moved.  And they didn't move. All 3 miles.  Not once did I have to re-tie, tug them down my waist, or tug material out from between my thighs!   I DID have to glance down and make sure I was still wearing them because the ventilation is that good.

I took them on a 4 miler a few days later and had the same wonderful experience. I put them on and didn't think about them again. Amazing!

Finally, this morning, I took them out for 3 miles in 94% humidity. This was the first time I had any awareness of my shorts. I was literally dripping sweat. I actually took my top off and ran in my sports bra for the first time in my life during the last mile of my run, that's how humid it was.  The Merino wool did its job beautifully. The brief and waistband wicked perfectly. I know it was only 3 miles, but no "swamp ass" feeling while running in that humidity? Whoa! The short material did stick to my legs a bit with all that moisture, which made it the first time I noticed my shorts. But, what I also noticed is that it would stick and release. I never had to tug the material off my thigh because it would let go on its own.

Shorts NOT being eaten by my thighs...

Shorts covering my bum!

I am 100% pleased with these shorts. They fit my athletic frame, and they perform exactly how I want them to perform.  They come in limited, but fun colors. They have one external pocket, but it does zip, so your small items will still be secure. They state that they have reflectivity, but  have yet to test it.   I hope they get more colors.. and that I get a second job, because I want about 10 more pairs of these shorts!!  I don't ever want to run in my other shorts again!

Fun stripes on the side... time to buy more shorts!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Passed a Runner Today...

I passed a runner I admire while driving to work today.

I approached a runner, and eventually we passed. He was clearly a runner. Quality shoes on his feet. Proper body position. Head up. Technical sleeveless top drenched in sweat from the morning’s humidity. Lean body.  Drive in his eyes.

And then I passed the runner I admire. 20 feet behind the other runner. He was bigger in both height and weight. He had standard shoes on his feet. A cotton t-shirt. Normal gym shorts. Thick cotton socks. His gait was slower, lumbering a bit under each step. His head was down. Focused only a few feet ahead of him. Avoiding the passing cars. I never saw his face.

I thought about two main things. First, how much I admired that runner. In many ways, the challenge of that humid morning run was far greater for him than for the other runner. Everyone who passed the first man would think, “Yes! There’s a runner.” But they would probably pass the second man with a disparaging thought, if any thought at all.

My first, most immediate thought though had been, “That poor guy was just passed by the faster one.” Because it had to have happened. Based on the location on the sidewalk, and the distance between them. Sometime shortly before I reached that scene, the runner had to have passed the “runner”.

I am not fast. I’ve known many, many times that demoralizing feeling of the runner who passes you and the distance that they so quickly put between you. I admire the runner I saw this morning because in my own mind, I AM that runner. I will always see myself as someone who doesn’t look the part, who isn’t built like a runner, isn’t fast enough, isn’t slim enough.

I admire the Shalane Flanagans and Meb Keflezighis of the world. I admire the Boston Qualifiers, and the front-of-the-packers. But I admire the back-of-the-packers more. The ones like the man I saw at my first marathon. Heavyset, slow, large feet plodding along. But moving. Always moving. He never stopped running. Even as I eventually gained on him, overtook him, and left him behind. I saw in race photos that he never stopped running.

I think that even those of us who are not competitive are still comparative. We all are. We compare shoes, styles, form, weight, and especially distance and speed. The distance seems addictive. We always want to go further and further, and then faster and faster. And in some ways this is good. Use comparison to drive, to push yourself. But there is the side where we, or at least I, can’t stop comparing myself. “Why is she faster?” “Why is she skinnier?” “I must look awful to people who pass me while running.” “I don’t look like a runner.” “WHY are all my race photos full of awful, red-faced, pudgy, not-impressive me??”

I’ve talked before about the Jerk. The nagging thoughts that follow us and tell us we aren’t good enough.  I imagine some volume of the Jerk even follows the Shalanes and Mebs. But the size of the Jerk following some of us, following those people who “don’t look like runners”, must be astounding.  But some runners get up and go anyway. Some runners face everything they see in the mirror, every person who ignores them, or worse, every heavier-than-the-runner step, every rubbing spot, every deep, desperate breath.  Some runners ignore all the doubts packed against them, and yet they run.

Those are the runners I admire. Don’t let your head hang down. Don’t stare at the ground.  I might be faster. I might manage a bigger smile when I pass you on the path. But we are all facing doubts, and I am so inspired by your determination. You, the one who “shouldn’t be a runner”, the one who “doesn’t look like a runner”, the one who’s fat, or slow, but still running. You ARE a runner. You are my inspiration. And that smile when we pass? It’s genuinely for you. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cross Training The Husband's Way...

Day Two of Whole 30!!    (Remember, I'm actually doing Chris Kresser's Your Personal Paleo Code 30-Day Reset Diet... but it's easier to call it Whole 30 since that's more well known).

Day 1 was fairly easy, except the husband and I were both very hungry in the evening. I think we may have not planned in enough carbs and need to do a better job of incorporating them throughout the day. I'm not planning to share everything I eat, but if I come up with a great recipe, I will definitely share those!  For example... no idea how I originally found this, but here's the recipe I'll be using for dinner tonight... Mexican Shredded Beef ..  Real spices, no junk, and so good!

Today also officially kicked off training for marathon #2. Training techincally started yesterday with a rest day... today was Cross Training. I've given Dear Husband control over my cross training for at least the first half. This gives him Mondays and Wednesdays, and I said I'd lift Thursdays since Friday is CT/Rest and I plan to just do Yoga/Stretching.  I'll backtrack just a bit to let you know how terrifying today was...

I finished my first Wendler Cycle over the weekend by testing my one-rep max.. Bench didn't improve much, probably because I only really worked chest one day a week. Shoulder press I couldn't work because the weights we have are too heavy..  So here they are (May 6 / June 14):

Shoulder Press: 55 / 55
Bench Press: 70 / 80
Deadlift: 125 / 150
Squat: 80 / 115

Yup... 35 pound PR in squat!  I was not anticipating that... I hate squats and love Deadlifts.

So..  DH decided to roll right into another Wendler.  Today's workout:
Wendler Squats: 3x5+ at 65, 80, 90
3 Rounds, no rest: 15 second hollow hold, 15 second glute bridge
3 Rounds: 20 air squats, 15 lunges, 10 box jumps, 1 minute rest

Yes, you're reading that correctly...  my 'light' first week of Wendler exceeds my previous PR.  Ooof!  By the time I got to the first air squats, my legs didn't want to function!  Got it done, but tomorrow's 3 mile run should be an adventure!
The post-workout view... from flat on my back!

Ass-kicker!   But I not-so-secretly love box jumps..

The best thing about this morning though?  I planned ahead and made a frittata last night!  DH was headed to to the gym before work as well ( I always use our garage gym / the sidewalks for running), so I had to plan ahead a bit..   Super easy!  7 eggs mixed with 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk..   Browned and crumbled the sausage in a cast-iron pan, added red onion and 1 Tbsp coconut oil, let the onions cook a bit, then added the kale.  Once kale and onion were cooked, added the eggs, and popped it in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes.   Boom!  Protein ready and waiting when the workout finished. 

Yummmmm....  See? Whole 30 is tasty!

Do you have any Whole 30 recipes, or great ways to stay fueled and hydrated while doing Whole 30??

Friday, June 13, 2014

Paleo Running...

As I write this, I am having a lovely breakfast of sausage, an egg friend in coconut oil, and sautéed kale. Yup, kale.   It's the current "it" food, and I have plenty at dinner, but breakfast?  And coconut oil? Never been a big fan..     So what's going on?

Well, I've obviously been discouraged. I've been dealing with adrenal fatigue. I've been trying to manage stress, but there are so many things that just plain bring me down lately.   I'm trying not to dwell on the negatives though, and in my efforts to take charge, I picked up a copy of Chris Kresser's "Your Personal Paleo Code".  The general idea behind this book is that one-size-fits-all-Paleo doesn't exist. It should be personalized to each person, and by paying attention, you can cure what ails ya through your diet.   (Ok, that was a gross oversimplification).

The plan begins with a 30-day Reset Diet. During this phase, you remove all the bad junk from your diet. Then in Phase 2, you add things back in and determine what is right for your body. So, for the next 30 days, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol.  It's very similar to doing a Whole 30.  I'm really hopeful that this will reset my body, help me heal my gut, and move forward feeling healthier.  Oh, and if it finally helps me drop a few pounds, that won't hurt either!

The interesting part will be that I start this on June 15. The same day I kick off training for marathon #2.

Some parts of this aren't a big deal. I don't think I have any runs so long in the first 30 days that I'll need fuel, and pre-run bananas are plenty compliant. I'm honestly most concerned about hydration.  I am a salty, salty sweater. Honestly, you can rub salt off my forehead after a warm weather run.  Right now I use Nuun, especially after a run.  (Protein powders are also not allowed during this 30 days for various reasons).  And I really hate the taste of coconut water. So I'm a bit stumped there.  While I think Nuun, Island Boost, and the protein powders we have  (my go-to fuel, hydration, recovery) are very 'clean', I don't think any are allowed for the next 30 days.   (Island Boost for example is a coconut water base, but has fructose and glucose...  no sugar allowed). I suppose I could try eating an orange mid-run if I really need fuel...

Any other Whole 30/strict Paleo runners out there?  What do you use to fuel, hydrate, and recover?

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Well, this is about to get awkward. My last post was all about why I run. This post is going to travel down the road of discouragement...

It's spawned primarily by a conversation with my husband (hi honey, sorry for the husband-bashing)..  it's not the first conversation we've had along this lines, but this one is sticking for some reason.

Do you run to lose weight? Have you lost weight? Do you at least keep the weight off, and see a change in your body while you run?   ....     I don't.

I haven't lost any weight (this is a guess. I don't own a scale, but there is no change in how my clothes fit. I haven't really seen a change in my body. I suppose it's stronger, but size, tone, etc. has not changed.  Part of this is me. I do not like what I see when I look in the mirror. I do not like how I feel when I get dressed. I do not like how I look in photos. And while part of that is my own issues, part of the problem is that the photos, the look in the mirror, the fit when I get dressed has not changed in a year and a half.

Last night, I complained yet again to Dear Husband about this lack of change. Maybe it's the pressure of our three-year-delayed Honeymoon approaching. Maybe it's that this week, I've found I don't fit in two dresses that fit fine the last several years. And that the lifting has done nothing other than make my butt bigger, and a pair of shorts I was wowed to buy last year aren't so flattering now. But it's bothering me.  And Dear Husband yet again told me that I just need to change things up. Last time it was heavier weights, squats, and more HIIT work. Now, it's body weight work. "All this long, slow distance running you're doing. It won't burn fat. That's why you see so many fat marathoners."

That made me angry.

But probably not for the reason you're thinking...

Because he's right. You do see many fat marathoners.

Yes, there are the rail-thin, Shalane Flanagan types. But the majority of us aren't running 5-minute miles. Especially for an entire marathon. Most of us are running at a pace we can manage. But it is challenging. But it is a long, slow, steady pace that our heart and body adapt to.

My  mind over the last 24 hours has run the gambit of reasons why this made me so angry. There are fat marathoners, sure, but there are SO MANY people telling me they've lost weight running. Those 'fat marathoners' talk about doing sprint and speed work, so why are you telling me to do sprints and I'll lose weight if they are fat? How did we go from, 'lift heavy and you'll lose/tone' to 'do bodyweight stuff in intervals and you'll lose'? How many of those runners who lose weight talk about eating massive cheeseburgers and cupcakes on their cheat days while I don't eat gluten, rarely have sweets, and don't eat processed crap? All these runner are talking about how they don't lift weights, or when they do, they're light. I'm out here lifting a minimum 45-pound barbell.

And that's when I knew what was really making me angry.

I do everything right on paper. I eat well, I lift heavy, I work out minimum 5 days a week. And I have seen no result. And each time I go to him with frustrations, I am told that what I am doing is wrong. "It isn't easy. You don't get to just do what is easy and get what you want." But the problem is, I should be able to do what I enjoy. Every time I ask for help, I'm guided toward something resembling a CrossFit WOD. But not as heavy, maybe not as intense. Just different enough that DH can laugh when I accuse him of making me CrossFit.

And that's the root of it.  Perhaps he's right. LSD running is not the ideal way to burn fat. I know. But, in a world where I urge others to "find an exercise you enjoy" and rather than 'diet', "find a lifestyle you can stick to", why does the answer for me keep coming up, "do something you don't enjoy, challenge yourself, get way out of your comfort zone, and find a lifestyle that's difficult to maintain".

He's wanted me to CrossFit for years. And maybe this will finally make me try. But I don't see it as something I want to do.  I want to see a result to my hard work. Just a smidgen of it. I don't want to be told that I ran a marathon, and while the result was fantastic because I supported a important charity, the personal result was non-existent.  I don't want to lose pride in what I did. A marathon. Not many can say that.

But today, I am discouraged.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day...

Crap! I was supposed to blog, wasn't I?  I don't have an excuse, I'm just bad at this...

So, I've been dealing with the adrenal fatigue, focusing on lifting, and maintaining my running. I'm in week 3 of a 4 week cycle with lifting, so I'll be testing my one-rep max again in about two weeks. I do feel like I've seen a change in my body the first time since, well, forever.    ...my butt is bigger.   Oops.

Honestly, the lack of change in my body has been frustrating, but today, it got me thinking. Why do I run?

Today is National Running Day. So social media is full of people talking about running, sharing why they run, sharing all forms of pictures, etc. A majority of the "why I run" responses are in some way related to weight loss. Either people run to lose weight, or because that's how they lost weight, or because that's how they can eat bad foods and not gain weight.  So, if my body hasn't changed in a year and a half of running, and I eat healthy, so I can't really claim I'm running to maintain...  why do I run?

I can't argue that running is stress relief. I know it is for some people. They talk about having runner's high every run, achieving Nirvana somewhere amidst the miles. I don't find this mid-run serenity they do. I don't think my way through problems or solve issues. Often though, I find silence. My brain jumps to things so meaningless I can't remember them when I'm done, or simply goes quiet. I find peace when the run is over. I love the moment when you're done, covered in sweat, still outside, and just sit. Turn the iPod off. Look around. Enjoy that moment.

But recently, I found a reason to run. I run because when I don't, I miss it. I run because I can. I run because so many can't. Running my first marathon for Team Fox this year was so influential. Even with the race over, I can't move on from the cause. I'm connect with other Team Fox members. I'm thinking about Team Fox almost ever run. I run to speed a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

My father-in-law is on my mind when I run. But so too are friends like Missy, whose Dad recently lost his battle with Parkinson's. People with Young Onset Parkinson's.  I'm doing a second marathon this Fall, and hoping to continue raising funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I'm trying to think of more things I can do to raise funds.

And all along, I know there are so many other wonderful, deserving causes out there. TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) who help the families of fallen service members, people run to fight cancer, to raise awareness for autism, for so many causes.  And I'm so glad for every runner involved with any charity.

So why do I run? Because I can. Because God has blessed me with that ability, even on the difficult days. Because I want to do good.

Why do you run?