I suppose it was time for a change - in a lot of different ways!
Rule #1 with running, and one that I stick by religiously: When something starts bothering you that wasn't bothering you before, get new shoes. For a couple of runs now, I had been having trouble with my right hip. Compensating for that was starting to bother my knees again, and long runs were getting really tough. Though my shoes showed very little wear on the bottoms, my signature wear on the outer heels was present, and I estimated that they've seen roughly 400 miles over 7 months. Time to cash them in. So a visit to my local running store (Fleet Feet) netted me a new pair of shoes, socks and some new fuel to start experimenting with.
I love Fleet Feet because they spend a lot of one on one time with you while they're fitting you, finding out about your running style, trouble areas, lifestyle and lots of other things that might have an effect on your training routine. The girl who fitted me was wonderful, had just come back from a 3 mile fun run in 102 degree heat, and had lots of great wisdom to impart about continuing my training, injury-free.
She made a couple of suggestions about my form and how best to change it up from a heel strike (what's been causing that wear and my various pains), to more of a mid-foot strike (something I always aim for, but have been having trouble achieving on the longer runs when I get tired). She recommended slowing to a walk every couple of miles and stretching my arms up over my head to straighten out my upper body which will help control my lower body, and then marching in place for a few steps to remind me of where my feet should be striking while running. It really helped! I tried out these tips in my 10-miler on Friday morning, and had a GREAT run. Though now my pain has transferred more to my shins and calves from being more forward and on my toes, my hip and knees were much relieved. The shin pain isn't all that concerning to me. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to do to break in brand new shoes on a 10-mile run, even if they are exactly the same brand and make of my previous ones.
We agreed not to fix what wasn't broken and to stick with the same shoes, but I was happy to see that they've changed the colours and aesthetic design enough that it still felt like I was walking out with something new. These are the shoes that will run the marathon. Wow. Realizing that as I was walking down the street with my purchase sent butterflies through my entire body. We're in the home stretch. Yikes!
Next up was a really nice guy who helped me choose some gels. I have not started adding fuel to my long runs yet, but knew that I needed to find something that worked, so he helped point me in the right direction. I grabbed a bottle of Salt Sticks - because I am a very salty sweater, and knew that I needed to pay more attention to replacing my electrolytes on my long runs. I also picked up some caffeinated GU in a few different flavours. He made a good recommendation which was to find a flavour that you enjoy enough (because let's be honest - you have to choke these things down no matter WHAT flavour you choose), and then get that same flavour across a variety of brands to see which one goes down easier. I chose to experiment with the orange flavour across the board so got some orange or citrus flavoured GU, Clif Shot, Hammer Gel and Honey Stinger (an all natural, honey based fuel) to try. Then I picked up a bunch of other gel flavours to see if one tastes better than another. He also made the recommendation to drink your sports drink BEFORE BED for a morning run. That way the electrolytes have time to sit in your body and work their magic before you wake up. Take a salt stick 30 minutes before you head out, and use the fuel gels with water mid-run.
So here's what happened. I drank 1/2 a bottle of Powerade before bed on Thursday night. Had the other half with a salt stick and my regular small breakfast (apricots, string cheese, a few crackers) before heading out for my 10-miler on Friday morning. Felt great in the first half on the run, but started to feel my energy slip around mile 5. Used the caffeinated orange GU at mile 5.5 and, call me crazy, felt an almost instantaneous energy boost. Maybe it was psychosomatic, but having never used these things before, I was pretty amazed at how great I all-of-a-sudden felt. Also having had no caffeine before leaving home may have helped as well, since the gel provided a surge of caffeine which opens blood flow to the capillaries. Yahoo! Stopped to stretch my arms and march in place at mile 2.5, 5, 7, 8 and 9. Worked like a charm. It was a great run!
Of course, it probably helped that I knew that once I was done with my run, I was going out to brunch with a special someone. And I was rewarded handsomely for my efforts. A breakfast of a turkey sausage and spinach scramble, rye toast, coffee, and some pretty sweet company. Grin. I'm very optimistic about where this is heading. This is a very different situation than any I have been in before as far as dating goes. I have known this man for long time - we worked together 5 years ago, and have been friends ever since. And so he has known me at my personal worst (in my opinion) and my personal best (where I am now). Though we weren't in great contact over the past couple of years, he has witnessed the transition from me then to me now. And I think he likes it. And I like him. So this could be very, very good.
Running is easier when you're happy. And I have a lot to think about these days
Week 16 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 miles
Wed - pool was closed :(
Thu - Yoga
Fri - 10 miles
Sat - Rest - in Toronto for wedding
Sun - Rest - in Toronto for wedding
Total Weekly Miles: 14
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 2095
Weekly Friday Weigh-In: didn't weigh-in, because it's always the same.
Week 17 Schedule:
Mon - 7 miles
Tue - Rest
Wed - Swim
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - Yoga
Sat - Rest
Sun - 12 miles