When is it too old to run?

Image rights - AP Photo / The Canadian Press

I enjoy running.

Am I a fast runner? No. A long distance runner? Not really, my longest run was a half marathon, twice, and not without injuries. Does it come easily? I wouldn’t say so. But nonetheless, I enjoy it.

Every now and again I toy with the idea of running a marathon, but then I think about the time required to train, the injuries, and the … injuries. If I recovered quickly I wouldn’t mind them as much, but they often sideline me for extended periods of time, months, and it’s not worth it to me.

And then someone like Fauja Singh comes along and it makes me wonder if it’s in me. I mean, if he can do it at 100 years old, why couldn’t I??? (Don’t you just love his smile?!)

He ran his last marathon in 5 hours, 40 minutes, and 1 second … 8 years ago at the age of 92.

Mr. Singh is my hero. I love his story and youthfulness. The marathon may not be for me, but I love that he will motivate someone to lace up their running shoes and get out there.

Maybe it’s you.

UPDATE:

Mr. Singh completed his marathon yesterday at 8 hours, 25 minutes and 18 seconds. Pretty darn impressive.

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Hangin’ all out

Hanging all out / Image rights allthingsana

This was Penny shortly before 4:30AM when I came down to wake her up for a run. No, I don’t usually get up that early for a run. It was just one of those mornings where I was up, she was “going to be up” after I woke her from her deep sleep. She was not happy when I did.I literally had to roll her out of her bed so I could put her harness on. Little miss please-let-me-sleep-for-another-12 hours growled.

She’s definitely not a morning person… dog. But once she’s had her coffee and run, she’s raring to go!!! … back to bed.

New half marathon training

Half marathon / Image rights - fitnessmagazine.com

My favorite time to visit the mailbox is at the end of the month when my new magazines arrive. We have subscriptions to several great ones, sometimes making it difficult to find time to get through all of them in a single month, but my top 3 favorites I seem to get through TOO quickly.

Most recently I’ve loved my Fitness Magazine. The irony is that when I subscribed to it I was thinking I was subscribing to Women’s Health Magazine so you can imagine my surprise when I got my first issue. A few months later, I have to admit that I am so happy I screwed up! It’s a great magazine! Chock full of great exercises, recipes, useful information, and tips.

In this past month’s issue (February 2010) they have a great write-up on half marathon training schedules for beginners and advanced runners. I don’t consider myself an advanced runner and so I’m focusing here on the beginner schedule. What I love about  it is that it includes quite a bit of walking. A lot of other half marathon training plans I’ve come across online build up your running over the course of your week, but running — when your body is not really used to doing it so regularly, nor when you’ve trained your muscles and joints to withstand all that impact — can do more harm than good, moreso to your ego than to your body. One injury or set-back and it’s super easy to quit.

What I love about this training schedule is that you really can keep up. But you have to be alright with walking during your training. Some people aren’t. And for them, that’s fine. As for me, my opinion … don’t worry about walking part of your first half marathon! I’m always so proud of people who just get in there and experience the half. It’s incredible! I should know because I walked quite a bit of my first half, and trust me, I wasn’t the only one! And in the end, it didn’t matter because I was just as proud of my accomplishment as that first person who crossed the finish line.

So, my new favorite half marathon training can be found at this Fitness Magazine link. I do want to change it up just a bit. And this is purely based on my own personal preference for not running two days in a row. That being said, I will look to spread out my runs so there’s no back-to-back running on Saturday and Sunday. It worked out well for my first half and I’d like to try it again.

I’ve said it before, JOIN ME! I have yet to pick my next one this year. Or tell me which one you’re signed up to do and I’LL JOIN YOU!

Disappointment

Well, I’ve known this for a few weeks but have finally come to terms with sharing it with my online friends. Don’t be alarmed. In the whole scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, I know that, nonetheless it’s a huge disappointment to me.

I was looking forward to running the Zooma Half Marathon on March 27th in Austin. That’s not going to happen. I’ve been sidelined from running for a few weeks. I had a knee injury that was bugging me, then I had some terrible Cedar allergies that only until last week the meds have finally cleared up the congestion and asthma. On top of that I’ve been crazy busy with work. What does this all mean? Any form of exercise that I’ve gotten in the last few weeks has been my crawling into bed from a 12 hour work day, or lifting my head, a head full of a thousand pounds of mucus.

I’ve looked into other half marathons and the soonest to take place in the Austin area is not until July. That one’s a trail run. No thanks. I don’t want to get my shoes muddied  up. I know! Ridiculous, but seriously, I don’t enjoy mud on or in my shoes, on my legs, up my back! No! Then there’s another run a few miles away from here in August. Have you ever run in Austin in August? Might as well be renamed “Half Marathon in Hell” that’s how hot it is. No, can’t do it. So… that leaves me with October or November. Big sigh. Seriously, very disappointed. I could look into doing a virtual half-marathon with a random group of people online, but it’s just not the same thing. There’s something about that energy at a half-marathon, the crowds cheering, your fellow runners beside you, that propels you forward. I need that.

So, I’ll have to look into possibly other areas. I was hoping to stay close to home so I could bring my girls and Palo Alto to see me. That’s still the plan, but … I don’t know. Not many are popping up. Then there’s the ING half marathon in NYC. That would be a great one, but that’s not until November.

Uggghhh, so disappointed. Stupid allergies. Stupid knee.

ON THE UPSIDE!, I hit the gym  yesterday and ran a couple of miles on the treadmill. Felt incredible! I’m slowly coming back.

Barefoot Running

Vibram FiveFingers / Image rights - vibramfivefingers.com

When I ran the San Antonio Half Marathon in November 2009, I spotted a man in front of me at the start line that had these weird five-fingered sock-like shoes. They weren’t your traditional running shoe, they were flat, lightly padded, went up to his ankle, and, well … weird. He got a few stares and some people asked him about them but I was too focused on beating the front-runner in the race to listen to his response (the front-runner who crossed the finish-line just about the time I crossed the START-line).

Time magazine had a recent write-up about barefoot running, then I came across this article on ABCnews.com again on the barefoot running and minimalist shoes.

Many of you are probably hoping that I’ll go out and test the waters for you, give you my own perspective on whether or not you should pick up the sport (or sock shoes). Well, don’t get your hopes up. I just spent too much money on New Kicks, and more importantly, it just doesn’t seem safe. Is it just me, or is no one worried about the glass or rocks on the road and sidewalks? The article mentions that your feet toughen up, but … I don’t think any “toughened” foot, coming down on a piece of glass at twice your body weight could avoid the pain or inevitable cut. And frankly, I don’t think callused or “toughened” feet are all that attractive on people, especially if you’re female (or male; we’re open on this blog) when you’ve got a pretty little pedicure going on!

The other option is to go the minimalist shoe route, which is what my running friend above was sporting at the half marathon. Again, nope. I can’t be seen wearing that thing!! Thats’ a fashion road hazard!

But seriously, it just seems like a fad to me. It may work for some — and more power to them, I’m all for everyone finding a running method that works for them — but intuitively, rationally, it just doesn’t seem like our feet were meant to run with little to no support. In truth, were we really meant to run at all?

Note that the study they reference in the ABCnews.com article, on the benefits of barefoot running, was partially funded by a minimalist shoe maker. Imagine that?

New kicks!

Brooks Trance 9 / Image rights - allthingsana.wordpress.com

I finally did it. I bought myself some new running shoes. I should have tossed my old running shoes immediately after my half marathon in November, but being the cheapskate that I am, I held onto them a little longer. Only when my knees started to hurt a little more than usual did I finally cave and decide to do some sole searching. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Now, I’m sure many of you have normal feet. Not me. Of course not me. Not only do I overpronate (more on my left foot than my right), but I also have unusually large feet for someone my size (5′ 3.5″ — and yes, I”m adding the half inch; when you’re under 5’4″ you add every half and quarter inch you’ve got). To boot, a podiatrist told me that I needed to get orthotics. When she told me how much they were and how they weren’t covered by insurance, I had a lengthy discussion with my feet and told them that I wouldn’t be able to care for them in the manner they deserved due to a financial matter with my health insurance. I asked them to please cooperate and I would do the best I could by investing in, at minimum, decent shoes.

Allow me to introduce you to said new decent shoes, the Brooks Trance 9. Not a cheap shoe! And it honestly pains me that I spent as much as I did, BUT having suffered through many bad shoes, pained knees and feet, and nerve issues in my calf, I’m now a strong believer in spending however much is needed for the right shoe. We’re all different and all shoes are different, so if you’re in the market for buying a new running shoe, shop around. Try a bunch on and talk to a specialist who can guide you in choosing the right shoe for you.

I shopped around for quite a bit before deciding on these. Unlike the last couple of shoes that have been so-so, and that I bought without help, I decided to go to RunTex where they could evaluate my running, feet, and shoes on feet. (When I lived in CA I used to go to Athletic Performance, which was hands down the BEST running store in the South Bay. My brother would even buy his shoes there and he lives in NYC!)  My salesperson was extremely helpful, taking the time to look at my stance, my feet, my run in several shoes, etc… After a couple of stores and much discussion about which ones would be best, they didn’t have much in stock. Big sigh. They were awaiting a big shipment in a few days, but I wouldn’t be able to get out there again for at least a week and really wanted my new kicks. So, I did what they hope we as consumers wouldn’t do, and took their suggestions to the web.

One word, Zappos. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. Customer service is fantastic, lots of shoe selection, good prices, and you just can’t beat the no shipping fees from/to their warehouse. I picked 4 that she’d recommended and finally chose the Brooks Trance 9. They were delivered the very next day and I was literally off and running. I love them! (And yes, the 3 pairs that I didn’t keep went back and were refunded on my Visa card; phew!!)

I’m going to be wearing these out over the next few months training for the Zooma half marathon here in Austin. I’ll be following the training program below, in fact am already on my way despite some stops and starts due to allergies, a cold, and a business trip. I’m really excited about my second half marathon! Join me!

BEGINNERS’ HALF MARATHON TRAINING SCHEDULE
Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 Rest 2 mi Rest 2.5 mi Rest 3 mi 2 mi EZ
2 Rest 2 miles Rest 3 mi CT or Rest 4 mi 2.5 mi EZ
3 Rest 2.5 mi 2 mi 3 mi CT or Rest 5 mi 2 mi EZ
4 Rest 3 mi Rest 4 mi CT or Rest 6 mi 3 mi EZ
5 Rest 3 mi 3 mi 3 mi CT or Rest 7 mi 3 mi EZ
6 Rest 4 mil 3 mi 4 mi CT or Rest 8 mi 3 mi EZ
7 Rest 4 mi Rest 4 mi CT or Rest 9 mi 3 mi EZ
8 Rest 4 mi 3 mi 3 mi CT or Rest 10 mi 3 mi EZ
9 Rest 5 mi 3 mi 4 mi CT or Rest 11 mi Rest
10 3 mi EZ 4 mi Rest 3 mi CT or Rest 12 mi 3 mi EZ
11 Rest 4 mi Rest 3 mi CT or Rest 5 mi 2.5 mi EZ
12 Rest 2 mi 20 minutes Rest 20 minutes Race Day! Rest Day!

Trying out some sole

SOLE Softec Regular Footbeds / Image rights - SOLE

I’m due for some new sneakers. I ran my half marathon in November and have continued to run in my old Saucony’s that I’ve had for, embarrassingly enough, about a year and a half now. The general rule of thumb for when to replace your running shoes will vary, depending on how often you use them and your body type, ailments, etc… I know I’m due for a new pair because my knees have threatened to take me out on my next run if I don’t replace the old shoes. Seriously, my knees have started to take their toll.  If I were a casual walker or wearer,  I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to replace them, but I’ve run in these for most of that time, and will definitely need some new kicks for my half marathon in March (Zooma Austin!).

A colleague of mine recommended I try out Softec Footbeds, heat moldable insoles. You warm them up in the oven, insert them, and they’re essentially custom fitted to your foot once inserted and you’ve put your weight on them. Hmmmm. She’s purchased these instead of having to invest in new sneakers every time. Although I’m truly overdue for new sneaks, I also know that I’m in need of some ortho wear. I went to a podiatrist years ago, she took a look at my feet, bones (via x-ray (I’d broken my pinkie toe then)), and walk, and recommended I seriously consider custom orthotics. I’m not one that’s quick to jump on the “here’s your diagnosis, hand over the cash” bandwagon and so opted to forego the orthotics until I came into some money (still waiting…). However, now that I’ve taken to running these days, I’m starting to feel the pain a lot more. So… I thought I’d try out these insoles for $50 to see if they make a difference. My colleague swears by them and they have a bunch of great testimonials on their site.

I’m still getting new sneakers, because again, I’m wayyyy overdue, but thought I’d give these a try too. Can’t hurt, right? I’ll give you my unbiased review after I’ve worn them for a couple of weeks. Anyone else try them out?