Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Friday Five! Things I'm Looking Forward To

What do you mean it's not Friday? Who cares?! That's just another thing to look forward to, right?

1. My first triathlon. It's less than 2 weeks away, yo! I'm starting to actually feel ready for it. I might not even be the last out of the water, especially if I'm able to use my snorkel. One thing I'm still undecided about is which shoes to wear for the run. I want to go sockless to save time but haven't decided which of my running shoes are best for that; I know it's not the Zealots.

2. Saucony Zealot ISO 2. The second iteration of my favorite running shoe just came out and I can't wait to try it. I'm on a bit of a spending restriction right now (oops) but I'm sure I'll get them before November, so it will be between this, the original Zealot (which would mean buying my third pair), and the Altra Torin 2.0 as my marathon shoe. I don't know if I will choose the blue or the silver, the third color is just plain ugly. Both?


















3. My first marathon. Okay, it's not until November, but I'm looking forward to the training. I enjoy the process. The last training plan I strictly followed, I had built myself using the book You (Only Faster) and I even look forward to building my marathon plan. Between now and then I'll be working on getting my base mileage back up, as I know the long runs on my plan will start at 14 miles. My most recent long run was 8 and I'm planning on 10 for this weekend.



4. Having a stove/oven again. This is only non-running item on the list. I think it's still running related though cause you eat to fuel your body for running and it's much easier to eat well when you have a stove to cook your food. We've been without a stove for over a week now but the new one should be coming tomorrow! The old one tried to burn a hole in our wall and it wasn't even turned on at the time! We're just glad we were at home and my mom was in the kitchen at the time it happened to notice something wasn't right. Who knows what would have happened otherwise.


5. Another 5k PR. I don't even know if I should put this in the list cause I don't know if it will happen anytime soon. I just feel like I'm not getting any faster. I am actually doing the work now though. I did one day of speed intervals a week for 3 weeks and now I'm on my last week of 3 weeks of hills. I've also been adding some strides onto the end of my easy runs. Once my triathlon is complete, I should have more time for running and might be able to keep a day for speed work while adding a tempo day, but then I worry about my recovery time suffering. If that becomes an issue, I'll alternate between speed work and tempo runs. By then though, it will be time to start training for my marathon. Eeeek.

What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Running Guide Part 2: Sunscreen

Every time I start thinking about going out for a run during the day without sunscreen (because I'm eager to get going or it's time consuming, smelly, greasy, or whatever), I remind myself of this female triathlete I saw once whose skin was so leathery from years of sun exposure that she could outdo a cow hide for who would make the best couch.

I think of all the attempts at getting a good tan I made when I was younger and wish that I knew better. I have light skin and I don't have any problem with that these days. I'm fine with being "pale" and sunscreen is a lot more affordable than skin cancer, and I'm not just talking about money.

Convinced yet?

If you're running during daylight hours, you need sunscreen on. This isn't just for summer, but it is more of an issue in the summer due to several factors. First of all, we're typically outside more in the summer. The sun is out for longer during the summer, if you usually run in the evenings, 5pm may be dark in the winter while it doesn't get dark until nearly 9pm in the summer. The sun is also closer in the summer, so the UV index (and your chances of getting burned) is higher. Please note that you don't have to get a sunburn to get skin cancer and even if you are lucky and escape cancer, the sun is still damaging your skin.

Sunscreen choices are also more complicated for running in the summer because of the heat. Some sunscreens just don't let you sweat well, and you need to sweat when it's hot. Then when you do sweat, you don't want a sunscreen that is going to run into your eyes and sting. So you have to find one with a good balance of breath-ability and water/sweat resistance.

Here is where I'm going to save you some trouble! Over the past few years of running in the sun, I have tried more than a couple of sunscreens and can share my knowledge with you.

Let's start with a couple of basics:


These are my everyday products. Olay Complete all day moisturizer with SPF 15 for sensitive skin is what I put on my face every morning. I actually use it on my face for running often because it does not sting my eyes (the Neutrogena face moisturizer I used before this would not only sting my eyes but my whole face when I would sweat). It does tend to sweat off though. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is what I use on my arms regularly if I know I'm going to be outside a lot. I like it because it doesn't feel like you're wearing sunscreen and has a light smell that's tolerable enough for daily use without feeling like you smell like sunscreen all the time. It's not as bad at sweating off, but it does sting the eyes and makes me feel hot.

Now for some more traditional sunscreens you would use for the beach or swimming:


These two products are pretty much the same. I bought the one of the left one year and liked it, when I went to buy it again they didn't have it but they had the one on the right. The ingredients are near identical. Kids sunscreens like these are good for sensitive skin and for parents because you might as well use the same sunscreen you use for your kids. These work pretty good for running but make sure the bottle hasn't expired. We faced that issue at the beach over the weekend and everybody got at least a little sunburn even though we applied thoroughly and reapplied according to the instructions. Right now I can't remember if these sting my eyes but I know I don't use them on my face when I run so that must be either because they sting or give my face that skin can't breathe, hot feeling. I tend to use these on my body and the Olay moisturizer above on my face.



Bull Frog Moisquito Coast might be a good option if you're running trails or anywhere else where there might be bugs (like my yard). I like this for the kids when we play outside because I don't have to worry about putting two products on them, however, it's not that great of a bug repellent. It does protect against the sun but it's a bit greasy feeling and don't even think about using it on your face if you're going to be sweating a lot. Avon makes a similar product, I find this one to be slightly more effective as a repellent. 

Sunsect is another combo product I've tried, but it's a lotion. I haven't used it enough to give much opinion.

Now for "Sport" specific sunscreens:


I feel like this Neutrogena CoolDry Sport is the only sport specific sunscreen worth mentioning because it's actually different. If you look at the ingredients of most "sport" sunscreens you will find they are nearly the same as the kids sunscreens.

I will admit that I was pulled in by the advertising of this product, the allure of the "micromesh" that lets your skin breathe naturally got me. I bought the lotion first and I love how it doesn't give my skin that hot feeling. I've seen some reviews where users complained about it being hard to wash off, they must not be using soap or a washcloth because it's a non-issue for me. The only downside to this sunscreen is that it still stings my eyes. The spray was part of a race swag bag, I like the convenience and quickness of spray but it's a little greasy and I'm always afraid I'm going to miss a spot when I use it.

When I run or ride my bike during the summer (or any sunny day) I use either the Neutragena Sport or the Banana Boat kids lotion (whichever I find first) on my body and the Olay on my face. I'd like to use a higher SPF on my face but so far most products are irritating in some way.

There are still some other sunscreens I would like to try, like a few mentioned in a recent Runner's World article. Those include No-Ad, Coppertone Faces, and Promise Organic. If you've tried any of those let me know what you thought.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Summer Running Guide Part 1

It's getting hot out there, so take off all your clothes. No, wait, don't do that. I have some better, more acceptable ways to handle the heat. Though this time of year, especially in Florida, is when you start to see runners wearing as little as possible, women in sports bras and shorts, men in the shortest shorts they would ever wear, I have some less obvious ways of staying cool for you to try.

Really, I hope those people are wearing sunscreen when they shed their layers.



When the weather starts heating up most runners will notice some changes in their effort level to keep their regular pace. As long as you're running consistently, and there's not a sudden, extreme change in weather, this adjustment is gradual and not too drastic. However, if you've taken a break from running due to injury or illness and the weather is much warmer than when you last ran consistently, acclimating to the new conditions is going to be a bit tougher. This happened to me a couple of times before and it can be quite discouraging. Not only do you have a slight loss of fitness to make up for and recovery to deal with but those set backs are compounded by the rise in temperature. Higher temperatures cause our bodies to work harder, so some adjustments have to be made in running so we don't overheat or become dehydrated. Don't expect to run the same pace when it's 90° as you do when it's 60°. Summer is a good time to work on HR training or running by effort level. Keep your harder efforts to cooler days and break up long runs by doing half outside and half on the "insteadmill."



Protect yourself: Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. UPF protective clothing is great too but you still need sunscreen, I prefer at least SPF 30. It's also important to protect your eyes from the sun, especially if your eyes are light colored, by wearing sunglasses. I have Tifosi Radius for running and riding. My swim goggles are even tinted to protect my eyes when I swim. A bonus to wearing sunglasses and a visor or hat with a dark colored under-bill is that you can trick yourself into believing it's not so hot.

Pick to coolest time of the day to run: Typically this is early morning before the sun comes up. That's my preferred time to run anyway. I know for some people this isn't really possible ("I'm not a morning person" does not make a good excuse though), so just try to avoid what is usually the hottest time of day. Here that's in the afternoon, from about 2-4, I call this the no-run zone. You could also try running at night after the sun has set, not as cool as the early morning but still a lot better than midday.



Opt for the treadmill, if lunch time is when you have the best opportunity to run, some days the treadmill is going to be your best choice. My treadmill is in our garage, so there's no a/c but I still have fans and I'm not under the sun. If you don't have a treadmill of your own and a gym membership isn't an option, there are still others ways you can stay out of the sun during the day. Find a shaded route. Since I've been doing this for a few years now, I can't think of plenty of routes for both sunny and shaded running, if you don't know where the good, shaded routes in your area are you can start by asking someone at your local running store or contacting a local run club. Running near a body of water is a good option as well, as it's typically a bit cooler than inland locations, and you might even be able to take a dip after your run.

My Insulated Nathan Speeddraw Plus


Hydration is probably one of the most important parts of summer running. When it's hotter, we sweat more so we need to drink more. You not only need to make sure you're drinking enough before and after you run, but it's also a good idea to carry water with you or run in an area where you know there are fountain (or faucets) to drink from. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink! Experts say you're probably already dehydrated by this point. If you're never feel like drinking on the run, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. I actually have had the problem of drinking too much, now on my long runs I make sure to take a good sip every mile. Adopting a practice that makes it turn into a habit is very helpful. Hear the Garmin mile beep, take a drink, simple as that. I've mentioned before that I even take water on shorter runs during the summer; I'd rather have it and not really need it, than not have it when I do need it. Sometimes I just pour it on my head or down my shirt. On longer runs, and if you're a heavy/salty sweater, you need to be taking in some electrolytes too. Gatorade, Nuun, Salt tabs, GU electrolyte tablets, it all works. I don't recommend pouring that on yourself though, it can get a bit sticky.



One last tip and this one is still up for debate. A lot of sources would tell you to wear light colored clothing when the sun is beating down, but I bet you've seen photos of people who live in hot desert lands wearing all black. There is science to this! There is more information about wearing dark cycling kits than there is about running clothing, but the outcome should be similar. Supposedly, as long as you are moving, black clothing will keep you cooler than white clothing. There's more detail to the science than I care to get into here, but if you really want to know about it there are plenty of articles you can find.

That's it for part 1 of my Summer Running Guide! What are your tips for staying safe and healthy while running in the summer?


Monday, May 23, 2016

Altra Torin 2.0 Running Shoe Review

The Basics

The Altra Torin 2.0 is a Zero Drop, "maximalist," running shoe. Altra is known for their "FootShape" toe box, which allows your toes to spread out naturally and comfortably. The Torin is highly cushioned with a 27mm stack height, and weighs in a 7.5 oz for women, 9.1 oz for men.

The Down and Dirty


Altra has made a lot of improvements to the Torin. In my review of the Torin 1.0 (which I love and chose as the shoe I wore in my first half marathon) I pointed out a few aspects of the shoe that could use some tweaking. I'm pleased to say that most of my concerns are no longer concerns with the 2.0. I feel like the midfoot of the 2.0 hugs my foot a lot better than the older version did while still having ample room in the forefoot for toe splay. The strange issue I had with the standard laces not being long enough has disappeared as well.

Along with a better fit, I also notice the improved cushioning, these shoes are super comfortable. The Torin is well cushioned while still providing plenty of bounce (energy return as those fancy shoe writers like to call it). I can wear these shoes for hours on a long run in Florida heat and humidity and not even think about them (or my feet) once. That's impressive. While I think the Saucony Zealot will win in my choice of marathon shoe for November, the Torin will definitely take a lot of my training miles as well.

I even think the look of this version is less clownish! Due to the FootShape of Altras some of them tend to look funny when you're used to "regular" running shoes. I don't know if I'm just getting used to the look but these seem less bulbous than my other Altras, especially the Superior. While I do like brightly colored running shoes, this subdued grey with pink and lime accents is looking good (I really like the monochromatic look of their Hemlock color as well). It also has plenty of reflective elements on the shoe; from every angle this shoe will be seen in the dark. That's important to me since I do most of my running in the early morning hours. The upper fabric is very similar to that of the 1.0, though it does seem to be a bit more breathable to me, and dries much quicker. These are great improvements but I still think they could improve the upper more.


The most disappointing change in the 2.0, and really the only negative thing I have to say about the shoe, is the outsole. Altra claims the 2.0 has improved outsole durability, but they must be comparing it to the 1.5 which I haven't tried, because this is definitely less durable than the outsole of the 1.0. Look at this picture of the outsole above. Many running shoe companies follow a similar pattern, they put hard(er) rubber under the heel, ball, and big toe. The 1.0 had an even spread of rubber which I really appreciated since the first part of my shoe to wear down is right in front of the ball on the lateral side. On the picture this is the white area to the right of the dark grey, which is foam on the Torin 2.0. I don't even use the heel of my running shoes. So Altra, give me more rubber on the lateral forefoot, cut off the whole heel. That was a joke, but really, don't skimp on the rubber.

Summary


I wrote this review after running over 35 miles in the Torin 2.0. I mostly ran on concrete and asphalt but had no issues on gravel and grass either. At the end of my first run in these, I did have a bit of a hotspot under the ball of my foot but it never blistered and each run in the shoes has felt better than the last. I'm generally the type of runner who says that shoes these days don't need much, if any, time to "break-in," but I do think the Torin 2.0 took about 10 miles before it really started to melt into my foot and now I don't even notice it. All in all, this is an excellent choice for a Zero-Drop, well cushioned running shoe that can be used daily training and racing (many ultra runners love Altras).

Altra provided me with these shoes for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Training and PRs and Speed Work, IIP!

A week?! Sometimes I can in order for 99% of my tasks to get in order 1% has to take a hit. This week that 1% was the blog (I actually have a shoe review I wrote earlier in the week that I haven't posted yet). I've been doing good on my training goals though! I think I met my riding hours goal last week and the week before, that hasn't happened in a while. I didn't meet my running mileage for the week though, but(!) I did get a new 5k PR!





This past Saturday, I ran the Jeepin' Beach Jam 5k in Panama City Beach. I wasn't planning on "racing" it, and I still don't think I really did, I just felt good and had a good run. We met my cousin Melissa out there and we both went home with medals, so that was great! I tried my new plan of "running by color" that coach Jenny Hadfield teaches and I like it; it works for me. My second mile was actually a little slower than the first, but I still feel like I held true to the colors and effort level. There was just a few more turns and people dodging in the second mile. My 3rd mile was my fastest, which is what you always want in a 5k.

I titled this photo "hair"

My clock time was actually 29:01, which would not be a PR, but this race was not chip-timed and I didn't start at the front. I started near the back/middle and pressed start on my Garmin when I crossed the starting line. Garmin says it's a PR and Strava says it's a PR, so I'm going with it's a PR of 28:42, that's 10 seconds off my previous record. I'm really happy with this since I wasn't really trying for a PR. It makes me feel better about reaching my goal of 25 minutes sometime in the not too distant future.

Due to that confidence boost, I even did some speed work this week! Shocker since I hate speed work. I did 8 x 400 at 10 seconds slower than goal 5k pace with 200 recovery between each. Next week I'll do 10-12 400s at the same pace and then the following week, I'll do 10-12 400s at goal 5k pace. I did this on the treadmill, which is always tougher for me than the track, so it was a good workout yet I didn't even feel that spent afterward.

and this one gums

I got this method of training progress from an article I recently read in Runner's World about IIP, which stands for Introduce, Improve, Perfect. It makes so much more sense than doing a new speed workout every week and I think that's what has been so off-putting about speed work for me in the past. This way I can get comfortable with a workout and improve on it and it's not just like "what am I doing again?" Hopefully this will have me actually doing my speed work, instead of skipping it and wondering why I'm not getting faster.

I'm also not on a training plan right now, which is weird for me. I like the structure of constantly being on a plan, even if I don't have a goal coming up. I think it helps me stay consistent, like a check-list. I'd like to continue working on the 5k goal but now I have to work around the Summer Trail Series that starts tomorrow! And I registered for a triathlon, yep, I did.

Oh, I could talk about my knee too, but I won't bore you too much in one post.

How is your training going? Any goals hit recently or races coming up?
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