She informed me that she ran 8.25 miles today, which is good, but I have concerns she’s upping her miles too quickly only because she’s been in an extremely high stress situation this past week.
Never underestimate the effect stress can have on your body. It can be a ball buster. Just when you think you’ve got things whooped (that’s Texas-speak for under control), stress will punch you in the nuts. BALL BUSTED!
Here’s her schedule for last week:
Tuesday: 3 miles, 1.75 of intervals
Thursday: 4 miles slow run but hills!!
Saturday: 7.5 miles
Monday: 3 miles, 2 of intervals
Wednesday today: 5 slow miles right on pace
On to her questions:
1) Got any good tips on breathing? I’ve always had the same exact breathing: two steps in, two steps out, repeat. If I try to speed up my pace it doesn’t work so well because then I’m panting. Is there a better way to do it, considering that this breathing pattern is pretty ingrained in me?
This is a really good question because proper running is key to running and even enjoying running. If you’re left panting you may be breathing more from your chest than your diaphragm. Belly breathing is the way to go. The easiest way to demonstrate “belly breathing” is to lay your badunkadunk down on the floor, on your back. Relax. Place your hands on your diaphragm or lower on your belly and breath in deeply, pushing out your stomach, allowing that area to rise instead of your chest. Do this a few times and then stand up. Now, repeat while standing with your hands in the same place so you can physically feel the rise of your stomach.
What does this do? It expands your lungs and you get more oxygen. More oxygen = better running!
The only thing I would add is that if you aren’t belly breathing already, or it seems foreign to you, it takes practice. On your slow run of the week, focus on your breathing. From the belly, in and out. With practice it will become second nature and you’ll find you aren’t panting.
2) Um, so I have noticed a little something going on in the intestines since I have been running more often. Guess I’m a “regular runner” in more than one sense. Is that normal?
A poop question! My favorite!
Yes, completely normal. Not only normal, but proof that running does a body good. Pooping more regularly is a byproduct of moving vigorously. Surely (DON’T CALL ME SHIRLEY!), you’re aware that there’s an entire industry built around getting people to poop regularly. Don’t need no stinkin’ probiotics here; we’ve got runnin’!
3) You know I already have pain, because I didn’t obey your fartlek-ing instructions. Today, I have a little bit of knee pain. What pain is bad pain? And how do I know when to ease up?
Didn’t follow my instructions?! I’m stunned. Pain is a good measurement of what you are doing to your body, to the stress you are enduring. Some pain can be good. It is your yellow light of caution. Knee pain falls in that category. Knee pain can literally hobble runners, so it’s important to pay attention.
Since you are training for a half, and you will have aches and pains, you need to become a detective. Is my IT band sore as well? Are my calves tight? Hammies? My back? Knee pain can actually originate elsewhere, so it’s important to assess the surrounding muscles to see if you have a weakness causing the pain.
On the other hand, sometimes pain comes from lactic acid in the muscles, which is a direct cause of training. You can ice ice, baby. You can Advil that mofo (although my triathlete doc warns never to medicate if you are running 10 miles or over because of the strain on kidneys/liver function). Or you can ease up for a few days.
Let you body tell you which route to take. Try the ice first, post run. Try Advil next. You’ll know when it’s time to rest.
As an aside, which we will discuss soon, using the foam roller can be key. Yes, it hurts. Yes, you’ll cuss. Yes, I’ll giggle.
Now a question posed by Shelmo: What are your top 5 pre-run snacks?
This one is tricky, given my gastrointestinal challenges. My biggest pre-run snack is pure H2O. Hydration is key. Although, the time to hydrate is not before a run, but every day, all the time. Drink your water, people.
1) Caffeine, in the form of two measured cups of coffee, spiked with a bit of milk and a tablespoon of sugar.
Caffeine has been shown to increase endurance, so I never run without it in my system. I leisurely drink my coffee and then run within 30 minutes. POW! But beware, for some it will literally cause the runs.
I don’t care much for bananas, but I force myself to eat them because they are filled with potassium which prevents my charley/charlie horses (leg cramps) in the middle of the night and are easily digestible (low fiber combined with simple sugars). The worst part about bananas (to me) is when they repeat mid-run. Gag a freakin’ maggot.
3) Some folks like high carb, low fiber snacks. Bagels with a smear of peanut butter or honey, eaten an hour or so before a run. Personally, it’s too heavy for me unless I have a 10-miler or more in front of me, but even then, I’m a Gummie Bear gal.
4) I know runners who are fond of protein bars before a run, but in my book they are glorified candy bars. I think you’d do just as well eating a Snickers bar. But, then you’d have to beware of sharks.
No one needs that…
5) Oatmeal, apple slices with peanut butter, and anything easily digestible works.
Pre-run snacks are personal choices based on your specific physical needs. Although, I would say it’s safe to suggest that you do not load up on fatty foods pre-run. Or milk products. Or enchiladas. Just too tough on your system.
Hope you guys got something useful from this week. Check back next week to see what’s up with Jay.
If you have any questions, leave a comment or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org