Unsolicited Product Endorsements: Running Checklist

Yesterday morning, I reached my first running goal, which I set when I started running again last November. After not having run for almost 6 months, my goal was to run for 40 minutes. I did that this morning, running about 7.3 km in total.

While my distance/time may seem short/slow to some more advanced runners, it's huge for me. Mostly because I always hated running as a kid, loathed any gym activities that incorporated it, only started running seriously last year, and spent 6 months of that year nursing a crap knee. This is a real accomplishment for me, also because I normally give up on anything that requires consistent early-rising fairly quickly.

I rely on a number of things to get me through my runs, which I'm only now just beginning to really enjoy. These have become priceless and I highly recommend them.

1. The Running Room. For anyone who has never taken a Running Room clinic, the idea of running around the neighborhood with a bunch of strangers may not seem so appealing. I was a skeptic, but I signed up last March to get my ass out of the house and to see what I could do with a little motivation. The clinic cost me about $70 and lasted 10 weeks, and was more than worth it. Through their 10&1 system, I worked my way from 0 to 5 km in under 10 weeks. 10&1's are the Running Room's formula for running - run 10, walk 1. You start at run 1, walk 1 and work your way up to running 10 and walking 1 by the end of the clinic. The idea is that using 10&1's you can avoid injury and muscle pain, because it allows the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles during the running portion to drain during the walking minute, as well as allowing you to regain some energy through slower breathing. I don't know about the science, but I know that I am a faithful, pain-free subscriber (knee aside) and plan to always run this way. My instructor ran a marathon at the end of our clinic using 10&1's the entire time and her time was amazing. Anyways, the Running Room is a fantastic resource and worth checking out.

2. My Timex 50-Lap Ironman Triathlon Sleek watch. I love this thing. I picked mine up for under $50 and it is definitely a must-have if you are running 10&1's, or any intervals at all. Why? Because you can set it to time your intervals so that it counts them down for you and beeps loudly when the interval is over, saving you from having to constantly keep an eye on your watch, and automatically repeats them until you hit 'stop'. Even if you're listening to music and have to keep an eye on your time, it counts the sets as well, so you always know where you're at. Typical Timex...easy to set, easy to use.

3. Lady Hathaway Sports Bras. Secretly recommended to me by a Running Room employee, these awesome sports bras are sold at Costco in a package of 2 for $19.99 and are often on sale. For comparison, I tried on some of the more expensive brands at various other stores and couldn't believe how much more comfortable the Costco ones are. If you turn them inside out, they're seam-free, though the seams have never bothered me at all. Plus, they're cheap enough that you can buy enough to rotate through, saving you laundry time.

4. Mizuno Wave Rider 10's. I ran with Asics through my running clinic and into the early summer, until my knee started having issues and I looked at my shoes more closely. I realized that they are meant for people who have feet that turn outwards, which mine don't. I have the elusive neutral foot, which doesn't turn outwards or inwards, meaning that the shoes were probably causing damage. The Running Room offers foot assessments when you buy shoes there, so that you know which type of foot you have. It's imperative that you buy the right shoes. These ones have been amazing and I've put over 250 km on them. They're light, cool and really comfortable.

5. lululemon Racer Back Tank. Best. Tank. Ever. For running, that is.

6. A buddy. While not really necessary in many neighborhoods, it's always recommended that you don't run alone. And if you do, to make sure you change your route often so that in the off chance that some creep is keeping an eye on you, you can avoid putting yourself in a "situation". I always have Kurt with me, riding behind me on the bike.

7. My Running Logs. I mentioned these before and was surprised that so many people were interested in being geeky like me and logging runs (or other types of exercise...whatever). The ones I use are through the Running Room and are free. Go to their website and sign up to use their tools. They're awesome...and they use fun colors for the visually motivated, such as myself.

8. Glucosamine. Now, this one is brand-new to me, so I'm not totally sure yet if I should be reviewing it yet but...so far, so great. I bought a Glucosamine/Chondroitin/MSM complex to take each day (two gigantic horse pills that I can barely gag down) in the hopes that they would improve my knee. I self-diagnosed my knee as being a case of "runner's knee", which is a pretty common and not too serious problem involving my knee not tracking properly and grinding under the knee cap. Yes...gross. So, after some serious googling, I found myself a bottle and started taking them two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, I could not walk down stairs without serious pain...to the point that I would often go down stairs backwards. I know. Ridiculous. However, I would yell placebo effect if I hadn't been in so much pain before, and able to walk down stairs like a normal person now, with very little pain or none at all. It's been a long time since my knee has felt normal, even though I'm running more now than ever. So...I'm giving glucosamine the thumbs up. The glucosamine itself isn't supposed to kick in for at least 4 weeks, but the other two components are fast-acting, so I think they've taken the edge off for me. Thank you, chondroitin and MSM, for allowing me to descend stairs without looking like a fool. Having bought mine here, it was pricey. However, one of the best combination pills is available at Costco (as well as a liquid version) and is relatively cheap. Even if you don't have runner's knee, it's fantastic for joints (often prescribed for arthritis).

9. MEC's Turtle White LED lights. We bought these originally as headlights for our bikes, but as the sun started coming up later and later, it was obvious that I needed some kind of light on me during the early morning runs. So, I grabbed mine off my bike and looped it around my watch strap. They're tiny, cheap ($3.50) and apparently have enough juice for 150 hours of light. I run with mine on the flashing setting.


10. Goals/Rewards. I don't really work well without them, in any aspect of my life. Running is no different. I knew that I was starting from scratch in November, as if I'd never run before. Reaching a goal gives you a feeling of accomplishment, no matter how small your goal may seem to others. Now that I've reached my first, I'm going to wallow in self-glory for a few weeks and keep my runs the same and then start working towards 60 minute runs. That sounds like a long time...

And as far as my reward goes...that's tricky. I bought myself a necklace today for yesterday's accomplishment...nothing expensive, just something I saw and immediately loved and couldn't leave the store without. I do want an iPod Shuffle to clip on and run with, so maybe I'll work towards that going forward. 60 minute runs might be a tad boring without something to listen to.

The only worry I have right now is running out of space...literally. There is only so far I can go and really only one route I can take, and with only a limited amount of real estate to run on, I may have to get a little creative at the end of my route to be able to keep going...like, literally run in circles or something. If I turn the other direction out our front door, I have almost the entire country ahead of me, but the road is a lot less appealing with it's blind corners and worst driving ever (and I lived near Quebec...), so that's not really an option. Tricky.


Anonymous said...

Just saw a commercial for...I think it's called Joint Juice (no no not that kind) full of glucosamine. Check it.

P.S. Glucose of any kind, bad for me.



Heather said...

40 minutes and 7 + kms sounds like a really long distance to me!
Well done.

Ps. I still hate running.

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