musings on running, life, and everything in between

Trying this cross training stuff and thoughts on going more minimal

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I had TWO, count ’em TWO cross training sessions this week! I even roped this guy into helping me on his “sick” day. He had a cough and ran a fever the day before but was totally normal the next day, but his previous day’s fever kept him out of school. Shackled, I mean, blessed with a child in the morning, we got down to business with my friend Jillian Michaels. Honestly, I find her banter a bit annoying after the first go-through of a workout, and I really dislike having to explain to my children why anyone wants to get rid of their “saddlebags” or why “bathing suit shopping is awful.” I could do without that, but I do find her workouts challenging and they’re generally short enough to keep me from hating it too much. I actually own a couple of her DVDs, and did her “No More Trouble Zones” workout that day. The kid used remote controls as his free weights. Ha.

Earlier today, I did a yoga workout on YouTube. I love that I have a semi-endless stream of yoga workouts on tap. I actually have a couple yoga apps on my iPad as well but I find their semi-robotic voices annoying after awhile. It takes some time and experimentation, but I really like Lesley Fightmaster’s “Fightmaster Yoga” channel on YouTube. Her voice and vocal mannerisms aren’t too annoying, she doesn’t pretend she is the next Buddha, and her workouts are relatively manageable in length. She gets that if I actually had more time, I would get to a yoga studio and not be streaming a YouTube video in my dining room while trying to tune out the My Little Pony show playing in the other room.

People joke in Chicago that we have two seasons–winter and summer. In other words, most of our year is spent complaining that either we are too hot or too cold. That means, we went from weather in the 40’s barely two weeks ago to 85 yesterday. I braced my pale wintery-yellow skin for exposure to the sun (although I think i DID get a tiny bit of sun from the rainy marathon), put on a tank top (BFF represent!), and ran in some delightful humidity and heat. And because our camera culture is teaching our children narcissism, my son demanded to be in the picture. [Note: Someone told me that readers like to see pictures of the bloggers, hence my photo documentation. I will continue to butcher selfies and feel like a dork for your gratification.]

While classes have ended, my semester is not quite over. I have a small avalanche of grading threatening to consume me. However, as my “reward” (runnerd anyone?), I have these exciting books to peruse when I am done. So I’m playing with this idea of my racing weight (and, I also realized that I have a high school reunion in July, ha) and eating/cooking/training (nutritionally) better before the next marathon, so I stocked up on my summer reading plans. I’m sure Mr. UnRunner is very happy that I have not spent any more money on my running plans and, instead, checked out the books through inter-library loan.  Just so you know that I am a real person and not some health-driven nut (and to consider what a monumental task this will be), I am including the items that were just left of the books on the kitchen counter, out of sight of the camera. Yup, giant bag of peanut M&M’s, new jar of Nutella, and some lovely honey whole wheat bread. There’s also a thing of Play-Doh next to the M&M’s, but I’m not planning on eating that (duh, supermodels eat cotton balls, not Play-Doh). I also demonstrated my excellent parenting skills at Target earlier when my children demanded their own bag of M&M’s (or to at least open the bag I was purchasing), and I refused, stating that this was my bag and not theirs, and that I was not planning on sharing with them nor was I planning on buying them any. Mother of the year here, people. Mother. Of. The. Year.

Finally, one last piece of runNerdism/advice. I recently came across this article in Runner’s World, “Got calf, Achilles, or foot pain? This may be why” and another article linked by a runner in the comments section, “The Real Cause of Plantar Fasciitis.” I won’t get into all my thoughts on it, but I did want to highlight one of the big surprises of the first article. Shoe companies are changing the drops on their shoes during updates on models. For those of you new to this, there is what’s called a “drop” from heel to toes. It refers to how much higher your heel sits from your toes on a plane (think of all the cushioning you see on shoes). The minimalist shoe/barefoot movement has pushed shoe companies to lower that drop to create a more “natural” dynamic to your stride and encourage midfoot strike (which supposedly decreases likelihood for injury, etc.). The traditional running shoe a few years ago had a 12 mm drop. More “minimalist” shoes go to 4 mm and some to zero.

I made the decision about 2-3 years ago to transition to more minimal shoes–this was the height of the minimalist/barefoot craze that grew out of the book Born to Run (great book, btw). I was warned that folks with lower arches/flatter feet generally needed more support than the minimal shoes were going to give me, but I thought if I transitioned slowly, it might help me. You see, before this, I had never run a marathon injury-free and I wanted to try something new. The Born to Run book enlightened me to the stat (that I have not checked) that runners today are not incurring any less injury from running than they did before the birth of the modern day running shoe. Rather, running shoes were causing us to walk/run unnaturally and rely on various supports/structures to shore up weak feet/leg muscles rather than work on strengthening them. I had JUST gotten a pair of custom-made orthotics before I read the book, and I hated them. I figured I would try going more minimal and see. Worst case scenario, I’d go back to orthotics. I knew that alot of folks got hurt going more minimal because they didn’t transition slowly enough, so over the span of several shoes (and about a year), I dropped from a 12 mm to 4 mm, and ran stronger than I have before.

My point is, that in the article, they say that some shoe companies are dropping as much as 5 mm from one model to the next without directly informing their customers (you can find this information easily if you look, but folks don’t think to look). That means, even when you buy what you think is the “same” shoe, if it’s been updated (just like cars, there are 2014 versions and 2015 versions–although they usually give them a number instead of a year, like the Saucony Kinvara 5, which I run in). So folks are buying shoes and unwittingly running in them right away without slowly transitioning into them and getting injured. Moral of the story? Always check and try on updates of shoes. [Side Note: I HATE updates. I’ve changed from many a favorite running shoe because of an update I didn’t like. Usually, the biggest culprit is tightening up the toe box/arch area of the shoe. I have wide feet, and I don’t want to buy wide sizes so there’s not much play in width.] There are a ton of resources for reading about shoe reviews where folks will give you a heads up about updates, etc. I love Runners World’s shoe database and RunBlogger, but you can also easily read reviews of shoes wherever you buy them from.

Have you found a shoe update you hate? Favorite fitness DVD personality?

Author: runNerdier

Marathoner. Academic. Mom of 2 ankle-biters.

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