Lunch Rush

Occasionally, I’m stuck running on my lunch hour out of necessity. I don’t like it, and it kind of feels like a huge waste of time because I can only grind out like 3 miles, and that’s only because I’m salaried and work in an environment that gives me a lot of autonomy.

My most recent run netted me 3.5 hot, sweaty miles around the Centennial Lakes Park trails, which are usually overrun with children, strollers, lunchtime walkers (sometimes that’s me!), and maintenance carts. It’s a busy place, with not a lot of room for running. I also ended up with a horribly sweaty back once I put my dress back on. I felt pretty disgusting. I’m an engineer, so I’m not client-facing, but it was fairly unpleasant to sit at my desk feeling my dress sticking to my back.

I’ve had some time to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. The biggest problem is something I can’t really change: there are locker rooms in two of the buildings in the office park, but neither are in my building. That means about 5 minutes of my break are taken up getting to the locker room (and 5 more are taken up walking back — although, more on that later).

I bring a bag with clothes, shoes, a hat, sunglasses, my running watch, and Body Glide. I should probably just get a stick for my office as well. Bringing a bag of clothes is nothing revolutionary, but that’s what I do. I try to pack it the night before but sometimes I’m lazy or forget, so I set a reminder on my phone. At work, I have some moisturizer, sunscreen, dry shampoo, deodorant, wipes, and petroleum jelly, so I don’t have to lug that around with me all the time. I don’t wear a lot of makeup on days when I run, so I don’t worry about reapplying.

The dry shampoo seems to work. It’s an aerosol spray, so I don’t have to worry about prematurely graying if it doesn’t blend enough. My colleague told me it actually works better if applied before a workout. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do it before and after now as a result of that advice. I can’t tell if my head is less sweaty or not.

What doesn’t work? The wipes. I mean, they do, in a limited way, but they don’t work for dealing with sweat. I don’t have time to, like, chill in the locker room naked while air drying, so I ordered a quick dry towel and I guess I’ll just take the world’s quickest shower, towel off, and hope the thing actually does dry quickly.  I haven’t tried it out yet.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do about food. I don’t pack a lunch, so you might say that might be a good place to start, and I agree. I usually eat cereal at my desk for breakfast, and then by the time I’m running, I’m hungry and even a few more bites of cereal isn’t enough for me to avoid feeling like garbage post-run. I’m thinking the solution is to 1. bring a lunch (or otherwise procure my lunch in advance) and 2. eat part of my lunch before running, and part of it after. I have been meaning to bring lunches for… my entire working life, basically, without much success, so don’t hold your breath on this.

I don’t have an office, but I do have a semi-fancy cubicle that has a dinky “coat closet” built in. I hang up my sweaty clothes in there (including my underwear, because I have discovered bringing a change of underwear is A VERY GOOD IDEA), which is probably something that my coworkers find abhorrent, but I am also an unabashed office nail clipper and have even clipped my toenails at work, so my threshold of shame is very high. This works okay but I think I need to bring in some kind of fabric refresher to mitigate the stink.

Beyond what I’ve already laid out, I think the only think that would make my lunch running more appealing and more useful would be for me to get significantly faster so that I could actually get in a substantial workout at lunch. Sigh.

Metal Health

I am pretty fortunate that running comes fairly easily to me, physically speaking. I don’t have any physical impairments that hinder my ability to run, nor do I have any recurring injuries (knock wood). I’m slow, yes, and my mental game is kind of weak, but these are relatively mild issues.

I have some minor aches and pains from time to time, usually in my hips, and of course at FANS I had that weird foot issue that I self-diagnosed as peroneal tendonitis. But the one persistent issue I have that never seems to go away is extremely tight calf muscles. Absurdly tight. Like at massages sometimes I have been concerned about having a charlie horse. And I often do get charlie horses in my calves (specifically the gastrocnemius, according to Dr. Google) from simply stretching. They feel as taut as the E string on a violin, like I could play pizzicato on them they’re also one quarter turn of a fine tuner away from rupturing. I do feel like it hinders my running sometimes when they’re extra tight, and like I’m putting myself at risk for injury.

A year or so ago, a massage therapist recommended that I use magnesium oil applied directly to my legs. I had never heard of that before and was intrigued, but then never followed up, because I am lazy about things. I guess I could also take epsom salt baths to get the same effect, and while epsom salts would have required even less effort to acquire, I am not a giant fan of baths and also the faucet valve in my bathroom is broken so I can’t take a bath. (I have another shower, and while it is sort of scary and has spiders on occasion, it works and I am not walking around filthy.) Apparently there are magnesium supplements as well, but they can have a laxative effect and I am not interested in having blowouts on runs.

I finally went out today and bought some magnesium oil to give this a try. I sprayed it on my calves after a treadmill tempo workout, and now I’m going to see if it works some magic. I’m very hopeful! It certainly beats buying a foam roller, which I understand is actually a medieval torture device!

Spring/Summer Gear Wish List

I require some stuff and I have a lot of gift cards.

  1. Smaller volume hydration pack
    For races like Superior 25K, I find that my usual pack is too big, but I also want my hands free. So I’m looking for a lighter weight pack with a couple of bottles or soft flasks (maybe? I don’t know, filling them is a pain) so that I can cut down on the amount of stuff I’m carrying around.
  2. Squirrel’s Nut Butter anti-chafe
    I need something that works better than Body Glide but isn’t as messy as Vaniply. Scotty from Ten Junk Miles uses this stuff and touts it all the time, so let’s see if it’s really as good as he says. If FANS is as hot as last year, I need something that will keep the chafing at bay.
  3. Waist flashlight
    This year, I plan on running at night at FANS, because I plan on not sucking as much. I have heard the combination of a waist light and a headlamp is better than a headlamp alone. It’ll also be a good backup if I can’t stand having the headlamp on anymore.
  4. Trail shoes with a rock plate but no lugs
    Last year at FANS, I wore my road shoes because I figured it would be mostly pavement. It turned out to have a significant gravel portion. The bottoms of my feet hurt like crazy and I switched to my trail shoes to protect them a bit more. My feet felt way better with the trail shoes on, but the shoes have giant lugs on them that kept kicking the gravel. Why yes, I should pick my feet up more, but whatever. I need a rock plate but no lugs, or at least smaller ones than my Speedcross shoes have.
  5. New sports bras
    Maybe 1 or 2. My old ones are wearing out and I need to find an option that doesn’t cause massive painful chafing on my back.

Woof, that’s going to be a bit spendy. Good thing I have a lot of gift cards, like I said!

Treadmill Triage

I have to replace my treadmill.

Well, I don’t have to replace it. It no longer functions properly so I’m faced with many choices.

  1. Buy a new one.
    This seems wasteful, but I have had my current one for many years. I hope to get a slight amount of money in trade, and I also have gift cards saved up that I can use to defray the cost.
  2. Repair the current one.
    I thought this was going to be my option until I discovered that it would be 2/3 of the cost of a new one.
  3. Get rid of it and get a gym membership instead.
    I looked at this option briefly, but it really doesn’t work for me. I like the privacy of working out at home, as well as the convenience. It’s one fewer barrier to getting up and going. My spouse also works out at odd times, so it’s less likely he’d use it if he had to go to a gym. Also, one year’s YMCA membership for the two of us = the cost of one treadmill.
  4. Get rid of it.
    It’s not money I’d like to spend, so maybe I could just dump it? It takes up a lot of space and is really difficult to move. However, I can’t accomplish my running goals without it. Not with the winter weather we get up here.
  5. Leave it to collect dust in my basement.
    This is what I’d like to do, because I don’t like spending money, scheduling delivery times, or basically doing things that require effort. Any of the previous 4 options will require me to spend money and time I don’t want to, as well as deal with donating my broken-down Grand Am that’s been sitting in my garage since April. (The tuck-under garage is the easiest way to get a treadmill in/out of the house.) Actually I’d like to keep using it indefinitely in my basement in its broken state (it still works if I give it a manual push start), but that will eventually burn the house down, based on the smell of the motor if I run it too long. (I am aware this is wildly unsafe.)

So I’m buying a new one. I’m fortunate that I can, even though I probably should not. I wish I did not need a treadmill, but at the same time, I am very proud that I have gotten a lot of use out of it. I didn’t buy it on an impulse and then never use it again. It may have gone through several periods of disuse, but those periods of disuse didn’t cost me money, like a gym membership would have. I got in a couple hundred workouts I never would have if I didn’t have the treadmill. My spouse started working out and ran his first 5K, which he wouldn’t have done without the privacy and flexibility of an in-home treadmill. I’ve concluded it was worth it, and worth replacing.

(More justification on owning a treadmill here!)

Destination Long Runs

This is the first weekend in awhile that I won’t be taking a long drive for a long run. I’m happy about that, both because I am tired of devoting my entire day to a run, and because I don’t like the environmental impact of driving so much to runs. (Also I have a lease on my car right now, and while I’m 99.99% certain I’m going to buy it when the lease ends, I’m way over my mileage so if I did need to turn it in, I’d owe a bunch of money if this trend continues!)

I’ve learned some very basic, obvious lessons about how to make these runs work for me.

  1. Keep a bag packed with the basics.
    image1 (4)

    Snacks, water, empty bottle (they don’t sell my favorite Powerade flavor in the smaller bottles, so I just refill this one), bug spray, sunscreen, various lubes, clothes, and my GPS watch/HRM, all in one bag and ready to go. It’s a great use for one of the million gift with purchase bags I have.

    I have a bag packed with pre-run and post-run gear all the time. My hydration pack has more supplies in it (TP, mints, gels, etc.), but the bag of basics I can grab for a long drive or a short one and be ready to go right away. Just like a gym bag. Before, I was keeping some stuff in my car, other stuff in my house, and then trying to remember everything each time. Now my car’s a bit less cluttered and I am not running around confused or forgetting important things when I head out.

  2. Fuel up on the drive.
    So obvious. Eat and drink while driving, rather than eating and drinking before departing. I wouldn’t have to say this if I hadn’t made this mistake before, and ended up hungry/bonking on the run. I drink a vanilla Coke and eat an energy bar on the way up north now.
  3. Keep cold drinks and a snack in the car for afterward.
    I freeze a bottle of water completely solid, and even on warm days when I’m gone for hours, there’s still at least a bit of ice left, and it’s refreshing. Packing a cooler could be a good idea, too, but that’s more work than I’d like. Ideally I’d like a snack afterward that’s different from running food (gels and energy bars), but I’m settling for another energy bar right now. A sandwich would be delicious.
  4. Bring a change of clothes.
    One uncomfortable ride home from Schroeder, MN convinced me of that. I couldn’t even clean my glasses. Now I bring a t-shirt and flip-flops. Bringing a towel to sit on is another option, for people who want to protect their car but don’t care about changing clothes.
  5. Time of run > time of drive
    Sorry, fast people, this puts you at a disadvantage. However, a 3 hour round trip for a 2 hour run is environmentally irresponsible and hardly seems worth the effort, besides.

These are all very simple changes, hardly ground-breaking epiphanies, yet they’ve made long run travels a lot easier.

Summer Gear Wish List 2

It’s not warm yet, but it’s gettin’ there. I’m starting to plan out what new gear I need. Here’s last year’s summer gear wish list, and here’s my evaluation of it at the end of the season.

High Priority:
Bug repellent
New sports bra
Super lightweight jacket

I realize bug repellent is very easy to come by. What I need is a bug repellent that works, but isn’t something I have to worry about getting in my mouth or eyes if I’m sweating or I wipe my face. It doesn’t have to work perfectly, as I ran last year without any insect repellent at all, but it was also kind of like torture at times, swatting at my calves  every 5 seconds to fend off the hordes.

I still haven’t found a good sports bra since Under Armour stopped making the style I loved. I bought one from UA a year or so ago that has adjustable straps that threaten to fall down because they don’t stay adjusted where I want them, and soft cup inserts (not really padding) that migrate whenever I wash it. I also have one from Moving Comfort which is okay, but the eye hooks in the back gave out rather quickly.

I want a jacket that will protect me from rain when I need it, but won’t cause me to overheat and won’t be a nuisance around my waist while running.

Medium Priority:
Hydration belt or lightweight vest
Racing briefs
Body Glide alternative
Trail shoes

I have found that running with 2 handhelds can be a bit clumsy at times, so I’d like to be able to put them away. However, will 2 water bottles bouncing on my waist or chest be too annoying? I could go back to my hydration pack, but I also don’t usually need a backpack full of water, and it doesn’t have any front-accessible pouches.

I’m not insane, I don’t want the racing briefs for actual races. I actually want them for the treadmill. I don’t plan on doing too many treadmill runs this summer, but there’s always a chance that a hard rain’s a-gonna fall and I’ll be forced inside. I’m also getting hot on the treadmill right now, so I’d wear them sort of year-round.

Body Glide is ok for warm weather, but I’ve found in cooler temps it doesn’t work as well. Its coefficient of friction increases with cooler temps, and loses some of the “glide.” I’d like to find something with a better texture, as well.

I just got new shoes, but I would still like to try something trail-specific. My current Wave Prophecy pair has been going strong for 600 miles, but the shoes are starting to get a few holes (and they smell a bit). I will look to get the trail shoes some time after the Superior 25K.

Low Priority:
Prescription sunglasses

I could use a pair or two of shorts so that I’m not cycling through the same 2 pairs, especially in the summer heat. I re-wear them probably more times than I “should,” so a few more pairs in the rotation wouldn’t hurt.

I need to go to the eye doctor, since I haven’t gotten new glasses in almost 3 years, and my current glasses are in rough shape (the lens coating started coming off in spots a few months after I got them, but since I got them at Macy’s and then moved away a month later to the land of no Macy’s, I couldn’t take them in to complain), but I hate making appointments. That is dumb and immature so I need to get myself together and do it, and since I’ll have a current prescription in hand, I should take advantage of the convenience to get a pair of sunnies for driving and for running. I may not use them on trails that are in the woods, since the visibility might be lower than I’m comfortable with.

I can’t think of anything else that I would like to try, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be impulse buying this season. I’ll try to add anything that’s not on this list, but that I chose to purchase, to the end of season wrap-up.

Bit by Bit

I kind of caved to the fitness tracker craze. I didn’t buy one, but I was able to obtain one through my work’s health and wellness program, which provides financial rewards that can either be redeemed for money or stuff. I probably should have taken the money, but I seized the opportunity to get another GPS-capable fitness tracking device.

Behold, the FitBit Surge.
I don’t foresee a career in hand modeling unless I give up cats.

There were two options for the band size, small and large. I ordered a small and I either have chubby wrists or the company severely misunderstands the size of people’s wrists. I can only fasten it on, like, the third from last notch, and that’s only if it’s fairly close to my wristbone. It’s recommended to wear it a finger’s width from the wrist bone, or even farther away during exercise. It seems unreasonably small, if that is the case. Or again, perhaps I have fat wrists, I don’t know.

I wear it on alternate wrists. Generally I wear it on my right hand, and when it starts to irritate the skin a little, I switch over to the left for a few days. That’s sort of irrelevant but I did notice I was getting a ton of “steps” accomplished in the morning before I realized I was getting credit for brushing my teeth and my hair.

I find the overall concept of the fitness tracker sort of patronizing. The interface on the website/app is sort of juvenile. Get badges for getting steps! Compete against your friends! Here’s how many staircases you “climbed!” Get up and walk 250 needless steps an hour, just so you can meet this or that goal!

I do find it useful for a few things. First, as a watch. It’s sleek enough to wear daily, although it usually gets covered up by my long sleeves. I haven’t worn a watch in awhile, but I like it more than digging my phone out of my pocket to check the time.

I also use to to monitor my heart rate, both for fun and for informational purposes. I have gotten a better idea of my resting heart rate, and I can use that to see how my training is going, as well as to predict when I might need to rest/back off training. I also like to see what kind of an effect certain things have on my heart rate. Yesterday I had to present in a big meeting, and before hand my heart rate was around 90 bpm sitting down. Yikes!

Even though I mock the steps counter a bit, I have noticed that when I’m not working out, I’m pretty sedentary. My job doesn’t require a lot of walking, and even adding in some unnecessary walking to add in steps doesn’t make much of a difference. My house is small, and laid out so that the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom are all close by. I don’t have any interest in pacing my house just to get in “exercise.” I also like to sit on my butt and watch TV, and I don’t see that changing. I guess it’s a good thing I run, then.

I don’t use the GPS tracker at the moment when running, because I wear my other watch, but I would use it on longer runs where I might run out of battery on my primary watch. I don’t know when I’ll be running those races, but someday. I should give it a shot on a run sometime, just to see what kind of variance I get between it and my Suunto.

Overall this is a mostly-unnecessary piece of technology that has given me a bit more insight into my fitness, but I wouldn’t have paid for it. Also, I have fat wrists according to FitBit.