It’s been a while since I did a running post, and I would love to find out how everyone is doing. I know a few of you are taking it pretty seriously, and a few are still thinking about it. I’ve been so impressed with the progress you’ve made, especially since you’ve started from the very beginning. Some of you had never run at all until a few months ago. I hope you’re beginning to understand the running addiction. I don’t know how many addictions could be called healthy, but running for sure is.

I’ve been gearing up to do a few races this year. I signed up to run a 10K in Massachusetts, with Elizasmom and her mom, and probably some other bloggers I’ve never met. That will be in the end of March. I get to visit my brother nungnung as well, and it will be my first time in New England. I’m hoping to run it in less than 50 minutes, but we’ll see.

I’m going to run the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. It’s the biggest half marathon in the country, with 35,000 entrants. My cousin Liz and my aunt Barbara will be doing that one with me. I hope I can finish that in less than 2 hours. I finished my first half marathon in 1:47, but the first three miles were pretty steep downhill, so I’m sure I ran faster than I would on a flat course.

I’m also going to enter the Air Force marathon in September. I think my goal for that will be less than 4 hours, but again, we’ll see. I have no idea what it will be like to run 26.2 miles, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy if I cross the finish line.

I’m basing my goals on my recent running times, and on the times from races I ran before I was pregnant with Kiki, in 2005. The other day, I ran 3 miles in 26 minutes, which is better than my last 5K, even though I wasn’t racing. It probably made a difference that I was on a track, but it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be. Today, I ran 7 1/2 miles in blustery 35 mile an hour winds, and I finished in 1 hour and 13 minutes. I ran some hills, but the wind was really what made it hard. I thought I would get frostbite on my nose, since the wind-chill factor put it at about -5 degrees. I kept putting my mittens over my face until my nose and cheeks thawed. It was exciting. When I got home, I thought I would not be able to move the rest of the day, but now I feel fine.

So how’s your running? I’d love to hear any progress you’ve made, any races you’ve entered, any gear you’ve purchased, anything that makes you motivated, anything that you hate, anything. I’ve discovered that talking about running motivates me, whether the person I’m talking to loves running or hates it. I love running.

You got some great new shoes, you made a goal and wrote it down, now it’s time to go running. You should be so excited! You will go running, and it will suck. You will hate every second of it, even if it’s only 30 seconds. You will feel like you’re wearing a lead sumo suit, and your feet will be so mad at you. Hopefully, your lungs will wake up and cry a little. You will question your sanity.

Then, you will stop, catch your breath, and yell into the sky. Yay! You ran for 30 seconds! Or 2 minutes! Yay, yay, yay! You will love yourself a little more for accomplishing a goal. You will be proud that you kept going for the full 30 seconds. You will suddenly feel elated and powerful. Then you will giggle a little that you’re so excited about running for half a minute. Then you will realize that your half a minute is in the past, and another half a minute of running is in your future. You are a runner.

You will want to try again. If you really think you can, go ahead, but don’t don’t don’t go crazy on the first day. Even if you are fit enough to walk 4 miles, running is something different. I believe that if you have a bad reaction in the hours or days following your first run, you won’t ever want to do it again. You might end up thinking that it would be bad for your knees because your knees were overused that first time. Or you might end up with really sore hamstrings, which is actually way more likely than sore knees. You need to be careful, and you need to respect your body, or it won’t want to do what you tell it to. But if you really start small and progress gradually, your body will be so happy.

Step #3: Go Run

Get your comfy running clothes on, and make sure you’re warm enough. (Karee, you know I’m not talking to you. In fact, I’m questioning our decision not to move to Arizona.) Make sure you have gloves and a hat, or at least something over your ears. When I was in my early 20’s, I ran with a folded up bandanna over my ears, like a sweat band. Kinda ghetto, but it worked. Lace up your shoes, go outside, and start walking. You should walk and get the blood flowing for 5-10 minutes as a warm up before you start your run. When you’re ready, get your stop watch, or pick a landmark to run to.

Please don’t try to do a full-out run. That’s for people in races. And mostly only the people who intend to win. I advocate a low shuffle at the beginning, where the main focus is forward motion, not speed. You might not get going any faster than your brisk walk, but that’s OK. It’s all about the motion, the adjustments your body needs to make, and the mental transition. Forget anything you’ve ever heard about how to run. Just let your body do what you did when you were 5. Run for your goal duration.

Slow down and walk some more, and be so happy that you ran! Think about how much you will love running, even though it was hard at first. When you’re done, do some mild stretching. Focus on your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Stretching helps your muscles recover, so don’t skip it.

Write in your running log that you accomplished your goal. Do some stealth bragging during the day. “The sun was coming up right in the middle of my run this morning. It was glorious!” ” I stubbed my toe while I was running today.” “I’m sorry I missed your call, I must have been running.” “I’d love to meet you for lunch. I go running at 11:30, so I’ll bet there at 12:15.” Also, notice how much more cheerful you are after your run.

Next, Step #4: Mix it up
Running Bonus Tip

All right, you’ve all gone out and outfitted yourselves to run comfortably, right? You’ve got the shoes? If you haven’t, just bite the ugly-shoe bullet, and go do it! Then you can move on to the next step.

Step #2: Make a goal and write it down

You need to have a concrete goal, so that you can see and measure your progress, and thus feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. Your goal should be a running goal, not a weight-loss or dieting goal, or a physical appearance goal, or an anger-management goal, or a goal to begin recycling. It should be one that is within your abilities, but hard enough to make you work for it. And you must WRITE IT DOWN! The writing down seems dumb, but in 3 months, when you see how far you’ve come, and you can look back and tally up all the miles you’ve run, you will be so glad you kept track of your goals and accomplishments. It will be worth it. You will also have a handy record that can help you determine when it’s time to buy a new pair of shoes, since the average pair of running shoes lasts about 400-500 miles.

So here we go, beginning runners. If you can walk for 30 minutes at a brisk pace without falling over dead, you should be able to run for 2 minutes. Does that sound so stupid and tiny? It’s not. Running is hard at first, and you need to teach your body how to do it. If 2 minutes sounds intimidating, start with one, or even 30 seconds. You need to start with small distances, so your muscles can learn how it’s done, so your heart and lungs can learn how to cope, and so your mind can learn how to think while you’re running. If you do too much at the beginning, your whole system will overload, and you will never want to do it again. And you will have wasted $100 on those ugly shoes.

I guess we should also discuss what constitutes running. If you are moving forward, and at least one of your feet is always in contact with the ground, you are walking. If you are moving forward, and there are alternating moments when you have one foot on the ground, and then you’re airborne, you are running. It mattereth not how fast you are moving forward. Shuffling is fine, at least for the first few months. Your goal should not be to run fast, but to move forward and get your heart pumping more than it typically does while walking.

Your goal that you write down this week will be a weekly goal. Decide how many days this week you will run, and the duration of each run. You may wish to alternate days of running with days of some other activity, so your muscles can rest and repair themselves. You can tally your goal durations, so you have a total target duration to strive for. For example, my goal for this week is to run for 14 minutes for 6 days, and 28 minutes on the seventh day. I don’t have a rest day planned because I’m trying a new regimen of daily running that I don’t think I can explain and still sound rational. So my goal for the week is 112 total minutes of running. I currently run at a pace of about 11 minutes per mile, so I will have gone about 10 miles this week.

If you skip a day, or do something else, just cross out your running goal for the day and write in what you actually did. I usually keep a tab of running minutes/miles and walking minutes/miles. You can shuffle your days if you go off track, or you can just stay on schedule and not worry about the lost day. The most important thing in getting going is to not skip more than 2 days, and ideally, not more than one. That means that you should be running at least 4 times a week, if you really want to become a runner and enjoy your running.

If you run for your 2 minutes and find that you feel good enough to run 2 more, first walk for a few minutes, then run another 2. After my 2nd and 3rd babies were born, I got back into running very slowly, with 2 minute runs for the first week or so. During the second week, I would run for 2 minutes twice per workout, then the next week, 3 times. This approach may not work for you. You may find it easier to just increase the one run by a minute or two each week. Each time you increase, you will probably feel like it’s pretty hard, but by the time you get to 10 minutes, you will remember thinking how 2 minutes was hard, and you will feel so good about yourself. Then, when you can run for 2 hours, you will laugh at the thought of running for only 2 minutes.

Next, go see:
Step #3: Go Run
Step #4: Mix it up
Running Bonus Tip

By popular demand (OK, only one person has requested), I am going to do a series of posts that can help people start out running for recreation or exercise. I don’t want to overwhelm, because that inevitably leads to quitting. I also want to add this caveat: the only reason I think I’m qualified to issue this advice is because I’ve done it many times. That is, I’ve started running form the beginning. It’s easier every time, because I’m not learning new movements and I’ve got the muscle memory, but the fitness level part is lost if you stop for a long time, such as the requisite 9-18 months during and post-pregnancy.

So you can take my advice with a grain of salt. I love running. I believe that anyone can get to the point where they love it, but that point might not come for months. I encourage you to try it, and get to where you can run 3 miles in one go before you decide whether or not you love it. The first part always sucks, so don’t give up.

Step #1: Get the right clothes.

You will not go running ever again if the first time is so uncomfortable that you’re left with welts anywhere because of chafing, or if your feet hurt (or your knees or hips) from the wrong shoes, or if you feel like you can’t get used to the jostling. Here’s an email I once sent to someone who asked about what to wear while running:

I just think the biggest problem with running is that there are too many things that can be uncomfortable. If you can eliminate as many of those as possible, you’re more likely to continue, and to love it. So you NEED good shoes that fit right. If you are just starting, go to a running shoe store and get fitted. You should have running shoes that are about a full size larger than your dress shoe size. Also, shoes are so specialized that if you get your gait evaluated, you can get the right shoe for how your foot hits the ground, how heavy you are, etc. And you need comfortable clothes. Thrift stores have lots and lots of workout stuff, if you have the time to check them. I get my clothes from REI, Sierra Trading Post, and Road Runner Sports. They all have similar stuff, so I shop for sales.

Get some spandex. For me, there is nothing else to run in. Only the pants, though. I’m not so much into the leotard look. But tights or biking-type shorts (without the butt-padding) are the way to go. For these reasons:

1. They never ride up. I always feel sorry for those people who run in regular shorts, but they’re riding up the middle, so they have to do that side-stepping yank to get the shorts out.

2. If you get black ones, you can’t see if you’re sweaty. Another thing I don’t really like is seeing people who run that are all sweaty down the middle. On the shirt, that’s fine, but not on the lower half. It makes them look incontinent.

3. They’re oh-so-comfortable. Nothing flapping around, nothing pinching. I’m a little knock-kneed, so my knees bonk together. But with tights, they just slide past each other. It’s easier to stretch after a run, too.

4. In the winter, it’s really easy to layer if you have tights on the bottom. Just get some thicker tights one size bigger to put over them when it’s really cold.

5. They dry faster than cotton. So you don’t get the chills as bad after a cold run.

6. You get to show off your sexy legs, if you have them, and if you don’t, you get to proclaim that you don’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks about your legs.

7. No chafing. Cotton is the worst in this area, but with spandex, all your chafing woes are eliminated.

I also don’t wear cotton shirts for running because of the chafing and the wetness. I get the polyester and polypropylene running shirts. They have special seams so there are no raw edges against your skin, and they dry really fast. Some are mesh, so they help keep you cool in hot weather, while still covering the important stuff.

I think I got all the reasons. I have been wearing tights to run in since my freshman year in high school, when my mom made me a pair out of neon yellow fabric with neon green polka-dots. She sewed a hot-orange lightning bolt down the side of both calves. Those were awesome. I recommend you try them. I can’t even bear the thought of running in anything else.

And from another email regarding the jostling issue,

My trick for running, since sports bras do absolutely NOTHING for me, is to get a good quality underwire sports bra, like lunaire, in 34DDD or 36DD (a tiny bit too small helps), or even a regular but old underwire bra that’s comfortable, AND wear a speedo racing swimsuit over it.

It sounds ridiculous, but it works, and I don’t get my shoulders rubbed raw from the sawing, or any other bad chafing either. Although, when I go on long runs or more than 40 minutes, I also use an anti-chafing silicon roll-on in the high-friction areas. But the combination of sports bra and swimsuit really does minimize the bounce.

So is that enough to make you want to give up already? I suppose it’s OK to go running for the first few times in your regular walking clothes, but please just trust me, and get the right shoes first thing. Ask the salesperson lots of questions. Tell them where you plan to run, sidewalks, roads, trails, etc., and how long you will run at a time. If you’re just starting out, you will run about 2 minutes at a time, about 4 times a week. You will build up from there. And let me remind you, there is absolutely nothing shameful about running for 2 minutes, or even 30 seconds. At first, your bones and muscles will need to get used to it, and if you go out too hard at the beginning, pain and frustration will ensue.

For more on running:
Step #2: Make a goal and write it down
Step #3: Go Run
Step #4: Mix it up
Running Bonus Tip

Boo-hoo. Boo-hooo-hoooo. Whine, whine whine. Consider yourself warned.

I feel like if I could just lose 5-10 pounds, I would be able to run farther and enjoy it more. If I could just stop bull-dozing every scrap of edible matter in my path, I could lose those crappy pounds. I have no strategy. I keep thinking it would be so easy to simply eat less. And then I get so overwhelmed with loneliness, sadness, boredom, avoidance of responsibility, inertia… that I can’t face the idea of not seeking out any and every simple and complex carbohydrate within a 5 mile radius.

Also, since I started running again last December, after the requisite 6-week recovery period (which for me is actually at least 8 weeks) after childbirth, I haven’t found my groove. I remember running for a couple of hours at a time and loving the freedom, the strength, the meditation, all that goes with distance running. I miss that liberated feeling. I remember the need to brag to everyone I met about my 12 mile run that morning. I remember pushing myself, but having it not be that hard.

Now, I feel like I’m made of cement. My feet don’t want to come off the ground, my legs don’t want to move. My ankles ache on the days I don’t run. My belly pokes out more than it did when I was 4 months pregnant. My stamina is gone, and the motivation to get out and run 4 times a week is severely lacking. I wake up with a headache every single morning. But I do it, and I’m happy if I get in one mile.

When I was closing in on the finish line during my first 1/2 marathon, I came up behind a woman who had stopped to walk. She seemed like she had given it everything she had, and had come up short. I was creeping along at 10 minutes per mile, so as I passed, I encouraged her, “It’s only one mile to go! That’s your very shortest run! 15 minutes at your slowest.” She girded her loins and started shuffling along with me. After a couple of minutes, she said thanks, and took off. I think she beat my by 3 or 4 minutes.

And now, I can barely push myself those 15 minutes. I did make it a whole 30 minutes on Saturday, with a short walk after the first 15, but by the end, I felt hammered. I really, really want to love it again. I want to be able to do 2 hour runs on the weekend. I want to do a 1/2 marathon in the spring.

Can anyone help me?

Update: I just signed up for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May. Anyone wanna join me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? 

Derek’s mom and I just formed a team to run/walk the Komen Race for the Cure in Salt Lake City, on May 12th. We would love it if you joined us! So far, we have me and Derek, Derek’s mom Toni, his sister Britanna, his younger brother and sister who are too young for me to reveal their names on the internets, and his sister-in-law Linda.

Some of us will run, some will walk. It’s a no pressure “race,” and it’s for cancer research. Join Team Hope is Power!

The most important part of changing your life permanently is to do it gradually.

So today is Start Small day. You don’t have to wait until Monday to begin a new habit. Start today, with something small that you would like to change. read more…

For the bread recipe, just be patient. Or scroll down, if you just cannot wait. First, I have to complain a little. A friend around the corner, who had a baby just 3 weeks before I did, is signed up and training for a half-marathon in April. That’s two months away. She ran 4 miles last Saturday, and I ran about 1 1/2. I am trying so hard to take it slow, even when I feel like I can keep going. This morning, I’m sure I could have kept going after my allotted 9 minutes, but I know recovery takes time. All the same, I’m so dang jealous that she’s doing a 1/2 marathon.

I think I will try for the Provo River half marathon in the middle of August, but I’m not even sure I’ll still be in Utah. We’re moving, and I think the target date is August 14th. (And we’re going to a place with no mountains. I’m not positive I will survive.) The only problem with the Provo River is those first three miles down South Fork Canyon. They’re so steep that last time I did it, my knees were trashed. I don’t usually get hurt running downhill at a normal pace, but racing…

So, although I’m jealous, I just don’t think it would be wise for me to try to get up to 13 miles by April. Maybe a 5k in April or May, and a 10k in June or July. Someday I’ll be like my crazy dad and do 50 milers all summer.

OK, here’s the bread. I love the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for whole wheat bread. It takes 2 days, with a poolish overnight, and a soaking of some coarse ground flour. I tell ya, that is good bread. The overnight ferment makes it taste like real bread, it doesn’t dry out very fast, it has a great chewy texture, and it’s the best 100% whole wheat bread I’ve ever had. So if you want that recipe, it’s copywrited. Go buy the book. It will be worth it, plus you’ll learn all sorts of crazy chemistry that maybe you didn’t want to know.

I make another bread often that is also pretty darn good. It’s not in a cookbook, so I’m pretty sure I can share it without worrying about the bread-recipe-hit-men. I like my knees, and, as explained above, I need them in good condition.

Mine is not 100% whole grain, so it’s a little softer, but not squishy like white sandwich bread. (Does anyone else call them sammiches? I just got Vegan with a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and she has recipes for sammiches. I think that’s cute.) But I do like the texture and flavor of added wheat bran. Also, it has those little speckles. Here it is:

Speckled Brown Bread

3 cups warm water
1 1/4 t instant yeast, or 1 T active dry yeast, or 1 packet yeast
1 1/2 cups wheat bran
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten, optional

Mix this all together (if using instant yeast, just mix, if active dry, moisten yeast in water before adding flour and bran). Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for an hour or so, till pretty bubbly. You can put in the fridge for later, or continue now. If you refrigerate it, be sure to take it out about an hour before you plan to continue, so it won’t be cold.

3 T canola oil
3 T honey, or sugar if you’re vegan
1 T salt

mix well.

Add about 2 cups all-purpose flour, or bread flour if you didn’t add gluten, and mix. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Listen to some good music, and get the kids into the kitchen to dance with you. Give them a little piece of dough to knead, and I bet they’ll be occupied for half an hour, if they don’t eat it raw. If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, use the dang mixer. I think it should only take about 6 minutes in a Kitchen-Aid type thing.

Put the dough in a big, greased bowl, cover with the same piece of plastic wrap you already used (come on, try to save the planet with me) and let rise for about 2 hours, until it doubles in size.

When it’s done rising, punch it down. I like to weigh the lump and divide it exactly in two. Today, my two loaves were 835 g and 836 g, using this recipe. Knead the dough for just a minute, to get the big bubbles out, and shape into loaves. Put into greased loaf pans, cover with that same piece of plastic wrap (don’t worry, I’ll let you throw it away after this), and let rise about an hour, till the sides are peeking above the tops of the pans.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the loaves in for 30 minutes, rotate them, and bake about 15 minutes more, until they’re golden brown, sound hollow when tapped, and register 185 degrees in the middle. Just kidding, I never get out the thermometer either.

Don’t, but Do Not cut the bread until it is cool. That means at least an hour of heavenly I-made-my-own-bread aromas wafting through your house and driving your upstairs neighbors crazy before you get out that knife. If you cut it while it’s still warm, you mash up the still-denaturing proteins and get a gooey middle. Or a hole. You don’t want a sandwich bread with a hole in the middle. If you ever do get the hole, for any reason not necessarily relating to the cutting of your bread, email me and I will tell you why it happened. I’ve gotten holy bread enough times to be able to diagnose a host of problems in the bread triage.

Now, you can give one loaf to your neighbor and have a friend for life, or you can save it for toast tomorrow, because your family will eat one entire loaf for dinner tonight. Or, after it’s completely cool, you can freeze it. I don’t bother freezing anymore, since my boys always want toast for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

I just started a seed culture for some sour rye, so check back in a couple of weeks and I’ll tell you how it went.

I don’t feel awake in the morning until I have been running. It’s an addiction, and one that I enjoy. I’m ruminating over the idea of committing to a half marathon this summer. There are two very popular ones in my area in August, and I have done them both before, two weeks apart. Since coming back to running after a full year, I have been remembering how hard it is to start, but the enjoyment far outweighs the pain. And since I know the pain will go away, but the enjoyment won’t, things are looking good. Maybe I could start with some 5ks in April and May, then move on to 10ks in June and July. That seems doable. This is a stupid post, but who cares? I can’t stop thinking about running.

I think I would choose the Hobble-Creek 1/2 marathon over the Provo River. Hobble Creek is much milder in the downhills, and is not at popular. Provo River has thousands of people, and those first 3 miles down South Fork Canyon are so stinking steep. I sort of killed my knee on it 2 years ago, which is why my Hobble Creek time was 20 minutes slower than my Provo River time. Well, I guess it was pretty stupid of me to run them so close together, but I still liked them both.

I almost salivate at the thought of those runs. This morning I ran 7 whole minutes, at a 9:30 pace. So sad, but so much better than none. I’m trying so hard to be careful and not go out too fast. The 10 % rule has got to be pretty important when it’s been so long. Except for muscle memory, it’s the same thing as starting out in the very beginning. So I’m making little tiny goals every week that are gains of only 10 % in duration per week. That means that next Saturday’s long run will be only 8 minutes. OK, I’m not being totally strict, since 10 % of 7 minutes is only 42 seconds. I think it will be fine.

I am organizationally challenged. This is a source of much frustration. There are so many problems in my surroundings that I can’t even number them. I live in a basement apartment with my husband and three small kids, 5, 2 1/2, and 3 months. We have 3 bedrooms, a hall/kitchen, a bathroom and a living room. There is no storage space except for two miniscule closets, one of which has our water-heater in it, and a “cupboard under the stairs” that is currently housing camping equipment, all our dress clothes wrapping paper, two quilting projects, lots of shoes and an old Singer sewing machine, all in one lovely, unapproachable pile.

We also have no shelves. And only two dressers, one for me and Derek, and one for all three kids. My baby grand piano is also a table for putting everything from junk mail, to used batteries, to my brothers cast-off Nintendo. Under the piano are the bucket car-seat, the DI box, a basket of clothes waiting to be put away, and the baby’s bouncy seat.

That’s just the beginning. I cannot stand it that we have so much stuff and nowhere to put it. I feel like I’m drowning. I periodically take a load of stuff to the thrift store, but I always manage to fill the space somehow.

On a lighter note, I ran 6 minutes today at a 10 minute pace and felt good. The girl I ran with is training for a 1/2 marathon in May, and she had a baby just 3 weeks before I did. I guess I could commit to something like that, but I’d count on walking a good bit of it. then again, I still don’t feel completely whole yet. I think I’ll wait. The last race I ran was the Hobble-creek 1/2 marathon in August of 2005. I took a month off to recover (I had run another 1/2 marathon two weeks previously), and then in October, I got pleurisy. That’s an inflammation of the lining of the lungs. It’s very, very, very painful. So the doctor told me not to do anything that could possibly be at all strenuous. Including vacuuming. I love it when you have such a good excuse not to vacuum.

So I had to skip the 10K my parents-in-law had planned in Zion. I had to watch. I always feel so incredibly jealous, watching races. Especially ones in places like Zion. My next scheduled race was the Blue Mountain to Canyonlands triathlon. I was teaming with my uncle, since I hate biking, and I don’t know how to ski. Anyway, I found out I was pregnant about a month before the race. It’s low key, so I figured I’d do it anyway. I kept training, and sure enough, I got the worst cold of the century. Plus, the weather took a dive and temperatures were consistently below 10 degrees. With asthma and a fierce cold, I couldn’t even breathe at all if I went outside.

It was my good fortune that I didn’t have to bail on my uncle, because Monticello, Utah got a blizzard the night before the race and it was cancelled. No one could even get to Monticello at all. But that was when I pretty much gave up on running for the rest of the pregnancy. I don’t have comfortable pregnancies. I usually lose 10-15 pounds and can’t walk by about 5 months because of the pain.

So it’s been a good long time since I had a good long run. My 6 minutes today is a small victory, but a victory none the less. I love running.

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