Midsummer Update and New Shoes

Shelley's Diary

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I gotta say, I’m a little nervous about having committed to my first marathon when I’m struggling to make it a few miles these days! Then again, I have to remember: it’s really hot and everyone is struggling. So the best I can do is just keep moving. We’ll all be better for it when the weather starts to cool.

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Three Reasons Runners Should Do Planks

When it comes to core workouts, most people think about crunches. But Coach Scott Young says that instead of crunches, runners should do planks.

When we think about core workouts, we usually think about crunches. But Coach Scott Young says that instead of crunches, runners should do planks.

We do crunches all day, especially if we sit at a desk, says Coach Scott. “When you sit up from a chair, you’re doing crunches, and that’s why people get back problems because (only the front) muscles get a workout.

The plank works the “entire wraparound area” – all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes.

Here are three reasons planks are better than crunches for runners:

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Treadmill Interval Training – Walk Before you Run (and maybe get comfortable with both before you sprint!)

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Hahahahahaha…..oh, my goodness, let me tell you about my first treadmill interval training!

As I shared in a previous post, with the high temperatures and intermittent smoke-infused atmosphere of the high desert summer, I was inspired to seek out ways to make the treadmill not so dread-ful. I shared a link to a sample workout I had found, and said I was looking forward to trying it. And I was. Truly.

Today I had the opportunity. The air quality index ranged between unhealthy and hazardous. (Evidently Northern Nevada is surrounded by wildfires). Instead of exposing my dogs and myself to the haze, I saved my run for after work and ventured indoors to the treadmill. I hopped on to the belt with confidence, turned up my running playlist, pulled the workout to my phone screen and started ‘er up.

One minute of walking at 3 mph. No problem. I usually go right into an easy run, but whatever.

Three minutes of jogging at 5 mph. My comfortable running pace. All good.

One minute of running at 6 mph. Okay, pushing a little, I like it.

But then…

Thirty seconds of sprinting at 8.5 mph. Sounds easy enough, right?


Wow, that seems pretty fast.

Gee, shouldn’t the thirty seconds be up by now?


I think I almost did thirty seconds, but I had my hand on the button to quickly lower the pace back down to 6 mph for another minute. But instead of stopping at 6, I kept turning it down…back down to the 3.5 mph fast walk.

That’s not what the plan called for, but it’s what my body called for. I did about 2 minutes of a recovery walk, then went back to the plan and turned it back up to a minute of 6 mph. Then I attempted another 30 seconds of 8.5 mph.

I’m not sure I made it 20 seconds. Brought it back down to 3.5 mph.

Maybe I’m not ready for this particular plan! I wasn’t even 10 minutes into it and it was kicking my butt!

So I improvised the rest. I went between my comfortable 5 mph pace and 3.5 mph fast walk.

As much as I do not enjoy the treadmill, I’m pretty proud of myself for working at it until I reached 3 miles. That’s what I would have run this morning if the air had been cleaner.

Here’s my Fitbit screen shot of the workout.Fitbit Screenshot 7.19.17

I think I’ll write up my own treadmill workout, and maybe work my way up to that 8.5 mph pace.

How do you keep treadmill workouts interesting? I’d love to see your suggestions and comments!


Running in the Dog Days of Summer

running in the dog days of summerHere we are in the dog days of summer. I assume they are called “dog days” because it is too hot to do anything else but lie around. It is arguably the hardest time of year for runners. Here in the high desert, the heat often couples with wildfire season (which is in full swing this year!). This can make it difficult to keep up with training and get in a good quality run.

My preferred way to deal with this is to beat the heat…by a couple of hours, anyway.  Early mornings are my favorite time to run any time of year. The best part about summer running, as far as I’m concerned, is the sun rises much earlier. It’s especially effective this time of year, when there can be a 20 degree difference between early morning and late morning. My dogs prefer it, too, since just about any other time of day is too hot for them.

But it doesn’t matter what time we rise to run if the air quality is unhealthy. Almost every summer there are wildfires in our area at some point. At these times, there’s no other choice…but to hit the dreadmill…er, treadmill!

Last weekend following a group run in the midmorning heat, Coach Scott Young gave us a little pep talk on treadmill running. “It’s a good way to get a high quality workout…in a controlled environment.” Running in the intense heat can bring on dehydration, which sets back your training while your body’s recovering.

The downfall, Coach Scott admitted, is that running the treadmill can be downright boring. So the best way to deal with that is to find a structured workout that will make it go by faster.

Just do a web search on your favorite search engine and you’ll find hundreds of ideas for treadmill workouts of varying lengths and intensity. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try:

What do you do to make sure you get in quality workouts during the dog days of summer? Please leave a comment.running in the dog days of summer

Running With the Masters

running with the mastersI’ve only been running for about five years. Yet I recently learned that I am a member of a particular class of runners. I am a Masters Runner.

That sounds sort of “elitist”, doesn’t it?

Well, it isn’t. It just means I’m a runner over the age of 40. Maybe even 30, depending on who’s doing the “classifying”!

It tickles me that from my very first race, I was classified as a “Masters Runner”. I’ve always associated the word “master” with (1) someone who was eminently skilled in their craft or profession; (2) someone who has excelled in their study or art; (3) someone highly qualified to teach others, or (4) someone who owns slaves.

I am none of these things. So if anyone had asked me “Are you a Masters Runner?”, I would reply, “Oh, no! I only just started!”

But apparently, I am a master, if only by virtue of my age.

It might have been helpful for me and my friend Jeff to have known this at a race earlier this year!

Before the race, we visited the various vendor tables. As we stopped to admire the display of medals to be awarded to the top males and females in each age category, it surprised us to note that the highest age bracket being awarded was age “46 and above”!

Now hold up. Most of the races we’ve participated in award age categories well beyond 46. We lamented that the years between that alleged “peak” of 46 and our own ages can mean a big difference in performance. It seemed unfair to the more senior participants…even those of us only five to ten years into the category!

Before runners were even making their way to the start line, Jeff had lodged a suggestion with the race director for next year’s race…in short, that they really should expand the upper register of age divisions so that all age categories have an opportunity to place.

I found the race itself quite challenging because trail running is not my strength. So I was shocked to find that I had placed second among females in my age group.

Yes, the 46 and above age group.

Jeff placed fourth among males in the same age group.

But here’s the punchline. None of the individuals who placed ahead of us in our age division were younger. Rather, every single one was in their 60’s.

Running with the Masters - Results

And we thought we were standing up for these runners! As we now know, these are the Masters.

So the moral of the story is this, I’m not, nor will I ever be, an elite or professional runner. But I can say I’ve always been a Masters Runner. And I’ll be able to hold on to that category for many, many years to come.

From the looks of it, it only gets better! And, that’s the goal!

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”    – Unknown

Running with the Masters - medal

If 13.1 is half crazy…am I losing my mind?

losing my mind?

I’m no longer only “half crazy”.

Evidently my train has fully jumped its track. I’ve dropped my full basket. I’ve tipped fully off my rocker. And I’ve lost my full bag of marbles.

In other words, I just registered for my first full marathon.

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d do. I’ve been content with my 5k’s, 10k’s, 10-milers and half marathons. I was one of those who, when inevitably asked, “when are you going to run a marathon?” would just smile and shake my head. It was not on my radar at all.

Then earlier this year, I read an article about Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to legally run the Boston Marathon. I was just over six months old when she ran it in 1967, and I don’t recall seeing that famous photo until the last couple of years. This year, the 50th anniversary of that run, at age 70, she ran it again. She was quoted in the article as saying “If you can run a marathon, you can do anything.”

That really got me thinking.

When I started running, I didn’t even know if I could successfully finish a 5K. But I trained for it and I did it. Same with 10K. A half marathon wasn’t on my bucket list at all, until I was presented with the opportunity to run in one. So I trained for it. I actually finished it. And I loved it.

The reason I started this blog is to encourage others to try new things, even if they’re not sure they can. I feel that everyone deserves to feel that sense of accomplishment, knowing you’ve stepped out of your own “norm” and tried something you may have thought impossible.

For me, it’s not that I think I have to run a marathon…it’s that I believe I’m capable of doing so. And in a way, because I am capable of doing it, it follows that I should.

And there it is. Once the thought entered my head, it was only a matter of time.

I did some research and started asking around about the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento. It’s a popular one in my area and as it happens, many of my friends (my age, older and younger) are doing it. And for quite a few it is also their first marathon. Plus we all have access to local professional training through Fizio.

And first-timers have the chance to earn an additional first-timer medal when we cross the finish line. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that extra bling factored in to my choice!

Maybe I’m not crazy after all. Or, if I am, I’m in good company!

So, here we go! Official training doesn’t start until Labor Day, and I have a few races scheduled between now and then. I’m looking forward to doing the training with my friends and sharing our experiences – the bad and the good.

And I’m looking forward to really knowing that I can do anything.


If you have experiences, ideas, tips, you’d like to share regarding stepping out of a comfort zone, facing challenges, etc., please share them in the comments!