Hey, I Put Some New Shoes On…

…and suddenly everything’s right. At least according to Paolo Nutini.

One of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to doing for ages is get some new running shoes. My most current ones, Saucony Guide 8s in a snazzy blue color (see photo below), still have miles in them, but they don’t really fit anymore and have been known to give me a bit of grief every now and then during runs.


(One of the fun pregnancy side effects I experienced was growing feet. Thanks – I’m assuming – to the relaxin that flooded my body a while ago, spreading the bones in my feet, I’m left with feet that are a half-size to full-size bigger, depending on which foot you’re looking at. Which is another cool thing – one foot grew more than the other. Yay!)

Since I started experiencing knee pain last week, and with a half marathon and the lead-up training looming on the horizon, I thought it was high time I bit the bullet. So Drew and I grabbed the Bairn and headed to our nearest Marathon Sports this afternoon so I could get re-fit and have my gait reanalyzed for some new kicks.

The Bairn enjoyed the big doggy in the window display

It was during the fitting that I learned my formerly size 8.5 feet are now size 9 (left) and slightly bigger than size 9 (right). That makes things fun. Also, it seems that whereas my forefoot has spread out a bit, my ankle area is the same as before, so bigger shoes feel looser at the back now. That’s also fun, and makes it very easy to find shoes that work.

Luckily I got a super awesome salesman who knew what he was talking about, and he grabbed a bunch of different shoes for me to try. I gave my Saucony Guides a go again, only to find the new ISO model feels like it’s squishing my feet from the top. The new model of my Adidas shoes felt way too loose at the heel, as did the Brooks  I tried.

There were only two shoes that matched my flat feet/over-pronation/gait that also felt snug enough at the heel – Mizunos (maybe Wave Inspires? I don’t remember) and Nike Zoom Structures. I ran around the store in one of each for a while, and it ended up being the Nikes all the way.


I’m so pumped to take these for a proper run, but I’m a little nervous as well. I’ve been wearing Saucony Guides for almost the entire time I’ve been running, except for the time I branched out to Adidas and ended up with a messed-up knee. It was probably a coincidence, but there’s something of a superstitious comfort in knowing you’ve got a shoe that works for you, and the Guides were my ol’ faithfuls.

My fingers (and beleaguered toes!) are crossed that these Nikes do the trick!

What shoes are your ol’ faithfuls?

Have you ever had to switch shoe brands after being with one for a long time? How did it go?

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Post-Bairn Half Training – Week 2

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Alternate title for this post: “Well, that deescalated quickly.”

Sigh no more, readers, sigh no more
My training plan hopes were deceivers ever…

Okay, enough melodrama. TL;dr my plan got derailed pretty severely after my glorious first week. Is anyone surprised? Training plans and I are star-crossed, it seems. Let’s recap:

Monday
Rest | Rest

Like I said last week, I’m awesome at rest days. This one was perfectly timed too, since the Bairn woke up with a fever and we both stayed home and laid low.

Tuesday
3m run | 3m run

The Bairn was still home on Tuesday, and after being in the house with him for two days I was a little stir crazy. (We usually run errands or get out of the house somehow, but I didn’t want to drag a feverish wee one with a snot-fountain for a nose out where he could infect others.) Drew was working from home, and during a break in his meetings I booked it to the gym for a welcome break and a treadmill run.

Good things about this run:

  1. I remembered my ipod and had a bumpin’ soundtrack to get me going.
  2. The gym was practically empty. It was glorious.

Not so good things about this run:

  1. My right knee.

Oh boy. This knee has been the bane of my existence more than once on this blog, and I was not happy to feel familiar twinges. I should have stopped my run once I felt it, or walked the remaining distance to 3 miles, but I was stupidly stubborn (I completed Week 1, and I will complete Week 2, knees be damned!!). I finished the run, stretched, and headed home to rejoin my ailing Bairn, with my knee mostly feeling better. Ish.

Wednesday
2m run or CT | rest and ice

Wednesday the Bairn was feeling better and back at school, so I was back at work. A day of constantly moving from sitting to standing, going up and down stairs every few minutes, and lifting boxes and pushing carts didn’t help my knee any. I had originally planned to do some of my PT/gait retraining exercises to help bolster my knee but decided putting them up and popping some ice on them would probably be the best bet.

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Thursday
30 mins CT | rest

After the previous night’s icing, I thought my CT would either be a gentle bike ride at the gym or the PT exercises I had planned to do the night before. Then I woke up having inherited the Bairn’s snot-fountain of a nose. I didn’t feel right dropping the still-not-100% Bairn at the gym daycare, nor did I want to drip snot all over the gym equipment (nor did I really want to use the gym equipment with the way I was feeling) so the bike was right out.

As the day wore on, I felt worse and worse and really didn’t want to do any kind of physical activity beyond chasing the Bairn around the house. I decided to swap Friday’s rest day for Thursday’s CT and called it a night.

Friday
Rest | Rest

Then Friday happened. I well and truly had caught whatever the Bairn had at the beginning of the week, and Friday was my day to have a fever. My mom, bless her most wonderful soul, braved the germs and came over to help wrangle the Bairn while I sat on the couch, shivering under a blanket.

There’s really no point in finishing the week in this posting fashion, because as you’ve probably already guessed, I didn’t run at all at the weekend. Between dealing with the fever’s alternating chills and overheating sessions Friday night, and taking a mega-Sudafed as a last resort on Saturday night and being kept awake all night as a result, not to mention the Bairn’s coughing and night wakings, I didn’t get much sleep all weekend. Even if I had been feeling up to running, the lack of sleep probably would have kept me from getting the miles in.

So, sad trombone noises for Week 2.

—–

Now the question is, how do I handle this training plan going forward?

In all honesty, I was setting myself up for badness from the start. I really should have been running/training more before diving right into a plan that asked for 3 miles right off the bat. I knew this deep down. I had intentions of doing just that. As is wont to happen in my distracted #mombrain these days, I lost track of time and all of a sudden had just enough time to squeeze in a 12-week plan, with no room beforehand to build up properly. Knowing my body, that’s just asking for an injury.

Before whatever plague this was hit me, I figured I’d sacrifice one run per week to focus on PT exercises for my knees, and to make sure I do the cross-training that’s called for, rather than just 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. I wanted to do it right… or as “right” as I could at this point.

And then the plague. If this tale of woe sounds vaguely familiar, an eerily similar situation happened a few years back – almost to the day! – when I was taking a Couch to 5-Miler class at work and was making strides (ha!) and feeling great about myself. In fact, looking back on that post, the intro I wrote rings quite a few bells:

“My first week of training was going so well, readers. So well. As I ran my prescribed miles on the treadmill, I was eagerly looking forward to writing a wrap-up post on this blog that showed just how well I had stuck to my training plan (lame, I know), and I couldn’t wait to show up at my second running class with my head held high, having actually completed the “homework” of sticking to the plan. … And then I got the flu.”

More sad trombones.

So what’s the best course of action now? Do I…

  1. Start the training plan over/repeat Week 2 when I’m feeling better?
  2. Jump back in at Week 3, but with some tweaks?
  3. Scrap the training plan and start a 5K training plan, then start this one once that’s done, and then just run the half as best I can? (Having run a half with minimal training I know it’s possible, it’s just not ideal)
  4. Scrap everything, give my race registration to a friend who’s on the wait-list, and just enjoy a weekend in Western Mass without running?
  5. Your suggestion here?

The Road to Orlando is Paved with Good Intentions

Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but, reader(s)… I had good intentions, I really did.

Drew and I (and now the Bairn) alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with our families, so every other year we usually have a warm-weather Christmas in California (which I’ve taken advantage of to run a few warmer winter races – see this post and this post).

Plans changed a bit this year, and the family all converged in Florida, where Drew’s folks rented a huge house in a gated vacation community owned by Disney. It was certainly different, and I missed my trips to In n Out, but there were some concessions:

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Like Wawa!!

It was also very nice to be somewhere warm, especially because the northeast was starting to be hit by a polar vortex and snowstorms. Our house had a pool and screened-in patio, and it felt pretty nice to be enjoying alfresco lunches in shorts and a t-shirt while hearing reports of the snow falling back home. (Of course, the frigid temperatures were still present when we got home, which made leaving the 70s-and-sunny weather that much harder!)

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Feeding the Bairn poolside

So, what did I have good intentions about, you might be wondering? You won’t be surprised… I intended to go running! Because of course I did. I packed my running shoes, a bunch of socks, running shorts and tanks, hairbands, the works. I envisioned running outside in the sun, and on a treadmill in the community gym if it was too humid outside. I wanted this. I even packed my LEGEND compression sleeves and my HeartZones Blink 3.0 heart rate monitor, with intentions of posting pictures on social media like a good brand ambassador.

And it all played out like so many of my post-Bairn running adventures, in that it didn’t happen. Traveling and being in a new place surrounded by his noisy cousins made the Bairn a bit contrarian when it came to keeping his nap schedule, and he also didn’t love sleeping in the Pack’n’Play. So most of his naps found me laying on our bed next to him, making sure he didn’t roll off, while Drew spent time with his family. It was relaxing, but it wasn’t what I had planned. (Drew’s family also seemed less excited to babysit than we’d hoped, which meant we had much less Bairn-free time than we’d anticipated.)

We did end up taking two walks around the neighborhood with the Bairn, but other than chasing him around as he crawled through the house and up and down the stairs, my exercise plans came to naught. My running shoes were only useful in taking up space in my suitcase. Oh well.

Like people have commented on other posts where I’ve lamented running plans gone awry, running will always be there when I can get to it. The Bairn is only a baby once, and he’ll only ever have one first vacation, so I don’t mind that I spent it all with him and didn’t do a whole lot else. Someday… someday I’ll make good on my good intentions!

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Proof that we went somewhere warm, and even went outside once!

Creative Ways to Get Some Exercise In

I was reading a recent issue of Parents magazine the other day (heyo free subscription with the purchase of an owl-shaped humidifier!) and there was an article about exercises you can do to help with the whole being-a-mom thing… how to strengthen your back for optimal baby-lifting, etc.

Looking it over, I had a rush of motivation to follow this regimen. I pictured myself tearing the pages out of the magazine, tacking them up somewhere, and making it my new Bairn’s Naptime Exercise Extravaganza. 

Yeah. Reader, if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m not so good at this sort of thing. I have great intentions for training plans and the like, but my execution is, shall we say, lacking. I mean, I never even got as far as tearing the pages out of the magazine. I don’t even know where the magazine is right now, or if I even kept it. #mombrain

Thinking about this and feeling bad about my inability to be organized and motivated, I started reflecting on how I’ve been getting exercise since the Bairn arrived. Clearly I’m not doing my Super Mom Parents Magazine routine, nor am I running very often. So what am I doing? With no further ado, here is my own special kind of exercise regimen:

Awkwardly Distributed Weight Lifting

As he approaches one year of life, my Bairn weighs probably somewhere around 19 pounds. He was a teeny jellybean of just under 5.5 pounds when he was born, but his growth spurts have all come on suddenly, leaving me almost constantly surprised about how heavy he is. I tend to carry him around on my right side, balanced between my hip and the crook of my arm, leaving me feeling super strong yet hunchbacked and constantly tired on one side. I need to start lifting weights on my left to balance out. 

Giving my right side its usual workout while decorating our Christmas tree

Improper Core Work

When the Bairn was tiny, he screamed and cried a lot because he has a dairy sensitivity and we didn’t know about it, so all the cheese and milky iced coffee I was consuming was giving him terrible gas pains. Before I realized what was happening and cut out my beloved dairy from my life, the only way to calm the Bairn down was to hold him while bouncing exuberantly on an exercise ball. Drew and I bounced him so often that it quickly became a crutch, both for calming him and for getting him to sleep. Exercise balls are great for strengthening one’s core, unless one is bouncing while hunched awkwardly over a crying baby. For months. 

Fun fact: we bounced on this ball so much it burst. While Drew was on it. Holding the Bairn. (Everyone was ok… except maybe Drew’s bum for a few days… and the ball)

Hamstring Bootcamp

When the Bairn started cruising and showed interest in walking around the house, we got him a walking/balance toy:

The trouble is, it’s not wide enough to provide good balance, and the wheels also don’t have anything that might resemble brakes. So, left to his own devices, the Bairn tends to either tip over or face-plant as the van peels away on our hardwood floors. So Drew and I – at least until the Bairn gets a better sense of balance – shuffle backwards while bent at the waist, holding on to the front of the van so our Bairn can cruise along happily. It either causes a sore lower back or burning hammies. I like to think burning hammies is at least benefiting my body, so I convince myself it’s exercise. 

These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking

The neighborhood by my work is in the midst of intense redevelopment, with multiple demolition and building sites. One result of that is that my usual route from the T to my building is now a giant hole surrounded by fences. As I shuffle under scaffolding and hunch against the cold, I try to focus on how the longer walk is good for me. The fly in the ointment is that I can’t seem to find warm, work-attire-friendly boots that fit my post-baby feet comfortably, and so my shuffle tends to be a limp most days. 

Being a Dairy Farm

While not exercise per se, nursing a baby apparently burns about 300-500 calories per day. Moo. 

The Time-Honored Winter Tradition of Shoveling

Our first snowstorm of the season happened the day after the Bairn had surgery (it was routine, and is all good now!), and the day Drew was suffering flu-like symptoms. So while the two of them slept off their respective ailments, I shoveled like a madwoman and cleared the whole driveway and both sidewalks in about an hour, which is a new PR for me 💪🏻

Maybe someday I’ll find that Parents article again, or will finally  make it back to the gym. But until then, I’ll be continuing my janky exercise regimen for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned for any new exercises I might uncover!

Are there any non-traditional exercises that are part of your normal routine?

Do you have any recommendations for warm boots or shoes that are comfortable and work appropriate and aren’t snow boots? These have to exist, right?!

A “New” Garmin Record

Simon is dead; long live Simon Mark II.

(For those of you new to my blog, or for those of you who may have forgotten, since it’s been so dang long since I’ve written about him, Simon is what I call my Garmin Forerunner.)

My beloved first running watch kicked the bucket last year. It was a slow death… taking longer and longer to connect to GPS, deciding he didn’t want to save the occasional run, acting erratically.

The final straw came at the QEOP10K last September, when I ran my first international race and was excited to have my run saved in Garmin Connect for posterity, only to have Simon basically give me a two-fingered salute after I crossed the finish line, crapping out without saving anything. Oh well.

I found a replacement – a bigger, shinier, fancier Forerunner 230 – on Groupon Goods a few months after The Bairn arrived, and have been wearing it on my very occasional runs.

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It turns out the timing for a new watch ended up being pretty perfect.

I feel like I’m almost starting over with my running post-Bairn. I didn’t run at all between said QEOP10K last September and the end of May, and since then have been getting used to a body that’s a bit different since pregnancy and childbirth, on top of getting my running groove back.

Last Sunday I ran a mile for the first time in who knows how long. That is, a mile without needing a walk break. It was awesome. It was a gorgeous fall morning, and I set out on a new-to-me route with the intention of just taking it easy and seeing how I felt. I made it a quarter-mile and felt good, so I decided to try for a half-mile. Made it to that no problem, and thought “what the heck?” I made it a full mile, walked a half-mile, ran another quarter-mile, then walked the last .25 for a nice, even 2 mile excursion.

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Now, hitting that mile felt like a huge accomplishment in itself, but as a bonus, Simon Mark II gave me a fanfare at the end of my run because I had run my “fastest mile.” At first I was a bit dumbfounded, thinking back to the glorious day when I ran my current fastest mile, but then remembered that I was wearing a whole new watch, with no memory of my blazing record.

As I work my way oh-so-slowly back to running regularly and rebuilding my base, having little moments of fanfare with digital bling makes the whole thing so much more exciting and motivating. Old Simon wouldn’t have given me any fanfare for running an 11:18 mile, and that’s totally okay. But the bonus props from New Simon gives me a little mental push to keep working at beating my new PR. And there’ll be “new” records to break too – longest run, fastest 5K, etc. It’s like having a clean running slate, and I think that’s just what I need right now.

No Marathon For Me

… at least not this year!

My running club held its annual Boston Marathon number lottery last night at our fall cookout. For the first time since I’ve been a member, my name was in the hat. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I was feeling a little Prim Everdeen about it all, but excited that I’d have the ultimate motivation to get back on a training plan. 

Anyone want to guess how well my pre-potential-marathon training plan execution went?

Yep. All I wanted was to build up a small base again, with 5k being my goal. Did I go running at all since coming up with that plan?


Finding motivation is hard right now, guys. On the days I work, by the time I get home I just want to cuddle the Bairn and then sit on the couch and do nothing once he’s in bed. It’s so dark now in the evenings already… I’m not mentally prepared for it to be fall. On the days I’m home, I’m a special kind of exhausted once Drew gets home and frees me from Bairn-wrangling, and the Bairn isn’t quite old enough to be pushed on runs in the jogger yet. And mornings? Ugh. The Bairn is my early morning alarm clock, and there’s no way right now I could get up even earlier. 

I have to admit I’m a little relieved that I didn’t get a number. Disappointed? Yes. But also very relieved. Now I can get back to building a base without the pressure of a marathon looming over me. Plus, all the people who got numbers have been running and training a lot, and deserve Boston way more than I do right now!

So, there’s always next year. But now the question is: what the heck do I use for motivation??

Friday Rambles: End of September Edition

Okay, but how is it almost October already?! Has this year gone faster than usual? I know people say having kids makes the years speed by, but it’s not just me experiencing this hyper-time, right?

This was the week I was going to dive in to my pre-potential-marathon training plan. … Yep. Angry sinuses + sick and teething baby + suddenly feeling first-trimester exhausted again = nope. Maybe tonight??

I am in the middle of far too many books right now. My Goodreads “currently reading” list can be viewed down on the right-hand sidebar of my blog’s homepage. There are 6 right now. 3 I’m actively reading, 3 are ones I pick up and pick at when I can. But with hardly any time for reading these days, even 3 active books is overwhelming. 


For my above problem, I blame Banned Books Week (in a loving, supportive way!) I mark BBW every year by trying to read as many of the top 10 banned books as I can, or by reading at least one book that has been banned/challenged. Using my Kindle has been the only way I’ve finished any books since the Bairn arrived (he naps on me a lot, and the Kindle can be wrangled with one hand) and all the top 10 ebooks were checked out from my library. I grabbed an older one, and then of course a bunch of holds came in at once. Cue a book flood so overwhelming that apparently I can’t stop writing about it 🤓

We’re finally having some fall weather! Last week was mid-80s and muggy and gross. I love warm weather, but I’m done with mugginess. Plus I want to dress the Bairn in his adorable flannel-shirt-and-overalls outfit and plop him in among some pumpkins for a photo op, and the weather hasn’t been cooperating. So I’m excited for that!

The Bairn woke up inconsolable on Monday, after a miserable weekend of snot and coughing on top of teething, so Drew and I stayed home with him. We set out into the heat and humidity to give our stir-crazy wee one a change of scenery, and despite the mugginess it was lovely. 



How’s the weather where you are? Autumnal yet?

Do you have fun plans for the weekend? Or for October?

Do you have a favorite banned book?