Lesson 4: Knowing When (and That it’s Okay) to Stop

Well hello again, and welcome to the fourth installment of lessons I’ve learned as I navigate post-baby running! If you’re keeping score at home, my previous lessons are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. Be prepared
  3. Be willing to compromise

This week’s lesson is all about knowing when to quit, and knowing that it’s really okay to do so.

Let’s set the scene. It’s yet another Sunday morning and Drew is encouraging me to get out and run with the Shammies. However, it’s Beach 2 Beacon weekend, and most SMSers are up in Maine.

[Brief aside: in my post about B2B last year I said I wanted to run it every year. It’s a fab race. I actually won a spot in this year’s race via the lottery, but ended up transferring my bib to a Shammie who didn’t get in. By the time I found out I got a spot, all the good hotels and airbnbs were booked, and logistics with a baby were too much for my brain to deal with. There’s always next year! #loweringmyexpectations #rollingwithit]

Drew took the Bairn out to get breakfast, and I set out for a run around the neighborhood. Last time it went really well, so I had some hopes of repeating that. Some things had stacked up against me, however, and it was not to be.

For one, my shoes are starting to hurt. I had heeded Lesson 2 and had my shoes all untied and ready to go, but they felt squeezy and uncomfortable. Sometimes pregnancy can change your feet a bit and make them bigger, and I’ve been wanting to get my feet/gait checked at Marathon Sports to make sure I’m wearing proper kicks. But that requires time, which I don’t have a lot of these days, plus I couldn’t justify spending money on new shoes when my current pair are still in decent shape. Alas.

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The shoes in question

For another, my knees are a little dodgy lately from all the bouncing I’ve been doing on our exercise ball to help get the Bairn to sleep. (Sometimes, even though They say not to, you just need to fall back on your sleep crutches so that YOU can get some sleep. Still in survival mode over here. And hoping that someday he’ll realize that he can, in fact, fall asleep on his own.)

And third, after wondering if my great run last time was at all due to my new Legend compression calf sleeves (review coming soon), I decided to go sleeve-less this time around.

So, yeah. After a brief warmup walk, I set off down the hill and right away my feet hurt. Not badly, but enough to throw me off my game. Then I could feel my knees… they didn’t hurt, per se, but they felt like they were about to start hurting at any moment. And then my shins, ow the splints. So splinty. Turns out the calf sleeves really make a difference.

I had barely gone 25 yards and my body was protesting. I wanted to stop, but I felt like it was way too early to declare my run a failure. I told myself just to make it to the end of the street, to take it easy, to focus on keeping my knees from doing anything stupid.

And I barely made it. I was practically limping, and my feet were doing weird things in my shoes to try to escape the squeezing. I turned around at the end of the street and walked, mentally assessing my body. I felt like if I tried to go any further, I’d be risking injuring something, and I really don’t want that right now, right as I’m making my semi-glorious return.


So I walked home. I traveled 1.03 miles in 16:30, and less than half of that was spent running/hobbling.

And that’s okay. As short and bad as it was, I got out for a run. That little bit was better than nothing, and better a short, bad run than a longer one that ends in injury.

It’s hard sometimes to quiet my inner voice that says dumb things like “no pain no gain” or compares my current running attempts to my halcyon days when I was in shape and uninjured and getting faster all the time.

But that voice needs to shut it. I’m not in the shape I was once in, my body is still a little wonky and I’m still getting used to it, and someday I’ll be better. But right now I just need to get out there smartly, so that I can get better. I’d rather quit a run and potentially stave off a return of my dodgy knees than explore the alternative!

What exciting lesson will I learn next? Stay tuned to find out!

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The Art of Being Prepared

Wow, was my last post really a month and a half ago?! I swear I just wrote it. But then again, I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it’s August already. What the heck.

Anyway.

Hi! Me again, here to blab at you about life and attempted fitness post-Bairn. I’m still working on keeping my expectations low (and doing a decent job, I think!), and my lesson for myself this week is to try to be a little better prepared. For what, you may ask? Running specifically, since this is my running blog and all, but really, for lots of things.

be-prepared

Let’s travel back a few Sundays, to when I was determined (albeit with lowered expectations) to meet up with the Sunday Morning Shammies for some kind of run. They go out around 7, so I set an emergency alarm for 6 (ha!! As if the Bairn would let me sleep that long), planned out my morning so I could get out the door at 6:45, and crossed my fingers.

Sunday morning came, and though I made a solid effort, my morning fell apart. Drew overslept, and it turns out 45 minutes isn’t enough time for me to change and feed the Bairn, and then change and feed myself before heading out the door. At least not when I’m half asleep. So I skipped the run. (Could I have gone out on my own? Sure. But I was all upset and stubborn… these post-baby hormones sure do stick around longer than I expected).

How could I have made that morning smoother for myself? By being prepared! Have my running kit out and easily accessible, so I wouldn’t have to risk waking my exhausted husband while stumbling around in our dark room. Have an easy-to-grab pre-run bite to eat ready to be grabbed. And so on.

Well, I tried to learn from my failure the following week. I had my kit ready to go. I had something to eat. I had that laughable emergency alarm set. And somehow, even with Drew up this time to help me, it was still a rush to get to the door in time, let alone out of it. I was on the verge of missing the Shammies – and thus my motivation – and when I went to put on my shoes, the laces ended up being very stubbornly double-knotted. I couldn’t undo them while in a rush. So I threw on an older pair of shoes that I’ve been mainly using for walking:


Turns out these shoes are pretty dead. They feel fine for walking, but after running a bit in them: ouch. My back hurt for a week… though to be fair my back is in rough shape anyway from hefting the Bairn around.

BUT. I made it out there! I saw my Shammies, got the social motivation I needed, and let them set off on their 7-mile run. I walked to the pond, figuring I’d do a lap and walk back to HQ, but after a turn through the lagoon, it was so lovely I decided to do it again.

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View of the pond from the lagoon

The lagoon has a lovely dirt trail, lots of shade, and had far fewer people than the paved, route around the pond. So I walked the causeway back to the start of the lagoon and ran a second loop. Well, run-walked, but still. It wasn’t my prettiest run, but it was a run nonetheless!

So, a little preparation and I managed to fit a run in. Had I thought ahead even more, I would have untied those silly shoes, but, well, hindsight is 20-20. And now I know my Adidas sneakers are toast.

For those keeping score at home, the post-baby fitness lessons I’ve learned so far are:

  1. Lower my expectations
  2. A little preparation goes a long way

What lesson will I learn next time? Stay tuned!

Rando Friday

Happy Friday!! Are you doing a happy dance in anticipation of the weekend? I certainly am! All the happy-dancing knocked a few random thoughts loose, so I figured I’d share. After all, my post count for 2016 is pretty pathetic so far! So without further ado:

I got some new kicks!

shoesI’ve been wearing my current shoes (Saucony Guide 7s) since my first 10K two Augusts ago, which is longer than they might have lasted, since I spent most of 2015 being injured and didn’t put a lot of miles on them. I bought a backup pair on clearance when the model was discontinued, but I took that pair on my grand European adventure last summer, and they were what I was wearing when my metatarsal went wonky. So I’m a little wary of them.

Around this time last year, I bought a pair of Adidas running shoes that I absolutely loved. I ran my fastest 5-miler in them and everything was peachy, and then the next time I wore them I got the runner’s knee. Was it because of the shoes, or was it because of my lack of stretching and generally taking care of myself? Almost certainly the latter, but I haven’t run in the Adidas since (they’ve become my Yeti shoes).

Plus, all that wariness enabled me to splurge on this beautiful pair of flashy blue Guide 8s, which were on clearance because the Guide 9s are now out. I do have a thing for flashy running kicks, since my rampant overpronation means I’m traditionally stuck in white stability shoes instead of the fun neons of the neutrals. This sad shoe history made it extra hard to pass up new shoes in a fun color. I mean, just look at these lovely blues! I can’t wait to christen them.

Running club field trip?

Two years ago, Colin and I ran a frigid 5K around Lake Whalom called Shamrocks on the Rocks. I rocked my shiny new Shammies singlet and quite enjoyed being a Shamrock at a non-Shammies shamrock race (say that 5 times fast):

Pre-race power pose by Lake Whalom

Pre-race power pose by Lake Whalom

Although I’m trying not to pre-register for races way in advance this year, I may have been casually browsing Cool Running the other day and spotted the upcoming Shamrocks on the Rocks. I sent the link to my fellow Sunday Morning Shammies (SMSs), and jokingly said how awesome it would be if a bunch of us showed up in Shamrock gear, and now it’s actually building steam. A few run clubbers have already registered and are talking about carpools.

Now that I’ve created this monster, do I have to jump on the bandwagon (that I’m already driving…?) and register too? Or do I stick with my original plans and hold off, possibly missing out on a spot in the run club carpool? Hmm.

I’m not volunteering at the Marathon expo

photo(10)And I’m kind of relieved about that! I did it last year (been there, done that, got the free volunteer jacket, next!) and while it was a cool experience, the whole thing left me feeling a little funny. (You can read my epic recap here).

At first I felt guilty not signing up, and decided that if the Shammies were desperate for warm bodies I’d go and give it another shot. But then I heard from our BAA liaison that we actually had more people volunteer than there are spots, so now I’m glad I didn’t unenthusiastically take someone else’s place! Hopefully people won’t end up curmudgeons like I did.

——

What are your plans for the weekend? Anyone racing?

Ever been illogically wary of a pair of shoes after getting injured in them?
Or is that just me?

Shoes and the Drama (Trauma?) They Cause

Disclaimer: this post will be a bit TMI. If you don’t like reading about runner’s toes, flee now!

Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I’m a big fan of kit… a gearhead, if you will. Back in March I wrote an ode to my running shoes, proclaiming my love of the Saucony Guide. I wore the Guide 6 for most of my running “career,” and recently switched over to the coveted Guide 7. The first time I gave them a trial run (you can read all about it if you so desire in my “OMG Shoes” post) they felt like they were part of my feet, and were the most comfortable running shoes I’d tried yet. I was beyond stoked when I finally bought a pair.

Saucony Guide 7

Saucony Guide 7

I was delighted to find that, after switching to the 7s, my splinty shins calmed down, and actually even went away completely. Huzzah! I concluded that my 6s had racked up enough miles to start bothering me and embraced the 7s even more.

Sadly, it’s starting to look like the 7s might not be as magical as I originally thought. Ever since making the switch at the Old Wethersfield 10K last month, my runner’s toes have been more angry than usual.

Quick TMI background: my right foot is disgusting. The nail on my second toe (next to the Big One) has turned black and fallen off 3 times in the last 15 years. Too much activity in ill-fitting shoes has its consequences! Currently it’s black and has been threatening to fall off once again for close to a year. My baby toe is angry as hell because it’s been rubbing constantly in pretty much every shoe since childhood, and the trauma of running has only made it worse. (Interestingly, the nail part has only been angry for less than a year – usually it’s a knuckle blister that’s the problem – and I’m not entirely sure what started all the nail drama.)

Now, ever since switching to the 7s, angry second toe has a big ol’ perma blister to go along with the bruised nail, and 4th toe (next to baby toe) has both a blister and a big, angry bruise. Initially I thought the new damage was from running in new socks for my 10K – lately I’ve been racing in double-lined socks and these were single-lined – but after subsiding in the week after the race, the anger and bruising have come right back after my long runs. I’ve tried a bunch of different socks but none have helped the blisters or bruising. All I can say is, thank god for super dark nail polish!

This drawing is amazing and sums up pretty perfectly how I imagine my toes (source)

This drawing is amazing and sums up pretty perfectly how I imagine my toes (source)

So, if it’s not the socks, it must be the shoes, right? I haven’t changed my running style, just my mileage, and this worries me. I love 5Ks but don’t want to be confined to that distance forever! I’ve been considering trying Altras because I’m curious if their wider toe box would help, but am hesitant to buy new shoes because I only just started wearing these new Guides. Plus, the Guides feel perfect in every other way. I’ve been scouring the web for Guide 7 reviews to see if anyone else has had the same problem, but reviewers have been praising them for their wide toe box and anti-blister rail (?!) and fabulous support.

On the other hand (foot?) this might all boil down to feet, and not shoes. I know I have weird feet (flat, really narrow) and messed-up toes (my second toes on both feet aren’t long like the big toe, like most people’s are, so my big toes put more strain on a smaller area and poke holes through socks like no one’s business… plus my toes point up whenever I take a step/flex my calf muscle/try to kick a ball) and this has made buying shoes a pain in the neck my whole life… if my toes don’t bump the shoes are usually too loose, but if the majority of my foot fits well, my toes will crash. Maybe the title of this post should be “Feet and the Drama They Cause;” it’s not Saucony’s fault that my feet are so bizarre!

So here are my questions for my fellow runners: Have you experienced crazy toe bruising like this and if so, have you figured out how to treat/prevent it? Do you think this onslaught of bruising is because I’ve been upping my mileage, and if so, will it get better or will I be doomed to run 4 miles or less for forever?? Does this sound like a shoe issue, or a sock issue, or is it an issue just because I have really weird feet, and toes that refuse to behave like normal toes? Do I need to win the lottery and have shoes specially made for my crazy feet? I’m at a complete loss and any advice at all would be greatly appreciated!

Happy running and happy feet!