Sunday, September 2, 2012

Time for a recap: Running

Last in the series of late recaps, my running comes as a natural suite to the weekly swimming and biking adventures that make this triathlon bouquet quite a wet and smelly mess.

Stretching my calves on the stairs and drying my boob sweat...
Currently training for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, my running regime has been a combination of brick runs, hill repeats ad nauseatum , speed intervals which push my maximum HR off the charts and long slow runs in zone 2-3 which I've been spicing up by getting lost on trails like these:

My longest run of this marathon season has been 2h today, in which I ran a little over 18km. I usually do all my runs with hubbs and since he's new to distance running, it's cool to be with him when he reaches those "longest ever runs" milestones that I hope will motivate him to join me for a marathon soon.

I am always a bit apprehensive of marathon training since it spoiled the party several times by bringing me pains in places that I never thought I'd get to complain about, such as the arches of my feet, the back of my knees or my Achilles tendons. But this time around, armed with a ton of info on barefoot running thanks to the revolutionary book "Born to run" and thousands of articles on this topic, I am convinced that mechanically, I'd be better off using the balls of my feet more efficiently. If you still haven't read Christopher Mc Dougall's book, you can listen to him or watch the "The Perfect Runner" short film by David Suzuki (only available for viewing online in Canada, but you can read the scientific information part, it's pretty much a summary).

...Followed by icing the legs
I am not particularly interested in wearing Vibrams or going completely barefoot, but rather teaching myself a forefoot/midfoot strike instead of a heel strike. And this is exactly what I've been doing since I started training for this marathon. I took a new pair of Adidas Glide 2 shoes out from the box and started doing all my long runs using a forefoot strike. At first I kept wondering what I looked like, going from hippo to ballerina - and spending 1h on the balls of my feet definitely felt like a workout. The long runs kept getting longer but I stuck with it, nursing my calves with ice baths and compression socks - and for the first time in a month, this week I put on my older sneakers to go out for my speed workout and I just could not make my brain do anything else but forefoot strike. Then I did the 2h long run today and this new way of running felt entirely natural. It took one full month, but I think I managed to alter my running form for the better and with zero pain as a bonus (I am not talking about muscle soreness, but injury - so far, so good, touch on wood).

Not sure how my training schedule is going to shape up over the next few weeks, but I know that my longest run will be 3h30. Hopefully feet are going to get even stronger by then. I am getting pretty excited to see that I can hit sub-5 intervals with a new and alien form of running. If it keeps doing its magic, I may even see further improvement in my overall speed and who knows, a marathon PB? Coach said to trust myself - now, that's going to be a challenge.

Funny thing is, I am getting blisters in new places, such as under and between my toes. With every long run, I have been trying different pairs of socks in the hope of finding the magic ones that leave my feet smiling. I don't know whether I should shout "Eureka!" just yet, but running with a pair of Injinji toe socks today didn't bring any tears or fears.

Toe socks rock!
Happy feet!
However, I am having a serious problem above the waist where chaffing is taking new shapes and sizes. It's not easy to know what to do since I lost a few bra cup sizes in the process of shedding 50lb, but all my sports bras, being stretchy and all, still seem to fit. With "seem" being the emphasis here because in the "feel" department, it looks like this (front and back). Dark spot in the middle of the top pic is one of my gallbladder surgery scars, but the pretty butterfly underneath is entirely courtesy of my Polar sports bra. The front chaffing scar is about 4 inches large at the top, 2 inches tall. The ones in the back, I have no freaking clue where they are coming from, I suspect they were produced by the seams because the bra does not close at the back. Nice and symmetrical, I am a work of art. Oh le sigh.

Lesson learned, this is the second bra that I am retiring from the long runs, the previous one being the Moving Comfort "Juno" that imprinted the darker spot on the bottom right since the Paris Marathon.  I cannot win, I think I may start a bare-chest running movement (with duct tape for support). Who's with me for running naked? Or have you found no-chaffing magic clothes? Either way, do tell because... Ouchie ouch!

Until then, enjoy the ironic photo of the day - who says that I don't know how to sport a butterfly?


  1. The bra area is the only place that I seem to chafe, it sucks. I've found that Body Glide helps a lot. Are those socks comfy to run in? They look like they'd be annoying. Great job with your training and retraining yourself to run!

    1. Sam - I NEVER remember to put on body glide, but the main reason is that I rarely get chaffing in the same spot twice, with the exception of the nasty butterfly above. This was the second time that I chaffed there, but since I rotate my bras, I also have a hard time remembering which one gives me chaffing where. It's like chaffing roulette, lol.

      The socks were a nice surprise. Once you put them on, you don't feel them anymore, especially the toes. But they are on the warm side for being a bit thicker than others, so if your feet sweat or get very hot, these may not be for you. If you ever needed a pair to try keep your toes separate though, I recommend them. I'll see how they hold up on runs over 3h. If they continue treating me well, I may use them in the marathon.

  2. Great work on the training! I love my under armour bra. I also need new ones too because a year past nursing and those puppies are gone forever!