Thursday, October 27, 2011


I promise, I am still working on my review of Gore-Tex Trans Rockies run. I want it to be just right prior to posting and there was a lot to write about.
On another note, blisters have been a prevalent part of my existence for several years now. In high-school, I experienced the regular runner’s blisters on my feet. When I rowed in college, blisters were as common as eating breakfast. They formed on our hands, popped (or we popped them with needle and thread to dry them out), calloused, blistered, popped, and calloused again (you get the idea). With recreational running, blisters are common; however, now that my running consists of longer, more frequent training runs, blisters are more than common. It is not unusual for me to have only nine toe nails- a common result of under the nail blisters.

Recently, I added orthotics to my shoes to provide some support to an obnoxious injury. I then put them in a pair of shoes that did not fit right and developed massive blisters bilaterally on my arches. Gross. These blisters have followed the same path as all my others- blister, pop, roughen, peel, re-blister. During a long training run recently, I felt them go through a good portion of this cycle. Yesterday on my run, I realized how irritated my feet were, as they got ready to blister again.
In a weird way, I am proud of my blisters. They are battle wounds and tests of mental fortitude. They reflect hard work and perseverance. Each new blister brings a story that almost always involves a fight through the pain. It seems like blisters open communication between runners (probably while grossing out everyone else). Running through the pain of developing blister and pop takes a lot of focus and determination, especially when every step is met with pain. I do not complain about my blisters, rather, I boast about them because they were earned while doing something I love, something many think is weird.
I also found myself thinking about my dad.
I know, weird that blisters make me think of my dad. While growing up, any time I got a blister, my dad would become very concerned and would check to make sure I was taking care of it and preventing the possibility of infection. He told me his reaction is prompted by the fact that a president’s son died as the result of an inflected blister. Because of this concern, every time I blister, I think of my dad.
In addition to this, yesterday my thoughts went even deeper. With every step, I had pain in my right foot. My dad has a neuroendocrine cancer that is impacting his every day. Prognosis is questionable and there is really no great treatment. I realized that my blister pain is nothing compared to the discomfort my dad experiences because of his cancer. It is nothing compared to the pain people fighting cancer experience or compared to the pain experienced by family members of individuals with cancer. Blisters are my reminder to think of him and pray for him while running and when I feel the pain. Blisters are more than a sign of strength for me. Blisters will always serve as a reminder of my dad, while he is still here with us and one day (hopefully not soon) when he is gone.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Changing seasons

I love the beginning of the fall. Mornings are crisp, days are mild, and the changing leaves are eye catching. Mountains become snow capped, but I am not need to be bothered with it… yet. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy having four seasons. After growing up in Los Angeles, it took me a while to adjust to true “cold weather.” Even after living in Spokane, WA four years and Denver for five years, I still battle the idea of layering.
I do understand the concept of base layers and building on these quite well; however, I tend to have such a difficult time being comfortable in changing weather. The change in seasons almost seems like the hardest time to dress for running because you just never know what you are going to get (especially with crazy weather patterns in Denver). I appreciate the simplicity of running in the spring and summer. All I need to know is that I will be wearing a pair of shorts and either a short sleeve shirt or tank top. I might carry a long sleeve shirt, just in case. It takes about three minutes to figure out what I am going to wear, I get dressed, and I run.
When the season starts to change, getting dressed for running becomes almost agonizing for me. I tend to run cold to begin with and find myself getting angry while running if I get too hot or too cold. Rather than taking 3 minutes to get dressed, it takes much longer. The layers come out, and copious notes need to be kept on what I was dressed in and how I felt in whatever degree weather with notes on wind, rain, sun, dark, etc.
Although I dread dressing for the cold months, I continue to do it (it is much better than running naked). There is something refreshing (and a little BA) about continuing to run outside regardless of what the weather is like. I mean, who really wants to be stuck on a treadmill for a 20 mile run?
So, regardless of how much I hate having to layer and waste time in the process, I know spring will come again and I will be back to running in a tank top and shorts. Hopefully my winter efforts will hopefully pay off and I will be back to complaining about planning for extra water for long runs on hot days. Until then, it is time to embrace being able to use all of my running gear as I run on!!
On a side note, I still do plan on writing about the Gore-Tex Transrockies Run...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Back Yard

Plyometric workouts have become a staple in my work out schedule. During the summer, Ben and I would use the playground at the local school for workouts. Here, we had quick access to a lawn, several steps and low pillars, monkey bars (and other bars ), uneven surfaces, a basketball court, and four square lines. The options were endless. The lawn is a great place for speed drills, any ab work requiring a soft surface, burpee jump variations, walking lunges, and a number of other things. The steps and pillars are great for any type of jumping activity including single and double leg forward and side jumps (jumping from a step into a soft surface on one leg is a very bad idea… I promise), incline and decline push-ups, decline lunges, and more abdominal work. On the bars, you can do abs and pull ups and the uneven surfaces make for a great place to do single leg balance work. The basketball court is awesome for running lines to work on speed and agility and the four square lines are great for single leg hopping activities.

Well, it is October and school is in session, so no more using the school for our work outs. Short of getting in the car and driving to a park, this has forced us to get real creative with our back yard. A lot of the same activities can still be done, with some modifications. For example, we now use the bricks in the patio for our single leg hopping activities and the fire pit as a forward jump location (maybe we should try it with a fire in it… I might jump a little higher). We also use a basketball for a number of the abdominal activities. Extra bricks that have not been used for landscaping make great obstacles for jumping.

My favorite addition since moving plyos into the back yard is the thera band. As a physical therapist, you always have a number of these on hand from conferences and such. Last week, Ben and I decided to try our own variation of running while pulling a tire. Let me tell you, trying to run down a side walk with a thera band around your waist that is being held firmly by your husband (who is heavier than you are- albeit not by much anymore- way to go Ben!) is hard work! Being the thera band holder while trying to resist Ben’s strength was also a great work out. Needless to say, I am really excited about the endless possibilities, but really think we should get a tire and strap go even out the weight thing a little.

There are disadvantages…ok, maybe just some down sides… to doing plyos in the back yard. I am sure the neighbors think we are freakish (especially when you pair that with us getting up at stupid o’clock to run). The dog also really likes to try to help us out when we do plyos, and although this is really sweet, he really just ends up getting in the way and accidentally kicked. The opportunities are endless, however, and you save time by not having to go anywhere! The best workouts in the back yard happen to be those that come together as Ben and I each fire off different activities and are then followed by incredibly sore abs and gluts.

So, if you are ever bored and are looking for a new type of work out, the options in your back yard may be just as endless!