I’ve Done Something I Always Said I Would Never Do as a Runner

No, I didn’t qualify for Boston or anything crazy like that. What I’ve done is something many of you do all the time. For years I’ve thought about doing what I’ve done but I resisted. Despite other runners telling me I should change, I didn’t until recently but I’m stubborn like that.

I’ve become a morning runner. OK, go ahead and roll your eyes and say, “Is that all?” For me, though, this is a big thing. Like I said, for years I resisted. Instead of running before work, I would run after work. For much of the year, that was fine, except during the heart of summer when the highs for the day reached the 90’s, and of course the heat of the day coincided when I was running. I’ve always run my long run on Saturday mornings but I would never set my alarm early and get out at something crazy like 5 am.

I love my sleep and I didn’t want to have to get up at crazy-o-clock in the morning so I could run before work. But then I had an epiphany- I could just wear my running clothes to work, run there, shower, and go on with my day. We’re lucky enough to have not one shower stall at work but four shower stalls in two separate bathrooms. They’re clean and I’ve never had to wait while someone else was using one (I’ve used them in the past occasionally when I’d run after lunch). Why the heck wouldn’t I take advantage of such a great perk?

IMG_20190502_081627
Even at 7:45 am it was hot but still a lot cooler than if I would have run after work!

So one morning I tried it. I woke up at my usual time, packed a bag full of my work clothes, shampoo and the rest of my shower things, a towel and washcloth, and everything else I needed to get ready for the day. I ate breakfast at home, drove to work, ran, showered, and went on with my day. Hmmmm, not bad but I could do better. A couple of days later I laid out my running clothes and shoes, packed my work clothes and shower things the night before, and ate a Honey Stinger Cracker ‘N Nut Butter bar in the car on my way to work. Much better this time.

On my fourth day of running in the morning before work I started noticing a few things. My times were definitely faster when I would run in 60-something degrees versus 80-something degrees (no surprise there). I also was able to finish my run, shower, and get on with my day before all but one other person from my group at work even got to work, so certainly no one even noticed anything different in my work schedule. If I needed to, I could always work a little later in the evening because I wouldn’t need to hurry home to get in my run before dinner.

More importantly, I started noticing how much I enjoy being outside in the early morning. There are less cars on the roads so it’s noticeably quieter and there are more birds out, which I enjoy. It’s hard to put a finger on, but mornings just feel a bit different. I also really like having the evening completely free to do whatever I want. Instead of rushing home, changing into my running clothes, going for a run, making and eating dinner, stretching and foam rolling, I can now take my time getting home. I also am not running when it’s super hot outside, which is great!

So it seems I may have been converted to a morning runner after all of those years of fighting it. I have to admit I probably won’t run all four of my weekly runs in the morning, however, although I’ll continue running my long runs in the morning like I always have. I’ll probably still run 1 or 2 days a week in the evenings because I’m not 100% converted (yet, although that may change when it’s July!).

What about you- are you a morning runner or do you prefer to run in the evening? Do you think I’m crazy for just now changing so I run some of my runs in the mornings?

Happy running!

Donna

 

 

 

Recovery for Runners- Seven Things that Work for Me

It’s a fact:  the older you are as a runner, the more important recovery becomes. I’ve found that I can no longer skip stretching and foam rolling after I run or I’ll be more sore and stiff the next day. The longer and/or more intense the run, the more important it is that I follow my recovery regime.

Over the years I’ve found some recovery products that undoubtedly make a huge difference in how quickly my body recovers after running. Probably the one recovery product that I’ve had the longest is my foam roller. I’ve tried different brands and different styles of foam rollers over the last 15-20 years and have found the TriggerPoint GRID foam roller lasts longer than most other brands and does a great job for an affordable price. You can buy TriggerPoint products here.

IMG_20181213_201520-2
One or both of my dogs often tries to take over my rug that I stretch and foam roll on!

I also love Nuun hydration products and will have either their Endurance during a long run or their Sport after a shorter but intense run to re-hydrate. Endurance has some carbohydrates to help keep you fueled for runs longer than 90 minutes. You could drink either Endurance or Sport before or after a run (or during) but I’ve found what works best for me as stated above. Nuun also has a relatively new product, Rest, that has magnesium, tart cherry, and potassium to help you recover and sleep better. I’ve tried the Blackberry Vanilla Rest and really like it. You can buy Nuun products at local running and sporting goods stores, Target, Whole Foods, Amazon, and many other places including the full line of products at Nuunlife.com.

IMG_20190321_201909

Another product for recovery that I love is my Zensah recovery compression tights. My hips and calves tend to tighten up after an especially long run and I’ve found if I wear these tights for a few hours after running, my legs and hips don’t feel as tight or sore. At first I wore them only after running half marathons then I thought that was silly and started wearing them after runs more than 10 miles, when I really feel like I need them the most. I also wear Zensah compression socks or True Grit socks while I’m running and love both products. Some local running stores carry some of their products but you can find all of Zensah’s products at Zensah.com.

IMG_20180319_165606

One thing I do for recovery and I feel like it’s made a huge impact on my running and the prevention of major running injuries is go to yoga class. I’ve been going to yoga class at a gym for about 15 years and although the gyms and teachers have varied over the years, I’ve been able to learn some excellent yoga poses and stretches for helping loosen my tight runner legs and hips. I only go to yoga class once a week but I’ll sometimes incorporate some yoga-specific stretches into my post-run stretches at home.

Another thing I do after every long run is make sure I eat something healthy with carbohydrates and protein. I really love a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with whole almonds, Hemp seeds, mixed berries, sunflower seeds, and a drizzle of honey. That’s been my go-to snack after long runs for a while now and it fills me up and satisfies me plus it’s got plenty of protein and carbs to help with recovery.

The final thing I do for recovery is schedule a massage once a month. I started doing this when I was dealing with headaches and neck pain in my early 30’s. I had been involved in three different car accidents spread out over about 5 years beginning when I was in high school. At the time, I was seeing a chiropractor but didn’t want to continue seeing a chiropractor for the rest of my life so I looked into massage therapy. Not only has massage therapy helped with my neck pain and headaches but it also helped with Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) many years ago. Since I started going to a massage therapist regularly, I make sure I pay attention to any little niggles I’m currently feeling so the therapist can work those out before they become something bigger.

IMG_20180324_144527
My other dog commandeering the rug I stretch and foam roll on

Actually, there is one more thing, actually probably the most important part of recovery of all- sleep! I’m the type of person that has always needed a lot of sleep. Now that I’m a long-distance runner I need even more sleep so I always make sure I get 9 hours of sleep every night. If I haven’t been sleeping well during the week and I don’t need to get up early for a run on the weekend I’ll sometimes get as much as 10 hours of sleep at night on the weekend. Naps after a long run are also a fabulous way for your body to recover but I don’t nap that often myself.

To help with getting a good night’s sleep, I make sure I turn off all electronics at least a half hour before bedtime (preferably an hour), I dim the lights, and read every night before I go to sleep. That routine works well for me and I almost never have trouble falling asleep. I also run a fan in the bedroom for white noise and wear an eye mask to block out light.

So there you have seven things I incorporate into my life to help with recovery from running. To be honest, even if I didn’t run, each and every one of these things I listed here would still be great tools to add to my routine to help me feel better.

What things do you do for recovery? Do you find yourself spending more time on recovery than you did when you were younger?

Also, I’m looking for new shows to watch on Netflix while I stretch and foam roll. Any suggestions for shows or movies that you’re currently watching and love?

Happy running!

Donna