THE POLAR VORTEX

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Lake Champlain

            I was mistaken when I thought that the extreme cold was over. This week the weather dropped back into the negatives (F). When I went to bike to work on Thursday it was literally -11 degrees out… I don’t even want to know what the temperature was including wind chill.

This, right here. This is NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. Doors are not meant to be frozen….

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            Granted to say that I have had to resort to running inside for a few runs this week. Luckily, I’ve had some great friends join me to circle around the indoor track. When you get lost in conversation, the time can passes sooooo much quicker!

This week is also the first week in my marathon training cycle that I have added in some speed work. After a short break in December, I picked my running back up and had a few weeks for base building. This is my first time training for a full marathon and also my first time doing marathon specific workouts. I am using one of Hal Higdon’s training plans, but with some of my own modifications to it.

Everyone has their own philosophy on “the long run” for marathon training. I think everyone can pretty much agree that it is important, though! The long run in the plan I’m following by Hal Higdon is kind of done in two days. The first day is a run at goal marathon pace and the second day contains most of the miles. The speed work from the day before is supposed to make your legs feel slightly sluggish and therefore simulate what the end of a race feels like. Although the long run on the second day is not at a fast pace, the workout from the day before is supposed to make it more challenging.

Even though the weather has been freezing cold, the views are still just as pretty. I was actually able to head down to the bike path yesterday for a run and I didn’t freeze my butt off! Yay!

Lake Champlain again.

Lake Champlain again.

Instagram!!!! 

I got an account pretty recently (joyrunner6) and I’ll be posting cool photos/videos about running/fitness/randomness, so you should go check it out and follow me.

How has the weather been where you are? Have you had to resort to running inside too? Anyone else follow a Hal Higdon training plan? Thoughts?

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The Ultimate “If You Fall, Get Back Up”

Heather Dorniden was a student athlete at the University of Minnesota. She ran indoor track and was a favorite in the finals for the 600 meter at the Big 10 Track and Field Championships. The race starts out perfectly with Heather drafting off of another runner, but with 200 meters to go she makes a surge to go to the front. Her feet get tangled up with another runner and she ends up falling flat on the ground. Watch the video to see what happens next… (She falls around 1:00)

I always love watching running videos before a race or just anytime in general. They get me motivated and inspired. This clip is most definitely my favorite running clip. Every time I watch it I can’t help but smile. Even though I’ve seen it a dozen times, my heart races and I can’t help but get nervous. It’s the perfect video to get you “in the zone” for a race or just out the door to do a workout.

Although there was race coverage of the meet, I prefer this video taken by a fan. It captures the crowd’s reaction as well as her team’s reaction, which is just priceless.

I hope this video might give you a little inspiration or just brighten up your day a little. Happy Running!

Aging Gracefully

I recently received an article from Parade about running. The front cover shows a picture of a woman dressed in athletic gear standing on a track. Her strong stance and joyful smile makes her look around 80 years old. You can imagine my surprise when I opened up the article and found out that she was actually 94!

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The woman’s name is Olga Kotelko and she is a retired schoolteacher that recently picked up masters track and field. She competes in a variety of track and field events such as the long jump, high jump, triple jump, hammer, javelin, shot put, discus, and a variety of running events. She is the only woman competitively competing in the long jump and high jump over the age of 90.

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Olga is not the only “super senior.” 101-year old Fauja Singh recently completed the London Marathon. That’s right, MARATHON.

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So, what’s Olga’s secret to aging gracefully? There are a few things about Olga that sets her apart from other people her age.

1. Stay Active

Although Olga didn’t pick up masters track and field until she was 77, she has been active nearly all her life. She played baseball with her siblings when she was younger and continued playing until 75.

2. Don’t Be Sedentary

Although Olga is retired, she never stays sitting for very long. Whether it’s to cook, fetch something from upstairs, or make a phone call, she’s always moving. Olga hardly ever watches television and only worked a desk job for a short period of time.

3. Be Happy

When asked if she has any goals Olga replies, “To keep on going. Not to stop. And I don’t have any plans to stop and I don’t see why I should stop. I’m enjoying every minute of it.” It’s evident that Olga loves track and field and it makes her happy – so of course why would she stop!?! Do what you love.

I’ve heard plenty of people tell me that I should enjoy running and being active because some day I won’t be able to. What if that actually wasn’t true, though? What if we didn’t have to give up what we love? Who says that we can’t be running marathons at age 100 like Fauja Singh?

Although this seems pretty unbelievable, I think it’s good to keep the possibilities open. Just like anything else, we shouldn’t limit ourselves to the standards or “norms” of society. The possibilities that our life holds are endless and we should enjoy life to the full. After all, it’s much more fun to think that way instead of believing the contrary.

Our bodies will age – that’s inevitable. We will get slower – that’s also inevitable, but who says that we have to stop doing what we love to do? I believe anything is possible if we set our minds to it.

Here’s a video of Olga. Pretty amazing!

Do you know any “super seniors?” What is their secret? What do you think?

The Day I Realized I’m Not a Sprinter

Almost every little kid that joins track wants to be a sprinter. I think the thrill of running all out for a few seconds with the crowd roaring is really appealing. Who would want to run a longer race? The longer distances don’t seem to carry as much excitement. Plus, they hurt.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to be a distance runner when I was younger. When I was about 8 years old I joined a summer track program. I convinced myself that I would compete in the 100m dash. I told myself that I was a sprinter and that’s what event I was best at.

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I remember going to one track meet in a nearby town with my dad. It was really small and low-key. Each kid got an index card and wrote down the events they wanted to compete in and pinned it on the back of their shirts. I remember talking with my dad about what events I wanted to do. I, of course, said the 100m dash – along with the long jump and 4×100 (other little kid favorites). My dad, very lovingly, said, “Laurel, I’m not so sure that you should do the 100m dash. You know, neither your mom nor I are very good at sprinting. We both are better at the long distances. Maybe you should try out the 400m or something. I think you might be better at it.”

I wouldn’t budge an inch. I said, “No, Dad. I’m a sprinter. I’m doing the 100m.” Because genetics don’t matter at all… OBVIOUSLY.

“Well, how about the 200m? It’s just a little bit longer,” he tried again.

“Nope. I’m doing the 100m.” When I was little, I would oftentimes dig in my heels. And once I did, there was no turning back. My mom would often joke that I was a typical Aries child – stubborn as can be.

And so, with all of the other little kids that also thought they were sprinters, I headed over to the starting line. Even though the race only lasts a few moments, the event takes forever because so many kids want to do it.

When it was finally my turn to race, I lined up with a few other 7-8 year olds. With my adrenaline pumping and little kid competitiveness building, I toed up to the line. “On your marks, set… go!”

I started pumping my arms and legs as fast as I could make them go. Almost as soon as we took off, though, I realized I was already behind. The other little girls already had a lead! I dug in even more and tried to use every ounce of energy I could muster. My legs just couldn’t seem to move any faster. It was as if the more I tried to will them to go faster, the farther ahead the girls got. With the finish line quickly approaching I was finally able to pass one girl that seemed to be struggling. I crossed the finish slightly baffled, but mostly just disappointed. I loved winning and second-to-last in my heat didn’t suit me too well.

With a frown on my face, I slumped back over to my dad. He still said “good job” like a good dad and didn’t tell me, “I told you so.” I learned my lesson, though. I’m not a sprinter. After that race I started trying out different races, and soon learned that I was a decent distance runner. Remember, “distance runner” at that age means the 400m.

Since then, I have felt that all too familiar feeling of not being able to sprint fast enough. In longer races you can normally dig down and push into more pain to win. However, the same isn’t true for sprinting – at least, not for me. No matter how much harder I try, my legs just won’t seem to cooperate. I tell them to move faster, but they just won’t. I guess I feel a little like this pug…

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I would always get frustrated in high school when we would run 200m repeats or do strides the day before a race. I just couldn’t seem to move any faster.

Luckily, I’ve learned that distance running is pretty cool. Although most little kids who sign up for track don’t think that the longer distances are as exciting, that’s because they just haven’t tried them yet. After all, I’ve never gotten a  runner’s high after sprinting the 100m!

***UPDATES***

I’ve switched the settings on my blog so that anyone can comment on it – not just WordPress users. I’ve heard from a few friends that they couldn’t, so that should work now!

Also, I finally tried out substituting the oil in the black bean brownies recipe with peanut butter and it is DELICIOUS! I think it is like twice as good as it was before. The flavor kind of reminds me of those no bake PB/chocolate cookies. The batter is less liquidy and therefore bakes faster also. I love them! So, you should try them out.

Lastly, remember that ClipLight that broke after only a few runs? Well, my dad got a little crafty and managed to fix it. He used the hot glue to attach a binder clip. It now works even better! The new clip holds more tightly, so that I’m not worried about it falling off. Thanks, Dad!

oops….

before (broken)

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YAY! All fixed!

How did you realize what type of runner you are? Did you have a light bulb moment like me or just gradually figured it out – or are still figuring it out? 

Winter Adventures

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Running in the winter is unpredictable and unreliable, to say the least. In the past few weeks, the weather has gone from an ice storm that left us without power, to more snow, to freezing cold, to more snow. The winter isn’t even halfway over and I’ve already run in below zero degree (Fahrenheit) weather!

With only a week left of my winter break, I’ve been doing my best to catch up with friends, which of course means going on some runs with them. Last Thursday, I went for a run with my friend on the bike path when it was below zero out. I wore my spandex pants, wool socks, a shirt, two jackets, a balaclava, a hat, and mittens. For anyone that doesn’t know, this is what a balaclava looks like – it’s kind of a hat/face-warmer/neck-warmer combined. Awesomeness!

I'm a ninja!

I’m a ninja!

All of the layers made it actually comfortable to run in. My only complaint is that our eyelashes froze! Plus, my Raynauld’s kicked in after the run. Hellooooo winter!

See my 3rd-5th fingers? That's what Raynauld's looks like.

See my 3rd-5th fingers? That’s what Raynauld’s looks like.

I’ve also been getting in some miles at the gym on days that I work because it’s too dark when I get out. I’m not a big fan of the dreadmill, so I run on the indoor track. I’ll switch between the upper and lower tracks so that I can switch directions and hopefully not mess up my hips as much. Last Friday I got in 10 miles there. Although I’m not a huge fan of listening to music when I run, I do resort to it when I’m at the gym. It makes things a little less boring. Unfortunately, my left hip is paying for running around a 160-meter track. I’ve been getting in some dates with the foam roller, though.

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Although winter may not be my favorite season for running, I’m still grateful to be out there! Even in the cold and the snow, I get the same runner’s high afterwards. Plus, winter sure can be pretty. I’ll end with a few pictures I’ve taken on my runs lately and a cool video about winter running. Enjoy!

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How has your winter running been going?