Sunday, January 31, 2016

What to do with a puppy too young to run yet?

I have had lots of people contact me lately that have younger dogs, dogs not ready to start their running yet.  They need things to do with their dogs for the first year and they want to learn.  I LOVE helping people with their dogs, because a happy dog and owner is one less dog in a shelter or rescue.  So what do you do with a puppy that is not old enough to run yet, and what is the appropriate age to start running with a puppy?
In doing research to help people with an appropriate answer, I came across several really great websites.  This one here called Jane Killion's Puppy Culture makes several great points about puppies.  Rather than me paraphrase, I want to copy the info she presented here with all credit going straight to her and her research:

The first consideration with puppy exercise is something called “growth plates.”  Growth plates are soft areas that sit at the ends of the long bones in puppies and young dogs.  They contain rapidly dividing cells that allow bones to become longer until the end of puberty. Growth plates gradually thin as hormonal changes approaching puberty signal the growth plates to close.  In puppies, this closure is normally completed by approximately 18 months old.

Until the growth plates close, they’re soft and vulnerable to injury.  After sexual maturity, the growth plates calcify and the rapid cell division ends.  The growth plate becomes a stable, inactive, part of the bone, now known as an epiphyseal line.

A dog’s bones are held together with muscles, tendons, and ligaments - soft tissue.  In an adult dog, if a joint experiences a stress such as bending the wrong way or rotating too much, the bones will hold firm and a soft tissue will be pulled, resulting in a sprain.  In a puppy, however, his muscles, ligaments and tendons are stronger than his growth plates, so instead of a simple sprain, his growth plate is liable to be injured - the puppy’s own soft tissue can pull apart his growth plate.

Why this matters so much is that, unlike a sprain, injuries to the growth plate may not heal properly or not heal in time for the puppy to grow up straight and strong.  Injury to a growth plate can result in a misshapen or shortened limb which, in turn, can create an incorrect angle to a joint which can make the puppy more prone to yet more injuries when he grows up.

What this means is exactly what it states.  If you start running with your puppy too much and too soon, you could possibly cause major long term damage to your pup.  So what can we do in the mean time?

I recommend all puppy owners find a local class with their pup that has reputable trainers, not just someone who completed an in store training class, but someone with credeintials.  Someone with certifications that uses positive reinforcements and small class sizes.  Someone who understands that puppies,  just like kids, need lots of play time with little bits of training interspersed.  That can be a once a week class or twice a week, and should include lots of fun homework. 

I really love classes that give a free clicker and introduce the owners to clicker training and positive reinforcement.  We are very lucky to have that here in Manhattan with Mutt School and Mary Hager/Nadja Peery.  Clicker training is just a way to mark the behavior with an audible noise or click and reward.  The dog pairs the sound of the noise with doing something right and getting a yummy treat.  Later you can move to a schedule of random reinforcment, but that is a topic for a whole another blog post :)

I also believe in doing lots of trick training (Mutt School teaches a clicker trick training class that I have taken and LOVE) and core/body proprioception exercises utilizing tools like the peanut and the balance disk.  As with all of my training, the sessions are short and to the point with lots of yummy treats and lots of positive reinforcement.  I like to do puppy sessions in the least stimulating environment as possible ,so all of the focus is on me and the yummy treats.  Sometimes with a new puppy or dog, you may have to make a list of the most reinforcing object or treat. For some dogs, kibble is awesome or hot dogs or even steak.  For others it is a tug session or the beloved tennis ball.  Play around and figure out what is the top of your dog's reinforcement list.  
There are also lots of classes/sports you can start with a younger dog/puppy.  Nose work is very popular now and has little to no impact, as well as rally obedience and classical obedience.  The skills that you learn from these sports will help you later on with running and with higher impact sports like agility and disc dog.  Again we are very blessed in Manhattan to have a disc dog group called Prairie Disc Dog MHK and agility classes like out at Deep Creek Agility.    You can always take beginner classes in all of these sports, but most training groups have a minimum age, usually based on safety and also length of attention span.  
So as you can see, there are tons you can do with your puppies before they are old enough to run.  Now a days even if you don't have a great trainer in your area, you can find online classes for you and your pup where you can watch videos, video your sessions and email them to the intructor for feedback.  Here are a few of those websites that have trainers i absolutely love:

Karen Pryor Academy-scroll down to the bottom for classes not for just trainers
Agility University-several trick classes and performance puppy classes
Lolabuland-she has a whole list of classes just for puppies including trick and performance puppy classes
On Course Agility-puppy classes for performance puppies
Daisy Peel-Several classes from conditioning to foundation classes

I know I have listed several classes for performance puppies or agility, but in my opinion, they have some of the BEST foundation classes for puppies.  These are not just for doing agility, but for having a more well rounded dog.  I like the fact that you go at your own pace and that you aren't crammed into a space with several other dogs in a class, which can be quite distracting.  Distractions are good, don't get me wrong, but not when you are teaching behaviors at their rawest of forms.  
I wanted to end with a list of websites with more information on running with dogs and why running with puppies is not a good idea.  As always, consult with your vet if you are interested in any sports, including running, with your new pup.  They can be an excellent source of advice.  There are also many performance vets/rehab vets/chiropractors/Chinese medicine vets that can also give you great advice.  Always remember, you can't change genetics so if you are looking for a puppy with running in mind, look for breeders that do genetic testing for things like elbows and hip dysplasia and are very honest with you about these results.  Don't be afraid to ask the hard question of your breeders, this is a part of your family that will be with you for anywhere from 10-18  years dependent on breed.

How Soon Can a Dog Become a Jogging Partner
The Best Way to Run With Your Dog
At What Age Should You Run with Your Dog
Jogging with Your Dogs Improve Overall Fitness and Health

Hope this helps!  Please let me know if you have any comments or anything you would like to add!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Heartland Series Training Week 3

I was hoping that the snow would all melt sunday.  It was sunny and roads were super slushy.  I had commented to my hubby that now would be the time to blade them and get all of that slush off.  Well, I have no clue how  much it costs to run that machinery or pay someone to run it, but it must be a lot because it wasn't done.  Now, our road and many others are solid sheets of ice where the water froze back.  Not good.  Here is how the week went.

Monday;  Had hill work planned for this day, but did the old switcheroo with another work out, and moved my 5-6 miler to this day.  My ankle and foot were a bit sore from rolling my ankle during my long run, so decided not to push it with high intensity.  Plus, I was just tired from my long run.  For whatever reason, after my long run sunday, I just wanted to sleep.  Of course that never happens, and I didn't even get to bed early thanks to a well rested toddler who thought bed time was for the birds.  I am being very careful about recovery, so not sure why I was so tired.  We ended up doing 5 miles with half of our run being into some pretty stiff and intense wind.  Thanks for the extra resistance training Kansas. 5 miles

Tuesday: Unplanned rest day.  I had the dates wrong on when one of the BNG service guys was coming to service our genome mapper, and he was in the lab bright and early Tuesday morning.  We always take them to dinner and show them a good time when they are in town, so dinner and a few beers and no work out happened.  Glad my schedule it flexible for moving runs/work outs around.

Wednesday: Hill repeats.  8 to be exact.  If you want to do some killer repeats, have your speedy friend run in front of you while you dog, who is attached to you, tries to frantically run up the hill to catch up.  Those were killer and speedy, and I am glad I survived without face planting.  5 miles total with warm up, repeats, and cool down.  I tried a salt bath after this run and wow, I felt great.  Those really work! 5 miles

Thursday: Strength training!  I secretly think my coach is trying to kill me.  Don't tell her, but I substituted push ups for the burpees.  I just HATE burpees, as they kill my shoulders, hands, and wrists, even when I do them on my mat.  Plus, I have to go super slow to get form right so I opted for some good form push ups instead.
Friday: 5 miles planned.  Decided to take both dogs because this run is about taking it easy.  It wasn't a good run from the beginning.  My legs just felt heavy, and I was sore from my work out Thursday.  2 minute wall sits had trashed my quads.  Oh well, we got it done and the dogs had tons of fun running and playing in the mud and muck.
Glad they are dry and brush.  They were pretty muddy!
Saturday: 10 miles planned.  This was one of those mythical runs that just felt wonderful from the start.  I try not to look at my pace while doing long runs, unless I am doing race pace miles during.  I was not this time, but I just felt like I was jetting along.  I peaked a few times, and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw.  I was actually running at my marathon pace with ease.  It put a big smile on my face for sure.  With the latest weight gain, I had been struggling with this pace so it is nice that I am back at it and a few pounds lighter:)

We are being blessed with some great weather this week, so I am not sure if that was the case for the wonderful run or what.  I don't care, I will take the good runs when they come, and not over analyze them.  Listened to several good podcasts along the way that got me fired up for this racing season. 
Post run, got little red out and walked while he rode his bike.  After a few miles riding, we headed to lunch at Toto's tacos and then hit up the Oz Museum.  Our whole little tiny town is Oz themed and it is so much fun.  Little red had watched the Wizard of Oz the other night from start to finish so the museum meant so much more to him.  We enjoyed staying in town and spending our money locally.  Now we are all chilling and contemplating naps (i so hope).  

Total miles for the week: 25

image courtesy of National Weather Service Topeka Kansas

Next week will be interesting.  We have a massive snow storm headed our way that could either dump a foot of snow on us or nothing.  So far the track is indicating a foot for our area, but that could shift.  While I never mind a snow day, I do have a full week of experiments that I would like to get done.  I also am sure that this will be the week that two day a week speed work might return.  Gah!  Not a fan of speed work on the mill, so this could get interesting.  Have a great week!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

An update on my new running shoes the Asics Gel DS Trainer 20

I haven't mentioned an update on my new shoes I got from my trip to Road Runner's Sports in San Deigo.  I am going to rectify that now since I have long incubation times in my experiments today.   If you recall, I went from a very light weight neutral shoe in my Sacouny Kinvara 6, to a light weight stability shoes in the form of Asics Gel DS trainer 20.  Here are my observations.

I have soreness in both legs from running in my new asics.  I have been pretty much running in them since getting them in early january.   I found that going back and forth from two different shoes does me more of a disservice than a service.   I am noticing several patterns of pain.   Note, on a one to 10 scale with 1 being the least amount of pain and 10 being the most, all of these pains are around a 3-4 right now.

One is a soreness in my left arch.  My left leg/ankle/foot is always the problem child.
The other is soreness or tightness in my leg on the outside of my shin bone on both legs.
The other is a very odd soreness across the top of my foot (imagine if you can, not just that dot but a string of dots across the top of my foot. This is a new soreness for me, and I feel like has to be related to the structure of the shoe .  It isn't a deal breaker for stopping use of the shoe,  but is a weird feeling/pain.  I can't understand why it is bothering my left foot and not my right, however when watching the video of how the shoes corrected my over pronation,  there was a much clearer correction on my left than right, thus the reason for pain on the left and not the right.  
I wear my kinvaras that have 4 mm heel drop all day in the lab, and run in my asics for all work outs.  Now, I have noticed through research that my Asics have 10 mm (which is standard) heel drop, while my Kinvaras have a 4 mm heel drop.  I didn't really have any pain while running in my kinvaras, however, I felt like the over pronation needed to be corrected with the stability shoe (although the more research I am doing into this topic, the more I am thinking I may be wrong). I immediately thought when seeing the over pronation on the video that my off and on pain in my ankle might be because of the over pronation. Now, I don't have pain in my ankle, but have pains elsewhere, so is it worth correcting the over pronation?.  Am doing lots of research now to see what is the best answer as to what to do.  Live with some over pronation, or fix over pronation and have other pains.  I really think I am past the breaking in stage, so this isn't just pain due to breaking in the shoes.  I am again wondering if the shoe you run in should be the same shoe type as what you wear everyday, however, I know most runners aren't even in running shoes at work and don't have issues.  I am trying to decide if these pains could escalate and cause more issues if I ignore them,typical runner dilemma.  At first, I really felt like my legs and feet were just getting use to being back in a stability shoe.

As usual with my weird body,  why don't I feel any of these pains during my run?  I know I am over due for a good ART session with the master of pain so that may clear up everything at this whole blog post may be a moot point.

Anyway, still doing research and trying to boil down these issues.  Ah, the life of  research scientist, who is also a runner, who also has big long incubation periods in their research projects for the day:)Thanks for reading my daily ramblings and if you have experience with any of this, please leave me a comment!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Heartland Series 2016 Training Week 2

Another week in the books.

Monday: 400 meter repeats at an 8:15-8:30 pace with a mile warm up and cool down.  Wind was coming out of the south/south west, so tried to get an equal amount of repeats in the wind, versus the wind at my back.  You can tell which ones are in the wind, versus out of the wind based n the repeat time.   The first one was horrible, but they got better, and I ended up tired but happy.  Not looking forward to two speed work outs a week, not going to lie, but I love the results when PRs happen.  5.79 miles total with repeats and warm up/cool down.
Why does this happen every time I try to do anything on my mat?
Tuesday: Strength training.  I was honestly thinking about taking this as a rest day.  I had a million things to get done when I got off work, and doing strength was just not on the list.  Plus, when I got home, my hubby suggested to just go to Mcdonalds for supper (he is the cook in the family), so I had already eaten dinner before I had time to work out.   I decided to wait 2 hours post eating, and if I still felt like not working out, I wouldn't.  Well, for some odd reason, after 2 hours, I did want to work out,  and I am glad that I did.  My work out went really well, my kiddo decided to stay down stairs with daddy during most of my work out, and I did the entire work out sans shoes to try and strengthen my stupid ankle that hates me.  I call that a WIN all the way around.   I really enjoy doing the same strength training exercises two weeks in a row.  I feel so much more comfortable with the exercises after a week (I write week but it is really 2 days) of trying them.

Wednesday: 5 or 6 miles, easy.  Sigh.  We had snow the day before and were threatened with more Wednesday night. I really did NOT want to get on the mill for even 5 miles, but I also didn't know if it was a good idea to go out on slick streets.  I drove my normal running route, as I had gotten off early, and it looked okay, maybe just wet.  I decided to try it and hope i didn't hit an ice patch and land on my butt.  I headed out with trepidation, and am happy to say, other than a couple of spots that I was suspicious about, it was fine.  I had plenty of traction out on the gravel and it felt SO good to be outside.  Of course it started snowing after I got back, and as I type this, it is still snowing and we have over 6 inches.  I may be stuck inside the rest of the week and weekend, but at least I got out and got some fresh air.  5 miles.

Thursday:  Rest day and over 5 inches of snow.  YIKES!

Friday: 4 miles planned.  Well actually 5, but someone I got it in my mind that the plan said 4.  Got on the mill thanks to the half ice half snow roads.  There is just enough on the roads that yak traxs might work, but it is spotty in some places.  I opted to just get on the mill and watch an episode of The Leftovers instead of tip toeing on ice.  Stella was not happy, but I am drawing ever closer to being done with season one.  I read the book recently and had missed seeing the series when we had HBO, but now we have HBO Now, so I can go back and watch.  So far, I am liking what they are doing with the series versus the book.  Both seem equally good.

Saturday:  Had decided to long run on sunday when it might be a tiny bit warmer and the roads might be a tiny bit clearer.  Plus, Mel would be back from Germany, so would be joining me.  Did another round of strength training.  Back to 2 sessions a week and feeling good.  Even loosing some of that stubborn 10 lbs that I had acquired:)
Sunday: 10 mile long run.  The plan was for Mel and I to go together but the reality of her being gone had caught up and she was unable to go.  I begrudgingly headed out with some podcasts cued up, and a plan that if i had to walk due to slick conditions, that I would do just that.  It took me almost 2 hours to get 10 miles done since I did indeed have to walk some, but I am glad to say I didn't slip or slide or fall.  I did turn my ankle once just running on a straight line, because I am talented like that.  I have super flexible ankles, so they tend to do that occasionally.  I am a little sore post running from it, but will ice and take it easy today (well, as easy as you can take it with a 3.5 year old and three dogs).
Note to self:  Dog boots did not work for stella, although we tried a cheaper version, so maybe the more expensive version would work better.  I need to order some musher's secret and try that next.  While she didn't seemed bothered by the snow balling up on her feet, I would still like to know that her feet are in good shape this winter.  

Total miles: 24.79

I am really glad we only got 5 inches of snow versus the 40 inches they have on the west coast!  The snow pictures people have posted are amazing.  I don't even know what we would do with that much snow!  Hoping the little ankle turning thing isn't a big deal but will play it by ear this week for sure.  Have a great sunday and GO BRONCOS!!!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Upcoming races in 2016

Okay been thinking a lot about my upcoming races.  I have a few locked in that are a go and are paid for in full.  What I have on my schedule so far is:

St. Patrick's Day 2 miler + 10 K road race in Manhattan KS  March 12th

Wicked Half Marathon in Wamego KS  March 26th

Heartland Series which includes:
Rock the Parkway Half in KC April 9th
Garmin Half in KC April 16
Running with the Cows Half in KC May 14th

Brew to Shoe 10K in Manhattan KS August 6th

There are several trail races that are kind of calling my name.  The trail nerds races are awesome because they allow dogs, so Stella can run with, but they are two hours away and in the winter, that is always an iffy proposition.  I am the biggest winter weather driving wuss that was ever born, so if we were to get snow, I would eat the cost of the race.  There is a nice technical trail race the weekend of June 4th about 2 hours away from here that also sounds really good.  I don't think they allow dogs though, and the allure of trails is to run with stella.

Then there is fall.  Of course I want to do my dog trail races including the 5K in manhattan and the 5K in Topeka.  I have to think about the big one, the big goal of the year.  I have two trains of thought.  My original train of thought was to do another big city marathon.  I wanted to enter lotteries for Chicago, New York, and MCM.  My only hang up is the cost.  The experience was hands down amazing, but the cost was astronomical.  Just two nights of a hotel was over 800 bucks, plus our air fare and food we bought while we were there.  I have heard New York is more expensive, but I would potentially have a place to stay,  leaving just air fare and entry.  I also potentially have a place to stay for MCM, so airfare and entry would be the only cost.

Then there is this other train of thought, a freight train of thought that is thundering through my head.  I want to do an Ultra and I want to start with a 50 K.  My only hang up is I don't do enough trail races or training runs, and most 50 Ks are on technical trails.  I have found two 50 Ks in Kansas that aren't on what I consider technical trails (and I hope I am not wrong).  One is Kansas Rails to Trails Fall Ultra Extravaganza and the other is Kingman Kong Runathon.  Both are around 2 hours away, would only require possibly one night of a hotel room (at a much lower rate than a big city I might add), and are on relatively beginner friendly courses.  The Rails to Trails ultra has multiple longer distances along with the 50 K, and the Kingman Kong Ultra has multiple shorter distances along with the 50 K.  Both are out and back courses.  Both are in rural Kansas, which speaks to my heart since I run in rural Kansas.  They both are on the same weekend.  Yes, they cost over 100 bucks to enter but not near as bad as a big city marathon.  I really feel like this distance is calling my name.  I really feel like after my first marathon experience, and the training I went through, that I am ready to go longer.  I still had gas in my tank and a desire to run at the end of 26.2.  I am currently doing a ton of research on ultras to see if I really want to do this.  I have also contacted the organizers to see how quick they both fill up so I know how long I need to wait before I make a decision.

So there you have it.  What I am doing and what I am thinking about doing.  Call me crazy but we are runners, so we are all a little crazy:)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Using Beef as a protein source in your diet for the athlete

For those of you who don't know me, my BS is in Animal Science and my MS is in Food Science: Food Safety.  I  focused on pre harvest food safety, as in influencing food borne pathogens from farm to fork, mainly at the farm level.  My thesis project was using cattle diets to reduce acid resistance in pathogens shed from feedlot cattle. Even though I don't work on the field I studied so many years, I do keep an ear out and constantly read papers on food safety, food outbreaks, and food in general.  When I saw that Kansas had a Team Beef that was comprised of athletes spreading the word at races and events about the importance of beef in a health, well rounded diet, I felt like this was the perfect team to be on.  My family eats a variety of foods and proteins but we LOVE our beef.  We support a local farmer and buy a side of beef to stock our freezer, as well as hunt down good deals at the fresh meat counter at our local grocery store.

I know sometimes it is hard to decipher the research that comes out on a sometimes daily basis.  Eat this, don't eat that, this is safe, this isn't.  Buzz words are thrown around like all "natural" and "organic", and "hormone free".  Most consumers don't know what to believe or what to think.  It is hard to navigate these articles and these scientific findings.  There are some pretty established facts about using Beef that can't be denied.  Here are a few of my favorites:

 -A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants in the BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) study experienced a 10% decrease in LDL cholesterol from baseline when they ate lean beef daily as part of a heart healthy diet and lifestyle containing less than 7% of calories from saturated fat.

-A 3 oz. serving of lean beef contributes less than 10 percent of calories to a 2,000-calorie diet and it supplies more than 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for 10 essential nutrients. On average, a 3 oz. serving of lean beef (about the size of a deck of cards) contains about 150 calories and is an excellent source of six nutrients (protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 , niacin and selenium) and a good source of four nutrients (phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin)

-A substantial body of evidence shows protein can help in maintaining a healthy weight, building muscle and fueling physical activity – all of which play an important role in a healthful lifestyle and disease prevention.

 -Beef is also a natural source of the polyunsaturated fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Although the research on CLA is still evolving, evidence suggest this fatty acid may have positive effects on cardiovascular disease, body composition, insulin resistance, immune function and bone health.

"Recipe/photo/information courtesy of The Beef Checkoff"

These are just a few of the amazing facts I learned through my orientation.  I am going to start doing a series of posts on how to use Beef in your daily diet.  I am currently going through a 30 day protein challenge through the Kansas Beef Council and learning lots about protein  and food journaling.  I have also discovered some amazing info graphic sheets about using beef as part of a diet when you are an athlete.  Here is my favorite one:

and this one:

So check them out and learn a lot about beef!!!!  It is my favorite protein source and I can't wait to represent them this spring and summer in my races by wearing my jersey and answering lots of questions!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

First Week of Official training for the Heartland Series and a Confession

Even though my hubby has had the man flu all week, I have managed to get in all of my runs.  I am so thankful that he was able to suck it up, so I could get out and get my training in.  The week looked like this:

Monday: An easy 5 with some 30 second pick ups littered throughout.  Ran with Mel so had good conversation and the miles flew by.

Tuesday: Strength training with some killer exercises my coach put together including some one legged squats (ouch) and some good old crunches.

Wednesday: an easy 5 with Mel again.  We aren't doing official speed work yet, so more just easy runs this first week.

Thursday:  a day off.  A time to catch up on laundry and dishes and and and..Sigh.  Why do they call it a rest day when there is actually no rest involved at all?

Friday: an easy 4 with the two nuts Deuce and Stella.  I had promised Deuce we would have some mommy and me time, but Stella really wanted to go.  I had heard that many people had seen coyotes lately, so I thought two protectors was better than one.  I tried letting them both off at the same time to get their runs out, and stella pretty much tried to kill deuce for 2 straight miles.  Put them both on leash to head back, was tired of yelling at Stella to BE NICE TO YOUR BROTHER.  Sometimes i feel like I have three toddlers instead of one.

Saturday: A long run of 9 miles.  I sure do love running in the winter.  Sleeping in is glorious, even if it is only till 7:30 am.  Went out at 9 am on my beloved long run road and several Run to the Top podcasts cued up.  Felt like 14, but there was hardly any wind and the sun was up, so I felt great.  Glad I got out today, it's suppose to be -14 tomorrow, BRRRR!

Sunday: Another round of strength training.

Total mileage: 23 miles

A great first week to get back in the saddle of training.  I am going to miss Mel next week as she is out of town, so hoping my coach is nice to me and doesn't throw anything too crazy my way.  I ran all of my runs in my new ascis shoes, and other than some general soreness, am feeling pretty good overall and glad that I got the shoes.

Now for the confession.  It pains me to say this but, I have gained weight. Not just a little, according to when I weigh myself, 8-10 lbs, which is a TON for my little frame.  I knew my clothes were fitting a bit tight lately, but I tend to try and stay away from the scale.  Years of weight watchers made me hate the scale, and I am in the best shape I have ever been in so the scale doesn't matter usually.  I judge it more on how my clothes fit, so when I could barley squeeze the button close on my jeans the other day, I thought wow, what am I up to now.  Gulp.  I was expecting a few pounds, but not that much.  I know I was pretty good during the holidays, because I had the stomach flu and couldn't eat.  I think it is an additive effect of doughnuts before grocery shopping, and fancy coffee with whipped cream and flavors, and christmas candy on sale.  I know on my trip I was bad, because I only travel once or twice a year, so I like to enjoy myself, especially when all food and drink is free.

So, what am I going to do?  Well, I have made significant good changes in my life the last few months during and post Chicago training, so I am going to continue doing those things.  I am keeping a water bottle at my desk and trying to get at least 3, 16 oz water bottles drank a day with my Nuun tablets.  I have replaced my lunch diet soda/flavored tea with Nuun Energy tabs.  I try to drink Nuun + water at dinner, instead of my beloved beer( i am a huge fan of craft beer and usually have one at night with dinner).  I try and just do black coffee instead of fru fru mochas.  I eat hummus and veggies for lunch, versus going out to eat.  We also meal plan and grocery shop weekly, and try to have 4-5 meals planned for the week, so the eating out trips are minimal.  I am trying really hard, and i just need to buckle down harder.  The trips are done for 6 months till we go to Colorado for Mel's wedding.  The Christmas candy and goodies are all eaten and gone.  I am back to enjoying black coffee and I am back to more miles running.  I am hoping that all of these little changes are going to add up and that I am going to be back down to my racing weight soon.  I am trying not to dwell on it, but I did want to get it off of my chest and put it out there for accountability.

See, I feel so much better now.  Have a great weekend!!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A bump in the road part three and the first OFFICIAL week of training starts

I thought I would update my bump in the road story.  For those who are lost and have no clue what I am talking about, you can go read about my bump in the road here and here.  Basically, I had a breast cancer scare that was followed by a flurry of Drs, Radiologists, and biopsies.  My path report came back benign, but my Radiologist Dr. felt uncomfortable with the results, which made me feel VERY uncomfortable.  I am very lucky in that I know many people in research and industry, who are in this area of cancer research.  Through reviewing the path reports with them, I was feeling a lot more comfortable with the wait and see method.  My primary care physician had suggested a consult with a surgeon, which I felt would really put my mind at ease to have basically a third set of eyes watching.  I had my appointment Monday, and I came out feeling a ton of relief.  My new surgeon did a great job of going over every ounce of my path report, complete with pictures (I am a visual learner).  To break it  down to a super easy level, I have some cells in a duct in  my breast that are abnormal.  They are not cancerous and have probably been that way most or all of my life.  They could have come from a trauma to the breast,  including running, or all of the sports I played while I was growing up.  He feels very confident that waiting and watching is the best option, and wants to do the mammogram at his office, while he is present at my 6 month follow up.  While he felt that the Radiologist DR had to go in and do a biopsy if he even had a smidgen of doubt that it was cancerous, he felt like since the lump was super tiny (1 mm) and that it couldn't even be felt upon palpation, that probably monitoring more closely would have been a better option.  I guess I am on the fence.  I feel like knowing that it isn't cancer was worth the pain and the compression bandage for a few days.  I probably would have erred on the side of caution anyway and asked for one.  I will have my next mammogram in six months so stay tuned for updates:)
Just a quick update on running.  I have pretty much kept up my running since the Chicago marathon, mainly for the mental benefits it gives me.   Of course I took some time off, and then had a few very light weeks with lots of cross training to ensure full recovery.  I have a good base built for this upcoming training year, and will start my official training this week for my spring full of half marathons.  I am still using Coach Jenny (meet her here), and still love her strategy for me.  I run 4 days a week, usually Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, with strength training on Tuesday and Sunday, and a complete rest day on Thursday.  I usually do two speed work sessions a week (repeats, tempo runs, fartleks, or progression runs), two easy runs a week, and a long run on the weekends.  I have lots of wiggle room to shuffle runs and work outs around if needed.  You know good ole life, it likes to mess with you, especially if you are super Type A like myself.  I really love the fact that Coach Jenny gives me specific strength training work outs.  I don't do well with, "hey, go to the gym and work out", because I will find myself on the treadmill every.single.time.  She specifies the exercises and the reps, with three rounds expected,  but also with the ability to reduce reps or lighter weights if needed.  So far, I have been able to borrow any equipment needed for my strength training, thanks to my wonderful running friends.  I am also continuing to do at least two runs a week with my speedy friend Mel and sometimes my long run.  This is a HUGE advantage because accountability is very important in the winter time, and honestly, I really don't love speed work and she does.  She is also faster than I, so chasing her helps me stay in the allotted pace I need to be in per my coaches instructions.  I am really excited for this training cycle, and really excited to try and hit my goal of a 2:05 again this year in the Heartland Series halfs.

In closing this random post, I came back from my trip to find out I now have a dare devil on my hands.  Can't wait till he can ride his bike long enough to accompany me on my easy runs:)  Thinking maybe elbow and knee pads might be a future purchase as well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stunt Puppy-Gear for active dogs!

I have blogged about the great products at Stunt Puppy, as I LOVE their running leashes.   I love the fact that they are hands free, and bonus, made in the USA!  Our own local running store carries a variety of the running leashes in store, including the Go dog Glo running leash, which is my go to when it gets dark early and I am running after work.  I contacted Stunt puppy a few weeks back to see if they have an ambassador program, since I am such a big believer in their products.  Much to my chagrin, they don't have a program in place, BUT they wanted to send me some free products to try.  Since I am huge user and lover of the running leashes, I decided to try the non-running leashes (which are also hands free) and the new Go Dog Glo Dry collar, made with reflective Biothane.

The first thing I noticed about the collar was that you could attach a leash to it on a ring OR you could use it as a martingale.  I love using collars with martingale options.  I have heard too many stories about dogs pulling out of collars, and then having horrible accidents, so I am a big fan of a collar that won't come off.  I also like the nice durable easy to release plastic snap, that can handle up to 225 lbs of pull. Note that this is not an break away collar, or a collar I would leave on a dog unsupervised.  
I can see this collar being very useful for walks at low light, or after dark, and for dogs that like to do water type activities due to fact that it has the biothane.  Plus, it will never stink, since it will stay dry, and not absorb water!  

I also like the fact that with the two D rings you could put tags on one ring and the leash on the other.  It is always a pain to try and leash up on a D ring that is already full of rabies/microchip/phone number tags.  With two rings, you don't have to worry about that!!!  And again, don't forget that all is made in the USA!  

Now on the leash.  I LOVE hands free and this leash is the softest most durable material I have ever seen.  Straight from their website  the leash is made of "tubular webbing used by climbers and firefighters, it's the softest, smoothest and most comfortable leash for you and your best friend".  It's a five foot leash that can be a hands free leash or a hands on leash or even around the shoulder leash.  They can also tailor the length if you need a custom length, which is super nice.  They come in 5 colors and again are made in the USA!  The every day leash also has the "traffic loop" near the collar that I just love, so that you can pull your dog in closer if you are in a crowded situation or for running, about to cross a busy street or have a car coming by.  I LOVE the versatility of this leash and highly recommend it for every day use.  

I just can't say enough about their products.  Stella Ella and I LOVE (notice I use the word LOVE several times:) them and use them every day.  They are durable and colorful and ship quickly.  We are lucky that our local running store carries their products but if you can't buy local, you can find their products in their web store or on amazon.  Thank you to Stunt Puppy for sending me some products to try!!!!  Your quality surpasses all others, and I can't thank you enough for making awesome products for us who run with dogs, but also to those who just need an everyday leash or collar!  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Trip to Road Runners Sports San Diego

Okay a few years ago I was looking for a place to get running gear at a good price.  We have a local running store, and I try and support them as much as possible, but sometimes you just need a good deal.  Especially if you are putting in enough miles to need shoes fairly regularly.  Enter in Road Runner Sports.  I had several running friends who used them for shoes, and were part of a VIP program that got the really good prices on shoes and gear AND free shipping AND a 90 day take back program if a shoe didn't work.  I decided to start ordering from them and LOVED the process and the prices.   I totally forgot that they were located in San Diego, so when I texted a friend about local running stores to visit, he reminded me that Road Runners was in San Diego, and not too far from our condo.  It just so happens that several of the people who traveled with us were interested in going to the store as well, after I explained the very thorough fitting process they go for.  I had read about how great the whole process was from STUFT mama's blog, and I was not disappointed at all!

Let me explain the process if you have not ever been.  You go in and sign up for an appointment first.  We went in on a rainy Tuesday morning, and it was not crowded at all, so I am not sure how long wait times could be.  After signing my name, they called me back almost immediately.  First of all, we went over everything I wanted to accomplish, and what I was looking for with my shoe, and what I had been running in and why.  In the picture above, you can see my technician for the day Rosario, who was VERY helpful/knowledgeable and listened to everything I had to say(and those who know me know I can say A LOT).  My main concern was post injury and post PT, that something might have changed, and that maybe I needed a new shoe than what I was running in. I still have fairly regular ankle pain in my left leg and my tendon gets angry still to this day if I do a bunch of hill work or high intensity.  We filled out a survey together on a very large TV/computer screen, as well as on a pad of paper that i got to take with me.  
After the process, I also immediately got an email with all of the specifics that Rosario found during my video taped run.  I was then instructed to take off my shoes and socks, roll up my pants, and step on a pressure plate type of instrument that can tell you about your arches and pressure points.  My arches were not high nor low, so that hasn't changed at all.  Next, you are instructed to get on the treadmill barefoot, and run while your technician video tapes you briefly.  Newbie runners, do NOT worry about running in front of some one.  It is VERY brief and NO one judges you about your lack of fitness if you are new to running.  The process is very quick and you get a wealth of information about what you need for your running style/body type.
After going over the results of your video,  you are asked if you would like to have custom inserts made.  There is NO obligation to buy, so I highly recommend doing this process, even if you don't think you will want them.  It is really nice to try them out, and they are custom made specifically to your feet, so very specialized to you.  Let me back up about my video.  I had some disheartening findings.  My feet looked even more turned out than normal, even when I had shoes on.  I really thought I had this way more under control than the video showed.  It really made me sad that it appears we have made no improvement:(  What was even more interesting was that now my ankles were rolling in, something we have never seen on the previous videos.  I really don't think it was there previously and that we missed it, I think it is a relatively new issue.  The good news is, stability shoes can help with this issue, and while I LOVE my sacouny Kinvaras, I was willing to try out some stability shoes as long as they were low on cushioning.
I was lead to a seating area where a new technician came and helped me with shoe selection.  Based on Rosario's suggestion as well as his,  I needed a stability shoe with low cushioning.  I was trying to be unbiased about brand and color, but honestly, it was hard.  Some of the shoes he pulled were UGLY!  I also had indicated that I was interested in trail shoes, so I tried a few of those as well while I was there.  
In the end, after trying on, running in, and re videoing, I found a winner.  I never would have guessed the Asics Gel DS trainer 20 would have won, but when I put them on, they fit like a glove.  The part that sold me more than the fit was the fact that when I ran in them, I could see immediate results on the video.  The ankle rolling stopped altogether in my left foot, which was the worst of the two, and was about 90% corrected in my right foot.  The toeing out was also a tiny bit better as well, in both feet but still not where I want it.  Oh well, I am a work in progress.  I also found a trail shoe that I would really like to purchase, once I start trail running more.  
The best part is that even though the shoes I found were a hideous color, the price for VIPs was perfect, AND I walked away knowing without a doubt that i had the right shoe for comfort and for the issue I was having.  I didn't just blindly pick a shoe based on fit or color, it really did fix the problem.  I like knowing that my hard earned money isn't being wasted.  I highly recommend if you are EVER in San Diego that you visit.  We were there for three hours, but we all walked away with new shoes and socks, AND free shipping of our purchases back to home, since we were traveling.  I also ended up with another piece of gear I needed, some cold weather pants that I can't wait to try out tomorrow.  All in all, 5 stars for all of the techs working there!!!!  Incredibly knowledgeable in every type of shoe, sock, piece of gear, everything really.  I will for sure be going back next year for a re evaluation.  PLUS, they have in stock WAY more shoes than any of our local smaller stores, so spend time trying on and trying out as many shoes as you can.  It really is worth the time to find the best fit for you and to do this type of analysis once a year.  Thank you Road Runners Sports for such a great experience!  I wished I lived closer, i would be in way more than my budget could probably handle:)


Saturday, January 9, 2016

A business trip

Get ready for lots of sunset/beach/rainbow pictures:)
Been radio silent all week due to a business trip.  Just hijacked my boss's nice laptop for a second to write some thoughts.  First of all, I always hope to get more running in that I actually accomplish, and this year I had a valid excuse and surprisingly it wasn't an illness.  San Deigo had the worst rains they have had in years this week.  We even at one time had multiple tornado warnings while we were in meetings.  Funny thing is, back in Kansas, they had multiple small earthquakes.  Go figure!  I was lucky in the day that I got here, it was sunny and warm to me (60s and all of the runners were completely bundled up) so I headed out to catch the sunset and run a little.  Unfortunately, I could only get about 3 miles in of running back and forth on the beach front but I am NOT complaining.  The views, when I wasn't dodging others watching the sunset, was amazing!
I so love running and hearing the waves crashing.  It was so meditative, well, when not dodging people on the side walks.  FYI, I am NOT use to running on sidewalks, but the traffic is SO crazy here I did not dare try running in the roads.
 Let me tell you about the amazing hills here!  I got such a great hill work out in just trying to get 3 miles in that I emailed my coach and asked if I could just do hill repeats rather than straight mileage.  She agreed but then the weather turned nasty for the rest of the week.  I don't mind rain, I won't melt but I do mind high winds and palm fronds falling all over.  Plus road were flooding pretty quickly causing motorists to have major issues.
Due to the weather, we spent a lot of time indoors during our sight seeing period of our trip.  My boss is always super nice about letting us come down a day or two earlier so we can see some of the sights.  
 We took in Balboa Park during one of the rain storms.  I visited the museum of Natural History and when the rain stopped, we all visited the botanical gardens.
I did a strength work out too, since I was forced inside one morning due to high wind and rain.   
We also visited the Birch aquarium.  It was small but the exhibits were really good!

I really LOVED the sea horse exhibit and the Giant Octopus.  He or She came out and put her/his tentacles on the glass, so we all got some octopus love pictures.
 During our meetings, which was a user's group meeting for customers of Bionano equipment, we were treated to many San Diego sights and eats.  One of the nights, we got to take over White Labs brewery, and not only taste the yummy brews, but also tour their state of the art facilities.  I highly recommend going to the tasting room if you are ever in San Diego.  The brewers were very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.
 They only had one stout,  BUT it  had 96 strains of yeast, and was one of the best stouts I have ever tasted.  It was my favorite, but I also tried several porters, and some lighter beers to compare.  We were also treated to authentic street tacos.  I was brave and tried the fish taco, but just couldn't do it.  Just not a fish person, but at least I did my three brownie bites before I gave up.

We also had a family style dinner at a very yummy restaurant thats name escapes me.  They did have very interesting decor.  Maybe I should sell all of my Breyer models for decor for restaurant?
 I did finally get my hill repeats.  8 repeats on with two on each of four different hills, and they were killer, with my recovery jogs going straight into this view.  Heaven.

My San Diego trip is coming to a close, as we are heading back to snowy cold Kansas today.  I am going to do a separate blog on my experience of going to Road Runner Sports, because I had the most amazing experience ever there!!!!  I have had so much fun, networked TONS, and learned SO much!  BONUS.  didn't get the stomach bug or a bad cold, so was able to truly enjoy many, many fine San Diego brews.  I love coming every year and can't wait till next year!!!!