Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rotating belts and yes, I'm a wuss!

So what DO you look at when running on a treadmill? Have you ever tried to read on a treadmill while running? I've tried it and my head must bounce up and down too much because I can't even concentrate on a large print Reader's Digest. And my gym, in a stroke of genius, placed the televisions at just the right angled location that you would have to be the little girl in the move, The Exorcist, to have a comfortable view. So what do I usually wind up looking at? That's right: the numbers.

Yep, I watch those little minutes and those pesky miles tick tick slowly by. Pretty exciting huh? The only problem is, I discovered Saturday that I have now developed a habit of looking down when I run. Pretty easy to get hit by a car that way you see. While these Mississippi drivers, unlike the rest of the world, know to show respect by pulling over when a funeral procession comes down the road, they must think runners 'bes' move over now'!

So I decided on Sunday that I need to get out more and run the roads; stop looking down and lookin' all self-conscious and all. The only problem is I am a wuss and HATE to run outside when it is below 40 degrees. So when I woke up this morning, saw the temp at 36 degrees, off to the gym I went, looking all down and all yet again!

I'm starting to get pretty dern bored on the ol' rotating belt, especially now that I am doing longer distances. I tried little games today to break the monotony: like not looking down for a while and trying to guess how far I went, or counting and recounting all of the other people working out. You probably guessed these didn't work too well and I went back to my routine of staring at the numbers. So I'm praying for warmer weather this Thursday and have a route all marked out for me. The weather forecast for this Thurday am? A comfortable 49 degrees! But what?! Rain. And yep, when it comes to running in the rain, I'm a.....

Looks like I'll be staring at the digits yet again. :-(

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Great Week!

It was a pretty great running week for me this week. I met my goal mileage for the week, exceeding it by almost 2 miles for 21.8 miles. Early in the week, I ran my 2-mile speed run faster than I have recently for a 7:56 pace (good for me). I also unexpectly felt so good on a 4-miler on Thursday that I set a new PR for that distance (35:08). My long run this weekend went well and was a great way to finish off the week.

I'm not as fast as a lot of those runners blogging out there who I like to read as inspiration. (Congrats Jim on that 18-miler this weekend!) But I am making progress, especially with my speed lately, and I'm starting to feel like I can reach the goals I set for the year. Nevertheless I felt good about the week and treated myself to some rainbow sushi at Ichibon's Saturday night!

I have targeted my first race for the year: it is about 9 weeks away on April Fool's Day of all days! It is the Heart Run 5k here in Tupelo. I had signed up last year but came down with plantar fascilitis and couldn't run. I wear the T-shirt and even reviewed it in one of my recent blogs. This next one I will get to earn!

I hope you all had a great weekend! If you have any tips about how I can increase my speed and distances at the same time, feel free to drop a line!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fearless Review: Technical Running Shirts

Beginning this month on this blog, I will review various items I have purchased to either assist in my running or just keep me motivated. I call this a “fearless review” since so many times magazines don’t tell you what they really think because of their worry about the almighty advertising dollar. Well you don’t have to worry about that here on my blog!

This time I will review those ever-popular dry-wicking running shirts. In the old days, cotton was king and no one ever thought to put any of those other scratchy shirts on to pull a four-miler. But these days dry-wicking shirts use high tech materials (i.e. comfy polyester) to wick perspiration away and try to achieve a cool, more comfortable feel. These fabrics are designed to keep t-shirts from sticking to you and, if you are like me with the sweaty middle-back after a few miles, you will appreciate that!

In this blog I will review four different dry-wicking running shirts I have personally owned. Now I know there are hundreds of dry-wicking brands out these days so this is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list; nor do I want to give the impression that this list is a “best of”. But maybe this will be informative for those of you who have been afraid to try anything but a cotton T. Also, it may get some of you to try some brands you haven’t thought of before.

Under-Armour Loose Gear T-shirt: App. $25 ****

Ah…the brand that helps us “PROTECT THIS HOUSE!” This shirt is a loose version of their “heat-gear” shirts and is designed to “cool your body by pulling perspiration off of your skin and moving it to the surface where it evaporates from the fabric”. This was my first sweat-wicking shirt and you can presently see me wearing it in my profile picture. A lot of people think of the Under-Armour brand when they think of technical workout shirts and for good reason. These shirts are quality-made. When it was new, it worked perfectly and wicked moisture away as advertised. Best of all, it has the feel of cotton and doesn’t cling to you like some of the dry-wicking shirts do. However, I have noticed that the shirt has not held up as well in the wash as some of my other shirts so I can’t give it a full 5 stars.

Brooks Podium long sleeve T-shirt: App. $28 ****1/2

Brooks is a name that we often think of when we look for running apparel and this T does not disappoint. Now I have to confess, I got my Brooks shirt free for signing up for a race but it is the same shirt regardless. Mine is long sleeve so it is only good for colder weather but it is a perfect moisture wicking shirt. Although it does not exactly feel like cotton, it is still comfortable enough to lounge around in and has held up wonderfully in the wash. I only wish I didn’t have those pen pricks in the front of it! 4 ½ out of 5 stars.

Target C9 Duo-Dry T-shirt: App. $14 ****

With thick black stripes down the sides (under the arms) and a reflective stripe across the chest, this may be the most stylish dry-wicking shirt I own. The shirt is slick so it feels nothing like cotton but is extremely comfortable and wicks the sweat away as well as the more costly brands. It is the shirt I keep reaching for on most days but I have to give it only 4 stars because it clings a little too much so, yes….it shows off the ol’ nipples! Definitely worth the value price.

Wal-Mart Athletic Works long sleeve T-shirt: App. $12 **1/2

Ok, so I needed another long sleeve wicking T so I went the Wally World route and got what seemed like a great buy in a black wicking long sleeve shirt. To the shirt’s credit, it does a decent job of wicking sweat and is roomy and fits well. However, it feels like a polyester shirt and is scratchy and uncomfortable. If you go the budget route, I recommend you go to Target.

In summary, if you are a runner or like to exercise and have not tried one of the dry-wicking shirts on the market today, do yourself a favor and go out and buy one. You will get hooked and never want to go back to cotton again! But a word to the wise, make sure to try on the shirt first before you buy. Many of the dry-wicking shirts have a tight fit and, unless you are a lot more “studly” than me, you just don’t want to go that route. Also, some of the fabrics of these shirts are less technical than others and are not that comfortable. Make sure you get something that feels cool and comfortable and doesn’t scratch at all, because after a few miles down the road, that will make all the difference!

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think and whether you have tried a shirt you really like!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Medicine

Today closes another week of running and one that brings mixed feelings. My wife was sick so I missed out on my long run this week. But I also set two recent records for times in a two-mile speed workout and a four-mile tempo run. I say recent records because I was able to run faster 15 years ago but was far removed from those old paces when I started running in March of 2004. The fact that I accomplished something at least helps me swallow the low mileage, but I also learned something else about my running this week.

I didn't run on Wednesday, which was a planned off day, and overslept and missed my Thursday run too. Thursday afternoon I was talking to some cooworkers who noticed I was a little crankier than usual. I was thinking on what was upsetting me when I realized the real reason for my attitude: running is becoming my medicine!

I stop short of saying the word "addiction" here because I don't "crave" it by any means. But when I go a couple of days without running, I notice that I am more irritable and don't have the same bounce in my step. So running is like a medicine if you will. Maybe you were like me when you were a kid and your mother made you take castor oil, for what I don't remember. Running is kind of like my castor oil. To be quite honest, I don't necessarily look forward to it, but after I take it, I really do feel better afterwards!

I wouldn't really mind if running becomes an addiction for me because it would help me stick to it, but I will settle for it being my castor oil for the time being. Any maybe next week I can take it in my own recommended dosage - 20 miles that is!

By the way, if you haven't noticed, you can check out my weekly running totals in my online running log! Just click the link to the right underneath my profile blurb.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

No fat picture this week!

After struggling the last two weeks to reach my goal, apparently all I needed was a little incentive! After threatening to post my worst fat picture if I didn't reach my weekly mileage goal, I finally came through! It only took putting the ol' pride on the line to keep me motivated!

Not that I'm embarrassed by the weight I have lost. I feel pretty accomplished to have taken off 76 pounds now and kept it off. But that picture of mine is pretty bad and would be pretty embarrassing. Just a week ago some new friends were over and saw a picture of me when I was about 50 pounds heavier. They asked, "Man, is this really you?" I looked pretty bloated to be sure, but not nearly as bad as in the picture I was threatening myself with.

I just know I can't get too comfortable and I need to keep pressing forward toward my goal to lose 20 to 25 additional pounds and increase my mileage and running pace. So the picture worked this week, but I'm not gonna threaten myself with it again just yet. It's a good motivator but like all good parenting, one I only need to pull out when absolutely necessary!

Monday, January 09, 2006

A BIG FAT.....


That's the number I posted for my weekend miles. A big ol' goose egg. This weekend was supposed to involve a long run on Saturday. I was thinking 5 - 7 miles. We got busy on Saturday so I moved the run to Sunday. No problem. It is still a part of this weeks running stats. But then Sunday rolled through and time got away from me. It's not that I was trying to skip running. It just kind of happened. But it was a wake-up call nevertheless. I have to get more committed.

I am going to focus hard on meeting my goals this week and making more progress in losing weight as well. My weight is up a pound after the weekend! I know it could be Valentine's Day before I know it and I am still at this same plateau. So here is my recommitment for the week:

I will post 20 miles in my running log this week - or - I will post my worst "fat picture" ever on this very blog. Check back this weekend to see what happens....

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Barking Dogs and Trail Running

O.k. I admit it to the world - I am a little afraid of dogs. You see, at a tender age I was chased onto my swing set slide by a huge monster of a jack russell terrier and, although I didn't have proof, I swear today that it kind-of, almost, bit me!

Well, I took off on the neighborhood running-slash-horse-slash-old service road trail with a total there-and-back distance of 3 miles planned. Yet, when I was almost to the end of the "there" part, I heard what sounded like a three-pack of big dogs going crazy barking, trying to figure out where I was on the trail. Not only did I turn around but I ended up having a nice negative split and a great pace for the run! (for me of course).

Now I know these dogs, had they discovered me, could have been just as likely to lick me than actually bite me, but it is that bite me possibility that scares me. So now my trail running is in a flux, at least at this neighborhood trail. But I don't plan to give up! I will just try to work in some time at some of the trails that seem safer (or further from wandering dogs) that I will have to drive to on the way home from work.

Sure it would be a lot more convenient to run the one that's only a mile from my house, but you never know if, around that next bend, there's a cocker spaniel waiting to eat your leg off! More on my next trail outing later!


Monday, January 02, 2006

Back in...the Saddle...Again

I don't know why I am on a Roy Rogers kick lately when I blog but that's the song that came to mind when naming this post, which is about trying to get started off running well again. I was lazy and didn't run today. I have been sooooo lazy during this vacation that I am scared it is going to affect my running. I didn't even log in Sunday's run until today and it freaked me out when I first logged in and read "no runs yet entered for this year".

I am meeting my friend tommorrow at 5:30 am to work out so I know I will get "back in the saddle" but hope to fire it up again so I can feel better about the short term goals I have. Sunday's run sure felt like a chore and I hope the get that "spring" in my stride pretty soon. I plan to hit the trails sometime in this week so we shall see!