Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger: Get Your Running Shoes On…

New Runners’ Program graduate Natalie G. has posted a blog entry (with lots of great photos) describing her first 5K experience at the Dogwood!

“Well, I ran my first 5K yesterday!  The Dogwood 5K in Mebane.  I was so nervous before the race began.  A few days before, I had read that there were around 500 people preregistered for the race.  The day of the race of the race, around 600.  When the times were posted there were 531 names on the list!…” Continue reading at Natalie’s blog >>

The Distance Runner

I run 700 miles away from home….

I just arrived in New England for the third and final summer of my graduate program. I have been attending graduate school in Western Massachusetts for the past two years, and in August I will have my master’s degree. It has been 27 months of leaving the hot summers of the North Carolina and attending school in New England during the summer (the best time of year), which I get to enjoy from the inside of the library.

Last summer, I was so overwhelmed with school that running (and yoga) were second to my seemingly endless articles to read, papers to write, and presentations to give. I bought a new pair of sneakers to start the summer. I sadly put 5 miles on them before returning to home. Two of those miles occurred in Mebane, while I was home on my break in July.

This summer I made the resolution to run more. I know that it is a great way to clear my head and relieve stress. This has been an element in my research focus.

I resolve to get out more. How else will I get to enjoy the beautiful New England summer? I look forward to speed work on the track and enjoying a long trail run before class. On Monday, I will start the training program for the 10K during Mebane on the Move. I will be submitting my thesis that day. I may even be wearing my running clothes and go out for a celebratory run.

I am a runner in graduate school, but most of all, I am a runner.

So, would you like to be my running partner? I will run in the small New England town, which is home for 10 weeks. You run in Mebane, or wherever you may be this summer. I will see you briefly in July and then again in August, when I am running to help myself come back to my real life.

The Intersection of Running & Yoga

…from guest blogger and MRC member Sarah

I recently returned from a short getaway to Oregon. My husband and I were even lucky enough to see the state championship track meet at Hayward Field at UO, in Tracktown, USA. We packed our running clothes and sneakers; I even broke my cardinal rule of not wearing my running sneakers for walking purposes. Instead of taking in a run in Portland and taking advantage of the first sunny day in months, my husband and I attended a yoga class.

Who could blame us, spending roughly 7 hours in a plane, was certainly feeling it. It was just what we needed that we returned the next day. We even learned a few new things that could “help the runners in the class,” as was pointed out to us. I think it was because my husband was wearing a “RUNTRIAD” shirt. Needless to say, we covered about 16 miles of walking over our trip. I thought that I was going to run, but instead I did yoga. I returned to my mat.

Roughly ten years ago, I stepped into my first yoga class. It was a free class offered at the student recreation center. I was a junior in college and was interested in trying something new. My roommate and I found ourselves giggling our way through our first class. We were not familiar with yoga etiquette; we showed up late and whispered to each other.

Over the next few years, I researched yoga and the benefits of having a practice. I read magazines and books; I attended classes, and noticed that my practice deepened. I found that yoga was effective of maintaining a relatively low level of stress, as I am typically a “high-strung” person. When things became overwhelming for me, I would retreat to my mat. My husband even noticed the positive impact that it had on me. My first job post-undergraduate degree, I was known to retreat to an empty conference room to sit quietly or breathe while in handstand, you usually heard my boots hit the wall with two thumps, but you would be amazed at your perspective of things while upside down.

I strive to wake early for a few sun salutations to start my day. (The times I do something to that effect, I notice a huge difference in my day, and you would think that would be a motivation. I, however, enjoy my sleep.) I do have a somewhat regular home practice. I don’t practice everyday. But I enjoy taking classes. My favorite part of class is having some direct me so I can deepen my practice; this is why I think that videos can be beneficial. A yoga class offers a chance for someone to adjust you while you are in postures, to make sure that your form is correct and not at risk for injuring yourself. There is nothing worse than injuring you in yoga class!

I did! I sprained both of my ankles (at the same time) in class trying to be a “yoga hero.” I was in side plank on my right and moved over to side plank on my left, somehow I managed to put enough pressure on both my ankles to injury both of them. I was not paying attention in class and moved too quickly. I also didn’t properly give myself time to heal; my recover was twice as long as it needed to be.

I even ran on my ankles! (Oh the lessons, I have learned!)

Last winter, I became a runner. Now, I didn’t wake up one day and say, “you know I think I am going to go for a run today.” This decision was a few years coming, after attending several of my husband’s races, and attempting the Couch to 5K program twice. (I completed it successfully in 2010. Third time is a charm.) I did not have the usual new runner injuries. I did IT band stretches and felt nothing. If my hamstrings were tight, it was nothing that a few down dogs and a forward fold couldn’t handle. My breathing was never an issue, if I worked too hard and my breathing became shallow, I concentrated on 3-part breath while I ran. I was (and still am) a slow runner. I turned my focus to running, and slowly let go of yoga. My yoga mat started to gather dust.

I started to notice small differences in my performance. My flexibility was no longer what it was, I finally discovered IT band pain. My habit of ending each run with a short yoga sequence that helped with my stretching was falling by the wayside. I rushed my stretching and I thought I was good to go. I felt fine. But I lost the focus of my practice and taking care of myself. I also neglected my cross training. Even though yoga is a great way to cross train, I did not have a regular yoga practice.

But I wasn’t fine. Now, you could make an argument either way about the effects of yoga had on my running depending how you feel about yoga. I noticed the correlation between yoga and running for myself. I think on of the great things about yoga, it is deeply personal practice. You may encounter people in a class who feel they are in competition with other on how deep you can go into Warrior II. Each day is different; your flexibility varies each time you practice, as does the right and left side of your body. Think about how your running changes through out the week.

I am an advocate of developing a yoga practice, because any one can do it. When I hear, “oh I’m not flexible enough for yoga,” I have learned that is another way of saying, that “I’m not ready.” That is ok. I truly do believe that if we decide to start a yoga practice, we come to it our own time.

Also, if you would like it, it could have a deeper spiritual meaning. There is a school of thought that addresses the spirituality component of yoga and without it the practice is not truly yoga. I don’t completely agree with that, as prayer and mediation can take many forms. I do believe that once you step onto your yoga mat, that is your time. How you use your time is completely up to you.

As runners, we are all at different stages, 5Ks to marathons. As yogis, I find it to be the same as well. I read Runner’s World as well as Yoga Journal; they both have equal places in my house. I know that when I run in the woods, I need to be alert of the potential dangers, but also enjoy the quiet time of reflection and nature. I take comfort in knowing that yoga has taught me to present in the moment. I am grateful for teachings of yoga and how it has influenced my running.

Running, plantar fasciitis, and running with plantar fasciitis!

…from guest blogger and MRC member, RunningMom

“No running for 30 days”, my podiatrist said to me.  Well, that’s just crazy talk, I was thinking to myself.  I have not been a week without running in three years, except for the couple of sprained ankles which is an easily understood, yet annoying still, injury. But I agreed reluctantly.  But that is not the beginning of the story.

I am 35, been running for 3 years now.  I ran track in high school but then took 10 years off to marry, have babies and weight train religiously.  But after baby number 2, I was ready for something different.  A friend suggested I sign up for a 5k with her.  When I finished it, I remember thinking-wow, I did it! But I was longing for more of the exhilaration that I felt, so I began to run longer.  I completed several 5 and 10ks that first year.  After exactly one year of running, I ran 10 miles with my sister on New Year’s Day.  And then I was bitten-you know what I am talking about.  I signed up for my first half marathon and completed it just 2 months later.  I did 4 more halfs that year.  I am a 10 ½ minute miler, give or take a few.  I love to run.  I am very comfortable in my pace.  They used to pick on me in high school because I came in last at every meet for the 800 and mile runs.  But I would be smiling so big-because I was loving every minute of it! I guess during a race is not the time to stop and smell the roses, but it is just what I do. But I digress…

The second year of running I did 3 half marathons, and went from running a 2:20 to a 2:12. Pretty happy with that. The end of December, that’s when things went awry.  My happy little schedule of 3 weekday runs of 4-5 miles and 1 Saturday or Sunday long run of 8-10 got crushed.  After a 6 mile treadmill run, I woke up the next morning with a sharp pain in my heel.  It would come and go.  I continued to run as usual and ignore it.  I ran 11 miles on Jan. 1, 2011 because I thought that would look good on my facebook page-Ran 11 on 1-1-11! Just kidding.  It has become a tradition of my sister and I to run 10 miles on New Year’s Day-we threw in an extra mile this year to match! Anyway, it felt fine running that. I thought whatever was hurting was done.  A couple of weeks later after a 4 mile run, I could not walk the next morning the pain was so bad.  I went to the chiropractor for about 3 weeks, twice a week for ultrasound therapy on my plantar and adjustments.  That was pretty affective.  But I wanted to make sure, so I went to the podiatrist who x-rayed and said it was very inflamed.  He put me on an anti-inflammatory arthritis medicine, 1 round of steroids and a cortisone shot. I also went home with a sexy blue boot to sleep in to stretch my plantar.  He told me to do the plantar stretch 3 times a day, ice and massage as much as I could.  He told me I could swim, so I swam 4 days a week.  I have been diligent.  I did not run those 30 days.  February was awful with the not running and all, but I did it.  The pain completely went away.  March came and I resumed a normal 3 days a week shorter run, Saturday 8 miler.  I did the Tobacco Half.  It felt great. Then 2 weeks later, after a short, hilly 4 the pain came back –and worse than before.  I was in intense pain and went back to the podiatrist to get fit for orthopeadic running inserts.  I pick those up next week! I stopped running for 3 weeks.  It still hurt a lot. So one morning I said to myself-I would rather mentally be stable and physically hurting, than feeling pent up and crazy from not running. So, I taped my plantar up with athletic tape, and off I went.  I did 2 miles the first run, 3 the 2nd time and 4 the 3rd time.  I also tried to adjust my gate to make sure I am firmly landing on the balls of my feet.  When the pain would start to hurt a little more, I would run on my toes.  I think the pain is actually a little less after I began to run again.  It still hurts in the morning when I first wake up and when I come home from being at work all day.  The pool really helps when it is sore.  I also have increased my yoga practice, hoping that all the stretching will benefit my plantar.  My podiatrist is probably going to scold me for running on an injured foot.  But it hurts if I don’t run, it hurts if I do, so I choose to run.  Mind you the pain is only like a 4 out of 10 when I run right now.  If it were to go to 7 I would probably not run!

So, my conclusion and point of all this is that I think plantar  fasciitis is something I am going to have to manage all of my life.  It is a very frustrating injury because there is no clear remedy.  But giving up running is just not an option for me at this point.

From RW: Trapped in a mine? Might as well run

…thanks to Richard for passing this along

Excerpt: Unless you’ve been living underground, you know by now that the 33 men trapped in a Chilean mine are finally being pulled out, 69 days after it collapsed. In a world hungry for upbeat news, this story has gained a ton of attention, and rightly so.

One tiny aspect of the story, though, hasn’t gotten much notice. From a profile of the trapped miners in London’s Daily Telegraph:
Edison Pena, 34, the fittest miner, has reportedly been running 10km a day underground. Also requested that Elvis Presley songs be sent down into the mine.”