Naptime treadmill run

Yesterday, we had a fabulous family run.  Hubby’s knee has been bothering him so he only ran the first mile and half with us then we swung by our house so he could hop on his bike.  He biked next to me and Z for the rest of our 4 mile run.  It was such a nice way to spend the morning – getting some exercise as a family! It was hot during our run, but today it is even hotter.  There is a heat advisory in effect so I thought it was best not to take Z out for a run.

Hubby, along with some of our wonderful family members, assembled our brand new treadmill over the weekend.  Hubby told me that he “wasn’t sure” if he had finished putting it together, but he thought it was good to go; I just needed to lubricate the belt first.  I scanned the instructions and it appeared to be ready to go so I lubed up the belt and hopped on.  I generally hate running on the treadmill, or the dreadmill as many affectionately call it, but I need an option for when I can’t take Z out running.

After I had Z last year, when I started running again, it was on the treadmill.  I went to the neighborhood gym with him and I’d park the stroller next to the treadmill.  He’d watch me intently while I ran and then quickly fall asleep to the hum of the treadmill.

Watching mommy run on the treadmill

Fell asleep watching mommy run

As he got older, there was no way I could take him to the gym and he’d be content to sit still while I ran.  Once he was old enough I started to take him out on my runs with me or I’d run alone while hubby watched him and I haven’t looked back at a treadmill since.

When I was in college, I was a dedicated treadmill runner.  I don’t know why I didn’t venture outside for my runs; it was probably partially because going to the gym was a social activity since I went with my friends :) .  I trained for a 5K on the treadmill my sophomore year which was a huge mistake because I was so unprepared for these little things called hills.  It wasn’t really until my senior year that I finally started running outside regularly.  I loved it and never wanted to get back on a treadmill again! I enjoyed running outside so much that it led me to start training for the Marine Corps Marathon after graduation.

Now that I’ve gone off on a tangent about my treadmill history, let’s get back to today’s run :) .  After much research, we chose the Horizon Fitness T203 Treadmill.  We knew we wanted a good quality treadmill and I had 2 specific requirements for it – a fan and an iPod hookup.  A lot of treadmills do have both things, but we went with this one based on the reviews.  The treadmill has many more great features such as an adjustment to make the surface firm or soft, Nike + connection, incline up to 12%, speed up to 12mph, and it folds up! I do wish the fan was a little bit stronger, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

I was able to connect my iPhone (and it charged my phone while I ran!) and play my music through the speakers.  This is a huge advantage for me because I need to be able to hear the monitor while I run in case my son wakes up.  Another advantage to having your own treadmill in your basement is that you can sing along with Lady Gaga while you run and no one will look at you like you’re crazy!

Water – check. Baby monitor – check. Lady Gaga – check. Let’s do this!

It’s also nice that I can watch TV if I want while I run to help pass the time; I think I might do that next time because did you know that running on the treadmill is extremely boring?! The first mile and half were great as I basked in my ability to blast my music and sing along, but then I started to get frustrated, as I glanced out the window, that I was stuck inside.  My scenery wasn’t changing.  I only ended up running 3 miles (in 29:30) at a 1% incline.  If I ran outside, I would have tried for 4-5 miles, but I was so ready to get off that treadmill after 3 miles.  I walked for 2 minutes to cool down after I hit 3, then I was done.

If you’re wondering why I ran at a 1% incline, that would be because someone once told me that running at a 0% incline on the treadmill is pretty much the equivalent of running downhill outside.  I don’t know if that is accurate or not, but ever since then, I try to run at a 0.5 or 1% incline to add a wee bit more resistance.  I hope I’m wrong actually because that run was pretty tough and I’d like to blame the incline for that.

As much as I do not enjoy running on the treadmill, I am glad that we have it now.  I recently read that treadmill running should be a supplement, not a replacement, to running outside which is most definitely true.  I won’t be replacing my outdoor runs with treadmill runs, but I will be hopping on it when I can’t get outside.

Whether it be inside or outside, happy running to you!

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Tips for running with the stroller

Running with a jogging stroller can be a challenge.  I’m sure you’ve seen people doing it and they make it looks natural and effortless.  When you first try it yourself, you might find that it’s anything but natural and definitely takes a lot of effort! These are tips specifically about the mechanics of running with a jogging stroller; check out my Tips and Gear pages for more information on running with your little one.

  • Age.  Before you beginning running with your little one, remember that they should be at least 6 months of age.
  • Be patient.  It will take you a while to get used to the feel of running with the stroller.
  • Skip hills to start.  Running uphill with the stroller can be a challenge so when you’re getting started, give yourself a break and stick to a flat route if possible.  Once you’re comfortable running with the stroller, then head for the hills!
  • Fill up.  Make sure you have enough air in your stroller’s tires.  If you don’t have enough air in your tires, the stroller will be much more difficult to push.  At the same time, you don’t want to overfill them with air because it can make the stroller more prone to tipping.
  • Swing those arms.  Running with the stroller causes you to lose your natural arm swing which is a challenge to get used to.  I recommend pushing the stroller with one hand.  Be sure to switch between which hand you use every so often during your run so you’re not making one side of your body work harder than the other.  Don’t forget to keep the stroller’s safety strap on your wrist at all times.  Over time, you’ll figure out what’s comfortable for you in terms of your hand placement on the handlebar.  I prefer to keep my hand slightly off center – so if I push with my left hand, I keep that hand slightly off center to the left.
  • Hold on tight, but not too tight.  You want to have a good grasp of the handlebar, but you don’t want to hold on too tight because than you’re expending too much of your energy on your grip.  You also might end up with arm, shoulder or neck pain from holding on too tight.  Just keep your hand gently, but securely on the handlebar.  Resist the urge to push and let go, push and let go, push and let go as you run.  It is not safe to run like that with the stroller, even with the wrist strap on your wrist because the stroller can easily get away from you.
  • Turns.  When you take a turn, then you need to use both hands on the handlebar and hold on tighter so you have better control of the stroller.  Then you can go back to your single-handed light grip.
  • Push with your legs.  You want to use your lower body strength to push the stroller.  You don’t want to hunch over the stroller while running – that will definitely put a strain on your upper body.  Plus, it’s a great workout for those glutes and quads!
  • Be mindful of your form.  Even when you’re running alone, you should check your form from time to time.  Just be sure that you’re maintaining good posture and not slumping.  This is even more important with the stroller because holding onto the handlebar and pushing your little one can make you start to hunch over.  Remember to pull those shoulders back and run tall, mama!
  • Watch your stride.  Running with the stroller can throw off your natural running stride and make your stride a bit choppy.  Keep your body far enough from the stroller than you can maintain a comfortable, open stride while you run.
  • Lock the wheel.  If you don’t have a fixed front wheel on your jogging stroller, you will need to lock it before you run.  Running with the wheel locked is much safer as the swivel of the front wheel can cause the stroller to tip easily if you hit a bump in the road.  Taking turns with the wheel locked is a challenge, but you’ll get used to it in time.
  • Don’t feel discouraged.  Running with the stroller is NOT easy! Don’t give up if it seems too hard in the beginning.  It will get easier over time.  You’ll figure out your form, stride and hand placement as you get used to running with the stroller.
  • Ask me.  I’m not an expert, but I have been running with my son for almost a year and have taken him running up to 10 miles so far.  Contact me if you have any specific questions I can answer!

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Remember in school when you crammed for a test the night before? With running, you can’t cram.  You can’t hurry up and add mileage into your weekly runs shortly before a long race to get yourself ready.  It takes time to build up your strength and endurance.  You also can’t wait until the last mile of a 12 mile run to try to beat your time from your last 12 miler.

I knew that, but I tried to beat my old time anyway yesterday during my long run.  I didn’t quite make it, but I did run an 8:32 mile for my last mile so that was a small victory.  When I woke up yesterday for my long run, I felt tired and I didn’t want to get out of bed.  That was a big change from how I’ve felt in the last couple months for my long runs.  I had been so pumped and motivated for my long runs that I couldn’t wait to hop out of bed at 5:30 or 6am on a Saturday to hit the road.  That was definitely not the case yesterday.  I dragged myself out of bed and dragged myself out the door and dragged myself through the first few miles before I finally mustered up some energy.

I did end up having a decent run – 12 miles in 2:00:27; just short of beating my last 12 mile time of 1:59:59.  My average pace was 10:02.  The weather wasn’t bad – about 64 degrees when I headed out the door, but 89% humidity.  Humidity is not my friend.  It definitely slowed me down.  As as I was saying in the beginning, you usually can’t cram at the end of your run to beat your previous time.  I was not at all on track to finish in the same time at my last 12 miler.  All of my mile splits were over 10 minutes.  In the last mile, I dug deep and pushed myself.  I kept looking at my watch and saw 1:59 creeping up on me.  I pushed my legs are hard as I could and I wrapped up that last mile in 8:32.  If I can run the last mile of a 12 mile run in 8:32, why can’t I run all 12 miles at that pace? Maybe I don’t have the strength, or the confidence, for that yet, but maybe one day I will.  The lesson from my run was that if I want to reach my goal of running a certain distance in a specific time, then I need to be able to push myself during the entire run, not just at the end.

Cheesy runnerd alert – at the end of my last mile, a song I recently downloaded played and the lyrics were just what I needed to hear.  ”I’m just gonna run right through the rain (too bad it wasn’t raining, that would have really been perfect!), I’m just gonna dance through the pain…Let my heart beat louder, Let my heart speak louder than my head.” (Charice – “Louder”) If I could change the lyrics around a little, it would have been – I’m just gonna run right through the pain! And in order for me to push myself and run as hard as I did for that last mile, I had to let my heart speak louder than my head which was telling me that I was tired and I needed to stop.  I knew in my heart that I could do it.

While I know you can’t “cram” when it comes to running, you can push yourself and make big things happen.  Keep running and keep working hard to achieve your goals – you can do it!

Happy running!

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3.5 mile run with some extras

I’ve been wanting to add some conditioning into my runs to help me get stronger.  My plan for my run today was to run 3-4 miles with Z and stop along the way for some hill repeats and running drills.  Finding the right hill for my repeats was harder than you would think.  I needed a hill that was grass, not asphalt.  It needed to be a short enough hill that I could leave Z at the top or bottom while I ran up and down a few times without being too far from him.  There are some nice hills on my usual route that I could have used, but I really really really did not want to have to push the stroller up and down the hill for my repeats! I might be crazy enough to run 10 miles with Z, but hills are not my friend when I’m pushing him.

I decided on a good hill and ran about half a mile to warm up on our way there.  I parked Z at the top and hoped I could run the hill 10 times.

Waiting at the top of the hill for mommy!

The first few times I ran down, then ran back up, I was greeted with this adorable huge smile from my little running buddy.

That smile gave me the motivation I needed to run up the hill quickly!

Unfortunately, that smile only lasted for 8 runs up the hill and then Z was done with the whole mommy running away from him bit.  That was fine with me though and I didn’t want to upset him so we hit the road again and kept on running which made him happy.

Our next stop was at about the 2 mile mark where there is a dead end road with no houses or buildings on it – perfect for some drills.  I had hoped to do high knees, butt kicks, skipping, lunges, and a few other drills.

Waiting for mommy to run back to him!

I made it through some high knees, butt kicks and a few lunges when Z decided once again that he’d rather be running.  I tried to keep it fun for him by running backwards away from him so I didn’t have to take my eyes off of him and I could keep entertaining him.  He just wasn’t in the mood for it which I understood.  So we kept running instead and finished our 3.5 miles.

It was a good effort and the conditioning exercises I got to do were still beneficial.  We’ll try again another time; maybe if hubby is with us, we can take turns doing the drills so one of us can entertain the boy :) .

Happy running!

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10 miles with Z

Yesterday I went on my longest run yet with Z.  I have avoided taking him on my long runs this Spring for three reasons – the weather hasn’t always been great, I didn’t know if he would want to sit in the stroller that long and I didn’t know if I could handle running with the stroller for a longer distance than 3 or 4 miles.  The farthest I’ve taken him so far was 5 miles.

I wanted to get my long run out of the way yesterday because we have a busy weekend ahead of us.  I set out to run at least 8 miles, but I was hoping to make it to 10.  The first 5 miles were a bit tough.  I kept having to remind myself that I’ve run 5 miles with Z before so I knew I could do it.  The difficulty of the run was more mental than it was physical.  I knew I could do it, but I was doubting myself.  Around mile 5 was when my Long Run Legs kicked in and I started to feel like I could really finish out my run.

I was really happy with my pace considering how far I ran pushing Z – an average of 10:32 per mile.  I purposely started out slower than I normally would with the stroller so I wouldn’t wear myself out too quickly.  My fastest mile was 9:59 for mile 4 and my slowest was 11:06 for mile 5.  That would be because mile 4 was lot of downhill then I turned around and had to do a whole lot of uphill during mile 5! My time was 1:45:31, only 6 minutes slower than my time running 10 miles alone – not bad!

The biggest problem with going on such a long run with Z is that I’m limited to smaller area where I can run because I need to stay on the sidewalk.  When I’m alone for my long runs, I run on the shoulder of the road to get in some of my mileage and I can’t do that with the stroller.  I really hate having to re-run parts of my route during my long runs because I get bored running in the same loop.  I was able to run the 10 miles with only overlapping a small section of my route thankfully.

So now that you know I made it through physically, you’re probably wondering – how did a 15 month old little boy stay content in the stroller for 1 hour and 45 minutes? Z was truly such an angel.  He happily took in the sights and babbled to me all 10 miles.  He didn’t fuss at all until about mile 8.  At that point, I considered that we may have to end our run then which would have been fine, but all he wanted was a sip of water from his sippy cup and he was good to go.  He did get a little antsy around 9.5 miles, but once I gave him a new toy, he was happy again.  I’m one lucky mommy to have such a great little running buddy :) .

I’m not sure if I’d take him past 10 miles, partially because it was hard work running that long with the stroller and also because I don’t know that Z would want to be stuck in the stroller much longer.  If we ever run farther, we’ll probably have to take a break for him to run around and stretch out his legs.  I think it would also help if my husband was there too so at least we could entertain him together.

I’m really proud of myself for running so far with Z.  As hard as it was, it was really nice to have my favorite running partner with me for a long run.  My legs are really feeling it today though!

Happy running!

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Competing with myself

I’ve said before that I’m really not a competitive person.  When I run races, I run them to finish them, not to beat anyone else.  I do have a fear of being the last one to finish, but that hasn’t come close to happening yet :) .

Last week, I went on my longest run so far with Z in the stroller- 5 miles.  It took me 53 minutes- a time I was quite pleased with.  I only needed to run 4 miles today, but I felt great and the weather was amazing so I figured I’d tack on an extra mile.  I kept an eye on my Garmin and noticed I was on track to finish before last week’s finish time.  I was really hoping I could do it in 50 minutes, but that wasn’t happening (not this week at least, maybe next week!).  I hit 5 miles at 50:53 so I was just over 2 minutes quicker than last week.  I did have to push it a little harder in my last mile to get that time.  My average pace was 10:09 and my last mile was 9:24.  Yay!

Running with the stroller can be such a challenge sometimes, but it’s so worth it.  It’s helped me get so much stronger.  Today’s run with Z was even more fun because he chatted with me the whole time.  He babbled all 5 miles.  He even discovered that when we go over the bumpy crosswalk while he’s talking, it makes his voice sound funny.  He is too cute :) .

Only one more run this week on Friday, then my half marathon is on Sunday.  Wahoo! I’m ready!

Happy running!

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Long run legs

Long run legs are legs that have come to terms with their fate.  When I started off my 12 mile run this morning, my legs had not yet agreed upon the distance we were going to cover.  It wasn’t until about the 3.5 mile mark that they gave up and accepted that we were going to pound out those miles.  They didn’t protest much more until my last 2 miles where I purposely headed for some sizable hills.

Long run legs are legs that feel like they just might fall off your body when your long run is over.  After I wrapped up my 12 mile run, and walked wobbled back home, I had that achy, super sore feeling in my legs like I would have killed to dip them in an ice bath (and that’s saying something because I do not like ice baths).  It was a good sore though.  It meant I pushed myself and my legs are ready for next weekend’s half marathon.

Long run legs are legs that make your husband say, “wow, your legs are really muscular!” when you walk in the door from your run (I don’t think they really do though).  My legs do feel the strongest after long runs.  They feel strong during our weekday runs too, but nothing like after a long run.

My run ended up going really well aside from a slow start.  My average pace was 9:57 per mile (2 seconds faster than last week’s long run…baby steps to getting faster I suppose).  I finished 12.05 miles in 1:59:59.

There was a 5K race in our neighborhood this morning that I encountered when I was around mile 10.  It was exciting to see the race and got me even more pumped for our half marathon next weekend.  Although, I felt a little weird running in the opposite direction (on the other side of the street) as they were all going by.  I wanted to be in a race too!

The good news is I’m already done with the Joggermom Marathon! I logged 27 miles this week so I just need to fill out my spreadsheet and send all that stuff in now.  Yay!

Happy running!

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