Verb: Run. . .I DID IT!!!!

My very first official 5K race is complete! I ran the entire race and had a great time running. Shoutout to Ron B. and Marquia B. for joining my mission!

Through trial and error (mostly error) and notes from a Race Day Prep clinic, I have compiled a list of pointers for race day:

Before the race

  1. Plan, prepare, and hydrate.
  2. Research the race. Practice the route.
  3. DO NOT try anything new before race day (no new foods, clothes, gear, or workouts). You don’t want new foods souring your stomach, new clothes feeling uncoomfortable, new headphones continuously needing adjustment, sore muscles from a new workout. . .etc.
  4. Taper down workouts the week before.
  5. Load up on carbs the night before (for shorter races, this isn’t so critical).
  6. Lay out your clothes the night before.
  7. Sleep your normal amount the night before.

On race day

  1. Get there early! The energy is totally different, so you’ll want to calm your adrenaline.
  2. Warm up with dynamic stretches, get your heart rate up a bit, stretch.
  3. Don’t start too fast! Run your pace and finish strong.
  4. Listen to your body. Drink before you’re thirsty. >30 min run: rehydrate with water every 20 min (4-6 oz); >1.5 hours: electrolyte beverages are recommended.
  5. Run in negative splits: your first mile should be the slowest, speed up as you go. This is how you get your best time.

After race day

  1. It’s good to have 200 calories or less after running to get rid of any sick feelings.
  2. STRETCH, rest, and eat! Protein rich foods will help prevent soreness.
  3. Celebrate – You did it!! Whoop!!

Other notes

  • Socks are very important! “Cotton is rotten.” Dry, cool feet don’t blister. Left and right specific socks are better.
  • Compression sleeves cut down on muscle vibrations and soreness. They also increase circulation, which can help prevent injuries.
  • DO NOT forget a fanny pack or drawstring backpack

Now you know what I know! I can’t believe I actually ran the entire race, but my body is telling me it really happened. And I love the way it feels! Insert(VERB)Here: RUN. Yes, I did it!

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©2013 by Ayana Martin

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It’s Easier to Keep Running?!

So weeks 5 and 6 of running were interesting. They started off with a walk/jog combination and transitioned to a 20 minute jog with no walking by the end of the week. During week 5, this 20 minute jog seemed ominous. But when the day finally came, I was able to tuck away another victory! I jogged for 20 minutes straight and when it was over, I wasn’t wheezing, coughing, gasping, or ridiculously panting! *Cabbage patch dance*

When week 6 came, I just knew I had it in the bag! But the strangest thing happened. I was huffing and puffing during the run segments, and felt like I needed the walk segments again! What is going on?! 

At the end of the run, our run lead explained what we were feeling (So I’m not the only one? Whew!). She told us that the purpose of weeks 5 and 6 were to overcome the mental hurdle of running. With week 5, we conquered the physical hurdle of running longer. Week 6 conquered the mental by proving that we tell ourselves we need breaks when we actually don’t. It’s actually easier to just keep running! It’s all about pace. I am definitely learning to pace yourself. If I get ahead of myself and my breathing becomes labored, I slow down. . .sometimes to a glorified walk if necessary. This Couch-to-5K program is amazing! Had the run lead told me this last week, I’m sure I would have laughed in her face. But the program speaks for itself. Trust the program. The final weeks are longer running segments. And now I KNOW I can do this.

It’s almost time to show out y’all!

©2013 by Ayana Martin

5K Training Update

Week 1 is officially done! And, shockingly, it wasn’t horrific. Being moderately in shape was definitely a plus, but the Couch-to-5K program is definitely made for the average Jane. The first week’s running assignment was:

  1. 5 minute brisk walk
  2. 60 second run, 90 second walk repeat (repeat 8x for a total of 20 min)
  3. 5 minute cool down walk

60 seconds may not seem like much, but that “When will it end?!?!” feeling sneaks up on you before you know it! Fortunately, I linked up with Black Girls Run! to train. These women are very motivating, encouraging, and inspiring. I just so happened to look up my local BGR! chapter on the very same day they were initiating a new C25K group. I decided to break in the new running gear, pack up my fatty (my dog Lilo :)), and join the run.

I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be the slow poke? Would I be too in shape and inadvertently discourage someone? How many people will be there – 5…10…20?? Would they be afraid of my dog? Would my dog be able to handle a 20 person crowd? All of my apprehensions only increased when a crowd of 50+ people gathered at the meeting location!! Groups of women – friends, sisters, cousins, nieces, kids and grandkids – all filed into a large circle to stretch before the run. How in the WORLD are we all supposed to run together? But I didn’t let my apprehensions overwhelm me. I was pleasantly surprised that the large crowd kept me motivated. If I passed someone during a run interval, I was cheered on with cries of “That’s right!” and “Do it girl!” If I was behind someone, they would wave me on to catch up saying “C’mon girl, you can do it!” There were run leads who would keep time and signal the run/walk interval and shout out the seconds remaining in the run. At the end, everyone cheered as we finished our run assignment for the day. We waited for those who may have struggled and cheered for them too as they completed their segment. We finished stretching together then all went home to soak our tired bodies.

I enjoyed the community run so much, I finished the entire week’s assignment with BGR! (The C25k program commits 3 days/week to running.) The other two runs were just as encouraging, but I ran into a kink in preparation: nighttime running. I have no idea why this didn’t cross my mind, but nighttime running can be dangerous if unprepared. And I showed up as the epitome of unprepared: dressed in all black, no reflectors, no light source. -_____- Thank goodness for a large turn out again! Someone loaned me their head light and there were plenty of reflector vests and neon colors to surround me. LESSON LEARNED.

I leave you with the lessons I learned this week:

  1. Get a running partner or find a local BGR! group to keep you encouraged and accountable for finishing.
  2. The goal is to COMPLETE, not compete! Work to complete run segments and not compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Before starting any run, avoid static stretches on cold muscles. Instead, do DYNAMIC stretches to protect your muscles, ligaments, and joints. (We do side and front leg lifts and hacky sack before our BGR! runs)
  4. After finishing a run, static stretches will help to minimize soreness in the following days (soaking in a hot bath or shower will help too 🙂 )
  5. If you are running in the evenings, have some safety gear so you can be seen by cars and fellow nighttime runners and bikers as well as you can see any hazards (e.g. holes, cracks, uneven ground): reflector vests, neon colors, glow sticks, headlamps, flashlights. Most of these can be purchased at Walmart or Target. Hardware stores also carry some of these items. If you have some time, eBay and Amazon are always wallet friendly!
  6. And if you’re running in the street at night, run on the side facing oncoming traffic.

I hope this helps someone!

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-AM

©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: PREPARE for Race Day

The new year is in full swing and it’s time to DO something! I have officially signed up for my first 5k: The Color Run on March 16th! This 5k sounded interesting enough to make me want to try it: you wear a white t-shirt and at every km marker, you’re blitzed with color. At the end of the race, you’re tie-dyed! Awesome, right?!

Well March 16th is not as far away as I thought: T-9 weeks. I will be using this time to prepare for race day. I mean, really, how silly would I be to injure myself before race day by having bad shoes or running the race cold-turkey without any prior training? There are PLENTY of other ways I could injure myself before race day. Lack of preparation will not be one of them.

A few posts back, I talked about getting some legit running equipment (check out Verb: RUN). Except, I was missing the most important thing: RUNNING SHOES! I held off for a reason. I went to a running shoe store to get a foot consultation before buying a pair, which was an interesting experience:

I walked into the store and immediately felt lost. I had no clue where to begin, what to ask, or what to look for in a shoe. An associate, probably seeing my ‘deer in headlights’ stare, came over to rescue me. He asked me to take off my shoes and socks and walk a few paces forward (Note to self: next time have a decent pedicure X_x). Tempted to own the runway set before me, I knew I was there for business and decided against strutting my stuff and instead walked normally as this stranger stared at my Flintstone toes. As I turned around to return to the seating area, I heard him smack his teeth and saw him shaking his head. >:-O Are my feet that bad?? He goes on to tell me that I overpronate when I walk. (Sir, I don’t speak Greek. . .could you repeat that in English please??) Basically, my hint of an arch completely collapses as I walk forward. (Click here for a good visual of normal vs. overpronation) He said I am going to need lots of support and that he has some shoes I can try to see how it feels and figure out what I like and don’t like. He sized my foot and was up, up, and away to find some shoes. As I sat alone for 7-10 minutes (someone even double checked to see if I had been helped), I began to wonder if he was MAKING a shoe special enough to meet my dire support needs. He finally returned with 4 boxes. I tried them on to see how the support would feel. . .and boy was he right! I felt like Cinderella finding her lost shoe! I could already feel myself running the whole 5k! Until I saw the prices. . .$120?! Are these shoes going to run FOR me?! #negative #youain’tgettin’mymoneyhoney! Graduate students are paid peanut shells (w/o the peanuts inside), so that was not going down. I simply noted the names of my favorite pairs, and went home to do a Google, eBay, and Amazon search for discounts!

After doing more research into the shoes I liked, I am proud to report I found an alternative pair for $35 on eBay 🙂

If anyone else is interested in taking this journey with me, below is a summary of tips from my experience:

  1. Get a foot consultation from a local specialty running shoe store to determine what kind of support you may need. It’s free! An alternative might be talking with your primary care doctor. (Remember to have a decent pedicure too!)
  2. Get your shoe a size bigger. This will help keep your feet comfortable as they swell and pound as you run.
  3. $70 is a good budget for your first pair. You’ll have a great selection and should be able to find your size (this was a struggle at lower prices because I have such a common shoe size).
  4. You will get to try on shoes at your consultation. Don’t buy them there (unless they are within your budget)! Go home and do some research online (my favorite site was www.joesnewbalanceoutlet.com). Just like a car dealership, the specialty stores will be selling their latest models. Check out older versions of the shoe you are interested in.

Stay tuned for my next steps to prepare for race day! I will be linking up with Black Girls Run and using the Couch-to-5K app!

-AM

©2013 by Ayana Martin

Verb: RUN

I want to run a 5K. (GASP!) Coming from a girl who views the sport of Track as competitively running in circles, this feels like Mission:Impossible. Not only do I want to run a 5K, I want to accomplish it the Plain Jane way. And by that I mean I don’t have money to hire a trainer, buy the special shakes and organic foods, or get the fanciest shoes that should practically do all the work for me. But what I DO have are apps! With the exception of the running shoes, there are many free and/or cheap resources available to the average Jane to get in shape (Google, Couchto5K, Learn2Run, Black Girls Run, etc). So this is now my Mission:POSSIBLE.

First things first: EQUIPMENT
With it being the holiday season, I was able to snag some great deals!
Neon shorts: $2 (originally $32)
Compression/dri fit capris: $15 (originally $50)
Looking and feeling like a bad ass legit runner: Priceless!

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-AM

©2012 by Alexandria Dotson and Ayana Martin