People Cannot Sidewalk

Today, I almost ran into multiple people while running on campus.

Each time, I was not on one of the skinny little sidewalks, but one of the ones that can easily accomodate 4 people wide.

Now, I know that I have just as much of a responsibility to move out of the way as the other party – but these were not instances where doing so for me was possible. In each case, a large group of people was taking up the entire space. I moved as far as I could to the edge of the sidewalk, expecting at least one of them to inch over slightly, but not one of them did. Each time, I even said “excuse me!” in case they did not hear me loudly running around, but none of them moved. In fact, the only one who moved walked into my path. I once had to actually jump out of the way!!

What on earth people – learn some basic sidewalk skills!!!

 

Sports Bras

I wasn’t going to post today – my day was not really that exciting. I drove to the gym and ran on the treadmill because it was raining. I was going to try out rowing and tell you about it but I was confused by the rowing machine so that failed. I made some black bean burgers, but I’ll talk about those on Friday.

But then I read this post about bra fitting as a feminist issue. I’ve never read this blog before, but I saw a link to this on Reddit, and what the author had to say really inspired me. After learning about how to buy a properly fitting bra after losing weight (I used to just buy 38C because that was Victoria’s Secret’s largest band and my boobs were “normal” sized), I’ve thought a lot about similar issues, but was never able to articulate them as well as the author has.

What inspired me to post about this is a point that is made in the article about sports bras – without a proper sports bra, women are basically confined to a sedentary life. I’ve heard numerous women complain, online and in person, that they hate working out because their breasts are so large, and that even if they wear a sports bra over a regular bra/wear two sports bras/duct tape their boobs (ok maybe I’m exaggerating with this one) exercise is still uncomfortable. Despite this discomfort, many of these women persevere – in my experience they are usually trying to vent about how they wish exercise would be more comfortable, rather than trying to make excuses. What I wish I could tell ALL of them is that it might be possible for them to reduce, if not completely eliminate their discomfort (I can do this online, but I hate confrontation and talking to a woman about bra size in person can turn into a nightmare  – my own mother doesn’t believe me). I’m going to guess they have at LEAST 2 problems that empowering women to understand bra sizing and available options would address:

  1. They don’t know their bra size. Many of these women will say things like “I’m a DD, there is no way I can work out and be comfortable.” But without band size, DD means nothing – it is likely that they are wearing too small of a cup size (i.e. they think they are a 36DD when they are really a 32G) and so the bras that they have are not giving them enough support in the first place.
  2. They don’t know about “good” sports bras. I define “good” sports bras pretty loosely – basically they acknowledge that cup sizes exist. None of this basically a cropped tank top crap that says to buy a “large” if you are a “D,” even if you are super scrawny and have no boobs like me (I’m a 32D, but on a small frame that is a small cup size, and the shape of my breasts means I look quite flat chested).

If you don’t know your size (or even if you think you do), I would recommend this guide (I’ve linked this before, I think) on how to measure yourself, especially if you are too shy/poor/living in the middle of nowhere to get a proper fitting.  Remember it is a starting point – because I’m pretty muscular/bony in my ribs and have oddly shaped breasts, I have to size up a band to keep from feeling uncomfortable and wear only certain styles of cups (I don’t fill others out). Similarly, someone who carries more weight around their ribs might be able to size down a band because there is more “padding” and “squish” there (I don’t really like those terms, but don’t know what else to say). But it’s a heck of a lot better than you will get in most stores, where they lie to you because they don’t carry your size (unless you happen to be a “normal” size like me that they carry).

If you don’t know about “good” sports bra options, here are a few options I can think of off the top of my head – note that these links also contain non cup-sized bras, so you should focus on the cup-sized ones”

  • Shock Absorber. I’ve never tried these, but I’ve heard good things. I don’t know where to buy them other than the internet.
  • Moving Comfort. Same deal – never tried, but I’ve heard good things. These are sold in lots of places (both my local running stores and places like Dick’s have them) and are also available through many online retailers with free returns (i.e. Piperlime). I will probably buy one of these sometime since they are locally available.
  • Under Armour. I own one very similar to this (I bought an outlet one that I don’t think they make anymore). It is very supportive but the straps are a bit tight and sort of cut into my armpits. I would still recommend, as not everyone will have the same body shape as me and the armpit thing might not bother them. You can also buy these in regular sporting goods stores, online, or in places like Under Armour Outlet.
  • Lululemon. I don’t own any of these, or anything from Lululemon (no Lululemon near me and I don’t want to buy online), but from what I understand they make very high quality activewear, and even some of their non cup-sized bras are extremely supportive if they happen to fit you (like the Run Pace Bra).
  • JC Penney. They recently started carrying cup-sized bras in their Glamorise brand. I bought this one in my sister size of 34C (often works for me because sports bras are sooooo tight compared to regular bras) but it was GIGANTIC, so do not size up! The bra seemed like it was of perfectly good quality, though, especially for like half the price of these other bras.
  • Target. I will note that I am somewhat biased about buying things at Target because I work there, so I get a discount. Still, I usually do not buy most activewear there, because it’s not really that cheap. I did buy this sports bra there, though, and I like it. Not as tight as my Under Armour one, but probably because I sister sized to 34C (this worked well in this brand). It still has adequate support for me, but recall that I don’t have a very large chest – I don’t know if it would be as supportive for a larger band/cup size. The padding has a weird shape compared to my chest, but I live with it, and it’s probably me, not the bra, and it’s removable anyway.
  • Note: not all of these have a large range of cup sizes, but websites like http://www.brastop.com that specialize in D+ bras might be a good starting point.

Race Report!

This morning I ran my 2nd 5k. My main goal was to finish with a faster time than I previously did, with a loftier goal of finishing in under 25 minutes.

I achieved the first goal, and sort of achieved the second. My official chip time was 25:16. This was very close to the time that Runkeeper recorded for me (25:26), and I found the difference reasonable considering that I started Runkeeper before crossing the starting line and stopped it after crossing the finish line. According to Runkeeper, though, I ran 3.32 miles. There is no way that 10 seconds of walking/jogging before and after the line was .2 miles! Also, I have not had trouble with Runkeeper recording proper distances in ages, so I don’t know why it suddenly would (the last time I ran a 5k it recorded 3.13 miles, which I think is a more reasonable amount of error). I’m also guessing the course may have been an awkward length because they had to reroute last minute for flooding. My conclusion: it took me more than 25 minutes to finish the race, but I can apparently run 5 kilometers in under 25 minutes. Either way, I’m very happy. This was a 1:10 improvement on my previous time, and I was only 20 seconds behind the 3rd place finisher in my age group! For someone who is very new to racing, I think that is quite the accomplishment (ok I’ll stop bragging now).

So, what went well and what went…not so well?

  • Walking to the race: this was a good idea, as it kept me pretty warm at first and it was really nice to cool down by walking home. Unfortunately, I left a bit too early and was waiting around for over an hour before the race and got cold again. I even tried jogging some more but my hands and feet were sort of numb when I started, which I’m sure slowed me down a bit.
  • Food: I ate toast with peanut butter again. This seems fine, but I could have eaten it a bit later – I felt a little weak during the race and I don’t know if it is because I didn’t eat back my exercise calories yesterday (I just wasn’t hungry – I even tried adding cookies and ice cream, but I was super full!) or if it was because I was starting to get hungry again. I’ll have to experiment in the future.
  • Clothes: I wore the same long-sleeved shirt I did last time, but with capri length running tights so my legs would be a little warmer. I didn’t take gloves because it was already over 40 degrees and warming up, but I probably should have. The other clothes were warm enough, but I should have tied my capris a little tighter – they were slipping off a bit! Also, I really need to go procure some non-slip headbands, because these clearance ones I bought are not cutting it – I ended up taking it off out of annoyance about 1K in!

    Observe my beautiful racing outfit!

     

The race itself was fairly well organized. They had a very efficient registration system, so even though there was no night before registration and hundreds of people, no one seemed to be having trouble getting their stuff. They also must have had decent sponsors – we got full bottles of water, fig newtons, and bananas at the end! The last race may have had more “expensive” food (bagels and donuts) but I felt like these were more appropriate post run snacks. Plus, some local businesses were offering up massages and foam rollers (foam rolling makes my leg hurt for awhile, though, so I avoided doing it before the race). The police also did a really great job at dealing with traffic (the course was basically a run through the burbs). The only problem I had with the race at all was that the announcement booth was too far from the starting line. I don’t think anyone knew the national anthem was starting until  the singing started, and I have no idea when our moment of silence for Boston occurred, because no one heard them announce it, so no one became silent (I heard the announcement that we would have one before the race, so I know there was one at some point).

The swag was a t-shirt (THAT FITS!!), a pretty nice tote bag, some pens, and some coupons for local running stores. Too bad I just bought running shoes – one is like 25% off an over $60 purchase. Maybe I’ll try out one of those running skirts, or use it to buy a bunch of small things (like non-slip headbands and a hydration belt). There were also some ads for other races to consider, but many of them were trail runs. Perhaps I should practice some trail running?

Shirt and tote bag!

Foods on Fridays

This week has been the week of potlucks (or at least bring food to this type events):

Over the weekend, a friend had a small get together where she provided food, but I still wanted to bring something to contribute, so I brought a fruit salad. I just finished eating the leftovers from that! Pretty big success in eating, there (this was the day where I had pizza and only went over by 100 calories – actually, I had reasonable amounts of pizza a total of 3 times this week)!

Then, we had a end of the semester potluck for one of my classes last night. I made pasta salad. Pasta salad has sort of become my “speciality,” which is weird to me because in my family, it is my aunt’s recipe, and I stole it from her and altered it. Actually, I would say the only 2 things that our recipes still have in common is that they contain pasta and the “secret” ingredient: McCormick’s Salad Supreme Seasoning. She makes her with penne, homemade italian dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, parmesan cheese, and the seasoning; my mom does it the same, but substitutes chunks of cheddar for the parmesan and adds mini pepperonis; I’m still experimenting, and currently have a concoction of tri-color veggie rotini, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, roasted red pepper italian dressing, the seasoning, and italian blend cheese (I love the addition of pepperoni but know too many vegetarians to put it in usually). Perhaps the reason it is so great is that it is so versatile and customizable? I did okay-ish with eating at this event. I’m still under my calories for the week but I know I ate too much dessert in proportion to “real” food (a teeny slice of cheesecake, about 5 cookies, and two tiny spoonfuls of ice cream). To be fair, I think like 3 people brought real food to this event and everyone else brought dessert. And 2 of those 5 cookies were eaten later at my house, as my roommate had made Star Trek sugar cookies and I just had to eat a chocolate frosted Enterprise with rainbow sprinkles to retain my tiny sliver of nerd cred.

On Saturday, I have an end of the semester potluck for the whole department. I was going to make Mexican Shrimp Cobb Salad from Skinnytaste (I LOVE her recipes) but I still have like 90% of a pan of pasta salad left so I think I’ll just take it instead. Too bad – I was excited about all that avocado! I did well at this event last year – the thing with a big potluck like this is that it would literally be impossible to try everything, so I do a bit better at just eating what I want most. At smaller potlucks, it is easy to convince myself that I can try at least 1 tiny portion of everything that is there, so then I end up overeating because I go back for what I really wanted most. Like last night, I should have just eaten a ton of popcorn and ignored the pita chips because I kept going back for popcorn (I love pita chips, but I can buy them myself any time – I can’t have homemade popcorn any time). 

I have a race tomorrow, so I switched my running away from today and I’m doing upper body lifts today. I think I’ll just try to take the dog for a super long walk to keep my legs loosened up. I’m really really hoping to break 25 minutes tomorrow. Yesterday, on my 4 mile run (shifted to Thursday because of injury/race messing everything up), I ran 3.03 miles in 25 minutes, and that was with a MAJOR slowdown during mile 3 because I had a side cramp. Before that, I had run 2 sub-8 minute miles and then after that I was able to return to a reasonable like 8 minutes and a few seconds pace – but mile 3 was really slow. I think I would have been able to push through the cramp and keep up the pace, though, if I knew I only had 3/4 miles left instead of 1 3/4! I’ll still be happy with getting through the experience of participating in a race, though, even if I do not break the 25 minute mark (they are even using chip timing, if I recall correctly). At least I will know to dress a little warmer – it looks like the forecast is very similar to my last race. I think I’ll wear my orange and purple running tights (pictures of these ridiculously awesome pants will be posted)! Perhaps I’ll be super ridiculous and wear my highlighter yellow shirt, too (I must admit I actually own 2 of these…). I’m still debating whether I should walk or drive – the race is less than a mile from my house, so walking there would be a great warmup, but if I don’t have my car, what will I do with my bag? Ugh, I’ll come to some conclusion in the morning.

Return to Running

My lack of posting can be explained by this being my university’s “dead week.” This is a week where professors aren’t supposed to assign anything major as finals are next week. There are 2 issues with this: one is that this is ignored in graduate classes (which is fine, I mean I think it’s a silly concept anyway) and the other is that even if this were not ignored, I would still be super busy. I have papers and finals due next week and I think every organization in the universe is trying to get in its last meeting of the semester. Plus, all of the “end of the year” parties!

The good news: I ran yesterday, and my knee is fine!

The Joys of Foam Rolling and the Stationary Bike

My title is meant to be sarcastic.

As I mentioned before, my IT band is acting up (probably because I’ve done a bunch of hills all of the sudden), so I’m trying to give the poor thing some time off. Unfortunately, this means I am pretty much relegated to the stationary bike in the basement of the gym. I hate working out inside because it’s boring. At least on the treadmill I am terrified of falling the whole time which distracts me from getting too bored. On the bike, I feel like I’m just sitting there, making my legs hurt for some strange reason. I would say “at least there is a TV,” but the TV is really small, which makes it difficult to read the closed captioning. This makes me ALMOST wish I owned a bicycle to take outside, but I know I’d be too scared to ride it out there anyway – what if I got hit by a car!?!

This fear probably stems from growing up in a rural area and having slightly overprotective parents – there were few places it was possible to bike to, and even if I was biking, my parents’ rules were really silly – like make sure I am in sight of the porch at ALL TIMES and if there is a car get off the road and wait for it to pass. Then, once when I was an adult (but really out of shape, which is probably why this happened), my husband and I dug out my old bike and tried to go for a ride in the woods. I’m not kidding when I say I probably almost died! I think I rode like one mile and then pushed the bike back, crying and having to stop because it was too difficult to push the bike. This was maybe 3-4 years ago and I have not been on a real bicycle since. I wonder why? My husband, on the other hand, loves biking – he used to bike to work every day and even once did it like 2 weeks after a surgery – it is running he hates! Logically, I know that I just had such a bad experience because I was out of shape and that the cars PROBABLY won’t all hit me if I’m careful, especially as I run on those roads without getting hit by cars and can comfortably maintain a reasonable-ish pace of 15 mph on the stationary bike. I think that a major goal for me this summer will be to drag my bike out of my parents’ garage (if it even works anymore, I might have to craigslist one) and try taking short little rides on the bike path in the city where there are no cars and I’ll have Kris there to hold my hand (not literally, I don’t have good enough balance for that).

Foam rolling is also unpleasant. It hurts a lot, and I’m having trouble determining whether it is hurting in the right way. Like, yesterday, it almost felt like I was hurting my femur, rather than my muscle and connective tissues. Today, it seemed more proper. But then my leg hurt more afterwards (for like 5 minutes, it actually feels a lot better now). I have seen a lot of people complain about foam rolling, but I didn’t realize it would be this bad. It’s incredibly painful, to the point that I look like a total dork and people are probably like “wtf is that chic doing over there making those anguished faces” (though I’ve gotten over caring about this). Also, I didn’t realize that it would hurt such random parts of my leg. Like, it hurts the most when I’m rolling over the most painful part of the IT band (right at the top of the side of my knee), but also in strange places, like halfway up my thigh. I know this is because my IT band stretches all the way up to my hip, so it is probably tight in other places, too, but it is still strange to suddenly experience pain where I had none before. Even though my knee feels a lot better and I watched a ton of youtube videos, I’m still fairly certain I must be doing something wrong. This is just too weird and unpleasant.

A Non-Scale Victory: I DEADLIFTED 100 LBS!!! I know that isn’t that much, and it was only 5 reps, but getting up to triple digits was super exciting to me. Now just to suffer through a rest day tomorrow and hopefully my poor leg will recover for a nice easy 3 mile run on Wednesday. Also, I’m curious to see my squat on Wednesday after 3 whole days without running – I’ve been stuck at 65 lbs (lol) and I bet it’s because my legs never get a chance to rest. Oh, and another one: yesterday, there was a party, with pizza, and I only went over 100 calories!!!! Whoooooo!!!!

Scale Victory: I lost all the water weight from my double-Burger-Red Lobster weekend.

Physical Obstacles

Before I write anything else. Those pancakes. The ones I linked to yesterday. Go make them now.  I don’t care that it’s mid-afternoon. You seriously need to eat them. I made them for breakfast this morning and topped them with honey, butter, and cinnamon and they were super filling and amazing (and only about 100 calories per pancake)! They were the perfect fuel for my 8 mile run. I thought about taking a picture, but they didn’t look as appetizing as they were, so I was afraid I wouldn’t do them justice.

Unfortunately for my 8 mile run, it is spring, and my planned route decided to flood. I ran about halfway out and encountered ducks swimming on the bike path (I thought about stopping to take a picture, but I didn’t want to take off my gloves and dig out my phone – it was only about 30 degrees!). I should have expected this – I used to live in the apartments next to where it was flooded and had witnessed this flooding in the past (and we are having way worse flooding this year).

What it made me think of is how so many times in the past, I’ve really let physical (as well as mental) obstacles get in my way. Today I simply turned around and formulated a new route – I never even considered cutting it short (to be fair, it helped that I was super far from home anyway, but even if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have cut the run short).

Just 6 weeks ago, I didn’t want to start lifting because I didn’t understand how gyms work. Now, while I am still unsure of how I feel about lifting (I’m not making much aesthetic progress and I think the DOMS hinders my running), I am at least not nervous because I don’t know how to use a power rack (and I’m certainly not afraid to do it in a hot pink outfit). The same progress has occurred with racing – I’ve gone from “I can’t do a race because I don’t understand how they work” to “sign up for ALL the races!” Overall, overcoming these obstacles has really built a lot of confidence in me to try new things – if I can go lift in front of the gym bros, I can probably do a lot of other things, too. So, even if it turns out that lifting is not for me, I will appreciate what it has taught me.

Though this is not a physical obstacle, I’ve also become much more confident about talking about fitness in everyday life. I used to be scared to do so because I was so inexperienced. Now, I find myself more freely discussing my lifting routines, nutrition, and weekly mileage. I’m still a little awkward about it and I’m sure I sound like a noob, but I’m getting better.

Not all physical obstacles can be overcome through mere confidence, however. I’ve also been noticing, as I mentioned before, that my IT band seems to be acting up. Today after my run it was hurting super badly (though not really much during my run). I’m very glad tomorrow is a “rest” day (cross-training, but I’ll rest the IT band), and I think I’m going to switch my days so that I rest on Monday and work out on Tuesday next week. I don’t like to do that because I don’t have class on Monday but I do on Tuesday, but I really don’t want to injure this poor leg long term, and one day of rest doesn’t seem to be cutting it for the poor thing. I’ve also been stretching it and I’m thinking about looking up some stuff to do with the foam roller tomorrow at the gym.

Also, amusing physical obstacles: #skinnypersonproblems (Is there already a term for this that I should be using instead? You know, the way there is #firstworldproblems?). I can’t seem to find a hydration pack in this town that isn’t a) like $50 or b) too big for me. They are either “one size” which does not go down to a 26″ waist or they are handheld things and I have little baby hands (to be fair, I also had baby hands when I was overweight). Today, I carried a 10 oz water bottle from Target because it is my smallest water bottle and my hands were killing me from gripping it, even though I kept switching back and forth. I guess I’ll just keep hunting until I find a cheap one for skinny people, oh well. I’m also worried this problem will come up when I start looking for GPS watches – I know that when I thought about ordering a road ID I realized that I would have to order a child sized one. Do they even make child sized GPS watches?!

Another (tiny) physical obstacle: I need to get a better camera so that I can take more and better pics to post on this blog, which I think my comments about picture taking throughout this post make somewhat apparent!