What I’ve learned in the past year about running (and not running)

Been a long time! And it’s been a long year. Lots has happened in the life of Christy, and unfortunately, most of it has had nothing to do with running. Maybe I can share some of those things in a future post.

But as of May 7 I’m back in the saddle, and I’m mulling my previous inactivity so I can better understand how to stay consistent moving forward. I’ve let my lack of movement discourage me and even depress me at times, but I can’t afford that anymore. I’m done.

So, in no particular order, here’s what stands out as I look over my shoulder.

1. I need external motivation.
As much as I’d love to lace up and pop out of bed before the sun on nothing but sole gumption and discipline, I’m not that person. I need a cattle prod (“Omg, I’ve gained 10 pounds and can’t afford to gain any more”) or a shiny, sparkly object dangling in front of me (“Cool! I get a tan even on a 6:30 p.m. run!”). I love running for the sake of running, yes. But it simply isn’t enough to crack me out of my calcified state and put me back on the road or trail, at least not at first. I know this about myself, and I don’t beat myself up for it anymore. I simply seek out sources of external motivation now, harness them, and use them to my advantage.

2. Gear and technology matter to me.
I’d love to be an unencumbered runner who doesn’t care about carrying music or GPS or other “things” with me. But yep, I’m that runner. If I’m going to put in the effort and the miles, I want to know exactly how many miles I ran, what the elevation was that tortured me, how many calories I burned in the process. And I don’t want to have to manually map out my route before or after to find that out, either. I want to know I’m not going to crash and burn early because I relied too heavily on infrequent water fountains in the searing Texas heat, so you’re going to see a water bottle in my hand, and likely you’ll see a G2 packet sticking out of the little zippered pocket on the bottle’s hand-wrap as well. And yes, if I need that extra push, I want to know Gaga or Bun B are just a “play” button away from giving it to me.

In fact, I credit two pieces of gear that I discovered recently with getting my butt of the couch again. They were the external motivators that got me going, and I’m grateful to them. More on those in a near-future post.

3. Clothes matter to me.
Not necessarily the cuteness of the clothes, really. But having comfortable, functional and non-homely ensembles that I can quickly throw in a bag or throw on as soon as I come in from work is key. If I need a new sports bra or if my usual running shorts are too tight right now, those are barriers. Where I spend money is on good, hearty sports bras and quality shoes: Even though I didn’t pay for them, I can now vouch for the greatness of Nike Frees for both support and lightness. Under Armour makes great pullover bras that keep me still (as much as possible). The Nike running capris in this review were too big for me when I first got them, but now they fit perfectly. Sigh. But I can at least now vouch 100 percent that they’re comfortable, airy and supportive. I also found some gray and bright fluorescent yellow running shorts from Target: cheap, really comfortable, the cut is great, and they’re darn cute. I also bought a package of colored men’s Fruit of the Loom A-line undershirts (tank tops), trimmed the hem at the bottom since they’re super-long, and wear those over my sports bras. They’re cotton but they’re so airy and comfy that it doesn’t matter.

4. Route variety matters.
I started off in May walking and running around my neighborhood here in Deep Ellum (northeast of downtown Dallas). It was great, it was exciting, it was easy to just walk out of my door …. then it wasn’t. It got old real quick and I realized that I needed to branch out. I’m ADD when it comes to routes, and I know that now. And it’s ok. I simply make sure I don’t wear out the same old paths. If I think I’m going to see or experience something a little different from before, that gets me out the door more quickly.

5. Marriage can really wreck a routine. At least mine.
I married in my early 30s. That meant I had my solo routines down pat before I aligned myself with another (albeit wonderful) human being who had different solo routines. It became a clash of the solo routines. Part of my adjustment period was re-learning some solo routines and carving out a separate, solo mindset even though I was no longer solo. It was difficult. But now I’m no longer a newlywed, and I’m learning to compartmentalize better: No, the person I’ve aligned myself with doesn’t run. No, that doesn’t mean I have to stop running, or only run with the same frequency that he does (read: hardly ever). Yes, the two shall become one, but remember: There are still two people in the equation. Christy the individual didn’t go anywhere. She can still do the solo things she used to do (sans other men! Rimshot), even though it doesn’t feel that way. For some reason, that break from an enmeshed mentality has been difficult for me.

6. I must have grace with myself or not even do this.
Without getting into a bunch of navel-gazing on how harsh and critical I am with certain aspects of myself, I can be pretty unrealistic. I haven’t run or worked out much in a year, I’ve gained 10 pounds and it’s 100+ degrees outside; I can’t expect a 10-minute mile out of myself. I can’t expect myself to finish a run without stopping and walking some for now. My big goal has always been to be able to run around the 10-mile White Rock Lake loop. A few weeks ago I completed the loop, albeit with many walking breaks and one large sit-down break where I paused my GPS/timer altogether to rest for 10 minutes. I have to be happy that I completed it and slowly work toward straight-up running the loop. Slowly. As slow and as long as my body needs. My other goal is running __ miles per week — the __ needs to be realistic, not idealistic. That fill-in-the-blank is set at 10 miles a week for now. If I run three days a week, I make that goal. It makes me feel good, and I pat myself on the back. If I don’t make that goal? I’ll smile and tell myself “next week.” The Nazi Running Marm act I’ve given myself in the past hasn’t worked as well for me as I’d like to think. It’s ultimately sidelined me in the form of discouragement, and I see that now.

New Nike running apparel: pass up or play

This is Part II from the Nike media preview this spring, complement to my footwear review here.

Apparel

Nike Tech Women’s Running Capris

Nike Tech Women’s Running Capris

Via nuoiyen.edu.vn

$55

What: Running tights are hard to get right, and this item is where the higher price point is worth it. I have another pair of lower-end running tights that force me to wear underwear with them lest I make my lady parts angry. These running capris don’t. They’re made of polyester and spandex, which wick away sweat like it’s not even happening, and the seams are nice and flat. The separate, flat crotch area is breathable. The pair I received is technically a size too big, but it still somehow fits like a dream. The zippered pocket at the back waist is big enough for a key, lip balm and small pepper spray, yet it’s flush and flat (without those things, I mean). Airy mesh covers the back of the knees. The elastic waist is comfortable; the specs say there’s an interior drawcord, but mine doesn’t, for some reason. I’ve put this through the wash several times already. The two reflective strips on the sides of the knees are showing a little wear, but the rest of the capri looks and functions like new.

Pass up or play: PLAY

Nike Pro Women’s Training Bra

Nike Pro Women's Training Bra$28

What: I was excited at the preview to see bras constructed to hold even the most ornery breasts in place. That was the Nike Swift U-Back Bra. What did I get in my test bag? This standard-issue pull-over in size gigantic. Not only does this pliant, ubiquitous style of sports bra not help a cup size over the perkiest of Bs, the size ensured that I wouldn’t even be able to test the thing without getting two black eyes.

I politely asked a Nike media rep if they had a bra with more support for me to test, and one in the size I requested. I got the same bra, but one size smaller (size mega instead). At least it was in the more attractive “carbon heather” gray. I’m at least able to wear this one. To lift weights. Very slowly.

Pass up or play: Tiny boobies = PLAY; all others = PASS UP

My car: Not the best changing room in the world

I’m curious how many runners change clothes in their car before a run. Surely I’m not the only one.

This practice starts with the fact that I’m too lazy to get up any earlier before work than I positively have to. This trait makes me an evening runner by default, usually after work.

I could bring my running clothes to work and change in the bathroom before I leave. But I’m not really jazzed about co-workers seeing me in thigh-showing shorts and a wrinkled men’s v-neck undershirt. We don’t have that kind of relationship.

I also could stop off at a gas station to change, but I really just want to get to the trail and down to business.

Quick car changes are tricky, at least if you’re female, but I’ve got it down. So, I bring to you my tips for changing in the car without getting arrested.

1. Park far out and open.
It would seem like it’s best to wedge your car between two big F-250s for the coverage. But the coverage goes both ways — you might not be able to see one of the vehicle owners approaching, keys in hand and jaw on the ground after catching you semi-nude. If you have someone with you to act as lookout (who you don’t mind seeing you naked-ish), even better.

2. Bottoms down.
Changing bottoms isn’t the big deal. Just make sure the coast is relatively clear, and the car itself will cover you while you shimmy out of jeans and into shorts.

3. Use your current top as a really-cramped miniature dressing room.
This is the most potentially-arrestable part, so be careful. If you’re wearing a loose top, pull your arms inside. Pull your bra off underneath. Peek your hands out from under your shirt and locate your sports bra. If it’s the pullover kind, put it around your neck. Then pull your arms back inside the shirt, grab the sports bra down inside and maneuver your arms and goods into it. Now that the prime property is properly concealed, just take off the shirt and pull on the other one.

If the first top is not loose? Just … go find a gas station.