Why did the chicken cross the road? To run from the dolts in the 5K

I was a bit concerned when my search for a January 5K was surprisingly difficult. I’d been spoiled while being in Florida because it’s really running weather year-round, except for the occasional cold snap (even then, you can run in the afternoons usually). I was worried this would be an ongoing issue (I’m guessing the middle of the summer and the beginning of winter might have a similar issue).

Luckily, I found my February 5K pretty easily (even before I’d locked in my January 5K).

Our friends at Chick-fil-A have a racing series, including the race being certified and chip timed. This all seems a bit nuts, but it will fit the bill. It also works because it’s as far from my 1st 5K as possible, so I can recuperate and rest if need be.

So without further ado, the graphic for Race 2 of the Super Awesome Year of the 5K

I spent entirely too much time putting this chicken together.

I’m optimistic by this point I might actually be able to run the whole race without having to slow to a trudging jog. I honestly think I’m more susceptible to injury when I”m going slow than when I’m going fast.




On the Homestretch for 5K #1: My Body’s Rebellion

We’re coming up on one week from the 1st 5K in the Super Awesome Year of the 5K. This is going to go so badly.

All in all, running sessions have been going fairly well. I’m not progressing as quickly as I usually do, but that has been intentional.

That said, I’m a competitive person. I know what I’m reasonably capable of when I haven’t been an underachieving sloth for a year.

My first 5K came in at 31 minutes even though I walked large chunks. I can’t stand the thought of coming in later than 35 minutes. I’m not sure how much is that I’ve never been that slow and how much is that I know it’s going to look weird when the guy of a healthy weight appears to be waddling toward the finish line in the later groups instead of at least being somewhere in the middle.

So when the Competitor overcomes Fatty, I sometimes still lose. I’m pushing harder on the free running segments on my Zombies, Run! app (these segments allow you to go at whatever mix of running and walking you can). This is good because I’m getting farther, but it comes at the cost of my body adapting to the runs.

Basically, my body is fighting itself during this transition into activity. It’s a fun list to pay attention to:

  • Feet – One foot is a lingering injury from high school from getting stepped on with cleats that gets aggravated by shoes that are the wrong size. The other got hurt by those Nikes
  • Ankle – Those damned Nikes struck again one last time to tweak my ankle about 2 weeks ago. I don’t notice it with the Brooks, but even in the new Adidas, I could feel my ankle not enjoying the ride.
  • Shins – And it appears I might be working my way toward shin splints. Luckily, once the 5K is past, I have a full month until the next one, so I can take a week off to let my legs rest a bit.
  • Knee – Again, a lingering problem from high school. I’m militant about using my foam rollers after runs because it’s been the best thing to prevent knee pain. Yoga also helps.
  • Hip – This is just from sitting for a living. Sitting all day is evil. Yoga’s been my only answer for this.
  • Back – One more lingering problem from high school, just for funsies. This is the trump card. I’m the biggest jerk in the world when my back is hurting. This is where running is the most annoying. Pushing close to 200 lbs. doesn’t lead to a gentle run, so a lot of that impact/stress ends up in my back. Yoga and foam rollers are my only recourse, and even that’s not 100%. I’ve just gotten used to intermittent, daily back pain. As long as it’s not a full-blown spasm, I’ll take it.
  • And typical tightness in calves and quads – That’s just a product of running, of course. I foam roll for these. They’re always the tightest.

That’s a lot of crap to be going on. That said, it could be worse. I’m moving around pretty well, and a lot of these things are getting slowly better.

But still, I’m one week away from that 5K. I made a run yesterday, and it was absolutely hellacious in terms of exhausting me. I’ll take a couple of days off, do one more run, and then I’ll be taking my recuperation before the 5K so that my legs will be fresh if nothing else.

And as we get close, I watch the weather. And it’s not looking good. It appears to be getting colder as the week goes on, with temps dropping close to 30.

This has led to me googling ways to get warm before the race. I’ve already gotten gear to stay warm during the run, and that’s gone well in my test runs in the cold (though I still hate running in the cold ‘cause, you know, it’s cold).

My favorite is when the tips finally hit that magic point of “just stay inside.”



Making and breaking habits

Habit is a powerful thing. When can get something on autopilot, it can be awesome or disastrous.

When something becomes a habit, you never even think twice about it. It just happens.

I drink orange juice. I always have. When I run low, I put it on the list without thinking twice about it, really. Logically, I could find healthier options for vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D (allergic to milk, so I’ve always bought this kind). But I don’t because I drink orange juice in the morning. It’s just something that I do.

And now I’m trying to make running a habit. I’m doing as much as I can to make it the case. I keep running gear at home and at work so that I can always run. I’ve added in specific goals that will bite me in the ass if I don’t run regularly. And I’ve been telling people and trying to get them to run 5Ks with me when they can.

I’m also trying to get in the habit of eating healthier. That’s much tougher hill to climb. I like food, especially when it’s generally considered bad for me. I know I’m not going to eat perfectly, so I’m trying to make as many little decisions right so that at least some of those become habit.

The one true healthy eating victory that I’ve ever achieved was in switching to whole grains. If it’s bread or rice, it’s always the whole grain variety. It might not seem like a lot, but I consume vast quantities of rice, especially when I’m trying to eat healthy. A lot of my vegetables are stir-fry, so rice becomes an easy sidekick.

The big clarity moment for me understanding the power of habit was my on-again, off-again-relationship with cable.

For years, I watched an obnoxious amount of TV. Like 8 hours a day when I was only awake and at home between 8 and 10 hours a day. TV was always on. I did homework during commercials. I played guitar during commercials. I always had a show I watched every day. And in the non primetime TV hours, I would watch some of the worst crap ever.

I reached rock bottom when I started watching Disney, including Hannah Montana. Sad but true.

But I was saved because the cable company sucked. In the span of three months, they lost my bill two times and then charged me extra for that. I’ve never had mail get lost in either direction except for these two times. And so I got stubborn and angry, then cancelled my cable.

Aside from living on a ranch for about a year when I was 6, I’ve always had cable. I’ve always watched too much TV. And now I didn’t have TV.

It was an odd transition. The first couple of days especially so because I didn’t have an antennae yet for even broadcast channels. I didn’t have internet at home either (same company that did the cable, so I wasn’t going to stop paying for cable only to start paying for internet).

But I adapted. I bought an antennae, so I could at least get 3 PBS stations (pbs, pbs world, and create), CBS, CW, MY(insert whatever they call it in your part of the world), and ABC. No NBC, and such bad FOX reception that I finally gave up on it.

Now let’s take a guess at which of these channels I would typically watch if all were available. That’s right, FOX, followed by NBC.

I would watch some shows, but there really wasn’t much that I wanted to watch on the remaining channels. I would check to see if anything was on, but typically I read or watched a DVD.

The DVDs were an odd coping mechanism. I had bought some shows on DVD, but once I cancelled my cable, I usually bought a season of something on DVD every couple of months. But being DVDs, I watched them intentionally, not casually like I would watch TV.

And so before I moved from Florida, I wasn’t in the habit of absentmindedly turning on the TV.

Now I’m in Mississippi, and cable and internet are included in my rent. And I rarely turn the TV on. I watch some games on the weekend, and I’ll watch some shows, typically HBO’s original shows like Newsroom.

I just got out of the habit of watching TV.

And now I’ve got to figure out a way to get running and eating healthy into an absentminded habit, and we’ll be good to go.



Give and Return – My real-life Abbot and Costello moment

TL;DR: I bought the Adidas Energy Boost and liked them

Yesterday was an interesting day. I decided to get new running shoes, and I wanted good options, so off to the big city it was for me.

I like to have two sets of running shoes so I always have a pair ready, and I’d been looking to replace my backup pair (Nike Relentless 2) that I’ve had SO much trouble with.

Granted, I should have been more careful and not run as far so quickly, but I took them on 2 and 2.5-mile runs, and then my foot was done (as in about a solid 4-6 weeks of not being able to run). Once I healed, I still had trouble with them. They always wore my feet and calves out too quickly. They didn’t seem keen on bending when I ran, and they just didn’t absorb contact very well. I suffered through them for a few months, but I had to replace them, which led to me getting my current pair of Brooks Glycerin 11s.

The Glycerins were bought as a direct response to the Relentless shoes. I’d never had trouble with Nikes before, so it was odd to be switching to a new shoe company.

I went to a running store so I could get fitted and make sure that everything was good to go.

It was an interesting experience, but it wasn’t so bad. I’ve had the Brooks for about a year and half now, and they’re still in great shape because I fell into a bad non-running spell last year. My only real complaints are that they’re a touch heavy for a running shoe, and they don’t flex very easily (though not anything I would consider a real problem; I just notice it when I start to get tired on a run, and my form starts to go).

All in all, I’m happy with my Brooks, and they’re still my primary shoe.

The problem is those Nikes have been my backup. A week ago, I was using them, and in addition to the usual fatigue in my feet and calves, my ankle died on me. It was enough pain that it kept me running as far as I could, and I’m still not 100%.

And that was the last straw.

I decided to take a trip down to Jackson to go to a running store (Fleet Feet), and then made a larger trip to some outlet stores to fill out my cold-weather clothes (uneventful and not an ounce of humor in that part of the story, so we’ll just skip it).

Now I’ve already mentioned going to a running store. It was an interesting but uneventful experience. I don’t have a good story to tell from the first time beyond the fact that staff member was Australian. All in all, nothing to write home about (or a blog post). My experience in Jackson was not that way.

The first thing that threw me was that it seemed like a lot of people in the store. When I asked if they were usually this crowded, they said they normally have more people there, but with there being a half-marathon, there were fewer customers.

The other thing that caught me on first glance was the chaos from the shoe dances going on. There were probably 4 or 5 people getting fitted at the moment, and there were just boxes and boxes everywhere.

It looked like the storeroom had thrown up on the show floor.

I was also miserably out of place. I was driving a couple of hours, it was cold, and I had to look like a real person the rest of the day, so I wasn’t in running gear. There were some people who were fully decked out in running gear to try on shoes. It was nuts.

I on the other hand, was in jeans. I had a pair of shorts in the car in case they wanted me to run. They didn’t have me run, but they did want to see me walk, including seeing my calves as I walked barefoot, so I rolled up my pants, and I looked awesome.

Seriously, I’m shocked I wasn’t being chased down by all the single ladies in Jackson. Who could resist this image?

It was a little funny. That said, I don’t know that I see the value in seeing me walk to figure out my running tendencies. It’s like learning karate by painting a fence.

After a little bit of a wait, an older guy came to help me. Nice guy, good service. No real complaints. I would gladly recommend the store and this staff member to anyone. But there were some odd moments.

First, we played the name game (“What’s your name?” Quisto. “Keith?” Whatever, I don’t care any more; I’m not correcting him). He later forgot my name and asked again (Quisto. “Keith.” still not correcting him). It wasn’t until I was checking out and he wanted to put me into the system that we finally had to get on the same page as to what my name is. Not my favorite dance, but I’m used to it.

The other moment happened when I was trying on the Adidas I ended up buying. They have some fancy pants name for cushion in them. When you walk in them, the heel has a lot of give. And I said they had a lot of give. The guy said, “They have a lot of return,” and continued on about how they spring (not the term he used) after impact. So they have a lot of give. Return. Give. There was a little too much back and forth. I don’t think he liked me saying the shoes had give when he thinks they have a lot return.

We have a show next week. 10 bucks at the door. I’ll just keep talking about how the shoes have a lot of give, and he’ll tell you they have a lot of return.

I did look at three other shoes. I told him about my Brooks, and that I liked them. He either didn’t catch that I was looking for a different shoe or he just thought the newer pair was different enough, but he brought out Brooks Glycerin 12s as one of the choices. Honestly, they felt great. They’re an upgrade on my current pair, including being lighter. That said, I’m happy with my Brooks, but I need a real change of pace, not an upgrade. When my current Glycerins are past their prime, I’ll probably come back to that model.

The second alternative was a pair of Nike Vomero 9. They seemed decent, but I liked the Adidas just a bit more, though the Nike’s would have been a safer bet. Seemed good, not great. I did make sure to keep the name of these in case I wanted to the Adidas didn’t work out.

The third alternative was the weirdest in the bunch. I don’t know the specific shoe, but they were Hoka One One. Evidently, they were first made for ultramarathoners but have started to catch on with other distance runners. They were comfy (not to be confused with comfortable), but it was like being in platform shoes, and they were ugly as sin. They reminded me of those Sketcher Shape-Ups. Not a compliment. So not a compliment. Again, they are comfy, which is their primary goal. You feel a lot of cushion, which if you’re running a ridiculous amount, is probably fantastic. I’m never crossing 5 miles in one run. I feel stupid enough spending money on nice running shoes as it is, but the Hoka’s were right past my limit on running oddities.

And so we landed on the Adidas, which Energy Boost, to be more specific. They have proprietary technology that means a lot of give (Return!) in the heel. They are a definite change of pace compared to the Glycerins. They are noticeably lighter and thinner. I have scrawny feet, so that leads to a better fit. It’s basically a foam sole. It’s very different; it makes for a comfortable experience when they heel gives (RETURNS!) because it gives more cushion than you’d expect. I was able to give them a try today (and probably went too far too soon in them; sometimes you never learn). They’re not as comfortable as the Glyercins in terms of feeling the pavement beneath your feet, but that’s actually what I was wanting. And I didn’t feel like my feet were absorbing all of the impact. The cushion really worked pretty well. They’re thinner and the extra give (RETURN, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE) in the shoe makes it a less-balanced run compared to the Glycerins, but it wasn’t really problematic. Once I get used to them, I might make them my primary shoe, but I need to see the wear and tear I get while using them goes. My one real concern is how long the soles will last. Again, it’s foam. It doesn’t seem like it will last that long if it’s giving (RETURNING!!!!!) so much, but we’ll see how they hold up long term.



Why am I living somewhere the air hurts my face?

I’ve complained about running in the cold before, but I’m going to do it again.

I grew up on the Mexico border (not a cold place), and I’ve spent the last 5 years in Florida (also not a cold place). Now I’m in Mississippi, which is not billed as a cold place (and isn’t relative to Canada and Antarctica), but I’m freezing my toes off this week. It was the first time I’d seen temperatures hit the teens in a long time.

Now this, of course, is not the best thing for running. I don’t like running in the 50s. I’ve figured out how to tolerate high 40s. I thought I’d give high 30s a try today.

That was a swing and a miss.

I ran for 5 minutes and then noped out of that.

This comes from The Oatmeal’s ridiculously awesome comic on running

I didn’t want to completely bulk up in a windbreaker jacket (partially because the windbreaker is now 10 years old, and I resemble an old guy walking around the mall for exercise in it), so I opted to layer on three shirts. Two worked just fine at about 50 twice this week, so I thought a third would be alright.

I was so very wrong.

It was blatantly uncomfortable. I have trouble exercising in cold air. Makes it hard to breathe. I was prepared for that. I was not prepared for the cold to just hurt.

Luckily, I was already planning to stock up on some more cold weather gear this weekend (in addition to some I received over Xmas), so hopefully this won’t happen again.

That said, if another ridiculous cold snap happens when I run my 5K in two weeks, I’m all sorts of screwed. I’m too stubborn not to run, but this will not turn out well.

But at least there should be hot chocolate.



I can’t believe this exists

So I’ve been living in Florida, which is inadequate preparation for cold-weather running. I truly don’t know what to wear in cold weather aside from just bundling up and hoping for the best. So I googled “dress for running temperature” and this page from runner’s world showed up. It’s fantastic. You select gender, temperature, wind, time of day, what type of run, and conditions, and then it spits out a recommendation. The internet may be full of cat and gummy bear videos, but it can also be used for awesomeness.


Super Awesome Year of the 5K

hot chocolate

Without further ado, I announce my first 5K of the 2015 something or other. I really should figure out a good title for this. Super Awesome Year of the 5K is all I’ve got. Maybe that will stick. Sort of like Foo Fighters sticking even though Dave Grohl has called it a pretty terrible name.

The larger goal for the year is to stay active. Unfortunately, staying active is too vague of a concept to really strive toward. It’s not measurable on its own. You need other indicators. I can track weight and calories, but that’s not terribly interesting.

This is what leads us to the 5Ks. One of the reasons I set a goal of a 5K per month was to keep myself engaged. I call them a goal, but they’re really an indicator of success toward larger aspirations. Namely avoiding diabetes, a heart attack, and being that person that everyone prays is sitting somewhere else when they waddle onto the plane. In all seriousness, I think my real ambition in life is to fit comfortably in place seats, even crappy economy seats (scratch that, especially in the crappy economy seats).

While the 5Ks are intended to keep me engaged in the larger activity goal, I’m doing other things to help me stay engaged in the 5Ks. The zombie app is an example of this. I could very easily find other couch-to-5K programs that would be free and/or better in terms of preparation, but that misses the point. The zombie app is interesting. It’s funny. And it’s zombies.

Do you have any idea how fun it is to watch people’s faces when you tell them you’re about to go run from zombies completely deadpan? You can see the thoughts slowly roll across their face (He’s a grown man. He can’t be serious… He’s serious. He’s a grown-ass man pretending to run from zombies).

It’s fantastic.

And of course, what you’re reading is another means of staying engaged in the 5K process. This blog serves multiple purposes. I’ve mentioned before that it’s a motivation to have other people know about your goal as a means of accountability. There are also people who want to be kept up to date, so this helps there.

But it serves a purely personal benefit as well. I like writing. This is a chance to practice that skill. I might not put as much time into this type of writing as I would for other endeavors, but this is a chance to practice the skill of putting thoughts into text. It helps.

And I also can screw around some with very basic design.

I’m tracking all of my 5Ks in a handy dandy chart

Look at this awesomeness. It even has a super official title and everything.
Look at this awesomeness. It even has a super official title and everything.

Originally, I was just going to track which race I ran and my time, but I thought I’d have a touch more fun with it. I decided while I was freezing my butt off this morning to add a drawing to it related to each race. Of course, I don’t really have anything to color with, so I got to bother a coworker about stealing crayons (and having an unexpected discussion on what map colors were; guess not everyone called them that as a kid). The last time I took art was in 5th grade, so it’s about what you’d expect.

And so that leads to this momentous announcement: The first 5K will be the Hot Chocolate Classic.


So we’re in the home stretch for the first race. My lower body hates me and it’s literally freezing outside this whole week, but I’m making progress on my running, and I might not die in the first run. Might.