Why I Run, Plus My Gear Recommendations

Happy Tuesday! We made it through Monday, and oh what a Monday it was! That was probably one of the Monday-iest Mondays that ever Monday-ed!! It was such a Monday that Jules couldn't even handle it and slept terribly and woke Jason and I up a bunch of times and we're both zombies today. Needless to say, waking up this morning was a bitch.

Holy crap am I beautiful first thing in the morning or what?!? 

I didn't even take an after picture, so I'll just leave you with the above gloriousness and move on.

First, I want to let you guys know about a challenge that I'm having...with myself. I'm currently the only participant. But it's something I really need to do and I think it will help a lot with my anxiety, which I talk more about here.

I've decided to challenge myself to meditate every day for the next two weeks.

It doesn't have to be a long and crazy meditation with om'ing or heavy breathing. Just a 5-20 minute guided meditation in the morning or at night or even at work when I need a mental break. I decided to do this challenge this morning when I had a few minutes after my workout before I needed to jump into the shower and did a quick 6-minute guided meditation and love the way it made me feel. So I'm putting it down in my blog, which makes it official and public and you guys can chastise me if I fail. Deal? Do any of you want to join? I'm using the Insight Timer app, which is free and totally awesome! Let me know if you want to join in!

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This is usually where you can find Scooby whenever I meditate - this is an old picture, but 9 times out of 10, he's trying to sit on my lap or rub all over my face, which is suuuuuuper relaxing. *insert sarcasm here* 

Speaking of Scooby, he does seem to be doing a little bit better after being on antibiotics for a week and a half. He's still not 100% his old self, but he's started sleeping in bed with me again (he wraps himself around my head) and he and Little Cat were playing like crazy people this morning, tearing up and down the stairs and all over the house. He's also put on 0.2 pounds from last week, which makes me very happy. Hopefully he continues to improve - thanks again for your happy thoughts while he was sick!

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about why I run.

Running is such a scary thing for so many people and most non-runners seem to be intimidated to start. Coming from a prior lazy AF non-runner, I truly believe that anyone can be a runner and reap the benefits. Which are many. I also use these reasons to fight the voice in my head telling me to hit the snooze button in the morning or stay on the couch and surprisingly enough, it usually works. And when it doesn't I take that as a hint that my body needs the rest and I listen to it. 

Most people start running because they want to lose weight, which is precisely why I started. My ex-husband and I had just gotten divorced and I wanted to drop the baby weight so I could be a MILF. So I started running. Coming from being a person who simply hated to exercise at all, it wasn't the easiest thing to force myself to do, but I have the feeling getting out of work an hour early to go exercise (this started while I was in the Air Force) helped motivate me from the start. I wouldn't run a ton - just 10 to 15 minutes to start, sometimes indoors on a treadmill and sometimes outside. 

Cool story about running outside in Alaska...

I was running by my house on base and the base wildlife officer came tearing down the road and told me to get behind his car. Not even 10 seconds later a huge black bear came running out of the woods, right in the path where I was running. Holy shit-my-pants moment, right? I'm pretty sure I stuck to the treadmill after that. 

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. After a few months of adding running into my routine, I noticed I had dropped all the baby weight plus some. AWESOME!

My original reason to keep running was for continued weight loss. 

I think this is why most people start and continue running, because it does work remarkably well for weight loss at first, especially if you've been pretty sedentary. While this worked well for me when I was younger, I've since had to add in a lot more strength training and other methods of working out to try to lose weight, but that's another post for another time #gettingoldersucks

So you may be thinking to yourself, why in God's name are you still running if you no longer think it's the most effective way to lose/keep weight off?  Good question! Here are the other reasons I run. 

Endorphins

Even the worst runs I have ever had still give me endorphins. And I have had some serious bitch of a doozy runs. I've been halfway out on a 10 mile out-and-back in April in Florida, ran out of water, and starting having heat exhaustion symptoms. Meaning I had to walk/jog the rest of the way back, stop in a gas station as soon as I could find one to get water, and try not to cry about it where anyone could see me (this happened while training for the Country Music Half Marathon). But even then, I was still amped up and happy afterwards.

The runner's high is real and I love it!

Also, I need that shirt. 

Running helps me cope

Some of my favorite runs have been when I'm either super pissed about something or super sad about something. For whatever reason, I go out there with those emotions and I either pound the SHIT out of the pavement to get out my aggression or run a seriously therapeutic cry out of myself. I am not a big crier and have a hard time getting myself to cry, but when I'm super sad or bummed about something I've found that going running always gets me to cry and then I feel a bajillion times better afterwards. And then I smile and take a selfie. 

Pigtails

Where else can I get away with wearing my hair in braided pigtails? I've even learned how to Dutch braid my pigtails now which is a bit more complicated than the French braid, but way cuter. Braided pigtails are my go-to long-run/race hairdo now because they look cute and keep my hair out of my face. And no one judges me for being a 30-something runner with pigtail braids, when it may not be socially acceptable elsewhere. Not that I care or anything, because I don't. 

I run to be a good example

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Even though Justin absolutely loathes being active, he knows that by doing it he will be a healthier and happier person. I can only convince him to do a workout with me every once in a blue moon, but even when he refuses to participate I know that by being a good example and having running/exercise a part of my regular routine, he'll get to that stage eventually himself. Luckily it usually doesn't even take that much convincing to get him to join me for a run while he ripsticks (newfangled skateboard thingy) so I'm able to make him be active without running since he currently hates it. 

 

 

Jules has had no choice but to be a part of my runnin, since she's been my running partner through both a half-marathon and 5K training. She usually just sits nicely in the stroller for about 20 minutes before falling asleep for the remainder of the run, and she almost always wakes up when I've finished and laughs and smiles through my stretches.

I have this super secret hope that one day we'll run races together - shhhhhh, don't tell anyone. 

I run to always do better. 

I am super competitive. Sometimes with other people, but most of the time I am competing to beat myself. When I started really getting into running and started running races with my dad's wife at the time, I found out that I was actually pretty fast; I think I was running 8 minute miles without any training, just some recreational running here and there. I stuck to short races (5K to 5 miles) for years until I ran my first half marathon in 2012. I didn't train very well for the race and didn't run it very fast (I think I finished in 2:06 or something like that), but even though I hated the race and it hurt and I was way slower than I'd planned, I knew I had to run another one so I could beat my time. The next half-marathon I ran I knew I had to get under 2 hours, so I trained and really pushed myself and managed to meet that goal in 2014. Every race thereafter, I've been trying to beat myself in one way or another. My newest goal is to run the Mount Dora Half Marathon (my PR course; I've PR'ed twice there) in under 2 hours postpartum after totally blowing up during the race in 2016. I would also like to PR my 10K, since I actually have a really slow 10K time (in my opinion, 56:11) and there is nothing more motivating than a new PR. 

It's peaceful...

Yes, seriously. Sure it hurts and you're sweating and breathing heavily and sometimes your IT band or piriformis starts acting up and you know the run is going to end up being a shitshow, but even then it's still peaceful. My runs are my time that I get to myself, when I otherwise don't often get any time to myself (even in the bathroom right now #toddlerlife). I always try to make it a point to look around me while I'm running and appreciate the view. Whether I'm running on the beach, running through a neighborhood, or running through mountains - there is always beauty to be found. I can listen to music (just not too loudly - be safe, people!), zone out a bit from the every day stressors, and pound the pavement. 

The above pictures are from a run I took in Upstate New York in July of 2015. I miss running in the mountains!

You have to buy new stuff all the time - any excuse to go shopping is a good reason for me!

Overall running is a pretty cheap sport. You really just need decent running shoes to start. But once you get into it and start doing crazy things like running races or long distances, you will need to start buying some new stuff - some of this will be so you're comfortable and some will be so you don't die (see above story about the time I started to have heat exhaustion halfway into an out-and-back 10 mile run). 

On that note, here are my top recommendations for gear. 

I will be including some Amazon affiliate links. These links do not change the price of the item or do anything other than give me a small (very small) kick-back for making the recommendation. Thank you for the support!

Shoes

I started with Aisics, moved to Mizuno, and finally found Brooks. 

I love Brooks running shoes. 

I've actually had my gait tested and was fitted for running shoes and hated the shoes they told me I should wear. So my motto now is to run in what is comfortable. I also prefer the shoes to be purple - it makes me run faster (runner's superstition). My absolute favorite running shoes were the Brooks PureCadence 2, but they were discontinued like 3 years ago. I actually still run in them sometimes (I have two pairs). I don't like the way the new PureCadence models or the PureFlows feel, so I haven't been able to commit to a different shoe just yet. However I've heard a lot of really good things about the Brooks Launch, so I think I'm going to give them a shot next. ASAP, since I really need a new pair of running shoes. 

The picture on the right is from a couple of years ago - let's just say I have a few more purple running shoes thrown into the corner of the closet right now. I have an addiction.

Along with shoes, you really need good running socks

 

I used to run in whatever I could find, but found that my feet would slide around and I'd sometimes get blisters during longer runs. So I did some research and ended up finding the Thorlo brand of socks and haven't looked back. They're comfortable and supportive and amazing. Buy them. 

 

 

Clothes to run in

When you first start out, you'll probably be fine running in any old pair of shorts and a ratty old t-shirt (I know that's what I did), but once you start factoring in heat and cold and sweating and wanting to look cute, you'll want to start investing in some good running clothes. 

For pants I've always had really good luck with the running capris from Target. I also picked these beautiful dip-dye leggings up on Amazon a few months ago and they've quickly become a favorite because I'm basic AF and love anything dip or tie-dye. And the high waist keeps everything tucked in tight, which makes me a lot more comfortable than when my waistband falls down and my stomach flops all over (true story - not comfortable)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a hard time with running shorts right now since I'm still a bit over my pre-baby weight and find my shorts tend to ride-up whenever I run, which drives me bat-shit crazy. Chub-rub sucks.

However one of my goals for 2017 was to get back into running in shorts, since it's so god-awful hot in Florida 80% of the time.

I had really good luck with the Brooks Chaser short and Oiselle Roga, so I'm planning on breaking those out this month and giving them a shot during one of my shorter, morning runs. I know they fit since I use them for other workouts, but haven't gotten up the nerve to try running with them yet since having Jules.  

As you can tell with both pairs of the shorts, they have a wide waistband, which is key to prevent any muffin top digging. They also both have several pockets throughout the shorts, which are a good enough size for a GU, chapstick, or your car key.

As for shirts and sports bras, I tend to buy what's on sale and what's made for the heat. I like the UnderArmour heat gear tanks and love the sports bras from Target. I'm not super well-endowed, so I don't have good advice in regards to sports bras for more support, but I've heard the bras from Moving Comfort are pretty amazing. 

Sun Protection

I live in Florida, otherwise known as the Sunshine State. That's not a misnomer since it is SERIOUSLY sunny here most of the time. Unfortunately I struggle to run with sunscreen since it makes me sweat even more than usual (and I'm a sweaty beast). I'm taking sweat pooling in your shoes and streaming into your eyes here. Due to this, I don't usually run in sunscreen unless I'm on the beach or an unshaded area, and I try to run as early as possible and on a shaded trail. I do recommend that you run with sunscreen when at all possible. I do take extra precaution to wear a hat or visor because I suffer from melasma and getting any sun on my face results in some serious skin discoloration. I tend to use whatever hat I can find laying around the house until it starts getting super hot out and then I break out my visor. And I love that the band soaks up all of my sweat from my forehead and scalp so it doesn't get into my eyes. 

Running watch

I used apps on my phone for years and they worked just fine, but I love having a running watch. I've owned two Garmin's and highly recommend them, but especially recommend the newest one we got in January. Yes, it's refurbished - I buy everything refurbished since it usually just means a customer got it, didn't like the color or something, and returned it. This watch can do everything I need during a run including vibrating at me if I'm running under the pace I want to be running at, which is super helpful if you're training for something. It's easy to read and I was able to set it up without reading the directions, so it's easy to set-up too! 

My Garmin runs always tend to be more accurate than the apps I use on my phone, which is also really important when you're training for a race. Also, this watch comes in purple if you can find it (but the refurb price was more important to me than it being purple)

Water bottle

This is especially important in Florida or for any run over 4 miles or so, but I prefer to run with water all the time. I used to run with this and it works okay for shorter distances, but it was never enough for anything over 7 or 8 miles and if there weren't any water fountains on my route...heat exhaustion. I'm not a huge fan of the water bottles that you wear on your waist, so I will probably look into getting a bigger handheld bottle when I start training for my next half marathon in September. 

Technology crap

Since getting my new phone (the iPhone 7+), I had to upgrade most of my gear, since I preferred a pair of wireless ear buds and something to carry my phone in that wasn't an arm band due to the phone being so effing big. I did a lot of research and settled on...

The above ear buds, which are only $26 and are FREAKING AMAZING! I have a seriously terrible time getting ear buds to stay in my ears for any length of time during a run. Which is infuriating when I'm sweating and need my music to keep me going and the ear buds keep falling out. These suckers NEVER fall out or need adjusting. I'm not even kidding when I say I love them. And the music quality is so much better than the other ear buds I've tried. Needless to say, I highly recommend them. 

And this waist belt, which is only $8. I start my music, shove my phone in, zip it up, and turn it so the phone is on my booty. And then I run and forget it's there. It doesn't fall off or really even move the entire time. 

Fuel

Prior to leaving for a run (or in the morning before whatever workout I have planned), I always drink my watermelon Aminos. I've said it before, but I love this stuff and highly recommend it. It gives me clean energy without any jitters, there's no artificial colors (with the watermelon flavor), and I don't experience a crash later in the day. Also coffee gives me heartburn if I drink it prior to running and this stuff doesn't.  

If you plan on running more than an hour, you should plan on bringing something with you to snack on/replenish the salt lost through sweat/replenish electrolytes/give you energy. I have always had good luck with GU, and almost enjoy the salted caramel flavor - I think it's the most palatable.

A word of caution, I only eat about half at a time and eat it slowly while drinking water. This stuff is very thick and sweet and sticky and it's hard to swallow if you try to eat too much. This might be disgusting to some of you, but when I do have one I slowly eat half and then shove the other half in my sports bra for later. #extrasalt #frommyboobsweat

The thing that I LOVE to eat before a longer run is a honey stinger waffle. I usually have a bagel at home an hour or two beforehand and then have a waffle right before taking off. These things are delicious and I always eat one before any long run that's more than 6 miles. I have a fairly sensitive stomach and these never bother me and give me a nice burst of energy #carbs

That's all I have for today! Please let me know if you have any recommendations for gear you love for running. Do you have a favorite running shoe that you're diehard loyal to #brooksforlife, or do you think I'm a crazy person? 

I hope you have a fantastic day - thanks for stopping by!