Under Armour

Just sent this off to Under Armour to thank them for my favorite workout capris.

(Side note: The fall referenced in the letter was not a bad one. Just some scrapes and bruises. I returned home and went to the gym.)

Dear Under Armour,

I am so thrilled by your Shatter Capris that I had to write you to explain. I bought my first pair over two years ago as I was training for a half marathon. The compression in these helped me with the IT Band issues I was struggling with.

About 9 months ago, I bought a bike and signed up for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I bought a second pair of Shatter Capris for training, fully intending to switch to padded shorts for the ride itself. Three days into the ride, I was so grateful that I had brought your capris with me – both pairs! They outperformed my cycling shorts in so many ways – they were more comfortable, wick away more sweat and allow for more breathing. On top of all of this, the tried and true compression factor helped my legs recover quickly.

(I have to add in here that not only do I love the performance of this garment, the quality is excellent as my original pair – which have seen huge mileage both running and cycling – are still in great shape!)

Unfortunately, a few days ago, I had my first big fall while cycling. And yet again, I was so thankful that I was wearing these Shatter Capris. My knees were only slightly scraped under this fabric instead of skinned as my elbows were. Not only that, but the fabric held up. There was not a tear or a single stitch out of place.

Thank you so very much for your products!

AIDS/LifeCycle – Training Week 1

Because of my work schedule, I’m going to log my training weeks from Friday to the following Thursday. It was a pretty good week. No injuries. And I was able to complete all of the workouts, which is the bigger concern I had initially.

Day One – Friday 

Short ride. It was a debate between hill repeats and sprint intervals. A Boyle Heights route was the compromise. I never realized why they call it Boyle “Heights” until I rode there for the first time. 14.04 miles with an average 5:31 minute mile. It was a good ride to warm up for the longer Saturday ride.

Day Two – Saturday

Long ride. This was the Three Rivers ride. It was a really good ride without any major problems. 75.45 miles with an average 4:50 minute mile. (That sub-5 minute mile showed me how hilly the previous day’s ride was.)

Day Three – Sunday

Was supposed to be a recovery ride. I skipped it because I had to work, and I honestly needed the rest. 75 miles for the first time made me really need to give my legs a rest.

Day Four – Monday

Power walk. Or in my words, “I need to use my legs in another way.” This was actually tougher than the long ride. My co-worker emphasizes the power in these walks. 5.10 miles.

Day Five – Tuesday

Actual rest day. Yay! It’s my longest day of work, so I figured it would be the best day to rest.

Day Six – Wednesday

In the gym. Stationary bike for 10 miles of hill intervals. 15 minutes on the elliptical. And about 10 minutes of core work. My not-so-favorite part of working out.

Day Seven – Thursday

Treadmill. Very easy run. 5 miles. I ended with six 90-second boxing intervals on a punching bag.

It wasn’t too bad of a first week. I thought the plan was manageable, and the adjustments (particularly dropping Sunday’s ride) made sense for where I’m at.

If you’d like to support my participation in this ride, $10 will do it!


the longest running break

After almost a year of training, including some cross country coaching at a high school, my running life has come down to this:

A foam roller and a yoga mat.


I woke  up the Monday before my Sunday race in November with a pain in my left knee that I recognized from something I struggled with in my right knee when I first started running. When I look back, I probably shouldn’t have run 13 miles on it like that.

So, now three months later, I’ve probably run 1 mile total. I wake up most nights with a stiff knee. And I am beyond frustrated.

I –and the trainer I work with (at school, not personally)– am fairly sure it’s an IT band issue. So, I know what I’m supposed to be doing. The problem is that out of frustration or laziness, I haven’t been doing it.

Which brings us to last week. Running has been an incredible gift for me. I’m a better writer, sister, daughter, friend, and teacher when I’m running. I have less stress. I sleep better. I eat better. I’m just all-around a better, happier, healthier person. And I realized that part of my increased stress levels in the past month have come from this lack of exertion.

So, I’ve started. Slowly. Stretching out the side of my leg. Working with this foam roller. And trying to get back into some sort of shape so when the moment does arrive that I can run again, I will be ready.

I’ve decided upon the Nike Training Club workouts (on an app for the iPhone) and the Insanity Cardio routine. I’ve been alternating these thus far to see what my knee can take. The first week was good. I’ve targeted the key tight spots in my leg and am working on them.

Now, the keys are focus and ignoring frustration.

running: 13.1

I’m going to start with the absolute truth: running 13.1 miles is hard. Though not impossible.

I registered for this half marathon on May 1st. At that point, I think the longest distance I had run was 5 miles. But when I was talking about it the other day, the conclusion was it’s one of those things that people do because they can.

I will admit that I woke up one Monday morning about 2 weeks ago and just wanted my training to be over. My legs hurt. I was exhausted every day, and I just wanted to cross the finish line and take the recovery week I promised myself.

Now…I can’t wait to do another.

I do want to say that the two things I was most thankful for were:

  • Hill repeats. Quite frankly, as a workout, I find them fun. The steeper, the better. The Rose Bowl. 1st Street downtown (where I could see people shaking their heads in their cars as I would run to the top at full speed and jog back down–over and over). And, even on a treadmill when it rained or I got home after dark (which was more and more often in the last few weeks). When I hit the hills on the course I ran, I was so grateful that I was used to running hills with tired legs.
  • Sprint intervals. I think this is what saved me. As of a month ago, the 8th mile of my long runs was my breaking point. It was absolutely mental. And two weeks ago I did my long run on a track. Every even mile of the ten-mile run had 8 100-meter sprints. This helped out in two major ways. One, it forced me to push through that eighth mile. Two, it was also the first time my legs were absolutely numb while running. I’m extremely glad I felt that before race day.

I will admit that, in addition to the hard, I am extremely, terribly sore. Yoga has helped, but I definitely know I have work to do before the next race!

train like an athlete. eat like an athlete. (well, kind of)

This is one of those things that a lot of people don’t really want to hear. Anytime I say it aloud, I’m met with “oh, please” or eye rolls or an explanation of how “lucky I am.”

It never occurred to me how much food is required to fuel the body. But the last month or so of workouts have been a little brutal. From what I can track and tell, my daily workouts burn anywhere between 1000 and 1500 calories. With my base calorie requirement, this means I need to be eating between 2500 and 3000 calories. Now, I could eat some french fries and call it  a day.

But when you’re trying to eat only healthy food, that’s a heck of a lot of calories. Take lunch today for instance, in order to achieve 850 calories, I included pasta with basil pesto (which was a majority of the calories, honestly), an egg salad sandwich (2 hardboiled eggs and 1 tbsp of wasabi mayonnaise) on olive bread, and a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigerette.

I think one of the most shocking things running has taught me is how little I  used to eat on a daily basis. It was never with the intention of “dieting.” I always just thought I was choosing healthy foods at small portions.

I realize now that I need to learn to space my eating out and to time it fuel my workouts. Some weeks I do really well, and other weeks–like last week–I fail pretty badly. The fatigue that results is unbearable.

My experiment for the week is to track my food during the work week (when my workouts are the hardest oddly) just to make sure that the final 7 weeks before my race are not an utter disaster.

“in some countries that would be considered walking”

By some strange twist of fate, I have been asked to and have decided upon “helping out” with the cross-country team where I work. I do not say coach because, well, in the grand scheme of running I know nothing. (And more importantly, if someone walked into my classroom and started calling herself a teacher, I’d be pretty annoyed.)

At any rate, the title of this post was overheard during a drill.

When I went out to run alone yesterday, I thought about this. Not about my speed because I am ridiculously slower than the students with whom I work. But I thought about it in terms of effort. Usually when I run, I do it at the easiest pace I possibly can.

And I wonder why I make such slow progress.

So, I eliminated music from my runs. Which was a really hard thing for me to do. But I completed a two-hour run without music and knew that I would be okay relying on the sound of my breathing and my footsteps.

Once that hurdle was passed, I decided to make a conscious effort to improve form and speed. Doing the same thing in the same way over and over again (slowly in my case) just ensures that you can do that very thing in the same way forever, I realized.

And already I feel much better about my progress this week.

Nice to know that “to teach is to learn” applies to coaching as well.

the ugly: on running

I’m going to call this one ugly because it is.


I woke up Friday morning–the morning I was supposed to complete an 8-mile run–with a nasty bruise on my left calf. Upon further inspection, I realized my knee was also bruised along with the shin of my left leg.

I love my foam roller. It’s made my life infinitely easier. It knocked a minute off my mile time. It’s made me extra-flexible. And it’s solved my life-long knee problems. Seriously. No creaking. No clicking. No stiffness.  Not a drop of pain while I run. I don’t have to wear a brace anymore when I run.

But some days, I seriously look like I’ve been boxing instead of running.

And it hurts. The bruises are tender. And sore.

And they’re ridiculously ugly.

the good, the bad, the ugly

When I started running, I promised myself I would not complain on this blog about it. When I started writing (or at least starting writing a novel), I promised myself I would also not complain about it.

I realized, though, that it gives the illusion that these things are easy and come easy and cause absolutely no pain.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Both are a personal, mental, physical, spiritual and emotional struggle. Every. Single. Day.

And it’s funny because they hit the exact same sore spots inside of me. The same self-doubts and the same struggles.

I had lunch with a friend a few days ago, and she said something that has made me think. You have to give honor to the pain. She went on to say that she knows that I just want to push forward to forget about it.

Keep moving has been my slogan for about a year and a half.

But I’m not super-human and these things are not easy. So, I want to give myself the space to honor the pain and to be completely honest about how hard these things are.

on running: the baseball on my table

Someone asked me the other day why there’s a baseball on my dining room table. I need it to run. And the conversation went on from there, so I didn’t really get to explain why.

But there’s a very simple explanation.

As I sit at the table, I put the baseball on the floor and use it to massage the bottom of my feet. I read somewhere to use a golf ball, but I don’t have golf balls lying around my house. Baseballs, though. I have plenty of. When I started running with the Frees, I was a little concerned about the lack of arch support.

The baseball is a great way to relax those muscles, though. To stretch them out. And it feels really good after a run.

So…that’s why there’s a baseball on my dining room table.

new obsessions

I’m not a name-brand person. I hate clothes and I hate shoes. My general goal is to shop for either of these things in the easiest, fastest, cheapest way possible. So, I’m a little surprised that I’m absolutely obsessed with Nike. First, their stuff (especially their shoes) is ridiculously expensive (at least to me). I have been lucky enough to have gift cards for all of my purchases thus far. The thing is I went into a Footlocker and tried on the Nike Free Trainers and absolutely fell in love. I was hesitant at first to buy Frees because they have very little support, and I read that it could cause some damage to leg muscles. Not only has it not done that, but my running stride has improved dramatically along with my running times. Add to that, their Dry-Fit clothing, and I’m absolutely in heaven.

My other current obsession is also a surprise to me. I am a coffee addict. I absolutely love it. I like the caffeine. And I like coffee itself. The taste. The smell. About a week ago, I bought a box of Yerba Mate. And I don’t think I’ve brewed a pot of coffee since that moment. It’s probably all in my mind, but it doesn’t feel nearly as harsh to my body, and I get the same caffeine lift. I’m eagerly awaiting the loose leaf that I ordered.