The Love of the Run

The Love of the Run

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Smurf Fingers

It's that time of year again- winter running!!   It is finally starting to get cold here- this week Jordan and I did a number of run's in the 30's and 40's.  I know it doesn't sound cold and really it isn't cold (especially since I'm from MN) but I'm used to running in the mid 50's to 70's here so it has felt cold!  My hats, gloves, pants, jackets and my purple "smurf" hands have appeared all of a sudden this week.  Jordan has recovered and has been able to run all week without injury (so GLAD!)  So back to the smurf fingers--> I have Raynauds which is  a vasospastic disorder causing discoloration of the fingers, toes and for some people even their nose and lips.  See further description below--
  1. When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood supply to the fingers or toes, and in some cases the nose or earlobes, is markedly reduced; the skin turns pale or white and becomes cold and numb.
  2. When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin colour turns blue.
  3. These events are episodic, and when the episode subsides or the area is warmed, the blood flow returns and the skin colour first turns red and then back to normal, often accompanied by swelling , tingling, and a painful "pins and needles" sensation.
Raynauds affects about 3-5% of the population and is more prevalent in young females (Like me!).  My hands luckily (although still annoying!) are only affected.   I have noticed that I have a reaction whenever I come in contact with anything cold.   I often have had my fingers turn white instantly from grabbing something out of the freezer.    I always have a more severe reaction when it is damp outside or when the seasons are changing.   And that happens to be NOW...

To combat my Raynauds when its cold I make sure to grab my mittens (I can't run in gloves- I need to have my fingers together to maintain as much warmth as possible) and use hand warmers.   It has been frustrating despite these methods to still have to occassionally stop runs due to my hands being extremely cold and painful.  I've had runs where I've tried running with my hands in my pockets or even behind my back to get them out of the wind-- I look like a dork and it doesn't usually help.   I also try windmills -- swinging my arms in circles or blowing through my gloves to warm up my fingers- which still looks quite dorky, but seem to be more effective.  Calcium channel blockers (which causes dilation of the blood vessels) are a common drug to treat Raynauds and I was trying this method when first diagnosed my sophomore year of college (I had my sports physical and I remember being concerned at this time as my hands had become "smurf" like and painful that year when exposed to the cold).  However as a side effect I was getting severe headaches and wasn't able to run or function because of the severity of them.  I ditched the medication and have been managing with warm mittens and handwarmers.  I've found excellent mittens-- Lil Sport ( )  to work extemely well for me.   I get a new pair every year.  My good friend Joe has also nicknamed me LilSport!

It was actually warm on this run and I didn't run with gloves-- It was in the 50's.  It had been raining all day and we started in a light drizzle which of course turned into heavy rain!  The trail next to us was completely flooded and of course Jordan still ran in it and I ran next to him getting splashed.  Pretty sure Jordan probably thought I was strange as I replied "I like how it feels."  Although my fingers look painful in the picture they weren't.  When it's damp my fingers also turn colors, but if the temperatures are reasonably warm they don't get painful.
Jordan after one of our rainy runs claimed he must of weighed 300 pounds after the run.   He must of ingested a lot of GU's on the run ... :)  And he didn't share...!  

Two other exciting things that happened this week

1.  We saw the National Christmas tree which is located in the norteast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House.  This tradition has occured since 1923.   Smaller trees representing the U.S. states, District of Columbia and unincorporated territories of the United States around the National Christmas Tree are referred to the Pathway of Peace.  It was incredible!   

2.  I lost the big toe nail on my right foot- again.  This is the third time this year.   The second toe nail is about ready to follow suit.   My feet are incredible.  Incredibly gross!  I have never had a pedicure and I don't know if I ever will.  I would feel horrible having somebody touch them, I don't think there's much hope for improving the appearance of my toes and nails unfortunately!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pull-Up Update!

This past week has been a recovery week.  Typically in a recovery week my coach incorporates general strength sessions and conveniently my new pull-up bar has been a great addition into this routine.  Pull-ups are addicting as I've discovered- I have been doing them daily!!  I can complete 5 pull-ups  now (and YES I'm proud of that!).  Our friends have also been testing their pull-up ability! We have discovered a pull-up bar is a great way to entertain friends - hey want to come over and check out the pull-up bar?....

 I've been reading up on the benefits of pull-ups- below is a list of 10 reasons to do chin ups from

  • Chin-Ups are a closed kinetic chain exercise. Closed Kinetic chain exercises are much more functional than open kinetic chain exercises like the lat pull down.
  • Direct strength transference of motor pattern. On most strength exercises the concentric is the upward phase and eccentric is the lowering phase. The lat pull down is the opposite of this, while the chin-up fits the mold of core lifts like the bench press and overhead press.
  • Chin-ups work more muscles than machines. Big lifts equal big strength gains and big fat loss. They also release large amounts of anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone.
  • Brett Contreas in his own words, “When I conducted my EMG studies, I was shocked to find that the bodyweight chin-up led to the highest levels of lower rectus abdominis activation. It surpassed every ab exercise imaginable – even ab wheel rollouts and hanging leg raises.”
  • Brian Dobson trainer of Ronnie Coleman and Branch Warren says “Deadlifts and chins built Ronnie’s back. Chin-ups are king for upper back development. Chin-ups are the upper body squat!”
  • Special forces and other elite organizations use chin-ups as a testing standard.
  • Chin-ups are a catalyst for bicep growth!
  • Look at the back development of athletes like gymnasts that use chin-ups as their primary means of strength training in comparison to the physiques of basketball players that use lat pull downs. Physique enthusiasts envy the upper back development of gymnasts. Yet, very few feel the same way about basketball physiques.
  • Assuming you are not wearing straps (which you should not be) chin-ups build great grip strength!
  • Chin-ups force you to handle your own body weight, which is a crucial aspect of success in most sports!

                                          VERNON: 3                                             ME: 5

                                                                  JORDAN: 16

Not Pictured: BERT: 3 (no worries Bert- we will take one next time you come-- I am sure you will be back tomorrow as you're likely addicted too.  This next time I'm hoping you'll go all out - three really isn't that impressive ... I was slightly let down...  ).   My goal is to get to 10-- wonder how long that will take and am excited for this bicep growth to occur !

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Progression #2

I just completed my second long marathon progression run of 2 hours and 45 minutes! It was another great day to run here Arlington- mid 40's and light winds.  I did my first hour of the run around 7 minute pace and did two consecutive 45 minute pace increases finishing today's run near 6 minute pace.   Overall a great workout and I'm pleased with my progress.  I didn't have the "punch" on my run today, but I'm healthy and progressing every week.  I completed 3 solid threshold workouts this week.   Today's run I did mainly on crushed gravel with exception of the final portion which I completed on the bike trail that ran parallel to the Georgetown Canal.  The canal and bike path were a little busy today, but not overwhelmingly so.   I actually appreciate the company and find myself more controlled and rhythmic the busier the trails are with people.  As I'm running hard I tend to find myself focusing more on maintaining good form and controlling my breathing (I always feel silly passing people huffing and puffing so I really focus on breathing controlled )  Today's run concludes my third week of training since completing New York!

Thumb marks the spot! Boo!!   Jordan had to stop today's run due to shin/peroneal pain and ended up walking the last 3 miles back to the car as I finished the workout!!  Hoping it's very temporary and nothing serious.  I'm a physical therapist so I better fix him.. no pressure, no problem!

Chocolate Outrageous GU- the real outrage was I forgot to take it with me on the run!   During the workout I went to grab the GU from the side of my sports bra (I should probably find a different place as sometimes the GU packet will leave me with gashes, but it's been my GU pocket for years). No GU however today as I last minute decided to wear a different sports bra and got sidetracked afterwards.  Every runner has their favorite GU- I prefer vanilla, chocolate or espresso-  I'm drawn towards the GU's that have 2x the caffeine.  I have tried the fruit varieties, but I'm not a fan-- too sweet!  I also love chocolate and coffee so to be honest I get a bit excited every time I ingest a GU.  It's like getting a candy bar or a coffee on a run.   Hydration wise I always have an interesting mix -- I prefer cytomax with Electroytle Drink tablets and a dab of Crystal light pink lemonade and sometimes a dash of sparkling water.   Today I added the dash.  Again I am always well hydrated throughout the day and am continuing to annoyingly have to pee constantly.  I guess it's an ok problem to have... 

Jodan brought home a Christmas tree this week!  This is my second  December without snow as I was out in Oregon last year during this time.  Despite enjoying training in Oregon.. it has been more ideal here as I'm not getting rained on every single run (yes it really does rain in Oregon all the time-- and I got dumped on every run for 3 months straight there).  I heard from my friend Paul that Minneapolis has finally got some snow!  I am headed home to Minnesota in a little over two weeks for Christmas-- I've never had a Christmas without snow and I am excited to be home for a week to see family and friends.  I am hoping its at least above zero :)   I'm thinking there's a small chance Minnesota might be 50 degrees....

Thursday, December 1, 2011


 Had a great fall today, actually both Jordan and I fell within 5 minutes of each other.    I haven't had a good fall like this in some time.   If you're going to fall it might as well be a quality fall.  We were running together easy and all of sudden I caught a root with my shoes and flew forward.  We were in the middle of a conversation and Jordan continued to talk until he realized I wasn't responding to him.  He looked back and there I was on the ground on my hands and knees.  Being the tough gal I like to think I am I had a few "tough" words and bounced up and started jogging again.    For a few minutes I was laughing/crying or something like that and then all of sudden Jordan was now laying on the ground stating "I swear I didn't fall on purpose."   Haha.  I think he did....

IRON GYM.. I LOVE PULL-UPS!  I was very excited about this recent purchase.  I can't wait to get ripped and into serious shape. Iron Gym is the multifunction training system that raises the bar on upper body exercises..  WOW!  Look at all it claims to be on its website--- >   pull up, chin up, build muscle, quick results, pull ups, dips, push ups, chin ups, exercise, exercise machine, inexpensive pull bar, pull bar, tone, strengthen, abs, arms, stronger muscles, tone arms, tone back, strengthen back muscles, strengthen shoulders, stronger shoulders & strengthen muscles. (Seriously its pretty awesome)

Track workout in Rochester NY during Thanksgiving.  Super windy!!  Did 3 x3 minutes, 2 x 5 minutes, 3 x 3 minutes.  First track workout in months or years?   Took me awhile to get into a rhythm, but ended the workout feeling great.   Next time I plan to bring cool shades to fit in!  I actually like wearing sunglasses when I run, for some reason it makes me feel like I'm invisible... a bit weird, but true.    

Colorful run on the way to Rochester. It was cold.   Well it was 45 or 50.  I thought it was cold!!   Training went well while we were in Rochester. I completed my first 3 hour run since before Grandma's in June.  Felt great!   I was amazed at how hilly it was in Rochester.  Sooo many hills every direction!!.  My body is gradually getting used to running hills. I like running hills as I feel it is a great way to get running specific strengthening in.  Since moving from Duluth, MN in the summer of 2010 my running has been mainly on flat roads/trails.   Weather has been a little crazy this week back in Arlington.  This week I ran in 75 degrees, 60 and pouring rain and 40's and wind.  But still no snow! 
Finally meet Caitlin!   Dinner at the Country Club!! 

Special guest Andrew

Training is continuing to go well!   I am continuing to increase my mileage and have been completing some threshold workouts.  Jordan's friend Andrew ran with us last week before we left for Rochester New York for a few days for Thanksgiving.   Jordan and I did a 30 minute tempo run while Andrew did some easy light running.   I felt great.   My tempo was 10 seconds faster per mile than last week. I haven't had anyone consistent to run and train with since college. Having a consistent training partner is incredible! 

We also had an unexpected special guest on the run.  The highlight of this run was a man wearing a big backpack running easy on the path.  When we passed him we were into the tempo portion of the run.  To my surprise as we passed him he started running with us (or sprinting for him!).  We were running 5:30 pace at this time.  What is this guy doing I thought???   I figured he'd only last a minute running with us.   The man ran with us at least a mile at this pace and was inches away. I've never had anyone run this close to me, let alone a strange man with a backpack. I didn't really like it! I had a hard time staying focused during this mile as I and kept sneaking peaks behind at the man waiting for him to fade.  After a mile he fatigued and stopped running with us.   I wonder how many 5:30 miles the guy does in a day??!!  With the effort of the back-pack that mile was easily a 5:15.   Kind of impressed honestly...  but I hope we don't run into him again!

I made Andrew try out the tent, he lasted about 5 minutes before stating he was feeling a little light headed.   Little did he know we bumped the tent up to 12000 feet for him. Just kidding Andrew.... you're going to be a beast running now after those 5 minutes of exposure...