Friday, April 20, 2012


I haven't stopped blogging, I am just very busy these days working almost full time and studying full time. But soon, the school is finished and then I can write as much as I want. I might add that I have registered for two marathons, one in Reykjavik in August and NY marathon in November. There is one phenomenon I have been doing some research on. Procrastination. This is not the reason for me not blogging here, not that I am a procrastinator myself, but I have a couple of clients that suffer from it. I might write an article on the subject some time. And I might even publish it here. Stay tuned :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

What is Energy?

Energy is a word one often hears. People say they get energy from all sorts of things and sometimes I must admit that I am not sure what they mean. There aren't many calories in vegetables, but I often hear someone say he/she gets energy from eating a lot of vegetables. Well... that is in fact also what I have experienced, but I wonder if the word energy is the right word to describe what is going on, why one feels so much better by eating a lot of vegetables.
I myself would rather think of energy as just calories, those units that measure how much energy you get from the food. There aren't very many calories in 100 grams of vegetables. Not as many as in olive oil for an example. I don't think I could possibly get the calories I need to run a marathon just from vegetables. Or rather, I know I have to eat something else. Vegetables are healthy and if you want to be healthy it is wise to consume a lot of them. But that doesn't mean they are the ideal food for strenuous runs or walks out there in the mountains. Then it is easier to get the calories from something easily accessible for the body. Fruit sugar or fructose gets easily into the blood stream and you get the energy you need almost immediately.
At the same time you can count on that fructose is not what you need if you don't move much. Fructose is very common. It is in most of the prepared food you can get these days and it can be hard to avoid it. Fructose is a kind of sugar and it doesn't matter if the name of the sugar is fructose, corn syrup, agave syrup or what it is.
Sugar isn't good for the body if you sit still. Nevertheless it is the main source of calories for many of us. I would call that energy. Energy you don't need if you aren't going to exercise.
When people talk about weight loss, it seems as if the most important thing is to be able to eat as much as you use to. Like the method of just eating less is useless. Why is that? Why is it so important to eat much? Well... if you move a lot, then you have to eat more to maintain the same body weight. But that isn't enough for most of us if we want to lose considerable amounts of weight. Then we have to eat fewer calories as well.
The method I use is counting calories both the ones I burn when running and the ones I consume. And I try not to get too many of the calories I eat from carbohydrates like sugar or starch. The calories in vegetables are mostly carbs also, but that is ok because there are loads of fibres and other important things there.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Running With A Dog

Once I had a dog. In fact the dog played a pretty big role in getting me out of the sofa and out on to the streets each and every morning. It was a border-collie, clever and playful. Poor dog had a very nervous nature and was afraid of all sorts of things. But it was also happy and clever and it was very easy to teach him all sorts of tricks. The dog was a he, therefore I refer to it as him.
Border-collies are sheep dogs that need to run every day. If they don't get their exercise they get bored and difficult to take care of. Some of them bite, but my dog never did anything like that. If he didn't get to run he was difficult and kept seeking attention all the time.
The best thing he knew was to run outside of town with me, where I could release his leash and let him run free. He could run very fast and far. I sometimes took him on a trip which took the whole day and he could go on and on forever. The only runs he wasn't allowed to accompany me in were races and when I ran with my running group. And I didn't want him with me when I ran along the highway 30 km or more.
It is illegal to let dogs run loose in town so he had to be on a leash near my home. But the town is not big and it was fairly easy for us to get out of town where he could run as much as he liked. I had to be careful that there were no sheep around because he didn't know how to behave around them. He was obviously a sheepdog, but never got the proper training for that. Instead he was an excellent runner's dog.
Usually I kept him by my left side, but that could be a problem when we met other runners. Then the dog would be between me and the other runner and that would make the dog stressed. But he had to learn.
I am sure that he was born leader of the pack, he always tried to be first and it wasn't easy to teach him to heel. If I said something like "good dog" or other nice things to him when he was at my side as he was supposed to be, he got all giddy and happy and ran faster because he was so happy, and ended up in front of me. Just what he wasn't supposed to do.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My First Marathon

I ran my first marathon in Reykjavik 2007. It was my new years resolution that year and I had been telling everybody about it. I was careful to make sure there would be no way out. The year before I ran a half marathon, but it was different then because no one knew what I was doing. My kids and a few of my friends knew I was running, but I went alone to Reykjavik and back then I didn't know any runners. That has changed for sure.
Marathon for me is 42.2 km, nothing less. The whole event in Reykjavik that day is called Reykjavik marathon, but only few run the whole marathon. I think there are several thousands that run 10k, and a few hundreds run the half marathon. I don't know precisely how many runners participated in the whole marathon in 2007, but it felt as if they were not many. And most of them were foreigners. The cheering was mostly in English. I must admit that I felt kind of special, being that old (I was 46), a woman and Icelandic. Even in my own country. I don't live in Reykjavik so I wasn't at home, I had to spend the night before the run at a hotel like most of the other marathon runners that day.
In the start area I met a woman I think was little older than me, she asked me if this was my first marathon and what time I was aiming for, in English. I don't know where she came from, I guess she was an American. I said this was my first and I would be happy if I could finish and I hoped I would be faster that 4 and a half hour. My secret goal was to be quicker than the first woman who ran a whole marathon in Boston, in 1967 I think, her time back then was 4:20. I didn't say that to the lady there in the start area but I remember that I thought she was pretty and her hair looked really nice. It was grey and in one braid down her back. I said to myself that I would not only like to be able to run a marathon like she could, but I would also like to have hair like that.
Need I say that I finished the race, got the time 4:16, I quit dyeing my hair and now it is getting long.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Positive Effects Of Running

There are many side effects of running that are positive and maybe somehow unexpected. The muscles all over the body get strengthened and some find it far easier to flag the six pack we all have there somewhere under the fat layers on our stomach. Physical and psychological health issues tend to go together and you get far better at coping with stress in the daily life if you exercise.
The human mind seems to find it far easier to focus on only one isolated aspect of the big picture. Therefore I would probably be more successful by only writing about only one positive effect of running if I wanted to convince someone that it would be good for him/her to run.
I could of course write several hundred words about the fact, that male runners have less problems with erection than the average male. I am sure someone would buy that. But then, I am not a male, what do I know? Other than what I have read and heard my male running pals say. Not that they talk much about stuff like that.
If you are a female you might be interested in the fact that the muscles in the bottom region get stronger by running which diminishes problems with bladder control and uterine prolapse.
In a few words: The sex life gets better. Now, that IS something, isn't it?
By now I hope I have managed to erase the effects of my last blog post about the dark side of running.
There are countless myths about negative effects of running that can't stand daylight. Like the one that says women shouldn't run because they get prolapsed uterus out of it. It isn't true, quite the contrary. But then, if you want excuses you can always find one. Then it maybe doesn't matter if it is true or not, not as long you believe in it yourself.
Another myth is that runners have weak knees. Which isn't true. The condition named "runner's knee" isn't more common among runners than the whole population and running makes the knees stronger, just as it does to most other joints in the body.
The latest issue I have read about in the media is that ultra runners get scars in the heart muscle which definitely sounds dangerous. But when I read some of the research articles on that matter I found out that those scars were found among old males that had completed more than 100 marathons. Marathons where the strain on the heart is very vigorous all the time. Who does that anyway? Run hundred marathons. And I didn't see those older males compared to older males that lead a sedentary lifestyle. Well... I guess the other group would have just as many heart conditions, but their would have more to do with the coronary arteries etc... I am not a heart surgeon so I don't want to go further into this discussion.  Overall, exercise is good for the heart. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dark Side Of Running

Life isn't always easy.
Running can be really hard when every muscle of your body aches, the knees, hips, ankles and all other joints scream, your stomach aches, you want to throw up or need a toilet desperately, your hands swell, your face gets bright red, you sweat like a pig and if you stop you freeze, you are thirsty and hungry but can't get another bite down and the thought of another pack of gel makes you noxious.
Everyone you thought was your running pal is gone, they all somehow disappeared there in front of you, further and further away in the far distance ahead. The iPod has an empty battery and is of no use, which maybe isn't all that bad because all the songs are getting on your nerves anyway. The fuel belt teases and threatens to either fall off or drag your trousers down to your knees. Not a flattering sight.
Your right thigh suddenly begins to cramp so you nearly fall as the whole leg gets disabled. You don't have a choice, you have to stop and stretch out which isn't easy on this exact spot with no trees, poles or anything you can hold on in to.
The taste of the energy drink is far too sweet and it sticks to your tongue. The top tightens around your chest and makes it hard to breath. Your shoulders are stiff and ache and you have difficulties turning your head if you want to see if anybody is behind you.
On days like that it is inevitable that slow runners, you don't even know, have to come out of the blue and overtake in a way that makes you feel like you are some kind of an alien snail that doesn't belong on the surface of the earth. Your stomach makes you go outside the road for a moment but it doesn't seem to help much.
You can feel that the toenail you were worrying about has decided not to heal, but most probably will turn blue, which also means that it will fall off when time comes. And you know you are getting blisters on the little toes of both feet. You hope your feet behave and they don't develop blisters under the forefoot because things like that can go on and on bothering you for the next days if that happens. Days like that make you understand how the sheep dogs must feel when they have been running out there in the rough landscape for days with nothing to protect their feet.
Well... I told you. Life isn't always easy

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Time Management And Running

Sometime someone asks how I find time to run. And the same someone often says that he or she wouldn't have time to run. For me it is a question of priority. If you want to do something, you find the time to do it. Maybe I watch less television, but I don't think I do less of those activities one is supposed to do, like working and spending quality time with family and friends. I even have other hobbies like writing and singing in a choir.
The week has 7 days. Let's say you sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours. Maybe you spend one hour getting yourself to work and home again. And maybe you spend two hours on getting some food and eating each day. That would leave 5 hours to do something else each day, something like running.
I am not saying you should run for 5 hours each day. No one does that except maybe some professional elite runners. But you get my point. Most people do have the time to exercise if they want to.
Small children can take a lot of time, but you can do something else while you are babysitting. There are countless types of strollers available if you want to take the baby with you running. Most children do have two parents who could take turns babysitting and running, but that would take some planning. If both parts are familiar with the plan it is more likely to work than if there is no plan or if one part doesn't know or want to follow the plan.
Planning is essential. At least in the beginning, until the running becomes a part of the daily routine.
Some weeks I run 100 kilometers. That sounds like a lot. And yes, it can be difficult to find the time to do that, but then, if you think about it, I shouldn't need more than 12 hours ca. on the road in order to run 100 kilometers. And if I count the time it takes to change clothes and shower I should manage with two or three hours each day. I usually run from home which gives more time since I don't spend time on driving out to the woods or wherever I want to run.
Most people find that exercise gives more energy and if you exercise you seem to overcome a lot more of those daily chores than if you don't exercise. One sleeps better and so on. It is a win - win situation. You run and you get more energy to do all the other things you'd like to do.