Friday, April 20, 2012

Excuses

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.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Running In A Group


Running alone is different from running in a group. Some people like it a lot, others say they prefer to run alone. Somehow it seems to me though that the ones that say it suits them better to run alone, they don't know how it is to be a part of a running group, simply because they have never been in a group like that.
Runners are different and they run for different reasons. Some run to lose weight, some run because of the company, some run to win, some to keep themselves fit etc... Some of us run for all those reasons and many more.
If you have to be the first, a group can make life difficult for you. If you run alone you are always first. Or maybe you don't like the thought of coming last. But someone has to be the last one. A group where the moral is to take care of every member of the group wouldn't leave somebody far behind. Some trainers or group leaders emphasize that you have to take turn being in front and you have to stop and wait now and then, if a group member runs slowly. Usually people find it harder to be the one the others have to wait for, than the one who runs in the front and gets the change to chat with fellow runners while waiting for the slow ones.
Somehow the company makes one run faster and further. It is quite strange that you seem to be less tired and you feel pain less when you are with others. Runners tend to be in a good mood and make silly jokes when they group together. A group where every member has the running high can not be boring.
I once was one of those who said they liked better running alone than in a group. That was before I joined a running group I fitted in. There was another running group in my town but I knew they were running for fast for me at that time. I didn't see any reason to run after those people. But now I am active in a running group that suits me perfectly. I have made some really good friends and we all agree that we are the best.
My running group has a base at a fitness center, but there is no trainer or formal leader. We take turns in deciding where we are going to run and it seems to work fine.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Food and Running

Sport and processed food items often seem to go together. That is, people seem to think that if you do some sport you have to eat some sports products and food additives. This is strange since I don't think sugar and sports drinks would be considered healthy. Food items like "protein bars" is processed food and ordinary people do not know what it is made of. It is a good rule not to eat anything you don't know what is. Then, why would you consume something unhealthy when you are trying to live a healthy life?
There are no shortcuts. I am not saying it doesn't matter how, what and when you eat. It isn't very clever to go out for a run immediately after a huge meal. It is better to wait for a couple of hours. And if you are on the road for a long time you need some easily accessible energy. Too many fibers can get in the way and chewing takes time which means that drinking something with a lot of sugar kan be helpful on long runs. And that's it. The only situation a sports drink is a good choice is on runs longer than 10 km.
If you think you need protein there are lots of ordinary food items that are higher in protein than the "protein bars" you can buy at the gym. Meat, milk, fish and other ordinary food items are excellent. An apple and a glass of milk after exercise can get you far.
Everyone needs food from the six major classes of nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, minerals, protein, vitamins, and water. Varied diet is the best.
I like the model where you compare the body to a car. Then the fuel would be the carbohydrates, the protein is the building material and the oil or fat makes everything move smoothly. Athletes sometimes tend to focus too much on the carbohydrates during training and the proteins after the training. They try to keep the calories down by not consuming fat. An auto mechanic would never dream of driving his car without the oil or lubricants on the engine. It isn't enough to have gas in the tank. I am sure the same counts for our bodies.
The fat we consume keeps the joints working as they should, which means the fat can prevent injuries. Your body needs fuel and raw materials from carbohydrates, fats and proteins to keep your brain and body going throughout the day. Dietary supplements aren't necessary if you eat varied food and avoid sugar. Except maybe fish oil for the D-vitamin.
If you want to lose weight it doesn't help just to cut off the fat. You have to eat less. Or exercise much more. And eat more fibers. Prepared food often contain very little fiber which is one of the reasons it is far better for you to make the food from the scratch than buying boxes and bottles with some unrecognizable substance inside. Ordinary healthy food is the best for all of us, runners included.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running Gear for Women

I guess it is possible to run in high heels. Or barefoot. Everything is possible. Just turn on the TV set and watch some ballroom dancing. There both men and women are wearing high heels. And they run a lot. And jump. Well. For some reason I have never seen a runner in a street race wearing ballroom outfit. I have seen silly dresses. And suits for that matter. And even full body tiger suits. God, that must be warm. But everyone is wearing running shoes. No, not everyone. I once passed a guy wearing something my kids would call converse sneakers. He wasn't running. He was walking, limping and stretching out. And I never saw him reach the finish area.
Need I say more. Running shoes are something a runner can't run without. Unless you are a barefoot runner, but that is a whole different story. Running shoes. That is about it. All the other stuff is just to make one more comfortable. No. That isn't right. A woman with breasts needs some support there. I once was size D and I can tell you. It isn't comfortable to just wear a regular bra if you want to run. No, you have to invest in a running bra or at least wear two bras, one on top of another. That isn't all bad, to wear two bras. I did that when I was breastfeeding and knew my bust would shrink soon. Didn't want to spend money on an expensive huge bra I might use only a couple of months. Now that I have shrunk a lot the bra doesn't seem as important. The weight of the breasts is considerably less and I am not a self conscious when I am out there. I have never liked the thought of men watching my breasts bounce. I'd rather hide them behind many layers of clothes. Which happens automatically in the winter.
There we are: A pair of shoes. And a bra if you are a woman. The rest can come as times go by. It is quite OK to run in an old cotton t-shirt. I myself do not use cotton anymore because it holds on to the sweat and gets cold and heavy. Now I only use clothes that carry the sweat away from the skin. And yes, running socks are wonderfully comfortable and you don't risk blisters as much as when you use some kind of regular socks. Cotton socks make your feet feel wet and that isn't very comfortable.
There is also one other thing I am pretty particular about. I never let my socks touch the floor if I can help it. I wear sneakers if I am not going to put the running shoes on immediately after I put the socks on. And I usually am careful not to use other socks in the running shoes. I don't know if this makes any difference, but I seem to be free for the bad smell some people complain about in their running shoes. I made my own theory saying that bad smell comes from some bacteria and if you keep your socks clean, then it is only "clean" sweat that you have to wash from your shoes once in a while. I put my running shoes in the washing machine and that seems to work just fine.
One of my favorite pass time activities is looking at running clothes on the internet. I have bought quite a few items there. Some of them didn't fit when the arrived, but I got my kids who can take over items that I don't fit.
Once I found a skirt. A running skirt. I fell for it immediately and ordered one. I use it all the time during winter, with the regular tights underneath. I wish skirts were more common among runners. I don't want to look too different. Living in a small town sometimes makes one overly self conscious. Besides, it would be more fun to watch the big races if not everyone was wearing those boring runner's shorts. My skirt got panties inside it. Really smart.
And who says women have to wear the same things as men. I mean, female tennis players have been wearing skirts all the time. Why not female runners? Maybe the reason female runners wear the same kind of clothes as the men is that running has always been considered a men's sport. Which isn't right. Maybe women will take over the long distances some time?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Superstition?

It is funny.  I wrote the post on running on ice and snow yesterday and while I was writing I tried to remember if there had been frost rain here this winter.  I don't think so.  And then, last night it started raining on the frozen surface of the earth and now, the next day, everything is covered in ice.  I also wrote this article yesterday, maybe I will find another running skirt somewhere today?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ice and snow

Living in a country with a long winter every year makes it impossible to stay inside when it is cold and at the same time maintain the good shape a marathon runner needs to be in to be able to call himself a marathon runner. I live in Iceland. Of course I could try to use the cold weather as an excuse to stay inside, in my warm cozy home, and not get out there to run. I know some people do. And I guess it is quite understandable if you live in California or Italy if you do not see any reason to run when the temperature is below the freezing point. Or if you come from a climate where the temperatures rarely go under 20°C, then I guess it must be quite uncomfortable to be out there in -2°C. 

There are other things that can bother a runner during the winter in Iceland. It gets terribly dark. For at least two months it is already dark when you go home from work, and of course it is dark when you to to work. If you don't have the opportunity to run in the lunch hour, then you can forget all about running in daylight. And then there is the snow. Sometimes all the tracks and paths are covered in thick layer of snow and sometimes there are even ski tracks on top of my favorite running paths. Then you have to find another route. 

The most dangerous thing though is the ice. The slippery spots you can't see because they are covered with snow. If you step out on one of those it is very likely that you are going to fall. Hard. I was once in great hurry downhill. There was a bend on the road and I wasn't aware of the slippery spot that hid down there, under the snow. I think my feet flew higher than my head. And I got a very clear and big blue spot on my hip. Luckily I didn't break anything. But it hurt! And I was startled. I could continue on my route, but I assure you I am very careful when I run past that spot ever since. Even if it is in the middle of the summer in bright sunshine. It is easier if the ice is on the surface and you can see it. Then it is easier to avoid the icy spots. And there are different kind of shoes one can get that are quite suitable for running during winter time. Just as there are different kinds of tires for cars. You don't have to have nails in the tires to be able to drive on snow or ice. And it is possible to get shoes that are in fact pretty good on ice. Not slippery at all.  If the ice isn't too uneven or wet it is possible to run just as one would to on a firm surface like asphalt. 

Sometimes there is a thick layer of snow everywhere when I get out in the morning. Then I have to use the tracks from the few cars that have been around, because at that time the big machines that clear the snow from the streets can't be everywhere at the same time. And of course I have to be careful not to let those machines run me down. I suppose a lone runner out there early in them morning can be difficult to get an eye on. Which leads me to another thing. Reflective bands and vests. They are as important as the shoes in the dark winter. If the light is changing and maybe a little rain it can be almost impossible for the drivers of the cars to see a runner in black clothes. And somehow running clothes seem to be black. It is possible to get all kinds of bands, vests and those reflective danglers you just can put in your pocket during daylight and then let hang down on your side when it is dark. Everything helps. I find the vest easiest and best. 

It can in fact be quite pleasant to run in the snow. Hard packed snow that isn't too slippery is great surface to run on. And when there is snow on the ground everything looks very clear and clean. I like the crisp cold air in the winter even if some people do not like the thought of breathing very cold air into the lungs. I have, as a matter of fact, never had any problems with that, not even in -16°C as I sometimes have run in. I just take good care to cover as much of my skin as I possibly can. Zip the jacket all the way up, wear an elephant hat and gloves. Sometimes an extra scarf. A thin woolen sweater under the jacket. And two pairs of pants. That does it. When it is very cold the weather is usually still and not snowy. The worst conditions I can think of are when there has been frost rain. When the earth is frozen and it rains. Which means the raindrops turn into ice when they reach the earth. Then everything is covered in thin layer of ice. Which is almost impossible to run in. I also find it difficult to tackle very wet snow. When the snow on the ground is melting rapidly which means it is very wet and splashes everywhere. It is possible to run in it, but no fun at all. In fact it can be extremely irritating because you get your feet wet in seconds.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hypoglycemia

Once upon a time I thought I'd become Forrest Gump. I thought I could run endlessly. I went from home without the dog because I felt that I would go too far for him. I remember me also considering to check how important it is to eat something before a run.  I would check myself if it was all that necessary to eat some carbs the night before a long run and again in the morning before the long run. I didn't eat before I left home. Just as I used to do in the week days when I ran before work. But this particular day was Sunday. And I even think I had a couple of glasses of red wine the evening before. 

I took off. Ran like the wind past my mother's house. And I vent on and on. It felt great. I had some new music I liked in my iPod and life was good. My feet seemed to carry me without any effort. I ran along the road. Sunday is such a dull day out there. The weather wasn't the kind of weather ordinary people like to get out into. So I mostly had the road to myself.  And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. Free like the wind. Speaking of the wind. It was blowing, not too much, and mostly from the side. I always like it best when it it wind still. But you can't have everything, can you? I ran past a school where I once worked. The school is 13 kilometers away from my home. And I vent on, up a hill on the other side of the river. OK, I have to admit that I walked a little where the road was up a really steep hill. But then I went on running. And then, all of a sudden. After two hours of good running and about 21 kilometers from home, something happened. Something very uncomfortable. I was totally drained. 

I could feel it in every cell in my whole body. There wasn't enough energy around to keep the pace. I started walking. I didn't have anything with me to eat or drink. And being in the middle of nowhere I couldn't just go into the next shop and buy something. No, I just had to go on. There were a few cars passing by but I wasn't in such a bad shape that I considered it necessary to stop any of them. And I passed a few farms also where I could have asked for help if I thought I was dying or something. But I decided to go on. After all it was only 30 kilometers I had to go. I had run this distance a couple of times before without problems. I tried to run a little to keep warm because I was also starting to freeze. And my whole body just hurt. Not only my leg muscles but my whole body. And my vision was a bit strange. The grass was starting to get green there in the early spring, but I thought it looked way too green. I tried to think clearly but that wasn't easy. Somehow I seemed to have lost the ability to calculate how far I had gone and how far I would have to go to reach my mother's home. The only thing I could do was to keep on walking and running. There were yellow sticks along the road and I used them to pull me forth. Said to myself that I would count them. But I lost count again and again. Seemed pretty pointless anyway. I also tried to run between two sticks and the walk between the next two. I managed to keep my mind occupied doing just that. 

When I reached the point where I thought I had 7 kilometers left I met someone I know walking with her old parents. I tried to look as good as I could and just run past them saying polite "hi". Didn't want to stop. Didn't want anyone to see how miserable I in fact was. But there I also decided I was not going to run or walk all the way back home. That seemed like one thousand kilometers. Or like the distance to the sun and back to earth. No, I would manage to get home to my Mom. And she would have something warm for me to drink. My mother lives 4 kilometers from my house and there was no way I could manage those last 4 kilometers on my own. So I vent to her house. Funny thing is I don't think she could see how miserable I in fact was. She saw I was pale and I looked tired. My lips were blue, but I am just like that, I often get blue lips when I am cold. 

I think the running gear fools people. Runners just do look fit when they are wearing those shoes and tights. At least my mother didn't say anything about me being ill or anything. We just chatted about flowers and dogs and things like that. I drank some warm water with sugar and salt in it. She didn't have any soda or juice. And certainly not a sports drink. So I just tried to improvise. 

After a while I felt better but I still couldn't get myself to finish my route. But I accepted gladly when my mother offered me a lift home. And I was much viser. Now I knew how "the wall" felt. And I didn't want to get in touch with that phenomenon ever again. 

When I came home I took my time eating and drinking. I was basically just hungry. And then I lay in bed with my laptop and tried to gather my thoughts. I didn't know then that a part of this hitting-a-wall thing was that you have problems thinking clearly. But I am very curious by nature and I just had to get some knowledge of what was going on. What had happened to me. 

I found out that when you are low in blood sugars from the start, the risk of finishing all energy or glucose from the blood stream after about two hours of intensive physical exercise, is very high. That is what happened to me this day. I didn't eat before I left home. And I didn't eat or drink anything on the way. So I just used up all the energy that was available. This is the simple way to say it. Of course I could get into lengthy discussions of blood sugar levels, insulin-induced hypoglycemia and so forth. But as far as I am concerned it is enough for me to know that if I want to continue feeling good during a long race I have to drink something with easily accessible energy in it. So I started reading about different liquids, electrolytes, energy, carbohydrates, glucose and so forth. And I found out that apple juice or orange juice in 250 ml. containers would be the ideal running drink for me. Maybe not so many electrolytes, but nutrition and energy. I also found out that an average runner uses 50 grams of carbohydrates each hour. As I think I weigh less than the average runner, I think I need less. Which means in the end that I should be able to manage a 4 hours run on one and a half liter of apple juice. 

Then I never even considered using gels, because you would need liquid to consume them properly. Or that is what I read. So for me it was sports drinks or fruit juice. That sounds fine for me. In a race with drinking stations it isn't necessary to worry about bringing something yourself. You just have to know approximately how much you need in order to avoid the wall, and also to avoid drinking too much water. Because that is possible too.

Now I was much wiser. And I seriously thought this wouldn't happen to me again. But four months later, in the beginning of August, a couple of weeks before my first marathon, I was out there running. It was in the afternoon, on a Sunday. The weather was just fine and I decided to go on the route I usually took on Sundays earlier in the year. My 14k route. It has a loop of 2.2 kilometers on the far end which means I can add as many 2.2 kilometer loops on the ordinary route as I want. And that is what I did this Sunday. I didn't drink anything immediately before I took off. Although I had eaten breakfast as usual. I guess I didn't think I was going very far. For some reason I left the dog behind though. So there I was, running well, without the dog. It was very pleasant being in the woods and running on my favorite gravel paths. So I just continued running in circles. Somehow it is easier to cut the route into pieces and just think of one piece at the time. And that is what I was busy doing when I suddenly realized that even if I ran straight back home I would reach 30 kilometers or 3 hours running. 


There were some berries in one place. Delicious black currants that I had no difficulty eating. So I ate quite a few of those. But I had no idea of their nutritional value. If they helped blood sugar levels or what. But at least I felt as if I had done something to avoid the wall. And I took off home. When I got into my street I could feel the wall very clearly. So I walked the last few hundred yards. And boy, did I feel lucky to be so close to my own home. But I felt stupid too. And there again I could clearly feel the effect of hypoglycemia on ones intellect. It was simply impossible for me to figure out how many kilometers I just had run. Even if I knew exactly how far it was to where the loop started, how long the loop was and how many loops I ran. I couldn't add simple numbers. I just felt weak and miserable. Good thing I wasn't freezing too, because it wasn't cold outside. At least not as cold as it was first time I got in touch of the wall. Need I say that this was also my best friends birthday and I forgot all about it. That is the worst of it all. Stupid me. Stupid because I didn't use the knowledge I had. I should have known better. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

No shortcuts

There are personal trainers that want the runners inside the gym to do all kinds of exercises to prevent injuries. I have been inside a gym so I can't say that I have never set a foot there. But I have never attended any class for runners in a gym. If I go there it would be for some dancing class. Or maybe Pilates, yoga or something like that. Not weight lifting. I swim, I bicycle. And I do exercises at home. Sorry gym owners, you don't get my money. I think the best way to prevent injuries are the right shoes. Not some expensive supportive shoes. Just regular running shoes that fit your running style. And then the second most important thing is to listen to your body. Know your limits. And be careful not to let other things push you too far. Don't try to be number one always. Someone has to be number two. Someone has to be the last to cross the finish line.

Drugs, food additives. Why are so many athletes tempted to use those? Once in a while you see a famous athlete crying on television. Saying he is sorry that he had cheated and misled all those people who believed in him.  What makes people take a risk like that? Well, being the world's best is maybe worth it? If you just take one day at the time. But who wants to look his grandchildren in the eyes and admit that you weren't entitled to call yourself a world champion because you were abusing illegal drugs? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

UTMB 2013 :)

I have been waiting for the new rules regarding the qualifying races one needs to register for UTMB 2013.  I didn't win the lottery this year and I have to wait until august 2013.  Since I ran the CCC in 2010 and TDS in 2011 it seems as if I already have the points I need, even if they require 7 points instead of the 5 points you had to have to participate this year.  I thought my CCC points were too old, but apparently they aren't.

This is a relief.  It isn't all that simple finding a race that meets the criteria, especially when you live in a country far away from other countries and this country only has one race which gives one point, once a year.
Since I didn't win the draw this year I am guaranteed admission next year.

UTMB 2013, here I come :)  Only 166 km and 9500 positive altitude change.

Now I can start planning 2012.  I might try to beat my own record in street marathons.  And even try to qualify for Boston.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sensations

I know some people seem to better equipped with what you need to become a good runner than other people. Some of us are just what you would call a nature talent. But I in fact don't believe in that. Of course some people can run faster than other people. But I think most of us can run. That is not the same thing as the ability to start slowly and listen to your body. If you start out too fast and find yourself eating painkillers after a few days, then you might just as well find another sport where it isn't as easy to abuse your body. Runners with injuries are most likely runners that do not listen to the signs their bodies are trying to get through to them. Maybe because they are on some pills, I don't know. But if you are careful and take time to let the joints get used to the running you minimize the chances of anything going wrong. It might be easy to say this. Well, you can't get this free. The good shape of a marathon runner. And you can't buy this for money. It is your own time and effort that counts. I didn't start at the zero point. I was in good shape when I decided to run the marathon. And I am even not superstitious enough, not to say that I in fact have never had a running injury. Because I am not too ambitious. I don't have to be the best. I don't have to do this in a month or two. 

This is my lifestyle and has always been. A part of my lifestyle is also to avoid pain killers. I use relaxation and yoga instead. And somehow I manage to get along fine without painkillers. I just think it is extremely important to be able to listen to your body. That is the reason for me going through three childbirths without any medication at all. I knew that the pain wasn't dangerous and that it would go away again. I will never say a childbirth is comfortable. It hurts like hell. But the pain doesn't last for ever. Even if it feels like it can't get any worse at a given time. But then, inevitably it is all over. And there is this wonderful new human being that takes all the focus. If all goes well and a woman is not medicated, the few hours after a childbirth are something one never has a chance to experience under other circumstances. You are wide awake and all senses open. The new baby is so amazing. Every sound, every movement, every smell is like the most important thing on earth. Countless thoughts fly through the new parent's mind. Feelings you have never felt before. Concerns about the welfare of your baby. Thoughts about the future. You look at every small detail like the nail on the little finger. I wouldn't want to miss that.  And I didn't want painkillers to interfere with this sensation.  


Well I am not saying the same counts for running as for childbirth.  Or maybe.  In the end it is your own effort that counts and you don't get anything for free.

Monday, January 30, 2012

All kinds of gadgets

There are so many things you can buy to prevent or rather get rid of all kinds of problems. If you don't want your back to hurt, you have to buy an expensive chair to sit in at your desk. A chair that has all kinds of possibilities for adjusting so you can find the one position you are going to be in for the next years. Then you don't have to move. The chair makes sure there will be no reason for that. Or rather, no opportunitiy if you once have adjusted it. Because then you don't want to mess with changing that. 

Do I need to say that I don't believe in expensive chairs that you can adjust to your body. What is wrong with moving your body around and let it adjust to whatever you are sitting or laying on? If you haven't lost all feeling for your body you will feel when you have been sitting or laying in the same position too long. Then you move around. Or change the way you sit. There is no "right" way to sit in my mind. Sometimes it is quite OK to hang down. If you don't do it always. Sometimes it is OK to cross your legs. If you don't sit like that all day long. 

It is not only chairs you can buy who are supposed to provide support. Shoes, beds, all kinds of things to put around your keyboard and I could go on for a long time. There are all kinds of "support" like bandages, some modern corsets, socks, panties, underwear that are supposed to make your body look better. Yeah. I don't give much for that idea. If you need a corset to look good, how do you think you look when you move around? Stiff? What about having a stick stuck up a unmentionable place. Oh. wow. I am trying not to imagine my reaction if I met a man and decided to go to bed with him and found out that he was wearing a corset. I would run. Fast. Away. On the other hand, I suppose I would never feel any desire to go to bed with a man that would even think of using a corset. 


Pain killers are another kind of "help" to people who want to get rid of all kinds of uncomfort. But by using pain killers you loose the ability to feel when things are beginning to be a little uncomfortable. If you are taking some pills to get rid of that pain in your shoulder, then you don't feel that you have been sitting too long in the same position or that you are using a wrong technique to lift a heavy item from the floor. If you dont pay attention to those warning signs of uncomfort you will most likely end up with some pain somewhere that results in swallowing more pills. Which again means that you don't pay attention to your body. And you believe those salesmen that tell you an expensive bed with all kinds of possibilities to raise different parts of the bed and the person that is laying in the bed, is absolutely necessary. Need I say that I don't believe in that kind of comfort. Because I don't think it works in the long run. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weight loss continued

Bread and beer contain many calories so getting rid of those and having something healthier instead of course helped a lot in loosing weight. I happens that I drink maybe one beer, and then I prefer something exotic. And I can eat a slice of pizza now and then or a slice of bread. But those things are very social and I keep the amount down. I just don't like the idea of acting different from the people I am with. Which I guess is understandable since my profile is that of a social eater. I eat with other people. Come to think of it, that is one of the changes I made, I almost never eat anything alone. And I never use the excuse of being on a diet when someone offers me something to eat. I usually accept it but try to keep the portions small. As I see it there is a huge difference between eating a whole box of chocolates or just taking one piece.

I really don't want to play the role of the person on diet. I don't want the attention, I don't like the comments. It's OK that people say I have lost weight if I have. And of course people see it when someone that has been 20 kilos overweight becomes reasonably thin. I guess what I dread now is the thought of me getting comments about being anorectic when I keep on. Because there are a few more kilos I want to loose. I don't like attention. I don't like comments about my appearance. I just want to fit in.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Freeze Your Thorns Off 5k

I decided to take part in the Boring Runner's Freeze Your Thorns Off 5k
Well.. It is January and I promised myself last winter that I wouldn't freeze my butt off again running like crazy outside during wintertime.  I would only run slowly and only if I wanted to.  And I wanted to participate in this fun game :)

This morning I was awake when the papers arrived and I thought I would be a good mom and let my son enjoy his teenage dreams a bit longer this Saturday morning and I decided that my 5k today would be his paper route.  At least the distance would not be far from 5k.
I must admit I had some second thoughts when I saw how thick the papers were, 250 grams, which makes 110 of them 27,5 kilos.  Quite heavy.  And you have to go all the way up steps and down to dark cellars to get to peoples front doors and make sure the paper is all the way in.  No throwing around with the papers, and on this route no one has a postbox by the street.

The weather today isn't as cold as yesterday, in fact it is 10°C warmer today than yesterday, which means the snow is melting and there is wet ice on the streets.  There is no way getting around reasonably safely without spikes.

I didn't see a living soul out there.
I decided I would be content with any speed faster than walking speed and I think my time 54:24 is pretty good all things taken into consideration.

The kid is still sleeping. And probably will be until noon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Loosing weight

I have never bought the idea of stepping on the scale just once a week. Because the daily swings would be there anyway, especially when you aren't loosing weight very fast. Our memory span is so short. At least mine is, that I have to weigh myself every day to keep my motivation going. Seriously, I can't see anything wrong with seeing the results immediately if I eat too much one night. Then the weight is bound to show that next morning. Maybe I would be careful the day before a weighing day, but isn't it better to be careful every day? This is a lifestyle, a marathon, not a sprint or a short diet. Life isn't about running a short distance to a goal. We are going to be here for a long time. And if stepping on the scale every morning is a part of what I need to stay thin, I will do that for the rest of my life. 

I was asked yesterday if it didn't take a lot of self control to count calories as I do. Yes, it does. But so does getting out of bed every morning and go to work. I have to keep a calendar at work, I have to write down everything I do. And If I don't do it immediately I forget things and the quality of my work isn't the same. The same thing counts for eating. Because I have to eat. I can't just stop that as I would do if I was trying to get out of some bad habit like smoking or drinking. Then I could think it was sufficient just to stop doing what I don't want to do and that's it. Although I am afraid things aren't that simple if you are an alcoholic and want to get out of the addiction. You would still crave the substance every day and have to change a life style to stay free. But as I see it, the main difference between loosing weight and stopping drinking is that when you want to loose weight you can't just stop eating. 

Because you have to eat every day. There are no simple solutions. People sometimes ask me what I did to loose weight. Especially when they find out that it isn't just the running because I was also running when I was fat. There are so many things I do. I keep log, I count calories, I step on the scale every day, I eat a lot of vegetables. I try to avoid empty calories. I avoid yeast by not eating to much bread and I rarely drink beer. 

This last thing is something I do because I heard that in Iceland, this country where my ancestors didn't eat bread or drink beer for a thousand years, it is possible that our digestive system isn't geared to digest all that yeast. I can't recite the theories behind this conclusion, but I decided  years ago to give it a try. Not to eat bread or drink beer. And I could feel difference. Before that I had symptoms from my colon that were pretty annoying. It hurt sometimes and I was bloated. Those symptoms disappeared almost entirely when I changed my diet. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Health

I decided few years ago that the time had come I had to develop my own style. There is one thing I want to emphasize. I run because it is healthy. It feels good to be in good shape. I am not in this because I want to win some race somewhere. And I am even not in this because of the company. I get to meet lots of people at work and sometimes I just need to get out there on my own. That is my meditation and relaxation from the busy life i am leading. On the other side I enjoy being a part of a huge street run where thousands of people are moving the same way. And just disappear in the crowd. I can easily see myself joining the big races in the big cities around the world. Yes, that is a good idea. 

Need I say I have never taken any psychofarmaca. The running is enough to keep me in good spirits. This topic could easily get me into the gear of talking about health for days. I think I will start right now. First I would like to say that I think it is plain stupid not to care about ones health. I have never understood why people do not care if the put themselves at risk by eating unhealthy food, smoke, drink too much, not exercise and so on. I mean, you choose to start smoking. And what do you get out of it? Years of couching, burn huge amounts of money and high risk for all kinds of diseases. Or if you take the elevator and not the stairs. Or the car and not the bicycle. Plain stupid I'd say. And about exercise. It is tremendously important. Not because one stays good looking, but because it prevents all kinds of diseases. OK, the good looks are a bonus. I for sure can't imagine life without running. Or if I couldn't run I would probably bicycle, swim, walk... I don't know. I have always liked being outside. Grew up in the countryside in a big family. Was a girl scout. Climbed mountains, hiked, bicycled, walked. Yes, and went swimming outdoors. A little skiing also. 


What about you?  Why do you run?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The view out of my window right now

A "runner"?

I like to be outside and I like to be active. It has always been like that. I think the summer when I was 13 I hardly walked. I remember people saying that I couldn't walk, I always ran where I was going. Then I was in a High School where you were supposed to run outside before work out. Not far, but you had to do it. In fact this wasn't as difficult for me as many of the other kids. Then I didn't have a clue on how important the gear is. The shoes and the bra. In spite of this ignorance I ran off and on for the next few years. Then I met my children's father. He was and is a runner. When I was with him I always felt I wasn't running just for my own sake. My kid's father was the fastest runner in his school as a kid. He was very athletic and competed in all kinds of distances. And he even managed to run three marathons before I met him. He made one attempt shortly after we met and gave up at 33 kilometers. I know he was pushing himself to run too fast. But that was his way of doing things. He says he is better at the shorter distances. 

I am a totally different personality. I can run fast if I want to. Not as fast as my children's father though. But he got this unbearable overbearing look on his face when we were running together so I quit running with him. Anyway, we had to take turns running and babysitting. But of course, him being such a good runner was good for me also. He often did win some kinds of lotteries and prizes at the runs he participated in and I got a pair of shoes from him once and a trip to Paris with him once. Not bad. 

Old posts from my diary

One Sunday in April 2006 I wrote this: I can jog 10 kilometers without walking. I think I went 13 or 14 kilometers today. I blame the dog and the snowy northern wind for the fact that I had to walk up the hill at the airport. BMI is still 26.7 or somewhere between normal and overweight. BP is 112/74 right now, which means I quit worrying about that. Pulse is ridiculously low, 40 or something. Ergo: I am in great shape. I dare not think about how far I could run if my BMI was in the middle of the normal range. Seriously, I could run without walking cross the camping site, down the street by the hospital, over the bridge across the big river, to the south on the other side, the old road back over the rivers and then against the wind on the road along the hot water pipe. Across from the airport the dog was acting like crazy so I gave up running. Maybe I try running long distance without the dog next time.

Ten days later I wrote: It is so unbelievably beautiful here early in the morning. I jogged along with my dog south the old Main Street at half past six this morning. Walked up the hill above the Ice Skating Arena. It was completely wind still and the sun was trying to get through the clouds above the mountain on the other side of the fjord. The sea was like a mirror. The mountains still mostly covered in white snow and the trees getting greener every day. The rowan trees are almost green and the larches also, even if the birches don't let good weather early in the spring fool them to start out too early. They only have a slightly reddish beam. It is understandable that the Icelandic trees grow slowly since there is such a short time each year they got green leaves. Up on the hill, in south of the graveyard two whimbrels live. I remember seeing them at this same spot last year. They are pretty loud. Walk back and forth on this tiny peace of grass and sing their thrills.

And the first of April 2007 I wrote in my journal: In march I ran almost 200 kilometers and lost almost five kilos. Not bad. Not bad at all. Today is April the first, but I am not letting anyone be an April fool by saying this. And then... What should I do in April? I guess the goal should be to run 200 kilometers and loose another 5 kilos. Now I have measured exactly how long the distance is on the route I plan on running in the morning before work. This is the most important thing in my New Year's resolution. The preparation for me to be ABLE to participate in a whole marathon race. Sometimes during easter I might run the road in the country, the big cirkle and cross the bridge there. I think it is 32 kilometers. I don't promise I will run the whole way, but it could be interesting to see how it goes. I guess I have to practice drinking some enery drink while I am running. One has to practice drinking while running. I have hear of a wall marathon runners run into in their marathon races. It is somewhere in between 30 and 40 kilometers. In order to keep that wall low is necessary to consume some energy on the way. To bad for me that I think people with bottles in their hands while jogging or power walking look pretty silly.

Three weeks later:
I was afraid that my left ankle was sending signs of me putting too much strain on my body. That all this running was too much. That I had developed a training injury. Because yesterday my ankle felt as if I had stepped wrong on high heels, without that happening in fact. So, yesterday I didn't run although I went for a long walk without any problems whatsoever. Today I decided to try. I put on nice warm and woolen ankle warmers and avoided rock hard surfaces like concrete. The walking paths in woods are soft and nice now. It was very obvious that when I had warmed up, the uncomfort disappeared and hasn't bothered me since. I hope that will do the trick. 

But the summer doesn't always follow spring: The first day after Easter I wrote: First day at work. I feel dizzy. To do list is down half of my computer screen. Coworker is at home with a sick child and what do you do? You take her to do list as well. I tried to get into my usual morning routine today which isn't too hard this time of the year since I seem to wake up when it gets light outside. But that happened early today! I might have to get better curtains for my bedroom window. Outside everything was in different gray tones. And a little yellow. The road was yellow somewhere. And one house. Apart from that there was gray snow everywhere. The wind from west was blowing the snow over the ground like in the middle of the winter. But, I and dog ran a route I think is 8 kilometers. Or something like that. We might start running the big circle in the morning. The one that is 14 kilometers. Oh... the weather will be allowed to get a little better before we do that. I look forward to get home from work today and lay down a little.

And a few days later again:
14 kilometers in the morning without a hair band, just a buff to keep the hair from the face result in an afro. Especially in a gray weather like yesterday. And Arcade Fire is the best running music I have found so far.
This is so much fun! I just realized that I have run more than 10 kilometers average a day in april. And my tiny little pink iPod is genial.

May 1st 2007.
No, but now there is a new month coming and last months report is due. As I recall I said something about running 200 kilometers in April, but I did far better than that. 307 kilometers. But not 5 kilos, only two and a half or something like that. But that is just fine. It is so much easier to run several hundreds of kilometers than to loose weight. OK. I might as well set the goal at ten marathons in may and one of them in one day. And to get down to what I think is my ideal weight which isn't far away anyway. And register for the race. Avoid sweets of all kinds. That one isn't difficult.

But this wasn't always easy. Sometimes in late July I wrote: 
I am sitting here wearing running outfit, trying to decide if I go outside before breakfast or after breakfast. I was reading a book. I would most of all like to continue sitting here reading the book. But that isn't an option. It isn't raining right now. But it could start in a while. I might go down to the cellar and get a proper running t-shirt that hangs on the clothing line down there. I really do not feel up to running out there. But, if I wait it probably will start raining before I go. It is cold outside.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On and on

Doesn't everyone just love it when someone keeps on and on talking about his interest. I mean, some people are interested in football, or soccer, or formula something car racing. And they seem to think it isn't rude to keep on and on talking about those interests. I am joking. Because... Well... football and car racing don't interest me. Not a tiny bit. Nor does the life of the stars in Hollywood. Or in Bollywood. Or in Reykjavik. It doesn't even interest me if the guy that lives in the house across the parking lot is having an affair. That is his affair and as long as I am not the one he is cheating on or having sex with, it just isn't my business. And if someone wants to entertain me by telling me about who cheated on whom and when, I have huge difficulties looking seriously interested. Sometimes I even give a lecture on moral. Tell the storyteller that it isn't right to stick ones nose in other peoples private affairs as he is doing. And yes, speaking of football or soccer. Once there was this guy who was trying to convince me that we were made for each other. He said: "we both like soccer and we both have dogs, we are just alike". I started laughing uncontrollable but then he rescued himself out of this by saying: "at least I can make you laugh". He was funny, I agree. But that didn't make me any more interested in soccer. Soccer is fine. I can see that the kids that play soccer seem to be healthy and happy. And that is good. Although I don't know what to think of earlier soccer players that seem to have grown a ball in front of their abs and sit in a sofa all day long nursing that ball. Watching soccer on TV. If that counts as sports I am out. 

Yes, I am out. I like to be out there myself. Doing the sport myself instead of just participating by watching others run around behind a TV screen. But I admit, I am guilty of talking about my interest. Sometimes nonstop. I like writing on my blog about running. I don't care if anyone reads it, I am not writing this for anyone who isn't interested in running. This is just my story.  Everything in here is true. But then, it can't be difficult to tell the truth when you mostly babble on and on about your opinions and interests. In fact I consider myself pretty lucky having the opportunity to write this without bothering about some picky readers. 

Maybe what I am trying to say is that I am writing this just as I would talk to a fellow runner who wanted to hear my story. My story is just my own story. It isn't the story of the guy I sometimes see running on Sundays. And it isn't the story of any other person in my running group. We all got different backgrounds. OK, you can find some similarities if you try. I think most of the people in running group got academic education. Don't know why. And there are quite a few physicians and teachers there. I guess it is just natural to find out that people that share one interest also share other interests as well. That is part of the fun.