Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Running Journey As Told By My Shorts

I started really running once I graduated college; I mean as its own activity rather than just a warm up for something else.  At the risk of feeling really old, that means I've been running for about 10 years now.  Anyone who has been running that long knows that you go through some clothes in that time - sometimes things wear out, sometimes styles change, and sometimes your needs change.  Over the weekend, I picked up a new pair of running shorts and started thinking back about how my running clothes have evolved.
Oldest to newest - left to right
I went back over the shorts I had selected and thought about what it meant for me in my life, my running life, and in the evolution of running for "average" folks (okay, that sounds dramatic, but hang in there and I think it will make sense).  You might be thinking, wow you still have all of these shorts (hoarder much)? Not all of them, but I do try to choose things that will last, so some of them have hung in there!  Okay so let's take a run down memory lane!
Ah, the Nike Tempo shorts - I'm pretty sure every runner out there has had a pair of these at some point.  When I first started running, these were the latest and greatest thing and you could generally find the "outdated" colors on sale at big box retailers.  Right out of college, I didn't have a lot of money - certainly not a lot of expendable income to spend on running gear while I was still new to the sport.  These fit the bill for several years and I accumulated a number of different color combinations.
Where are they now?
Well I still have a few pairs, but I use them primarily when I'm doing house or garden work.
Enter the RUNNING SKIRT! I stuck with running, started making a little more money, and discovered Lululemon.  I still could only afford to buy things on sale, but they had cute clothes that were well made and fit like a dream.  I retired my Nike Tempo shorts and jumped into running skirts hard. It was also at this time that the prevalence of women's races really took off.  That's not to say that they didn't exist before, but there were more now than ever before and it seemed that new ones were coming around all the time.  More of us were not only running, we were embracing our femininity while running.  I'm proud to say I ran my first marathon wearing a running skirt.  They are still really popular today, but I've found myself going back to shorts.
Where are they now?
I still have nearly every pair because they are super well made and have held up over the years.  I still wear my skirts, but not for running.  I'll run errands in them, but my favorite use is wearing these at the Disney parks! They are cute, breathe, and dry quickly if you get soaked on a water ride.
When I got back into shorts, I started to gain more confidence in myself and my running.  I transitioned to the Lululemon Speed Shorts.  Previously, I considered these way too short for me, but I was running faster, stronger, and wanted clothes that stayed out of my way.  The shorter in the front/longer in the back design really worked out well for me.  These shorts don't move, look super cute, and come in great colors.  New ones are always coming out and I have amassed a number of them.  They just make you look and feel fast!
Where are they now?
These are still in rotation, but I reserve them mostly for shorter runs.
With today's purchase, I realize I'm transitioning again.  You might not be able to read the little tag, but it indicates a "relaxed" fit.  These are still Lululemon (the Run Times short), but a different style. I inherited a number of things from my mother, but one of those physical attributes is my legs. I do not have the super thin legs that many runners do. My mom and I both have muscular, strong legs (no matter what physical activities we've been involved in over the years).  This is even better now that "strong" seems to be the new skinny! I like them, but running in super short shorts (ah hem, Speed Shorts) can be tricky without Body Glide. These new shorts have a longer inseam and, while still looking super cute, will be easier on my thighs during long runs.

Who knows what the future holds either! I'm thrilled to still be running and want to be for years and years to come, no matter what style of shorts I'm running in!

What are you favorite shorts?
Have your clothing preferences changed over the years?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

5 Things I'm Doing Differently This Winter

Happy Friday! So the topic this week is "Winter Activities," but we don't have a whole lot of traditional Winter here in Nashville, so I'm going to take a rather generous interpretation.  Since I never really wrote about my resolutions (or goals - apparently resolutions can be a polarizing term), I'm going to tell you about some of the little things I'm doing differently this year (i.e. they are starting as Winter Activities).  For me, major life overhauls don't work, but small differences can become sustainable, so I try to make a few every new year.  So here we go!
1. Epsom Salt baths post long run (perfect for the Winter). Epsom Salts are amazing for all kinds of reasons, but they can help speed up recovery after tough workouts. To help my body move on from long runs, I'm going to try and help it out.  No one likes getting back into their weekly routine still sore from their long run.  To make it even more fun, I picked up some lavender essential oils to add to my baths. Ah! So relaxing!
2. Fueling prior to early morning runs. I recently read an article that talked about the benefits of having something, even a little something in your stomach before morning workouts.  Typically I don't eat anything, just roll out of bed and jump right on the treadmill.  The article said that having a little fuel could help have better workouts and even support a little weight loss (win-win).  Given that I have a sensitive stomach, my options are limited, but Honey Stinger Waffles fit the bill; quick to get down, not too many calories, no gut bombs, etc. To see my review of Honey Stinger Waffles v. GU Stroopwafel's click HERE.

3. Plank post run.  I have to admit that I got this idea from my girl Jenna. In an attempt to help build up my core, my goal is to at least do one 30 second plank after every run. Obviously, I would like to build from there, but I feel like this is a great minimum and will definitely help me. Baby steps!
4. Mini strength twice a week. It's no secret that I'm not a fan of strength training. I don't like it much and I just don't have a ton of time (if I have time to work out, I'm running).  That being said, strength and stability work is so important and can help make all of us better runners. To give myself a goal I have a prayer of meeting, I'm going to keep it small.  Twice a week, I'm going to do a 10 minute routine using body resistance that I got from Runner's World.  I have it printed and laminated, set up so that I can pop off the treadmill and add my 10 minutes to my workout.

5. Resetting my sleep patterns. I'm one of those people who can't survive on a mere 5 hours a night and I have periodic bouts of insomnia. The holidays really threw off my schedule and I've had trouble getting back on track. I've started drinking a lot more herbal tea in general, but have a few varieties that are supposed to be good for sleep (Sleepy Time and Chamomile/Lavender). I also picked up some melatonin to naturally help me get to sleep as well. Here's hoping because sleep is so not an optional Winter activity!

So there you have it! My 5bWinter Activities that I'm hoping I can keep all year round. Thanks to Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for hosting the Friday Five 2.0 Linkup!

Are you trying to make any long-term changes starting this year?
Do you make resolutions or goals every year?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Honey Stinger Waffle v. GU Stroopwafel

Late last year, I tried out Honey Stinger Waffles when I was rethinking my fueling for marathon training.  I got a sample waffle in my runner box from the Great Smoky Mountain Half Marathon and really liked it.  Then my mom recently gave me a GU Stroopwafel that she had been given as a sample. So, I thought I would do a little compare and contrast here for anyone that may be considering their options in the waffle department:
Texture: The Honey Stinger Waffle is soft, easy to eat, but can be a little crumbly (espeically around the edges).  The Stroopwafel is more firm and has more "chew" to it.  This does help it stick together well, but also makes the act of eating it a little more of an effort.  The direcitons on the back do encourage you to heat it, which may soften it a bit (I tried it cold).

Ingredients: The Honey Stinger bears that little "USDA Organic" symbol, which I really appreciate.  I want to know that I'm putting good things into my body so that I can get good things out of it.  The Stroopwafel has a number of organic ingredients in it, but is not entirely organic (it is flavored naturally though).  Also important to note for those on restrictive diets that both contain wheat and dairy.

Nutrition: Both products are 150 calories.  They trade off amounts back and forth (HS Waffle has less than half the sodium and iron, GU Stroopwafel has 1g less fat and sugar).  Both have 1 g of protein.
HS Waffle Left, GU Stropwafel Right.
Taste: I have tried multiple varieties of the Honey Stinger Waffles, but only the Salty Caramel flavor of the GU Stropwafel.  I really like the Honey Stinger Waffles - they are delicious and definitely taste like a treat (I mean, I could easily see putting these in some ice cream).  Despite listing natural and several organic ingredients, the Stropwafel did have a slightly artificial taste to me.

Bottom Line: I think they are both solid products.  For me, I'll stick with Honey Stinger!

What do you reach for when you need a snack pre-run?
Do you like/prefer either one of these products?