new year’s + resolutions for 2013

I know I said I was sort of done blogging for the time being. While that’s true, I really miss the blog-o-sphere. I enjoy the creative process, but I must admit that it is incredibly time-consuming. If I had more time, or thought my blog content was more relevant to my job hunt/career pursuit, then I would be more active.

That being said, I think blogging has tremendous benefits for both personal and professional growth. It’s a great way to enhance your writing and it can be a relatively easy way to pick up some technical skills and online marketing tricks, if you put in the effort. So, I want to get back into blogging in 2013! No set date yet. And I’ve got a few more goals I want to accomplish in the new year.

As 2012 comes to a close (thank god, it was not the best year for me) I thought I’d share my resolutions with you. Plus, I needed a place to write these down so I stay accountable!

My Resolutions for 2013:

  • Design a new website which includes a blog. – I’m learning how to design websites with WordPress, and I figured a new site would be the perfect first project. Look out for a new place for Modern Taste in 2013!
  • Return to blogging – New site + new blog! I’ve been trying to think of new topics I could blog about. I’m not sure a cooking blog is the best fit for me. While I love to cook, I honestly don’t have the time or patience to create these masterpieces I see online. Photography is also, not my thing. Not to mention the lack of a nice camera. I would ideally like to incorporate other aspects of my life into my blog, including running, beer, burritos, and beagles. Random, perhaps. I’m still thinking. If you have thoughts/suggestions on new topics, feel free to comment.
  • Train for a half marathon to go sub 1:30. – Gotta pick one still. Suggestions?
  • Get a dog. – This is where the beagle comes in.
  • Develop my technical skills. – Specifically: online marketing (seo), computer programming, and website design.
  • Learn Java and design an application for Android. – In par with my goal to develop my tech skills. Anyone done this? Suggestions?
  • Develop my palate for IPAs. – AKA drink more beer. In my opinion, this needs to be on everyone’s goal list. Drinking = socializing = we all need more of this.

picture of beer and burrito

That’s my list so far and hopefully it’ll grow. T-minus 12 hours till the new year!

Lauren

ww | think like a pro

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been training for a couple of half marathons for early 2013. Since early July I’ve been running regularly (6-7 days/week), building my base, increasing mileage, adding workouts, and staying healthy. Under my current training regime I attempt to complete the following every week:

1. Long run (60 min, 8-12 miles) – easy-moderate pace
2. Hills (repeats/hilly run/or hill strides during a run)
3. Mile repeats (currently I’m at 5x mile at 6 min pace)
4. Progressive run (sometimes I turn a long run into a long progressive, other times I just get 3-4 miles of progressive in, I’m trying to work up to a 10-12 mile tempo at 6:30-sub-6 min pace)
5. Abs + Pushups (I started using this plan for push-ups and while I can’t ever make it past week 4, it at least gives me a schedule) – 3x/week
6. Strength work (usually in the form of circuits in my backyard with free weights) – 2x/week
7. Dynamic stretching – everyday
8. Swim/cross train – recovery, get off my feet day

I guess I spend some time working out. In all honesty I rarely complete all of this every week. Maybe once every 3-4 weeks do I get through every single thing. However, I like to set goals and having this plan pasted on my bedroom wall motivates me to get up and do as much as I can. I’ve been tracking my workouts and trying to actually train with a more pro-mindset. Reading bios/interviews of pro-athletes is some of the most inspirational content I’ve found. This morning I was reading an interview with former US 10k record holder Chris Solinsky on his comeback from injury and what it was like to sit through the Olympic trials this past year.

After tripping over his dog in last year, Solinsky injured his hamstring and had to take a whole year off from the sport to recover. Coming back, has been anything but easy. Re-adjusting to running and re-gaining his stride and endurance are just the beginning of the challenges.

You’re #2 on the all-time U.S. 5000-meter list and #2 on the 10,000 list. That may sound far away now, but you were very formidable not long ago. Obviously, you feel you can get back to that level.
CS: Definitely. There are days when I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how did I do that?” But like I say, the talent never goes away. And I know that I’ve been there. That’s one thing that’s always helped me out, throughout my career, when I’ve had good times, bad times. I know I’ve been there, so I know I can get back. I’m busting my butt every week. One of those weeks, something’s going to click. Obviously, I’m not going to be back to peak performance within a few weeks.

Knowing how good you have been, and realizing you’re no where close to that shape can be extremely discouraging. I often reflect on how I used to run in high school. Running 7 days a week, tempos every Monday, sub 5:30 in the mile, 18 min 3 mile. I haven’t yet convinced myself that I can get back to that shape, but like Solinsky states, the talent never goes away. It’s hard to watch yourself battle through workouts that were easy a year or two ago. And even more challenging is sitting at home watching the Olympic trials when you know you are good enough to be there yourself.

Was was it like for you to watch the Olympics this year?
CS: The Olympics were actually a lot easier than the Trials. The Trials, it was tough. I had family in town, because they’d planned on coming in and watching. Being there watching the Trials and feeling I should be out on that track racing, that was hard. The Olympics were a lot more finite: “Okay, I’m not on the team and I’m just watching.”

What amazes me about this interview is the perspective that Solinsky has. He pictures himself getting back in the game, being back in the shape he once was. He imagines himself competing at a high level again. He knows that he may be doing 75% of what his training partners are doing, but that he will get to 100% when the time is right. Yes short term goals are important, pushing yourself everyday is imperative, but when a set-back occurs it only means those goals have to be re-adjusted. Obviously an injury changes your outlook on your career, yet having the willpower to fight back after it is what truly makes an pro athlete.

Over the past week I developed some heel soreness that won’t seem to let up with shoe/terrain change and massage/heat/ice therapy. I’ve decided to take a week or so off from running and stick to swimming and cycling. It’s discouraging, especially since for the past two years I haven’t gone 3-months without suffering from some sort of injury. I haven’t quite figured out what the problem is, terrain, shoes, training, or something else. It’s nearly always a left foot issue. But training my brain to think more like a pro-athlete helps me overcome the disappointment. Today is not the first day I have had to take a day off, nor will it likely be my last. I may not be in the shape that I hope to be, but I will get there. For me, running is for life. My career is not over because of one minor setback. I work my butt off today, so that I will see results later. The miles add up, the training kicks in, and the talent never goes away.

Lauren

WW | confessions of a runner + how to pick running shoes

I currently own seven pairs of running shoes. Seven. That’s a lot of running shoes. Not very practical for job interviews. I only have two pairs of those kinds of shoes. Probably explains why I am still job searching.

not pictured: my gray Nike LunarRacers. I was actually wearing them at the time because they are my “so fashionable I can wear these as regular shoes” running shoes.

With all these shoes I must do a lot of running. And yes, that’s correct. Part of the reason I have so many running shoes is that I’ve had some serious foot issues/injuries for over a year and trying new shoes seemed like the best idea to fix the problem (or that’s what I keep telling myself). In all seriousness, the right pair of running shoes is critical if you’re a serious runner. Even for amateurs a bad pair of shoes can lead to serious injuries. So what should you consider when picking a pair of shoes? Two things are most important for me: arch height and color stride type.

I’ve got normal-high arches, so that means having some arch support in my shoes is pretty important. Well how do you know your arch height? A good technique, called the brown paper bag technique, is to get your feet wet and step on a brown paper bag (concrete works just as well). Take a look at that imprint and if you see almost all your foot you have low arches. If you’re like me and you can see about half your foot, you’ve got medium arches. And if you can’t see much, you’ve got high arches.

Another thing to consider is your stride. Everyone has a natural way their feet land and roll once they hit the pavement. Knowing how your feet do this is important when considering the type of support you will need a in a shoe. Inward rolling is known as pronation and outward rolling is supination. Both are necessary for a normal stride, but too much or too little of either can cause foot pain and injury. A simple way to get an idea of your stride it to look at the bottom of a pair of shoes you’ve worn for a while. If there is more wear on the outside of the shoe you supinate, on the inside you pronate. If the wear is completely even, you’re neutral. I put more pressure on the outside, although it’s slight and I was actually a neutral runner in high school. So be wary that your stride may change overtime.

There are definitely more things you can learn about your feet and stride that will help you pick the best shoes for you, but these are the easiest and most basic ones that anyone can easily determine. If you look online or go to a running store and tell them your stride and arch type you will be able to find a number of shoes that will probably work for you. And for the most part, I think buying shoes requires a lot of trial and error, seeing what’s comfortable and what works.

So back to my shoes :) The very first pair of running shoes I ever bought I chose because they were on sale and matched my high school uniform. Note: this is a VERY bad way to chose shoes. Running shoes are not like a pair of pumps. I don’t care how cute they are, running shoes need to be comfortable, not cheap and adorable (although this is definitely achievable). Since that first pair, I tried a lot of different shoes but essentially I ran in a relatively supportive shoe. I also developed an obsession with Brooks. Brooks Glycerin (the 7+8’s are pictured below) were my shoes for most of high school and college. It is a shoe for a neutral runner and they have a generous amount of support. Great basic shoe for anyone new to running or who runs regularly already. Highly recommend it.

Brooks Glycerin 7

Brooks Glycerin 8

However, once my running developed more throughout college, I wanted a shoe that was less supportive and would allow me to run more naturally without relying on the cushion of the Glycerin. I personally like shoes that give me more freedom to run with my natural stride. Although, I will say, I do not think I’ll ever go to Vibrams. Without getting into it too much, it’s just not appealing to me and I think it would put more strain no my calves and achilles than I care for.

So, in my attempt to “downsize” I purchased the Nike LunarRacer (the orange shoes below). This shoe is designed for speed workouts and distance racing. Not nearly as cushion-y and supportive as the Glycerin, but not as light as the Nike Frees (I only reference this shoe because I think most people have come into contact with it. It’s pretty popular right now). The support is just enough, but maybe be a lot less than the general public is used to. I am definitely enjoying my LunarRacers. However, for a while I was having some foot issues/pain so I added an orthodic for more arch support and toe cushion. This combo works well and I love my LunarRacers (I actually purchased another pair that I wear on the day-to-day go, hence my seven pairs of running shoes). My only complaint is that they tend to take a while to decompress. For those of you who don’t know what this is, when you wear shoes (especially in high amounts and at high intensity) the material that shoe is made out of will naturally compress. The consequence is that it can make you feel “flat” when you run. It is good to have two pairs of shoes to switch between so each pair gets a day or two to decompress before you wear it again.

Nike LunarRacers

My most recent purchase has been the Saucony Kinvara 3. LOVE LOVE LOVE this shoe! I’ve only been wearing it for 3 or so weeks, but it is a terrific shoe. It’s very versatile, works well for both daily training and racing, offers a decent amount of support especially in the arch, but is light enough that you can do speed work and distance racing in it. Saucony advertises the 4mm heel to toe drop as a selling point for this shoe. HT drop has become a hot topic due to the increased popularity of Vibrams, Nike Frees, and natural running. I won’t get into it too much now, but essentially the thinking behind it is that the lower your HT drop the easier it is to land on your midfoot or forefoot while running, yielding a more natural stride. All that aside, I love the Kinvaras and I think it may be the perfect daily training shoe for me.

Saucony Kinvara 3

And if you take a look at this picture again, I’ve arranged my shoes in order of least supportive (far left) to most supportive (far right).

I’ll stop here for now. Hope this helps clear up some confusion about buying running shoes. I have two more shoes to tell you about, so stay tuned next week for more on my racing shoes and why I’ve been known to cut up my shoes!