Part 3 delayed

I apologize for the delay.  Our electricity went out on Saturday evening, when part three in my series on How to be comfortable running in public was still in the (very rough) draft stage.  Our power was restored late this afternoon, but rather than frantically clean the post up for you now, I’m just going to post it next Monday, as it was becoming quite long anyway.

I have also been unable to run.  Snow, fallen branches, and an eagerness to leave a really cold house as early as possible this morning, prevented me.  The rest of this week is busier than usual.  We’ll see how it goes.  Here on my desk sits a long-since-filled-out-and-signed application to join the fitness center (basically for free) where my husband works.  Someday, we may get around to submitting it.

Actually, that’s a funny story.  We went to the fitness center when his work was having an open house.  We intended just to fill out the form while we stood there, and then it’d be all taken care of (we must both be present, they say).  But the lady insisted on showing us around because, she said, “It’s important to feel at home at your gym,” or something to that effect.  I sort of laughed and said I really just needed a treadmill for the winter.  She looked confused.  And she kept asking if I was interested in any of their other services, all of which I turned down.  No, I won’t be showering here.  No, I probably won’t take a Zumba class.  Seriously, I just want to know if you have enough treadmills.  She was very kind, even though I think we ruined it for her a little.  I must learn not to laugh when other people are in earnest.

So, she made us bring the form home and talk it over, and now we have to take it back, together.


Weekly mileage 23 Oct. – 29 Oct., 2011

Sunday, 23rd: 3.5 miles at 8:36 pace

Monday, 24th: 4 at 8:35 pace, plus weights

Tuesday, 25th: 4.5 at 9:06 pace

Wednesday, 26th: just pilates

Thursday, 27th: off

Friday, 28th: 4 at 8:45 pace

Saturday, 29th: 4 at 8:45 pace

Total: 20

Total for 2011: 829.3 miles

I took it easy again this week.  Apparently, these are the speeds I am capable of running comfortably.  If I were training for a race, I’d be willing to make myself uncomfortable.

Yesterday and today, it was in the 30s when I ran.  I wore the hateful red capris, three shirts, and gloves.  I would have liked something over my ears, but it felt too extreme (especially with the three shirts — a bit excessive), so I just wore my baseball cap as usual.  I’d forgotten how much all that clothing slows me down.  Yes, that’s it — it’s the clothes that make me slow!

Recovery food: yogurt

It seems I’m always reading somewhere that the ideal post-workout recovery snack is a glass of chocolate milk.  They talk about the excellent balance of carbohydrates and protein, and how it promotes weight loss and stuff.  I’m sure this is all more or less true.  I would take issue with their constant emphasis on low-fat dairy products if I weren’t so distracted by the way no one ever ever says, “By the way, plain milk is fine too.”  Why it needs to be chocolate, I don’t know.  Just because it’s more palatable?  And why does no one ever mention that if you drink the milk plain it contains less sugar, and is therefore even more nutritious?

I can’t bring myself to drink a glass of milk, even if it’s chocolate, so after a run, I generally eat yogurt.  I make my own, according to these instructions for making homemade yogurt.  I incubate mine for a full 24 hours to make sure the bacteria have eaten up all the lactose, otherwise it makes me sick.

Sweetening yogurt sort of cancels out its pro-biotic benefits, unfortunately, so I rarely put even honey on mine anymore.  If I want to sweeten it I sprinkle some granola on top, which of course, does contain sugar, but at least then I’m also eating oats.  24-hour yogurt will be pretty tart, especially if you’re accustomed to Yoplait.  If you’re not sensitive to lactose, you can incubate the yogurt for 4-6 hours for a sweeter product.

You can read more about yogurt’s extensive health benefits here.  People who tell you that yogurt isn’t the amazing health food everyone says it is are talking about the wrong kind of yogurt, I think (or they’re just tired of hearing the word “pro-biotic,” which I totally understand).  Unsweetened whole milk yogurt is wonderfully nutritious, and I would say, a better recovery food than chocolate milk.  Or plain milk.  Because they won’t tell you this, but it doesn’t have to be chocolate.

I take my graphing calculator to the grocery store.

Actually, I should say I used to.  The batteries died, and all the batteries in the junk drawer were dead too, even the ones that were still in the original packaging.  So now I have to take my non-graphing calculator to the grocery store.

I dislike the non-graphing calculator because the buttons aren’t sensitive enough, and there’s a slight delay.  Also, you can keep the running total just fine, but if you want to stop and calculate the unit price of a particular item, you have to remember what your total was.  The graphing calculator will show me where I left off.  (Maybe you’re all a lot more capable than I am, but the grocery store overwhelms me, and if I also went for a run earlier in the day, I am apt to be especially weary and confused.)  Also, the 83-Plus is just so satisfyingly heavy.  I tell myself that I’m not really a weirdo until I begin using Reverse Polish Notation.

But even my sister, the one who introduced me to the CVS game, the one who calls to tell me about the meat she found on mark down, even she thinks I ought to learn to use the calculator on my cell phone, so the other shoppers will think I’m just texting.  I know — the monstrous calculator makes it look like I’m too proud of my high school math class and can’t let go, but it’s really not like that.


How to be comfortable running in public: part 2

What the other runners think (not that we should care)

If you feel self-conscious running in public, you probably think you know what other people are thinking of you.  You might be wrong though, and as a life-long runner, I can tell you what the other runners are really thinking, if they’re thinking anything at all.

Of course, we would all do well to remember that other people don’t think about us nearly as much as we think about ourselves.  The best way to quell your self-consciousness is simply to think about yourself less (you know, be less conscious of your self), which is worth doing anyway, isn’t it?

But, that will take a lifetime, so while we all work on not thinking about ourselves, I invite you to let the following scenarios put you at ease.


Weekly mileage 16 Oct. – 22 Oct., 2011

Plus some rambling toward the end.

Sunday, 16th October: went for a walk.

Monday, 17th : 3.5 miles at 8:25 pace.

Tuesday, 18th: 3.5 miles at 8:15 pace, plus weights; pm: 4.75 at 9:17 pace.

Tuesday was tough.  I struggled through the morning run, but I agreed to go with Th. in the afternoon anyway, but then he wanted to go farther than usual, so…

Wednesday, 19th: pilates, no running.

Thursday, 20th: another day off, just because.

Friday, 21st: 3.5 at 8:24 pace.

Saturday, 22nd: 3.5 at 9:18 pace.

Total: 18.75 miles

Total for 2011: 809.3 miles (190.7 miles to go!)

Every run was a challenge this week.  I couldn’t breathe, my form was bad, and I kept scuffing the ground, as if I just couldn’t lift my feet high enough.  Plus, this morning, it was cold enough that I had to wear the shocking red capris.  They are comfortable, but ridiculous.  Loose and billowy around the knees.  And bright red.  I would be embarrassed if this were as bad as my cold-weather running clothes were going to get, but it so isn’t.

Here is a bonus non-mileage-related-anecdote:

I once locked myself out of my apartment while wearing the bright red capris.  It was evening, and my roommate wasn’t due home for over twelve hours.  The landlord’s office was closed.  So I broke in.  But not before I’d spent a lot of time fussing with the door and windows, walking around and around, and generally looking suspicious, like a thief who doesn’t know what not to wear.

But really, and I will address this in my How to be comfortable running in public series, if you don’t feel like running, but think you can convince yourself to go for a walk, first put on the most embarrassing (but decent) exercise clothes you own.  Once you’re out there, you will feel a lot less stupid running in them than walking in them, so you’ll get your run in anyway.  I feel I need to look cute for a walk because I’m going so much slower.  Not that I imagine I’m so fast that I’m just a blur to anyone.  My goodness.  We’ll end this here.  Tomorrow I’ll have more tips for beginners and other self-conscious folks.

Scripture for your weekend

This is not scripture — I just like it.

Monseigneur Bienvenu had formerly been, if the stories anent his youth, and even in regard to his manhood, were to be believed, a passionate, and, possibly, a violent man. His universal suavity was less an instinct of nature than the result of a grand conviction which had filtered into his heart through the medium of life, and had trickled there slowly, thought by thought; for, in a character, as in a rock, there may exist apertures made by drops of water. These hollows are uneffaceable; these formations are indestructible.

-Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

There is another translation I prefer, which I had copied down somewhere, but I can’t find it now.

Isn’t it remarkable?  “If I were a better person…”  Well, you could be.  “Uneffaceable… indestructible.”  Once you develop a right character, you will have one.

Here it is.

2 Peter 1:3-11 (NIV)

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Runner’s World features an article today discussing the results of two studies that indicate humans may have a “set point” for activity, or, an “activitystat,” an average level of daily physical activity, which they won’t exceed.  So, if you run hard in the morning, you probably won’t move as much in the afternoon; it is something other than fatigue, and your afternoon inactivity may be unintentional.  They say this level varies from one person to another.  The original article, “Do We Have a Set Point for Excercise?” was published in a New York Times blog on Wednesday.

I figure that if I only have a certain amount of energy each day, I may as well spend it on higher-intensity activities that have greater health benefits.  Better to run hard and have to rest than to be moderately active all day, right?  At least I’m building cardiovascular and muscular strength, as well as becoming a more efficient runner.  Walking up and down the basement stairs all day with a laundry basket is much, much better than sitting on the couch (and it does leave me quite tired), but is it as good as a six-mile run?  Or is it better, because of the muscles involved in climbing stairs?  Now someone will suggest that “it’s all about balance.”

The hierarchy of muffins, with a recipe for sweet potato muffins

Every morning my husband eats two muffins for breakfast.  I make a batch or two of muffins every week, and in the mornings, he microwaves and eats two of them.  I may eat one or two myself, depending on what other food is available.

These are not exciting muffins, full of chocolate chips, or with that fancy, big-crystal sugar on top.  These are boring, healthy muffins, but we like them.  After a great deal of experimentation and research (here is an excellent tutorial on making good muffins), we have developed a little hierarchy of breakfast muffins.  I asked Th. to help me rank them in order of excellence.


How to be comfortable running in public: Part 1

I was going to make this just one post, but it was getting really long, so it’s going to be a series instead.  I have a lot to say about this because, for some reason, people are always asking me these kinds of questions: “How can I look like a real runner?”  “Do I look stupid?”  “Is everyone staring at me?”  “Do I need those shiny clothes?”

This seems to be a major obstacle for many would-be runners, and I completely understand (at least I think I do).  If self-consciousness is keeping you from getting some exercise, then please read on, as I have many, many things to tell you.  For that matter, if self-consciousness if keeping you inside on the treadmill when you could be running in the beautiful outdoors, then I have many, many things to tell you.  The first is, you deserve better than the treadmill.