Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Two words: "Runners Nipple"

Ow ow ow ow ow!

OK, motivation is no longer the issue, now it's "runner's nipple". Folks who are just getting into running may not know the term, I thought it was quite a humorous malady until it happened to me, well it's still humorous, but painful as well.

A quote from coolrunning's website:

When you have runner's nipple, you know it. Raw, painful, even bloody nipples are tough to miss, though sometimes you won't notice it until you get into the shower only to be treated to a decidedly unpleasant stinging sensation.
Likely causes:
Chafing with a wet shirt or running singlet. Particularly during long summer runs, the constant friction of a sweaty, salty shirt can quickly rub your nipples raw. Cotton is particularly villainous here, since it tends to hold water and become heavy.

Before especially long runs and on hot days, smear a little petroleum jelly on the nipples (or really anywhere there might be some chafing). Wear softer, looser clothes, and avoid screen-printed designs on your shirts and singlets. Especially avoid cotton and instead seek out lighter wicking fabrics like CoolMax.

I noticed when I got into the shower this morning - that whole "decidedly unpleasant stinging sensation" description is pretty spot-on. I'm thinking this is a pretty temporary thing as yesterday's run was pretty unique. Puget Sound is experiencing spring thunderstorms and squalls - I love running in the rain, but when even tech gear is soaked through running becomes a bit problematic. The rain was coming down, coming straight, coming forwards and backwards too, as part of the run was beside a very busy street it seemed like the rain was falling up as well. That brings me to an interesting point, lets talk a bit about gear, the clothes you run in.

For most of the summer while I was hiking instead of running, I wore whatever I had around. Usually my wardrobe consisted of khaki shorts, a cotton tank top and an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt with either my two year old Nikes or tire-tread sandals. For the time, this worked - I was doing 2-3 miles of walking, very low impact, very little need for heat regulation. The cotton absorbed moisture and for the most part it evaporated but as my workouts turned more towards running  I found that I needed to get proper footwear. The link up top right on my site, is the place I first learned about running gear - not just shoes, but clothing as well. and the information has paid off in a huge way.

Cotton is not the runner's friend. Cotton is soft, but it retains moisture and will cling to the skin, acting as a conductor of heat while blocking airflow. "Tech gear" is man made material - that is engineered to wick moisture away while allowing airflow - this stuff IS the runners friend. By wicking away moisture it keeps you cool when its hot and it keeps you warmer when it's cold. Tech gear normally prevents the heartbreak of runner's nipple as the material is light and moisture does not accumulate in it. Yesterday run in the rain however saturated my tech gear and for a lot of the time pasted it to my body - where chafing occurred. After the rain though when the shirt was no longer being saturated it started to perform more normally, wicking without clinging, so I started feeling warmer and much more comfortable. The temps outside were ~40-45 degrees F, and I was in a tech T-shirt and tech pants. While the rain was pounding and the shirt was plastered to me, I was a bit cold. Once the rain let up a bit, the tech gear did it's stuff and allowed a layer of air between me and the shirt which provided insulation. About the only thing that would have prevented the plastering is a running jacket, but I like to run as light as possible.

If you are a new runner and want to be more comfortable please look into the tech gear - check out The Balanced Athlete - they have a lot of great gear designed for the northwest. If you decide to grab some tech gear from anyplace let me know how it works for you. I know I'm sold on it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Days off

When not to run

This weekend starting on Friday I have not run. I don't feel particularly badly about it as I did not feel good on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I also decided to nap on Sunday afternoon - the only time that day that was available for a run.

I find myself second-guessing my drive and wonder if this is this is the start of a falling off in motivation. I am planning on running tomorrow, and look forward to putting some miles under my belt. I would expect myself to be antsy - ready to be unleashed on the trail. I am not in that state of mind. I am looking at all the data collected from my running and seeing a plateau in performance improvement that is concerning. I'm wondering if it's time to shake things up again and put some hills and dales into the run. I think I'll do my local hilly 7 mile route and see how it feels. I'm hoping that I will be able to see some improvement since the last runs in January.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tired of Slow


This week I ran. Every. Single. Day. Why all this running you may ask? Weight loss, or the lack thereof. You see, I'm trying to lose another 40 pounds - I originally tipped the scales at 260, I am down to 220 now and want to get down to 180 which puts me right in the middle of BMI Normal land. Last Saturday I weighed myself - I had lost .9 pounds from the weigh-in 2 weeks previous. That is not good enough, I'm running, but I'm eating too, I need to control my intake better. I also need to up my workout intensity. My goal is 2-2.5 pounds per week. If I keep to my goal this summer, when I step on my Wii fitness pad, my little Mii will not puff out after completing the "Body Test".

Yesterday was the shortest run of the bunch - it was a 10K, normally I would do 8 Miles (13K). I didn't wear my Garmin yesterday, but Nike+ recorded the 10K effort. Without the Garmin's cardio alarm, I had an excuse to not worry about heart rate.

MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training is a great way to build up aerobic base, but it does leave you with an unmet need to run "as fast as you can" yesterday's run was a mix of half hearted self-discipline and the need to rock the pulse a bit. A 10K in 1 hour 8 minutes is not that great of a run, but it did wonders for my heart and lungs - I was actually breathing HARD.

Today I'll try to put in the 8 mile run in MAF with the Garmin yelling at me to keep my heart rate under 135. Every once in a while though, I may leave that watch at home and open it up a bit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I upped my running distance... UP YOURS!

In my quest to improve my pace times while maintaining a MAF running profile, I kept coming back to a quote that Chuckie reiterated multiple times in the distance running post

Whatever training you have done to this point has not been as effective as it could have been. Usually, I have found, for two reasons :

1) You don't run enough mileage.
2) You train too fast.

I started MAF training at 5.2 miles per run, that worked for a day, but I was not getting the time in I needed so I started busting out 10Ks (6.24M) The awesome part is it worked! the bad part is it worked! I took my mile pace times from 13:40 to 12:15 but I seemed to plateau out right about there - one thing I noticed was that the time I was taking to complete the run shrank - and as it shrank, so did the amount of improvement.

Monday 3/15 I started doing 8 mile runs and the improvement started up fresh. Now I'm at 12:05 and though it's too soon to see substantial improvements I'm feeling and seeing speed improvements at about the half way point it's like I have a second wind and running just works smoother.

My hopefully stable regime will be five 8 and one 10-12 mile run per week, that will bring me up to 50 miles per week which is a goal of mine, but it brings me closer to my overall goal of getting my pace to 10:00 miles while in MAF profile.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Running and Tech part duex

Today's run that Nike+ "lost"
Gear that gets you Going

Nike+ System

Nike is a great big company, they do great big things. They invest a bajillion dollars in fashionable athletic shoes and equipment, they invest a bajillion dollars in advertising.

Apple is a great big company, they do great big things. They invest a bajillion dollars in fashionable computing and entertainment equipment, they invest a bajillion dollars in advertising.


Together they produced the Nike+ system for users of the Apple iPod/iPhone. The hardware part of Nike+ is a basic pedometer. It counts your steps. cool beans! At $29.99 this pedometer is priced competitively with other step counting devices - excepting the fact that you need an iPod or similar device to connect it to - that raises the total price significantly - but many people already own iPods/iPhones for other purposes so we will overlook this trivial fact.


The second part of the Nike+ System is the back-office software that interprets that data using an apple device (iPod Nano in my case)this ingenious coding allows the ipod to transform the pedometer's counter clicks into a nice pile of data - pace, speed, and with user input (weight) it will generate a good approximation of calories burned. OK, this is starting to look better than just a basic pedometer! Do remember that you also have an iPod with you when you are working out, so now you have a device that while blasting tunes, audio books or most often in my case twit.tv podcasts ( I <3> Leo) will keep track of how far you've gone, how fast you went and will upload that data to a website where you can visualize it and more.


The third part of this little wunder-tech is the Nike website where you upload and store your workout data. This is where this device really shines. the landing page http://nikerunning.com has all the flash you would expect from Nike - the marketing department is in full force and you can quench your swoosh-thirst with a complete catalog of apparel and swag.

Once logged in the home screen shows you your dashboard which contains current runs, goals, challenges, coaches, and an annoying and completely superfluous section called a "mini" - an atempt at wii replication, rather than Nike innovation.


The runs are cataloged graphically by date and distance - the system also asks how the run was - attitude, weather, surface and a space for a comment is available for each run. This section really adds depth to work outs, showing you graphically where you are and where you've been.


The Challenges section is the masterstroke of genius for Nike. where individuals can test themselves in friendly competitions or join teams and compete as groups. This can be a great driver for improvement in the individual - and provides a sense of community ( I had to get that screen-cap in as I was for the moment in the lead :D )


The website is written in Flash, which while looking "really cool and trendy" causes performance issues in most browsers. That aside and the pandering "mini", the overall package is quality. The Nike+ system does what it's suppose to do and does it well, after a simple calibration run, the device is fairly accurate and the mileage call outs are helpful. However the most valuable part of the system to the user is the community, a global and diverse community with friendly camaraderie and friendly competition. Even starting out, you feel like you belong, and you feel compelled to get more exercise! After all is said and done, that is the genius of this product. The device does it's job, but the community adds value that helps the device become more than the sum of it's parts.