Tag Archives: running tips

Video: Unstick Your Water Bottle Top

Life continues, the hamstring is getting better daily.  This week has been 7, 8 and a 9-miler today, each one picking up speed (I’m pacing to the injury, not going above whisper status).  Today I hit normal paces, so that was nice.   As for the Friday’s speedwork,  I think I’ll be pushing it to Saturday or even Sunday.  I need at least one day (better yet, two) where I feel perfect before challenging it.

On to the video…

For all you water-carrying individuals who find your bottles get harder and harder to open, this little tip from the kitchen will save your teeth and keep your bottles in tip-top shape.  Extra bonus features: a zit on my left cheek and a variety of unattractive grimaces…all yours for free!  Enjoy.

Make A Compression Sleeve

The Frugal Runner is back again, this time with a tip borne out of this morning’s hamstring injury.

I got home, made my blog post and immediately set about following good ole RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.  I managed R, I and E with no problem, but what to do about C?  The only compression things I have are for the ankle, so I looked around the apartment for a McGuyvery-type alternative (because after limping home 4.25 miles, the last thing you want to do is hobble over to the drugstore).

I tried wrapping a towel: too bulky.  My homemade neck gaiter: too big.  Then it hit me…the lingerie drawer!  Aha!!  I have a bunch of old tights and pantyhose that I wasn’t going to be wearing in the foreseeable future, if ever, so I started pulling out stuff, ending up with a pair of thick black tights and an old pair of Leggs Sheer Energy Pantyhose, especially perfect because they’re support hose, so they’re thicker and tighter – in fact, I think they’re from when I started running (which I feel the need to mention because I’m not a supp-hose type of gal).  Anyway…

You’ll want 2 pairs.  Take the hose/tights and cut the panty part off and the toes, so you’re left with 4 tubes.

These are it!  Depending on how tight they are and what area you need to support (I’m mostly hamming it up here, though I wanted the top of my calf, too), the toe end is usually smaller so if you want to favor the thigh, pull the toe end up first.  Also, put the looser tubes on first, which in my case are the black tights.  Lastly, ask your wife’s permission before you go cutting up her stuff.  Et voila!

Not the prettiest thing but dang if it doesn’t work well – I’m a sausage!  So there you go.  R-I-C-E.  Done.

Make A Slushy Ice Pack!

Heya folks, hope you had a good weekend with some fine running and other entertaining escapades.  My weekend brought a recovery 6 on Saturday and then yesterday, a 14-miler w/5 progression to Half pace, closing a 61mi week.

The 14 went well, though the progression was peppered with that negative brain chatter I can’t seem to stop.  “I’m afraid I can’t” or “I should be doing this better” does not help me, yet it’s constantly there for anything more than easy or recovery pace.  So I beseech the Running Gods, “Please, please, let this cycle crack the plateau and give me back some confidence.  Just a little something – like one of those runs I used to have where you’re going so fast but it feels mysteriously easy, or you average a wickedly low heart rate or gee I could do 3 more of those…something.”  please?

Or another thing those ole Running Gods could do is get rid of my ankle annoyance, which disappeared while I was Ibuprofening my groin last week, but now that I’m au naturel, it’s back and ain’t going anywhere.  Which leads me to this weekend’s entertaining little DIY project…

Ice Packs!
OK, so yeah, a bag of frozen peas makes a usable icepack.  But my favorite ice pack ever was a slushy gel one – it molded perfectly to the body’s nooks and crannies and seemed colder than anything.  Alas, I left it with Nick when we split, so lately I’ve been making do with a half-empty bag of crappy tasting green beans.

I’ve been wanting a proper ice pack, though – something sturdier and “real”, so I was looking around the web on Saturday and not liking the price tags on the fancy ones, when I happened upon a recipe for making your very own slush ice pack!

The Recipe
3 parts water and 1 part rubbing alcohol.  That’s it!

Pour the mixture into a ziplock (with at least one other one around it for leak insurance) or better yet, and what I did, get one of those comic strip looking ice packs at the drugstore because they don’t leak or sweat like a Ziplock will.  Stick it in the freezer overnight and voila!

Here’s my funny rubber icepack and some extra I put in a ziplock.  It’s green because I got wintergreen rubbing alcohol.  And it’s huge because I tried someone’s recipe of 2:1 which resulted in a very liquidy mix so I had to add a ton more water.


The rubber thing was definitely a good purchase ($11, but you can get them for 1/2 that online), it’s super sturdy and retains the cold well. As for attaching these (or any other ice packy thing) to a body part, I use a velcro IT Band strap I bought last year during my IT Band drama.  It makes a good clincher, but you can use a scarf, too.

Little tip on the recipe: if you want it to be less slushy, increase the water ratio – for a softer pack, add more alcohol.  Also, it’s toxic, so don’t go serving it in a daiquiri glass by mistake.

Operation Toe Freedom A Success

I said I was going to take 2 days off but a cohort from the Sub3:20 thread was in town (Hi Matthew!) and I couldn’t pass up a chance to run with one of my imaginary friends.  Plus, my ankle was feeling right as rain, so I ran the mile downtown to meet him.

I’ve never run downtown except during a race when the streets are closed and I realized how blessed I am to have my river loop.  All that starting and stopping at stoplights and curbs was ridiculous…but a novel activity nonetheless.  Matthew was cool and easy to hang with, albeit hurting from having done a marathon just 2 days before, so we jogged recovery pace and then walked.

While my ankle felt fine, my right pinky toe (as mentioned in the shoe surgery post) was still smarting behind the Kinvara’s rubber trim so after I got home, I inspected the shoe to figure out a plan of attack.

The good surprise was that the mesh underlay is not connected to the rubber, so I was able to leave the liner intact.  Note: if you’d like to modify your shoes but aren’t knowledgeable about sewing or tailoring, you might want to consult a friend who is since they’ll understand construction, thus defacing them as minimally as possible.  Or practice on a spare pair.

Et Voila!  Looks crazy up close but you can’t tell it’s there otherwise.  Happiness restored.  My toe thanked me and told me we were going places together.  I believe her.

Surgery Imminent

Not on my person…my shoes.  Or rather, a shoe.  It’s always one shoe, the right shoe, to be exact.  This time, my lovely Kinvaras are giving me a hotspot on my right pinky toe, so I’m going to give it a week, trading off with my Elixirs, and if my toe doesn’t get hardened to the rub, seam ripper and scissors, here I come.

I’ve been operating on my running shoes for quite some time now, so I thought I’d give you a tour of my previous operations so if you ever have a troublesome shoe, this might give you some guts to go in and make your own modifications.

The first shoes I ever chopped into were my Mizuno Inspire 4s.  Great shoes, except on the right one, the plastic trim was keeping the shoe tighter across my foot than was comfortable, so I took a seam ripper (necessary tool if you’re going to cut stitches), opened up the side of the shoe and trimmed off the plastic that goes down to the sole.  Worked perfectly and I did it for every pair I bought afterwards.

The next shoe I operated on were the Inspire 5s, though this time, in a different place.  I remember running in my first pair and doing hills and the knuckle of my big toe kept jamming on the pretty piping trim, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I thought I had a stress fracture (at the time, I thought every ouch was a potential stress fracture).  I suffered for about 10 days with my foot killing me, making donuts out of moleskin to protect the area, but it wasn’t till I sat down and thought about it, that I realized it was the damn trim.  So I took some scissors and snipped right though it; fixed it like magic, made more room for my foot and no more jamming.  Did that for each of the numerous pairs I had in that series.

Now with the Kinvaras, it’s a little more difficult because the rubber part that’s rubbing isn’t stitched, it’s glued, which means this’ll be another scissor job.  It’s always a little scary the first time you attack a pair of shoes, but since the alternative is not wearing them at all, it’s worth it.  And it’s not like you change the structure of the shoe with a snip or a cut, it’s just a small thing but it makes all the difference in the world. Still, I’ll give it a week and if my toe doesn’t get used to it, that white rubber bit is getting snipped.

Hot Speed
Oh summer, how I hate ye for runnin’.  I set my alarm for 6:15 so I could get out at 7 for a speed session (need my morning coffee first) but still got stuck in 78 degrees with 66 dewpoint.  The one treat I gave myself is instead of starting at 2.5 miles, I started at 1.75 (which meant less slogging home). Workout was the usual lately: 6x.5mi w/90 sec rec’s.

Took it by effort, averaged 6:46 pace, splits were 3:26, 3:21, 3:23, 3:22, 3:26, 3:24.  I refused to think about the pace as it related to any sort of race pace, focusing instead on the fact that I got points for doing it and finishing it and that if I’m racing this summer, I should get used to manning up.  I was satisfied when it was over.

And with that, have a fab weekend folks.  Great racing to those braving the elements and I’ll see you back here next week.

From Shins To Knees & Hips

Taking that gait video was super helpful for me, I suggest everyone make a video of themselves running. It’s easy enough to do and will show you so much.  Mine was totally last minute after my run, didn’t plan it and I used a normal camera that has a video setting.

As mentioned in the comments of that post, I have a list of things to work on, but also, there were a couple things I was happy to see, beyond overstriding repair.

My arms, while not in exactly the place I want them on the Y-axis (up/down) were pretty fab on the X-axis. They don’t cross my body, pretty much stay to the side, so this is something you want to watch for if you do a video. Some crossing is fine but you never want your arms to cross your midline.

Also, my cadence is spot on. This is the stride rate and something I worked on a couple years ago but barely think about anymore. If you do a video of yourself, you can check your stride rate by going to this cool site. Just listen to your footfall or count as you watch your video and then tap along at this website with your spacebar. In this video, mine is around 190bpm…a little faster than it needs to be, actually.

There were a couple comments about whether I was heel-striking and I have to say this: At this point in time, heelstriking doesn’t concern me, though I was pleased as hell to see that when I took it frame-by-frame (and I made about 10 passes for each view, btw) my feet, while dorsiflexed to the max, were landing predominantly midfoot. That was a bonus!  Heelstriking is last on my list.  The things I want to fix are in this order:

Overstriding
Posture
Arms (which are intertwined with posture)
Heels

Shins, check!  Now For The Knees and Hips
I’ve made a great start in fixing the overstriding problem and yesterday, my running mentor, A Muse, mentioned that I’ve been focused below the knee, and that now I should move my attention to the hips and knee drive. So last night I practiced some easy butt-kicks and knee-lifts in my tiny apartment to get the feeling started. Was good!

Today I did 13, should have left earlier, it was 85 degrees when it was over, but I concentrated on driving my knee forward and also, how the whole lever works as far hip, knee and where your foot goes in relation to your butt and energy spent, etc.   Also, a comment from Ewen about my hips possibly tilting back in the video was a great cue, by bringing them forward and trying to engage them as Adam (A Muse) suggested, that put the top of my body more in alignment.

The hardest part of all this for me is absorbing the kinesthetics of it, the “feeling” of how everything is coordinated. It’s one thing to say, “get your foot up closer to your butt”, and you can work on that, but like I’ve said, nothing is isolated, so that foot comes up to your butt because your knee is lifting, etc.

One thing’s for sure…I love working on this stuff!  Sorry for those of you who find all this form talk boring, I know it’s not for everyone, but if it interests you, maybe you can apply bits and pieces to your own running.

A GREAT book for dissecting the elements of form is Explosive Running by Michael Yessis, he breaks down each part and there are tons of frame-by-frame photos of men and women running with commentary of what they’re doing right and wrong. If you’re into this stuff, definitely get this book.  OMG, just realized that it’s out of print and that they’re charging $169 for a new one and $50 for used? YIKES!! Try to find a copy somewhere, it’s worth it.