Tag Archives: marathon

Champion of the Ta-Tas


When it comes to the long haul, Champion hit the nail on the head with their Marathon Sports Bra. Made specifically for mid-to-long distance runners, this bra does not disappoint.

Silky-soft and smooth as silk, it’s light as a feather, but don’t be fooled by this pretty, little number. The Champion Marathon sports bra has what it takes to take you from start to finish, whether it’s a 10k, marathon, or longer. Continue reading

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from Ultra Training

I’ve mulled a 50k for nearly two years and made my first attempt last year, only to end up side-lined a week before the race, due to my own stupidity. After four months struggling to rehabilitate my injury, the 50k sirens called my name once more. I began my search for the “perfect” 50k, what I considered my initiation into the ultra world. That’s when I came across the Yeti Snake Bite 50/50, organized by a buddy of mine, Jason Green. It takes place at one of my favorite stomping grounds, so I’m familiar with the terrain…and critters like this one, Eeks!

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Sweetwater Creek State Park

Since it’s hosted by the Yeti Trail Runners, I know there are good times to be had! All Yetis know how to have a blast, and there’s usually beer not too far away. :) …and pizza…lots of pizza…mmmmmm….OZ… :) These guys are about the nicest bunch of people you’ll ever meet, always willing to go out of their way to help a fellow trail runner, and always enjoying “the run.” Run Happy = Yeti.

With generous cut-off times, the Yeti Snakebite 50/50 is being hailed as the perfect 50k for first-time ultrarunners and an awesome 50 miler for those looking for a “tune-up” before their 50 or 100 mile races. I still can’t wrap my head around 50 miles right now, much less 100, but my story could change in a few years.


Coming back from injury, I had to ramp up my mileage slowly. My training also hit a pothole after going on vacation for three weeks in June, which involved relatively little running, due to my lack of heat acclimation. You can’t rush things like heat acclimation. It takes time. I’m still on track for being able to “finish” my first 50k, and I am quite comfortable with 20 milers, although it does take me the first six to eight miles to “warm-up.”

Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons.

1. Gels can only take you so far. This is by far the BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned. Training for shorter distances, I was able to get away with using 3-4 gels on a run with some electrolyte mix, and that’s it. Not so with 50ks or longer. You.have.to.learn.to.eat, or you will crash and burn. It’s taken months of people telling me this, and then, experiencing the crash n’ burn myself on two long runs to finally get it through my thick skull. Not only is this the hardest lesson to learn, but it’s also the hardest to do in practice.

Our personal aid station complete with fresh/frozen fruit, water, nesquik, Gatorade, pretzels/trail mix, m&ms, stroopwafels, sliced potatoes/sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, PBJ sandwiches, and more!

Our personal aid station complete with fresh/frozen fruit, water, nesquik, Gatorade, pretzels/trail mix, m&ms, stroopwafels, sliced potatoes/sweet potatoes, boiled potatoes, PBJ sandwiches, and more!

In theory, eating while running doesn’t sound that hard. In practice, it’s one of the hardest things to do. Texture becomes an issue. Desire becomes an issue. Pick out a variety of foods to try on long runs ahead of time. Then, try one or two on each run to see how you like it and how your body handles it. M&ms settle nicely with me, as do bananas, watermelon, peanut-butter sandwiches, and boiled potatoes. Gummi bears, which are usually my fav, become my arch-nemesis on long runs. They are too chewy and require too much energy for me to chomp through.

I still take gels with me for a quick energy boost, but now I understand the importance of eating “real” food every 6-7 miles, a little bit at a time.

GU Brew FTW!

GU Brew FTW!

2. Going the distance. Can you complete a 50k without a long run? There are several individuals out there that say “yes,” but they’ve been miserable after the race, unable to recover. There are several schools of thoughts in regards to “How long is long enough?” Some plans call for runs up to 24-26 miles. Others swear by not going higher than 20 miles and following it with a short 10 miler the next day. Others swear by 20 milers and lots of cross-training.

If you’re training on your own, then you need to find out what works for you. It’s trial and error. …or you can find a coach, or follow an online coaching plan. If you’re like me, with a full-time job, family, kids, and other commitments, you may need to start with a training plan and tailor it to suit you.

After the 39k, which I used as a training run. 2nd AG.

After the 39k, which I used as a training run. 2nd AG.

There are times when I miss runs during the week, due to one reason or another, which is partly why the goal for my first 50k is simply to finish and to not get injured in the process. There is one run that I do not allow myself to miss, the long run. I agree with others that the long run is the cornerstone of any good training program. So far, my long runs have included the following: 20, 24.6, and 21. I have another long run scheduled in two weeks, as I like to cut-back a week in between long runs. I have not included many b2b (back-to-back) runs, as it doesn’t fit well with my family commitments; however, I have included cross-training. I usually take the day after a long run off and go out the day after for a 12 miler.

Realize that it may take a few 50ks before you find out what works best for you.

3. It’s like a game of chess. Ultrarunning is more mental than anything else. Yes, your body must have a strong foundation, but your brain can be a powerful ally or a foe. It’s amazing how negative thoughts can derail a run and cause many to DNF. Take for instance, my long run yesterday. I was going off of 11 hours of sleep over 72 hours, due to our sick son. My nutrition was off, and I knew it. The first 8 miles were mental torture for me, which in turn, affected my body. My running bud, Phil, worked to pull me out of my funk, reminding me that what I was probably experiencing was more mental than anything else. He was right. Mile after mile, I just wanted to stop and go home. My mind was not on the run and neither was my heart. At the same time, I knew how important this long run was, so I trudged along, forcing my body to move. By mile 8, elation replaced “the funk.” 8 miles doesn’t seem like much, but it can feel like an eternity.

with my running bud, Phil, who also runs ultras. He's been a lifesaver in teaching me about ultra nutrition, pushing past the "wall," and has been a constant source of encouragement and motivation!

with my running bud, Phil, who also runs ultras. He’s been a lifesaver in teaching me about ultra nutrition, pushing past the “wall,” and has been a constant source of encouragement and motivation!

Do you know what you will do when “the funk” takes hold because it’s inevitable? The key is how you react to it. It could hit early in a run, after twenty miles, or perhaps the last couple of miles in a race. On my 24.6 mile run, it hit right around miles 12-18. “The funk” will come. Just remember that it does not last for long, and you’ll feel much stronger afterwards.

4. It’s O.K. to walk…really. Unlike 5ks and 10k, which are more about speed and fast-twitch muscles, ultras are largely about strategy and mental will. Whereas, walking is more taboo for shorter distances, ultrarunners use walking to their advantage. Walking up steep hills expend less energy than attempting to “run” up the hill.

Rule of thumb #1: If you see everyone in front of you walking, you should probably do the same.
Rule of thumb #2: If you’re “running” up a hill, and the person next to you is walking at the same exact pace, you should walk.
Rule of thumb #3: Short walk breaks every 5k-5 miles, can mean the difference between a strong finish and a DNF because you crashed and burned.

Rambling up Becky's Bluff on a training run in the pouring rain! 4.28.13

Rambling up Becky’s Bluff on a training run in the pouring rain! 4.28.13

5. The emotional roller-coaster. The emotions felt during an ultra is similar to the roller-coaster of emotions a pregnant woman experiences throughout pregnancy. You can be on top of the world one minute only to start crying about absolutely nothing the next minute and then start blaming and cursing at the rocks for being in your way. Don’t they know that your legs are too tired to pick them up any higher?! During my attempt at an ultra last year, I even sat down in the middle of the trail once and refused to move. I decided that I wasn’t going to run one more step and was going to wait for someone to come get me. With arms crossed and after a minute or two of pouting and mumbling to myself, I finally dusted myself off and kept on running like nothing happened. The longer the distance, the more emotions you will experience and the greater the frequency. It’s O.K. to P.M.S. as a runner, but be considerate, and apologize to others afterwards. 😛 Saying that the first round of beer is on you is a great way to start. 😀

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This list isn’t, by any means, complete. It’s just the five that came to mind, as I reflect on my training thus far. So I have to ask my fellow ultrarunners, what lessons have you learned from ultra training so far?

Compression Gear: Believe the hype?


Why Compression Gear?

Four words. Delayed onset muscle soreness. We’ve all been there, felt the intense ache that, at times, reached deep down towards the bone. The kind of ache that no amount of Ibuprofen 800 can help. While you can’t always avoid it, compression gear can help relieve a good amount of these aches, making it possible to keep on going.

I’ve always thought of compression socks as boob-wrapping for your legs, trying to squeeze 5 piglets into a teeny-tiny opening. :)


My long runs were hitting 20 miles, leaving my calves screaming for relief. I battled tight calves for a good two months. It had gotten to the point that they felt so incredibly tight that I feared, like a rubber band, they would break. I had to find a solution. New shoes helped, but it didn’t take away all of it, which is when I finally researched compression socks.

My research consistently led me to claims that compression gear increases blood flow to muscles, helps remove lactic acid buildup, which in turn, improves circulation in order to speed up the recovery process. Sounds good, but is it real or hype?

Pop Quiz!

There’s several well-known compression brands to choose from, one of which is Pro Compression. What’s awesome about Pro Compression, besides their awesome socks and customer service, is that you’ll never be a wallflower in their gear! With bright colors galore and a monthly “trendy” sock, the choices are endless!

So I grabbed a pair, promising to put them through the wringer…and I did. 😀 From pavement to trail through blistering heat and mud, I took them from one side to the other. Here’s the gist of what I found.

Pavement: The first thing I noticed was the tightness/compression. Once on, they are not overly tight. They definitely hug your legs, kind of like a girdle for your calves! The second thing that caught my attention was how thin they were versus bulky socks. The stitching was solid too and looked well-made. After my first semi-long run (15 miles), I was a believer! Pro Compression marathon socks + pavement = a match made in heaven. These socks are made for the road, easily handling shorter 10k distances on up to 20 miles (that’s as far as I took them.). Those tight calves? Gone! Blisters? Nope. Hot spots? Nope.

Trail: Trails are bit more tricky. With trail running, you don’t keep the same gait throughout the run. You’re constantly changing directions. At times, pushing uphill, and then, sliding downhill. On shorter trail runs of half marathon distance or less, the socks did their job. I decided to push the envelope, wearing them to a trail race, the Troop Trot 39k. Time to see how these puppets held up on a 24 mile run, which ahem, turned out to be 24.6. …I must add the .6, as any runner can empathize.

My calves felt great through those 24.6 miles…now if I could only say the same for my quads. There was one issue, although I now believe it to be user error. I know…how hard can it be to put on a sock, right? I have a tendency to pull my socks up tight…think grandma style. The end result? 2 bruised piglets and a big ole’ fat hole showcasing a toe in desperate need of a pedicure. On the bright side, the good thing about socks is you can always switch them to another foot. 😀 Next time, I’ll be sure not to stretch them so much. There really isn’t a need to stretch them either, as they will definitely go up to your knees and stay there. It’s just a habit of mine.


Recovery: This is where these babies really shine. I can honestly say that I truly feel a difference in my legs after wearing the socks versus sans socks. They are less achy, less swollen, and I don’t have that lead feeling. While I don’t really do speed-work, I do a lot of hill repeats, and I pop these bad boys on for each of those runs and another pair for after the run. I’ve worn these on planes as well and my calves feel great each time!


Showing off my USA Pro Compression socks at the Troop Trot 39k

I’ve become such a believer in compression gear now that in less than two months, I went from owning ZERO compression socks to christening three pairs with a fourth on the way! My latest pair came just in time to celebrate Ole’ Red, White, and Blue on July 4th.

Looking to give compression socks a try? In support of runners everywhere, Pro Compression is currently offering 40% off of ALL merchandise on their website! A steal of a deal! Just enter code JULY when you checkout! Grab yourself a pair, and take your running to the next level!


Want more? Be the lookout for my next giveaway for a FREE pair of Pro Compression marathon socks coming towards the end of July! Don’t worry. I’ll be sure to give you a heads up on Facebook. :)

Happy Tootsies = Run Happy!