Welcome To The Streaking Runner!

Judy Mick, The Streaking RunnerHi!  My name is Judy Mick, also known as The Streaking Runner.  More about my name later!  I am passionate about running and helping runners to stay runners for life.  So many runners start a running program and quit for some reason or another – I want to help them get started correctly and keep running for life!

Throughout the years I’ve run numerous races at all distances.  As I’ve grown older, though, I find myself running the longer distances – marathons and half-marathons.  And, I always plan a race in Florida during January or February to get out of the cold!

I started running in college (around 1978) to basically try to stay in shape (you know, beer and pizza at all hours).  There was also a secondary reason.  My best friend and roommate was trying to catch the eye of a member of the cross country team.  Well, it worked on all counts, she married the runner and I’m still running!

My main claim to fame is that I have not missed a day of running since November 20 1985!   Thus the name:  The Streaking Runner.  I absolutely love running and I know that it has kept me healthy all these years – and probably more sane!

In this blog, we’ll be talking about many different aspects of running – from staying overall fit, proper clothes, shoes, fun races, continuing to run as you get older, etc.  In addition to tips, many of the things that you will find here are stories from my running life. Feel free to comment to let me know anything you’d like to see.

I’m also a firm believer in positive attitude and motivation.  Positive attitude can make all the difference in all area of life – including running!

If you’re a Facebook or Twitter user, I’d love for you to connect with me there!  Just click on the link to get to my Facebook Fan Page (and please “like” me while you’re there) and to follow me on Twitter!  I’d love to keep in touch!

I also am a published author on Amazon.  You can view my author page at: http://judyruns.com/authorpage

Another thing that I’m extremely excited about is that I’m an RRCA Certified Running Coach.  I want to help new runners get started correctly and help them to achieve their goals.

You can also email me at:  judy@thestreakingrunner.com

Run Happy!

 

How’s Your Running Cadence?

running cadenceNow, I was in band all my years of junior high and high school – so, when I first hear the word “cadence”, I immediately think of the different drum cadences that we marched to.  But, in running, it’s something different.  Well, different – but, not different.  We’re still talking about foot strike.

Cadence in running (also talked about as a runner’s rhythm) is defined as the turn over rate of the feet or legs. Basically running cadence is how many steps you take per minute.  Many studies have been done on running cadence – but, the general rule of thumb is that a runner should be at 180 steps per minute (90 steps per each foot).

It doesn’t matter if you are an elite runner or not – this seems to hold true.

The reason that cadence is so important is that running at the proper cadence can prevent injuries. How so?  Well, when you take fewer steps per minute, that means that your body is in the air for a greater amount of time.  Then, this results in a greater force when your body makes contact with the ground.  Since most injuries are impact related, stride rate is very important.

Most beginning runners (and not so beginning runners) are rarely running at this pace.  They are usually overstriding or bobbing up and down when they run.  So, cadence is something that they need to work on.

You can test your cadence several ways.  Many GPS watches these days count cadence.  I know that my Garmin Forerunner 220 does.  You can also count your steps as you run for a minute.  You can do this outside or on a treadmill.  If you are less than 180 (90 per foot) – cadence is something that you need to work on.  Test it at the beginning of your run – in the middle – and toward the end of your workout.

Improving your cadence takes practice.  You can take 2 or 3 minutes out of every run to try to get in another few steps per minute.  Another great way is to pick up a running metronome.  You can pick up one fairly cheaply from Amazon – and you can use this to help practice your cadence.  Set it for your goal and then make sure you have a foot hitting the ground whenever it beeps.

This is the one that I use for myself and my clients.

Running Metronome

It’s easy to use and clips right onto your shorts.  You can find it at http://judyruns.com/cadence

However, start slowly when you are working on improving your cadence.  You can injure yourself if you try to go directly from (for instance) 160 steps per minute to 180 steps per minute.  Increase the time you spend on a higher cadence slowly and gradually.

To start with, begin by running one minute at a faster cadence then go back to your original cadence.  for a long recovery.  Say 5 minutes.  Then do it again.  Experiment and see what works for you.

It may take you several weeks to work up to 180 or so – but, it will be worth it overall.

If you seem to think that you can’t keep injuries away – or if you think that you can run faster than you are – check your cadence.  It’s not a quick fix – but, it is something that you can work on to make yourself a better runner!

Hill Repeats – They Hurt So Good!

Hill RepeatsI’ve got a few coaching clients that have some hilly races coming up.  So, I’ve worked hill repeats into their plans.  It also got me to thinking – I’ve got a half marathon coming up in a couple of months that had some hills that kicked my butt last year.  Maybe I’d better get out there and get some hill repeats done.

This morning – I did just that.  Ran to my hill of choice (about a mile away) that is approximately 1/4 of a mile.  Did my repeats as planned and then cooled down on the run back home.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well they went.  And, the pace that I was able to keep up.  And, by the fact that my best one was my last one!  Wasn’t expecting it to go so well since it had been awhile since I’ve run hill repeats.  There’s plenty of hills around my house – just haven’t done the repeats.

If you are fairly new to running – you may be wondering why on earth would a person run hill repeats. Running hills will strengthen your calves, hamstrings, quads and glutes more so than running on flat surfaces. This will definitely make you a stronger runner and will make running seem easier on all surfaces. Strengthening these muscles will also help prevent injuries from running.

Hill running will also help you to get faster. Believe it or not, the same muscles that you use to run hills are the same ones that you use for speed work. So, when you come to a hill, just remember that it has many advantages for you. Running hills are something that many runners put into their schedule about once a week to make them a stronger runner.

To properly run hills, you want to maintain the effort that you were with when you started up the hill. Yes, you will run slower up the hill, but you make it up the hill without running out of breath when you reach the top. Your stride will shorten slightly as you go up the hill depending on the degree of incline. Then, you will lengthen it back out to normal as you reach the top of the hill.

You want to run up the hill with your back straight – or maybe leaning a little. Many runners make the mistake of hunching over as they run up a hill. This will hamper your breathing as you run up. Make sure that you are looking straight ahead – you don’t want to keep looking at your feet. Running with incorrect form will make hills seem a lot tougher than they are.

Your arm swing is important to getting up hills, also. Your arms should be moving forward and back as you normally do as you run. Also make sure that are not clenching your fists. This will make you overly tired and will also restrict blood flow through your arms as you are pumping them to run up the hill.

Here are some tips if you want to start putting hill repeats into your workout.

Find a hill for your hill repeats that is approximately 500-600 feet long. You want the hill to be steep enough that you are tested – but you want to be able to maintain proper form as you climb.

You want to make sure that you are warming up before you start your hill repeats. A nice slow and easy 1½ miles is a good warm-up before you get to your hill. You want to speed up slightly as you start up the hill – a good rule of thumb is your 5K pace. Push yourself, but make sure that you are keeping proper running form.

Make sure that you are not looking at your feet – concentrate on 10-15 feet ahead of you. This keeps you focused your hill. It is also important to make sure that you keep your shoulders relaxed – don’t tense up. As you pump your arms, keep them low and swinging front to back. Some runners cross them side to side in front of them – and this will hamper you in getting up the hill. Keeping your arms pumping lower and your stride will shorten and quicken – which will also help propel you up the hill.

As you reach the top of the hill – don’t stop – keep running through the crest of the hill. Slow down and jog slowly down the hill for your recovery. Then, do the hill again. After your repeats, make sure that you do an easy mile or so for a cool down.

To begin, you only should do 2-3 repeats during a workout. Then, you can add 1 repeat a week. Most advanced runners will run between 8-10 repeats in their workout. Also, you only need to do hill repeats once a week. You may also want to do different hills for your workouts – trying steeper hills one week and a longer hill another week.

That’s it!  Learn to embrace hills!  They will make you a better/faster/stronger runner overall!  You may even come to like them!

 

 

 

Heading Back Outdoors From Winter On The Treadmill!

running tipsWe have finally made it through the winter!  Spring arrives this week!  I am really looking forward to warmer weather – and warmer runs!

This winter has been really hard in some parts of the country – and many runners have done the bulk of their running indoors on the treadmill.  With the ice and snow, it’s so much safer.  I know some runners who do all of their running during the winter indoors.  It may have to do with the weather, the darkness, etc.  And, that’s perfectly fine.  They are getting their runs done – and that is what’s important.

However, when you are transitioning your runs from the treadmill to outdoors – there are some things that you need to keep in mind.  You can’t just go from running every day on the treadmill to running every day outdoors.  Doing so can make you at risk for injury.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are heading back outside.

First of all, start back slowly.  Start the first week by running one day outdoors.  Each week, add one or two days of running outside.  Keep this up until you are eventually running all of your runs outside.

Another thing to remember – don’t make your first runs outside your long run of the week.  You need to work up to this, also.

When you first start back outside, don’t worry if your runs are slower than you were running on the treadmill.  Some of the reasons is due to wind resistance and you are propelling yourself rather than keeping up with the treadmill.  Run by how you feel and your effort, not by your time.  You’ll soon “catch” back up!

Take it easy on the hills when you head back outdoors.  Even though you may have done hills on your treadmill, going down the hills will be tough on your legs at first.

Also, remember, that you are now away from the safety of your treadmill.  You are back among cars, bicycles, dogs and other things that you didn’t encounter inside.  Stay alert to what’s going on around you.  Always run smart!
Running on the treadmill is a great way to stay safe and to be able to get your miles in during some tough weather.  It will feel a little different when you go back to the roads – but, don’t worry, you’ll be back in a short period of time.  And, remember, you’re already in better shape than if you didn’t run during the winter!

 

 

Running And Caffeine – It’s A Good Thing!

caffeine and runningNow, before I get started – I know that some reading this are poo-pooing this.  But, read on.  If you have to have that coffee (or Pepsi in my case) before you go for a run.  It’s a good thing!

I’m currently working on 2 new designations for me as a running coach.  So, I’ve been reading books and gaining more and more knowledge about runners and what makes them tick.  One of the study materials that I’m going through now went into detail regarding caffeine.  I’d like to share some of the findings with you.

Several studies have been doing pertaining to caffeine and running.  One of them was by the Australian Institute of Sport.  They found that athletes who took a small quality of caffeine could exercise up to 30 percent longer than those who did not.

They found that caffeine improves performance and endurance during prolonged exercise – think long distance running.  During a treadmill test where they had the subjects run to exhaustion – caffeine helped them to delay fatigue.  Another study found that it can improve performance by 10-15%.

Their studies have shown that caffeine will improve your concentration, reduce your fatigue and increase your alertness.  Also shown was that caffeine has no known negative performance effects and will not cause significant dehydration.  I’m sure that you’ve also heard that caffeine can cause electrolyte unbalance during a workout – they also proved this false.

So, good news for us caffeine junkies – you know who you are!  Keep on drinking that coffee!  I’m not a coffee drinker – but, I do need my Pepsi to keep me going.  A good slurp of Pepsi toward the end of marathon can really give me a burst of energy.

I used to run a 15 mile race in Charleston, West Virginia, where the first 5 miles was basically all uphill. Then, the last 10 were flat.  (I’m not sure which was worse).  My wonderful hubby was always there at about mile 8 with a Pepsi for me!.  Boy, did it taste great right then – give me energy for the rest of the race.  (And, I’ll also admit – this was before gels were around)

One thing that the study did say was that you could take the caffeine in tablet form and it would be absorbed more quickly.  But, what’s the fun in that?  It surely can’t be as satisfying!  :-)

Now, if you’ll excuse me – it’s time for caffeine loading!

 

Finishing Up The Week Strong!

Happy RunnerThis has been one of my best running weeks in years!  Allow me to tell you why!

Even though I’ve been running every day for as long as I have – there was a few years (due to several circumstances) that I wasn’t able to put in the mileage that I was accustomed to. I’ve still got over a 4 mile a day average – which is great and I’m not complaining.  However, during those hard years – my 2000 – 2500 mileage years really dropped.

Last year was the year that things settled down in my life – and I was able to start increasing my mileage again.  I completed the first full marathon that I’d done in years and that gave me the boost that I needed.

When I look back at some of my older running journals – I see some of the mileage that I was doing – and I decided that I could do it again.  Now, yes, I know I’m older and I’m not running nearly as fast – but, I still know that I have the ability in me.

As with the runners that I coach – I know that I had to increase my mileage smartly (10% a week) so that I would get injured as I built up my mileage this year.  Right now, I’m doing a semi-long run sandwiched in-between to moderate runs, a couple of days where I run 2 miles (my rest days) and then a long run with a medium run the day after.

A basic week looks like this:

Monday – 5, Tuesday – 10, Wednesday – 5, Thursday – 2, Friday – 12-15, Saturday 4-5 and Sunday – 2.

It’s been working well and I feel really good at the end of the week.  My goal is to increase my Tuesday and Wednesday runs slightly, build up my Friday run as I train for another upcoming marathon and increase the day after long run miles.

This week, I decided to do something else.  I did my usual Monday through Thursday and then did 11 on Friday and 10 on Saturday.  This was the first back to back double digit runs that I’ve done in several years.  And, it felt great!

Yippee – the old broad still has it in her!

The moral of the story is (OK, maybe there’s a couple) – you may have setbacks in your running – but keep going.  I went through a spell where many weeks while I was taking care of things that I may have only gotten in 2 miles a day.  But, I did them (I couldn’t let the streak end) and then I was able to build on them when I could.

Don’t let age deter you.  Even though I’m much older, I still know that I have the miles left in me.  (And, we won’t even go into how running just a little kept me sane during some trying times.)  Many runners don’t even start running until later in their lives.

This week ended on a definite high note!  And, now I’m ready to move on to those 50+ weeks that I used to do!

 

 

 

 

Do You Have Running Dreams?

Running dreamsLast night I had one of my running dreams.  I have a couple of different dreams that I have regarding running – but, this one was different.

As usual, I was at a road race.  I had picked up my race packet earlier and had my race number.  But, then at the race start – they said that everyone would have to get the newly printed bibs or be disqualified.

Needless to day, there was a long line.  Start time was getting close and I had just picked up my new number.  I had on running shoes and decided that I could just wear what I had on. What I kept fixating on in the dream was that I had on a regular bra and white footies with my shoes.

The gun went off while I was deciding whether or not to change socks – so, I took off after the runners.  However, I was still carrying my purse and a book that I was reading.  I know, weird! Luckily, that’s when I woke up!

This dream was a new one for me.  The other dreams I have recurring happen every month or so.  In one of the dreams, I’m buck naked running a race.  I don’t know why.  I just am.

The other dream is that I’m running up a hill so steep that I have to use my hands to help propel me up the hill.  It’s like I’m crawling up the hill on all fours.  This is the one that I seem to have the most.

I’m not sure what these dreams mean – nor do I really want to know.

How about you?  Do you ever have running dreams?

Running Does Help Your Brain

running and brain powerI’ve been conducting a little experiment over the last couple of weeks.  It’s been a study on myself – involving brain power and running.

Now, you always hear runners (myself included) when they talk about the benefits of running about how running helps your brain. There are many studies that support this.  All you have to do is google “running helps brain” and you’ll find over 70 million results.  Feel free to read them all!  :-)

As I am getting on toward the end of my 50’s – overall health is big on my mind.  By running every day, doing weights and core work, etc. – I know that I have the physical part pretty well covered.  Keeping my brain sharp (well, still functioning at least) is important.

I downloaded an app for my phone that gives me 3 daily tests. It’s a free version and if I wanted I could have more tests daily I could get the paid version – but, this works for me so far.

Anyway, the tests range from math, remembering what you heard, speed reading and comprehending, words, etc.  After each little test, they tell you what your score was and how it compares with your previous tests of the same section from high score to 5th best, 6th best, etc.

I do these tests in the morning – but been mixing it up.  Sometimes before I run, sometimes after. Here is what I’ve found.  My tests before I run are decent.  Tests after a run are better. But, my best scores are after I’ve run for a longer period of time.

I know that there is really nothing scientific about my testing – but, I found it interesting that the results were definitely higher after a long run.

It’s nice to know that my running is actually helping my brain in addition to my physical health!

You CAN Learn To Love The Treadmill!

Treadmill RunningYes, I know – there are so many people who hate the treadmill.  I know from a few groups that I’m on in Facebook that most people call it the “dreadmill”.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  You can learn to love it!

I will admit – I felt like that the first time I got a treadmill.  Before the mid-90’s – every run that I did was done outside.  A few days one year – I even ran when the temperature was 20 below zero.  Not with the wind chill – that was the actual temperature.  Of course, I was much younger then!

For several months, my hubby had to travel out of town for work.  He would leave on Monday and be back home on Friday.  He was afraid for me running during the winter months.  Not necessarily the darkness – but, the icy roads.  I thought he was crazy (we runners think we invincible, don’t we), but, I broke down and bought one.

It was NOT a happy place for me at first.  In fact (and don’t tell hubby), many icy days I still ran outside.  I just couldn’t bring myself to come inside.  But, one day I broke down and did my run for the day on the treadmill.

OK, that wasn’t too bad.  It was icy and dark and cold and I was running in a tank top and shorts.  Maybe this could work!

It was still many years before I came to love it, though.  And, I do have to admit – it came after I got into my 50’s!

I learned to be creative in my treadmill running when I had to bring my running indoors.  I wouldn’t just hop on and monotonously run – I always had a plan.  And, I still do.

I would do interval workouts on the treadmill.  These are great to do.  You have to keep at the speed that you want to do.  Or you could fall off!  Seriously, though. speed work is a great thing to do on the treadmill.

Another thing that I’ll do on the treadmill are hill repeats.  It’s hard to find the “perfect” hill at the “perfect” incline for repeats.  No problem on a treadmill.  Just know how much of an incline that you want and for how long you want to run it.  Easy peasy!

I’ve also learned to use a treadmill for a longer run or 2 when I’m training for a January/February Marathon or Half Marathon in Florida.  It’s a great way to get acclimated.  It’s difficult to do all of your long runs in 20 and 30 degrees and then head off to do a race at 70 degrees.

Doing this can also help you mentally be tough.  If you don’t think so – jump on a treadmill on run 15 miles on it and tell me that it doesn’t help mentally.  It sure does.

Treadmills are also your friend if you are nursing some little “glitch”.  Running on a softer surface (like that on a treadmill) will help. You don’t have the hard pounding like you do on the roads.  In fact, some treadmills now come so that you can make the running belt softer or harder.

They are also great if you are out of town on business.  You may not be familiar with the area you are staying in.  Or, it may be an area that you don’t want to run in – especially if you have to run early in the morning in the dark before meeting.  A hotel treadmill is great to have.

So, yes, I’ve learned to love the treadmill.  And, yes, I’ve worn out a couple of them.  But, even if I don’t run on it for months – I love knowing that it’s in my basement waiting for me.  In fact, I travel to my Mom’s every week for 2 or 3 days to take care of things for her.  I bought a treadmill to keep there, also.

If you’re one of those who hate the thoughts of running on the “dreadmill”.- learn to love it.  It can become on of your best friends!  I know that mine has!

Should I Run An Ultra?

Ultra MarathonThis is a question that I’ve been asking myself for the last 6 months or so.  For years now, I’ve had the idea that I want to run a 50 mile race. I’m not fast anymore – but, most days I feel that I can run farther.

I hadn’t done a full marathon for several years until I finished my last one in November.  It was my slowest time ever for a marathon.  I really didn’t care – I was happy to have that under my belt and actually felt pretty good afterwards.

I’ve even found the 50 miler that I want to do.  Y’all know if you follow me on Facebook that I am SO a warm weather runner.  My ultimate goal is to live in Florida.  I always make sure that I do a half-marathon or marathon in Florida during the winter.  Luckily, my hubby humors me!  :-)

Sometime during last year – I read about the Keys 100.  Now, I know that I really don’t want to do 100 miles – but, they also have a 50 mile race at the same time.  The 100 miler starts at Key Largo and the 50 miler starts on Marathon Key (how cool is that!).  Both races finish in Key West – one of my absolute favorite places!  So, I figured that this would be the perfect 50 mile race for me!

(This year, they even plan on adding a 50K race)

Anyway, I told everyone that I was going to do this in 2016.  Ya know – tell everyone to hold you accountable!

I’d love to do a 50K race sometime in 2015 – but, I’m having a hard one fitting my criteria.  I’d like to find one during April through August somewhere in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina or Tennessee.  And, not a trail run.  I am definitely not a trail runner.  In case you missed my post on my trail run – get a laugh and read about it here – http://www.thestreakingrunner.com/thinking/

I’m still looking.  By the way – if you know of any – please let me know in the comment section.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago – Hubby and I were coming back from our annual Florida trip.  I casually mentioned the 50 miler as we were coming up through Marathon Key.  He said that he is really not that excited for me to do an ultra.  I asked him why he felt that way – he is usually SO supportive of anything that I do or want to do.

Most spouses would have answered that they didn’t want me to spend the time away that training for an ultra would entail.  Not mine.  His answer was, “I’m just afraid that something will happen and I don’t want you to mess up your streak!”.

Ya gotta love it!

So, now I am rethinking it.  Do I want to do a 50 miler?  I think I still do.  Should I do a 50K and be content with that?  I think that I could be.

What do you think?

 

 

 

Why You Should Plan A Destination Race!

Destination racingI’ll admit it – I am a destination race junkie!  I would much rather run a race out of town and make a little mini vacation out of it.  These little mini vacations are planned several times during the year. Luckily, my hubby supports my little habit and is happy to go to support me.  Of course, it’s a little time away from work for him, also.  (And, he knows that I would probably go anyway – it’s the only child independence in me!)

Destination races are a great way to stay motivated with your running.  If you have problems wanting to go out and train in the winter – plan a marathon or half marathon in January or February in a warmer climate.  This keeps you running through the winter – and also helps keep you in shape during the holidays.  (You can justify that extra helping of mashed potatoes at Christmas dinner if you just ran a 15 miler!)

I always plan a race in Florida in January or February.  I hate the cold weather – and this assures me that I’ll get out of town during the winter.  At least for a week or so!

Taking little mini vacation destination races are also a great way to keep your family involved with your running.  I know that I am extremely lucky that my hubby is a super supporter of my running. But, I know that there are some runners whose spouses and families are not.  Planning a little vacation with the family around your running event can help.  They’re excited to be getting out of town – and will support your time away for training since they know that they are getting something out of it, too!

Now there are major destination races that you hear people running.  These can be races in places such as Europe, Australia, etc.  And, some will travel across the country.  But, you don’t have to travel that far to do a destination race.

You can plan something a few hours away from where you live.  Do a little investigating.  You may be surprised with what you find.  Personally, I’m a beach lover.  Last year I planned long week-end getaways in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks.  4 or 5 hours away is just perfect!

Do something fun this year.  Plan a little long week-end race getaway for you and your family. You may even become addicted like I am!