A Runner’s Stocking

I love the holiday season.  I love giving gifts.  I’m part of two different Secret Santa exchanges this year, and am having such fun picking out items to send to my partners.

Maybe you have other runners in your life, or people who you have finally goaded into running with you.  And let’s be honest, part of the fun of running is the gear.  (Okay, maybe that’s just me.)  So I got to thinking about what I would put in a Runner’s Stocking.  Of course, these would have to be things that would fit into a stocking, and while gift cards are awesome, I wanted to go a step beyond that and still keep the price low.   I also like cramming as much as I can into a stocking.  So here’s what I would put in.

Gels and other fuel options – I am pretty much a Gu loyalist, though I’ve been branching out and trying other gels, just for the variety of it.  I find that I prefer Gu Chomps or some other gummy-like fuel for before a race and gels during.  Other people can’t handle the gel texture.  So it’s fun to get a variety to try out

Safety pins – Okay, so just about every race hands you safety pins for your bib before the race, but I think it’s fun to pin a bib with colored safety pins.  I saw a guy running once with his bib affixed with giant diaper pins with little yellow duckies on the ends.  Adorable.  Strange, but adorable.

Shoelaces – Fun colored shoelaces are an awesome accessory!  As a Sweat Pink ambassador, I’m kind of hooked on pink, but any color will do.

Anti-Chafing Spray – Okay, so it’s less fun than some of the other things.  But nothing is less fun than chafing.  Seriously.

Bath Salts – Epsom salts rock.  I love getting fancy bath salts to add to my bath after a long run.  It’s like a treat and definitely feels great on my muscles

Lip balm – Absolutely the type with SPF.  Very necessary, both in summer and in winter.

Cheap knit gloves – Every so often, you’re at the store and you see a bin of those cheap, stretchy knit gloves for a buck or two.  Buy them!  They keep your hands warm before a race and are cheap enough that you don’t feel bad ditching them by the side of the road once you warm up.  And they’re great for putting into a stocking.  Bonus points if they are ridiculously colored.

What would you put into an inexpensive, fun, runner’s stocking?

Tracking Your Workouts

One thing that the running “experts” will tell you is that you should keep a running log.  Write down when you run, how far you go, how fast you go, etc.  Ideally, you should track food and other notes so you can better detail what goes into a good run versus what goes into a bad run.

No matter how many times I try, I can never keep one of these incredibly detailed log books.

I do track time and distance though.  Since I started running in 2006, I have tracked my running at RunningAHEAD.com.  It’s impressive to see how my yearly mileage has increased.  One thing I like is that I can categorize the runs by type – meaning that races have their own category.  That way, I can go in and look at my PRs and also see how my race times have changed over the years.  I also use this site to track the mileage on my shoes.

For a more social aspect, I use DailyMile.  I always read my friends’ workouts there, but I’m not so good at commenting.  Sorry about that, friends.  But it’s fun to see what others are doing, and it’s also nice when you’re training for a race “with” a friend.  For example, it is how I know that my sister and I are magically training at the same pace for our marathon.   (Which is quite convenient – she’s slightly faster, but is running a half the day before, so we should be perfect.)  It’s also nice to get motivation from friends when things aren’t going your way.

But maybe you’re more of a notebook person.  Whatever works best for you.

What do you use to track your workouts?

Getting Started

I’m registered for two triathlons next year.  It is insane.  Prior to last week, I hadn’t been in a pool in at least two years probably longer.   While my focus for right now is the marathon, I thought that adding in swimming once a week would be a good way to add in some cross training without causing any more stress on my joints.

It’s tough being the newbie.  With running, I could sort of pretend no one was watching me.  I would be passed by people, but then they were gone.  Same thing with biking.  But swimming is different.  I joined our community lap pool, which rocks, but means that I will be out swimming laps with other people.

I was nervous.  I didn’t want to show up and have all these people think I was a stupid newbie.  I didn’t want to look ridiculous.  I actually debated what to wear.  I have two suits designed for swimming (rather than sunbathing, which I don’t do), and I also wanted to wear my swim cap to help protect my hair from the chlorine.  But would I look silly?

I made my first trip to the pool on Black Friday.  I figured that was a safe day.  And who was in the pool?  I don’t even know.  Couple of older people.  And other people swimming in lanes who I couldn’t see.  The point?  No one was looking at me.  I wasn’t looking at them.  We were just swimming.

Now, I’m still nervous about going in and swimming at 6:30 in the morning when the “hardcore” swimmers are there (because in my brain, those are the people who swim that early, nevermind that I’m going to be there).  But what I’ve learned is that no one cares what you look like.  Just get out there.

Training Continues

On Sunday, I ran 17 miles as part of my marathon training plan.  Only an 18 mile training run and a 20 mile training run left to go (and a step back week or two – when did 14 miles stop feeling so tough?).

I have to admit, 20 miles scares me, and while I know I’ll get through it, that last 10k on race day is going to be rough.

This run, however, went fairly well.  Betsy and Charlie joined me for the first 3+ miles, which is always fun and Charlie managed to not eat any squirrels, which is also good.

I still haven’t managed to find the end of the trail I run.  I pass a map and read it every time, but there’s one point where I have to turn onto a road and then pick up the trail again and I can never figure it out.  It doesn’t matter, I’m just running an out and back, but I just find it funny that I get lost on a straight trail.

At one point, I passed at least ten deer grazing by the side of the trail.  This deer got very close to the trail and didn’t seem to care that I was there.




The first 9 miles of this run were pretty easy, surprisingly, and I felt like I was flying through them, though I was at an appropriate pace (maybe even a bit too slow).  The last mile was rough and the last half mile was exceptionally rough, but I kept to my intervals, so I guess it couldn’t have been that bad.


That’s right.  4 hours and 1 minute to run 17 miles.  This is the time when I’m jealous of 4 hour marathoners.  Clearly, I will be out there for another 2-3 hours on marathon morning.

My goal on marathon day is just to finish.  My secondary goal is to finish strong.  If I were to set a dream finishing time, it would be to run under 6:30.  Based on my training, it’s feasible, but I’m trying to not think about it. I don’t know what my body’s going to do in those last miles.  But it’s nice to know that my training is going well enough to get me there at this point.

Someone asked me recently how I fuel for these runs.  On Sunday, I ate a Clif Bar and drank about 8 ounces of Gatorade (not G2) an hour or so before I headed out.  I carried Gu with me and ate a packet about every 45 minutes, though I skipped the last one (Gu at 0:45, 1:30, 2:15, 3:00, but I didn’t feel like I needed one at 3:45 since I was so close to finishing).  That means I’ll carry 7 or 8 on race day.  Which seems like a lot.  But it works for me.

A friend once commented that she didn’t understand why people carried so many gels on races and that people didn’t need that much fuel.  I gel every 45 minutes as per the instructions on the package.  I have tried to stretch it to an hour and it just doesn’t go well for me.   So I know what my body needs.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to stomach 7 or 8 gels, but we’ll see.  There should also be bananas on the race course, which is also an option.  I’m just going to go with how I feel.

I can’t believe the race is coming up so soon.  I’m still not sure it’s sunk in that I’m going to be running a marathon.  That’s just crazy talk, after all.