I discovered Zumba almost by accident. A former student began teaching it at the college level in Utah. I hadn’t seen her in years, but I saw her posts on social media. I asked her about it, and she told me that her mother, Gayle Wing, was teaching classes in North Little Rock where I live. I contacted her mother and was invited to visit. The classes taught by Gayle were Zumba Gold for senior citizens. I made a visit and enjoyed it because the atmosphere was informal, the moves were effective, but not too daunting, and each person was allowed to participate without being judged.
As soon as I entered the room for my first visit, I could tell that the class was an informal gathering. I knew several of the people in the class, and since I had a connection with Gayle from having taught her children when they were in high school, visiting the class was enjoyable. Gayle introduced me as if I were a celebrity, and several of the other people, with whom I had taught, were very friendly and offered encouraging advice. While I was a little awkward with the moves, I felt comfortable following Gayle’s instructions. The hour seemed to pass quickly, and the conversation before the class started and after it was over made the experience seem friendly and informal.
Before my visit, I was a little apprehensive about being able to catch on to the routines, but the steps turned out to be fairly simple. I watched Gayle, as well as the other class members, and I caught on quickly. Gayle instructed from the front of the class and demonstrated the routines as the class followed. The music was a combination of Latin and African influenced tunes as well as some hip-hop numbers like “Dance Like Nobody’s Watchin’,” and classic pop tunes such as “YMCA.”, The music made the workout easy and very enjoyable. My steps weren’t perfect, but I knew my efforts were beneficial because by the end of the class, when we cooled down to Elvis Presley’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” I had worked up a nice sweat.
I especially appreciated the way there was no judgement from the teacher or from fellow class members. Some of the members had been in Zumba for over five years. When I visited, I was the newest member, and the intervals between the most and least experienced members represented every level. While I could follow most of the steps, I am not a limber person by nature, and I probably looked a little stiff. Others were very agile, and in my humble assessment, some of them performed at the professional dance level. In contrast, some of the members had physical ailments that limited their participation. None of that mattered in Zumba Gold. I admit that I did find a place in the back row, but no one watched or commented as I struggled at times to move correctly to the fast routines. The support from the teacher and the class members made me feel at least adequate as a Zumba participant, and since my performance had not been judged, I had no concerns about continuing in the class.
I have been a Zumba enthusiast now for about five months. Because of the informal manner in which the class is taught, I’ve come to enjoy the friendship of the instructor and the other members of the class. We even met for a party after our last class before Christmas. The routines are hard enough to provide a good workout, but they are “do-able,” and with more experience, I know I can master them.While I still prefer the back row for class, I never worry about how I am performing. I do my best, and that is all that is asked of me. I ascribe to the theory, “Use it or lose it.” I know that exercise is the key to quality of life as I age. I feel enlivened and energized when Zumba class is finished, and I have noticed that the energy carries over to my everyday life. I highly recommend Zumba as an enjoyable way to make friends, stay in shape, and exercise at your own pace.
It can happen to the best of any runner out there--falling prey to unfortunate circumstances that can kick one’s running to the curb for awhile. Three of these unwelcoming issues include injury, burnout, and over training, which we will refer to in this blog post as IBO. Any one of these IBO issues can plague a runner competitive at any distance. Certainly those of us who run the ultra distances may be at an even greater vulnerability for trouble with IBO issues. Most ultra marathoners have such a dedication to their daily training, and the majority of it comes in the form of running. Weekly training session's varying from hill work to speed training to long back to back runs have us racking in mega-mileage seven days a week. And our minds don't escape the madness as they usually remain saturated on the next training run, 24-7. I mean let's face it. To be a successful ultra runner, one needs to run a lot. Right? The more miles we put in to training, the better we should perform on race day.
For the most part, these long back to back running days can be beneficial. They keep us physically fit and emotionally Zen. However, sometimes we don't come out so fortunate, and the daily back to back training sets us up to be hit head-on with either an injury, boredom and burn-out, or perhaps, being over-trained. Once either of these issues starts to make their presence, a runner usually has to address it. However, there are efforts we can take that can help us to steer clear of these issues. One popular effort ultra runners can use is to supplement a couple of their running days during the week with another form of fitness. This method is referred to as cross-training. Instead of running every day, a runner may opt to replace one to two days with a different form of exercise, such as swimming, cycling, weight training or a fitness class like yoga. Other cross-training ideas include elliptical workouts or those on exercise equipment, such as a Cybex. One may even choose to use some creativity and come up with cross training ideas that will be fun and add some glitter or spunk to their training week, such as Zumba or belly dancing.
Research has shown that cross training can certainly lower a runner's risk of nagging injuries, such as stress fractures, shin splints or plantar fasciitis. In addition, cross training can help to keep a runner from becoming bored of mundane daily training or one that is pushing their bodies to the extent that it comes out over-trained leading to a dissatisfying race performance. Cross-training has been found to build core strength and enhance a runner's flexibility all around as it utilizes muscles that aren't worked while running. Even better, it helps maintain positive emotional stamina, keeping our head in the game and allowing us to stay in tune with future race goals and outlooks. Included below is a quick review of a few and different types of cross training ideas that can be a part of an ultra runner's high impact and high mileage training week. Choosing a couple and replacing up to no more than two running days per week should be enough to provide resistance against the problems mentioned. Please note that these are all based on an ultra runner's training regimen but could be used for a runner training for any distance. Furthermore, please add your comments or ideas for cross training not mentioned.
A few of the more popular styles of cross training include: swimming, cycling, weight lifting, and yoga. Swimming is said to be one of the best fitness practices for an athlete of any caliber. It allows for a stress-free workout on bones and joints while still offering cardiovascular benefits along with muscle strength and endurance. Muscles are under constant resistance while swimmers make their way through the water. And if one needs distraction with music, never fear. A set of waterproof ear buds are now available and can be purchase then synced with some favorite, upbeat tunes.
Cycling can benefit a runner greatly as a cross training exercise, and while it may require some of the expensive and better gear to feel competitive, it doesn't have to be the best of the best. Cycling allows for a cardio build-up but decreases the jarring stress on the feet, knees and hips caused by running. In addition, it helps with endurance, flexibility, and coordination. If you don't have a bike and the necessary accessories to ride safe, join a gym and take advantage of a cycling class. Also called spin workouts, these classes will allow for an effective cross training workout lead by a trained and professional instructor. Definitely a posh way to change it up.
Weight lifting can be a beneficial cross training choice, and doesn't have to include a gym membership to be effective. Hand weights are fairly inexpensive. By lifting weights, a runner can improve arm strength, leg strength, shoulders, back and core. Strength is ultimately so important on an ultra terrain, especially a strong core. Taking time out from running to pump it up can offer an edge come race day.
Finally, yoga is certainly happening, and allows a two-for-one cross training option. In other words, it is rated one of the best ways to improve overall athletic performance as well as maintain that healthy emotional balance we all strive for. While it can take some practice to learn the positions and causes one to slow down some, it can be a great training addition for an ultra runner. Like some of the other benefits mentioned, it helps with strengthening, coordination and flexibility. (Personally, I have found that due to years of distance running, I have become very muscularly ridged and stiff. Some days this can even be painful. Yoga has helped to improve my lack of mobility and soothe my inflexibility.) Probably one of the best ways to benefit a runner's performance while cross training is to enhance it with a yoga class at least once a week.
Some of the more uncommon and more creative styles of cross training include: working out on equipment, such as an elliptical or Cybex, engaging in a fitness class that includes plyometrics, or trying something new like belly dancing or Zumba.
If looking for a way to keep the heart rate up but take the impact off the feet, an elliptical may be the answer. It offers a total body workout, ability levels that can be modified during the workout and progress that can be noted. Possibly an elliptical workout might require signing up for a gym membership, but this provides for even more of a chance to change it up for the day. Put on some good music or tune into a favorite television show and go for the gold elliptical style.
Another off-the-beaten-path style of cross training is riding a Cybex Arc Trainer that like an elliptical, will offer different inclines and resistances. The machine's website http://www.cybexintl.com/cross-trainers-625a-arc-trainer.aspx states that the Cybex Arc Trainer acts as “three machines in one.” This machine improves strength, power, endurance and cardio with a comfortable and low impact motion. Just 20 minutes on a Cybex will surely get the heart rate up and keep the runner satisfied with their workout not feeling like they just took the day off.
Plyometrics can be a perfect way to cross train especially for ultra runners who want to improve their overall performance. This type of workout is popular in such classes as P90X or Insanity, and it works to load the muscles with repetitive style movements like jumping. Research has shown that the fiery movements can lead to better, all-around athletic performances. Plyometrics trains the body to put out for longer periods of time (endurance) while using little energy to do it. Certainly something that will benefit an ultra runner. It doesn’t require any fancy equipment to partake. Finally, keep in mind that plyometrics is very high impact, so if it doesn't feel too jarring on the ole joints or knees, give this cross training idea a shot and look for improvements.
Finally, while it may seem a tad foreign, belly dancing has been shown to be an ideal way to offer a runner some cross-training versatility. Not only is a great way to readjust the mind by learning something new and culturally rich, it also can help to improve posture and muscle toning but with low impact on the body. In addition, it does exercise the arms and core muscles. One may also try out the newest craze of Zumba, a fitness class that focuses on fun and challenging dance routines.
As these cross training ideas may be a great way to keep an ultra runner free from injury, burnout, or over- training, it still isn't foolproof. One should always incorporate a rest day at least every two weeks during extensive training. It's also imperative that one listen to their own body as they adjust to their ideal training week.
READY FOR THE ULTRAMARATHON?
Here's how you can prepare.
I'm a doer. And I mean a doer in a learning sort of way. For example, when I get something in my head, something that requires a learning process, I don't put to use suggestions from others to whether it's a good or bad idea. I don't ponder over hints or recommendations; I pretty much just jump in and start learning it through my actual doing. Some may call it impulsive. Others, Attention-Deficit. In some ways my doer personality may become a hitch, a stumbling block to my desired success. For, without an understanding of the feat in front of me, the different snags and hurdles or even the simple acknowledgment of the proper tools and data needed for accomplishment, I may find myself running through an exhausting path that causes vexation and annoyance. There might even be financial disappointments--physical, mental, or spiritual. Regardless, it's just the way I'm wired. Present to me all my good choices with the bad, my successes and my failures, and I would still choose to be designated as a doer because I don't regret my experiences I've taken from experiencing.
Take for instance my nine-year stance as an ultra-marathoner. I have learned through trial and error. I have learned through doing more and more 100-mile races. In fact, when I completed my first 100-mile distance, I was as oblivious as they come. In my head and via the Internet, I came across the ART100 and thought to myself, "I wanna do this." Enough said. I had no idea of the friends I would make or the lessons that I would learn along the way. Beginning somewhat of a training regimen and preparation, I tried to get my body ready for what I imagined was ahead. I was clueless, needless to say, and I'm pretty sure that my furthest training run that summer was an informal fun-run known as the Cat Smacker. This trail run was approximately 22 miles. I did set out to make the highly recommended and race-directed training runs, but couldn't even find my way through the maze of dirt roads to the start. Fortunately, I did make it to the 2009 ART100 starting line (without much gear I will admit), and off I went into the woods feeling like a champ. I fantasized about finishing with 4-hour splits, which would have me finishing within a 16-hour time frame. Ha. Was I way off course. Not only did it take me almost all of the entire allowable time (I finished in about 29 hours and something), it had been the most challenging and bizarre experience I had ever put myself through in my entire life. I vaguely remember coming back on Forest Road 212, tripping and cussing my decision to try the thing. But I finished. And so was started my journey on this ultra-marathon train. And while I've gotten off-track many times, I haven't stopped boarding back up, learning while doing to improve my performance.
Fast forward to 2016, and I have lost count on how many ultras I have completed. I've won some and DNF'd some. I trained well for some and not so good for others. I've met some of the most remarkable people, some runners and some not. I've watched the ultra-marathon racing field grow tremendously just in the last nine years. As its grown, so have I, adopting many tips that have been shown by my doing to be beneficial come race day. Most of it concerns preparation and suggestions on how to improve my times. Among my favorites: "just keep moving," and "you gotta eat," or "while on the course, don't ever sit down."
I have found that ultra-marathoners are a unique group of athletes to include some that insist on training by the book and others that train to their own little drum. Those trainers following the book worship their weekly training schedule usually allowing for rest days and a couple of back to back running days. They nit-pick their diets and ask a lot of questions to the veterans on the course. The others will train a little differently, usually training long and a lot; rest days are almost too uncomfortable to take, and while they'll listen to your advice, come race day it won't really matter. But in the end, both groups will emerge to find that a 100 miles will more than not come with many ups and downs no matter the training put-in. It will be a very personal experience, and what works for one runner at mile 90, may not exactly work for another. And no matter how prepared one runner may be over another (some may even be over-prepared) they will all, ultimately learn, the process to their 100-mile feat through the process of their 100-mile doing. Despite my findings, I have formed a list as to what I have learned as a doer of ultra-marathons. The list is specifically related to 100-mile courses. It's just ideas to take into consideration whatever your training method, and certainly many items that have helped me find success on both the road and trail. Take what you want and leave the rest. Your comments or additions are always welcome.
10 TIPS TO GETTING READY FOR AN ULTRAMARATHON
10. STUDY AND PREP. Review all of the race information, including lodging options, instructions for race morning and parking. Familiarize yourself with the many course logistics beforehand. Include in your preparation active participation with the official race-directed training opportunities that more times than not are run on portions of the actual course. Consider all suggestions on the race website, and make every effort to follow them on race day. For example, indications to carry a light rain jacket or the requirement of having a reflective vest and the time to put it on should always be observed. Determine how to have these items available on your body or somewhere on the course that is easily accessible. For those running crewed races, having imperative items such as these may be somewhat easier to manage, but those running solo should always acknowledge their importance, and plan in advance.
09. TRAIN ON LIKE TERRAIN. Practice on a similar terrain that mimics the upcoming race course. If your running a 100-mile rocky trail course, then spend a substantial amount of your training time on a similar rocky trail. This also goes for a 100-mile road race. Both require a different stance and footing. For example, a rocky trail will require a shorter stride length, and a paved road will allow for a much longer one. Try to listen for and improve your cadence as the better your rhythmic sequence, the less energy you will be spending. Learn how to scope a rocky trail for more sufficient footing, and try to make a habit of running with your head and eyes up. Remember that practice helps your strive for running perfection, and spending many hours on a similar terrain to that which you will race should be well-worth the effort.
08. 100-MILE TRAINING WEEK. Shoot for at least one 100-mile, 6-day training week (allowing one day for rest). Trust me, this is easier said than done. Honestly, I think I have only done this one time, but it seemed to pay off. In fact, I ran this high of a training week during my most successful 100-mile running year to date. While the week will seem time consuming as well as energy zapping, you will benefit. Get your miles in for the week however you want: via trial, road or even treadmill because it's not about the terrain here; it's about spending time on your feet. Try spreading your mileage out. This should not be back-to-back long mileage training runs (which will be discussed next). Mix in all different distances planning for a 3-4 hour longer run only once during this week.
07. BACK TO BACKS. Include in your training some back to back runs, those similar to a stage race. Be sure to set aside enough time for the runs to be marathon distance or greater. For example, take early Friday evening to run a 4-4:30 hour pace marathon (26.2 miles). This will require you to maintain your pace at 9:05-10:17 miles/minute, and will not only help to improve your racing performance, but will give you more needed time on your feet as well as some additional experience with running in the dark. Practice using your a headlight or hand-held flashlight. After this Friday night run, regroup and try to get at least six hours of sleep. Set Saturday morning aside, get up and out for no less than a 30-mile run at a comfortable pace. And then take off on Sunday. Try for at least 2-3 of these back to back training sessions, and while they may seem time consuming, especially for those of us with families, they will serve to your advantage.
06. SET ASIDE REST DAYS. Although difficult, adequate resting is vital to your physical and mental health. And don't mistake a rest day for a a cross-training day. In fact, it means exactly what it suggests...rest. Sleep, watch a good movie, take a long, scenic drive, or fix a good meal. Do something other than run. This will not only save you from an injury, but it will also help you elude runner burnout. Many an ultra-runner will suffer from one or both, and most will agree that being out due to a running-related injury is no fun. Especially, if it happens close to race day. Take the advice and schedule in days to rest your bones, your muscles and your head. Finally, save the week before your scheduled race to taper. Use this week to carb-load, increase energy levels and avoid possible injury by not running at a hard, fast pace. Most experts will agree that very little can be gained during the week before race day, so put aside strenuous workouts or training sessions at least five days prior to your race day.
05. CHOOSE THE RIGHT GEAR. Gear really does make a difference. It's hard to comprehend how athletes made it to such successful levels prior to the surge of popular running products on the market today. Better shoes, light-weight hydration packs, spy belts, head lights, Ipods, runner GPS, ankle and knee support, even blister-preventing socks and non-chafing running attire all specifically designed with ultra-marathoners in mind should be used to your advantage. Trying out different products or brands and finding which work best for you is highly recommended. In addition, never try something for the first time on race day as it can be a huge slip possibly even costing you the race. As mentioned earlier on my first 100-mile race, I made it to the starting line with little to no gear. In fact, I wore road-specific running shoes for a rocky dirt trail. My ankles were too weak to handle the uneven footing, and I suffered through turning my ankle from the start of the single-track trail at mile 6. I wore a belt at my waste that held one 8-ounce water bottle, but it was nothing I had trained with, so it bounced and rubbed until I finally had to drop it. It just goes to show that gear can really make a difference in your performance as well as your overall enjoyment of the 100 miles, and practicing with it can be a crucial step.
04. THINK ABOUT CALORIES. Practice calorie consumption on every long training run in which you participate. It's crucial to train your body how to digest while running such distances. It can be a delicate balance, and stomach nausea can come on really quick leading to dehydration, severe vomiting and possibly several hours to overcome. Practice with solid foods, liquid calories, such as Ensure, or gel items to see what settles best on your stomach and at different distances. I learned the hard way about inadequate nutrition while racing, and have since rationalized that while pushing myself to these great distances, my body shifts into extremely high gear, working to keep everything oxygenated and energized. However, my digestive system seems to take the back-burner. For example, a slice of loaded, thick-crusted pizza isn't going to settle on my stomach as well as a cold vanilla Ensure. My body just can't seem to work efficiently enough to digest and use that slice of pizza. However, the Ensure goes down and stays, which allows my body to utilize the needed calories. Other relevant issues to take into account with calorie consumption is your body size and muscle mass. Extra fat you may be carrying will require more calories per hour and the same goes for muscles mass. There is a lot to learn regarding the topic, and noticing how your body reacts when pushing to such distances, and furthermore, what caloric substances work best to curb potential problems ahead will put you in front of the game before race day arrives.
03. BALANCE SOLIDS AND LIQUIDS. Try considering your electrolyte intake and fluid intake separate from your caloric intake even though they may all be consumed within the same product. A healthy fluid intake will include water, and the balance between your electrolytes and your water is fragile to say the least. One can have too much or too less of either one, and deficiencies or over-compensating will ultimately lead to dehydration or overhydration and more likely than not, a DNF. Many times, imbalances between electrolytes and water can be impossible to overcome during a race as they can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, severe sweating and possible kidney failure. Determine the mileage between aid stations or drop bags and choose to carry water with you at all times. Carry a small electrolyte-gel on your body. Use a handheld bottle or Camelback and bladder. Knowing the miles between aid stations can help you make an accurate decision about the size needed to carry adequate fluids between stops. Practice with electrolyte tablets or other powder supplements before race day. On longer training runs, it is crucial that aid is set out prior to the run or plans are made for re-hydration by crewing from your car or having someone bring aid to you in an effort to refuel. In short, your body is gonna need an adequate balance with sugar, salt, and water, and this balance must be maintained at all times during the race. In addition, keep in mind, that your body will also need replacement of other nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Knowledge can be power, so study up on what your body needs, especially while distance running, and practice accordingly.
02. PREPARE MENTALLY and CHECK YOUR AID. While you have worked extra hard on preparing yourself physically, you should also take a considered effort to get your mind right for race day. Examine your mentality and keep yourself psyched up for the work ahead. Remind yourself that you are going in for 100 miles--not anything less, and believe in yourself and your training. Furthermore, don't try and fix what isn't wrong. Remember that 100 miles will be a personal feat, and what works for one runner may not work as well for an other. Don't mess with changing clothes or shoes that aren't bothering you. Do not forego your usual Ensure as your nutritional vice just because everyone else is snacking and running on pretzels or gels. And finally, during some of your longer training runs, mentally go over your drop bags and organization for race day. Think about some of the necessities that you want to have at certain times. Depending on the time of the year and the possible weather scenerios, the different types of clothing you have set out on the course can be essential to your performance. Organize your thoughts about what works best for you and keep yourself mentally in the game.
01. DON'T NEGLECT YOUR FEET. Give extra TLC to your toes and feet. Selecting a good pair of running shoes specific for your foot size and shape can be paramount to your performance. Learn what your gait is by visiting a local running store, and be sure to take it into consideration when purchasing your shoes. Do you pronate or supinate? Shoes that fit you correctly will help keep you injury-free, certainly from foot related injuries that tend to linger and nag, such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, stress fractures and tendonitis. Avoid choosing a shoe that is too snug or too big. It might also be useful to find a shoe insert that offers extra cushion or support. I personally use the New Balance Pressure Relief with Metatarsal Padding, and have found them extremely helpful with heel spurs and plantar fasciitis. Replace your shoes and inserts as needed, usually within 300-400 miles. Finally, it's important to wash your feet with soapy water daily and keep your toenails trim. Applying a thin coat of Desitin or Vaseline to your feet before pulling on your running socks is recommended on those longer training runs, and certainly on race morning. Taking care of your feet is an important part to your running success. As an ultra-marathoner, the condition of your feet will ultimately help or hurt you.
I recall visiting with some female runners many years back after completing my first 100-mile race distance.I was changing my shoes and socks, a task that usually isn't too easy after spending 29 hours on a rocky trail, but it did make for some good conversation because my feet were in great shape. Ten toenails intact. No noticable blistering. Minimal swelling. Afterall, my ultra-marathoning days had really just begun, and the destruction the sport takes on one's bodies (especially the feet) hadn't begun its wrath.
"Your feet look really good," one commented,
Both unknowing and unexperienced, at that time I didn't really get what they were getting at. But as time has passed with more training and more racing, I understand the sarcasm in that simple conversation. Ultimately, miles on miles on miles will have some effect on a runner's feet, and it's usually not pretty. This is why it is so important for a runner to protect their feet on the forefront, handle them with care and take advantage of the countless foot-care products specifically designed for long-distance running.
One such problem I recently faced relevant to runner's feet was painful blistering between my toes. I first encountered the blistering during a hot and rainy 100 mile race in south Florida some years back. Instead of taking the few extra minutes to check on my feet during the race, I just ran on throughout the day and night never giving a second thought to what condition they might be. They didn't hurt to anything unbearable, and seriously, "why try and fix something that ain't broke?" But, finishing up and untyng the destruction, I found my feet to be in horrific shape, water-logged with uncountable quater-size blistering. Some blistering was even underneath my toenails!!! That summer I lost a total of six toenails, some that would never grow back right, and even a few that had to eventually be surgically removed for good.
Since that one particular race, blistering for me at any distance was expected to say the least. Blisters might even surface during my longer training runs. Sometimes, they became so big and nagging that I had to stop and drain them or they would pop on their own. Ouch. Over the last couple of years, I had learned to just deal with them. I taught myself how to pop them from one side to the other using careful diligence not to destroy the thick outter covering. I reminded myself to stop during races to take care of a blister before it got too full and popped on its own. I learned that greasing my feet up with a lot of vasoline was a must before racing any distance. I learned all this through trial and error, never realizing that there was simply a sock that would help protect my feet and rid me of the problem. I had always preferred a thin running sock, and had never put too much thought into it making such a difference where blisters were concerned.
My prefered socks for many years had been the Elite Feature brand. When I discovered Features, they seemed to be great for my performance level as well as provide adequate protection. I also loved all the bright color combinations that they used. However, overtime, the Feature brand seemed to stop working as well as they had, and I began blistering between my toes more and more. The drama was trying my patience, and my pace was suffering as once the blisters formed, they became really painful. Draining them was the only way to ease the pain, but ultimately, they would fill up again. So I hit the web to do a little investigating on the topic, and I came across the Injinji sock. This brand had been mentioned to me before, but I never took the advice seriously as I never thought that a simple sock could really help with blister prevention. I decided to give in and give the Injinji's a try on my next race at 100 miles.
I purchased my first pair of Injinji toe socks and would try them during the 6-12-24 Hour Endurance Challenge in Benton, AR. This race, directed Pete Ireland and the Saline County Striders, is a 1-mile certified course, and runners can sign up for one of the three times. I signed up for the 24 hour and set a goal of 100 miles. It was a perfect course to try out the socks because I passed my personal aid every mile. If the socks gave me any problems or discomfort, I could change into a pair of Features really quick and be back on the course within minutes.
For those that don't know about Injinji socks, they are toe socks that allow for premimum performance with a layer of protection without sacrificing comfort. Each toe is protected by the sock. The company makes all different styles and types for different sports and performances. I purchased two pair of the run Injinji style from Fleet Feet in Little Rock. Both pair featured mositure utilization, blister protection, arch support and protective cushion. The cost was roughly $30 for the two. My plan was to change to a clean pair mid way through the race (rougly 12 hours).
I was also experimenting with using Desitin instead of vasoline underneath the socks during this race. Normally, I appled vasoline, vigorously, underneath my running socks. I must admit, I was not stingy with the Desitin either, and while it was messy, it did serve a good purpose. I covered my all toes and the balls of me feet extensively with the cream. The Injinji socks were snug over my feet, and each toe fit perfectly. Very comfortable to start I will admit. While running the socks stayed in place and were non-irritating. There seemed to be some moisture, but I am assuming this was from the Desitin. I stopped in six hours (50k) and reapplied the Desitin. My feet at this time were in great shape with no blistering between any of my toes. At the end of 12-hours, I stopped to regroup and change into the second pair of clean Injinjis. I again vigourously applied the Desitin before the new pair of socks. I repeated the Desitin process once again before a 100-mile finish at 23 hours.
Very proud to say that at the finish line and 23 hours in, my feet were blister-free, so HUGE props to Injinji! There were some hardened areas (almost like calloused skin) in certain spots that caused minimal pain, but no quater-sized blisters anywhere on my feet. Between my left second-toe and big toe, I did have a tender spots; however, I'm pretty sure this spot was from a previous blister that hadn't completely healed. I do believe that these Injinji socks were a life saver for me and well worth the money. After distance running with them just one time, they will be a must on any future race list. I would recommend washing them before wearing them for the first time. I would also recommend applying Desitin cream profusely to both feet underneath the socks as well. As with any product, you might want to try them out before race day.
DNF...DO NOT forget
Photo by runner Ned Rozell. Rocky trail.
So yesterday Sunday, I decided I was just done with eating junk food all the time. Day 1, my turn-around day, was decided after a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and a short cat nap. As healthier options have begun to settle in on this Monday afternoon, I'm feeling a little bluer than normal. I had nooooo morning cup of joe, no cookies for breakfast, no Coke with lunch, NO afternoon chocolate candy bar! I need to note that I'm not dieting, just wanting to eat healthier foods and see if I feel better. I'm hoping that better nutrition will speed up my hammy healing and perhaps improve my race stats. Unfortunately, this healthy eating thing, in my book, is for the birds. Twenty-four hours in, I feel like total crap with a BIG, fat chocolate-covered cheery on top.
The show must go on