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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Friday Favorites: Running the Race Marked Out For Us

Well, even though it was one of the coldest days of the year yesterday, it was also the first baseball game of the high school season, so I do believe we are moving ever closer to putting winter behind us. Saturday it is supposed to be be 70 degrees here. And you know what that means, right?

The party's over, folks.

You know that party where you eat all the things and drink all the things and decide that it's too cold to exercise and whatnot.

The return of spring, plus the fact that I actually braved the scale this week after avoiding it for months have made me realize that I need to get back to intentional healthy eating and step up the exercise routine.

Wah, wah, waaaahhhh.

I'm no expert. My philosophy is to try to eat less and move more. I can't get more complicated than that. For me and I think for many women, discussions about diet and  exercise do become more complicated than that. In my case, these can conjure up some pretty stressful memories of my teens and early twenties when what I ate and what size I wore consumed me so much so that I sometimes can't remember a whole lot more about those years except for angst and worry and sadness. So I'd rather just focus on the fact that exercising is far and away the best thing I can do for my mental state.  I don't have to be an expert to know that. I have ventured into yoga lately and I love it, but running is still my go-to for keeping my sanity and my health on the right track.

Recently. the Lovely and Talented Mrs. C. started running and she texted me for some music ideas because her playlist was starting to bore her. My sister has asked me repeatedly to have a place on my blog where I list all the songs that I've mentioned over the years, so today's the day. In addition to the music which is the most important of my running essentials, I thought I'd add some of my other favorite running accessories for your reading enjoyment.

Or maybe you'll think "Whatever, Sister. Running is boring and excruciating and I'd rather eat dirt."

If you don't want to eat dirt, here is a Friday Favorites: Running Edition.

1. The Right Music

This is not a comprehensive list because after 12 years of running I have to mix it up. But here are some great running songs that get me moving and are on constant shuffle on my ipod lately.

Feet Don't Fail Me Now by NeedtoBreathe (I start and end with this song because 99% of the time I hate the first and last mile with my entire being. It gets me out the door and back in it every time.)

NeedtoBreathe: Oh, Carolina, Girl From Tennessee, Keep Your Eyes Open, The Outsiders, Multiplied
All the Third Day: especially Soul on Fire, Take Me to the Other Side, Tunnel
Modest Mouse: Float On
Crowder: My Beloved
Gym Class Heroes: The Fighter
Nelly: The Champ
(All the BonJovi, all the Justin Timberlake and the Rocky Soundtrack because DUH)

2.  Running Gloves

We all know good and well that Spring takes it's own sweet time arriving so running outside might require gloves for awhile. These North Face Women's Etip Gloves are awesome because they aren't too thick and also have some science-y thing happening in the fingertip which allows you to be able to operate your touch pad on your phone. This is perfect for when you need to shuffle past that KidsBop version of some song that you downloaded for your kid in 2005.

3. Knee Straps

I've been wearing these knee straps since I first starting running twelve years ago. I started with one, but now have graduated to two. (Hello, Downward Spiral of my 40s). They look like they wouldn't do anything but they do really help with knee and tendon pain. If I forget them, I notice the next day. That's my brother and me before we went to run out at Lake Anna one day. We think we are awesome, but realized we were not as awesome as we were kinda dumb when we got out there in the 95 degree heat with the humidity of 1,000%.

4. Socks

Socks are really important and these Balega Hidden Comfort Athletic Running Socks are my very favorite. They never slip and never make my feet feel too hot. I can't run without them now. (And now you might be wondering if I would pull dirty ones out of the hamper before I would wear another pair to run and the answer to that would be, "Yes. Yes, I would and I have.")

5. Arch Support Insoles

I've also worn these Superfeet insoles in my shoes forever. I have a high arch, so these are crucial for me. I have even cut some down and shoved them into my other shoes and boots over the years. Running can be pretty brutal on your feet, but I've had no major problems in twelve years and I think these are the reason.

6. Running Shoes

The running shoes you choose are the most important, of course. When I started there were a million reasons I wanted to quit, but none of them were for aching feet, sore toes or blisters. For those reasons, you shouldn't just call your girlfriend and ask her what shoes she wears or pick out the cutest ones in the color you like.  I highly recommend going to a running store to have the sales person watch you run on a treadmill. They can analyze your gait and how much you overpronate to determine the best shoe for your foot shape and stride. To prove my point I will tell you that I am currently wearing these Mizuno Running Shoes in a god-awful blue/pink combination, but I can tell you that it could have been worse. Sometimes you're lucky to get a good color and sometimes you're not, but you must get the right shoes for your feet.

That brings me to a funny/sad story about the current shoes I'm wearing and it seems an appropriate story for the end of this post on this particular day.

The day after our friend Tom passed away suddenly, I didn't know what to do with myself, but I needed new running shoes and since Tom and I frequently talked about running I decided to go to Potomac River Running and get some shoes. I was on the edge of tears for most of the day, but I figured I could handle this one small outing to the running store. I ran on the treadmill so the young sales guy could watch my gait and he brought out a few different pairs of shoes for me to try.

Anyway, the sweet, unsuspecting sales guy brings out the Mizuno shoes in the brightest, most awful purple color I had ever seen.  I have an irrational dislike for the color purple which makes no sense, but it is what it is. I tried on the other brands of shoes, hoping that one of them would work out. Finally, I tried on the purple Mizunos and went out to run up and down the sidewalk to test them out. And lo and behold, out of all the crappy things that could happen in one 24 hour period. Tom was gone AND those horribly ugly purple shoes were probably the most comfortable running shoes I had ever worn.

Hot, angry tears started streaming down my cheeks and I went back into the store all red faced and sniffling and said, "Sir, I'm sorry. I really hate purple. I really hate it so much. Like, so much that it doesn't make any sense, but of course these shoes which are obviously purple, feel the best. And I just can't buy these purple shoes. You have to tell me they come in another color. Please, tell me you have another color."

I don't have to tell you that this guy was quite alarmed at my reaction to the purple shoes. He hightailed it to the back of the store and came back with these slightly less horribly ugly electric blue and pink shoes. I looked to the heavens and gave Tom a shrug as if to say, "Are you kidding me with these, dude?"

That was that and now most of the days that I lace up these shoes, I think of Tom. Today is Tom's birthday. I can picture him running by my house and waving with his daughter, Grace, trailing behind on her bike and I still can't believe that I might not run into him at the baseball park or the basketball gym or at Glory Days Grill. Tom ran his race well. He finished strong.

So even though my heart is heavy for his family today, I will remember what his sudden death taught me. We do not know how long or how far our own race will be and we don't need to know. We simply need to lace up our horribly ugly, but not purple shoes, and run with perseverance the race marked out before us.

Ready, Set, Go.

One more song from NeedtoBreathe that made me think of those friends of Tom who are left here to do our best to finish our races strong like he did.

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