Thursday, September 11, 2014

Take the stairs

You know those articles that talk about making healthy living a habit, part of everyday, and one of the tips for doing this is taking the stairs? Well taking the stairs sucks. I'm currently participating in a stair climbing competition at work, and it is wiping me out!

The whole point of the stair challenge is to encourage healthy choices but has turned into a full blown competition with people (myself included) running up to the 15th floor just to get some extra points. I'm glad the weather is finally cooling off or folks would be getting unprofessionally sweaty.

My legs have definitely been feeling all the extra stairs! At first I was kind of embarrassed by this- I mean, I generally think of myself as "fit" so why are some stairs getting me sore and winded? So I read up on the benefits of taking the stairs, especially for runners:
  • Stairs are steeper than hills- typically about 65% incline (!!). To compare, Ramsey Hill in St. Paul is 18% incline at its steepest. This is why your heart rate increases so quickly walking up stairs, and in turn, your VO2 max can improve!
  • When you walk up stairs, you are balancing on one leg (briefly) which makes you use stabilizing muscles that aren't as frequently fired during a regular run. 
  • Walking up stairs usually includes higher knee lift, which stretches out hamstrings and may help extend stride length.    

So far we are finishing up week 2 of the challenge, with two remaining. I think my team will step up to the challenge (hahahaha) but there is plenty of competition. In any case, I hope my running benefits!

(but if I don't post for another few months, please someone come check one of the stairwells as I may have collapsed there...)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not dead

In case you are wondering, I am not dead. I haven't been a good runner, or running blogger, but I also haven't passed on. I believe my last post was sometime in February, for a race I ran in January, so what was already a belated start to the year turned into a seven month lag! Here are some highlights from my life (running and otherwise) in that timeframe:

Travel! Mr. B. and I went to Ottawa, Canada. He went for work, I went for poutine.

Mr. B running across the bridge!
Air Canada loves fitness!

Also, travel to Salt Lake City! Mr. B for work, me for fun.
Driving into Park City, if I recall correctly. 

More travel! Summer trips to Ely:
And tons of weddings, bachelorette parties, and other fun stuff.
I walked down the aisle with the stud on the left.

From a WI Bachelorette. Those are real animals. 

Anyway. I entered a pretty aggressive running slump in about February. Was it the polar vortex, a burnout from running pretty consistently for almost 15 years (and now I am old), or something else? I'm not really sure, and I can't quite put my finger on what happened. I had spurts of running days in a row followed by many days off. Even throughout the spring and summer I was having a lot of problems getting myself motivated.

I did have several races as running goals, and to date none of them have happened! I'm partially disappointed, but two races (The TC 1 mile, and the Minneapolis Half Marathon) were both cancelled the day of the race due to weather. The Gary Bjorkland half marathon ended up being the same day as a wedding I was in so I wasn't able to sign up for that. Then, since I wasn't in great shape, I held off from signing up for any races.

This has started to change, however! Mr. B wrote up a training plan for me, which I have honestly not been following as faithfully as I should be. But I am signed up for the TC 10k and look forward to that race! The course is a bit tricky as it is an out and back and incorporates a pretty big hill about a half mile in. On the bright side, that means there is a downhill a half mile to the finish!

So, I'm optimistic. I still really enjoy running but the motivation and drive to become better needs to get back! Stay tuned.