Plodding Along: Making the Treadmill Work for You

By Megan Cox

The treadmill and I are best friends these days. Okay, so “friends” may be an exaggeration. It’s more like we’re colleagues with the same goal—getting this mama of two little ones in shape for her December half marathon. Okay, colleagues may be an exaggeration too. Master and slave is probably more like it, and you can guess which one I am!

To be honest, I can’t wait to get some outdoor runs under my belt, but I’ve been waiting until I can comfortably run three miles on the treadmill because let’s face it, gearing up to go outside needs to be worth the trouble. Besides, I don’t want my neighbors to see me struggling to keep a jogging pace that doesn’t look like an exaggerated power walk!

But if I’m going to be working out on the treadmill for a few more weeks, it means I need to ensure that I’m doing it properly. Otherwise I won’t be ready for the outdoors, and maybe even worse, I could injure myself. No need to give myself excuses not to workout. So it’s time to talk about training on the machine that epitomizes the term “necessary evil.”

I found a couple of great recommendations at www.livestrong.com and from Coach Jenny at runnersworld.com. First—and this is a rule I break so, so often—I should not hold onto the handrails when running. Using the handrails to help me maintain a higher speed does me no favors. A better idea? Get over my pride and decrease the speed.

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Cancelled Buffalo Half gets new life

If you signed up for the Rapid Running Buffalo Half Marathon — which was cancelled abruptly last week, leaving hundreds of runners who’d signed up for the race without an explanation or refunds — you’ll have a chance to run 13.1 this weekend after all, thanks to the efforts of a local group of organizers.

The Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission and the town of Orchard Park scrambled quickly to put together a race that will finish where the original race had been planned, on the playing field at the Buffalo Bills’ home stadium. Now called the “50 Yard Finish,” the race will honor registrations for the cancelled Rapid Running race, provided you can provide proof of registration.

Find out more here: New half marathon takes place of race (WIVB.com)

Damage Control: The Running Mama’s Tummy Tuck


By Megan Cox

Well, there’s one thing that happens to every mama after having a new little one. She gets stretched—emotionally, mentally, and, oh yes, physically too.

As for this mama of two little ones who is trying to get back in shape for a half marathon, one place on my body that has always been of concern is my midsection. I’m pretty short (5’ 1” on the best of days), and there’s not a lot of room for error (or cheesecake). Now, after having my tummy stretched to accommodate first one baby and then a second, it’s, well, not my favorite body feature.

Before I had kiddos, I always thought that women who whined about their post-partum bodies had their priorities mixed up. “You had a baby,” I’d think without much sympathy. “Why do you care? Isn’t that worth the price?”

But then I had my own kids, and while I am beyond thrilled by this, I can’t help but feel a twinge of self-pity for the midsection that will never again be mine. Then again, I tell myself, “Look, whiny lady. It doesn’t matter whether you had kids or not. Your tummy wasn’t always going to look like it did when you were a teenager. Get over it.”

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Move to the Music

By Megan Cox

Because I’ve been relegated to the treadmill for my first few weeks of training, it’s time to talk about one critical element of machine-bound running: music.

As you may know by now, this mama of two (one of which is a mere eight-weeks old—hello 3 a.m. feedings!), is working toward her first race in four years. I’ve got six months before my half marathon, and the month of June is devoted to getting back into the swing of things—namely, being able to run a 5k at a passable speed (i.e,, something faster than a power walk).

So, my iPod is my new best friend. However, I haven’t been updating it on a regular basis, and the hodge podge of Broadway musical numbers, nineties tunes, and expired Top 40s (I’ve got Brittany Spears songs before her meltdown on there—gasp!) is enough to make me blush. Besides, I’ve got to get some songs that really rev me up. I’m not so fond of the treadmill.

I’ve got a few tunes to get me started—Colbie Caillet’s “Brighter than the Sun,” Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” and Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” are a few favorites that are definitely making my training playlist. I also love Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole,” and no, I don’t care if you think it’s lame because it was from the movie Twilight. I am past thirty and care more about what I like than being cool. Not that I was cool before…

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On With the Training

By Megan Cox

So, now that I’ve got the greenlight to start my training for a half-marathon in December (after having a new baby a few weeks ago) and struggling through my first mile (well, the struggle really came the day after ), I’m ready to start my one-month 5k workout.

I’ll be using a training schedule I found online (view it here) during the month of June to get my body back into the swing of things. Then the fun will really begin!

The first two weeks of this 5k program don’t look too bad. Of course, ask me after I finish it, and maybe it will be a different story.

And those of you who are in awesome running shape right now, DO NOT laugh at my first few attempts at 2 and 3 mile runs. Did you just have a baby? Are you getting up at 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. to feed this baby? Are you chasing a precocious two-year-old around at the same time and cleaning up an endless round of spit-up, cheerios, and poo? (If you are, then yes, you may laugh at me; but only you.)

So, let’s take a look at the torture I’ve got planned for myself over the next 14 days:

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Ready, Set, Go!

By Megan Cox

Hooray! I am now signed up for my race, the Dallas Marathon (it changed names by the way). I am so pumped that it’s now official. Okay, I’ll admit I’m nervous too. I mean, this is a big undertaking for this mama of two little ones, and the word failure is not something I like to tangle with.

Speaking of which, I’m one of those people who gets pretty anxious about things labeled “first come first serve,” such as race registration. I momentarily thought about registering at 3 a.m. after feeding my newborn, but I quickly decided against it. I’m not too conscious at that hour, and I could very well have mistakenly signed up for all 26.2 miles. I’m crazy, but not that crazy!

There was no need to worry. Plenty of spots were still available at 6:30 a.m., and I’m now an official racer. In celebration, I planned my very first post-pregnancy jog. Yes, you have to be a racing fanatic to use running as part of a celebration, but if you’re on this site, you’re probably one of those already.

There’s a lot of planning that went into running my first mile. First of all, I knew I would have to run it on my home treadmill, during my two-year-old’s naptime. Also, I had to hope the newborn didn’t start screaming halfway through. This took some coordination, but after we sang fifteen renditions of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (I’ve started to spice that song up, including a rap and opera version), my toddler finally nodded off. The newborn soon fell asleep in his vibrating baby bouncer (I definitely need an adult version of that!), and I was on my way to running bliss.

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Maybe 13.1 is the perfect distance after all…

From Scientific American magazine, a report today on the damage that extreme running can do to the heart, which certainly gives me pause in the passing thoughts I have about training for a 26.2-mile race someday in the future. Even Running Times magazine weighed in last year on the side of not running full marathons, for most people anyway.

The authors quoted by SA looked at a study posted in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, which found that extreme endurance training can cause inflammation and scarring in cardiac tissue both during and for days after extreme long distance runs:

“Physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacologic agent,” O’Keefe said. “As with any pharmacologic agent, a safe upper dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of physical exercise, such as musculoskeletal trauma and cardiovascular stress, may outweigh its benefits.”

It’s just another reason, in my mind, that exercise should be kept in the “Goldilocks” zone — not too much, not too little. And why training for races like 10Ks and half marathons may be the optimal way to balance both fitness and goal-setting without going overboard. That’s my two cents, anyway.

Read the full story here.

Up and Running: The Training Begins for Real

By Megan Cox

So, the doctor gave me the magical thumbs up yesterday. I am now stamped with approval for physical activity. This morning I gazed lovingly at my new running shoes (as you know, acquiring them with a toddler and newborn in tow turned into quite the affair). Anyway, I said to my new kicks, “My dear running shoes, I believe we have a date.”

And I’m super excited. I totally am.

Except, now the work begins. No more talking about training and my love of running. Time to put my money where my mouth is—a.k.a., feet to pavement.

How will my legs respond? Remember, they haven’t run since the beginning of my second pregnancy, which is, oh, at least eight months ago. And they haven’t completed any long runs (five miles plus) since 2009 B.C.( which in my world stands for “before children).

I certainly have quite the challenge ahead. Especially because my training will be taking place indoors more than I’d like. My toddler goes to a children’s day out program twice a week, but I’ve still got my little man with me, and at six weeks old, he’s not ready for the YMCA childwatch (the gym has an outdoor trail) or my running stroller (which isn’t recommended until your kiddo reaches at least five to six months of age due to their immature neck muscles).

Not that I like my running stroller anyway. First of all, it’s secondhand and veers toward the left. Secondly, remember my comment about the Oklahoma wind? Well, running strollers, especially with the shade down, act as a sail too. And there’s nothing like running uphill with what feels like an open umbrella.

Where does that leave me? It leaves me on the treadmill, counting minutes and trying not to collapse of boredom. Thankfully, I’ve got a sweet list of upbeat songs ready to go on my IPod, so maybe that will be enough to get the motivation flowing. In fact, I’m always open to suggestions for great running music. Got any?

Well, the next time I write will be after my first run. Wish me luck! I’m gonna need it…

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.