Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stuff I'm Using: Saucony Guide 7

I got these shoes for free as a promotional item from Saucony. I did not pay for these shoes. I'm still trying to decide whether or not the free stuff I got through my Dick's job was worth the pain and suffering of working there.

Anyway, the Guide 7. Normally, I don't like stability shoes. I prefer to run in neutral shoes, even though I'm a moderate overpronator. Since there's no real evidence to support running in corrective footwear to prevent injury, I figure I'll run in whatever I want, and work on strengthening my lower-body kinetic chain, instead.

However, these are the best shoes I've ever run in. They have the perfect amount of cushioning for me, they have a moderate amount of stability that isn't particularly noticeable, they don't feel overly heavy or built up. My feet felt happy, running in these shoes.

I love running in Saucony shoes (even when they give me blisters), and the Guide 7 reminds me why. In these, I forget all about shoes, socks, and gear, and focus solely on my run. These shoes are what all running shoes should aspire to be.

My one issue with these shoes: I loathe the colors. I think it's the pink. I don't mind the blue so much. But they feel so good on my feet, I'm willing to overlook the colors, and plan to do the majority of my running in these shoes for the foreseeable future (I have a pair of Mizuno Wave Sayonara for speed training that I'll review soon). And when I wear out my free pair, I will buy another pair (in a different color). Thanks, Saucony, for changing my mind about stability shoes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Back To It!

I got the go-ahead from my doctor this morning to go back to training! She did restrict me to 30 minutes max of cardio, though, and I have to stop again if my lymph node grows or gets painful.

I drove to the downtown KC airport this afternoon for a 45-minute bike ride. I figure 45 minutes of cycling is the same as 30 minutes of running, right?

The wind was brutal, and I was super slow, but I don't even care; I'm so excited to get to train again!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Update: Back to Week 1

Today, I started my training over again after 3 weeks off on doctor's orders. I see my doctor tomorrow, and hopefully she'll give me the go-ahead to work out. Otherwise, I'm going to need to re-evaluate my training goals for the next two years. If I can't start working out this week, the Rev3 half-distance in September will move out of my reach, which means a full-distance race next July may be too big a stretch. I still have a hard lump in my armpit from an inflamed lymph node, and the elbow lumps are sticking around. They're small, though--I hope small enough that my doctor won't continue my no-exercise therapy.

I finished with Dick's Sporting Goods, as of Wednesday. I have never experienced such a negative working environment. Everyone (almost) that I talked to, at least all the other "associate" (retail monkeys) felt the same, but they didn't have better options. My over-arching feeling while working there was, "I can do better than this." The worst part was the walkie-talkies that we all wore. Managers would call down employees on the walkie-talkies on a daily basis. That's just terrible management. If you have an issue with an employee whom you supervise, that should be addressed in a private manner; public humiliation does not make for proper discipline in a professional environment. What's worse, when employees would explain their actions on the walkie-talkies, the management wouldn't take their concerns into account; they maintained their derogatory position, even if it didn't make sense, based on new information. Heaven forbid a manager should admit to making a mistake! Aside from publicly criticizing employees, they tried to delegate and direct employees without knowing the full landscape. One day, two managers told me to do completely contradictory things. When the first manager came back and asked why I was doing something other than what she'd instructed me to do, I told her I was directed otherwise; she was surprised, and put me back on the original task (which, honestly, was the one that made more sense). You'd think these managers would talk to each other and craft priorities as a group, but no. Each one of them knows best. Except that none of them knows best, because none is particularly intelligent.

So the management was the worst of it, but there were other things. I quickly became (in my own opinion, at least) the most competent person in the footwear department. The most competent. Within a month. It's more proof, first of all, that I'm too good for that job. But it's also an indication that no one really cares, or wants to work hard. That comes from the top down; part of the reason the managers rarely knew how to direct us properly was that they were never working with us. And I imagine that managers higher up the corporate chain set that unfortunate example for the managers of my store.

In short, I now think that Dick's is a terrible company. I don't know if I'll shop there ever again. There are plenty of other big-box sports retailers, and I prefer to give my money for biking and running to locally-owned merchants, anyway. I'm much, much happier, now that I'm done with Dick's. QuikTrip is a great company--one of the most positive work environments I've ever experienced. And the schedule will allow me more time for training, anyway. There are much better prospects for advancement. And I enjoy my job. Thanks to those of you who left encouraging comments for me. I know I seemed down after my last post. I'm in a much better place now.

My dad did his first marathon on Sunday in Abilene, Kansas. Maybe I can get him to do a race report for me! I'm super proud of him, although I'm jealous that he beat me to that distance!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Weekly Update: Week 9

I gave my two weeks notice at Dick's. It's a relief to be done with that job. It was a poor fit for me.

I've also re-tooled my training schedule to focus on shorter races during the summer, then build to the Rev3 Half in September. It will give me plenty of time to build my fitness up, without getting injured. Hopefully, I'll get the go-ahead from my doctor to get back to training next week!

I'm a little concerned about money; I was very excited about the amount I was making working two jobs, but with just QuikTrip, it's going to be tight. I feel like I'm better than this. I'm in the 98th percentile, in terms of intelligence. I became the most competent person in the footwear department at Dick's in a matter of weeks. How am I just scraping by nearing age 30, while plenty of people (who are not nearly as smart or capable as I am) my age are settling comfortably into the middle class?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Weeky Update: Weeks 7 & 8

The armpit lumps and elbow lumps did not go away. In fact, they got larger and more painful. Last Monday, I went to see my doctor again. I kind of (totally) broke down and cried in her office. I'd been feeling teary all weekend. I'd been stressed and overworked. I haven't had time to train, or the energy to train, and when I did get to train, it was crappy. My armpit hurt so badly that I couldn't stretch my arm overhead to swim. My running and biking was suffering from the overuse injuries, a result (I think) of a combination of too much training, not enough recovery, and too much time on my feet at both jobs. In short, training had not been pretty.

My doctor called me off of training. No exercise. None. I felt relieved, though; now I don't have to feel guilty about missing workouts, because I'm not allowed to do any.

I also had a sonogram, and I may have to have surgery to have the lump removed and biopsied, still, but they're pretty sure that it's cat scratch fever (stupid cat). I went back to the doctor today, and she told me to keep resting for the next two weeks. With this long lay-off in training, the lack of training before, and the lack of time after, I'm watching Ironman 70.3 Kansas slip away. It's just not going to happen. The best option is to focus either on a shorter race or one farther away, build base and lift weights until that one, then target the Rev3 Cedar Point Half hard in the fall. There's still a chance that I can make it to IM Zurich next July. This is just a hiccup along the way.

I feel much happier and much better this week. I haven't felt stressed or sick or weepy, like I did last weekend and last Monday. I've determined that it's best to quit my job with Dick's. It pays better than QuikTrip, but the commute is longer, and the working environment is way worse. I'll talk more about after I give my two weeks; I don't want to say too much now, while I still work there.

Maybe I can volunteer at IM 70.3 KS. If I do, I'll still see you there.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stuff I'm Using: 2XU Compression Socks

I got the yellow and teal pair.
I got a pair of 2XU compression socks to try out from the 2XU rep who works with my Dick's Sporting Goods. They were free. I love my job more and more.

I've always been skeptical about the value of compression socks. Besides which, I thought they looked ridiculous on all the triathletes and long-distance runners who adopted them about four years ago.

I may be changing my mind, though.

I've only run in them once. It was a brief run, cut short by soreness in my calves (which I attribute more to a day spent on my feet than to the new socks). They didn't seem to help much, or make much difference.

But I've been wearing them to work, where I spend 8-12 hours at a time on my feet. And they make an incredible difference. I feel significantly less pain in my calves and feet when I'm wearing my compression socks. I can see how they would make a big difference in a long day. I don't know that a marathon--or even a 70.3--is long enough. But an iron-distance race? I could definitely get behind that.

I have a pair of the running socks, which differ from the recovery socks in positioning of support and compression. I gather that the recovery socks are better for walking and standing, where the running socks facilitate activities where more plantar flexion is involved. I may just go and buy myself a pair of recovery socks! I've worn the pair I got for free so much that they're starting to stink!

2XU has done a fantastic job over the past few years of widening their reach. They've moved from a niche brand marketed almost exclusively to triathletes to the kind of mainstream brand that you can find at a big-box retailer like Dick's.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Update: Weeks 6 & 7

After my first week of epic work schedules, I got terribly, horribly, awfully sick. I skipped every single workout of week 6. Every single one. And it was the right thing to do. I needed the recovery badly. I missed several days of work. The lumps in my armpit and elbow got much bigger and much more painful, so painful that they kept me awake at night. So I went to see a doctor last week, and she put me on antibiotics. She said it's most likely just an infection in the lymph glands; it happens sometimes; she's seen it before. It could also be something more serious, but she suggested that we try antibiotics first, and go from there.

So that was week 6. Stayed home from work, and did absolutely no exercise.

Week 7 brought recovery again, which was a good thing. My first day back after being ill, I meant to do a short hill interval session, but my body felt weak and tired after the warm-up, so I kept it to a 45-minute recovery ride. Got a swim in on Wednesday. The swim felt reasonably good, and my times were passable, but something felt a little off. I felt like my arms were weak, not from sickness, but from lack of strength training this winter. So I did a long pull set! My Wednesday night run didn't go well at all, though. It had been relatively warm during the day, so I didn't dress warmly enough for the icy wind and snow that began shortly before my run. It was my first run in the Brooks Ghosts, and my achilles tendinosis made itself known in the first quarter mile. I'm not blaming the Brooks; it could just as easily be lack of warm-up, or the fact that I'd spent the whole day on my feet.

Speaking of which, standing all day takes a toll on my body. Plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinosis, and a wicked case of piriformis syndrome that's shooting pain down my left leg. I'm not sure what to do about it, though. I've been rolling on a tennis ball and stretching. I don't want to prop up my aching body with insoles; that will just make it worse in the long run. I may just need to work in more therapeutic exercises.

My armpit lump is still swollen and painful. I swam today, and I can feel the lymph node stretching painfully every time I raise my arm overhead. I'm worried about it. My roommate thinks I need to take it easy with my training until the lumpy armpit resolves itself. I don't want to take a break, of course. After all, exercise is supposed to be good for you!

That's where I am right now. I'm disappointed with the lack of consistency in my training, and fearful of the prospect of missing even more. So we'll see how this week goes.