When do you become a runner?

you know you're a runner when...
As I’ve stated in both my bio and my opening post, I haven’t really considered myself a runner yet. It’s hard to call yourself a runner when most of your runs include walking. Some people will say that if you run, at any distance or any speed, you are a runner. Some people will say that you’re not a runner till you can run faster than 8 minute miles. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’m constantly questioning this:

I’ve been consistently running since mid-January, so about seven months total. Do I need to make it a whole year to be considered a runner? When I run a race without walking, does that make me a runner? When I finish a half marathon, then am I a runner? Do only runners relate to everything on this Buzzfeed post?

At yoga a couple weeks ago, I was talking to another girl and she was asking what had brought me there. I said, “Well, I’m a runner, and I got injured.” It immediately struck me that I had referred to myself as a runner. When she responded, “I’m a runner too!” I felt like a fraud. She probably really was a runner, and I feel like I’m just faking it. I get really shy talking about my running to people who have been running longer than me; however, I realize that people who don’t run probably consider me a runner.

I relate this to when I first got into photography. When I first started taking on free sessions with friends and family, I was loathe to call myself a photographer, especially not a professional photographer. I would go to photography meetings with “real” photographers and feel out of place. But now I say it without any hesitation: “What do you do?” “I’m a wedding photographer.” (Which is a lot less complicated to explain than my day job, though I say that too depending on context and who I’m talking to.) I don’t know when it wasn’t weird anymore. Will I wake up one day and feel like a runner?

When did you start calling yourself a runner?

Week of 8/19/13 – 8/25/13

week of 8/19/13 to 8/25/13

I didn’t mean to take a rest day on Monday, since I was scheduled to do 45 minutes, but finishing off the first season of “Game of Thrones” somehow usurped my running plans. So, instead, I went out for the first time this week on Tuesday. I got a late start, and I didn’t think I could do 45 minutes before it got dark, so I decided to skip ahead to the next workout on my training plan: 2 miles easy. I ran the first mile without walking, but ran it much too fast in 10:56. I need to learn to slow down! So I ran/walked the second mile, coming in at an average pace of 12:29.

The next day I decided to do the next workout, the same speed interval workout I did last week. But look how much faster I was! Compare last week’s intervals on the left with this week’s on the right. With the exception of two walking intervals, I was faster on all of the running and walking sections. Speedy speedster!


This was on a different route. The one from last week was very flat. This week’s had a couple of hills, which I think makes it even more impressive that I was able to maintain speed uphill, since that’s something I struggle with. Did I mention it was 85 and humid and I had forgotten my water bottle at home? I really have no idea how I managed a sub-9 min/mile pace for a full minute without water, not once but five times. Maybe last month’s hydration routine worked. Next week’s intervals have me doing 13 of them with only 1 minute walk breaks instead of 1:30, so we will see if I can stay as speedy!

After a rest day, I tackled 2.5 miles on Friday after work with Amanda. We were going to Nashville Shores afterwards, so we figured we might as well get hot and sweaty before cooling off in the lazy river. She normally runs in a very flat area, so I made sure to plan a route with some hills for her to tackle, since she needs the practice before our relay in a couple weeks. We went over the pedestrian bridge in downtown (which starts with about 0.2 mile of a 5.5% grade), around LP Field, through Cumberland Park, and then back over the bridge. Can I just say that I kind of enjoy pushing people to run? Maybe I have a future as a trainer (you know, if I ever get decent at it myself). I successfully got her to run up the bridge the first time around, but she gave up on it halfway through on the second time. (I actually ran up it, ran down it, then ran back up it to catch up with her, and back down it. I was having a good running day.)

I finally got in the 45 minute workout I was supposed to do on Monday over the weekend. Well, it actually turned into an hour workout. I really wish I would have looked at the weather a little more closely before I headed out. Because it was HOT. I meant to get out sooner (when it was cooler), but I had a late night out (Titans game and then Broadway Brewhouse, so I didn’t get home till nearly 1 am) so there was no way I was getting up at 6 or 7. Anyway, my plan was to do a 50 minute out and back on the greenway, with a focus on hill training. That all flew out the window once I actually got out there and started running. I tried running up the first big hill but had to walk halfway up it. It was just too hot. My body was using all its energy to try to keep me cool and had nothing left for running. By 1.5 miles in, I was almost out of water, so I altered my route to go by a water fountain. This is what extended the time. The route to the water fountain is also a lot hillier than the route I had planned to take. So, really, the day’s run was more of a walk with some runs on the downhills. Honestly, on the uphills, even walking was difficult. I’m pretty sure I ended up overhydrating because my body was releasing so much salt that the water I was taking in couldn’t get absorbed. Would have been a great day for some Gatorade, but all I had was water. Lesson learned: when the heat index is over 90 degrees, don’t plan to do a long run. And especially don’t plan to do it well.

Only three more weeks till half marathon training starts!

Shoes are a Girl’s Best Friend

Running shoes

From left to right: Pearl Izumi Road N2, Saucony Kinvara 3, Skechers GoRun 2

I’ve always been a shoe lover, and that’s no different when it comes to running. I’ve alluded to the fact that I have multiple pairs of running shoes in several posts, so I thought I’d go over why I have each of them and their pros and cons.

Before I really started running, I was wearing some monster Adidas sneakers that I bought my freshman year of college. That’s 13 years ago, by the way. They were clunky, heavy, a half size too big (I swear my feet are shrinking), and did nothing for my running. When I decided to actually become serious about learning to run, my first step was to buy a pair of actual running shoes.

Skechers GoRun 2

Skechers GoRun 2

Weight: 5.2 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
These were the first pair I bought, back in February. I’ve put about 150 miles on them since then. I adore these shoes. They are lightweight and easy to run in, no matter the distance. I’ve done every race so far this year in them. They are a minimalist shoe, which means they have less cushioning in them than traditional running shoes. Their drawback? After only 150 miles, the bottom tread has worn down considerably. Typically, running shoes should last you between 300-500 miles. I still run in them for now for distances between 3 and 6 miles.

Saucony Kinvara 3

Saucony Kinvara 3

Weight: 6.7 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
These were my second choice when I bought my Skechers. I read somewhere that your shoes would last longer if you alternated pairs, so I bought these in May right after the Kinvara 4s came out, so the 3s were put on sale. However, they have a very narrow toebox and come up higher on my heel, so they give me blisters on longer runs. Now, let me just say, that I’ve got narrow-to-normal width feet, so this is not an issue of my foot being wide. I’ve remedied two of the three blisters I get by wearing Injinji toe socks (you can see them in the photos below): I get the mini-crew length so the shoes don’t rub my heel and the separate toes eliminates the blister I get on the inside I get of my left big toe. I still haven’t figured out how to stop from getting a blister on the outside balls of my feet, just due to the toebox being so narrow. They also aren’t as breathable as my Skechers, so my feet get hot in them (also might be due to the narrowness, since feet swell when you run, so they might just be closing off the air path). If I could exchange them, I would go up half a size; I think that would make a huge difference. I typically use these on shorter runs under 3 miles to keep the blisters down.

Pearl Izumi Road N2

Pearl Izumi Road N2

Weight: 8.5 oz
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
My newest shoe purchase! After I got injured, I decided I should have a gait analysis done at one of the local running stores and see what they suggested I wear, just in case my shoes were contributing to my injuries as I increased my mileage. I went to the Nashville Running Company, where they have a machine that photographs your feet from various points of view. The consensus? I have high arches with normal pronation, so a neutral shoe should work fine. I tried on a couple pairs of Mizunos (which I actually really liked and might try out after these wear down) and then these. They have a pretty seamless construction, so you don’t get any rubbing on seams within the shoe. They have more cushioning than either of my other pairs, so I plan on using these mainly on long runs of over 6 miles. (Lately, though, I’ve been wearing them on most runs until I get on a set training schedule.)

Bendiness comparison

As a minimalist shoe, you can see how much flexibility the Skechers have in them than the other pairs. Also, I love my Injinji socks. If anyone needs any gift ideas for me, I will happily take more pairs of them (especially in fun colors!), since I only have the one.

How long did it take for you to find the perfect running shoe?

Week of 8/12/13 – 8/18/13

week of 8/12/13 to 8/18/13

After a rest day on Monday and a doctor’s visit on Tuesday morning, my first run of the week was Tuesday evening. Since last week I decided that I might repeat weeks 6-8 of Couch to 5k, I repeated week 6, day 1: run 5 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 8 minutes, walk 3 minutes, run 5 minutes. I did it and rocked it, with my final 5 minute run averaging an 11 min/mile.

I didn’t plan to run on Wednesday but the weather was so nice that I couldn’t help but run a mile. And I ran the whole mile! That makes it my first completely run mile since I started training again, and I did it in 11 minutes. Yay!

The next morning I got up bright and early to run in the sub-60 degree temps (!!). I decided to abandon my Couch to 5k plan and switched over to Runkeeper’s Beginning 5k plan. That morning it had me do a speed workout: 10 intervals of one minute fast running followed by 90 seconds of walking. Except I thought that there were only eight intervals, so I kind of went all out on what I thought was the last one, running at around an 8:30 min/mile pace. I made it through the last two after that closer to a 10 min/mile pace.

My plan said that Saturday I was supposed to do a 2 mile run, but I’m trying to get in the habit of doing long runs on weekends, so I went a little further. My main goal was to try to run 1.25 miles without walking, but I fell a little short of that, getting to 1.1 before I had to walk. I’d blame the weather (it was supposed to be 67, overcast, and possibly raining…instead it was 75 and sunny), but my legs just felt like jelly. It was hard to get any momentum after that, so I did some run-walk intervals to a 5k distance before stopping.