You’re Doing It Wrong!

If you’ve been following along, you may have read a little bit about my ankle problems.  I thought that was actually all over, but I was apparently kidding myself.  After 4.05 miles yesterday, I have found myself with the same ankle pain back again.  Now, I think I know why.

Yesterday, as I was running, I was paying special attention to the way my feet were falling.  The right one was doing a fantastic job.  It was light.  It hit in the mid-foot area.  It came up.  It felt like a well-oiled machine doing what it was supposed to do.  But the left foot?  It was not coming down as light or bouncing back up very well.  The more I noticed it, the more awkward I felt.  Fast forward about 24 hours and I am having trouble walking normally.

Incidentally, I had physical therapy this morning and since I knew I wasn’t walking right, I mentioned how my ankle had started to bother me again.  After some discussion, he gave me an article I have read a few times before: The Once and Future Way to Run.  In the article is a video for the 100-Up.  I think I may have actually mentioned this before.  Well, I have done the 100-Up a few times, but never stuck with it.  My PT said I should start and keep going.  With my new discovery on how my foot is working, I can see the difference between what it’s doing and what the feet in the video are doing.  If I can get it right, maybe everything else will improve as well!

I wanted to go out for a little bit today, but I am staying in and 100-Up-ing instead.  I can’t hobble my way through the Cap City quarter next week after all.

Review: New Mood

I have written a few different times about my experiences with Onnit products.  I have had really great results with both Alpha Brain and ShroomTech Sport.

As a little update on the ShroomTech… In my original review, I said that I thought it was possible I was naturally increasing my endurance and so maybe it was more of a placebo effect.  While I believe I am increasing my endurance and ability just from keeping up on work outs, I have learned that I can absolutely tell a difference between when I work out with ShroomTech and when I don’t.  Runs are an especially different experience.  I think I have more energy, perform better, and recover faster on the ShroomTech than without it.  I didn’t re-order more for a long time and not taking it as much, if at all, and that’s when I noticed the difference.  My pace was getting better, but not like it was when I was on using the supplements.  I know that it gets advertised for really hard exercise like jiu jitsu, kickboxing, etc, but I definitely think it is worth it even for a run lasting longer than a couple of miles.  You’ll definitely feel the difference after activity, if not during.

Onto the next one..

New Mood

New Mood was the obvious next try in the list of Onnit products.  I was really interested in the idea of this since it promotes relaxation, better sleep, and serotonin production. If you are curious about the benefits of serotonin you can read up or just know that it plays a big part in your mood, appetite, sleep, etc.  Anti-depressants are often classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), helping your brain to better use this oh-so-important neurotransmitter to overcome depression, anxiety, etc.  I have used SSRIs myself in the past both for anxiety and depression, so I was especially interested to see what effect New Mood might have on me.

As per usual, Onnit talks about the science behind the product.  The product page tells you all kinds of things about the ingredients and what they’re for, so I won’t go crazy with all the details.  Basic things though: L-tryptophan (that stuff that puts you to sleep after Thanksgiving dinner) and 5-HTP (often recommended as a sleeping aid and for mood)  are big components.  It also has vitamins B6 and D3, magnesium, niacin, as well as things like chamomile. Upon first look at the ingredients, I was feeling pretty good.  I like post-turkey dinner naps and anything that boosts my mood and helps calm my anxiety.  The formula seemed full of that stuff.

As I usually do, I started out with the taking just one pill. I didn’t see much of anything from that so then I upped it the next day to two, which is the recommended dose.  I remember waking up after taking New Mood the night before and feeling a little more refreshed, I’d say.  I didn’t feel as dragged down.  It was probably the second or third day that I started to have the problem: headaches. Every morning, I was waking up with a headache.  I do get a lot of headaches, so I didn’t think too much about it until it started to become a real trend. I stopped taking the New Mood after I realized that it could be the one causing the problem and things seemed to return to normal.

I can’t tell you 100% that the New Mood is what was giving me headaches.  I contacted Onnit and asked them if they had gotten any other responses related to migraines or if I had neglected to notice a migraine/headache trigger in the list of ingredients.  I had a little trouble getting a hold of someone, but once I did, I was told that they had not been getting negative feedback on this issue.  They also mentioned the niacin could cause problems, but my own basic searches haven’t brought up much related to niacin causing headaches.  The nice customer service person did recommend that I could try a combination of 5-HTP and and B6 on my own to try and get a similar effect to the New Mood. This I haven’t tried yet.

Overall, I don’t feel like I can say much more other than I did feel well rested and good the next day, but unfortunately in pain.  Onnit was great about it, of course, and held up to their money-back guarantee.  I really appreciate that they took the time to get back to me about my concerns and try to right the problem.  I have heard good things about New Mood from other places, so I recommend giving it a try if you’re interested.  I still think that anything Onnit makes is probably worth a test drive since I’ve had such good experiences with most of it.

Something New: Form Check!

A couple Saturdays ago, I attended a Good Form Running clinic at a local running store.  I decided it was my big “something new” for my March goals. I’ve read plenty of things about running form, watched videos, etc, but it’s awfully hard to find a place to stare at yourself in action.  So I signed up for the running clinic.

I didn’t know what exactly to expect going in.  I knew we would be doing drills, so I dressed appropriately.  The group of people attending the clinic were friendly, of all ages, and with all sorts of running backgrounds. One guy was just starting up again, a few others had barely begun, etc.  It was nice that it was a diverse crowd.  The instructor started off talking about the 4 basic principles of GFR: posture, mid-foot strike, cadence, and lean.  We did a couple of drills and then we were videotaped running through the store (which was apparently supposed to be done first), which we would see later after we had gone through everything and knew the “proper” way.

I was sort of familiar with a lot of this going in. Mid-foot strike is the part of my running form that I have tried to get the most right, especially since the shoes I run in almost demand you land properly. My posture is not so great any way, so I knew that probably wasn’t right.  As far as cadence goes, I had tried to run with a metronome app before, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Lean was something new to me as well and not something that I naturally do, I don’t think.  We talked about and did drills for each principle.

Posture was the first thing we talked about. This was the driver behind getting me into the clinic.  After overhearing another GFR class talking about what your shoulders do during a run, I realized that things were not so hot there.  I went out the next day, tried to keep my shoulders down and relaxed and had a much happier run because of it.  The importance of staying straight and aligned properly from top to bottom hadn’t really sunk in until we went over it in class.  This is one of the toughest parts for me, but I’m hoping that with practice, my normal posture will also improve.

The mid-foot strike drill was similar to the 100-Up that Chris McDougall talks about here, so I was familiar with that.  The instructor for the clinic repeated several times that you can get the proper foot strike in any shoe.  Minimalist shoes and a few others in that range are made with the intention of helping you to have the proper foot placement.  Heel-striking is very bad for you and seems to be the cause of a lot of injury, so I think doing things to help promote proper strike is important.  Personally, I can’t imagine heel-striking in my Merrells and I think that has been really helpful.

Our cadence drill consisted of running in place and then running around the store at different paces.  180 steps/minute really isn’t difficult, but if you’re over-striding (and therefore taking fewer strides), it can be much harder.  Lean was literally just feeling the proper lean of the body.  You don’t want to fall over, but you need to lean forward sort of until your toes “catch.” This one was hard for me to really feel and I need more practice there.

After the drills, we watched the video of ourselves running in slow motion.  The instructor said I do something pretty common with minimalist shoe wearers: a slight forefoot strike with a roll back to the middle.  Apparently this is not a problem as long as I am not running on my tiptoes (something I think I was doing for awhile early on).  I still end mid-foot, I just start a little forward.  The foot strike was not actually the most enlightening part.  My shoulders were the real problem. They kept doing this strange shrug motion as I went.  It’s hard to say whether it was just the close quarters we were running in or what, but I have put a lot more emphasis on posture, relaxing my shoulders, etc since seeing myself.  I think I am making improvements on that front at least.  I am still working on cadence and lean  also, but I will be happy for now if I can get half of it down pretty well.

The GFR site has videos about all of these things and will probably explain things much better than I can.  It’s good to note that GFR is only one of several methods that all teach essentially the same thing. Good Form Running just happens to be the name that New Balance uses for it. When I decided to go with a barefoot/minimalist shoe, I came across links you can find under the “minimalist running” tag pretty helpful.

Miscellaneous Links: Princess Half, etc.

I will admit something… I’ve been a little obsessed with race recaps.  I spent a lot of last week reading recaps of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend. It has only made me want to do the half next year even more.  Here are those and some other things I’ve been reading.

Race recaps for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon weekend:

@ Running Tall
@ Go the Xtra Mile
@ Meals and Miles
@ Losing Weight in the City
Things You May Not Know About Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend :: lots of interesting tidbits!

As Jeff Galloway is the coach for runDisney, I decided to start poking around on his site.  He believes in run-walk-run, which is what I do on every run.  I think it’s a really good way to go, especially for beginners. Speaking of walking, I found this blog post that I thought was good for all to read: A Dirty Little Secret about Running.  While I already knew what the blog said, it still made me feel better about my chosen method of running.

Miscellaneous other things:
Planks: Beginning to Intermediate :: as part of physical therapy, I have had to do planks.  I have also been doing plank stability ball walk-outs, which are hard but fun.
Your Essential Guide to Yoga :: I’ve had a couple of people talk to me about yoga since I started, so here is a little something for those people.

@FitFluential on Twitter :: I’ve found a lot (if not all) of these links via FitFluential.  It’s been an awesome resource since I found it.


With that, I am off for today’s run.  Hoping for 5 strong miles.

Running! Update! Again!

Today was a big day.  Today, I ran for 20 minutes consecutively and for over a mile and a half straight.  Both are accomplishments for me.  If you had asked me a few months ago whether I would/could do that, I would have laughed at you.  Thinking back on when I was just having a hard time running for five minutes straight puts it into perspective. I have changed up my training a little as time has gone on.  I realize now that when I started, I really had it all wrong.

I am again using an app for training.  It’s the same app I have been using, but they renamed it and did some altering to the plan since the official Couch-to-5k training is under trademark. Honestly, the offical C25k app is not so good compared to this one, so I’m sticking with it.  The same app makers have other apps for 10k and a half-marathon as well.  Hopefully it will be easy to just keep on training.

As far as current training goes, I have also stopped focusing on increasing my speed.  For awhile, I was really worried about pace and making sure that I was always increasing it. Now, I have kept the same pace but am just working on sticking to what the training requires as far as time is concerned.  When I am running outside and can’t maintain a set pace as easily, I go for distance and usually end up around the same pace.  I can see now that my problem when I finally get to the actual 5k is going to be the pacing.  I try to improve it every time I am off the treadmill, but it’s really hard to stay consistent.  I just think I need to pay more attention to how the pace feels on the treadmill and try to replicate it on the ground. I am not quite fully prepared for super cold outdoor running, but I am planning on getting outside as much as I can until it starts snowing.

All in all, I am super happy with the progress.  After my run today, I have just felt like I can totally kick that 5k’s ass come February.  I’m already looking at the next race after that. Ha!


I haven’t posted resources in awhile, so here are some things I have been looking at…

The Once and Future Way to Run :: written by the man behind Born to Run, includes a video about the 100-up exercise

Stretch It Out :: stretches!

Running with Eric: Run Drills and Technique :: a video of drills and technique, primarily with a forefoot strike focus.

The Clymb :: gear at a discount

Cold Weather Training and Your Body

Capital City Half Marathon :: what I plan on doing after February

Review: ShroomTech Sport

A few months ago, I talked about my experience with Alpha Brain from Onnit.  So a little update on that before I get started talking about ShroomTech… I began taking it in September, had to stop for my surgery in October, but have been taking it pretty steadily.  I can tell you that it definitely does something for my mood.  I’m less grouchy overall. I still feel like my brain is just firing better most days.  The cloudiness from the nerve medicine I was on for my back has gone away.  I am also experiencing the crazy dreams that people mention having while they’re taking it.  You can read more about Alpha Brain and dreaming here. The short of it is that Alpha Brain encourages more REM sleep, which is why dreams become more vivid and just plain crazier.  The other day I had a dream that I had body guards and got married naked.  It was a crazy ride.

The dreaming for me, though, is not the main attraction or the main benefit.  The fact that my brain just feels like it’s working better is the winning part and what keeps me using it.  If I start to feel a little out of it mid-day, I will pop an extra one on occasion and it seems to help. If I have had a couple of drinks and wake up groggy and out of it the next day, Alpha Brain has helped clear that away.  The website has updated side effects and dosing, as well as a lot of other great info.  I can’t speak highly enough about it. Go check it out.

ShroomTech Sport

Because of how much I liked the Alpha Brain, I ordered some of their new sport performance formula ShroomTech Sport around the time that it first came out.  I wanted to see if it would help with running and/or weightlifting. I was skeptical about it, but gave it a few tries. It’s been a couple of months since I started using it on and off.

I started using one pill a day, as I prefer to use the least amount of something necessary.  At first, it didn’t seem to do much.  I began to notice that recovery seemed a little smoother, though. I upped my dose to two pills randomly one day and ended up with my fastest pace to date (and since) on a run. I haven’t sat down and logged what work-outs I’ve used it on and what ones I haven’t so I can’t give a good baseline.  When I’m paying attention, I feel the most difference with recovery and end up still feeling pretty energized after my cooldown and stretching.  I believe that my longest run time was also done while using ShroomTech, which speaks to it’s help towards energy and endurance.

It could easily be said that I’m just improving my fitness and pace naturally, so I can’t attribute performance to ShroomTech yet.  That would be a fair statement to make and I definitely recognize that.  I also know the power of the placebo effect and there are some days when I specifically tell myself, “I’m taking this to get better results.”  Sometimes that works and sometimes not.  I don’t think that ShroomTech can totally take over and make your work-out amazing if you didn’t get proper rest or nutrition, etc.  I think that just like the Alpha Brain, it’s just going to give you a little edge.  I will take that.  I’ll also take all the great B12 in it. Ha! The website lists all the ingredients and will explain all about the cordyceps sinensis, the mushroom behind the “shroom” part.

While I don’t recommend ShroomTech Sport with the same confidence that I do Alpha Brain, I definitely say it’s worth a shot if you want to just get a little bit more out of whatever your work-out may be.

The next thing I plan to try is their New Mood formula. It’s got 5-HTP among other things to help balance your mood and also things to help you relax and get better rest.  It should be arriving in the next day or so and with holiday stress upon us all, I’m really interested to see if it helps me out.


EDITED 03.30.12: New Mood review is here.

In the Meantime…

This morning was my follow-up with the surgeon.  He took off my steri-strips, told me the incision and everything is looking good (though I personally think it looks kinda weird right now), and told me I have no restrictions.  He also said that the lightheaded feeling and a couple of other side effects may or may not be because of the anesthesia.  Some people are pretty sensitive to it, but that should go away. I also still have to play it safe, of course, and pay attention. For instance, I know because of the strain I feel at the main incision site that I have to be careful about lifting things.  And I still feel like I tire easily, but I think that will probably get better as I increase activity (lazy begets lazy) and still heal. Healing is tiring! My body is still probably looking for it’s gallbladder every now and then.

Today will be the third day this week that I’ve gone out walking.  I did a teeny tiny bit of jogging yesterday.  I mean teeny tiny and that was enough.  Hopefully today, I’ll get going a little bit more.  I am anxious to get my Couch-to-5k progress back on track. I know I still have a lot of work to do before I do the 5k in February.


So what would a beginning runner do with herself when she can’t train? Read.  Here’s what I’ve been getting into the past week and a half:

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Barefoot Running University :: specifically this

HuffPo Countdown to the NYC Marathon by Emily Faherty

Running with Your Cat, How Much Running Should I Do on Pavement?, Breaking All the Rules :: Runner’s World

Post-gallbladder surgery running discussion here.


Kitten-assisted reading.

The kitten loves a good running book.