strength training

I’ve been thinking for some time about wanting to add both flexibility and strength to my weekly routine.  My initial motivation on flexibility was to help with my plantar fascitis.  While my feet are still sore in the morning, overall, I’ve been feeling pretty good.

As far as strength goes, I was a little bit at a loss.  When I was in college, I did strength training with the crew team, but those workouts primarily used machines for the legs, and also lasted an intense hour.  I want a workout that’s (a) specifically targeted towards running, or at least towards swim/bike/run (b) can be done from home (does not require machines) and (c) takes only about 15 minutes.

On my last run, yesterday, my knee was hurting a bit at the start, and eventually built up to significant discomfort / plain by the end of the twelves miles.  I primarily blame the fact that I ran a moderately hard 7 miles, then a hard 12 miles the next day.  Basically, I have a few workouts I want to do each week, and life factors sometimes mean that they don’t happen on the days they should.  Normally, you wouldn’t want to do two hard workouts two days in a row.  In any case, I obviously need to be smarter about that, but it led me to investigate the causes of runner’s knee.  Basically, lack of strength is the culprit behind many running injuries, and apparently the ability to pound out miles does not necessarily indicate strength.

Runner’s World suggests there are a number of exercises one can do to improve this situation, so I’ve devised a little strength training routine, which hopefully will only take in the neighborhood of 15 minutes.

  • 15 plyometric jump squats (See 3:16 of this video)
  • 11 pushups
  • 10 reverse lunge with knee drive (See 0:32 of this video)
  • 8 bicep curls
  • 10 standing knee drive (with resistance band) (See 2:20 of this video)
  • 10 standing hip flexion (with resistance band) (See 2:40 of this video)

(Repeat twice, for three total sets)

So, we’ll see how it goes.

On the plus side, I ran 12 miles on my own, 8 miles of it through rain, at sub-9 minute pace without feeling that bad.  Don’t get me wrong; I was definitely working, and I was definitely tired, but it wasn’t like a race or anything like that.  So I consider it a sign that I’m building some fitness.

aziz ansari and “babe”

I ran seven miles this morning, the last of which was mostly uphill.  However, the hardest twelve minutes of my day were definitely stretching.  Stretching is seriously no joke.  I’ve been diligently spending 12 minutes three times a week, so basically 30 minutes a week, stretching.  It’s become increasingly obvious how incredibly inflexible I am, a product of the fact that I do almost nothing that requires flexibility.  Running, biking and swimming don’t, and spending a significant portion of my day sitting at a desk obviously doesn’t help.  Anyway, I’ll be repeating the sit and reach test in two weeks, so I guess we’ll see if I’ve made any progress.

In other news, I’m very curious what people think of the article in babe about a woman’s unpleasant encounter with Aziz Ansari.  I should start by saying I don’t know much about Ansari.  I’ve never seen him in any shows.  I only know he did Parks and Recreation because I googled him.  I’m not into comedians, and I really don’t care about him in particular.

My take is that he sounds boorish and inept.  It sounds like a bad date.  But this woman allowed him to take her clothes off.  To use the age-old phrase, what did she expect?  If I go home with a man and allow him to take my clothes off basically immediately, I expect that he’s going to want to have sex.  That doesn’t mean he has a right to sex by any means, but it’s a bit unfair to be surprised by him wanting it.  She also gave and received oral sex on multiple occasions during their “date.”  If I were in her situation, I would leave, and I would be upset, and I would not go out with him again.  That’s basically what she did.  (The worst night of her life, though?)  But was what he did assault?  In my opinion, absolutely not.  Was it sexual misconduct?  That’s a bit of a new term, likely invented to address this very article.  I don’t really even think it was necessarily misconduct.

As a feminist, I don’t think a woman should ever be forced into sexual acts that she doesn’t want to participate in.  That means men (or woman) should not use their greater physical strength or other types of power they might possess, such as a position at work, to induce a woman into sexual acts she’s not interested in.  However, I feel that adult women are capable of expressing what they want and don’t want, and I don’t find it flattering or helpful to suggest that a man should have to repeated ask a women, Do you want this?  How about this?  And this?  I’m 100% comfortable with “no means no.”  I don’t think we need “yes means yes.”

From the article:

“I just remember looking in the mirror and seeing him behind me. He was very much caught up in the moment and I obviously very much wasn’t,” Grace said. “After he bent me over is when I stood up and said no, I don’t think I’m ready to do this, I really don’t think I’m going to do this. And he said, ‘How about we just chill, but this time with our clothes on?’”

If you keep reading, they do get dressed, and then he starts hitting on her again.  And then she leaves.

This editorial in the NYTimes summarizes my feelings pretty well.

I’ve read many women who are infuriated by Ansari’s behavior and consider it unambiguously sexual assault.  That is not my perception at all, and I’m curious if I’m an outlier or what.

Winter running gear

Winter is upon again, and that means cold, dark, rainy running.   Last Christmas, I wrote about winter running attire.  Honestly, at this point, I consider myself something of an expert on running in Seattle weather conditions at this point.


  • Sugoi Half Zip I love this top.  It’s got a nice little zip pocket that’s just big enough for my running gloves, a true half zip (not a quarter zip masquerading as a quarter zip), comes in bright colors, and has long sleeves with thumb holes.
  • Lululemon Swifly LS Tee  I finally hopped on the Lululemon swifly bandwagon.  Honestly, this one is not worth the full list price ($80!) but I do like that I can wear is just as easily to work as on a run.  It shows up in basically every wash cycle I do.
  • I still own and run in the shirts I mentioned a year ago, so they’re holding up well.


  • Nike Epic Lux Tights  I bought a pair of these (not in this pattern) after seeing my favorite runner wearing them on the cover of Runner’s World.  I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before, but the tights are great for weather around 40 degrees.  And I LOVE the pattern.
  • My Sugoi Mid-zero tights still get a ton of use.  I wish they’d sell them in some more colors.

Rain jackets / vests

  • Lululemon Like The Wind Vest  I was hesitant about buying this since it’s water resistant, not waterproof, but it has turned out to be a great buy (one sale).  I get a ton of use out of it on days when it’s in the low 40s and it’s raining lightly to moderately.  (We get A LOT of days like that.)  That’s too warm for a full jacket, and this vest if great.  I wore it for the Seattle Half, and it was a great choice that day, too.
  • Amphipod Xinglet Vest  Last winter, I tried running at work on the darkest days, or treadmilling it at the Y.  We had really lousy weather last winter, but it’s been a bit better this winter, so I’ve been out in the dark a lot more.  This really lightweight reflective vest is small but, according to my husband, really improves my visibility.


  • 12 in 1 Headband  This guy has proved surprisingly useful, and it makes me look slightly less ridiculous than my other running winter headbands.

The year in review: Books

According to Goodreads, I read 65 books this year.  I read 69 last year, so I’ve become pretty consistent now that the kids are a bit older.  I’ve loved reading since I was about 6 years old, and it’s just always been something that brings me happiness and peace.  Lately, I’ve really been enjoying trying to share this with L and B, and a few of the books this year were read to the girls, mostly L.

5 star books of 2017:

  • Chemistry by Weike Wang
  • When Breath Becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
  • Running With The Buffaloes Chris Lear (best running book ever)
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette? Maria Semple
  • Full Tilt Dervla Murphy

Honorable Mention:

  • Best Running Book: How Bad Do You Want It? Matt Fitzgerald
  • Other best running book: Running: A Love Story Jen A. Miller
  • Best beach read: Big Little Lies Liane Moriarty (I recommend the audio book)
  • Best memoir: Hillbilly Elegy  J.D. Vance (I liked this more than I expected)

Isla’s Books

The best ones:

  • Heidi Johanna Spyri
  • Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • James Herriot’s Treasury For Children James Herriot
  • On The Banks of Plum Creek Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • By The Shores of Silver Lake LIW
  • Little Town on the Prairie LIW
  • These Happy Golden Years LIW

I loved so many of these.  James Herriot was perfect for Bri with beautiful illustrations.  I adore The Secret Garden and Heidi (and they have quite similar stories in a way.  Isla just loves Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We’re currently working on the first of the sequels to The First Four Years.


  • Over Sea, Under Stone Susan Cooper
  • The Boxcar Children  Gertrude Warner
  • The Trumpet of the Swan  E.B.White
  • The Family Under The Bridge Natalie Carlson
  • Betsy-Tacy Maud Lovelace
  • Lots of Little House on the Prairie Books.  Like, really, lots.  Maybe the whole series?  I can’t remember when we started reading it for the third time.
  • The First Four Years LIW

best of 2017 in running

Since it seems all I blog about these days is running, it probably makes sense to do an end-of-year summary.

Best Race Experience

Cosmo Girl 7K, bar none.  I didn’t go into the race with any particular expectations, but I came in 2nd of about 500 runners.  That’s my best race performance, well, ever, I think.  It’s mostly because the race wasn’t particularly competitive, but it was kind of awesome running down the main drag in West Seattle with only one woman and the cycling guide in front of me.  It was also my second-fastest paced race of the year, at 7:11 mpm with a 22:07 5K in the middle.

Best New Piece of Running Gear

This is a hard one, but I think I have to go with my GPS watch.  I avoided getting a watch for the longest time, but I finally gave in and got a Garmin 735XT, and I have to admit that I love it.  I don’t really look at it much when I’m running, but I like having it beep at the mile markers.   What I really like is reviewing the data afterwards.  I’ve loved using Strava and sharing my runs with the rest of my family and a few friends.  I love that the watch has a wrist heart rate monitor.  It doesn’t always work, but it usually does.  In addition, I definitely recommend Strava to anyone looking for a little motivation.  My entire family is using Strava at this point, including both my parents, and it’s been great following along with each other’s workouts.

Best Inspiration

There are so many options here.  I enjoyed re-reading Running With the Buffaloes and listening to Running: A Love Story as an audiobook.   How Bad Do you Want It? was great the night before the Seattle Half Marathon.

I’ve also enjoyed following athletes on Letsrun and Instagram.  My long-time favorite runner is Jordan Hasay; she displaced Shalane Flanagan, my former favorite runner.  However, at the end of the day, it’s impossible to beat Shalane’s amazing run at the New York City marathon.  So awesome!

Best Race Picture

I suppose it’s fitting that the best race picture of the year was from the one race I didn’t really race but ran as a training run.  I look horrible when I’m racing (see the above picture) and going all out, but I liked this one.  That is not the look of someone going 100%!

Most Fun Race

I loved doing the Lake Meri.dian Triathlon with several of my co-workers.  My co-worker and I won the men’s and women’s 35 to 39 age group for the (very uncompetitive) super sprint tri, which was just so fun.   If I ever do another tri, though, I am definitely getting a BLACK tri top.

Toughest Race

OMG, my first ever multisport race was BRUTAL.  The pouring rain left me shaking with cold for literally hours afterwards, despite running the heater in my car full blast during the 40-minute drive home.  I’m surprised I ever did another du/tri after that!  I learned that sometimes it really does make sense to forfeit your race entry and just go home.  When the weather is moderately bad and you’re prepared for it, it feels good to soldier through the rain.  But this was driving rain and I was not dressed for it.  The picture below does not begin to capture the extent of my misery, mostly because the misery didn’t truly being until the bike part of the race.


Merry Christmas to all.  We’ve had two videochat sessions with the fam, one on Skype and one on Google Chat.  The latter was more successful but still somewhat unsatisfactory.  I’d really like to take better advantage of today’s technology to improve our video chat sessions, but I guess some research is required.

The top of my left foot continues to bother me, and it’s snowy outside, so I”m taking today off, and I’ll probably try swimming tomorrow.  It’s not bad, but I’d really like it to fully heal so I can dive back into training.  I’ve been feeling an uptick in anxiety lately, which I’m guessing is related to the holidays, though it’s hard to say, but I do wonder if it’s related to taking two weeks off, and post-race letdown.  Who the hell knows.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next year athletically, other than run.  To me, there are different area’s of fitness – cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility.  I made some inroads on strength last year by doing 5000 pushups.  It’s hard to say if and what that really accomplished, but I think it must have been good for me.  Right?

When I was younger, I could run fast, slow, whatever, and I never got injured in the slightest.  These days, it’s not that way anymore, and I think lack of stretching is a contributing factor.  I’ve spent a lot of hours stretching, in soccer, basketball, cross country, crew, and so on.  I always found it annoying and basically a waste of time.  But, maybe it’s not.  And even if it is, I find that I don’t like being ridiculously inflexible.  I have always been inflexible, but all that annoying stretching made me more flexible than I am now.  So I’m thinking next year, I’ll set a goal to do ten minutes of stretching at least three times per week, or something like that.  In addition, I’m going to continue what I’ve started over the last couple of months, stretching my calves while waiting for traffic lights.  (There is one nasty, long traffic light I run through twice on most of my runs.)  Wouldn’t it  be cool to actually be flexible?  I’m guessing I’d need more than 10 minutes three times a week to be actually flexible, but you have to start somewhere, right?