Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two things that have helped my running game - Cliff Shot and Second Sole

I've said it many times, but it's worth repeating again. I'm not meant/built to be a runner, but I'm also not a quitter. I set out on a goal last year to complete a half-marathon, and even if I die trying/training, it will be worth it.

Maybe that's a bit too melodramatic. I want to run well, so I'm trying everything I can think of to make long runs easier. This past weekend I stopped by my local Second Sole and picked up a new pair of kicks. My right knee had been hurting, and although I'd been wearing a brace, that didn't seem to help all that much. When in doubt, it's always a good idea to buy new shoes. And as the salesperson showed me, I really needed them. So after trying on and running in a few different kinds of shoes (the second best perk about shopping at Second Sole - they let you give shoes a test run, literally in the parking lot - the first perk is that the salespeople are actually knowledgeable, unlike the underpaid, unhelpful folks at most sporting goods stores), I settled on some neon yellow Adidas shoes. (yellow = my least favorite color) When I set out on my 6.25 mile run on Sunday, I hoped for the best...and was pleased with my new shoes. This was my longest run to date - and it was pain free! Well, pain free except the normal body-fatigue-I-think-I'm-going-to-die feeling. But that was even minimized, thanks in part to to Cliff Shot, an all natural energy gel.

I'm almost embarrassed to say that I tried an energy gel. Typically I envision 99 pound marathon runners downing them at mile 20. But the packaging said that you should take one, 100 calorie energy shot for every 45 minutes of activity. Since it takes me longer than 45 minutes to run 6 miles, I figured it couldn't hurt. Especially since it was more natural than other running performance enhancers I've seen.

Before heading out the door for my run, I sniped open the package and took a sniff. I'd purchased the vanilla flavor and it smelled vanilla-y. It was orange in color, so that sort of threw me off. I can't say that I'd ever eaten any sort of gel before (since gel normally equals gelatin), so the gooey texture in my mouth was a little strange. I can see why the package tells you to follow the shot with water. I might have had the gel in my moth for an eternity, otherwise. The taste was pretty good. The closest thing I can compare it to is cereal milk - like the milk that's left over in a bowl of cheerios. And maybe it was all in my head, but I think the gel helped. I didn't get nearly as fatigued as normal, and even at the end of my run I felt like I could keep going. Maybe it was the combination of being pain free, excited about my new shoes, and the gel, but I definitely had a stronger run than normal. I'm going to try another gel pack on my next running excursion and see if I have the same results.

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