Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mixing things up

Are group fun runs fun?
I've always enjoyed running by myself because it's the perfect time to zone out and listen to my random collection of music.  I can change my velocity and course at will, and I don't have to worry about anyone else's pacing or comfort.  No schedules, no rhyme or reason, no explanation needed.  As I've mentioned before, too, I was looking at training alone for the marathon this fall, versus with a training group.

However, after hearing so many suggestions that training with other people is supremely fun, I thought I would mix up my usual practice.  I did a google search for group runs in Chicago and found The Scout Running Club.  It's a free organization that meets in Chicago's South Loop on Tuesday nights for 5K fun runs.  You get a free technical t-shirt after doing 10 runs with them.  They also have free food every week, plus they hold drawings for free race registrations.
Sounds like fun to me!  I definitely want to go check out the festivities in the near future.  Hopefully next Tuesday!

Mixing up your workout regimen with cross-training is a great concept.  It alleviates boredom and works different muscles, which in turn reduces the risk of overuse injury. 
My cross-training activity of choice is yoga, followed by the bike.  If I had convenient access to a swimming pool, swimming would be on the list, too.  But I really do enjoy my yoga workout days and I've learned the hard way how important it is to keep your muscles stretched out.  I try to do yoga at least twice a week and  to stay consistent with it.

It seems like a lot of people like the elliptical machine.  I'm not as big of a fan because I get bored on it very quickly.  Plus, I actually think that the motions are too similar to running.  I feel that cross training efforts are maximized by doing things that are very different than your base activities.  But I suppose if you are battling a running injury and want to keep your runner's conditioning, that the elliptical would seem to be one of the best ways to do so.

I am developing a new theory that the concept of cross-training applies beyond actual exercise activities.  I think it works with things like your shoes, too. 

I have multiple pairs of running shoes, and lately I've been trying to focus my mileage on a single pair of running shoes.  That way I can replace that pair sooner and refresh the inventory, rather than having several pairs of half-used shoes sitting in my closet for months on end. 

Now, maybe it's just my imagination, but I feel like I develop certain quirky aches if I wear a single pair of running shoes too many times in a row.  When I switch running shoes, it seems like those quirky aches go away.  So for me it unscientifically seems like it's healthier to mix up your running shoe routine with occasional cross-shoe activities.  I wonder if it has to do with foot-strike mechanics that are specific to each shoe's design?

DJ Em Is Mixing It Up
It seems like it's a frequent battle to find ways to stay motivated and get yourself out there.  In line with our theme for the day, what often works for me is mixing anything up that I can.  For example, trying new workouts, routes, clothing combinations, and pre- or post-workout food or drink.

One recent way I've been diversifying things is to refresh what I listen to on my MP3 player.  Ever since figuring out how to convert YouTube videos into MP3 format (yay, YouTube Downloader software!), I've been keeping an ongoing list of songs that I want to add to my playlist.  Yesterday I knocked a bunch off the list by obtaining a whole slew of 80s music.
I'm so excited to listen to the new music additions!  But, I am trying to wait until I go for my next run to do so.  Instant motivation right there!

On a final and unrelated note regarding mixing things up, did you notice the Rubix cube in the picture?  Growing up, I could never figure out how solve my hopelessly scrambled Rubix Cube.  Therefore, I would just do the next best thing and peel off/rearrange the stickers...


  1. Running with a group has really provided a nice boost for me. I can't say enough how much I enjoy it! The group fun run you mentioned sounds pretty cool. Do it!

    I think "they" say you are supposed to mix up your shoes. I feel like I should, but I don't. Probably because I usually wait to long to get new shoes, so my old ones are no good.*

    1. That's awesome that you've had such a great boost from running with a group! I know you train with a group and it sounds like the group is very supportive, too!

      I hear you, it can definitely be a process to get new shoes because they can be so expensive and they require a "commitment," so to speak.

      Happy spring break to you, by the way - enjoy the time off and don't think about work at all!!!!!!

  2. That Scout Running Club sounds really cool! I should tell my friend to check them out - she is moving in to Greektown.

    I do use multiple pair of shoes at once. So I have a pair now with 60 on it, and a pair with over 200. I actually track it on my blog, because I think I get less injuries when I don't wear the shoes down so quickly then go to a new pair. That is probably all in my head though!

    1. Yes, please tell your friend to check out the Scout Running Club! Also - I live in the West Loop right by Greektown, too. So if your friend would like a neighborhood buddy, please feel free to give her my contact info!

      Very cool that you track the mileage on your shoes on your blog, that was how I first saw that we both wear Asics Gel Cumulus shoes. =) I use an online Runners World training log to track my shoe mileage and I find it motivating to see the increases over time! You too?