Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for health

Labor Day Thanksgiving

Labor Day Weekend – it’s time to wrap up summer activity, watch the sun rise a little later and the sun set a little earlier, and firm up autumn schedules. But what about Labor Day? During my Saturday long run, I mused over its meaning. What is Labor Day beyond serving as imagesone of the anchors of our summer season?  Having worked in the labor force for some 40-odd years, I should have something worthwhile to say on the subject.

I am incredibly grateful for every job that I loved (those that were truly a labor of love) and just as grateful for those I didn’t love because there was always something to be learned. From car-hop to white collar, I think I did everything but retail. (Likely, I didn’t have that friendly,outgoing “may I help you” attitude retailers look for.) I had jobs that sounded important but weren’t, jobs that were important but didn’t sound so, jobs that sounded important and were.

I am also grateful for those sometimes-maligned regulations that gave me a safe workplace regardless of the position I held. Through changing careers and jobs, all that labor took place in a safe working environment.  Good for me, because my physical well-being was not compromised. I remain healthy enough as a retiree to go out and run, bike, hike, travel, volunteer, and take on some interesting challenges.

FFLMy running stream of conscience on that long stretch brought me to the conclusion that the time I take to consider where and how my running purchases are manufactured and the safety of the employees who make them is my small payback for the good fortune that was mine, to have a lifetime of workplace safety.

Yes, I’m one of those consumers who hit the “contact” button on the website and fire off a pleasant enough email making inquiries before I buy that ever-so-cute running skirt or the new headlamp.  I’ve learned a lot from the responses.


Sporting our AG awards, tie-dyed shades, with friend and AG contender Patti.

So after such musings on the Saturday long run, a Labor Day Run for the Flag 5K was for fun and good health, to be a small part of a fundraiser, enjoy the outdoors, some post-race watermelon, and time with running friends.

Wishing you a happy end to your Labor Day Weekend.  Enjoy that last summer picnic. I hope your work life, your running and your autumn are all fulfilling and healthy.

Preparing for the Comeback

Is a blog titled Still a Runner still apt? Following a two-month hiatus due to a ski mishap,  I’m cleared to swim and to exercise on a stationary bike.  It’s keeping me active, but it isn’t running.  So, I’m fiendishly plotting my anticipated restart to the running world and thus avoid renaming this blog.
What are the possibilities for a senior runner to return from several months off the roads and trails and become a better, smarter runner?   Is this the time – for the first time – to bring on a coach to successfully return this lapsed runner to the running world?

geriatric soccer

geriatric soccer (Photo credit: Dave McLean) And where do we find the geriatric coach for runners?

Do coaches exist who specialize in women in their sixties still thriving on a run on the trails, down the road, running distance as well as doing 800’s down the measured-off section of their local road?

Until I find that particular coach, I’m planning to begin my return to running by correcting some habits that may have hindered my running.  Those include excessive shoulder movement, poor running posture,

Star Wars - Darth Vader

and a Darth Vader-like breathing pattern when I run at tempo pace or faster.

Short of finding that geriatric coach (not necessarily a coach who is geriatric but a coach specializing in runners in the upper age ranges), I’m self diagnosing and treating with the following regimen:

Running Form (Particularly sideway body movement)  Sometimes when running in the morning, I have seen my shadow ahead of me.  Most noticeable is that while most of my body is reflected moving forward straight as an arrow, I see my shoulders bobbing from side to side.

To change the motion of that shadow, I’ve taken to a device to improve posture by holding the shoulders back.  If it works for horsewomen and elite runners, maybe it will work for me. I’m hoping by the time I’m running again my shoulders will have a memory change.

Steady shoulders

Working for still, relaxed shoulders

Without actually running, I’m also revisiting Chi Running.  I did a 1/2 day session with Danny Dryer a couple of years ago and found it really beneficial.  Like any training  component or correction, if I don’t remind myself regularly, it goes by the wayside. I’m reacquainting myself with body sensing and some of the body looseners so that I’m ready to incorporate them when I’m ready to get back on the road.

Breathing:  In a recent edition of Runner’s World, an article discussed the principles of rhythmic breathing espoused by Budd Coates and Claire Kowalchik.  I’ve been practicing this technique to coordinate my breath with foot candence while water running.  I’m hoping that work will translate into easier incorporation of their recommended breathing pattern to my footfalls when (not if) I’m cleared to run in the coming weeks. 

I’m open to suggestions to prepare myself for a successful return to running.  And,  if you should spot that illusive coach out there, send them my way.


Garmin signals ‘Wrap-up the Old’

Dear Garmin: The political, professional and personal end-of-year wrap-ups were overwhelming. Journalists, analysts and bloggers endlessly trolled through their 2012 calendars.  I became a bit of a curmudgeon with no intention of joining in the fray.

But you, Garmin, thought otherwise.

Garmin Forerunner 305

Garmin Forerunner 305 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 30, as I volunteered for a Resolution 5K we did an early course run to place mile markers.  Along with your beep to indicate the first mile, you sent a message that your database was full – please delete some data.  I ignored you.  Usually, I can squeeze in another 10 or 12 runs before you are actually full.

December 31 during speedwork, the delete data message returned.  I gave in.  This was your  timely and clear message to me to join in the year-end review.

What would the stored information locked in your casing reveal about 2012? Your data and my notes held the secrets of my personal bests and personal worsts, training breakthroughs, and training mistakes.   My added notes spoke to all the ways running enriched my life this year, with notes of friends and family support at the finish line, vacation runs, and solo explorations.  It’s all there in the log: travel, food, injuries, health, training with friends, and the new opportunities to learn and challenge myself that popped up sporadically.  All of this finds me one year older but a stronger runner, and hopefully wiser all around.  It’s there in tersely noted entries that accompany the numbers.

Thank you, Garmin. You have been my consistent companion through 2012, beeping on queue, tolerating the wind, rain, dust, heat and cold, traveling with me this year across two oceans, visiting three countries and accurately measuring 1,400 miles of running plus more in bike mileage.  I complain  when your battery is suddenly low a few miles into a run, when it is I who forgot to set up a recharge. You are forgiving and quickly show a “charge complete” when given the opportunity.

Then, on December 31 you send the message to delete this year, to clear the table for what is to come. Who am I to argue with the impeccable timing of such a steadfast piece of equipment?  After ensuring a copy of all notes and data are secured in my laptop, I hit the “delete all” button.

Garmin, you and me, here we come in 2013! I’m still running and you, amongst all my wonderful running buddies, are still my most frequent and reliable running partner (but don’t tell the others).

River Runners 13K run NY day 2013

River Runners 13K run New Year’s Day 2013

So, we’re off to a first run of the year with River Runners, a great group to be with any time of the year, but particularly on a cold and overcast January day.  They make every run a special event. 

Riverfront Park