April 29, 2012

Growing Brains

Well...  I bet you didn't expect to find a new post from me.  Can't say that I did either, to be honest.  Life over the last year has been insanely busy, not always good, but certainly full of changes.  I all but gave up running for a while, not because I wanted to but because I felt like life demanded it.  Then a couple weeks ago the weather changed: it's been warmer, sunset is later, and I started going on runs.  Then running longer.  Only a few weeks later, I've barely restrained from throwing myself back into distance.

In case I even doubt the value of running in my life again, I ran across this article in the NY Times.  Not unsurprisingly, scientists have found that not only is exercise good for your health and body, it's good for your brain:
"... scientists in just the past few months have discovered that exercise appears to build a brain that resists physical shrinkage and enhance cognitive flexibility. Exercise, the latest neuroscience suggests, does more to bolster thinking than thinking does."
Exercise appears to have a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease.  It can prevent or improve health problems including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, depression and more.  It can improve your sex life (not just because you look sexier).  It can increase your life span.  Frankly, it's hard to find anything actually bad about exercising.*

So what are you waiting for?  It's a nice day to get moving!

*Too much, too fast and not listening to your body can result in injuries.  Always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen, diet or activity.

For the original scientific paper, it's available free on the web here.

Kohman RA, Rodriguez-Zas SL, Southey BR, Kelley KW, Dantzer R, et al. (2011) Voluntary Wheel Running Reverses Age-Induced Changes in Hippocampal Gene Expression. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22654. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022654

May 17, 2011

Joggling Life

Sorry for my recent absence.  And sadly, this is likely not the end of my dereliction of duty.  In the past week or so, I've:

  • Found an apartment in Seattle
  • Went home for my grandfather's funeral
  • Turned 30
  • Graduated from medical school
  • Entertained my family
  • Packed up all of my belongings

Tomorrow I hit the road for a couple weeks of family time and then head to Seattle from there.  These are exciting times but busy.  I've been squeezing runs into my schedule when & where I can.  Sometimes my "training" schedule is fairly haphazard but I definitely need those runs to maintain my sanity.  (Yesterday my mom practically pushed me out the door to run because I was getting grouchy.)  I'm beginning to think I should take up joggling in order to be able to squeeze more things into my schedule.

What happens when you get busy?  Do the runs get cut out or is that when the runs are a must have?

May 8, 2011

Cool Kids Run in Costume

On my recent flight I was catching up on the last few months of Runner's Worlds and came across a picture of a woman running in a Tinkerbell costume.  As you know, I'm a big fan of costumes at races.  I've run in them once or twice.  (Ok.  Maybe more than that.  At least 4 times.)  The exact picture I saw in RW isn't currently online - and since I'm out of town I can't scan it - but you'll get the gist from these pictures:

She's wearing a Tinkerbell inspired costume!!!  And she came in 1st place for women!  Talk about awesome.

But the funny thing is that when I saw her picture I thought she looked familiar.  Like I'd seen her before or something.  And then it dawned on me... She also won Little Rock.  And Tupelo.  Both of which I ran.  In fact, Spazz & I actually chatted with her in Little Rock at the post-race party.  And in Tupelo, after the race she changed into chaps, a hoster & water guns and was running her friends into the finish line.  My kind of gal.

May 7, 2011

Dreadmill Distraction

What I see when I look at a treadmill.
Living in New Orleans, I don't have to use the treadmill often.  When I do, it's typically not during the winter unlike most of the country.  And being an adamant hater of the dreadmill, I only resort to it under dire circumstances:

1.  Thunderstorms (I don't wanna die)
2.  Heat index >110°F/43°C (Still don't wanna die)

Yeah.  That's about it.  And #2 I can be flexible on.  The only other circumstance is MAYBE if I'm really in a time crunch and can't get a run in otherwise.

I've run in downpours, sweltering temperatures, snow storms (when visiting Cleveland)... anything to avoid feeling like a hamster on a wheel.

My brain on a treadmill
When I do get on a treadmill, my battle is to avoid the constant urge to quit.  The whole run I find myself staring at the "stop" button.  It's like there's a magnetic force pulling my attention to STOP.  I've tried music.  I've tried TV. I do best when I'm rocking to music and watching TV with closed caption.  It's the best I can do to max my brain out on distraction.  Unfortunately, it's hard to find TVs with CC which loses my attention rapidly.

TV distraction of choice at the gym:

  • News:  Yes, the Daily Show counts.  I'm a dork and enjoy watching the news.  Plus, they often have those scrolly things at the bottom so I can read if there's no closed caption.
  • Soccer:  I grew up playing soccer, so that's part of it.  The only part is... have you seen soccer players!?!?  Talk about distraction.  (And have I mentioned that Seattle has a MLS soccer team?  Talk about making it hard to focus at a new job!)

Thank you, Vanity Fair, for this lovely distraction.  Maybe I should post this over the stop button.
Might kill my desire to finish early...

What are your thoughts about the treadmill?  Necessary evil or just evil?  What kind of distractions do you use?

May 6, 2011

Over the Hill

In June I'm moving from New Orleans to Seattle.  Among the many differences between the two cities, there is a significant different in the elevation.  New Orleans is flat.  Really, really flat.  The elevation range here is only -6.5 to 20 ft.  (I'm pretty sure most of the city only ranges -6 to +10 or so, and the levees are skewing the number listed above.)  As a runner, I've become accustomed to thinking of speed bumps as hills.

Seattle, on the other hand, is FULL of hills.  In fact, neighborhoods are known for their hills and directions often come in the form of the relationship to hills.  As in, "yeah, it's just on the other side of Queen Anne Hill" rather than "it's West of here."  Tuesday I walked over 11 miles in the process of apartment hunting.

Holy mother of all that is painful!

My legs hurt WAY more today than they did after the Country Music Marathon 1 week ago.  I woke up this morning and wondered if I'd been sledgehammered in my sleep.  This is going to take some getting used to.  But I won't let the hills beat me.  In the next couple months, I want to start eating hills for breakfast, chewing them up and spitting them out.

Did you ever have to adjust to hills?  How long did it take you?