Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
shadows of echoes of memories of songs
Running joke
Last Saturday I bought running shoes. Today I actually got as far as using them (some extra motivation being generated, as I'd hoped, by the guilt of having spent money on them).

I think the last time I deliberately put something resembling sports shoes on and tried actually moving faster than a walking pace was in about 1993, and when I say "deliberately" there I mean "under duress". I had got my mum to write me a note saying I couldn't play any rough sports because I was taking my Grade 8 piano exam (true) and didn't want to risk damaging my hands (also true); my games teachers, having slightly more wit than I had given them credit for, said they quite understood and therefore I'd just have to run round the track on my own instead of playing tennis. (After that point I got better and better at getting out of games: rearranging music lessons to clash, being ill, wasting time, forgetting kit, generally fannying around, or -- once unavoidably on the pitch/track/field -- just doing the P.E. equivalent of "being the only one in a group of people moving a heavy object who isn't actually bearing any of the load". But that's another story.)

The last time I remember running The Mile (always in capital letters, dreaded impossible distance) I managed it in about 10 minutes, by which time most people had already finished, and I thought I was going to die of exhaustion and out-of-breathness. (I didn't.) Part of the problem was that instead of being a run along roads or countryside which might have been marginally interesting or given some impression of progress, it was just stumbling around the lanes of the track, lap after lap, while Miss Benney and Miss Pearson shouted (they may even have intended it to be some kind of encouragement) from the sidelines. So after only one lap you were already a) knackered, and b) bored witless, and it was downhill from there. Not downhill in a "gentle coasting downwards on a bicycle with the wind in your hair and no danger of any traffic or potholes or rain" kind of way, of course; downhill in an "oh god" kind of way.

I can't actually remember how many laps made a mile. I also have only the haziest idea of what "a mile" looks like on the ground or on a map, let alone whether I can "run a mile" (except when confronted by crocodiles, stalkers, thongs, crap web design, etc). So I decided to forget all about school running and Miss Pearson's minimal expectations of my sporting competence, & I just picked a route that looked like it might not be too impossible and figured that if it got too bad I could just stop.

If the Google Maps thing worked, you should be able to see my route here. (I didn't in fact have to ford the river twice, or swim; there are a couple of bridges that aren't marked on Google Maps.) I stopped when I got to one of the bridges (map-and-a-bit-of-string reckons I'd done 1500m by that point) and stretched my legs a bit and went "ooof" and looked at the river, and then ran on to Botley Road, and then there were loads of people in the way and I ended up just walking from Ferry Hinksey Road to the Seacourt Park & Ride, and then ran the last little bit. All of which took just under half an hour.

My thighs ache a lot. I am trying to keep them moving and stretching (oh do behave). I also discovered the other problem with running, or rather two other problems, which probably need propping up in some way or other, ahem. But I didn't feel like I was going to die (and have also subsequently not died yet, which is doubly reassuring). And I didn't feel too embarrassed, at least not as embarrassed as I'll feel when I have to go and ask the orange-faced ladies in M&S about sports bras. (I mean, honestly, you'd think I might have got over being a character in a Judy Blume novel by the age of nearly 30, but, ugh.)

I still reckon going clubbing is better exercise though. Anyone for indie disco?
Read 24 | Write
julietk From: julietk Date: November 10th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have found bike shops better for sports bras, though YMMV etc.

These days I physically can't run (wrecks knees & shins), which is kind of depressing. Not that I was ever very good at it.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeek. The idea of buying a bra in a bike shop is even more scary -- hairy-faced men instead of orange-faced ladies! Also with the not knowing what size I actually am, I doubt if bike shops have much in the way of breast-measuring whatnots or even changing rooms.

Though I am now thinking of reflective lycra bras and giggling at the image.

I confess I am kind of worried about the knee-wrecking aspect of running since it seems like everybody I know who has ever done any running now has terminally buggered knees. :-(
julietk From: julietk Date: November 10th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
You may be right re changing rooms: the bike shop I have in my head at this point is On Your Bike which *does* but it is in London Bridge not Oxford so of limited use for you :-)

To be fair, I didn't bugger my knees by running, I did it through tae kwon-do (well, & the fact that they started off a bit buggered in the "born with it" sense). And then a repeat bout through too much DIY. (A lesson to us all, there.) I gather the best advice is: wear decent trainers, replace them sufficiently often, & run on grass/earth wherever possible rather than pavement (far fewer shocks through the knees).
katstevens From: katstevens Date: November 11th, 2007 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)
My knees are indeed terminally buggered (as in, running for a bus is my absolute limit) but it's a genetic thing - my knees are too bendy (hyper-extension) and 6 years of high-intensity breastroke did this no good at all, stretching or no.

I used to like cross-country running because I had bucketloads of stamina from swimming, and usually won school races (around the bottom of Hillingdon dry ski slope) by default as everyone else stopped after ten minutes when they got a stitch, and I kept going LIKE A MENTAL. We did the odd bit of running for our swimming training, and I was always last as everyone else was just as fit as I was.

Anyway, this means I have 0 advice regarding trainers or bras. I would definitely recommend a stretching routine though, before and after any sort of exercise you do.
From: kjaneway Date: November 10th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hell, the one and only time they made me run a mile at school, it took me the entire PE lesson, i.e. >30mins.

I did try and point out that I'd be done faster if I walked, but the sadistic bitches insisted I keep 'running', a movement that, for me, was only slightly faster than crawling over broken glass.

As for sports bras, as a well endowed woman, doing a medium bounce inducing sport (fencing), I can highly recommend the Shock Absorber (http://www.shockabsorber.co.uk/uk/) ones. (I got mine in Debenhams.)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
PE teachers -- ugh. I mean I am kind of grateful that they made me get some exercise because otherwise I would have just sat on my arse the whole time, but they didn't have to enjoy it so much, did they.

Shock Absorber -- thanks for the recommendation, will look out for them! I am hopeless with bras though, hate getting measured by crazy ladies, ugh. I sometimes wish I'd just bound the damn things flat when I was a teenager (and then dressed as a boy and run away to find my fortune).

Argh, the Shock Absorbers website says that if your breasts have already gone saggy then there's nothing you can do about it EVER! :-( :-( I suppose they are saying that from a "trying to sell sports bras" point of view, but, mrrrhh. :-/
julietk From: julietk Date: November 10th, 2007 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Isn't there a Debenhams in Oxford? They do the not-actual-measuring thing, where you try a bra on & they look & say why it doesn't fit & suggest a better size (repeat until fits). Major advantage: no one waving a tape measure around your norks, although you do still have to stand around in your bra in front of them, albeit briefly. This is also apparently more accurate than the measuring tape calculations.

(I do it myself now: band should be level all the way round & pretty tight; underwire if existent flat against ribcage all the way round each boob; nothing sticking out. The hit rate is still about 3 or 4 that I get on with out of 10 or 12 tried on, but at least the ones I get on with do *actually fit* which is a novelty.)
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: November 10th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could always get your sports bra online, eg figleaves.com

scuse me while i go for a little lie down now.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I could get them online but I don't know what size I am, lots of different measurements from different crazy ladies, and especially trying a new brand/style I'm unlikely to be able to guess the size.

And if the thought of saggy joggers' breasts makes you need a lie down then I think you should get out more!! Get up earlier and watch fit joggers, I reckon, e.g. all those hott boatie babes, rather than ungainly lumps like me who don't get up till after 10:30. :-)
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: November 10th, 2007 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know what size I am

Make a trip to Rigby & Peller, then. I dunno if they sell sports bras, but they'll have something you'll like.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
ARGH NOT RIGBY COCKING PELLER. Is this the Ladies' Loos or something? I thought I was at least safe from men telling me that there was only one sodding bra shop in the universe, but apparently not.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: November 10th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
But seriously, they're good: they'll tell you what size you _really_ are.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you really telling me that these guys are the only people in the universe with the power of boob-measuring? And it's just some kind of coincidence that they also have the power to sell you the only bra in the universe guaranteed to be your actual size, and it's some kind of super-extra-coincidence that they cost like a million pounds each, because that's the price of their super-secret Science Of Norks?

(How do you know anyway? You spend 200 quid on underwear for her, of course she's going to tell you it's the best underwear shop in the world.)

Anyway, if it's true that they're the only people in the world who can do it, then fine, but in that case I'm not supporting fucking closed-source bra-sizing. I'm going to reengineer the Rigby and Peller method from scratch. It will take a hell of a lot of research but I think I'm the woman for the job OH YES.
atommickbrane From: atommickbrane Date: November 10th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hahaha hello Janet I love you so much can I have your babies. LOOK you should probably get measured for a sports bra esp if you TOTALLY have no idea of your size but M&S is fine yanno. My favourite sports bras are actually M&S brand non-underwired ones for high impact - they are v good and most importantly come in BLACK - white bras just get grey in the wash instantly and sports bras NEED washing each week (or at least if you actually exercise in them). THey're about £15 I think.

I'm running outside now, I like it! Very different to running on treadmill. Am a bit concerned though because I don't end up pushing myself fast enough as I can't set myself a challenging speed and just end up pootling along and not getting results. AND there's not much fun to have running round south bermondsey estates! might go to peckham rye for a run tomorrow if my HEAD CAN STOP HURTING and every part of me will stop aching and my throat can swallow sans pain etc etc.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: November 10th, 2007 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well I did think of going into the woman-measuring business myself, once I knew how awful it was for you all, but there was a mysterious lack of women queuing up to have me measure their bits.
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: November 10th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
This tends not to help much because bras from different manufacturers vary so much. Even bras from the same manufacturer in different styles vary in size. The only way I can make sure I'm buying a bra that fits is to try it on:-(
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

(Oh but that's okay because R&P can sell you exactly the right size of their own bras, the ones they get oodles of money for, and why would anybody want to wear any other kind of bra anyway?)
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: November 11th, 2007 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
If you think you might be a smaller back/larger cup size you could try Bravissimo. I thought I was a bigger back/smaller cup until I went to Rigby and Peller for my wedding undergarments and they sold me a bra from a different manufacturer, not their own brand and that size has fit me ever since, but Bravissimo would have done the same. They also have a sports bra that even keeps ME from flopping about painfully. M&S hadn't got my size right before, ever.

R&P aren't the only bra shop in the world. You are right.
lnr From: lnr Date: November 10th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mike goes out for a run now and then. Instead of going a long way he just goes out round the block as fast as he can. OK, so it's quite a big block, or at least I assume it must be, since it takes him about 10 minutes.

I tried kinda jogging a bit on my (1 mile) walk home from work the other week. I managed 2 stretches of about 50 yards each and walked the rest. I am teh rubbish at running.

Good luck on finding a sports bra you get on with!
uon From: uon Date: November 10th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
So I decided to forget all about school running and Miss Pearson's minimal expectations of my sporting competence, & I just picked a route that looked like it might not be too impossible and figured that if it got too bad I could just stop.

Hurrah! That was the way I managed to get into the habit of running: forget the invisible PE teacher in your head, deliberately avoid working out how far you've run or how long it took, just pick a direction and go.

I used to go running for two main reasons: one was mental health, the other was to maintain fitness levels for going clubbing..

(I say "used to" because cycling has pretty much replaced running for me, due to lack of decent places nearby to go running, Juliet dragging me out on crazy Audaxes, and the fact that cycling to my workplace is a lot more pleasant than running would be.)
arnhem From: arnhem Date: November 10th, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Current recommendation seems to be "a couple of hundred miles" before replacing trainers. I've pushed some to >3000 miles, but it probably wasn't a good idea.

My suspicion, which I can't prove, is that knee-buggering comes about indirectly from failure to adequately stretch and warm-up/down.

The theory is that when you run (and indeed do other exercise), you do a little bit of damage to the muscles, which turns into "knots" (which are little regions where the muscle fibres knit together more tightly than normal). If you warm down sensibly, and do stretches, this tends to sort the knots out. They also go away over time, if you don't do more running for a while.

If you don't do something about them, and do go running soon after, the knots, being bits where the muscle is pulled together more than normal, cause the bits of muscle on each side of them to be stretched more than is ideal; this makes them more susceptible to damage. Eventually, your muscles get more and more knotted, and shorter and shorter, and at that point you start putting interesting stresses on the tendons at each end.

Worse than that, the knees, particularly, seem to be vulnerable to this happening asymmetrically - if one side of the upper or lower leg gets knotted and stretched more than the other side, it starts putting an interestingly skewed set of stresses on the knee, and then you're in all sorts of trouble.

The solution is to do some gentle stretches after your run (and optionally, do some thorough calf massage [*]). Useful stretches are:

1) sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you; do as many of the following as you can, gently: grab your toes; while doing that, push the backs of your knees down onto the floor; while doing that, lift your feet up by the toes or rock your feet from side to side. You should feel this stretching the calf muscles, the backs of the thighs, and (possibly) the lower back and backs-of-shoulders. Be careful not to wrench anything suddenly.

2) stand on one leg, tuck your other foot up behind you, grab hold of it and pull; rotate your leg around about your hip (so the foot is still behind you, your knee still lowest, but your leg faces in different directions). You should feel this stretching the fronts of the thighs, the outside of the hip, and possibly the shins.

3) do half of the splits; crouch on one leg (knee pointing forwards) and stretch the other one out sideways; try and squat down as low as possible while keeping the stretched leg straight. Try this with the foot pointing up, and with the foot pointing out. Rotate the knee of the other leg outwards so as to increase the stretching. Repeat on the other side. You should feel this stretching the inner thighs.

4) put one foot up on a table (at hip height), with the toes pointing up. Grab hold of the toes, try to get the knee as low as possible (ie the leg as straight as possible) and bend forwards to try to touch your knee with your forehead. This stretches most of the same bits as 1) .

The problem of course, is that when you've just knackered yourself running, there's quite large bits of your brain going "naaaah, what you want to do now is collapse in a heap"; but a few minutes of this can make the difference between walking and hobbling downstairs the next morning.

My co-workers are amazingly tolerant of me when I get back from lunch-time runs ...


[*] an option for new-age vets, presumably.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 10th, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! This is all really really useful stuff. Thank you.

I did sort of feel that keeping muscles moving was the right thing to do afterwards to stop them going stiff (& they are still achey now but not all seized up) so it's good to know that's not just folk wisdom. :-) And it's really good to have a better idea of what sort of stretches would be useful for which muscles.

Lunch-time runs was what I was sort of thinking of doing when I originally had the idea about running, but that would mean comments from cow-orkers, and given that $officemate used to be a Serious Runner (until he, um, buggered his knees...) and $boss has started running too I feel a bit embarrassed about doing it (combination of "they do it better than me" and "they'll think I'm just copying"). :-}

Anyway thank you again!
hairyears From: hairyears Date: November 11th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Serious runners who bugger their knees do so by having bad shoes and bad gait - one or both of which can be cured by professional training... But who's serious enough about being a serious runner to get coaching?


Let's just say that warming-up is essential. And bashing along and jarring your knees is A Bad Thing. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn't be able to hear your own footfalls - not, at least, as impacts: aim for a sort of rolling engagement with the ground, rather than hitting it with a terrible crash.

You may look rather silly doing this at first. You will also, at first, have a rather inefficient gait. But your aim was to go out and exercise, not to win races, and your gait will improve over time. Coaching will speed up the process, but it's only essential if you find it always hurts and you're constantly working against injuries.

As for pace... Every runner has a 'right' pace - a speed that you naturally settle down to, and can sustain over a distance of a couple of miles. At the beginning, this pace will be faster than your level of fitness permits: this is frustrating and it means that your first month of regular running will be hard work. Suffering, even. Walk a bit, run a bit, look for the mix of the two that's easy and stretch it a little bit every day: soon you will be running continuously and think nothing of it. Stop and do gentle stretches when you can't run - you might clear the lactate and the tension more thoroughly, making the rest of the run a lot easier. Plus, it doesn't look quite as much like wimping-out and being unfit - although you should do this as often as possible, because the uber-fit running fundamentalists need someone to feel superior to, otherwise they'll get no pleasure from their run.

In time, you will find a pace - a place - where you stop forcing yourself, and relax, and find that you are running effortlessly, naturally, every breath and every step a work of poetry, mind and body in unison and the ground rolling away beneath you.

All this, and you'll have time to keep up and appreciate some of the hot rower babes close up, because you'll be able to keep up.

From: rmc28 Date: November 11th, 2007 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
When I had to get maternity bras in a hurry, the M&S fitter was younger than me and not very helpful. The motherly lady in Robert Sayle was much better and I liked those bras better until the boobs got even huger...

So, if you have a John Lewis, maybe try them instead.
Read 24 | Write