Forest Runs (And What Comes Afterwards)

Last weekend, I had a wonderful long run with my beloved one (he had to stop about one kilometer earlier due to problems with his achilles tendon, which is really his, well, achilles heel; but nevertheless, we were happy that we could run for such a long time together, and he didn’t mind walking the last kilometer while I speeded up towards the finish 🙂

After this wonderful experience, we wanted to try again today, but we were out of luck when after about five hundred meters the pains in his tendon announced themselves. So unfortunately, I had to run alone 😦 I was not at the height of my form (maybe still a little exhausted from the double unit on Thursday), but picked up my courage despite the tough start. Temperatures are getting pretty low again by now (well, for my standards); my knees were cold and red, and next time I’ll certainly take my Capri pants! But I really love running in the forest. We now found a really nice trail which allows for much variation, with still many offside tracks to be explored and discovered. Whereas we had run 10k last Sunday, I was perfectly satisfied with seven today. One reason was that I was starving, not having had any breakfast except for two coffees in the sun. So the fact that my fiancé was almost finished showering already by the time I got home had a huge advantage: He was ready to get lunch for us! :9 For me, this meant a delicious Pizza Quattro Formaggi, generously drowned in cheese. I had been fantasizing about hearty and delicious molten cheese while on my way, and so the cheese pizza was the perfect lunch, which I enjoyed very much. Altogether, a great run! 🙂

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The End of Regatta Dreams

Our regatta boat was born under a bad star. We hardly had the chance to train together: One is suffering from bad backaches, another one doesn’t always have the time to train, and I also have lots to do at work, which impairs my training, too. But our boat was not the only one to suffer. I wrote about how the members of my old regatta boat excluded me without any notice; now, one of their members also suffers from backaches so bad that he won’t be able to row the regatta. Of course, I have pity on him personally and certainly do not wish any injuries to anyone; but I have to admit that I have gained back a little of my trust in a just world, where not everything is under your control.

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Rowing an Uncoxed Two

Rowing with just one more person has several advantages: You need much less time to set up your boat (which may take quite a while when there’s about twenty people waiting to be assigned to one of the four coxed fours), and you have only one person to adjust your speed to. Rowing with a diverse team makes this rather complicated: Some want to really exhaust themselves after a long day at work, others suffer from backache and would rather prefer as little strain as possible. In addition, there’s always the question who wants to be the cox. Usually, this is a job nobody wants to do; so usually, we change seats in the middle (which is quite an experience in itself).

With two people, things are a lot more pleasant, especially if your partner is someone who loves exercise 🙂 I rowed with a clubmate who is quite tall and who therefore appreciates my rather long stroke. Although we were only two, we did not need so much more time than the “old” regatta boat (okay, their age average is over 60) and had a really nice training session in our wooden gig boat! The clubmate I was with started rowing one year after me. Of course, his technique still needs some refinement (as does mine), but altogether, he is doing really well, especially because he has a strong stroke (which can compensate for minor technical shortcomings ;)). Surprisingly, I was much less handicapped from my morning run than I had thought I would. (The exhaustion came one day later, though …)

Altogether, our 9k thus went really well, and I think this was not the last time we rowed together! 🙂

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Morning Run

I rather exercise in the evening, but I’m getting the feeling that running in the morning might give you a good start into the day. When I get home in the evening after a long work day, I’m having a hard time pulling myself up to go for a run, despite my best intentions. (Rowing is something else—with all your clubmates waiting for you, there is no chance to procrastinate rowing ;))

Today, I benefited from the fact that almost everybody at work is enjoying their holidays, and that I am thus pretty free to work whenever I feel like it. (Which, according to my inner clock, happens to be from around noon to late evening/night time.) Usually, I get to work somewhat earlier, but today was different. I had actually scheduled a little run yesterday evening, but had only gotten home by 9:30 pm, starving, and had a (slightly too rich) dinner instead. I then had the best intentions to run in the early morning (and had even set my alarm clock to 6:30 am, which, admittedly, is a crazy time to get up). I had even slept in my running clothes to make it easier for me; but my body won by ignoring the alarm. So I got up by nine, slightly annoyed at myself for having overslept, and pondering about how I might better integrate my runs into my schedule.

This was when I broke out of the pattern—if there is pretty much no one at work, I have no appointments in the morning, and can do the things I have to do whenever and wherever I want, why shouldn’t I run in the late morning instead? And that’s what I did: a short 4.7k at the stadium (with a great number of students around, who were following their PE lessons more or less—rather less—enthusiastically). Because I’ll go rowing tonight and still have some work to do over the day, I didn’t want to make it too long, and the distance proved optimal. Even the sun came out 🙂

In other words, I spent a perfect morning by breaking out of my routines. And it was totally worth it.

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Why Walking Is Not a Shame

Monday was the hottest day since long. But nevertheless, I felt like running—I had recently discovered that we are quite close to the Midland Canal here and definitely wanted to see it!

It even looked like rain and thus a little cooling … but this was not the case. Instead, I ran the 4.1k to the canal courageously (along a freshly manured field, ugh). As it was a national holiday, there were quite a lot of people in and out of the water, who probably considered me a total nutcase. I didn’t even know that swimming was allowed there (but maybe it wasn’t ;)). At that stage, I really felt like diving into the cool water!

Anyway, I still had some mileage to do. And. Boy. It. Was. Hot. And moist. And pretty exhausting, so that I had to lie down under a tree. It was a good idea to take a break early—I really didn’t feel like dying from heatstroke far away from civilization 😉 But after a little relaxation, I felt much better already. Nevertheless, after another kilometer, I was really too exhausted to go on. So I walked home, and I guess that was a good decision.

  • Distance: 8.2k
  • Time: 1:15h including breaks and walking
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Running Between the Rains

It’s a rainy may. (I’m sure they said this before the deluge came, too.) So in case you want to run and not get totally wet: Be quick. Whenever the rain ceases, seize the opportunity!

That’s what I did today. It had been raining about all day, but after some mindwork I was definitely not able anymore to think straight. What better thing to do than go for a run? 🙂 So when the rain became a little less dense, it was time to get going. I ran across roads, trails, even through the forest without any trail for a little while (until my legs got so scratched and my speed so slow in thigh-high grass and thorns that I decided to get back to the road). And during the entire hour, there was not a single raindrop! (It was a little misty, but that was the only moisture there was in the air.)

Before the end, I added four speed intervals of about 20 seconds. I noticed that I don’t recover that quickly from them; but considering that this was my first out-of-the-comfort-zone training since a long time, that’s perfectly fine. Anyway, I find it surprising how fast you can still run after almost an hour!

Time: about 60 minutes

Distance: if Google is not mistaken (btw, I’d be happy about alternatives), 8.1 k

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Running Without Socks

… is something you should get used to slowly. Unfortunately there was no time for careful, long-term preparation when I noticed last weekend that I had no additional socks with me. Anyway, the sun was beautiful, and going for a run was way too seductive! 🙂

I might even have put on a pair of my fiancé’s regular socks, but because they are slightly too big, I usually get blisters when wearing them for running. As if that would have made a difference. Muahahahaha. Experience tells us that once you notice you are developing a blister, it is usually too late. (At least, that was what my experience was trying to tell me. But I, running and jumping carelessly in the beautiful spring sunshine like a new-born deer, I totally ignored it.) In addition, Murphy tells us that once you have developed a blister, it will tear open when you’re farthest away from home. Unfortunately, Murphy is always right. And if I say always, I mean ALWAYS.

The way back was a challenge for my zen indeed—luckily, it was a short run. But it’s funny—once you realize that you have to go home somehow even though your Achilles tendon is an open wound (or rather, both of your Achilles tendons are) and that no matter what you do, it won’t get any better, you are able to ignore the pain. So I just ran on, and it was almost enjoyable. After a while, you get into a trance-like state (at least I do) where it doesn’t hurt any more. So although the heelcaps of my running shoes looked as if something had died a violent death in there, I felt all right. And after disinfecting the wounds and putting some band-aids over them, no after-effects were to be noticed—I even did my next run two days later.

Nevertheless, kids, don’t try this at home. Get your feet used to running without socks if you tend to develop blisters. Or have at least enough band-aids handy 😉

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Back to Exercise

Summer is finally coming, and so blogging about exercise is fun again! 🙂 A brief overview over the last months:

  • I started a blog on art, style, and fashion.
  • I spent two months in the USA—and enjoyed it a lot!
  • While there, I cycled about 700k. Apparently, only Germans are crazy enough to bike in freezing conditions!
  • The icy temperatures were one reason why I did not have any chance to row. The Princeton Uni rowing team probably died laughing when they read my email in February asking them whether I could row with them, with about 20 cm of ice on Lake Carnegie 😉
  • Because cycling in the New Jersey hills was pretty much exercise enough, I only made one alibi run along Lake Carnegie (but admittedly a very nice one!).
  • While I was away, the rowing season began. By now, I have rowed twice (18k altogether), last Tuesday and the Thursday before that.
  • Also, I have made two runs since my return by the end of April—one in the Lübbecke area, where my fiancé is currently directing an open-air play, last Saturday, and another one today. The weather is amazingly beautiful!
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Kayak Slalom

One of the mysteries of racing boats I had not yet been able to solve practically was how on earth the thing is steered. I knew there was some pedal involved, but had imagined it rather to be like in a soaring plane. So Saturday was the day where I was to learn how it works! I was on the water with three club mates from the “old boat” (the 60+ regatta team), and because I was by far the youngest, they wanted me to steer the boat, which involves quite some neck twisting and turning!

The steering ropes were not adjusted too well, so the rudder was somewhat sluggish. You work it by moving the tip of your toe either to the left (like this, the boat moves towards the river bank to your left) or to the right (vice versa). What makes it a little complicated is that the rowing shoes installed in the boat are about size 48 (at least that’s how I feel it), while my feet are a mere 41! Because they are quite soft, it is difficult to exert enough pull on the ropes; but somehow we managed. My teammates were very patient with me when I kept asking them to row stronger on starboard or port to adjust for my serpentine course, or to stop so I could look behind me to see whether there were any ships or boats we had to circumnavigate.

I had ample opportunity to practice: A group of about 40 kayakers benefited from the lovely day and shared the river with us (yet without paying any attention to navigation rules), so we ended up slaloming around them. After a while, this was great fun—and great practice as well 🙂 Eventually, we even managed to land the boat in one piece (and without doing any harm to any kayaker or his/her boat). An interesting experience, after all.

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Running with People You Like

My boyfriend had a surgery on his leg—an inflammation of the tissue next to the shinbone, which had to be cut open and cleared of strange stuff that had accumulated in there (I’ll spare you the sinister details). On that occasion, I learned that such a wound cannot simply be sewed, but that is has to heal from the bottom up in order to avoid further inflammation. You can imagine that the healing process took REALLY long, and that he was certainly unable to run in the meantime.

But Saturday was finally the day! I had gone to the rowing club in the early afternoon to see if anyone was around, and I did a nice easy 9k training unit with the “old boat” (the oldest regatta boat, with an average age of 60++). So doing another training unit afterwards was not too tough, especially because we took it easy—it was his first training since weeks, so there is no need to exaggerate. All in all, we enjoyed a nice and slow 5k in beautiful weather, and it was a really good experience. I am very glad he is better again, and I am looking forward to many more nice autumn, winter, spring and summer runs with him 🙂


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