Random running factoids

I’ve discovered if I just start every day in my running clothes, I’m much more likely to run. I almost always start my runs with a mile on a ditch bank alongside a farmer’s field near our house.  Then I either turn around and head back home for a total of 2 miles, or I go around the (country) block which is a run of 3.6 miles.



On Monday I headed out with zero enthusiasm.  My legs felt tired before I started, and I fully intended only a slow 2-miler.  But the morning was beautifully cool and a quarter mile into the run I realized I wasn’t as tired as I thought.  I ended up doing the nicest 3.6 miles that I’ve ever done.  It felt easy and fun.  I was so glad I’d gotten out there.  The success of that run made the whole day feel better.


I’ve maintained a 20-lb weight loss for nearly a year and a half now, so that feels really good.  One thing that’s discouraging though (and yes, I know, this is total vanity):  after nearly two years of running, I still don’t have ‘runner’s legs.’  The muscles ARE there, but they’re … ahem…padded. Bah.

If I really want that particular running ‘trophy’, I probably need to lose a minimum of 10 more pounds, which would put me smack in the middle of normal weight for my height instead of at the top edge of normal.  I could do it if I gave up bedtime snacks.  Boo.  I don’t wanna.  But every time I have a snack at bedtime these days, I consciously think, ‘this is why I don’t have runner’s legs yet.’  The first step is awareness, right?

A step in the right direction would be to only snack half the time.  And maybe up my miles gradually if I can do it without getting injured.  I’ve been feeling really good lately, and am running 10-12 miles most weeks.  If I ran more like 15-18 a week, PLUS cut out three 300-calorie snacks, that’d equal half a pound of weight loss a week.  That 10 pounds could be gone by Christmas. Hm.


One thing about running out in the country is that there are always random dogs.  I pretty much know the dogs on my route– which ones just sleep under the pickup trucks, which ones sound mean but are well fenced, which ones have owners who yell at them if they get obnoxious, and which ones leave you alone as long as you’re on the opposite side of the road.  But then there are the random ones the scare the liver out of you.

One came roaring out at me the other day from a place where I’d never seen a loose dog.  He was big and he had that angry stiffness to his body that means business.  I veered across the road and he came out from the yard and followed.  I ended up having to directly face him, arms up, yelling in my biggest voice.  Finally he stopped and I ran on, backwards for a few seconds, arms still up, still watching him as I got some distance, seconds later realizing my legs were feeling like jelly from the adrenaline rush.

John has taken to running with mace and he’d been telling me to bring it when I run too.  I’d been resisting because I didn’t really want to think about weapons.  But after that dog scared me good, I’ve taken his advice.  I have to admit the added protection makes me feel better, and not only in relation to dogs.  I run on quiet roads, and it doesn’t hurt to know I’ve got a defense if someone gets a bad idea.


Before I started running two years ago, my blood pressure usually ran somewhere around 128/78.  Not bad, but recent recommendations suggest that it really is better if your diastolic pressure (the lower number) is further below 80.  This morning I had my blood pressure checked, and it was 98/60, with a resting heart rate of 68.  My resting heart rate in the past was always 80 or more.  So those numbers are way better. I really feel good about what running has done for my health. It’s been great to discover strengths that I didn’t know I had.

What about you?  What motivates you to keep going with an exercise program?  To get out there and move even when you don’t feel like doing it?



  1. Hi! I’ve been following your very awesome blog for about 2 years now. Interesting when I read this one I had just came back from my run. If you want to get the ‘running legs’ maybe try some more muscle intensive activities like biking and if there are hills in your area biking the hills. I grew up in a very hilly city and I biked everywhere. Another thing might be running with weights around your ankles.

    • Thanks for the tips. Just the other day I did about 10 minutes of stairs and had sore calves the next day so maybe more along those lines would help. I think in general my cardio system complains before my legs quit, so maybe getting my cardio stronger would allow me to also push my legs a bit more.

      • Jessica says:

        Hi Mary, you could incorporate some intervals into your running, either timed or over distance. For example, start jogging, then go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, jog for 2 minutes to recover, another hard 30 seconds, etc. With regards to distance, you could sprint hard to the next mail box / big tree / street light etc, then jog to recover. If you choose to do timings there is a nifty little gizmo called the Gymboss that you can set to beep at certain times and you can clip it to your waistband. Intervals are fantastic for fat buring AND cardio strength!

  2. I’ve been walking all summer with no weight loss. As it gets hotter, continuing on is becoming discouraging. So on those mornings when I’d rather reach for the covers, I meditate on 1 Cor. 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” My job is to get out and move. I’ll just have to leave the results to Him!

  3. I am loving all your running posts. I started running in march and am loving it. I have had to take the past two weeks off becaue I injured my leg (from not doing my normal 5 min stretch walk) and it is killing me not to run. But I am taking it slow so I can repair any damage.I have been running about 12 miles a week. Now I am just cross training. The biggest motivator for me is the weight loss and the way my body looks. I have lost 77 pounds and so many inches. Last month I lost 35 inches off my body. I am amazed. I haven’t been this small in forever. And I totally agree about the late night snacks…I used to eat popcorn most nights and now I never do. My doctor says you should wake up hungry…and I never do when I ate late. Maybe keep it to one or two nights a week…so you don’t feel deprived. Great job on all your accomplishments!!! You are such a role model!!

  4. Routine keeps me motivated. I go out there and exercise because that’s what I have been doing for the last two and a half years. Also, I have strong motivation to keep off the 15 pounds I lost 2+ years ago. I get myself in high gear every summer by running a longer race where I need to train hard.

  5. Glori B. says:

    Very happy for you, Mary, and glad your health is even better than before. I’m not at a place in life where exercising fits very well, but I certainly look forward to it. I especially look forward to less padding!

  6. I have an exercise buddy. Does the trick for me! We meet 3-4 times a week. Without her, I don’t think I would get much exercise, but knowing she is counting on me always gets me to show up. Afterwards I’m always glad I did. I was always on team sports growing up so maybe that is another reason I prefer to work out with someone rather than alone.

  7. How did you get started running? I ran a lot pre kids and lost and maintained a significant weight loss. But being in my 40s to restart seems physically daunting – sore knees etc but your blood pressure numbers are seriously motivating. My plan is to start walk/running the last week of August when my youngest starts all day school and I can use my lunch hour to get healthy by exercising. Please share how you started and overcame any challenges you faced in those first months. Starting in my40s will be much more challenging than in my 20s pre kids.

    Congrats on your success.

  8. Regarding safety,
    I thought some comments/suggestions here


    were very interesting.

  9. Emily C says:

    My sister and I always ran with a mag light. The really hefty kind that take something like 4 C batteries.

  10. Hi Mary!
    Weight Trianing has done a number for my 41 year old self. I have always been a runner. (Different seasons have allowed for more or less running but I’ve been a runner since elementary school.) I started seriously adding WT 2 years ago. I average 30 minutes of weights 2 days a week (non-running days), at home using Select Techs. Weight’s have decreased the aches and pains and increased muscle mass, but not bulk.(Decreasing the muscle loss that can come with age.) Muscle burns up the fat/padding. 🙂
    As far as running, I get more bang for my buck combining running and WT. I get results/increasing my pace/meeting goals.
    And I feel like I don’t have to run as long or hard as often, which saves the legs. I want to run for the rest of my days, and I think WT will be a huge help in making that happen.
    One more thing, a CHP officer friend recommended a mag light for me too. She trains with one herself. Just switch hands every once in a while so you don’t get all lop-sided.

  11. Hey! I love to run,I have done 3 marathons and am working towards my 4th. Here is a tip that works well for a running friend of mine for dogs. Fill a small squirt gun full of 100% vinegar and bring it with you to shoot at the dogs. My friend places hers down the back of her shorts (she has the spandex type). She swears it works great and is cheaper than maze.So far my best way to avoid dogs is to try out all new routes first with my bike at the same time I would run. I can still out bike a dog although they seem to be catching up (meaning I am slowing down I guess! LOL)

  12. Hi, Mary – Dogs are dangerous enough, but more than once I have been in a situation where a car was passing at the same time a dog was running aggressively toward me. Once, I almost ran right in front of a pick-up truck. Now, I force myself to think about it ahead of time on every run: “If a dog comes, do NOT run into the street!” Dear hubby has finally accepted the fact that I seem to be a magnet for stray or loose dogs. He and the rest of the family hardly have any trouble, but if I go out, they FIND ME! Same thing happened when we were in Cascade this weekend. Doesn’t seem to matter whether I am running with or without my dog. My dad says carry a length of rebar, and give no quarter if they come at you. Oh, yeah, and I’m supposed to put the sheriff’s phone number in my mobile phone. My parents have called them a few times around here and animal control tends to come quickly.

  13. I have found training for my next race keeps me motivated to run when I don’t want to.

    How scary about the dog! My daughter and I encountered a five foot snake on yesterday’s run. Scared us silly. I don’t suppose pepper spray is effective on snakes.

    You are doing great on your running. So inspirational!

  14. I stopped by to catch up on how your running was going–I remembered you doing the minimalist shoe and wondered if you still loved them? I did my first half a few weeks ago, but spent the entire summer visiting a chiropractor for ART to work out the plantar faciitis that I got early in the spring. You are the third person who mentioned less structure in the shoe helped you with that. I just couldn’t believe that less padding on my hurt heel would be BETTER! Now that I don’t have this pressing race ahead I can think about a new shoe…
    Thanks so much for the great posts all of these years–you are a wealth of information and encouragement!

    • LOVE my minimalist shoes! Plantar fasciitis is all gone thanks to my Merrells which forced me to learn better running form. Try them and tell me what you think!

  15. So inspired by you!! After losing 108 pounds I have set new goals, one of which is running a half marathon in September. I am gearing up and training using the couch to 5k. I have so much to learn but am loving getting healthy!

    Honestly, I never thought that I would be able to get fit and even consider running…now I’m looking in to where to get some advice on the kind of shoes to purchase. Is it just hit and miss trying this shoe or that shoe or trying minimalist shoes…it all sounds so expensive!

    • Tricia, I’m so proud of you and your journey this year! One of the books that helped me understand good running for better was the book Chi Running.