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Looking The Part

Refinery here! Before you read on, make sure you check out Meghan’s other posts here and here. Meghan is sharing her journey to refinement with us as she preps for the upcoming Women’s Half Marathon on April 19, 2015. Now, back to Meghan’s story:

You know how really dedicated runners say running “clears their mind” and helps them do their best thinking? Well, as I run, I have had two profound revelations:

1) After I run a long time, my knees feel crunchy, you know, like when you step on empty plastic bottles or tin cans and they go crunch, crunch? That’s the sound my kneecaps make.

And,

2) Boob chafing is a REAL AND HIDEOUS THING.

For those of you who thought I was a delicate flower, my apologies.  But someone should have told me about boob chafing because that was a surprise I was not warned about. And for all the men out there who are avidly reading my blog entries, I feel as if I have a tiny glimmer of understanding of the pain you must feel during the summer months. You have my condolences.

So this got me thinking, maybe it’s time to switch up the ol’ kicks. Typically, I head over to the nearest DSW to grab whatever-is-cheapest-and-purple of the name brand sneakers. This time around, I thought it might be a good idea to check out a specialty running store, and I knew just the place: JackRabbit Sports. There are 4 locations in the city (I went to the one in Park Slope) and I highly suggest stopping in if you are looking for running or triathlon gear. The staff is so friendly and knowledgeable. I happened to go on a Wednesday around 11am, which was the perfect time to get individual attention.

I walked in and I sidled up to the counter. I was greeted by the lovely, Kiri-Lin MacGregor, sales associate and runner extraordinaire. I gave her the spiel of being a first time runner, having a short window to train, the crunchy knees, and the boob chafing. She immediately handed me a small container that looked like a stick of deodorant. “Glide. The original, anti-blister, anti-chafing balm.”  I swear to you in that moment, the clouds parted over Brooklyn and angels flew overhead in a beacon of holy light, because my prayers had been answered. Glide goes on clear and acts as a barrier between your skin and sweaty clothes. I practically sang “Hallelujah” right there and then.

Chafing crisis resolved, it was now time to talk shoes. Kiri led me up a short flight of stairs to the shoe area, complete with two treadmills. I gave her my shoe size and she grabbed the first pair for me to try on. They were hot pink, and felt AWESOME. I could really feel a difference between my current running shoes, and the new pair. Kiri recommends changing up your running shoes every 8 months or so. For those who think this is a conspiracy to keep the sneaker companies in business, I was skeptical too.  But if your shoes are hitting that 8 month expiration date, do yourself a favor and try on a new pair. You will feel the difference immediately.  New shoes are worth the expense and your knees will thank you for it!

Kiri had me hop up onto a treadmill and slowly start to jog (which was about the time I wished I wasn’t wearing jeans). As I did, she filmed me running with her iPad. This procedure is all part of the personalized shoe fitting experience that JackRabbit provides. You get to see how you run (and haven’t you always wondered about that)? Kiri showed me pictures of my running stance. Turns out I have a “neutral alignment.” This means my knees, legs, and feet are working together in a relatively straight line; and that I don’t need shoes to correct the way my foot hits the ground.

Well, that sounded like good news!

meghan-looking-the-part

The first pair was very comfortable, but I was just getting started, as Kiri brought me neon shoe after neon shoe.  With each pair, I was back on the treadmill. I was instructed to think about the weight of the shoe, some runners prefer a lighter shoe and like to feel closer to the ground, others want a shoe that is heavier but has more cushion inside. I also observed the sides of the shoe; some people like to feel more “held” while others prefer more flexibility. Then most importantly, was noting the space between my big toe and the top of the shoe. Did you know that your foot can swell up to a half size when you are running?! You gotta have that big toe wiggle room.

The hard part was that every pair felt SO GOOD. Truly, they all felt like I was jumping in a bouncy house compared to my old sneakers. So I did what any serious athlete would do when faced with such a difficult life decision: I picked the color I liked best. Yes, my new running shoes are hot pink and orange. They are made by Brooks, and appropriately named “Ghost 7”, because I’m gonna run so fast in them, you won’t even see me, hey-oh!!

After I was done prancing around in my new shoes, I asked Kiri what she suggested for knee supports.  Because the reality is, running can really impact your knees. I have never used a knee brace before and I wasn’t sure I needed one. Kiri showed me a knee strap that attached underneath your knee with Velcro.  It adds support without covering your entire knee like the larger braces. I decided to give it a whirl, the verdict is still out if I will end up wearing it during the race.

Kiri did stress one more important thing: cross-training. She said it is of the utmost importance to train for a running race by doing other activities like cycling, swimming, lifting, or yoga. Running as your exclusive means of exercise can lead to injuries because you may be neglecting other muscle groups.  It’s called total body fitness for a reason!

So, I’ll add cross-training to the list of things to do, along with eating better, getting lots of sleep and cutting back on caffeine. I hope cross-training will be more enjoyable than these veggie smoothies I have been making… I drank a cucumber smoothie today, which consisted of a slightly mealy cucumber and water. As I sipped it, I kept thinking this drink needs something… something like RANCH DRESSING!!!

Well, thanks to Kiri, at least I look the part now, and sometimes that’s half the battle.

We invite you to book your stay at Refinery Hotel for the NYRR Women’s Half-Marathon. We’re celebrating all the women who run the world!  #Womenruntheworld.

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