In the Trump era, equality has taken on an urgency that goes beyond Girl Power laptop stickers and singing along to Beyonce lyrics. As is standard when it comes to gender perks, girls are left out except when it comes to Beirut’s NTC. In a twist of irony, NTC Bey sessions were only available to women; that is, until this month. As of March 1st, Nike Training Club’s classes at UEnergy gyms will now be co-ed as all beasts are considered equal head by ladybeast Diala, the official NTC Trainer.
NTC sessions are so quick and efficient lasting only 50 minutes tops; it’s no wonder the guys were getting jealous they didn’t have access to FREE circuits with a trainer and potential mates (as in “friends,” tihihi). If you ask me, this is great for both sexes. Not only does it allow for another biweekly gathering where you can meet new friends with a common interest in fitness and a healthier lifestyle, something that is lacking in Beirut, but you also get to be pushed by the competitive nature of training. Although biologically speaking, males and females differ in their capacities to lift and strength-train, having supportive bros pushing you to be a fierce ladybeast is always helpful. Did I mention skimping on monthly gym memberships now that you can run & train for free with Nike? For NTC, all you have to do is call the corresponding UEnergy branch on the same day to book a spot.
After 4 months of marathon training, my Nike peeps and I have reached a certain level of camaraderie I haven’t had since my university years. Much like the days when I’d come disheveled wrapped in a ginormous hoodie to Nicely Hall pre-exam having hardly slept, my Nike bros & I have seen each other at our most raw and gross. Suffering together with all masks dropped brings you closer; perhaps closer than those who have only seen the coiffed and carefully curated color-coded version of you. All activities that require bonding via social interaction while your body is undergoing stress lead to formations of tight friendships (basketball, hiking, chopping tabbouli ingredients), especially given that we commune to decompress after long workday nightmares, on and off the road. You’re already in this mindset of shedding bullshit and dropping facades. Ain’t nobody got time for drama. Within NRC or NTC, much like in classrooms, you’ll find people you can connect with without the need to be at the alcoholic watering hole complete with why the heck is this guy talking to me vibe. Don’t get me wrong though, we eat, drink, and be merry. There is one common ground that all my Nike gymrat athletes share: we do all this because we love food. Turns out, coming together to get healthy has helped me find my fellow foodies. Maybe at NTC, you can find your people too. Or you can just come run (and eat) with us regular runners at NRC. I guarantee you’ll be welcomed at both.
And NRC runs every M/T/Th 6:34pm at Nike Souks – Downtown Beirut
When it comes to material possessions, these three S’s are my kryptonite: sunglasses, stationery, and sneakers. Even before I became a runner, I had too many kicks to count; running just gave me an excuse to go full throttle on the athleisure trend, to the point where friends flat out tell me not to wear Nikes on dates or upscale outings.
But what I never understood pre-NRC was that, when you were looking for more than a pearly pair of white AF1s, you had to look beyond the exterior of a shoe. When it came to running or training, you needed to ignore aesthetics and get to know the shoe: it’s all about inner beauty. After blisters, black toenails, and swaths of BodyGlide, you learn that picking the right shoe for your body and activity is essential to your performance and continued dedication to a sport. It’s kinda like love: you can try to force it but, if you’re not the right fit for each other, it’s just torture that will end with you on the couch avec a tub of Chunky Monkey.
As I learned last year, finding your one shoe love can be a tough and expensive lesson if you don’t do an online background check. I’m going to give you a cheat sheet here to save you the trouble. Don’t sweat over getting the shoes, sweat when using them.
BUT FIRST, most models have an upper mesh for breathability while the heels have responsive cushioning but Nike has patented technologies when it comes to the engineering of their footwear. Before we get to the goods, here’s a quick vocab lesson:
Free: allowing your bare foot to do what it does naturally but with protection Lunarlon: 30 percent lighter than traditional Phylon and allows the force of impact to be evenly distributed Flywire:strategically placed filaments that function like cables on a suspension bridge to offer support precisely where it’s needed Zoom Air: durable airpockets that reduce the force of impact and return to original shape to brace for the next round Dynamic Support: more soft foam on the lateral side for cushioning and more firm foam on the medial side for support
Now, there are three main categories of running shoes: run stronger/faster/longer. Anyone who does 5Ks or more regularly should go to the “faster” category. Let’s associate each with one word to break it down.
Run Stronger: flexible
(Nike Free RN/Motion/Distance/or FlyKnit) Free RN: Free outsole and soft foam cushioning Motion: Free midsole & outsole plus dual-density cushioning
Distance: Lunarlon midsole with upper mesh of Flywire cables
FlyKnit: Fits like a sockwith Free outsole and soft foam cushioning
Run Faster: lightweight
(Nike Air Zoom Elite/Pegasus/Structure/FlyKnit/Streak/Wildhorse) Elite: forefoot Zoom Air unit and Flywire mesh Pegasus: two Zoom Air units (1 forefoot & 1 heel) with lighter Structure: Dynamic Support in the midsole and more overall stability FlyKnit: Fits like a sock but is mid-cut so your foot is locked in and ready for speed Streak: a FlyKnit model with Flywire cables, Zoom Air unit in heel, and anatomical toe shape and midfoot shank for power and propulsion
Wildhorse: Dynamic Fit with rock plate in forefoot to protect from rough terrain, rubber forefoot for wet tracks, abrasion resistant mesh, ideal for trail runners
Fun fact: Allyson Felix’s kryptonite is Hot Cheetos and Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. Essentially, it’s like we’re the same person.
Run Longer: cushioned (Nike LunarTempo/LunarGlide/Air Zoom Vomero/Air Zoom Odyssey/LunarEpic FlyKnit/Airmax/Zoom All Out) LunarTempo: Lunarlon cushioning, midfoot Flywire cables LunarGlide: Lunarlon laser cuts on the sole, Dynamic Support cushioning Vomero: double Zoom Air units in front & back, Flywire cables, and ankle support Zoom Odyssey: triple-density Dynamic Support on the midsole, heel & forefoot Zoom Air units, Flywire upper mesh LunarEpic FlyKnit: Lunarlon laser cuts on the sole, pressure mapped outsole for targeted cushioning Airmax: full-length max air unit, polyester yarn body, waffle pattern outsole for even weight distribution, Flywire cables for dynamic fit Zoom All Out: Asymmetrical Flywire cables for midfoot support, fits like a sock, waffle rubber outsole, segmented rubber crash rail
Nike models come out every year and runners await to see the colors, adjustments, and slight upgrades. Much like the iOs updates, auto body kits, or Pantone color of the year, based on research & design, Nike comes out with enhanced versions of running shoes every March and September. Pegasus is already on its 33rd iteration. Once a year is around the average time you should go for a new pair but trading in your sneaks is based on how much mileage they get. At around 400K, they’ll be worn down enough that your soles are going to need fresh cushion and you can track that by tagging your shoes on the Nike+ Running app in case you’re too much of a wa7esh to notice the pain.
Although heavier than other models, I’m a Vomero gal. I’m waiting for the 12s softer Lunar midsole and firmer cushioning so I can retire my half marathon 11s. Remember, you can keep your older kicks for hikes and outdoor activities, strength training sessions at the gym, or donate them to the Beirut Marathon Association.
This is the 7th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
The temperature has begun to drop as we make our way through October. One second we’re three months away from Marathon Day and the next, it’s Thanksgiving and all we’re worried about is how to expertly wear elastic waistbanded pants to hide the holiday weight gain.
Breaks in Training
With each injury, flight, or skipped run, a runner can feel themselves take steps backward. Some would see these interruptions as needed breaks but, in the training world, they are breaks in momentum. In a matter of a few weeks, my athlete habits had begun to evaporate. I was forgetting to drink all my liters of water, slacking off on meal prep, and missing cross-training days at the gym.
After talking with my NRCers, it is a common peeve that we all have. As soon as we start to improve, something gets in the way and once you’re back, you feel like you’re starting from the bottom again…
But now we here: 4 weeks (3 Sundays) away.
I have to admit, I can’t wait to get my life back but I don’t want all this investment to start to go downhill when we’re so close to the peak. On Tuesday’s 8K, Coach Mark said, “Open your stride, stop being afraid of your injury,” and in trusting him, I was able to get back to and maintain my (slow) average pace. The trick now is to keep doing that.
Prior to Marathon Day, runners need to start cutting back on the kilos when running weekly long distance runs so their bodies can stay ready but avoid fatigue. Yesterday was my first Sunday back with the group post-NYC and I finished 16K but not with a desired pace. I’ve got less than 30 days to get it down just enough to make it across the finish line in under 3 hours comfortably. I don’t have a goal time in mind, I just want to get it done so I can have a benchmark for the future.
Trying out NTC I had to skip a Friday run to go to an extra Spanish class and I also won’t be attending Monday runs for a while for the same reason. I DID go to a NTC session though. Read more about that here.
Just for Kicks During +5K runs, you have a lot of time to think. My mind wanders to blogpost content, to-do lists, and the occasional why am I doing this again?! During one evening run,I realized runners have 3 important PBs when it comes to training season: Personal Best, Peanut Butter, and Practice Buddy.
Personal best refers to when you reach a new record pace, distance, or time. The more often you run, the less often this happens. You’re not going to beat your PB on every run but it’s the only parameter you should use when evaluating your progress. Peanut butter is the snack of choice when needing a quick dose of food that’ll keep you functioning during a long afternoon. Some runners have a spoonful before a long run. My NRC crew would qualify as my practice buddies: the people who will train along side you so you’re not climbing a mountain alone. Can’t wait to see them all charge down the red carpet soon!
This is the 5th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
Weak Sauce Weeks
Pre-diagnosis of puffy femur, I was already stressing about trying to get my pace down. Post-injury break, getting back into my stride and finding my old pace has been making me feel like Taco Bell weak sauce: you got the heat but it’s sub-optimal and you barely feel a burn. Allowing yourself time to gradually heal is necessary but SUPER annoying.
After being sidelined for 2 weeks, not being able to do the full distances upon return, and falling behind in the climb up the long-distance ladder on Sundays, I’m feeling frustrated that I am forced to take it slower than I already naturally am. However, I’ve got to remember: I can’t throw in the towel with 8 weeks to go until race day.
One Week at a Time I did 3/5 runs the first week back, skipping the hills and long distance sessions. I made it to a max of 6K before feeling a little wobbly. The stiff leg combined with mental fear had been holding me back from pushing too hard too soon. My teammates were reassuring me that there is time to recover and improve before November but I couldn’t help feeling weighed down by my dumb, sensitive femur. And then I thought, “cancel the pity party, be grateful, and get out there.”
By week 2 of being back, I upped by mileage run by run reaching a max of 14K while pack42 was conquering 33K as a long distance. I had faced the hard truth and shifted to pack21; it is better give the half-marathon a real shot instead of cracking a hip going for the full. Poo. I’ll admit that removing the looming pressure of a full marathon has been a relief (until next year) and now I can focus on getting better for/at a distance I’ve already covered.
Sunday NRC crew joined by the Defeet runners
Despite my downgrade, I’m going to keep the name of the series just for the sake of continuity and archiving but it’s official: Bambi is now running Bey21K.
Bambi Stats & Mini Victories
By the end of the last two weeks, I have managed to get back to my average 5K time so recovery is underway but the longer distances (10K and beyond) still need fine-tuning. I’ll be slowly increasing distances so that I can then tapper (go back down in distances pre-race) safely. This is the unsettling part about sitting out for a couple weeks: working your way back to where you were at pre-break. For me, it’s the main reason I avoid skipping runs; you immediately feel your body getting lazy again and sacrifice hard-earned progress.
In Sports Clothes All Day Errryday
Monday Runs Not Tracked
Just for Kicks
In an effort to find motivation, I put Shantaram aside and started reading Run the World by Becky Wade, a 5’0″ 27-year-old marathoner from Texas. Becky’s talks about her year of country-hopping that opened her eyes to running cultures across the globe. For example, Becky (and Georgie, a temporary NRC Beirut runner visiting from the UK) talks about ParkRuns in London, weekly 5Ks done in the public parks open to all and tracked via chips so there’s friendly neighborhood competitin. She discusses about ugali in Kenya as running fuel. It’s an overall easy read that I recommend if you’re a runner.
Next up: Shoe Dog, the memoir by Nike creator Phil Knight.
For Visual Motivation
And in case reading and inspirational videos weren’t enough, leave it to Yeezus to release a video that makes you feel like a human jigglypuff who needs to flashdance the pounds away instead of crying into a pizza pie. “Imma let you finish but did you say you weren’t going to the gym??” Ah hell nah.
Bambi is Going to NYC…Again
Of course, in the middle of this comeback, I have a flight to catch. I’ll be gone as of next week and will need to get in at least 3 runs around the Big Apple. If not for the training, then at least for the ribs that I’m most definitely ingesting, diet be damned.
Since I started running late last year, I slowly ended up putting together a drawstring sports bag filled with my running essentials. You can find a lot of these items at any store or pharmacy but I got most of my stuff from Wesley’s Wholesale because I work there. I’ve recommended the products I’ve tested and liked. I’ll admit being the product guinea pig is the funnest part about working in FMCG retail. Bring on the goodies!
…and then run off the calories.
Photo Cred: NRC Pacer, Nour Ghaddar
Living in Lebanon means we are blessed with sunshine 7-8 months out of the year, if not more. This means you have to protect that face (and those shoulders, arms, neck, and lips) when out on the road after 6am. The key is to get a sunscreen that is waterproof or made for activity so that it doesn’t irritate your eyes when you sweat. Factor of at least 30.
LUBRICATION Stop giggling. There’s a lot of friction that comes with running as a sport and it’s not just between the ground and your shoe soles. You need to apply a thin layer between your skin and your gear to avoid discomfort, chafing, and blisters. Hotspots: top of your toes, sides of your feet, under the sports bra lining, under your phone armband, edges of your shirt, and in between them thighs if you lack a thigh gap. Ain’t no shame, ladies do yo thang. And dudes, you need it (or pasties) on your nipples.
Bambi Recommends: Vaseline, any generic petroleum jelly
DEODORANT You don’t need to suffocate your friends just because you’re breaking a sweat. We all get funky after a 9K but let’s try to keep it to a minimum. No one wants to smell like wet laundry that was left in the machine for 2 days. Consider it a favor to humanity. You will also feel less self-conscious about your stench when you run into that hot bartender as you charge down the corniche.
Just get everything absorbent. Absorbent socks, headbands, and clothing that will soak it all up and keep you dry. Shorts with compression lining help avoid chafing, a well-fitted sports bra keep the girls perky, and comfortable running shoes enhance your form.
Bambi Recommends: Nike dri-fit anything and everything. But seriously, don’t even think about wearing regular socks.
SNACKS Depending on when you’re running, you’ll need to properly fuel beforehand. Morning runs require some carbs like a few tablespoons of nut butter on toast/crackers, dates, or half a banana. Afternoon runs mean you should have a snack a few hours before: dates, applesauce, dark chocolate, or some trail mix.
Bambi Recommends: Artisana Organics raw pecan butter, Taza Chocolate Coco Bezos Coconut 70% Dark, Cote D’Or 70% Dark, or one stick of the classic dark Unica
SPARE HAIR TIES These stupid things always snap in the middle of a run and you’re stuck tying a knot in a string that rips out your hair when removed. Keep a spare on your wrist for these moments or you’ll be forced to ask for one from an Olympian with a man bun. Please don’t run with your hair down, life’s not a Pantene commercial.
Bambi Recommends: Goody Ouchless pack of 10. None of that rubber band nonsense.
DISINFECTANT You may still suffer from cuts, blisters, or rashes after a run so it’s always good to have alcohol pads & band-aids on hand.
Bambi Recommends: Western Family has a tube of rubbing alcohol wipes and a pack of individually wrapped pads which are portable and do the trick.
SKIN CARE Sweating, running in the sunshine, blisters. Moisturize with coconut oil. Slather that ooze everywhere. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, and sunscreen that has a light consistency. It’s not sticky and you can use it on your hair too. Vitamin E skin oil speeds up healing of blisters or rough spots because it prevents water loss in the skin.
Bambi Recommends: Any coconut oil would do but choose one you like based on smell. Some brands make you smell like macarons which is fine if you dig it. I prefer not smelling like La Duree. And JASON Vitamin E 32,000 I.U. Skin Oil.
SNACKS A small snack after a tough run helps to restore muscles and your low glycogen levels. No need to inhale a bucket of chicken though. You can out-eat any workout with the wrong diet so stick to string cheese, dates, yogurt, a protein bar, or coconut water. These will replenish energy and hydration levels until you have a proper meal.
Bambi Recommends: Dark Chocolate Nut & Sea Salt Kind Bar
EXTRA CLOTHES If you’re not hopping into a shower nearby, bring an extra shirt and socks or a pair of flip flops to change into. Air conditioners are a bad mix when you’re walking around in smelly wet clothes. And have a spare bag to put your gross gear in because that stuff is going to be drenched so it’s best to keep it separated from your other belongings. Makes laundry easier too.
There is a reason that most admen/women want to work for Wieden + Kennedy. Like the Harvard of the Adworld, it is the rejection email that you would pin on your cork board before returning to a brief for a dull local client with little or no budget. For me, I dreamed of working there because of the Nike work they did.
Even pre-NRC, I was fan of the brand, collecting too many sneakers and swoosh emblazoned tanks to count; however, Wieden were able to capture why I loved them, bottling adrenaline into an edit via a consistent empowering message that made you want to go for the gold – whatever that gold was.
The duality in the above’s copy, narrated by the this-is-why-he’s-sexy Oscar Isaac, couldn’t be more on point when it comes to my brain’s dialogue while training. You yoyo between thinking, “A marathon? Who, me?” to “Move, I’m running here, don’t kill my vibe.” The Unlimited You campaign stays true to Nike’s timeless Just do it slogan. It’s about breaking out of the cage you put yourself in, the box that you were assigned to fit into, getting out from under that ceiling that keeps you from rising up to the stars. It’s not about erasing your own limits and lightly brushing away the rubber ashes. It’s about obliterating those limits like they were never there. Every. Single. Time.
The Official Unlimited Manifesto Everyone has limits right? A point where you just say That’s it. Enough. Finito. The End. But here’s the thing Limits are only suggestions And “the end” is just something they put on movies. Life isn’t about finding your limits It’s about realizing you have none. So get up. Get out. Try something utterly ridiculous. Practice ’til you’re reported missing. Challenge the street court king. Run the length of a river. Then swim it back. The only person who can tell you your limits is you And even then you don’t have to listen. Just do it.
The campaign also showcases the world’s biggest athletes telling stories about their beginnings and the dedication that goes into the sport they’ve adopted as their calling. There are more shorts like the one above featuring Serena Williams, Mo Farah, Alex Morgan, Ashton Eaton, Allyson Felix, Simone Biles, and others. They’re like confessionals that make these badasses look human.
But it’s not just for the pros. It has spread within the NRC group here too. Our members have shared their own stories about why they joined and what taking up running with the group has done for them. Take a look:
It’s rare to see a brand’s projected image shine through to the people who aren’t sitting in on the conference call when the campaign is being born. Clearly, this idea matches what Nike is selling and doing for its customers since they’re willing to share their own experience & growth via a brand-sponsored club in their city.
Photo Credit: Special Magazine
Our own Chirine Njeim will be competing in the women’s marathon at this Sunday’s Olympic games, being the first woman to represent Lebanon in the marathon distance. Be it in Rio or on the streets of Bey, athletes are discovering their own unlimited source of power, they’re putting it to the test, and they’re just doing it.
This is the 2nd installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
Like those Olympians competing in Rio, the team and I are discovering our unlimited potential after 4 weeks – that potential that will take us to November but continue on into 2017. This program has become about more than the marathon, it’s rewiring my mindset. It won’t stop in November because there is no end when there are no limits.
The Warm-Up Threshold The more I tried to stick to nonstop kilometers of running, the more I realized that it got easier to keep going after the first 3-4K. When you first kick off, your body is still warming up and it isn’t used to extended bouts of exercise. However, if you keep pushing through those horrible 20ish minutes, it regulates itself and suddenly you don’t have that urge to stop anymore because your body’s gone into RUN mode. Mohamad Marhamo, NRC Pacer extraodinaire, says that he feels it around 2K and that this steady feeling will come sooner the more you train. Inshallah.
“Who decided a marathon is 42.2K anyway?” That was a question a fellow NRCer asked while we were dripping our way through Mar Mikhael. I realized I didn’t know why. OBVIOUSLY, unable to leave a question unanswered, I did some googling. The story is that a Greek messenger named Philippides had to trek 40K to Athens to report the victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Legend has it, he busted into the assembly, made the announcement (“Nike!”), and dropped dead. How inspiring. Can’t wait to finish & die.
The long distance race was incorporated into the first modern day Olympics in 1896 in Athens. The extra 2K was sprinkled on top in 1908 to accommodate the British royals because Queen Alexandra had the race start at the Windsor Castle lawn and end in front of King Edward VII’s royal box at the Olympic stadium.According to Wiki,“the modern 42.195 km standard distance for the marathon was set by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in May 1921 directly from the length used at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.” So there you have it, blame the Brits.
Fun Facts: The world’s oldest annual marathon is the Boston Marathon which started in 1897, one year after the first Olympics. Women didn’t get to participate until 1972 and they didn’t have their own Olympics marathon until 1984 in Los Angeles.
Long Distance Sundays…and Listening to Your Body Like any physical activity, an important part of training is knowing when your body in trying to tell you something versus your mind. There are days when you need to be okay with not making the mark. I missed a run (because of blisters) and couldn’t finish the long distance because of running shoes that were too small (long distances combined with higher temperatures cause your feet to swell so your shoes need to be 1-1.5 size larger than your usual size) plus cramps in my left shin.
After getting the right sized shoes and letting my blisters heal, I went back out there and finished week 4, including yesterday’s 17K. The runs are important but your body is more so. Now, “3am Vaslin” has become my verb of the year since I slather Vaseline pretty much everywhere pre-run. At this rate, I’m going through one little tub/week.
A Missed Session Doesn’t Equal a Day Off This program takes up a lot of your evenings but there will be nights when you’re going to have to miss a session for a wedding, a trip to the north, or a Mashrou Leila concert.
That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for the night. We’ve reached a point where you can’t afford to skip a run so you get homework: doing the run solo when you do have the time.
My last solo run was in Rome but doing 11K under Beirut’s sweltering August sunshine isn’t the same as centro histórico at dawn. We’ve gotten into the habit of sending screenshots of our solo runs to our marathon Whatsapp group so we all know we’re getting it done. Not only does it help to see each one of us is sticking to the program, it also motivates you to drown out the excuses. Your team is running, why aren’t you?
An e-friend of mine shared this short about runners, take a look:
Bambi Stats & Mini Victories I would have to say that running a 11K tempo run solo and then a 17K two days later would have to qualify as a mini victory for me. With every run, we’ve been learning things about our bodies and how we can improve the marathon experience; not just in terms of distance or pace but also what to eat the morning of, what time to eat it, what sunscreen to use, which socks work best, and so on. Knowing this key info will get us closer to doing it right.
Just for Kicks
Water dictates everything. When figuring out the route you’re going to do, make sure to note where you can buy a bottle of water…and where you can empty your bladder. In long distances especially, nature will call wondering why you don’t talk anymore. Another thing that shouldn’t be underestimated: stretching. Before and after runs. Take care of those muscles.
Becoming Obsessed or Committed? And no, not committed-to-the-insane-asylum committed. I mean committed to this transformation. Subscribing to the Runner’s World newsletter, having a sports bra tan, and ordering only Perrier on nights out because I have a training session the next day. I’ve been reading about all things running, right down to a blessed experience known as runner’s trots. It’s the shit. This is my life now. I’m all in and I don’t recognize this person who’s suddenly…an athlete? I train? Yes. Yes, I am and I do.
This is the 1st installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.
The first two weeks of the NRC Beirut Marathon training are done meaning we’ve got a few more months until #BambiRunsBey42K. Seeing that there are a lot of marathon newbies in the group (myself included), these were considered the warm-up weeks to the intense training that will kick-off as of this week. Every time the coach would say that, my brain would say, “Ha. It’s a warm-up. That’s cute.” and then I’d wring out my sweat-soaked jersey.
Taken by Ricardo Chalhoub
Cross-Training on Off-Days
To properly train for the marathon, we need to cross-train on the off-days when we’re not running around Beirut. Cross training activities should be aimed towards strengthening our core and lower back muscles, mainly upper body since our legs are being put to the test the rest of the week.
I opted for swimming but my breathing and technique need work so we’ll see how this goes. I also need to add some lower back exercises after feeling the pressure building right above my bum as our distances got more demanding by the end of week 2. What can I say, Bambi got back.
Long Slow Distance Sundays We’re tackling long slow distances 1x/week. During these runs, each NRCer runs at their own pace while also learning to be a self-motivator. Week by week, the long distances will get longer so the stretches when it’s just you & the road will get longer too. This also means that every Sunday, I’ll be hitting a new longest distance.
NRC in Salaata, July 17, 2016 – Taken by Ali Itani
Our first long-distance Sunday was in Salaata, a town right before Chekka. Our starting point was 10K followed by a 12K in Mar Mikhael yesterday. You’d think that waking up early would be the most challenging part of this (sleep in your activewear, then you’re half done when the alarm goes off!) but it’s actually the heat of July/August. Which brings me to my next point…
Fuel & Hydration The dedication that this training takes seeps into all aspects of your entire lifestyle. The way you eat, the hours of sleep you get, and how you think can all impact your performance and stamina on the track. We have to make sure we eat good carbs, drink lots of water, and refuel wisely. Avoiding alcohol the night before a run is advisable because of the high sugar levels and rewarding ourselves with honey chipotle chicken strips after a 10K is counterproductive. A banana and water will do.
I’ve got to say though, some days I just want to have a halloumi bacon sandwich followed by an old fashioned doughnut smothered in sugar glaze. Luckily, none of the doughnut shops here do it right. That, and I can already feel my lighter weight translating to being lighter on my feet.
Bambi Stats & Mini Victories When I started running with NRC in December 2015, I could barely make it past the warm-up kilometer without needing to stop to walk. However, during week two of BM training, I ran 7km nonstop and I felt like a BEAST. My main goal now is to shave seconds off my pace. Based on the last 6 months, it should see a major shift after this program.
Just for Kicks
Every ~350K, you need to get a new pair of running kicks so that your feet get enough support and shock absorption. I used to think this was a marketing ploy to get you to buy more sneakers but after yesterday’s 12K, my shoes have hit over 310K and my feet got destroyed. After that much mileage, the cushioning is worn down and the soles start to suffer. With the numbers we’re adding to the roster, it looks like I’m going to run through 3 pairs by November. But it’s okay: the cost of being healthy, safe, and active is less than that of the hospital bills you’d be stuck with otherwise.
The Mental Madness
After the back-to-back training runs, I’ve come to accept that I will be spending as much time with my NRC family as I will with my own and that’s saying a lot considering I work/live with my parents. Previous participants say that the 42K is not as scary as it seems and I’m trying to think of it as a less intimidating series of four 10K runs instead of one long endless marathon. You’re going to need stretching/potty breaks in between anyway, no?
Upon leaving the office to head to a Friday session, dad asked if I was running every day. When I explained that we were training for the 42K, he said, “but that’s like…from here to Saida. HOW are you going to be able to do that?”
Like many other females, I would spend wads of cash on the lace & silk pieces from Victoria’s Secret but skimp when it came to activewear; I couldn’t justify dumping so much lira on undergarments that were going to be worn at the gym and eventually soaked in sweat. I’ve been reading up on the effects that running and hardcore training have on your body and one red flag went up when the articles started mentioning boobs.
Everything I read, I could relate to. Needing a bra that was secure enough to support the girls while allowing you to breathe and keep you dry, a bra that didn’t irritate or exacerbate chafing, a bra that was comfortable yet didn’t remind you of your grandma’s laban cloth bags in terms of style and material. For me, it was always too tight, too loose, or too…wet.
Next thing I know, I’m reading reviews on sports bras, realizing how many bad ones I have in my drawers, and worrying about my Cooper’s ligaments.
Wait, what are Cooper’s ligaments?
These are the connective tissues in the breasts that help them retain their form or structural integrity. Basically, they’re the suspensory ligaments you want to strengthen to avoid having flapjacks with age. Many different factors can affect them but running and training without proper support can exert intense force on these tissues speeding up their deterioration, a problem that can be avoided.
Not only do bouncy boobs affect their shape in the long run (pun intended) but they also affect your form when running. Subconsciously, you may be altering the way you run to decrease bounce and you’re more likely to get injured because of this. According to Runner’s World, “Researchers at the University of Portsmouth in England found that excessive breast movement can result in heavier, injury-promoting landings.” Running and training without thinking about your girls would allow you to focus on what’s important: improving your pace, breathing, and stride.
Nike’s Sports Bra Fitting
Nike’s design ethos is Nature Amplified meaning that they try to improve the body’s capabilities so that it can be better naturally. The R&D team creates products for bodies in motion so who better to know how to keep your boobies in place, right? Services offered by big brands abroad aren’t always available here but Nike Lebanon doesoffer in-store sports bra fittings as advertised on their site. I went to Nike Hamra (the service is also available at the Souks branch) to find the right bra for me. Sports bras vary based on your cup size and the intensity of your workouts. Higher intensity equals need for more support.
After taking my measurements, I was recommended a size for the high support Nike Pro Rival bra since I’m a runner. Once I had it on and confirmed comfort, the salesgirl had me do basic exercises (jumping, touching my toes, and raising my arms) to make sure the girls & the bra stayed put. I was then given a bra-size card to keep in my wallet for future reference. You can read up on Sports Bra 101 here. Prices for the Nike Pro line in Leb run between 50-80 USD each.
After running in the bra this week, the difference is unbelievable. I feel secure and dry even though my shirts could fill buckets. Yum, I know. The dri-fit technology and soft, flexible textiles used feel good on the skin. Plus, the neon inner lining is a nice touch and the cut makes me feel sexy even if I’m a sweaty hot mess.
Other Tips & Nips
Your bras will last longer if you wash them in cold water without fabric softener using an alcohol-free detergent like Seventh Generation, which you can find at Wesley’s. Wink wink.
Chest exercises: According to Livestrong.com, there are exercises you can do to strengthen your Cooper’s ligaments’ attachment to the underlying pectoralis muscles. Pushups, pec flys, chest presses, and good posture. Read more here.
Vaseline or Body Glide can be used to add an extra layer of protection during long training sessions/long distances in the extra hot months. The additional jelly layer will reduce friction and chafing that comes from extended periods of exercise.
Sports Bra Shopping Criteria Recap
Snug Factor: being aware of how tight is too tight, the bra should be supportive yet comfortable. You don’t want to feel like your bust is going to bust out.
Breathability and Sweat Absorbency: the material should keep you clean and dry, a bra that wicks away the sweat while staying in place is key
Workout Intensity: get the bra that corresponds to your workout regimen, what bra you need depends on whether you’re doing low-key strength training sessions or high impact sprints
Style: make sure you feel good in the bra you buy, it’s the most subtle form of motivation when trying to get/stay fit
When El-Tanein Diet began, it was supposed to be a 6-month test to turn my life around and rectify the damage that my office job had done to my body. Once I had hit the 6-month mark, I wasn’t satisfied with where I’d reached and I extended it another 6 months. It was all in the hope that I would keep improving instead slacking off once the recording stopped.
If I were to assess my progress based on the original goals I had set for myself when I started ETD, I wouldn’t be able to strike through every single one of them. However, I will report what I did achieve because it’s even better than what I had in mind one year ago.
Below are the goals I hit + wins I didn’t see coming:
Went to a dietician and committed to a new diet: I wasn’t shedding pounds before I got my portion intake in line and started being conscious of what I was ingesting. Now, I’m slimming down, toning up, and my visceral fat percentage is in the safe zone. I didn’t want to admit that food was a big part of the process but it is. Only when I changed my diet did I really start seeing the results of my workouts.
Worked my way up to 7kg weights at my strength training classes: Up from 3kg, I don’t plan on going higher since I have a naturally muscular build so reps>weight for me.
NRC’s Monday Beginner Session
Became a regular member of NRC: As Adriana Lima said, “For those who hate running, I’m sorry, but it really does the trick. I notice that my body really transforms from even just 30 minutes a day. If you don’t like doing it, find something to motivate you—cute new workout clothes, an amazing playlist, a great scenic path, or a [fitness] buddy.” The Brazilian hottie has a point. Running with this group has changed my opinion about it as a sport. Plus, I got my best 5K down from 39 to 35:13 and I regularly run at least 8K/week total. That wouldn’t have happened without NRC. I’ve even participated in races and I’ve graduated from shorts-for-men to the teeny tiny shorts for women. #ChubRub
Running 10Ks at the crack of dawn: The road trip runs that were planned periodically with people who have contagious energy surprised me every time. Even now, when a run is proposed, I confirm before giving my brain time to punk out. The NRC group and the endorphins that accompany the runs give me the release and boost I need to push through the week. The workouts wear you out so sleeping is easier but they also make you feel better, faster, and stronger.
Gym/activity becoming a necessity: This may be because of my need to escape work and the daily drudgery that accompanies Beirut life but any form of exercise has become a much needed release. It’s my me-time where I can unplug and be one with the road. The pitch in Mel Gibson’s What Women Want pops in my mind whenever I’m running anything more than a 5K and all I can hear is my own breathing.
Running in foreign cities:I was once a person who would travel and chuck my gym routine out the window when abroad. Even if flying for work, I would enter vacation mode and eat my way through recommended restaurant lists. When in Barcelona, I depended on walking to stay fit. That doesn’t cut it anymore. Now, I’ve tried to be more selective about meals that are worthy AND I’ve taken the gym with me by using runs as a portable workout that also grants you free tickets to a resting city. Morning light has never been so flattering.
Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy at 7AM (June 2016)
Registered for the Beirut Marathon 42K in November: I NEVER thought I would sign-up for such a thing voluntarily, much less commit to an intensive training program to prepare for it. But I have. I initially wanted to sign up for the half but Mark, NRC coach, convinced me that I might as well give the full thing a shot since I’ll be training for it anyway. If I feel like I can’t make it, I can always stop after 21K.
As a follow-up to this series, I will track the struggle, the pain, and the literal steps forward in a new biweekly series titled “BambiRunsBey42K” covering the marathon training that starts today. This series won’t be solely about my headway because it will be a NRC program: we operate as a team meaning their successes matter just as much as mine do.