Shin Splints and Shoes

Shin Splints and Shoes

(Posterior) Shin splints are the bane of my running existence…

I had my first debilitating bout with them in the Summer of 2016. When I started using a compression bandage, they seemed to go away like magic and I had never been happier. But because I wanted to make sure I was taking all precautions that I could, I ended up purchasing this pair thinking I was overpronating. 
Actually, based on the wear of my shoes, I realized that I may actually meet towards the side of underpronation. When I started accumulating miles on that pair, I made the switch to Saucony
I wore those up until the LA Marathon earlier this year. I think the toebox was too narrow because half way through the race I had throbbing pains coming from my right big toe. When I assessed the damage after the race, I had developed a lovely, red-colored blister and my first black toenail. 
Not wanting to repeat that experience again, I did a brief search on minimalistic shoes and came across a brand called Ryka, which apparently aims to design shoes based on the biomechanics of how “women run”. Basically, they claim that their shoes are made with the woman’s body in mind. 
I started using them back in April, and found them to be light and cushy. It was like running on a firm cut of padding, and my toes didn’t feel crushed like in the Sauconys. For the duration of the summer, I alternated between these and my pink Newtons (which I initially thought propagated my shin splints back in 2016, but that turned out to be false). 
Fresh Ryka Pria Shoes
Fresh Ryka Pria Shoes
I knew I was putting in a lot of miles into this pair as Fall approached, and the forefoot part of the shoes was definitely getting worn down after I made the switch to forefoot running.
Back in April
Back in April
I wasn’t sure what should be my next pair, especially since I was in the process of changing my running form, but I knew I had to replace the Rykas soon. Before I knew it, I started to feel niggling pains in my shins. When I looked at the underside of the Rykas, they had indeed developed the signs of overuse and overwear. 
These babies have been through a lot...
These babies have been through a lot…
Based on this picture, I think the brunt of my weight was being supported by my right side. I literally drove a hole right through my shoe 😂 
I then thought it might be a good choice to pick another minimalistic shoe, perhaps one with even less material because I was no longer running with a hell striking form. After doing some reading, I found out about Mizuno Wave Universe 5.
Mizuno Wave Universe 5
Mizuno Wave Universe 5
Forefoot runners seemed to rave about it, so I thought I’d give it a chance as well. It fit within my budget since it was an older version, and it didn’t hurt that they looked cute too. 
Flashy look
Flashy look
When I first ran in them, I was afraid they would rip! I walked around in them like slippers because that’s how they felt, but when I started to rack up the miles in them, they stepped up to the plate and proved their worth. 
This was only a few months ago!
This was only a few months ago!
They lasted through Route 66, and after the marathon I reduced my mileage and had a week off.  When I started back up again the following week however, my shins started acting up again. Posterior shin splints had popped up again, and now I am here, three weeks later, finally out of denial and realizing that low mileage needs to be no mileage for a while until my shins recover. 
I think there are a number of reasons why my shin pains popped up again—there’s the fact that I changed my form, and that even though my calves have adapted, my shins may still need time to catch up to the level of my calves.  Then there’s perhaps a lack of Vitamin D, starting up too fast after the marathon, increasing intensity to quickly, etc. Even though these kinds of running injuries seem like a setback, I’m trying to have a positive attitude. 
Hopefully, the time I would have spent pounding my legs into the ground will not be wasted as I switch to some low-impact cardio and strength training for some time. In fact, I feel like I’ve been needing a solid mental break from running for a while, and maybe this is my  “legitimate” way out. 
It also buys me some time to figure out which pair is next up for me to tear up 😝
Days Like These

Days Like These

After a day to myself, I was eager to spend the Saturday catching up with E. I stopped by lab first to bid adieu to my undergrad, from there E and I left for Manhattan Beach.

I took the car out, and the drive out was a slightly crazy one since we were bracing ourselves on I-110 Southbound. We did make it one piece, and stopped for lunch at Cafe Rio since we were starving.

Standing in line
Standing in line

I’ve heard good things about Cafe Rio, which is a Chipotle-style restaurant, but in my opinion, everything looked more fresh.

Cafe Rio, Manhattan Beach
Cafe Rio, Manhattan Beach

I got a tostada bowl, while E got a quesadilla. My tostada was topped with cilantro rice, lettuce, guac, sour cream, tomatoes, black beans, tortilla strips, and refreshing spring of parsley.

Tostada Bowl
Tostada Bowl

I guess it wasn’t super outstanding, but since my appetite was raging, I devoured everything. E had to wait a while for me to finish since my bowl seemed to never end, and I was insistent on eating everything (including the tostada shell) with a fork, haha!


After getting our fill of fresh mex food, we stopped inside Barnes & Noble that was nearby before heading to the beach. We found parking in a hilly neighborhood, and only had to walk a block or two down to the shopping area right by the beach.

Once we made it past the shops, we found a spot to sit in the sand, and watch everything around us. It was more crowded than when we visited Aliso Beach, but we had fun taking in the surroundings and gossiping about our own stuff (like we don’t do that enough, haha).

Beach bummin'
Beach bummin’

We decided to head back a little before 5, and stopped for some smoothies at Jamba Juice since the weather was still warm. The drive back to LA was just as bracing as the drive we took in the morning, but I was able to drop off E and get home safely.

It was another pleasant Sunday, but I’m certainly not taking it for granted! I was looking at some past posts from around this time last year, and I was in a totally different mindset at the time, and going through some struggles that I’m glad I was able to get over! Having friends in the workplace like E has helped, and just feeling in more control of my surroundings. So yes, I’ll continue to greet and be grateful for days that pass like these ♥.

Cafe Rio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Finding My Balance, Trusting My Body

Finding My Balance, Trusting My Body

It’s been a while since I really discussed the progress from my disordered eating days. When I started this blog two years ago, I was at a turning point with my relationship with food, and was leaving some of the darkest days of my life. As a result of that, I wanted this “new” blog to be a space that held content relating to the better and happier things that were burgeoning at the time. I still wanted to talk about (the happy aspects) of food, but I also wanted to shift the focus onto a new hobby (running), and also use the space to describe my developing career in science.

But sometimes it’s okay to get a little personal. To go back and reflect. To share your progress, missteps, frustrations, and successes with others, because that’s what blogging and social media are there for at the end of the day. My goal with this post is to show that the “battle” with an eating disorder doesn’t just end. It is a process that requires reestablishing, convincing, conquering, and loving, among other things. The intensity can decrease as one steps more and more into recovery, but traces do and will always remain. After a certain point, it’s more about management than it is about cure.

When I got serious about running at the start of 2013, I was also reexamining my relationship with food: I had stopped limiting myself in regards to fat grams, allowed myself to consume more calories on special occasions/days of “strenuous” physical exertion, and even though I was still counting, I gave myself a newer, higher number that I thought would match the output of my newfound love running.

2013 and 2014 were overall some of the greatest years in my life so far. I was a lot happier in comparison to my first years as an undergrad…definitely. I was certainly in a better place, but in the back of my mind, I knew that I still wasn’t at the place with food and fitness that I thought I was. I believed I was in a healthier place because I wasn’t as strict on myself as in the past, but the restraints I did still have—though not too restrictive—were still at odds with what my body currently wanted and needed.

As I bumped up my mileage to the point where I could run 13 miles as my longest run, I maintained my daily intake at the same newer/higher level that I allowed myself when I first started my running journey. But when I realized that other issues were arising, I had to reevaluate the situation.

Let’s be frank. My periods had ceased for the most part—if not downright amenorrhea, oligomenorrhea was all too real. I was also still experiencing fatigue, food obsessions, and waking up some mornings around 3 or 4AM with intense hunger pangs. I think it was difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that the “new number” was now “getting old”, and that my ever-increasing physical activity required me to consume a number higher than what I thought. Perhaps because it was all happening quickly—and in the midst of other life changes like getting into grad school—is what caused me to push aside the seriousness of the matter.

I think it was also hard for me to accept the fact that I needed to consume more because I thought that on the days I did not keep track of calories (usually long run days, or at least once every 1-2 weeks), I was able to eat enough to make up for my weekly running output. Obviously things were still not adding up, since I still felt tired at points throughout the week, and even after eating the amount I thought I needed for the day, there were times I still felt ravenous.

Still, I continued to push these occurrences aside because I felt good for the most part. I gave myself days when I could treat myself for not only my physical feats, but for “eating well” over a set period of time, so why mull over it any more than necessary?

When I made the decision to train for a marathon, there was a part of me that became concerned with the 13+ miles not because of the time spent on the road and the physical pain that I might have to endure, but rather if I would have enough energy for the journey based on my current consumption levels.

I understood that I would have to take another look at my body, and a new “new number” could not be avoided any longer—no matter how much I despised change. Being a budding scientist though, I needed cold, hard data to convince myself that shooting for an even higher caloric intake would be okay. My body was in a deficit already, based on symptoms like those mentioned previously, so getting a professional’s opinion seemed like the way to get that real push I needed.

I decided to wait until my first semester was over in order to schedule metabolic testing. Call it an excuse if you’d like, but I thought it was the perfect time to get it done: right at the start of the new year, and right before hitting the heavy miles of marathon training. I was also mentally prepared, with my mind free from thoughts of school or lab for the time being. I was ready to hear the results, take a step back to reflect on them, and create a new plan that would make my body happy and put my mind at ease.

I ordered the resting expenditure and exercise expenditure tests, and found both experiences to not be as fun as I thought 😛 . For the resting expenditure test, I was instructed to lie down flat and still for about ten minutes. After that, I was hooked up to an oxygen mask contraption and was given a nose plug. Having to breathe with only my mouth through a dry tube did not exactly aid me when I had to go back into a resting state for another ten minutes, but I managed to get through the test without hating it entirely.

The exercise expenditure test was another story. Since I was getting evaluated for my expenditure while running, the technician had me do a warm-up on the treadmill. Now, if we could have done it outdoors, no problem, but a treadmill?! It seems like the longer and more frequently I run outside, the stronger my hate for the treadmill grows…but, it had to be done.

Before getting on the treads of monotony, I had to get my skinfold measurements. Seven areas (subscapular, tricep, mid-axillary, pectoral, lliac, abdominal, thigh) are usually measured, and then summed up to get a value that estimates body fat percentage.

Once I was warmed-up, and after a quick trip to the restroom, the technician started me off at a 12 min/mile pace. Every three minutes, he ramped up the pace until I was running an 8:34 min/mile as my “strong effort”. After cooling down, I was given a towel to wipe the drool coming out of my mouth once the oxygen mask tube was pulled out (so true, so embarrassing), and then waited for my results.

We first went over my resting expenditure results, which listed my VO2 at rest, respiratory exchange ratio, and resting metabolic rate. Based on all of this, I was also given a breakdown of my substrate utilization (what percentage of carbs vs. fat I use at rest).

The exercise expenditure results were calculated and graphed in an interesting way:


Not only was my caloric expenditure while running at different speeds calculated, but also the percentage of carbs and fat that I was utilizing. It pretty much summarized that the faster I ran and the more effort I exerted, the more carbs I used. At a 7 mph pace, I was running on 100% carbs.

I was also given a breakdown of my heart rate, VO2, and RER numbers while running at these different speeds.


As well as estimated expenditure values at low/medium/high efforts.


I was glad that the technician took the time to sit down with me afterwards to go over my results and answer any questions I had. He was able to conclude from my results that my RER was pretty low (most likely due to the years of not eating enough—even now, in more recent times, when I thought I was eating enough), and that my body fat percentage was veering on the low side of the ‘athlete range’. He added that this could be a good or bad thing based on one’s goals, and of course gender, but then went on to mention some studies that were done that showed the amount of calories consumed over time vs. amount of fat in one’s diet influences a woman’s “cycle regularity”.

Even though it was a lot of information to take in and consider, we were able to get back to concrete numbers. He recommended that I increase my caloric intake to build more lean muscle mass (obviously), but emphasized taking in those extra calories as fat and proteins (over carbs), based on the goals I had for my body and in running.

I would say that both expenditure tests (which cost me $200) were well worth the price, which I found to be on the low side compared to a lot of other metabolic testing centers I looked into. I got what I wanted—the cold, hard data. Now I just have to use it.

This experience really drove the point home that the body is a dynamic machine, and that based on what you have it go through or what you want it to become, its requirements will change. Everyone is built differently, and figuring out what the best things for your body are at a certain time is, in a way, a never-ending experiment.

Taking on this new, things-are-dynamic attitude is the next big step in my recovery process. Understanding that these numbers are not strict rules, but rather guidelines, is something I will also have to continuously remind myself going forward.

Of course, I predict that there will be days I doubt what my body really needs. Accepting that there will be days I can’t get in my recommended protein, or that I ingest “too many carbs”, is all part of the process too. As long as my goals are pure—to build more lean muscle and to eat enough for my activity levels in order to get to a desirable weight that promotes healthy “processes” and an efficient engine for running—and as long as I at least try, there is nothing more I can do but trust that my body will find its balance at any given time.

If you’ve ever had an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, do you find it difficult to talk about the current status of your recovery progress?

Have you ever been metabolically tested?

MTR: Week 4

MTR: Week 4

Hard to believe that one month has passed in regards to my marathon training! In all honesty, it feels like my normal running routine so far, but the LSD miles are packing on—and fast.

Sunday’s LSD run was literally a surprise to me until about half an hour before the scheduled run, since the email notification for our group was down. We ended up carpooling over to Dockweiler State Beach, so we were pretty much in the same area as the Woodchips run from last week.

I was bracing myself for a 11-miler, but when one of the captains “cheerfully” announced that the day’s run would be a 12 miler, I felt as though I should be both smiling and grimacing: smiling for the fact that I would have an extra mile tacked on to my total mileage for the week, and grimacing about the idea of running an additional mile I hadn’t “mentally” prepared for. But the run went well overall though, despite some minor aches in  my thigh/knee area after mile 10. 

TURKEY TROT craziness!!!
TURKEY TROT craziness!!!

Sunday – LSD 12.6 miler at 9:40/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday –  5 miler solo run at 9:24/mi

Wednesday – Rest (although 8 hours on a bus doesn’t seem as restful as it sounds…)

Thursday –  10k race! and ran my fastest 10k to date at 8:43/mi

Friday – 3.3 miler solo run on “old” routine route at 9:21/mi

Saturday – Rest

Total Mileage -> 27.1 miles

The highlight of my week though was the turkey trot I participated in! Recap soon to come, but to summarize, I was able to beat my current 10k PR from this race with a pace of 8:43/mi! Friday’s run was a 3.3 miler on a route most familiar to me since it was the one I always ran on before moving to LA. The rest of the day was spent napping/catching up with old friends while doing homework at Starbucks/watching movies. I would definitely say Week 4 turned out to be a great running week in regards to my marathon training progress 😀 !

Did you do any running over the Thanksgiving holiday? 

MTR Week 3

MTR Week 3

Week 3 of marathon training started off well with a 10 miler—but then hit a rest plateau during the work week. I did however manage to rake up 18.7 miles for the week, thanks to the fact I was able to weekend warrior it out…

 Snacks after the run!!
Snacks after the group run!!

Sunday – LSD 10 miler at 9:25/mi, with the team

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Rest

Friday5 miler solo morning run at 9:11/mi

Saturday – 3.7 miler solo morning run at 9:25/mi

Total Mileage -> 18.7 miles

Sunday’s 10 miler was a run along Woodchip Trail that crossed through Manhattan/Hermosa/Redondo beaches. Since the trail itself is about 4 miles one way, we had to run an extra 1 mile on the pavement before returning back to home base. We did get to stop by the pier for about ten seconds, breathe in the ocean air, and use that fresh energy to power ourselves back to the starting point. 

Overall, it was a great run, and even though I had some slight tummy issues, it was nothing debilitating fortunately! I was one of the first few girls to finish, and since it was one of the faster guys’ turn to release the snacks for us post-run, I was able to get first dibs 😉 !

Since my Dad was in town from Monday through Wednesday, I put running on hold. Thursday was a jam-packed day regarding school-related stuff, so even though I did wake up quite early, I wasn’t in the mood to set out for an early morning run. On Friday, I managed to garner the energy I needed for a morning 5 miler, and was happy with the faster pace I must have gained from the four consecutive rest days! Saturday’s run was also planned out as a 5 miler, but I was feeling off in the morning (and actually ended up going back to sleep after waking up at 6 still feeling dead tired), so I was satisfied with knocking out a little under 4 miles.

I am looking forward to week 4 though, since I will be running a turkey trot and (plan to) run along old, familiar routes towards the end of the week. All those miles—and good home-cooked food—to be excited about 😉 !

Race Recap: Women’s Fitness Festival

Race Recap: Women’s Fitness Festival

As I was writing this race recap, I noticed that I ran this race on the anniversary of my first half marathon. Coincidence? Perhaps…or maybe I just have a penchant for running half marathons in June. I cite the two half marathons I registered for this month as support of this statement 😉

I came into the Women’s Fitness Festival Half Marathon with the attitude that this race would serve as a good “warm-up” for my See Jane Run race two weeks later, but it actually turned out to be a more pleasant experience than I intended it to be.

One race morning, I woke up at 5AM and avoided any food and beverage whatsoever since I absolutely did not want to deal with bladder problems—especially since I knew I would be on the road for 2+ hours! I did have pick at some pistachios from a trail mix bag in the car around 6AM once we were in the car though…

In order to avoid any possible issues brought on by pistachio consumption, I stopped by a Starbucks near the race’s starting area in order to use the restroom.


After the quick stop, I walked over to where bib pick-up was.

 Don't mind me, just following the crowd...
Don’t mind me, just following the crowd…

After picking up and pinning my bib to my shirt, I slowly walked over to the starting line. From afar, I noticed a familiar face from where I work near the front of the start line, but many ladies began to make their way to the starting line soon after, and prevented a meet-up.


I began to do some minimal stretching when I noticed this odd contraption flying in the air:


It was a flying camera taking photos from above! Wonder how those will turn out 😉

We were off at 7:15AM, and the heat was already beginning to settle in. It was in the late 60s when we started, but it would soon warm up incredibly. I stayed close to the 2:10 pacer—a man in a blond pigtail wig and a dirndl dress over a blue racing shirt and black shorts (thankfully!). All of the pacers were men dressed as women, since only “ladies” were allowed to run this race!

The first half of the half was quite dry. The air was dry, the roads were dry, and the sun was beating down on us heavily. Whatever shade we could find was treated like a gift, and instead of taking things mile-by-mile, I began to take things shade spot-by-shade spot.

I was feeling a bit parched early on, but I kept focused on my goal of sticking with my pacer this time around, and kept a consistent, right-on-track pace between 9:48/mi – 9:55/mi. There were small musical groups every mile or so, including a banjo player, a teen boy band (haha), and a bunch of guitar players. Whenever I came across any of these musical groups, I felt a sudden surge of energy that helped me push through. The power of music I tell ya!

Once I reached the Mile 6 point, I stopped for water. Worried that I wouldn’t be able to catch up with my pacer, I hurriedly picked up my pace so that I would fall right behind his footsteps. I hope he didn’t think I was stalkerish 😛 

Around Mile 8, I felt a pinch in my left knee that eventually subsided around Mile 9, where I helped myself to some more water at an aid station. Mile 10 felt the most difficult for some reason. I expected to feel difficulty set in around Mile 12 since that was the longest distance I ran leading up to this race, but this was not the case. My feet were beginning to fatigue from the pounding, but I continued to focus on the goal—the 2:10 sign was fixed in my sights.

At around Mile 11.78 (thanks Garmin for the detailed distance 😉 ), there was a rainbow balloon arch and a huge crowd cheering everyone on. My pacer,  who at this point noticed I was at the tip of his heels, kept urging me to keep up with him. After gulping down three cups of water at the Mile 12 aid station, I noticed I was at least 20 seconds behind my pacer. He eventually noticed no one was around him, which was when he turned around and stopped for a few seconds urging us lagging ladies to pass him to the finish line.

I saw the capitol building coming in closer view, and took in the music that the final band was playing on the course. The band was playing their own rendition of “Stacy’s Mom”, which I found to be a fitting song for this race since many of the participants were mommy runners aged 30+ 😉

 View of capitol building from the festivities side.
View of capitol building from the festivities side.

I felt a surge of energy towards mile 12.5, but found myself itching to finally reach the finish line. It was one of those “so-close-yet-so-far” moments! When I did cross the line though, I noticed I was ahead of my pacer, and managed to chop off ~12 minutes from my old PR! My Garmin says I ran an average pace of 9:50 min/mi. Oh yeah, I’ll take that 😀

After grabbing my finisher’s medal, I guzzled down some water, squeezed my aching quads, and reoriented myself so that I could pick up my racer goodie bag(s) (yes, I went back for two only because of the Luna Protein bars inside!!) from the Kaiser Permanente booth.

 Assembling in front of the capitol.
Assembling in front of the capitol.

I made my way to the various vendors’ booths, which included KIND bar, Whole Foods, Asics, Blue Diamond Almonds, and Kaiser Permanente:

 An Asics pop-up shop of sorts.
An Asics pop-up shop of sorts.
 The KIND Bar booth and Recovery Zone.
The KIND Bar booth and Recovery Zone.
 KP Booths for Health Awareness.
KP Booths for Health Awareness.
 Breakfast from WF. Wasn't interested, so I gave this bowl to Dad.
Breakfast from WF. Wasn’t interested, so I gave this bowl to Dad.

So much activity was going on post-race!


I could have fallen in line and helped myself to a massage, but I didn’t feel like it this time.


Wasn’t much to do after booth browsing, plus walking was getting to be a pain, so we decided to head over to Whole Foods so we could redeem these coupons, since it was only about 10 minutes away from the race location. The goods were pretty decent—365 brand coconut water, coconut cashew Truebars, and Vega Protein powders!


I also was amazed with the loot I made out with in this race. The quantity of almonds I managed to collect was insanity alone 😛


This race was definitely more than a “trial run”. Now the pressure is on to see if I can beat this PR! But isn’t that what racing is all about? Bring on the next 13.1 😀

Did you ever have a race where you exceeded your goals and expectations?

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