Friday, July 24, 2009

Shoes, Bras and Tide Tables

I have to start this post with my exciting news of the week. I awoke on Wednesday morning to an email from my friend “Maria” telling me that she and her boyfriend “José” are moving to Vancouver from Madrid for at least seven months. I have been walking around on a cloud since then. Maria and I first met in Tanzania where we shared a room for a month. Despite her tendencies to talk to her sleep (in Spanish, so I couldn’t even make fun of her later) and to manifest her nightmares by punching the air and thrashing about violently (both of which often disrupted my sleep), we got along very well. We bonded over our twinned sense of humour, our similar views of the world, and a shared knowledge of German and Germany. We’ve kept in touch, often being each other’s sounding board for issues in each other’s lives, and I don’t think I could ever convey in words how excited I am to have her back within easy visiting distance. And I will finally get to meet José whom I have heard so much about. The excitement about that meeting, according to Maria, is very mutual as she claims to have talked to him about me as much as she has talked to me about him. Her imminent arrival has very little to do with my goal/blog, but it is big news in my life so I wanted to share it.

I have been reminded this week about the importance of proper gear. I’m not talking about the hikes, worrying about that type of gear is a long way off… well, a relatively long way. I’m talking about proper gear for working out, namely shoes and – for us ladies – bras. The importance of both of these was solidified this week during my workouts, especially the shoes. The pair of shoes I currently have is not that old by my standards. I don’t like replacing shoes, mostly because I detest the blisters I inevitably get while breaking in the new ones. My last pair of sneakers lasted for 5 years before I admitted defeat and bought a new pair. My current pair is only 5 months old, but I have put them through a lot with the boot camp, and after only two months I had already worn the thread pretty much off the bottom. After jumping around in a step class in on Tuesday, the aching ball of my left foot confirmed on Wednesday what I already knew, I need a new pair.

Despite my reluctance to purchase new shoes, getting right pair of shoes can be the difference between success and failure in any exercise regime. A bad pair of shoes, in a best case scenario will lead to discomfort and short term muscle and joint issues. In a worst case scenario, a bad pair of shoes could very well lead to permanent joint and muscle issues. Given this, I’m amazed how many people (over the age of 17) buy their shoes based solely on appearance. The fit of your shoe is very important and if you've never had someone properly fit you for your shoes, I suggest you do it. They'll watch you walk in your bare feet and determine what you need (do you overpronate, underpronate) and will recommend shoes which will work best with your feet. Find out about the return policy at the store; if you try them out at a gym (or another indoor location) and they cause pain beyond blisters, can you exchange them? Go to a store where the employees actually know what they're talking about. I love SportsMart for the sales, but their sales associates really don't know what they're talking about 90% of the time. Especially in Victoria, we have a plethora of really good running stores with incredibly knowledgeable staff whose sole concern is getting you in the best possible shoes, not how much commission they'll make on this sale. Side note, one store even told me they didn't have what I needed and phoned their closest competitor to confirm I'd find it there. SportsMart would never do that. And don't worry, they'll talk you through the fitting so next time there's a sale at SportsMart, you can do it yourself.

As for a sports bra, as a larger chested girl, this is the second most important item of clothing. You don't need lululemon pants, you can get by with just a regular t-shirt, but a sub par bra and you're going to have a sub par workout. The great thing is there's a much larger selection of sports bras on the market than there was when I first started looking for these things in my teen years. Gone are the single tube which created the boobzilla in the middle of your chest. Don't get me wrong, you can still get those if you like them, but you can also get ones that are more fitted like a normal bra. I have been using the same bra longer than my last pair of sneakers. Between its age and the recent changes in my body, it's time for a new one and I'm looking forward to buying one that will keep the girl's contained without creating a boobzilla.

One of the things you have to be able to do for the Juan de Fuca and the West Coast Trail is to read tide tables. My stepdad taught me to do that many years ago, and it always seemed fairly easy but all the websites and books were making it seem like you'd need a slide ruler to do it. Now I have a slide ruler but I don't know how to use it (I grew up with calculators and computers), so I went online to confirm how to read a tide table and it really was as easy as I remembered. I tested myself by picking two locations, using the distance/time to figure out a point between them and then checking. I was always close enough I'd trust my call on a hike. It started me thinking, how do they determine what 0.0 is on the tide table. It's all fine and dandy to say 'high tide is going to be 4.7 metres, low tide is 1.3 metres', but how do they determine the line to measure from? I'm sure if I asked my stepdad he'd have an answer, but I'm curious if anyone else knows. I've looked online but have been unable to find an answer.

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