Posts Tagged ‘ Training ’

Running Behind

summer-runningI have been a total flake with my blog lately! My running has taken off and I’ve been loving every minute. I finished my first race back from my injury with a 10.35 minute pace. Not bad! Now I just need to work on improving my time and form. My next race is a 10k on September 29 that supports a local cancer center. After that I’ll have a 5k a month until February when I run my favorite Superbowl Sunday 4-miler. Fun!

It’s beyond amazing to be able to run again. And it inspires me too. Every hill and difficult mile I run, I remind myself how lucky I am to be running again and it pushes me to finish strong.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Positive-ThinkingToday will be my first day “back in the saddle.” Or, rather, back on the Pre-Cor. Although I’m itching to run, I’m restraining myself for the sake of healing. Tonight I’m going to lace up my sneaks, drive to the gym through the buckets of rain that have descended on Central Jersey, and do cardio for the first time in over a month. Yikes! I’ll start with some strength training to warm my muscles up, followed by some light stretching, then on to the Pre-Cor.

I’ve been good about applying heat to my injury a couple times a day for 15-20 minutes each time. My plan is to do cardio for only 10-15 minutes at a snail’s pace. I’ll stretch again after my cardio, paying special attention to my hip/groin, then ice when I get home. The hardest part will be not pushing myself. It’s really hard for me not to feel like a failure if I’m not sweaty and (happily) spent after any cardio. I need to keep in mind that my goal is to run consistently again and whenever I want to. This won’t happen if I push myself too early and set myself back thus prolonging my recovery time even more than I have already.

I did notice that before I was ordered to rest for a few weeks by my doctor, any strength training I did, especially for my legs, seemed to help ease the strain on my injury. I’ll focus again on building up a strong core, glutes, and legs in hopes that my propensity for injury will lessen.

This all said, I believe that a key factor in my recovery is my mental state. For months now I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to recovery and get back to running. Frustrated at the lack of results, I’ve noticed that I get down on myself for not being successful. Rather than focus on what I can do, I’ve focused on what I can’t. Instead of celebrating small victories, I get disappointed at what I see as failures. I know that positive thinking is a HUGE part of healing and succeeding. I need to work on looking at what is good and using more positive, affirming thoughts. If I don’t believe I can get better, then I won’t. Runner’s World recently had a great article on how to change the way you think in order to become a stronger runner. As any runner knows, it’s one thing to be in shape physically and a whole other thing to be in shape mentally.

My goal is to not only run again, but facilitate my recovery through positive thinking. Happy running! πŸ™‚

Going Long

hillrunningMy goal is to run a half-marathon this fall. After my injury heals, and I’m sure it will, I plan on tackling a training plan that will get me back on the road and on my way to running a successful half. Tomorrow is my visit with the sports medicine doc where I’m hopeful that I can get the tools needed to run again. It’s not going to be an easy road, but I’m a runner. I’m strong. I’m motivated. I’ll tackle each hill one at a time until I’ve conquered them all.

Next up: finding the perfect plan to promote healthy running! πŸ™‚

Just Keep Swimming

train-for-swimΒ  I recently talked with someone at my local running store about my hip flexor injury, lamenting the fact that I haven’t been able to run without exacerbating it. She gave me the contact info of a local sports physical therapist that she said was excellent and went on to say that she tore her hip flexor so she knows what I’m going through. It was great to talk with someone who actually went through what I’m going through now. She recommended swimming, saying that it not only kept her from going crazy while she couldn’t run, but that it kept her in good cardio shape and brought her back to running in three months.

While three months seems like a long time, my goal is to be a life-long runner so I want to recovery the right way and if that means taking more time to strengthen my muscles and prevent future injuries then so be it. The woman went on to say that her therapist recommended one-leg bridges (a favorite pilates move of mine actually). She said to do three sets with ten leg-lifts on each side every day. A pain in the butt (ha!), but strengthening the glutes, strengthens the hips, both of which are common weak areas for women so it’s good to focus on those muscles anyway.

I’ve been in the gym a lot, doing pilates and lifting weights, working on my core and legs especially. My body has definitely grown tighter and stronger, although I haven’t seen much, if any, improvement in my hip flexor. So my new goal is to contact a sports therapist and jump in the pool as much as I can. I’m not going to give up. I will run again. Like Dory says – Just keep swimming! πŸ™‚

Happy running!

Beating the Running Blues

sadrunnerEvery so often an injury will derail me from my running goals. Because running has become so much of my identity I rely heavily on being able to run to find peace of mind emotionally, physically and mentally. When I can’t run it really affects me on my many levels. Lately I’ve been faced with this challenge and have been forced, or, thinking positively, given the opportunity, to find ways to cope with not being able to run.

So instead of getting depressed and mopey, here, after much self-reflection, are:

Runner Sami’s Tips for Beating the Running Blues

1. Use the time off to become a stronger runner – Find cross-training activities that won’t exacerbate your injury. Biking, swimming, pilates, yoga, and strength training are all great ways to build up muscles that will help keep you injury-free in the future.

2. Invest in other areas of your life – Because running is my positive outlet, it’s important to reroute those energies into other outlets while running is on the back burner. Find ways to invest your time that make you happy. Writing, catching up with friends, spending time with my family, or planning a trip are some things I have found help rejuvenate me when I’m not able to run.

3. Read about running – For some people this might be too painful, but I’ve found that reading about running helps me feel like I’m still involved in becoming a better runner. Books or articles about running help me focus on positive ways to help my recovery. There are always ways I can better myself as a runner and it’s fun to read about interesting races I can sign up for once I’m at full running capacity again!

4. Be an active participant in your recovery – You’re not alone. There are a lot of resources online through blogs, social media sites like dailymile.com, or websites like runnersworld.com for runners looking for support or providing helpful tips and strategies for those coming back from injuries. Finding answers and lending support to others are great ways to aid in recovery.

5. Eat healthy, be happy – When I can’t run my mind automatically starts to dwell on all those extra pounds that are going to fly onto my body. Even if this is not realistic, eating healthy helps me keep a happy frame of mind until I can go back to burning the calories I’m used to burning. And eating healthy is always a great habit for helping me become a stronger runner.

Happy running! πŸ˜€

Intermediate Running

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A fellow blogger recently wrote about being classified as a beginning runner despite having run for close to a year. Said blogger also lamented about how there isn’t much information or support out there for people in between newbie running and those running longer (half marathons and beyond) distances.

So,Β Geek Fitness, this is for you.

What do you do if Β you’ve been running for a while and can run for prolonged periods, but aren’t quite at the point where you can, or want to, run longer distances? You’re happily running between these two categories and want support but can’t find it.

While there are plenty of resources involving intermediate training programs for longer races like half or full marathons, finding information for those running on an intermediate level can indeed be tricky. When I searched online and in various running books for any resources under the label of “intermediate running” I couldn’t find anything! Then I started thinking, what makes a runner fall into the intermediate category? Is it running more than twice a week? Or is it running at a certain pace? Is it when you’re ready to introduce hill or interval training into your routines? Or is it when you are ready to train for a 10k or another longer race? Because every person, and thus every runner, is different, then those questions are unique to each individual runner. And when you can answer that question, you’ll Β start to find there are many resources out there that will provide support for intermediate runners.

As I can’t answer that question for anyone else except myself, I’ll do just that. I actually consider myself, happily, to be an intermediate runner still despite having run for about ten years and having half marathons, 10ks, and many 5ks under my belt. The reason I place myself in that category is because I don’t run intervals, do speedwork, extensive hill training, or time my splits, nor do I want to. I don’t know my 5k PR and don’t feel bad about having no desire to ever run a marathon. I love running and I love reading about running and learning how to become a stronger runner, so I find topics that will help me do just that. So I started searching for articles and online resources for things that would help me improve as an intermediate runner like strength training exercises for runners, how to train safely without injury (still have a while before I master that one!), and the best way I can build my mileage each week. I can find like minds on websites like dailymile.com and by following my favorite running blogs like another mother runner.

I realized, thanks Geek Fitness, that there’s a lot of topics out there for intermediate runners, like myself, it just depends on what you’re interested in and where you want to go as a runner.

Happy running! πŸ˜€

Overcoming Injury

woman-leg-injury-mdnThere’s nothing more frustrating to me than a persistent injury. I know some people who can run miles and miles without a single injury. Sadly, I’m not one of those people. My injuries have ranged from mild to painful, a strained ankle tendon to a persistent IT injury. Recovery has taken anywhere from a few days (ankle) to months (IT band). My problem is not knowing what kind of treatment to do when. Do I use RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate)? Or physical therapy? How long should I stop running? Do I have to stop running or can I run through the injury? Will that keep me from a full recovery?

I normally approach each injury head on, trying to do as much as can, pushing my limits, to try and figure out how serious my injury is. Obviously I wouldn’t do this for some super severe like a bad sprain or broken bone (neither of which I’ve had and hope never to deal with), but for the various strains and aggravations I’ve had that method is the best way I’ve found to deal with my injuries thus far.

And I’ve found that different injuries respond in different ways and recommendations I get from running experts or online running resources aren’t always the best fit for my body. For example, my IT band was injured because I did too much too fast and to get to a full recovery I had to stop running completely. Instead I focused on cross-training and found a roller. I began rolling out my IT band every day, along with my other muscles, and that was what got me to a full recovery.

Most recently I pulled my hip flexor. It’s been incredibly frustrating because I can’t run without pain and even walking has been hurting. I’ve tried different things and have found that the best exercises that work so far are strength training for the glutes and low abs (for some reason my hip flexor always feels better after I do those strengthening exercises) and using the Precor machine because it doesn’t have the same impact as running does. I would like to add water running to my recovery list as I feel like the Precor mimics that movement.

I’ll continue to work towards healing so I can run at full capacity again and try not to get frustrated at the time it takes. My ultimate goal is to run for my lifetime and if I have to stop running while I fully heal then that’s what I have to do!

Happy running! πŸ™‚

My Running Story

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“I feel like going for a run…” These words sealed my fate as a runner seven years ago. I knew nothing about running when I had this thought. I figured I would throw on any old pair of sneakers and run around the town I lived in at the time until I’d put a few miles under my belt and decided to return home sweaty and happy. Haha! Instead, I put on an old t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and a tread-worn pair of sneakers, headed out my door at a jog – and made it halfway down the block. Not even a city block, a short suburban block. Pretty demoralized, I didn’t run again until a few months later when a friend of mine who was an avid runner said she would run with me and help me along the way.

Still wearing the same worn out clothes and sneakers, we drove to a nearby park that had a great dirt trail that was both flat and easy on the knees. The conditions couldn’t have been more ideal – blue skies, no humidity, warm but not too hot. Birds were chirping, the trees spreading their leafy canopies over the trail providing blissful patches of shade. I managed to jog with intermittent walking for about twenty minutes before being completely wiped out. Even with walking breaks, my lungs felt like they were on fire, my limbs ached, and I felt like I was running in slow motion – definitely not like those glossy pictures of fit runners in magazines like Runner’s World with their toned, sinewy muscles and lean midriffs. But even with all that, I loved it. Maybe it was the masochistic side of me, but I wanted more.

I had only run a couple of weeks when a friend of mine told me about a race called Bay to Breakers that was happening in May. It is a 12k run through the streets of San Francisco, up the notoriously difficult Hayes Street Hill, with most of its participants donning costumes for the event. I would have only been running for a little more than a month, but feeling that having a goal would help motivate me to continue running I agreed to join her. While this goes against the rule of only increasing mileage 10 percent each week, running this race actually worked in my favor. I think that if I hadn’t had the goal of that upcoming race I might not have stuck with my weekly runs and wouldn’t have gotten the love of running rooted deep in my life.

My first race through the hilly streets of San Francisco officially sealed the deal for my love of running. I had two goals during the race – to finish and to not stop running. Bay to Breakers was a perfect race because there was so much to distract me as I ran. People everywhere were in costumes (I wore a pink tutu), most everyone was there to just have fun so there were a ton of people cheering runners along the course and the mood was happy. It got to the purity of the run because I wasn’t worrying about negative splits or checking my pace on my Garmin or aiming for a new PR.

After that first less than stellar run, I’ve grown a lot as a runner. But I haven’t forgotten where I started and always try to keep those initial days in mind whenever I’m encouraging others to put on their sneakers and go for jog.

Happy Running! πŸ˜€

Running a Half Marathon

halfmarathonMarc Parent, author of the Newbie Chronicles in the Runner’s World magazine, wrote an article for the February 2013 issue documenting his first half marathon running experience. For years Parent has been writing about his experiences in becoming a runner and growing to love it. I love his article as I could relate to many of his stories. When I first began running I never dreamed that I would run in any race let alone a half marathon. It wasn’t that I was unfit, but when it came to prolonged cardio activities I definitely had a lot of room for improvement. (I’ll post about my first running experience in a near future post.)

My first half marathon wasn’t anything like Parent’s experience. I ran in the Delaware Half Marathon, my first, in 2009. A combination of my naivety and the circumstances of the day made for a rough run. Since I was coming in from out of town, a friend who was running in the same race offered to pick up my race packet the day before and give it to me before the race. Except for some reason she took out the bib number and subsequently forgot it at her apartment. Which meant I had to run around the morning of to try and obtain a new number, something that baffled the race volunteers – guess that doesn’t happen very often. By the time I finally got a new bib number a light drizzle had begun to fall. No problem I thought. I’d run in the rain before and wasn’t worried about it affected my ability to run or finish the race.

By the time I lined up at the start, the rain had begun to come down with more intensity. At the official’s signal I took off – way too fast. I pounded out the first few miles, waving happily to my girlfriend who later said she couldn’t believe how quickly I ran past her at the three-mile mark. By that time it was pouring and I was soaked through and through. The course wasn’t particularly difficult, but I soon realized how ill-prepared I was for this half-marathon. Around mile 6 I got a cramp in my side so painful that I was forced to walk for the next half mile. Eventually I was able to run once more, but at a much slower pace. My intention had always been to just finish the race as it was my first half marathon, so I didn’t worry about my pace focusing instead on the finish line.

Around mile 11 I hit the dreaded wall. My legs were had tightened and I had hit the bottom of my reserves. I ran/walked the last couple of miles and managed to move past the pain to cross the finish line. I don’t even remember my time. I just remember the feeling of euphoria and relief at crossing through the finishing gate. Despite the less than stellar run, I felt like I could conquer the world. And I knew I wanted to run another half marathon, only next time I’d be more prepared. πŸ™‚

(Note: I ran in the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2011 and loved every minute of it. I had trained well and finished with a time of 2:06. My goal for the half marathon, yet to be determined, this year is to break 2 hours.)

Happy running!

 

Fun New Gadget: Garmin Forerunner 10

watch-pink-glow My new favorite running gadget is a gift I received for Christmas, a Garmin Forerunner 10. Any race I enter I see people of all shapes, sizes and speeds checking their shiny sports watches as they toe the line. Able to calibrate a whole multitude of stats, many runners have turned to wrist ornamentation to track their speeds, paces, mileage, and calories. These stats can then be uploaded to your computer so runners are able to compare their various runs and track goals they have set. Many of the sites linked to gadgets such as the Garmin watch also double as social media sites so runners are able to share their successes and challenges.

There are a whole range of tools designed with a similar purpose in mind. These also range in price from the Nike+ iPod Sports Kit which is set at $28.95 to ones equipped with things like GPS, barometer, and thermometer that run around $500. My new Garmin lands nicely in the middle in both price and features providing me with exactly enough information that I’m not inundated, but am given enough that I can track key stats to monitor my goals and progress. Also, it’s lightweight, easy to use, and a fun pink color (it also comes in bright green and black). It’s a great way to get excited about runs even when the winter weather is floating around freezing. πŸ™‚

Happy running!