Posts Tagged ‘ XT ’

The Doctor is In

doctor-02I’ve finally come to the realization that my injury isn’t going to get any better without some professional help. After weeks and months of trying to fix my injury on my own I wasn’t getting any better. I read about running injuries, talked to people at my local running store, asked advice from friends, but nothing seemed to be working. I’ve tried strength training, cross training, walking, stretching, and icing.

But to no avail.

Last week I made an appointment with a sports medicine physician to see if I could finally get a handle on this injury. And to figure out what’s really wrong with me, since I really don’t know what’s injured. I was just being stubborn about needing to get expert advice. I’ve learned my lesson! So this Thursday I’ll be hopefully getting some expert advice on how to heal properly so I can finally get back to running.

Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

Happy running! 🙂

Jumping Right In Part I

It’s amazing how time just slips away and before you know it three weeks have passed since my last blog post. Yikes!

In my last post I mentioned trying to pick up swimming to help facilitate the healing of my hip flexor injury. So this past Sunday I decided I would head over to my gym and try swimming some laps. The problem is I’ve never actually swam (swimmed? swumded?) laps before. I knew I could get from one end to the other without drowning – hopefully – but I knew it wouldn’t be pretty.

After throwing on my bathing suit, one I felt fairly confident wouldn’t slide, droop, or otherwise cause me embarassment while I was swimming, I packed a gym bag complete with goggles, towel and a change of clothes. I arrived at the gym eager, and slightly nervous, about swimming. How would I find the pool? How many laps would I be able to swim without inhaling water? Would I have to share a lane with some stellar swimmer who would, quite literally, blow me out of the water?

I told the woman at the front desk that I was looking to swim some laps, but hadn’t done this before and wasn’t sure what the protocol was. She pointed me in the direction of the locker rooms and said I could ask the lifeguard on duty how the “lane etiquette” worked. Who knew there was lane etiquette??

After finding the locker room and putting my stuff away. I somehow managed to find the entrance to the pool, a feat that seems like it should have been simple yet realized it wasn’t after winding my way through the locker room several minutes and having to double back more than once. Finally I reached the pool.

To be continued…

Just Keep Swimming

train-for-swim  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! 🙂

Happy running!

Pilates Power

PilatesEvery time I read up on great exercises I can do to improve my running and come back from my injury I come across moves that I typically do in my pilates class. The only problem is I hadn’t gone to pilates in weeks. Knowing that every week that passed that I skipped my pilates class was a missed opportunity to improve on these areas, yesterday I decided I had to go to class that evening. I threw on my workout clothes, laced up my sneakers, grabbed my mat, and headed out.

I’d forgotten how refreshing going to class was. I felt rejuvenated head-to-toe. And sore! But a good sore, letting me know the exercises were working all the right muscles. It also reminded me how much I appreciate all the camaraderie and support I find there. My instructor is wonderful. Super sweet and encouraging with such a positive energy it’s impossible not to smile even when she’s pushing us through difficult movements. My fellow pilates goers were also quick to give me words of encouragement. I’m already excited to go back. I’ll be back to running before I know it! 🙂

 

Spring Weather = Outdoor Fitness Fun

springbikingMy mood always improves as the weather grows warmer, the days grow longer, and the sun shines more. This means I can take full advantage of all the other outdoor activities I love. So while I continue with my strength training routines at the gym, I’m eager to bask in the sunshine. Biking, disc golfing, walks, maybe even a little pitch & putt.

Recently, my wife and I found an amazing place a short drive from our house called Duke Farms. At 2,740 it’s one of the largest areas of privately-owned undeveloped land in the state. With 18 miles of trails, paved and unpaved, it’s ideal for walks with children, biking, running, or hiking. There’s even a family of eagles you can watch or view over the farm’s Eagle Cam! Cool! You can hop on a little tram that goes around the trails if you get tired of trekking. While it’s open year-round, we visited for the first time a couple weeks ago – it was absolutely beautiful! Our family is already looking forward to our return visit. 🙂

 

Top Ten Strength Training Exercises for Runners

KettleBellSquatWinter is a great time to focus on the weight room, building strong muscles that will keep you from injury and help you to become a more dynamic runner.

While I’m a big proponent of pilates for strengthening muscles, especially core muscles, I also like to incorporate weights into my strength training workouts. There are many exercises that are effective in building a stronger you, but below are my:

TOP TEN STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES FOR RUNNERS

Goblet Squat

1001-goblet-squat-483x300

 

 

 

Push-ups

Push-ups

 

 

 

 

Walking Lunge

walking-lunge

 

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Squats

single-leg-squat

 

 

 

 

Single-Leg Deadlifts

single-leg-deadlift

 

 

 

 

Bulgarian Split-Squat

split-squat

 

 

 

 

 

Russian Twist

russian twist with medicine ball

 

 

 

Pull-ups

pull-ups

 

 

 

 

 

Back Extensions

backextension

 

 

 

 

Step-Ups

Dumbbell-StepUp

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are many more exercises that are wonderful and also effective for runners, but these are a great place to start. These focus on the entire body, but specifically legs and core. There are many different camps in regards to how often, how many reps, and how much weight one should lift, but I would recommend to start with 3 sets x 10 reps of enough weight that you can keep good form for each exercise while still taxing your muscles. If you can do all the reps with ease, you need to increase the weight. (Sidenote: Just last week I was doing the same exercise as a man twice my size but with a heavier weight!)

Happy running! 🙂

Personal Training

One of my goals for 2011 is to run a marathon. A race that is 26.2 miles long. This was also my goal of 2010 but due to poor training I suffered from an IT band injury early on that waylaid these plans. (The IT band is a tendon-like band that stretches from your glute muscle/hip area and attaches to your tibia. When it gets inflamed it causes pain around the knee.) Of course it took me way too long to actually stop and rest and rehab my IT band which meant I just made it worse before I actually got any better.

This year I’m almost back to a hundred percent and have done a couple short runs without pain. I’m hoping that by going slower than I normally would and not pushing as hard as the rest of my body would like to, I can rebuild and come back stronger than before. I realized that if I wanted to accomplish this I needed a little extra help. That was why I enlisted the help of Angie, my new personal trainer/running coach.

As a reader, I read a lot about injuries and running and how to best approach both. I also talked to a lot of different people about my injury and asked for recommendations. Every single person I talked to, all training professionals in running, had different advice. Every so often an article would coincide with another article or a another book, but for the most part I tried a million different things because “I know someone who had an IT band problem and he said that – FILL IN THE BLANK – worked and he was running again in a month!”

Yeah. Right.

Let me save you some time and grief if you ever get an IT band injury – the only surefire solution is REST. If you don’t rest it will get worse. Other than that every body is different so what “most definitely” works for Joe doesn’t mean it will work for Josephine. You have to take the advice that’s given and do what you can to stay in shape while letting your body rest and heal. Other than rest, two factors made a huge difference for me: 1. Finding the right pair of shoes for my feet (every foot/running style is different) and 2. Using a foam roller. A high school track coach told me that one of his athletes had IT band issues and what typically happens is that scar tissue begins to form causing persistent problems. Once I began rolling my leg out on the foam roller every day (I thought I would pass out it hurt so much – it feels kind of like a ongoing charlie horse), I started feeling a major difference. My pain and tightness both subsided! Yay!

This may be way too much info, but just in case you too suffer from running injuries I wanted to be thorough. 🙂

Bottom line – to continue working my way to running a marathon, I knew I needed help. I heard about Angie and her running program NuFit through the magazine Runner’s World. She is a certified running instruction, yoga instructor, and nutrition consultant. She is based out of Seattle but has a great website that I thoroughly perused. She offered remote personal training packages that would include an 8-week training schedule, weekly check-ins, and nutrition tips. While she would be my guide, I needed to be self-motivated as well as hold myself accountable to sticking to the schedule. Sounded like the perfect fit for my personality! I figured this was the kick I needed and after several emails back and forth decided to go ahead with the personal training.

I’m in week one and am loving it! I feel better already (although exercise will do that regardless) and feel like I’m on the right path for this new year. I’ll continue to give you updates on my progress as well as any setbacks (like I missed a day already because I was sick) so stay tuned.

But I want to know – have you ever used a personal trainer?

Rock Climbing and Other Fun XT Activities

I had just tweeted about my excitement to go rock climbing and thought it would make for a great topic for my blog today.

My three favorite cross-training activities are strength training, pilates, and rock climbing. Each provides me with unique attributes that I believe enable me to become a better runner and life a healthy lifestyle.

Strength Training: My brother-in-law Joe is studying to become a personal trainer. I absolutely love Joe. He’s so passionate about life and interest in physical fitness is no different. He and my brother Luke entered (and won awards for!) a natural (drug-free) body-building competition. It was amazing, and, okay, a little disturbing, to see the transformation their bodies underwent in getting ready for this competition! Their bodies were so lean that every sinew of muscle was apparent.

It could be that when you think of strength training you picture a bronzed and oiled enormous body builder who’s muscles have muscles. For myself and people like Joe and Luke it’s more about pushing the limits of what you think your body can handle so you can build a stronger body while defining muscle. I have heard many times over women who don’t want to lift weights because they get “huge muscle.” Sweetheart, unless you’re some sort of superhuman, this won’t happen. I also have had friends who don’t like to do any sort of strength training because they are intimidated by the machines and what kind of exercises they should be doing. Okay, that’s more understandable. Especially if you belong to a gym where testosterone flows freely in the free weights section (barbells, dumbbells, no machines).

My suggestions are these: 1. Find someone who knows some good weight lifting routines to show you what to do or 2. Hire a personal trainer. I would highly recommend not just pretending you know what you are doing as this can lead to injury.

For me, this is what I do: Routine 1. Back and biceps, Routine 2. Chest and triceps, and Routine 3. Legs and Shoulders. I leave my core work (abdominals and lower back mostly) for my Pilates days. There are great websites, books, and iPhone apps for different routines and there are also a wide variety of ideas as to the best way to build muscle. I say, do your research and find what works for you.

As a runner, strength training is an excellent way to keep your body toned and less prone to injury. You also burn more calories when you have more muscle! And if you started running to lose weight and keep it off, strength training adds another wonderful element in accomplishing this.

Pilates: Everyone has that one persistent problem area where fat likes to hang out, make itself comfortable, and have a cup of tea while it laughs at any attempts you may make to rid yourself of it. It’s the first to creep back the minute you aren’t paying attention to your eating and exercising habits like you should be and it’s always the last to leave. For me it’s my stomach. So while the rest of my body conforms to my will, my stomach laughs and nuzzles just a little closer to that six-pack of abs I’m certain exists – somewhere.

Pilates is one of my favorite activities in building a strong core. The system was developed in the early 20th century by a man from Germany named Joseph Pilates. You can use what’s called a pilates reformer or just a mat when doing pilates exercises. Many gyms and studios feature pilates classes and range in levels of complexity. I prefer to use a mat and an exercise ball.

What I like about pilates is that it offers a great variety of exercises that specifically focus on your core muscles. For runners especially it is so crucial to have a strong core as they keep you from injury and make you a stronger runner. And a well-toned core looks pretty hot too! So many benefits!

Here are some Pilates Exercises from About.com. Check your local bookstore or library for some great books on pilates exercises too.

Rock Climbing: I first got into rock climbing when I lived in Colorado. My friends at the time were big into the sport and there was an indoor rock climbing wall within walking distance of my apartment. The rock climbing picture above is what I enjoy doing. It’s called bouldering. Bouldering is climbing on lower and often more cave-like walls without any ropes. You never go very high and you always have thick mats underneath to protect you when you inevitably fall. It’s wonderful!

Bouldering (or rock climbing in general) is a great full-body workout that will leave you feeling muscles that you never knew existed. I love combining different XT activities for this reason. If I were to always do the same workout routines over and over, my body, being innately brilliant, learns these routines until they cease to push it to new levels of fitness. (It’s the same as running the same route every single day with no changes.)

What is Bouldering? – Synthetic rocks are bolted into the climbing walls and are all different shapes and sizes. They are designed to mimic the grips you might find on a rock wall outside. Different routes are set by placing colored pieces of tape next to a rock. The climber then has to find the start (usually a “V” of the colored tape) and match her hands and feet to the rocks that have that color until you reach the finish (also a “V” of colored tape). At the start there should be a label of some kind indicated the level of difficulty for that particular route. Bouldering is designated by a v, so an easy climb would be a v0 and a harder climbing might be a v5 and up.

While it was challenging to even do the most simplest of moves in the beginning, I can now finish more complicated climbing routes because, although it is also about strength, my mind and my body have also been trained to know how to be a better climber.

If anyone has any other XT activities that they enjoy doing, I would love to hear about them!