IT Band+Pain= Lessons Learned

Well, I haven’t really posted anything on here since my marathon race recap. I am pretty sure that I coasted on that runners high for a few weeks.  I started doing a little bit of running here and there and even got a 6 mile run in last Sunday.  But then….

I was on the treadmill Wednesday after work with a goal of hitting somewhere around 4-5 miles.  I got a little over a mile in and I felt some nagging pain right on the outside of my left knee.  It wasn’t bad at first and I was certain it had more to do with me not paying attention to my form. So I slowed it down a bit and focused on my form and for a second it seemed to help.  Finally I did some walking in between trying to watch my form, but it didn’t do any good.  My knee was killing me and I had to call it after 3.5 miles. 

From what I have read I believe it is an IT band issue and given that the treatments recommended have worked for it, I believe I am correct.  I got an IT band brace and have been wearing it, icing my knee, and using the foam roller.  Most imporantly, even though it is killing me…*sigh* I am not running, doing squats, burpees, etc on it.  The part that kills me is the running, but believe it or not I do enjoy burpees (I’m weird I know, but going from not being able to be that strong and coordinated to being able to do them makes me like them).  Back to the point, I want to run as long in my life as possible so I am doing my best to practice patience and not run.

Research says that I need to wait 3-5 days before attempting to run again, so Monday will be 4 days and I think I will try and do a few minutes of running and see how it goes.  I plan on wearing my brace and focusing on time rather than distance and doing a slower pace with walking in between.       Image

What is the lesson learned here?  To be honest there are several things that I learned in this process:

  1. I am pretty sure this is partially a result of not taking it easy and trying to start running and cross training too early after my marathon.
  2. As strong as my body feels, this is further proof that I need to increase my lean muscle mass and should be doing strength training.
  3. Foam rolling (while painful at times) and stretching are a must to help prevent further irritation and injury.  So even on those days where I don’t feel like I have time or just don’t feel like doing it, I have to make time for it.

Have you injured yourself by pushing too hard in your exercise?  What lessons did you learn from it?

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My First Marathon- Frisco Railroad Run

I finally did it, I ran my marathon last Saturday!  It was surreal leading up to it, I let myself get so busy visiting family and friends that it almost snuck up on me.  I think that really helped, because then it didn’t cause me to get too out of control with nerves.  The night before meal with my family at a local Italian restaurant was perfect, I held back a bit so I didn’t make myself too bloated and because I had been doing some carb loading slowly through the week so I wasn’t concerned about it.  We had a ton of fun at the restaurant, no one can make me laugh like my brother; it was again the perfect release for any jitters.

So I got up at 5 am to eat some fuel, I used some natural hazelnut butter and honey on whole grain bread. The night before I had gathered all of my gear up and only had to fill my Camelbak, drop in my Nuun tablets, and dress.  I gave myself plenty of time to walk around and feel alert before I had to drive to my race.  Once I got there it was FREEZING!  Not really, but to this chick that loves the heat and is used to Vegas it was very cold.  I was thankful that they had a school gym we could wait in for a bit before the start of the race and I managed to hit the bathroom line early (score!).

ImageI was starting to get a little nervous and anxious to get going, so I had to get up and move.  I chit chatted with a few other racers while stretching and pacing.  I was very clearly not the only one nervous and at the same time felt reassured by the veteran marathoners/ultra runners that were there.  I figured I might have traveled the farthest, until I saw the Canadian flag on someones shirt, so much for the one award I thought I might get (there wasn’t a traveled farthest, but I could dream).

 

Notice the ominous looking clouds, for a little bit I actually thought we might avoid the rain, but there was no such luck there. ImageStill the rain did hold out for a bit so I got to enjoy some music for a little while.  On top of the marathon there was an 50 mile, 50k, half, and an 8k. 

7:30 am- we started, I hung out in the back of the pack, I know my tendency to go out too fast and it’s the number one thing on my mind along with reminding myself not to worry about anyone else, because this is my race and my pace not theirs.

8k– as we pass this point it goes from the black top to the fine crushed gravel.  I think to myself how short that distance is and laugh inside.  At the same time I had briefly talked to someone that was doing her first race and doing the 8k.  She was obviously that fun mix of excited and scared, I am reminded that it’s all about perspective at this point in my running journey. I feel strong and I feel confident, I can’t believe I am finally doing it.

Half marathon turn around (6.55 miles)- As I am approaching it I get passed by a kid sprinting (for me it would be a sprint) I am well aware that he is going to win the half marathon and he is way ahead of the others in his race.  At this point it isn’t raining, but it feels like it will very soon.  I had to make a pit stop which slowed my pace, but again as long as I finish it’s a PR so I don’t worry much about it.  I had met two older men and had been chatting with them about their racing experience.  Both were marathon maniacs, one had completed 75 marathons and the other one 25.  They were doing the walk/run method and we were going back and forth passing each other.  They reminded me that I was not allowed to pass old people at the finish line, I laughed.  After the pit stop I they pulled ahead and I met another runner and we paced each other for a bit.  I still felt strong and in a bit of denial of how far I had left to go.

13.1– My turn around point was coming and Deborah the girl I was pacing with and I had really passed the time talking about our common love for running.  She is a mother of 5 and totally kicked butt on her race.  She was a few months older than me and we discussed how this time next year we would be in the next age group.  We also laughed at the pace we would have to keep to qualify for Boston, I shared that I doubted it would ever happen for me, but I now have added NYC and Chicago to my bucket list.  It started raining on us in between the half turn around and our turn around so it was nice to have someone to talk to.  I had used my wireless earphones for the race so I quickly stashed them in my pack as soon as it started to sprinkle.  Thankfully my new phone is water resistant and the band is to, so the phone is fine and I admit to a few pictures and texts along the way. Halfway done and as you can see still smiling!

Image2.5 miles out– I felt like it would never end.  I was encouraged by the knowledge that I was close to finishing, but my energy was definitely waning at this point.  Just before 2.5 miles out I had allowed myself to walk for probably less than a quarter of a mile.  I also passed the guy who said I wasn’t allowed to (oops), he laughed and said, “and there you go” as I went by.  As I did it I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to make myself start again so I forced myself to get going again.  With that in mind I made myself pick up the pace again.  I also had an awesome friend meet me at 2.5 miles out, Sarah from Beauty School drop out who lives in my home town.  I have to admit part of why I pushed myself to keep a decent pace is so that I could get to her soon and not have her waiting forever (though after meeting her she is so sweet I doubt she would have minded).  My brother was there to wave and cheer me on as well and that was awesome.

1.2 miles left– I swear to you on everything, this was THE LONGEST MILE EVER!  I mean it, I felt like this mile was much longer than that, technically it was longer than a mile I know, but I focused on it being just a mile to keep myself going.  By the time I crossed the finish line my Garmin said I did 26.76 miles, I like that because that means I did my first ultra, ha!  As I got right up to the finish line I sped back up and reminded myself to not slow down until the last mat (remember that if you race, the last one has to record you for the results).  Of course I started crying at the end, not overwhelming tears of a break down, but tears of joy, relief, and some disbelief.  This is a goal I had wanted to do for so many years of my life.  It was a secret goal that I dare not share with anyone, a secret desire.  Now it’s an achievement that I am so proud of and ready to tackle again.  I love running more than I can express, it’s such a challenge to your mind and body I can’t explain.  I’ll even be brave enough now to say that even though I don’t know when, I will meet the challenge of an ultra marathon one day. 

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Waving to Sarah who’s about to run with me!

My average pace was 11:23/m, fastest was 9:40 (around mile 3), I was 46th overall, 7 out of 12 in my age range with a finish of 4:58:05.65.  Since I was figuring on a 5 hour finish I felt pretty good about that.  I will do another post to share my post race plans with you to get my muscle mass back and lose some of this increased fat.  I want to do this too because the cross training will help increase the chances of a longer running life.  Tomorrow I get my 26.2 sticker for my car and soon a new tattoo to celebrate.  They say if you run a marathon it will change your life, the training and the race both did that for me.  I can’t wait to do it again!!  PS my Swirlgear totally kept me warm and dry, being in Vegas I hadn’t had much opportunity to try the water resistant factor, it worked great!

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The finish line!

If you are a runner, what is your race distance bucket list or race bucket list?

 

 

Fit Vegas Vacations

There are a lot of reasons to visit Las Vegas when you head out on vacation this summer.  There are the obvious places to visit like the famous Strip, Fremont Street, and of course all of the buffets.  But I want to introduce you to a more fit  and active Las Vegas that won’t leave you broke and bloated.  In all seriousness I do find many of the casinos to be really interesting to look at and people watching is one of my favorite hobbies.  If you go from one end of the Strip to the other it is 4.2 miles (according to Google) so that is a good walk and I suggest comfortable and supportive shoes.  However, there are a lot of things to do inside of and just outside of Vegas that are a lot of fun.

  • Valley of Fire- Valley of Fire is just 55 miles northeast  of Las Vegas and has some wonderful hiking with beautiful scenery.  You can hike, camp, picnic, and take pictures to your hearts content.  It’s open year around, but some of the hiking, etc. is best done when it’s not the heat of the summer.  Here is the website if you want to see pictures or get other details, let’s just say it is a local favorite.  http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/
  • Lake Mead-  There are so many things to do at the lake, there are tunnels that can be run or hiked (there are a few races each year in them).  One of the ladies in my running group suggests this is one of the best ways to get to see both the lake and Hoover Dam.  There are also options for being on the water, with some boat rentals, cruises, and paddle boats.  The first link is a link to the tunnels and the second is a link to the marina information.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Willow Beach Marina- Okay technically this is in Arizona, but it is very close to Vegas and well worth the trip.  It’s a beautiful area for some kayaking, camping, and picnics. This is a favorite spot for many Vegas locals to go to on a Saturday or Sunday to relax.  http://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/marinas.htm
  • Wetlands Park- Here in Clark County we have a park that has over 300 species of plants and animals with paved and unpaved trails for hiking and bike riding.  It’s technically in Henderson Nevada, but Henderson is entwined with Vegas and it’s not far from the Strip.  http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/wetlandspark
  • Springs Preserve- This is a little wonderland in the middle of Vegas, off to the south and east you will see the Stratosphere, but inside of it you will experience a different world.  It has trails, a museum, classes, gardens to explore, and a pretty taste cafe as well.  https://www.springspreserve.org/
  • Gold Strike Canyon- This is another favorite hike of locals that is just beautiful.  I mention it in particular because you can get to it hiking and scrambling and it takes you to the Colorado River and some hot springs.  http://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/LAME/Goldstrike/_Goldstrike.htm
  • Red Rock- this has great hiking and trails for running.  The main loop is a nice 13 mile loop that is perfect for long runs. http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/lvfo/blm_programs/blm_special_areas/red_rock_nca.html

Finally a few websites that you can visit to get even more information about natural things that you can do to be active while in Vegas. The bird and hike in particular profiles trails in the Vegas area and provides pictures and elevation info; I have used this several times.  http://www.birdandhike.com/ and http://www.naturallyvegas.com/

Do you like to make sure you are active on vacations?  What active or natural attractions would you recommend in your area?

 

3.17 miles vs 13 minutes & 7 seconds Suicide Awareness Virtual Run

Statistics say that every 13.7 minutes a person in the US commits suicide.  That fact impacted my life over 20 years ago this March when my senior year a friend that I cared for dearly took his life.  I and others close knew he struggled with depression, but the news was still unexpected.  I struggled with many emotions over the years related to this, anger, grief, depression, and finally acceptance & forgiveness.  No matter what I will never forget him, his laugh, and his hatred of cats (a friendly argument we had frequently). 

In my running I have become aware of many different runners and running groups on Facebook and on Twitter.  One runner that I admire and can relate in many ways to is the Driven Runner.  He and some of his family and friends started a virtual run to help raise funds for suicide awareness.  He himself shares through his page how he struggles with depression and how running has helped him win the battle against it.  I have made no secret that running has brought me relief from my depression and emotional woes, in fact it has for many runners, I am hardly unique. 

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My more than a 5k 3.17 miles

So today I finished my 5 miles for my training and while doing it spent my time meditating not just on my friend, but the disease of depression.  I stopped at 3.17 miles to acknowledge not just my friends, but all those who have considered or attempted suicide.  It is a disease, just as deadly as heart disease, diabetes, and addiction.  The good news is that there is hope, there are people out there that care and want to help.  The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is who the fundraiser is for as well as general awareness.  If you suffer from depression there is hope and there is help please reach out to a friend, family member, or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is just one of the numbers you can call for help a quick search on the internet will even give you some chats to use as well.  I can’t wait to get my t-shirt so I can start the conversation with others. If you want to check out the run on Fundly the link is https://fundly.com/driven-runner-suicide-awareness-virtual-run please consider checking it out and helping to raise awareness.  Out of the virtual runs I have done, this one is my favorite.

Perfecting the lunch run aka “runch”

One of my favorite times to run is actually during lunch, what I affectionately call “runch”.  I have a different kind of work schedule and like a lot of you many responsibilities when I get home at night.  So when I started my marathon training I knew getting my runs in would mean some creative thinking.  Having done this now for 16+ weeks (long story and a lack of math skills on my end), I have become a bit of an expert in the “runch” and wanted to share how to successfully do a run at lunch.

Prep- pack your gear the night before; this isn’t new to you if you do a lot of long runs early in the morning or a lot of races.  Being the planner I am I always set out my stuff for the next day anyway, this is just a continuation of the behavior.

Gear- there are certain things you want to make sure you have to run during the day and then go back to work, you not only need to have your running clothes and shoes, but also a few personal care items.  Deodorant (I get a little travel size one), fresh underwear, a towel, and some baby wipes.  With those on hand you can freshen up just fine after the run and not offend coworkers or clients.  For ladies, a hair tie is a great option to have as well if your hair isn’t already up that day.  I find I can get my bangs to look okay, but need to put my windblown hair up after a run.

Time/route- make sure that you have enough time for your run, plan for enough time to change before and after as well as the cleanup.  I know the type of pace I need to keep and want to keep for my shorter runs so this allows me to manage my time without going  over my lunch hour.  For the route I took time to get familiar with the neighborhood and safe paths or streets to take as well as how to get my mileage in without going too far away from the office in case of an emergency.  Personally I can safely get 4 miles done during my lunch hour and still have time to get cleaned up and eat.

Food- it may sound silly, but your lunch hour is for eating and since you just ran 1-5 or more miles you have to refuel for proper recovery.  If you haven’t picked up on it, during my marathon training I am finding that I am starving most of the time anyway, I can’t imagine trying to go without eating after I run.  I pick easy to fix and ready to eat things on the days I am doing my lunch runs.  Either simple reheated meals or sandwiches are perfect as well as prepared veggies.  I also make sure that I have something to snack on later in the day should I still be hungry.

Hydration- I don’t usually carry water with me on my shorter runs anymore, but I need to make sure that I don’t get dehydrated so I make sure that I drink plenty of water before and after my run.  If you are just starting or it is a particularly warm day make sure you can take some water with you even if it is just carrying a small bottle of water.

Weather- finally I always check the weather ahead of time.  Out here in the desert spring time means nasty winds (20+ miles an hour) and dust/sand.  I already have allergy issues so if it is too windy then it will mean I will have to modify my running plans for the week.  It will also start to get too hot pretty soon, so unless I have a way to run indoors my “runches” will have to stop.  Having adjusted to the weather in the desert I can run midday for a while if I take hydration with me, but I pay attention to my hydration and how I am feeling to help gauge that as well.

Being able to run at lunch has a lot of time saving advantages when you have a busy home life and a lot of responsibilities.  The other big advantage for me is the stress relief during the day.  I don’t have the worlds most stressful job, but like anyone else there are days when I am already stressed when I get to work and being able to actively let go of stress during the day has helped my mental health a great deal.

If you have done a run at lunch or another workout what are your must have items to make it successful?

If You Want to Lose Weight Don’t Count on Running

This weekend I finished my 17 mile run, the farthest I have gone to date.  I was exhausted and sore by the time I finished it, but I got it done.  While I was on the treadmill and for almost this entire 16+ weeks of training I had some time to think about the misconceptions of running.  The one I want to address today is stated pretty simply in my title: if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t count on running.

Misconception #1: Cardio is the way to lose weight.  It is a way you can lose weight, but if you go to many races you will see that runners come in all shapes and sizes, even the larger sizes.  The solution if you want to lose weight you should be doing a healthy combination of aerobic and resistance.  Resistance builds muscle= higher metabolism among the various benefits (sexy looking body, stronger bones, stronger core, resistance to injury while running).

Misconception #2:  I just ran _____ miles so I can eat anything. Wrong!  Not if you are trying to do things like eat clean and perhaps maintain your weight.  There is no out running a poor diet, I have tried this, many others have tried this, and we all fail.  Run To the Finish calls it “runners entitlement” this thought that since I burned a ton of calories I can eat a ton.  In fact this happens often enough that you will find several articles out there on how to try and keep the over eating and weight gain under control.  One article that explains it very well is from Runner’s World http://www.runnersworld.com/weight-loss/why-do-i-gain-weight-during-marathon-training ; it offers some great insight and suggestions on how to combat this. A side note to this is that the people around you might encourage that kind of thinking, because they are in awe of how much you ran. Be cautious about feeding into this justification or rationalization it’s an easy thing to do.

Misconception #3: I just ran ____ miles and got my steps so I can relax now.  *Raises hand in guilt.* Yeah it’s pretty easy to say to yourself I ran 8, 10, or 16 miles today so I deserve to be able to relax the rest of the day.  The fact is, it’s awesome that you were active for so many minutes or hours, but sitting down the rest of the day will not help your metabolism to keep going, nor will it help you fight the increase in health risks that come with sitting all day.  Most runners do their run first thing in the morning so they can get it out of the way and because it wakes you up better than a cup of coffee.  Personally I have to work to be mindful to stay active the rest of the day on my long run days on the weekend.  The shorter runs it isn’t as challenging in part because of the time of day and the fact that they aren’t as draining. The solution, get up and do some household chores, go for a walk (with dog or kids maybe), add a little resistance later in the day, but make an effort to get up and move.

Misconception #4: The more often I run the more calories I will burn, i.e. if I do 3 miles a day or 5 miles a day.  Sadly this isn’t true, if it were I can think of many run streakers who would LOVE IT!  Just like other exercises you have to “shake it up” or your body will adapt and you will hit the dreaded plateau.  To address it consider throwing in the resistance and other forms of cross training, like bike riding, swimming, or yoga. 

If you address these issues you will see that while yes you can lose weight by running, but it isn’t the only nor is it the best way to do it.  If you are like me you have a hard time finding the balance, but just like other parts of life finding balance is very important.

Are any of these misconceptions one that you believed or that you struggle with?

Why a Marathon?

Probably the best question I have been asked for a bit actually, right up there with why do you run? 

I run for a lot of reasons and to someone that doesn’t really enjoy it there is a challenge in understanding, so here is my attempt to help translate.  Probably the biggest reason I run has been because it helps me feel free.  In the period of time I am running I am free of the rest of life.  I don’t get asked to do anything for anyone, I go where my two feet will take me, and I get the challenge to see where I end up or how far I can go; I’m free.  Even when I am on a time crunch, I do my best to be present and enjoy my run.

I had the desire to run many years before I lost my weight, I was just too afraid to do it.  I also had that desire, a secret wish to run a marathon.  It’s not like I really sat and watched marathons on TV as a kid, but I did pay attention.  I saw a look on their faces when they crossed that finish line, it was pure bliss.  I like feeling good, we all do, and the feeling of pride when I meet the next challenge is bliss.

Once I started seeing how I did with training and running for my first half marathon I REALLY started dreaming about it.  I wanted to do it, but fear was holding me back.  I have let too many things in my life pass me by due to fear.  Don’t get me wrong I have achieved a lot in my few years on this planet, but there are dreams I gave up on or put off out of fear and I didn’t want to do that anymore. 

I guess you could say that a marathon is my line in the sand right now.  I gave/give a lot as an employee, a friend, a counselor, and a caregiver for other people.  This marathon and being able to finish it as a Formerlyfatgirl, this marathon is for me.

Ways to add protein to your diet

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Part of my marathon training has involved taking a look at my diet and making some changes.  I like many marathon runners in training started gaining weight.  If you follow me on FB or twitter you could tell it was FREAKING ME OUT. I admit it may have been an over reaction, but after being 250lbs and pretty much overweight from 1st grade on I don’t want to go back there.  I worked hard the last few years to get where I am by changing my eating, gaining healthy habits, and working out.  That being said one of the big things I have done to help lessen the weight gain from overdoing carbs is I have worked to increase my protein.  There is a lot of emphasis on carbohydrates with running, in part because that is what our bodies preferred source of energy is; it is not however the only source of energy.  Also protein is very important in the repair process for our muscles and is one of the macronutrients that helps us to feel fuller longer.  Both muscle repair and not having the runchies all the time are super important in being healthy and maintaining my weight.  So I have a few things I thought I would share about how I am increasing my protein intake with snacks and meals.

  • Eggs- I love them anyway so I usually have an egg sandwich in the morning with 1-2 eggs or an egg for a quick snack in the afternoon to help hold me over for dinner.
  • Protein powder- yesterday after my 16 mile run I knew I would be starving the rest of the day if I didn’t do something about refueling right away.  I grabbed a double dose of Designer Whey vanilla protein powder, I could spare the calories so it was no big deal.
  • Nuts- I love raw nuts and nut butters so I find that they help sustain me as a quick little snack, especially paired with some pears (pun intended).
  • Dairy products- some days I find I crave milk, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese so I will have a little bit.  I also find that if the runchies get me later in the evening a small glass of milk will sit on my stomach better and not be too filling.
  • Quinoa- I love quinoa, it is so versatile, you can eat it as if it is a side like rice, you can throw it in your eggs, you can eat it instead of oatmeal, or throw it in your favorite soups.  There are so many things you can add it to that I can’t possibly list them all here.  They are used like a grain, but guess what?  They are actually a vegetable and a complete protein; I am a major fan if you can’t tell.
  • Edamame- I discovered dry roasted edamame at the store the other day and oh my goodness it’s great!  I must admit it is one of the healthy things I could easily go overboard with if I am not mindful. 

Whatever your particular diet (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, clean eater) getting enough protein is vital for muscle repair, brain functioning, and fighting off hunger (runchies) so you can maintain weight.  What are some of your favorite ways to boost your protein intake, especially after a hard run or workout?

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