Category Archives: Injuries

Run Love

So I’m not going to lie. Waking up to a Twitter and Google Reader full of “National Run Day!” hoopla stung a bit.

Okay, it stung a lot.

Did you know it was National Run Day? It is. Happy holidays!

As someone who is a lover of every last holiday, including the random, probably-made-up days our country tends to promote, National Run Day is obviously right up my ally. Normally, I would celebrate with a double-digit morning run, in my favorite running outfit, and probably blog all about being in love with running after visiting the local running store to geek-out over miles and gels.

I take my holidays seriously people. And when you give me an “official” day to celebrate running, I will enthusiastically twirl a baton and wave at spectators at the running parade.

However, this year…my celebration plans aren’t exactly going to pan out as I would like.

Honestly, I could run today. My leg is definitely feeling better every day, and after 68 minutes and 7.5 miles of run/walking on Monday, my hopes are much higher for a quick comeback. I have been spacing out my runs with several days in between since I started back up, allowing any soreness or knee kinks to completely evaporate before trying again.

The thing about an IT band injury is that you’re not necessarily making things worse by running on them. Running doesn’t feel too great, that’s for sure, but it’s still do-able. Running with this injury essentially just elongates the healing process, because it tightens the band, therefore straining the knee, and even more icing and stretching is needed.

So, physically, I could run today. My soreness from Monday is nearly gone, there’s good-ish weather, and of course it’s National Run Day!

The question, then, this morning became…should I?

I absolutely hate the thought of being someone who doesn’t pay tribute to their favorite thing on a “national” day of recognition. As pretentious as it might sound, if there are people out there today logging miles that hardly run otherwise, surely I must be out there as well.

I’m a runner, I should be running today, that’s a given. And I can run! (kind of) So why not?

Essentially, I was thinking that it was a dishonor on my part to not run today. Yea yea yea, I know it’s a fake holiday and running any other day wouldn’t be any less fun or sweaty. But, I was still feeling pulled to run. Just to know I did it. Just to know that I am still a runner who can run whensoever she feels.

But then I got to thinking:

“Okay Robyn, is going out and gimping out a few—potentially painful—miles really going to prove you’re a real runner?”

(I don’t really think in third person, just go with it.)

Part of my brain said yes. It said, “Go on! Prove you’re getting back in the game. Prove that even without running for a month, you still have it in you.”

But prove what to who exactly? To running? Because I’m mad at running? Because I’m afraid of running and feel like I have to redeem myself worthy again?

This is when the other part of my brain started to infiltrate my thoughts. The part that is sensible, rational, and dare I say—smarter. She helped me realize that running for the sake of running today wasn’t going to actually help anything. It wasn’t going to send positive recovery vibes to the universe or “prove” to anyone or anything that I am still a runner.

No, all it could possibly do was set me back.

And all at once, my sense of reason took over, and I realized the truth.

If I love running so much, why would I want to run when I shouldn’t be?

If I want to “prove” my love for running, what I really should be doing is the sensible, careful thing…which would be allowing enough recovery, not pushing my limits, and slowly building back my strength. Running now (when I probably shouldn’t be, for no reason other than pride) would only prolong my ability to run in the future that much further.

And do I want that? No.

The best way for me, then, to celebrate National Run Day—a day where running should be given all the love it deserves—is to sit it out. My biggest downfall as a runner, as demonstrated in the Tacoma Marathon, is that I abuse the privilege of running. I can never get enough of it, and instead of treating running with TLC, I play roulette with it and my body—leading to collapses and injuries.

In that regard, I don’t need to “prove” anything in terms of my ability to get up and run. That’s not the hard part for me. The hard part is understanding that running is not something to be careless about, and in fact it needs the same kind of essentials as the rest of us—including some time to step back, lay out, and sip a summer brew.

(Go with my metaphor on this one.)

My point is that run love is not all about logging miles and miles, day after day. That’s a huge part of it, for sure, but run love also includes the times when we know we ought not to run. I know that if I truly want to prove how much I love to run today, I should let other people pound the pavement while I save my body for the time when it really can run again.

If I wanted to wind up in the same self-destructive mindset that led me to my downfall in the Tacoma Marathon, I would go run today. However, I want to be smarter, and I know that if I really want this sport to be in my life for a long time, I need to learn when to back off and be less selfish. Because running today would be the selfish thing to do, and in honor of my unconditional, pure love for running—in an act of selflessness, I’m going to start releasing the reigns.

 

With all that said, Happy National Run Day! Despite injuries, racing casualties, missing toenails, and an always full laundry hamper—I love this sport so incredibly much. As much as I might have whined in the past month, and as frustrated as I might get about being injured, I still ardently believe that even on the sidelines—nothing can teach us more about ourselves than running. And for that, I am thankful.

Whether you’re running or not today, I hope you show off your run love. Or, if you don’t run, go on and wave at someone who is. I can guarantee they are happy to be doing it…or at least they will be once it’s done 🙂

And mark my words, once fully healed, I will be celebrating my own self-made National Run Day with many happy miles, and anyone who wants to participate is invited.

How are you showing your run love today? How do you show your run love everyday? 

Running(!), Bridesmaids, and Doughnuts

Greetings friends, strangers, and family members who lovingly check in on my life.

How’s it going?

It’s JUNE. How did that happen?! I seriously feel like I was just bundling up every day and cranking my heater on a regular basis. Spring flew by, and while I know each year everyone seems to talk about how fast the time goes, for real this year seems even speedier. I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign of getting older…24 is ripe, I’ll tell you.

But let’s celebrate the time instead of commiserate its passing, shall we?

Plus, I have THINGS TO TELL YOU.

Friday Faves (obvs), AND I have some encouraging news. It’s not exclamation point encouraging, but exciting nonetheless.

;

I RAN. Well, ran-walked. And unlike Sunday’s fail of a walk-run attempt, I can confidently say that this excursion went well! Let’s back track a bit though and do a little lack-of-running recap.

Since doomsday the Tacoma Marathon, I haven’t been running at all. I tried a few times, realized very quickly that my IT band is shot, and since then I’ve been desperately trying to massage and ice and exorcise the stubborn demons out of my leg. It has been a month, which is pretty hard to believe—since it seems like only a little bit ago I felt fully recovered. Pathetic.

And no, I haven’t really been performing exorcisms on body parts. Yet.

Anyway, I have been sad, you have heard a lot about it, I have become a grumpy injured runner, etc. Whine whine whine.

Despite being peeved at anyone and everyone with fully-functioning legs, I actually have been more okay with this running leave-of-absence than I thought. After getting myself back together after that race, I realized that taking a step back was probably just what I needed. Although I’m sad it took an injury to fully solidify my “rest period,” the timing is without question the universe telling me to slow down. And slowing I have been.

Cue, Wednesday afternoon. I wanted to try walk/running again. I was/am tired of being inside on a spin bike while everyone in the entire world is out running.

(By the way, when you all of a sudden can’t run, every single person and their puppy seems to start running.)

It only took about 2 minutes in for my knee to seize in that all-too-familiar way, and so I started to walk, per run/walk standard procedure. After a minute, I started to run again, and after another two minutes…I realized my knee felt better. Not great, but not bad. While I am always hoping that one day I’ll wake up and the running gods will have waved their wands (the Stick) and made my ailments completely go away, at this point…I’ll take what I can get.

And guess what? I was out on my favorite route for 45 minutes!! 32 of which were running, and the others were spent stretching/walking. I didn’t even really care that I was having to walk at some points when I otherwise would have been flying by other people. It felt so good to be outside, by the water, and actually sweating from running. I know I had a big smile on my face the whole time, and I felt better after each spurt of running.

;

;

It would be a lie to say that my knee didn’t hurt afterwards, because it did. However, although the running is bringing on the IT band flare, it doesn’t seem to be making it worse, does that make sense? As in, the pain is there…but it’s not getting any more significant through movement.

The next day, I was sore but still pleased that for the first time in a month, I can say that I covered over 4.5 miles.

You cannot see my sweat, but it’s there!! And it’s from running!!

YAY

I’m going to try again perhaps Sunday, and with any luck this next attempt will be even better. Wednesday’s run was the first time I’ve actually felt hopeful about my running endeavors in a while, and that’s a good feeling.

ALSO. In other news regarding feeling like a runner…remember back when how I told you about my two dead toenails holding on for dear life? Yes, well, they have been hanging around, black and beautiful. I figured since I haven’t been running, they would calm themselves down and return to a semi-normal look.

So I go to cut my toenails last night, and I realize that one of my black nails is COMING OFF. Like, I could easily pick it up.

I’ll spare you details, you get it, but I am officially toenail-less. Which is nasty, no doubt, but it’s also a friendly little reminder that I am, in fact, a runner…injury or not.

Also, writing about cutting my toenails feels really TMI, so… sorry. Strange, because apparantly I have no qualms with talking about peeing my pants while running.

Moving on…let’s get onto some Friday favorites eh? I’ve been slacking recently, sorry, but I’m back and ready to deliver the goods. And by “goods,” I mean “random shit that I like that I’m going to tell you about because this is my blog and you are reading it.”

It’s fine.

Christian The Lion

If you have not seen this video, STOP what you are doing, no I don’t care if your boss can see, and watch this video. It is almost certain that everyone has seen it, but if not…you will not be disappointed.

This never fails to bring a smile to my face and actual tears to my eyes. I don’t cry from movies people, ever. But this is perfect. Animals really have the whole unconditional love thing figured out…if only we could catch on.

How much do you want to hug a lion after watching this? Also, Whitney is crucial to building the anticipation.

(Side note: When I say I don’t cry in movies, I’m really not kidding. However I need to inform you that no matter how immune to tv/movie crying you may be, if you watch the Glee season finale from this year while on a foam roller you WILL burst into heavy uncontrollable tears. Seriously, SOBS.)

Dixie Cup Ice Massages

Every runner should know about this contraption. Oh wait, I was the only runner who wasn’t doing it? Dang.

BUT I have made a few discoveries regarding the usefulness of freezing a Dixie cup full of water.

1) The functionality of icing your leg is highly improved by using this method as opposed to holding individual ice cubes and pointlessly running them along your leg.

2) This shit hurts. Due to increased grippage (thanks Dixie people), you can really dig into your muscles with this baby. Ice AND massage= two for one special! The concentration of a huge hunk of ice on a knotty IT band yields a good deal of pain, and with enough effort, this can be as brutal as the foam roller.

*Question for anyone who has done this…is it normal for me to be sore the next day from doing this last night?? I think I might be bruising.

Pink Lady Apples

I cannot believe I haven’t done this one before, but I actually don’t think this favorite has been on my list.

I can safely say that I eat an apple every single day. I love them, they are easily transportable, and they accent other things so well. With that said, I have made the rounds in terms of trying all different kinds of apples.

My key components are: crispiness, tartness, and size.

I love me a huge apple, which often times dictates which ones I pick up. Also lucky I live in WA, where the big apples are ample.

Through all my experimentation, Pink Lady apples are the winners in terms of consistency and appeasing all my apple must-haves. The are always hard, tart with a subtle sweetness, and they are generally big.

Galas and honeycrisps suffice when my favorite PLs are absent, but otherwise I will be a Pink Lady lover for life.

Bridesmaids

I know, I know. Old news, everyone has already ranted and quoted on and on about this movie.

Don’t care, it’s on the favorites.

This movie gets funnier every time I watch it, and so far I haven’t gotten sick of quoting or rewatching it. There are SO many funny things that aren’t even that obvious at first, and I credit it to the brilliance of Kristin Wiig and the probable ad-libbing that went on. Megan is obviously the best character, with Annie’s (K. Wiig) female roommate as a close second.

This is not going to be interesting whatsoever, but in case you are as obsessed as me and can identify these nuances, I’ll share some of my favorite lines which frequently make their way into my daily vocabulary. If you’re over this movie, just go ahead and skip ahead:

“Oh that’s prickly.”

“I’m glad he’s single cause I’m gonna climb that like a tree.”

“No it’s not… me.”

“Yea oh shit. Yea oh shit.”

“I’m just gonna snowball off of that and say Fight Club. Female Fight Club.”

“Well only because I’ve never had a drink!”

OK. Done.

National Food Holidays

I love food. I love when everyone else loves food, too. I don’t always participate, admittedly, but I think it’s a hoot when everyone’s all of a sudden buying grilled cheeses or cupcakes or eating peanut butter by the spoonful—which is super fun, any day of the year.

With that said…

Today is National Doughnut Day.

Celebrate accordingly.

I don’t really need an excuse for most things, but doughnuts are something I rarely have…so why not today, right?

PLAY WITH ME! What are your favorite things? What kind of apples do you like? Favorite Bridesmaids lines? Is my post-ice massage soreness kosher? Are you kosher? Is anyone really kosher? I’m done I’m done.

Class People

I am going to be completely honest here and tell you that I really never thought much about exercise classes.

I always considered myself self-sufficient enough to take care of my own fitness, and in a completely judgmental and unfair way, I thought the reverse about people who went to classes. I’m a jerk, I know, and all I can plead is ignorance. I preferred keeping myself disciplined and designing my own workouts as opposed to someone telling me what to do. I figured classes were there for people who didn’t know how to exercise and needed encouragement and motivation from an instructor. Asshole, I know.

Fast forward to March 2011 (Or I guess rewind? Go with it):

Injured Robyn: Completely incapable of running, or even walking for that matter. Also, really effing grumpy.

Universe: “HA! Want to rethink judging those exercise classes, or drown in an out-of-shape pile of couch-sitting and Phish Food pints?”

Now, the Phish Food definitely happened, however at this point I realized that despite my aforementioned preference toward solo-cizing, in order to maintain a level of fitness—I would need to surrender at least some of my gym time to a professional instructor.

(Robyn, stop trying to make “solo-cizing” happen, it’s not going to happen. Thanks, Regina George.)

And you know what? I converted (ish). Spinning is a really darn good workout, and it necessitates a killer instructor who is kind of scary. Yoga is one of my most favorite things now, and not only does it make me stretchy and flexible (good for running), but it calms me down.

fyi: I NEED CALMING A LOT OF THE TIME.

Anyway, I am fairly certain that had I not been literally forced off the running-only wagon, I would never have found these other forms of sweating. Even when I was able to run again, I kept rolling on the cross-training bus, much of which included group-exercise classes.

Where am I going with all this? Well, if you haven’t been listening to my incessant blog rants, tweets, and merciful pleas to the universe(joke-ish), I am currently not able to run. I was robbed of a happy IT band in the Tacoma City Marathon, and since then I have had to be creative.

Luckily, thanks to last year’s injury, I was better prepared for how to keep myself in shape. (Dear world, if I must get hurt, let’s go for the winter months next time, cool?) In essence, I’ve been spinning and swimming like a madwoman. You would think I was preparing for a tri. Wait, am I? But, this time I wanted to actually try and take advantage of this temporary loss of my run love.

I committed to focusing the energy that is normally occupied with race registrations, long runs, and PRs on other aspects of my health—like  getting stronger and more bendy. I knew this would entail doing some of the things I normally avoid—such as venturing outside of the familiar spin room to—gasp!—another class. I have the yoga and spinning thing down…I’m a regular, the instructors know me, I’m comfortable with both. However these are the extent of my class experience.

My lack of attendance in other classes was due primarily to two things: 1) No time with marathon training and (honestly, more so) 2) apprehension. When I work out, I like knowing what I’m getting myself into. I like knowing beforehand that it will be worth my time, as in difficult and a good sweat, and I like knowing that I can get through it no problem. I didn’t really think that other group exercise classes would be beyond my physical condition, however as someone who is used to getting along no problem in a group exercise setting, I don’t like thinking of being the newbie who knows nothing.

Yes, I am psychotically competitive.

HOWEVER, I did vow to try. And try I have!

More specifically, I’ve been going to a “Maximum Sculpt” class at my gym, which was the least frightening choice when reading the online description. I knew the instructor, and the paragraph detailing what it included had enough familiar terms that I was comfortable testing it out.

It seems that I was not alone in preferencing this class—because when I arrived at 5:55 for a 6:00 am class, the entire room was full of everyone with their little stations of a step and weights and omg how much crap do we need??. So, obviously I pretended like I had been before, didn’t ask for help, and found the very last spot in the back of the room—which honestly I was grateful for.

And just like that, I was sweaty, tired, and humbled. Despite having a fairly strict routine myself, switching to something new proved that I have things I can definitely work on. My hammies were screaming after that first class, and lifting my arms to shampoo my hair was equivalent to bench-pressing BF.

Yes, you read that right—I do shower.

In essence, I was out of my comfort zone. And you know what? I’m totally digging it. As a creature of habit in all aspects of my life, I rarely stray from my normal routines—and exercise is perhaps the most perfect example. Because I can(could, sad face) run really long distances and lift weights on a semi-regular basis, I gave myself an out on not really pushing my body otherwise. I was so focused on running, and not having too sore of legs, that I was wary of ever doing anything else. And I didn’t care. I gave myself a get-out-of-jail free card and simply refused to try anything else.

Now, PLEASE remind me that I said this when I can run again, but I am realizing that we aren’t actually reaching our full potential by doing the same things over and over again. I know every exercise know-it-all preaches this, but I never really internalized it until I realized all the things my body couldn’t do. Naively, I figured that because my endurance was tip-top and I could run 26.2 miles, I had everything else in the bag.

Wrong.

Guess what? Running might be fantastic for many things, however just because you can run for three hours does not mean you have the fitness thing completely figured out. In that same breath, I am hoping to use this whole humbling I-actually-have-room-to-improve experience to teach me that while running might be my numero uno, I still need to focus on strengthening myself in other vacinities.

Running actually leaves a lot of our body parts quite weak, as I’m finding, and it’s due to these imbalances that a lot of injuries occur. Pounding out miles doesn’t always mean we’re getting better, and I’m recognizing the fact that the only way for us to get better is to do things that are uncomfortable. 

In this respect, I’ve sort of admitted to myself one of the biggest reasons I haven’t tried on any other exercise caps. It’s because I was/am afraid of it being hard. I know that sounds funny coming from someone who will willingly run 12 miles before the sun is up, however running is something that I know I can do. When I don’t know that I have the ability to excel at something, I get scared that it will be beyond my physical condition. Hence, the underlying reason why I never wanted to try out anything else.

Sure, it’s really easy for me to say these things when I don’t have the availability to run whenever I want, but it’s something I hope that injured and non-injured runners alike can recognize in their own habits. In running, in all physical conditioning, and in life, it’s the hard things, the things that are outside of our comfort zone, that actually make us better. It’s great to get comfortable…to know that we can knock out effortless miles day after day. But, that’s exactly the time that we should be looking at our weaknesses, and figuring how to improve upon those things. Plateauing is really easy when we stick to one repetitive routine, and it can be one of the fastest ways to injury, boredom, and actually losing our strength. I’m realizing now that I was absolutely plateauing when I was running a lot, and had I been a little less obsessive perhaps I would be in a different spot today.

So, I suppose for now—I am a “class person.” I am really, really enjoying getting my butt kicked by workouts, specifically when it’s facilitated by someone else. It’s good to see that despite having a lot of endurance strength, I have a lot of room to improve. Because despite how humbling it might be, it’s really exciting to see that I have a lot more potential—which gives me a lot of hope for my racing future, whensoever that may be.

I know I will always prefer to workout alone, but a little socialization never hurt anyone—and for someone desperate for another best friend while running takes a time out, a group setting could be just the ticket.

Now, talk to me: Are you a class person? Do you try to shake up your routine? Have you ever hit a running plateau?

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde: Injured Runner Brain Dichotomy

If you were sitting around on Saturday wondering why you all of a sudden you felt void of any stress or unhappiness, it’s because I had taken EVERY NEGATIVE FEELING IN THE WORLD and conglomerated it all into my own personal pity party. Yep, all my Friday positivity decided to completely dissipate come Saturday morning, and it took essentially all day to work myself out of my I-hate-everything-and-everyone funk.

Also, if I really could take away all your sadness, that would be very neat and I’m sorry I have not yet figured out how to steal away bad feelings.

It took until late Saturday night (imbibed with Footloose musical fever, tequila, and sleepovers with friends) til my grumpy self got over herself and I returned to a more stable, level-headed place.

Oh wait no, that’s never happened—stable and calm are not exactly my “strengths,” so let’s just say I returned to a happier, I-actually-don’t-want-to-throw-rocks-at-people state of mind.

Why the freak out, you ask?

Well, there are two things that send me into panic mode: picking the wrong dessert and not being able to undo it, and not being able to run. Since I had a fantastic helping of strawberry shortcake Friday night (read: a bowl of whipped cream sprinkled with bits of cake and some strawberries), I bet you can guess why I was pissed.

I want to run, I cannot run, seemingly everyone in the world is running, and I was/am sad.

I got all down and out on Saturday because all I was hearing about were PRs, registrations, long runs, carb loads, etc. and it all felt very far away. Truthfully, I’ve been out of the running game for just over two weeks, but in a runner’s brain that is approximately equivalent to forever. Every day without running counts for about three weeks of real time, and it feels like the further away I get from it, the less accessible it seems.

There is a big, gaping, holy-hell don’t fall in that hole difference between what I know and what I think. My knowing self is rational, practical, and reasonable. She’s the part of me that graduated from college, that listens to my mom, and that decides, “Okay, you probably don’t need dessert number 3 of the night.”

Then there’s my thinking self. The self that spirals herself into a state of senseless panic over absolutely irrational thoughts. She is the over-reactor, the freak-out mode professional, and the reason behind a lot of my less-than-finer moments. Sorry BF for reminding you about all those.

Okay, my “thinking,” of-the-moment self isn’t always such a whiny little bitch, and there are certainly redeeming parts to her, however she tends to get in trouble when her spasms overrule her knowing counterpart.

Case in point: I know I will be fine. I know this isn’t *too* serious. I know I ran a marathon faster than my training and no-shit-sherlock I’m probably still feeling those effects. I know that I can maintain my fitness without running. I know that I will race again before long. I know that Chipotle is the best food ever.

Commence Saturday’s “thinking” routine: I think I won’t run all summer. I think everyone else is going to have fun and run fast and improve while I disintegrate into a running-less glob of rage. I think I’m going to have to start  over from scratch when I can run again. I think I will never stop being injured. I think everyone loves their life while I have to be sad all the time.

STOP ME NOW. And eventually I did. Shut the eff up Robyn…that’s what my knowing self eventually came and said, while she fed me lemonadey cocktails and hit me over the head with my running shoe.

Fact: No I can’t run right now.

Fact: I will run again.

Fact: Things could be a lot worse, and I need to eat my own words.

Seriously, one of the things I like about blogging is that it keeps us accountable. Despite the fact that I kind of hate the power of the internet, it is pretty impactful to go to your own website and see the words that you’ve so ardently preached. It’s a really good kind of humbling, and it keeps my in check with my rational self when my crazy lady takes over.

So I can’t run for now. I still have all my limbs, a roof over my head, a very wonderful male friend who lives with me, and a lot of other good things going on. Yes I’m sad I can’t take off on a long run, or even a mile-long run, without fear of IT pain. But hopefully maintaining a more sensible outlook and a relative perspective will keep the storm calm.

I apologize for revealing the whiny pity-party that I went through on Saturday. Afterward I felt silly and I actually a little embarrassed. However, I think it’s an important message for runners to remember, as I am always and endlessly reminding myself of it:

Running is important. It’s part of who we are, and we love when we get to do it. However even when we aren’t doing it—we’re still runners. Being injured is a part of being a runner, the two go hand-in-hand. I know I still think of running friends and bloggers that are injured as runners, and there’s no reason I should count myself out of the game due to a temporary decrease in mileage.

The hardest part is keeping this lesson in the front of our minds. Even as I was typing all that out, I could hear the small voice in my brain aching to be out running, and crying over the fact that I was not.

Those voices don’t need to be shut out, in fact they should be listened to, but they shouldn’t overwhelm us. All the sad non-running thoughts exist because it’s something that we love—and, frankly, because you always want what you can’t have.

But you know what? Bodies heal. And the best part about running? It’s going to be right there waiting whenever that healing is complete. Races are always going to be happening, training is always going to be readily available, and all the running routes in the world aren’t all of a sudden going to get up and skip away before you get a chance to trot them again.

So what am I trying to say here? Well, honestly, most of this writing was for myself. I hadn’t really planned on this post going in this direction, which I think is a sign that I needed to do some therapeutic reflection. And I do feel better. I’m still confident that the longevity of this lingering pain is getting shorter and shorter, and in the mean time I’ll be planning my future race endeavors (info on that soon!) and staying off my Twitter feed on weekend mornings.

In fact, I think I should do that no matter what my current state of physical health may be. The internet is great, hello stress-relieving-blog-posting and meeting sweet people , but there’s also a black hole effect to it. Stepping back, living real life, and letting all the ramblings of the world sit for a while is always a healthy practice.

And just so you know, I actually do love hearing about everyone’s PRs and goals and such. I was just a negative nancy for a while in there, and please don’t be afraid to tell me about your running-filled fun.

Thanks for reading about my two-faced mindset on being injured. I know I’m not alone in this type of back-and-forth ness between being okay with not running and hating every single person with fully functioning legs. It’s the nature of the running bug beast—that little devil.

Now tell me, if you feel so inspired, what was the best thing you gained from a time when you could not run? Dare I say—how did being injured make you thankful?

Doing Things I Don’t Normally Do

I’m not going to jump to conclusions, and I’m certainly not one to live life in a “worst-case-scenario” kind of mind set. However, I am starting to internalize the fact that there will not be any running in my immediate future.

I am trying to live this day-by-day, mostly because I get too depressed if I think too far out, but also because I really don’t know how long this IT band issue is going to be, well, an issue. So, without a medically-officiated recovery timeline or any actual doctor advice whatsoever, I am deciding to do two things: take it one day at a time and  find the silver lining.

I will never, ever, be completely comfortable knowing that I’m unable to run. I am a runner, it’s so much a part of who I am, and when I’m unable to partake in my favorite activity, I feel scared and a little lost. I have come back from injuries before, I know I can and will get through them, but there is a stubborn seed planted deeply in my brain that cannot help but long for nothing more than a run. I know I am not alone in this type of thinking, and in fact I think most runners—once the sport gets under their skin—feel exactly the same way. I love running all the time, but nothing makes me really crave a run like being told that I can’t do it. 

So while the yearning and sadness is definitely there, I am finding that instead of drowning in a pit of “I’ll never run again” despair, I’m trying to take this as an opportunity instead of a set back. I think one of the biggest things we feel as injured runners is that all our fitness will evaporate if we take some time off, and we’ll have to start over as slow, wheezing couch potatoes. 

This is not true. Sure, you probably won’t be able to come back to running in marathon shape, maybe not even half-marathon shape, but it is absolutely possible to maintain your fitness and strength when you can’t run. I did not run a single step for three months last year…and four months after I was healed, I was running my first marathon. Please note that three of these months were spent training for the race.

I was certainly intent on keeping up my endurance during my injury period, which made the return to running much quicker, and I think it’s important for runners to remember that while the alternatives may not be as freeing or fun as a long, sweaty run in the sunrise—they will ultimately help you get back in your running shoes. And in fact—they can make your running better.

Which brings me to my current state of affairs. While I’m not sure how long I’m going to be out, and obviously I’m hoping for a short-term recovery as opposed to an extended period of time, I’m deciding to use this time to work on all the things I typically neglect. 

I’ve been finding myself doing things out of my regular routine recently, particularly exercise wise. And by “recently,” I’m being quite literal…as in, the last few days, seeing as I ran a marathon 9 days ago and only felt fully recovered this past weekend. The most effective “lemons into lemonade” mode of operation at this point is to do all the things I normally don’t do/can’t do when I’m logging heavy mileage. 

Although, Paul Rudd does give a viable option as well…

LOL

Anyways, bailing isn’t necessarily an option. I’ve invested too much money on running shoes, gear, and race registrations. Plus, I couldn’t give up even if I wanted to. So instead I’m focusing on these types of things:

-Leg strengthening

I think the last time I did anything close to a lunge was in high school track. Seriously. I never ever do any kind of weights regimen for my legs because I never want them to be sore for my runs. I always figured that I was getting enough leg strengthening through running, so I totally short-changed myself in the weights room department. NOTE TO ROBYN: Running targets certain leg muscles, but ignores others, leaving you SUSCEPTIBLE TO INJURY.

Okay, I did know this…I just figured spinning was making up for my lack of any hip/leg/glutes strengthening. And maybe it was helping, but nothing beats to power of honest-to-goodness lunges, squats, clams, etc. Give ’em to me baby, and please find someone to lift me out of bed when my legs don’t work afterward.

– Biking

I’m going to address this in an upcoming post, but my interest in taking up biking is reaching a peak. I currently have a nice little hybrid cruiser, which is fine for riding to the grocery store or around the neighborhood, but as for real-deal Lance Armstrong riding? No can do. I need to get a real bike if I want to be serious about this, and it’s something I’m committing to doing before summer really starts.

(This is your cue to keep me accountable!)

(I never ride my bike to the grocery store, or around the neighborhood. It sits by the side of my house 24/7. That previous statement was me pretending like my $300 Craigslist purchase was being used.)

– Arm, core, etc. things

I always like feeling strong, and although I definitely do arm and core strengthening work, my routine is somewhat hum-drum, and honestly…it’s probably becoming ineffective. Essentially, every other day I’ll do the same repetitions of the same exercises, with the same weight used, and I am fairly certain my body has become immune to it. I always loved the idea of really pushing my muscles to their potential and maybe achieving a bit more definition, however when all my exercise time is devoted to running—these things fall to the way-side. 

Look out Muscle Beach, I’m coming for you. Well, no, you’re in California, but you get the point.

-Yoga

I love yoga. I haven’t always loved yoga, and there was a period of time when I scoffed at all the asana-namaste-om-om-om-om-warrior 8 loving people out there. But a few good classes and magical instructors later, I was a born-again yogi, and I would really like to devote some energy into developing both the habit of going regularly and my skills on the mat.

Yoga is one of the reasons I think I’ve been somewhat injury-free for the past year, with the exception of these past two or so months (INTERESTING how the three weeks I didn’t go to yoga were directly followed by my knee bursitis). Frankly, yoga is normally done as a supplement to my other forms of exercise, and it’s really unappealing to go to a class after work when I’ve already spent two hours of my morning sweating. 

However, when I’m there, I love it, and not just for the sweet planks and stretching that happens. If you haven’t already taken notice (and if not I’m assuming this is your first time here—so HI!) I am a wee bit intense and competitive. Yoga takes me out of my “Must plan and get excited for everything that will ever happen ever!” brain for an hour and helps me focus on being in one place. I know this is the very basic level of yoga—being in the moment—but for someone like me, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to really get to that kind of present state of mind. When I do, though, I feel more grounded, centered, and calm—all good things.

Upping the yoga. Also, I stick mainly to level one classes…which is honestly due to laziness.  I know I can keep up with a higher level, and THANKS TO NOT RUNNING<—-did you see me say that??? I’m going to try and focus more energy on being hopped up on Zen.

What am I trying to say? Well, truthfully, I’m warning you that many of my upcoming posts are probably going to be complaining about being sore. That was the whole point of this post—warning you about my up-and-coming whine fest. 

…also a wine fest is something I don’t normally do that I think should happen asap.

Okay, that’s not really my point. Ultimately, I’m trying to spin this running-leave-of-absence into a positive. I know I am not always going to see it that way, and I am certain there will be some complaining along the way, but I’m trying. And for now, that’s really the best I can hope for.

On one final note, if there were ever a time to focus on all the other great things to do besides running, I think it’s right now. After catapulting myself into the ground during the Tacoma Marathon, I think this IT band rubbish may be a blessing in disguise. An opportunity to reconnect with the world outside of running, and to reestablish a healthier, less-medical-tent filled relationship with the sport I love so very much.

So running, you can sit on the shelf for now. And although I am going to stare at you longingly and lovingly, I want you to sit back and relax while I make acquaintances with things like heavy weights, side crow, and drenching every spin bike in my gym with glorious sweat. We’ll be back together at some point, and it’s going to be sweeter than ever. 

If you weren’t running (or perhaps you’re not?) what would YOU decide to focus more energy on? Rock-climbing? Zumba? Channel-surfing? Knitting? Having calves that actually fit into boots? Tell me! 

 

 

Green Positivity

{No, this is not a post about eco-friendly things or sustainability}

Greetings friends. How were your weekends? How was Monday?

My weekend was filled to the brim with fun activities, and while I was jealous of all the people who were racing—I have to say that this was a weekend for the books. St. Patrick’s Day, particularly, was highly enjoyable—mostly due to the effort put forth by my boyfriend who, while not Irish, is a big fan of any day devoted to beer and shenanigans.

We were traditional, we were green, we were festive. Allow me to share with you our dedication to this holiday…

Green pancakes!

In keeping with his new found affection for making pancakes, BF made the decision that Saturday’s batch would celebrate St. Patty’s as well. Unfortunately, the idea only came to him with two pancakes left to make. Thought that counts though!

Green smoothie!

I had to sneak some form of health into at least one part of the day 😉

Green people!

No pinching for us! This was also taken in a bar at 4 pm. We take these holidays seriously…also, BF’s shirt is highly entertaining, if you can read it.

Another St. Patty’s treat for the day…

Spring breakers break-ing for beer.

My sister and her boyfriend Grayson stopped by on their way to California for Spring Break to celebrate some green-filled festivities. It was wonderful to see them both, and I’m excited to see them AGAIN this Thursday for more adventures. More on that later. Thanks for coming, guys!

Green eats! Well, not really...but traditional!

So I’ve never done the whole “corned beef and cabbage” thing for St. Patty’s Day (in fact I never even had heard of it), but BF has and decided to introduce me to the tradition. It was also the first time we got to use our new crock pot, which obviously was an exciting endeavor. And, you can’t eat a traditional Irish meal without…

Guinness!

Survey says? Good choice Irish peeps! I’m not a huge red meat person, but this stuff was definitely good, and even the cabbage was to my liking. BF was quite proud of his work with this meal, and rightfully so!

Needless to say, St. Patty’s Day was a win in this household. Any holiday revolving around beer I can really get behind.

Also, because this post is already super picture-happy, this is how I spent my Friday night:

Hotel room? Robes? Wine? Check, check, and quadruple check!

When it comes to celebrating a birthday, no one does lavish quite like my lovely friend Kawika. Which is why he hosted a wine tasting in a super swanky hotel room in an even swankier downtown Seattle hotel. There were reds, there were whites, there was prosecco, and there was cake. A High School Musical 3 cake. Good times were had by all, although I think it would be hard to find someone who wouldn’t enjoy themselves in such a situation.

So, as you can see, a fun weekend indeed. However, there was one glaring absence from Saturday and Sunday: running.

If you’ve read this blog for more than just this post, you know that my weekend reports are normally overwhelmed with long-run talk. Many of you are probably happy for this new change of pace, and I don’t blame you. The fact is: bad knee=no long run. In fact, no running in general—because this bursitis took over my abilities to train, and condemned my activities to spinning and swimming. Both of which felt fantastic on my inflamed knee, and they are very bonafied cross-training activities.

However, when you are supposed to be peaking in training mileage and can’t run more than a few paces without knee pain, this set-back becomes more than discouraging. Which is why, yesterday, I went to see an orthopedic doc for some answers and solutions.

Truly, I was terrified for this appointment. I was going to post yesterday, but I was too afraid that talking about the upcoming doc visit would only heighten my nerves—so I held off until I had some answers. X-rays, lots of talking(by me), and a cortisone injection later—I am feeling an enormous amount of relief.

This appointment went just about as good as I could have hoped for. X-rays showed that nothing is wrong with my knee besides this bursitis/tendonitis—which was my biggest fear. A lot of the time, bursitis is caused by another injury such as a tendon or ligament tear—which would have sidelined me much longer. Luckily, this was not the case—and the doctor only had to yell at me about stretching more. Noted doc, no problem-o. And when he said, “I see no reason why I shouldn’t give you a cortisone injection to speed up the healing process,” I had to hide my excitement—because this is what I was secretly hoping for.

So, with this fancy medicine deflating the crap out of my knee and a little more rest time—I should be good to run (hopefully!) on Friday. So very relieved, and while I’m still wary, I’m feeling positive that I’ll be able to keep training aggressively until taper time.

Also, when I rolled up my pants to show Doc my knee, he took one look at my calves and said, “Wow, you are a runner, huh?”

I blushed.

So, generally, I’m feeling positive. I know I wasn’t totally expressive about my anxiety about this minor injury, but I was feeling very apprehensive for the fate of my Eugene Marathon dreams (ask BF, he will always vouch for my freak-out modes).  The meds and the clear x-rays definitely lifted a weight off my shoulders, and I’m feeling ready to take on the rest of training. The time off also really made me anxious and excited to run, which is always refreshing.

Happy first day of spring! Race season has definitely started, and I’d like to offer a big congrats to everyone who’s either preparing, tapering, or recovering—you are a rock star!

And now…because who isn’t tired of hearing(reading) me talk…how was your St. Patrick’s Day? Weekend? Are you currently training for a spring race?

Being Snarky and Sack Talk

I learned yesterday that apparently it’s a blogging faux-pas to write about the weather. I mean, I realize weather chat is somewhat ho hum and a time filler in real life situations, but really? There are social rules for the internet?

This struck me because I mention the weather somewhat frequently, and it’s actually because it’s relevant…due to the whole running outside thing.

Well, I’ve never fit it much socially anyways. So let’s talk about Seattle’s current atmospheric decision-making, shall we?

To describe this week’s weather, I really don’t think there are two words more fitting than butt and hole.

Sorry, I live with a boy, and my already questionable manners/ladylike habits are going down the drain.

But seriously, this weather BLOWS, and the worst part is that the rest of the country is all, “Ohh! Spring is here!” “LOVE THE SUN” “70 DEGREES OF HEAVEN!”

Yea, I hate you all.

No… but like, a little. Fortunately for me, this is “Thou shalt not run” week, therefore I’m priding myself on my timing skills in getting hurt. Unfortunately, this weather is matching my mood a little too closely, and grumpy gimp-hood + miserable raindrops of sadness= the perfect setup for a depressing Bright Eyes music video.

I have already come up with the details: Me, staring longingly out the car window at my muddy, rain-soaked running path, while the camera zooms out to show Puget Sound, waves roaring and seagulls mercilessly fighting the wind. Next shot: me, rubbing large ice cube after large ice cube over my knee while chugging ibuprofen pills in a “I could be over-dosing on something serious” kind of melancholy way. A depressing song is playing the whole time.

WOW. Okay guys, it’s really not that bad. I’m being dramatic (so weird, right?!) and actually it’s probably a lot better that the rain is choosing this week to stick around 24/7. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if it were—gasp!—SUNNY here this week and I was isolated in an indoor RICE existence.

Pity party over, and can you say First World Problems?

Let’s focus on some positives.

So, I did get a very fast and easy diagnosis when I spoke with a PT the other night. I told her a bit about my mystery knee pangs, she pressed in one spot, I said ow, she said, “Well, I can tell you exactly what’s wrong.”

Which, by the way, is perhaps the best thing EVER to hear from a doctor, especially when you’re an anxious runner ready to get back on the road.

According to Dr. Lora, I have Pes anserine bursitis, which essentially means that it’s not my knee that’s jacked…it’s the little bursa sack where three of my major leg muscles come together. The bursa sack is there to absorb all the impact/tension that accumulates in that part of my knee, and currently mine is all hot and bothered and inflamed. She used much fancier terms than this, and all I really understood was “hamstring” and “you’re going to be fine.”

This bursitis could be due to a number of reasons, however through my incessant research, I’m fairly certain it’s due to one primary cause: Improper stretching/warmup/cool down routines associated with excessive repetitive activities.

Oh, you mean that I should have been stretching more and warming up and cooling down when logging 50 miles a week? GROUNDBREAKING. I am sure this is a case that would have sports scientists flabbergasted and pining to do lab tests on me.

NOT

What am I trying to say? In a nutshell, no shit my knee hurts. I admit, I’ve always been pretty fine without a warmup…or a cool down…or stretching very much. My body has always responded fine without these very basic athletic principles, or so I thought, and therefore I kind of carried along in my training without giving them a second thought.

Well, my body has come back to bite my in the butt. Or in the bursa sack. Sure, this might not be the reason for the pesky bursitis, however I would say it’s a safe bet due to my slacking of yoga for the past three weeks and my “post run stretching” consisting of two 10 second quad stretches and bending over to touch my toes once.

Remember when I gave myself a B+ in stretching?

Damn universe, you saw right through that lie. You got me. And I admit, I should have been stretching more…I’ll take back my B+ and give myself a C…okay fine! C-

So what does this mean? Well, I’m currently in an intense relationship with my ice trays, my bottle of pain killers, and my pillow. Why my pillow, you ask? Well, when I told the PT about the pain I was feeling in the morning, she advised I sleep with a pillow between my legs because I sleep on my side. I tried it two nights ago and woke up essentially void of any inflammation. Again, groundbreaking stuff over here: If you’re not jamming your bursa sack into your other leg for 8 hours of sleep, it won’t hurt!!!

But seriously, it is a quick fix that has a huge impact, I recommend it.

Also, doesn’t “bursa sack” sound inappropriate? I don’t think I’ve ever typed the word “sack” so many times at once, and it feels a little dirty.

Anyways, today is {hopefully} my final day off from running. I’m staying completely off my legs today, doing the whole RICE thing, and vying for some miles tomorrow morning. And yes I am planning on waking up around 4:30 am to pop some pain pills before I head out at 6:00 am. Lots of stretching/icing before and after as well, like a good injured bird. This is all very best-case-scenario, because I’m actually not sure how my bursa SACK is going react on the run, but I’m crossing my fingers…and you should too, please? 🙂

I’m feeling optimistic, although part of me is still very wary/afraid for my marathon future. Fortunately, this isn’t a serious ailment, and it can be aggressively treated/dealt with according to Dr. Lora. So here’s hoping that my resting has done some good work, and by continuing the recovery routine and actually doing the whole “stretching” thing, I can nip this thing in the bud.

Also, I would like to thank the people at the Eugene Marathon headquarters for posting this nice little Tweet today.

This didn't make my stomach lurch AT ALL

I like to imagine there is a “headquarters” for this event; full of race paraphernalia in the making, people on the phone with Nike and Gatorade, and Kara Goucher randomly stopping by to say “Hey.” This Tweet probably came from the college house of a social networking intern…but I prefer my headquarters theory.

44 days people. Not quite 7 weeks, a little more than 6 weeks. For now, I’m just going to focus on regaining the ability to run, then hopefully I can start to divulge my super-secret-not-so-secret plans for a finish time.

Hopefully this post wasn’t too overwhelming in terms of shark. Sometimes I can’t control my sarcasm and sass. I blame the sack and Girl Scout cookies.

Happy hump day! If you are in Seattle, stay dry…and to the rest of you, I don’t want to hear about your sun.

Tell me something fantastic about your week OR something you are out-of-control excited about for the near future. Spring break plans? Happy hour plans? St. Patty’s plans? I’m dying to hear some happy voices…so speak loud!

 

 

 

 

Then and Now

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where I was last year around this time.

As I’ve mentioned before, last spring I spent three months completely unable to run. I had a torn hip flexor, and I could barely walk without being in pain—and running was not only out of the question, it was physically impossible.

I don’t want to continue bringing the subject up, but it’s feeling particularly relevant right now—especially because it was exactly one year ago that everything came crashing down for me, or so I thought.

One year ago, I was devastated, panicked, and felt completely and totally lost. I had lost myself in running, and when it was taken away I didn’t know in what direction to turn. I was also, frankly, pissed at running. I had given it everything I had, and it turned around and kicked my feet out from under me.

Again, or so I thought.

Looking back, I can really tell how my mentality in regards to running and being “a runner” has changed. As I sit out these next few days, nursing a mystery knee pain, I know I’ll be thinking a lot back to where I was last year, and how it’s affected where I am now.

So while I’m definitely not thrilled about this (hopefully) small set back, it is encouraging to think back on where I was a year ago, and where I am now. And yes, I do think it’s ironic that “injury” would strike at the exact same time, to the week, both last year and this year—but hey, when the universe offers up some time for reflection, why not take a gander eh?

Last year, before I even got hurt, I honestly wasn’t running anymore because I loved it. I had become so obsessive about it, and addicted to it, that I wasn’t doing it because I wanted to—but because I needed to. I had whittled my interests down so much that the only way I could achieve a momentary sense of accomplishment was by running, far, every day.

And, as is the nature of the running beast, it fought back. It saw my recklessness and my lack of respect for it, and it broke me down. It sidelined me and forced me to reevaluate my priorities and my reasons for running.

Now, looking back, I can honestly say that despite all my frustration and sadness, I am thankful for this eye-opening experience of being completely unable to run. It helped me to understand that our bodies aren’t indestructible, and in order to do the things we love we need to give ourselves TLC, and that means things like resting, stretching, cross-training, and maintaining balance. These were all things that I never did; I thought running as far as I could as often as I could was the means to being the best, the most disciplined.

Since then, I’ve found that it’s quite the opposite.

Being a good athlete is not all about having physical and mental fortitude, it’s about having humility and understanding of how to take care of ourselves. Respecting our bodies includes knowing when to back off, and that’s something I hadn’t figured out back then. I’ll admit, it’s still hard for me to not want to go hard most every day—but I feel so much more complete and satisfied with my ability to embrace balance.

And all the while, amidst learning how to take better care of myself, I reestablished my love for running. My respect for the sport has reached a whole new level, and at the same time my love for it and my confidence in my own abilities has increased as well.

Which brings me to today, one year after having a complete mental breakdown over being hurt.

Instead of fighting through the pain, and ignoring this pang in my knee, I am deciding to relax this week and wait until Friday to run. Even if running isn’t the culprit for this annoying knee ache, I want to make sure that it doesn’t irritate it any more. I’m thankful that I’m far enough along in my training that a few days off really isn’t going to hinder my progression, and I’m hopeful that the whole “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” adage is true in this case.

And truthfully, with all this training that’s been happening, I think a few days off could really help reinforce my dedication to my runs and the enjoyment I get out of them. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, friends.

So, one year ago, I was beaten both mentally and physically. As cheesy/strange as it might sound, running had broken my heart, and it took a good long time to realize that it was actually the kind of tough love I really needed.

One year later, I’m listening to my body, I’m being cautious, and I’m not letting my animalistic must-run-now instincts keep me from being smart.

In retrospect, I’m grateful that being sidelined forced me to reconstruct my relationship with running, and I’m happy to have been given the opportunity to put those lessons into practice.

Sure, part of me is all, “You hear that universe? I’m seeing the error in my ways and acting upon it…so can my knee feel better now?” But, I know that time is what’s necessary to ensure proper TLC sets in, as well as sleeping in and loading up on ibuprofen.

 

What are some running lessons you’ve learned? When do you know it’s time to back off?

Branching Out, Angry Knee, and Minnie Pancakes

This weekend, I did things a little differently.

And I liked it. A lot.

I’m the definition of “a creature of habit,” and it’s rare for me to switch up my routine, try anything new that I don’t already know I’ll love, or extend myself beyond a certain comfort zone. I like to think that I push my limits and that I challenge myself, and I definitely do, but there are certain areas of my life that I tend to keep very even-stevens in terms of their excitement. This is mostly due to the fact that I dedicate myself so wholly to running, that I get concerned with anything breaking up my consistent routine. While marathon training this is understandable, but there are other times when it simply gets in the way of the rest of life, which isn’t good. Therefore, I was very conscientious this weekend of incorporating more fun into my days other than just running.

And indeed I did. I spent all day Saturday with my dear friend Kawika, Saturday night with several old college friends at a bar/birthday gathering, and Sunday visiting for a bit with my friend Rose. Oh, and BF and I went bowling Friday night, which doesn’t sound extravagant, but for a couple who is normally so tired on Friday that even watching a full episode of a show sounds daunting, this was HUGE. Also, there was a bet made that whomever had the lowest total two-game score would pay for everything. I’m not saying who won or lost, but let’s just say I think the person who made the wager regretted their proposition by the end of the night…

Also, while all the normal bowling alley dwellers drank their beers, this is what my pre-22-mile-morning-run self was consuming.

LAME

….but perhaps this helped yield a certain final outcome?

Bowling and beer go hand-in-hand. Next time, no water bottle.

And speaking of, 22 miles was completed Saturday morning, done before 10:30 am! It was long, it was tiring, but it was absolutely great. Aside from one wrinkle in the run (which I’ll get to later), I couldn’t have asked for a more confidence-building, satisfying long run. Remember how I said on Friday that I was experimenting with some new long-run tools this time around? Well props to all—especially the new fuel that I tried.

liquid GOLD my friends

No stomach issues! AND I think the caffeine factor definitely helped with my energy overall. Also, I think my soreness was seriously lessened due to the enhanced electrolyte replacement. Good work PowerBar, I’m ready for my sponsorship now.

{Joke}

Moving on, another CRAZY thing about this run was what I did afterwards……

{insert moans of searing pain here}

I finally gave in and decided to give his whole “ice bath” thing a try.

YOU GUYS. THIS IS SO PAINFUL.

I knew it wasn’t going to be all relaxing and soothing, but I seriously was not prepared for just how intense this actually is. I used two whole bags of ice, kept my shorts on, and even bundled up on top like you’re supposed to. I cannot say that I ever really “got used to it” the whole 20 minutes that I was in there, and by the end I was literally counting down the seconds until I could get out. I immediately attempted to warm up in a way-too-hot shower, but after getting out it was clear that my core was still freezing cold. Despite the cranked heater and being bundled in a robe, I could not stop shaking and had to layer up and drink some hot water until I could finally manage to control my temperature.

I’m not sure if I did something wrong…or if my natural poor circulation just got the best of me, but hot damn ice bath, you got me good.

Okay, on the bright side, I need to credit my twenty minutes of Arctic conditions for my lack of soreness on Sunday, and I felt much less stiff after I got out and warmed up.

Overall, good times. And I was proud of myself for trying out some new running related things.

However, as mentioned, there was one hiccup.

My run felt great, however there was a twinge in my knee that I couldn’t seem to shake. My knee felt a little tweaked after a yoga class last week, but nothing too bad and I could run on it just fine. This was the same throughout the 22 miler, but I could definitely feel it. Not pain necessarily, but just an ache that couldn’t go away. The ice bath helped, but I was still feeling the ache throughout the whole day.

Yesterday, it had subsided a bit, and so I decided to go through with a shake-out run which actually made it feel even better. Last night it had all but gone away, which was encouraging, however this morning proved this little knee pang to be a bit more substantial than a tweak.

I was in actual pain when I woke up, and although walking around and getting blood flowing to it helped out, it’s still not feeling awesome.

And, I’ll admit it…it’s bothering me. Both physically and mentally.

I couldn’t help myself and did the whole Google-diagnosis for a while, and decided to quit because nothing was going to be encouraging or conclusive about doing that. See, I do learn things. Instead, I’m deciding to go against my natural instincts and—FINE—not run.

I’m going to give this knee pain a few days to hang out, relax, and hopefully get lost. Honestly, I’m far enough along with my training that a few days off won’t hurt, and it certainly will help if something is acting up from overuse. So while it burns a little bit inside me, I have learned enough and know enough to err on the side of caution.

I know it might feel better tomorrow, but I’m conclusively deciding to wait until at least Thursday to try out running. Running definitely doesn’t make it hurt worse, but I want to ensure that running isn’t taken out of the picture because of excess mileage.

And this is actually good timing, because West Seattle Runner is having a PT come in tomorrow night to do FREE injury consultation. You can show up, have a chat with her about your running ailments, and she’ll offer her expert advice. You can bet I’ll be there, with this knee pain at the top of my “what’s wrong with me?” list.

So, lots of different things happening around these parts—some good, some not so good, but all offering an interesting change of pace. I’m going to enjoy some sleep-in time this week, and honestly…with a weather report like this, running isn’t exactly super duper enticing:

Seattle says, "Oh, you thought it was spring? How silly of you!"

Here’s hoping this ailment goes away with some R and R. I’m doing my best to remain confident and calm (not an easy task, mind you)…and hopefully my new invention of shortbread GS cookies with Nutella on top will help.

Also, on one final note, BF often times reminds me of why we’re good together…but this reminder from yesterday is worth sharing:

 

While making pancakes for himself, BF delivered me this little beauty. A traditional Mickey pancake was too standard, therefore a bow of cranberries were added on top to emphasize the fact that it was Minnie. Creative touch BF, you’re the best!

Have a good Monday!

What’s your favorite pancake shape? Did you do a long run this weekend? A bike ride? A hike? Please share any fun/entertaining activities!

 

 

 

 

Foam Rolling 101

Heyyy people!

I’d like to offer some instructional tips for using something that I believe to be a necessity for runners: the foam roller.

I recently received a request from one of my friends Maddy, who has been amping up her regular running, if I could talk a bit about the techniques of foam rolling. Now, I must disclose that I am not even close to certified in anything related to sports science, or real science for that matter. My advice/knowledge comes from having a father who is, quite literally, a sports scientist and from my own experimentation and research. I do a lot of reading on matters related to running, so I like to think I have the fundamentals down—but please know the advice I provide is almost completely based on my own experiences.

With that said…let’s talk foam rolling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah the foam roller. Both the best friend and the worst enemy of nearly everyone who uses it. If you are unfamiliar with what exactly a “foam roller” is, it is very much exactly as it sounds: It’s a log-shaped, rounded tube made of very condensed foam (see above). It is stiff enough to really have an impact, but still has enough give to not make it totally unbearable. You may have seen people at your gym using these contraptions—and chances are they had a very strained/pained look on their face that looked something like this:

This was supposed to be a funny exaggeration, but it's actually fairly accurate.

Frankly, using a foam roller is somewhat excruciating, but once you develop a bit of a tolerance for them, you’ll find yourself very grateful for these massage tools disguised as torture devices.

The most basic use of a foam roller is to relieve your muscles of their tension. By compressing your muscles (especially your big ones like your hamstrings and quads) you allow more blood flow to get to them which releases the lactate that makes you tight and sore. It’s a very self-intuitive device, and you can really contort yourself to “roll” any part of your body you think needs some tough-love.

As a runner, I primarily use the foam roller for my quads, my hips, and most frequently for my IT band. Your IT band is a thickened tissue that extends from the outside of your pelvis, down your hip, all the way to below the knee. This band is known for causing problems in runners, and it’s often the culprit for knee and hip pain.

I’ve included some pictures along with loose instructions for how to go about rolling your primary running muscles. Remember, the foam roller takes some getting used to—and although it might be unbearable at first, if you stick with it you’ll more than likely find it essential for staying injury free. Also, like I said— this device should be used according to what’s comfortable for you, so the techniques I’ll demonstrate aren’t necessarily the only way to use a foam roller. Just suggestions, this is how it works for me. Also, please forgive the awkwardness of my self photo taking…I spent the entire time trying not to laugh.

IT Band

Positioning yourself to roll your IT band is a little awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it. For most people who have never foam-rolled before, you might not even know where your IT band is—I sure didn’t! But, due to the all-mighty/pain inducing powers of the foam roller, it’s not too hard to find. Simply angle your hip/upper thigh above the roller until you feel it land on what feels like a band of tissue. It will probably hurt worse than your surrounding quadriceps, so once you feel a wince of pain—you’ve likely hit the IT band gold. You can stack your non-rolling leg on top of the leg being rolled, or you can use your free leg to stabilize yourself and sort-of push yourself back and forth across the roller. I’ve demonstrated the latter, and it’s definitely my preference.

I find that because the IT band covers a large portion of my leg (all of which is used during running), it’s best to roll it out in sections. This way, you can concrete very directly in different areas, giving you a better all-around roll out. The first section I concentrate on starts at the outside of my pelvis, down to just below my hip. I hold a lot of tension here, so I try and work this part really aggressively.

The second section I’ll do is the middle 6 inches or so of my quad. Try and keep the roller primarily on your IT band instead of rolling onto the larger portion of your quad, which can be tempting.

The final section is the area right above my knee. If you are someone who often experiences knee problems with running, rolling this area of your IT band could really help you out. After I finished my first marathon, my left knee hurt so band I could barely bend it—and it was because my IT band had tightened up so much.

I normally try and do about 45 seconds-1 minute per section of the band, or longer if I’m needing extra kneading.

Hamstrings

Lots of runners use the roller to loosen up their hamstrings, and it’s helpful because you can actually do both legs at once. Personally, I find that the simple bend over, touch-your-toes approach to stretching my hammies to be more effective than the roller, but every little bit helps.

Position the roller underneath your legs, on the area right below your butt. Hold yourself up with your hands about a foot behind you, and you should be able to move your legs back and forth across the roller. You can get experimental with your positioning, increasing and decreasing pressure in different areas.

Quadriceps

Quads and foam rollers have a very love/hate relationship. I’m not going to lie—rolling your quads is intense, and it often takes some conditioning to build up your resilience to it. Nevertheless, it is incredibly beneficial to loosen up such a big muscle, and I personally notice a huge difference in my recovery time between runs when I roll my quads.

 

 

 

 

 

The positioning I use for my quads is very similar to rolling the IT band, except I’ll roll a bit more toward my stomach instead of my side. Because the muscle is so big, you’ll probably find yourself rolling side to side in order to cover the whole thing. Again, the device is somewhat self-intuitive and a lot of it just takes some experimentation.

Calves

Oh the calves. I know this is where I hold the most tension in my legs, and it’s the area that can always use more stretching and rolling. Typically for working the stiffness out of these muscles, I use The Stick (or, I have someone use The Stick on me), but you can use the foam roller very easily. There are two degrees in which you can roll your calf muscles on the roller, one which is a little less intense, and one that gets a really deep burn.

To roll your calves, position yourself similar to how you would for rolling your hamstrings but with the roller underneath your calves. With your arms bent behind you, hoist yourself up and move your legs back and forth across the roller. This is the first level of calf rolling—it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable, and you can play around with the force by alternating how much weight is in your arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need a more deep-tissue, intense calf roll, you can place one ankle over another, placing all your weight onto one calf. You’ll definitely notice a difference in how much the distribution change alters the pressure, but just go slow, grit your teeth, and know that your calves are loving it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glutes/Piriformis

Yep, running can hurt your bum. Your piriformis muscles, particularly, can get really tight and give a pinched feeling in the middle of your cheeks. Not fun, but foam rolling can definitely help with any pain in your rear—particularly because it’s such a big muscle, and therefore needs some intense massaging to really loosen the tension.

Rolling your piriformis muscle is very similar to the way you situate yourself for your IT band, but instead of positioning the foam roller under your hip, you put it directly on your butt. If your piriformis is tight, you’ll definitely know when you find it, as you’ll feel a bit of a sharp pain when the roller is under it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It sounds a little weird, but you should just kind of go to town in terms of rolling out your rear. It’s a tough group of muscles, and so you’ll be able to really roll the heck out of them. And, you’ll be thankful when you don’t feel the pinching feeling of mad piriformis muscles during your runs!

 

So, there’s a basic overview of foam rolling your primary running muscles. Of course, you can also roll your back and even your arms—but this should suffice as a start to the fundamentals of the roller. So next time you’re at the gym, give one a try. You might feel silly contorting yourself over this strange device, but know that when used appropriately and correctly it is very beneficial to your muscles. There’s a reason why many physical and sports therapists have these buggers in their offices—they are intended to provide a quick, intense, and thorough relief session for your muscles. Once you get more accustomed, the pain of it does start to turn into more of a hurt-so-good massage feel, especially when you know your muscles are in need of the blood flow.

I actually own my own roller, which I bought when I was injured, and although I was a little apprehensive about their pricing, I will say that I think they’re worth it. They are normally around $25-$30, which I know seems expensive for a hunk of foam, but I consider it an investment in injury prevention, which is worth a whole lot!

Let me know if you have any questions! I’ll do my best to answer. Again, I’m no expert, but I’m definitely in a healthy and stable relationship with my roller.