Dear Running…I Miss You

Running and I…well we have been on a break. A break that has gone on for far too long. How long? 8 painful months! (excluding a handful of runs here and there – nothing even close to consistent) And as today is National Running Day I think it is a perfect time to let Running know how I really feel.

So, Running, listen up.

I’m really mad at you. Like really, really mad. You hurt me. Some days it seems like we may never be able to repair the damage. But, I can see how this is my fault. I wanted and asked too much of you, too fast. After all of the aching, silly me still wants you back. I miss you. I crave your ability to free me with every single stride we take. It’s still too soon, but I do see hope in our future. And when that time comes, let’s slow down and enjoy being together again. Let’s try not to rush things. ;)

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All jokes aside. I really do miss everything about running. I miss the endorphin rush only running gives you. I miss the peaceful mornings where I hear only my breath and the patter of my feet. I know it is going to be so hard when I do come back. My heart is going to want to burst out of my chest, but I will get back. No matter how hard or long it takes.

Happy National Running Day folks! Find gratitude in every stride you take. We don’t know how much we love something until it is gone.

Wanderlust 108 Chicago: #rainiestyogaclassever

It was a very wet, soggy, and cold morning at Wanderlust 108 Chicago. But all attendees, runners, and yogis embraced the conditions and each other, which made for a good time.

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Over the course of the past few months Wanderlust has been traveling across the country, hosting a mindful triathlon in 11 different cities. Run, yoga, meditation. Awesome right? There should be more of these. I really love this concept. It starts with a fun and non-timed 5K run/walk and then some dancing, yoga, and a guided meditation, all showcasing extraordinary MCs, DJs, and yoga teachers from all over.

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So, today they were in Chicagoland and I was happy enough to volunteer the morning shift. I arrived on site around 7:20AM and throughout the morning I directed cars towards parking. The 5K run took off and I switched duties to handing bottles of water to finishers. It was so fun seeing all the runners coming in through the Wanderlust arch! All happy to be done I’m sure!

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After everyone was through, attendees perused the vendors and then laid out their mats despite the rain falling and a huge drop in temperature. I was off volunteer duty at 10:30AM so I grabbed my mat and jumped into the yogi dance party started by MC Yogi. Never knew of MC Yogi before today, but I was instantly a fan. He really knows how to get people moving and having a great time. We huddled for warmth around the stage dancing, jumping, and swaying to the beat of DJ Robindra.

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MC Yogi carried us through a warm-up on our mats before Wade Gotwals took over. Wade started it off with a few partner yoga poses. The rain was coming down more and more and my toes were getting pretty cold so as we were directed back to our mats I quickly gathered my wet, muddy, grassy mat and headed back home. It was unfortunate that we didn’t have a sunny and dry day to fully enjoy the experience since I really would have loved to stay with Wade and then meditate with Sage Roundtree.

Despite the rain, I did have a good time. I hope to rejoin Wanderlust in the future! But, I’m going to enjoy this warm coffee and watch the #PreClassic and US Women’s Soccer team play! Oh, and the Hawks play tonight!!! Have a nice rest of your weekend.

 

The Marathon: Don’t Let It Run You

There are many different avenues in which a runner goes through to make the decision to register for their first marathon. The marathon distance poses a challenge. It tests limits, it has the power to change someone. It demands commitment and sacrifice, but the glory that a runner claims when they cross that finish line is the ultimate prize.

The commitment and determination that helps a runner wake up before the sun to run those 8 miles before work actually has the potential to derail their training and ultimately their race. Runners are ambitious and hard to slow down. When we set out to do something, and invest time and money into it, we will not be stopped. But marathon training is a balancing act. The body’s limit will be tested, but there are moments we need to listen to our body and step on the brake to allow for recovery before we fall into the dreaded overtrained state that will eventually lead to injury.

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I don’t regret my first marathon experience. Although I struggled with injuries, that was my path. I needed to have those experiences to learn and grow, both as a runner and as a person. However, for those aspiring marathoners out there, here is what I learned and would do differently the second time around (whether or not there will be one).

1. Have a Plan (But Be Flexible)

Have a training plan, but don’t be married to it. Other commitments will come up and when they do adapt. All will be well if you miss a run…seriously.

It is also important to have a training plan that fits you and your goals. Understand and know yourself as a runner. Do not compare your training to anyone else, because what works for them and their body, may not be right for you. I cannot stress this enough.

2. Progressive Increase in Mileage

Having a progressive approach for your weekly mileage is crucial! Don’t convince yourself that you need to catch up and run more because you believe that it will make you faster/stronger quicker because it wont. It will make you slower and weaker.

I foolishly tried to convince myself that the mileage I built from swimming and biking equalled running mileage, but in reality running puts a massive amount of stress on your musculoskeletal system. I did not allow my body enough time to adapt to the stresses.

3. Recover Well

Let your body recover. Thats’s where the magic happens. It is better to be slightly undertrained than injured on race day. Trust me, your body will welcome the additional down time. If you absolutely feel like you need to be doing something, foam roll, get a massage, take an epsom salt bath, or stretch. Do the little things.

And eat well. Nutrition is often overlooked, but it is extremely important. Good, real, whole foods have the ability to speed up recovery.

4. Strength Train

For the majority of time, running consists of moving in one plane of motion, the sagittal plane. Our knees, elbows, hips, and ankles are constantly extending and flexing. Moving in one plane for an extended period of time has the ability to wear down certain joints, tendons, and muscles. Muscle imbalances then occur. Strength training has the power to alleviate these symptoms and it has the power to prevent them altogether.

Balance and stabilization exercises for the core and glutes are a great place to start.

5. Restorative Yoga

This type of yoga is brilliant for recovery. Training related injuries occur more often to connective tissue (such as ligaments and tendons) than muscles because connective tissues lack blood supply. Restorative yoga increases blood flow thus aiding in the recovery of ligaments and tendons. It will truly give your body and mind the time and space it needs to heal.

 

Have you pushed beyond your body’s limit because of ambition and determination?

Do you have any additional advice for the newbie runner or lessons you learned from your first marathon?   

Update: Injury + Upcoming Race Season

I thought I should give an update on how I am still dealing with injury. So, although a whole 3 months have passed since Chicago, I am not 100% healthy yet. I can safely say, marathon training did quite a number on me.

Maybe I should have done a few things differently. Like, not increase my running mileage from 19 miles one week and then 41 the next! Yeah, that happened.

I just checked out my account on training peaks and I am baffled. What was I thinking? I was just ending a big season of triathlons, my last race was USAT Nationals (19 miles of running that week) and the next week, when I should have been recovering, I jumped straight into marathon training with 41 miles of running!? I think, no I definitely was, in a state of delusion. I would call it robot mode. No thinking, just doing.

I am honestly sitting here just speechless.

Jumping ahead to after the race, even though I had pains all over my body, I continued to exercise because it was a habit. I couldn’t just stop cold turkey. Since then I have slowly weaned myself off physical activity because this body needs to heal. But lets be real, I’m still doing a little bit here and there, mostly yoga and core work.

Currently, my left foot still aches, especially when I am just resting. I feel twinges/aching every night before I go to bed. Does this mean the bone is damaged? Not sure. In addition, the back of my left knee is still strained, but seems to be improving.

Plan of action? Well, simply more rest. Put as little pressure on my foot as possible and protect the the back of my knee.

As much as this sucks, it really is the only option. And I don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on physical training, sorry, but I’m trying to do other things with that money. I have always been like this. I always ride out my injuries and just let them heal on their own and they do. Call me stubborn.

What does all of this mean for the upcoming season of racing? Well, depending on how soon I am 100% healthy, I will begin training again. Slowly, focusing on stability and functional training at first. Light runs, bikes, and swims. If I get out of hand, please let me know!

I hope to sign up for a half ironman towards the end of the summer, but if I find I will not have enough time to train maybe an OLY or two would do. Or a half marathon in the Fall. But, one thing is for sure…I am not signing up for any race until I can get back to training. That would be pointless. The main focus right now though, is to get healthy.

One positive from all of this is that I have been experimenting more in the kitchen and trying new recipes! On Saturday I made my own pasta sauce with roasted sweet tomatoes, red bell pepper, and garlic and tons of spices, and basil. It was delicious! I put it on top of roasted spaghetti squash, which I had never had before. It was a winner!

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I hope everyone has a great week of training! Unless you are like me then let’s try not to go stir crazy!

Sushi, Improv + Snowy Fun

The first weekend of 2015 consisted of lots of laughing, a great run, and a flurry of snow! After leaving work on Friday I was able to get out for a run while it was still light and semi-warm (above 30). I saw that this might be my last chance for a comfortable workout outside as our temperatures have dropped dramatically. And I am so glad I did!

I took a conservative approach to this run as I am slowly easing myself back in. Before I left I loosened my muscles by rolling my legs and back out on my foam roller. I also rolled the bottom of my foot with a tennis ball, which felt amazing. I am going to continue to do this every day as I noticed a big difference in how my foot felt during and after the run. I then started out easy by walking for 5 minutes to warm-up. I then ran 30 minutes going by feel. I did have my watch on, but I was not checking it. However, at mile 2 I did glance at the pace…just to see, and to my surprise I was going faster than I thought I was. I am very happy with this run and will continue to inch my way forward. I ended with a cool-down of 5 minutes walking.

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Following my run I completed Julia’s hip/glute strengthening workout. This routine is great to do either before or after a run. It is not too long (8 minutes) and really fire ups the glutes. Mine were burning and were sore the next day. I have been doing glute exercises for the past 2 months and they were still sore. I did a little core work as well.

I had to shower and get ready soon after because it was my best friend Nikki’s birthday and we were going to dinner than a comedy show at Improv! Dinner was sushi and it was delicious. We had edamame to start and then I went with a California roll and A.A.C. roll (my two favorite) with miso soup. It definitely hit the spot! The comedy show was next, but we honestly did not need it as we were already laughing til our stomachs ached at dinner. I love getting together with these girls.

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John Heffron was the headliner and he was hilarious. At one point I was laughing so hard it was silent. That’s when you know you had a good laugh! The comedians preceding him were all funny as well. It was a fun show!

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Nikki, me, Nikki (birthday girl), April

Overnight we got some snow, but it was still around 30 degrees. Nikki and I both wanted to go for a long walk…I wanted to stretch my legs after yesterday’s run. Around 10AM we went over to Rollins Savannah, a forest preserve. It was quiet and peaceful, only a few brave runners on the trail. Despite the weather we were glad we went, we covered around 3.7 miles total. We grabbed coffee afterwards to warm-up!

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Later in the day we went to see The Woman In Black 2. I saw the first one, but didn’t really remember what the story line was. All I remembered was that Harry Potter was in it. We weren’t sure if the second one was a prequel or sequel. Either way, it was okay. Not really scary, just really jumpy. I probably jumped 7 times (not an exaggeration).

That night my Steelers were playing in their Wild Card Playoff game against our rivals, The Ravens. Unfortunately, they lost and I was super sad. Oh, well. Nothing I could/can do about it! I was pretty tired from the night before and the day so I got to bed early.

Yesterday was lazy Sunday. To the extreme. Well, I did take down my Christmas tree and put away my clothes…so I was semi-productive!

 

How was your weekend? Anyone else get snow?