Day 5 – It finally happened!

After a draining day at work yesterday I headed out to pick up some groceries including a stop at Trader Joes. This usually ends with me buying a ton of their delicious treats and spending muchos money. Their English Toffee is my boyfriend’s favorite and I’m usually under strict orders not to buy it. Cos if it ain’t in your house you can’t eat it. He’ll be outdoors doing manly things all weekend so he needed the calories.

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This is pretty restrained – usually I buy their 1 lb (!) bar of Swiss chocolate.

I also stocked up the veggie drawer.

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I’m trying to reduce the carbs I eat and increase the amount and variety of veggies. Also, I like peppers. I have a bunch of veggie recipes I’m planning on trying out this weekend/next week so watch out for updates.

Finally, this was waiting for me when I got home.

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Excited to start reading this.

I decided to run my 3.6 mile loop again this morning. It felt much better than yesterday. Less knee banging. A little more natural. Some parts felt really good – everything was just flowing and smooth. The ground was a little icy in places but luckily I had worn my trail shoes. I was just about to turn the corner to get back to my house and was admiring my confidence and ability to cope with slick sidewalks when disaster struck.

You know the old saying “Pride usually comes before a fall”: well I am now a living embodiment to prove it’s true. The sidewalk leading directly to my house was an ice rink so I decided I would just run on the road. As I was stepping on the road I hit a patch of ice I went down. Somehow I managed to keep my feet on the ground and felt the full impact on my elbow. Warning: Gore!

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This was my elbow under two layers of running tops. It was pretty sore but now 7 hours later it’s feeling a lot better. And on the bright side I didn’t injure my legs at all.

I felt like the universe owed my some good karma and it delivered. On my way to catch the bus to work I again decided to walk on the road and avoid the ice patch and this time instead of a spectacular fall I found $10 (literally) frozen to the road. I peeled that MOFO from the road and took it as an apology for starting my day with a bang. And all is good with the world again.

3.6 miles at 9.04 min/mile pace. Felt pretty darn good.

Monthly mileage: 75.05 miles

Not bad considering this is my back to running month. And 30 more miles than I ran in Jan 2013.

Planning on doing a strength workout and then spending my Friday night in my PJs with some wine, nachos and Scandal. Happy Friday!

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Day 4 – Mindful running

When I first started running I thought about a lot of different things while I was actually running:

Oh my God this is so hard

I think I might die

Try not to vomit in front of people

Ugh a hill – how am I going to do that?

One thing I didn’t ever think about was HOW I was running? How my legs were moving forward. What my arms were doing. If my back was bent over. How my feet were touching the ground.

Running is easy, right? You just put on your shoes (and clothes obviously) and go? Well it turns out for me, that running isn’t that simple. Last year I had 8 months of injury-free running followed by 4 months of not being able to run pain-free. Now I have to think about running and how to stop getting these recurrent (and totally frustrating) injuries.

So this morning I went for a run. And I thought about my body for the whole run. Trying to keep my spine tall. Making sure my legs were going straight and my knees weren’t touching. Trying to keep my arms closer to my body. I’m not going to lie the first 1.5 miles was pretty hard. I had to think about every step. It was like I had been given someone else’s legs to try out and I didn’t know what I was doing.

However, the second half of the run felt more fluid. Like I had been given my legs back. I felt fluid. I know changing your gait and stride will take time and practice but I have a destination now. I’m not just running and waiting for an injury to happen. I’m running away from my injuries and towards being a better runner. It was a good run.

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3.58 miles (I don’t round up!) at 9.28 min/mile pace. It snowed here last night – just a little. And I know this will sound weird for non-Utahns but the snow was really wet. Normally, our snow is light and fluffy, which is the main reason why are snow is so good to ski on. So for the first time ever I came home with wet socks.

Day 3 – A visit to the physical therapist

Today started with a 8.00 AM visit to the physical therapist. Luckily I got a next day appointment with someone who specializes in running and is in charge of the running (I guess you could say she runs (!)) clinic at our local orthopedic center.

I had sciatica and hip bursitis in my left hip (AKA stupid left hip SLH) and have been feeling a slight pain in SLH as I’ve been increasing my mileage. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on biomechanically and fix it once and for all. Well it turns out my bottom is exactly whats at the bottom of all my injuries – specifically my gluteus medius.

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So she pinpointed my pain to this area and then watched me running on the treadmill. I was filmed from every angle and the treadmill measured my force of impact, cadence and a whole bunch of other things. For a scientist like me, it was nice to see bar charts of everything.

I knew already that my running form isn’t perfect – but watching a 360 view of you running really shows up all your faults. There were some plus points.

Positives:

Strong core

Good cadence

Negatives:

Tight hips

Overstriding

Knees collapsing together

Weak glutes

Left hip collapsing

Arms out too wide

Taking everything together she came up with a plan.

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I really like the cartoon drawing!

The good news is that I don’t have to stop running. I just need to think about where my legs are going when I run. And hopefully I should be pain free in a couple of months. I think I’ll celebrate with a couple of easy miles. Although, it’s surprising how much more of an effort running becomes when you have to think about what you’re doing. But I’m hopeful that this will solve my major issues and help me train for all my races this year.

In other news the course for my April half was finally released. It’s a little different from previous years – with a couple of hilly sections. The mile 8 marker is right by my house so I can always reevaluate then. Joke – I’m going to finish. Probably. I don’t think it’ll be a PR run. Not when combined with injury rehab.

But I’m feeling pretty positive. I know what the problem is now and how to fix it – and that’s more than I can say for the last 3 or 4 months. Things are looking up!

Day 2 – cross training

Last night I saw Case Against 8 as part of the Sundance film festival Best of Fest. It’s a HBO documentary following the team of lawyers and two couples who appeal against the Prop 8 amendment in California. It was great – moving, really humanizing the couples fighting for the right to marry and (SPOILER ALERT) has a happy ending. If you get the chance you should check it out. Fun law fact: the two head (?) lawyers arguing against the constitutionality of Prop 8 were on opposite sides in the Bush v Gore case, which gave George Bush his first term. Rest assured fun law facts will not be a regular occurrence on this blog.

We met some friends at the screening. It turns out that grad students like free stuff. Who knew? We had some time to kill before our bus came (still clearing the air) so we checked out Whiskey Street, a new bar in downtown SLC.

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The bar scene is getting a little better in SLC. There are still weird alcohol laws and you can’t get anything stronger than 3.2% beer on draft :(. Lucky for me my boyfriend is a dedicated home-brewer. But if you’re ever in SLC, I’d recommend the Beer Hive, which has a crazy selection of beer and a cool ice bar. Then there’s Bar X, which is co-owned by Ty Burrell from Modern Family and has some cocktails and aged-decadence feel. Whiskey Street is pretty hip too – not common in Utah we are decidedly uncool – long beer and whiskey lists. They just need to work out the kinks for their service.

All this preamble is to say that I didn’t get up for my scheduled cross-training session. Two beers on a weeknight knocked me out. Maybe I’ve been out of Ireland too long………….Day 2 of half marathon training is a cross-training day. So I switched up my day and headed out to the gym after work. It was like stepping back in time – to Jan 1st. Crazy busy. I did my regular strength workout – focusing on core and legs. My workout is basically:

Leg press – 3 x 10 reps

Calf raises – 3 x 10 reps (slower than normal)

Bicep curl/Overhead press – 3 x 10 reps

Lunges – 3 x 10 reps

Goblet squats – 3 x 10 reps

Then hitting the floor for leg raises, bridge, planks, side planks, pushups and reverse crunches. My plan is to do one strength workout per week and a power yoga class on top of that.

Got home to make something I’ve been craving all week – thai veggie broth. Yum.

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Ready to relax for the evening. Was thinking about my hip pain and I’m pretty sure that it’s all related to my IT band. I’ve made an appointment to see a PT who specializes in running and luckily she had an open slot for tomorrow. Hopefully, she’ll give me something to work with and find out what is going on with my left side. Wish me luck!

Half marathon training begins

I registered for the Salt Lake City half marathon sometime last year. It was a steal at $45. Plus everyone I know has run it and I want to be part of the club. The race is on April 19th – starting at the U and finishing……? Last year the race ended less than a mile from my house. I’m hoping it’ll be the same this year but I’m still waiting for them to put up the final course. Like most races in Utah it’s mostly downhill but not as steep as some of the other races you can find out there. My previous (and so far only) half marathon involved running down Ogden canyon and has a net elevation loss of about 700 ft.

So today began with Week One Day One of half marathon training. I am a list girl. I like to know exactly what runs I need to do for the next twelve weeks. I also get a weird sense of enjoyment crossing out my run on my training calendar. One down only 59ish runs to go! I think that writing about my training will also help with my motivation, which last time started dragging at about week 9 last time. I think both of these things helped me get out of bed at 5.45 and head to the gym. Today’s scheduled run was 30 mins at 8.34 min/mile pace. Back to the treadmill as our air quality has gone crappy yet again. Luckily, a couple of storms should be rolling through this week so we might be able to clear out the smog.

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Still feeling a little tight in my hip so these guys are my new besties!

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I think all runners must have a bit of masochistic side – and this definitely comes out with these torture devices.

I had originally hoped to go for a new PR at this race. But with my hip issues, I’m now thinking that getting to the start line in one piece might be my main goal. My other main goal for the year is to run 1000 miles (about 83ish miles each month). I got just a little over 700 last year and think I can do it but only if I can stay uninjured. It’s always a dilemma with me – take a break now and let it heal or see if PT, rolling and strengthening will make it manageable. This is when I wish I had a PT/sports med. doctor on call……

Tonight I’ll be making an effort to dig in to our mountain of leftover carnitas. A quick dinner at work and then heading to see the Sundance Best of Fest movie. Once the festival is over – and SLC/Park City gets back to normal the guys at Sundance put on free movies for locals. They are guaranteed to be one of the festival winners but you never know what you’re gonna get. Last year we saw Fruitvale, which was pretty awesome. Tonight we’ll see the Case against 8. It’s a documentary winner about Prop 8.

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We’re travelling by bus to get there – clearing the air FTW – and the walk home takes us by the local gelato shop. I have to stop by, right?

Sunday recap

Saturday’s crockpot turned out pretty well. Although we have a ton of pulled pork in the fridge. Plus a chunk of guacamole. Lots of burritos for the next week. Yum yum yum. Everything tastes better we avocado. Today also started with crockpot prep. Chicken cacciatore from http://www.skinnytaste.com. It smells pretty good right now. Just 5 hours to go.

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Then it was on to yoga class. My local yoga studio has crazy heard early morning core class and a slightly later and slightly less intense power class. I decided on power yoga (mainly because I slept through the first class). And surprise live DJ. This was pretty cool. The music was pretty chill and flow-ey. In final resting pose they played a Jack Johnson cover of Imagine, which I had never heard before but loved. Afterward the whole class (about 60 people) did rounds of ohms. This might sound a bit new-agey but the acoustics and the energy were pretty inspiring.

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Back home to finish my banana-strawberry smoothie and banana bread while watching Scandal. I’ve just started watching this on Netflix  -what a great show. I am addicted.

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Today is a rest day from running. But not from foam rolling and hip strengthening. Recovery is never over.

Weekly recap:

2 yoga workouts

1 strength workout – although I think I need to dial back on the calf raises. I had pretty bad DOMS everywhere (walking shouldn’t be hard) but something strained in my calf. I think it’s better now though.

4 runs – 18.4 miles total. All the runs were easy and 2 were even outside. Thinking about it, it looks as if I’ll have to reintroduce downhill running slowly to try and give my hip a break. My plan for week one of half marathon training should keep the mileage around 18-20 miles but introducing an extra day. And a tempo run. Ugh – these are the only types of runs that I dread. Long runs fine. Hill work OK. But tempos…..No. But I think they’re the most useful for getting fast and staying fast in the race.

I’m trying to drink more water. This is especially important living in the high desert. If you ever visit SLC you will need to bring the giantest tub of moisturizer you can pack. This place is dry. I’m also trying to up the veggie intake. This week has gone pretty well. Now for more of the same.

Returning from injury………..and trying not to be paranoid about SLH

Today started with some Crockpot prep. I love my Crockpot and use it as often as I can. Today is carnitas. Yum. I guess the only downside is having to wait 8 hours til I can eat. Patience is not my strong point when it comes to food.

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The air quality is still pretty good so I decided to take advantage and run outside. Two days in row. Amazing. I also decided to wear my cool new socks. A friend recommended these socks after having trouble with blisters during training for her first marathon. They feel a little weird at first but after a while you totally forget you’re wearing them.

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Today is my last run before half marathon training begins. I’ve been doing a return to running program after being diagnosed with hip bursitis way back in October. This meant no running for 6 whole weeks, which was pretty depressing. Strange since I spent the first 30ish years of my life not running! After this I did a 1:5 x 5 program. Walking for 5 mins followed by running for 1 min. Repeated 5 times. I gradually increased the duration of the running portion until I could run for a full 30 mins. Then I started running every second day for 30 mins and increasing time running by about 5 mins for one run a week.

Today was scheduled to be 45 mins. I ran 5.32 miles at 8.39 min/mile pace. And it was a little hard. A little uncomfortable but still at conversational pace. I say conversational but since I was running by myself I just talked in my head. The stupid left hip (SLH) was mostly fine. I could feel a tightness in my IT band and had the weirdest feeling in my SLH. You know when you hit your funny bone. Exactly like that but in my hip. My body is a little weird. Did some stretching, hip strengthening and foam rolling straight after – I’m more than a little paranoid about managing this niggle. Prevention is better than cure. Prevention is better than cure. Prevention is better than cure. My new mantra.

Refueling with a fruit-centric breakfast.

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 I’ve started making weekend smoothies again. They are so yummy, filling and a good way for me to get my dairy on.

1 cup milk (whatever kind you drink)

1 banana

1/4 cup OJ

1/4 greek yoghurt (protein FTW)

1 tbsp honey (or agave)

1 cup frozen fruit (I have a giant bag of frozen whole strawberries from Costco)

Now time to clean my house and torture my tastebuds with the smell of slow cooking pork. Yum garlicky!