Why taking a break from running can be awesome

If you’ve been reading my blog you might know that I am on a doctor-advised break from running. A couple of weeks after my marathon I was experiencing some pain in my left foot exactly where a stress fracture would show up. I freaked out, hightailed in to the doctor’s office and was diagnosed with a stress response, which is basically the beginnings of a stress fracture. She recommended taking a two week break from running and giving my metatarsals some time to regenerate (that sounds amazingly science-fictiony). This happened exactly two weeks ago so tomorrow I’m going to go for a 10 mile run.

Joke! I will not be doing that – I have spent most of this year trying to wean myself off my crazy no-rest ever ways. What I plan on doing is trying to run for 1 mile on the treadmill and stopping immediately if I experience any pain. I’m lucky in that I caught this pretty early and I have no races coming up so there is no rush to get back to high mileage any time soon. And I also (unfortunately) experience coming back from injury. Last year after a 6 week break I started with a 5:1 interval – 5 mins walking 1 min running x 6 – and yes it was as much fun as you could imagine. BUT it worked and I got back in shape enough to get a half marathon PR in April of this year.

Looking back (and the lesson I learned from this) was that I should have taken 2 complete weeks off from running straight after the marathon. I that’s what I’ll be doing in May after marathon #2. I guess I thought my body could handle more and it found a way for me to take an enforced break. So you might think that I’ve been going crazy not being able to run. And you would be 100% WRONG! I’ve had the most amazing 2 weeks and this is what I’ve enjoyed about it.

1. Sleep! Getting up at 5.45 AM to run 9 miles before work is hard. When I see it on my training schedule I get up and do it. But if I have a choice – I’m going to pick that extra hour in bed.

2. Energy. I was tired during my marathon training. Early mornings. 40+ mile weeks. It was all new and I wanted to train as well as I could. But I was tired a lot – in work I had to struggle to get things done. I was dozing off in seminars. I did not make plans for weeknights that involved me leaving my house. Now – I have so much energy. I don’t know if this is something that comes with the territory – marathon training is a big commitment – but I’m hoping it gets more manageable on training cycle #2.

3. The runger is gone. It feels so good to not be a raging hungry maniac during the day. I’ve settled back into my routine and feel normal again.

4. I kinda like biking. My doctor told me I was OK to bike, swim, or ellipticise. One of those things I really hate (like I’ve said before I’ve yet to find a blog about someone who is crazy about their elliptical machine). My work is just under 4 miles from my house. Four uphill miles but still close enough. Plus we have really secure bike storage and I don’t have to live my life according to bus timetables. The first time biking in was awful – it was hard and I wanted to die (in a teenage girl – my life is over kinda way). But it’s gotten better. It takes a little over 35 minutes and for the most part is safe and pleasant. We’ve also been having great fall weather. What I’ve learned is that I like to have 30ish minutes of ‘me’ time in the morning to think about whatever randomly pops into my head. Biking lets me zone out and just have my thoughts. I also get to be OUTSIDE! > than the treadmill. Now I just have to get a real commuter bike.

5. I can set other fitness goals. So biking is fun. And swimming? Well the first couple of times – not so much. But I’m currently following this (http://ruthkazez.com/swimming/ZeroTo1mile.html) program. It’s kinda like the C25K program for running and aims to build your swim workout so that eventually (after 6 weeks) you can swim one mile non-stop. By doing this swimming program and biking to work (which I was absolutely too tired to do after my morning training runs during the summer) I’ve realized that I’m all about endurance. I LIKE to get in the zone (sorry awful cliche but very true) and just get stuck in. Turnover my legs. Inhabit my body and work.

6. Running is not my everything. I like running and I am excited to get back out there but it’s not the end of the world if I can’t do it for a while. My recovery from my injury last year went pretty well and I got back to speed relatively quickly. I like to think I’ve become a little more pragmatic and gained some perspective this year and that has made this non-running period a lot easier to deal with.

So to sum up – I’m feeling recharged and back to myself. This is great because at the time I didn’t even realize how much training for the marathon was taking out of me.

And the good eats have been continuing. On Sunday I made this smoked salmon risotto – which is surprisingly straightforward and totally delicious. Then from the Skinnytaste cookbook – potato and chickpea curry. It was amazing – and really easy. The best combination. Here’s a lovely photo of my leftovers.

IMG_1086

Last night we had some fish tacos – lots of jalapeno and extra lime juice.

Mexican food + cast iron.

Mexican food + cast iron.

And I’ve finally bought some KIND bars. Those things are good.

You had me at chocolate and salt.

You had me at chocolate and salt.

Happy weekend!

Advertisements

Relaxation!

I’ve finally embraced ‘the rest’. We had a wonderful weekend camping in Zion National Park. We arrived pretty late on Friday night and woke up to this view from camp. A bunch of wedding guests had arranged to camp at one of the group sites in the park. So fun! And probably the first time I’ve ever brought make-up and a fancy dress on a camping trip. We had breakfast and then caught the shuttle to the Lodge for the ceremony.

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

Camp!

The wedding itself took place outside the lodge. It was a beautiful day – sunny and in the 80s. And what an amazing backdrop.

Wedding venue!

Wedding venue!

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

Ceremony under the cottonwood.

We got to hang out at the lodge for the afternoon before heading back to camp for the after party. What a way to celebrate the wedding of two amazing people.

On Sunday morning we enjoyed brunch before meandering back to SLC. And then it was early to bed – partying is hard work!

But I managed to rest for the entire weekend – absolutely no workouts. No running or hiking (which was so difficult – southern Utah is so perfect for exploring). Total rest. And I’m feeling great. I did a quick swim workout (30 mins) on Monday after work. And then Tuesday – more rest.

I think sometimes I freak out if I take a day off. As if not working out will land me back at square one fitness-wise. All those months of hard work will be negated by skipping the gym for one day. By the way – I know that this is crazy. You can’t get fit in one day and you certainly can’t lose fitness by taking a little time off. I guess it takes me a while to give myself ‘permission’ to take some time off. I love the feeling after any kind of exercise – endorphins please! – and it’s hard for me to dial it back.

But I think this year has helped my to gain some perspective.  Previously I would have pushed through – ignoring any pains, hoping they’ll go away on their own, coming back from injury too quickly. All of those mistakes that keep you injured for longer. What I’ve learned in the past year is that it is a million times better to catch running injuries early and give yourself time to heal properly. Rushing back too soon will end badly. Last year I had sciatica and once I was healed “enough” I got straight back into it…………….and promptly got bursitis in both hips. Total time off = 12 weeks!

So I plan on doing another short swim workout out tomorrow and maybe Thursday. And even though my foot feels 100% normal I’m going to continue with my rest from running. It’s taken a while but I feel like I’m finally doing it right.

 

It’s the weekend!

Friday! Woohoo! I get to leave work a little early today so J and I can head down south. One of our very good friends is getting married this weekend. And being a super-awesome bride – she has chosen to get married at Zion National Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. Here’s some pictures of our visit there in fall 2010.

CIMG1417

CIMG1433

CIMG1435

CIMG1439

CIMG1444

Again – I’m reminded how lucky I am to live in Utah where I can drive 4 hours and be in this place! Plus what’s better than a weekend of camping and partying with your best friends!

This week has been run-free and totally great. My foot (which wasn’t that sore to begin with) hasn’t been bothering me but I’m still determined to take another week off before my slowly returning to running. I also have been sleeping in til 7 AM every morning. I think I’ll wait until Daylight Savings ends before going back to my 6 AM workouts.

But I have been staying active. I’ve biked into work three days this week. I was meant to do it again today but had major chain issues -> bike fail. It’s only a little over 3.5 miles but it is literally uphill the whole way and takes about 35 mins. But coming home is totally free-wheeling and a ton of fun. I’ve also hit the pool twice. The U has a pool that’s open for lane swimming every weeknight from 6-10 PM and it’s pretty quiet. My short term goal (I’m following a 6 week program) is to be able to swim 1 whole mile without stopping. I also did a quick strength workout (no yoga until my foot is back to normal) including my longest plank ever – 3 1/2 minutes – this was made a little easier because Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off kept me company. Damn – that is one catchy song!

Finally, I’m happy to announce that I’ve managed to complete one of my goals for the year! At some point during my marathon I managed to tick off 1000 miles for the year. I’m hoping in a week I can get back out there and add a couple more!

Happy weekend!

Recipes! – What I’ve been eating this week!

I am not a fun person to be around at 6PM – that is my hangry time. When I get home from work I want to eat as quickly as possible. But, I want to keep my meals interesting and relatively healthy. This week I’ve made two of my favorites that are easy to make and pretty versatile so I thought I’d share them with you guys.

Thai vegetable and noodle soup

IMG_0782

This recipe is so easy and is a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have in your fridge.

1 tbsp Thai red curry paste

1/2 can coconut milk (regular or light)

1 cup broth or water

1 package noodles (I prefer egg but rice works too – as long as it cooks in 10 mins or less it should work)

1 tsp brown sugar (leave out if you don’t like sweeter curries)

 

Vegetables (I usually use 1 carrot cut into sticks, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, shredded green cabbage)

6 large campari tomatoes halved (bigger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than regular sized)

1 tbsp fish sauce

juice of 1 lime

1 green onion sliced

bunch of cilantro chopped

unsalted peanuts chopped

1. In a wok, heat red curry paste in a small amount of oil until fragrant – about 3-4 mins.

2. Add coconut milk and mix. Add broth/water and brown sugar and bring to a simmer.

3. Add vegetables. If you want to add protein you can add a salmon fillet at this stage to poach. Sometimes I add small cubes of tofu. I cook these for 10 mins.

4. Add noodles. The noodles that I use require 4 mins cooking time.

5. Once everything is cooked I add my tomatoes and let them soften for 1 minute.

6. Take off the heat and add the fish sauce and lime juice.

7. Spoon into bowls and garnish. In my opinion the garnish really makes this dish. I love to add chopped green onion, cilantro and peanuts.

Serves 2. Done in 20 mins!

Pasta bake

IMG_1072

This is what I’ll be having for dinner tonight! I prepped it last night so all I’ll have to do is stick it in the oven at 350F for 25 mins while I take a shower after working out. This is adapted from a couple of recipes on Skinnytaste.

8 oz pasta

1-2 spicy Italian chicken sausage (use vegan/vegetarian alternative if you avoid meat)

1/2 onion diced

sliced mushrooms (I use half a pack)

1/2 bottle of Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash pasta sauce (this is the quick and easy way)

0r

1/2 butternut squash – chopped, boiled and pureed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 cup broth

4ish sage leaves sliced

Handful of baby spinach

mozzarella

parmesan

1. Boil pasta – usually I cook it for 1-2 mins less than indicated

2. Squeeze sausage meat out of casing and fry in olive oil for a 4-5 mins.  Remove from pan.

3. Cook onions until soft 3-4 mins. Add mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add butternut squash sauce/puree. Also add broth, Parmesan, cooked sausage and sage leaves. Mix well. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins. Keep an eye on it and add more broth/water if it looks to dry.

5. Remove from heat. Add cooked pasta and spinach. Mix well until spinach wilts. Empty into oiled 9×9 baking dish.

6. Top with mozzarella – the amount is up to you. Finish with grated Parmesan.

7. Cook for 25 mins at 350F or until cheese becomes bubbly and slightly browned.

Serves 4. Enjoy!

It’s official – October is just not my month

I had hoped to post about my first experience running with a local running group after finally having the time (and inclination) to meet up for one of their Saturday group runs……………but life had other plans. So let’s rewind to the start of the week.

Monday: Strength workout

Tuesday: 4 mile easy run around 9 min/mile pace. This was mentally a struggle but got it done.

Wednesday: I finally figured out how the lap function on my Garmin works so I decided I’d try to do a couple of mile repeats – and I mean literally a couple as in two. One mile warm-up. One mile at 7.14 min/mile pace. Half mile recovery. One mile at 7.10 min/mile pace. Half mile recovery and then an easy run home. It felt hard but in a good way and I was excited to move fast again.

Thursday: Slept in and skipped an early morning run. PM strength workout.

Friday: 15.1 miles on the stationary bike.

On Thursday I woke up with an annoying pain in my foot that got worse as the day progressed. I made a call pretty early in the day to take a rest day from running. But by the evening (and after my gym session) I couldn’t put any weight on my right foot and I was freaking out. A quick google search only increased my freak-out levels. My pain had a sudden onset and was in the exact place where you get a stress fracture.

On Friday, I called to get a same day appointment at a local clinic (yay for fall break and working on a university campus!). The doctor checked me out and was convinced that I didn’t have a fracture…………YET……….but all my symptoms suggested that if I didn’t take a break from running it would only be a matter of time…………Her advice: two weeks with no running. Then try some short distances but stop if there is any pain. Still good to bike, swim, ellipticise. No yoga, climbing or single leg exercises.

Bummer! I’ll have to pull out of the Snow Canyon half marathon due to injury for the second year in a row. In October 2013 I ran exactly ZERO miles. This year I’ve done a little better (about 50 miles) but that is me done for the month. It seems like my body just gives out after 10 months of solid training. Stupid overuse injuries.

On the plus side I have lots of options for getting cardio in. The weather was so beautiful in SLC this weekend – blue skies in the 70s – that I biked to work (and the pool) on Saturday, and then to the gym on Sunday. The distances are pretty short but man, everything is uphill! But it makes coming home a lot easier.

I don’t feel much pain. The doctor was able to move my foot around with no problems so she’s pretty confident that I’m in the earliest possible stages which means faster recovery and I have the OK to take ibuprofen if I need to.

I’m actually a little relieved. Ssssh don’t tell anyone! I guess I was a little more burned out from the marathon than I realized, and knowing that I had a potential half marathon coming up I couldn’t truly relax. No that the race is off the table and I’m under doctor’s orders to NOT run – well I can do that.

Most importantly – I’m so glad that this happened AFTER the marathon. I can’t even think about how bummed I’d be if I had trained for 18 weeks and had to pull out of my goal race for a stress fracture (which I don’t actually have – a stress response is what she called it).

So as much as it sucks to be injured – it has happened at the best possible time and as far as injuries go – it’s one of the milder ones.

Plus my trail running buddy is also on the injury list so we can be comeback buddies in a couple of weeks.

So I spent the weekend biking around town – just because it is so beautiful outside right now and in a couple of weeks I know that winter will hit hard. I found a Couch-to-1 mile swimming program that I can do at the pool right by my work – that at least gives me some idea of what I should be doing in the pool. Day one was 4×100 yds, 4×50 yds and 4×25 yds. A nice warm up to the pool. I started this last year when I was injured but never got as far as a full mile so that is my goal this time around. Sunday was 6.2 mile on the elliptical followed by a bunch of core stuff – including a 3 minute plank which is probably the longest I’ve ever done.

And in case you were worried the health center were on top of things and asked if I had recently traveled to West Africa. I got the all clear from Ebola but made sure to get my flu shot.

This weekend was mostly a solo one for me – which means lots of delicious eats. For some reason, when I’m cooking for myself it always involves fries – sweet or regular oven fries. And I’m a little obsessed with brussel sprouts right now. I also got to catch up with some new shows – How to get away with Murder – so awesome.

New wok!

New wok!

Crockpot chicken drumsticks.

Crockpot chicken drumsticks.

Chicken tenders with sweet potato fries - plus all the toppings.

Chicken tenders with sweet potato fries – plus all the toppings.

Homemade fries, roasted brussel sprouts and homemade fishsticks.

Homemade fries, roasted brussel sprouts and homemade fishsticks.

Breakfast sandwich: Baby spinach, tomato, avocado and fried egg. I think I'd eat this everyday if I could.

Breakfast sandwich: Baby spinach, tomato, avocado and fried egg. I think I’d eat this everyday if I could.

And last night I persuaded J to come and see Gone Girl with me. I loved it – although I think a lot of people were not happy with the ending. In return, we visited a local beer bar before the movie.

Delicious!

Delicious!

And did I mention that the movie theater is a bar…………I’m not sure why this isn’t the general rule for all of them?

Anyone had a stress fracture before?

Do you have special food you cook when you’re flying solo?

Anyone else seen Gone Girl? Opinions?

Returning to normal………….

The post-marathon PR glow has finally subsided and things are getting back to normal around here.

I finally got to a yoga class. So many lunges and downward facing dogs – my legs were loving it. My calf tightness is gone. Yes! Lesson for me: do not stop doing yoga when training for a marathon – your calves will thank you.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he's standing on a baby though.

Love my yoga studio. Not quite sure why he’s standing on a baby though.

This class also worked on half-moon pose which is my absolute least favorite yoga pose ever. But the teacher made it seem pretty fun – that or I was just so excited to be back on my yoga mat.

If only I looked this good.

If only I looked this good.

I also did a one night camping trip in American Fork Canyon. The fall colors up there are spectacular. And you’re just going to have to take my word for it as my iPhone is acting all weird at the moment.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now.

This is pretty much what it looks like right now. Not my photo.

I also managed to put up my tent all by myself – which I think means that I am now an adult. Usually, I just hold things while J does all of the hard work. It was a pretty great Saturday night hanging out by the campfire. But my God – during the night there was heavy rain, howling winds, thunder, lightening and hail. I did not sleep much – I was too worried the tent would fly away and carry me to Oz.  It was still raining by 7.30 AM (camping mornings are always early) so we packed up as quickly as possible. This meant more driving through beautiful autumnal scenery followed by the most amazing brunch at Sundance Resort.

On Saturday morning I headed out on my first ‘long’ run since the marathon. This was 8.85 miles of not-fun running. I wanted to some mileage in because I will be running a half marathon on Nov 1st – thank you kind race folk for letting me defer after last years injury combo (sciatica and hip bursitis).

So my carb loading continues………………..

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Local brewery. Utah has weird liquor laws so they opened a place in Denver.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

Kale and mushroom-stuffed lasagne rolls.

I am beyond obsessed with skinnytaste (that is where this recipe is from) and just got her new cookbook as a gift. I am so excited to try out some recipes this weekend.

Am I am still waiting for my new shoes! UPS messed up the delivery last week so I am hoping to get to try them soon.

Finally, I got some marathon photos (at Twin Cities you also get a link to a video showing you cross the finish line). There are a couple of cute ones of J and I running earlier in the race but the finish line seemed to be a little crowded as we were crossing.

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Smiling and looking for the camera (for once). I think this might have been mile 14?

Crossing the finish line - and so relieved to be done.

Crossing the finish line – and so relieved to be done.

Marathon recovery

It’s been 5 days since my first marathon and I’m finally starting to feel normal again. Honestly, I had no idea how my body would cope with running 26.2 miles but wanted to write a post for any other first timers about what they can expect for the post-marathon week.

Towards the end of the race itself I knew I was going to be sore. My legs felt SOoooooo tired – my left calf and both quads were busy letting me know how pissed off they were for subjecting them to this race. And they pretty much stayed that way until Tuesday night (the race was Sunday morning).

The muscle pain was similar to what I’ve felt after a particularly hard half marathon (avoid all stairs + sit down as much as possible in work) but it feels as if there’s a whole extra layer of muscle fatigue that I’ve never experienced before. My legs feel heavy – although this is slowly improving.

So what have I been doing?

Sleeping! 7 AM wake-ups for me and usually in bed by 10 PM. That is a lot of sleep for me but I totally need it right now. No 6 AM runs or gym sessions.

Drinking a ton of water. I’m hydrating like it’s my job.

Eating better. A 3 week vacation followed by carb loading has left me feeling a little squishier than I would like. With training volume WAY down and no longer having daily access to cheap Chianti I’m getting my diet back on track. Lots of veggies, not much meat and as unprocessed as possible.

Some cardio. On Wednesday I was itching to get my legs moving again so I went to the gym and did 5.5 miles on the stationary bike. Very easy and nice to flush all that crap out. After work on Thursday I jumped on the treadmill for 3 easy miles. My legs were still feeling pretty heavy but it felt good to be running again.

Foam rolling. I have a huge knot in my left calf that I’m trying to get rid of using my foam roller. It’s the right kind of hurt. Plus lots of stretching.

Cross-training. Marathon training takes up a lot of time and I definitely had to sacrifice other activities.I haven’t been to yoga or to my rock climbing gym since the start of August (!). Hopefully, that will be changing next week. My hard-won arm definition is long gone so I’m hoping to get in more strength training time.

So what’s next? Well, last year I signed up to run my second half marathon (Snow Canyon half) but had to pull out due to injury. I emailed the race organizer who said I could defer my entry until 2014. That means in theory I should be running a half on Nov 1st. Originally, I was pretty excited about this. I could use all of my marathon training to bang out a new half marathon PR. Plus it’s a really fast and pretty course.

Well – I’ve tried to get back in touch with the race organizer and so far no dice. I’m also feeling a bit meh about racing again. I figure if I hear from her I’ll run it but if the deferral isn’t going to work out I’m not going to care that much.

But what I have signed up for – the Ogden Marathon – May 16th 2015. I ran the half marathon at this event as my first ever race back in 2013 and want to go back and do the whole thing. That day was pretty miserable – non-stop rain from 1 hour before the race until after I crossed the line. But it was a beautiful course down Ogden canyon. It’ll be a complete U-turn after Twin Cities but something to get me motivated to go running on dark February mornings.

And finally, my reward to myself for finishing my first marathon. New shoes! What else could a runner want.

2216876-p-MULTIVIEWI’ve been interested in trying out some Altras for a while but wanted to wait until after the marathon to transition into zero drop shoes. Plus they were $50 on amazon. I’ve bought a couple of shoes through amazon. Usually they are sold directly through the company (these are from Altra and are $15 cheaper than their own website) and can be Prime eligible. Hopefully, these guys will be waiting for me when I get home from work later today.