Day 9 – Rest Day!

Day 9 – so far so good. I have a follow-up appointment with the PT to check up on my glutes and running form. I can’t really believe how much better I feel compared to just a week ago. I still have to think about why legs (and knees) when I’m running (trying to minimize knee touching) but it’s starting to feel more natural. Doing the PT exercises it’s still clear that my left leg and glutes are way weaker than my right. Asymmetry is bad. And who would have known it was so painful to lie on the ground and move your leg in circles? The burn. Oh. My. Lord. I hope it gets easier.

Last night I had a craving for some roasted broccoli. It’s one of my new faves – especially with some Parmesan. I also made some buffalo-style chicken which got the thumbs up from J.

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Probably still need to cut down on my carbs.

But I am loving my cast iron skillet. Everyone should have one.

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Last night we watched Mitt on Netflix. It follows Mitt Romney from 2008 until election day in 2012. I’m not a citizen so can’t vote here – and probably wouldn’t have voted for him anyway but it was interesting to get a taste of behind the scenes on a presidential campaign. I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through it. He seems like a good guy though. I liked that he picks up his grandkid’s garbage and makes sure all the lights are turned off before he leaves his hotel room. Maybe he’s a closet environmentalist. (Spoiler Alert: He loses (!)).

We got more snow this morning 2-3″. I was having my “Do I really want to get out of bed and go to the gym? I could just go later.” argument this morning. I know I never regret getting up and going and I always seem to regret staying in bed so I got up. I figure if I can get out and do this in the middle of winter I should have no problem in the summer.

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Did a 45 min strength workout. Feel a little tired but I think that’s just because it was 6 AM. More snow due for most of this week but still hoping to run outside as much as I can. And maybe go skiing!

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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!

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.

Running outside at last!

Like 99.999999% of runners I prefer to be in the great outdoors to get my miles than on the dreadmill. After about 10 mins I am so bored. If it wasn’t for podcasts (ThisAmericanLIfe and SavageLove get special mentions) and my new yurbuds I’m not sure I could do it.

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I usually don’t mind the cold or dark. Rain usually gives me a moment to wonder if I really want to go outside – weird since I’ve lived in Ireland and Scotland two of the rainiest places known to man. But the thing that is stopping me from running outside isn’t weather but pollution. SLC in winter is not a fun place to be. Cold air gets trapped in the valley and keeps all the pollutants (mostly from cars, wood burning and the refineries that are conveniently located theree (?)). For a couple of days this week it was rated unhealthy to even be outside (think slightly better than Bejing). Most days its just unhealthy to do strenuous excercise outside.

Luckily, there was a small storm system yesterday that cleared out the air and meant a rare break in the bad air quality. So I woke up early, donned my tights and sexy reflective gear (see photo) and ran outside. And it was awesome. I wish I could do it for every run.

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A nice easy run. Trying to build up my base before starting half marathon training next week. And after that I got to have some homemade banana bread for breakfast. It’s got fruit and its a bread definitely not cake. No I never would eat cake for breakfast. Happy Friday!

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Why I do yoga

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This morning started with a 6AM yoga class. Yes I get up early to exercise. Yes I know it’s weird. And yes it has taken a long time to become a regular habit.

I love this class. It’s an hour long power class that starts off the same every week but there is always an apex pose that we get to in the second half of class. 99.9% of the time I cannot do this pose as I am pretty inflexible. This week we were working on Crow Pose which was the 0.1% pose that I can actually do.

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Disclaimer: This is not me. And I don’t do yoga on the beach in a bikini. Well not most of the time.

My journey to yoga began about 2.5 years ago. I was getting a fitness assessment as part of my work’s health and fitness program. I scored pretty well in strength and cardio but sucked at flexibility. Really sucked. Bottom 10% of people my age/sex. The lady I met with suggested I take up yoga.

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I had been to one yoga class in Scotland but it wasn’t for me. Going with a bunch of giggly girls to an over 50s class with serious yogis was not the right way to go.

So I went to my local studio. They offered a free Intro to Yoga class. And I went to that a couple of times. After that, I went to a Core for Dummies (not the actual name of the class) and then I jumped right in. I try to go twice a week and I don’t practice at home. I need an instructor to push me out of my comfort zone. And while I don’t necessarily subscribe to the holistic/quasi spiritual side of yoga I do find it great for improving core strength, mediation and relaxation and for relieving DOMS.

And I can touch my toes now.