Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Deep Tissue Torture

I love massages. Whether it's a Swedish massage administered by a chiropractor wannabe in a Hungarian bathhouse (another story for another time), a tear-evoking reflexology massage in the Czech Republic, or a spa hot-stone massage with aromatherapy and new age music, it makes no matter.  I love them.  Of all the massages I have had though, my favorite of late is the deep tissue massage (DTM).

Pre-race and post-race massages are the BEST!
Yesterday was my fourth long-awaited DTM.  I had been anticipating this for almost three weeks since I set up the appointment.  I had high hopes that this might help nail the cause of my shin problem.  Does that seem odd to put so much faith into a massage?  I suppose it does.  However, it was when I had my hip problem last year, and after going to PT for a month or two, that I experienced my first DTM.  I had never had one before.  I came out of that hour-long session feeling beat up, bruised, and completely worked over.  I hobbled around for a day or so, and then, miraculously, I started feeling better.  I had told the massage therapist about the hip and she spent quite a bit of time working on the muscles surrounding it.  I truly believe she was the last thing I needed to set things right.  With the muscles professionally loosened, it was almost as if the PT exercises could take better hold, and my recovery proceeded at a much faster rate than previously.

So, what is DTM?  According to
Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. ... It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. 
This is not your Swedish grandmother's massage.  This is NOT a relaxing experience.  It starts out pleasantly enough.  I think the practitioner tries to lull you into a false sense of comfort and security before going to work.  After all, if you are too tense, they can't get past the surface muscle to work the deeper layers beneath.  If the massage is done right, in my opinion, it can send you screaming for your mommy be slightly uncomfortable.  In my experience, the more knotted up the muscles are, the more slightly uncomfortable it will be.

Hubby is not as big of a fan of massage as I am.  I got
him a massage gift certificate a few months ago for his
birthday and he has yet to use it.  I keep eyeing it.
If it isn't used soon; it will be reclaimed.
Will yesterday's Deep Tissue Massage hold the same magic for my shin as last year's did for my hip? I don't know.  I hope it does, although only time will tell that.  Right now, I feel completely bruised on my left side - my hamstring particularly.  During massage, the therapist found that my left hamstring, quad and calf were all tight, with the hamstring being the biggest offender.  With the idea that it might not be the shin that is the true culprit, rather all these other muscles pulling on it and causing it to work harder, she dug her fingers and elbows into the knotted muscle.  The result?  I once again feel like someone worked me over with a baseball bat.  Experience tells me, though, that in a day or so that will resolve and I will be left with - what I was looking for all along - deeply relaxed and more flexible leg muscles.  

Weekly update:

I suppose I should write something about my week so far.   It's been pretty good run-wise.  I ran on Sunday for 42 minutes (70 percent of last week's effort) and did the elliptical for 42 minutes, too.  Both felt great, however I was not able to ice right away and the shin area felt inflamed most of Sunday and Monday, too.  So frustrating.

As alluded to, this week I am doing 70 percent of last week's effort.  Additionally, I will probably be taking Friday off in anticipation of the Point Bock 5 Mile Run I am participating in on Saturday.  I am so used to exercising while LG is in pre-school on Fridays that I am not even sure what I will do with myself.  A nice problem to have.

The ab fab Fab Abs Challenge is nearly at an end!  Today is the last day.  Unbelievable.  And to think I almost didn't do the exercises last night.  After the massage, I was feeling too beat up and mellow at the same time.  My husband guilted me into it, though, so I am on track for finishing today with NO MISSED DAYS.  (I'm very proud of that.) What's next?  I am not sure.  I already have two options - a plank challenge someone posted and a 100-push-up challenge, posted over at Neurosis of the Stay at Home Marathoner of 3 (Kids).  So, I don't know exactly what I will end up doing, but I do know I will do something.  I have had a lot of fun doing the Fab Abs Challenge.  I can't wait for the next one.

One week down in the No-Chocolate Challenge!  I can't believe I have gone a whole week without chocolate.  It has had its ups and downs, but all in all it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be, at least not yet.  The worst thing so far is that I seem to be hungry every night.  I wonder if my body is missing that extra 100-200 calories of chocolate that it used to have.  I guess we'll see how it goes.

Coming Soon! Bondi Band Giveaway!  Stay tuned for a review and giveaway of Bondi Bands!  More details to follow.

Happy Running!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hills: What a Pain in the Butt

You know you haven't run hills for a while when you wake up the morning after with the equivalent of a butt hangover.  That visual not working for you?  Then, suffice it to say, my gluteus maximus is feeling more gluteus minimus this morning.

I was up for a 45-minute run yesterday at a pace that would be a bit faster than my slower long runs.  (Like the way I am so scientific with my training?  It's probably a part of why I am an "average" runner and not Speedy Gonzales.)  So, with a light snowfall gracing the day, I took off from LG's pre-school and decided I would run a hilly route I haven't visited since pre-marathon training.  I don't know what made me decide to try hills on the same day I wanted to run a bit faster than normal, but usually when I get an idea in my head it is best to follow through on it.  So, off I went.

The route is almost five miles long and follows a length of river in our little town.  It's a nice route to run, and with the snow falling and not too much traffic, it was a really peaceful 45 minutes.  It was just what I needed after dropping LG off at pre-school.  Seeing him trying to be friends with other kids and having them shy away from him left me sad, and I needed to clear that out of my head.  It's tough when your kids are not shy at all, but others are.

I saw an amazing bald eagle flying overhead on my run.
I managed to run the entire distance at an average 9:32 pace.  My target was 9:30, so I was really happy with my effort.  Dragging my butt up and down five hills left me feeling like I had had a really decent workout, and it took my mind off of everything but the current effort.  It was great.

At the end of the run, my legs felt heavy and used up, but after walking it out a bit and then doing fifteen easy minutes on the elliptical, as well as some stretching, they felt okay again - well, more or less.

Somehow running always changes the way I look at things.  Picking LG up from school we went to the gymnastics center and saw that some of his school friends' parents had had the same idea.  Watching him play for an hour with the other boys and girls put my mind at ease that he does get along with his peers.  It never fails to amaze me that in any given situation, you can either see good things happening or bad.  Life really is what you make of it: not just in regards to what you accomplish but also how you perceive those accomplishments or challenges.

After the workout yesterday, I did end up putting on compression socks for the rest of the day and icing twice.  My shin feels okay today, although both knees are a bit sore.  The big complainer is the bottom, though.  Clearly it is telling me that more hills are in order.

On tap this week is a reduced time/mileage week - 70% of current effort.  Then on Saturday, I have a five-mile race.  I am excited for that, but I haven't quite worked out what my goal for it should be.  I want to aim for more than just finishing, but I think I will wait to see how I feel later this week before settling on a goal.

Happy Running!

No-Chocolate Challenge: Day 4 - Denying the chocolate chip pancake

So, today was a little harder with the no-chocolate challenge.  I kind of shot myself in the foot by promising my kids I would make them pancakes this morning, because invariably they ask for chocolate chip pancakes.  I was kind of hoping that we wouldn't have any chocolate chips on hand, but, of course, we did - three-quarters of a bag of Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips.  So, I made the kids their pancakes and then searched for an equally good alternative for my own....  What I came up with? Date and walnut pancakes.  They were very good, and I even made myself clean the melted chocolate off of the spatula before flipping my 'jacks.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes BEFORE
Chocolate Chip Pancakes AFTER
Chocolate Chip Pancakes REALLY AFTER
Preparing the dates and walnuts
Date and walnut pancakes DONE and DELICIOUS!

Basic Vegan Pancake Recipe:

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp Ener-G egg replacer
4 TBSP warm water
1 1/2 cups soymilk (plus some extra) - I use Silk unsweetened.
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix-ins of choice (have done chocolate chips, blueberries, dates, walnuts)

Stir together the first eight ingredients in large bowl.  Mix together the Ener-G and water in small bowl.  Add the soymilk and oil and stir to mix.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry and whisk together. Add enough additional soymilk to make a pourable batter.  Pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a non-stick hot griddle.  Turn when bubbles form on top.  Done when both sides are golden brown.

Friday, February 24, 2012

No-Chocolate Challenge: Day 3

Just for fun, I thought I would record how this No-Chocolate Challenge goes.  So far, cravings are not bad, but I did pack leftover chocolate from Valentine's Day in the kids' lunch/snack bags today so I could get it out of the house.

One worry that I have started to have is that with chocolate off of the menu, will I start seeking out and perhaps developing a taste for non-chocolate sweets?  Although I am a chocoholic, my one saving grace is that I have never really had a sweet tooth for other items.  Candy, baked goods, pies, cakes, cookies?  If it didn't have chocolate, I wasn't that tempted.  With chocolate deprivation underway, though, to what extremes will I go?  And - gasp - what if I start liking these non-chocolate goodies?  Then, when chocolate is back on the menu, will I then have even more bad habits than when I started?  I guess I won't know for a while.  Three days down, Thirty-seven to go.

Day 2 had me already looking for alternative sweets (not good), but I made it hard on myself.  The result?  Homemade cinnamon bread.  Delicious!  No redeeming health value, but tasty!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My 40-Day Run from Chocolate

My favorite chocolate bar right now
Chocolove - Check them out at
So, the other day was the start of Lent, and ... drumroll, please ... I decided to give up chocolate.  Horror of horrors, I know.  This may not be a big deal to some, but for me it is monumental.  I am addicted to chocolate.  Seriously.  I don't think a day goes by where I don't have chocolate in some form or another.  It's probably my one true uncontrolled indulgence.  So, why give it up, especially since I usually don't give up anything for Lent?  I don't know really.  I guess I want to see if I can do it.  Maybe I feel the need for a personal challenge, and since running isn't really giving me any in the near future, I thought this might be a good option.  So, what are my goals with this?  Well, pretty basic:
  1. To see if I can actually do this without driving myself crazy (so far I have been obsessing about whether or not I'll actually remember I am doing this)
  2. To see if I can get past the NEED for daily chocolate.  How nice it would be to have a passing craving for chocolate and be able to tell myself, No, I don't think so. Not right now.  
So far I am dubious.  Already this morning, as I reached for the carton of chocolate Silk - with the idea of adding it to my coffee - I had to mentally smack myself.  I have the feeling there will be a lot of those Oops moments.  Wish me luck on my journey of self-deprivation....I'll need it.

The unintentional run analysis

So, Tuesday I went to see my PT again for a scheduled appointment and managed to get some exercise in at the same time.  Since whenever I go in my shin doesn't seem to be bothering me, I decided I would arrive a half hour early, use their treadmill, and see if I could "light up" the injury site.  I set the machine at 6 mph and managed to get in 26 minutes before my appointment.  I threw in a couple of five-minute intervals at 7 mph just to see if I could do it (I could), and tried to ignore the fact that in the last five minutes, the PT started videotaping me for a running analysis.  

Overall, the appointment went well.  My running analysis didn't reveal too much.  I overpronate slightly on one side and have some hip dropping on the other.  I heel strike a bit, but not significantly, and my cadence is pretty good (about 176 strides per minute).  Some good news, too:  my core is STRONG.  Apparently, I don't show a lot of core weakness.  I'll credit the Fab Abs challenge for that.  The weird part about the appointment?  Running for 26 minutes didn't really get the shin to hurt.  Go figure.  Either I have to exercise longer to get that response, or the treadmill is somehow more forgiving.  

PT#1 still seems to think this is a tightness issue, exacerbated by the fact that I am not resting it completely.  She thinks if I were just to sit around and do nothing, this would go away relatively quickly.  However, since I have chosen to stay active, I am stuck taking one step back for every two steps forward.  But, as long as what is happening with me is still considered a recovery, I guess I am okay with that.

I thought I was a pretty stable person, but apparently I need more stability in my life

One thing the PT did recommend is that I look into getting into some mild stability shoes.  This suggestion would have come as a complete surprise if the lady at the running store on Sunday hadn't just told me the exact same thing.  I don't know why I need mild stability now after I have been told for the past few years that I am a solid neutral runner, but I am willing to give anything a try.  Stability shoes in the past have not worked for me, but that was before I knew about mild stability.  So, yesterday it was back to the running store to try on shoes once again.

Saucony Cortana -
The pair I actually like - but have yet to buy - are in fact neutral shoes that have enough stability in them to cross over into the mild stability category.  Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive shoes I have ever considered buying.  The fact that they are rated for up to 600 miles makes me feel a little bit better about the $140 price tag, but not much.  The sad part, though, is that of all the shoes I have tried on in the past couple of months, they are the ones that feel the most comfortable.  I have now tried these shoes twice, and I like them, but the guy at the running store wants me to hold off until I can try another pair of shoes they are bringing in from another store.  He thinks I might like those better.  So, I wait.

Since I ran on Tuesday at the PT's office, I thought I would just try to do some sprints on the track yesterday, so I went upstairs and warmed up for five minutes and then let 'er rip.  Three 45-60 second sprints around the track at top speed, interspersed with recovery jogs left me whooped.  You can tell I don't normally do speed work.  I only did this for fifteen minutes total, so not a huge effort.  And, I have to say that, despite feeling like I was going to hork up a lung after, I enjoyed the challenge.  Really.  There might even be some more speed work in my future.  In fact, I might actually do a little research on how one is actually supposed to do it.  I followed up my brief run with 30 minutes on the rowing machine and 15 minutes on the elliptical.  A good well-rounded effort, I would say.

After picking up the Little Guy from pre-school, we headed over to the gymnastics center for some playtime.  That was a blast and allowed LG to get in his exercise, too.  Unfortunately, that also meant I didn't ice right away, and - perhaps as a result - the shin was more sore the rest of the day.  Ah well.  If nothing else, I think I am finally starting to learn to recognize the triggers and how to work around this a bit now.  That's something, I suppose.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Calling in the physical therapy reinforcements

Yesterday saw me heading back over to my physical therapist's office for a consult with another PT in the practice.  PT #1, I guess, wanted a second opinion.  I didn't mind, because I know and like PT #2 as well.  But, also, I am getting really tired of hurting and want to fix this weird shin problem of mine.

Part of my frustration is that I am getting antsy.  Mentally, I am chomping at the bit to get going again, to really run with abandon, not worrying about distance or speed, just get back to the JOY of running.  And, not only that, I want to IMPROVE. Title of this blog aside, I don't just want to get back to where I was, I want to get BETTER.  There, I have said it.  I admit it.  I am putting it out there for anyone to see.  I have struggled with being average for years, seemingly getting nowhere fast as far as race times are concerned.  But, the truth is, that I want to be FASTER.  I don't anticipate rising up out of the "average" category, but I want to be a faster average.  This past October, I really got bitten by the marathon bug, and I want to do more of them.  However, my preference would be to knock my five-hour marathon time down to around four hours.  Why?  Because if I want to do more of these, I don't want to be out there any longer than I have to.  PT #2 thinks it's possible.  I just have to design a program to get me there.  But, first, of course, I have to get to feeling better.

So, yesterday PT #2 and I had a really nice, long talk about what I have been doing over the past couple of years (and the last couple of months specifically), my plans, and my goals.

After our conversation, if nothing else was clear, this was: I overdid things last year.  Going from a two-Half-Marathon-a-year-at-most schedule to five Halves and one Whole in a year probably didn't do my body any good, especially since I really didn't go out of my way to help myself recover and rest in between.  She straight out told me that this will most likely not be a busy race year for me.  However, she feels that I can get to where I want to be eventually.

Specifically, the upshot of my chat with PT #2 is that this is most likely not a stress fracture, but I now have some signs to look for.  I will keep an eye on things and if those signs start creeping in, I will go see a sports med. doc.  Basically, it sounds like I am already doing all the right things.  I am working hard on improving my general fitness: cross-training, strength-training and flexibility.  I am doing the cross-friction massage and foam rolling and stretching religiously.  Mainly, the only areas where I can improve are to ice more often and look for different shoes.

I have been tasked with finding a pair of running shoes that have a wider toe box, so my toes can really spread out while running, and less of a heel wedge in the back, so that I have less to overcome with each stride.  At this point, I have been advised to stay away from the zero-drop shoes I was looking at, as that would just add one more element to the mix and muddle things.  We'll see, though, I really want those shoes.  (As a side note, you could have bowled me over the other day when PT #1 said I might be a candidate for barefoot running.  Now, I am 99 percent sure she was saying that tongue in cheek, but I still couldn't believe those words passed her lips as I know she has told me in the past she would never advise anyone to run barefoot.)

So, the beat goes on.  If I weren't convinced myself that this was a chronic condition that I need to work through, I would be taking myself to an MD tout de suite.  And, I might still go that route.  For the most part, though, slowly I think things are getting better.  It's just going really, really slowly.  I wonder if there is any correlation - run slow, recover slow?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

So, what if the shoe DOESN'T fit? Back to the drawing board, I guess

So, the last time I posted something here, I was enjoying a glass of Three-Buck Chuck.  This time it is Mad Housewife.  If there is anything to be taken from that, it is that I obviously choose my wines based on name, and they invariably tend to be cheap.  There is nothing wrong with that, is there?  Not in my book, especially since they both taste good.

So, unfortunately, I have encountered shoe failure - not once, but two times.  After posting about how excited I was about my recent shoe purchases, I am almost embarrassed to say that after wearing both now, I don't like either.  Sigh.  This is not unusual.  I tend to be EXTREMELY picky when it comes to running shoes; the least little thing can set me off on a ramble of a shoe's shortcomings.  But, I swear, I really tried this time to be forgiving.  I wasn't going to be picky.  I was going to give the shoes a chance, let them argue their right to shod my feet, give them time to prove themselves.  But, ... I can't.  I tried.  I really did, but both pairs are going back.

First, the New Balance WT 110s.  I was completely sold on these puppies.  I would have thought given my love affair with my 101s - the older model - that my acceptance of the 110s, especially in light of the glowing reviews I had read, would be a given.  But that wasn't the case.  In a rare moment of instant clarity, I knew as soon as I slipped on the new footwear that it was not meant to be.  The size I am accustomed to seemed too big, and there is something about the footbed, too.  I can feel the curve of the footbed rubbing against the outside of my feet - even while walking.  Not ideal.  So, back they will go.

The Brooks PureConnect Flow's flaws were not so immediately apparent.  I wore them in the store and liked them.  I wore them for 25 minutes on the track on Sunday and liked them.  I wore them for a 45 minute run yesterday, and .... I didn't like them.  

After about 35 minutes, I noticed a soreness developing at the base of my big toe on one foot (my bigger foot, as it happens; my feet are NOT created equal).  That quickly escalated into a "keep-this-up-lady-and-I-will-certainly-scream" type of pain.  I realized that I could not move my toes on that foot around as much as I would like. I couldn't flex my toes upwards, and I couldn't spread them out in the shoe at all.  It was as if the big toe and the next toe over were taped together.  Now, I know I am a picky shoe buyer, but this seemed over-the-top problematic.  If I didn't have such wide flippers for feet, I am sure this wouldn't be a problem, but as it is, well, ... it is a problem.  So, these shoes are going back too.  I am now pursuing a new prospect that I have high hopes for.  More on that later once I have had a chance to try them out.

So, besides the shoes, exercise and running have only been going so-so this week.  I can't say I have had a lot of oompf, and I have had some more weird pains here and there.  The shin is still an issue, and it has now been determined that besides a tight quad and IT band, my calves (previously untested) are also extremely tight.  This is all after a BRILLIANT long-"run" on Sunday - 45 minutes of running followed by an hour of the elliptical.  So, I don't know what's going on.  I am scheduled to see another PT tomorrow to get a second look at everything.  With any luck, she'll see something that PT #1 is missing.  Either that, or I am just crazy.  It's hard to tell at this point.  Peering at things through the goggles of a Mad Housewife, I imagine anything is possible.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I may be broken, but I am not sick

So, as I was sitting here enjoying a glass of 3-Buck Chuck left over from our foray down to Trader Joe's last month, I realized that I hadn't really posted anything in a while.  It's amazing to me how fast a week can fly by, especially when nothing and everything is happening.

Sick, sick, sick

We've had kind of a crazy week in the ol' Average Runner household.  We started out last weekend with my husband coming home from his 50K event sick.  Now I am pretty sure that he headed down there sick, too, because no one develops a fever and headache/body aches on the race course (do they?).  He suffered miserably through sixteen miles of trail run before throwing in the towel and heading to the car to sleep.  It's bad enough to DNF, but to add insult to injury this is the race that presented him with his first (of now two) DNF(s) last year when inclement weather and nasty snow cover resulted in 75 percent of the field not finishing.  I know he was looking forward to showing this event what he had, but it was not to be.  Ah well, next year, I guess.  After two days missed from work and a full week of no exercise, he is finally rebounding and getting back to his regular routine. That's good, because I don't know what to do with Distance Dude when he is not following his regular routine.  (Luckily, he was too sick to really ever make it to the extremely crabby stage of not exercising, but I am sure it was coming soon.)

Speaking of down and out, both kids have had colds this week, too, resulting in some hefty coughing.  So far, I am the only one not stricken with some malady or malaise (knocking on wood), so I take every day as a gift.  I am sure my time is coming.

The road to recovery, I hope...

This past week also saw me finally turning over control of my shin recovery to someone else.  That is to say that I went in to see my physical therapist for some advice.  (And I even paid her this time!)  After a complete assessment of my strength and flexibility, it was determined that my left quad and IT band were extremely tight and that hip a bit weak.  Why this is?  Who knows.  There is some thought that it might be a compensation injury left over from when the right hip was hurting.  I may have adjusted my running and then never re-adjusted it.  Anyway, for the time being, I have some quad stretches I am supposed to be focusing on.  Everything else is to stay the same until further notice.  One thing I found interesting is that - of course - when I went in to see the PT nothing hurt!  That always happens to me.  The time I want to show someone what is happening, it doesn't happen.

Unfortunately, this leads me to May.  I think I must finally concede that a May marathon is not in the cards for me.  As much as I hate to do it, I am planning on downgrading my entry in the Kalamazoo Marathon to the half this time around.  I was really excited about doing another full marathon, but the truth is that there is no way I can get marathon ready in 11 weeks.  I don't have enough of a base, and I don't do these things enough.  Also, the next marathon I do, I want to really be ready for it.  I don't want it to be half-assed.  I am disappointed, but sometimes you have to take the logical route, not the one you want to do.  I spent all last year doing whatever the hell I wanted to do regarding running.  And I had a great year!  It just so happens that when you buy things on credit, the bill eventually comes due.  So, now I am paying for my year of craziness.  Once I have this debt paid off, I'll work on building up my credit again, and then I'll start buying myself some more runs.

Mama's got some new shoes, baby!

So, from stupid "shopping" analogies to talk of real shopping done. I am very excited to be the proud owner of two new pairs of running shoes.  I couldn't help myself.  I have been drooling over New Balance's WT110s  for a while now since reading a review on the IRunFar blog.  These are an upgrade from the WT101s, which I love.  The review and the making of article were so overwhelmingly positive that I had to buy a pair online sight unseen.  At the time of this writing, they are still sight unseen, so I'll have more to say in a few days once I get them in my little hands.

My second pair of shoes was bought locally at a store that I just so happened to have a gift certificate to.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)  After dropping E. off at a birthday party, we dragged the Little Guy into the store to check out some shoes.  At times, LG can be absolutely charming.  Unfortunately, this was not a day he was going to put on his "charming" hat.  Tired, hungry, and feeling short-changed in the birthday party arena of his life, he let it be known that he was only going to be happy if he pulled out every GU and Roctane in the place and quizzed me on every flavor they had.  Not so bad when it's just you and the sales person in the store.  Worse when it is a shop full of people checking out the merchandise.  Luckily, a bag of sport beans and some finger foods placated him long enough to check out the shoes, and what I settled on was a pair of Brooks PureConnect Flow.  I am very excited to give these shoes a whirl.  I think they are what I have been looking for with some cushioning (but not too much), a nice roomy fit, not a lot of support, and less of a drop from heel to toe.  I am sure I'll have more to say about them later, too, once I have started really running in them, but so far I feel good about them.

Not an all-out effort

Exercise-wise, this past week, I dropped my entire schedule down to 70 percent of the previous week's output.  I thought I might try something new where I give my body a bit of a break every three weeks or so.  It's something I read about in Running Times so we'll see how that works out.  Tomorrow's workout is my first increase in effort.  I'll go from 90 minutes of exercise to 105 minutes, if all goes well.  That will allow for a slight increase in running, and the rest will be elliptical.

Tomorrow is also my rest day for the ab fab Fab Abs challenge.  Thank God.  This is getting tough.  If I don't have abs of steel by the end of February, they will have died trying.

Happy running!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Running under Hypnosis?

A friend of mine recently suggested that maybe all runners need to stay healthy and injury-free is hypnosis.  You know, in light of all the mind over matter talk, maybe a little push would be helpful.  Now, I am not really willing to try it, but if you are, more power to you (and please let me know how it works out), but the whole idea did make me laugh out loud.  I can just see it now...
Hypnotist (speaking in that weird, sonorous TV hypnotist voice): You will run 10 miles without pain ... You will PR your next race ... You will ignore that popping sound and knife-like pain in your calf should it occur....
Sorry, not for me, although it would be nice to have a way to turn off the brain sometime.  It's hard when everyone is telling you to just listen to your body - that if you just do that you'll be fine and run injury-free.  The problem is that there is a fine line between listening to your body and hanging on its every word.

Once you've been injured, too, it seems particularly hard to turn off that part of your brain that is looking for trouble.  Is that twinge in my toe important?  Should I stop running?  What about that ache in my calf?  Is that the start of a tendon strain?  More times than not, it's nothing.  I've had stabbing pains that put me on high alert only to never return again.  And, I've had dull little, barely-notice-them aches that eventually turn out to be nagging tendonitis.  How's a girl to know?  I am sure that there is somewhere out there some rule for determining the detrimentality (I guess that is not a word, but it should be) of certain aches and pains.  There must be somewhere.  Must look for that.

In other news, my workouts lately seem to be going well actually.  I have run twice this past week, including a run outside for the first time in - oh - ages. That was glorious.  On the advice of a PT friend of mine, I have been wearing a patellar tendon strap, or simply "The Strap," while running.  I picked this one up a year or so ago at a drugstore for under $10 but then never used it.  (Seriously, I had to wipe the dust off of it before putting it on.)

It makes sense, though, that if my shin issue is actually an offshoot of my patellar tendonitis, then wearing the strap might relieve some of the pressure from the bone while running.  Results are still out, but after wearing it for two days it does seem somewhat promising at this point.

Rowing continues to be going well.  I wonder if there is a rower's high - similar to the fabled runner's high.  I am almost starting to believe there could be.  There is definitely a rhythm to rowing that I find lulling.  I mean, I am in no danger of falling asleep, but the movement of it is peaceful somehow.  I am starting to wonder what it would be like to actually be doing this out on the water.  I may see if I can try that once this summer.

The one thing I don't like about the rowing, I have to say, is the callouses.

After just four weeks of rowing, my hands are a wreck.  On the one hand (pun intended), the callouses do make me feel sort of badass.  On the other hand (pun still intended), they're just ugly.  I would look into wearing gloves for the rowing machine, but my husband wears gloves and his hands still have callouses.  So what is the point?

February has started a new challenge for me, the Fabulous Abs challenge, which - being a fan of the British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, I have come to call the Ab Fab FAB ABS challenge.  If you want to join in, it's not too late!  The schedule comes from Simply Southern Fit Chick, found on Facebook here or on the web here.

Happy running (or whatever you are doing today!)