It’s Running Season – Tips for Injury Prevention

Spring has official sprung and the residents of Ottawa have definitely emerged from their homes, packed up their winter clothing and are sporting flip flops and shorts. It is that time of the year where all of the extreme runners, fair weather runners, first timers and weekend warriors start heading outside in their brightly coloured tank tops, running shorts and their newest pair of light weight running shoes.   As running season approaches and people get excited about moving, being outside and shedding the “winter weight” it is good to take a second just to go over a couple reminders to keep us all healthy, happy and injury free as we start to increase our kilometers, speed and endurance.

Running HappyKeeping your Body Happy during Running Seasons:

  1. STRETCH! I lead a run club for women in the summer months and this is probably one of my top struggles as a run coach. I can tell you to stretch and I can be there to make sure you you have a quick post run stretch, but once you get home I can’t make sure my runners are grabbing their foam rollers and going to town as suggested. So I beg of you please for the love of your joints, muscles, range of motion and injury prevention stretch! Get on your foam roller, find some yoga tune up balls, or follow a running magazine stretching sequence, no matter what JUST STRETCH! Our joints and muscles take a serious beating when we run so it is important to show them some love.
  2. Drink more than you think you need. This might sound like a real silly reminder but we don’t always feel thirsty. Maybe it was cool out or maybe it was raining, sometimes the weather surrounding our runs makes us feel more hydrated and in less need of water than we really are. It is important to consume water before and after your runs and to bring some along when running anything over 5km, ESPECIALLY when it is super warm out.
  3. Running gear can be cool, but it is also useful. I said it, running gear is cool, it is fun and gets me motivated to lace-up my shoes and hit the pavement. You don’t need fancy running gear to get out there, but things like a good pair of light weight socks, a running hat, a fuel belt for your water (see #2), a supportive/comfortable pair of runners and some light weight clothing will go a long way when running outside in the summer.
  4. Strength training. Chances are you may have picked up running because you are more of the endurance type, than the “let’s pick up heavy things and move them” type. However life is about balance and so is running. Similar to stretching you are much less likely to suffer an injury if you strength train regularly. I am not suggesting you go out and buy yourself a fancy pants expensive gym membership, however I am recommending committing to at least 2 strength training (with weights or body weight) workouts a week in addition to your runs, heck they can be after your run, right there outside in the sun. Focusing on building and supporting the muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, quads, shins, calves and core) involved in supporting your body during your running sessions.
  5. Turn your runs into learning opportunities.  As runners (new or veteran) there is a tendency to push through, because let’s be honest if we didn’t “push through” on a regular bases we probably wouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It is in our nature to ignore pinches, pains, and aches and instead wear them like badges. Feel free to continue to be proud of those sore quads after a good run or those tight calves as you roll them out on your foam roller (see #1), but be sure to take a step back and listen. Our society has gotten away from listening to the tips and clues our body gives us, we numb the pain with Advil/ Tylenol, we rub on joint relief creams and slap a brace on it, but don’t take the time to understand what our bodies are telling us. So if that heel, hip, knee or whatever hurts after your runs take stock, take a step back and figure out what your body is telling you.  Maybe you need to get checked out by a sports doctor, perhaps more stretching or more strength training is in order.  Regardless of what the “fix” is support your body instead of telling it what to do.

Now that you are geared up, stretched out, strengthened and hydrated lace up those shoes and get a nice run in.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Getting Ready for Success

This summer has turned into a bit of a write off.  Yoga challenge and half marathon training aside I have allowed myself to indulge maybe a bit too much.

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I normally fluctuate a couple of pounds depending on the time of month, the time of day, how much water I have had, etc.  But this summer one too many pizzas or BBQ style foods has made its way into my body.

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Seeing how my foot is out of commission and I recently did a number on my wrist I am limited in what I can do physically right now.  So in order to get myself back on track I have contacted some friends that are also fans of fitness for some tips and tricks on how to stay active and I have piggy backed on my girlfriend’s 3 day juice cleanse.

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After doing some research I am actually starting to get excited about this little nutrition restart and cleanse.  So this week I have started to charge up my diet with my veggies and salads in order to get my digestive system ready for 3 days worth of liquid nutrients.

I hope to share my juicing recipes with you after the fact to be sure that they are not only nutritious but also tasty.

So here’s to leaving the past behind me and moving forward and getting back on track when it comes to health and fitness. Sometimes it takes step backs like this to remind yourself of your priorities and your goals. So instead of sitting here and dwelling on what I have done wrong I have decided to start taking the appropriate steps to move forward and get back to a more positive healthy place.

Happy Wednesday everyone.

Maxin’ and Relaxin’

So I have now started this blog post four times over.  I started writing about how I am dealing with my recent injuries (some self inflicted and some injury based) and what I had been doing lately as a result of said injuries.  Except that every time I read it over I realized that really I was just whining for 500 words and there ended up being a lot of “select – delete” happening so I figured how about I take a different approach.

So instead of complaining about how bummed out I am, how bored I am or how frustrated I am I figured I would write something a bit more uplifting and try and force myself to look at all of this with a positive light. So I figured I would make a list, as that is normally how I would explain something to myself any ways..yes I know weird but sometimes for ideas to sink into my stubborn head I have to “explain them to myself”.

So the positive that has come out of my body being held hostage to pain:

  1. I am lucky enough to have a body that is normally mobile, healthy and pain free.
  2. I got to, seriously, learn what it means to do nothing and recover – even if this is the most boring and frustrating lesson of life.
  3. I got to spend a lot of time with my kittens and they are hella cute.
  4. I had the opportunity to cruise the internet and find a million new gluten free, nut free, dairy free recipes.  Basically my meal prep for the next month is taken care of.
  5. I am learning to respect my body, not just expect from my body.
  6. It made me write this list.

catsOften times when things aren’t going your way it can be extremely difficult to stop and take stock of all the good around you.  Sometimes it can even be difficult to be grateful for all the strength and flexibility you once had (and will hopefully have again if you take care).  So it was actually a good exercise for me to sit here and think up some of the positive and some of the things I am grateful for and to have been apart of.

What are you grateful for today?  Take a second and write it down somewhere, you might need to stop and look back on it one day when everything seems to be going every way but yours.

Happy Thursday Everyone.

Struggling

This is going to be a short post. Kind of more like a rant than a post but I hope someone out there can relate I feel like I am going batty. The past couple days (okay it has been over a week) I have been struggling with respecting injury and as of this past weekend illness (just a cold). I know I have mentioned before how important it is to listen to your body and to remember to take breaks and relax when you need to but for me it is likely the most challenging part of my fitness journey.

Relaxing and taking it easy or recovering always seems to feel somewhat counter productive to what I am trying to achieve. I want to build this healthy, fit, active lifestyle and resting and relaxing is a puzzle piece that just doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. I for some reason seem to feel like there should be a designated time or place for such a luxury.

DR3Like a beach vacation or a trip to a cottage, those are designated relax times.Times like now when I am in the downward phase of my training for a race (um…this weekend) taking some rest to recover just feels so innately wrong. So making myself sit back and relax/ do nothing becomes a huge inner struggle. Luckily I have a great husband, good friends, and an amazing trainer to keep my ego in check (I am assuming it is my ego that is making me so thick headed when it comes to this type of stuff.)

So what am I doing? not much to be honest. I am doing my rehab moves to help strengthen my ankle and build up some more stability and I am stretching. I know these are essential components to healthy training but sometimes I get this “if you don’t sweat it doesn’t count” mentality. So I am doing my best to respect my injuries and my sickness and I am learning how to take a step back, which by the way is surprisingly difficult. I am hoping that soon enough I will be able to acknowledge that rest is just as important as physical exercising when it comes to training so that I can learn how to properly integrate it properly in the future.

Have you ever had to deal with something like this? How do you find balance between rest and training?

I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday!

Accepting and Respecting Injuries

It feels like for the past couple weeks I have been a walking target for illness and injury, and well that frustrates me to no end. I guess you could categorize me as “type A”. I like to plan for a scenario and then ramp-up until that scenario has come to fruition and I get kind of annoyed and frustrated when there are unexpected obstacles and challenges that I have no real control over. ( I think most people can sympathize with this feeling).

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First it was my heel (plantars fasciitis), then it was a stomach thing, which left me unable to eat properly or exercise and this week I was lucky enough to roll my ankle. The ankle is healing up fine, and this tapping job actually helped considerably, but it is still slowing me down.

Now I understand that life comes with obstacles and I am always game for a good challenge, heck eating can be a challenge with my allergies. I have no issue with obstacles such as it being too hot or raining out because these obstacles, along with my allergies, have tangible work-it-out solutions. It is often as simple as modifying my training schedule, putting on a rain jacket, wearing a hat and a tank top, bringing extra water, and reading the ingredient list for food or just making it myself. Each of these solutions helps to fix a problem/challenge. But when the fix is rest, it seems that my brain has a bit of a struggle with figuring that one out and accepting it as a solution instead of a white flag.

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So what do I do? What a great question. I am learning to start listening to my body and respecting it when I am injured, sick or fatigued. Instead of constantly pushing my body to perform at its maximum I am starting to learn that it too may at times require a bit of a break in order to continue to perform at its full potential.

I am starting to wrap my head around the fact that rest is infact a solution to an obstacle and not throwing in the towel, however much I may not like the solution. Currently it is a pretty large struggle because I will be participating in the Ottawa Race weekend at the end of this month, so I feel the need to train and to avoid resting too much. But I also need my ankles, stomach, knees and feet to start cooperating with my brain and that means listening to what my body is telling me instead of powering through at all times.

So you might now be thinking “how is she listening to her body if she is still training for a race?” and what an excellent question that is indeed. At this point I am kind of just making deals with my body, sort of bribing it to let it know that after it does an awesome job in the Ottawa Race Weekend, I will give it a solid 1-2 weeks off with nothing but foam rolling and yoga. So yes, I am still training but I have drastically cut back on the amounts of and distance of my runs in order to be a bit more gentle with my body. I am also trying to go to gentle and yin style yoga classes so they are more about stretching than they are about strength and power. So although I am still training I am being much easier on myself than I would normally be, so that’s how I am compromising with my body at the moment.

I am still struggling with listening and respecting my body and its injuries on a regular basis I am getting much better at it, and much more accepting of the need to rest and do nothing sometimes. I hope that over time I will get better at this and it will just become second nature to me instead of something I have to force myself to remember.

How do you know if your body needs a break? Do you tend to listen to it or do you push the thought out of your mind and lace up anyways?

*just a little side note. I am writing my intention to “rest” and “relax” after the race here to make sure that I follow through. Sometimes you need an extra push to make sure you slow down.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday and I hope no one has forgotten that it is Mother’s day this weekend!

Gettin’ Back into It.

It seems that the majority of my posts have to do with getting back into it after an injury. Which leads me to believe that I am extremely injury prone, or I am seriously not listening to my body as much as I should be. After my last knee encounter I figured it was time to actually speak with my doctor again, and start seriously committing to fixing my knee and the muscles surrounding that issue.

So after seeing my doctor two weeks ago I immediate ordered a foam roller for my IT band, and purchased a knee brace to “remind” myself that there is a knee issue I should pay some attention to. I immediately started working with the foam roller and love it in a weird way. It is so painful while it is happening, but the next day everything feels that much looser. And icing it afterwards really helps with any inflammation that would happen.  Now I just have to commit to doing my physio exercises as much as I have committed to the foam roller and I will be golden.

While waiting to heal (the past two weeks) I have done some yoga, and have kept whatever cardio I have done extremely light, limiting the jumping, or impact as much as possible so I don’t over strain my knees again.   Yesterday I tested out my knees with a jump rope cardio ab circuit from Peanut Butter Fingers, I didn’t feel any pinching in either knee, and they were both pretty happy after the quick 30minute workout. So it was nice to get a good cardio sweat on, and have the chance to push myself a bit harder than I had been.

So today is the big day I finally get to try out running, with two 5k races coming up I want to make sure my body and my knees are ready for it. So I am going out with a girlfriend today to try out a nice slow, hopefully easy, run. Not sure how long it is going to be, not even sure where we are headed but I am excited to get outside and just run again, and it will be nice to just be following someone else instead of getting overzealous and pushing myself to the point of re-injury. Just another reason why having a workout buddy is the greatest!

Happy Wednesday everyone! 

Dealing with Bum Knees

So since my last little bout with injuries I have been in good form. Performing my physio for  building strength in my hips and ankles, working it out with Insanity, and shortened runs to give my knees a bit of a break, and always making sure to stretch it out with at least one solid yoga class a week.

I felt as thought I was back on track! Getting back to where I had been and feeling completely awesome! And then POP, literally. In the middle of a push-up jack my patella (knee cap) decided to jump out of place for a bit.  Now my knees crackle, pop and crunch, on a regular basis but this one was a bit different, seeing how I couldn’t move for about 20minutes.

After some light convincing I went to the doctor that afternoon and was happy to find out that nothing major happened, just a bit of displacement to my knee cap and it seemed to be back in place.  With instructions to ice and take it easy for the next couple of days, I was sure to ask about types of activity that I am able to do, and if I would be in good shape for my September runs.  I was advised that biking was the way to go and if in extreme need of a run to give water running a go.  I was also assured that if I take care of it now I will be better than good for my runs.
foam rollerSo my plan of action: Get on the foam roller train!!! After speaking with my doctor, in addition to speaking with friends who have similar issues and some general reading I am totally sold on it.  Not that I was skeptical before but mostly I figured I was doing my  exercises and just didn’t feel a 30 dollar piece of foam would add anything to my routine.
itband.2.anatAs it turns out a super tight IT band can contribute to knee issues, especially things like um, I don’t know, your knee cap popping out. After a quick and painful examination of my knees, the only thing that jumped out at my physician was how tight my IT band on my right leg was, to the point where when she applied the slightest amount of pressure tears started pouring from my eyes. So here it goes, time to try out the foam roller, I ordered one on amazon.ca so hopefully it will be here by the end of the week so I get can started on properly caring for my pain in the butt knees.

Hope everyone is doing well and your joints are treating you well or you are treating them well I guess.