Making Recovery A Priority

Hello Again!

It’s been a minute since I’ve shared any updates here. Part of it has been the whole ‘don’t jinx yourself’ mentality and some of it has been just the sheer craziness of life.

But things have been going well in marathon land, so I wanted to quickly touch on some of the things I have been doing differently recently that seem to be helping. For better or worse, I think 2017 taught me that I am injury-prone. Some people seem to be able to pile on the miles and workouts without running into issues … but I am not that type of runner. So with that said, here’s what I’ve been working on during this training cycle.

  1. Smarter commitment to strength training. I became more focused on this in 2017 but I didn’t really know what I was doing, my strength training was disorganized at best, and it led to some very stupid accidents. I love checking out the strength training moves of professional runners on Instagram, but implementing these moves was not always a good idea. For example, the one time I clunked myself on the head with a weight not once BUT TWICE while attempting a fancy plank with a weight on my back (supposed to help keep my hips from moving). And then there was the time I tweaked my hamstring doing curls on an exercise ball that turned into a full-on strain later that same week when I was running Montreal. So I finally realized I probably needed a little help in this department. Thankfully, my coach Mary, is also a strength and conditioning coach. Lift Run PerformSo now I am following her strength plans and thoroughly watching the directional videos she sends on all the moves so that I actually know what the heck I’m doing. Unsurprisingly, this seems to be working better than putting together piece-meal strength training routines based on what I see on Instagram. LOL, good job Nora.
  2. Foam rolling like a boss. I’ve never been into foam rolling. It’s kind of uncomfortable and I am always in a rush to do something else. But after reading some training books, I’ve been understanding just how much scar tissue is developing around my muscles which leads to that tight, achy feeling. And if rolling for 20 minutes on my tight-as-guitar-string IT bands will keep me from pulling something down the road, then sure, I will foam roll.
  3. Give me all the recovery. Lately, I’ve been making the time to take 20 minute epsom salt baths (always after a hard workout and periodically throughout the week as well). The idea of an ice bath is pretty horrendous this time of year, but an epsom salt bath I can do. The science seems to be pretty mixed on whether these actually work beyond a placebo effect, but I feel like what the hell. Might as well try anything I can! Along those lines, the opportunity came up last week to try a new recovery spa called InBodyΒ with my mom. I’ll have a full review coming up in a separate post, but I got to try cryotherapy along with an infrared sauna and it was awesome.Β inBody Cryotherapy As cold and uncomfortable as the cryotherapy was, I think it really did work wonders! The past two weeks I’ve been running between 40 and 45 miles, and I felt so fresh after the treatment.
  4. Sleep Sleep Sleep. Honestly, I love to sleep. I don’t understand how people function on 5-6 hours a night. However, getting a full 8 hours used to be really hard at my 9-5 job while marathon training. I was getting up around 4 in the morning to get my workouts in and that was really exhausting, no matter how much of a morning person I am. Thankfully, my hours are very different now and I can sleep till a pretty reasonable hour while still getting my runs in during the morning. I really do think the extra Z’s are helping me recover better. I wish I had time to take naps the way professional runners do, but oh well, I suppose I can settle for a full night of sleep πŸ˜‰

So in between all the running, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s to hoping it helps me keep this up for 1 more month!

 


Strength Training & Running: Rep Fitness Equipment Review

Disclaimer: I received a free set of free weights and kettlebell from Rep Fitness Equipment in exchange for an open and honest review. Thanks! Hello again! Today, I wanted to press pause on all of the running and speedwork talk and switch gears for a minute to talk about strength training.

Rep Fitness EquipmentMy first experience with strength training was with forced lifting sessions in my high school gym when I was doing indoor and outdoor track.

2 Generations Running. Long Jump.

Possibly my favorite throwback pic of all time.

It was a tiny little room crammed with machines that was always PACKED when the track team shuffled in to do our workouts. I was not a fan. It always seemed relatively pointless and boring. I didn’t see how any of it was going to make me faster on the track. Running hill repeats made sense to me, as painful as those were. Calf raises and squats? Sure didn’t seem like those were doing much.

I’m pretty sure I rushed through the exercises (probably with horrible form) so that I could get out of practice early. Needless to say, when I got back into running on my own in college, weight training was never part of the agenda. I’d happily run my miles, shower, and take off for class – no stretching or pre-hab of any kind.

Fast forward a few years, and I started working with my coach, Mary the genius behind Lift Run Perform. Mary has always preached to me the importance behind strength training for injury prevention in running. The fact is, all of us have imbalances in our bodies. All of the pounding we put on our bodies by running high mileage adds up and often leads to problems down the road.

My most recent injuries are a testament to just how true this is. First with the Achilles tendonitis – probably the result of imbalances in my calf muscles. Now my physical therapist has me doing all these variations of heel raises to work on creating truly bullet-proof calves. And I can already tell it’s working – my tendonitis is essentially gone (after lingering for MONTHS.)

Fast Half Marathon Race Recap

Eeked out a small half marathon PR… and a case of Achilles tendonitis.

Then there was the hamstring strain. This one was pretty unfortunate in that I was actually trying to work on strengthening my hamstrings when I hurt myself. I was doing some hamstring curls with an exercise ball when I felt the muscle tweak and immediately stopped. A few days later, doing speedwork in the Rock n Roll Montreal Half, it gave way, turning into a very painful strain.

It’s becoming very clear to me that to train at the level that I want to, I HAVE to put in some work outside of running miles. That’s why I was so excited when Rep Fitness reached out to me. I have slowly been working on building my own little home gym so that I have no excuse to skip strength training. I love the free weights and kettlebell they sent me. I opted for 10 lb weights – versatile enough to use on a variety of different exercises and a 25-lb kettlebell (which strangely enough I’ve started referring to as Big Bertha in my head.)

Rep Fitness EquipmentOther equipment that I highly recommend for a home gym:

  • Exercise mat
  • Set of lower weight dumbbells (you’d be surprised at how hard some exercises can be only using 5 lbs!)
  • Resistance bands

rep fitness equipment

As my hammie recovers, I’m looking forward to using my kettlebell in some deadlifts and squats to really get to work on strengthening my hamstrings and preventing future strains. With the addition of my new free weights, I’ve already gotten back into doing some of my favorite Fitnessblender videos – Tank Top Arms Round 1 and Round 2.

I think it’s important to remember you don’t need to have an expensive gym membership to be able to strength train (especially if you are the type of person who has difficulty motivating yourself to get out the door and actually go to the gym). Choose a few key pieces of equipment and utilize resources on the internet (TRUSTED RESOURCESnot just any old website) to learn about correct form and various exercises.

Do you strength train? What’s been your worst running injury?


Life & Running Lately

So hello there again, hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July this past weekend!

Happy 4th!Work has been a little crazy lately and it seems like every week, I’ve been heading out on a new trip (most recently Boise, ID and tomorrow I’m off to Indiana). All the travel has been fun, but not exactly conducive to maintaining a regular running OR blogging routine. So here’s a quick rundown of both life and running lately.

  1. In 2 weeks, my mom and I will be running the Runners World Classic in Andover, Mass. My mom will be doing the 5k and half and I will be doing the Hat Trick (5k, 10k, and half marathon). I’m excited for this race, but I also know it will probably be hot and tough, given that I’ll be running 22.4 miles over the course of 2 days. So I won’t be chasing any PR’s at this one, but that’s ok. πŸ™‚
  2. In preparation for that, I ran a 10 mile long run on the trails this past weekend and it was awesome. It had been so long since I had done any trail running, I forgot how soft the ground feels compared to pavement!
  3. I watched the Olympic trials for track and field on tv this past weekend. So inspiring!! I wish I was out in Eugene watching them live.
  4. My mom bought this book recently and was telling me how good it was. IMG_0861I was browsing her copy while I was home this weekend, and thought it was awesome too, so we made a trip to Barnes & Noble so that I could pick up a copy for myself. So far, I’m really impressed by how user-friendly it is. The first 5-6 chapters show step-by-step instructions and photos on how to do the different strength-training exercises and then the last chapter is an 8-week plan incorporating all the moves. I think this will definitely be worth a full review once I have time to check it out more.
  5. Yesterday evening, I attended my first treadmill studio class at Mystryde in Boston! IMG_0866SO. COOL (please ignore the pile of trash ruining my artsy photo). It’s set up like a spin class… but with running! They give you pace cards and you can pick which paces suit you based on your fitness level. I chose the ‘Intermediate’ paces and I was a happy, sweat-drenched mess by the end. πŸ™‚ I would definitely go back for more classes and I could see this being VERY useful come winter when it’s even harder to find the motivation to get outside and run.

So in summary – life is busy and good and we are still running πŸ™‚

Hope you all have a wonderful week!