Running Right Along ...

Almost three weeks ago, I hurt my hip on my 18 mile run. I didn't listen to my body. I kept running through the pain because once the muscle warmed up, the pain went away. Finally, the piriformis muscle got so tight, I had limited range of motion and had no choice but to stop running for a while.

Because my chiropractor had always "cured" all my ailments within a few days to a week, I had started to think I wouldn't get seriously injured. I figured I'd go in, get a few adjustments and be running again within a week.

This time, things were different.

The range of motion has come back slowly. I feel slightly better from one day to the next, and I "test" my knee and hip by running a lap (or on a bad day, a portion of a lap) on the track each day. I'm foam rolling, icing, stretching and strengthening (hip/legs/core) like crazy. If I lost this last little layer of ab fat, I'd have some killer abs to show off from all the core work I'm doing :-)

Nothing gets my heart rate up like running. Because I'm training for a marathon, I don't want my endurance to go during my time off. I'm now obsessed with finding cardio workouts that make my heart pound. I've been jump roping, rowing, aqua jogging, swimming, side shuffling the track and doing the elliptical.

Finally, last weekend, I was able to put enough weight on my leg to do the Stairmaster. I did an hour on the Stairmaster and did 30 minutes of intervals where 65/steps per minute was the "resting" interval and 130/steps per minute was the "fast" interval. THAT made my heart pound out of my chest. I love it!

I had my third massage today--an hour and a half hot stone massage. And, my seventh chiropractic adjustment in 2 1/2 weeks. I'm going back tomorrow for ultrasound and kineso tape--after kick boxing with my trainer. Hmmmm....hope that kick boxing works out for me.

Getting a Butt Massage in the Morning!

I'm getting a butt massage in the morning! Yep, that's right! I'm a bit nervous. It sounds painful and...icky.

This is how sick my running addiction has become. I'm about to subject myself to having my butt massaged. My big 18 mile run on Saturday has me sidelined. I'm walking without limping now, but I probably won't be able to run until the weekend.

So far, I've been to the chiropractor for an adjustment. She referred me to a massage therapist. Specifically, they are working my piriformis muscle. It's in a huge knot (Does that make me a tight @ss? I crack myself up. Crack! Geez...that's two butt jokes in one paragraph! Sorry!)

Then, I have to go back to the chiropractor for another adjustment on Thursday.

And, my trainer is working up a new  hip/knee/core strengthening workout for me on Thursday afternoon, and I've come up with some fun cross training workouts. They won't replace running, but at least they'll get my heart rate up until I can pound the pavement again. (And, I'm back on the 100 Pushups bandwagon if anyone wants to join in again!)

Who woulda thought it would take a whole team of people to keep me running? My running BFFs for motivation, my trainer, my run club trainer, my chiropractor and now a massage therapist (whom I'll need to see semi-regularly until this problem is cleared up.) Oh, and one husband who works and pays the bills so I can spend all my "free" time running and writing!


Slow Learner

I am such a slow learner when it comes to this fitness thing. It's a shame I have to get hurt for running wisdom to sink in.

I am finally to the point where I love to run. I finish, and I'm already looking forward to the next run. I can't say that about weights. I have always hated lifting weights. Most runners find excuses to avoid lifting--it cuts into already-limited running time, it makes them too achy to complete their long runs, they don't like it, they don't know how...blah, blah, blah...excuses.

Strength training is very important for runners. Elite runners know this. Trainers and coaches know this. Those of us who are impatient and obsessed like to avoid it and focus on the "fun" part--running!

I do strength training twice a week. I almost never get in that third day. I hate working my core and legs, so I don't always work the muscle groups that will help the most with my running. I sit with another injury that is slowing me down. I am training for my first full marathon (May 1, Lincoln, NE!), and the long runs have started getting longer. My body is feeling it.

Fortunately, it doesn't appear to be a serious injury. I think it's just weak muscles. (Hopefully, my chiropractor will agree when I see her tomorrow!) I have pain in my knee, hip and back that goes away and then moves to a different spot after foam rolling, icing or stretching. The more fatigued I got during yesterday's 18 mile run, (my longest yet!) I could tell which muscle groups were weak--the same ones all the experts tell runners they need to strengthen.

I asked one of my trainers (I now have two, plus a friend enjoys the role of "coach") to show me some exercises that would strengthen these muscles. I'll be adding machines and exercises to strengthen my core, lower back and glutes. Have you seen this machine? The machine I'll use for inner/outer thigh and glutes is similiar to this one. (It's quite amazing to me that I've never used this machine in all my years of working with a trainer!)

I used to have the attitude that I didn't need to work my legs. I run! Check out these legs! Do they look like I need weights? I finally learned that it doesn't matter what my legs look like, there are still weak muscles hidden under there that my body depends on for speed and endurance. I'm actually looking forward to weight training this week!

My Fun Workout

Today was supposed to be a rest day. I've been trying to take it easy and rest my knee and hip. BUT (there's always a "but" with runners), I couldn't sleep. I woke up thinking about these foster kids my friend is working with, which gave me a writing topic, and made me so I couldn't sleep.

Since I was awake thinking, and since I had a great playlist I've been dying to work out to, and since the gym was open, and since I had this great workout idea, I put on my shoes and went to the gym at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday.

First--Totally loving these new songs on my playlist:

100 Percent by 99 Men
Want You Bad by The Offspring
Vampire Girl by Deaf Pedestrians
New Tatoo by Saving Abel

So, I'm listening to my music, which makes me run fast, and thinking about this new book idea. I did 40 minutes on the elliptical and decided to once again attempt to calibrate the Nike + (slightly more successful this time). After I had it calibrated, I ran on the track and tested out my new "rest day" workout (meaning, I'm not counting miles or tracking how fast I'm really going)

My fun workout (one lap on my gym's track is 1/10 of a mile):

five laps
five laps sprinting straights and jogging curves of track
five laps with stairs on each side of  the track, jogging straights and side shuffling on curves
five laps jogging straights and frog jumping on curves
three cool down laps, plus stretching

It was fun! I meant to add some jump roping at the end, but ran out of time. (S had a 10 a.m. soccer game today!) My knee and hip feel really good still. Hopefully, I took it easy enough that I will still be pleased with this workout in the morning!



Running Playlists

Yesterday I talked about some of the things that motivate me to keep running, even when I don't feel like it. One thing I didn't mention was MUSIC! Workouts without music are killer, almost impossible to get through. I change my playlist every few months, or whenever I find the music is no longer inspiring me to run longer and faster.

At first, I wasn't too particular. Any music that allowed me to daydream and get lost in my head was fine. Pop music, Broadway tunes, songs from the 70s and 80s, music from my favorite movies. Some of these things still work, but I've noticed that as I've gotten faster, I need music with a faster tempo too.

At last week's 10K, I noticed I was running faster to certain songs (I love to run to Dance, Dance by the Fall Out Boys!),
so I made another new playlist this week, featuring songs by Weezer, Fall Out Boys, Three Days Grace, Orianthi, Bowling for Soup, Good Charlotte, Collective Soul, Plain White T's, Saving Abel and others.

My friends usually help me create my playlists. I'm SO musically challenged, plus I love to run to music that means something to me, music that reminds me of the person who recommended the song. It's fun to think about my friends and their music when I hit an especially difficult stretch of training.

But, seriously did I not know about this song? Where have I been?

Stacy's Mom (embedding is disabled, so you'll have to follow the link.)

While I was on my playlist kick, I asked Lisa Schroeder if she'd share Brooklyn's running playlist from SAVING BROOKLYN. What a GREAT book! With runners, great music, ghosts and romance! A fun, quick read! Click through, listen to the songs and wish Lisa a Happy Birthday!



Finding Motivation for Running...and Other Things in Life

I was recently asked on Twitter if I'd talk about where I get my motivation to run, especially on days when I don't especially feel like running. If you're not a runner, keep reading. I think this advice applies to most things in life, including writing.

First, a short recap: A year ago, I hated running. Hated it. I'll admit--I love it now. I'm addicted. I ran 16 miles on Tuesday, and I can't wait to get out and do my first 20 mile run. Sick, hu?

I wish I could remember when things clicked and I started to look forward to my runs. I'm pretty sure it was the first time I ran three miles and realized my body didn't hurt at all during the run. A big motivator to me is that I'm able to see the progress I'm making. I started losing weight quickly, my body started hurting less and less, I was running longer and longer distances. Every day there is a new milestone, or a new record to set. 

So, here are a few of the things that keep me running:

1. Progress--Running is the one area of my life where I am able to see a direct correlation between the effort I put forth and my improvement or my ability level. I track all my stats--miles run, times, other workouts I complete in a day--and I'm easily able to see how my efforts are paying off. It's extremely satisfying to be able to see my work pay off with a new speed or distance milestone.

I think tracking effort and progress is important in any area where we want to make improvements. It's really hard for me to see progress in my writing, but there are always things that can be tracked--word count, hours/minutes at the keyboard, books read, hours researched. All these things, this effort, should make a person a better writer.

2. Friends--
I've spent most of my life trying to deny this, but I'm an extrovert. I feed off the energy of other people (and hopefully, I inspire and motivate them too). I go to the gym because that's where my friends are. I do my long runs on weekends with friends. We talk. We catch up. We complain. We problem solve. I have friends who know when they can push me. I have friends who like to compete. I have friends who like to socialize. The best running days are with friends.

My best writing days are with friends too. When my kids were younger, my interaction with other writers was limited to friends I interacted with on Live Journal. These days, I get together twice a week with a group of writers. We spend the entire day writing, usually with iPods turned on to keep us from talking. Meeting with these writers is fun, and a great way to stay accountable.

3. Goals--I set goals for myself. Running the Disney Half Marathon was my initial goal. I knew I couldn't achieve that goal if I didn't run several times a week. You can't go from being a non-runner to running a half marathon if you don't put in the training time. I registered 11 months ahead of time, paid my money...I couldn't back out. Now that I've experienced some "success," I'm setting some goals that might seem impossible. Those are the goals that make me leap out of bed, excited to run. (Such as training for my first marathon and ambitious speed goals for my next half marathon)

The same goes for writing. It's crazy to expect to become a published author without putting in the effort. Write X# picture books in a two month time frame, set a goal date for starting and finishing a novel. Give yourself a reward tied to a tangible result: "If I finish this novel and get it critiqued by May, I'll attend the LA SCBWI conference this summer."

4. Enjoyment--I really do like to run.  Life should be fun, and most things worth doing should be fun....especially if you're going to spend hours and hours a week doing it. (Okay, laundry, especially folding socks, sucks. But, even that can be fun if you want it to be.) Initially, I ran to lose weight. Then it became fun. If it didn't become fun, I would have quit and kept searching for some fitness activity I find to be fun.
If writing isn't fun, don't do it. Find something else. Or change genres. Find what you enjoy and do it.

5. Habit--Running every day has become such a habit, I'm restless if I don't run. On days when I have to skip my workout, I have a hard time getting my day started. It's just part of my routine now.

Habit may be the most important one of all. Whatever you want to accomplish, make the steps to get there part of your daily routine. This is something you want to do...taking the baby steps to get there should not be a chore. If it is, reevaluate your goals and priorities.

Those are my best tips, the top reasons I drag myself to the gym each morning. What are your tips? What's your inspiration or motivation for working out or writing...or reaching for your goals?

Since I've Already Exposed Myself As a Geek...

Since I've already exposed myself as a geek, I'll show you what my shoes looked like when I ran today:

I had the foot pod that goes to my Garmin Forerunner watch on my right shoe. And, I had a Nike + sensor tied to my left shoe.

See that lovely brown blob? That's the sensor tied in a homemade pouch. I lost my original sensor. Since it's supposed to go IN the Nike + shoe, which I don't wear, I tucked my sensor under my laces...and proceeded to lose it.

I, great waster of money that I am, bought a new sensor yesterday ($19.99 for the sensor. $29.99 for the sensor plus the part that plugs into your iPod). A friend told me they make little pouches that tie to your laces. My running store was out of them. I wanted to use my Nike + gadget when I ran today, without the risk of losing one again. So, I cut the toe off some old pantyhose, put the sensor inside and cut a slit from top to bottom to make "ties" so I could tie it to my shoe. Geeky? Yes. But it worked.

Since I planned on a 16 mile run--indoors--today, I figured I had plenty of time to attempt to properly calibrate both devices, which is why I took both to the gym. Total failure on the Nike +. Moderate success on the Garmin. I'd really like to get an accurate calculation on how many miles I'm running inside. I lose track counting laps. Plus, I want to add stairs to the laps.

The good news is--I don't have too many weeks of indoor running left!

*I did finish my 16 mile run! I did the first and last three alone and several friends took turns running with me in between.


What I Learned About Running Yesterday


 Yesterday I did the Groundhog Run 10K. The race took place in the Hunt Midwest Subtropolis underground caves in the KC area near Worlds of Fun. I wouldn't want to do more than a 10K in that place--after about three miles, the novelty of running in the cave wears off. Everything starts to look the same. 

It was awesome to run someplace other than a treadmill or track. I think I've only run outside five times since November, and four of those were in Orlando when it was COLD! Since my my plans for a fast race at Disney were derailed by rain, sleet and cold weather, I wanted to be fast.

I've been working really hard for the last three weeks on picking up my pace. As I've said before, I'm not a fast runner. A year ago I hated running. Every gain in speed and distance comes from a lot of hard work and consistently working toward achieving my goals.

Two weeks ago, I had an amazing running week. Every time I ran, I was faster than the day before. It seemed like I'd finally broken through a plateau. On that Friday, I ran 7 miles in 62 minutes on the treadmill, which was huge for me. The next morning I woke up and could barely walk. I didn't run last week, except for a lap around the track a few days to "test" my hip and knee to see if I'd recovered.

Finally, it was time for running club on Saturday morning. I was confident I was ready to run again. It was the first day of our new club, and I didn't want to skip. I had a pretty good run. I felt fast. (I still don't know exactly how far I ran because my Garmin watch with the footpod designed so I can use it indoors, did not work properly.) But, I felt good and went to bed Saturday with the confidence that I could turn it on Sunday morning at the 10K.

I woke up early. I think my body is finally trained to know it's time to run at 5:30. Since I was awake, I had extra time to stretch out my hip and lower back, which was a bonus. I ate a banana and a Kashi bar (another attempt to find a food that my stomach will tolerate when I run.) & filled up my sports bottle with Spark to drink on the way.

Runner Idol/ Virtual Coach has been working on my mental game. He knew long before I did that I was capable of running faster. I had an email from him waiting when I got up, reminding me that I was tough and fast and was going to kick @ss in the race. I decided it must be true, and dressed in tough, ninja black instead of my usual girly-pink to help remind me that I am no longer a girl who runs because it's fun. I'm a bad ass runner chick who runs fast because she can (and because, yes, it's still fun).

We were running underground, and I wasn't sure my new Garmin footpod would be reliable. In theory, the footpod makes it so the watch will work without the GPS, which also means it works like a pedometer and might not be accurate. Just in case, I wrote my mile and half  mile goal times on my arm so I'd have an easy way to see if I was on track to meet my goal. (I am aware this is geeky and weird. :-)

The watch didn't work right, as predicted. They didn't have half mile markers. And, not every mile was marked. It was very hard to gauge my speed.

My goal was to run a 9 minute mile. I'd only done this one time before, on a treadmill, where I had the luxury of constant feedback on my speed and distance....and the ability to up the speed to crank out a 7:30 mile if needed to meet my goal time.

At the start of the race, the tunnel was packed. Thick with people. We walked down the side tunnel to the start and stood near the 8:00 mile pace group. We didn't belong there, but there was no way to get back toward the 9/10 minute mile groups. So, when the race started, I got shoved in with the 8:00 minute mile group. I knew going in that I couldn't get stuck in a pack at the start if I wanted to run 9:00 miles. If I didn't start at 9:00, (if I got stuck running a 10 min mile for the first mile)  I was not capable of catching up.

There I was with the 8:00 minute group. The pack spread out fast. I had lots of space almost immediately. And....I was keeping up with them! It was a little dark, and I was running too fast to even see if my watch was working. When I hit the one mile mark, I looked down at my watch. I ran my first mile at just over 8 minutes, exceptional for me.

I noted that the distance wasn't tracking properly on my watch, so I'd have to rely on my watch time and checking my time at the mile markers. I also knew I couldn't keep an 8:00 minute pace for 6.2. miles. I dropped back a bit. But I had no idea how fast I was actually running.

There was no mile 2 marker.

At mile three, I was pleased to see I was ahead of my 9:00 goal pace by about 2 minutes.

I was half way there! I could do it. Mile four was a little difficult. I tried not to slow down. (I'm very frustrated because my stats are stuck on my watch. They won't download. I'm pretty sure mile four is where I got off track. I'm dying to see.)

Runner Idol/Virtual Coach told me that I had to have fire coming out my shoes on miles five and six. I kept telling myself that I needed to get faster and work harder. I couldn't slack.

By mile six, I believed it again and kicked it up until I crossed the finish line.

I was soooooo close! I finished in 56:23, which put me about five seconds per mile behind where I wanted to be.

I was happy--it was 16 minutes faster than my last 10K--but I was also depressed. I know I could have done better.

Then, right before bed, I realized what I had done. I went out there, ran my fastest race ever, and I did it without the constant feedback from the treadmill, or the ability to increase the belt speed so my feet would have no choice but to keep up. I went out there and gave it my all, without much of an idea as to whether or not I was even close.

Most people would not consider me a fast runner. I know a lot of people who can run 9:00 minute miles without training nearly as hard as I do. I've said for months that I can run forever. Yesterday I showed myself that I have the potential to be fast, that my body knows what speed feels like, even when all my gadgets fail me.  


Running Karma

I think I have some good running Karma going on.

I may have hurt my hip being stupid last week, which I'm still paying for, but some fun things happened this week.

1. A friend's son signed me up to run on the UPS team for the Groundhog Run. My friend and I are doing the 10K on Sunday.

2. My trainer contacted me last night and asked if I wanted a VIP parking pass to the Groundhog Run. One of her clients had an extra pass to give away.

3. The UPS lady contacted me and told me she had a bracelet that would get us into the UPS hospitality suite on race day.

4. While writing with Lisha, Jenn and Colleen yesterday, this guy at the next table asked us about our writing. I was still tuning him out (I was busy on my new WIP!) when he started talking about the websites he had recently developed. I heard him talking about one of the sponsors for one of the charity races in town and said, "Oh, did you do the site for the Trolley Run?" He did. It  just went live last week.

He asked if I was a runner. We talked a bit about running, and he offered to sponsor a team of runners for the upcoming Trolley Run.(So, if you're in need of a website...the guy's work looks great...and he was nice to a bunch of writer geeks jamming to iPods while typing away on laptops.)

For Sunday's 10K, I'm going to try to run without looking like I'm going on an expedition! I will not be taking any water with me (relying on the water stations) I have a new belt that holds much less stuff. Also...see my new shoes with cute, pink laces? Just had to show ya :-) I mean...they're PINK! What's not to love about PINK shoes?!

Oh, and read lisa_schroeder  's CHASING BROOKLYN. Awesome book. Strong characters. Spot on emotions. Great use of RUNNING as therapy. Seriously, people. I'm not sure I could have survived the last year without everything running has done for me. Lisa nailed this. And I hope teens read CHASING BROOKLYN and connect with the story, but also see that training can be a healthy way to deal with their problems.

Listening to Your Body (Important lesson!)

It appears that I can't take my own advice. I just blogged about how important it is to listen to your body and to follow the 10% rule when running. I know these things. Yet, I'm having to take a day off from cardio because I hurt my knee and hip last week.

I felt great all week and kept piling on the miles. How many days in a row can I run 7+ miles and still maintain my new-found speed?  I wondered. It turns out the answer was six. I had my fastest run ever on Friday (the 6th day) Really fast for one minute per mile faster than what I usually think is challenging. I ended Friday with bloody heels (Yes, tried to break in new shoes on a day I decided to go for speed. Dumb.) By Friday night, I was limping.

At my daughter's indoor soccer and basketball games on Saturday, I stretched on the bleachers, trying to get my knee and hip to pop back into place. It was going to be about 50 degrees and sunny in the afternoon, and I needed, needed, to run.

After lunch, I had just a slight limp. I needed to get out of this place where every sentence uttered began with, "Mooommmmmmyyyyyyyy......" So, I put on my running clothes and took off for a run. About a half a block into it, I could tell running was a bad idea. Eh, surely, my hip will pop back into place if I just keep running! I continued on, noting that I had to keep well below what I consider my easy, "recovery" pace to avoid a shooting pain through my knee.

Three and a half miles later, I hobbled into the house and packed ice on the knee and hip. I didn't get to rest long because it was time to take one of the kids shopping, then church, then out to dinner with friends. Six hours later, I iced again and taped my knee with my new best friend, KT Tape.

Today, my over-achieving behavior will be "rewarded" when I have to do some lame cardio because I have to stick with something non-impact. I'm going to behave this week. I have a 10K this weekend, and I want to see how fast I can run it.