Running Missteps

Warning: Picture at the bottom is not safe for viewing while eating lunch!

Have you ever done something running related that you knew was a bad idea, but you went ahead and did it anyways? I know I sure have.

Tried to sweat out sickness with a tough run? Been there.

Think doing a long run or a race hungover won’t be that bad? Don’t remind me!

Done something for the first time in a race even though you’ve done enough races to know that’s breaking a cardinal rule? Check.

Run through pain thinking how much damage could I really be doing? More times than I’d like to admit. I could keep going, but I’m sure you get the drift.

Yesterday I made one of these running missteps. I ran in old shoes… really old shoes. I just couldn’t get myself out of bed for my track workout in the morning, but I had a personal training session at a client’s later last night not too far from the track so I figured I’d fit it in before then.

It was a busy morning at work and I ended up working through lunch, but hit a breaking point later in the afternoon. It was a gross, rainy day so I decided I could hit the office gym and switch my tempo run and track days. Naturally I didn’t have my gear with me, but I did have a back up set of gym clothes and an old pair of running sneaks that have seen one too many 20 milers to be used on anything but the elliptical anymore. I forgot a headband and I was wearing my glasses instead of my contacts. Clearly I should’ve paid attention to all of these signs and bagged the run.

Instead I did a just more than 6.5 mile tempo run at an average 7:30 pace. I could feel the blisters forming and I almost never get blisters. I should have stopped. I kept telling myself I was just being a baby and looking for an excuse to get out of my tempo run. Somehow I made it the whole way, but boy did it make for an uncomfortable walk home. I had multiple blisters on both feet and the biggest blood blister I’ve ever seen on my big toe. Ouch!

Fortunately blisters will heal and my feet should be fine in a day or two, but what a stupid mistake! Just in case you’re wondering, I’m getting rid of the shoes today and have already removed them from my office so I won’t be tempted to do that again!

Have you ever done something against your better judgement on a run? How’d it turn out for you?

Second Warning: Super gross picture below!


Resolution Check-In

Wow, how is the first month of 2013 already done? I still haven’t gotten used to writing 2013 instead of 2012 yet…I have a feeling this year is going to fly. With the start of a new month, I figured it’d be a good time to check back in and see how I’m doing with my New Year’s resolutions.

My big January focus was core and I had a goal of completing my P90X Ab Ripper workout five times per week. I beat my own expectations on this one, getting through the Ab Ripper workout every day last month. Going back to December I’m up to 34 straight days beating my previous longest streak of 31. It’s becoming a normal part of my daily routine now, so most days I just get up and do it without thinking or stressing too much about it. I’m hoping to keep this up as I know a stronger core will only make everything else I do easier.

Getting healthy was another resolution for the year and I’m off to a great start. I’m officially done with physical therapy, and am on my way to getting stronger. I’m sticking with my strength and stretching routines so I give myself the best possible chance to not end up injured again.

Drinking less soda was also on the list and I’ve had good weeks and bad weeks on this one. I started out the year strong telling myself I wouldn’t drink any soda Monday through Thursday. I made it through the first week and all the way through Wednesday of the following week. It probably hasn’t helped that I’ve been getting up much earlier than normal and exercising in the morning a lot more than I used to, leaving me a bit sleepy when my midday craving for a caffeine boost hits. After several early mornings that second week, I was up even earlier for a 4:30 wake up call to make a group run that Thursday morning, and I caved at lunch giving into my soda craving and falling back into my soda-a-day routine for the most part after that. I’ve tried drinking diet soda since I hate the taste so much thinking that I’d stop drinking it if I didn’t like it, but I just started to get used to the taste…yuck! Oh well, I’ll try again this month!

I obviously can’t realize my big goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon until my October marathon, but getting back my speed is going to be my big February focus. I’ve built a great base of fitness over the last five weeks or so completing mostly easy paced runs and a lot of cross training. Now it’s time to crank it up a notch. My goal for this month is to complete two speed sessions a week whether it’s at the track, running hill intervals or tempo runs.

Smiling after getting home from last week's track workout - need to remember that post workout feeling so I keep getting out there for speed sessions!

Smiling after getting home from last week’s track workout – need to remember that post workout feeling so I keep getting out there for speed sessions!

How are you doing on your resolutions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Officially Done with Physical Therapy!!

Last night I headed out to Fast Track Physical Therapy in Falls Church for what I was hoping would be my last PT session. Liz, my physical therapist there, gave me the great news that I have in fact officially “graduated” and am done with PT.

It’s not easy for me to admit injury (main reason things got so bad in the first place!), and it’s even harder for me to stop running, so starting PT and being told I needed to give my body a break was a bit hard to swallow at first. Turns out this whole injury thing might have been one of the best things for me. I’ve become so much more aware of my running form and what muscles need to be working when. Thanks to run analysis my form is getting better and more efficient. I learned the hard way just how important strength training and flexibility are for runners. This seems obvious, but I love to run so much I wasn’t always making time for the other stuff. That’s changed.

Liz did a final video run analysis last night and my form has improved a ton from the first time we did this. I’m still dropping my hip a little bit, but it’s getting better and I’ll keep working on it. My feet are landing in a very neutral position and I’m doing a better job of pulling my legs underneath me. We did a quick run through of my home exercises and stretches that have helped me get so much better over the last few months, and she gave me a few more to add to the arsenal to make sure I don’t end up hurting myself again.

I’m amazed at how much more flexible I’ve become. There’s still work to do, but I always just assumed I wasn’t very flexible and didn’t realize I just needed to put the time and effort in to work on it. It has been so amazing to run pain free these last couple weeks. Seriously, I think it’s been a couple years since running felt like this. Liz and Fast Track are the best! If you live in the NoVa/DC area and need to see a physical therapist – I highly, highly recommend them.

I’ve never been so excited for a race season, and can’t wait to go after some new PRs and a Boston Qualifier!

So excited, I can't stop smiling!

So excited, I can’t stop smiling!


Last week I shared my favorite core workout. One other thing I’ve been really focusing on since starting physical therapy in October is my flexibility. I was unbelievably tight at my first session, which really limited my mobility and was causing a lot of the pain I was feeling. I was given a series of stretches to do 2 to 3 times per day at first, and was told that it can take 10 to 12 weeks to really see the benefits.

I’ve been diligent about keeping with my stretching routine and am really starting to notice a difference. I’m down to going through the routine once a day and usually do an abbreviated version of the stretches again later or after working out, especially if I’m feeling tight muscles. I know it’s really important for me to keep this up if I want to keep running healthy. Check out my stretching routine below. I hold all stretches for 3 minutes each with the exception of the last two, which I do 3 sets of 10.

Physical Therapy Update

This week marks my seventh week of physical therapy and it’s now been two months since I’ve really ran – not including my 10-minute jaunts on the anti-gravity treadmill at less than full body weight. I’m going a bit insane as this is my longest running hiatus since about the eighth grade.

I started playing three sports per year as a first grader so I was always running around, but it wasn’t until going out for the JV soccer team my eighth grade year that I really started running just to run. During our morning sessions for preseason double sessions we had to run – gasp! – two miles every day. I thought that was so far back then, but I also loved the feeling of being in great shape and how much easier it made playing sports. I ran my first 5k with my brother (the Swamp Rat Run in Cicero) as a sophomore in high school and my first marathon as a junior in college. I’ve been hooked ever since.

While I would have preferred to be back up and running right away after a couple PT sessions, I am making progress. I do two sessions a week plus one deep tissue massage a week before one of the sessions. I’ve also been spending countless hours doing daily stretches, exercises, foam rolling and icing.

It seems like it is all starting to pay off. My flexibility and range of motion has improved dramatically. I still have a long ways to go on that and will continue to work on the flexibility as I get back to running and training, but am really excited about the gains I’ve made so far. While some areas are still pretty tender, I can now use my foam roller without wanting to scream out in pain! Whoever created those torture devices is both brilliant and sinister. I’m activating muscles I need to run my best that had seemingly shut down. I can stand on a single leg without wobbling all over the place (or without wobbling as much anyways!), and my posture is improving so that I’m not standing and walking in a position that places constant tension on my hip flexors.

The best pay off: I finally reached 100 percent of my weight on the anti-gravity treadmill yesterday. It was only for two minutes and was at a reduced speed, but I’m still very excited about it. At my next session this week I get to run for real and they will conduct a run analysis, so I can make sure my running form won’t land me with another injury as soon as I get going again. Little by little it keeps getting better, and I can’t wait to get back out there on the roads.

Deep Tissue Massage: Relaxation or Torture?

As part of my physical therapy I had a deep tissue massage before one of my recent sessions. My muscles had been so tight and flared up that my physical therapist wasn’t able to get to the joint to work on it,  so the massage was supposed to help loosen things up and relax the muscles.

I’ve never had a deep tissue massage before, so I had no idea what I was in for. When I think massage, I think relaxing and something that makes you feel good. If this is your thought too and someone suggests you get a deep tissue massage, then I suggest you run away fast! If we just sent massage therapists to interrogations we could learn any secrets out there. It was one of the more painful experiences I’ve had, and I’ve run 9 marathons! I had to constantly force myself to remember to breathe.

In all seriousness though, despite the initial pain, I saw immediate gains in my session that day. I even went back for more before one of my sessions the following week. Combined with the daily foam rolling and icing, the area around my hip flexors, quads and IT band is starting to feel human again and a bit less like steel! You can actually feel some of the tissues in there and I’m much better at relaxing my muscles rather than tightening them up and muscle guarding to protect from the pain when my physical therapist works on my legs. It’s great to notice some progress and feel like I’m closer to getting back out on the road again.

I’m told that eventually as the injury goes away, deep tissue massages will get less painful and can be a helpful tool when training for and running marathon distances. Based on the results I’ve had so far, I believe it!

Have you ever had a deep tissue massage? What did you think? I’d love to hear from runners that incorporate them into their training and recovery plans.