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Things That Have Helped My Running

I was talking to a friend recently who is training for Hood To Coast and she was talking about how she hates running. Or at least, hates it until she gets out there and is actually doing it. Two things: 1) I think part of the reason I think a lot of people hate running* (*but want to do it anyways) is because it’s HARD and sometimes it HURTS….and 2) I love running. Love it. It’s hard. Sometimes it hurts. But I love it.

I’ve loved it since I started running 10 years ago. I started running because I was getting pretty close to my goal weight and I was full of ENERGY. Tons of it. Going from being obese and not very active to suddenly being athletic, I had tons of energy and it was just a natural progression for me to start running.   Some of my favorite running memories are the places I’ve run.

#1 – Hawaii! The below photo was from a run in Kona I did years ago. I absolutely loved running from our condo to downtown Kona, partially along the coast, and seeing the sights on foot. Whenever we go on vacation, my desire is to go for a run and see my new environment that way. Also, running with Michael in Maui on our honeymoon is one of my favorite memories of our trip, too. (And it started his interest in running!) The scenery was so gorgeous and the weather was perfect…and running along the ocean is amazing. It cannot be beat!

#2 – Vegas! I’ve run in Vegas many times and it’s so fun. You can see parts of the Strip that you don’t normally visit, a little off-the-beaten-path. The nice thing about running in Vegas is that you aren’t stuck in the Casino gym, you can people watch, and you are usually up early enough that it’s not as crowded. #3 – Santa Monica When we went to LA and Santa Monica a few years ago, I didn’t run in LA/Hollywood but I did run in Santa Monica on Muscle Beach. There was a boardwalk and path so you can run “on” the beach. 🙂 It was gorgeous. I seriously need to live somewhere with warm weather and beaches. 😉

#4 – Bend Back in May, we took a family trip to Bend for the time not in winter! It was so nice to be in the high desert in the summer time, with the sunshine and warm weather. And being in the desert, my body aches and pains vanished. I clearly need to move the desert. Basically somewhere warm where my body doesn’t hurt. #5 – Arizona Lastly, Arizona. I’ve been to Arizona a few times now and went for runs. The first time was with my dad. It was fun running with him (even though my 60+ year old dad was a faster runner than I was!) and we saw this snake: Obviously running with my dad was a fun memory. I also ran by myself the last time I was in Tucson for a friend’s wedding. It was nice just being out on the road with me, my music, the sunshine and the desert.

Running Injuries

This post is about tools and tricks that have helped me start running, become a better runner, and get over running injuries I’ve had in the past. It’s no secret that I am The Queen of Running Injuries. I think I’ve had most of them. Whomp whomp.

Runner’s Knee was the worst of them because it really sucked, it hurt even to walk during the worst of it, and it took forever to get over it. I think what makes me LOVE running so much is that for awhile there, I couldn’t do it. Not being able to run when you really want to makes you want it more. At least, it did for me.

Now on to the list!  

Knee Straps

For awhile there I was using K-Tape. I know a lot of people swear by it and I used it for a long time to help with my runner’s knee injury (that lasted several years) but the tape really did awful things to my skin. It ripped my skin, made it red, made my skin itch really badly…it looked terrible and if you were really sweaty, the K-Tape wouldn’t stay on. So, I did some research and found runner straps for my knees. CUE ANGELS SINGING. Thank goodness I found these “jumpers knee” straps on Amazon because they were seriously a life saver. They worked like magic with my runner’s knee and didn’t irritate my skin! I swear by these and still use them when I run, mostly out of habit now–not sure I still need them but slightly nervous to try running without them.

Garmin Watch/Heart Rate Monitor

When Michael got me a Polar Heart Rate monitor 8 years ago, I’d never used one before, didn’t really know much about them and didn’t understand why I needed one…until I started using it. It was like a light-bulb went off. I was suddenly able to see how inefficient I was at running and I used the heart rate monitor to help me train better and pay more attention to my heart rate in relation to pacing. Also? I was able to get a more accurate number of calories burned from each activity I did, instead of just guessing based on an internet website calculator. This REALLY helped me with my weight loss goals! I’ve recently switched over to a Garmin watch and absolutely love it. Check out my review here.

Foam Roller We now have a collection of foam rollers in our house and Michael uses them religiously every night. I use the foam rollers after running or some activity that I can tell I will be sore from (lower body weight lifting, for example). I seriously suggest anyone who is even sort of interested in running, or who does a lot of working out, to invest in your own foam roller at home. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a kink somewhere in my body that it fixed.

Strength Training and PT Exercises  A lot of things helped me become a better runner and get over my various injuries but I would have to say the most important has been strength training problem areas that are causing the issues. According to my physical therapist, runner’s knee is due to weak glutes. So I do a lot of focused work on that area and I’ve noticed a difference when I do it on a regular basis.

Check out these old posts about that:

Favorite Lower Body Workouts

Physical Therapy exercises

Oddly enough, what really seemed to help a lot with my Runner’s Knee issues was having a baby. After I had Logan and started getting back into running, I didn’t seem to have the same issues I had pre-baby. (Knock on wood!) One things I did have? Hip issues and low back issues after having a baby. Basically, I had no core. I’ve been working so hard for the last year to strengthen my core and get back into running shape. PT and core exercises have done wonders.  

Regular Massages/Chiropractor Visits Thank goodness for insurance! I can get 1 massage a month covered by insurance so I only pay $25 a visit in order to get a massage or see the chiropractor. In the past I could only get a massage a few times a year. Doing it monthly really has helped a lot to keep injuries from becoming worse. Check with your insurance company to see if they cover any of that “alternative care” options (sometimes they do but don’t tell you) and take advantage of it.

Runner’s Up: I wanted to add a few things to the end of this list. I think it’s really important to get fitted for running shoes at a running store, by a professional. It made a HUGE difference in the early days of my running. It’s often free, too, so what do you have to lose? Go get fitted! And don’t forget to replace your running shoes a few times a year.

QUESTION: What has been the biggest help in your running?

Gettin’ Fit

Just shy of two months postpartum and I’m feeling pretty good. I was itching to get back to some kind of fitness, even if it was going to be low-key and not as intense as I used to do. Even if it was just walking, I wanted to do something and it felt good to workout again.

I’m getting back into the swing of things and slowly introducing stuff back into my routine.

One thing I’ve found is that I feel really good when I workout and right afterward but later in the day I feel really tired. Not exhausted, but definitely depleted. It’s like my body has a limited amount of energy these days and on days that I workout I definitely need a nap because I can’t power through it like I used to be able to. And rest days I don’t need that nap to avoid feeling overly tired. I never had this issue before–I could go, go, go and rarely sat still but now? That’s not the case at all.

Saturday

I decided to ease back in to weight lifting at almost 6 weeks postpartum. It had been a little over a month since I lifted weights and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be but I took it easy nonetheless. (And I was surprisingly sore the next day.)

 

Then later that afternoon a friend and I went for a walk with Logan. It was such a nice day out! I took a little nap (and I mean little because Mr. Man decided he didn’t want to nap) and then my friend and I did a walk. It felt good to get outside.

 

 

Sunday

Michael and I finally got a chance to go for that “hike” we attempted to do a few weeks ago. It was going to be a lovely, hot day in Portland but we were up pretty early and out the door before it was much hotter than 65.

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We went to Mount Tabor Park and parked in the residential neighborhood near the base of the park entrance. Then we loaded up the dog and baby and hiked up to the top of the park. It’s a great little urban hike with tons of trails (dirt) and then paved roads for bicyclists, skateboarders, runners, walkers, you name it. Everyone was out on such a nice day.

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It was all uphill. We hiked to the top, did a circle around the top, went back down and then hiked back up part way before heading back down to the car. We both burned more calories than we anticipated.

 

It was a good little workout though. I think we will do this more in the future on nice days. We’re up early because Logan gets us up at the crack of dawn, so we are able to get to the park before it’s too crowded or too hot. It’s not far from the house, either, so the drive time doesn’t make it too difficult to do right now.

Monday

Monday I woke up and just needed to get out of the house so I decided Logan and I would go for a walk first thing before it got too hot. We stopped for iced coffee on our route first. 🙂

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It was a good walk and I got to clear my head and move my body and get out of the house.

 

Tuesday

Took Bella and Logan for a short walk before lunch today. Looking at the forecast I figured it might be the last opportunity for a walk for a few days.

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When Michael got home from work I went to the gym for yoga class. Unfortunately, when I got there class was cancelled. 🙁 I ended up on the elliptical and did 3 miles in about 35 minutes and then went home. And my heart rate monitor died on me, so no idea on the calories. Bummer of an evening!

Wednesday and Thursday

Rest Days! And it was kind of rainy and blah so no walking.  But honestly I needed the rest days, so that’s ok.

Friday

I’ve been itching to try running again (especially considering I have two 5k’s in a few months) but wanted to wait until I was ready physically. I think it’s going to be a slow process to get it all back.

 

I did a slow walk/jog on the treadmill. I did intervals of about 90 seconds jogging, then 60-90 seconds walking, and so on. It was okay but my knees felt a little creaky. I cut it short and then did the elliptical for the rest of the workout.

Saturday

I wanted to do something a little different this day. Instead of the treadmill I did the stair master. I used to LOVE the stair master. It is a major calorie burn. Even short sessions would make me drenched in sweat. But with my knees I kind of stopped using it. I’ve been slowly getting back to it.

 

This week I hope to go to yoga class, swim, and try running again.

What are you fitness goals for this week?