Running Shoes

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?

Surprise Run

Monday was supposed to be a rest day for me. On the way home from work Michael mentioned that he might go for a run. What? Go for a run?! He’s not a runner! He ran with me in Hawaii on our honeymoon, which was amazing and one of my favorite honeymoon memories, but it’s never his first choice activity.

The rain had started, and will most likely keep going until summer at this point. No joke, the rain starts in February and ends around July 5th. I hate the rain. But Monday night the rain had stopped, the sun was out, the weather was nearing 60 degrees. Plus, the evenings are lighter again so by the time we got home from work the sun was still out! I decided to switch my rest day to Tuesday and go for a run/walk with my husband instead!

We decided to put the dog/baby gate thing back up in the hallway (which I was a little bummed about because I was enjoying our super big hallway sans gate since we took it down awhile ago) because we wanted to experiment with leaving Bella out to free-roam the house. We were only going to be gone for about 30-45 minutes tops so I figured it was a good time for her first try.

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We walked/jogged down to the neighborhood track and happily found it empty. We started out at a slow jog/run as we warmed up. Here is Michael turning on all his gadgets before we got started running:

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It was really nice that we could run together. It’s something I love to do and it makes me excited that Michael may want to get into it. He said he wants to diversify his fitness this year. That’s his goal. He bikes to work, does kettlebell workouts at home and that’s it. I think the more cross-training someone can do the better. Use different muscles! Move your body in new ways. The only downside to having a really diverse fitness routine is that you never get REALLY GOOD at one thing. But the upside outweighs that I think. Neither of us are striving to be Olympic athletes…

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Since Michael isn’t a runner, we did a lot of walking. The routine we got down was running the straights and then walking the curves of the track. I think that was a good thing for a newbie runner. I think Michael did about a mile and a half. Then I did some running on my own while he walked the track. Finally, I remembered that Bella was running free and loose in the house and started to get some anxiety about that so we turned back and walked back to the house.

track3We did about 2.5 miles total (including the walk to and from the track). We got back to the house, the sun had set and it was getting dark by this time, and Bella was sitting pretty in the window waiting for us! She saw us and then took off, running through the house to greet us at the door. She hopped and jumped around all excited (and spazzy) and then flopped down on the floor for belly rubs.

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Next, review the house. I took a minute to look around and see if she got into anything. Thankfully she didn’t! I think she sat at the window waiting for us the whole time! No mischief like the first time she was left out, or the second time when I got home after she’d been left out and she had destroyed the living room….

I was so proud of my girl! She’s growing up. She’s getting more mature and well-behaved. I think we’ll continue to let her roam free for periodic errands we have to run, etc. The gate is back up so that the cats have a chance to run away and hide if things get stressful for them. I don’t think Bella really bugs them but you never know. My number one concern is keeping the cats safe from a curious and frisky puppy.

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I took Bella for a walk in the neighborhood, although it was now really dark out. We didn’t walk a ton, but a little bit and I used that as my “cool down” from the run. I ran about 2.5 miles total but with the walk it came to 2.93 miles total.

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It was a nice run and I was glad I changed my rest day so we could run together and enjoy the nice winter evening. Anytime I can get a workout in without having to go to the busy, crowded gym is a good a time! My knees felt good and I was a little sore the next day but it wasn’t too bad. Michael seems to be doing well, too. Hopefully we can run again in the future!