May 062014
 

I got a great comment from a reader, Beth, who had a few questions. I started typing out a response and realized that I was going to be very long winded so why not just make a whole post about it?

“I’m having trouble fitting in everything I want to do – maybe I need a schedule like yours. My primary training is biking, since I’ve got Reach the Beach in 2 weeks and Cycle Oregon in September, but I do want to squeeze learning to run in somewhere too.”

 

I had the SAME problem. I still have that problem. My currently workout schedule is working okay but I am struggling to find time to fit in a run three times a week like the Couch to 5k app says to do.

Last year when I was struggling with my knee injuries, I decided that I needed to give yoga a REAL shot. Like going consistently and not just once in awhile and expecting to see results. I decided that I had to drop one of my swim days. I was swimming twice a week but I was struggling to fit in all the things I wanted to do.

Weight lifting was my priority for the last two years. It was both to help tone and get rid of some of the body fat that has plagued me since I lost 100 pounds but to also heal my injury. I had imbalances in my body and that was resulting in my knee pain. The weight lifting (and the kettle bell gym) did wonders! It was so beneficial and I attribute my current injury-free state entirely to weight lifting. More so than physical therapy ever did for me.

Recently Suzanne wrote a post for me called Why Recover? In it she said: “When you add something, you have to take something away.” Seeing that in print was a big lightbulb moment. Duh! There isn’t enough time in anyone’s day to do EVERYTHING. So what is the priority?

For me the priority is strength training at least twice a week and yoga once a week for injury prevention and then running because I’m training for my 5k. But what about my swimming?

Swimming is something close to my heart. I love it, it’s meditative for me, it’s relaxing, it’s a must. I will always include that in my schedule. So maybe that means I have to cut back on something else. Maybe it’s something I do every other week instead of every week so that I can include other things I like.

My fitness schedule changes with the season. It’s really easy for me to lift weights and swim and do yoga in the winter. When summer comes, some of those things fall back and the priority becomes doing stuff like biking to work and going for hikes with Michael and the dog. While I am frustrated that I can’t always fit in 3 training runs a week, I’m okay with the 6 week program taking 12 weeks. It’s okay to repeat a few weeks in a row because I didn’t get to that third run. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself by saying I HAVE TO RUN!!!!

Long Distance Runner
The next question is more about injury. She asked:

“Is it normal for my legs to BURN from the knees down when running? They’re okay when walking and when not running… I can’t tell if I’m out of shape or if I have bad shoes or something. Any thoughts?”

When I signed up for Couch To 5k I had many months (like 6 months) to train. I wanted to give myself enough time to SLOWLY get back into running. History has proven that I need to take it easy and not increase mileage too quickly.

I’m not a doctor or physical therapist obviously, but I do have an extensive injury history. My first thought is that maybe it’s the wrong kind of shoes. OR it’s time for new shoes. Read this post about shopping for running shoes: Is it Time for New Shoes? I really think all runners should get fitted for shoes according to their stride. It’s so important in injury prevention!

If it’s a nagging ache it could just be that it’s a new activity. Running is Hard and it uses muscles we may not have used doing other activities. Take it slow, follow a running program, don’t push it too far too fast. Learning how to pace yourself while running is also crucial. It’s really easy to go FAST out the gate and then burn out before you’re done running.

If it’s pain in the shins, it could be shin splits. That can happen to new runners who aren’t conditioned yet for running. It could also be OLD or BAD shoes. If it’s the wrong fit, they could be hurting you. It could also be that running on the street is too much for you. Try a treadmill or a track to see if the softer cushion helps.

If it’s knee pain, try to figure out where the pain is. If it’s on the outside of the knee it’s most likely the IT Band. If it’s on the inside of the knees it is most likely runner’s knee. Read: R is for Runner’s Knee and So…About that Runner’s Knee….

When it comes to injury, I’ve had a few and I’ve written many posts about the subject. Here is a little list of some old posts:

Coping With An Injury

How (Not) to Train for a Half Marathon

8 Mistakes I Made While Injured

Yoga & Runners

Tip for New Runners: Foam Roller

I’ve had a lot of aches and pains with running and wondered, Uh oh, am I injured? But I will tell you this: YOU WILL KNOW IF YOU’RE INJURED. Trust me. The REAL injury pain is obvious. There aren’t any doubts. When I first got overuse of IT Band I diagnosed myself while I was out running on the track. I knew it. I just had a gut feeling that said “this pain is different.” And it stuck around and when I saw a doctor I was right.

It’s so important to listen to your body and if it’s telling you something, take note. Don’t try to push through an injury. It will just make it worse and longer to heal. Also, you can get Runner’s Knee from other activities–not just running! Just like getting fitted for good running shoes, go get fitted for your bike! It makes a world of difference. Read: Professional Bike Fit & New Doctor.

I hope I answered your questions. I’m not an expert in running by any means but hopefully some of my experience can help other new runners in their journey.

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Oct 022012
 

I don’t think I’ve ever really discussed the importance of after care when it comes to fitness. It’s such an important factor in recovery, healthy living and weight loss. I think it’s also misunderstood a lot. I am definitely guilty of ignoring the benefits of after care and have paid for it with extra sore muscles and even injury. Here are some things we should all remember after a good, hard workout, myself included.

EAT

If you CAN eat a meal within 30-45 minutes of your activity, do so. Often times that’s not feasible so try to have a snack, some protein and carbs are good. Restoring glucose in your body is what helps prevent sore muscles and speeds recovery.

“Your post-workout meal should be reflective of the intensity and duration of your workout. Healthy post-workout snacks within 30 minutes of training are most important after longer, moderate-to-high intensity workouts. This helps replace glycogen stores, repair muscle tissue, and prepare you for the next training session. Long- or short-duration exercise that is low in intensity doesn’t necessitate a recovery snack/meal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a carb intake of 0.7g/lb of body weight and 10-20 grams of lean protein post-workout. (from Workout Nirvana)

You can read more from the lovely Suzanne at Workout Nirvana. After her workouts, Suzanne has a banana and a protein shake. She also recommended this article.

When I work out after work, I go home and eat dinner almost immediately. When I bike to and from work, I have a glass of chocolate milk when I get home because it’s usually 1-2 hours before I have dinner. A glass of chocolate milk  does wonders. I mean, chocolate milk is basically the same as that muscle milk stuff but without the creepy chemicals! Chocolate milk is also a good post-activity snack if you have difficulty eating food right after a workout.

“After you work out, your glycogen stores become depleted. Skipping your post-workout snack can cause prolonged soreness as well as premature muscle fatigue. This is caused by incomplete glycogen restoration (LIVESTRONG)”

Some other good snack ideas:

Peanut butter and a banana – protein in the PB and sugar in the banana…perfect. (But remember, bananas should be eaten after a workout, not before. Learn from my mistake!)

Apple and cheese – I like having an apple with an 80 calorie string cheese. The apple has  glycogen-replenishing carbs. And they are tasty and low in calories.

Protein shake – Kind of self-explanatory.

Dried Apricots – I discovered this awesome little trick when I was searching for a snack that would keep me from crashing after intense workouts. I only need 3-4 dried apricots and it gets me through the famished-frenzy until I’m home and can eat real food.

What is your favorite post-workout snack? 

WATER

This is often where I fall short, but I am doing much better. Drinking water will help reduce soreness. Drink, drink, drink! Then drink some more!

FOAM ROLLER

I LOVE my foam roller.  I use it almost every day. This is probably the most important piece of “exercise equipment” that I own! What is a foam roller? The one I have is a super dense foam that is kind of like getting a deep tissue massage. As a runner, I’ve used the foam roller for my IT band too many times to count. It feels and HURTS so good!

It’s a great thing to have if you are a runner or a cyclist, but honestly I’ve used my foam roller more after a heavy weight lifting session. When I wake up the next day and my quads and hamstrings are crying because of squats and lunges from the day before, I go straight for my foam roller. Michael uses it too and I even got my mom into it. I think I even sent her one for her birthday one year. I recommend it to everyone who does any kind of fitness. And trust me, the harder the better. Definitely go for the DENSE foam. It won’t do much if it’s soft. Check out this article for more uses for the foam roller. Seriously, it was the best $15 I ever spent for an exercise item!

ICE

If you have some soreness in your knees, legs, wherever, try an ice pack for 15-20 minutes after the activity to prevent/reduce inflammation. A lot of runners I know do ice baths after long runs. I tried to do that after Hood to Coast and it was too brutal for me. (Anyone have a tip to make ice baths more pleasant??)

Good god, looking at those pictures!! But if you can stand it, do it! I found this article on how to take an ice bath. I’m still too scared to try it.

STRETCH

I learned my lesson with my running injury years ago. Stretching is a very important part of a workout. I neglected it a lot when I was running and I paid for it with my injury. Yoga is a good thing to add to your routine. It would be a good thing to add to my routine, as well. I struggle with this. I try my best but it’s just not something I like to do. Well, to be fair, I like yoga once I’m in the class and doing it and I always feel better afterwards…it’s the motivating myself to go to class I have a hard time with. I have incorporated a lot of the yoga moves into my stretching routine, though.

And don’t forget REST DAYS.

Take Care of Yourself

A few other things I rely on heavily for my aftercare: Biofreeze (I love love love it!) and my compression tights. Michael bought them for me for Christmas a few years ago and I love them so much. It feels so good to wear them after a hard workout. I also have compression socks, which I wear more often than regular socks.

It’s so easy to just go about like normal and assume everything is okay until BAM! Injury! It’s happened to me a few times. I feel great, my body is good, my performance is the best it’s ever been, and then of course, something happens and I have to take a break. Breaks suck. I wish I could be a good patient when I’m injured but it honestly just stresses me out and I get impatient. I need to learn to take care of myself. Even if it’s a hassle to take the extra time to stretch, or foam roll, it’s so worth it. So take care of yourself!

QUESTION: What are your after care tips and tricks you do?

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