KT Tape

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?

Things I’m Loving Lately

I am totally an Amazon Prime junkie. I buy way too much stuff on there. It’s just easy and convenient. I wanted to share some of the finds I’ve loved lately. Here is the list:

Omega Sunlight SAD Light Therapy (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Super Bright

This is the newest item and I’m still checking it out. I most definitely suffer from seasonal malaise. I am not a dark,gray,rainy kind of person. When the winter rain starts here in Oregon I just feel like a giant wet blanket has been thrown over me. It’s such a bummer. I know I need to live somewhere else and I’m reminded of this every winter. So either I need to move to like California (preferably near the beach) or win the lottery so I can move to Bali.

Since neither of those things are really going to happen any time soon, I bought a light therapy device. Finally. I’ve wanted one for years but never got around to getting one. I’m glad I did. I’ve only been using it for about a month now and I usually only use it Monday-Fridays. I plug it in on the kitchen counter and have it one while I make breakfast, eat breakfast and pack my lunch for work. So for about 20-35 minutes depending on the day.

light

 

I don’t know that I’ve noticed a difference in the winter depression yet but what I did notice right away was that I felt more ALERT and awake in the morning after using the light. That’s huge. I am so NOT a morning person (my ideal work schedule would be like 10am-4pm–where is that job?!!). I am going to continue using the light to see if it effects the winter blues. Stay tuned.

Mueller Cold/hot Wrap, Elastic, Black, One Size

I bought this a few months ago and I’ve been using it a lot. Whenever I have a particularly difficult workout, I use it on my knees. It works GREAT. I like that the ice pack is separate and you just slip it into the wrap and then strap it on a body part and it doesn’t slide. For years I was using a traditional ice pack and it was annoying having to hold it in place. I love this thing.

Mueller Jumper’s Knee Strap, Black, One Size Fits Most, 1-Count Packages (Pack of 3)

Speaking of knees….

I think two things fixed my Runner’s Knee (or at least, made it tolerable). The first is the Warrior Room and strengthen my glutes to offset the muscle imbalance that causes my knee pain (the WR did more for me than physical therapy ever did). The second are these straps. I always use them when I run or use the elliptical now.

It’s so much better than taping my knees. I was taping for a long time, per my physical therapist, and while that worked okay it was really uncomfortable. My skin is super sensitive to begin with and using tape on my skin just irritated it beyond belief. It would be itchy, red, blotchy, nearly scarring me. I quit the tape and changed to the straps and never looked back. Such a better option.

Aikiou Stimulo Activity Food Center for Cats Grey/Green

I bought this earlier this year because Fat Kitty is a little piggy. He’s always been this way, even when I got him as a baby. You can read his history here: Fat Kitty Still Needs a Diet…The short story: he tends to binge eat and then throw up. I tried a LOT of different methods and different foods, different feeding methods, to try and get him to slow down. Nothing worked.

Finally I found this on Amazon and decided to give it a try. For the first two days the cats were both MAD. They were pissed. They sat in front of the feeder and meowed angrily. They refused to use it. Finally, they broke down and started using the feeder. It didn’t take them long to figure it out and it’s been great ever since! The cats love it (or at least they don’t complain anymore), they slowed down with their food and Fat Kitty did lose a little weight. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a big boy. But he’s not bingeing and puking anymore, so I’m happy.

feeder

 

If you have a cat with a weight issue, this thing works! Give it a try! It definitely slows them down and there is actually food left over sometimes. I highly recommend this item!

Have you found something you are loving lately and want to share?