Your Body is a Wonderland

Your Body is a Wonderland

I just returned from my week down at the beach.  I feel refreshed, relaxed and thankful that I get to spend time there every year.  This year was especially good because my entire family was able to get down.  That doesn’t happen often so we enjoyed our time together.   I was able to get my weekly runs completed on some nice flat running surfaces, as well as do some strength work in a beautiful park.  I used the walk/run interval strategy for my runs as part of my plans to heal my aching achilles and feet.  My runs went really well, but I still experienced some pain in my ankles and walking stairs continues to be difficult.  I’m continuing this journey and will make an appointment this week to see a physical therapist or doctor to check in on this stiffness and pain.

Last week I talked about making the switch to a Galloway walk/run plan to ensure I am able to complete the New York Marathon.  I talked about my struggles in making this switch because my ego keeps telling me I’m less of an athlete if I have to do it this way.  This week I’d like to explore a little bit about how media and marketing have contributed to my feelings.  While I recognize this is a personal struggle, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the fact that many women are body shamed for not having the perfect runners body.  It may not be intentional, but there is that pause when you tell someone you are a runner and they look surprised and/or do the eyes up and down your body.  Yup, it happens often and leaves you feeling like you need to then say something in response.

Thankfully, I’ve never been body shammed publicly on runs (that I know of), but there are many women who have been.  Women who have been laughed at or had to endure comments from onlookers about how they “may need to up their mileage.”  Anyone who runs knows it’s hard enough just to get out there and when you don’t have that perfect runners body it can be even harder.  I’m very self conscious about running and always put myself down about it – not fast enough, not looking good today, etc.   It actually took me almost two years to be willing to put on a pair of shorts to run outside!  I’ve gotten past that at this point and truly just run and tune that inner dialogue out.

Looking at the Galloway method, I’ve come to realize that there are many misconceptions out there about using this walk run interval strategy.  I also realize that there are some underlying contributing factors to these perceptions.  I’ve actually heard some runners saying, “those Galloway girls are big.”  Newsflash, not all Galloway runners are large, overweight, out of shape or beginners.  This months Women’s Running magazine, dubbed as “devoted to beginners”, discussed the effective use of walk run intervals for beginners and beyond.  It was an interesting read and really outlined the benefits of using this strategy.  I think the cover was beautiful and I am NOT in any way personally attacking or body shaming anyone.  I’m really just wondering today about our perceptions of runners bodies and how media strongly impacts these perceptions.  The gorgeous cover model on this issue had a body very different from the models who normally grace the cover of this magazine.  I have a subscription and love this magazine, but wonder why.  Why is it that the magazine devoted to beginners and walk run intervals has a cover that is different from all the others?

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It’s very disheartening when you are trying to feel good about yourself when you are faced with these types of images linked to certain types of activities.  Runners come in all body sizes and shapes.  Go to any race and look around and you will soon feel better.  There are runners of all sizes and shapes and most are very welcoming and encouraging.    Women’s Running magazine is well aware of the feelings of women runners who do not have the perfect runners body.  Recently, they featured a plus size runner on their cover and she spoke candidly about her feelings of looking at magazines and not finding herself represented in any of them.   My question then is why does featuring a curvy woman runner became an “event”?  Why is this not the norm to include all types of running bodies on the cover of a running magazine?  There are many of us out there running and wanting to improve our health that do not have the perfect runner body.  Shouldn’t we be equally represented on the covers of running magazines and not seen as an occasional event.

Many women have body issues, this is a known fact.  Yes, we are personally responsible for our choices and how we deal with these issues.  Personally, I choose to recognize that fitness comes in many different forms.  There is something out there for all of us and as long as we are moving it’s all good.  This week I am proud of myself for using the walk run interval strategy to get my miles done.  I ran them proudly and got in three great workouts.  My long run on Saturday burned over 1100 calories and that’s nothing to sneeze about.  This week I choose to celebrate my work rather than beat myself up that it’s not what it was, or what others feel it should be.  It was actually exactly what I needed.

I’d love to hear from you about your journey to reclaim your health.  How’s it going?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Want a Different Result, Try Something New!

If You Want a Different Result, Try Something New!

I’ve been going back and forth trying to get my training plan right.  I am working with a Marathon Heart Rate Training group plan which calls for me to keep my heart rate at, or under 140 bpm.  I also have been thinking about using the Galloway method of run/walk/run intervals to train.  I keep going back and forth with the benefits of each plan.  The heart rate plan builds my anaerobic systems and should keep me healthy and injury free.  The Galloway plan also keeps me injury free as I’m building in recovery and not continuously straining my ankle tendons.  I keep asking myself, Do I realistically expect to run 26.2 miles without stopping?  Do I want to train using run/walk/run intervals, or continuous running like I did for my half marathon?  There are so many things to consider and honestly my achilles is still not feeling great.  I’ve been trying to push through and modify as needed but the pain has not totally subsided.  It’s super hard to be motivated to train and run when it hurts.

When I returned to running this spring, I was using intervals to build my stamina back up.  I always felt the time went faster and it was a great workout.  Yet, I still thought of it as a temporary measure, one that was meant to build me up and then taper away.  As I continued, I had the goal of increasing the intervals until they were gone.  A few weeks ago, I began continuous running and worked up to 6 miles on long runs. If I’m honest with myself, my feet were crying from mile 5 on.  After the run I had difficulty walking and my day was pretty much left to roll, soak, elevate and rest.  Clearly, something had to give and that something was my EGO.

Last year, I joined a running club in Manhattan – The Galloway Club.  I never went to one run and just decided it wasn’t for me because after all, I was a runner.  This year, I joined the club again and told myself I was going to try it, but didn’t.  While I did try intervals, I didn’t go to join the club for the long runs, which by the way are geared to training for the marathon.  This week I had a long, honest talk with my EGO and decided that if I am going to make it through this marathon I need to do what my body needs, not what my EGO wants.  Wednesday morning I met with Filicia, a local Galloway club member and we ran 3 miles at the park.  We did 45:30 intervals and I noticed that my pace was much quicker than when I run continuously.  I also noticed that my feet didn’t hurt quite as much.  The rest of the day I didn’t need to recover and elevate, ice, etc my feet.  Listening to her tell me about the three marathons she ran successfully really helped me make my decision.  I am officially doing run/walk/run interval training and plan to run the marathon using this strategy.  Thanks Filicia for talking me through this and for running with me!

Today, we met again and ran 7 miles, the same route I ran last week.  Last week by mile 5 my feet were pretty shot and I wasn’t sure if I could finish.  This week, though I had some soreness, I finished the run and didn’t feel finished for the day.  I’m super excited to feel like I WILL complete this marathon using this strategy.  I also am excited that perhaps my achilles will finally begin to heal.  When I compare how I felt this week recovering from the run to how I felt last week it is really a no brainer.  I feel much better and more able to go about the business of my day.

In reflecting on why this decision was so hard for me to make, I know my ego is the cause.  I didn’t think of run/walk/run intervals as “running”.  I felt that if I needed to use this strategy, I was weak.  I am fully aware that the man who created this method, Jeff Galloway, is an Olympian, but I just couldn’t get past feeling like a failure.  A funny thing happened on these last two runs – I felt like I worked hard.  I wasn’t slogging along slowly, praying for the run to end.  I actually felt invigorated and more athletic than before.  It’s hard to explain, but I felt very accomplished and know in my heart I made the right choice.  The reality is, whether I walk, run or crawl, a mile is a mile and I’m out there moving forward!

What are the bullshit stories you tell yourself when you workout, or run?  Please share below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Slow Ride Take it Easy

Slow Ride Take it Easy

Today’s tip is to slow down your run to increase benefits to your heart and body!

As I obsessed and worried about not being able to run faster, I did a lot of reading about the benefits of running vs walking and of running slow.  According to some research I read, the best workout for people of all ages is running but, there’s a catch to this research which really made me feel better.  One group of researchers followed a group of runners over a long period of time.  They found that the runners who ran in moderation showed more gains than those who ran more often and faster!  This made my heart sing.  When you are out there jogging along wondering why in the world you can’t go faster without taking the joy out of running, research like this gives you new purpose.  It also aligns with the work of Phil Maffetone and Jeff Galloway.  All I have to say is keep it coming!

According to what I read, the runners who ran 3-4 times a week at a slower pace had the most long term health gains.  Currently, I’m doing 4 slow runs a week (3 short, 1 long) with the goal to get back to 5 runs in the coming weeks.  I’ve been debating on the 5th run as my achilles is still a little tentative so reading this almost gave me permission to cross train instead that day doing something that doesn’t require me to be on my feet.  My husband is getting my bike road ready for use this summer and I’ve rejoined my yoga studio.

After experiencing two major injuries, I worry about the toll running might take on my body.  Slowing it down has kept me on the road injury free.  I’ve been dabbling with Galloway running, but like the slow, steady run better than the start and stop of interval running.  Galloway himself though has continue to run long after his 50th birthday and remains injury free, so I believe the slow, gentle philosophy rather than the focus on speed is in line with where I am at right now in my running life.  Right now my focus is on building up my distance to cover 26.2 miles.  If I get tired on the long run, I can switch to interval running and add more miles.

I must admit I do still look at the end of each run to see if my pace was faster than the last run, but don’t get discouraged about it any more.  I’m more excited when I see my training index on my watch and it says – moderate, not “extreme workout” like it used to. I’m also excited by the fat burn index which is much higher following a long slow run than a fast run.  For example, todays 2 mile run fat burn index was 25% compared to a faster 2 mile run fat burn index of 12%.   Not sure about the science aspect of that but I know it means an increase in fat burning at the slower rate!

If you have slowed down the run and felt the benefits please share below.  I’d love to chat with you about the impact it has had on you.

 

 

 

 

 

Regain a Love of Running

Regain a Love of Running

When I started a heart rate training plan last year I was excited to be able to run without injury.  That was my goal.  I didn’t care how slow I ran, or how boring it was running for hours on end, I was happy to be able to finish what I started – a half marathon.  But shortly after, a funny thing happened to many of us in the heart rate group.  We seemed to have lost our running mojo.  Disappointed with our lack of measurable progress we began to feel defeated.  Running by heart rate is a long process, not a quick fix and many of us had thought we’d be further along a year in.  Some of us, myself included, were never able to get back to our pre heart rate pace.  This perceived failure to grow as a runner led to lack of motivation to run.

After spending the winter months training with broken toes on a treadmill to keep my fitness going, I was bitch slapped when I began running outside again.  I totally felt like the winter running was a huge waste of time.  I couldn’t even run a mile without feeling defeated.  To top that off my weight was up about 15 pounds and that didn’t help my running one bit.  As I struggled to get those first outside runs in I began to have pain in my achilles.  To say I lost confidence in my ability to run is a huge understatement.

This past week, I read an article in my local newspaper about a woman who is running her first marathon (NYC) this year.  She spoke about feeling overwhelmed by the task and how it caused her to lose her confidence and question why she was even attempting to do it.  Right! That’s exactly where I am at right now.  On each of those struggle runs I talked at myself and said, why in the world are you doing this.  You don’t need to do this.  You can’t even run 3 miles right now how in the world will you run 26.2.  Reading this article really helped me understand that it was completely normal to feel overwhelmed and scared of the daunting task I am taking on.

Running a marathon is a huge undertaking and one that can’t be taken lightly.  Thankfully, I have now given myself a break and accepted that my feelings of being overwhelmed are completely normal.  This week I was able to do a 3 mile run without using intervals.  Hope springs eternal and I feel like I may be over the hump of getting started.  I’m still suffering from pain in my achilles and have been trying to use intervals to not damage it as it heals.  These last two runs I completed without intervals and while I had some pain afterwards it wasn’t too bad.  Maybe, just maybe I can do this marathon after all.

When confidence is lost, the first step on the road back is to identify what is causing these feelings.  For me it was fear of failure – not being able to complete the marathon I’ve signed up for.  Recognizing that and giving myself permission to feel this way was a huge help to motivate me to at least get out there and try.  Like any other obstacle, the first step is admitting the issue and then creating a plan to deal with it.  My plan is pretty simple right now – take it one day and one run at a time.  Here’s my current plan to regain my running confidence:

  1. Set a goal – My goal right now is to complete my training runs each week and not get too far ahead in my thinking.  I’m going to focus on just one week at a time and follow my plan without skipping workout sessions.  This week so far I’m on track with this morning’s long run ahead of me.  Hoping to be able to get 6 of the called for 8 miles in.  Not sure I should jump up to 8 miles too fast as the achilles has prevented me from running more than 3-4 miles.
  2. Stay connected – I’ve been reaching out to other runners and trying to find someone to run with at least for long runs.
  3. Change or scenery – I always run the same route day after day.  I’ve decided to try to vary my routes to spark some interest.  I’m seeking out new places to run that might prove more interesting and break the monotony of my routine.
  4. Cross Train – I’ve decided to get back to the yoga studio.  I loved, loved, loved hot yoga but when I started running I gave it up.  I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in.  I signed up for unlimited yoga classes this summer and hope to get yoga back into my weekly routine.  I also think it will help my achilles and other muscles a lot!  Super excited about this.

The long and short of my musings today is give yourself permission to feel scared.  It’s completely normal to be nervous about new challenges you are taking on.  Just don’t let those nerves steal your motivation to do the work.  Break it down to smaller, more manageable tasks and keep on going.  One day, one workout, one run at a time – just put one foot in front of the other.

Have you lost your confidence, or motivation to work out?  What helped you get back on track?  Please share below, I’d love to hear about your struggles and successes.

Great memoir for anyone running their first marathon –

Money Trees

Money Trees

Ever wonder why healthy living has to be so darn expensive?  From higher prices on organic food to expensive gym memberships, it never ceases to amaze me how people take advantage of those seeking to live a healthy life.  There are so many scammers out there preying upon those desperate to lose weight.

Recently, I fell victim to one of the latest fads.  I knew going in that it was overpriced and told myself I’d just take the free class.  I think a gym membership of over $100 per month is totally ridiculous, but people were plunking down their money around me.  I was looking for a cross training option to eliminate one run per week so I thought I’d give it a try.  People from my school were going so I thought it’d be fun to go with a group.  I decided to call to set up an appointment to take the free class they were offering.  I should have known at that moment not to get involved!  The bells were ringing, but I chose not to listen.  When I made the appointment for the free class, they asked for my credit card to hold a spot.  I said, no way.  I am not buying anything so I will not give my card.  They said they needed it in the event I failed to show up.  Hmmmm  My friend graciously used her card (she was a member) to hold the spot for me.

After the class, which I did enjoy, I agreed to sign up for one class per week at $89 per month plus tax.  I did think the price was high, but felt ok about it as I used to pay that for yoga classes.   When I arrived for my first class at the studio (not free) I was informed that I had to purchase, or rent, a heart rate monitor.  I informed them that I already owned a chest strap and was in fact wearing it with my watch.  They told me I had to purchase, or rent, theirs in order to have my results up on the board and emailed to me after class.  I asked how much the strap was.  The monitor would be another 80ish dollars.  When I refused, the person at the desk seemed shocked.  I guess nobody every refused before.  When she reminded me I wouldn’t get my results displayed, I informed her without my glasses I couldn’t see them anyway.  But, you won’t get your emailed results, to which I replied I’d get them from my watch.

After going a few times, I realized that I wasn’t getting to replace a run after all.  When you take this class you run/walk for 30 minutes on a treadmill every class.  At this point I decided to cancel my membership as it was not really meeting my needs.  I knew you had to do so in writing so I emailed and texted the owner my request to cancel my membership.  I asked for confirmation and the date my membership would end.  Of course, cancelling is not an easy thing either.  I received a voice message stating I’d have to come in to the studio and fill out paperwork to cancel.  Wow.

This newest fad in gym memberships, the boutique gym is really just another way to rip people off.  From the first phone call I knew this gym was out to make money at every turn.  While it is a nice workout, it is surely not worth over $119 per month which most girls in my office are paying, some as much as $179.  The brand new, very nice gym my husband joined costs him $20 per month.  They have the exact same equipment.  They don’t even advertise and they are doing just fine.  Clearly, the other gym is appealing to women who will pay just about anything to lose weight.

Today I will go over to the gym and fill out the paper work.  I am sure I will get a hard sell to stay and that really annoys me.  I hope my experience serves as a reminder to us all of what I already knew.  You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a great workout.  I gave up my gym memberships long ago in favor of working out at home.  I am motivated and don’t need a boutique experience to keep me on track.  I can lace up my sneakers and do that exact same workout right here.  I have all the same equipment they had.   Here are some great workouts you can do at home for free.

Walking/Running – just lace up your sneakers and go.  Keep a pair in your car at all times and you can walk at lunch during work, or on the drive home.  Sometimes, I pull over at the local park and do just that.  I purchased a treadmill for home and keep it in my basement for those bad weather days and months.  Best investment ever.  I got mine at Costco and they even came and assembled it on delivery.

Elliptical – I also purchased an elliptical machine at Costco and have this in my basement.  I’m not a total fan of it, but it got me through many injuries.  Blast the music and go.  I like to alternate songs, one fast – one slow.

Yoga – I purchased yoga burn for under $20 and it has many workouts, but you can truly find so many classes for free online.  Google on youtube for any type of yoga class.

Weight training – Many classes are online for free.  You can purchase some hand weights.  I have a professional weight bench and set up (from my husband).  We’ve had it for over 20 years.

The options are limitless and again in most cases free.  Want a boutique experience, invest in a great sound system and spend the money fixing up your personal gym.  Me, I like to exercise some days in my pajamas.

Have you called victim to a fad recently?  What happened to you?  Please share, as we all need to remind ourselves often that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better!

 

There’s an Option for That

There’s an Option for That

Just back from a few days in San Diego.  What a beautiful, peaceful place with absolutely perfect weather every day.  I only got in one run during my time there as my Achilles is still bothering me.  Recently, I had to switch over to intervals of run/walk to not do more damage to my tendon and hopefully keep moving forward.  It’s important to know there’s generally an option for getting your workout in and that has to be good enough for now.

Depending on the injury, or issue, there is very often an option for getting in a workout.  In the past, I would completely stop working out and feel totally sorry for myself.  I’ve learned to find the modification that I can do and just focus on that.  So, for me right now the option is walk/run intervals and I’ve resigned myself to this fact and actually quite enjoy it.  Walk/run intervals are keeping me on the road and not further damaging my tendon.

What options are out there for your injury?  It really depends on what it is and what your doctor, or PT thinks is appropriate.  I can tell you what has kept me going during my injuries and hope you connect in some way.

Lower Body Injuries – Work Your Upper Body

When I had ankle tendon repair surgery it was a long time before I could even walk.  To keep my sanity I worked my upper body.  I broke the upper body into sections and each day I did something while seated in a chair.  Chest and biceps one day, triceps and back another.  There are many videos available on YouTube, but I used Body Beast videos by Beachbody.

Can’t Run – Walk

If you can’t run at all there is always the walk option.  You get just as good of a workout with less stress on your muscles and joints.  When I am in the walk mode I tell myself a simple truth – a mile is a mile no matter how fast you move.  Shoot for 10,000 steps a day and you’ll be getting enough movement.

Returning to Running – Try Run/Walk Intervals

I’m currently using Galloway training methods coupled with heart rate training to get myself back on the road.  My Achilles has been bothering me terribly and it’s been frustrating.  Run/walk intervals allows me to get in time on my feet needed without further injuring the tendon.  When using these intervals you are not putting constant stress on the tendons.  When you are walking you are using different muscles than when you are running.  The switching back and forth allows muscles some time to rest.  I’m hoping this will keep me in the game for my race in November.

It’s hard to keep motivated when you feel down and out.  Talk to you doctor and see what you can do.  Finding something I could do has helped keep me sane when I easily could have given up.  I hope you find a way to keep moving through.  Please share below what has kept you going during injuries.