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.

 

Mindset Matters

Mindset Matters

In the past, I primarily lived with thoughts of all the things I couldn’t do well.  Negativity permeated every inch of my inner dialogue.  I couldn’t run as fast as my friends, I couldn’t run without experiencing pain in my ankles and feet afterwards and I couldn’t lose weight as fast as others could. When asked to slow down my heart rate during runs, I whined about how slow I had to run and called it slogging (slow jogging). Listening to this week’s podcasts reminded me that my power to succeed resides in my mindset, therefore developing it must be a critical part of any training plan.

As part of this type of training, we must tap into our inner dialogue and begin to shift it.  I’ve begun shifting my thoughts and tapping in to focus instead on all the things I can do.   Filling my head with all the things that were going well has helped me remain positive about my training.   Here are some simple ideas to help change your inner dialogue and develop your mindset.

Meditation

I wish I could say I do this regularly, but I don’t.  Research does suggest that meditation has major benefits to many areas of overall wellness.  Mindspace app is one of the tools I downloaded.  I’ve used it during the night when I can’t fall back asleep, but I’ve yet to develop a regular routine.  I do, however, think of my long runs as meditation as I am in a mindfulness zone and think deeply.

Podcasts

There are tons of podcasts you can listen to for developing your mindset.  I have found many motivational speakers and love to listen to podcasts on long runs.  Sure does make the time pass by with less focus on the struggle.  My favorite podcasts right now are put out by Another Mother Runner and Running Lifestyle.  Find what speaks to you and listen to learn.

Read

One of the best books for me was recommended by my yoga teacher a few years back.  It still is the one that I reread when I need reminding of the power of mindset.

I wrote a summary of this book here Life Change

How has your mindset affected your training?  What have you done to develop and harness the power of positivity?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Spiralize for Strength

Spiralize for Strength

Now that I’m moving back into my training cycle, it’s time to get serious about my nutrition.  Proper nutrition is just as important, if not more, than the actual training I need to do.  Fueling properly improves my chance of enjoying the runs and having the energy to complete the distance.  Without it my body will not perform at the level I need and I know full well that feeling of running with cement shoes on my feet.  I’ve been a rather bad girl this winter as I recovered from my broken toes.  It’s time to clean up my act and get back to fueling my body properly.

Being a self proclaimed veggie hater, I’m always looking for ways to sneak those needed vegetables into my day.  Last year I purchased a spiralizer and began experimenting with all different types of veggie noodles.  I tend to play it safe and use zucchini most often as it’s pretty bland and doesn’t overpower recipes.  I can’t say I won’t ever eat pasta again because my love affair with homemade pasta runs deep.  I can say it’s a great options for many recipes that allows you to have the texture of pasta without the grains.  Most veggie noodles can be eaten raw or lightly cooked making it a great choice for weeknight meals.  What a great way to sneak those vegetables into the day.

Today I read this article, which I found to be excellent. It really sums up the process of making veggie noodles, including benefits and cooking suggestions.

http://blog.paleohacks.com/gluten-free-noodles/

Give it a try!  You never know which veggie noodle you’ll like.  I’ve discovered I do like red beets, something I swore would never touch my lips.

Here’s the link to the spiralizer I originally purchased and the fancy one I just got a super deal one.  The inexpensive one works just fine and I’ve used it for over a year.  I just wanted a better one because it has more options.

 

This one is a thing of beauty and I leave it on my counter as I use it often.  Super heavy and well made.  It is expensive, but a great investment for the foodies in the group.  You’ll use it for so many salads this summer, as well as your veggie noodles.

What are your favorite veggie noodles? Share your recipe and ideas below.

Barefoot Training

Barefoot Training

After my ankle tendon surgery, I thought I’d never walk barefoot again.  In fact, I thought barefoot walking was bad for me and avoided it at all costs.  I even kept a pair of shoes next to my bed to put on immediately upon waking.  I believe it was said to me at some point that barefoot was not a good idea for me.

When I began reading how to strengthen my feet and ankle tendons, I was surprised to see barefoot walking as one of the recommendations.  I tried to increase the amount of time I walk in the house without any shoes and ended up with three broken toes.  Not a great plan.  Anyway, I’m not giving up on this idea and recently did some more reading about it.  Many runners advocate for shoes that have zero drop, or are closer to replicating barefoot running.   I did buy a pair of zero drop running shoes and tried using them all winter on the treadmill.  Unfortunately, when I transitioned to outside I began having pain in my ankle tendon.  This caused me to rethink my plans.

I plan to strengthen the balancing muscles in my feet and ankles in hopes of improving my running.  I realized I must transition to zero drop shoes a bit more cautiously and if you are a woman who wears heels a lot you will likely need to do the same.  I have tight Achilles tendons and poor ankle mobility, especially in my left ankle.  Running in my minimalist shoes led to overuse pain in my peroneal and achilles tendons.  Thankfully, I listened to my body and stopped immediately.  Taking a step back here is the plan to transition and strengthen my barefoot work.

Starting immediately, I will be doing all my warm up work (Silly Toes) barefoot.  This routine will be done every day, whether I am running or not.  It actually feels so good to stretch the lower legs out.

Barefoot BOSU work will strengthen balance and ankle mobility.  One leg balance routines are extremely helpful in strengthening smaller muscles in the ankles and are fun to perform on the BOSU.

Wearing my minimalist shoes for workouts other than running and even getting a pair for walking should also help strengthen my lower legs and feet.  Finally, I plan on walking barefoot whenever possible in the house but will be sure to avoid metal doors this time!

Are you a runner who uses zero drop, or barefoot shoes?  How did you transition?How has it improved your running form?  Please do share as I am interested in learning.

BOSU Ball

Breathing Easy

Breathing Easy

Anyone beginner runner knows that breathing can be extremely challenging at times.  With so many other things to think about, like pace and form, breathing shouldn’t be so hard.  This week’s training tip is one that has been helping me catch my breath on runs.

When you breathe through your chest, shallow breathing, you take in less oxygen.  It’s important to learn how to belly breathe, using your diaphragm, to increase intake of oxygen. To practice and learn how to engage in belly breathing, try this simple exercise:

  • Lie down on your back and place both hands on your belly.
  • Keep your upper chest and shoulders still.
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale. Feel it with your hands.
  • Lower your belly as you exhale.
  • Inhale and exhale through both your nose and mouth.

Once you feel the difference, practice this breathing standing, walking and then running.    It is hard when you are running, or gasping, so really practice the technique first in non running options.

My running coach told me to try and establish a breathing cadence, or pattern when running.  The easiest way for me to do this was to count my breathes in and out.  At first, I counted 1-2-3-4 on inhalation followed by 1-2-3-4 on exhalation.  I then tried to work my way up to 5 where I am currently.  Eventually I hope to get into a zone and not have to think so much about breathing.

Many people wonder about nose vs. mouth breathing during exercise.  While it would be wonderful to run like the wind and calmly breathe through my nose, that is not reality.  Reality is you get more oxygen when you breathe through your mouth, so why stress it.  Just breathe through your mouth and don’t complicate matters that don’t need complication.

Finally, when you are in the midst of a run, if you are gasping for air your pace is likely too fast.  Slow it down, catch your breath and continue at a comfortable pace.  Your breathing is a measure of your conditioning and it should develop and improve over time.  Continue to vary your workouts, practice your breathing techniques and gradually increase pace over time.

I hope this helps you breathe easy out on your run, or workout this week.  Give it and try and let me know if it helps.  Please share in the comments below.

Sunlight for Healthy Training

Sunlight for Healthy Training

I am an early riser by choice.  It’s just a habit I’ve formed over the years and I’ve actually never set an alarm clock in my life.  My body just has a sleep cycle that’s developed over time.  I was super excited to read and learn that many experts are now highly recommending early morning, outdoor exercise for important health benefits. My early morning workout time is peaceful and now linked to improved health, how exciting is that. Just look at my morning view, this alone can improve my mood and make me so grateful to be alive.

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Many people are now being found to be Vitamin D deficient, myself included.  I was pretty surprised when my doctor told me just how depleted my levels of Vitamin D were in lab testing.  She explained to me at the time that Vitamin D is critical for correct hormone function and brain health. Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to many types of cancers including breast cancer.  I remember wondering if this deficiency had been a contributing factor of my mom’s Alzheimers disease.

When my doctor diagnosed this deficiency, I remember telling her that I really don’t spend a lot of time in the sun by choice.  While she told me the benefits of exposure to natural light, she explained that it would be nearly impossible for me to get all the needed amounts of vitamin D just from exposure to sunlight.  We talked about foods high in D (fatty fish, cheese, eggs) and supplementation plans.  It took me several front loading doses of vitamin D3 to get my levels into acceptable level ranges.  I have been on a maintenance dosage for two years now and continue to monitor levels through lab testing (blood tests).

When reading about Vitamin D, I came upon some interesting links between lack of natural sunlight exposure and wellness.  I learned that exposure to sunlight during the day can actually help you sleep better, improve hormone function and increase endorphin production.  Light sends a signal to your body and brain to wake up and also helps regulate your body’s circadian clock.   It has been found that your circadian rhythm could impact your metabolism as well.   This coupled with eating foods known to be rich with Vitamin D and proper supplementation can improve overall health.

It is said that one of the best times to be exposed to natural sunlight is between 6:00 – 8:00 AM.   You only need about 20 to 30 minutes of morning sunlight to reap the benefits.  Getting at least 30 minutes of sunlight each day boosts serotonin levels, which will help improve melatonin levels at night and could improve sleep cycles. I remember sharing this information with my dad as a means to help my mom with sundowning, a common occurrence in Alzheimer’s patients, caused by sleep disturbance. It was recommended that she be exposed to this early morning light as a means to reset her circadian clock.  Recently, I read that it’s also linked to increased benefits during exercise through improved metabolism and vitamin D levels.

This week’s training tip is to move your early morning workout sessions outside, increasing exposure to natural light, for maximum health benefits.  Even in the winter anyone can go for a short walk, perhaps not at 6:00 AM as it will be dark, but certainly before noon.  Make this your new health habit for some important lasting benefits.  Lace up those sneakers and go for a walk, or jog each morning.  Your body will thank you! I’m heading out right now myself.

Are you already a believer in early morning exposure to natural light?  Please share what you have learned on this topic in the section below.  I look forward to learning more about this topic in my quest to improve my health.

Supplementation

My doctor put me on Vitamin D3, but after several front loading doses, my levels didn’t improve.  We paired K2 and D3 and my levels finally tested in the correct range.  There is some research that demonstrates a link between the body’s ability to absorb D3 when taken with K2.  After years of taking them separate, I came across this product that has combined both into one pill.

Vitamin K2 (MK7) with D3 Supplement – Vitamin D & K Complex for Strong Bones and a Healthy Heart – 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 & 90 mcg of Vitamin K2 MK-7 – 60 Small & Easy to Swallow Vegetable Capsules

Further Reading

http://www.medicaldaily.com/sun-exposure-vitamin-d-and-other-health-benefits-sunlight-246487

Training Tip – KT Tape

KT Tape is an elastic sports tape designed to relieve pain while supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  I fell in love with KT Tape following my ankle surgery.  I absolutely swear by it and use it for any run over 5 miles, or any race I run.  It feels like my armor, or protection, which takes my mind off my ankle.

I remember when I first started seeing sports tape on athletes in the summer Olympics in 2008.  I was obsessed with beach volleyball that year and remember seeing it and thinking it made the girls look like such bad asses.  The colorful tape was all the rage that year and I wondered what it was for beyond a fashion statement.  Until I needed it, I never really looked into it.  This tape is thought to reduce pain and injury when applied correctly.  The goal is to support the muscles and tendons and aid in the flow of fluids around the area.  It is also thought to help stop ankles from rolling, but I don’t bank on that and am super careful about the terrain I run on.  It may be all in my head, but I feel more confident about my ankle when I wear it and that is well worth the price and time to apply.

Application of the tape can be tricky at first.  I actually went to a vendor at the expo prior to my half to get it applied properly.  They taught me a few tricks I didn’t know, like how to put compression socks on over the tape without ruining it.  They also told me you can leave the tape on for a few days at a time, even showering with it on, which would save some money I guess.  I don’t leave it on as I’d look mighty funny in my work attire and KT tape designs.

If you have any areas that you are concerned about, or experience discomfort in, I highly recommend you check out KT Tape.  It may just be the tip you’re looking for.  There are so many options to choose from when looking.  I like the KT Tape brand and go for the funky colors to keep it interesting.  I recommend you google some videos on Youtube to learn how to put it on correctly.  This is an important step.  Here’s a sample video of how to tape your peroneal tendon, a common running tendon injury.

If you have a Physical Therapist you are working with, ask her to teach you how to correctly apply the tape.  It is well worth learning proper technique to ensure you are getting the benefits from using.

Let me know if you are a fan, like me, of this tape.  Please leave a comment in the section below.

Here’s the information on the tape I use:

KT TAPE Original Cotton Elastic Kinesiology Theraeputic Tape – 20 Pre-Cut 10″ Strips, Blue

It is absolutely worth buying the precut strips.