Monday, June 29, 2009

Can exercise kill you?

I'm not jumping on the Michael Jackson bandwagon, but I want to take the opportunity to go over something that's been in the media since he's died. Did exercise kill Michael Jackson? I don't know. I'm not a medical professional, and even if I were I wasn't there when he died. I came across this article on that speaks about how individuals over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of death when suddenly engaging in exercise. While this shows that the older we get the more careful we need to be with our bodies, I think it also shows that we need to be exercising regularly starting when we're young enough to handle the stress. Then our bodies can get stronger and handle more strenuous activities as we age.

Where's the conflict here? A lot of doctors will tell you that if running has caused an injury of some kind that you should stop. What?? Stop running??? But I thought I had to lower my cholesterol/lose weight/reduce my blood pressure! Doesn't running do all three of those things? So what's a person to do? Ultimately that is your choice, but I think by gradually introducing exercise and incorporating rest days can help us avoid these problems. Don't let a freak unexplained death scare you from running or working out in general.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Final group training run!

Yesterday morning was the final training run with my In Training for Peachtree folks, and boy am I glad it's done. I actually feel like I've learned a lot about running in general, not just getting ready for the Peachtree. Next Saturday will be an event to participate in, not a race that I can try to determine my 10k pace. As a recap, here's what I think I've learned over the past 10 weeks or so:

- The right shoes make a world of difference. Go to a running store and get fitted.

- Being tense in the shoulders and arms is fairly common and can lead to things like headaches and decreased performance. I didn't realize I was so tense until I began working on lowering my arms and shaking them out occasionally.

- Don't push off with your toes to go faster. This will create more shin problems and affect the distance you're able to run. Try striking with more of your foot and pushing off with your upper legs/glutes.

- It's pretty common to have hip/back soreness and problems when increasing your mileage. If you feel you need to cut back for a couple days, then do so. You know your body better than anyone else.

- Stretch!!! I don't recommend stretching before the run unless you've warmed up a bit, but stretching post-run is an absolute must.

- G2 is so awesome after a run, particularly when it's been really hot and you've been sweating like a pig.

- Bananas are still my go-to pre-run fuel.

- Not only does technical clothing help keep you cool, but you have to have the right kind of technical clothing. The hotter it is, the less clothing you wear period. If you're concerned about spectators judging you, just remember that you're out there running and working on improving yourself while they're being couch potatoes. Other runners will not judge because we're just like you - busting our butts outside to meet fitness and weight goals.

This has been a very interesting experience, and I whole heartily encourage everyone to try to get a coach. Even if it's temporary and in a group setting like my situation was, it was well worth it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And I Ran....

I ran so far away....

Okay, enough with the Flock of Seagulls. Is it stuck in your head? It's stuck in mine.

Anyway, onto better running! So I met Red tonight for a late evening run to try and avoid the heat. I was really apprehensive about the whole thing since I had dealt with so much pain the past few weeks but was ready to give it a shot. So off we go....and we went faster, and faster, and then had to take a break at around 1.6 miles because we were going too fast! Ah! I guess all that resting had really built up my energy stores. Unfortunately about 10 minutes per mile is a bit fast for me - closer to my 5k race pace actually - so it's hard to maintain. I guess I used up all my energy because the rest of the run was hard. I kept my watch going on all the breaks, so according to my watch the total walk/run was over 45 minutes. Red's watch said just over 40 minutes since she stopped it at the breaks. Either way I think it was really good. I was just really excited that I wasn't in pain.

It was around 90 degrees when we were out, which was freakin' blazing hot. I think the heat did me in more than anything else. I started to stop sweating part of the way in, which kind of scared me. That's a sure sign of trouble. Next time I'll carry something to drink to avoid dehydration and heat sickness. On that note I'm not really looking forward to the Peachtree Road Race, but I'm going to reserve judgment until I'm finished with the race. I'm just not looking forward to all those people and the heat. I found out that not only are there 55,000 participants, but there are well more than 100,000 spectators as well. That's a lot of people!! This little introvert can't usually handle all that people exposure...

Anyway, this Saturday is our final training run. I'm going to run with the novice group at 50 minutes instead of 60 with the intermmediate. I just feel safer doing that. Tapering starts the following day, so I'm just starting a day earlier. My book review is coming, just as soon as I get a few more minutes to plan out what I'm going to highlight.

All in all thanks everyone for listening and reading my stories, as pathetic as I'm sure they get. If anyone out there has a blog let me know and I'll make sure to subscribe on my Google Reader.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


(Image found here)

So I finally found the mystical quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) at my local Trader Joe's. It's supposed to be this wonderful super food that helps keep you healthy and trim. I picked up a box and decided to try a vegetarian quinoa stir-fry recipe I dug up online. The recipe was okay (it will require future tweaking by yours truly to make it better), but the quinoa was really interesting. I'd have to describe it as a cross between cous cous and brown rice. It had the fluffiness and quick cook time of cous cous with some of the nuttiness and chewiness of brown rice. I actually don't really like brown rice, but the quinoa was only a teensy bit chewy. In fact, I'd say it gave the grain a nice texture instead of feeling like you're a cow chewing on its cud. It complimented the stir fry pretty nicely too.

All in all, pretty good! It seems as versatile as cous cous and rice. You can use it as the main dish or as a side or in a salad. It's all up to you. Is it a super food? I think so. It certainly filled me up pretty quickly. In fact, I think I ate too much. I piled on what I thought was the equivalent of rice, but I think less is more with quinoa. Recipes are kind of sketchy online, so for now I'd say substitute it where you would normally find cous cous or rice. This will definitely become a new staple for my pantry!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today I went for a walk

I was supposed to run for 25 minutes, but I thought I'd take it easy by just walking. It went pretty well, and I think Thursday I will run. Yay!! After all the pain I felt for the past month and then being forced to take a break last week, walking without pain or limping was really nice.

In the spirit of the heat and humidity, check this article out about staying hydrated on your runs. I've read conflicting information about the whole "weigh your water loss post-run" thing, but it certainly can't hurt to drink as much water as it suggests. Just remember to drink some sports drinks too if your run is super long.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Skipping the dry run...

A huge part of this "In Training for Peachtree" program is a dry run of the course a couple weeks before the race. With the problems in my hip and back, plus the general crappiness of the directions from last week's run, I have decided to just sleep. See, last week no one was checking to see if anyone was lost or left behind while running through the city. If you weren't familiar with the area, then the directions we were given sucked. How was I supposed to know there was a pool house at Piedmont Park? I've only actually been to the park once, and that was years ago for the Pride Festival. Anyway, luckily when I had to turn back I was familiar with the streets enough to walk it. I'd hate to walk through the city and not even know where I was. I did that once - it sucked!

I hope to write a review of a running book I finished recently. It's taken me literally months to read it in between classes and work, but it's been awesome and I'd like to share why I think it's awesome with everyone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More awesome stretches...

After some additional research, I've discovered exactly what (in my lay opinion) is wrong with my back and hip. The piriformis muscle is a tiny little muscle in the hip that helps turn your hip outward. It happens to run next to the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body running from the spine to your feet. Some doctors theorize that when the piriformis is too tight it can pinch the sciatic nerve (aka piriformis syndrome). I happen to agree with that theory. Once I found this stretch and spent all day stretching, the pain went away! Unfortunately a lot of the other muscles around the top of my thigh still hurt, but I think it's because I've been using other muscles to compensate for the bum hip. Try these stretches out and see if they work for you.

Since I've been able to alliviate a lot of the pain I was in, I'm no longer freaked out. I will still make an appointment to see the chiropractor just to be on the safe side, but I think the Peachtree will be okay. I may have to walk some of it, but that's okay. The rest of this week will be rest and recovery, which means I won't know what to do with myself on running days LOL.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Training Session #8 - What a disapointment!

Okay - I finally admit it. I am injured. Not in the stress fracture or strained muscle kind of injured. I think the tight muscles in my left hip have some how caused a pinched a nerve. I've been struggling putting any kind of major weight on my left leg due to the pain in my left hip/lower back region, and while it's gotten better at times, I have noticed a significant decrease in my performance while running. I thought it was a part of the muscle pain I was experiencing in the rest of my hips, but that's gotten a lot better, even through the additional running. Nope - this is a nerve problem.

I showed up at the Ansley Mall location for Phiddipides for their 6 mile run this morning. Now, I have yet to run a full 6 miles, but I've come close. I think without the hip problem I would have done fine. Although I started out a little fast since we had a large group of people running, I ended up experiencing such sharp pain with every step my left leg took that I had to take a break at each mile. Once I came to the water stop at mile 3, I knew I was done for. The pain was bad, but the disappointment was worse. That hurt more than anything. I've never had to stop and turn back until today. I took a short cut back to the store which shaved about 2 miles from the rest of the run. I thought I could run the way back, but I took 5 steps and had to stop.

This Friday I have the day off from work, so I will have to make a trip to Rex's chiropractor (I guess he's mine now too). I will probably have to skip the dry run of the Peachtree course next Saturday too. Hindsite might tell me that I should have seen this coming, but how? The rest of the hip pain went away with time. I figured this was a muscle issue that needed a little more time than usual. I think I'll be okay to run the big race, but I felt like I had given up this morning. I couldn't let Red or our friend Todd keep waiting for me. They really needed to keep going, but they were kind enough never to say anything.

I think I've finally experienced what most runners do at some point in their lives. When they can't run, they get depressed. Hopefully Friday's visit will begin the healing process that I so desperately need.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We have a winner!!

After a couple nominations and some serious deliberation, we finally have an awesome nickname for my running buddy Jennifer. She will now be known as (drum roll please)...................

Red Hot Lightening!

I'll probably call her Red for short. I think this suits her pretty well.

This was probably the highlight of your day, so I'll let you go back to whatever else it is you do while not reading this most awesome blog ;-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Running through the pain...

My hips have been so tight it's crazy. I've been walking like a zombie (to quote Rex) because my left hip is too tight to really put much weight on it. Luckily it's better than last week, and I was able to run all 25 minutes tonight without walking. It wasn't very fast, and it took me more than a mile to really warm up, but I did it. I know it might sound kind of cavalier for me to run through the pain, but I was careful. Sunday's pain wouldn't have let me run, so I didn't even bother. Last week and the week before, Tuesday night runs quickly degraded to a walk due to the pain. This is all from tight muscles, which I do stretch, but be careful folks. You know your body better than anyone else. If you suspect you're injured and not just sore or tired, then please rest! If you think it's really bad, go see a doctor.

To treat soreness or anything else really, try the R.I.C.E. method.

R - Rest
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation

It really does work, especially if you use it consistently. For instance, I get pain in my shins a lot so icing after every run helps tremendously. Just invest a decent ice pack that you can wrap in a towel and you're good to go. I didn't believe in ice until I tried it myself.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Training session #7

Today was another 60 minute run. That's the longest the runs are from now until the Peachtree, so it's just a matter of getting used to the intensity for that duration of time. I ran about 5.25 miles, which is a mile short of the full 10k, so I'm in good shape. We have a month to go, and that's plenty of time to get used to the distance.

Here's what sucks. My hips, particularly the muscles that are around the joint where my femur meets my hips, really really hurt. I told my coaches today about it, and they said others were obviously affected by the same condition. Some people had mentioned it, and others just looked like they were hobbling. Simply put the muscles are too tight from all the running we've been doing. Michele (coach #1) has been getting over a really bad case of super tight hip muscles for a few weeks now. We got some new stretches that really helped, so instead of limping like my leg was broken last week, I'm walking fine after a few steps. The first stretch on this page was a good one that Jim (coach #2) showed me. It was awesome!

All in all, my foot strike has been improving a lot (Jim noticed it right away!), my calves have not tightened up too badly, and my body is slowly getting used to this kind of running. If there's anything I've learned from these training sessions, it's STRETCH!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How much exercise is needed to burn off that quarter pounder with cheese?

Apparently a lot!! Check out this article I found on Yahoo! that notes how long you'd have to work out to burn off popular fast food items. If you want a simple formula to follow, try this:

The average person burns about 100 calories per mile run. If I run a 10 minute mile, then it would take me 20 minutes to burn off a Krispy Kreme glazed donut (200 calories).

I haven't allowed this kind of stuff to guilt myself out of foodie pleasures, but it does make me rethink choices like soda and other junk. I mean, I do run so I can eat!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm still sore...

I had skipped Sunday's run thinking that maybe all I needed was a little bit of rest before Tuesday's run. Well, I went out back to Will's Park (aka hill central) for my 25 minute run. I hurt the whole time. I didn't even finish running the whole thing (finished the first mile running). I had this odd sharp pain in my left leg that just said "you better stop". My hips still hurt, and I can't think of a stretch that's supposed to help. Hopefully this is just a bit of growing pains while my body gets used to the longer distances.

Want to learn from my mistakes? I'd help you do that if I knew what I did wrong. *sigh*

On another note, White Lightening was suggested as a name for my running buddy. I kinda like it, but it doesn't have that ring to it I was looking for. I think inspiration will hit me when I'm far away from a computer.