While catching up over hot chocolate (yup, still drinking it hot!)
We’ve had lovely Spring weather in April, and several days of snow. Transitions are never easy! Most mornings still find me drinking a healthy hot chocolate, and I’ll add a scoop of collagen if it’s my post run snack, which it often is.
I runfess . . . I have struggled with getting out earlier for my run longs on those warmer April days, and I paid the price — especially when I chose the wrong running clothes. I dragged myself through, with longer and longer walk breaks, on more than one long run this month.
More time on your feet, right?
I runfess . . . My Garmin Vivoactive has been acting a little strange lately. It seems like it’s often updating the software, and the last time it did that, I had already reached my step goal for the day and it dumped like a thousand steps.
I was annoyed. I don’t know why, it doesn’t really matter!
I runfess . . . Another day I was charging my Garmin. It’s pretty much habit now that every time I make a cup of tea, I pace around while it’s steeping (3 minutes for Green tea, 5 minutes for herbal tea). If you pace around and you’re not wearing your Garmin, does it really count?
I sat down and relaxed.
I runfess . . . This one kind of makes me laugh every time I see the water bottle sitting in the freezer. You know how I’ve shared that I fill a water bottle halfway in the summer, and then let the water freeze overnight, then top it off with more water — the ice slowly melts and the water stays colder longer.
I have had a water bottle, filled halfway, in my freezer since last Summer. There have been a couple of those warm long runs when I wish I’d used it!
I’d tell you over hot chocolate . . . My mom does get confused easily. She often says she watched a movie that she’s never seen before, although I know she has — she just doesn’t remember it. She can’t always think of names and has mixed up dates for important appointments occasionally.
She is 93
The date of my second vaccine? She was laser focused on that! That she remembered, because that was important to her.
If it’s not a running day for you, how do you get your steps in?
What have you found in your home recently that made you laugh?
1: Keep your cool Staying hydrated can help you regulate your body temperature. We generate a lot of heat when we run!
2: Minimize cramps Water alone may not be enough to keep you from cramping up, because not only are you losing water through sweat, you’re losing electrolytes, too. Which is exactly why it’s important to take electrolytes on the run for longer and hotter runs. Being well hydrated can be your first line of defense when it comes to cramping.
Also consider spraying the muscles that always cramp with magnesium spray before running!
3: Run faster I don’t know about you, but if I’m dehydrated I feel cranky, tired, and often have a headache. That’s even if I’m not active. Now imagine running that way! In addition, being properly hydrated may actually help you stave off fatigue.
4: Recover faster You know how your massage therapist always tells you to drink more water after a massage? Massage can help move toxins out of your muscles and into circulation in your body. Guess what? Running creates some waste products too! Water can help you flush out those toxins, reducing muscle soreness, and helping you to recover faster.
5: Potential to reduce joint pain You know I am not talking about an acute or nagging injury here, right? That has nothing to do with hydration (well, it could over time). Joint cartilage is mainly water. Dehydration can lessen lubrication of the joints, leading to joint pain. No one wants to run in pain!
Final Thoughts Finding the right level of hydration for you is an art. Too little, and you could slow down, be in pain, and cramp. Too much and it can feel very uncomfortable in your digestive system, potentially even leading too nausea.
The benefits of staying hydrated on the run far outweigh the side effects of dehydration on your running — to my mind anyway.
Have you ever suffered from side effects while running due to poor hydration?
What’s your favorite way to hydrate on the run? Plain water for me, please!
Did any of the benefits of hydration surprise you?
Mobility is a huge topic, and this post isn’t even an introductory post. I just wanted to share some of my takeaways from the most recent mobility course I took (you’ll fine my #1 takeaway at this post here). I hope you find something useful here!
1: Roll fast before running Rolling fast helps prep the body for movement. This is something I used to do in when I first started to foam roll, then I learned that you needed to roll slow and for a longer period of time — or so I thought.
Before a run, roll fast and for a short amount of time. If you have a vibrating roller/ball, now is the time to have it on medium or high (depending on what you can tolerate).
2: Roll slow for recovery Rolling slow does have its place: after your run. This will help you kick start the recovery response.
If you have a vibrating roller/ball, now is the time to have it on low.
3: The smaller the tool, the deeper it goes A wider tool (think foam roller) will not give you as much pressure as a narrower tool (a ball). If you’re new to foam rolling, start with a roller, for sure. Even that may be too much if you’re not used to it.
If you’re feeling a lot of pain, back off. You should feel some sensation, but not pain.
As you get used to myofascial release techniques, you may want to consider moving from a foam roller to a ball — although start with a larger one; maybe even a softer one. Your body will adapt to whatever you use eventually, but if it really feels painful to you, not only are you not helping yourself — you’re unlikely to be consistent.
You may try moving from a larger ball to smaller and smaller balls as you get used to the pressure.
4: Add in some Functional Mobility Often when we feel pain somewhere, it’s because the opposite muscle is weak. Adding in some functional mobility during foam rolling can really help.
Tight calves? Foam roll the calves, stop at one point, and point and flex your foot. You can also try moving it from side to side. Notice what muscles you feel that movement in.
Rolling the quads? Stop, and bend and extend the leg you’re rolling.
5: Foam Rolling can actually help our proprieception First, what is proprieception? The dictionary says proprieception is:
perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body
As a runner, I’m sure you can see why this might be important. I can tell you from a Yoga teacher standpoint, we often get into a posture and think our leg is way higher than it actually is, or straighter than it actually is. Try videoing or photographing yourself and you might be really surprised at what you see!
I was definitely surprised to see improved proprieception as one of the benefits of foam rolling!
Final Thoughts Although I’d like to call myself an expert on mobility, I am not. I have learned quite a bit about it in the last few months, though, and I practice what I preach. I experiment, and if it helps me, I share it.
We are all an experiment of one. So give some of these things a try, if they pique your interest, and I hope that you find it helpful.
Did you learn something new about foam rolling?
Are you willing to try to change up what you’re already doing?
Have you seen all the hype about Essential Oils (EOs) and wondered if it could boost your running? Maybe. There are many Essential Oils that can soothe sore muscles, reduce anxiety, and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Buy your oils from a reputable source. Sadly there really is no regulation of EOs. As you can see, so far I’ve been buying mine from DoTerra. I signed up for a Wholesale Account, and that gives me a discounts on the oils I buy. The good news is that small bottle goes a long way!
Disclaimer: I am not an aromatherapist or medical professional. Some EOs are not appropriate for everyone (or animals!). Please do your due diligence before using Essential Oils.
Do not put EOs “neat”, or undiluted, on your skin. You need to mix them with a carrier oil because they can irritate your skin if they are not diluted, or sometimes cause sun sensitivty.
The two easiest ways to use EOs is to diffuse them in your home (add them to water and then the diffuser diffuses the EOs mixed with water into your living space) and as an inhaler.
You can buy inhalers for EOs on Amazon. They’re inexpensive and small enough to fit in a pocket on the run. It’s a small metal capsule with a thick cotton wick inside, and holes so that you can open it up and take a sniff. Just soak the cotton wick, put it back inside, and inhale as needed.
You don’t have to invest in a lot of EOs to begin with, and they last a long time. My personal suggestion if you want to give EOs a whirl is to start with these four:
Lemon (lemon didn’t make this post, but I use it all the time!)
Tea tree (also didn’t make this post, but has so many uses)
Peppermint Want some pep in your step? Then peppermint is your friend! Also helps with:
Tricks the brain into thinking you’re not working so hard
Roll some peppermint on your feet to put some pep in your step
Lavender I think most of use have heard of using lavender for sleep. Having something in your tool kit before a big race to help you relax is important. I actually use lavender oil before I go to bed every night. I use a roller ball, and I roll it on my temples (if they’re feeling tight), the back of my neck, and the soles of my feet.
Lavender is great for many other things that plague runners:
Helps relieve anxiety
Helps relieve headaches
I mix lavender and peppermint together with a carrier oil, then apply to my feet in the mornings. Remember, peppermint peps you up, while lavender relaxes you — put together they can help soothe and pep up tired feet (or any other muscle soreness you may be experiencing).
Diffuse equal parts peppermint, lavender, and lemon to help with seasonal allergies.
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus is well known for its ability to help you breathe easier (Vick’s Vapo rub, anyone?). It’s great pre-race, and in the days leading up to a race because:
Helps support respiratory health
Unfortunately, Eucalyptus is highly toxic to dogs.
Rosemary Although I have Rosemary EO, it’s not one I reach for often. Researching its many benefits, though, maybe I should! I do use it in an inhaler along with peppermint and lemon — when I start feeling tired on the run I will inhale this during a walk break.
Reduces stress levels
Reduces mental fatigue
Reduces muscle soreness
Reduces tissue inflammation
May stimulate hair growth
Vetiver I once made the mistake of diffusing vetiver (and another EO) on a long drive. Somehow it got stuck in my mind that Vetiver is good for focus. Oops! It’s actually yet another EO that is good for sleep. Yes, I actually did feel sleepier than normal on my drive back!
Bug Repellant — especially ticks that carry Lyme Disease (I use this often on hikes)
Helps promote restful sleep
Final Thoughts This is not an in depth study of EOs, obviously. You may find other EOs more helpful to your running (or life). It’s just a quick introduction to how EOs can support your running.
Do you already use Essential Oils?
Which EOs are your favorites (doesn’t have to be running-related)?
What do you use for muscle soreness? DoTerra’s Deep Blue Rub is another favorite of mine. I use it when I get shots I know will leave my arm sore — it helps a lot!
I’ve had my Garmin Vivoactive 3 for almost 2 years now? Something like that. I know I was actually able to race with it . . . it’s amazing what I still don’t know about it! But first my car is making its way into my runfessions.
I runfess . . . My car did not get driven for 6 weeks at the beginning of this year, mainly due to illness. I did go to see my mom in that period, but I take my husband’s younger car for those drives. I did not go to the grocery store at all in that period! I swear I heard it sigh with relief when I finally drove it — not to mention she started right up. I call her Old Faithful for a reason!
I runfess . . . The first time I did drive my car was to the grocery store. I’d been cooped up so long, that even that seemed like an adventure!
I runfess . . . Apparently what I really think about on the run (outside) is counting my run intervals (as opposed to what I wrote about here). I often just run when I’m on the treadmill, but am still using run/walk intervals outside. I know that I have approximately 4-5 run intervals per mile — and then I drink a little water.
I runfess . . . It took me years, but I finally realized that the vibration my Garmin Vivoactive 3 makes for a run/walk interval is shorter than the vibration it makes for each mile. If I’m paying attention and counting those run/walk intervals, I can usually tell when I’ve hit a mile just by the longer vibration. Which means I don’t have to look at the watch at all.
I runfess . . . When we went on our hike last week, we crossed a road that crosses a path I used to run at often, although I haven’t run on that portion in a very long time. Winter, Pandemic. I have spent so many miles there.
Since I wasn’t driving, as we crossed the road that bisects the bike path, I looked up for some reason. Obviously I never do when I run, because I was astounded to see the McMansions that are perched on the hill above the path! Who knew?
How long does it take you to figure out your GPS watch?
Have you been surprised by something on a route you run regularly?
Thought #1: Why does this feel so hard? Reframe it:
This run is making me stronger
I can do hard things
I choose this run to help me grow stronger
Running is a privelege
Thought #2: I hate hills! Reframe it:
I conquer this hill
I move closer to the top with every step
I fly down this hill
Hills make me stronger
Thought #3: I’m walking already? Reframe it:
Walking helps me stay strong
I respect my body
I listen to my body
Walking keeps fatigue away
Thought #4: Why am I so slow? Reframe it:
I run to my full potential
Forward is a pace
I run the perfect pace for me
I run to feel at peace with the world
Thought #5: I hate the heat/cold/wind/rain Reframe it:
I choose to run in any type of weather
Running in all sorts of weather makes me a stronger runner
I grow stronger with every run
Rain brings rainbows
Final Thoughts Thoughts. That’s the key word! A thought can always be changed. When we think the same thought over and over again, we actually create grooves in our brain. The good news is that we can use a new thought to overwrite those grooves!
What thoughts do you need to reframe?
Do you have a different way to reframe one of these thoughts?
Are you positive or negative on the run, or does it vary run to run — even start to finish?
I have often been nagged by aches and pains that aren’t too bad, but just won’t go away. I actually enjoy going to Physical Therapy, but not so much in a Pandemic — plus my insurance doesn’t pay for it. I have had a time or two when the pain was either bad enough or I was in the midst of training for something and I had to seek out help. Even with the help of a great PT, it can still take diligent months of exercises to feel relief.
When my Achilles Tendon started to act up in the Summer, I dropped my mileage and I began to explore various remedies. Dropping my mileage definitely helped with the more intense pain, but the ache continued to linger. Until as suddenly as it came, it seemed to go away (fingers crossed — so far, so good). Here’s what I felt to be the most important contributors to my healing.
Daily Foam Rolling With particular attention to my calves — not forgetting to work toward the inside (distal) side of the calves, too! Also paying attention to my feet and hamstrings. I often did more — especially on run days — but if I was short on time this is what I hit.
Foot Stretches I started out with almost daily foot stretches/strengtheners, too, but as the pain subsided I typically did these only pre-run. I put up a video on my YouTube Channel here. I do the foot holds on the ball almost every day — the other exercises I usually only do on the days I run.
Kept my mileage low Although I’ve had the occasional aches in my Achilles over the years, it usually went away quickly. Until it didn’t. Until it was severe enough to cause limping. Not training for anything, I had no desire for a serious injury. Dropping my mileage was a no-brainer for me.
Calf Exercises It’s all connected, of course, and often a pain in one area is actually cause by an imbalance in another area. The Achilles attaches to the calves, so for months I did walking on my toes, my heels, and the sides of my feet most days. I haven’t been doing these as much lately, as I’ve found the other things I do seem to keep my Achilles happy — so far. These are always good drills to do, though, especially if you’re a trail runner!
You can see what I used to do in this video here, although I’ve changed up my routine quite a bit with some of the things I’ve since learned.
Foot Compression It’s not what it sounds like! Basically it’s draping your foot over a ball and putting your weight on it. I have about five spots that I move through. This is also great for Plantar Fasciitis! You will note that I don’t actually roll my feet in this practice — and I very rarely roll my feet at all any more. Even if I’m just feeling a slight twinge in the morning, this will usually make it go away.
Final Thoughts Of course I am not a medical professional or a physical therapist — you know the drill! I can’t diagnose what’s causing your pain. I can tell you that if you suffer with foot pain, there’s a good chance these practices will help you, too. I have slowly increased my mileage (although it’s definitely still not high mileage, not even close) without feeling a return of the problem — so far, knock on wood.
I can also say that if I had seen a Physical Therapist, maybe my issue would have been resolved much quicker — and maybe not. I’ve had to do PT exercises for months in the past before finding any relief. I really do recommend you see a PT if you’re in pain, but all of these exercises are great for runners — whether your feet bother you or not. Final, final thought: always listen to your body and stop at once if you feel pain or an ache worsens.
I slowly and steadily eased back into running and strength training in February. Some of that strength training was the never ending shoveling. We were actually quite lucky, no monster storms in February, but there was snow often. It seemed as though it always fell on a running day, so I was often shoveling after running.
I runfess . . . I am definitely not minding that my runs are short and sweet right now. Or that they can be whatever I want — slow & steady, a little bit of speed work, run/walk. It’s all good.
I runfess . . . I had one half that was supposed to have been June 2020, and not surprisingly that was canceled. I never signed up for the 2021 race, but it was no big surprise when I heard from Laurie @ MeditationsinMotion that that, too, was canceled; we were hoping to meet up at the race in 2020! I wasn’t planning on running it this year either. If I’m very lucky, by that point I’ll be vaccinated but who knows?
I runfess . . . I am glad that my Achilles finally seems to be healed. Some days it seems a little tight when I first get up, but I do some SMR (self myofascial release) and it seems fine the rest of the day — whether I’m running or not. Returning to running hasn’t seemed to bother it. Now the hamstring that’s forever cranky . . . still cranky. That’s been on and off a long time, much longer than my Achilles; it’s one of those aches that isn’t bad but just won’t seem to go away. I’ve been working on that, too, though and it does seem better.
I runfess . . . When I was sick in January and not very hungry, I went through an entire loaf of Trader Joe’s sourdough bread in about a week. By myself. I don’t usually eat a lot of bread. Although I runfess that sourdough loaf I baked has been disappearing pretty quickly too, although after 2 weeks and both of us eating it there’s still a little left.
I runfess . . . Some people are #runningallthemiles in the Pandemic. Me? I’m taking #allthecourses. Winter is definitely a good time to be learning new things! Because I am definitely looking forward to getting out in Spring and doing some short hikes again. Even though I know it’ll be muddy.
Are you running more or less than usual right now?
Are you old enough to know what TV show I’m referring to in the title of this blog?
There’s a fine art to returning to running after an injury or a prolonged illness — and they’re not quite the same. I’ve had a few times when I’ve had to take a few weeks off running due to illness. Here’s how I ease back in — when I’m being smart. Of course I am not a medical professional or coach and I don’t play one on the Internet!
When are you ready to return? If it’s a simple cold, you might actually be able to run through it, although I don’t personally recommend it — because when you catch a cold it usually it means you’re already very run down. Rest will help you more than running through it.
If your illness involved a fever, *my* rule of thumb is to be at least two days fever free before even thinking about running. Unfortunately I get viruses where I’ll feel fine (after the initial few days of feeling bad) and then suddenly I’ll be running a low grade temperature again, over and over for a couple of weeks.
In that case, I did light exercise every day. Yoga. Walking Bandit. No hard cardio though — no running.
Eventually though I was fever free, and I was ready to return to running.
Start off easy Easier than you think you need to. Light exercise while you’re sick will keep you in decent shape — but it won’t keep you in running shape. After a few weeks off, you can’t just pick up where you left off. If you have a running coach they can definitely guide you to the right amount of exercise.
If you don’t, I suggest starting off with 1 mile (yup, that’s what I did). Run/walk is a really good idea, too, although I didn’t actually start out with run/walk intervals. I know it seems like nothing, but by starting off easy, it’s also easier to gauge your fitness and potentially ramp up your running quickly.
Start off too hard or too soon, though, and you’re likely to either relapse — or even potentially injure yourself.
You can expect to feel some DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) as your muscles get used to the pounding of running again. Or maybe not — I didn’t!
You absolutely should be doing only easy runs — and at a slower pace than you were running before you got sick. Don’t worry; you won’t be stuck at this pace — muscle memory can kick in quickly — but overdo it at the beginning and you will pay the price.
Increase gradually I started out with 1 miles, and then only added a quarter of a mile until I was at 2 miles. Then I jumped up a half mile to 2.5 miles.
I found my V02 MAX had dropped a few points — in other words, I’d lost a little cardiovascular fitness. I know that with a slow and steady return, I will regain that fitness relatively quickly.
Don’t worry, be happy! Just play it smart. Appreciate that you can run again — no matter how it feels (hard, probably), or at what pace (slower, hopefully). You won’t stay there forever. It won’t take you as long to get back to where you were before you got sick as it did to work your way up to that point in the first place.
As long as you play nice with yourself and take it easy!
Do you have a “furmula” for returning to running after a few weeks off?
Do you run through colds? I actually almost never get colds.
Have you ever jumped back in at the same level you left off — and regretted that?
Seriously I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that since I started to run. Running is time consuming, especially if you train to race longer distances. It requires support from your loved ones, whether that’s just time to run or helping out with chores or being your literal support crew! Running can be hard on the body, too. It seems silly to spend hours out there on the weekend running, doesn’t it?
So why do I run? That’s also something I’ve pondered many times. Just this past January, when I took one of my longest breaks from running because I wasn’t feeling well — it freed up so much time!
My answer might surprise you. I could say that I miss the endorphins, and if there’s ever been a time we need those endorphins, it’s been the past year (and present). I could say that I miss being able to indulge just a little more in my food choices. I could say that I miss the challenge of running — of training for a race and then laying it all out on the road.
All the above is true. Yet they’re not the real reasons why I run.
I run to keep my heart happy Did you know that heart disease is the Number One killer of women? According to this post on WebMD here, deaths from heart disease for women “exceeds the next seven causes of death combined”. That is a staggering statistic!
Luckily heart disease does not (sort of) run in my family, although I did have one aunt who had a major heart attack in her mid eighties, no doubt in part brought on by decades of smoking. I also had an uncle who died on my birthday from a heart attack — also a smoker, and obese as well. High blood pressure runs on my mom’s side of the family, too.
When I was sick last month for a few hours I was very nauseous and dizzy. At the time it never entered my mind that I could be having a heart attack — but later I realized that those are some of the classic signs of heart attacks in women. Those symptoms quickly passed, and I slowly got better. It wasn’t until a week later that thoughts of heart attacks & the symptoms women feel entered my mind.
The heart is one of the strongest muscles in the body Yes, the heart is a muscle. Like all muscles, it needs to be trained — that’s exactly what cardiovascular exercise is. After years of data from my Garmin, I know that the quickest (maybe not the easiest) way to increase my respiration and heart rate (cardio) is running.
I wan to keep my heart happy, and that is one of the things that makes me think maybe running isn’t so silly after all.
What are the reasons you run?
Did you know heart disease is the #1 killer of women?
Do you ever think running is silly?
ICYMI: I’ll bet that you’ve heard of morning routines and thought they just weren’t for you or they take too much time. How about just 5 minutes? We all have 5 minutes! Check out the five different, 5 minute videos (start with the introduction here). You can choose between:
The only longer practice is the video on foam rolling — if you’re interested, you’ll find that here. This is close to the routine I do before I run. I actually use a different foam roller, and I do one leg at a time when I’m getting ready to run. I also do some work on my IT band and upper body that I left out in this video — it’s still a good full body foam rolling routine before a run!
You can choose just one of these practices, or stack one or two — or more — together. I released these this weekend since it’s Valentine’s Day. All love starts with self love, and giving yourself a little self care in the morning is a form of self love, whether your solo or in a relationship. I challenge you to give one of these practices a try — maybe even join the Facebook group here — I’m going to be challenging you in there, too!