Dealing with ITBS and RWI

I’ve been found guilty of a RWI, but I can’t imagine I’m the only one. That’s right: I’ve been “Running While Injured”.  :/

For over a month now, I’ve been dealing with some knee pain, but the pain isn’t always there. When I wake up, it’s fine. When I walk, it’s fine. When I bike, it’s fine. When I run, it’s not fine. So have I not run since I first felt the injury? I wish I could tell you that I’m always disciplined enough to back off of running completely when I’m dealing with an injury, but in this case, that was not the case.

I wasn’t running every day with this injury, but I definitely wanted to find out what it was, if I was going to be sidelined for a while, and how I needed to manage my recovery. After the first couple of times, the knee pain would set in after 5 miles or so of running and would render my last 2-3 miles a slower, wobbly experience of the poorest running mechanics I could unintentionally muster. So many things to address here…First, I learned that it wasn’t inflammation or bursitis as I thought it could be. It was a condition that I hadn’t dealt with since my sophomore year in high school: Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). ITBS isn’t a fun condition to be sidelined with, but it’s also one of the best injuries to face as it is not that difficult to fix. Continuing to run while dealing with ITBS, however, is not one of the ways to fix this issue which brings me to my next “thing to address” and the main topic of this post: Running while injured.

rwi5Image: Athletico.com

There are some injuries that just don’t let you run and there are some injuries that, depending on the severity, may still allow you to run, but prevent you from continuing to train. If you are dealing with plantar fasciitis, bursitis, or ITBS, you might still be able to log some miles, but I doubt you would feel that the quality of these miles match what you were achieving before the onset of the injury. So if you are logging miles, but not able to mix up your training or increase the intensity at times, are you still training? What’s worse, those miles you are logging might be worsening your condition. I was en route to this being my situation.

rwi3 rwi4

I have run about 6 times or so since a run mid-November when the pain from ITBS caused me to have to walk some of my miles just to get home. One of those runs, a 6.5 miler, was done on snow-covered trails and the blanket of snow provided a layer of soft ground that prevented an ITB flare-up. I had read about the impact of running being a cause for flare-ups in addition to running downhill, but this was the first time I was able to get in a run on soft enough ground where I didn’t feel any pain; regular, non-snowy trails still resulted in flare-ups. So when I arrived in New Jersey, I decided to test out the IT band on a route that had as much grass as possible. I managed to get in 5 miles before the flare-up occurred, but I needed to get home so I slowed down to 8 minutes for the remaining 2 miles to get home without too much regret. I haven’t run since, but have biked and continued my stretching routines and I’ll probably head out and test it again sometime next week.

rwi2 The New Jersey 7-mile run allowed me to feel mentally better than I have in a while, but that massage stick was my best friend for the next two days.

But what caused this ITBS problem to begin with? My educated guess: repetitive speed training. Was this intentional? Not at all. In retrospect, being in a Masters Degree in Nutrition program seemed to have messed with my approach to training and certainly the time I have for runs so I was treating every day as a speed day just to fit in 10 or 15 mile runs. Not good, I know, as this and not stretching after these repetitive training runs is what I firmly believe has led to my current bout of ITBS.

But here’s the good news: I drove to the local track today and logged 3 miles in 21 minutes without any pain. I guess my active recovery training over the past few weeks as been helping.

Regarding Recovery

Proper active recovery is key when it comes to fixing ITBS issues and helping you get out on the road or trails sooner rather than later. See, with a running injury, sometimes complete rest is not the best way to recover. Recovery, in a way, is its own training. There are certain activities and stretches to be done, certain activities to avoid, and even proper nutrition that can help with recovery depending on the injury. (For stretches that I used, see the video at the end of this post.)

In my case with ITBS…

Activities to include:

  • Certain stretches such as stretching my hips–tight and weak hips can result in ITBS.
  • Exercises such as isometrics.
  • I’ve also included biking to avoid losing too much fitness and to continue some general healthy cardiovascular exercise as well.
  • Strength training and squats to strengthen muscles that may have been too tight or weak, leading to my IT band issue.

Activities to avoid :

  • Running too soon; before really giving your stretches and exercises time to work may be defined as “too soon”
  • Certain types of running; I can forget about speed training and hill repeats until I’m recovered.

rwi6

Dealing with ITBS at the end the year has been kind of a blessing. I’ve been forced to pay more attention to my body and stretching which is ever-important and probably the only thing I preach, but practice poorly. Well, my Running 2017 NY Resolution is just that: to pay attention to stretching before and after my runs.

ITBS has also allowed me to use the winter break to relax and fully recover, mentally and physically, from the year. I’ve been planning my 2017 racing schedule and I’m taking my recovery seriously so that I can return healthy and ready to hit the trails and roads for marathon and ultramarathon training. Current races that I’m looking at for 2017 will be a blog post coming soon so check back for that!

Happy Running and Happy New Year!

I hope 2016 was good to all of you and I hope 2017 will only be better!

This video below is what I used to figure out what stretches I need to be doing. Thanks Physical Therapy!

 

 

Run Less to Run Faster

You read that title right. Running while in graduate school has been quite eye-opening this summer, but I learned something important that I only had an inkling about prior to this summer: it is possible to run less yet still run faster (in my opinion and experience).

The nutrition program at National University of Natural Medicine where Val and I now both go to school has been incredible on all levels. Meeting new people was and always is wonderful. Learning about nutrition and whole foods as medicine has been great. Getting into the community and visiting local farms was a new and rewarding experience that occurred weekly.  But the busy-ness that comes with school eventually caught up with me and began to affect my running. At the beginning of the program, I had no choice but to keep up with my training. I was scheduled to run The Oregon Marathon 2 weeks into the summer term and so I was still fitting in short speed workouts during week 1 of school and a few workouts during week 2 as well.With only 7 weeks of training after 2 months off from running due to a glass-puncture in my foot, I still managed to run a 3:01 best time at that marathon on July 16th and secured a second Boston Qualifying time. I was thrilled and excited to see what this heightened fitness would lead to this summer, but after the next week of just a few light runs to keep my legs moving yet still allow me to continue recovering, graduate school was definitely in full-swing and my hopes at achieving running goals diminished.

With my energy and ability to train every day newly diminished, I needed to make adjustments to my goals for the summer and fall. I had to reevaluate my desire to run an ultramarathon in August or even September–I just didn’t have the time for the required training–and if I was going to set any shorter distance goals, I had to make the most out of the times when I was actually able to get out for a run . The biggest change to my training was that I was (and am continuing) only running about 3 days (sometimes 4) a week. It wasn’t that that’s all I wanted to do; it was all I had time for. When I realized this, I didn’t want to waste a single one of those runs. I ran some 10 milers and one 15 miler, but I did a lot of shorter distance training runs which were run at quicker paces than I was used to running even on a speed day. I quickly found myself running 7 miles at 6:30 pace without much effort. I had a couple track workouts where I recorded the fastest workout splits of the year that included: back-to-back mile times of 5:18 and 5:19, 400m at 68s, and a 200m sprint at 28 seconds on a wet surface. All of these timed intervals, as well as all of the track workouts I do, were run as part of a workout and not as a solo time trial so I’m never running them more than 90% of my current ability. But it was the result of running a few 6-8 mile runs and hitting a 5:50-5:55/mile pace for a couple miles without intending to do so or feeling like I was putting in that much effort that I knew I had to focus on 5ks to half-marathons this fall.

A possible running week for me looked like this:

Monday – zip.

Tuesday – 8-10 mile run; moderate pacing

Wednesday – zilch.

Thursday – 5-7 miles; intense pacing

Friday – nada.  (or maybe a 4 mile run; easy pacing)

Saturday- 7-10 mile run; combination of moderate and intense pacing

Sunday – 90 minutes of pick-up soccer; moderate activity

There were some inclines and declines and those runs and occasionally I would swap out a moderate run with a track day or if I was lucky I got to run 4 days in a week instead of 3, but I never stressed about it. Why? Because I was getting faster without trying to and all I could do was scratch my head and wonder how this happened. Did I gain a bonus fitness level from the marathon back in early July? Did graduate school somehow give my energy levels a boost? No. None of that. Rather, I attribute my noticeable bump in fitness to more rest. 

Let’s be clear: by  “more rest” I do not mean more sleep, although that wouldn’t be a bad thing; the benefits of increased rest and sleep are well known and supported. Rather, I simply mean that my body was allowed to rest and better recover from linear running more this summer than I can ever recall in recent years of running/training 5-7 days a week. I suppose you could say that graduate school has been a bit of a Catch 22: I get less sleep due to being so busy, but being so busy has been forcing me to take more rest days from running.

Resting and super delicious and healthy Made in Nature snacks? Most definitely part of my summer.

min2 I cross-trained with soccer a lot this summer and still consider this a rest from the demands of road running.

In August, I ran the first ever 5k at the Portland Meadows horse track on a hot August morning and clocked a 19:48 on a sand course which made this 5k one of the most difficult 5k experiences I’ve ever had.

run6

I also raced a 5k this past weekend and I ran my fastest time of roughly 17:03. The best part: it was in the rain, on wet pavement, I started about 3-5 seconds behind the line (no separate time for gun time and chip time as there were no chips), and I ran well in the lead for the entire race. I know my body can go 16:45 with better conditions and am hoping to achieve that this fall as well as achieve a half-marathon PR. With the support of great people and teams such as La Vida Veggie, Nii Foods, and possibly others, I’m hoping for a great fall running season.

I wanted to end with what I think a possible week could be or should be if you were to try and alter your weekly routine to include more rest days. Here’s just one possible scenario and it should certainly be modified depending on your experience, goals, and fitness:

Monday- Rest

Tuesday – 10-12 miles (medium distance run; final couple miles or 15 minutes at a slightly faster pace; include some hills on the route if possible)

Wednesday- Rest

Thursday – 5-8 miles (shorter distance run; a few of these miles–middle to end miles–should be around or slightly slower than half-marathon race pace) OR Track day- intervals can include 1 mile repeats, 800m repeats, 400m repeats, or a combination of these and other speedier short distances)

Friday

Saturday- Long run (relative to your goals and fitness; easy to moderate pace); e.g. 15-20 miles

Sunday – Rest

If you’d like help with your own running goals such as running a faster time, running your first race of any distance, or any other goal, I would be honored to have you reach out to me so we can discuss! Comment below or email Wilfredoben@gmail.com so we can connect.

Happy Running!

 

 

 

Vegan & Gluten Free Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m pretty sure it’s been way too long since my last blog post, but it’s okay because:

1) It’s like riding a bike…you know the rest; and

2) I have a really, really good reason for why I’ve been MIA.

I started a Master’s of Science in Nutrition program at the National University of Natural Medicine where Val is studying Naturopathic Medicine and I’ve been pretty busy ever since. I started the program right after July 4th weekend and since then, running, school, and healthy socializing are areas where I’ve been putting my energies.

What’s brought me back to writing a post for ERaD–and for this I’m grateful–is actually an assignment for my Culinary Skills class. Don’t worry…My instructor didn’t go and say, “I know this is a school that believes in ‘food as medicine’ but go on and bake some chocolate chip cookies for homework.”  The assignment was to get us to bake and work with a leavening agent and who can’t appreciate that? So the baking soda that you’ll see in the ingredient list will react with acidic ingredients–brown sugar and dark chocolate chips in this recipe–and cause a reaction that releases carbon dioxide that causes the dough to rise and gives the cookies a more open interior structure. Cool right? You all probably knew this already, I know.

So I rummaged through my cabinets to see what I had and I found everything necessary for some delicious gluten free dark chocolate chip cookies that are obviously vegan as well. So without further ado…

 Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free & Vegan)

baking1

Ingredients (Makes about 10 small-medium sized cookies)

~Brown Rice flour (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp)

~Coconut flour (1/4 cup)

baking2

~Baking soda (1/2 tsp)

~Nondairy milk (1/2 cup; I used almond milk)

~Coconut oil (1/3 cup)

baking7

~Brown sugar (1/2 cup)

~Ener-G egg replacer (equivalent to 1 egg)

~Dark chocolate chips (amount based on preference; I used ¼ cup)

baking3

~Cacao nibs (1 Tbsp)

~Salt (2 tsp)

~Vanilla (1 ½ tsp)

baking5

~Cinnamon (1 tsp; optional)

baking6 Reasonably speaking, it’s hard to go wrong with cinnamon. 

Instructions

  1. “Mise” your prep area as much as you can. This comes from “mise en place” and involves you getting all of your ingredients in place before you start anything. This allows you to see if you are missing anything and saves time when you are making or cooking other dishes.                     baking  All mise’d and ready to go! Brown sugar was added later.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°.
  3. Mix the flours, baking soda, egg replacer, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. baking8 Give the bowl some love, would ya?
  4. Add the dark chocolate chips and the cacao nibs into the bowl and mix. baking4  Heaven in a mason jar. Soon to be: Heaven in a mixing bowl.
  5. Add into the bowl the coconut oil, almond milk, and vanilla extract and stir until smooth.
  6. Form cookie dough balls and place on a pre-greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before enjoying.

There you have it. Gluten free. Dairy free. They may or may not be guilt free, but they sure as heck should be! Yeah, I just dropped a rhyme for you.

Go ahead and try them out for yourself! One of these would probably be great with your morning coffee or tea about 30 minutes before a run. Oh and while your enjoying your cookie(s), go ahead and check out the programs the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) has to offer. You never know what might strike a chord in you!

Happy Baking…and Running!

Change Up Your Scenery: My Run on Sauvie Island

Sometimes you just need to change it up a bit.

Work ended for me early this year (perks of being a substitute teacher; until I’m a full-time nutritionist of course!) so I decided one morning last week to take a quick drive out to Sauvie Island–located right on the outskirts of NW Portland–and it was such a great decision.

SI2

It was about 55-60 degrees–perfect running temperatures–and I managed to wrap up my run right before the grey clouds started to roll in.  Don’t worry. It was early enough where traffic was even lighter than it always is so I didn’t risk anything by taking this bridge picture!

SI3

I didn’t know what I wanted to run as I had a bit of flexibility in my marathon training schedule for various reasons. I didn’t want to drive out to Sauvie Island (about 14 miles from my apartment) and not put in a good workout so I knew the run would be a quality one either for marathon-specific pacing or just for endurance. I told myself I would run at least 10 miles and if I felt good, I’d continue to 12 or 13 miles. Well, I felt great early on so I decided I’d make the run a good half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles. I ran it on the moderate-to-quick end of my training pace spectrum averaging 6:50 for the run (went out in 7:34 which was a bit too slow but I hadn’t known I was running a quick 1/2). I closed well with the last 3 miles each under 6:30 pace. It was a really good run especially since it’s not like I planned to run a time-trial half marathon or anything and there were no rest days involved, but I appreciated the change of scenery even more…I think you’ll see why.

SI5

SI9

Running past sites like these doesn’t happen every day in Portland proper. Portland is beautiful for running, don’t get me wrong, but Sauvie proved to be a very nice getaway run and it’s one that I’ll return to a couple of times before my marathon. It’s no wonder Shalane Flanagan (whom I deeply admire) and her Bowerman TC teammates train out here some days.

SI7 SI6

Sauvie Island doesn’t have bike lanes like Portland does, but it doesn’t really matter as Sauvie drivers actually follow the courtesies that these signs suggest!  I didn’t have to worry about a car once which made it possible for me to keep my pace steady.

SI12 SI11

This hawk was flying circles around me both times I approached her nest. She was not a fan and the sounds she started to make at one point..let’s just say she helped me to speed up a bit!

SI15

The grey clouds (much more grey clouds to the left of this view) were starting to roll in on my way back  to my starting point so I picked up the pace a bit. Someone tell Mr. Fisherman to leave the fishes alone…They’re not bothering him!

40

I snapped this cool aerial photo of Sauvie Island as I flew past it taking off from Portland airport on route to Phoenix for my connecting flight to Philadelphia’s airport. You can see the bridge from my first picture to the north of this photo crossing the water. It’ so crazy how small the island seems when you’re running on it. It’s not huge by any means, but there’s quite a lot of land on that island!

SI19

This run was sponsored by Nii Foods. Okay, not really, but the marathon I’m training for (The Oregon Marathon on July 16th) is indeed sponsored by Nii Foods and I’m so grateful for their support! I love being a member of the Nii Tribe! They make delicious dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, organic, vegan bars that are nutritionally dense, so tasty and in 5 flavors, at least one of which you are sure to love! Try them out!

34

One of the best benefits of a hard run with an additional afternoon run scheduled for later in the afternoon is an incredibly delicious vegan blueberry chocolate-chip pancakes breakfast made from scratch!  Comment for the recipe or search “3 ingredient pancakes” in the search tool.

We all have our favorite running routes or at least running routes that we are very comfortable running. We know the mileage markers without even glancing at our GPS watch; we know the level of car or people traffic at various times of the day; we know when to speed up or when to save energy for that hill; and so many other reasons for why our favorite routes are actually our favorite. But sometimes it can be a truly wonderful experience to just go somewhere new and run and reduce the monotony of your exercise routine. Mixing things up can help people become less bored and likely to drop the activity which is not an uncommon occurrence with running. Running somewhere new can also help you learn something new about your community or city or state. Heck, like me, you may even find one of your New top-places to run. You really don’t have anything to lose and as they also say, “You won’t know if you like it unless you try it.”

Be adventurous. Take your running or biking or walking or hiking to a new place. Meet new people. See new sites. Explore. And have fun.

Happy Running!

 

 

Hills Need Love Too

If you were a high school athlete and your school campus had any kind of land that would be geographically defined as a hill, you probably hate hills. Too bad coaches often forgot to explain why hill-training is not punishment, but rather an important and really beneficial training workout.

hills

 

Incorporating hill repeats or running on hilly routes (especially trail running that includes a lot of elevation gains and losses) can really boost your fitness level. Running hills enhances aerobic capacity faster than what takes place when running mostly flat routes. Training on the hills also improves the strength of certain muscles such as the calves, quadriceps muscles, and those ever-important glutes. There are additional benefits for runners who regularly include hills in their training:

  1. It inadvertently reinforces proper form/posture (unless you are running them with improper form such as hunched over or excessively leaning back).
  2. It improves explosive power which is really helpful for sprinting and shorter distance racing such as 1 mile, 5k’s, and 10k’s.
  3. It strengthens leg muscles that you may or may not typically use when running on flat routes. This improves your general running ability which is very helpful for distance running and trail running.
  4. Running hill repeats speeds up lactic acid build-up in your legs and continuing to run them or run after you complete the workout teaches your body to run through lactic-acid build-up (or better use the ATP-energy-that lactic acid generates) which is what causes your legs to feel like lead unless you’ve properly trained to be able to push through this feeling.

There are more benefits to running hills, such as enhancing your mental fortitude and discipline, but just these four reasons alone should be enough to get you to start incorporating them into your exercise routine no matter if you run, cycle, swim, walk or participate in any other activity or sport.

Here are a few ways to include hills into your workout and give hills the love they deserve:

Hill

  1. Hill repeats – Easy – Going to that steep and/or long inclined hill that you always pass by is a great first step. The next step is to run up. And down…and repeat. For an “easy” option, simply run or jog up the hill at an easy pace and just focus on breathing and proper form. Make sure your arms are still swinging and your breathing is controlled. How many repeats (up and down counts as 1) you should do is up to you and depends on multiple factors such as your goals, the grade or slope of the hill, the length of the hill, and even your fitness, but two to three is a good beginning goal.
  2. Hill repeats – Hard- Nearly the same as above but instead of an easy pace, you are running hard, resembling a sprint or strides. Hill sprints can really build that explosive power if that’s what you are looking for and they will certainly speed up the lactic acid buildup. I wouldn’t recommend hill sprints if you are just starting to add hills into your workouts; wait until running up hills is a bit more comfortable for you. When sprinting hills, proper form and breathing is going to be even more important so make sure those arms are swinging and you are aware of your breathing.
  3. Hilly route- An easy way to incorporate hills into your routine is to simply find a running route that includes them! Rolling hills count as does a mostly flat route with just a few hills to climb. A flat route with one really steep and long climb is great too. If you know where the hills are, just go run around that area.
  4. Don’t cut corners- Starting with where #3 ended, if you know where the hills are, don’t avoid them! We all know that cutting corners is cheating someone out of something so don’t do this to your own training. If you come across a hill on a new route or if you typically turn around or make a turn to avoid a hill, opt to run the hill(s) instead. Either run up the hill, go back down, and continue along your running route or run up the hill and keep going (if you can) to possibly discover a new route you may really enjoy. 

     

    The benefits of hill running will present themselves rather quickly. Initially, your legs may feel sore or heavy the next day or even the first week after your first hill workout, but after some time (weeks, probably), you should start to see results such as increased leg strength when working out or running, not getting as tired as soon, running quicker paces with more ease, and other positive effects.

    Another immediate benefit, depending on where you live, is realizing that the view really is better at the top!

Hill3

Willamette River. Portland, Oregon.

 

Happy Running!

 

Lesson Learned

This spring season hasn’t been what I thought it would be. Receiving a puncture wound from stepping on glass during what should have been an “easy” sub-7 minute 10 miler back in February was not part of the marathon training plan! I promise…I wrote it myself!

I thought that once the sutures were taken out of my foot after waiting far too long to seek proper professional care that I’d be able to run just fine. Admittedly, I started to think that part of why I was hesitant to step down normally on a light jog was because I knew the sutures were still in my foot. I can tell you now that the presence of the sutures was not the reason for my cautious running mechanics…pain was actually present.

erad4

But not three days after the sutures were out, I ran a 5:49 mile. I shouldn’t have and I wasn’t supposed to. I intended on finding a pick-up soccer game (plenty of those around here in Portland), and the last field I checked out ended up being the track near my apartment where I run my track workouts. I decided I’d jog a mile or wo to make up for not playing soccer, but afer jogging a mile and completing a training hurdles routine, I felt really good and decided to run a second mile; I had no idea I’d run it in under 6 minutes. That effort, coupled with a week of about 30 miles and a slight muscle strain I felt while playing soccer the following weekend, have rendered me back to square one on my recovery road back to running.

asics4 Square one includes having to wear my old Asics clunkers as the extra cushion prevents my foot from hurting when I run.

I rushed back into running. My favorite thing to do was put on pause for 2 months and I couldn’t wait to get back to it. It would have been one thing to just jog a mile or two a day for a week and let my foot and leg muscles remember what it is to run; it’s another thing to run 5 miles one morning and 5 mile in the afternoon or to run 8 miles in one run two days in a row. I should have known better. And I should have listened to the podiatrist who told me to ease back into running and to still take it easy for a few weeks. Well…I learned that lesson the hard way.

I had to take an additional five days off from running last week due to the constant throbbing of my foot whenever I ran. I continued and continue to play soccer as, almost miraculously, running in my soccer cleat results in no pain whatsoever, so I’ve stayed in decent enough shape. It stinks, though, that I went from training for a personal best Boston Qualifying marathon time (my first one was last fall here in Pdx at the Portland Marathon) to being tired and tight after a 3 miler at 8 minutes per mile pace; but I did this to myself.

The moral of the story is clear: If the foot doctor says you need to ease back into running or activity, you should probably listen. 

erad2

Don’t rush things. I love running and I couldn’t to get back to doing it, but this means two things: 1) I have enough passion that won’t allow running to ever get away from me and 2) I need to learn to respect the stress that running has on the body especially when recovering from any kind of injury.

Train Smart & Happy Running!

Injuries Suck!

No pictures today, but I think you’ll survive.  The reason is two-fold:

  1. I just don’t have any. And,
  2. Even if I did have some, working them into a post while I’m at work takes way too much time.

We’re always pressed for time aren’t we? There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish we had at least 1 more hour in the day. 25 hours. It sounds like a great number, doesn’t it? That’s an extra hour to get errands done; to spend with our loved ones; or to run. But alas, we only have 24 and we have to work with what we’ve got. So if I have to go to bed at 11 because I’m catching up on shows or writing up track workouts and I have to wake up at 5:00 or 5:15am to get a decent run in, then so be it. I’ll sacrifice the hour of extra sleep to make sure I get to do what truly makes me feel fully alive, especially after not being able to do it for 8 of the last 10 weeks.

Returning from an injury is something I haven’t experienced in years and not running for 2 months really did leave something unfulfilled in me for that time. I started to get used to not running after the first few weeks of my injury. I started frequenting the gym during that time–cycling and strength training saved my sanity and shortened the time it would take me to bounce back–but it wasn’t the same as being outside and moving my body through the world around me. Over the past two weeks of running, I’ve been hyper-aware of the pure bliss that I feel from running. As I climb the hill, turn out of my apartment complex, and embark on another daily running journey, I feel invigorated and anew and so grateful for the body’s ability to heal; the body truly is a remarkable thing.

It was upsetting that I would get injured right before the track season officially began. For months, I had imagined leading my group of distance runners on a long road run. I heard that hoots and hollers as I sped around the track, showing my sprinters earlier on that it is indeed possible to run more than 5 sub-30 second 200 meter sprints with less than a minute rest in between each one; it just wasn’t meant to be this year. So instead of coaching by modeling, I had to coach on the sidelines. But now I’m back to running and I feel like my energy has magnified. Literally. It’s like all of my neurons are firing and my coaching brain is at 110% lately as I’ve begun strategizing the heck out of the girls and guys teams to get as many kids as I can to qualify for Oregon Track and Field HS State Championships down at Historic Hayward Field in Eugene in a few weeks. One thing that I’m having to deal with on this road to high school greatness is something I preferred to have behind me: injuries. Not mine…but I still feel their pain.

Calf tightness. Pain in the hip flexors area. Strained hamstrings. Moderate, but painful shin splints. When you push your body to the limit, there is likely to always be something that’s not going to feel 100% all the time, but seeing my high school kids continue to show up and–for those who can– put in 100% of what they have left is so inspiring.

Injuries suck. But injuries teach us a lot such as how to cope; how to avoid re-injury after healing; and how much we actually love what we can no longer do or do normally. We may have to take a few days off or even a few weeks or months, but generally, the body recovers if you let and help it to do so. Injuries come with the territory, as it is said. With love comes anger and with running comes injury. What’s good about this combination is that injuries, a majority of the time, merely fade into lessons and memories.

In the wise words of Amby Burfoot : “You could spend a lifetime regretting the days when you continued running; you’ll never regret the three to seven days of rest.”

Be smart out there.

Happy Running!

 

 

Almost Recovered!

Okay…I know I’ve been MIA and I’m SOR…RY 🙂

I couldn’t wait to get home from work on February 23rd. It was going to be a great late afternoon and evening. The 23rd was a Tuesday so it was a 10 mile Tuesday for me as I continued my training for what I was hoping was going to be my 2nd Boston Qualifier at the Vernonia Banks Marathon this weekend (Apr. 10). Later that evening Val and I had tickets to our first Portland Trailblazers game which we got for free from her school (pretty sweet, right?).

ew10 We loved our free nosebleed section seats!

What I didn’t love was having to use Val as a human crutch to get from my apartment, up the hill to the bus stop, off the bus stop and to the stadium, inside the stadium, and back again. Why did I have to do this?

ew

That’s why! One mile into my favorite 10 mile route I ran right on top of glass from a broken beer bottle that instantly sent pain and shivers throughout my body. I remember gasping at the moment of impact, and I knew this wasn’t the pain you get from stepping on a random jagged rock with road shoes (also painful, but temporaril). When I pulled the glass out of the shoe, I realized my foot was getting very warm and I could very some liquid pooling in my shoe. Fortunately, I was not far from Val’s school so she was able to meet me and help me crutch over to a bus stop. The pain wasn’t excruciating, but that was probably just adrenaline masking the effects of the puncture.

What was interesting was how quickly I decided to not go to urgent care. I literally have no idea why I was so adamantly against seeing a doctor. Val asked if we should, and without question, I said, “Nope.” I guess I thought I could just go home, wash it out, slap a band-aid on the wound and just eat healthy food to speed up the healing process. I was sorely mistaken. I didn’t consider infection (I got lucky with this one) and Val thought that she didn’t see any glass when she cleaned the puncture site. Well, luck didn’t find me twice because 7 weeks after the incident, I finally decided to head to the Oregon Foot Clinic and lo and behold…

2018

Yeah…sorry friends who tried to help, but in the words of the doctor who pulled this out of me: “No amount of Silicea 30C was going to push that out.”

That’s right…7 weeks of not running. I actually remember jogging 4 broken-up miles 2 weeks after the injury and I had to run so awkwardly that my ankle was sore the next day from the repeated motion. I wasn’t immobile though.  I have been making good use of my gym membership and got a few days of swimming in, but mostly focused my time and energy on the bike and doing strength training. The bike has allowed me to get some kind of cardiovascular fitness training in without causing my foot to pain me and the strength training, I know, will help me bounce back quicker than had I neglected that important part of my training.

ew4 The trainer at home has been another lifesaver, mentally.

 Perfect Fuel  is pictured above and this chocolate + caffeine fuel is so great for half-way through my early morning workouts. One piece is all I need to ease my hunger from trying to train fasted. I definitely need to get back to running to really get my body used to endurance training on lower readily-available calories.

If someone asked me I would do if I were not able to run for weeks due to an injury, I’d have told them, “I’d be balled up in a corner somewhere.” Well, that wasn’t the case…

niipic I was made an official member of Nii Tribe.bw I limped around at a black-tie event with Val.

    2   I hung out with friends…

7…and made lasting memories!

2 I was treated to delicious food by our friend, Carrie, over at Our Stable Table

 12 13  And I certainly didn’t restrict myself to lettuce and carrots solely because I couldn’t run. Thank you Paradox and Back to Eden!

ew6 And most memorably, I attended the USATF Indoor Championships and saw some great competition!

And as I finish typing up this post (I started it yesterday, but the day got away from me), I am giddy because I finally ran a mile this morning. The sutures are out and I am on Day 1 of my return to running normally and consistently! It’s a good day, people.

Happy Running!

 

Injured, but staying positive.

You read that right. I’m injured. This is actually the reason I didn’t publish a blog post at all last week…I just had no desire write about eating healthy or being active as I wanted to eat whatever I wanted and I could’t run so writing bout running and exercising proved too difficult to be motivated to do.

So what happened? Glass…Glass happened. That’s right. No straining of a muscle. No tripping and falling and getting banged up. No stress fracture from my marathon training. Glass. Specifically, a broken bottle on the side of the road that decided to not get out of my way as I just finished mile 1 of my goal 10 miles for last Tuesday. Tuesday has been Tuesday-Ten Day for me lately and I was so looking forward to this run. It was a beautiful day too and I was feeling so, so good. I had just heard the faint ding-ding of my Garmin go off just 30 seconds prior to…the incident…and I had my eyes on the construction happening on the building that Under Armour has decided to move into here in Portland (that means Adidas, Nike, and UA will all have a strong presence here in PDX). Then, instantaneous pain.

6 Sorry for the graphic, but that’s what I’m dealing with. It’s the spot of the wound that is killer, because I literally haven’t been able to step down with any pressure until just yesterday (4 days after the injury). 

I’m still amazed by how quickly my body reacted to having stepped on the broken bottle, which prevented a much, much worse puncture wound. But there was nothing I could have done to prevent the puncture that already occurred and so the only thing to do was to heal…to recover. And while I accepted that there was nothing I could have done to prevent the injury, I still allowed myself to internally mope about it.

3 All swolled up.

The timing wasn’t great: At the time, I was  1 1/2 weeks away from my first trail marathon and approaching my middle phase of training for the Vernonia Marathon in April where I hope to qualify once again for Boston. I am still healing which is going very well (being engaged to a naturopathic medical school student has its perks), but while I haven’t been able to run yet, I have been able to stay in a good state mentally and to reduce too much fitness loss by getting on Val’s bike trainer as often as I can.

20 Watching some Sage Canaday vids on YouTube while I cycle.

Being injured has been downright annoying and sucky, but I’m so grateful that it wasn’t worse as most injuries that occur on a run generally sideline a runner for weeks if not longer. I am hoping that I can be back to running–heck I’ll take speedwalking–within a few more days. I know I’m going to be even more ready to get back out there as my  first stint as a head coach for a high school track team starts this week and I couldn’t be more excited (and slightly unprepared!).

I’m also excited to resume training for these marathons on my calendar as well as the ultramarathons I want to run after April 10th comes and goes. One of which is a race I ran last year and just missed winning by 30 seconds or so: the Pick Your Poison race by Go Beyond Racing.

pyp5 pyp3                                        VegStrong RunLong!

I chose that race to be my first 12 hour timed ultra and I had a blast! Henry Hagg Lake is incredibly beautiful; the organization of the race was excellent; the volunteers were outstanding; and my overall experience was a very positive one. I’m hopeful to race it again this summer and to get redemption at the 12 hour solo road option. The 24 hour option, the trail or road option, as well as the option to run the race on a relay team means that this race offers a little bit of something for everyone! You really do have quite the pick of your poison. Let me know if you plan on running! I’d love to see you out there!

pyp2 pyp4                                My best support system.

Being injured didn’t render me in a corner feeling sorry for myself; I was still out and about…

2

Val and I had free tickets to the Portland Trailblazers game the evening I got injured. The plan was to get a great 10 miler in and go enjoy myself at the game…none of that happened, but I at least tried to enjoy the game. It was my first Blazers game, so that wa cool.

14 I couldn’t work the next day and I couldn’t run so the only way to turn my frown upside down was to treat myself to a lunch and some reading. I drove and hobbled over to Paradox Cafe for a delicious veggie burger and some of their house potatoes. #nomnom.

13  15

I did go into work two days after the injury occurred and I’m glad I did. 1) The school let me use a set of crutches to get around and 2) I was a mile away from Back to Eden’s SE Portland location. Normally I would have eaten my lunch and been completely satisfied, especially after having gone to Paradox the previous day, but it was 65 degrees and sunny and I would have been crazy to not have gotten some of their delicious dairy-free soft serve.

bw  Three days out and I can hobble just a bit better. Val had a black-tie fundraiser event at her school (National College of Natural Medicine) so we classed it up and enjoyed a Friday night out with friends.

2 23

7 Saturday night we said, “Safe travels” to our friend, Kelsey, and I think the vegan taco night and the desserts at Portobello got to us a bit. Annette decided to turn my fiancee into…something else. At least they had fun! And now we have just another reason to head to Colorado sooner!

And that brings me to today (Sunday is when I’m writing this). Val and I slept in, then I hopped on the bike trainer for a little over an hour until we went upstairs to babysit for our neighbors. Carrie, the metaphorical pen and literal mind behind OurStableTable.com, and her husband Lance treated us to the most delicious gluten free and vegan blueberry muffins I’ve ever had. Not kidding.

2  3

I’ll just end it here and once again, because I can: #nomnom.

Hoping for a continued speedy recovery and getting back to training!

Happy (and safe) running everybody!

 

 

Run Your Goal Race with Only 3-4 Days of Training a Week

I never studied exercise science. I’m neither a sports therapist nor a physical trainer. I am not a doctor of any kind nor an elite athlete or one who’s been in the game forever. What I am, though, is very confident that you can run your goal distance even if you just have time for 3-4 days of activity a week.

TAKE NOTE: You should only take this post to heart if you really only have 3-4 days of which you can dedicate some time to training. If you have the ability to train and be active for 4, 5, or 6 days a week, then, if you plan well and train smart, that may help you in your goal of finishing your goal race.

I am not speaking from experience. I generally run 6 days a week and I love every second I’m out there, but I want to keep stressing that I firmly believe what I’m saying. The catch, though, is that you can’t get away with just any 3-4 training runs or workouts that you want AND this opinion of mine may not be applied to distances of certain ultramarathons such as the 100k or 100 miler. Additionally, it may not get you to reach your goal time or PR. But…I believe…you will be able to cross the finish line.

Many people I know think I’m either crazy or that I have some sort of super power to be able to train and run marathons and ultramarathons. Let me put these beliefs to rest. I do not have super powers and neither do any of the marathoners and ultramarathoners that I know or have run with. Some may be crazy, though (I’m looking at you Marathon Maniacs). So how do we do it? Simple: Discipline. It takes a disciplined person to cross the finish line of any race so it’s not like only ultrarunners have a special claim on a unique form of discipline. Those who run or do any kind of exercise regularly and sometimes vigorously are disciplined in what they eat, when they train, how much they train, what social luxuries they may need to give up, how much sleep they might have to sacrifice or how much more sleep they have to get (we can never win when it comes to the Zzz’s).

tes

It’s not fancy and I can’t trade it or sell it or anything. But this is the most special medal I own because of how much I put my heart into what it took to cross the finish line in this 50 mile race–my first ultramarathon. You don’t have to run an ultra, but I know you can cross whatever line it is you have your eyes on.

I actually think it’s for some of these reasons why those who say things like, “Wow, you’re crazy,” or “Oh, my gosh! I could never do anything like that! I can’t even jog a mile!” You’re wrong, my friend. If you wanted to, you can indeed jog a mile and you can also run a 5k, half marathon, marathon, and ultramarathon just like I and others can. What is stopping you (and this may not apply to everyone) are the limitations you are creating for yourself. It doesn’t help to think that you can’t do something because it makes it more likely that you will stop yourself from trying or if you do try, you may stop or give up before you’ve really given it your all. When it comes to running, I think people’s time comes into play. Time is precious. I understand and I agree. I (like everyone who works and volunteers and has hobbies and loved ones and animal companions to spend time with) wish there were more hours in the day. But to cross that finish line, you don’t need to dedicate as many days to running as you may think.  You can take that 5-7 days of running a week–or what you think is required to complete your goal race–that is preventing you from taking the next step and turn it into 3-4 days of training.

What takes place during those 3-4 days?

  1. A medium-distance run. This varies depending on your goal race. Want to run a half marathon? Your m/d run may be 6 or 7 miles. Want to run a marathon or 50k? This run be between 9-13 miles (maybe up to 15).
  2. A long run. The long run also varies and is run at a slower pace than your goal pace (about 60-90 seconds slower is generally what I’ve come across). For the half marathon, your long run may be 9-10 miles. For the marathon and 50k, your long run will likely be between 14-20 miles (perhaps up to 24 or 25 for the 50k distance).
  3. A light run. Your light run can be something to just wake you up in the morning or just a nice evening pre- or post-dinner run or jog. If you’re goal race is the half marathon, a light run may be 3-5 miles and if you’re eyeing the marathon or 50k then your light run may be an easy 5-7 miler. I included the light run after the long run because some runners like to take a recovery run the day after they logged the long run, although this doesn’t have to be the case for you.
  4. A cross-training* day. This is a day to do something other than running, but the activity is still rigorous enough to make you work up a bit of a sweat and should be at least 45 minutes to 1 hour in duration (likely not exactly continuous). Cross-training can take the form of cycling, mountain biking, swimming, playing recreational sports, rock-climbing, hiking, Stand up paddle boarding (SUP), etc.

*I purposely didn’t include strength-training in this list because I think runners should be strength-training at least twice a week. A strong core, back, glutes, and legs are all important for running and staying healthy while doing it. There are many workouts you can find online through a quick Google search for something like “strength training for running” that will likely give you some great ideas or specific workouts to incorporate into your training regimen.

tes2 How do you get to where you want to be? One step at a time. 

So that’s it…3-4 days of training. I included 4, but the light run may need to be sacrificed if you really only have 3 days where you can dedicate time to training. Further explanation is needed, however: You need to build up to the long run. If your goal race is the marathon, then your first week of training might not involve a long run of 15 miles no matter how slow you run it. Your initial long run may only be 5 or 6 miles and may not even take place until after a couple weeks of running. Your medium-distance run, then, may only be 3 miles. Hopefully you get the idea…I just wanted to give you a gist of what it will look like when you are in a good place in your training. I still maintain that you can train 3-4 days a week even early on in your training to get you to accomplish your goal.

Something else: If you are shooting for a goal race and are adding a time-goal component that involves some speedwork, then the rough 3-4 day overview I presented will need to be altered to include training that will improve speed; this can be added into the 3-4 workouts or an additional day can be added if you are willing to manipulate your schedule to fit in some time on a 4th or 5th day for speed-specific training.

REMINDER: You should only apply this restricted 3-4 day training if you really only have 3-4 days of which you can dedicate time to train. If you have the ability to train and be active for more days each week or some weeks (not necessarily more days of running), then that may help you even more to achieve your goal of finishing your goal race.

Questions (especially about the 5k or 10k which I did not specifically mention)? I’d love to hear them! 

Happy Running!