Too Fast, Too Soon, Too Much, Too Often

2013-10-23 18.31.43Last Wednesday, hubby and I attended a free presentation called “Running One Step At a Time.” It was put on by ThedaCare’s Orthopedic Plus. I was unsure of what to expect, but the description indicated we would be learning about common running injuries and how to prevent them.

The presenters included two doctors and two physical therapists. The presentation was heavily medical for the most part. I gleamed information on IT band syndrome, shin splints, stress fractures and plantar fasciitis. I’ve heard of many of these injuries, but thankfully, haven’t experienced any myself. The doctors were very knowledgeable about the variety of injuries and were runner themselves which I think makes a difference.

I took away from the presentation that most injuries are “down stream effects from higher up,” meaning most places we feel pain are simply the “victim” areas and not the cause of the problem. Most often injuries happen from running:

  • Too fast
  • Too soon
  • Too much
  • Too often

The presenters emphasized listening to your body which I highly recommend. It’s important to not be so rigid that we completely forgo our intuition. We know our bodies that best. Who else is better qualified to take care of ourselves?

When training for my half marathon last month, I tried to stick to my training schedule as much as possible. I wanted to be fully prepared for 13.1 miles and all in all, I felt I was. I gave myself enough time to increase my weekly mileage without over doing it and causing an injury.

That being said, I have felt some hip pain lately when I run more than 6 miles at a time. I spoke with the PT after the session (and have consulted with a PT after my training runs last summer) about my concerns. She postulated that the hip pain may be from my IT band flaring up from the repetitive motion of running. She suggested hip strengthening exercises, including the use of resistance bands. I had learned of my weak hips this summer and have been trying to incorporate more hip strengthening exercises. I regularly do planks and yoga. I picked up some resistance bands this weekend and am planning on doing consistent exercises with them as well. I’m hoping to see a difference in my running as my hips get stronger! I also recommend checking out Jacqueline’s hip exercises that I’ve bookmarked!

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Other exciting running tidbits I learned:

  • As we transition to winter running, gradually change the surface you run on. If you’re taking all your running indoors, alternate between road and treadmill running for a while to get your body used to the surface change.
  • You can grate your calluses with a cheese grater– no lie. You try it and let me know, mmmk? 🙂
  • Losing toenails it usually due to ill fitting shoes. Either your shoes are too small or too wide in the mid-foot allowing the foot to slide forward. (I’m currently losing my second big toenail :()
  • 15 miles/week is sufficient to stay cardiovascularly fit and prevent injury.
  • Sharp pain is NEVER a good type of pain.

We were also given a packet with hip/knee/leg stretches and strengthening exercises. I was happy to note that many of the exercises in the packet are included in my twice weekly centergy class. I was also happy to note how many people came out for the presentation. I know there are runners in our community, but it surprised me how many people showed up! Yah for running. 🙂

Do you currently have any injuries? Do you take into consideration whether you’re running too fast, too soon, too much, or too often? 

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Fox Cities Half Marathon Recap Part 2

Time to recap the best part of the race-the actual run!

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It was a chilly start to the half marathon last Sunday, as the temps were in the low 40s. I shivered up until a couple miles into the race. I was really happy with what I decided to wear because as I warmed up I didn’t get hot.

Running Gear for Race Day

  • Mizuno Wave Elixir 8s
  • Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch
  • Pro Compression socks
  • Nike Filament Dri Fit compression shorts
  • Flipbelt
  • Champion long sleeve semi-fitted shirt
  • Koss FitClips
  • Fingerless gloves from Dollar Tree (bigger spender, I know)
  • BandIt Headband (Etsy)

One mistake I realized right away was that I should’ve worn my sunglasses. The sun was so blindingly bright it threw me off a bit in the beginning. It was difficult to see too much in front of me. I guess that happens at 7am on a fall morning.

I tried my best of remember information I learned at the Good Form Running clinic over the summer; namely to keep my upper body loose and use quick, short steps. I felt comfortable right out of the gate and settled into my race pace. I hit about a 9:00 min/mile pace for the first 8 miles. Before the race, I was guessing that’s the pace I would keep as I always run faster on race day (I train at 9:30 min/mile usually). I also attribute my quicker speed to all those fabulous signs out there! My favorite of the run: “Running is a pain in the butt, but you guys sure do have nice butts!” 🙂

My splits:

  • Mile 1: 8:53
  • Mile 2: 9:01
  • Mile 3: 8:46
  • Mile 4: 8:52
  • Mile 5: 9:06
  • Mile 6: 8:59
  • Mile 7: 9:07
  • Mile 8: 9:20
  • Mile 9: 9:37
  • Mile 10: 9:50
  • Mile 11: 10:13
  • Mile 12: 9:43
  • Mile 13: 9:39
  • Total time: 2:02:46

As you’ll notice my pace slowed as I got deeper into the race. This was because I began to feel my right hip tighten and begin to hurt. I was fighting through some pain, however, it was a blip on the radar compared to the pain I was in last year. As I passed mile 8, I thought of the debacle that was last year’s half marathon. I thought to myself, I’m not that same girl anymore. I’m a fighter. I also happened to see a sign that said, “Pain is only temporary.” Yep, keep truckin’ Nik. At mile 11 my music decided to stop and I could’ve reset it, but thought, why bother? I could see the park where the finish line was by then and decided to run the last 1.5 miles without music; just body and mind pushing myself to the end. I never realized the mental battle that goes on with runners before I called myself one. Yes, running is physical, but it’s also very mental. That’s one of the {many} beautiful things about running; it gives you confidence, that I can do anything mindset. And that’s why I love running.

As I rounded the corner into the park at mile 13, it rushed over me that I was about to finish. I was about to reach my goal. You work so hard for 5 months and then….it’s over. It’s bittersweet really. I loved training and I loved racing. My excitement radiated as I saw my dad waiting for me at the finish line. I couldn’t help but feel elated and emotional. Running will be forever tied to the loss of my mom. It has been a form of therapy for me. To see my dad and know the support he gives me; it’s hard to describe how much that means to me in words. My mom was always my biggest cheerleader with my dad being a close second. In some way, I feel that even though she’s gone, I can still make her proud.

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I was adorned with my finishers medal, grabbed my shirt, and headed to the finish line to wait for my hubby. My dad was sent text messages with our ETAs so we had an idea of when hubs would finish. I was amazed to see him cross right around his predicted time, a very respectable 2:29:59. I am SO proud of my husband. I’m the one who has pushed us to pursue races and luckily he’s always right by my side. I’m a pretty lucky girl, I know. 🙂

finishcollage

Many runners get that “now what?” feeling after a race. I am of course looking forward to the Brewers 10K this Saturday, but also enjoying the accomplishment that was my second half marathon. I proved to myself that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. Honestly, I felt defeated after last year’s half, but without that struggle this half marathon would not have been as sweet as it is.

And how sweet it is. 🙂

afterrace

My Butt Needs Work

Hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Saturday morning I completed my last long training run before the Fox Cities Half Marathon this month!! I ran with the PaceSetters, which is a local running group here. We had 11 miles on the schedule and though some miles were mentally tough, I did it! At about mile 9 it really hit me that I’m doing this and I’m going to do it well this time. Last year’s half was a bit of a disappointment because of my body, but this year I have new determination to not only finish, but finish strong. I’m pretty excited about the race on September 22nd. I tend to get overly excited during races where I just want to slap high fives with spectators and yell to everyone around me, “We’re doing it!!! We’re almost there!” I wish I could bottle that feeling, that sense of accomplishment I get during races.

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The best part of my run was meeting a new running buddy (keep finding new ones at every run :)), Debbie. We were both keeping a 9:30 min/mile pace and just fell into sync next to each other. We ran and talked the last three miles together. I learned that Debbie has been running for 20+ years and has completed 12 half marathons. She took second in her age group last year at the Fox Cities Half Marathon. I was guessing her age to be in the later 40s…only to find out she’s 61! I couldn’t believe how great she looks! When we finished our run, Debbie mentioned every run she writes down someone’s name and runs one mile for them, every mile except for that last one that is. Debbie said, “That mile is always for me.” 

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Debbie and I after 11 miles.

Running is so much more than running. Running gives you a connection to other runners, an understanding that you’re a fighter, you’re driven, you’re willing to put effort into something, you’re willing to keep going even if it’s difficult. A running mindset, that I can accomplish my goals if I just keep trying, can be applied to many facets of our lives. That’s what I love about running. Debbie noted running helped her through many difficult times in her life and I can relate. I had just met Debbie and already felt open enough to discuss my mom’s passing and she shared that she lost her mom when she was 20. We all have heard the phrase, “Running is cheaper than therapy.” True that.

After my training run, I took advantage of the physical therapists they had on hand. I mentioned to the PT that I have been having hip pain once I get about 6 miles into my longer runs. I have ben trying to strengthen my hips (i.e., Centergy classes) and increase my cadence. She questioned how I increase my cadence. Honestly, I just try to think about taking short, quick steps and repeat in my head to “pick up you feet, pick up your feet.” (Read more about cadence and good form running here) She checked my hip alignment which was good. Then she checked my glute strength. I’ve been so focused on strengthening my hips, I didn’t think about my glutes being weak. Sure enough, when she asked me to resist while she pushed, I folded like a weakling. I have a weak butt! She recommended resistance band exercises and doing plank jacks.

We spent the rest of our weekend at my parent’s cottage on the lake soaking up the last sun of summer.

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Pro compresh and leg draining in the car.

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Murphy basking in the late afternoon sunlight.

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Murph loved kayaking with us.

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Tomorrow is the first day of school for the kiddos, so I’m back to working full time. After a summer full of running, getting my body on track, farmer’s markets, trips, and seeing friends/family, I’m ready for the challenge of a new school year. I haven’t been present for a first day of elementary school yet, so I’m looking forward to the excitement!

Enjoy the rest of your labor day!

Do you get overly excited during races? Any suggestions for good exercises or videos to strengthen glutes/hips? What did you do over the long weekend?

Good Form Running Clinic Review

Let’s talk form. I never really thought about my form when I started running. Heck, I was running, wasn’t that enough?! Now that I’ve been running regularly for the past 5 months, I’ve realized the importance of my form and the impact form has on my ability to run regularly. When I saw my local Fleet Feet was offering a Good Form Running Clinic for free, I jumped at the chance to learn more. The instructor (Coach Eddie) has had training from New Balance where the clinic originated. I thought it was a very well organized 2 hour program.

There are four “simple steps to good form”

  • Posture
  • Mid-foot strike
  • Cadence
  • Lean

As overwhelming as all this information seemed at first to a newbie, Coach broke down each step with demonstrations. He also taped us running with our shoes on and then barefoot. Once we learned each step, we reviewed everyone’s video for these four components of good form. Here’s how I did:

GFRC

Posture: I had proper upright posture. Granted, as I run and get fatigued, my posture it not as good. Coach showed us a “posture reset” (i.e., reach your hands straight over your head to reset your posture, pull hips under) that will be helpful before and during a run. I do need to work on swinging my arms backward and forward instead of across my body.

Mid-foot strike: Myself, along with everyone else at the clinic, used heel strike. Coach told us this is sometimes due to the type of shoe we are wearing. He taped us barefoot and for some it did make a huge difference in using mid-foot strike. Personally, I felt awkward running barefoot and it didn’t make a difference in my foot strike.

Cadence:  You want to get to a cadence of 180 steps/min. I’m guessing I’m somewhere in the 150s. As suggested by Coach, I try to think about taking shorter, quicker steps.

Lean: Proper lean comes from the ankles and not the waist. If you stand upright and practice leaning forward from your ankles that is what you are shooting for when you run.

Here’s my condensed version I repeat in my head while running:

  • Belly breathe
  • Shoulders away from ears (I hold tension in my shoulders, not good)
  • Loose arms, swing back and forth, bent at 90 degrees 
  • Light, quick steps (i.e., you shouldn’t hear pounding on the pavement when you’re running)
  • Gaze forward on the horizon, not down on the ground
  • Hands loose, thumbs facing up 
  • Don’t bounce

I attended the clinic in the middle of July and am happy to report I feel I am a better runner because of it. I have something more to concentrate on than simply deep breathing. I look back at race pictures now, and think, “What are you doing there, Nikki? Awful form!” I’m glad I know how to pick out correct form now by watching others. Coach  mentioned at the clinic that we work on form for almost all other sports, but people will say in regards to their running, “That’s just how I run.” Well, no. It’s your form you need to work on. I haven’t necessarily gotten any faster, but I know I have less knee and hip pain. The biggest take away from the clinic was to increase my cadence. By increasing my cadence, I will naturally use mid-foot strike because I won’t have my foot on the ground long enough to heel-strike.

If you’re thinking about going, just do it. New and old runners alike will gain some tips and/or reminders.

AND there will be a Good Form Running Clinic 2 coming soon! SIGN ME UP! 🙂 

Question: Have you attended the GFR clinic? Whether you did or didn’t what do you need to work on the most regarding your form?

Personally, I need to work the most on increasing my cadence.