Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the edge.

As runners, it feels as though we are always teetering on the edge of healthy and .... not. It is truly a balancing act that involves getting not only the running in but the stretching, the strength training, and above all the proper recovery. For me, it has always been easy to get the training part in but the recovery has always been a struggle. Perhaps, I never understood or saw the value in it - after all, aren't we more resilient than we give ourselves credit for? I have always thought so.
But the older I get - go ahead, roll your eyes but it is true - the more important recovery becomes. Every once in a while I have a momentary lapse, like not leaving enough room to recover. Yesterday, I went for a steady 45 minute run, followed up by a core session and then, after a sip of water and a half a cup of yogurt I hurried to a 90-minute hot yoga class - and forgot to bring water. Needless to say, it was not a great class for me. In fact, I almost blacked out a couple of times.

There never seems to be enough time to get it all done and so we tend to pack, pack, pack the days with as much 'work' as possible. I am constantly having conversations and sometimes even arguments with myself about this concept. Doing less sounds like laziness to me but doing too much is self-defeating - again, teetering on the edge, finding your own kind of balance. And so, as I head out for my track workout this morning I do a self-check/evaluation ... protein packed dinner, 9 hours of sleep, morning snack, rest, workout plan, okay - ready to go. When I finish my workout it will begin all over again ... stretch, food, fluids, foam roller, icing, rest, food, fluids, 2nd run, lift, food, fluids, rest, do it again ... my own sort of balance.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring shower...no! sun...no! hail storm...no! sun...no! snow...wtf?!

As I hunkered down inside the maintenance shed at Caldwell high this afternoon - waiting out the sudden snow pellet storm - I couldn't help but laugh. Twenty minutes earlier I had been in the middle of my warm up, excited about the calm, cool, sunny weather - perfect for my 2 x 3k track workout. As I ran through my drills and strides the wind whipped up around me and the sky suddenly darkened.

Within a few minutes the sky opened up and hammered me with hard, round snow pellets. I started to move toward the start line, I mean after all what's a little snow, but it HURT! and the wind was frantic. Pat hollered at me to wait it out under cover so I ran to the open shed to do just that. Soon the ground was covered in a random blanket of hurried white. And ten minutes later the sky brightened and the sun glared against the wet track. I love the Spring!

Three laps into my first 3k I shed my top layer and was running in shorts, tank top, and long, pink, compression socks. Did I mention, I love the Spring? 11:10 - 4:00 rest - 10:48. In the bag and aside from a slight breeze... perfect. Two minutes into my warm down, the sky began to darken so I quickly ran through my hurdle mobility drills and got another six minutes of running before mother nature worked her madness once again. This time I watched from my car, shaking my head with a smile on my face. Take THAT, Spring!

Side note: This morning I ran a 2 x 2 mile relay with a friend. Was supposed to just chill and use it as my secondary run....ummmm....I ran 4 miles in around 22 minutes. Oops! That made things a little more difficult this afternoon. I can be lame sometimes. Legs are unhappy. Kind of annoyed with myself at my stupidity. But, live and learn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Products that I love.

There are certain products that I love and believe in. Whether they make my running easier, more enjoyable, or just plain better, these products have stood the test of time by yours truly and come out victorious!

1) KT tape -http://www.kttape.com/ I credit KT tape with finally curing my plantar fasciitis - once and for all. It has also been key for a number of other minor injuries and currently helping me through a posterior shin issue. Plus, it comes in cool colors.

2) Handful brahttp://handfulinc.com/ A sports bra never looked so good! I love this bra for running, wearing with my favorite t-shirt, using on it's own in hot yoga, and above all for avoiding the dreaded nippage in any setting.

3) Oiselle apparelhttp://www.oiselle.com/ I swear, this love is real. Yes, I am lucky enough to be sponsored by this rad company but I put this highly functional and fashionable apparel to the test every day. And every day I am satisfied with it's performance and more importantly, my performance in it (here is one of my favorites, the Roga short).

4) Nuunhttp://www.nuun.com/ My go-to electrolyte replacement drink. I am drinking it as I write this. Lots of flavor choices but my favorite is tri-berry and banananuun. It makes hydrating easier for me.

5) Think Thin Protein Bar - http://www.thinkproducts.com/2011/ An easy way to get your post-workout protein in a not-so-chalky bar. This bar spells immediate recovery for me with 230 calories, zero sugar, 20 grams of protein, and gluten free - along with loads of vitamins and minerals. I am a big fan of the dark chocolate flavor. Not a huge fan of the name but love the product.

6) Bone-Up - http://www.jarrow.com/product.php?prodid=205 I take a few supplements regularly - fish oil, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. But when I was taken down with a stress fracture at the end of 2010, I talked with Mike Johnson (Western Oregon University's head track & field coach) after a failed attempt at running after 7 weeks off - he suggested Bone-Up. Within a week I was running again with no bone pain and a visit to the PT confirmed the bone healed. I have discontinued taking my separate vit D and calcium supplements and instead take 4 Bone-Up capsules per day. Great find, especially for the female runner.

7) Paleo Diet for Athleteshttp://thepaleodiet.com/ This book is my guide to nutrition. Although, I don't follow it to the "t" I try to abide by the guidelines and believe it has made a world of difference in my recovery and in my lean muscle development.

8) Brooks T6 (now the T7) - http://www.brooksrunning.com/ Hands down the best racing flat I have ever worn. Perfect for track workouts, road races, or any time you just want to feel and be FAST! I remember the first race I wore these shoes in, a road 5K back in 2005. Never had I finished a race an not had sore calves
until this race. I credit the racers and have continued to use them with great success.

9) Foam rollerhttp://www.focus-pt.com/index-1.html How could I get through a list like this and not mention the foam roller, a staple in my training routine since about 2005. It was first introduced to me by my physical therapist, Mike Devitt - video link for foam roller exercises - and with almost daily use, my IT bands and calves stay happy and healthy. 

There are several other training "aids" that I use on a regular basis, such as, yoga, high-potency iron, and napping to name a few. But, how about you? What keeps your body healthy and happy?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Going to the dogs.

I have never understood the phrase, "going to the dogs" as it seems to imply negativity and I have seen more negativity from the human species than I ever have from dogs. In fact, there are a several key lessons that I have learned from my dog, Drake, that I try to incorporate into my training.

  1. Up with the sun, down with the sun- that's right, when the sun comes up Drake is up and ready to go- unstoppable energy flows and a new day of training to be the neighborhood squirrel killer begins. But, as soon as the sun goes down you will find him passed out on his bed after a long day of living with enthusiasm-prepping for the next day of training.
  2. Napping guru- this one is difficult for me with my go,go,go, Go, GO! state of mind. However, sometimes I glance out the window and Drake will be frantically prancing around under a tree yipping at a squirrel taunting him and the next minute I will look again and Drake will be passed out in the sun-napping. 
  3. Always ready and willing- unbridled enthusiasm for the day. Ready to do what it takes, to put in the work, to do all the extras. Drake epitomizes this. Not only does his body shake with pure excitement when I reach for his running leash but he never complains about how he feels-he just does it. Whatever IT is.
  4. Excitement over food- while I will not be taking his lead as to how QUICKLY to eat, watching Drake eat reminds me to think of food not only as fuel but as pure joy. A necessity of a life well lived and training well aided.
  5. Always trying, never give up- stop in the middle of a run because he is tired? NEVER. It is not in his blood to give up-come adverse weather, thirst, hunger, pain, it is nothing compared to the pleasant exhaustion that comes from hard work.
  6. When you gotta go, you gotta go- anyone who knows me might understand why I throw this one in here. Pop-a-squat, but be quick about it. 20 seconds max. And in some cases, don't stop-it will dry.