4/23/14

My tulips have bloomed and running shoe nerd stuff

Hello! Mid-week and post-Boston excitement! I was able to watch the last hour of the Boston Marathon live and was on pins and needles as Meb came in for the win. So happy for him! I was really hoping he would place strong and at least make the podium, but a win is even better and great for USA! I wish Shalane could have come in for the win too, that would have made for a really nice USA all-over win. Her choking up as she was being interviewed really made me feel so much for her. I know she put her all into this race.

Speaking of racing ... I have a race this weekend and next weekend. I'm not sure yet how each will play out, so I'll just do a recap after the fact. I probably shouldn't call it racing, more so running. With my calf issue, I don't see me pushing hard :(  They are paid for and I do need the miles, so we'll see what comes of it. This Spring racing season for me ended up a wash, but I'm ok with it. I've learned over the years that you have to take the good times with the bad. There is always another race to train for!

House and home


My tulips are blooming! I forget sometimes where I have bulbs planted and these little tulips were a nice surprise. I'm loving the smaller variety of tulip ... I will have to look for more to plant this Fall.

My tulips are blooming

I was able to run a strong 5 mile run on Monday and my problem calf felt pretty good. I went out today and it was tight again, so I stopped and walked home. Healing from an injury has its ups and downs, but I'm trying to stay positive. On the plus side, the original area of pain/injury is no longer hurting and I seem to be just left dealing with residual tightness. I hope I'm in the final healing stage. The main goal right now is to keep some of my fitness level intact without making it worse. I need to research good calf loosening techniques ... any tips?

Running shoe nerd stuff


I'm still running in my Saucony Triumphs and my sports chiro has said for me to stay in an older pair that my feet and legs are used to during this healing. I've been doing that and now I think I'm ready to slowly start testing out some new shoes again to tackle my needs.

I had my local running store do a new video gait and foot strike analysis and saw that I have pretty good foot strike. My right foot pronates just a wee bit, but nothing concerning and overall I'm still a neutral runner. It's good to see I still get told that, so things haven't changed for the worse. In fact, I was pretty happy to see my feet land well! We discussed my concern that I might need a touch/hint/whisper of stability mostly for long runs when form starts suffering and that led me to two different shoes to try: the new models of the Brooks Ravenna and the Saucony Cortana.

Saucony Cortana 3

I liked how the Brooks Ravennas feel on my feet, but I could immediately tell with running that they probably won't work for me over a long distance. The Saucony Cortana, however, reminds me of my favorite Brooks Pure Flow 2s! They have a similar feel to my feet, they are both 4mm drop, and both have good cushion. The Saucony Cortana is described as having just a little touch of stability for when you are tired later on in mileage but still a neutral shoe ... just what I was hoping to hear! We'll see how they do, but I have high hopes for them. I have a pair from my local running store and fortunately can return if they don't work out. Fingers crossed! I still have some miles left on my Saucony Triumph 10s and will probably still use them up as well. I tried the new Saucony Triumph 11s and they felt a little 'bigfoot' to me whereas the Cortana felt more flexible and less clunky, if that makes sense?

What do you think of calf tightness? Do you have a method of loosening up the calves?


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Christina

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4/21/14

Great Easter weather and go Boston runners!

We had a beautiful Easter with the weather and today is another gorgeous day! I wish my calf was feeling 100% back to normal so I could run much longer, but I'm very grateful for the healing it appears to be doing and the miles I am able to do. I want to watch the Boston Marathon live like I did last year, but I also want to run too! I'm planning to get out and run and see what all I can catch when I'm done with my morning run. It's always so inspirational to watch races like these. I'm rooting the most for Meb and Shalane, but am glad to see any American run it strong!

My daughter's Easter basket is looking more grown up nowadays :)

Easter basket as kids get older


Speaking of Shalane, she posted her race day outfit on Twitter and I got curious as to which shoes she was running in. I think they are the Nike Lunar Glides, but maybe not? She posted in March that Lunar Glides are her main shoe and they kind of look like them. What I found completely interesting is that Runningwarehouse.com lists Lunar Glides as having an 11+ heel drop! Curious ...



Desi Davila Linden mentioned in an interview that she was racing in the Brooks T7 Racer, also an 11+ heel drop!

Since I've been dealing with all of these niggles and aches all Spring, I'm starting to wonder if I should-maybe-whoknows try a stability shoe after all? I've been running in neutral shoes for 3 years now and overall I'm fine in them. Most running store gurus assess my gait and footstrike to be mostly neutral, but I did have one running store guru a while back tell me that she thinks I am borderline on one foot and could maybe try a little stability. Who knows, the running shoe thing is always a frustrating process for me. I ran a long time in Brooks Pure Flows and had a lot of good success with them. I am not a fan of the new model. I've been running in Saucony Triumphs now for a couple months and I really like them. Since I like them so much, I'm thinking of trying on a pair of Saucony Guides to see if that might be a match for me too. They have an 8mm drop and I would like to stay 8mm or less. Hopefully I can find a pair locally in one of my stores to try on and see.

One reason I think I might benefit from a little stability in a shoe is the long run. When I start getting into double-digit runs and it gets harder, my form suffers. That's fairly normal for most runners, but maybe that is where I trigger some of these niggles and aches. I've been thinking it is from speed work, but perhaps it's really from form problems on longer runs?

Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the week and Go Boston Runners!


How was your Easter weekend (for those who celebrate)? Do you run in a neutral, stability, or minimal shoe?


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Christina

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4/19/14

Three days of running, healing, and fresh berries

Happy Easter weekend for those who celebrate! We're having some wonderful weather today and I'm hoping it holds through Easter. The weekends always get busy for me so I thought I'd try to do a quick recap of my week, how my leg is doing, and how running is going.

Running and healing


First, I ran a fairly comfortable 7 miler today! That was after two previous days of easy 3 mile runs while watching the calf. I ran the first 5 easy without stopping and held it steady at a conversational pace. I was feeling good! I started thinking I should "stop and walk for a minute" just to make sure my calf had a little rest before continuing. That was a mistake because my calf tightened more after stopping. Lesson learned, keep going if you feel good! I finished out 2 more miles a little less thrilled with the feel, but overall I was happy to be back out and running. My calf is still feeling the strain and still healing, but it's much better than it was 5 days ago. The main goal is to do active healing and not let it turn into a worse situation. Right now, it is manageable if I'm smart. I had the go-ahead to run from my sports chiro, just easy and nothing too extreme, so I did :)

Finally starting to feel a little more normal on runs

I had a therapy day at my sports chiro's clinic on Friday before the 7 mile run day. I got laser treatment and some electro therapy, plus some very painful Graston. I can't even express how painful that is :(  It's a controversial therapy, some advocate for it, some against. We'll see over time if it helps me! I've been with my sports chiro for a long time now so I do trust him. I think that is important before going forward with some of these newer techniques.

Therapy with my sports chiro


Pets


Kitty enjoyed my water after my run today ... (I did get a fresh cup after he had his share). I also did some mild strength work and good stretching on my mat after my run. Donkey kicks felt really good after that run!

Kitty decided to use up my post run water!


Food


I'm very happy fresh berry season is back for the supermarkets! They are a great topper for my daily salads.

Berry season



Have you ever had Graston done? How is your running going? Are you planning to watch Boston live? I watched the Boston Marathon live last year and I'm hoping to do so again, but it depends on how my morning shapes up. I'm really rooting for Shalane!!!



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Christina I'm also found here:

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4/17/14

Taped up with a return to running!

I had an appointment yesterday with my sports chiro and he diagnosed my calf strain as "tibialis posterior strain". He also said I can slowly get back to running! I need to make the runs easy while it heals, but I don't need to be off running completely. PHEW! It's not completely feeling fabulous right now, still sore and tender, but active recovery is allowed and for that, I'm super happy :)  This link has really good information on what it is I'm dealing with and how to heal and treat it.

Taped up and cleared to run again

As I wrote in my last post, I decided to stop running completely for at least 3 days until my visit with him. I also decided to follow Sock Doc's advice of no stretching, at least for the first 48 hours, to let it rest and not further stress the area. I also iced the area and wore compression sleeves and socks. I started noticing, however, that my calf feels better after I walk and spend time on my feet. Shopping, getting groceries, and other daily activities leave my leg feeling much better, but the pain comes back when I'm immobile. I started sensing that I was probably going to be able to get back to light running soon and thankfully, my sports chiro approved!

We didn't discuss "strength exercises" on this visit, but I'm planning to discuss it more with him when I go back on Friday. He's going to do a laser treatment on it and "manipulate it" himself (I'm assuming some kind of ART), and hopefully this will just be a little bump in the road and in another week or two I'm back to my average weekly mileage. I know I do need to suck it up and work on strengthening my hips and glutes. It's not fun to me, but I know I need to do it. I've researched glute specific exercises and besides the always-useful squats, I will add clamshells, donkey kicks, and the side leg lifts. I'll also keep up my stretching and make sure to do heel drops to keep my calves loose. I always stretch after runs and was doing heel drops, but this still cropped up. I'm left to assume my hips and glutes are weak again and probably the underlying cause of issues like this.

Basically, I need to get back to doing what I was doing before and accept that it is necessary. Even though I don't want to :)  I'm going to go lightly on the strength work, however, because I've always noticed that too much leaves my body aching more and then my running form suffers. I think it's a matter of finding the right balance for my body.

I've made some changes to my upcoming race plans and strategies, but I'll write about that in another post. I need to finalize all of my plans and I want to wait a couple more days to see how my leg feels and heals.

Have you had a calf issue before and were able to run through most it? How do you deal with the aches/niggles/strains while still allowed to run?



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Christina

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4/14/14

Stressing your body to run longer and stronger

It's been a bit of a hectic weekend followed by a little bad news with my leg. The weekend was going great, my legs were great, I had a strong 11 mile run on Friday, but then I went out for a short and easy run on Sunday and my calf just tightened up, pain seared, and the hurt set in quick. This whole time I've been thinking Achilles, but now I think it is calf and not Achilles after all. Which is sort of a good thing, but still frustrating nonetheless. I'm 2 weeks out from a Half Marathon and can taper back anyway, but argh! I go in on Wednesday to see my sports chiro and massage therapist so we'll see what they think. I've decided no running until I see them, three days from now. I can walk on it and it doesn't seem swollen. I'm wearing ProCompression calf sleeves, icing, and elevating/rest. I'm going to use Sock Doc's recommendation of actually not stretching it. The stretching I had been doing for calf/Achilles didn't seem to help leading up to this after all. I've found stretching really helps me with things like keeping ITB at bay, but the calf/shin/achilles area seems to respond in a different way. Basically, the upper half of my legs like stretching, the lower half doesn't seem to matter?

At least it is taper time anyway!


Taper time begins!


On the positive


On the positive, I've been holding steady 20+ mile weeks for a couple weeks now and mentally and physically (other than this calf thing), I'm feeling really good. What I'm really happy about is my mental and physical fitness state. It gives me a lot of hope for the next Full training cycle regarding those aspects. I'd really like to keep a 20 mile week as a typical run week leading up into the Fall when I try for another Full Marathon cycle and know that these aches and niggles right now are part of my body adapting and building up.


On the frustration


I'm of course frustrated with this calf thing because I've had niggling/pesky/irritating injuries and aches pretty much this entire Spring training season. Last year at this time I trained strong and healthy for a FULL marathon! I'm even following a similar plan, my mileage is low, 10% rule followed, etc. I don't think it is shoes either, I've been having issues whether I run in a zero drop to a higher heel. Just bad luck right now? I did have a really strong March training and first week of April, but the weeks before and now after that time frame have been trouble-some. Well, we'll see how it feels by race day - I will not run the Half if I feel it's not wise. Another positive is that my chafing issue is on the mend, good grief :)


Cutting back on extra strength exercises


Because I was having so many niggling issues back in January/February, I quit doing intense leg strength exercises, like squats. I actually started having less trouble when I cut out a lot of extra leg exercise work and let my legs just run and then rest. I also have had no upper back/neck trouble now that I cut out planks and other core work. My whole body feels really good for running (other than this one calf) so for me, it seems that the extra strength work may hinder me at times rather than help. Everyone is different in how they respond and there are millions of articles discussing the benefits of strength exercises for runners versus the adage that one must really focus more on running. I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle and we have to each experiment with our own physiology. I do believe as one ages, strength exercises are important. I also believe running targets leg strength as well as the cardio, so I don't believe runners need that much additional "leg work". If anything, we probably need core strength the most. I don't recall that the runners in "Running with the Kenyans" were doing that much extra work, other than running and running more.

Just to clarify, I think squats are one of the best leg strength exercises ... just perhaps not as necessary a couple weeks closer to race day?

For example, if you run strong on a Monday and then use Tuesday for leg strength work, you haven't given your legs a chance to heal/rebuild from Monday's strong run. I've always noticed how good my legs feel after a day or two "leg rest". They feel refreshed and ready to tackle miles again so I know they recovered well. If I squat during that "rest time", I'm not giving them as much opportunity to heal. We discussed this during RRCA and I remember our instructor was pretty adamant about making running your main priority and not focusing too much on other exercises. Just a little to stay strong, but nothing too intense.

A fun part of the weekend was a tie-dye tee project with kids! We had a couple girls over and they really liked making these tees :)


Tie dye tee craft with kids


How often do you deal with the niggles/aches when you really ramp up your running? I think I'm just in the phase of building up again and working out the kinks until my body adapts to new stresses. Hopefully by the Fall I'll have built up strong again!


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Christina

I'm also found here:

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4/10/14

Catching up, running strong, a little chafing, but feeling good!

I'm being a lazy blogger lately! Still alive, running, and doing well ... however the sun has been coming out more and I'm finding a burst of Spring cleaning, yard work, and extra energy lately. I'll try to get better with my weekly updates on here after I get past some of my Spring Fever :)  Running has been going well, although I have unfortunately created an ugly "chafing" problem in an unmentionable area. I never chafe!!! This took me by surprise and I'm not sure how I created it since I have been wearing the same gear for several years now. No major changes in clothing/fabrics, no changes in habits. *sigh* At least it is on the mend and I'm hoping to get outdoors tomorrow for a longer run. I decided to take Wed and Thurs off to let it heal and allow the ointments and air-drying to help. I'm using Bacitracin, Lotrimin, and rubbing alcohol. One of these items began healing it, just not sure which, so I'm going to continue using them all. I'll lube up with Bacitracin before my next run and hopefully this will clear. (tmi for sure!)

All of my runs have been strong and my legs are doing well. I get a little niggle now and then from my Achilles still, but it doesn't seem injured. Keeping an eye on it and I think on race day, how it is behaving will determine how strong I'll try to PR (or not). Healthy legs first ... no matter what.

10 miles and feeling strong

Since I've been running more miles lately, fierce hunger starts setting in. I have noticed that once I ramp up mileage and get into more and more runs beyond an hour, my body starts craving food after the runs. I've been eating Quest bars with water after my runs lately rather than my usual post-run Almond Milk protein powder drink ... I'm just starving all the time again.

Stretching with protein recovery


It's been a while since I've ordered any new running gear (other than shoes), so I sent an order off to ProCompression for two new pair of their marathon socks. I ordered orange and purple, two colors I don't have and the two colors I seem to have plenty of clothing to match.

I'm still loving my Egg, Guac, Spinach on Ezekiel bread sandwiches! They are just the best lunch for me and hold me well throughout the afternoon.

Egg white sandwiches with guac and spinach

I also tried a new roast combo, plaintains and sweet potatoes. They are a good match and with olive oil, salt, and garlic, very quick and easy to throw together to add to evening meals.

Plantains and sweet potato roast


Hope all of my runner friends are doing well! I need to check in and get caught up :) 


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Christina

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4/3/14

Spring Break busy, kitty adoptions, and training runs

I've been quite neglectful over here! We're on Spring Break and I've been busy with Mom stuff and just haven't found time to get caught up here. I'll do a quick catch up photo-dump style. The week isn't over yet and I still have quite a bit on my agenda!

I helped a friend of mine bring home a pair of bonded rescue kitties from the Humane Society a couple days ago. I would love to have taken a pic of the kitties but was a little worried they would fly out of the boxes :)

Rescue kitties going to a new home

I've been running strong this week and getting my training runs done well and as planned. I wasn't in the mood for speed work, but you know how it is, just get it done! Tuesday had a sweaty tempo run that was hard, but good for the body. My legs are feeling amazing lately *knock on wood* and I hope they keep up. I've been really pushing hard through all of March into April and can tell my fitness level has gone up again - the ebbs and flows of race training cycles.

Sweaty Tempo Run

We had some sunshine earlier this week! It felt good to see the sun again.

Some sunshine finally!

I've been doing well in the Saucony Triumphs and started the new pair into rotation so they'll be ready for race day on April 26. I usually try to have a fresh pair of shoes for a race with about 20 miles on them. Kitty is always hovering!

Kitty loves bags on the floor

My girl and I finally watched Disney's Frozen. I can't believe it took us this long to see it, being the Disney fans we are! I also added the movie song "Let It Go" to my running play list :)




How is your Spring training cycle going? I've got one more run to finish out the week, hopefully a long run with a break in this rain that set in now.



-----

Christina


I'm also found here:

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