Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On MRIs and Steve Miller Band

Things are not looking too good on the hamstring front. Or the IT band front, for that matter. It's so frustrating. Like you've never heard me say that before, right?

This morning was my MRI for my hamstring. I have never had an MRI before, so I went in to it the same way I have gone in to all the other procedures I was having done for the first time . . . like it would be super easy and not a big deal. First of all, the MRI IRL (that would be "MRI in real life") was not as bright and shiny as the one in the pictures on the imaging center's website. My room was dim. The pictures promised that if I was only having imagining on a lower extremity I would be half hanging out of the machine. Oh, no. I was almost all the way in and holy cow. My husband told me how claustrophobic he was when he got an MRI many years ago and I shrugged it off. I totally get it now. Deep breaths. 

Luckily I was given head phones with Steven Miller Band blaring through them. Nothing makes an uncomfortable experience more comfortable than some Steve Miller Band, amIright? I will never be able to listen to "The Joker" again without it invoking panic. 

I would love to let you know what the results were, but I won't know until next Thursday when I see my doctor. Is it awful that I want some glaring obvious thing wrong with me? Cause I sort of do. None of the tricks my PT has tried have worked. The IMS didn't work (though I will get one more treatment to make sure). I should say, I don't think the IMS worked. The weird thing is that when I went to see my massage therapist for the first time since getting IMS she remarked that the "cigar shaped band" of muscle in my hamstring was gone. That was exactly what the IMS was for . . . so is the bunched up muscle gone and I still have hamstring pain??? I don't quite know yet what that all means. 

On one other interesting note, my massage therapist noted that my left glute had less muscle than the left. That is the side with my ouchy IT band. When I told my personal trainer about it we decided to do a test. I tried sitting in a chair and standing back up with only one leg. I couldn't do it on the left at all, but I could just barely do it on the right. So interesting. My left glute really is weaker! Now I am focusing on engaging that side more when I do certain exercises, like squats. 

Tonight's run was sort of a constant inventory of what was feeling weird with my lower extremities. That sucks. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-Up

This was an interesting week. I had lots of ups and downs, physically, but also emotionally , because I just don't know what to make of my various aches and pains. I was sore on some body part or another the entire week. If it wasn't soreness directly related to my weight training, it was my IT band and hamstring letting me know they will never be happy, no matter how much work (and money!) I put in to pleasing them. My new goal is just to keep the discomfort at a level that doesn't interfere with my running or weight training. My trainer says after I have been doing weight training for a little while I won't be so sore after every workout. I hope that is true! I have also been foam rolling like crazy this week.

Coming up on Wednesday I am having an MRI done on my hamstring. Looking forward to that (I think?) and I hope I get some solid answers on what the heck is wrong. Stay tuned!

Total Miles Run: 14.75 

Monday: 4 miles run AND workout with trainer

I normally would not schedule two workouts in one day, so this made me nervous. Thankfully, it worked out pretty well. The hardest part about it was I ran in the morning, came home and showered, then went to my workout with my trainer after dinner . . . another set of workout clothes and another shower. 

I got to run with my friend Michael, so that was really nice, I don't think we have run together since October, thanks to my stress fracture. Now that my mileage is creeping up (oh, so slowly!) I can finally dabble in running with other people again. 

When I showed up at the gym to see my trainer she immediately could tell I was feeling less than 100%. I explained how sore I had been since my Friday workout with her and how my two runs went, including the one that very morning. Luckily we were able to focus solely on the upper body in this workout so I felt strong the whole time, even with sore legs.

Stretching with a bar
*Bench press: first rep w/ 35 lb bar, 2nd w/ 45lbs, 3rd and 4th w/ 55 lbs. (My barbell was hilarious, so teeny with a five pound weight on each end!)
*Pull-down exercise on a cable machine, I don't know the name. I kneeled with my back to the machine and pulled the handles down to my shoulders.
*Seated row
*Push-ups to side planks (sets of 8, 8 and 10! Ouch!)
*Superman/banana-- this was so hard! Lay in superman (on belly, arms straight out ahead, arms and legs lifted as high as you can lift) for a few seconds, then roll over and come up in to a v-sit for a few seconds, then roll back down in to superman, and so on and so forth. 

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 2.5 miles run and bootcamp

I did some laps on the track because I wanted this day to be more about the run, but I think I overdid the bootcamp part. Here was the workout I put together for my friend and I:

Circuit one (2x):
*Sumo high row (sumo stance holding weights, squat down, then raise weights to chin on the way up)
*Figure skaters (holding weights, curtsy and raise arms straight out to the side)
*Fly bridge (in a bridge, hold weights straight up, then lower out in to a fly. Raise arms back up, lower body, raise back in to bridge and repeat)
*Wiper planks (in plank position move one foot at a time in and out like a windshield wiper)
*Superman/Banana (see Monday's workout!)

Then we ran the stadium stairs for several minutes.

Circuit Two (2x):
*Jumping jacks
*Prisoner squats
*Abs of choice

Thursday: workout with trainer

Stretching w/ bar
*Standing rows w/ 20 lbs then 35 lb barbell
*Inverted rows superset w/ bent-over row. Bent-over row was 45 lb. barbell.
*Side lunges w/ weight. Lift plate overhead, then lunge to side and touch plate to the ground. Superset lunges w/ Russian twists. First set w/ 10 lb weight, next two sets w/ 25 lb weight.
*Pike push-ups w/ my feet on a plyo box (um, are you effing kidding me?!?! These were HARD!)

Friday: Run 3.5 miles

Having a gym membership has made me a lazy runner. If I look outside and the weather isn't ideal, poof!, I'm at the gym on the treadmill. On Friday, though, it was raining, windy and cold. I will do rain, I will do cold, but I despise wind. All three together = treadmill for sure.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Run 4.75 miles

Long run day! Headed out there solo. I am not a fan of solo long runs. I ended up running by a bunch of people running who I later figured out were a group from a local running store. I should remember that option for next time I have to do a solo Sunday run. For this run I parked my car and ran north on a main West Seattle road, then 1/2 way through I turned around and ran back. The run ended on a slight downhill, which was pretty fun and made me feel fast after chugging up a slight uphill.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A New Rhythm

Have you ever been singing a song, and then you get in the car and that exact same song is playing on the radio? Happened to me today. Totally freaked me out. I was glad the girls were in the car with me for proof that I wasn't making it up, ha!


I decided it was time to sit down and draft a calendar for my workouts since things have been so
discombobulated lately on that front. I mean, this Monday I scheduled myself to run AND see my trainer, which wasn't as bad as it sounds, but certainly isn't ideal for me. Now that I am pushing 4+ miles for my runs I can start doing "long runs" (and yes, I know calling a run over 4 miles long is kinda laughable). Starting next week I will do runs of different lengths during the week with my longest run on Sunday, instead of running the same distance each day of the week.

Since I can't run two days in a row and have been absolutely loving my strength sessions with my trainer it is working out to do three running days and two strength training days per week  with two rest days. I *think* this might be the magic schedule for me.

Sunday- long run
Monday- strength
Tuesday- rest
Wednesday- run (w/ some strength)
Thursday- strength
Friday- run
Saturday- rest

Kind of perfect, no? Since I am running three days a week I am sloooowly starting to consider a "Run Less, Run Faster" type plan for those three runs to give them "purpose". I say"purpose" because right now my sole purpose is just to run injury free, but I know that it will get boring to keep doing the same slow runs in the 9:30-10:30 pace every time. I won't be running too fast or too hard, but I should be able to throw a little speed work in there once a week. Turns out running after a tough day of strength training makes for lead-filled legs!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-Up

It was equal parts brutal and fun to get back in to a routine this week. 

February 11-17

Total Miles Run: 7.5

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: Weight training with my trainer 

Oh, this workout was brutal. My first real workout in almost two full weeks. Ouchiness galore. For some reason I can't remember every exercise I did, though this is most of them. I think. 
Loosen upper body with a band and a bar, then squats
*push presses
*on a bar in one of the "cage" thingies in the weight room I alternated push-ups and a sort of pull-up where I sort of hung under the bar with my feet in front of me. It looked like the opposite of the push-up.
*practice lunge form, then walking lunges holding a 20 lb kettle bell above my head in one hand
*ab work (holding a big soft medicine ball between my knees I laid on my back and rotated my legs side to side, then I put the ball between my feet and passed it back and forth from my feet to my hands, lowering hands and feet to the floor between passes)

Wednesday: Run 3.5 miles

I met my friend at the gym for the first time ever! It was so much to have her there. We usually do our bootcamp together outside, but with the weather being so crummy in the winter I finally convinced her to join my gym. Yay! We ran next to each other on the treadmills, which was great. She isn't as much of a runner as I am, so we can be side by side and doing our own workout the whole time while chatting. My favorite treadmill run ever. After the 'mills I showed her a bunch of fun stuff I have been doing with my trainer. 

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Weight training with my trainer

loosen upper body with a bar and band, then squats 
*sumo deadlifts w/ 30 lb kettle bell
* wall balls (throwing a big soft 12 lb ball high up on to the wall, then coming down in to a squat as I catch it, rising out of the squat to throw it)
*step-ups on to a box, three sets, 1st w/ body weight, 2nd w/ 2-15 lb plates, 3rd w/ 2-25 lb plates
*clean and press w/ 25 lb, then 35 lb barbell
*cable rows w/ 90 lbs alternating w/ hanging knee crunches (hanging from a pull up bar and pulling my knees to my chest)
*pistol squats using a bar-- three sets, the first two with two hands, the last one with one hand. OUCH. *plank with forearms on a stability ball alternating w/ plank position with my feet on the ball, then rolling the ball and tucking my knees up towards my chest (I don't know the name of that move!) 

Saturday: Run 4 miles

I warmed up  walking for 1/4 mile, then ran 4 miles, then walked around 1 to 1 1/4 miles when I was done. The last bit my friend came and so we chatted while we walked. After the run/walk we did a little bit of ab work. It was a very hard run. First it was the longest I have run since coming back from my stress fracture, but that wasn't the hard part. The hard part was how sore I was from Friday's workout! I think I need to figure out the happy medium of working hard with weights but still being able to get my runs in when I need to. 

Sunday: Rest

I am soooo sore today. Definitely a rest day! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Checking In

Yes, it's been just over a week since I posted. Things are cah-ray-zee busy around these parts! 

As I mentioned in my last post, I was very sick for almost an entire week. Then just as I was feeling better it was time to leave for a trip I had planned. My very bestest bestie moved to Texas (sniff sniff!). She drove from Seattle to Albuquerque, where she stayed with her mom for a few days. I flew to Albuquerque to meet her and then she and I drove to her new home in Corpus Christi, Texas. I stayed in Texas until late Sunday night (technically Monday morning) and now, well, now it's Wednesday. 

I wanted to write about how much I have slacked on my workouts, but it wasn't so much slacking as there was literally zero time to fit them in. Obviously you can't do anything when sick and feverish and achy, but I severely under-estimated how much time I would have to get exercise in while away on my trip. I did a couple of short runs on a treadmill at my friend's new place and that was it. 

Last night I saw my trainer again and it was quite humbling to see how much strength I had lost in just two weeks of being almost completely off of workouts. For the first time ever my trainer asked me to lift a weight that I just couldn't. I will always, always push myself to the limit, but I couldn't lift the stupid kettle bell over my head so that I could do lunges with it. I asked her to get a lighter one. Like I said, humbling. It sucks to work so hard and then lose fitness so quickly. On the plus side, I know I can get it back, and probably faster than I think I will.

Today I met a friend at the gym, my very first friend ever to join me at the gym!, and we had a lot of fun. We ran on the treadmills and chatted a bunch and then I showed her some of the things I had been learning in the gym. Turns out running on a treadmill isn't so bad when you have a friend there with you!

In addition to being out of it with my workouts, I am figuring out how to once again balance the work/home/volunteer thing and fit in everything else I have to do in any given week. The girls have a crazy school schedule this month so my work and home days are kind of mixed up since I am always home when they are home. It's amazing, I work eight hours a week and I feel like I can barely handle that much! Life is way too busy and it doesn't seem to ever let up! I can't even imagine a week where I have time during the day to go, huh, what should I do with myself? Yep, that would never happen. 

I will post some pictures of my trip soon (and by soon I mean hopefully before the end of the month!). 

Also, Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you have a beautiful day! 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Seattle Run Series 5K

I wanted to write a race re-cap of my recent 5K because I really think the Seattle Run Series is the Seattle area's best kept secret for racing. I love, love, love the races they put on and have run (and worked) many of them.

5K isn't my favorite distance. In fact, it's probably my least favorite. I don't like short and fast races, but since I am not going for fast this year, a 5K race didn't seem so daunting anymore. Plus, this race fit neatly in to my schedule on my way back from an injury . . . I just ran 3 miles for the first time on Friday January 25th and this race was on Sunday the 27th! 

A little background, the Seattle Run Series can be run as a three race series, this series has one race a month in January, February and March. One cool benefit to running all three races is that if you improve your race times the most from the 1st to the 3rd race, you win some cool prizes, including a free pair of shoes of your choice! You can also run just one or two of the races. 

So back to Sunday. I was really worried it would be raining and cold, and the race is held at Seward Park, which is a beautiful, but sometimes sucky, location for a race. The weather can be extremely unpredictable on the little peninsula. I have run races there where the weather went from rain, to hail, to sunny, to rain, to hail, all with a strong wind thrown in there for good measure. But this Sunday was great. No rain, only a little wind. About the very best you can hope for for January! 

I went to the race with my friend Carol and we got there with plenty of time to spare and packet pick-up was easy peasy. We warmed up a little but running around the park and then headed to the bathroom before lining up at the start. It was so fun to see a few of my running friends and we chatted a bit as we waited to take off. It was a big crowd for this race series. Maybe there were 200 people there? 

After we took off there was zero clogging up on the course. We all spread out evenly and it was smooth sailing. I took off ahead of Carol but we met back up about 1/2 mile in and ran the rest of the way together. The course is an out and back (they don't make us run up the pesky hill in the middle of Seward Park!) which is really nice. It's fun to watch the speediest runners on their way back to the finish line! 

Carol and I chatted most of the way. About 1/4 of a mile to the finish Carol told me to go ahead, I had some kick in me and she wasn't feeling it. Of course, she finished just a few seconds behind me, so I think she had more kick than she thought! I didn't wear my watch for this race so I had zero idea of my pace and when I crossed the finish line I saw 27:xx on the clock. Indeed, I finished in 27:29. Not too shabby! 9th in my AG and 12th female overall.

Carol and I in the home stretch. Isn't my Athleta top cute? 

My favorite thing about Seattle Run Series' races is the spread of food! Chocolate milk, juice, water, coconut water, peanut butter and jelly and peanut butter and honey on Dave's Killer Bread, muffins, bagels, cream cheese, oranges, bananas . . . I know I am missing some things. I had to walk away from the buffet before I more than ate back all of the calories I ran off, ha! I didn't check out the booths myself, but this race had a massage therapist and a few other informational booths set up.

My second favorite thing about these races are the professional photos are FREE, yes, free! It is included in your race fee, which I believe was $30. 

My friend and I didn't stick around for the medals (yes, we're lame like that), but the top finishers in each AG for the 5K and 10K win medals.

These are my favorite small races in the city, hands down. Maybe you want to come run one with me some time? 

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Running Wild: Weekly Wrap-Up

As you gathered from my previous post, and will see below, I spent most of my week sick. I don't think I have taken this much time off of exercising since I started running about 1 1/2 years ago.

However, before I got sick, I got in a great workout on Monday that I figured was worth mentioning!

January 28- February 3

Total miles run: 3

Monday: workout with trainer

Every week feels tougher than the last. Sometimes I wonder if my trainer is just trying to find my breaking point! But I try to bring intensity every session to match the challenge. On Monday we did push-ups, jump-rope, kettlebell swings, box jumps, practiced different squat forms, back-squat a 35 lb barbell (we were warming up for a 55 lb back squat, but the weight room was too busy and we couldn't use the squat rack, so next time!), then pistol squats (one legged squats), weighted push-ups (25lb plate on my back), plank with my forearms on a balance ball (making circles!), and lastly an oblique ab exercise. It was rough. I was very sore the next day!

Tuesday: 3 mile run

Nothing too exciting about this run, other than I got it done.

Wednesday through Sunday: SICK.

Holy cow. So, yeah, I ended up very sick. On Wednesday I was pretty sure I was coming down with something. Now it's Sunday and I am finally upright and fever-free. I can't even begin to think about when I will exercise again. It's kind of sad knowing I will be far from top form for a while now . . . sigh. I guess it is what it is.