Category Archives: Exercise

Initiation?

IHeartRunning

I think I was initiated into a secret running club without even knowing about it.

I went for my run yesterday because it was the first day in ages that it wasn’t 100-and-Firelands degrees two minutes after sunrise. Actually, it was pretty nice at 8 am or so. A little on the humid side, but it felt good. In comparison, I saw several people on walks/runs last night around 11:30 pm because it was FINALLY cool enough to do it. (Yes, my area is safe enough where people were out and about at that hour for exercise.)

My run ended up something like this: little over a half mile walk to warm up/get to the main trail, ran a full mile (YAY!), felt shin splints trying to develop, so I walked about 3/4 of a mile to just around the killer hill in the neighborhood beside the trail, turned around and walked the 3/4 mile back, ran ANOTHER full mile (YAY AGAIN!), then walked about 3/4 mile home.

So I’ve proven to myself that in a single ~4.5 mile workout, I can run one mile without stopping TWICE. Next is a matter of connecting the dots, with less of a break in between, and getting in that third mile of running. (Normally I would have jogged a bit during the 1.5 mile walk in between the two running miles, but again…shin splints.)

Which leads me back to the initial point of this post.

I want to say it was because the weather was finally nice for a run, but everyone on the trail was even MORE friendly than usual. I didn’t think this was possible! But EVERY person I walked past during my warm-up said hi or good morning or at least afforded a friendly smile. Usually I smile and go, “PUPPIES!” if they’re walking dogs (which usually earns me a smile in return) but I don’t think I’ve seen it from EVERYONE.

Then I got to the main trail. Stretched for a minute, then kicked it up to a run. That’s when it happened.

The first jogger coming toward me waved. He waved at me. I know it was at me, because he didn’t wave at the walker in front of me, and there was no one behind me. I smiled and waved back, had a surge of happy energy, and kept going.

Then it happened again with another runner.

And then another.

Walkers were still smiling and friendly, but they didn’t do the wave. It was odd.

And then when I was on my way back, jogging the second mile after my walking portion, I passed by the first jogger as he was heading back to *his* starting point. He waved again. Same wave, too.

It felt like I was being taught the secret handshake of runners.

I’ve said before that I’ve been feeling welcomed into this world that other runners live in, even though half of my workouts are not yet up to speed.

I’m having a hard time grasping this. I don’t think of myself as a runner yet. Yes, I run for 2 miles every time I go out on the trails, but I’m mostly walking still. So if only 45% of my workout is actually running, how am I a runner?

And yet, the challenge is to think positively on my goals. I WILL get there. I WILL run a straight 5K. I may not be able to do it now but I’m working on it. I’m running, therefore I’m a runner. I have a feeling that once the scale tips so more of my workout is spent running than it is walking, THAT’S when I’ll promote myself to “runner.”

But even still, there are other people—strangers—who are recognizing what I’m doing. And for that, they’re giving me the “Hi, One Of Us! Keep going!” wave.

Gotta say, it’s pretty damn cool!

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June Wrap-up

MakeJulyYourBitch

June was a crazy month. Not crazy in a bad way, but still crazy.

The beginning of the month started pretty normal. Diet, exercise. Stayed on schedule with both.

Then came vacation. There was a little travel bloating (sodium, eating at restaurants, not drinking enough water, not getting to exercise like normal) but weight-wise not much changed. I managed to get in some exercise days DURING vacation, though. That felt pretty good!

After vacation was my birthday. For all the weight I didn’t gain on vacation, I seemed to put it on over the course of a few days around my birthday. It came back off just as quickly, but those two days at a peak weight were not fun on the ego.

On the plus side, those days DID aid my motivation.

I also started seriously running. While I can’t run for miles and miles without stopping, I was doing intervals that added up to at least 2 miles in each run. Usually that came out to about half of the session. I couldn’t do that before. I was especially proud of the day I ran a mile without stopping. I hadn’t been able to do that since high school!

The running seems to have sparked some more weight loss, too! I’ve noticed since I’ve been able to run regularly that my weight has also begun to drop at a slow, but regular pace. My previous workout schedule was mostly strength training with walking as my cardio. I’ve been doing slightly less intense strength right now and working on turning my walks to runs. I think I just needed to find the right balance. The scale says weight is dropping. I can tell my calves, especially, are looking thinner. The sad part is that they were always pretty decent. I wish more would melt off my inner thighs. The only DOWN side to running is that I’m discovering the horrors of chafing!

I have also been working on eating more this month. Yep, furnace was lit, and suddenly I’m burning more fat, too. Of course, I’m still focusing on healthy foods, but I’m trying to relax a bit. I wanted to stop mentally stressing myself out over food, but still be careful about it. Between vacation and forcing myself to relax, I think it’s helped a lot.

Since the day after my birthday, I’ve dropped 3 pounds. The majority of the month was a plateau, but it’s still the least I’ve weighed since I really started focusing on getting in shape again. (I’m also 5 pounds down from the post-birthday-bash peak…a lot of that was probably water weight and “food mass” in my stomach, but it’s still nice to lose that and more!)

So what’s in store for July?

First and foremost is that I have a job interview the second week of July. I won’t say that I’m guaranteed the position, but I think I have a really good chance. A lot of July will be planned around whether or not I get this position.

I still would like to join a gym. We’re having this heat wave this weekend, making it virtually impossible to run. I could go running, but I don’t want to risk my health. Originally I said I wanted to join a gym for access to heavier weights and machines. Now I ALSO want to be able to use the cardio equipment on days like this entire weekend when running outdoors is just unsafe. Joining a gym, and which one, is dependent on whether or not I get the job.

I have a goal of getting past this plateau and back into the 160’s again. I would like to hit 165 by the end of July. That’s about a pound a week. I won’t be disappointed if I’m lower than that! The shorts I bought just before my trip are already beginning to feel a bit loose. I would like them to be unwearable (too big) by the time autumn hits and I switch back to jeans. Although right now I’m practically living in workout clothes…I try to sleep in them so when I get up in the morning I have less preparation to do a workout. It’s harder to say no when all I really need to do is put on a sports bra, socks, and shoes!

But you know, even if I don’t reach my weight goal, I’m setting a schedule for myself to stick to. I made a calendar and everything! So even if my body doesn’t want to cooperate as far as the scale is concerned, I’m going to try to hit those non-scale victories and be able to point at what I’ve accomplished.

Tomorrow is picture day. I may or may not post them. But if things continue as they are right now, hopefully I’ll have even more to show at the end of the month!

A Fitness Bucket List

SetGoals

Saying “I want to lose X number of pounds” or that “I want to get fit” is nice and all, but sometimes you need a goal to work toward to really push it. Last year my goal was BlizzCon and Krystal’s wedding in a 1-2 punch at the end of October. While meeting my goals was kind of at the mercy of what my body chose to do (“LOL PLATEAU!”) having a looming deadline kept me pushing.

My birthday was two days ago, so I began writing out a new list of goals to focus on for the next year. I WANT to include BlizzCon 2013 in this list, but it hasn’t been announced yet so it’s hard to count it. That’s not to say there aren’t other things to work toward.

Right now my first goal is to join a gym. Guess what? Happy birthday to me! I’m researching the gyms in the area, and while I think I’ll end up joining the one closest to me, you never know if there will be one that offers something that I just can’t live without. For example, the nearest one is a standard gym with separate weight rooms, cardio rooms, and offers personal training. There’s also a Curves nearby, and there’s even a boxing gym which could be interesting. I think there may even be a Crossfit gym, too, but I don’t know its status. I really wanted a place that has a pool, but the one I know of is far enough away that I don’t think I would be compelled to go as often. There’s another standard gym not too far from here. They might offer something or have better rates that would make the extra couple miles of travel worth it.

A gym would be a great investment in my health and fitness. For the strength training plans I’ve been following, I’ve maxed out the amount of weight I have on my bar and dumbbells. It’s hard to continue improving when you can’t increase the weight. I would also love to go for a run right now, but we’re having a thunderstorm. I don’t mind running in the rain, but would rather not during a thunderstorm. In addition, our summers get very hot and humid, so it would be nice to be able to hop on a treadmill or get in some other cardio if the weather is potentially dangerous.

So the big question is finding a gym that I like, and ensuring that I’m committed to using it…which is why I’m setting up a goal list in the first place!

Not gonna lie, if there was a Pink Iron in my area, I’d join in a heartbeat.

PinkIronGym

Goal #2: Sign up for a 5K race. The closest gym to me sponsors a 5K in the fall, and they even posted the race map…which I have been walking most of already! I walked/jogged the entire course the other day, and it wasn’t too bad. The worst part is The Hill through one of the neighborhoods. I’ve always seen a running club jogging down the hill, and now I know it’s because it’s apparently a route that’s a measured 5K. So you know what I’m doing? I’m working my way up to running it, and going in a direction to run UP the hill. (I don’t know if the race goes up or down the hill, although the map has it marked “Uphill” but I figure this way I am putting a little extra work in.)

On the subject of running, I hit a non-scale victory the other day by running over a mile on a particular trail non-stop! I know that might seem silly to the people who are used to running several miles non-stop, but I don’t think I’ve run a full mile since college. I then walked a quarter mile, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half mile, jogged another quarter, walked The Hill, jogged a quarter mile, walked a half, jogged a half mile, and walked the final quarter mile home. I remember starting going on walks in March and being winded and tired after only walking 1.25 miles. Now my distance is nearing 5 miles in the same time it used to take me to do 3, and I’m running more. If I keep it up, (I’m loosely following the C25K plan) I am sure I can do a whole 5K in September!

Goal #3 is to continue the running and getting in shape. Why? Have you ever heard of the Krispy Kreme Challenge? According to the site, the course is now 5 miles…just a little over what I walk already. The challenge is to eat the dozen doughnuts before reaching the finish line. I love me some Krispy Kreme Doughuts. I grew up with them. I giggled in college when people first discovered these “new” doughnuts. The Challenge is more or less a local race for me. So why not? They don’t have the information up yet for 2013, but this year’s challenge was in February. I’d assume it would take place around the same time. And yes, I know how many calories are in a full box of Krispy Kremes. I would likely sign up as a casual runner and not attempt the full-dozen challenge. But exercising more means you can eat more, right?

ODNSGainWeightAfter1BadDayOfEating

I’m researching other races and events to join. There are several in the area, especially in the spring. If I have dates to look forward to, I can keep on track and not “Oopsie, where did the time go?” by the time BlizzCon rolls around again.

While I’m looking into running races, I don’t want to stop my strength training. And now we’re back to the “Why I want to join a gym.”

Whenever BlizzCon is to be held (3 of the 4 times I’ve gone it’s been in October, but it was in August one year), I want to be able to cosplay this year. I want to look like this:

ThoseAbs

Holy crap, that’s hot. And I KNOW I can do it!

Thing is, I want to get strong not JUST to look hot, but to be able to USE that strength as well. My final goal on my list?

Fall 2013. Tough Mudder.

I have ALWAYS loved obstacle courses and ropes courses. Sure, I have a terrible fear of heights, but this stuff I can do. I need to get into shape for it, but I know I can do it. Whenever I went to summer camp, I always first signed up for horseback riding, and then ropes or obstacle courses.

This is not a race, but a challenge. And there’s nothing I love more than a challenge to get me fired up. I know that in order to join, I need to be way more fit than I am now. So guess what I gotta do?

You guessed it…I need to stop dreaming and start DOING. Well, I’ve started, but now I have some goals to focus on.

BWForgetSkinny

What I Learned on Vacation

OMGBackAgain

I just spent the past 10 days away from home, away from my computer, away from my fitness equipment and stocked kitchen, and went on vacation to see family. You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to get fit and healthy, and you learn even more when you are forced to improvise away from your “natural habitat” and live with people who are not used to your habits.

The first thing I learned is that my stomach does NOT like fast food and grease anymore. I spent more than one day in stomach discomfort (the worst time was when we went to see the Avengers movie and I REFUSED to get up to run to the bathroom), and while I was glad I brought the Pepto tablets, they turned my tongue brown for a few days. That’s the problem with vacation: you are often at the mercy of what is available to eat, and when it’s a case where you’re going to be socializing a lot and eating out, even trying to choose healthy choices doesn’t always help. My belly missed veggies and fiber, and hated having so much salt on EVERYTHING because that’s what “normal” people are used to. I didn’t get as many fruits and veggies as I would have liked. We got Chinese once and I only had the option of white rice, fried rice, or chow mein noodles…no brown rice. So you make choices, and I made mine based on whether or not I thought my stomach would get upset or not. Hey, I’ve had vacations where I laid awake at night with heartburn, and did NOT want to go through that again!

Speaking of food, the other issue I had was getting into a cycle of binging/starving, even though I tried not to. When you’re used to eating 5 small meals a day, switching to 2 or 3 meals proves difficult. For breakfast I usually eat 2 eggs and an egg worth of egg whites, with veggies, maybe a piece of fruit, and sometimes some nuts or cheese. So having a bowl of cereal or one egg and a piece of toast usually left me pretty hungry. When lunchtime hit, I would be STARVING. I would do my best to not wolf down my food (I wanted to give my body time to register that I had eaten) or take more than I could handle. There were a few meals where I know I ate more than I normally would have only because I didn’t eat as often as I was used to, and by that meal my body was CRAVING more fuel. I could feel the differences in my body temperature at night when I tried to sleep depending on what I had, how much, and when we last ate.

The next funny thing I learned? Usually when I DID get a large meal (like at a restaurant where everything is served as a “platter”) I could never finish it. I used to be able to finish that much food…AFTER having an appetizer and THEN having dessert! I kinda felt bad going to Chili’s and leaving *A* chicken crisper strip and most of my fries (Hey, I TRIED choosing from the healthy menu, but didn’t ALWAYS succeed. >.>), and tapped out early once when we got pizza. I brought home leftovers from the seafood restaurant. Blasphemy!

I know I also drank a lot of soda, and not enough water. Ugh, my body was CRAVING water the entire time. According to my weigh-in this morning I put on about a pound and a half over vacation, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s water weight bloating from the salt and not drinking enough water. Give me a few days and it’ll come right off.

Because of the change of eating habits, my skin and hair felt icky most of the time. My skin was dry and flakey, and my face felt puffy. I felt like I always needed to exfoliate, but because I have sensitive skin I knew I couldn’t or I’d make things worse. My hair felt greasy quickly too. It was strange how quickly I recognized the changes in my body due to changes in nutrition. I was okay for the first few days, and then WHAM! It was like a sudden bout of PMS complete with the acne, bloating, and my sweet tooth being reactivated. Heck, for all I know it COULD be PMS, just made worse with the diet change.

Of course, I’m not just writing to complain about vacation completely derailing my efforts or anything negative like that. Overall, I think I managed to keep my calorie count around my normal level, even though it wasn’t as healthy.  I actually managed to get some exercise in! I found several bodyweight workouts for strength and cardio (squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, etc. with cardio in the form of jumping jacks, running high-knee, butt-kicks, etc.) so I was able to stay active. It was tempting to not exercise because I was on vacation, but I told myself, “You never regret the workout you did, though you’ll probably regret the one you didn’t do.” Sure, we did a lot of walking, but not at the pace, time, or distance I’m used to, so I made sure to get some extra in.

And vacation had one other good effect: DESTRESSING! I’ve been the caretaker of everyone and everything for so long now that it felt good to finally get some time away from home to relax. I came home last night making plans for what I need to do, and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel overwhelmed with “OMG THIS STUFF ALL NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY!” I feel more calm and focused.

The first “deadline” coming up is that my birthday is in 2 days. I’ve been debating a birthday present for myself: First I thought about getting new running shoes, but then I thought that maybe I should step it up a notch and treat myself to a gym membership and a few personal trainer sessions to check and correct my form. I’ve been wanting a gym membership for over a year now, and the only downside to the place near me is that they don’t have a pool. I really miss swimming laps (I used to swim competitively when I was young) and would love the option. But if that’s not to be, then I’ll make do. Another option is to get a Fitbit Tracker or similar gadget. I’m especially interested in the sleep tracking function.

No matter what I end up doing, I’m pretty excited about this year. It’s nice to know I’ve motivated some people and have some friends on the wagon with me. Vacation had me thinking about this year’s “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish by the end of the year and by my next birthday. At the top of the list was getting into great shape again, complete with quantifiable goals. Lower weight and body fat are obvious, but the gym I’m thinking of joining has a 5K race in September I might sign up for. It’s easier to have goals to work toward, you know?

Vacation was a nice end to a previous life chapter. And now it’s time to move forward. I’m pretty excited to see what happens this year!

Proof of Improvement

TakeTheFirstStep

I’m still not quite up to running yet. I’m mostly doing walks with a little jogging mixed in, usually for the last 400 meters of a 4 mile walk. (And then I do approximately half a mile more for a cooldown walk.)

But there is improvement! I’m adding more distance with little change to the time that I’m out there, and my average pace is steadily going down.

Here are most of my walks/runs from the month of May, as pulled from the Nike Running logs:

5/6 2.87 mi 14’20″/mi — I actually did one long walk/run for this day, but accidentally stopped my iPod’s run counter in the middle of the run when I tried to adjust where it was on my shorts. So this is only half of 2 runs. It’s the faster half, of course. Most of it was jogging. And as you can see from the next few runs, I had major DOMS going on after this. =P

5/8 4.03 mi 16’52″/mi – I remember going slower because I was sore from the day before. Oops!

5/9 1.42 mi 16’37″/mi – This was just a short walk to walk off the DOMS.

5/10 4.16 mi 16’45″/mi — Still sore from DOMS. Just a walk.

5/15 4.18 mi 15’26″/mi — Feeling better. Faster walk. I believe I jogged the last 400m.

5/18 4.21 mi 16’33″/mi – Walk, I think I jogged the last 400m.

5/21 4.36 mi 15’54″/mi – Walk, and again, I jogged the last 400m. Notice my time was getting better.

5/22 4.56 mi 15’09″/mi – I remember this was ONLY a walk. There was an oncoming thunderstorm which pushed my speed, but I didn’t jog at all.

5/24 4.31 mi 15’55″/mi – Walk only. Halfway through (2+ miles away from home) my stomach decided to be upset. It slowed me down. The first half was about 15’/mi, second half was about 16’30”/mi.

5/29 4.61 mi 15’02″/mi — Walk with jogging the last 400m. I remember starting off slow and sluggish, but once I got moving I began to feel amazing.

5/31 4.63 mi 14’51″/mi — Walk with jogging most of the last mile (.97 mi-.5 mi, .33mi-end). The last .63 mi was a cooldown.

It’s funny to feel the improvement, but even nicer to see each run and how I did. I’m glad I’ve been tracking this online (on Nike’s website) because it helps show me there has been improvement.

Right now I’m still mostly walking and slowly working my way into running, but already I’m walking faster during my cooldowns than I used to walk at my top pace when I first got started.

My goal is to sign up for a 5k race next spring. I may be slowly working my way toward actually running that 5k, but I’m getting there!

I AM IRON WOMAN…or getting there.

Iron Woman: Iron Man bay be a super hero, but Iron Woman is a demand!

I’m going to indulge my roommate’s recent fandom obsession by admitting I am the Tony Stark to her Bruce Banner, science bromance and all.

And as I got ready for my workout the other day, I realized how true it is.

Tony Stark has a fancy-schmancy bracelet?

IronManBracelet

So do I.

PolarFT60

He’s got an Arc Reactor?

IronManArcReactor

Guess what I call my heart rate monitor transmitter, and guess where it goes?

PolarWearlinkTransmitterPolarSportsBra

He’s got multiple suits of armor that he built himself?

IronManSuits

Well, I’m kinda working on mine. It’s the Mark 34. Definitely a work in progress. But it will be better, stronger, and faster than the Mark 33, I guarantee you that!

So this is not exactly an informative post, but hey, it makes me giggle. And it gives me another perspective to think about my workout when I’m dragging my feet on getting it done.

Let me be your ego boost

GreatPeopleMakeYouGreatTime and time again you hear about people saying they can’t work out in public (gym, walking/running, playing sports, etc.) because they’re not fit enough yet. They feel like people will silently judge them, or snicker in the corner about the “fat ass” who is sweating on the treadmill.

Sure, there are a few of those types. But from what I’ve heard from most of the gym rats, the worst of the criticism is in your own head. When you are noticed, people might want to help you with your form, or are seeing the progress you’re making. To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” So relax, you’re probably surrounded by some of the happiest people on earth! (As long as you don’t stand between them and their post-workout meal.)

But yes, you probably are noticed. You want to know my thoughts when I pass people on the trail during my runs?

The following are some actual thoughts I have had…I kid you not…

“They’re walking on their lunch break. Good for them!”

“I think I just passed by the Old Spice Guy! Or at least his twin brother!UNF!”

“DOGGIES!”

“Where did she get those cute shorts? Would my ass look that good in them?”

“I’m a Barbie Girl! In a Barbie wooor…OH FUCK, WAS I SINGING OUT LOUD?!”

“I wish I had a walking/running partner like that!”

“Damn, they look good!”

“I wonder what she’s listening to?”

“Aww, look at the kids! Oh wait, one’s whining. Ovaries have just shut down again.”

“My backpack’s got jets! I’m Boba the Fett! I bounty hunt for…FUCK, I PROBABLY LOOK LIKE I’M TALKING TO MYSELF!”

“Haha! My WoW shirt got noticed! For the Horde, bro!”

“Water…water!” *a minute later* “Oil…oil!  Room service! Room service!”

“They think I look like I’m about to pass out, don’t they? DAMN MY FAIR AND RED-TONED SKIN!”

“Ooh, it’s that lady with the beastly abs that I saw the first day I took a walk here! YOU GO, BEASTLY ABS LADY!”

“I wish I had thought of that. Tomorrow: French braid!”

“Where did she get that cool water bottle?!”

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Now you might be thinking that I didn’t post any of my negative thoughts or criticisms on here. I know I’ve passed by people who were more overweight or out of shape than I am. Honestly, I’m usually thinking good thoughts toward them, and am proud that they’re out there getting it done. Most of my negative thoughts are toward myself. I think that I don’t look as good, or I’m aware that my butt jiggles when I run, or I know my face is tomato-red.

And then I pass by a stranger and we do the smile-and-nod thing at each other. Suddenly I feel accepted, despite all my flaws.

Give it a shot and get out there anyway. It’s true that most of your worries are in your head. I guarantee you there are plenty people who see YOU as they pass or drive by and think, “Man, I wish I could do that!”

RICE

knee-painSorry, folks. This post is NOT about wonderful starchy carbs (which I certainly enjoy post-workout—I’ve been described as looking like a panther crouching over its kill when I get my post-workout meal). It’s about basic injury prevention and treatment.

A few weeks ago, I went to my ex’s apartment to bring home a bunch of boxes of my stuff. I hadn’t been working out much at that point, and I could feel the flights of stairs in my knees after hauling 25 boxes and box-like items down the flights from that apartment, and back up the stairs in my house. Then, to clear my head, I took my usual 4.15 mile walk.

My knees were sore, but not too bad.

Then that night I managed to sleep with my left leg tangled in my sheets and my knee bent at an angle.

When I woke up? SEARING PAIN.

I treated it as best as I could by staying off my feet and putting ice on it. It was okay, but not fully healed, when I made it worse that weekend when I got the rest of my belongings.

Since then, I have been fighting to get it healthy again. It would feel better for a while, then I’d do something and begin to feel the ache and pain creep up on me again. It felt fine BEFORE Legs Day. The next day it wasn’t so good. Or it was great on Saturday. Sunday? It might not have been a great idea to wear those cute heels just yet.

I went to running websites and blogs to try to figure out what exactly was wrong. Shin splints sounded like a possibility since I tend to overpronate. And I won’t lie, the thought that I caused a stress fracture scared me. But I SWORE to not become a “cyberchondriac.” Besides, the pain was more around the knee. Patellar tendonitis looked like a possibility, too, but still didn’t seem to fit the bill.

I finally figured out that it’s bursitis. On one hand, OW. On the other, YAY FOR FIGURING IT OUT SO I CAN TREAT IT!

I had actually been doing the right things for treating it: RICE.

RICE (sometimes PRICE) stands for (Protection), Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s not a cure-all for ALL injuries, but is definitely the go-to first aid when you feel a pain that is not the normal soreness from working out.

Thankfully, I didn’t really need the Protection aspect of it, but it’s something to keep in mind if for some reason you have to keep going despite a potential developing injury.

Rest: This much is obvious. Think of pain as your body’s way of telling you to stop whatever it is you’re doing NOW. If you’re strength training, definitely take at least a day off from that body part. You should be doing that anyway. Don’t follow Legs Day with ANOTHER Legs Day. (I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve seen people do it.) If you’re running, take a day off. Or walk, if you must keep moving. (I did have a day where it was annoying me, not painfully, but I also had DOMS from Leg Day and wanted to take a short walk anyway to try to deal with THAT soreness.)

Ice: Pain like this is often due to inflammation. Take an anti-inflammatory pain killer like Advil, and ice the body part that needs it. In my case, figuring out that it was bursitis meant I finally figured out which part of the knee needed the ice. Don’t put the bag of ice directly on your skin, and don’t keep it there for too long. 15 minutes at a time should be enough. You don’t want to give yourself frostbite! Give yourself an hour or so off of the ice, and then ice again as needed.

Compression: Having a brace or even ACE bandage to apply light compression to the area should be applied to accommodate swelling.

Elevation: Try to keep the injured area above heart-level if you can, but definitely elevate it for circulation.

I actually enjoyed dealing with this because it meant I had an excuse to sit somewhere with my leg propped up and do nothing but knit or watch tv. Relax? What’s that?!

When I wasn’t resting, and before exercise, I focused a little harder on stretching my legs and knee. I’d warm up with some dynamic stretching, and was certain to do some static stretching after. My exercise focus has turned to strengthening my knees, and I have been taking my time to make sure I was using proper form. I push hard enough to strengthen the muscles, but not so much to cause further injury.

In my case, it helps that I’m also losing weight. It’s said that losing 1 pound of weight takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees.

For me, Monday was Legs Day. Yesterday was my walk (it definitely helps with DOMS) and Core Day. Today I don’t have a walk, and it’s Arms Day. Tomorrow is just a walk. I can tell that my knees are feeling stronger, and my left knee is feeling better.

So if I can emphasize ANY point in this post, it’s to listen to your body. Recognize the difference between soreness and actual pain. Treat it immediately, and build yourself back up so you can continue kicking ass!

Every day I’m shufflin’…

Lapping Everyone On The CouchI’m getting really excited to start C25K in a week. Just a few more times down the paths (my favorite trail is just shy of 4 miles), and I think I’ll be ready. But today I had a breakthrough…

MY WALKS ARE TURNING INTO RUNS!

Not long runs. Not fast runs. Not even continuous runs. But not entirely just walking anymore, either.

I’ve been jogging the last 400 meters of a 5K whenever my iPod says that’s all I have left. It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than I’d been doing.

Today I decided to add a few jogging segments in whenever I felt like I could handle it. I’d look for a target up ahead and jog to that point without stopping, then continue with my walk until I felt like I could handle jogging again. I’d estimate that 1/2 of every other quarter mile was done at a slow, deliberate, almost shuffling trot. And of course, that’s when I’d get passed by these cute guys and svelte girls with like NO BODY FAT loping along like champion thoroughbreds looking like they haven’t yet broken a sweat even though it’s probably mile #16 for them. *whine* Some day I’ll be like that.

But you know what? Once or twice I passed by others (one woman in particular stands out in my mind) who were going at the same slow shuffling pace I was. I remember looking at that one woman, feeling envious because she looked like she’d put in a few miles and had a few left. I knew I was a while away from looking like one of the thoroughbreds, but there she was like a workhorse, huffing and puffing and pushing through it with strength and determination, and I wanted to be HER at that moment. In some way, I was proud of her and she unknowingly became my role model.

Then I thought, “Hey wait…I probably look like her when I’m jogging. I’m not going fast, but I’m going. And maybe…just maybe…there is someone on this trail who has seen me today and thought, ‘I can’t wait to be doing that someday.'”

So my running might not be fast or long or even pretty. I’m making sure it’s not unhealthy, dangerous, or risking injury. But it’s running. It will get better as I get used to it.

I’ve never really been a runner. This year that’s changing.

Run 27 Minutes A Day

Preparation for C25K

If You Run You Are A RunnerI mentioned I’m planning to start the Couch To 5K (C25K) program soon. There are a couple things I’ve learned even BEFORE starting the program that I want to share:

Wear good shoes.
The last time I tried to do it I was using OLD sneakers that I thought were just fine. They were NOT. I ended up bruising my joints so bad (ankles and knees) that I could hardly walk for several weeks.

Know your trails.
I live in an area where we have a great network of bike/walking trails, plus the American Tobacco Trail which actually has distances measured. If you know your trails, you’ll know which ones to avoid during certain weather. Sunny and hot? You’ll know which ones are shady. Rainy weather? There’s actually a trail nearby with a flood warning sign. Bug season? Avoid the ones by the slow-moving creek.

Walk your trails before you run them.
I considered just starting C25K without any kind of “warm up” as far as getting used to moving again. I seriously would have been going from the couch into the program. I discovered quickly that trail-walking involved using muscles I wasn’t used to using anymore! MY HIPS! THEY WERE SORE! So I’ve been spending a few weeks just walking the trails (trying to pick up my pace or increase my distance with each walk) to get used to using muscles that are involved with things like stabilizing my body or climbing up/going down hills.

Check your distance.
SparkPeople has a handy-dandy “Map Your Route” function (Don’t worry, a membership to SparkPeople is free! Tell them Ailinea sent you!) to help you with distance. The route I did today was almost exactly 3 miles. I originally thought it was longer! Glad I didn’t set out to do more only to discover I’d have to keep going!

Music is your friend!
I’ve made playlists of songs that are fun and upbeat, or remind me of my college crew days. For example, I remember “One Headlight” by the Wallflowers had a great beat to row to, so I included it in my “Upbeat Gym Rat” mix simply because it reminds me of those gym workouts. I have HOURS on that one playlist. When I set it to shuffle, I always have something new to look forward to.

Get a good set of earbuds.
I just picked up a pair of Yurbuds Ironman Series Headphones. I had a pair of in-ear earbuds from Apple that I used with my iPod, but they tended to fall out. I’ve only tried these new earbuds once, but so far there’s a vast improvement. They’ll take some getting used to, but they definitely stayed in. (I will do a review of them later after I’ve tested them some more.)

Other motivational accessories!
I love my Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor. A pedometer is useful too, and you can get one pretty cheap. Lately I’ve fallen even MORE in love with my iPod Nano (6th generation) because it combines a pedometer with a fitness tracker, has the vocalized “coaching” to go with your runs/walks, and hey! It plays music, too! You don’t even need the Nike+ shoes to use it. When I hook it up to my computer, it automatically uploads my workouts to the Nike fitness sites. I just LOVE tracking that stuff.

Clothing.
I have a variety of t-shirts and shorts/leggings to work out in. Already I’ve worn one shirt that I will NEVER wear again for exercise. The neck was too tight! Good sports bras are also important. And SOCKS! Some of my “athletic” socks have a seam that ends on the curve of my claw-like baby toe. The blister I worked up just from a short (~1.5 mile) walk bothered me in other shoes I wore for the next few days.

SUNBLOCK!
I have very fair skin. Sunblock is a must! I need like SPF 5000 to not get a sunburn! Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses!

Water.
If you can’t carry it with you, have easy access to it when you’re done. Rehydrate even if you think you haven’t sweat that much. Do it for your body.

Do you have any other tips that you can think of to add to this list? Are you a runner with any advice? Leave a comment to help a running noob out! ^_^