Running Shape

I guess I took for granted how easy it is to maintain endurance when you’re fit. I could run just fine in the heat. I could run after taking two weeks off, come back to running, and my lungs still felt good.

They do not feel good right now.

I’ve been jogging more and more now that I’m cleared from PT and have proven that my knee could literally take a pounding again (9 mile run in June – even if it was quite a slow pace…). But man is it HARD.

As a teenagerimg_0215 in high school, I can remember grueling track meets where I got PR’s in the mile… And that’s how difficult my run felt yesterday.

Except I definitely didn’t PR in the mile. I barely kept a 10 minute pace and I was hurting.

Just two years ago I was running sub-7 mile repeats for 5+ miles like it was no problem. Just last year I was doing sprinting workouts and my lungs could handle it like a champ while I Aqua-ran or did bike workouts.

But I fell out of my routine when my appendix came out, and by the time I was well enough to exercise I had knee surgery. And let’s just say it was really easy to follow the whole “rest and recover” instructionsI got complacent with my easy PT exercises after surgery and now my lungs and my muscles are out of shape.

It sucks to train from ground 0. I’m still doing my PT exercises to keep my VMO, hamstrings, hip flexors and quads strong. I’ve finally felt comfortable enough to include more intense exercises to my routine like reverse lunges on a physio ball, wallsits and short sprints in my routine again.

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I’m feeling a little sore today – but in a good way! It’s going to be an uphill battle but I know if I can push through the next couple of weeks my body will adapt and I will be SO happy when it does!

 

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So You Want to Run a 5k

Races are a lot of fun. They are a great way to gauge the improvements you’ve made to your fitness level, stay in shape, and get excited about working out. However, before signing up for a race, there are a couple things you should know and prepare for.

First and foremost, when you sign up for a race, you should have a clear idea of what your goal is. What are you trying to accomplish? Is your goal simply to finish the race without stopping? Are you in it to win it? Do you want to attain a personal best? Or are you just trying to have fun with your friends?

Having a clear goal in mind will direct your path as you prepare and train for the upcoming race.

Now that you have a goal in mind, pick a date for your race. There are all sorts of races going on all the time, you just have to search for them! It’s important to set yourself up for success. You can’t just sign up for a race and go race the next weekend. You need time to prepare your body. If you aren’t used to running 3 miles at once, you have no business shocking your body with that out of nowhere! That’s how you get injured, sore, and discouraged. So, sign up for your race in advance to give yourself adequate preparation time.

We have a race date, now we train. How you train will depend squarely on the goal you set for yourself. If you just want to finish the race without stopping, slowly start adding some running into your workout routine. Pace yourself on a trail run and see how long just one mile takes you to complete. Be prepared to run that time 3 times on race day. Begin training by running a few minutes every other day and slowly work up to continuous bouts of 15, 20, and 30 minutes of running without stopping. Similarly, if your goal is to attain a personal best, you should be upping the intensity of your runs and incorporating speed work into your running routine. For all racers, make sure to incorporate stretching and proper nutrition into your daily life to avoid injury and stay fueled. If you need help or have questions on what you specifically should do, comment here!

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Right before the race, we rest and we fuel. A few days before your race, don’t try to run your hardest or over-do it. Take a break. Go easy on yourself in the days leading up to your race. Make sure to fuel your muscles the day and night before race day to ensure you’ll have enough energy to do your best. Eating sources of carbohydrates the night before or the morning of your race is probably a good idea! Make sure to get a good night of rest as well so you’re ready to go in the morning.

On race day, eat a good breakfast and arrive early to the site so you can check in. Make sure you warm up your muscles and stretch them out so you can literally hit the ground running at the starting line. Keep your goal in mind as you run and don’t give up on it! The only competitor that matters when you run is yourself, so don’t compare yourself or get discouraged. Just focus on you and your goals. Have fun and be proud of what you were able to accomplish!

What Does Foam Rolling Do?

Foam rolling is a way for someone to roll out his or her muscles on their own. Many people don’t like it, because it can cause temporary discomfort. However, perhaps if you learn what’s really going on, you might decide it is worth rolling through that discomfort in order to feel huge relief on the other side.

First we need a small anatomy lesson. All our muscles and organs are encased in something called fascia. Fascia is a thin sheath of fibrous connective tissue enclosing a muscle, organ, bone, artery, or other structure in the body. It wraps around these like a spider’s web. Fascia provides our body with support and protection.

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Image Source: http://pixgood.com/muscle-fascia.html

When we injure ourselves or work a muscle too hard and cause strains or extreme soreness, our body initiates an inflammatory response. Inflammation helps our bodies heal by sending more cells to the area to repair damage, hence the swelling we see from the outside. Inflammation restricts the fascia and causes pressure, which can feel painful and restrict our ability to move and be as flexible as normal.

Myofascial release is a technique used to release the pressure we are talking about. This technique works by applying gentle pressure to the myofascial tissue restrictions. Sustaining this pressure to a restricted area allows the fascia to release, eliminating pain and allowing for movement to be restored.

Foam rolling is a form of myofascial release that can be done on a variety of rollers ranging in softness or stiffness, or on a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, etc. The point is to roll the affected muscle area around on the selected surface. Many athletes and physical therapists use foam rolling in order to help muscles recover when they are overused, overly tight, and sore.

Foam rolling, which is very similar to getting a massage, helps promote blood flow to the muscle being targeted and clear out wastes that build up in our muscles, causing soreness. That being said, it is important to be kind to your body after foam rolling. Because waste is broken up, it’s important to drink plenty of water and eat cleanly afterward to help flush these waste products from your system.

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Foam rolling a tight muscle can feel uncomfortable in the same way that having a knot massaged out feels uncomfortable. But once you get the knot to release, you feel better, right? Same idea with foam rolling. You must gently roll over knots and adhesions until these trigger points release and relax again.

It is important to note that foam rolling, like massages, treat the symptom of your problem, not the cause of your problem. If you have tight IT bands and constantly feel knee pain, rolling your IT band will provide relief … temporarily. However, until you treat the cause of this knee pain and tightness (likely tendonitis, which can be caused by gait problems, improper running form, improper shoes, etc.), you will have to continue foam rolling. If this sounds like you, that’s something you should talk to your doctor or trainers about.

Ultimately, foam rolling is not a cure all. However, it is beneficial in helping our muscles recover after a hard workout by promoting blood flow and clearing out wastes. It is also beneficial when trying to minimize pain and discomfort that is stemming from a larger problem. Plus, it just feels so good afterward!