Adjusting expectations

Sometimes, life throws us a curveball. Months ago, I would have thought that today I would be just about two weeks away from my third half marathon.

But, it’s not meant to be. After successfully completing physical therapy in November, my injury flared back up just 2 days later. I was in mile 4 of what was supposed to be a 9-miler that weekend. Logically, all I can attribute it to is walking around a bunch the day before at the UH Homecoming game … I had been warned before about not using the muscle too much back-to-back.

Spiritually, I think it was a sign to slow back down again. 2014 was a year of my life where I stepped back and started making changes in my life. I hired a personal trainer and began to get more serious about making healthy nutrition and fitness choices. I ended or cut back some volunteer commitments to make room for new adventures. I went through ups and downs with my vehicle.

And perhaps the biggest change came while I spent the past 6 weeks resting my leg: I adopted a dog! I’ve missed having a sidekick since my Lab, Buddy, passed away right before my divorce. I knew when the time was right, another pooch would come into my life.

And, Ava has been helpful in getting me active again. I think we’ve had maybe 1 day since I brought her home nearly 2 weeks ago that I haven’t gotten my 10,000 steps (and that’s because we spent yesterday watching parades and football!). 

I’m starting to see progress. I had a pain-free personal training session this week while doing some leg work. I ran for a full minute earlier this week. As you can see from the below, I haven’t been doing much of that lately (November 9 was the re-injury, and the rest are walks with the exception of 2 intervals of 30 seconds on Thanksgiving which led to some pain later in the day.):

I’m sad not to be running the half marathon with my Ambassador buddies. I’ll be honest, I was down about it for the past few weeks. But I realized what was more important was to listen to my body, and to help it heal so that I can run and do all the other activities I enjoy again. 

I just have to remember what I was told, and what I was experiencing, in physical therapy: an injury is a chance to step back and learn about how our body works, so we can build it up even stronger than before. 

I guess like other things in my life, God stepped in to say I wasn’t done learning my lesson yet. It’s not yet my time to be racing again. But my time will come. I’ve been known to work years to accomplish other goals in my life. Why is this different?

So friends, if you experience road blocks and detours, in running or elsewhere in life, know they are there for a reason, learn from them, and don’t give up!

And P.S.: I will still be there marathon weekend cheering everyone on!

40 days of fitness-are you in?

… and it will be January 1, 2015! Can you believe it?

I got out for a walk today, my first in a week…I’ve been resting again since an achy hamstring on my run two weeks ago and on my walking around DC last week. It felt good, really what I needed to start making fitness a priority again.

I’ve felt a little lost the last few months since my birthday (where I was my lowest weight I had been in years). Between a few trips for work and fun, plus dealing with the drama of getting a new car, it’s been easy to let the healthy eating and exercise habits slip, especially with an on again, off again injury. Sure, I am still down a good 8 lbs for the year, and I’m proud of that. But I haven’t been giving my health the priority it deserves. I’m human, after all!

Then it hit me … 8 days left in this month + 31 in December + New Year’s Day = 40 days. If I could just be active every day between now and then, I would be starting the year off at least where I am now, stats-wise, but likely feeling a lot better. I know when I exercise regularly, my energy level improves, and I sleep better too.

Also, it’s a good strategy to employ with the holidays and the parties to come. Because I’m going to want to partake. And I’ll feel less guilty if I’ve been active that day. I’m also going to do what I can to make better food choices outside holiday meals (those are only 3 days of those!). On days I have parties, I’ll make sure to eat really well the rest of the day to prepare for the treats.

I’m going to aim for 30 minutes of activities a day. That’s pretty easy to squeeze in, even if I have to break it up into several short walks to fit it in.

So, who’s with me?

Important training tip: listen to your body!

I’m a bad Houston Fit member … I’ve missed three Saturday morning runs this month! But while I may not have run with my group, I haven’t totally abandoned ship, either. 

So why didn’t I make my training appointments? Because I chose to listen to my body and feed its needs versus pushing myself and possible injury (or making the one I’m already recovering from worse!).

The first time I didn’t make a run, it was a game time decision. I still set my alarm to wake up in time, but two things felt off: 1) my leg was a little sore and achy from a training session earlier in the week and 2) I just felt tired. So I decided I would get at least another hour or two of sleep, and would run the 8 miles closer to home. What I actually did was sleep 3 more hours and only run about 4 miles, but I felt more prepared for it. Plus, I had a work event that day which had me on my feet for about 3 hours, so it worked out for the best.

The following weekend, I made the group, and my 7 miles went great! A little slower than the last time I did 7, but not too far off.

Then there was last weekend. I had been dealing with car troubles all week, on top of a packed work schedule, which all exhausted me. Plus, I needed to free up my Saturday morning to do some car shopping … having a working vehicle is such a priority in Houston! So I decided to do my 8 miles on Sunday. This didn’t work out as swimmingly as the first time, as I slept later on Sunday, and it was a bit warm … plus Terry Hershey Park is a bit hillier than the routes our group runs near Memorial. So I did 7 miles, of which I walked most of it. But still a win for getting activity and maintaining most of the distance.

And now we are up to this week. Again, I’m exhausted from week 2 of the car drama, which means the weekend will again be devoted to visiting dealerships (this time hoping for some good offers on my current ride). After the week I’ve had, I just couldn’t stomach a 5 a.m. start time … start time meaning the moment we set foot to ground to start our route! I lucked out in that my trainer is off this Sunday, so that opened up time in my schedule to move my 9 mile route to then. I’m hopeful that I’ll get up earlier so I can enjoy some cool weather.

I’m glad that while I’m adjusting my schedule to allow for care of my physical and emotional health, that I’m not giving up on my fitness goals entirely. It’s a good reminder that life happens to us all, and it’s up to us to maintain our priorities, even if they have to shift slightly for a period of time.

Fortunately, we have a good 12 weeks until the half marathon for me to recover from these dips!

More new gear: Lishy Bands

image

Sooo cute! And comfy!

I’ve never been a big fan of headbands. They either slip off my fine hair, or pinch behind the ears. But as I’ve been growing my hair out, ponytails are becoming heavy (and not great for hair anyway, long term).

Shout out to my buddy Susan, who introduced me to the DC Rainmaker site and more specifically, reviews by The Girl, including her annual review of must use gear. It steered me to my new Camelbak and Spibelt (though I got a different CB model). And that’s where I read about Lishy Bands.

Having joined Etsy as a shopper within the past few months, I was excited to check out another shop there. The headbands are super cute! it was hard to just pick one or two to test them out. I was also encouraged by the promise of no slipping. 

The shop encourages you to measure your head to see if the standard band will fit you (it worked for me), and if not, you can order a different length. In fact, like many other shops, you can place a custom order, which would be awesome for a sports team or other group.

I’m happy to report I tested my bands out in 2 situations: a full day at work (the chevron one was too cute to wait for a workout!), and a training session at the gym. In both cases, it stayed perfectly put … and during my session there was ab work, so it survived laying on the mat!

Before and after workout…still about in the same place!

image

The only slight negative is I’m not used to having my hair down during a workout, but I’m happy with the performance of the product and will definitely order more!

New gear!!

image

One of the best parts about being a runner is getting new equipment! I treated myself to a Camelbak hydration system and Spibelt, as seen above (thanks Sun and Ski for the birthday coupon! Note: reflective light not included, but look how nicely it clips on!) I was beginning to notice on my long runs that the 16 oz. of water my Fuel Belt holds just wasn’t enough for some hot, humid mornings. So in search of another water holder, I went. 

After trying several on, I settled on the Hydrobak model, pictured above. it is technically a biking model, but I just didn’t like the feel of some of the running models, plus I also didn’t need one to hold 100 oz. of water! This holds 50 when full (1.5 liters). There’s a “bladder” which lives inside the backpack, and a straw system which makes drinking on the go a breeze, way easier than fishing the bottle from my previous belt. Here’s a look at what’s inside the pack:

image

I estimate I filled it 2/3 full for this morning, and had enough water after my nearly 6 mile run to drink on the way home. One note though: if the sloshing sound of the water will bother you, this isn’t for you. I found that and the slight sound the straps made rubbing against my shirt kind of soothing, but it may not be for you. Also have had friends recommend using Body Glide around the straps if you are in a sleeveless shirt.

The small zipper pouch at the bottom holds one of my humongous AdvoCare Rehydrate Gels. Very easy to get to without removing the pack. (By the way, I totally recommend these gels. They don’t have the nasty taste of Gu, are lower in calories and are cost-competitive. Only downside is they are only available in lemon. Happy to send anyone a sample to try!)

Now as for the Spibelt there are definitely some pros, but I’m not as in love as I am the Camelbak. Pros: easy to tuck phone etc. into it, bright color is another reflective piece of wardrobe, very easy to whip around to get to the pouch (I rest mine on the small of my back), not as heavy as the Fuel Belt.

Cons: it soaks up every bit of sweat…my photocopy of my license & insurance card (which Houston Fit requires us to carry) was wet, as was the emergency $5 I carry. Also, it pretty much held those two things and my phone, though I could probably leave my phone in its case where I couldn’t in the Fuel Belt attachments (which would help with the sweat issue). And, I could easily take my pouches from the other belt and slide them on here for extra gel and other storage. One other bummer is a problem I have with the other belt of it sliding up a little. I just need to fit it to my waist and not lower.

Overall, I was happy with the new gear. I was nervous about the Camelbak and how my form would be with a backpack, but I actually think it made it easier for me to remember to lean forward and strike midfoot with the weight up there. I also felt a little faster without so much weight on my waist/hips.

Have you tried either of these? What’s been your experience?

Slow but steady…

(This little guy reminds me of how I feel some days with my recovery!)

It’s been 6 weeks since I started physical therapy for my hamstring strain. If you’ve been following along, you might recall that my injury will take closer to 3 months to heal versus a usual 6 weeks because my strain is in the tendon area of my muscle, not the “belly” (main part). Overachiever that I am, if I was going to injure myself, I was going to do it hardcore 😦

So today we did a follow-up evaluation. One of the tests was to try to get each of my legs to a 90 degree angle while lying down, without feeling any pull. Last time I was in, I scored a 50 degree angle on the injured right leg. Today: 62% on the injured leg, 70% on the “good” left leg. Big improvement in my range of motion, but still not there yet (they like a 5% or less difference). And this also says I really need to work on flexibility, overall (boy I miss the drill team days!).

In general, my muscles (both legs) are testing stronger, and going farther before I feel a stretch or pain. It’s a lot less tender when I’m poked, and in an increasingly more localized part of my muscle.

My therapist says I could benefit from another 4-6 weeks of work with them, with the possible addition of soft tissue work to increase blood flow and speed healing in the injured area (it’s much harder to get blood flow to this part of the muscle).

We’ve also agreed that I should lay off the yoga for now, so I don’t risk stretching the wrong way. But I ran a few lengths of the turf today with no problems, so I’m cleared to try some 1-minute intervals again this weekend…it will have been 3 weeks since my last attempt, so the backing off was a good idea.

So my recovery is happening, even if at the turtle’s pace. And since I’m a slow runner to begin with, I’m used to not getting to the finish line quickly!

In the meantime, I have begun my Houston Half Marathon training with Houston Fit. I have opted to join the Purple (walkers) group for now, and have been walking the routes the past few weeks…focusing on achieving distance for now, as well as improving my walk pace for those breaks I know I’ll need when I’m back to running more.

It’s great to have a group to train with, and the post-run core workouts and seminars are definitely a plus! (And a happy note, the planks and bridges I’ve been assigned from PT really help in that core session!)

So for now, I’ll practice patience with being a turtle, so I can be a speedy turtle come January and run across the finish line.