Tag Archives: fitness

Finding uses for my fitness equipment…

AKA “I’m really glad I bought this exercise ball a month ago!”

Today was my first “real” day of physical therapy at Memorial Hermann’s Ironman Sports Medicine Institute. (Friday’s session was more like an extended exam to zero in on where I hurt.)

I was a little nervous going in as I had been achy all day, starting from feeling a bit of a pain behind my knee when I got out of bed. Today’s workday was not a desk day…so I was more active than I had been in a few days, and my leg was already a little tired. I made sure to tell my therapist all that, so we started on the bike as a warmup.

I did 8 minutes! That boosted my confidence (and told me I should stick with this for my cardio for now). Leah (who is studying to get her PhD in PT) then took me through a workout which was actually pretty fun.

There’s a strip of astroturf in the facility, and first she had me doing some side jogs (basically striding sideways and hopping together) and grapevines (dancers, y’all know these!). A good way to keep my heart rate up but also allowed her to see my range of motion.

Next we moved into exercises that I could easily replicate on my own. There was a series of planks involving a Bosu ball (which I’ll have to try again at the gym), and some bridges with a ball similar to the one pictured above. Since I told Leah I owned one, she put these into my homework assignment.

We finished out with stretches using a cord that resembled a yoga strap (again, excited because I have one of these too!). We discovered my IT band is really tight, so I am your stereotypical runner. A fresh application of KT tape and I was good to go.

So I have a list of exercises and stretches I’m to do daily for the next week, plus try to get in some more cardio. Which means the ball is getting deflated and coming on the road with me!

I’m feeling better tonight than I did when I went in to the appointment, so I’m hopeful I’m slowly progressing along.

Dealing with Detours

I’ve strained my hamstring. It started about a month ago during a training session in the gym. I was doing back extensions, and my abs and back weren’t strong enough for the last few, so of course my hamstrings tried to jump in and help. I could feel the ache as soon as I finished, but hoped it wasn’t anything serious.

It was. Zumba the next day did NOT feel right. So I spent 2 weeks doing mostly upper body workouts and resting. And I felt fine. So I ran. And kept training.

Mistake. I wasn’t ready yet. I started aching again…at least this time it was not the full right hamstring, but just the base of the muscle. I did a little more running for our National Running Day event that week and called uncle. Massage helped, but I skipped a 5k I was hoping to do that weekend. So I sent myself to the stationary bike. I could do just 7 minutes at first, then 15, then 20. I was feeling good.

Then I went to my training session last week, and my trainer felt strongly that I should see a doctor (I also think I pushed a few too many things in the session and ended up a little more achy, but that’s another story). 

So Thursday, I saw my first sports medicine doctor ever. Seemed like the right choice for my newfound athletic life. A few X-rays and an exam confirmed it was a strain (at least it’s not a tear!). Here’s what he prescribed me:

  • Cardio: stationary bike level 3 or less, elliptical (ski style not climber style), treadmill 2% incline or less, swimming (but watch the leg)
  • Weight training: upper body only
  • Meds: I can keep using Advil but he gave me a stronger NSAID for nights or weekends if I’m hurting badly
  • Physical therapy: A few sessions to learn stretches and exercises I can do on my own. My first session is Friday.
  • Other treatments: heat and ice are both OK, gentle stretching is fine and keep wearing a compression sleeve on and off for my leg, especially when active. KT tape is OK too.

The good news is he thinks I’m on the right track, and can likely start my Houston Fit training program next month (my follow up with him is the day before to be safe). I’ve put massage and personal training on hold for now. 

The hardest part is how much you miss something (the running and lower body weights) when you can’t do it. But boy I am grateful he at least cleared me for some activity or I would go nuts!

I know this is the right thing to do. I don’t want to mess myself further and not be able to run the half marathon in January (not to mention, try to achieve a new record!)

I’m hopeful that I come back even stronger from this 🙂

Review: Garmin Forerunner 620

It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve upgraded my running technology. I know, bad for someone who used to work for a college of technology! But I like to use products until they are broken or no longer useful, and it was just in the past few months that the band on my Garmin Forerunner 405 finally began to rust. 

So after getting my budget back on track after my move last winter, I decided to splurge and see what was on the market now. If you want to read up on all the features, check out Garmin’s site. What I’m planning to do here is tell you about some of the nifty features I discovered on my first run with it, and show the improvement over the last model I had.

You can see from the photo above that it reports a lot of data post-run. It even tells me if I hit any records (2 since it was my first, longest run and best pace, haha!), as well as my VO2 Max, which I have never known before:

It’s a wee blurry as the screens go by fast (and my phone clearly focused on my shoe!), but I’m at 34, which is towards the top of the good range for my age. This was just an easy run though, my first since straining my hamstring training last weekend, so I was just happy to have a baseline for my future runs.

Speaking of data, the amount of data available in the Garmin Connect app (yes, they finally have an app for that) is also pretty amazing:

It’s nice to get a read on the fastest pace during my efforts, as I want to improve there this year. In fact, it has that data from the runs uploaded from my previous device too! (My run a few weeks ago I had an 8:40 in there!) But the Running Dynamics section is new. I look forward to reading up on that. I suspect my cadence is decent but I could use to get the stride closer to 1.

For the device itself, here are some comparison photos. The heart rate monitor chest strap is up first. Old one on top, new on bottom. New one has a smaller contact and the strap is easier to throw in the laundry:

Next is the actual unit. New one is nestled inside the old. It’s MUCH lighter, and the design of the band allows for a tighter fit. No more jiggling on the run!

Even the chargers are an improvement. Old is on the left, new on the right. Old one you had to plug into the wall, new one is by USB so can plug into computer or my iPhone/iPad chargers and plug into wall. They sell an adaptor for that too if you don’t have such an option.

Other neat features I noticed: easy start (just hit the run button and go, hit again when done to stop), the watch notifies you your pace of each mile as you go, and it also tells you if you’re recovering well on your interval breaks. I still need to program in different training programs, possibly the only negative of this versus the old one which had some built in. I may also just keep the old one if I get a bike, as it had bike tracking where this one seems to just be runs.

All in all, I’m happy I upgraded and am really looking forward to training!

New goals?

I’ve gotten off track from #10kaday. I was doing great the first three months of this year, averaging 10,000 steps a day for the month. If I had some days that I was short, I made up other days. My one and only “New Year Promise (I don’t like resolutions)” was going great. 

I only averaged about 8400 steps a day in April, and this month I’m hovering around a 7900 steps a day average. But, I weigh the least I have weighed all year (down 8 lbs. from Jan. 1 and 10 from my heaviest point in February). So, what gives?

I have a few theories:

  • I wasn’t very active at all last fall. The steps goal was a good way to get moving this year. But the more I began weight training, the more muscle I’m building, which means more fat burning, even on days I don’t get as many steps.
  • I really started watching what I eat in April. That’s when I did my 24 Day Challenge (results here). Which I look at as a lifestyle change, not a diet. I try to follow the clean eating rules of the plan even a good 4 weeks after finishing that adventure.
  • I have started (lightly) race training again. This means long runs on the weekend. Which doesn’t make up for all the sins of an inactive week, but it helps some.

I’m still going to do my best to get as many steps in a day as possible, but a new goal is on the horizon for me: I want to be a faster runner. I ran my best 10k ever last month, and I have at least one 5k coming up this summer before I truly start the half marathon training. 

So, I’ll be seeking out a good track and inching my way towards becoming a faster turtle 🙂