Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Running While Sick.....or Hurt! AHHHHHH!

Me icing my foot after a run.
Runners are a peculiar bunch. The run calls to a runner like gold calls to a pirate. Arrrgg! Runners have to almost have an "In your face" attitude to pain. We will run when our brain is begging us to stop, when our bodies start rebelling, when hurt, when sick.
Sometimes this is a good thing.
Like when you are at mile 20 of a marathon and everything in you is saying, "Give up and stop this running stupid". Or when you start the day knowing you have to get a run in....and it is pouring down the rain, or snow. No matter what, that run is going to get done.
Sometimes, however, it is not wise to continue or even start the run. This is when you are sick or injured. But how sick or injured should you be to bag the run?
About 3 years ago in July, I had a 16 mile long run I needed to complete. I did not want to do it alone, so I called my good friend Ron. He got all the running buddies together, including a friend who had moved away but happened to be in town that weekend. We were going to meet EARLY Friday morning to run. However, on Thursday I started feeling BAD! I really thought it was a sinus infection or something small, so I chose to go out and start the run. It was 2 loops of 8 miles, starting at the MAC. At mile 4, I thought I was going to die! No really, I thought I was going to die. I wasn't sweating, I was clammy, I was cold. Ron had to stay back with me and kept asking what was wrong. Not good. So I finished up the 8 miles and told them I did not think I could do anymore. I got into the car and looked at my throat. It was white. Strep! I called the doctor. They were able to get me in that morning. He confirmed it was Strep. Then proceeded to chew my face off for running. He explained the tremendous stress I put on my heart and all the other near death things that could have happened. It took me about a week to really feel normal again. The run caused me to get sicker than I would have if I would have just skipped it.

Marc, Erin, Kim, and me after the run. I had strep.

So needless to say, that was not a wise choice. Even though (in my defence) I really did think it was a little cold or sinus infection. So when should you run or bag the run? It is a delicate balance. My copy of Runner's World* (from December, 2005, pp. 39-40) suggests:

  • (for the most part) use the above the neck rule. If you have symptoms that are above the neck (like runny nose, slight head cold, sinus drainage) it is OK to run. However, if you have symptoms below the neck (like you are coughing up a lung, having trouble breathing, flu like symptoms) bag the run.
  • If you have a fever, bag back talk! Just take a day or two to get yourself healed up.
  • If in doubt, bag it. A run can cause small symptoms to become bigger. If you can take a day off it allows your body to fight off the nastiness. The run just adds more stress to the body.
  • If you are puking your brains out before the run...just stay home. No one wants you out there making a mess.

Now what about injuries? Well this is also a tricky subject, but again, when in doubt, it may be better to bag the run. Assuming you are not just a cry baby just trying to get out of a run..... Oh, did I say that out loud.... Just kid'n. =-) If a part of your body hurts before, during, or after a run, there are some things you can do to help. R.I.C.E. No, I am not telling you to go eat, but chocolate has to have some kind of healing qualities, I need a brownie.....But I digress.

R.I.C.E. means:

  • R=Rest. This means cease activity. I would suggest at least 24-72 hours then try the run again. If it continues to hurt, you may want to go see a doctor. It is better to catch something early and get it fixed. The longer you run on it, the worse it could get.
  • I=Ice. Ice the area after the run on and off for no longer than 15 minutes at a time. You can get a fancy ice pack or just some frozen peas...but remember not to eat them...uggg! If you are in pain and choose not to run, you can still ice. Same principles apply.
  • C=Compress. Just wrap the area. Matt and I use K-tape, thanks to Ricky (who just ran his 51st marathon). You can get it at Run For Your Life University or online. Not sure about the other stores that have it in stock. This helps with protecting the area, giving a bit more stability, and such.
  • E=Elevate. Prop it up when you can. I know this is not easy because we are all very busy, but this is trying to get better so you can run. Priorities....Ha Ha!

Like I said, if you do all this and are still in pain, find a doctor who understands runners and go to see him/her. Let said doctor know that if they tell you just to stop running you will hit them in the head with your running shoe. Once again, I did not mean that to be typed, but you get the picture.

Now, with all that said, what can you do to prevent sickness or injury? I understand you cannot always prevent, but these tips may help. Well at least they work for me.

  • Change your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles depending on your weight. If you are heavier, they will break down faster. I change my shoes out every 300-350 miles. This means I am getting new running shoes every 2 to 3 months depending on where I am in training. Now that may seem expensive, but it is cheaper than knee replacement.
  • Speaking of running shoes, get you a good pair that fits your needs, running style, pronation, blah, blah, blah. I suggest going to a local running store and getting fitted. Run For Your Life will watch you run and access your running needs. I wear Asics 2150 because I pronate and run upon my toes. I like the local running store because when I go in there, they know my name, races, and running needs. I also feel like I am supporting a local business. A few months ago, I decided to try another type of shoe. I bought them, took them home, and did 17 miles of workouts in them. They DID NOT work. So I took them back. Run For Your Life exchanged them for a shoe that did work for me. That says a lot.
  • Drink lots of water. This will help with injury and sickness.
  • Get enough sleep. You need sleep!
  • Eat right. This will keep your body fit and healthy.
  • Don't increase mileage or speed suddenly. You are begging to get hurt or sick if you do this.
  • Take at least 1 rest day a as I say, not as I do. This helps physically and decreases burnout.
  • I hear cross training helps, but that is another post.

So here are some tips. Take them for what they are worth. I am not a doctor, but I do play one on TV.... no not really.

Happy Running Friends!

*Oh, and just in case you were wondering.... Yes, I do keep all my Runner's World and sometimes reread them. I am cheesy like that.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself."

This week I went bathing suit shopping. I found this really cute bathing suit that I could wear working out and on the beach. AND IT WAS ON SALE! WOOT! But first, I had to try it on! Now everyone knows the insecurities this brings up in women. So, I thought I would blog about it. I look at my reflection in the mirror and see all the flaws that I have to offer. How can I run like I do and have hips like this? I guess that is the result of brownies and cutting my miles to 30 miles a week.
What does this have to do with running? Well the same insecurities that creep into seeing myself in a bathing suit creeps into my running. I think everyone deals with some insecurity. They face it over and over, however can rarely give it a name.
I will help you name it today.

I am a therapist as many of you know. I use Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in my counseling sessions. Now this sounds real fancy, however, all it means is that we react to events around us in certain ways because of the beliefs we have about our self. We learn these beliefs from parents, friends, enemies, siblings, coworkers, teachers, and/or us.
Everyone has certain beliefs that shape their world view and according to the book, "The Search for Significance" by Robert S McGee, these beliefs are false and manifest in 4 separate ways.
  1. "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself.
  2. I must be approved by certain others to feel good about myself.
  3. Those who fail are unworthy of love and deserve to be punished.
  4. I am what I am; I cannot change; I am hopeless."

Now like I said, these are false beliefs and have to be refuted and then replaced with a truer belief that can help us function in an emotionally healthy way.

Even though I teach this everyday and know the truth, I often find that the first belief creeps into my life. "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself." When I run, I set certain goals for myself. At the point the goal is set, it becomes imperative in my mind that it is reached. To do anything less would be failure. And failure is not an option. Because I run, I need to look a certain way. I should look fit and trim in a bathing suit and not have a body like a 38 year old woman who has given life to two beautiful children. Now this is all in my mind. If I do not meet the goal, it does not mean I am a failure, but simply that I did not meet the goal. And the reality is that I am 38 and my body has carried two children to full term and is changed forever because of that.....and it is OK.

Sometimes I meet the goal. Here is the first time I ever placed in my age group. I have this nifty glass as my trophy. I have it in my office to remind me of the success.

Sometimes I do not meet the goal. Mile 17 of Charlotte, Thunder Road Marathon. I am trying to convince Matt to allow me to quit and take me home. He wouldn't and I finish with a 4:05. This is 20 minutes off my goal.
This is running, this is life.
What do you deal with?
Do you care what others think of you? Does this belief paralyze you. If someone does not react to you how you feel like they should, do you feel rejected? The fear of rejection is a strong false belief.
Do you think a mistake you made labels you forever. Are you afraid that you deserve to be punished because of it. The fear of punishment can suck the joy out of living.
Do you feel like you are hopeless. Ashamed of who you are or who you have become? Shame can make us feel worthless.
However, there is a solution to all this. In the same book, Robert S McGee says, "We have two alternatives: We can base our self-worth on our success and ability to please others, or we can base our self-worth on the love, forgiveness and acceptance of Christ."

Which will you choose?

Bondage in the fear of these false beliefs or the freedom of Christ. Only you can make this choice.....even when you are looking at your reflection wearing a bathing suit.

If you want more info on this subject, read The Search For Significance by Robert S McGee. I read it about once a year. It will change your life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Speedwork....Christa style!

I have had lots of questions concerning how to do speed work. Well, if you have asked, you are now in luck, because I am going to share the secrete to running faster....
Everyone listening?
To run faster, you have to.......
This is a quote from my good friend and coach Ron. Ron is the one I blame....err, I mean give credit to my love for running. I remember asking him what should I do to get faster in running. This is the advice he gave. He is a very blunt person, and I appreciate this.

Now I am going to expand on running faster....but I want to first lay out some ground rules.

  1. First and foremost, do not increase distance or speed significantly in 1 week period. Let it build on itself.
  2. Second, in my humble opinion, I do not think you need to add speed work are new to running or training for your first race. No matter the distance. The goal for the first race should be to have fun, finish, and want to do it again.
  3. If you do not want to get faster....don't do speed work. Everyone has different goals for running. No goal is bad....whether this is to walk your 1st 5k or win the Olympics.
  4. If you want to win the Olympics...I may not be the best person to give you advice. So you can continue to read, because I am a very entertaining blogger. However, you need to get a coach. Ha Ha!
  5. If you disagree with this, cool! However, this is how I do things and my humble opinion. I have found this to work for me. But if you know of something that works for you, by all means, do it. And let me know because I am so up for mixing things up a bit.

So here we go!
I have several different workouts to increase speed. Some may sound crazy but trust me.....famous last words...wahahahaha!

The Track Workout!

So this is easy. You go find a track and run around it like a mad person. However, here is the plan. A track is 400 meters around. So:

400 will be 1x around
800 will be 2x around
1200 will be 3x around
1600 will be 4x around
-You will have a work phase and recovery phase. I normally do the recovery phase for 400 (1x around) unless otherwise noted. Recovery normally happens after EVERY workout. can run slowly or walk. Forward motion is the goal for recovery...oh, and for you to recover from the hard run.
-The workout should be ran around or right under your 5k pace. Don't know that? No problem. I normally just run the workout phase all out, but not sprinting.
-Make sure you warm up for at least a mile and cool down for at least a mile.
-Different track workouts include:
1. Repeating 800s (my favorite). You run 800, then recover 400, run 800, recover 400. If new to speed work, you need to start out with 4 of these then increase weekly by one.
2. Ladder (Ron's Favorite). You run 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, 800, 400. With recovery in between each. 1600 meters is close to a mile, so this is a hard workout.
3. Descending. You run 1600, 800, 400....with recovery. You get the picture. You can add in some 800s if you want.
4. 200's (Josh's favorite). Josh is an Iron Man, and can run his marathon part faster than most people can run a stand alone marathon. Run 200 fast then recover for 200. Sounds easy...but it hurts so good. He is a troubled soul and loves pain! Do as many of these as you can. However, do not overdo it.

Hill repeats!
Find a good hill that will take you around a minute or two to climb, then run up it. Recover by running down the hill. For an added kick, do push ups at the bottom of the hill....OUCH! Make sure you warm up for around a mile and cool down for a mile. Easy enough?

Can you say that without laughing? Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, is a form of conditioning which puts stress mainly on the aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise.....or so I have been told. I think it is just something every runner has been told and accepts so they can say the word fart and not sound like a 8 year old boy.
Basically you warm up, then run fast to a point, recover, run fast to another point, recover, run fast to another point, recover.....and on and on until your run is complete. Make sure you cool down well.

Tempo Run aka Chasing Abigayle while she rides her bike!

This is easy. Run your 10k pace for a prescribed amount of time. Put a warm up and cool down in the mix. I would start off doing this in the middle of the run for about 10 minutes then increase 5 minutes the next time you do it.
I like to do this on the Greenway. I have Abigayle come and ride her bike with me. When the workout starts, she rides and I chase her. It is a great workout. I feel the need to keep up with her for her safety. She does have to keep me in her sites she does ride much faster than I run.
After the cool down, you can stretch really good. I am bad at this, however, I have heard that it is a good thing to do..... Do as I say, not as I do. Ha!

So I hope this has enlightened you somewhat on the fun of speed work. I posted a saying a few weeks ago saying "If you are in training, don't expect every run to be easy." Speed work is not meant to be easy, but can be fun. After that post someone asked me "Why do it if it isn't fun?" To respond to that.....Just because a run isn't easy, does not mean it isn't fun for me. I enjoy pushing myself when I am chasing my giggling 12 year old on her bike through mud. I enjoy crossing the finish line knowing I have left everything on the course. I enjoy placing in my age group, meeting goals, and running as fast as I can. Everyone has different goals for running. Some people run for the pure joy of running. Others long to run fast and train to do so. You can have fun doing either. It is a question on what fun is to you. When I started out, I just wanted to run to lose weight. Then I noticed I enjoyed it. Then I liked distance. Now I want to be fast. Fast enough to run Boston....goals change. People change. That is the wonderful thing about running. It can change you and it can change with you.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Corporate Cup 3/6/10 - Why I run!

Leigh, Ross, Me, Bree, and Matt at the start of the race
Why do I run? I get that question a lot and I have really been pondering the whole "Why I run" thing. Is it just to get faster, qualify for Boston, so I can eat everything in site and not be as big as a side of a barn? I have to admit that all those things are reasons....however, I feel there is a deeper meaning to my running.
  1. I do it so I won't have to go into therapy. Really...Running is my therapy. My job is very stressful and I really cannot talk about it to anyone. So I run. Run and talk to God.
  2. I do it because it makes me a nicer person. Well not really, but it helps me to have the judgment to sensor the things I want to sometimes say.
  3. It shows my two girls that anything is possible. If I can run 26.2 miles then they can face challenges.
  4. It shows me and my two girls it is good to set goals. But, it is OK if you don't meet those goals.
  5. It makes me a better, therapist, mother, wife, sister, daughter, pastors wife and daughter, friend, and any other role that I am called upon to play.
  6. It teaches me about who I am. What I am capable of. That I can be in pain and still finish the race.
  7. It teaches me about other people. So much so, that I think I am going to require the man who wants to marry my daughters to run a marathon with me. I feel that will show what kind of person he is. Running brings out the true character in a person.

In January, I committed to train Leigh, Bree, and my husband Matt for the Corporate Cup Half Marathon. I think running with someone teaches you about that person. You run your personality.

Matt. My husband Matt is a very steady man. He never loses his temper. He never panics. He is a rock. This is how he runs. Steady. It does not matter what the group does, he starts the pace and keeps up with it. Normally, he is the first one finished with the long runs.

Bree. Bree likes routine. She wants a training plan and follows it to the tee. No matter what, if there is a long run, she will get it in. She is also the social one of the group. She is all about the friendship of the run. That is how she runs.

Leigh. Leigh is the rebel. She likes to mix it up. If I the plan calls for 8 miles, she does 9. If we are supposed to go slow, she starts fast. She wants to get it done. She is ready for the challenge and meets it head on without thinking of the consequences. This is how she runs.

Me. Well I am coach. I am called the "Evil Queen". I totally stick to the schedule. I don't like whining. I have little mercy. I will encourage. I will stick with the last person in the group. I will yell at you if you choose to do something stupid like skipping short runs, eating poorly before a long run, doing a hard workout before the long run. I will expect you to "man up" and finish what you started. Don't talk smack that you cannot follow through with in the run. This is how I run.

And this is everyone's personalities. Running and otherwise.

I got up that morning and the first thing I did, like always, was spent time with God. I have learned that this comes before running. Not a side note.

I prayed for Matt, who had been having some heel pain. I prayed for Leigh who was going through some tough changes. I prayed for Bree who wanted to come out and race this half...not just run it. I prayed.

We met at the DOWD YMCA and piled into our SUV. Then headed out to find a parking place. After driving around we decided to park at First Baptist. Ran to pick up the chips. Then waited in line FOREVER to use the bathroom. It was very crazy and a stench filled the air of the building we picked up our chip in. I have a gag reflex.

I decided not to pick up a chip. I was not running this race for time and for some reason, that chip puts lots of pressure on me. I also have chosen not to take my Myrtle Beach chip off yet. So I left my chip at the table.

So finally, we line up and take the above picture. Ross joins us for the picture but as soon as the race starts, he is off. We start running and the fun begins. We are just chatting. The miles start ticking away.

This is Bree, Leigh, and Matt around 3...I think. It may be mile 4. But they are having fun.
Me and Leigh...hey that rhymes. Hee Hee! We are having fun in our Nike apparel. She said we should do a commercial. We also are dork twins in our compression sleeves. Where else can you look so cool being a dork.
Right before mile 7 the team is still looking strong. Everyone took a gel and we keep trucken. BUT.....Providence Road with it's sinister never ending hill is coming up quickly. (insert evil laugh).
Everyone makes it through the hill and on we go.
Matt at mile 11. He is looking strong. However, he is not feeling well. The gels won't go down and his heel is bothering him. Matt starts saying he wants to lay down. He starts looking for places to lay down. He is delirious. And we still have Morehead....I have named it More Hell.
More Hell Road...I mean Morehead has beasted many of runners....including myself. But Matt is determined to finish this race.
Ross finishes in 1:40something.....
Leigh and Bree finish first out of our training group. They take off 4 plus minutes from last year.
Matt comes in next, then me last.
And Matt finally finds a place to lay down. He looks like a hobo on the side of the street.
While my Matt was all laid out, I took a picture of Leigh and her Matt.
And here are the girls of the running team.
And now on to the most important thing.....eating. Which is in the "Why I run" list.
Today was fun. It was about sticking it out with friends and going the distance. That was accomplished.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Run Easy is an Oxymoron

"What is it about running that scares people so much? Why do people feel they have to put friendly modifiers next to running so everyone can feel good about it? Well, here's the ugly truth. Everyone shouldn't feel good about running. It's hard. It hurts. Running requires sacrifice and heart and guts. Any attempt to water it down with feel good adjectives is a slap in the face to those of us who still hold running sacred. In fact, if you're running easy, odds are your not running at all. Your jogging. So do us a favor, don't run easy. Run hard. Run like an animal!"

This is a quote from Pearl Izumi. I LOVE it. It calls it how it is. It doesn't call for you to run a certain pace or a certain distance. It calls for you to run hard. If hard is a 5 minute mile then WOW! If it is a twelve minute mile, then WOW! Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.
When you want to quit, kick it up a notch.
When you want to throw up, do it, then keep running. Or do it while running. You can wash it off in the shower afterwards.
When you want to lay down in the middle of the street and hope a city bus runs over you so you don't have to finish the run, then suck it up and finish what you started. Even if you have to belly crawl back. (Yes, I have thought of this option.)
Why do I write all this in my "racing blog"?
Running teaches lessons.
I have several people ask me questions about running everyday. So I thought I would share my vast knowledge (note the sarcasm) of running with the masses. =-)

This week is "Run easy is an oxymoron".
What is an "Oxymoron"?
ox·y·mo·ron (ŏk'sē-môr'ŏn', -mōr'-)
n. pl. ox·y·mo·ra (-môr'ə, -mōr'ə) or ox·y·mo·rons
A rhetorical figure in which incongruous or contradictory terms are combined, as in a deafening silence and a mournful optimist.
In other words, it is two words with opposite means that has been put together. Like "IcyHot", "Darklight" get the picture.
But why this theme? I have learned, or should I say relearned this concept this week. Or year.
As promised, I went to the podiatrist after my "Myrtle Beach Marathon" for my toe pain. He gave me some news that will effect my running. I have 2 bone spurs on my big toe joint. This is caused from osteoarthritis. This will not get better. It will get worse as I get older, whether I run or not. So he told me he wanted me to continue to run. He gave me temporary orthotics and has fitted me for custom ones. This will slow down the arthritis and make it less painful to run.
So now I am trying to get used to the temporary orthotics. Running in these is very different. I have had to slow down and shorten my runs. I will have to do this again when my custom ones come in. I have shin splints and I am sore from a 3 mile run. Sore in places I haven't been sore in for a LONG time. To say the least, running is not easy for me right now.

But this week has taught me more than "running is hard". God has used this concept to teach me about life. I think the "Easy Life" is an oxymoron.
Like I said in my last post, pain is relative. What "pain" has come into your life when you least expected it. You were just "running" along, and suddenly, life throws something at you that you were not expecting, and suddenly you are no longer "running" down a green pasture, but you are struggling in the valley of the shadow of death. This is talked about in the 23rd Psalm.
This has brought up memories of my past pain that hit me like the wall hits at mile 20 in a marathon.
I remember hearing my dad call and tell me they unexpectedly found cancer in my mom during a routine procedure. I remember feeling like someone had hit me in the stomach with their fist. I remember how the chemo reeked havoc on her. I remember hearing that God had healed her. Twice!
I remember sitting at my OBGYN, 16 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and hearing the doctor telling me that they could not find the baby's heart beat. Two days later, I miscarried.
I remember, again at the OBGYN, after my 16 week ultrasound with my Abigayle. The doctor came in and explained that it looked like something was wrong and it looked like she may be Down Syndrome.
I remember praying, fasting from TV and sweets, and pounding on the doors of heaven for her to be healed. I remember going back at 21 weeks and the doctor telling me that what they saw was gone. She was healed.
And I could go on.......
The point is this. No matter if you are by the green pastures and calm water or in the valley of the shadow of death, The LORD is still your shepherd. You shall not want. He knows your needs, even before you need them. He will restore you. Listen to His still small voice. Sometimes in the middle of the noise of life, it is hard to hear His still small voice. But listen.........
The LORD is my shepherd,

Psalm 23 (New International Version)
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD