Sunday Funday

Today I’m finding it very difficult not to go out and run at least a little bit. Why? Because I feel great today. But I have a tendency to overdo it when I feel good. (Let the Great Injury Debacle of 2014 be a lesson on that). So today is technically a rest day. Kind of. I’m going to yoga later. More on that shortly.

While I am talking myself out of running today  resting, I found this gem:

Insanity

Rest day is also difficult when B is not on his rest day. So he’s out running. I tried to convince him to be lazy on the couch rest with me, but he wasn’t having it.

Rest Day

I recently learned about the Nike Training Club‘s Weekend Wind-Down Yoga on Sunday nights. It’s a free, in-store, 60-90 minute yoga class lead by a local yoga instructor. You bring a water bottle, a towel and show up. They provide the mats and even can loan you a Nike Fuel Band if you’d like to use one. Did I mention it’s free? Oh yeah! This class has proven to be a great way to prepare for the week ahead. And it gives me something to look forward to when I don’t run on Sundays. Because it’s at our local Nike Store, the instructor is very aware that there are several runners in the class so she does quite a bit of work geared towards run recovery.  I would HIGHTLY recommend checking it out. NTC has other classes as well, but this one happens to be my favorite.

So that’s my Sunday Funday. What do your rest days look like and how do you navigate them? Would love to see your comments below!

Thanks for reading,

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15 Things I Learned Over 2 Years of Running

I’ve run for more than 2 years. But these past 2 years were when I focused on “becoming a runner”. I know that if I run, I am a runner. What I mean is that I went from taking an occasional run, to making running the thing that I do. This week I was thinking about some of the things I have learned over the past 2 years.

1. Practice makes progress.It sounds painfully cliche. But it is true. I don’t know that you’ll ever find a runner who will say they have reached perfection. That’s why all of them keep doing it! We train to get better. And better, of course, varies from person to person. If you practice, you will make progress. What I love about this is that progress has no limits.

2. It will eventually stop sucking. Whatthewhat???? Yes, I said it. When I decided to commit to making running a part of my life regularly, every step sucked. Every cell in my body hurt.  I had runs where I woke up the next day and the hair on my head actually hurt. I learned that it was my body waking up and moving in ways it wasn’t used to and being asked to do things I’d never really asked it to do before. Once it became a part of my routine, I didn’t have just chronically sucky days. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking I’m being negative, but you all know exactly what I’m talking about!)

3. The words, “I’m so slow”, are toxic and should be removed from your vocabulary immediately. The minute you utter those words you are casting yourself in a negative light. You are setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because, I hate to be the bearer of, well, news, but everyone is slower than someone. And you might be slower than someone today and faster than them tomorrow. You are missing the power of your own run by comparing yourself to others, so stop it! In the words of my ever-so-wise and wonderful coach, “Those words are not welcome to this party.”

4. You don’t need to carb-load for a running under about 60-90 minutes. I occasionally will see the carb buffets of people that I know can run a 25 minute 5K. The body stores quite a bit of glycogen and will start to need a bit extra around 60-90 minutes. Less than that, you probably have enough from your regular diet.

5. You do need to hydrate properly for vigorous activity.  Water alone isn’t enough, especially during those longer runs. You realize how much salt you lose when you see it sticking to your face and gear after a good run. You have to replace all of that so your body functions properly.  (Those kidneys of yours are very important, treat them right!)

If you have an opportunity to talk with someone who can provide guidance on sports nutrition, I highly recommend it. (And by this I do not mean get all of your info from an online medical “encyclopedia”. I mean an actual sports nutrition expert :-) )

6. I actually don’t like running with music. I know! I never in a million years would have thought I would say that. Everyone who says, “I can’t run without music” should spend some good time without it. I learned that I never learned to pace myself properly because I was always pacing to the music. Well, that may or may not have been what I needed that day. When I unplugged the tunes and listened only to my body, I heard signals that I never knew about. Hearing my breathing, my footsteps, the wind outside, all of this has helped me further develop my running. Occasionally I will do a short work out with it. And I do usually listen to music on a treadmill. But I no longer use music outside, which is where I prefer to be.

7. I am not a neutral pronator!  I actually walk and stand very differently than I run. I have had multiple shoe experts put me in a neutral shoe. And I have suffered from chronic shin splints. During a stint of severe, sidelining shin splints, I got desperate and tried a stability shoe. VOILA. My legs and feet were like new. That leads me to number 8:

8. Shoes matter. If they’ve sat in your closet to collect dust, don’t plan to run in them, even if you’ve worn them very infrequently. Running doesn’t require much, so go spend a little on a good pair of running shoes. You can get assistance from a specialty running store like Fleet Feet or Marathon Sports. This is a great way to start. (And then don’t do what I did and keep quiet when they hurt and keep buying the same thing if they don’t work.) I had nothing to compare to, so it’s OKAY to explain issues that come up when you’re getting fitted.

9. Cotton is not your friend. The person that wrote the lyrics for the Cotton commercials (“The touch, the feel of cotton…”) was not a runner. Just don’t wear cotton. Your skin and nervous system will thank you. There is some awesome moisture-wicking active-wear out there that won’t break the bank too. My favorite happens to be Nike Dri-Fit.

10. BodyGlide is runner’s gold. Don’t think you need it? Just go spend $4 on a stick. That seam in your pants; that edge on your phone pocket will feel like a blow torch against your skin at the worst possible moment if you don’t have some good lubricant in your running bag.

11. No two runs are created equal. The same course, the same distance, can feel totally different depending on the day and all of your other variables. It’s actually one of the things I love about running!

12. Hills are fun! Yes, seriously! Once you start regularly incorporating hill work into your routine, flats become really boring. (I live in San Francisco, so there’s no getting around it here, which turns out to be a great thing!).

13. Your legs won’t “get skinny”. After an unspecified period of time (it’s different for everyone), you’d expect your legs to trim down. I was furious when I couldn’t zip my favorite boots up over my calves. Until I realized that it was because my calf muscles were building up. Then I discovered that I had one hell of a run brag. “Yeah, I can’t wear those cute boots, my calf muscles are getting too big from running.” #baddassery

14. I have never regretted a run. Even the “crappy” ones. I have regretted staying on the couch all day. But I have never had a run, no matter how difficult, or how seemingly unproductive, where I’ve said, “Wow, I really wish I hadn’t left the house to do that.” Quite the contrary, some of my better runs were on days when I’d have preferred to stay in bed with the blankets over my head.

15. Running is good for the soul.  Nothing has been able to soothe my soul the way a hard run can. Mindfulness is a difficult thing to achieve in our very high-tech, faced-paced, screen-laden lifestyle. Our jobs, our families, our stressors, can make it challenging to really be present in a moment. Running, even for a short time, allows me to turn my focus totally inward and be present.  (Actually, another reason I don’t listen to music). I’ve learned to appreciate how hard my heart beats and how awesome that that sound is. I’ve noticed that my lungs recover quickly and  I enjoy the cadence of the air going in and out. Our bodies are really quite amazing. Running has increased my awareness of this.

I love that I will continue learning as I keep going; that I will forever be learning as my ability level changes. I’m wondering what you have learned through running and how your understanding has changed with your experience. Please share comments below!

Thanks for reading,

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Safety First: Daylight Savings Darkens Our Paths

Tonight was the first night since we set our clocks back that I did my evening run in complete darkness. And it was only 5:45 pm! Safety is more important to me than anything. I don’t know about everywhere else, but “Pedestrian hit in SF crosswalk” has been a common headline (sadly almost daily) for quite awhile now.

Tonight when I ran, I noticed so many runners wearing black or otherwise very dark gear without anything to make them noticeable beyond a couple of feet. Where I run is a wide path that has a wide bike lane and relatively wide pedestrian lane, both off of the road. We are very lucky. But the bikes move pretty quickly and much to my dismay, many runners and bikers alike will run in groups 2-4 people across. Tonight during my run, I began to think more about runner safety, especially now that it’s getting dark earlier.

What did I wear? For starters, I had my regular shoes, which are reflective and bright (neon) running socks. I work my regular Nike Dri-Fit capris with reflective trim and a light blue running top that also has reflective trim. I have a bright LED light that I attach to my left sneaker, a blinking/reflective light band strapped to my right arm and I ran with my phone’s flashlight on so I could see the ground.

Here are my feet in their ready-for-darkness state:

unnamedshoe light

The pic on the left is using the flashlight. Without my Strobe, you wouldn’t see me at all.

The light I use is the Nathan StrobeLight. It is super affordable and runs about $8-10 in stores like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon, etc. What I like about it is that it’s very bright. It has steady or strob function and it clips on. I clip it to my shoes, but I have clipped it to my clothing, my backpack, my hat, etc. It stays pretty securely attached and the battery seems to last for awhile. I’ve had mine for over a year and use it often and have not had to replace the battery. The light comes in 4 colors, green, orange, pink and red. I chose the pink because it seemed to be a little brighter and stood out a bit more. Here is a close up.

5071NFF_StrobeLight_FloroFuschia_NW_0

The other thing I do for safety, is take a selfie in my running gear and text it to my boyfriend before I leave. This is particularly important if he’s not home when I leave. It’s a part of our “routine”. God forbid anything were to happen, I don’t expect that he would remember the details of what I was wearing. And he may not know if he’s at work when I leave. This way he not only knows exactly what I was wearing, but he has a time stamp of when I left. With that I outline my route and my expected time of return. He knows to call me if I’m more than 10 minutes outside of that time frame. And I know that I need to answer that call. This routine works for us. It makes us both feel better, especially when I’m out in the dark.

No run is worth sacrificing your safety, or perhaps your life. We hear all too often about runners that are hit on the road. Runners like Meg Menzie, who was killed on January 13, 2014 while running near her home in Richmond, Virginia while training for the Boston Marathon. Meg’s story inspired the movement, #megsmiles, where runners nation (and world) wide, dedicated their runs to Meg. After hearing stories like Meg’s, it makes me sad to see so many runners still not observing safe running practices. I’m hopeful though that frequent discussion of runner safety will begin to draw attention to this important issue.

What are your safe running practices. How did your preparation change after our clocks were turned back over the weekend? What is your favorite safety gear? Comment below to share your safety tips!

Thanks for reading!

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Jamberry 2

Jamberry Nail Wraps

It’s becoming clear that I just finished training for a race because I have all sorts of time to update runfunfood.com!

I usually try to get a creative manicure before some running or TNT event. Traditional polish chips quickly on me (I wash my hands no less than 15 times a day working in a hospital.). Gel polish lasts for 2 weeks. “But that’s the point!”, you say. Except, as excited as I am for events, I want it for the 1-to-few days before and no more than a day after. Plus, at $30-$40 for a gel manicure, do you really want to take it off after a weekend?

I read about Jamberry Nails nail wraps very recently, right in time for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I was immediately interested. They have several pre-made designs from solid color to fun, festive holiday prints and everything in between. They are designed to last up to 2 weeks on hands and 4 weeks on toes. The best part is that they also have a design studio where you can design your own wraps, which is just perfect for events! I designed mine for Nike Women’s, which I ran with Team in Training. Because I was a part of a special team within TNT, Team On Fire, I also wanted to incorporate that. And this is what I came up with:

Jamberry crop

As you can see, this is for one sheet. So each sheet comes with enough wraps for 2 hands and 2 feet. These were about $18.00 because they were custom made. Many of the pre-designed wrap sheets are $15. I submitted my design for approval (you can upload pictures for these, so I imagine they have to be cleared for copyright reasons), and had an approval within a day. I emailed customer service to see how long they would take to deliver and she responded quickly and told me 6-10 business days after you get confirmation that they’ve shipped. That was going to be cutting it very close since the event weekend at that point was in 7 days. But that was completely my lack of thinking ahead. I got the email on a Monday. The wraps arrived on Wednesday. Yes, seriously. It was that fast. Perfect! Here is the finished product on their sheet.

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(Pic is a little blurry, sorry about that!)

I am so happy with how they came out. Particularly because these are more fun than I would have had a salon do (though I’m sure they could have, I’m just simply not patient enough).

I’m a little clumsy with new things, so it took me a few minutes to get these right. Mainly, because my fingers fell in-between some of the sizes so I had to trim some down. Then you add some heat. They have a dryer, or you can use a blow-dryer, which worked just fine for me. You heat them up, lay them onto the nail. Then you smooth it out with a rubber nail tool (I don’t own one because I don’t generally do my own nails, so I used a cotton swab). Once it is smooth, add a little more heat from the dryer to make sure it adhered and is smooth. I trimmed down the end and filed, and voila! Perfect, event-ready nails.Jamberry 2

I LOVE them. If you looked really close (like so close it would be weird if someone actually looked that close) you can tell they were printed. That’s a win. They came out awesome and for what I wanted, it was perfect. They lasted through a rough day at work, the expo, a few events and the race. I took them off myself the day after and they were still in perfect shape. A major plus was that there was absolutely no damage to my nail underneath. I can’t say that that’s true even with gel that is soaked for awhile to remove. Had they been a solid, or rather, every day, color, I would have left them on. I have no doubt they would last 2 weeks. They were shiny like gel and did not “appear like a wrap”, if that makes sense. I got so many compliments on them.

happy nails

Things like this make me super happy.

So, all in all, it was a win. Would I get them again? Definitely. Will I refer others? Absolutely. Will I be trying some other styles, without a doubt.  I’m curious what other’s thoughts are on this. This was the first time my nails suited-up for a race other than just typical colors. But this was fun. Have any of you used Jamberry or any other nail wrap? What has your experience been?

Thanks for reading!

Brie

This or That: Head-to-Head Cleansing Conditioners

I have very thick, medium length, wavy,color-treated hair (isn’t that just a hair care nightmare…). A few years ago I discovered a new product on the market that claimed it could wash and condition my hair in one step without harsh detergents and chemicals. It was called a “cleansing conditioner”. As a runner, and someone who thoroughly enjoys spending a great deal of time outside, I have to chose wisely so that my color isn’t damaged by sun, sulfates, weather, etc. And because I’m active, I wash and blow-dry a lot.

Enter,

Wen by Chaz Dean

At the time, $39.99 bought a one-month supply  of the Sweet Almond Mint fragrance and came with a one-time gift of a large-tooth comb to use in the shower, and a tube of styling cream.

Price: $32.00 for 1 16oz pump bottle at Sephora OR $39.99 for deluxe kit on the Wen website.

Pros:

-One step, very quick, simple process.

-Divine scent. Very clean and light.

-Detangles and conditions without weighing my hair down.

-Rinses clean while keeping my hair soft.

-A very small amount can be used to smooth fly-aways.

-Can be used as a leave-in conditioner.

-Sturdy pump-bottle

-Claims the more you use the better it works. Seems like a ploy, but I found that statement to be very accurate. 10-15 pumps worked fine for me.

-They do make a separate occasional-use hair mask which is excellent.

-Didn’t damage my color.

-Sulfate-free, paraben-free.

Cons:

-Price. After awhile of auto-renew, the price adds up. This is especially true if you don’t use the extras. Costs more and you get less by purchasing at Sephora.

-Don’t love the styling creme. My hair actually got sticky when I used it on dry hair and it looked oily when used in wet hair.

-Claims the more you use the better it works. See how this can be good and bad?? (At least is was a fair statement).

Verdict: If you can afford the price-point, I definitely found it to be worth it. I love this product. Even my color liked this product. However, I needed to keep looking for something more affordable.

After I discontinued Wen, I went on a mission to find something conventional (read: affordable). First I tried some mid-level brands: It’s a 10, Paul Mitchell, Bed Head, Pureology, Moroccan Oil. All of them were Shampoo/Conditioner combos. The only one I kind of liked was It’s a 10. (Sidebar, the leave-in conditioner is still one of my favorites). Bed Head actually dried my hair almost to the extent that frequent chlorine exposure did. That’s an automatic toss. I missed my one-step cleansing conditioner.

Enter,

DevaCurl No-Poo Cleansing Conditioner

Price: $20.00 for 12oz Bottle at Sephora

Pros:

-Very, very light scent. Reminded me of the salon. In a good way.

-Comes in a small travel-sized bottle for $9 so you can try it before you invest.

-Available online or at Sephora stores (easy access).

-Sulfate-free, paraben free.

Cons:

-Read the fine print: “Do the Deva 3-Step for best results. Cleanse with DevaCurl NoPoo or LowPoo, Condition with DevaCurl One Condition and Define with DevaCurl Light Defining or Ultra Defining Gel”. So much for one step.

-Intended for curly hair.

-Did not leave my hair as soft and manageable as the competitor did.

-Rinsed almost too clean (hair squeaked after, making it feel stripped).

-Made my hair sticky if any was left in.

Verdict: While I like the price point and the very soft fragrance, the needing to use a conditioner on top of this product defeats the purpose. Unfortunately, while I’m sure there are some ladies that this works great on, I was not one of them.

<sad trombone>

Then a funny thing happened. All hair care brands were coming out with cleansing conditioners. I walked by the aisle in Target one day and saw a crisp white bottle stand out from all of the blacks, purples, blues and reds of the shampoo aisle.

Enter,

Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner

Price: $4.99 for 16.9 oz pump bottle at Target

Pros:

-Found at Target, Walgreens, CVS, anywhere Herbal Essences is sold.

-HELLO price point!

-Smells great. Citrus-y with a hint of mint.

-Sturdy pump bottle

- Sulfate-free, paraben-free

-Rich formula but not heavy.

-Immediately softens, and rinses clean without stripping.

-Excellent detangler

-No oily residue at all, even after a hard work-out.

Cons:

-Haven’t found any yet.

Verdict: Works every bit as well (possibly better than), it’s specialty store competitor. I was very skeptical of the drug-store brand. I’ve been victim of the “professional hair requires professional care” thought process. The scent is a little stronger in the bottle but doesn’t resonate on my strands. The price is just a steal. You can’t beat that. If you prefer a conventional shampoo and conditioner this line has that option as well (which I haven’t yet tried). I am a big fan of this product.

This or That…..

MY THOUGHTS: If you can afford Wen, it’s an excellent choice, but my pick is absolutely the Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner. It’s everything I loved about Wen with an amazingly affordable price. I love that my hair feels clean and soft, my color is protected, and it’s one step. I love that the scent is invigorating in the shower but doesn’t remain “perfume-y” when I go to work. I especially love that it thoroughly cleans even after a hard run when I need it to work the most. I also pick this product for the runner who is traveling. It’s convenient enough that if you forget yours you don’t have to find a special store when you’re supposed to be resting your legs to buy more and it’s affordable enough that you won’t cry when you buy some for the hotel (because this $5.00 won’t take away from your race-swag budget).

Your Thoughts: Have you tried any of the products mentioned above or have you tried others?? What did you think?? Share your thoughts below!

2014

Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco, 2014

It has been one unbelievably challenging year. I started out too eager, got hurt…..and then kept getting hurt after that. I learned a valuable lesson about rest and recovery. (But that is for another post). For now I want to talk about the awesome that was the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. (Insert thumbs-up here).

As I may have mentioned a thousand times before once or twice, I have been actively involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training for a year and a half. This was my third season. The team here in San Francisco is incredible. They’ve become more like family. Since June we’ve been training and raising money to fund research aimed at finding cures for blood cancers and improving the lives of patients and families. I’d say we did that….$450,000 later! So shout out to my SF/Marin Run Team for that!! I was also a part of an amazing group, Team on Fire. We worked together to raise over $250K, which funded a grant for research aimed at Acute Myeloid Leukemia. (A cancer a friend of mine has). I should mention though that at one of the awards receptions there was a surprise meet and greet. And look who I met:

Shalane

Why yes, that is Shalane Flanagan.

Team on Fire

This is Team On Fire. A Cancer-ass-kicking-cure-finding team. $252K for Acute Myelod Leukemia. 

I went into the actual race with no expectations. I had two significant injuries this year that cost me months of quality training. They weren’t even simultaneous. Literally, as soon as the first one resolved the second one occurred. (ARRRGGGHHH!!!!) In my previous post I talked about my journey with acupuncture, which has been my saving grace. After weeks without running I did decide to try a light run and I was able to loosen the muscles in my back enough to start training, albeit carefully, again. By two weeks ago I was up to 10 slow, reluctant miles. I knew at that point that I could be on my feet with out my sciatic nerve taking over so I knew I could at least attempt this race.

Nike exp 2014

I got to the start line really early. Oh, I should mention that the finish line was basically across the street from my apartment, so I had to get out to Union Square before the road closures at 5am. So I was there by 5am! I met with the team for a couple of pre-race pictures and a loud, “GO TEAM!!” before we departed to our prospective corrals.

Pre race pic

I might be one of the few that doesn’t mind a long wait in the waves to get to the start line. I had good friends with me. We chatted with the runners around us, so it was fine. I noticed that because I went into this race just wanting to finish it, I wasn’t even the slightest bit nervous. I was just eager. About an hour and fifteen minutes after the gun, my wave was moving. We crossed the start line and almost immediately began a slight incline.

Now, if you’ve spent any time at all in San Francisco, you’ve learned that when we say “hills” we don’t mean “inclines”. We mean, adjust-how-you-walk-and-don’t-look-down-HILLS. The kind that make your car lose it’s breath. I was prepared for the inclines we had at the beginning. I held steady, really focused on my pacing. Last year I started way too fast and did a great first four miles, and then croaked at mile 5-10. I finished exhausted and in pain. I kept that in mind. I did a slow (really slow) first 5K, but I PR’d my 10K time by 3 minutes. Between miles 6 and 8 I alternated between, “I might actually PR this thing” with, “No PR, but my legs and back don’t hurt, SCORE!”. My legs were a little stiff, but okay. My lungs actually felt great.

I’ve run this part of the course, so as I crossed mile 8, I knew full-well what was coming up. After mile 9 there is a hill. Not just any ordinary hill, but the mother of all race-course hills. If I thought a picture would do it justice I would post one. But here is a look at the course elevation map.

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(Click the map above for a larger view)

I knew I would lose some time on this so I just moved up it as quickly as I could without having to stop (read: I walked it, briskly). A teammate saw me and she pep-talked me to the top. At the top it dawned on me that I would actually finish this thing and I was in position to get a PR. The next mile and a half were down hill, and then the last mile or so was flat, feeding into the shute to the finish line at Marina Green. I have run this section so many times I could do it with my eyes closed, but this time it seemed to go for days. I found bumps I never knew where there. I swear they kept moving the finish line. One of my coaches ran with me for little while, which helped. I began to see more crowd gathered, ran into another friend spectating who cheered me on and then finally, I could see the finish line. Another coach joined me at this point (which he did at the same time last year!). When I looked at my watch I realized that I was going to finish no less than 4 minutes faster than my current record. Suddenly, I had energy that came from who-knows-where, and I bolted the last 0.2mi. Annnnd, I finished. I finished with energy. I finished without significant pain. And I finished with a -5:00min PR.

I was so excited. But I wanted some water. It got sunny and warm in the last few minutes! I went and collected my finisher’s bag full of snacks (thank you Whole Foods Market!) and collected my coveted Tiffany and Co. silver finisher’s necklace. Right around then I started to get a bit dizzy and not feeling well so I shoveled in a banana and bunch of water. I was able to connect with my boyfriend really fast. We then walked hobbled towards home. I would have liked if I didn’t have to buy my finisher’s shirt, but at this point, they could have sold me anything, so it was fine!

When I got home, my awesome neighbors had decorated my apartment door. This was the icing on the cake. I have felt so much support between my fundraising for cancer research (our group funded a research grant!), and the love of friends, I can’t even express my gratitude.

Door decoration

This race felt so different. Between pacing, and nutrition, and listening to my body. The stars just aligned for me to have a good race. I know that they aren’t all like that (apparently, according to the San Luis Obispo Half-Marathon that I had to scrap in April due to shin splints). But I feel good because I knew I’d done something right this time.

We don’t know where Nike will be this spring, but I love this race series. I will keep doing it as long as it makes sense to. I am hoping they’ll keep the fall one in San Francisco, but if the city is right I’ll travel for it. I hope this is an indication that I’m healing and ready to start working towards the next race. But not before a nice long recovery period.

Have you run Nike Women’s (either full or half)? Without looking at your race results, how and when do you know you’ve run a good race?

Happy Running!!

Brie

Adventures in Acupuncture

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and these opinions are solely my own. One should always use their own judgment when seeking treatment for any kind of pain or injury and consult their physician as needed. 

We’ve all been there. Plantar fascitis. GI issues. Shin splints. Tendon and muscular problems. These problems for anyone, including runners, can not only be annoying but can be debilitating. Injuries are the worst, especially when you’re training for a race. Injuries are frustrating, painful, confidence shaking and as we’ve all learned they can derail our progress.

After having to take weeks months off of training due to a pretty serious case of shin splints, I was thrilled to get back to my workouts, now pain-free. I started slow, I listened to my body, I single-handedly drove up the stock price of various brands of kinesio tape. And then one blasphemous day in July, while stepping onto a curb, my right foot slipped and I came down very hard on my right foot. I felt like I tweaked my lower back but kept about my day, as it didn’t seem like a big deal. Just stretched a little more that day. The next morning I had an intense dull ache around my tailbone. As I would walk the area around my piriformis muscle began to ache and a tingling progressed down the back of my right leg to the bottom of my foot. This got worse the longer I walked and became intolerable to run. The only relief I would get was from sitting or bending over and taking some pressure off the nerve. Of course, no one can run that way. Unless you’re Phoebe Buffet.

Sciatica. I’ve heard of it. I know people that have had it. I’ve never personally experienced anything quite like it.  But I knew that’s what it was pretty early on. I don’t have time for this nonsense, I’m mid-season with TNT and I already lost 4 months last season and missed a race.

What is sciatica, anyway?  Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve — which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. (Source: The Mayo Clinic. Click here for further information on sciatica)

I called my chiropractor, who is amazing and treated my shin splints. Had two visits, but my symptoms were not improving. Running was out, and walking was very uncomfortable. So I asked her about acupuncture, since there’s a practitioner in the same office. I made an appointment and saw her the following week. Now, I should say this, I’ve had acupuncture before and already swear by it. So I may be a bit biased. But I did it for relaxation, not for pain management, so I was hopeful, but not sold.

Visit number one was good. I always reach a deep state of relaxation, but my back muscles were so tight in my lower back that I knew it was going to take some time. Visit number 2 was two days ago. One of the needles was placed along my sciatic nerve relatively low on my hip. Bear in mind, I can’t see any of this because I was face-down. She told me this one placement was “going to feel really weird.” I felt nothing for a few seconds and then a deep ache in the same spot I’ve been feeling it. I had some needles along my lower back, back of my leg and inside of my ankles and then she turned out the light, left me alone (on a heated table which was awesome) and let me rest for about 30 minutes. I fell asleep.

When she came back the level of relaxation was ridiculous. I wasn’t tired. I was so relaxed I keep saying I was drunk with relaxation.  Luckily this was the evening and I went home and fell asleep for the night. When I got up, I wasn’t as stiff as I had been. Standing in the shower wasn’t torture, and running around at work wasn’t as irritating. This morning I still went out with my team, but I didn’t run, just walked. There were a few times that I had to stop to stretch my back out, but I got in about 5 miles and was not in any more pain than I was in when I started. I even took another walk later in the day. Today I am more comfortable than I have been in a few weeks.

Did acupuncture cure me? Too soon to tell. Did it help with symptom management? Absolutely.

Here are my general thoughts on acupuncture. I once was afraid of it, but the needles actually don’t hurt at all. Every now and then one might hit a sensitive spot, but in general, they don’t hurt and you can’t feel them when they are in. I have never done anything that can relax me the way that 30 minutes of acupuncture can. And the relaxation effects for me last several days. It’s non-narcotic, which means I don’t have to worry about side-effects. This approach has several benefits and I have found it to be extremely effective. I would definitely recommend it to others and suggest that if it’s something you’re curious about, talk to your healthcare provider and consult with a practitioner to see if it’s a good option.  I will continue to report on my progress with it over the next couple of weeks.

To read more about acupuncture check out the National Institute for Health National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Have you tried or ever wondered about acupuncture? What was your experience?

 

Happy Running!

Brie

 

Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip

I love dipping carrots and celery in something. Peanut butter is one of my go-tos, but that’s often too heavy, and I can’t really eat too much (I know, I know.) I’m also using greek yogurt in just about anything and as a substitute for sour cream or salad dressings. I finally found a healthified ranch dip recipe that you can brag about, not feel guilty about.

*Adapted from Center Cut Cook’s Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip Recipe.

1 container (8 oz) of Fage (or your favorite) plain greek yogurt. I like the 2% for this.

1/4 tsp dried dill

1/4 tsp dried minced onion

1/4 tsp garlic salt

ground black pepper to taste

 

You can alter the seasoning anyway you want. I only adapted from the recipe above because I didn’t have all of the ingredients. Center Cut Cook’s recipe would be AMAZING. In my opinion, if you’re missing a couple of things, as long as you have salt, pepper, garlic, dill and some onion (powder, diced, minced, whichever!), you’re going to love it.

 

Don’t be afraid to play with greek yogurt. Look up your favorite sour-cream recipes and switch the cream for yogurt. Almost anything will translate well!!

 

Team On Fire

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Many people know that for over a year I’ve been actively involved with the Greater Bay Area Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. Last fall I trained for and ran in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon and raised $2700 for blood cancer research. I ran in honor of a friend, Maggie, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2012. I’ve made so many good friends through Team. I’ve met survivors; people who themselves survived blood cancer and people who were survived by someone who didn’t. I run for all of them. I met some very special people last Fall. Stephanie Waxman, who was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia 2 years ago; who walked the NWHM with Team Stephanie and crossed the finish line just over a year after being diagnosed and undergoing a life-saving bone marrow transplant; who is now running with us this season. Christine Attia, who joined our team in August (3 months before the race!) and just 4 months after she lost her fiance, Dave LaRiche to Acute Myeloid Leukemia in April 2013. He was just 27. These two extraordinary women touched me deeply. Their stories were so relate-able. We three continued on to subsequent seasons; Christine and Stephanie on the Summer Team and I on the Spring Team. Little did I know then what a monumental Fall season we were about to embark on.

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Christine and Stephanie had been throwing around the idea of forming another team with LLS/TNT to raise money directed specifically towards AML. “Wishful thinking” has resulted in a campaign that Christine has spearheaded called, Team on Fire. I went to an event honoring Dave on the 1 year anniversary of his passing and Christine told me that this was an idea in progress. I told her then, “I’m IN!”. (The survival rate of AML 5 years post-treatment is still only 25%). Well, our respective seasons ended. I signed back on to be a Mentor for our Fall season and I talked to Christine again. This time the campaign has grown and the goal of Team on Fire is to raise $250,000 aimed at funding research and treatment specific to AML, and she’s asked me to be the Team on Fire mentor. Of course I was so excited I actually almost burst. (And after I regained my composure I said YES!!!) 

And so we begin, with Christine as Captain, Stephanie and Lois Markovich (cancer survivor!) as Honored Teammates and myself as Mentor, Team on Fire as of today has 29 AML-fighting, run-spired members and we’re growing. This is a NATIONAL campaign through Team in Training, so anyone, anywhere can join our fight. We need to meet more survivors and our hope is that with more research and advancement specific to AML, we will. Our Dave, and our Maggie, and every other person diagnosed with a form of Leukemia will not be discussing end-of-life at age 27 or looking at a 5-year survival rate, because AML will be a cancer that has a high cure-rate. WE CAN DO THIS. WE WILL DO THIS.

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I am so incredibly proud to be a part of this team and to be surrounded by such strong and determined people. All survivors in their own right.

To give you an idea of the beauty, courage, strength and determination that has developed over the past year, please visit the Team in Training Homepage, where Christine was interviewed just after she rocked the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in October 2013.

http://www.teamintraining.org/alumni/stories/christine_attia/

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My single hope is that everyone reading will take a look at my page, at our Team Page and learn about what we are going to do.  By raising enough money to fund a specific grant, this will make a difference in the recovery of AML patient’s and their families. I hope that you might follow our progress. Maybe come to an event. Maybe dig even a bit deeper and make a donation to me or our Team. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey with you.

Here is the link to my personal page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/gba/nikesf14/bkellyj5jp

Here is the link to the Team On Fire team page: http://pages.teamintraining.org/gba/nikesf14/TeamOnFire

THANK YOU for reading. Happy Running!

Brie

Oh Hey, Here I Am!

Well hello again! That was far longer of a hiatus than I ever intended. Truth is, I was having a ridiculous pity party for myself after being derailed for months with some serious shin splints.  

After my great run in January at the Hot Chocolate 15K, my legs just never fully recovered. I was just beginning my training season with Team in Training for Spring, but never was able to get above 2 miles without significant pain. I was having bilateral shin pain that was fairly localized to mid-tibia. My right side was more painful than the left, and frankly, it hurt like a SOB whenever I so much as bumped it. So my training stalled, and then eventually stopped. I was hoping it would be somewhat limited to a few weeks. Unfortunately, they would get better enough to try running a short distance and would regress right back to where they were. SO. My coach recommended that I look into seeing someone that does the Graston Technique. I had talked to a few people that have done it and sworn by it. As much as I wasn’t looking forward to “a hot butter knife scraping over my injured shin” as it was often described, I also knew that FOR THE LOVE OF SHIN I needed to do something. With that, I found a chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries and does Graston, ART (Active Release Therapy) and some other rehab techniques and so began my rehab.

I was seeing Dr. Randall weekly for about 2 months. I will say this. It wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable at first. That being said, I could see immediately why Graston works. We basically went a little Chuck Norris on my shins, between Graston, ART, some cold laser and some ultrasound. And it took awhile. My mood during my off time was spectacularly cranky. My motivation was worse. But staying off of my legs was necessary. I’m now seeing my doctor every other week. I’m back in a regular training schedule and have been for about three weeks. In the mean time, I had a touch of plantar fasciitis which is all but healed now. I’ve been able to run, for the most part, pain free. Yesterday’s short run felt great, but today my legs are a little tender, so I’ll back off of today and RICE instead. But I think that the hiatus was necessary. To think that I could have ended up with a stress fracture that would have likely been worse is kind of scary. I learned the hard way not to become overzealous with events and training and what the cues are when your body needs a break. Had I skipped that one race in January, I may have saved myself 4 months of rehab. 

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Looking forward, I’ve scrapped nearly all of my race calendar for the year and focusing only on my one half-marathon in October, the Nike Women’s Half Marathon here in San Francisco. This is an important event for me as I am doing it again with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and raising money to fund Acute Myeloid Leukemia research (more on that soon).

Tell me about your running injuries. How did you get through them both physically and emotionally.

 

Until Next Time,

Brie