Injury-Proof Running?

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I have been pretty fortunate to not have many injuries from running in the past few years. From June to August I had a lower back spasm but I don’t know for sure that it was caused by running; I did a lot of things to aggravate it. But this past weekend, after running the 6 mile trail run, my ankle swelled. It didn’t swell until four hours after the race, which I thought was odd. I’m sure it had something to do with running through muddy creeks and jumping over trees. 🙂 Things my feet are not accustomed to. The ankle has felt better every day although I am not doing any of my normal walking or running activities. Tonight I am going to Zumba so we’ll see how it feels then.

Even though I have not had many injuries, I know there is a strong possibility that I will have more injuries and a New York Times Magazine article caught my attention. The Once and Future Way to Run written by Christopher McDougall has me thinking about my running stride and how my foot strikes the ground. The article talks a little about the history of running shoes and about the current barefoot or minimalist shoe running trend. But to be able to run barefoot or with minimalist shoes, one has to have the right technique. I have seen a few people running barefoot and some wearing what they call barefoot type running shoes. There is an obvious difference in their strides and it looks like they’re gliding and kind of prancing. In the article McDougall references running coach Alberto Salazar, who teaches the technique, and says it is injury-proof running. Alright, I’m listening, er, still reading; how do we do it?!

McDougall says a great way to learn the barefoot-style stride is to do 100-Up exercises (developed by W.G. George around 1908). There is a video along with the article that gives a demonstration of the 100-Up. The biggest no-no is landing on the heel, initial contact should be between the ground and the ball of your foot. I know that’s the way I should be running, but I don’t really know if I am hitting with my heel. Why? Because I have cushy shoes! The point of the minimalist shoes or going barefoot is that you know exactly where your foot hits the ground and can if you’re doing it right. That makes sense to me.

So, am I going to start running barefoot? Not likely. There are still ways to injure the feet on pavement even with the correct stride, plus I’m allergic to bees and wasps and I don’t want to risk getting stung. Will I ever run with minimalist shoes? Possibly, but first I am going to start doing the 100-Up exercises and see how it feels. McDougall says this running style feels effortless – why wouldn’t I want to give it a try?

Mudder Governor’s Run

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Today was the four plus mile Governor’s Run; it’s a trail run with a two mile or 4+ mile run. I decided on the 4+ route because it didn’t seem worth it to do just 2 miles. The race took place at Scott County Park in Long Grove, IA, not far from where I grew up and where my parents still live, but we live a little over an hour away. After I arrived and was wandering around I overheard someone say that last year’s 2 mile route ended up being 3-4 miles and the 4+ mile route was 6-7. I have to admit, this worried me a bit. I have been training for a 4 mile race, not 7! For me, that is a big difference. I asked a few other people if they’d done the race before, so I could get some idea of what I was getting into and to decide if I should do the 2 mile route instead, but it was also their first time doing the race. Not helpful. Then I just told myself that I signed up for the 4+, so I was going to do it.

There were 700 runners – I think it may have been a record for them. 700 was a little much for the course we were to run – some parts of the trails were wide and groomed, other parts were narrow paths and we had to go single-file. Within the first mile there was a creek crossing and they had a Tarzan rope for people to use to get to the other side; one rope for all 700 of us (we eventually split off from the 2 mile route runners). I followed some other people through the brush and crossed on a log about four feet above the creek. I was so happy to not be wet that early in the run! What I didn’t know was that there were a lot more creek crossing without tarzan ropes. I think miles 3 and had the most crossings, maybe 4 where the only option was to run through in about ankle high water and then scramble up the slippery bank. People were really helpful in lending a hand, though. I could always tell a creek crossing was coming when I heard shrieks up ahead.
By far, the nuttiest thing we had to do was cross the creek in waist-high water. I tried to run out of it because I feared my shoes would get sucked into the mud and then I biffed it and fell onto the muddy bank. My hands and arms were covered and I had mud splashes all over! I am so thankful it wasn’t below 55 degrees because we would have all froze! I think it was around 60 degrees. Toward the end was one last creek crossing, this time with two Tarzan ropes. Some people just went ahead through the water but I wanted to try the rope; it was okay except my hands burned and then I noticed blood on my hands. Luckily I still had all my skin! After wiping them off with an antiseptic wipe when I got back to the car I realized it was just my pinky nail that had bled and my finger was sore. I think we ended up running around 6 miles, or, more accurately, we probably ran 4 of those because there was a lot of walking due to the single-file trails and people walking to go under over trees.

There was mud, there was water, there was even blood. Would I do it again? Absolutely! And I want to find people to join me. My ankle is quite sore this evening, too, which is a major bummer. It was fine until about four hours after the run and then it started hurting. I elevated and iced it then could hardly walk on it. Took three ibuprofen and am able to walk on it again, but it’s still really sore.

After doing the first mile in about 15 minutes, I knew this wasn’t a race for time, it was just for fun and for a challenge. I finished in about one hour and thirty-six minutes, but I really had no choice of my pace most of the time. Really, it wasn’t even a “race,” they didn’t keep track of our individual times. It was a fundraiser for a scholarship fund and it always feels good to contribute to a good cause.

Here is some off-road race advice:
– Be prepared to get wet! The race people warned that I would get muddy and should bring a change of clothes, but did not mention the water crossings. I am certain they did that on purpose. For some dumb reason I had my cell phone with me but managed to keep it in the zipped pocket of my lightweight sweatshirt which I tied around my waist. I had it around my neck for the water crossings! I used my iPod part of the way but it also ended up in the pocket to stay dry. Next time those will not join me.

– Take a change of clothes so you can warm up! And so you can sit in your car. Speaking of, have a trash bag in the car so you can sit while you take your shoes and pants off. Yes, I changed my pants in the parking lot (with compression short underwear on) because they locked the main bathrooms after the race started and just had port-o-potties. I’m sure they do this so the bathroom doesn’t get covered in mud. You will then need that trash bag to deposit your muddy wet clothes in.

– Next time I may wear gloves to prevent the rope burn and the injury to my pinkie nail.

– Wear old shoes. Mine are fairly new (I wore them because they’re waterproof, like, up to one inch. Not water proof of ankle deep.), but  I think I can get them clean. Some people actually had duct tape around their shoes and up on to their ankles. Now I know they were making certain not to lose any shoes in the mud.

– Be sure to take pictures of your muddy (and possibly bloody) self to show how much fun it was!

Why I Run

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One of the main reasons I run is for my kids. Being active now will hopefully prevent disease later, which means more time that I’ll hopefully have with them. Being active also helps set a great example and shows how important it is to me and our family that we exercise. My five-year-old, Audrey, is really active and loves to run – you know, at recess and playing tag in the yard. But for the first time this year the kids ran in a fun run; they did a little less than a mile and I did a 5K. I ran with Audrey and was surprised at how well she did. She didn’t get out of breath and didn’t have to walk at all. Luke (the eight-year-old and not naturally inclined to do sports) also enjoyed it and they both want to participate in more races.

Today, when I said I needed to do a trail run and the hubs told the kids they would hike the same trail, Audrey told me she wanted to run with me. She wanted me to pick out clothes for her that would be appropriate for running. She is definitely paying attention to everything I do! I decided I would let her tag along for my first lap and then I’d do one at more my speed. Man, was she good! I was worried she would trip but she was really good at looking out for obstacles. And she was fast! We ran part of the Woodpecker Trail System shown on the right side of this picture. It helped that we started downhill (the P in the lower right), went down W-5, right at W-1, then accidentally up W-2 (we should have turned at W-3). She needed to walk at W-2 because it was uphill. We got to the top and realized we needed to go back down and pretty much walked the rest, up W-3 then ran just a short part at the top. She really enjoyed it. I think we ran about 4 tenths of a mile in about six minutes, and part of it was uphill. In total the run plus walking was 1.2 miles.

Here we are after our first trail run together.

I then did another loop by myself and went 1.3 miles in 14:24. Like I said in my last trail running post, I absolutely love it. And it appears I have already passed that love on. 🙂

 

Trail Run

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On my list of races to possibly do yet this year is a 4 mile trail run on November 6. I have just been doing 5Ks on pavement so I thought it might be a good idea to actually run on a trail before I register. 🙂 Sometimes I try to run on the grass instead of the sidewalk but that gets tricky when there are tall weeds and when the utility company has been digging holes and doesn’t fill them in.

I’m so thrilled to report that trail running was much easier and more fun than trying to run in the grass. I chose a trail that we have hiked many times although I didn’t know the distance. Trying to decipher the trail head map was difficult because it gave the distances between 2 points and in order to know how far I went I would have to add up a few sections. Once I was finished I realized I could use the calculator on my phone to add the sections and the loop I did was 1.3 miles. The trail started downhill which was nice, but this section had stairs with a path next to them. I opted for the worn down path next to the stairs instead of hoping over stairs. The next half mile or so was pretty flat and went along the lake; it was such a pretty view! A welcome change from my usual runs in town.


Besides the natural beauty of this trail, the next best part about it was the soft dirt and leaves. The leaves pretty much covered everything but somehow I managed not to trip. The last section was uphill, which most people would groan about, but I was happy to do hills. There are none in the small city where I live. I know there will be hills during the 4 mile race so I need to be prepared! The loop ended up being shorter than I thought it would be so after returning to my starting point I went back down the first section, turned around and tried to run back up. It was pretty steep (this was the part with the stairs) and I had to walk part of it. All in all it was a great run and I went ahead and registered for the 4 mile race on the 6th. I’m looking forward to more trail running before then!

Fridge Friday – Better

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Our household definitely ate more fruits and vegetables this week but I failed to get a picture when the fridge was full! So as not to bore you, I won’t post a picture of what it looks like now, because it’s somewhat similar to last Friday. I need to remember to snap a picture right after the trip to the grocery store! We tried some new recipes this week, at least, the hubs and I did. The challenge with some of the recipes we choose is that we know the kids won’t like them, so we try to give them some of the ingredients before throwing it all together.

We tried a new spinach salad with homemade balsamic vinegar dressing and bread sticks. We put mushrooms, avocado, tomato, chickpeas, and hard-boiled eggs in. It was pretty tasty but my favorite new meal is cheese tortellini with shrimp, broccoli, and tomatoes with a pesto sauce. Delicious! Had that for lunch today, as well. The kids ate sandwiches when we had the spinach salad and we gave them plain tortellini when we ate the tortellini with shrimp,  pesto, etc – they did not like the pesto when I tried to make them taste it on broccoli and tomato! We also had one of our favorite casseroles, an egg and ham with rolled-0ut crescent rolls on the bottom, which the kids love as well. And I cooked some sliced apples with cinnamon to go along with it.

I told myself this week that I was going to eat less sugar; we don’t eat a ton – don’t keep cookies around regularly and try not to eat a lot of cereal, but of course, with Halloween coming up it’s going to be difficult. I do so love the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 🙂 And I gave in and bought a package of Halloween Oreos last weekend. I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to eat any, ANY, and then the Oreos won and I sat down and had about 5 (who’s counting?) dunked in Dairy Ease. Fail. But they were so good. Then about half an hour later my stomach was churning – dairy and I don’t always get along and I would guess the cream has some form of dairy in it. I’m not one to completely cut something out, ’cause that’s just going to make me want it more. Exhibit 1 – Oreos. I just have to tell myself the goal is to eat LESS sugar because I do not want to deny myself something so scrumptious. Maybe I should do something like run a mile for each piece of candy eaten after Halloween? Notice I said AFTER, not before or the day-of. 🙂

Valance or Curtains?

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Guess what, I have interests other than running and eating! And I feel like writing about it and gather some advice while I’m at it. I enjoy decorating and changing things up around the house every once in a while and recently I have had the itch to do a few things. We have been in our house for 3 1/2 years and bought it brand-new, so there isn’t a great need to do much expect personalize it. Being new we had to buy all the window coverings; eight windows, one sliding door, and a small narrow window next to the front door. One of the biggest challenges is that our living room, dining room and kitchen are all one big space, which I love, but it makes choosing window coverings a challenge because there are four windows and the sliding door in the same space.

I currently have the same shimmery gold curtains on the two living room windows and the dining room window, along with white faux wood blinds. We also have a sliding door off of the dining room which is on the same wall as the two living room windows. To save money we bought white vertical blinds for the door, which quite honestly, I dislike. Surprisingly, the husband recently said he doesn’t like the valance and he’d like something different. I misinterpreted that to mean he wanted all new blinds, but no, he means just the valance. I haven’t done much research for ideas, so I’m open to suggestions.

The other project I am going to do is kitchen curtains. The window has the same white blinds as all the other windows so it’s feeling a little cold and I want to soften it up. My first thought was to do simple curtains like these (found here):

I got a yard of this fabric, Simple Pleasures by Debbie Beaves:

It’s brighter in person, though and luckily coordinates really well with the other curtains in the area (the dining room window is on the same wall). Then while looking around on Pinterest I came across this photo (from here):

I am leaning towards doing this one. The main reason is we have an outlet just to the right of the window sill where the coffee pot is plugged in and I’m sort of paranoid that if there was a spark or something the curtains would catch fire. Now I just need to find a nice ribbon, get a rod, and get it done. I wonder if something similar could be hung above the vertical blinds? Might need to wait and see how it looks on the kitchen window.

Protein Bars

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My friend Shauna shared these bars with me a long time ago and I finally got around to making them last week (and again this week!). I wish I hadn’t waited so long to make them.

2 cups peanut butter
1 3/4 cups honey (or you can use half honey half agave)
2 1/4 cups Arbonne Protein Powder (found here and you can find Shauna’s Health and Wellness page on Facebook here)
– They have vanilla and chocolate protein powder; Shauna uses half vanilla/half chocolate and I used about 2 cups vanilla and the rest was cocoa. 🙂
3 cups rolled oats (I used Quaker cooking oats)

Heat peanut butter and honey in a large microwavable bowl.
Heat 60-90 seconds. Stir.
Add protein powder and mix well.
Add oats and stir gently.
Press into pan and refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into 24 squares.

So simple and so yummy – give them a try!