Sunday, October 1, 2017

A New Sunday Morning

Hey there. It's been awhile. I've been missing my little spot on the interwebs but since my last post, life has been going by in a flash and I just haven't found time to find my way here until now. Instead my focus and energy has been elsewhere:
  • Planning a big fundraising event for MSU's alumni club in Colorado
  • Landing an exciting new job, starting said job, and taking on the gigantic learning curve that comes with it and will continue on for some time
  • Planning BirdCamp Colorado with three amazing women, and hosting 50 more women at Snow Mountain Ranch up near Granby for an incredible weekend of running and sisterhood  
All of this has presented unique challenges that have left me a bit exhausted, but it has also been incredibly rewarding and exciting. Unfortunately though, there has been little time for anything else.

As life is starting to settle down a bit (maybe? hopefully?), I'm looking forward to a long weekend with my parents later this month to celebrate a big Birthday (not mine) in Nashville and getting back to some other things I love to do. 

However, there's one other thing I've been dealing with the last few months that has been nagging at me, and as much as I want to put it in the past, it's going to take a bit more time and patience. On this first day of October, a beautiful fall day perfect for running, I'm not running because of a leg injury. It's that kind of injury that hurts but doesn't force you to stop like a stress fracture does (thank goodness). I've been able to push through it in order to continue running, at very low mileage, but this past week my chiropractor put me in my place and I'm shutting it down for a bit. 

It's difficult when your typical Saturday and Sunday mornings start with fresh air, and a good heart-pumping run, then all of a sudden you're faced with figuring out what your mornings are now going to look like. I'm a real creature of habit but I can only handle so many days a week at the gym. 

I'm thankful that this morning, when I had to miss a Oiselle VolĂ©e Colorado meet up, a friend (and teammate) was there to meet me for coffee after her run and distract me with a cute toddler. So instead of running through the park this morning, I took a walk. Not quite the same, but for now, that's what I have to do. 

Take a deep breath. Slow it down. Focus on the moment and be happy that at least I can still get outside on a beautiful fall day. And think about all the running that's ahead once I can finally kick this thing.

Washington Park Garden

Now it's time to figure out why I get these injuries, what I need to do to recover from this, and what needs to change so this doesn't happen again next year. 

Are you also struggling with an injury? Let me know and I'll send some love your way.

If you have recommendations for Nashville - like cool neighborhoods to explore - please share!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What We Do For Health, Part 1: The Salt Cave

In a turn of luck, I've recently had the opportunity to try a few different non-traditional care treatments. While runners can certainly benefit from a range of treatments, the same can be said for everyone. Life is stressful and can be hard on the body, and since it's the only one we get, we should be good to it.

Try something for me. Get up out of your chair and try to touch your toes. How does that feel?

Now, stand up straight, put your right hand over your head and reach as far to the left as you can and count to 15. Now switch arms and bend to your right. How did that feel?

Chances are you felt some tugging and tightness. Maybe you couldn't touch your toes. Maybe your back cracked or your neck felt heavy. Maybe it was the easiest thing you've done all day.

We tend to carry a lot of stress in our bodies, I know I certainly do, but we don't have to live in pain or feel mildly uncomfortable all the time. 

Fact: as I write this I have a tight knot in my neck that's making my head feel like a million pounds.

I'm always looking ways to lower stress, relax, stop my shoulder from hurting, and support my running, that will work consistently and hopefully last longer than a few hours.

5 Star Salt Caves in Denver

When a local bike shop turned into a place called 5 Star Salt Caves, we were curious what it was all about. And then the Groupon offers started. So needless to say, we decided to give it a try.

Several different services are offered, but we went for the main attraction - the salt cave.

In addition to stimulating deep relaxation, Halotherapy (or sitting in salt) is the use of salt vapor to treat or prevent respiratory ailments and skin irritations, and to help combat headaches, dizziness, nausea, indigestion, and more.

What it's like:
In reality the cave is a room with several inches of pink Himalayan salt covering the floor, blocks of the salt covering the walls, several salt lamps placed throughout the room and the dark ceiling has strategically placed twinkle lights to resemble stars in the sky.

When we were led into the room we were directed to one of eight or so lounge chairs - more of the outdoor type than the lay-zee boy type - with a blanket and a small basket for personal items.

This is not a private treatment, nor does it involve any strenuous movement, so comfortable clothing is recommended and clean, white socks are required. All I can assume is that dirty, colored socks can change the color of the salt. But that's just a guess.

After everyone was settled in the lights were dimmed. Since phones aren't allowed and it's not a place to catch up on the latest gossip (silence is golden), the only option is to just lay there for 50 minutes and take a little nap if you'd like.

5 Star Salt Caves in Denver

My take:
It takes a lot for my mind to slow down and for me to stop obsessing over my to-do list, so the music and twinkling "stars" were welcomed distractions. After a while I was able to switch my focus and relax a bit. While I may have fallen asleep for only a flash, the fifty minutes did go by more quickly than I expected, which I was thankful for, but also not quite ready to get back to my day.

I was really hoping that it would help clear my sinuses and relieve congestion, and while I was able to breathe freely after a few minutes, the effects quickly dissipated once we left.

Will I go back?
I think so. It seems like a type of experience that you have to experience a few times to get the full benefits of. If nothing else, it helped me relax and I was in a pretty good mood the rest of the day (although, the fact that it was also my birthday may have had something to do with that!). Five Star Salt Caves in Denver often has Groupon offers, so I'll try and take advantage of that again, as $35 for 50 minutes would be a bit expensive on a regular basis.

Sound off: If you've tried Halotherapy before, what did you think? * What's the oddest treatment you've tried to cure or prevent an illness or injury?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Knowing When to Take a Break (And Being Okay with It)

If you happen to follow me on social media, you've already heard the news that my running streak came to an end at 115 days. I have a lot to be thankful for. Running every day got my body moving, cleared my mind or allowed me to focus, encouraged me to explore new places and new ideas, and realize that my body is capable of more than I thought.

I didn't hadn't planned out when I was going to stop. It had been in the back of my mind for a few days but it wasn't until sometime between 4:40am when the alarm went off on Friday and we arrived at the gym 20 minutes later, that I made the decision not to get on the treadmill that morning.

Running in Washington Park Denver

It was surprisingly easy, but still a difficult decision. My weekly mileage hasn't been extraordinary, but for me it's been really solid the last few months. Long runs have been a bit longer and logging 80+ miles per month in my Compete journal on a consistent basis has come with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Not to mention the faster times on my watch.

The reason I'm taking a few days off is because I've had a nagging ache in my right shin for a little over a week, which I'm pretty convinced is actually connected to tightness in my right calf, an issue I dealt with last year. It took me out of the BolderBOULDER and resulted in downgrading from the 10 miler to the 10k during the Garden of the Gods race. With two races coming up in May - including the Colfax Marathon relay with my Oiselle teammates - it was clear a few days off was necessary.
I did what's often so hard for us as runners to do. I listened to my body.
With the end of my running streak I don't feel like I've failed. I'm not ashamed. And I don't feel like any less of a runner. In fact, after this experience I feel more like a real runner than ever before. (Let me be clear here: in no way, do I think it's necessary to run every day to be a 'real runner'. If you run, you're a runner!)

Rocky Mountain National Park valley view

It does sting a little to know that I'll log less than 10 miles this week, and maybe next week too, but I'll get over it. I've seen it before and I'll see it again.
I prefer to focus on the longterm. My goals for this year (as nebulous as they are right now) and healthy running in the years ahead.
The intention I set last week in my journal was "Do what feels right." So in making this decision, I don't feel badly or like a failure in calling it quits. I did what felt right.

What I'm focusing on during my little break:

  • Cross training (bike, elliptical, hiking)
  • Strength training
  • Core work
  • Rolling out and stretching
  • Resting 

Whether you're pursuing a run streak or only running a few days a week, it's important to listen to your body and take a break if you need one. In my experience, pushing through rarely works in my favor. Usually, it ends in a stress fracture or other overuse injury. And usually at the worst time.

South Table Mesa group hike

A group hike at South Table Mesa near Golden was the perfect diversion from running on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Amanda Brooks (of Run to the Finish)

Five reasons why you might need a break from running:

  • You have a nagging ache or pain that doesn't go away after a few days of extra rolling out, stretching, or ice
  • Running has become a cause of stress or anxiety
  • You've had several unusually difficult workouts in a row
  • Fatigue and a lack of energy is an every day occurrence
  • You're nursing an upper respiratory illness

With our Type A personalities, always going after goals and not wanting to divert from training plans, focusing on the long-term and setting new, short-term goals (like getting healthy and stronger) and leaning on your support system can help get you through your break.

When have you had to take a break (of any time period) from running? * What goals are you focused on right now?

Reminder: I am in no way a professional, all of my advice, ideas, and recommendations are rooted in my experience as a runner and through research.