Category

Running

Finding My Way Back: Week 1 Update

 

I did it, I made it through week one with out blowing it. I managed to complete two runs, 1 walk and a day of house cleaning which I think counts as a workout, right? My diet was much better too. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t blow it completely either. Here are some of my tips and observations that helped me:

  • I am using My Fitness Pal to track my meals and activity.
  • Protein based breakfast – Each morning I ate a breakfast full of protein. One morning I really wanted an English muffin. I went with whole grain and the protein was peanut butter. That muffin was the only grain I allowed myself that day. While I can’t be completely carb free, I am trying to minimize carbs.
  • Lunch was a Sargento Balanced Break, Yoplait Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. The protein from the nuts and yogurt kept me satisfied. I did have a protein drink one day instead. I also tried some jerky for extra protein.
  • Dinner was harder – I had meetings/events every night of the week. I generally grabbed something light as I ran out the door. One evening at a PTA event, I ate a slice of pizza. It was so good.
  • I ran out of coke zero (my vice) and didn’t buy any more, so I have been drinking mostly water. I love coke zero, but am trying to break the habit.
  •  I have not had any alcohol. I would love a glass of wine tonight. I think I will do so if I have enough calories left!
  • My goal was to move 3 days – and I did that. This week, I will up it to 4.

It certainly could have been better, but for me it was PROGRESS. I feel as if I can put together a few good weeks, I will be back in the zone and back on track. Thanks for the emails of encouragement. I love hearing from you.

 

  • JA

Where have you been hiding…

… that is what my current self is wondering about the woman who use to be focused on her diet and exercise. She has been lost, and I can’t seem to get back in touch with her.

During the time in life when I lost over 75 lbs, I was in the zone. I mean really in the zone. I tracked everything I ate and I never missed a workout. I started running, which made me feel fantastic and I made great relationships along the way. I looked forward to my workouts and runs with my friends…not just for the accountability, but for the fellowship. Well, for the past year, I have been trying to get back into the zone. I do well for a day or two, then back to the same old habits. Work, injuries & scheduling conflicts, all getting in the way. It has not been a priority.

This week my former co-worker lost his wife. She had been battling leukemia for 3 months, developed pneumonia and couldn’t find her way back. They have a 12 year old son. This hit me rather close to home, as my son is 10. I have my own health challenges. I have been living with Crohn’s disease since I was 23. I have help from my medical team closely managing it. But my weight is a whole other matter. This was something I control. It’s something I use to manage on my own. Now I have managed to let my discipline go. After the events of this week, I have really been thinking about my son. I am hoping this is the swift kick in the jogging shoes that gets me back into the zone. I don’t want something that I could control to be the cause for my bad health.

I used the bone spur in my heel as an excuse. Yes, it hurts to run, so I don’t do anything. But, there are other things I can do, like ride my bike. I do ride it some, but not regularly.  I also can walk, as that doesn’t cause the ankle to hurt. When I was most active, I might miss one workout in a week. But where I really do the most damage, is with food. I still eat like I am training for a half marathon.

I just joined a Facebook group of friends working on getting healthy. I threw out the SOS yesterday and asked them to help keep me accountable. I ate MUCH better yesterday. Today, I got in a 3 mile walk/run using intervals. I did have some pain in the foot, but not too bad. Honestly it felt good to get out and try again. I was super slow and wondered if I ever will get back to my pre-injury pace. I am going to try and update the blog each week with my progress. I am hoping this accountability along with me Facebook group will be what helps keep me focused.

Please share your tips, comment or email me directly if you would like support in your journey as well.

-JA

 

 

A Walk….

run

 

If you have read my past posts, you know that I am a runner, or was anyway. I have completed 5 half marathons and countless 5K, 10Ks and 15Ks.  You also know that it has led to some injuries. Most recently, I have a heel spur and tendonitis in the Achilles. I have not able to run for almost 9 months, so I have been using biking to stay active. Before I was a runner, I walked 3-5 miles every day. I haven’t really walked much since I started running and biking. I always feels like I am not moving fasting enough. Last week, I met a friend for a walk. We chatted the entire time, and before I knew it, we had walked for over an hour. I had no pain and I felt great. I realized how much I enjoy walking.

I recently read an article about a study done by James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, MO. His studies outlined the benefits of walking or jogging at a slow pace versus running. One of the studies shows that walking or jogging at a slow pace for 1 to 2.5 hours a week, lowers your risk by 25%. I forget that just because I am not running, doesn’t mean it’s not a great workout.

I scheduled a walk with the girls this week.  It’s great opportunity to catch up while enjoying the benefit of physical activity. I also will get in at least one walk in with the family and one on my own. When you are teaching boot camp classes, you tend to neglect your own workout. I have been so slack with my own diet and workout since I stopped running. I am hoping getting back to the basics of eating right, walking and along with my other planned workouts, I will find my way back into a routine.

Do something for your health today – go for a walk!

-JA

 

 

Ignoring Chronic Pain

Stop the pain

 

Last September, I noticed some pain in my right Achilles tendon. I had just finished a long drive and really thought it was related to that. I was in the midst of training to run a half marathon at the Dallas Marathon and really didn’t have time for an injury. I taped it and kept to my training schedule, secretly praying it wouldn’t get worse. There were days when I hardly noticed it, and days when it was screaming at me, but I did finish training and ran the half. After that race, I decided to take a break and see if it would heal on its own. I had replaced running with biking and that seemed to prevent it from getting worse. Every so often I would feel the twinge. I joined Orange Theory Fitness in June and one day on the treadmill, I was in terrible pain. So, 10 months after I first noticed the pain, I finally decided to get it checked out.

I went to see the ortho who had treated me for another ankle injury and a hip injury. I don’t think he was surprised to see me. Truthfully, running has been so hard on my body.  Every time I train for a half marathon, I end up in his office.  The x-ray showed a bone spur at the top of the heel bone. Apparently this was causing the tendonitis. I was fitted for a heel cup, given some steroids and scheduled for physical therapy.  The heel cup provided immediate relief.  It raised the heel ever so slightly and that released the tension on the tendon. It felt immediately better.

Part of me knows I ignored it because I didn’t want to stop training for the half. I was training with a good friend and it was going to be her first half marathon. I didn’t want to let her down, and deep down I think I knew it would be my last half marathon. After the race, I kept thinking that it would get better if I just rested it. As long as I wasn’t doing anything that caused direct impact to the heel, it was tolerable. I am still in treatment, so not sure how this story ends. But looking back, I really wish I would have gone to see him last fall. The heel cup itself has provided so much relief.

Are you ignoring chronic pain? Get it checked out!

JA

Accountability

accountability

I came across some interesting stats about goals and accountability from the American Society of Training and Development.

The probability of achieving a goal is:

  • 10% when you think of a goal
  • 40% when you  make the decision to pursue a goal
  • 50% when you develop a plan on how to achieve your goal
  • 65% when you make a commitment to someone else that you will follow the plan
  • 95% when you have an accountability appointment  with this person.

I know when it came to training for my half marathons, having running buddies was so important. When its 30 degrees and lightly raining, you may opt to stay in bed and skip your run. However, when you know your training partners are waiting for you, somehow you find away to get yourself up and moving. We all had decided to train together. We had a set training plan and schedule. We met weekly for our long runs. If I had to run 10 miles on my own, I may have found 10 excuses to skip the run that week.  Meeting up with my group ensured I kept to the schedule and ultimately allowed me to meet my goal.

Accountability partners would be helpful in any diet or fitness program. I know I am more likely to get to boot camp class if I know my friends will be there. I hadn’t consider this approach for other areas of my life, but I could see the benefits of having someone keep me accountable with any goals I might set.

Do you have an accountability partner? When has it worked or not worked for you? Email me your thoughts and I may use them in a future post.

-JA

*I came across these stats while reading Made to Crave, by Lysa Terkeurst.

 

 

Choosing the Right Shoe

brooks

 

 

If you have been into an athletic store lately, you might have found yourself overwhelmed by all the options. There are several brands, styles and colors. I will be honest, in the past, I would buy the shoes that had a cool color scheme. I didn’t care if they were a trail shoe, a cross training shoe, a running shoe or a walking shoe. If I liked how it looked and it was the right price, I bought it. When I took up running, my trainer went over the importance of having the right shoe and being properly fitted for it. What? I had no idea! I soon learned that each shoe style has a different purpose, and it mattered.

Running shoes: designed for a forward motion and provide extra cushioning for the repetitive pounding motion that runners experience with each stride.

Cross training shoes: designed for lateral or side to side motion, flexible sole to help the floor during workouts such as aerobics or zumba.

Walking shoes: designed with a thicker heel and flexible sole to aid in the initial heel strike that takes place when walking (heel-to-toe).

Trail shoes: designed to help grip dirt, provide extra protection against rocks and often have extra protection around the toes.

Now that we covered a few of the types of shoes, how do you get the right fit? Some athletic stores, such as Run On and Luke’s Locker, have trained specialist to help you. For example, if you need a running shoe, the staff will observe your run to determine the type of gait you have, and then recommend different shoes that suit your foot. They should bring you various pairs to try on. At that point, you need to take for a test run around the store or on the pavement to see how they feel. In all likelihood, you may not really know that you have the perfect shoe until you take them for a run. Most of these types of specialty stores have a 30 day return policy.

Two training seasons ago, I switched brands. I ran in the new brand for a month and ended up returning them on the 30th day because my toes were repeatedly numb. I was so grateful I could exchange them for a different shoe. I then went on to run in Brooks, which for me are the right shoe. Everyone’s foot is different, so other brands such as Asics, New Balance or Altra may be the right fit for you. One other thing I learned through this process is that I needed a half -size larger running shoe than I wear in a dress shoe. This is common. Some people end up in a shoe that is one full size larger. Also, if you have recently had a baby, then your shoe size may have changed.

So in summary… don’t just choose the cute shoe! Make sure you are wearing the one for the activity you are performing. If you have a specialty store in the area, ask a professional to analyze your gait and help you pick a shoe that is best suited for you. If you experience any pain or numbness, the shoe isn’t the right one. Keep your shoes updated, especially running shoes. They tend to wear out after 6 months or between 400-500 miles.

-JA

To Roll or Not to Roll? Foam Rolling

Foamrollers

 

 

Are you using a foam roller? If not, hopefully this post will encourage you to give it a try. Last year when I started a weight training program, my trainer introduced me to foam rolling. I only knew what I heard about if from runners in my circle, but I had not seen it done, nor did I understand the benefits. He went through a lengthy explanation and demonstration. I never understood the saying ‘it hurts so good’ until I gave it a try. Each day when I came into the gym, we were to spend 15 minutes warming up, with foam rolling included. If you are not familiar with it, the foam roller is a cylinder tube used in a way to give deep tissue massage to your muscles, known as self- myofascial release. The muscles are rolled back and forth over the roller 10-15 times. While it can be used in many ways such as relieving chronic pain and rehabilitation, I primarily was trained to use it in a preventative way. I was not walking around with pain in my quads or hamstrings, but when I was foam rolling, I found my ‘hot spots’ or trigger points that would hurt when the pressure was applied from the roller. After allowing the pressure to remain isolated to the hot spot, the pain eventually would subside, breaking up/releasing the ‘knot’ in the muscle. With regular use, the hot spots became fewer and my muscles had increased flexibility. This was incredibly important for me as my calves, hamstrings and quadriceps were often tight and needed the extra attention.  The foam rolling was especially helpful in the days post workout, keeping muscle soreness to a minimum. While I continue to foam roll as part of my overall fitness program, I have also had times I used it to help relieve  pain from minor muscle injuries.   I had the benefit of having someone teach me how to foam roll, which was important so I did not injure myself. In preparing this post, I did a search and there are many videos and articles with the ‘how tos’ on the foam roller, lacrosse ball and massage balls. Watch a few, consult with your trainer on how best to work it into your fitness program. There are dos and don’ts so please educate yourself before trying it..  You can find foam rollers at most quality sporting good stores and Amazon. They are a variety of types and sizes an will run you about $20.   Go ahead and show those muscles some love. After all, you work them so hard whether it be at boot camp, weight training, running or in every day life.

Check out these links for more information on foam rolling:  ACE Fitness  and Runners World.

Do you have a regular foam rolling routine? Please leave a comment and share your experience.

-JA

 

Why I Use Intervals to Train for a Half Marathon

memphis

Running. It’s a love/hate relationship. I am not always motivated to get out and run, but once I do it, I am so glad I did. It has become somewhat therapeutic for me. I am able to work through so many things as I run. It hasn’t always been that way. Four years ago,  I couldn’t run from my front door to the mailbox. I had no desire to run. If you saw me running, something was terribly wrong and you better start running too. Yet here I am several years later, a runner. As I was going through my fitness transformation, I heard about a 5K training class and I thought about it. I just knew I did not have the cardio vascular endurance to run 3 miles, so I was hesitant. My friend and trainer, Victoria, assured me I would be successful and that I should try it. She explained that it was an interval based program, so I wasn’t expected to run the entire class. I convinced a few friends to join me and off we went. We started with a 30 second jog  and a 1;30 min walk. We did this for about half and hour. I was stunned to see that I could do it. Over the course of 6 weeks, we increased our intervals. It all led up to our goal race and I ran my first 5K. I had walked many 5Ks before, but this was the first time I ran. My sister-in-law, Adrianne, and I ran together, only walking through the water station. We ran the rest of the race. Keep in mind, this was less than 8 weeks from when I started. When we went on to train for our half marathon, we continued the interval training. My trainer explained that running intervals helped reduce the risk of injury to the body and improved recovery time.  To be honest, the idea of running 13.1 miles didn’t really appeal to me. My sweet friend Amy asked me to train with her and other friends for the St Jude’s 2012 Half Marathon in Memphis. She had a personal connection with the hospital and we all joined together to run and raise money for St Jude’s. I barely had completed a 5K, but I wanted to try and train for the half. Interval training had worked for me before, so now I wanted to see if it could get me through half training. I completed my first half marathon in Memphis in 2015  and have gone on to complete 3 more.

Since becoming a fitness instructor, I have also helped coach 5K and half marathon training groups. I enjoy watching the transformation of these non-runners into women who go on to finish half marathons and marathons. I began reading whatever I could find on interval training so I could explain why it reduces the risk of injury and aids in a faster recovery. In my case it is partly psychological. I know that every 3 to 4 minutes, I get a short break. Our group usually runs a 3:1 interval ( run 3 minutes, speed walk 1 minute). At times we have gone to 4;1, but 3:1 is a comfortable fit for me. Interval training has shown to increase cardiovascular efficiency and to increase tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. This leads to improved performance, greater speed, and endurance. I actually am able to complete a 5K faster when I use intervals than when I run straight through. Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with overuse.  When training for longer distances, giving the body short breaks is helpful to the joints.

So, if you are one of those people who can’t run 20 yards, interval training may be the right fit for you. I realize that it is not for everyone. However, for those of us who are not natural born runners and want to try, interval based training is a good option. Want more information? Please email me at jennifer.alameda@embracingahealthylife.com. Happy Running!

-JA