Thursday, June 14, 2018

Music Therapy

You know how sometimes you have a lot going on, a lot of which would be excellent writing / reflecting material, but you're too deep in it so it wouldn't make much sense to write about it?  I'm sort of in that place right now.

There's a lot I could say about patience, listening, certainty, hope, attitude...but I'm too busy trying to cultivate all of those with only the most fleeting of success to really write anything decent about it.

So instead, I'm going to completely cheat and cop out of this entry, and leave you with not a playlist, but one single song.  Why even bother posting this?  Because it will drive me nuts if I don't post something once a week when I don't have the excuse of vacation to get me out of it.

With all that said, this is a spectacular song to listen to if you're in any way feeling beaten down, broken, sad, or just having your run-of-the-mill shitty day.

This song has been such a touchstone for me for the last four years that I wouldn't be surprised if I've done an entry solely dedicated to it before.  Big heartfelt thanks to Dayle Pivetta, a spectacular yoga teacher, for introducing it to me - during my first yoga class after my marathon injuries.

Listen and try not to feel better about your life.  Just try. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Global Running Day

I didn't date at all in middle and high school until I was 17 and fell in love with my best friend.  I was single during almost all of college and after, until I was lucky enough to snag Marc when we were a month shy of 25.  So, I've had my fair share of Valentine's Days as a single girl, and honestly - I love Valentine's Day.  I've always loved it.  The elementary school years imprinted themselves firmly on me - this was a holiday that celebrated love (friends & family) and chocolate.  What's not to love?

Even when I wasn't happy about being single, even when I was lonely and felt like the only one in my circle without a boyfriend, I loved Valentine's Day.  I always thought of it as a choice - you can mope about what you don't have, or you can embrace the love that you do have in your life, and write cards for all your friends just like in the good old days.  And enjoy all the chocolate.

People who don't like Valentine's Day, single or not, tend to say it's a made up, commercial holiday.  They aren't necessarily wrong.

Today, June 6th, is apparently Global Running Day.  I'm not sure who made this global decree, or for how many years it's been the case, but I have been faced with a choice today.  My love of Valentine's Day never felt like a conscious choice or decision.  This, however...

I had fervently hoped two weeks ago that my two whirlwind trips away - to my sister's for Memorial Day and to Philly for Marc's show - would be the break from reality and the rest that would finally cure my whatever-is-wrong with my right side.  I made a fantastic training plan that started with two weeks of "test run's" - running for only a minute at a time, coupled with a ton of other strength and mobility work, to see how I feel - to begin today.

Unfortunately, I forgot that air travel, train travel, suitcase hauling, toddler hauling, and high-heel wearing were not exactly restful.  My magical cure of leaving town didn't work.

I finally saw a doctor this past Monday.  Probable diagnosis - a partial labral tear in my right hip.  I have shallow hip sockets (who knew?) and the repetitive movement of external rotation in yoga and just my own habits have likely caused a form of impingement.  Groin strain - that one wasn't news, it's just so damn slow to heal.  Hamstring strain.

So, no, I'm not running today.  And I could so easily be bitter about it.  There is a part of me that straight up is bitter about it - bitter, angry, resentful, self-pitying...you get the idea.

But that doesn't help.

Instead, I had my first ever chiropractic and acupuncture treatments at the wellness center that gave me such great care (and x-rays) on Monday.  I'm packing my bag for PT tomorrow morning.  I'm starting a journey not just to heal pain or an isolated injury, but to finally, once and for all, fix my form.  Not just my running form, but my biomechanics in every possible facet of my life and movement and all of the repetitive and everyday activity I do as a teacher, as an athlete, and as a human.

It's not what I want.  But I have to choose to take what I can take out of this journey and of this arbitrary Global Running Day.  I would much rather be able to just post a selfie of a sweaty tomato-face after a four miler (this morning was perfect running weather!), but I have to trust that what I'm doing instead will ultimately make me stronger.  Luckily for me, when I can't find that trust, I have enough positive cheerleaders out there who trust for me and remind me and encourage me and make me dinner and get me chocolate.  (Laura Frye, I'm staring at that card you gave me right this second.  You are the best.)

I don't just want to run for a day, or for one race, or for one season.  I'm running for life.  So, first thing's first.

To all of those blessed enough to run today, I hope you ran with your whole heart and treated yourself to something cold and delicious afterward, and took a moment of gratitude for the gift that running is.  I'll be back out with you soon, and I will be seeing you at the New York City Marathon this November.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shift

This past Saturday was the Brooklyn Half, and good lord did Mother Nature have it in for everyone.  Cold, driving rain, gusty winds - absolutely miserable conditions.  The runners gutted it out impressively and I'm very grateful to whoever gave me the weatherproofing advice for m poster, and even more grateful that Laura loaned me her raincoat.

It was really hard to be there and not be running the course.  It was even more disheartening when I broke into a jog to be sure I caught Laura before she passed by and I still still still felt the pain in my hip that sidelined me in the first place.  It's been plaguing me since April 7th and healing so slowly that some days I really can't tell if I'm making any progress or not.

But it's always gratifying to cheer for runners and to be inspired by them - and I was even more inspired that Laura set a PR for the course!  I assume she just wanted to run the damn thing as fast as possible to get warm and dry.

Now that it's done, now my attention is turned toward November and the full marathon even more than it was.  In a perfect world, I'll be starting my training in four short weeks.  We'll see what my body actually has in store for me.

One of the most important things I took away from the day came up in conversation with Laura on the long (looooooooong) train ride home as we talked about how she made it through.  We had planned to talk on the phone a lot - Laura loves company on her runs - but the rain and the madness just made it too hard to do anything but focus on what she was doing.  She told me she talked to herself, reminded her that her quads are strong, reminded herself of all her training, reminded herself that she was capable - and, surprise surprise, it was incredibly helpful.

It got me thinking that because I love running so much and I miss it so much whenever I'm sidelined, my mental state with injuries is usually one of panic, worry, paranoia, and being so overly in tune and in my head that there's no room to think about anything else.

I need to remember to have faith, hope, and the hardest one of all, patience.  I want this over now.  I want to be back now.  I want to feel strong now.  Well, I'm not getting what I want, and certainly a negative or fear-based attitude isn't going to get it to me any faster.

So as so frequently happens, I'm taking a cue from Laura to try to choose my thoughts more wisely.

I will also, very happily, be headed out of town for two fabulous short trips over the next two weeks - first, to spend the holiday weekend with my family in SC, and second to Philly for Marc's opening night and another long weekend.  The distraction, the break from the day-to-day, from the stress teaching can put on my body, and from my awful mattress, will hopefully get me out of my own head, and allow time to do its thing and heal.

Which means, dear blog, that I will see you again in June!  I hope everyone who is able to has gotten outside today, because oh my goodness it could not be further from Saturday's monsoon.  Spring is back on track.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quick Restore

It's one of those weeks where I'm feeling sort of uninspired to write - I've already written loads about my mystery injury, pulling out of the Brooklyn Half, and all the emotion and uncertainty that goes along with that.  To save you from more pontificating on the same, I just want to share a restorative pose that I've been loving lately.

Having this sharp in my adductor/groin area, I'm having to pull back a lot from demonstrating in my classes.  I'm trying to avoid lunges altogether, which is challenging to say the least.  And since I'm pulling back from demonstrating, I'm definitely not doing yoga for myself - I can't remember the last time I took a class, and I think the last time I practiced on my own was in Costa Rica!  While that makes me sad and I continue to be uncertain of what's safe to do to aid in my recovery and what's not, I know that I can always count on restorative yoga poses to help both my body and my brain in this weird and frustrating time.

Restorative Bridge pose is something you can do so easily - all you need is something to place under your sacrum to elevate it while you lay down.  Traditionally it's done with feet on the floor and knees bend, and either with a yoga block or a bolster - but a thick book would do the trick just as well if you don't have any props.  As long as your prop is a comfortable height and as long as it is placed on your sacrum - not your tailbone, not your lumbar curve, but in between - then you should be able to rest comfortably in the pose.  Comfort is what restorative yoga is all about.

Since I've had such hip funkiness going on lately, I've really loved this variation of it, pictured below, with legs straight.  It's a passive way to open up the hip flexors without putting any weight, pressure, or strain on it.  It's an amazing stress reliever no matter what is going on in your body or your brain.  I recommend staying in it for as long as you possibly can, starting by breathing deeply and slowly, and then allowing yourself to relax into it and let your breath flow without worrying about manipulating it further.

Picture courtesy of Kelly Collins from her lovely post,
6 Restorative Yoga Poses for Adrenal Fatigue

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Change of Plans - Running to Cheering

Earlier this week, in my ongoing text chain with my mom and sister, we had a conversation about the accident prone-ness of our family.  My sister's joints pop in and out at will, my nephew Atlas apparently get through a meal without biting his own lip or tongue, and my mom and I often have the weirdest and most random of physical/medical issues.

So how funny and fitting that on the morning I'm drafting a blog about the consequences of my sudden and seemingly out of nowhere injury, I bruised the absolute living hell out of my foot.  How, you ask?  By stepping up on my step stool in my kitchen.

Just so typical.

As far as the actual subject of my blog - as I mentioned earlier, in the middle of my 5 mile run at the beginning of last month, I suddenly started feeling pain around my right groin/psoas.  It was a sharp pain, but seemed to spread out as dull pain all along the right side - my right lower back, glute, and hamstring.  The pain has been with me throughout these last almost five weeks - improving, but soooo slowly, and not without setbacks.

I've officially had to come to the conclusion that's been slowly turning inevitable these last couple of weeks - there is no way I can safely run the Brooklyn Half on Saturday, May 19th.  I physically could do it - but it would be very dumb and very painful, and motivated by nothing but pride and stubbornness.

This is incredibly disappointing, but I feel so loved and supported by my running partner and Marc, and I'm reminding myself that I don't have to run, I just love to run.  My leg isn't broken, I still have both of them, and I will eventually heal (right?).  This year will just be my turn to give back to a race I've run three times already by offering love and support to the awesome runners from the sidelines - and talking to Laura on the phone as much as I can during the race so she doesn't go crazy by herself.

My true focus, my major goal, is the main event:  my first (and probably only) New York City Marathon.  There are 178 days until November 4th, and I intend to use every last one of them to get healthy, strong, and prepared.

I'm lucky to be in the amazing care of Fabricio, my top notch physical therapist, and his fantastic new massage therapist Izzy.  They are top notch not just in their expertise, but in how much they truly care for their patients.

Again - I'm really disappointed.  I definitely didn't come to this realization dry-eyed.  But there is no way I'm jeopardizing the marathon - and more importantly, my long-term running health - for this race.  And besides, my absence will probably push Laura into her best half marathon time by a long shot. 

So anyone getting ready to run Brooklyn, I wish you the most amazing race and race day conditions - I'll still see you there, but this time I'll be cheering myself hoarse on the sidelines!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bite Sized Yoga from Laura

A quickie today - my beautiful friend Laura has a fabulous YouTube Channel, Laura Runs and Eats, on which she chronicles her runs, has a running book club, and now offers weekly mini-yoga/Pilates sessions to target specific troublesome areas of the body.  I did her Upper Body Flow class last night before bed and it was the perfect way to end the day.

Check them out and happy May!




Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Unconventional Training

When I look back on my favorite phases of running, up at the tip top is definitely right around when Marc and I got married - the October before, I trained for and ran my first half marathon with my sister.  I was shocked at how great the race felt and how great I felt afterward.  The following May, I ran my second half - my first of many Brooklyn Half Marathons, and I've never felt as good after a half as I did after that one.

It's probably no coincidence that I was feeling amazing running at the time when I was at my lowest body weight of my adult life - and I was cross training like crazy in an effort to fit into my ridiculously tightly corseted wedding dress with Refine Method, a fancy boutique-y workout class that I had gotten a great deal on thanks to my association at the time with Athleta.  It focused on a variety of weight lifting, bodyweight training, TRX, and cardio - it was a full-body workout that left you flat on the floor by the end, every single time.

I got in the best shape of my life, I felt strong and amazing - and then I stopped going, because it was expensive and my discounted deal had run out.  I don't even know if I noticed a decline in my running performance at the time, but I think random aches and pains became more prevalent.

Ultimately, when I ran the Disney Marathon the following January in 2014, that marathon pulled back the curtain on every point of weakness and consequence of bad form that there was.  My right hamstring, left knee, left foot, and overall running and fitness really suffered.

Finally, in the fall of 2014 after fits and starts of trying to get back to running post-marathon injuries, I discovered my incredible physical therapist (and if you need help with anything ever, you must go to him!) and have been on a journey ever since to learn more about my weaknesses, strengths, running form, and how to handle it all.

I haven't been injury free by a long shot since starting physical therapy, but each issue that crops up has been a tremendous learning opportunity and experience to get smarter and stronger.

Fast forward to two and a half weeks ago, and in the middle of a five mile run, as I excitedly got back in the swing of running post-Costa Rica to train for this year's Brooklyn Half, my right hip flexor started feeling a little weird and tight and sore.  I kept going, taking more walking intervals and trying to figure out the exact right way to stretch so I could access the weird pain I was feeling.  Was it inner thigh?  Hip?  Psoas?

It's weird, it's off-and-on - but unfortunately, running turns it back on.  I've been going to PT twice a week and after a couple of attempts to run afterward, I've finally been hit over the hammer with the fact that I need to completely stop until the pain goes away (it always takes me so long to learn that lesson...).

And yet - the Brooklyn Half is in 23 days.  And I've yet to do a long run beyond a couple of 6 milers before Costa Rica - back in early March.  And I've now gone a week without any running at all.

My one saving grace:  I'm back to really spending time getting my butt kicked and getting stronger in a cross training class, this time with my local gym, The Rock in Astoria.  It only took living five minutes away from it for nearly four years to finally join.  I'm stepping up my strength training game - modifying movements that bothers my hip - with a TRX class taught by the incredibly fun and tough Dorothy.

Now that I'm stuck in a situation where I need to train for a race and I can't run to train, I'm hitting the gym as much as possible without overdoing it.  Instead of an 8 mile run this past Saturday, I took a HIIT class with Lizette, another fantastic trainer, and I was a puddle of dead muscles and sweat by the end.  Adding to that some long walks so I can tire out my legs without upsetting my hip, throwing in shorter, harder bursts of cardio through jump rope and biking, and foam rolling like a monster, and I really feel like I'm doing everything I can to get my body in better shape than it was the day before - which is pretty much the point of training for any athletic event.

Even though I'm feeling very under the gun by how quickly the Brooklyn Half is approaching, I've ultimately come to accept that if my body's telling me it's not up for it, I have to bow out and take to the sidelines, cheering on the runners.  As my partner in the Bk Half for the last two years, my work wife, bestie and running Sole Sister Laura keeps reminding me - All roads lead to November.  This year is the New York City Marathon which I have striven to be a part of for over two years with blood, sweat, tears, and miles.  If this injury is here to teach me a lesson, I think I'm learning it.  And I will walk that damn marathon if I have to.

To be a runner, running can't be the end-all, be-all.  It needs to be a part of a larger puzzle that respects your body's limitations, needs, biomechanics, and the weak parts that are telling you they need to be made stronger.  For someone like me who likes to make a training plan and rigidly stick to it, whose favorite thing is running above all else - it's a hard lesson, and it takes a lot of painful repetition to stick.  I think, though, that I'm finally getting it through my head, into my body, and hopefully that will translate to my hip.

Music Therapy

You know how sometimes you have a lot going on, a lot of which would be excellent writing / reflecting material, but you're too deep in ...