Hope is in bloom!

I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the intervals and heart rate restrictions in my recovery plan (the term recovery plan is used very loosely here, as I have been floundering with it).  I completely understand the need for both of them and their role in my return to injury-free running.  And even though I say terrible things to my watch during my run (let’s hope no one has been in earshot), I do believe in the heart rate training and have faith that it will work well for me.

I have struggled with intervals.  I used an interval recovery plan out of a book of mine.  But the beginning intervals were run 5 min/walk 5 min (3 times) and I really didn’t feel like I was running much at all.  This weekend, I came across another return-to-running plan and decided to go with it.  So Monday afternoon, when temps were near 70 and the winter sun was smiling brightly upon North Texas, I tried these new intervals out.  The run was amazing (as amazing as intervals can be, anyway)!  I started on week 4 of this plan, which called for 3 min run/1 min walk (8 times).  I liked the shorter walk intervals and I actually felt as if I had RUN at the end!  My heart rate is an entirely different matter and, yes, I was angry at my watch the entire run!  I saw an acquaintance while I was out and felt the need to explain why I was running like a turtle (while she was passing me (as if she cared)).  And we won’t even discuss the looks I got because I was wearing compression shorts (it’s what I get for running at the park!).

Sadly, the stares continued when I stopped by Wal-Mart post-run
Sadly, the stares continued when I stopped by Wal-Mart post-run

The best news yet is that I didn’t experience any pain or increased tightness after the run – that evening or the next morning!  I have been experiencing some minor nagging issues with my runs, so this was a HUGE development!

I finally found a full yoga sequence specially for runners (that isn’t cheesy and I actually like) and started doing it on Saturday.  I LOVE IT!  Yoga has been on my list of things to do, but living in my small town there aren’t many options.  And I like being able to do it in my living room, even though my family LOVES to come through and make fun of me!  I have found that the front of my body (specifically, quads) is much more limber than the back of my body (hamstrings, hips, calves, ankles….*sigh*).  I am quite sure that I am not doing all the poses correctly, but I am trying and I can tell those hammies are loosening up, if only a little!  No….I won’t be posting pictures of my yoga.  No one needs to have that image burned into their brain.

Tuesday afternoon, I was unable to leave in time to get Alli to volleyball practice, but that freed up some time for a bike ride before dinner and Logan’s soccer game.  This ride was even more encouraging than my new interval run.  I could tell that my body had gotten much stronger since my last outdoor ride.  The last time I went out on the bike, I had to remind my legs to do the work.  This time was much smoother and didn’t feel as much of a struggle.  I rode the same route as last time and the wind was still an issue!  This left me feeling very hopeful because it has helped me realize that my strength training may finally be catching up.  I truly believe, for the first time, that I can beat this injury.

I do, however, face certain “challenges” when it comes to riding near my house.  I live off a busy state highway that is the main thoroughfare to and from the Dallas area.  Translation: lots of cars and they are ALL in a hurry!  To complicate things, there is this weird passing lane on this highway.  So, near my house, there are 2 lanes (with a less-than-normal shoulder, going South) on the opposite side of the highway from me, and one lane plus a full shoulder (going North).  Usually, this doesn’t cause much of a problem except that I just try to pay more attention when coming back home as I am usually going South and on the “short shoulder” at that point.  Manageable, right?  Throw in the road construction that was left uncompleted in the Fall and you have yourself a cluster.  You see, now there are NO stripes on the road, so people are assuming (incorrectly) that the North-bound shoulder is a second lane and we now see people regularly driving the shoulder.  This is a problem for a cyclist! Can’t wait until the weather is warmer so this project can be finished, once and for all!

My messed up highway!
My messed up highway! (And YES, that is a nice HILL in the distance 🙂

After my awesome ride, Bobby, Taylor, Alli and I went to eat before Logan’s soccer game.  We are always so excited to see Taylor (and Izze) and she is always so thoughtful and supportive of Logan and Alli by making time to come to their events.  The team didn’t play well, but somehow earned a 1-0 win, which brings their 2015 record to 5-2-6 (remember we were ALL losses and one tie last season?).  At Taylor’s insistence, we posed for a family photo afterwards.

I have NO idea what I'm looking at.
I have NO idea what I’m looking at.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful sunrise pic I snapped at work yesterday.  🙂

Just breathtaking.
Just breathtaking!

Happy Hump Day!

Jen

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Finally learned to listen to my body, but now I don’t trust it!

First of all, thank you to all who read Wednesday’s blog.  I am blown away by the responses I received.  I am so humbled that my words brought comfort to so many, although I can’t take full credit for what I wrote!  I think God may have had a little something to do with that. 🙂  It’s hard to move on and post normally after something so raw and heartfelt, but that’s what life is about, isn’t it?  Moving on, tackling those day-to-day activities until some sort of normalcy returns.  So here I go with today’s post.

During marathon training when my ITB flared up, I posted about the confusion that ensued after my flimsy attempt at listening to my body.  At that time, I thought my ITB felt fine (well, fine as long as I wasn’t on a run longer than 6 miles).  During that pain-ridden journey, I may have just achieved that elusive mind-body connection (for now, at least…until Crazy Jen comes back).

After the marathon, I seriously thought I would take two weeks off and slowly start building back.  It didn’t take me long to realize that 2 weeks would be extended to 4.  When I made the decision to extend my recovery period to 4 weeks, I seriously thought that I would be back strong in that amount of time.  In the back of my mind, though, a little voice started whispering that it would likely take 6 weeks….or maybe 12.  I knew the voice was right and somehow I knew that this time – I had to listen.

My first run post-marathon was 6 weeks in the making, and (again) I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be good (and it wasn’t).  I still feel that the time was right to get out there.  I went into the run with the mindset that I needed to gather information that would help me shape my training plan going forward.  (And I got A LOT of information.)  I waited another full week before I went on my next run, which was FABULOUS!  It ended up taking me 7 weeks recovery to get “that feeling” that things were heading in the right direction.

I ran again on Tuesday and it was another great run (as long as we ignore the heart rate issue in the first interval).  Wednesday evening I was back to see my myofascia guy.  I nearly cancelled because things had been going so well, but something told me to keep the appointment.  (It’s mind-boggling how often I have been listening to that little voice lately!)  In our pre-session debriefing, I told him that my glutes were still VERY tight, despite all the time that I had spent on the dreaded therapy ball.  He started on my hip (which was not moving in any form or fashion) and performed a release that he had not used on me before.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS!!!  I knew my hips were tight, but I had NO idea until afterward.  Now that entire area feels AMAZING!!!

Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout
Tuesday’s Run: Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout

So it seems like things are all roses, right?  Not so much.  Let’s just call it like it is: I hate the intervals.  And I really dislike being constrained to my heart rate, even though I know that it will be good for me in the long run.  I finally admitted to myself that I don’t trust my body.  I just don’t.  I know that things are better now than they have been in months, but I don’t know what I am going to be able to push myself to do.  I want to go run a 15 miler tomorrow and I know I can’t.  And quite frankly, I don’t know if I ever will be able to again.  I am adding time to my intervals slowly in order to build my base and avoid further injury, but at the same time I’m as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.  Every time I go out, I wonder if this is going to be the time that things go haywire again.

Even so, I will keep chugging along, because I really have no other choice.  I love running too much to give up when things get tough.  I’ll keep in mind some of my own advice: nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  So when I do actually get back out there on a run (without intervals), it’s going to be the sweetest thing ever!

Happy weekend!

Jen

God is not in the tragedy, but in its response

Originally I had planned to write today about the great run I had yesterday and how all pistons seem to be firing correctly, but my heart is too heavy to speak of those things.

Most of you know that I work in the office at an elementary school.  Yesterday afternoon we learned about a horrific wreck in our area that claimed the lives of 3 people.  Living in a small community, you always wonder who was involved, because chances are you know them or someone in their family.  I am so sad to say that we knew those involved in the wreck.  A mother, her husband and one-year old daughter were killed instantly in the crash.  While her other 3 sons were happily in class at our school.

To say that our campus is devastated would be an understatement.  The kids on this campus are OUR kids and when something terrible happens in their lives, we hurt for them.  We worry about their future and how they will cope with the changes that are inevitable.

Our community has suffered through some terrible events in the past few months.  The last one was the North Central Texas College softball bus crash in the Fall.  Several local girls played on the team and 2 girls from our county lost their lives in it.  Times like these cause us to reevaluate our beliefs and focus on the “important” things in life.

Being Presbyterian, I am always amazed at how people can actually explain these events (with conviction and mean it) by saying that “God needed another angel”.  To that, I say that God is God and doesn’t need anything.  Another one that I have difficulty with is that “it was God’s plan”.  Ok…..I know that Presbyterians are known for our belief in “predestination”, but I don’t worship a God whose plan is ripping a loving mother away from her 3 children…..or multiplying a family’s grief by calling home a 20 year old woman whose mother passed just over a year before.  I just don’t believe that, but I do believe that God weeps and grieves with us when these terrible things happen.

I think that “predestination” means that God is omnipotent and knows all, but that does not specifically mean it is in God’s “plan” for these things to happen.  God gave humans free will, and as a consequence, events happen that are terrible and out of our control.  Such as crashes in fast-travelling vehicles, which were invented and made by man (and driven by man, I might add).

So where is God in all of this?  One of my favorite quotes (ok, I don’t even know if it is a real quote, but when I heard it the first time it stuck with me) is “God is not in the tragedy, but in the response to the tragedy.”  I believe this with all my heart.  God works through human actions.  Through hugs and food and money given to honor a person’s life and in so many other ways that can’t even be named.  God is in the response, not in the event.

After 9-11, when our country came together as one in response to that tragedy: God was in the response.

After Allison died and my community honored her and held up her grieving husband and kids: God was in the response.

After the terrible tornadoes in Norman, OK, and many donated their time to help clean up and rebuild: God was in the response.

After the Boston Marathon bombing and runners across the country laced up to run in honor of the victims: God was in the response.

After the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX and donations of school supplies and money poured in: God was in the response.

After Meg was run over and killed while out on a run and runners across the country ran in her honor and left their shoes in an on-site memorial: God was in the response.

After the NCTC bus crash and people across the country gave tribute to the 4 angels lost in that tragedy: God was in the response. (YouTube tribute here)

And in our most recent tragedy, while the wound is still fresh and our hearts are heavy with sorrow, one thing is certain: God will be in the response.

My point is that if we open our eyes, we can see God’s work, because God has a knack for enabling positive things to happen from negative events.

The family involved in the wreck was like most families in my area: they struggled to make ends meet.  If you feel moved to give, there has been a Go Fund Me account created to help with funeral expenses.

God bless,

Jen

Packing bags and Memo’s birthday!

I did something this morning that I haven’t done in a long while….packed a run bag!!  SO EXCITING!!!

Alli’s practices on Tuesdays are from 5:00-6:30. When I noticed that the sun wasn’t setting until after 6, I realized that Tuesdays could be a run day!!  I have been frothing at the mouth, waiting,  since I figured this out, especially since Friday’s amazing run!

I have been debating how to add to my workouts in order to build my base, but without doing so too quickly.  I have considered many options, but an article that I read yesterday spoke about recovery by adding by 2s.  The article suggested running 10 minutes on the first run.  As long as no pain was experienced during or after the run, the article instructed to add 2 minutes running to each consecutive workout.  I have decided to go with a modified approach and add 2 minutes total to my run, by adding one minute to 2 of my intervals.  This should give me some interesting feedback before my next myofascia appointment tomorrow evening.

Ok, I know that cold is relative, but I woke up to this yesterday morning.Weather2

Ridiculous.  I mean, is Mother Nature confused?  I realize it is still Winter, but THIS IS TEXAS!!!  Thank goodness it wasn’t windy, because I wasn’t about to wear a coat!  Today’s low was 31, which is a little more bearable, but still….

Finally, I leave you with my mom, Memo (Mee-Mo), which is what EVERYONE calls her.  Memo

My mom just celebrated her 81st birthday. This photo was taken about a week ago when her church celebrated all her years of service (yes, pink is her favorite color).  She is, hands down, the most strong willed person I have ever met.  I doubt that ANYONE has EVER won an argument with her!  (Yes, she is the reason I am so hard-headed!)  She is an amazing woman, and I have been so blessed to be her daughter!  Happy Birthday, Memo!!!

Hope you have a Terrific Tuesday!

Jen

Foam Rolling is Fun Again!

I was so excited about my upcoming run on Friday that in my last post I completely forgot to talk about all my Thursday night purchases (the ones I made killing time while Alli was at volleyball practice.  I know….dangerous LOL)!!!

First, I bought heavier hand weights.  I don’t think it is a secret that I have tried (successfully, I might add) to avoid strength training like the plague.  But, I realize that it is so important to keeping me out on the pavement.  And when I consistently strength train, I feel so much better and so much stronger!  I have been doing the strength exercises that were listed in the book I bought.  They have given me a great place to start and each week, I add a bit more weight.  I am beginning to notice a real difference!  Now that I have a base, I am going to start experimenting with some different exercies.  I never imagined I would look forward to it, but oddly, I am!!

Then, I bought a heavier resistance band.  I haven’t used my resistance band much because I bought a lightweight one and it just doesn’t seem to be a challenge.  I’m pretty excited to try out the new one!

Finally, I found this.Therapy ball

The muscles between my shoulders are so knotty and tight.  ALL. THE. TIME.  This is quite a bit larger than a therapy ball, and to get your back, you roll with the ball in between you and a wall.  I must say it works very well!  And it is easier than the foam roller for getting into the glutes, plus it is easier (for me) to find those spots in my glutes than with a therapy ball (OK, maybe not easier, just less painful).

Foam rolling has been almost a breeze lately.  I have to work very hard to find spots that need attention and that is a REALLY good sign!  Of course, there are still spots, but not many and they aren’t too painful!  #progress

Did I mention that I ran on Friday?? IT.  WAS.  AMAZING!!!  I actually felt like myself.  I stuck with the 5 min run/5 min walk intervals, and was terribly sad when the run was over.  I would gladly have gone a couple more intervals.  I think this is a great sign that my body is healing nicely.  The heart rate training is going to be good for me, as I have said before.  I had to hold myself back to keep that little devil from beeping at me (it went off 6 times within the first 3 min of my first interval).  Had I not had my heart rate set, I am SURE that I would have over-exerted myself.  I believe this will be one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle to keeping me injury-free going forward.

Now, I have to admit that Crazy Jen tried to make an appearance.  During my run, I began having that internal debate regarding what heart rate zone I had set for my run and how (at the time) Crazy Jen thought it was too low.  After the run, Smart Jen realized that my heart rate is set in the right place for this point in my recovery.  Thank goodness I don’t know how to change all that mid-run!

run

Since I can’t really blow the top off my pace (or the bottom, as it may be), I am trying to concentrate on correcting issues with mechanics.  I have been able to keep my left arm from crossing my body (which, if you remember DRIVES ME INSANE, and is not good form).  Cadence is always on my mind, but I have been doing a decent job there, considering the turtle’s pace to which my heart rate is keeping me constrained.  (Another plus to heart rate training……I can’t see my pace!)  Something else I noticed was that I could feel my glutes, which means they are actually awake and firing…..always a plus!

Even with the walk breaks and my phone in my FlipBelt (as opposed to an armband), I am still having logistical issues when attempting to take pictures.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to overcome this, so don’t expect many spectacular “seen on my run” photos.

I love the winter sun!
I literally had to stop to get out phone, as I am not coordinated enough to do it while moving.  #notaphotographer

Saturday morning, I got up early so that I could do my strength training and get all my stretching and foam rolling in before I left to referee a volleyball tournament.  I felt great!!  No soreness whatsoever from the Friday run!!  Another plus is that after standing for 8ish hours on Saturday and about the same on Sunday, I didn’t have any soreness or aches (like I did with my last tournament).  Overall I am VERY encouraged by my progress!

Many people have been asking about my peanut butter consumption and the absence of peanut butter jar pics.  Let’s just say that Alli, my almost 10 year-old, “scolded” me regarding the number of peanut butter jar pics I had posted! LOL.  So, for now, rest assured I am still consuming peanut butter like a wild person, even though the consumption is undocumented.

Happy Monday!!

Jen