Week 9: Half-marathon training update

I’ve never appreciated these beauties more than after my runs!

First off I want to apologize for the tardiness of this post! I was on a mini vacation this weekend and work has been crazy busy since I’ve been back so I didn’t get to post about last week’s training. If you read any of my posts last week you know I tweaked my knee during a race on July 28 so last week was kind of a dud training-wise.

I knew I had hurt my knee the minute I started feeling the pain. While I’m still not completely sure what I hurt, it felt like an IT band syndrome flare up. So, in an effort to avoid hurting myself even more I decided to take a break from training for a few days and focus on strengthening and cross training.

Most of my week consisted of cross-training, yoga and strengthening exercises. However, after resting for a few days I decided to try an easy run with my knee on Tuesday. Bad, BAD idea. I wasn’t two minutes into the run when I felt the sharp pain in the outer side of my right knee. I stopped after only a mile, feeling defeated, upset and  kind of concerned. I abandoned the run and turned to some strengthening exercises instead.

I took another few days off, making sure to ice my knee every day and stretch a lot. I focused on doing yoga for runners from Lululemon and other strengthening exercises. On Friday, I decided to try running again because I thought my knee was feeling a little better. I was on vacation in Maine and decided to take a 3-mile run along the beach, staying on the sidewalk. My knee was still sore but I was able to make it through the run, stopping halfway to stretch. I knew this was a good sign and that my knee was starting to heal.

After my run I did some yoga outside which was really good because I was able to stretch out my IT band. Saturday, after watching the women’s Olympic marathon, I was motivated to get out on the road again. I decided to do a longer, easy run that circled a 5.5-mile loop on the road, a gravel trail and a natural trail. This was really great on my knee because incorporating the trails lessoned the impact on my knee.

I felt really great on this run, especially towards the end when I really got my stride back and felt like I was just coasting. I wrote about it in another post but I think this injury has helped me to appreciate the gift of running. Having to take a few days off killed me but once I got back on the road I was able to cherish every stride. I also am lucky to be able to go running in beautiful places and I was able to enjoy my surroundings and really take it all in. I think sometimes us runners take our gift for granted. But having to be out of running commission for a little bit I was able to really appreciate every step I took. And I’m sooo happy to be back on the road! Happy running!

Monday Motivation: just finish it

We all know that training can be hard and there are times when we may think, I just want to rest! But it’s important to remember why we set goals for ourselves- to challenge our body and our minds. While the Olympics are so inspirational and make me feel like I can get out there and run a marathon in 2:23:07 (which I most DEFINITELY cannot), I also know I will never be at that level. But i can find comfort in knowing I am challenging myself and I can get to my own level of achievement, whatever that may be. I liked this saying in the pin below because while we may not turn out to be Olympians, we are still achieving more than those who never start. Happy running this week!

“Dead last finish is greater than did not finish, which trumps did not start.”

(via Pinterest)

Video: Run for peace

Sometimes when I’m training I forget to remember the reason I actually enjoy running. When I started running and I realized I was actually not bad at it, I liked it because it cleared my head and I found peace with myself. Running with friends only amplifies that experience and it’s important not to forget this as weeks of training go by. While it’s good to challenge yourself as a runner, it’s more important to enjoy it and always remember why you’re running. I saw this video of Kilian Jornet and thought it perfectly exemplified why I love running. Check it out:

 

Kilian Jornet: Back to the source from sebastien montaz-rosset on Vimeo.

Back on track: 3-mile run after knee injury

Post-run yoga outside after my 3-miles

Last weekend I tweaked my knee during a race and it was extremely painful. I’m still not 100 percent sure what I did but it feels like an IT band irritation. In an effort to not hurt it even more I decided to forgo my 12-mile run last weekend and do some real resting.

It was absolutely killing me not running. I saw other runners out on the road and I just wanted to get up and go. But I knew if I started up I could risk hurting myself even more so I really rested.

Today was my first day back on the road and I decided to do a 3-mile run along the beach (on the road not the sand). I woke up, had some coffee and a few glasses of water. I went outside and it was really humid and already 85 degrees at 8:30 a.m. but I went ahead and did my stretches and headed out.

Starting out my knee felt fine and I was just so happy to be back running. About 1-mile into the run I started to feel the pain in my knee, but it wasn’t so strong that I felt like I needed to stop. So I kept going. Around mile 2 my knee was really starting to bother me so I decided to stop and do a few stretches. After stretching I started my final mile and my knee felt the best it has it days. I don’t know if it was the stretching that helped or my adrenalin kicked or what but I felt great!

Overall, I thought the run went really well! I was so happy to get back on the road even though I was only out for five days but it felt great. After the run I did some outdoor yoga and other stretches to make sure my knee was going to be OK. Moral of the story? When you’re hurt, rest. Don’t overdo it because you could get even more injured. I’m hoping to get out running again tomorrow and try to do a longer run along the coast.

I hope everyone else is having good runs this week. Happy running!

#PlankADay challenge is still on

3 minutes and 4 seconds! #plankaday

A few weeks ago I told you all I’d be taking on the challenge of doing a plank every day. So far, I’ve maintained the challenge and done up to five variations of planks EVERY DAY! I’ve definitely noticed results and I have some clear definition on my abs now which is pretty exciting.

Planks are such an easy and beneficial exercise. They really get at your inner abs as opposed to crunches which really just work your surface muscles. Also, having a stronger core helps with running in terms of alignment and balance.

I have a few variations of planks that I do regularly.

  • Standard planks- this is a typical plank where you get on your elbows and hold. I usually hold for at least one minute but lately I’ve been trying to see how long I can last. The longest one so far was just over three minutes!
  • Side planks- for a side plank you want to lay on your side, stack your legs and lift up using your obliques and elbow for support. Which ever arm is free you can either put your hand on your hip and hold it behind your head. I usually hold these for 30 secs on each side.
  • Alternating leg planks- for this variation, get into a standard plank pose, hold for 10 secs then lift your right foot about a foot off the ground, hold here for 10 secs, place your foot back down and lift your left foot off the ground and hold for 10 secs. Then, place your left foot back on the ground and hold the plank for 30 more second. Feel the burn!
  • Knee to elbow- for this plank, you want to get in standard plank position and bring your right knee to your right elbow and then place your foot back on the ground. Then bring your left knee to your left elbow and put your foot back on the ground. It feels silly but can really work your obliques. Naturally your butt is going to pop up a bit while doing this but do your best to keep it down.
  • Elbow to floor side planks- this is a toughy but SO great! First get into standard side plank position and place your free hand behind your head, like you would for a crunch. Make sure you are stabilized and then try to reach the elbow of your free arm to the floor. You don’t have to touch the floor with your elbow but if you can, that’s even better!

After each plank I like to stretch out my core by doing a simple yoga child’s pose stretch. As always, with planks you want to stay stiff as a board and don’t let your bum pop up! Are you doing the #plankaday challenge or do you have any other plank variations? If so, let me know in the comment section or tweet to me @FitHappyGirl.

Race Recap: The Color Run New England

At the starting line of the Color Run (pre-color obviously)

Last Saturday I ran the famed Color Run with my college roommate and a group of new friends! The Color Run claims to be “the happiest 5k on the planet” and I have to conquer. However, there were some minor setbacks that really could have ruined the race if it wasn’t so much fun to begin with but looking at it as a whole, I thought it was a blast!

The race was located in Amesbury, Mass. and finished at the Amesbury Sports Park. The day I ran the race, the announcer at the starting line said there was nearly 11,000 people running- that’s a lot of color runners! Needless to say, the race was absolutely packed. My friends and I all wore white in order to get the most out of the color along the way. If you’re not familiar with the Color Run, it is a 5k route and at each kilometer mark the wonderful people from the Color Run throw colored corn starch at you and by the end of the race you are a fully-covered tie-dyed runner! It’s awesome.

We arrived at the Color Run around 8:30 a.m. and took the shuttle to the starting line. We were shocked by how many people were actually participating in the race so we decided to get to the starting line as soon as possible. The staffers of the Color Run released the runners in waves, separated by five minutes as to not clog the course too much. While this was a valiant effort, I still felt the course was far too crowded and I’d say the majority of people ended up walking rather than running. This caused quite a problem for those of us who wanted to run because we had to dodged and weave in between the walkers. Also, in order to get a good amount of color at the color stops at each kilometer, we had to slow to a walk. This was fine but messed with the run a bit.

Besides the crowds I thought the run itself was great! My only wish is that it was longer because it was over sooo fast! The end of the race was a big party. We were all given color packets that we were able to open at the end and throw up in the air, completely covering ourselves in color, in case we were covered enough to begin with! We were able to get samples of drinks and granola bars at the end which was good because the temperature skyrocketed during the race.

At the finish line, post-color!

One of the concerns I had for the race was the lack of water on the course. There was one water stop about halfway through the course but the water was warm and not very refreshing, especially after a ton of color got in my mouth. Another issue that was really beyond the race directors’ control was the shuttling back to the parking lots after the race. The place we had to park was about 15 minutes away because the Amesbury Sports Park couldn’t accommodate the amount of runners, which is totally understandable. When we got in line to go back to our cars we were informed there had been an accident on the highway so all shuttles had to be rerouted. We ended up standing in line for about an hour and a half, in the sun, with no water.

After running a race this was a little frustrating because we were tired and thirsty. The Color Run sent out an e-mail on July 30 apologizing for any frustrations, which I think everyone appreciated. I have friends who ran the race on Sunday and said it was fantastic and there were no issues, so I’m glad everything worked out in the end.

As you may have noticed in this post, I didn’t tell you my finish time. That’s because I didn’t have one. No one did. The Color Run is simply for fun! Plus no one would have gotten a good time anyways with the frequent stops and bobbing and weaving in between walkers. Another issue that came up during the race was some knee irritation. I think due to the bobby and weaving in between walkers I aggravated my runner’s knee. It’s still bothering me four days after the race so I’m trying to rest it and praying it will get better soon!!

Overall it was a really fun event and I would love to do it again. I hope you consider running it in your area!

…and I’m a color runner!