Goodbye Fat Pants!

You know the ones I am talking about. The bigger pair that sits in the back of the closet in case you’re feeling a little bloated or just want some extra wiggle room. The pants you keep around in case you go out of town and let vacation get the best of you. Those pants.

Well, yesterday morning as I was getting dressed for work I looked through my closet. I’ve been feeling unhappy with my clothes for various reasons lately, but I think its just because I need to go shopping. (Really, you can only wear the same outfit so many times before it gets old.) I picked through my stuff, glancing over my typical fat pants and went for the pants that once upon a time ago fit. The pants I haven’t been able to wear for six months because of wedding stress followed by newlywed bliss coupled with a lack of regular exercise made me gain a few pounds.

I picked them up and looked at them.

It was going to be close. Like I could put them on, but I couldn’t button them. Then I considered laying on the bed to put them on because that works with just about anything (especially when you ignore the accompanying muffin top). If I sucked in would it make them fit better? Would I have to suck in all day?

No, I would not have to suck in all day. Because when I put them on the button clasped without force and I was able to exhale freely.

Success!

This feeling, this blissful feeling, is something I don’t want to lose. My next goal is to fit into the next size down from where I am now. To be completely honest, I’ve never been the next size down from where I am now. And that is slightly intimidating.

Though, for once in my life I feel like I am actually in the right frame of mind to reach that goal. My eating habits are getting a makeover. Training is coming along despite injury. And I finally understand that to change my body it is going to take time and dedication.

Quick Fitness Recap: The last week (and so far this week!) has been spectacular on the exercise front. To keep my mileage up for training I’ve started taking really long walks. My hope is that when I am able to run again it won’t be a huge shock to my system again. Also, if I am able to get faster in my walking then hopefully my running speed will improve as well. For example, on Saturday (my usual long run day) I went for an 8.25 mile walk. It took a little over two hours to complete but no complaints and no blisters. I took the day off on Sunday. Monday I did a quick 3.5 mile workout on the elliptical followed by my favorite pump class. Tuesday I went to yoga. And yoga is becoming a thing for me because it feels great.

Tell me about your workouts last week and this week. Are you shaking things up a bit? 

Cross Training Like A Boss!

I’ve been a busy busy girl this past week. Thank goodness because I definitely needed a boost in endorphins from not being able to exercise for the past few weeks.

By Monday, I began to get nauseous. Two weeks of no exercise made me an unhappy camper and my body was not pleased. I’m not sure if the nausea was brought on due to stress or lack of movement. All I know is that after I exercised on Tuesday, the nausea disappeared. Hallelujah!

Tuesday evening I took it slow. Like slower than slow. Forty-five minutes on the elliptical at a thirteen minute pace per mile. It felt good to be moving, but I was being cautious. I could not imagine finally being able to move again only to overdo it and be out of commission even longer.

Wednesday night, I hit the elliptical again. This time for thirty minutes, but higher intensity and resistance. My knee didn’t bother me at all, not even a teensy bit. After the elliptical, I went over to a muscle mix class to get some strength training in.

It was good to be back!

I didn’t work out on Thursday due to a social event. Though, I broke my personal rule of “no exercise Fridays” due to the missed workout. Friday evening I spent an hour on the elliptical going as hard and has fast as I could for an hour. My pace matched my running speed. A lovely workout to kickstart the weekends festivities.

On Saturday, Chris and I went into DC. We walked somewhere between four to six miles all over the city. More on that later.

Sunday morning I went to two gym classes: Body Step and Body Pump. I used to go to Step all the time before I started running. The up and down motions of the step had me concerned about my knee but luckily, no problems! Doing Pump after Step is not always the smartest decision. My lower body was so fatigued from Step, but I pushed through the workout. The only issue I had occurred during the lunge track. My left knee was done and it hurt. I spent the song stretching out my leg.

Monday I went to Spin class. It has been a hot second since I went to spin. I always forget how much I like spin until I’m sitting the class increasing my resistance.

Tonight I did a Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD and it kicked my butt.

This week has been consistent and I love it. It is so amazing to be back in the gym.

I am only slightly (okay, majorly) upset that I haven’t been able to get outside as much. I feel like if I go outside I will be too tempted to run. And that would be no good. Unfortunately (for me), the weather has been ridiculously beautiful this week. It’s not fair. I spent all summer training in the humidity and the heat to be cheated out of the beautiful Fall weather. But I’m trying not to focus on that. Cross training will make me a stronger runner… just in time for Winter.

How did your workouts go this week?

Did you try anything new? How’d it go?

Did you eat anything particularly yummy over the week? Share the recipe!

The No Exercise Blues + Cross Training Plan

Hello, my name is Sarah and I haven’t exercised in almost two weeks (minus the half marathon). These past two weeks I’ve allowed myself to indulge in delicious Mexican food, alcohol, hamburgers, and cupcakes. I haven’t felt my heart rate rise above 150 beats per minute in close to three weeks. Instead, I’ve casually strolled to the candy jar taking a mini-size Hershey bar and scarfing it down like I’ll never have another piece of chocolate again in my life. But who are we kidding, three hours later, I return to enjoy another. When I finally start to feel myself crash around 3pm, I’ll have a diet soda to try to keep me awake. I look at my running shoes and wince a little knowing that I can’t stop won’t stop until my feet are healed and the damage I’ll be working off may hurt more than the blisters.

Needless to say, I’ve kind of been eating my feelings.

I am MISERABLE without exercise. I miss the sweat in my eyes that speed work brings. I miss waving to the other runners and smiling at dogs. I miss adjusting my running belt. I miss miss miss running. And I miss sweating. And I miss Chris telling me that I am a “stinky baby” when he comes to pick me up from wherever I am. I miss working out with friends and laughing at ourselves in classes.

Ugh.

The good news is that this little pity party can end on Monday.

Monday I start cross training for the next two (or more) weeks. Only cross training. As part of my way to train smarter with ITBS, I need to incorporate more of this into my life instead of just going outside and running every chance I could for marathon training. Cross training has been my weakest part of training thus far because as soon I started to realize I was getting better at running I wanted to be THE BEST (for me!) at running. So now, I have to take a step back and focus on all of the exercises I liked to do before I decided to sign up for a marathon.

The plan?

Monday: Elliptical and Mat Pilates
Tuesday: Spin and Body Pump
Wednesday: Elliptical
Thursday: Body Pump and Yoga
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long walk
Sunday: Rest

Each of those is also included a before and after series of ITB stretches. Then, depending on how my knee feels, I will incorporate running again. I don’t expect to be back up to 12 miles, but I don’t expect to be back at barely being able to run one mile.

Baby steps. I need my knee to recover properly or this is only going to become a larger issue. Though I am anxious to get back to running I am trying to remain realistic about the stress of this injury. Even when I do start running again, I have to take more walking breaks. It’s imperative if I want to continue pushing for distance.

Tell me about your workouts this week. Did you workout with a friend or go solo? What is your favorite method of cross training? Let’s discuss!

The Diagnosis

Last Saturday, I hurt my left knee. I hurt my knee so bad I was unable to bend it. I was unable to walk up and down the stairs. I hurt my knee so bad it was swollen for an entire week.

An entire week.

After showing my boss and co-worker my knee on Monday at work, they immediately instructed me to see a doctor. They both suffer from knee problems of their own and the fact that it was still swollen after two days was definitely a cause for concern.

I began the process of calling orthopedic specialists in the DC area, preferably close to my work, only to find out that they were not taking new patients at this time or that their earliest appointment was for mid-September. Considering I had the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon the Sunday following the incident,  I couldn’t wait until mid-September for an appointment.

Because what if I was still able to compete in the half marathon?

I started calling specialists closer to my house. Luckily, someone recently had a cancelation and I could come see the doctor on Friday.

Thank goodness.

I took the entire week off from exercise. I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t talk a walk around my neighborhood. I didn’t run. Nothing. It was a terrible week for cardiovascular fitness.

But what was I supposed to do? Risk aggravating my knee further and then completely ruin any chance of competing on Saturday? Ugh terrible.

Friday came and my knee was still swollen.

I went to the doctor. After x-rays and exam he and his assistant came to a decision.

The diagnosis? Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS/IT Band Syndrome).

Common training causes that I am GUILTY of (from Wikipedia):

  • Always running on a banked surface (such as the shoulder of a road or an indoor track) bends the downhill leg slightly inward and causes extreme stretching of the band against the femur. (I typically run on the shoulder of the road/sidewalk and it definitely is not flat or smooth)
  • Inadequate warm-up or cool-down (totally guilty of just going out there and running and then coming home and not doing any stretches)
  • Excessive up-hill and down-hill running (the loop I do is a constant up-hill/down-hill run and I usually circle it at least 2 times)
  • Running up and down stairs (every weekday I run down the escalator steps at the metro station and some mornings I run up them. Total # of steps I run in one instance? 90)

Feet abnormalities that contribute to IT Band Syndrome (from Wikipedia):

From what it sounds like, I’ve done this to myself. Absolutely terrible. Depending on how I train from now on this may continue to be an issue or might just flare up on it own.

Does this mean I can never run again? Absolutely not. But, I do need to train smarter. I need to think more about what is best for my body, not just what I want to be doing.

For the next few weeks, the doctor instructed me to do daily stretches and to focus on cross training. The more I try to run before it is better, the more it will continue to be a pain in the butt knee.

I am not thrilled with this diagnosis, but there are worse things.

As Chris put it, “You got a true runners injury.”

Yeah, I sorta did.

Do you have knee problems? What do you do for them? Have you suffered from IT Band Syndrome? Any tips? Let’s discuss!!

Stop Beating Yourself Up. You’re Amazing!

After talking with quite a few people following my race recap post, the main comment I received was ‘stop beating yourself up, you are amazing!’

And you know what? I am.

There are millions of people who live in and around Washington, D.C. Many who probably claim to be runners. But, how many people signed up for the Leesburg 20K? A little over six hundred.

And I was one of them. And I finished.

I finished a race most people wouldn’t have even put on their radar. I finished a race that most people ask me ‘why do you even want to run that far?’

Because its special. It makes me feel special.

Not a lot of people tackle races longer than a 10K. Those who do usually reach for a ten miler, maybe a half marathon when they think they are ready.

And even then the amount of people who attempt and finish those races is a significantly smaller pool than the masses who do 5K and 10K.

If running long distances was easy, everyone would do it. It is hard. It takes a lot of time to train and prepare for this. It’s taxing on your body and your emotions and even your relationships. This takes time and effort (unless you have Forrest Gump abilities).

So instead of beating myself up over being on the slower side of the curve, I want to celebrate the fact that I am doing this. I am running distances I never imagined were possible for me and I am finishing races.

Slow and steady isn’t something for me to be ashamed of, it is something for me to celebrate.

I feel like in my race recap I came off a little snarky with my finishers medal graphic.

So, instead of hating on myself for not being a faster, more seasoned runner. I think its necessary for me to celebrate the fact that I finished that race in a respectable pace. I was slow and steady, like the tortoise, but I finished and am proud of that.

When you start to feel down about how you performed in a race or a training run, remember that you stuck with it. You are special because you’re doing something that not a lot of others consider doing. You may be slow and steady but you’re winning the race.

And you deserve an award.

So, stop beating yourself up. You’re amazing!