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Wish List Wednesday… Being more flexible

If you asked friends of mine a few years ago what my number 1 social problem was, they might very well have told you that I am too inflexible. At that time it was true- close minded, anxious, and easily frightened I was unwilling to try anything new so my progress suffered. Thankfully that is no longer a big problem of mine, I have overcome that particular difficulty, now I wish to overcome my other inflexibility. My physical inflexibility – which affects me before, during and after my runs. I wish I could change this with some yoga or personal training or something but my expendable income is too small to commit to those things, so I need to explore other options.

This week’s running wish…

I wish I was more flexible!

Set up- Loose and Light, fast and free

I have recently been experiencing more soreness at a higher level than ever before. To get ready for the distance season to come in the fall I have been ramping up mileage (safely) and this has left my joints stiff and achy more than normal along with that good muscle soreness you get after a hard run. I equate the first mile of a run when you are still a little sore to waking up the engine on an old car. Your hamstrings and glutes just dont want object vehemently when you try to get them going like an engine stuttering before revving through and going forward. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself.

I dislike stretching immensely. After reading an article that didnt help endurance runners, I stopped all stretching but this was a bad idea for the harder shorter runs I sometimes do.

Lately it has been more so than normal though. Part of it is because I dont stretch enough. I never like stretching, and to stretch before a morning workout (or after a morning workout)  means I need to wake up earlier than I already do. This isnt happening. Or when it is an afternoon workout, I always tell myself to stretch before and after, but I dont. The fact that I read an article recently that suggests that dynamic stretching doesnt help with injury prevention or performance has given me that false justification to not stretch at all.

This lack of stretching, my long commute  and my natural inflexibility has started to really negatively influence my running. I have experienced 2 small foot problems of late, and upon researching both of them they have a lot due to with muscle stiffness and lack of flexibility. Upon placing greater emphasis onn stretching those areas, I have relieved that pain and ran way better. Still I feel inflexible and stiff, still I think that if I could get looser out on the road more quickly my race time would improve. I also think greater flexibility would help me get used to running at higher speeds and give me the extra edge for some PR’s. Most options to significantly improve my flexibility are on the costly side, but there are some moderate options.

The Reality-  Super stiff and super sore

Im fairly inflexible. I had a pediatrician who once told me it would take stretching my hamstrings 45 minutes for them to loosen up. I wish I knew how serious or not he was being at the time, but I feel like he was accurate. Having trained capoeira for 4 years- which places a premium on it- my  flexibility has certainly improved. However  I would rate it as going from awful to slightly horrible. It is improvement, and a notable one but now it is no longer good enough. Even in those classes where we do extensive stretching it takes me way longer to get loose and feel right for the capo activities and movements to come. The extra time (as compared to my peers) that it takes me to get the stiffness out discourages me further so I often avoid it.

I should probably invest more time learning about the physiology of running, especially the bigger muscles. I do feel like I have excessively tight hamstrings which take longer to get churning than they should

I took a couple of yoga classes a couple of years ago and I like how they made me feel after but they were extremely painful during them. Sadly I could not continue because they were not cheap and the good studios for yoga are way out of my way. I tried doing a DVR yoga workout but it was not the same at all.  It definitely pointed out to me, that part of being fit is being flexible and I am most certainly not.

The Ideal Wish- Get loose quickly

I wish that I could stretch for 10 minutes (dynamic or static) before I run and shake the cobwebs out of muscles faster when I started. I wish that not every run began with my muscles “groaning to life” like the Chevy Nova my Dad used to drive when I was younger. I wish that I could touch my toes in any significant hamstring stretch. I wish that after runs, I could stretch for 10 minutes and feel that satisfying feeling that others get from the post workout cooldwon. I wish that I could be more flexible so I could find my speed quicker in shorter races. I wish that I could take yoga (too expensive and too far away currently)  or had the time for a flexibility based classes at my gym.

Stretching your calf is important, and mine have been very stiff lately. I usually do make an effort to do so with this muscle, but once again i found that I have spend excessive time doing so. Otherwise I develop tightness and problems as far down as my foot.

The Possible- How much can you improve personal flexibility? 

I am not sure about this one. I have debates on and off with capoeiraistas about whether or not you can make yourself more flexible. I think every one has a range, and I am not quite sure where I am in my own range. I know circus performer is not in that particular spectrum but I am hopeful that I can at reach least normal. Im also hopeful that if I attend college in the fall, I will have more cheap opportunities to work in a yoga class now and again. I also think that less of a commute and more time walking will mea that my legs will not have a lot of residual stiffness and will shake out easier when I need them to. Until then, I will have to make a better effort to stretch at least big muscles groups before, during and after all workouts. Since I cant be naturally flexible, I want to try to be passably so.

I enjoyed the yoga classes I took, but they were just too much money. Im hoping that as my situation changes, I will be able to go back and use them to build a better base of flexibility

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0


A Huge Weekend Runcheap Thank You To….. Rest Days

This weekend’s huge runcheap thank you goes out to something I need to more consistently. Take a day off. It is so counterintuitive to me and surprisingly hard to do. But when I do- I always feel the benefits down the line.

Thank you rest days!

Thank you for allowing the opportunity to catch up on all the small things in my life!

Thank you for giving me enjoyment and getting all that soreness out of body so I can run strong again!

I hate rest days. I really do.  For someone who loves fitness and exercise with the tenacity that I do, they seem almost worthless. For someone who loves a good cardio challenge or a hard session of strength training, it just seems like a wasted day. For someone who loves to run- to not run a typical workout day is almost as mentally taxing as actually running can be. Seriously a day with no exercise? A day without that mental and physical vibe that has let me  be physically fit, mentally confident, and more overall healthy? A day without the challenge, intensity, commitment and achievement that keeps me focused on my life both as a runner and in general? Why?

I class I really would need to take if it existed 🙂

It gets even harder for me to take rest days when you realize that I believe that the human body can be pushed way further than most people think it can. I operate under the belief that could almost always do a little more. Some runners take rest days throughout the week, others on a 10 day plan, or a 2 week plan. Others do it by feel- they simply take a day off when they need one. I tend to refuse to stop myself from exercise unless I have a good reason to take a day off. Im self motivated and structured enough to make this stick for weeks on end.

I realized today that I hadnt taken a rest day since the day before this race. Thats just absurdly long.

So why am I doing a post thanking days off? Because rest days are essential. I realized today that I hadnt taken one in well over 2 months. Thats too long regardless of how intense or focused I am. And borderline dangerous as well.

Why are rest days essential? Why do I need to start structuring more of them into my plan? Lets use today’s rest day as an example:

– To allow the mild tendonitis in my foot to rest and not become something more serious

– To allow that perpetual sorenesss in my hamstrings and legs to flush out

– To rejuvenate my energy stores

– To be able to accomplish all those little cleaning tasks around the house I have been ignoring but need to do

– To be able check out a movie- “Hunger Games” (Because “Avengers was sold out, damnit!)

– To get a different perspective on Sundays

– To be able to sort through mail for the firs time in close to 2 months.

– To be able to hit a new exercise week refreshed

– To spend time with the cats

Ugh sold out on my rest day, switched to “Hunger Games” which was a decent flick

Every runner needs a really good rest day. I just feel they need to be worthwhile and  not days when you couch for the entire time and try to clear out all your old episodes of “Restaurant Impossible” or “Castle”.  Couch potato days like those are best saved for tapering before big races (when minimal exertion is best); rest days should be savored and enjoyed. You have earned them. You are mentally there enough to know that a day off wont derail your physical fitness and wont get you out of the habit of intense exercise. In the past I have had the following 3 superb experiences on rest days

1. Capoeira Batizado- My last rest day before this one, I attended our yearly capoeira celebration where you change cords if so earned and celebrate each other’s successes.

2. Cruise Day 1- My parents paid for a 3 day cruise for my family, and the 1st day I made myself stay away from the fitness center and just chill out. It allowed all my tension to slip away. I ejoyed copious food, my families company, and savored the feeling of being on vacation

3. Blueberry Festival – Around this time last year, my friend Heidi and I checked out a local blueberry festival put on by the small Keel and Curley Winery. We picked blueberries for reduced price,did a fruity wine sampling, ate blueberry shortcake, and purchased a few cheap goodies. Then I want to a friends going away party and had a great time

This Blueberry Festival was top notch, sadly could not round up anyone this year. I highly recommend it

Days off like that are what I hope for when I take them. Today wasnt necessarily like that, but it will certainly be worthwhile from a “Energy Refreshment” type of a scenario.  Rest days help you enjoy life. Rest days help you stay injury free so you arent spending money at the doctors. Rest days mean you dont add extra wear and tear on your workout gear, tap your food resources more, and cause you to search for more caffeine. They save you money in small ways. Or maybe than save you money long term by saving your body. They keep you healthy and running strong,  so you can run cheap. Either way a huge runcheap thank you goes to rest days. Thank you again rest days. Now I will finish enjoying the rest of mine.

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0 

or- enjoy your day off 😉

Wish List Wednesday… Swimming and Slowing Soreness

This Wish List Wednesday will be a little different. The first part again will deal with running/fitness but the second part will take a different tact and and deal with wellness as opposed to nutrition. In a sense both items are things that will help my overall health, my overall fitness, and therein my overall running.

This weeks running/fitness week wish is….

I wish I lived near a large pool/swimmable body of water……

Set Up- A Great Alternative

If last weeks post dealt primarily with a low stress form of cross training in bike riding, this one deals with the other big low impact exercise for runners, swimming. I love to swim, although I am admittedly a terrible technical swimmer. Swimming is an exhausting, muscle taxing, fatiguing workout, but one that is low impact on the joints that get stressed while you run. To be able to swim just 1 day or maybe 2 days a week, would be a great way to do another endurance workout. It would also be a a great way to keep fit, rather than spinning or group fitness (which I love but do to much). Sadly, my community has a small pool and doing laps in it would be something of a joke. I also live surprisingly far away from swimmable water.

They always used to have public pool lap swimming at my community pool growing up. That doesnt exist in Florida

The Ideal Wish- Early Morning Laps

I would love to have a lengthy pool in my community that I could lap swim on off running days or as a follow up to a hard running workout. As much as I enjoy an early morning run in the darkness, I enjoy early morning swims as well. There is something refreshing to swimming hard laps in the morning and then getting ready for work or wherever you are going. I did it a couple of times when I was in a different situation and it was delightful. I wish I could have that again. I wish that at night to wrap up a hard day of working out, I could just jump in the pool and peel off a few laps. I wish that there was a nice pond/lake near where I live (animal free) that I could grab a swim in. I wish that I could use swimming for a happy, keep fit , low impact, alternative to boost my fitness and endurance so that when I pound the pavement the following day I am a step (or stroke better) than I was before.

Okay my community pool is bigger than this, but not by much 🙂

The Reality- Nowhere to dive in

My community pool is a jole, doing laps in it, is a lot like the scene in Austin Powers where he attempts to get the golf cart out between two objects. He ends up going back and forth over tiny distances and looking ridiculous. This is my community pool. But I live in Florida right? There is water everywhere around you! Ugh, Yes and No. The closest beaches to me are an hour away. To get there early enough to swim them would require getting up at the monk like time of 3 or 4 am in the morning. I am pretty dedicated about my fitness, but not that dedicated. And lets add also, Im not that willing to spend a lot of gas money driving to the beach consistently. But Florida is full of lakes and ponds? Yes, and they are full of alligators. I have a personal alligator avoidance policy that has served me well. No swim is worth that risk. But you belong to a gym? It has no pool, none whatsoever. Some of the YMCA gyms have pools but membership there is not convenient, more expensive than my current ones, and the locations are not close to my house (again gas money). So any attempt to incorporate in a fun swim into my workout week is all for naught.

Yeah lake or pond swimming in Florida? Not so much

The Possible-  Summer and School

Once again I rely on my parents. My parents have a community pool which is 50m long. I dont know if thats Olympic length or anything, but it is close enough. Swim teams practice there. On certain days my mom does water aerobics there and there are usually free lanes to swim in. I hit it up a couple of times last summer, but inconsistently. I teach and my mom takes the class in the morning so it is really only available to me during those summer months I am off.  I will need to be more consistent this summer about getting it in 1 time a week. Also, if I end up going back to grad school. One of the universities I select will inevitably have an available pool that might have time for some lap swimming. At least thats what Im hoping. Swimming is just one of those activities that I will know will make me a stronger runner down the line.

Have to get my laps in during the summer

Now onto my first wellness wish..

I wish I could get a massage…

Set up-  I do love the soreness but…

I am impossibly sore. I love it. I love post run healthy soreness. I love sore achy muscles after a good lift. I love the tired legs after a great spin workout. Some soreness is good for you, it lets you know that things are getting done in your body. Nothing wrong with that. But I would love to be able to take the time to relieve all that soreness and let it go with a nice long massage, so that I can feel fresh for maybe one day. To be able to get the tactile muscle soreness release and feel the comfort of your body just letting go of its exercise stiffness and soreness. I have never had a massage. I am always jealous of people getting the post endurance race massages. I am jealous of all the friends who I know who have had deep tissue massages and talked about them in the most spectacular terms. I would really like one but I cant afford one.

These must feel great after a long race

The Ideal- Only need one

Just one, only one full, deep tissue massage is really all I want. One time to relieve all that residual soreness, and all that huge stress that comes from  a complicated life. One time to know what it is like to feel the releif wash over you and to feel that physically relaxed emotion. Beyond that I would take what I could get the rest of my life. However, just that one time I would like that experience.

The Reality- $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Yeah right. A good massage, a really good soreness/stress relief one, is well beyond any cost I can afford. It really gets no more simple than that. Im sure I could find a crappy one or a half good one for cheaper, but what is the point? This is one of these all or nothing things to me. I want it done well or Im not paying anything. That wont be happening any time at all.

The Possible- Home remedy and appreciation

2 small options:

1) I have an issue of Runners World which teaches how to correctly and individually massage certain muscles used in running. I am thinking once or twice a month going strenuously through those might relieve some of that muscle stress and soreness. Most of the methods suggests used household items, making this low/no cost. It certainly isnt anywhere in the galaxy of what I am hoping for, but I probably should make the effort for health’s sake. Removing excessive soreness is a trait of a good runner to me. Right now, I eat foods that help with that, but I feel like tactile release would be more useful.

2)  Teacher Appreciation Week- TAW is a week where various local restaurants dump fatty unhealthy foods at you, useless gifit certifcates are pushed your way,  and administrators offer you halfway thoughtful gifts. Usually during this week, a local person comes in for quick 15 minute free massages. I missed mine last year because I was busy. If it is back this year, I wont miss it.

Doing some home, self massage is my best option

Enjoy Your Run. Enjoy Your Day :0

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