The Injury Report

I hurt my back last Saturday, and it absolutely ruined my week. I decided to look around and see what other bloggers had to say about injuries. And what should we do to treat our injuries. And how to prevent injuries: at least, running injuries. Not knowing what set off my back, it is hard to avoid doing that again. It could just have been that I did too much, increasing my drills and riding suddenly.

       My body may be saying

             “hey, I know it’s spring, but give me a chance to catch up!”

The first time my back went out was about 10 years ago. I was working for my dad on the farm, and we had Farmer’s Market the next day. We were using an old UHaul truck to cart plants and veggies back and forth to the market. I was the primary plant person, so my job was to clean up all the plants and get them loaded. I was leaning over a rose, deadheading it, when suddenly I couldn’t move. I finally wiggled myself over to the pull out ramp and laid down. And there I stayed, staring at the blue sky for several hours before the pain medication brought to me kicked in and I could get up. Not that I could stand, but at least I was mobile. As I lay there, wondering what the heck happened, it occurred to me that I had ridden the previous day.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but like her mama, Charby is a klutz. We were trotting over some poles and she tripped. Her nose almost hit the ground, and I pulled her back up. I remember being proud that my seat was good enough that I never left the saddle. Next time I think that I will let her nose hit the ground!

And now for some blogger thoughts: 

It’s like that Mike Tyson quote, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Except mine was less of a dramatic face punch and more of the typical running-related injury that comes on slowly, from miles of overuse and days where my stubbornness kept me from listening to my body and backing off.

Have you ever tried that? Not listening to your body, I mean. It works for a while, but eventually your body’s messages just get louder and louder until you finally find yourself sitting in the physical therapist’s office, unable to even walk without pain.

–Amanda, RuntotheFinish

Although I’ve got one more Argentina post to share this week, today I’m going to talk about running. Or, more specifically, hobbling. After taking nearly 3 weeks off thanks to my hurt back (which became my hurt/numb leg and foot), I felt like my back had progressed to the point where I could try a short run when we got back from our trip. I honestly couldn’t wait to strap on my HOKAs and go for a run. I really wanted to get my marathon training back on track, and the mental break had me raring to go! I didn’t expect a miracle – the amount of wine I drank plus 3 weeks off was going to hurt, regardless – but I wanted to give it the old college try despite lingering numbness in my right foot. I know that sounds crazy. I can’t feel my foot, but I thought I could run on it? Well, yeah. I didn’t really feel pain, I just didn’t feel anything, so I thought, “we’ll see.”  

          –Danielle, TheT-RexRunner

What was it like having to stop training because of running injuries when you were about to reach your goal of running a marathon?

I was really excited about running the marathon. Of course when you’re in that position, when the pain’s still there you kind of think the worse. I was frustrated, thinking I can’t run, I don’t want to make it worse because what if I injure myself and I can’t run again. I think that’s one of my greatest fears, of getting running injuries to the point where I can’t ever run. I especially had this fear before when I was having knee pain.    

           –interview with Natalie, Running Mom, after her stress fracture 

And the cures?

CommonRunningSymptoms

According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, runners are most vulnerable to overuse injuries…

  • During the initial four to six months of running
  • Upon returning to running after an injury
  • When mileage goes up
  • When more speed work is performed

So when adding mileage or intensity to your training, do so at a gradual rate.                                                                                —Womens Running

This one is a bit too long to add, but it has some good tips for some very basic issues like chafing, cramping, blisters and more. These are the injuries that we don’t really don’t consider injuries, but can still make our lives quite miserable– Runner’s World

I did get to out for a mile run yesterday followed by some stretch-y yoga. Today I am thinking 2 miles? I so want to do more, but I would rather do less and be able to do it again tomorrow than do more and not be able to do anything tomorrow. It helps if I keep telling myself that!

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Weekly Rundown

Time does fly! I feel like every time I turn around I am doing another weekly rundown. Last week went rather well until Saturday. I had planned out what I wanted to accomplish, which was mostly hill work. Saturday morning I got up out of the chair to get ready for my run. After dressing and brushing the teeth, I went to make the bed before leaving.  When I pulled the sheets up, I pulled my back.

I used to hear people say “my back is out” without having any idea what that meant. Old people did that, right? Well, now I do it.  The first time was about 10 years ago, and I am happy to be able to say that it was a riding related event (and I was in my 30s, so not old, right?). But it has happened two or three times since then. I can’t really nail down what I did to make it happen this time–except pulling on that sheet–but it made for an uncomfortable and rather unproductive weekend.

Monday: plan was for hill drills again. It was one of those days that made me say “no, no, don’t make me do it!”  I decided to do it early before I could talk myself out of it. So I fed Charby and went out to the hill. I did 8 circuits, with Charby eating her hay and watching me as I went up and down and up again. I am sure she was wondering what I was doing–and probably glad she was not involved. After my cool down jog, I did my hip openers. What a wonderful start to the day.

Tuesday: a blah day–rain and wind and general yuckiness. The dogs and I decided to take the day off.

Wednesday: Rider fitness weight training and yoga aimed at my abs. It was  fabulous workout and I felt terrific afterwards. I love that feeling after a workout. Endorphins: can’t beat them! Later in the day I went cemetary hunting with my friend Kate. I didn’t use my tracker, so I am unsure how far we walked. But we were out there for 2 hours, so I think we did a fair amount.

Thursday: more hill work. I ran down to the bottom of my ‘mountain’ and back again. Total run was 2.46 miles,  not terribly long. However, I am happy to say the drills I have been doing seem to be working, as my run was faster than any run I did on that route last year.  The run up the hill alone was 6:48 minutes, which is really not bad when one considers the slope I was running up…and up….and up….

Friday: I went down to play with my mom and my pony, Christopher Robin. I got a new bareback pad, which is actually for Charby. I love to ride bareback, but she really needs a martingale; which means I need a girth to attach it to (martingales help prevent horses from tossing up their head and ignoring the control of the reins). But I thought I would try the pad on him as well. Oh my, it was sooooo comfortable, I could ride for hours on it. I rode him much longer this time, around 40 minutes. He was a doll, and I had so much fun with him. I can’t wait until he comes home–which should be this Saturday!

Saturday: well, as I said above, I didn’t run. I did have to run errands for the husband, so I spent most of the morning out and about. I think it was good to keep moving, since I was moving better, albeit cautiously, by the time I got home.  Sometimes if you just sit with muscle issues, you stiffen up. I always think it is better to push the edge of what you can do. (that is NOT medical advice 😉 Just my stubbornness)

Sunday: frustration set in! I love to sit around and watch TV–when it’s my choice and I have nothing to do. I had plans on Sunday, which involved Charby, and running, and helping the husband with more land clearing.  That didn’t happen. But (and I blame my mother’s genetics for this) I had other things to do and by gosh, I was doing them. I fixed the electric fencer, and then cleaned up around the barn a bit, as I am having company this week. My hubby helped me reset some of the fixtures in my tack room, so I have to go out and finish moving things around. I am rather compulsive when it comes to organization (I blame Mom for that too!)I am always looking for a way to make areas neater and easier to use.  I did go out and hang with the hubby while he was clearing, but picking up 3 pieces of brush convinced me to just keep him company.

So not a bad week, but hopefully I will get to run–and ride–next week.

Saturday Tips & Tricks

Tip # 8: Today’s tip is a simple question to keep in front of you as you think about your exercise for the day–         “Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day. It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'”   — Peter Maher, Canadian marathon runner

Finding Soldiers

I went out with my friend Kate yesterday. She is a cemetary hunter, by the name of StoneHunterBabe. If you need a grave of a relative found; there is a website, Find A Grave.com, where you can leave a request for help. People all over the world look for those requests in local cemetaries and post answers on the site. Kate searches cemetaries in our mid-Maine area, and yesterday I got to help her. We went to a national soldiers’ cemetary, Togus. Until yesterday, I had never given much thought to the cemetaries our fallen soldiers lie in, besides that fact that we all know about Arlington. The system was started in Sept 1861, overloaded with Civil War casualties, the government ordered a national cemetary system to be enacted.

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Togus is quite a nice cemetary, it backs up onto a VA building and there are paths all through the woods for the employees and visitors. Kate and I went for a walk on one of the paths before getting down to business.

A nice place to enjoy the day, albeit a little wet

A nice place to enjoy the day, albeit a little wet

Kate had a list of gravesites to find, so the first thing we (she!) did was look them up at the site locator. Each grave stone had a letter and a four digit number to indicate location.

check out the purple coordination :)

check out the purple coordination 🙂

After finding the sections of the cemetery our soldiers should lay in, we were on the hunt. First we went off to section E, which was easy enough to find. It was a bit more difficult from there. Many of the stones no longer have the numbers on them to help us easily locate the stones. It came down to finding a stone with a number and trying to figure out what direction the numbers would go and see if the gravestone we were looking for was in the direction.  We got an excellent walk in, hitting sections E,F,K,L,H and I!

IMG_1121.2015-04-22_154042IMG_1119.2015-04-22_154013

It was a marvelous day for the walk, and the search. We found 12 out 14, which was a good percentage I think. After finding a site, Kate made notes and took pictures. While she did the technical stuff, I wandered around and took pictures.  The cemetary is very well taken care of, and has some pretty memorials scattered about.

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I have always had the greatest respect for all of our veterans, and it was nice of Kate to let me tag along and learn more about how we treat our fallen heroes. Plus, learned some really interesting names 😉 Including one gentleman named Napoleon Bona…go ahead, finish that name, I know you want to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Rundown

I am so tired from my week! I can barely type….

Monday: 3 miles. The good news–I went out in just 1 layer with a fleece, and I was hot!! The bad news–my calves were on fire still from the drills last week, and my gastric distress had been acting up. That meant I had two days of unrelieved waste bouncing around in me. Cramps mysteriously appeared and disappeared in various places around my ribs and abdomen during my run. What fun! But, I had planned 3 miles and, by George, I finished 3 miles. Then managed my riding weight series. Whew!

Tuesday: first day of hill drills (I put the session down below if anyone wants to try them out). Not quite as horrible as I imagined–I do have a vivid imagination. After the drills I did the hip openers to stretch out.

Wednesday: I had planned a day off from running the day after the drills, but I needed my mechanic to check out my car. So after going to grab some supplies for the animals, I left the car with him and ran the 1.85 mile home. It was a great run, especially since the first .85 was uphill. I will say that when I got home and started my yoga (which had been the plan for the day) my legs were just a bit shaky.

Thursday: 3 miles once more. It was a good run if a bit slow.  I hit one of the very steep hills and just winged up it. I must be doing something right! Once home, I did #3 of my riding weight program.

Friday: I spent an hour walking the fence out back to ensure nothing was touching the electric line so I could turn it on without shorting it out. Mud and briars made it quite exciting. After I locked Charby out back so she could eat some of the (very short) grass. She was not very impressed. After I did some yoga, I went back out to feed her and she had run herself into a sweat looking for a way back into the barnyard. I had to walk the silly beast out, then put a blanket on her.

Saturday: flat drills again. I felt quite chuffed that I didn’t have to walk in between any of the exercises this time;  as I did have to walk between the last couple last week. Enjoying my success I came home and did the hip openers before eating breakfast. I have been eating just granola for breakfast; but with my new, harder running and exercises I figured I better add some more protein. I pulled out an old recipe of Denise Austin’s: 1/4c ricotta, 1 tbsp maple syrup, throw some granola on top. SO yummy. And I put some protein powder in the ricotta. In late morning I went back out to the fence. So much work, and yet so nice to be out in the sunshine. After lunch, I helped my husband with some clearing where we want to put our garden this year. Trees and brush begone! I had locked Charby out in the back field again, but all she did was stand next to the gate waiting for me. Not quite sure what has her so unhappy about the back field this year. I took her out and let her graze for a half hour or so, then walked her back in. I was hoping to show her that a) there was no bogeymann out there waiting for her, and b) there was grass waiting to be eaten.

Sunday: my battle with Charby continues. I rode her first thing in the morning; it was our first outing of the year with me on top of the saddle. She did a great job, alert but no jumping sideways at shadows. Afterwards I took her hay out into the lane leading to the back field. Silly beast watched me put it there, but after I went in the house she called and called for her breakfast. Finally I went back out and grabbed a treat. After pressing it to her nose, I walked out to the hay pile. She walked right beside me; when we got to the pile, I gave her the treat,  and then she started eating the hay. I didn’t lock her out this time, so she came back in and stood next to the barn for the day. What a weirdo.

My hill drills: I got the from April Fitness magazine, under the Bionic Legs article. I morphed it with some drills I used to do in track.

Fitness plan: warm up slowly 5 minutes, do 30 seconds each of butt kicks, high knees, skips and a half-grapevine move. After run uphill 30-100 seconds, start at easy pace and work up to race pace, then hold plank at top for 30 seconds. Do 7 to 11 circuits, then jog 5 minutes cool down.

My plan: warm up easy jog 5 minutes, do the kicks, knees, skips, grapevines. I don’t want to be watching a clock during my run, so I use my telephone poles, it takes roughly 30 seconds to run from one to the next and each is roughly 75 yards apart. So each exercise from one to the next pole, then two poles up the hill. Instead of race pace, I start out easy, by the end of the first 75 I am doing about 70% and for the last 75 yds I sprint as fast as I can. A plank and I go again, although I don’t do the exercises again before darting up the hill. I do 8 right now, followed by a 8 minute cool down.

Think Raquel Welch, ladies

This was my mother’s call as she gave us riding lessons when I was young. She gave dressage lessons as a side business, and I often took them with some of the riders near my age. What she meant, of course, was shoulders back and chest out.

I find this transfers across many sports, but particularly running. While every one’s form for running is different, there are a few constants. I actually have several different “forms”: for running uphill, running downhill and just plain flat running. Figuring out your optimum form  will help when you get tired or running a race. I had a friend on cross country in high school ran with her arms straight down.  She also spit instead of swallowing. I don’t recommend that. If nothing else, you don’t want to be dehydrating yourself.

But when I get tired, I will run with my arms down to relax and it always makes me smile and think of it as “Becky running”.  I  usually run off the balls of my feet, keep my tailbone tucked in, shoulders back and arms relaxed as possible. Running off the balls instead of your heels provides spring for the next step. Keeping your  tailbone tucked engages the core and ensures your back doesn’t hurt after a run. Shoulders back helps support you and makes it easier to breathe.

Let’s talk breathing. If you can’t control your breath, you are doomed to a long, unbearable run. I know we all pant when we first start training, or when we increase a pace. But generally, breathing at a even regular pace is necessary.  I would love to run breathing through my nose like I do in a yoga practice. But for now, I am happy if my breathing is even and quiet 🙂

Darren Treasure, a sports psychologist, encourages his runners to log 10 minutes of controlled breathing each day. His thought is that if you become anxious (say, before a race) “your breaths become very short and shallow, which actually precipitates more anxiety.” I would take it one step further, saying that starting a race breathing that way would make it exceedingly hard to find your pace. I find that cramps usually start if I am not breathing deeply and when my shoulders fall forward, slumping my middle. Straightening up and getting the air in helps rid me of the cramp. In my 5K the woman I was running next to said she had cramps so I gasped out “straighten up, deep breath, hold it then let it out”. Later she told me that really helped her, which is good as I thought maybe I was being obnoxious giving orders!

Going up a hill, if I find myself breathing shallowly, I need to be able to pull in a deep breath and hold it before breathing out. For me, yoga has taught  me deep breathing and makes it easier to pull in that breath. Learning yoga is not a requirement. But I think Darren’s idea of practicing deep, relaxing breathing can have many benefits. Try it before going to sleep–it will probably put you to sleep faster!

Going uphill, my heels don’t even hit the ground. I use the spring from the balls of my feet to propel me into the next step. Kinda feels like running up stairs. This is where high knees drills can definitely help your running. Leaning forward (just a bit!) lets the weight of your upper body pull you into the  next step as well. Again, it’s important to  keep the upper body straight and the core engaged. Keep the tailbone tucked, or you get a “swayback”  feel to your back, and that can hurt later in the day. I do my “Becky running” up hills a lot, relaxes the arms and lets me focus on the legs.

Going down a hill, I like to feel loose and limber with a definite bend in my knees. I do this to prevent shock to my knees. I use my heels and roll my foot forward with each step. I actually go downhill slower than uphill or going across a flat. I’m a bit of a klutz and I don’t want to land on my face.

Usually running on relatively flat ground I try to keep my form as I described above.  Form is always in flux, always needing minute adjustments.  I am always finding my shoulders coming up and I have to slide them back down.  It depends on how you feel that day, how fast you are going and what the purpose of your run is. But finding your optimum form, the one where after you run you don’t feel like anything was pulled out of  place and there are no aches other than the good run aches, will help you focus when you need to pull that last mile out.

When I’m tired and I want to stop, thinking about my form helps me reset. So I keep thinking about my form, pull it together and I get the next quarter mile down the road. It gives me something to focus on besides whining about being tired, and it gets me home.

(Darren Treasure’s other comments can be found in Sept 2014 Runner’s World)

Weekly Rundown

Monday: Being a mean mommy, I took Charby away from her hay and made her work for 30m. The funny thing is, when we went past our driveway at the end of the exercises, she just kept going. Pulled me all the way to the top of the hill–although, by midway, she was definitely slowing down and puffing. I keep telling you guys it’s a big hill!!

Miss Charby, she always needs to know what is going on!

Miss Charby, she always needs to know what is going on!

Afterwards she went back to her hay and I spent a couple hours fencing in a paddock for Christopher Robin. While I do think he and Charby will be just fine, at the begin she might be so happy to see anything on four legs that she could kill him with love! So, separate bedrooms to start. And, between the walking, hammering and carrying supplies, I am definitely calling it exercise!

Tuesday: And the proof that it was exercise–my calves, front and back, were on fire for the entirety of my 2 mile run. Not sure why, but ow! After the run I pulled out my Rider’s Fitness Program and started my weight training for riding. Each exercise is picked out with riding in mind and explains how it will help. I particularly like the trunk extension; the benign explanation says it will help “manage more effectively the forces pulling you forward on the horse.” The picture is of a bucking horse!

Wednesday: Went riding on Christopher Robin 🙂 He hasn’t been ridden in a long time, so I did a lot of walking, both on him and hand-walking. Just needed to get a feel on how, or if, we are going to fit. He is a doll. Christopher Robin was willing to do some ground exercises that Charby was more resistant on when I started her. She is a bit more stubborn about most things. Mares! It did feel a bit odd being on such a small horse. But he has a very comfortable trot, and I am looking forward to have two horses to work with.

IMG_cr2Mugging for the camera!                                                                                                                                Mugging for the camera!

Thursday: off. Let me show you why:

IMG snowday                                                              So disgusting! 6″: in case you’re wondering

Friday: off. Just never got around to anything on Friday. Computer was misbehaving, I was tired, and the day just slipped by.

Saturday: I wanted to get out, but I truly wanted to avoid hills. So I ran some drills I found on a new (to me) blog, Running Hutch. I actually only did eight of these ten, I didn’t want to grapevine down my road. I did run backwards and that  was the one time a car went by. I wonder what they were thinking! And I didn’t end with the burpees, I came home and did some hip opening postures as my hips are always uncomfortable.

                           Check out the blog to see discriptions of all these. One thing I learned:need stretch out my thighs more often, as I could not connect my heel to my butt.  Also, running backwards not really that difficult 🙂 And the hip openers (as it unlikely I am the only runner with tight hips):

From a website called PopSugar. Please do not imagine I did these all perfectly.                                                                                                            They did feel good however

Sunday: I ran a 1 mile warmup to relax from the drills yesterday, then did a new yoga routine I found on Hulu Plus. Did I mention I got an Amazon Fire TV stick and absolutely adore it? And I find Hulu+ well worth paying for–they have classic Dr Who! Not to mention yoga, WKRP in Cincinati (guilty pleasure) and current tv. And I can see YouTube on my tv now, which is great because my recorded classes are on You Tube. Plus endless dressage videos. Oh, heaven!

 

Saturday Tips

Tip # 7: READ! READ! READ! May I say it again? Reading magazines, blogs, websites all motivate me to try new things. Reading can give me a new way of approaching a hurdle that has been in my way, and shows me the struggles and triumphs of other athletes. Maybe reading can inspire you to try a whole new sport. There is no end to the information and inspiration you can get from reading.