Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 30-Day Shred, Joining a Gym, Doctors & Finding Motivation

Well, I'm finally at Day 6 of Level 2 of the Shred. I feel like it's taken me FOREVER to get to this point, between taking off a couple of days (not in a row) for shin splints, and then having to take off an extra day yesterday because of a migraine.  I feel like I just about get some momentum going, when something gets in my way.  The good news, besides the fact that my last two days off I did make sure to do some free weights (8lbs), crunches and push ups (girly ones, I'm not very strong :)), is that in the past, if I'd taken a day or two off in the middle of a workout run like this, I would have just quit.  I have a big all-or-nothing personality, so anytime I'd start something, if I missed a day, I'd think "Oh well, I've already missed one day, why bother?"

But fortunately, learning to run last year and committing to that helped me to realize that you can miss a day or two here and there, and still come back.  I'm definitely struggling with level 2 of the Shred, to the point where I am drenched in sweat by the time I'm done, but I'm sticking with it.  Despite the fact that I'm terrified of level 3 - my sister said it was the first time she had trouble following the harder girl, while I've been having trouble following the easier girl all along!  But I can just give it my best shot and see how it goes.  I'm starting to see results - I feel stronger and a bit less like I want to keel over by the end of the workout, and I'm down about 1.4 pounds from last week (adding in a bit of dieting helped that too).  The biggest motivator for me (I'm totally embarrassed to admit) has been watching old episodes of La Femme Nikita.  Peta Wilson is in such great shape for the show (which finished up when she was 30, like me) and watching her kick butt makes me want to be stronger and tougher. 

I realize I'm not going to get there on just 20 minutes a day of Shred, so I'm also thinking about joining a gym.  I happened to get a postcard in the mail the other day for the Ocean Club, which is about 15 minutes away from me.  They have a pool and water aerobics classes, which I've always looked for in a gym, and some great group classes offered too.  If I'm going to get in good shape for the Mud Run in July, I'd better get moving.  Plus, my biggest motivator for joining this particular gym is that they have very reasonably priced massages and I'm a sucker for a good massage.  So I'm hoping to get over there on Friday to take a look around and maybe sign up.  They have monthly membership options, which I like, and it would give me a place to keep running in the summer, after I basically fizzled last year because of the humidity.  We'll see what happens.

And in good news for my running career, I've officially made a doctor's appointment for a week today, when I'll be up visiting my parents.  Hopefully I don't have to wait two hours to see him like the last time, but I should be able to figure out my wheezing/coughing/chest tightness, toe injury, stomach pain, and maybe sort something out about the migraines that have been cropping up with more regularity and severity again lately.  We'll see what he says, and hopefully I'll be back running in a couple of weeks' time! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let's Talk Shin Splints

I may not be running, but I'm definitely suffering from a common running injury - shin splints.  Ugh.

Wikipedia says that shin splints are "a general term used to refer to a painful condition in the shins. It is often caused by running or jumping or sprinting, and may be very slow to heal."  Since I'm not running, I can only assume that the shin splints are caused by all the lovely jumping that Jillian has us do during the Shred.  I had been getting a bit of a twinge in my shins last week, and then when I started level 2 yesterday, the suffering really began.  By my second day of level 2 today, there was no doubt. I had the splints.

So I asked my trusty Twitter network of friends (which includes a lot of runners) what to do, and faster than I could google the symptoms, I got three replies.  All three mentioned ice, which I've never tried for shin splints before and one of them said RICE - rest, ice, compress, elevate.

So I got out my compression socks (LOVE these by the way), put my feet up on another chair by my desk, and got a couple of ice packs for my shins.  Let's hope they're a quick heal!  We'll see how things go, but I may take tomorrow off from the shred to give my legs a break.

I should mention that shin splints are no joke, by the way.  "Untreated shin splints can lead to a stress reaction mid-shaft in the tibia, which can eventually lead to a stress fracture. A stress fracture can be diagnosed by a bone scan or an MRI and takes much longer to heal than shin splints."  I know someone this happened to in college, our first week of orientation, and he walked with crutches for years, and has a limp now.  So it's definitely not something I want to fool around with!

Does anyone else have shin splint cures that have worked for them?  Shin splint horror stories? Well, those I may not really want to hear...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowmageddon & Jillian Michaels

The blizzard that hit over the weekend here at the Jersey shore, among other places, is not technically running related (though I do know of a couple of people through Twitter who actually competed in races on Sunday after the blizzard, before everything was truly cleared!).  However, it definitely is related to working out, since shoveling is a great way to kick your own butt - if it snowed like that every day here and I didn't break down and buy a snow blower, I'd be in fabulous shape!

Normally, I like to keep up with the snowfall so that it doesn't get overwhelming, but it just wasn't possible in this storm, unless I wanted to stay up all night.  So I was greeted with 12 inches of snow when I woke up - certainly less than what those to the south were dealing with, but it was plenty for me.  I was praying that my neighbors would take pity on me and offer to use their snow blower to clear me out, or that my driveway-sharing neighbor would come out and help me shovel, but unfortunately, none of that happened.

I started with a small path on the porch for the pup and realized I was way overdressed in my warmest coat.  I switched to a slightly lighter coat, and was still sweating like mad even though it was only 29 degrees outside and I just had a base layer on underneath.  I managed to get the sidewalk in front of my house cleared (though I nixed even attempting to clear the sidewalk by the street) and then started on the driveway in front of my car.  I'd parked further back than usual, because it made it easier for me in the last snowfall to shovel that way.  Even though I have just a little car, it had blocked some of the snow and created a weird wind tunnel, so instead of a solid 12 inches of snow, I had some almost clear parts and other big drifts.  I finished up with clearing off my car and thought I would collapse, so I took a break.

Like any other workout, I needed to make sure I was well hydrated. I started with a glass of juice, because I figured I could use the sugar as well, and followed that with a big glass of water.  After a break of about thirty to forty five minutes, I was back at it again (it was still snowing, with another 6-12 inches predicted, so I wanted to stay on top of the first snowfall so I could keep up with it).  This time, I cleared the other end of my driveway - at least part of it.  The snow plows had been through twice, and because I live on a cul de sac, they didn't get close enough to the curb.  So I had about seven extra feet of road at the end of my driveway to shovel as well (not to mention it was piled a bit higher at the end thanks to the plow).  It was really defeating to feel like I'd gotten a lot done, only to turn around and realize how much was left!  I also moved my car up a bit so I could shovel the huge drift of snow between my car and my neighbor's cars. 

Then, it was time for another break and some more water and juice.  I didn't sit down for too long this time because I was so exhausted that I could feel my muscles starting to stiffen up and I thought if I rested for too long, I'd never get out there again.  I bundled up again and headed out, this time to finish up.  I tried to get into the rhythm of shoveling the top layer of soft fluffy snow, moving that to the top of an every growing pile (my arms were SO tired), and then shoveling the bottom layer, which was heavier and slushy.  When I'd get really tired, I'd move to another part that I hadn't finished shoveling yet, chip away a little bit of the snow, and just push it along the part I'd already cleared to another pile of snow.  Sometimes though, I just rested my head on the handle of my shovel - it was not fun. 

Finally, four hours after I'd started, it was clear!  Of course, the wind was so fierce that it would blow, and snow would immediately be back on the area you'd just cleared (I saw a neighbor clear his whole driveway, only to end up caught in a huge blast of wind and snow that left more snow for him to clear again).  It was a bit frustrating to say the least.  I headed back inside, figuring I'd go out again at four and then seven, when they said the storm would stop, which would be it for the day.  In the meantime, I made myself take a nice hot shower and sit with my chair massager for a little while to loosen up my muscles.

When I went out again at four, I'd just cleared my sidewalk when my neighbor came outside to say that they were waiting until the storm had stopped to plow, and they'd be happy to help me out.  Very nice of them, but I wanted to say, where were you this morning?!?!  But it did mean no more shoveling for me, so I just cleared off my car and headed back inside for the night.  My driveway-sharing neighbor also must have shoveled my driveway after the snow stopped because it was clear when I got up Sunday morning.  It's great to have good neighbors! 

With all that shoveling, I decided to put off Day 6 of Level 1 of the Shred until today.  I'm still waiting to notice any real results, though I'm feeling less exhausted in the middle of the workouts and able to push myself a little more.  I could tell I'd lost some momentum today because of the two days off - even though I was working out on Saturday with the shoveling, it was a mostly different set of muscles. So I won't skip two days in a row again.  My sister took a day off in between each of the 10 day sets, so I'll aim for that. 

Four more days at Level 1 and then I'm on to Level 2!  I'm a little bit scared, but I remember being so scared that I couldn't run 20 minutes straight, and I did that, so I'll try to remember that!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wanna Get Down and Dirty for a Good Cause?

Yesterday, one of my favorite charities, Operation Gratitude, announced that they've partnered on the National Mud Run Series to support the troops.  You know how I love to combine running with supporting our troops, so I'm very excited about this series!  The Down and Dirty Mud Run Series features 5k and 10k off-road courses filled with military-style obstacles, commanding cargo climbs, wild water crossings, mud, mud and more mud, and a post-race barbecue, along with an awesome tech tee.  You can race alongside local military personnel, public safety officers and police academy trainees, all while supporting our troops through Operation Gratitude - what could be better?

They've got four dates and locations, including:

Los Angeles, California: April 25, 2010 at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: July 18, 2010 at Fairmount Park, Belmont Plateau
New York, New York: October 3, 2010 at Pelham Bay Park
Sacramento, California: October 31, 2010 at Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

The entry fee for the 10K is $70 and the 5k is $40 (with late registrations costing more).  There's a military discount for active military personnel or public safety officers, which you can learn more about on their site.  $2 of every registration goes right to Operation Gratitude (whose mission is to send care packages to deployed military personnel around the world) to pay for 100,000 care packages. 

Also, Paul Mitchell is a race sponsor, and they'll be onsite in their own booth to cut and style your hair, with all proceeds donated to the Challenged Athlete Foundation.  So you can get all dirty, then get your hair cut for a good cause!

There's no time limit to finish the course, so if you don't want to run it, you can walk and take your time - just come out to support our troops!  You do have to leave your dogs at home though (and I would guess that goes for strollers as well.  And iPods, unless you want to be cleaning mud out of it later). 

The New York race might fall during my European conference, so I'm going to plan to do the Philadelphia one in July (yes, yes, despite the heat).  I'd love to have some company!  (And advice from any of you who've done a mud run before, particularly because this one seems a bit of a challenge - just what I need I think!)

To learn more, check out the links I've posted above, or you can also become a fan on Facebook.  You can also follow Operation Gratitude on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, or check out their YouTube videos (though you might need some tissues for that one).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Still Here!!

After my last post back in early November (gasp!), I fully expected to rest through the holidays and then be back to running by early January at the latest.  It was good to get some rest - I felt the antibiotics kick in almost immediately, and really thought that it was a simple case of bronchitis and not the bronchial asthma that my doctor also suspected.  But although I was feeling much less tired than I was for all of October (it was about all I could manage to make myself take a shower each day besides sitting at my desk for work), I was still wheezing and using my inhaler pretty much through to Christmas (when it ran out and not so much because I was sure I didn't need it anymore).  I should mention that I'm not afraid to go to the doctor, but I still have the same GP as when I was living in North Jersey, so it's a little hard to make an appointment with a doctor who's two hours away and doesn't have any Saturday hours.  Particularly when I'm now taking a three-hour Saturday ceramics class, and couldn't even take off a Friday to head up there for a couple of days.

But in my head, I was planning to head up to my parents' for two weeks over Christmas and New Years, and then return to running when I got back home.  Then, three days before Christmas, I tripped walking into the kitchen (I'm SO graceful) and either broke or sprained my left big toe, or possibly tore something in there (as six weeks later, I still have pain and can't bend it at all!).  I'm at the point now where I could run on it if I wanted to because it's no longer affecting how I walk, but it did delay my return to running for another couple of weeks.  My original plan was to come home after New Year's, which I did do, but then I headed straight back up to my parents' that Thursday for my 30th birthday.  I had a great birthday dinner with my whole family, and then my sisters surprised me with a big party the following night, which was great.  I stayed through the weekend for a friend's 30th birthday party and then headed over to Europe on a business trip.  And that's when my wheezing troubles started up again - when I got home about a week later, I was feeling totally exhausted AGAIN and wheezing again (I love packed airplanes).  I had seasonal allergic asthma as a kid, and between that and my bouts with bronchitis and pneumonia over the years, I do sometimes have trouble with very cold air.  So I've put off my return to running until I can both get back to the doctor and it warms up a little, since I don't have access to a treadmill.

However, I'm working on not being a couch potato!  My sister started Jillian Michaels' 30-day Shred a few weeks' ago and enjoyed it so much that I jumped on the bandwagon (it should be said that my sister actually loves working out, which I do not, so I should have maybe taken that into account).  I started the Shred on Monday at Level 1 and have done it three days in a row now.  Actually, this is the second time I started it - during the three days I was home in early January, I did the first workout and couldn't move by the end of the day.  I almost fell down the stairs.  Twice.  It took me four days to get over feeling sore.  I think some of it was because I was using weights that were too heavy for me (they're old weights, and I was stronger back in college when I bought them) and I did it at the end of the day, when I was tired.  So I learned from that, bought some lighter weights and started doing the 20-minute workout during lunch (after a yogurt snack around 10:30/11:00, and followed by a yogurt, skim milk, fruit smoothie).  The first day was okay and I managed to get through the entire workout without needing to lie down (something else I'd experienced the first time).  Yesterday was tougher - my body was sore and I wasn't giving it recovery time, so I was spent by the end of the workout.  But another of my sister's friends who's doing the Shred assured me that I'd feel much better by day three - and lo and behold, I did.  I was able to up my game a bit and push myself during the workout, when the last two days, it was all I could manage to keep up with the "beginner" girl in the video. 

So I'm feeling pretty good after day 3, and my plan is to do what my sister did - ten days at each level (there's three).  My sister says she's noticed more definition in her arms and legs, so I'm hoping to see the same and push my endurance back up, so I can get back to running again soon.  I'm also getting in a 20-minute walk with the pup almost every day.  And I've already been checking out 2010 races - I'd like to do the same two races in May that I did in 2009 and my sister and I are planning to do the Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Memorial Race in September, as long as I'm not away on business.  And while I haven't been running, I've been thinking a lot about running, and how I really fell off with meeting my goals after I did my first two 5k's.  Some of that was because I pushed myself too hard to get right back to training after the runs, with very little recovery time, and some of it was because the summer was so hot - and I hate heat and humidity.  So this year, I also want to work on guarding against losing my motivation.  I'm thinking about joining a gym for the summer months and doing some treadmill running (though I understand it's much easier than outdoor running) and maybe doing some more runs with friends/family (though they mostly live far away - I could make weekend plans though, which would keep me running during the week!).  My overriding goal for 2010 in terms of running is to reinvigorate my love of running and get back to running three miles, three days a week.

What are your 2010 running goals?