Injuries: Part of the Marathon Journey?

As some of you who are reading this already know, I was 8 weeks into an 18 week marathon training plan when I got injured. This is my first time with an injury since I began running 10 years ago. I was hopping off of a curb and the drop was a bit more than I anticipated. I landed funny and felt spasms and twinges like fireworks in my back. Then I felt my left hip drop. I hobbled home. I started seizing up and could barely walk. I went to a chiropractor the next morning in tears over what was going on. That week there was a lot of chiro, massage, icing and Epsom salt baths. I noticed small improvements, but was still unable to walk properly and had no idea what was really wrong with me.

I found an amazing physiotherapist who diagnosed me with SI joint dysfunction. My pelvis was maligned and the left side was basically locked in a forward tilted position. The injury was from the incident, but was also part of the fact that I was and currently am breastfeeding a 9 month old baby – my relaxin-filled body = loose ligaments, and I neglected my core and pelvic floor after having two kids and trying to run 100km+ per week on a regular basis. Recovery was almost non-existent between running, taking care of a baby and a toddler and the lack of sleep that comes with all of that.

I was happy to have an answer, and a PT who is also a runner and could relate to me on that level too. I did my stretching and strengthening routines religiously. I didn’t want all of my training to be wasted, but I knew the longer it took to heal, the less likely a marathon would be. I’m so thankful for the team that helped put my body back together again (and for dry needling!). I’m also thankful for the support of friends, family and Oiselle Volee teammates who have been so supportive throughout this journey. It really does take a village!

It’s been two months since the injury happened and I’ve been cleared to run for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty solid runs and have made the decision to stick with my plan to run the Ottawa Marathon at the end of May. My goal is to qualify for Boston at the marathon, it always was. Before I got injured, I was running faster than I ever have and was secretly aiming for a 3:05 marathon. I’ve scaled that back and have decided that I will be satisfied with anything that gets me to Boston. I’ll explain the significance of this goal in my next post.

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Already Thinking About Post-Baby Running

As a runner, I love hearing about other runner’s races, seeing pictures of them showing off their race bling that they worked so hard to achieve, but lately, I’ve been so sad that I am unable to join in on the fun.

It’s been -40C with the windchill where I live for way too many days in a row, so unless someone decided to host a treadmill running race, you won’t find me participating – also of fear of falling on ice. By the time spring rolls around, and the fall, which are my two common racing times, I’ll be nearing the end of my pregnancy, and in the fall, just getting back to running (as long as my doctor clears me as quickly as my first pregnancy).

A lot of people don’t let pregnancy hold them back from racing, but by the time race season rolls in around here, I can’t even guarantee I will be running. With Odin, I ran a charity 5k at 25 weeks pregnant, and the was the last day I ran until being cleared by my doctor one month after he was born. I’m running a charity 5k when I’m 25 weeks again this time around when I’m in San Francisco for work, but I miss half marathons. I actually miss training schedules and long runs. At the same time, after a bumpy road, I’m so thankful to be pregnant, let alone still running as this pregnancy progresses.

My ‘post-baby-exercise-plan’ is to train for my first full marathon. A few weeks before I got pregnant this time around, I ran a 1:34:01 half marathon. It seems silly to already plan out the races I want to do once this baby is born, but if you know me, this probably wouldn’t surprise you. I would like to run the 2016 Nike Womens Half Marathon, plan for a fall marathon or Ottawa Race weekend in spring 2017, which will hopefully lead to a Boston qualifying time.

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s something I’ve dreamed of a lot these past few years. When I thought I was miscarrying again 6 weeks into this pregnancy, I had a total meltdown and started to plan my marathon training, because if I wasn’t having a baby, I was going to be running a marathon. Thankfully after a hospital visit and a lot of tests, I found out everything was fine and that I would be saving my marathon training for a later date – this way I have two little ones to push in the jogger and make me stronger to tackle Heartbreak Hill in a couple of years 😉

Stocking Ideas for a Mother Runner

Depending on the person, gift giving can be a difficult task. I’m the type of person that buys for someone based on their interests. As a runner and a mom aways on the go, I’d be satisfied if my stocking contained Starbucks gift cards, some Oiselle arm warmers and tubes of Nuun. With the holidays quickly approaching, I decided to round up a few things for the ‘mother runner’s’ stocking.

1. Gift cards – these are an obvious stocking stuffer, but they offer a picky person (like myself) some freedom. Gift cards for someone’s favourite stores are a great idea, as it demonstrates that you know what they like, but that there may be something specific that they have their eye on.

2. Picky Club Membership – The Picky Club from Picky Bars is a service that sends Picky Bars to your door each month (in the US) based on your membership level. This membership is a great idea for a mother runner on the go, in need of healthy fuel.

3. Oiselle Arm Warmers – Perfect for in-between season running, arm warmers are a great solution for weather transitions. The flow arm warmers from Oiselle have been on my mind for months and maybe this Christmas they will be in my stocking 😉

4. Oiselle Rundies – This underwear set is practical for a mother runner, but also adds a bit of humour – a little laugh is always a good thing 🙂

5. Nuun – Nuun is a great hydration product for every mother runner (and every runner in general). Nuun tubes are perfect for those on the go and fit neatly into any stocking.

6. Handmade running jewellery – There are a lot of great Etsy shops that sell handmade jewellery for runners. One particular shop, The Run Home, has a wide variety of hand-stamped jewellery that any mother runner would love.

These are just a few ideas that I wanted to share. What are some other things you would put in a stocking for a mother runner?

 

Maintenance Mode Motivation

I’ve always struggled with maintenance mode. I do well when I have a race scheduled and a goal to work towards, but it’s unrealistic (among  other things) to keep up intensity and certain training patterns all year. From mid-November until the beginning of April, I tend to be in maintenance mode, as the winters in Ottawa aren’t always runner friendly – especially at 4:30am, which is my designated running time.

I don’t want to risk getting injured and I don’t want my level of fitness to decrease, so I need a plan and some motivation for maintenance mode.

In order to do this, I’ve decided to treat maintenance mode like a race, in the sense that I’m going to develop a schedule and stick to it. The distances and paces will be much different than when I’m training for a race, and there will likely be more rest time than a typical training cycle. Instead of a desired finish time, my goal for my ‘maintenance cycle’ Is going to be to listen to my body, stay healthy, avoid injury and keep a good foundation going for my next training cycle.

I hope this will help me get through the next few months and will pay off in the spring when racing picks up again. Hopefully having a schedule will keep me on track and I won’t use this time to slack off. For the past two weeks I’ve already slowed down my paces, which, given a fixed running time on weekdays, means my distance has been shortened too.

It’s difficult to slow down sometimes, but then I remind myself that it’s even more difficult to have n injury, or be unable to run for other reasons.

What are some of the things that help you out when you are in maintenance mode?

A Look Back at Running in 2014

Looking back on 2014 (from a running perspective), I would never have expected anything that happened this year – it seems too surreal. From joining the Oiselle Flock to running a 1:34:01 half marathon, I’ve surprised myself and have been so thankful for what running brought to my life this year. Personally, 2014 was one of the toughest years of my life. Running helped keep me focused and even keeled when times got really tough.

This year I started to truly love running. Getting up at 4:30am almost every weekday sounds terrible to many, but that’s what I did to get my runs in. I can’t recall a single day this year where I felt that I didn’t want to run or that I didn’t like it. When I started running back in 2006, all I wanted to do was run a 5k. Then quickly I wanted to run a half marathon. When people asked me if I wanted to run a full marathon, I usually said no, or that I would run one eventually just to say I did.

In 2014, I made the decision that I will run a full marathon, and would ideally like to qualify for Boston on my first attempt. It’s a lofty goal, but I feel like I can achieve it. When I ran my first half marathon in 2007, I was happy with a 2 hour finish. I decided then that My ultimate goal would be to break 1:45. After a few attempts and two finishes around the 1:47 mark, I felt like breaking 1:45 had become my ‘ultimate goal’ for the half marathon.

I took time off from racing to have my son, and got back into running as soon as I was cleared by my doctor. I ran with no expectations. My runs were fit in between feeding sessions and naps, which also meant that most of my runs were done with a jogging stroller in front of me. Being on maternity leave for a year enabled me to run quite a bit. Upon my return to work, I wasn’t sure how much running I could expect from myself (see the 4:30am wake up time above), but as time went on and my passion for running continued to expand, I realized I would be able to properly train for another half marathon. I also got exposed to an amazing community of female runners this year through Oiselle and the Flock. Being connected to such a passionate group of runners has kept my spark shining.

I remember a day in April when I was in a bad mood, wasn’t feeling the greatest, and I went for a run. I had no plan for my run, no distance or pace expectations. I just kept running. Before I knew it, I was approaching 20km, and I couldn’t believe the numbers I saw on my Garmin. I finished 21.1km that day in 1:37 and change. This number is significantly lower than the 1:45 time I had set as my goal for the longest time. A few months later, I went out for a run, similar in the sense that I had no expectations, and finished 21.1km in 1:34:57. I couldn’t believe what was happening. These paces were the fastest ones I’d ever run in my life.

The Canada Army Run half marathon was in September and I finished with a time of 1:34:01, which probably would have been a bit faster had it not started to downpour once I got to kilometre 15. I was ecstatic when I finished, but of course, I started getting my mind wrapped around running a sub 1:30 half marathon – which has become my new ‘ultimate running goal’ (for half marathons).

All of these results are part of my running journey, and even though I started running 8 years ago, I feel like I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to get started on my journey to a full marathon, and ultimately Boston. For now, I will be satisfied with the opportunity I had to run the Newton Hills/Heartbreak Hill and visit the place where I will one day run:

Boston Marathon

What’s In My Running Drawer

Aside from the two drawers in my dresser that are overflowing with Oiselle gear, I also have a running drawer, which is where I stash my must-have running accessories and other goodies.

Credit for this idea goes completely to fellow flock-mate Emily Hess – you can find her blog here and find her on Twitter at @profhesser.

Here is what my running drawer consists of:

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  • Picky Bars – I’m part of the Picky Club, which means I get my bars mailed to me every month. When my shipment arrives, all of my bars go directly into this drawer. As you can see, my supply is a little low (since there are none in the picture), but my bars for this month will arrive this week 🙂
  • Nuun – Nuun is my go-to for hydration and electrolyte replenishment. I can’t do Gatorade or other ‘sport drinks’, so I’m thankful that I found Nuun! Simply pop a tab in your water bottle and it’s ready.
  • Hand held water bottle – I’m not a fan of fuel belts, so for my long runs, I take this with me to stay hydrated. I’d rather carry the small bottle as opposed to having the extra weight of a fuel belt around my waist.
  • Jelly Belly Sport Beans – These offer a little something sweet for extra long runs. I love the raspberry ones!
  • iPod charger, Garmin charger, Garmin – I leave all of my gadgets in this drawer so that I always know where they are – and this way they are out of Odin’s reach. He likes to hear my Garmin beep and pull my headphones out of my iPod repeatedly.
  • Hurraw lip balm – This brand has become my lip balm go-to. I have a bunch of different ones, including one with SPF in my drawer.
  • Bib belt – I only use this on race day and it was given to me by a coworker who also runs. I love this belt because it holds my race bib in place without having to put holes in my shirts. It’s also easy to wear and I tend to forget it’s around me.
  • Oiselle tattoos, buttons and stickers – With every order I place directly with Oiselle, there are a few of these items included in every box. My son ran away with the ones I had taken out of my drawer for the picture.
  • Spare inhaler – I have asthma, so a backup inhaler is important.

I had also kept some winter running accessories in my drawer, but I hardly run outside in the winter anymore because my awesome husband bought me a treadmill two years ago when I was pregnant with our son. I thought he was crazy for spending so much on the treadmill, but I think him everyday, as it was seriously one of our best investments.

The next thing I’m going to have to make room for in my drawer is my Believe Training Journal, co-authored by pro-runner and Picky Bar co-founder Lauren Fleshman. You can preorder yours here (and they’ll send you some Picky Bars to hold you over until the journals ship!).

What’s in your running drawer?

Moms Should Never Be Underestimated

One of my favorite runners is Kara Goucher. I’ve been following her career for a really long time, and even held onto a copy of Runner’s World when she was interviewed about running while pregnant, which I still have. At the time it was for future reference, then when I was pregnant with Odin, I probably read the interview a few hundred times.

If you follow Kara on social media, you know how much running means to her, but you also know how much family and being a mom means – something that really hits home with me. Earlier this week, the trailer for Flotrack’s Driven was released, with Kara as the main subject. There are so, so many things I love about those 2.5 minutes. Kara is so real and honest, and she comes across as someone you could meet in real life and be friends with immediately.You can watch the video here:

http://www.flotrack.org/embed/OTkyNzUxNjA2?related=1&autoplay=false

Watch more videos on Flotrack

In the trailer, Kara makes reference to a stereotype that many people think you aren’t serious about something if/when you have a baby. Like Kara, I feel like these people are so wrong. For many moms that decide to work outside of the home, they encounter similar criticism or assumptions (they won’t focus on work because their mind will be at home, home priorities will interfere with work ones – those types of things).

Since having Odin, I feel like I care more and am more serious about a lot of things. My goals still matter and I’m still driven. I want to be the best mom to my son, and at the same time I’m also serious about my job, my family and about running, among other things. The way I structure my life is different than it use to be. For example, I’m done my morning run before my son and husband are even out of bed. I plan ahead and multitask like never before in order to get things done. When I started running again, I blew through my pre-baby pace times and am running faster than ever before. I want to run a full marathon someday, and eventually Boston. Being a mom isn’t going to hold me back from any of that – it just means I need to be a little creative to make it all happen 🙂

Thank you Kara for showing the world that women and moms shouldn’t be underestimated.
PS: Kara – you aren’t crazy or old. You are awesome.

How Running Became Therapeutic

Running started out as something I did to lose some weight, now, it’s become one of my biggest passions – and a huge stress reliever. Running is how I deal with difficult times, happy times, and everything in between. Running sparks my creativity, helps me make decisions, calms me down, and so, so much more.

I started running near the end of my first year of university, shortly before suddenly losing my grandmother. Running helped me clear my head, deal with the loss, and keep things in perspective. Running flat out puts me in a better mood. If I go a few days without running, I know that I get grouchy. If I have a big decision to make or am dealing with a difficult situation, it’s almost as though I need to take a time out, go for a run and then revisit the decision/issue and I end up having a new perspective or a sense of clarity that I’ve acquired while running. the secret to handling a toddler tantrum? Put him in the stroller, get outside and go for a run – it works for us both.

Running has a therapeutic effect on me.

In May, I suffered a miscarriage, and as backwards as it sounds, I got home from the hospital and went for a run. I felt lost and didn’t even know what to do, so I ran. I ran a little slow, but I ran long enough to help gain some perspective on the situation. This past weekend I was hit with a double whammy – suffering miscarriage number two, and my grandfather having a stroke. I was not – and still am not – prepared to deal with either of these events. One minute you are on cloud nine, the next you feel like you’re sinking in quicksand. After talking to my mom about the miscarriage, she asked me what I did, and she probably wasn’t surprised when I told her I went for a run. Probably not the best idea, but I came home after and rested for a very long time.

Running has been a constant in my life for the past eight years. I’ve often said that some of the best conversations are the ones between my many pairs of running shoes and the pavement. I can’t exactly figure out how running became such a therapeutic thing for me, but I do know that I am extremely thankful that I found it.

Race Day Hangover

I don’t really know if race day hangovers are real, or maybe it’s a post-months-of-training hangover. Whatever it is, it kinds sucks. After running the Canada Army Run half marathon on Sunday, I took my runs easy this week, and was starting to think about the 10km race I’d registered for at the end of October, but now that race is cancelled. There are no other races on my schedule 😦

Now I’m back to running with no real purpose. No goal time to achieve. I’m running for the sake of running – which is totally alright too, because I seriously love running. I rarely feel like I have to run. I want to run. I feel better when I run. My mood is always better when I run.

Maybe now I should look at some spring races and register for those. That way I can train properly again and be completely prepared for a spring race like I was for the Army Run.

For those of you who run, how do you deal with post-race feelings? Do you register for a lot of races each year to avoid this? Do you stick to a couple of races a year and work really hard towards goals for a couple of specific events? I’d love to hear what you have to say, so feel free to leave a comment 🙂

Happy Friday!

Canada Army Run Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, I participated in the Canada Army Run Half Marathon. This was my first race since the Army Run in 2011, before I had Odin, so I was getting pretty excited to get back to racing,

Saturday night looked a lot like this:

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I packed dry clothes in my backpack, as the forecast for Sunday was pretty gloomy looking, and full of rain. I got my bib and race outfit ready – the Oiselle Winona tank and Scantron bra were a must. I made sure my Garmin and iPod were charged, and packed my race fuel – Nuun, Picky Bars and Jelly Belly Sport Beans.

Sunday morning I met up with Dawn, who was also running the half, and who happens to also be in the middle of training for the Marine Corps Marathon near the end of October.

My colleague and friend, Dawn Lomer and I before the Army Run

My colleague and friend, Dawn Lomer and I before the Army Run

Ryan and Odin came to the race to cheer everyone on:

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The Canada Army Run is so much more than just a race, it’s an experience. It’s such an inspiring event, and when you feel like you want to stop running, there are a million reasons around you to remind you to keep going. From military bands playing along the route, to the blackhawk style helicopters that flew overhead during the run, and getting to run through Rideau Hall this year, this race was top notch. I’m still trying to digest my race results:

  • 4th place F25-29.
  • 21st Female overall.
  • 268th out of 12 147 runners.
  • Time: 1:34:01

These results are beyond my wildest expectations. A number of years ago I was told that running wasn’t an option for me. And since that day, I have repeatedly surprised myself. This was my first run as part of the Oiselle Flock – my race kit is still in the mail, which is why I wasn’t wearing it. Instead of a typical finisher medal, the Army Run hands out military style dog tags, which are super cool, and I love the message on the back:

Canada Army Run 2014 Dog Tags

As another perk, my husband bought me a new pair of running shoes for setting a PR (that man knows the way to my heart 😉 ):

Mizuno Wave Hitomagi Running Shoes

If anyone is looking for a unique race with an indescribable atmosphere, I strongly recommend the Canada Army Run. I know I will be coming back for more in 2015! A huge thank you to all of the race organizers and volunteers – this run wouldn’t be what it is without all of you!