“I am the Doctor”

“Are you kidding me?”

These words rang out from my mouth this morning, not 100 metres into my run.  

I twinged my back.  I stopped.  Did some stretching and wondered whether to continue.  I’m not amused with this summer’s running journeys.  First, broken arm in May, then strep throat in July, then a twinge in my back today.  It’s become the lost summer of running for me.  Training hasn’t been consistent and I find myself going backwards in terms of pacing.  I hate to be negative, but c’mon!!  The running plan has been deviated against, again, and again.  Enough!

On top of the above mentioned moments, cue the humidity.  This morning was no different.

 Caption Humidity at 88%

 

After the back twinge, I decided to go for the run.  If my back got any worse, and it decided to give out, I’d be hobbling home in a hunched back position, but it was worth the risk.  I turned my Garmin back on, and pushed forward.  

I was able to keep a comfortable 12 to 12:30 pace with the humidity situation.  7.5 kilometres was my overall mileage.  Not terribly far, but with a twinged back, it’s was as much as I felt I could run for the day.  There are limits to my insane choices.  I made it home and started a series of stretches.

The twinge is still there, so it’s time to bring out the heat and beats.

SunbeamThumper Thingy 

The green thing above sits on my shoulders and is an electrical heating pad.  While it can’t reach the twinged area, I’m hoping it loosens up some of my shoulder area that might be causing some of the muscular pull in my middle back.  The Thumper is amazing to help loosen up the back muscles as well.  I’ll be turning to it a few times today.

I’m no stranger to having a muscle twinge in my back.  However, it’s happened less and less over the years, as I have seemed to have gotten it under control for the most part.  Every, now and again, it occurs. 

On the upside, I went into a shopping mall on Friday and picked up this….

dr who

It’s light, made out of polyester, and I said to myself, “You know what?  I could wear that while running”.  I have no idea when that will happen, but it will happen sometime in the not too distant future.

Happy Running.

Do you ever get back pains?  What’s your remedy?  

 

 

 

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Wonderful Spring Day!

It’s that time of year, when I am busy, busy, busy.  There is so much going on that I find myself torn in all different directions.  I work Monday thru Friday, so there is little time in the evening to get projects done, so during the week, I just keep up on daily chores, and find some time for a 5K run.  I’m sure many of you have similar scenarios that you can totally relate.  Planning my upcoming week ahead has always been key so that I am able to enjoy some time for myself for exercise.  Exercise, for me, brings balance to my life, and I’m all about balance.  Of course, unexpected things do occur, so I have to adjust.  “Looks like that laundry isn’t getting done tonight!”.  It’s things like that, I just have to let it go if it doesn’t go according to plan.  (hee hee, “Let it go”…I swear, this isn’t a Run Disney blog today)

A few weeks ago, we began our bedroom painting project.  The main room in now done as far as painting goes, but there is still much to do.

Here’s a before and ‘almost’ after pic.  The white wall is now purple as well.

We still have to remove the banister on the stairs below, and paint the wall leading up the stairs.  As well, we will be putting up a handrail in place of the banister, replacing some lighting, and putting up some pictures and shelving.

Once we get all that complete, we are considering removing the carpet on the stairs, and I may refinish some of the furniture in the bedroom.  None of this, of course, will happen over night.  It’s a work in progress.  The progress will most likely occur over several weekends.

Running has been tough the past week due to work obligations.  I’ve been trying to get in 3 runs between Mon-Fri, however, if I have to stay later at work, it just doesn’t happen.  May is the busiest time of the year for me, so I’ll just have to try and manage until it lightens up in June.

I did however get out today.  And what a beautiful day it is today.  I ran my regular park path and then had a nice cool down walk as I didn’t want to head back home this morning.  It was early enough, that it wasn’t too busy in the park.  I enjoyed the quiet time. Before I left the park, I went and checked out the ducks in the marsh area of the park. Most of which were sleeping or just hanging out on the embankment.

Spring training has begun, and I’ve laid out my running plans for the next couple of months. At the moment I am training for a 10K in June, so I am limiting my long runs to 5-8K, and concentrating more on speed work.  I intend to do this for the next month or so, before starting to add on mileage for a 15K race I will be running in August.  This year, I really hope to improve on my half marathon time in the Fall.  I am signed up for a half over the Labour Day weekend, however, I think it will be a hilly course.  Not one for a PB, for sure. So I’m on the hunt for a flatter course for mid September.  I have yet to decide but I have a few I am considering at the moment.

Do you have any running goals this summer?  

Let’s Talk Nutrition – Blog Post #3

Katy over at her blog trikatykid reminded me I had a juicer as she was brave enough to juice for 9 days.  As with so many small appliances, I had forgotten about this long lost friend for some time.  So in the spirit of Spring, I brought it out again.  (I say “spirit” because as of this morning, we had a light dusting of snow)  While I have no intention of going on a juice fast for days on end,  I seriously love the benefits of fresh juice and I think it’s a great way to get in those essential vitamins and nutrients in one glass of goodness.  In a previous blog, I mentioned that eating healthy this winter has been less disciplined than I would like, so this is a great way to kick start a healthier eating plan for Spring, that will hopefully have a Domino effect throughout the season.

This past week, I went to my favourite organic shopping market, and loaded up on 3 kinds of apples, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, cucumber, celery, beets, wheatgrass, spinach, carrots, kale, parsley and ginger.  I don’t buy all organic, all the time, due to the expense, but for the purpose of kick starting healthy eating, I decided to treat myself.

Here’s a look at a handful of my purchased ingredients.

What I like about juicing is the fact that one can really pack in a ton of veggies and fruits in one small glass.  I could not imagine trying to eat all the fruits and veggies in one sitting. For example, just this morning, I crammed all this into one glass.

Quarter Lemon
1 medium orange
2 apples
Handful Kale
Handful Spinach
Handful Wheatgrass
3 carrots 


Juice

I don’t follow any recipes out there. I really just add what I like, and of course, some foods that are important get added as I know they have wonderful benefits for the body. Pictured above is what I made this morning.

The taste was definitely orangey, with a splash of lemon and extremely refreshing.

The other day, I made what I will refer to as a Lemon Zest :

1 Lemon
2 Apples
4 carrots
Handful of Wheatgrass
Handful of Kale

The taste was really lemony. If you aren’t a big fan of a really lemony drink, cut the lemon in half.

I’d like to emphasize, I try to put a mixture of veggies (especially green ones) in the drink as that is where a lot of nutrients lie, however, I don’t necessarily love the taste.  For instance, Kale, while I can tolerate it as I do try to mix some in my salads, I’m not a huge fan.  By juicing, I still get the kale, minus the flavour, as the flavour is cut or eliminated with the addition of apples, lemons, or other fruits and veggies.  Beet juice is another flavour I’m not particularly fond of, so I will cut the flavour with something like apples, and perhaps a bit of ginger.  No matter what you juice, you really just have to adjust the ingredients to your own taste buds.

If you happen to have a juicer, and it’s stuck way back in your cupboard, think about bringing it out.  Really, the only downside of juicing, is cleaning the machine.  But, hey, it’s a small price to pay for all the great benefits it can give.

Do you use a Juicer?  What are some of your favourite juicing potions?

Let’s talk Nutrition – Blog Post #1

The next series of blog posts will be devoted to health and nutrition.  I will preface this blog by saying, I am by no means a health and nutrition expert.  My views on this topic are mine alone, and if you are interested in any points I make on this topic, I urge you to do your own research, and make choices based on your own findings.  If in doubt, please consult a health expert or family doctor.  These posts, while I aim to be informative to you, are merely tidbits of information I have found throughout the years, and things I have found to be beneficial to my life.

Why this series of blog posts?

I recently reminded myself, that although I do try and eat healthy and stay fit, I can do more.  Have I slipped from time to time?  Of course, I have.  I am human.  For the most part, I try to eat in moderation and choose healthy whole foods, however during the last few months, I’ve seen a little more junk food stacking my shelves in my kitchen and I think I need a reboot.  Perhaps this particular winter has beaten me up a little more than I’d like to admit.  I’ve stayed indoors as I really don’t enjoy cold temperatures, and perched myself on my couch with my fuzzy kids, who seem content to lay atop my lap as I catch the next episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix flick.  I’ve got a partner in crime, which doesn’t help matters.  My spouse.  Oh, how he likes the sugar and salt.  Of course, it’s not his fault we’ve become this way as of late.  We’ve still managed to get on the treadmill and exercise.  But no more excuses on the food.

The truth of my weight journey can go back as early as childhood.  I was always the bigger kid in school.  Not necessarily fat, but I was taller than everyone, and just a little broader than everyone.  I was always aware of this fact, and perhaps it is why I was cognizant in my later years about watching my weight and choosing better foods.  I was active as a kid, so that helped a lot.  I loved my sports.  As I became a teenager, I most likely had a few extra pounds and that continued until my twenties but nothing too out of control.  During college, I thinned down, but not necessarily in a healthy way and by my later twenties, the pounds magically appeared.  Long weekends with friends, eating fried foods, and beer can pad one up in no time.  After a couple of years, I slimmed down again by trying a slew of different diets. From fasting, to Atkins, to South Beach, etc.  I dabbled in many of the popular ones.  Yes, I did lose weight, but as soon as I left the diet, the pounds would creep back on.  I soon realized, I couldn’t keep to a regimented diet.  For one, many of these diets didn’t make me feel better.  For instance, while the Atkins diet worked and I dropped the weight, I was tired all the time.  Secondly, having to prepare foods at a time in my life when I was going out and meeting friends, and enjoying a fun social life was impossible.  How many restaurants could cater to my needs? Pretty much none.  And trying to prepare foods in advance became an unorganized task, I did not enjoy.

I made a choice in my thirties, that I would stop having delusions that these popular diets would work for my life, longterm.  I stopped buying the ‘promises’ on foods that marketed themselves as ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘low calorie’.  In a later blog post, I will tell you why.  I also started buying whole foods and stopped looking at pre packaged, ready made meals from the grocery freezer.  Finally, I started to become more aware from a nutritional standpoint what was in my food.  Oh, and lastly, I threw out my scale.  Yes, I did.  I started to measure my diet success on how I felt, rather than what I weighed.  In truth, if I was losing weight (which I did), it was easily noticeable from how I wore my clothes, and the healthier foods that I ate, made me feel better overall.

With the growing number of kids becoming obese at very young ages nowadays, it saddens me that so many young lives are starting out with poor nutritional upbringings. Some would classify as food being the new addiction and many kids are starting out disadvantaged with improper eating habits at such young ages; it will be difficult to battle the war against obesity as they grow into adults.  Of course, it’s a combination of poor family eating habits, driven by a busy lifestyle of moms and dads, who for the most part, I’m sure they are doing the best that they can to feed their kids properly.  I remember when my mom worked on a Saturday, and Dad was in charge of the meal.  We either had a TV dinner, Stouffer’s Chilli, or on the odd occasion, we were treated to a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.  Fast forward to 2014, and I can only assume there are more Saturdays in a week than one family would like.  Everyone is on the run.  Yes, life in 2014 is much faster now than it was back in 1978, and there is a whole new world in terms of fast food to choose from.

It’s not just kids.  It’s adults as well.  I don’t know if you notice, but do you see a lot of tired people when you are out and about?  I ride the subway every day, and I see people who look beat.  They are tired, sleepy, some look depressed.  While I realize people are working harder nowadays to support their families, most likely sitting much more at a desk than they should, are we all feeding ourselves with proper foods to give us the energy we need?  I definitely say no on this one.

It’s difficult to make good choices.  Even when we think we are making good ones, many of them are bad.  When I opt for soup at my work cafeteria, I really don’t know what all the ingredients are put into it.  Looks like a healthy meal for lunch but who knows how much sodium is loaded inside.  There is so much info out there from companies that tell us how great certain foods are and when we look at their advertising, we see so many happy, healthy faces, how can we not believe the hype?  More money is put into marketing a product, than likely the quality of ingredients in the product itself.  If we go to a grocery store, there are aisles and aisles of pre packaged foods to choose from.  Which one is really healthy?  There is some good products out there, so how do we decipher the good from the bad?

How do we protect ourselves and choose wisely?  In the next blog, I will highlight a few common things you may have in your cupboard, that perhaps you didn’t realize.

Please join me in this discussion about eating healthy.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and in turn share in this conversation.

Friends

This week I decided to stray away from running talk, and talk about friends on my blog. We all have them. Some are categorized into sub groups like work friends, shopping friends, running friends and the like.  Some we call our best friends.  When I think of the term ‘best friends’, they are the ones we only have fond memories for and perhaps love unconditionally. I am fortunate to have 3 long time best friends.  Due to me living outside of the city where I grew up, I don’t see them as much as I’d like.  We met around 38 years ago, in Kindergarten.

Time flies and over the years I’ve been in and out of their lives. I lost touch sometime after high school, and a few years passed, and I was out the door, living in Toronto. Strange things happen, and one night I bumped into Jackie in a downtown Toronto bar. “Well, hello there”…and that was that! Since that night we all got together and stayed in touch over the years. It almost feels like no time has passed each time I see them.  We just pick up where we left off and fill in the blanks of what we’ve been doing with our lives. I think I can base a strong friendship on that alone.

Here we are in grade school.  I think it’s grade 4.

Middle row - Me.  Joanne, two doors down from me, Tina in first row (under Jo) and Jackie in the front with the long blonde hair.

Middle row – Me. Joanne, two doors down from me, Tina in first row (under Jo) and Jackie in the front with the long blonde hair.

Time sure flies, and while we made it through grade school, we eventually got to high school.  Joanne went to a different school, while the three of us remained together.  That’s not to say, we didn’t part ways periodically through the years.  We were in high school after all, and we were each making new friends, hanging out in different school groups, and expanding our interests into different areas.  Here’s a group picture of us, on a windy afternoon.

Tina, Natalie, Joanne, Me, Jackie

Tina, Natalie, Joanne, Me, Jackie

I know eh?  The 1980’s were not too kind. All that BIG hair!

Last night I met up with them for a charity fundraiser.  We look much better now.

Boobapalooza-Charity Event Feb 28th, 2014

Boobapalooza-Charity Event Feb 28th, 2014 – Me, Tina, Jackie and Joanne

And we even had a little fun.

In the photo booth at Boobapalooza

In the photo booth at Boobapalooza

If you have ever thought about reconnecting with an long lost friend…think about seeking them out. For me, reconnecting with these girls, so many years ago, and keeping that friendship alive has been full of wonderful memories.

Cheers!

Dealing with pain and finding the right fit for you

I have struggled over the years with a lot of pain brought on through running.  Most of my pain has come from IT band issues.  I’ve done several things over the years to help, from on-going deep tissue massage, to ART; both of which can become expensive with numerous treatments, however, they do work.  Of course, I’m like most people, so I don’t have the unlimited funds to make weekly appointments with my chiropractor or massage therapist, so I’ve had to change a few things.  This past year, I’ve finally made some changes that have helped me.

Over the years, I’ve changed my running shoes about 4 times.  The first pair I owned had far too much stability.  I realized within a few months this pair was not for me.  I consulted with a foot doctor and he gave me an analysis of my feet and he recommended I wear a lighter stability shoe.  Through trial and error, I went through a couple more pairs of shoes. With each shoe I bought, I decreased the stability rating.  I consulted with my local running store when buying my shoes to get their opinion on my feet and of course, made my shoe purchase decisions based on their input.  I gave these shoes some time to prove to me, that these were indeed my proper fit.  Alas, I still had IT band issues and my knees throbbed with pain on an ongoing basis.

Did I mention I stretched?  Oh yes, I stretched.  I stretched, and stretched and stretched til I could stretched no more!

I finally said, “To heck with it”, and went back to a running store.  I consulted with yet another shoe retailer who again analyzed my feet.  He had me running in my socks back and forth across the store several times, and then said to me, “hmm….I think you need a less stability shoe.  I’d say, you need a neutral shoe”.  I was a bit dumb founded by his input, but he sat and talked to me a lot about the shoes and I really had a sense he knew what he was talking about.  He wasn’t afraid to give his opinion, despite my hesitation and previous professional input.  One thing he said to me, that really stuck with me was that “You shouldn’t have to break in a new pair of shoes.  They should feel good from the moment you start running in them.  And you shouldn’t have the pain you are currently coping with”.  He suggested a couple of different models for me and then I left the store.  I didn’t buy that day, but I decided to think about it.  It kind of ticked me off that again, another person was giving me another option in shoes.  Another option in shoes that would cost me another $150-190 a pair.  These are expensive trial and errors.  Especially since I had a brand new back up pair of shoes to wear when my current ones were ready for the garbage.

Last Fall I went to NYC, and I walked into a running store who sold the shoes that were recommended to me.  The one pair I was interested in were on sale for $109.  I knew that these shoes were sold in Canada for much more, so I made the decision to buy them that day.  Yes, it was another expensive test, but when I thought about the amount of money I spent on doctors for ART and massage, I reasoned that it was less of an investment, and I was willing to take one more kick at the ‘running shoe wheel of fortune’.

My bet paid off.  The Saucony Ride 5‘s were my shoe.  I have been using them now for 5 months and have noticed a huge difference in the way I feel after a run and on my rest days.  I won’t say my IT band pain is gone but it definitely has decreased substantially.  My knee pain too is very minimal.

I won’t say the shoe was the the only factor in helping me.  There also is another piece of equipment I’ve been using on an ongoing basis.  I would say, aside from my running shoes,  and my shrugs 😉 , this piece of equipment is a MUST have for any runner.

The Foam Roller.

Yes, this simple piece of foam you can buy at most running stores for about $30-$40 has changed my life.  I use it after every workout to roll out my IT band, quads, hammys, lower back, and my calves.  It takes about a week to really get used to it as you have to move your body in certain ways so there is a bit of a learning curve.  Since my IT band is the tightest, I definitely was in some initial pain on my first few go arounds.  One would be surprised when using a foam roller just how tight their muscles really are until they practice with the roller.  There were areas such as my quads that I rarely felt tightness, but after a good session with the roller, I knew that this was not the case.  After a few sessions, the roller over my IT band became much more bearable; enjoyable in fact.  No more sleepless nights of throbbing legs or knees.  Getting up from a chair was easy and my hip pain I experienced after any run over 10K has not returned.  I love my foam roller so much, I packed it in my suitcase when I went to run the Tinker Bell Half last month.  Yes, it’s that good!

Over the last few months, I’ve re-energized my love of running.  I can’t wait to get back on the pavement on a regular basis and train for my next race.  I really think I’m going to get stronger and faster because of these new changes.

If you are lucky enough to get the right shoe when beginning your running journey, that’s terrific.  However, if you feel like your running is struggling due to your shoe, don’t be afraid to take a chance on another pair.  It may just save you a lot of pain and perhaps some money in the long run.

Have you struggled with finding the proper shoe?  Do you use a foam roller? Tell us your story.