Get Out of the Vicious Cycle: Stop injuries from haunting you again and again and again and again…

Probably the only things runners hate MORE than being called a jogger are injuries. Booooo…hisssss…throw a rotten tomato at stupid injuries! The thing is though, if you don’t know WHY you were injured in the first place, you’ll most likely wind up with the SAME injury again and again and again. A vicious circle, uglier than Groundhogs Day.

Why Am I Injured?

Sure, an injury can come from some running traumatic event, you stepped on a rock the wrong way, tripped on a root and pulled a groin. A running injury can also come from doing a stupid training mistake, ie: doing too many miles too fast (stress fracture!), doing too much hard running too fast, running in the wrong shoes.
injured runner
Now, the WORST and most common reasons for getting stuck in the black hole of injury cycles are…

NOT FIXING A RUNNING WEAKNESS!! Ding, ding. I’ll tell you what you’ve won…an ongoing issue that your body is continually compensating for. The muscles stuck working overtime to cover that compensating are causing your injures.

Since you never fixed the underlying issues, no amount of icing the injury or rest will keep you from getting injured again. The injury is the symptom…not the problem.

What’s My Weakness?

Hey, I’m a Weak Butt: Everyone is different, but there are FIVE top culprits for runners getting injured. Weak glutes, hamstrings, hips, back, and ankles. I wrote a post HERE highlighting each one specifically as well as exercises to help fix that issue.

I’m a Tight Runner: Tied into weak muscles are also muscles that are so inflexible they’re tugging and pulling on every other muscle. Being inflexible is setting you up for injuries, and the bad news is the older you get the harder it is to ‘undo’ that inflexible nature. It’s possible, you just have to keep working at it! The other bad news, for those who DON’T embrace stretching…the older you get the more injuries you’ll get because of it. So stretch…I wrote a whole post HERE all about my journey to becoming a pretzel person. ;)

jogger is a bad word

I brought it up so I HAD to post it. ;)

It Came From What??

The tricky thing with injuries is that the body is an interconnected machine…you could be struggling with a foot problem that is traced all the way to weaknesses in your hips! Crazy, huh? So it can be a bit of a Sherlock Running Holmes investigation to figure out the root of your injury, but the best places to start are the most common weaknesses, get strong there, rule them out, and see if you’re getting better. Here’s a post on my little ‘Injury from Whaaaa?” moment.

On a bit of a related note, bad form can also be an indication for where you are weak. A runner’s form breaks down as they tire, the more tired you get the more your body isn’t ‘thinking’ and slips into whatever ingrained habits it has. Usually your weaknesses will be apparent. Hey, another reason to fix those form mistakes, right?! ;) Read some tips on that HERE.

So we said the dreaded I-Word about a bizzillion times in this post. Thankfully running injuries aren’t like Bloody Mary or The Candy Man, we don’t conjure them up by saying their name. It’s kinda worse, because they come about while we’re doing something we love.

Stop injuries from visiting you again and again and again and again…and fix your weak spots! ;)

1) What’s been one injury cycle you were stuck in?
Hamstring, adductor, glute trifecta
2) How did you get out of the cycle? Or, what will you do to get out of it?
Getting my stretching on.
3) What’s been a stupid mistake, or klutzy move, you did to get injured?
Hmmm…klutz ball here, I’ve fallen a billion times.

Effective Mental Strategy: My first instructional comic book for runners!

I’m excited to share my first RUNNING book: “Effective Mental Strategy: Race better by out-thinking your brain”!!
effective mental strategy ebook
Running hard hurts. In order to race and train your best you need to block out that pain and stay in an effective mindset.

This ebook will teach you strategies to refute those pain messages from your brain and refute that voice telling you to “Stop!” and “Slow down!” Also included are insights from professional distance runners sharing the tips THEY USE to stay mentally tough during workouts and races. These rocking runners, Sarah Brown, Sara Hall, and Jason Hartmann, your brain would go dizzy counting up all their accolades: World Championship Teams, Pan Am Gold, Marathon Titles, you name it!

I’ve chosen to use my cartoons as teaching tools to make the reading fun and engaging. I mean humor DOES make everything better and, after all, while training and racing does require an amount of seriousness, running IS fun. And running personal records are even MORE fun!

This ‘instructional comic book’ is written BY a runner; because who better to poke fun at our crazy quirks and thoughts than a runner herself?!!
effective mental strategy ebook

BUY NOW to order this awesome ebook in PDF form here– $9.99!
*Please indicate if the email you’d prefer the ebook be sent to is different from your payment email address.

This running ebook is also available in the Kindle version at the Amazon store: BUY IT HERE!

running comic book

Sneak peek of what’s inside!

Stop Stress, Nerves, and Anxiety From Ruining Your Running and Races

Santa rocked my runner socks off. ;) If you’re following me on Instagram you probably already saw my awesome new purple Garmin…wooohooo!! My old Garmin actually broke a week before Christmas in what I can only call the sum of all fears for a runner: I had no warning, I was in the middle of a run, I was in the first mile of a tempo.
new garmin 220
Needless to say I was P*$$ed!! Hello, this OCD runnerchick would have liked to know her splits. Alas, alas…I did survive which does remind us all of two important lessons:

1) It’s in the Effort: Yea, I had no idea what my miles ended up being but I still ran hard. Times and splits are helpful information when it comes to workouts, but they don’t always tell the full story. Bottom line is it all comes back to the effort.
2) Times NOT to Time: While I certainly hadn’t planned on my Garmin crapping out, I have talked before about times when it’s better NOT to run with a watch. Easy days are meant to be easy and running ‘naked’ on those days can help keep them as such, not worrying about pace. Sometimes runners can get too stressed about their hard workouts, getting too anxious about time times, if they aren’t hitting the splits, etc. If you’re started to dread your hard workouts because of the stress, running without a watch is an easy way to unload a ton of self-imposed stress. Run hard. Scr*w times. Again, it’s coming back to effort.

Sometimes running without a watch can be freeing.

But back to my story, I DID want the watch…haha. So I was peeved when it died and was crossing all my fingers and toes that come Christmas I’d be gifted with a new one. HURRAHH!! When I ripped into that package I did jump up and do a happy dance. I am 27. I runnerchick nerded out, and I’m not even ashamed.

I christened that baby after all the other presents were opened…yes, I was kindly patient so the rest of my family could get to their gifts too. ;)

While the holidays can rock your socks off, they can also be stressful or tough for people too. Here is where running can certainly do wonders to keep you sane: literally pound out all the frustration. But it can still be stressful and stress sucks, it can eat you alive from the inside out.
run pissed
So let’s talk stress and how it may apply to runners:
* Derail Workouts: Getting back to my watchless example, type-A runners can fall into the trap of thinking themselves out of a workout. This thinking includes: “Those times are WAY too fast, there’s no way I can hit those!”, “I’m dying, I can’t do all those repeats”, “WTF?!?! I’m running my butt of and the times are STILL too slow.” It’s a slippery slope and it has a snowball effect, eventually you get nervous and fearful of every workout, you dread them, and it’s your brain [more than your body] slowing you down.
* Pre-Race Nerves: Racing is fun but it also comes with a certain level of stress. Some of that nervous energy is GOOD, but it’s a fine line between ‘just enough’ and waaaay too much. THIS POST is all about how to keep those nerves in check and not derail your race because of stress and self-imposed pressure.
* Training Rut: Slogging through weeks and weeks of runs where you’re not ‘feeling it’ and not feeling that spark for running can be a sign that you’re burned out. Reach that point and you’re stressed because you’re not LIKING running and it feels like a chore. Taking breaks after seasons is one way to avoid getting burned out, THIS POST covers other reasons for that ‘meh’ feeling and how to get your spark back for running.

Running should be kept fun, it should make you want to do those nerding out happy dances. Don’t let stress suck out that joy…and certainly don’t let a mid-tempo Garmin death get you down. The world kept on turning, which was a little reminder I [double uppercase for emphasis] needed that running is WAY more than just about the numbers.

…but the numbers are nice so once again, THANK YOU, Santa!!

1) How were your holidays?
2) Is there anything that’s been stressing you out as of late? How have you dealt with that?
3) When’s the last time you ran watchless?

Turning a Craptastic Run or Race Around: It’s possible, here’s one trick!

Today’s run started out like crap. You know the feeling, your legs are wobbling around herky-jerky style and in your mind you feel like a fish out of water. You think, “Good gracious, it’s like these things have never run a step in their lives before!”

Oh the ‘beautiful’ first mile of the not-as-young-as-they-used-to-be runner. It’s almost like you can hear the creaks and pops while the body is cracking off the rust, akin to the running Tin Man. ;)
blurry runner
But you warm us runners up and thanks to the TRUE beauty of muscle memory the fish fins transform back into your actual running legs. Then though, there are just those days. The legs warm up but they still feel like a load of junk, much heavier than they ought to feel.

It happens, all part of the game, and on days like that you just put in the effort. Remember that ‘meh’ runs happen to even the best runners in the world, then look forward to the next run.

HERE is where things get interesting and we can pull a little actual science into this running businesses. Because there ARE ways to turn a heinously ‘meh’, craptastic run around…now not always, yes, craptastic runs will always exist, but if that first mile is particularly heinous don’t lose all hope yet!

animals to run
Super Science Stuff…but not in sciencey lingo

* Two Energy Systems: Distance runners work primarily off of their endurance, cardiovascular system, for the majority of their miles. Easy runs, warming up, cooling-down, even longer distance intervals and races. You get the gist, we’re not out there putting in 100 meter repeats and taxing that anaerobic system.
* Gear Shift: Sometimes us distance runners get ‘stuck’ in a certain pace; get conditioned to that ‘easy’ run pace too much and you can wind up in a rut. When this happens that ‘easy’ pace doesn’t feel as ‘easy’ as it should. Now it sounds counterintuitive but to bust OUT of that rut, sometimes all you need to do is toss in a change of pace.
* Bust the Funk: If you’re thinking, “Running easy feels hard, no way in heck running faster is even possible at this point!”…bear with me. Toss in some strides, a few relaxed surges, then settle back into your easy pace. The gear-shift will have tapped into that other energy system for a bit and two things will happen:
1) The shift caused your muscles to work in a different way, giving a little ‘break’ to the endurance-heavy system. Little breaks feel good, right, those muscles will appreciate letting the other energy system do a little work.
2) Settling BACK into easy pace will feel, well, easier. This is thanks to switching gears but also that easy pace really IS relatively easier than the faster surges.

KA-BAM!! Better run!

It’s funny that sometimes the answer to turning a really craptastic run around is to just play around with the pace, but it’s true. I did the exact thing on my run today and ended up NOT feeling like a fish stuck on the shore. Flip. Flop.

Give it a shot. There are also TWO very important times to remember that a change of pace can leave you feeling like you’ve got much fresher, faster legs:

1) Warming up before a race: Legs can feel like crap during the slow warm-up, bust off some of that sluggishness with strides, and miraculously you’ll feel bouncy after the gun goes off.
2) The Beginning of a Race: Sometimes the beginning of a race can still feel harder than it should, but DON’T give up right away, or use that as an excuse to not put in the effort. Try the same change of pace trick and bust out of the funk.

Keep on running, Runners, hopefully less craptastically! ;)

1) Have you ever tried surges or strides mid-run to bust out of a rut?
2) Have you ever had a race where the beginning you thought you’d run horribly but your legs starting feeling better later on?
3) What is one trick you use to get through craptastic runs when they happen?

3 Things Every Runner Needs to Be Told, and Then Re-Told (Repeatedly)

Not that us distance runners are necessarily forgetful, but there are some thing we tend to lose sight going about our routines. Hopefully it’s not showering altogether…but totally no judgement if you’re still sitting in this morning’s runner clothes. ;)

So just in case your distance runner logic is a tad skewed and you need someone else to remind you of these things…

1) “That’ll do, Pig.”

Sorry I could NOT resist the Babe reference, every time I hear ‘that’ll do’ my mind finishes it with Pig. For all those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not calling you guys pigs, I really mean “That’ll do, Runner.” Distance runners are NOTORIOUSLY the hardest on themselves, it’s that kind of type-A personality trait that can push us to be the best or be our own worst enemy.
running in circles
Every now and again a runner needs to hear that they did a good job. That they HAVE worked hard enough, that they ARE mentally tough enough. All of that. Here is one reason why I always recommend runners have a [GOOD!] coach, to get that outside perspective. After a crummy race, rather than instantly jumping to, “Dang, I SUCKED! I must have been a mental weenie today…ugh.” Just stop it and be productive, “Okay, that was rough. Did I give it my all? Can I learn anything from this to do better next time? Take those answers and do with them what you will. But treat your runnerself with some kindness, mmmmk?

2) “This injury WILL end.”

In the midst of an injury it’s way too easy to jump straight to cataclysmic-mode, “I’m going to be injured FOREVER!!! FFFOOOORRREEEEVER!!!” [How many movie references can I sneak in here, right?] It can be hard to even imagine a day where you won’t be in pain. But…

…every injury WILL eventually get better. It will take time, but it will heal. So stay productive and do your cross-training but ALSO look into the source of your injury. Most often they come about because of a muscle imbalance, weakness, or compensation issue; the actual injury is merely a symptom of that. Correct the source during that time so you don’t have to wind up with the same injury again and again.
runner in forest
3) “You love to run.”

Bam…way to many people wind up burned out just because they have sucked the love and joy out of their running. Don’t worry, that passion can come back, but if you find yourself dreading your runs, what the heck is the point of that?! Even professional distance runners preserve their passion for running.

Running is way too ‘punishing’ a sport to force down anyone’s throat. If you’re not having fun with it, ask yourself why you’re doing it? Get the joy back in your running, and here’s my post on THAT. [Being burned out is different than those 'meh' days when your motivation is in a for beating that HERE.]

BONUS!! Look at me, I’m just so giving. ;) 4) Consistency trumps all.
There really is no secret to success or getting better at running. It comes from being consistent. Yes, speed workouts will make you faster, but there is no magic bullet…running hinges on consistently putting in the work. You gotta want it, right?!

1) Can you name my second movie reference?
2) What’s something you feel every runner needs to be told, and re-told again and again?
3) How do you preserve the passion with your running?

Runner Legs Are Complainers: 5 important ’tissues’ to avoid a total toddler-level tantrum

“If you’ve got an issue, here’s a tissue.” Certainly that fits with the ‘runner mentality’ for many things. Intervals hurt, well, they’re going to hurt until we finish all the repeats.

Long runs are…long. Yup, that’s how it goes. Just keep telling yourself to make it one more mile, one more mile, etc…until your done!

Then the legs start having their issues. They’ll start begging for their own tissues. The way to stave off some total toddler-level tantrums from the legs are to supply them their tissues on a consistent basis BEFORE their demands are too high.

Runner Bones

Runner bones are just, well, better bones. ;)

* Tissue 1: Warming the heck up. Don’t go into a workout with ‘cold’ legs. Don’t immediately blast like a bat out of he**, your legs like a little warning. “We’re going to workout now”…gradually lower into the pace and you’ll feel better, wind up running faster, and avoid the lactic acid booty-lock shuffle home.

* Tissue 2: Stretching. Yea, stretching is NEVER as much fun as running but if you want to run better you need to be loose. You’ve got to have the flexibility to open up your stride, you want as much range of motion as possible. So suck it up, get your stretching and yoga time in, your legs will thank you with faster times AND less injuries.

* Tissue 3: Massage. Look, I’ll be honest and say I’m as not-rich as the next person, so I self-massage regularly but I’m ALSO re-learning how imperative it is to see a professional massage therapist when I can. Running is pretty abusive on the body and to un-do some of that damage you need that massage work. Look at it as an investment in YOURSELF. Namely your sanity (my sanity hinges upon my endorphin fix) because the longer you run the more important it is to get that tissue work. Well, that is if you’d like to keep running for the rest of your life. [Side-note, I'll be doing another post on this later but my massage therapist of choice is Al Kupczak in Boulder, CO...Boulder Body Therapy. He's a massage GOD. Works on Olympians and us mortal runners alike.]
keep running
* Tissue 4: Proper pacing. I guess this more fittingly could be said as separating your easy and hard days. Run your easy days EASY. Scr*w the pace and run for effort, whatever effort that allows you to recover. Then, come your hard days you’ll have the bounce to go fast. Also recognize the difference between a workout and a race. Come race day you want to elevate to that next level, that’s tough to do if you’re redlining ever.single.hard.workout. Got it? Well, race day is also boosted by the mental energy and excitement, but still, don’t race all of your workouts, People, mmmmk?

* Tissue 5: Refuel. Said it zillions of times…hit that 30 minute post-workout recovery window. Get 20-25 grams of protein and some carbs into your system to jumpstart muscle recovery, repair, and regrowth. That way your legs will come back feeling better and stronger for your next run, your next workout, your next race.

The body of a runner is constantly crying and complaining. What a pain the butt, right? ;) Thankfully we’re mentally tough BUT we’ve also got to be smart enough to give our complaining legs and muscles their pre-emptive tissues to at least limit their tantrums.

Running ‘tough’ is a yin-yang sort of thing, my last post is all about how being ‘tough’ isn’t always about running through the pain or pushing. Being smart and all that.

1) Do you have a tissue to add?
2) How often do you see a professional massage therapist?
3) How good are you at hitting the 30 minute refuel window?

Good Pain, Bad Pain? Too Hard, Too Easy? Running Along the Fine Lines

One of the trickiest things about running is it’s wrought with ambiguities. So many fine lines: how hard is too hard, what is too easy, when to push rather than pull-back, and differentiating between what kind of pain requires you to put your big girl/boy pants on and suck it up versus the kind of pain where you need to stop. That’s not even the full list of running ambiguities.

For a runner that’s training, in order to improve there are plenty of times where it just plain hurts. Part of training becomes callousing your mind to that pain, using mental tricks to dull the complaints from your mind and muscles, and getting used to the discomfort. But then we also are told of the importance of easy days, recognizing the signs of burn-out, or days when the legs just don’t show up and the workout needs to be adjusted.

running in circles

All this is enough to make your brain run in circles!

Paramount of all kinds of pain for runners to be able to correctly identify are the ones signaling an injury. Catch that pain early enough and you could avoid a chunk of time off and lost training, or push through that pain, keep running, and wind up going until you’re literally broken.

The conundrum only goes further as no one can really EXPLAIN all these wrong pains and fine lines. Tired versus lazy, too easy versus too hard, etc. because everyone interprets pain differently and has a different pain threshold. When one runner says their leg hurts, depending on the person that could mean their calf is sore or their hamstring was torn and it’s balled up down near their knee.

Sometimes a runner needs a swiftkick in the butt, other times a runner faces an even harder reality and they need to cut themselves a break. Get doing this running business long enough and the word ‘day off’ reads as a death sentence.

Times for the Kick in the Pants VS. the Death Sentence (aka when a runner needs to ease up):

* Tough Love: It’s just a day where you’re feeling ‘meh’. You’re tired, you’d rather sit down, go out with your friends, the run just isn’t the most enticing thing. Motivation lulls happen, TIPS HERE, you just have to lace up and get going. The first mile will be the hardest, then you get into it.
* Corny Tender Lovin’ Care: It’s been a string of days where you feel ‘meh’. Your legs are more than tired, they’re heavy…every.single.time.out. Time to assess your training, your workouts, health, etc. What’s up? Are you digging yourself a hole?
* Tough Love: The workout for the day plain scares you. The first mistake is dwelling on that fear; it’s even risky admitting to yourself you’re scared of it. NEVER out-think yourself from a workout before you even start. Be confident in yourself, but sometimes you need to just fake that confidence, every runner does that too…but they don’t tell you. The pain, times, workouts can be scary if you really think about them…so you don’t. We play the ignorance is bliss card and just START. Then take everything as it comes.
* Corny TLC: You’re running the workout and the times are horrible, like deplorable. The conditions are just as heinous, you feel like you’re running on the sun, or into a headwind, or through a snowstorm. Don’t take the times at face value here, go off of effort. Numbers can’t tell the whole story, and if you start berating yourself for the slow times then you’ll wind up sandbagging the workout and not getting the benefit. It comes down to EFFORT…conditions are not an excuse, they really do affect the times. Still put in the effort, and the workout will give you the benefits intended.

tough runner

Runners are tough…sometimes TOO tough.

* Suck it Up: You just got passed in a race. Rather than let your mind tell you, “Welp, we’re tired anyways, so who cares…let them go.” You need to FIGHT. Leach onto that runner, get right on their butt, and use them to tow you along…tuck in. A race isn’t over until you cross the line; you can gather energy behind them and surge later.
* MAJOR Corny TLC: Bam…you’re running and you step wrong, your quad lights up. You know that pain…a mile later and the pain hasn’t diminished. You’re tempted, “It’s okay, I know I can just finish this workout, I can get through it.” But that knot in your stomach knows the truth; if you push it until the end of the run you’ll probably be limping all day, if walking at all. Rather than running until you’re broken, be SMART and STOP. Hit up the injury rehab and cross-training for a little while now, rather than being chained to the da** cross-trainer for months.

Good pain, bad pain? Too hard, too easy? So many lines, so many ambiguities, so many decisions to be made on the fly. The longer you run though, the better you get at recognizing the differences and when you need a kick in the pants versus cutting yourself a *gasp* break.

1) What’s a time when a runner needs the kick in the pants?
2) Give an example of when some corny TLC is in order?
3) Lessons are often learned the hard way, share a story of a lesson you learned as such.

3 Ways Running Can Fly By and 500 Reasons to Update Your Running Shoes

Oh I’m so proud, I’ve been diligently helping spread the running infection. Last night I ordered my cute little high school friend a pair of running shoes. I’ve been working on her for months, when she told me she wished she could be a runner.

“Be a runner?” I said, “Anyone can BE a runner.” That’s the funny thing, most people think you either pop out with your Nike running shoes on or you don’t. The ones who don’t are sadly shunned from society, left to wallow away through life sans any endorphins via miles. ;) Just kidding.

running track

The cool place all runners get to hang out.

But I told her anyone can become a runner, at any age, and regardless of starting fitness level. Probably the greatest thing about our sport, regardless of genetics, if you are consistent with your running you WILL improve and get better.

The beauty of running a PR (personal best for any of you newbie runners) can be felt by ANYONE. You just have to work for it. Earning that sweaty, glorious time is tough but so worth it. It becomes tougher the longer you run, the improvement curve doesn’t always sky-rocket away like it does soon after you become a runner. That just means you have to work harder AND smarter. ;)

Back to my friend though, I’ve been so proud watching her go from barely making two miles and now busting out 6 miles. I was, however, APPALLED…I mean appalled at the raggedy-@$$ shoes she was running in.

When I say I was appalled, I’m not in ANY way judging her or disappointed in her AT ALL. Most new runners just really don’t have any idea how crucial it is to have the right kind of shoes. Also the age of their shoes. “My foot kind of hurt after my last run, I think I need a new pair…I love these shoes but maybe a year and a half is too long to still be using them.”
run from problems
A YEAR AND A HALF!! My mind freaked the freak out, only because I know how much a ‘dead’ pair of running shoes can turn into an injury bomb. Granted, she did other things and wasn’t logging mega miles in them, but still. A pair of shoes should never be out there on the mean streets logging miles if they’ve seen 500 miles or more. Time for a new pair, baby!

So I assessed her foot type and we’ve gotten her squared away with dem new running shoes. We also got to talking about things that make running go by faster and what makes those miles feel like an eternity:

1) The Scenic Route: Per minute, running on the treadmill feels like about 10 minutes. ;) Just kidding.
2) Training Partners: Having a training partner makes those miles zip by quicker too. I mean that figuratively AND literally if the workout for the day are repeats or a hard run. Working WITH someone and getting ‘towed’ along during intervals will wind-up with faster splits that ‘feel’ easier than if you were running alone.
3) Being fitter. The reason most non-runners think they can’t ‘be’ a runner is because running a few minutes feels KILLER and they don’t understand how anyone could run multiple miles. The reason is because they just aren’t fit enough. The body adapts, it grows stronger, cardiovascular fitness and endurance improves the more CONSISTENT you are with your running. Eventually you get to the point where 2 miles are easy because you’re comfortably able to run 4 miles, then 4 are easy because you’re regularly running 6 miles. You get the picture.

So now it’s your turn. Keep spreading this running thing across the lands…prove to the non-believers that ANYONE can ‘be’ a runner…they just have to try. :)

1) When did you start running? What caused you to try?
I sucked at all sports requiring an ounce of coordination. I can turn left.
2) Is there anyone you have inspired to become a runner?
3) What’s one thing that makes your running go by faster?

5 Rules for Runners and Self-Massage: Stave off injuries, don’t cause them

The longer that you’re a runner the more time it takes to keep yourself healthy to run. I know I’m not the only one with a laundry list of to-do’s to keep this creaky body on this side of moving. Soon it becomes that the time you actually spend running is outpaced by the outside ‘extra’ work you do to keep you running!

angry runner injured

Don’t make this you.

My latest article up on Competitor: “3 Things Under 5 Minutes Every Runner Should Do Daily” explains the importance of including these strength, flexibility, and injury-preventative work into your day. But let’s be straight-up, lots of people have lives and getting the time to just RUN is pushing it. (I’m boring and don’t really have a life, juuust kidding…I have to work and pay ‘dem bills too, bummer. And I think I still have one or two friends rolling around this green Earth.)

But I’m betting you can find a spare 5 minutes SOMEWHERE during the day…waiting in line at Starbucks could take longer. Am I asking you to bust out some planks right there in line? If you do and take a picture of you rocking the core routine in line I’ll totally post it, so send it my way!

Injury issues aside, getting a stronger core and increasing your flexibility will translate into running faster too. Get stronger = Get more efficient = Get faster. I harp on that enough around the blog too.

The self-massage part of the injury prevention is also really important, it gets more-so the longer we run too. I may be 27 but I’m strapped in the body of a geriatric, I’ll probably be rascal-bound by 30…but I’ll take getting my miles fix up until I’m legless. I wish I could afford a professional massage therapist on my ‘staff’, but I’m not there yet and most other people are in the same boat.
peacock runner
In reading the article, I want to follow-up here with just HOW important it is that you know what you’re doing before you go digging around on yourself. You can make injuries worse and cause injuries if you’re not careful. Here are our self-massage rules of the road:

1) Ease into it: Just like you need your muscles warm before you stretch, make sure you’re not massaging cold muscles. Likening your pressure to stretching again, start with gentler strokes and gradually increase the amount of pressure. Your muscles will FREEZE-UP if you go in like a wrecking ball right away. [One guess what song was stuck in my head earlier.]
2) 5-10 Minutes: Limit the amount of time you spend on each area of your runner bod to only 5-10 minutes. You don’t want to go over-board.
3) Cross-Wise Passes: I have tons of hamstring issues, when I’ve got a sore spot I rub cross-wise over the area first and finish up with some flushing lengthwise passes. Don’t forget the horizontal plane, rub side-to-side and then move to the foam roller.
4) Wait 24: The most common time runners self-massage their way to worsening an injury is when they get a new soreness, freak out it’ll be an injury, then go to town massaging and stretching like a madman. This is NOT what you should do. If the pain is so bad it’s tender to the touch, wait a day to let things simmer down. Go the icing route. After that, be gentle, don’t go until you’re about to cry. Refer back to steps 1 and 2. You can self-massage yourself away from an injury if you do it right and are smart.
5) Consistency: Just like you can’t expect to PR running one day every third Tuesday, self-massage works best when you’re consistent. In fact, if you’re spooning (just kidding) spending time with your foam roller daily, you get to the point where it DOESN’T bring you near tears…miraculous, I know. ;)

Until we’re Lady Gaga rich, let’s self-massage ourselves, Runners, to stay healthy. Even just 5 minutes a day. Hey, triple points to the person who walks into Starbucks with their foam roller under their arm! :)

1) Will you commit to doing at least 5 minutes of some core/flex/self-massage work I talked about in my article?
2) Who is consistent with their self-massage and foam rolling?
3) Did you learn some kind of nugget of wisdom from my bloggy-blabberings?

Runners Moms Are Better Moms

So is this runner still alive? Yes, don’t worry, and rest assured I’ve been putting in my miles like a good little Arty Runnerchick as well. I apologize for my slight dip into obscurity for awhile here, but the GOOD news is I’ve been working on a few awesome projects for you. So do stay tuned for more on that. Lots of artage and wordage is to be expected.

Today is a special day. The Earth actually paused for a minute, did you feel it while you were out on your run? It’s actually my mom’s birthday!! She’s also the person responsible for getting me addicted to this whole running thing in the first place. :)
fit mom
Growing up I watched my mom get up at the crack of dawn to get her run in before dashing us off to school and then go to work. I believe the best way to beat this whole slothy-obesity issue is for parents to lead by example. She did that for all of us kids. What’s more is she is a living, breathing, excuse-buster.

She’s popped out four kids, works two jobs, is Team Mom for my littlest brother’s Football and Rugby teams, goes to every game or event possible one of us chillun takes part in, and STILL makes fitness a priority. Like me, she’s not shy in saying her workouts help keep her sane.

My mom was also my training partner while I was still living in their house. I’ve run more miles with her than anyone else in the world. Easy days, she would be a trooper and get up for my runs at unholy hours because I had to be at school. So today I’m sharing some things I learned from the best woman in the world…

1) Consistency: Everyone non-runner or non-worker-outer in the world has asked us ‘freaks’, “What’s your secret?” There is no flippity-flip secret to staying in shape and getting faster, stronger, and better. It takes putting in the work every day. Motivating yourself when you’re not feeling it, and doing the work. Be consistent and I swear you’ll improve.
tough runner
2) Hardest Part is Done: We’d joke after our runs, “Well, hardest part of the day is done!” It’s kind of true to a point. Running, even those ‘easy’ days, is never purely easy. There’s always some discomfort, that’s the point, it’s work. Running also makes you tougher in life; it teaches you to persist, persevere, and work towards goals even when things get tedious.

3) Easy Does Count: I’m not a hypocrite here, but getting back to those easy days…you need them. My coach loved that my mom would ‘keep me honest’ and make sure I didn’t go too hard on many of those easy days. Runners need those easy days so they can recover and then be able to actually go hard on those hard days.

4) Love the Run: Every runner goes through lulls in motivation, but there is a difference between a lull and burn-out. My mom taught me that you should never come to begrudge running, because if you do that too long you’ll lose your passion for it. Cherish the run, and if you see the signs of mental burn-out, catch it for what it is, do what you have to do, and find that SPARK again.

I have an infinite amount of respect for mothers who are leading by example. Staying fit, making running (or whatever workout) a priority, and showing their children that running and working out is freaking AWESME! :)

1) Did you grow up with parents who were fit?
I thought every mom ran before school up until I started doing sleep-overs at my friends’.
2) What is something you say when non-runners ask you, “What’s your secret?”
3) How do you keep your running spark alive?