Sunday, January 25, 2015

Confessions from a new gym lover

Hi, my name is Gisgie and I, um, ahem, well, I love going to the gym.

There. I said it.

You see, it's a very recent development. I've not been a big gym fan before. Frankly, I only joined out of necessity.

We live in the Michigan tundra and it's cccccold and icy. Icy is not bueno for someone who is injury prone. Hence the gym membership for the wintry months.

Gym, how do I love thee?

1. It's ridiculously close. And it's next to the grocery store where I shop, which also just happens to have a gas station. Bonus.

2. There are treadmills there. I can run/walk on a more-giving surface and not worry about slipping on ice and cracking my skull.
Run/walk progress!
3. There are other machines. I've been using both the elliptical and stationary bike. Built-in cross training.

4. I can people watch. No matter what time I make it to the gym, there are lots of other people working out. And said people wear and do the weirdest things. Not me, of course. I'm completely normal.

5. I feel accomplished. The gym may be just a few miles away, but once I'm there, I don't think about much else. Reminds me of when I walked into the tae kwon do dojang. Nothing else existed. When I'm done, I'm sweaty, stinky and tired. And that's a good thing.

Will I join the gym year-round when my winter membership expires? Probably not. But I'm sure going to get my money's worth while I can. Because it's cheaper than therapy. Or so I hear.

Do you belong to a gym? What do you like about it? And if you don't, why not?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Eight things I'm doing to return to running

I may not be putting in a lot of miles these days, but I am working on my running. To whit:
  1. I am actually using my new gym membership. I started walking for 30 minutes each time on the treadmill about three weeks ago, then started following that up with the elliptical for just 10 minutes. This morning, I warmed up for 5 minutes, ran/walked 1:1 for 20 and cooled down for another 5 minutes. I survived and I'm not in any more pain than before. I'm also up to 20 minutes on the elliptical. Could I do more? Absolutely. Should I? There's the rub.
    I did not look this cool.
  2. On a relevant side note, I loved listening to the Serial podcast while I ran, but ended up listening to it while running errands and doing chores, so it didn't last very long. Just discovered Criminal and am thoroughly enjoying it. The podcasts really distract me and make even the dreaded treadmill tolerable.
  3. To help kick my ongoing chronic pain, I reviewed all of the piriformis syndrome information I could find on the Runner's World site again and have been doing my stretches twice a day every day.
  4. Found the lone tennis ball my favorite 100-pound dog hasn't shredded and, well, sat on it and rolled it. It's supposed to help loosen the piriformis muscle. Doing the same withe foam roller.
  5. I've been sitting on a heating pad for about 20 minutes at a time. Doc said it would help with the pain.
  6. Speaking of pain, I'm still taking Aleve and using a topical anti-inflammatory medicine called Voltaren gel. It takes the edge off.
  7. Yoga is back on the rotation at least twice a week. At 30 minutes per session, I can easily work it into my schedule. Bonus: my favorite 15-year-old sometimes joins me.
  8. On a lighter note, I dashed in and out of a new-to-me running store I spotted during a very quick lunch stop while out of town for work last week. I walked the perimeter of the store and for less than $10 scored a very thin white Oiselle running T-shirt I'm sure to appropriately stink up this spring and summer.
    Back of said T.
If you're not able to run, what are you doing to get you back on the road? If you can run, what are you doing to cross train and/or strengthen so you don't get hurt? What's your favorite running-related purchase of the past few weeks?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This chica can

OK, so that's not exactly the name of the campaign, but this Sport England campaign made this chica's day:
The women I know and love are strong, fierce, kind, active and fun. They're thin and, well, not. They're young and, um, less young. And like me, most of them jiggle, sweat and, yes, sometimes even feel foxy.

I have a very vivid memory of looking at myself in the mirror as a teenager,wishing I were thinner. Or that I didn't have a shock of curly hair. Here I was, an athletic, strong student with plenty of friends who just didn't measure up to some ideal I saw on TV and in every magazine I ran across.

Not only was I not as thin as the models. Neither was I blonde or blue eyed. And I certainly couldn't pull off the feathered-bang look.

I'm 43 now and I still feel the pull of measuring myself against the impossible ideal. (While Sofia Vergara have our accents in common, I'm no closer to measuring up now than at 15.)

Watching the Sport England spot reminded me that those women who already surround me are the ideal. Because when I'm with them I feel whole. I am enough.

Yeah, I'll keep running and hope to remain active long into my twilight years. But it's about how I feel more than about how I look. About being a good role model for my own kids in the hope they see all that they are -- and not what they're not -- when they look in the mirror.

So until my leg heals, I'll be the one walking on the treadmill at the gym.Soon, I hope to be the one out on the road running with my lips curved into a knowing smile.

Jiggle and all. Because I can.

What did you think about the spot? Am I reading too much into it? Who did you measure yourself up against as a kid? What about today?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Forgive me for I have sinned

I've apparently committed some sort of a sin that only gym snobs care about.
And I'm OK with that. I live in Michigan, after all, where the temps have been in the negative-brrrr for the past week. Oh, and I'm injured, so I get a pass on this one regardless.

I've not felt much better for the past few days, but I also know that I need to just move or I'm going to get so out of shape that I won't even be able to stay on the darn treadmill in the first place, a la Mike from Monsters, Inc.
Source:  Pixar Animation Studios
And so I joined the family-owned gym near our house where I used the elliptical for a little bit then spent half an hour enjoying this view:
I can't say that it was particularly exciting, but I was moving, got to listen to a lot of Pitbull on my Pandora and as of tonight, I don't feel any worse. I call that a win.

Since I recently listened to a piece on National Public Radio highlighting the benefits of eating avocados, I celebrated my great feat by eating a spicy Wholly Guacamole mini for lunch. Despite the article's warning to watch the calories if eating chips with the guac, I went hog wild and dipped some.

After all, I worked out today.
What was your workout today? What kind of exercise do you do when you're injured? Do you consider walking exercise, or am I delusional? 

Friday, January 9, 2015

These are a few (OK, five) of my favorite things ... about running

Running? My favorite thing!

Let me count the reasons why:

1. Other runners. I belong to two running groups and I have to say that I have yet to meet a runner I didn't immediately consider a friend.

I got to spend a bit of my evening tonight with my Black Girls Run! team mates at a local watering hole, Zoobies Old Town Tavern. Where else can you spend an hour with others talking about running, your injuries and how to best get others to, well, run with your group?
How could you not love these ladies?
2. Meeting goals. I love running, but sometimes I love reading or watching a movie or doing just about anything other than running. Having a goal race on the calendar forces me to get out there and I inherently remember why I love running so much.

I should note that I don't have a race on the calendar right now. Note to self: Get one.

3. Pushing myself. When I first started running, I just wanted to run without stopping (or feeling like I was going to die) for 30 minutes. Then I wanted to just run a 5K and so on.

Then I met my BGR! friends and they convinced me that if I could do 6 miles, I could surely do 13.1. (That's running logic right there.)

Running forces me to do things I didn't really think I could do. And that just feels darn good.
An inordinate amount of vehicles at Zoobies looked like this.
4. Getting exercise. I was kind of a jock growing up but being active as a grown-up with three kids, a real job and other responsibilities (read: making sure said children don't look like they were raised by wolves) makes it kind of hard to exercise.

Having those races on the calendar and my team mates to encourage me along the way makes it easier to get a workout in.

5. Being done with running. Sometimes, my favorite thing about running is getting done. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I come back from a run -- logging my miles on my training plan, drinking some chocolate milk and, yes, blogging about my runs.

A lot of runs are unremarkable. I go out, I run and I come home. Others are horrible; my feet feel like lead or I just can't seem to catch my breath.

But every runner has those magical runs. Where your feet feel light, your breathing is rhythmic and easy, and the music in your ears is upbeat and at just the right beat (read: Pandora played a lot of Pitbull).

Running in and of itself can be special. But I also love that it comes with so many added benefits.

What's your favorite thing about running? What makes you get out there when you really just don't feel like it? How many running-related stickers are on your car?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Warning: Injured runner

Right up until the boating incident of 2014, I was running pretty regularly again and -- while not completely healed from my pain in the butt -- I was certainly doing well enough to start half-marathon training for a late-spring event.

Right off, I was in denial about the severity of the re-injury.
Shocking, I'm sure.

But it'd been a week and the pain was still preventing me from running...or bending...or breathing...or, pretty much living my typical vida loca.

So off to my running store's free, weekly injury clinic. Playmakers has local sports medicine experts (chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists) available on a walk-in basis every Wednesday night.

I hobbled in, a little worried about what kind of reception I would get. I mean, I've lost count of how many health professionals I've seen about this ongoing issue. And I've had a bunch of tests tone.
But the price was right and I visited with the nicest osteopath who confirmed the pain's probably piriformis related and treated me for it. He also recommended the doctor I'm already scheduled to see toward the end of the month, calling him the best in town. Score.

Despite the most-recent pain, I've seen enough improvement in the past two days that I'm already plotting my next run.It's not yet on the calendar, but I do have hope that it will happen sometime soon.
Source: Bill Watterson

In the meantime, I made a small purchase at the running store as a token of appreciation for this wonderful resource.

Had I seen this there, I would have dropped a bit more money:
Source: AMBRO Manufacturing
All injured runners should come with some sort of warning for mere mortals who come across us, don't you think?

Does your running store have an injury clinic or other helpful resources? What's your favorite running-related T-shirt saying?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

My vacation was wonderful, but also a pain in the butt

Vacations. Love 'em. I'm a big fan.

Just got to take two weeks off for the first time in, well, I can't remember ever getting two weeks off in a row since my wedding and honeymoon 21 years ago.

So el husbando, three kids, two dogs and I drove our RV to Naples, Florida, to visit family.

And it was glorious.
It was warm. It was sunny. There were palm trees on my runs! 
And water fountains. In December.
It was so nice that I easily kept up with my half-marathon training schedule, even logging my first five miler since my half marathon in September. (Still using the Galloway Method (30:30 run/walk) and feeling pretty good.)

Michigan was not welcoming at all. We got in late yesterday and woke up this morning to what they generously call a "wintry mix." Read: snow, ice and rain. Blech.

How is a chica expected to go from all that to cold, snow and ice? 

No, really. What am I supposed to do now? My idea of loading the RV back up and heading south was shot down.

Unfortunately, I can't run away. Literally or figuratively. 

Did I mention I jacked up my butt/leg again? Methinks it was a bumpy boat ride (woe is me, right?) during our Naples adventure. 
I woke up the day after with the same kind of pain I'd had for months on my butt cheek, running down my left leg. So much for my half-marathon training schedule. 

I've taken a few days off from running, am taking Aleve and using a heating pad. So far, nada. Still in enough pain that I'm not sleeping well. Ouchie.

I'm guessing I'm not going to get a whole lot of sympathy when I go back to work with a vacation-induced injury.

As for my running, I'll figure something out. There's a half marathon with my name on it as soon as it warms up in the Michigan tundra.

What's the longest vacation you've ever taken? What's your favorite vacation spot? Do you still run while on vacation?