As my time as a fun-employed temp comes to an end, I have began to reflect on a summer that I thought would drag on. Contrary to my expectations, it flew by. Since high school, I feel like each summer felt shorter and shorter and this summer was certainly no exception. Though, this summer was different from all others. After doing the “kid thing,” running myself ragged at sport camps for a majority of my childhood, I worked every summer. Now, as I prepare to enter the “real world” no one wanted to hire someone like me who was going to be a full time employee for another company come September. So what was a type A personality like myself to do with almost four months of free time?
This sort of thing is unheard of. I would never let rest and relaxation ever being fleeting thoughts. But why not? Why has modern American society bred us this way? Tim Krieder of The New York Times comments, ”Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day”. He makes this very valid point in an op-ed he wrote at the end of June: http://nyti.ms/RZnSzG. Why do we always find a need to be busy? And sometimes, I personally find that when I am not constantly being stimulated by business it is harder to be productive than when I am trying to fit something between two other things that should not even be possible. What is it that drives us to always be striving to over-extend ourselves all the time? If there is one thing fun-employment taught me, it was that taking time for yourself is not the worst thing that could happen to you, Margo. Fun-employment took some serious time and conscious effort getting used to. But like anything else, once you establish a routine, it becomes a part of you. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, Tim is right. Occupy your time with the things that mean the most to you because unlike other things, time is a limited resource, so not only use it, enjoy it. Namaste!
I have now rehabilitated both of my knees through Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome. The second time through this rehab I made a promise to myself, to try and prevent this issue from happening to me again. What is ITBS, exactly? In layman’s terms, it means that the small muscles on my inner and outer thigh, as well as my hips and butt are not strong as they should be. Therefore, my patellar tendon over my knee cap is compensated and pulled out of alignment, causing a lot of pain that stops me from running and forces me to physical therapy. For a more detailed explanation, the following link is an overview of this common runner injury: http://bit.ly/QSTfgj.
One of the best investments I made through this rehab was a foam roller (about $20 at any sporting goods store like Dick’s or Sports Authority). I use my foam roller every day. You may have heard of a foam roller or seen them at your local gym; but, have you used one? Don’t be scared; because there is no one way to use it. I don’t just use it on my IT Band either, I use it to stretch out my entire body. But if you are hesitant about using a foam roller properly, here is a link from Runner’s World that helps you target specific muscles: http://bit.ly/NaZuKh. If you have any nagging pain at all, I suggest trying to use a foam roller religiously to see if that helps your pain. I use the roller before and after I run on my entire body. It loosens your muscles and makes you less prone to injury. It is the simple things like “rolling-out,” as I call it, that keep you injury free. So if you get as frustrated as I do being injured, be proactive and stay ahead of injuries and try using a foam roller.
Part of my inspiration for writing this blog was my friend Amy, who decided to run her first half marathon in September. Not being a serious runner before now, she frequently asks me for running and training advice. She got herself into a routine, but then quickly became bored with running the same route. The monotony then becomes demotivating. She came to me a few weeks ago distraught about the fact that she was no longer motivated to run this half marathon. I asked one question: Have you been running the same routes since you began training? When her answer was yes, I was so happy I had a feeling I had a solution: change in scenery.
That next week, Amy went down the shore with her family and not only was motivated to run, but also got up early and ran. The change of scenery made all the difference. Prior to going down the shore, Amy crashed and burned when she attempted a morning run. She is not a morning person, but the sea and sand changes that. Without fail my suggestion changed Amy’s mindset about the race. Remember running is about 90% mental and 10% physical. It also helps when you do a little retail therapy too. I’m sure that the brand new pink Asiac running shoes Amy purchased also helped motivate her out of this small bump in the road. Whether it is a change of scenery, retail therapy or just changing the time you run, a small tweak can change your outlook on running and rejuvenate your training.
If there is one thing that I enjoy as much as running itself it is water. Water is one thing I have no fear of. And I am not talking about the exorbitant amount of water I consume in a day.
If you know me, you know that I can be paranoid, anxious and a down-right looney toon; but being in, on, or around water reverses all of the above. For me, any experience is enhanced around bodies of water.There is something tranquil about water that I can not explain. Canal, pond, river, lake, ocean, pool; it doesn’t matter.My dream would be to own some sort of water front property, or to be able to see a body of water from where I’m living. That would be the ultimate.
Today I ran along the canal, but at a certain point could see the river and at another point ran along the pond at the same time. So for those visual thinkers at one point I was running surrounded by water in a sense. I lost track of time and was one with my surroundings which is hard, yet good to do every once and a while.
I have been a swimmer for life. Both my parents were water-savvy. My mom grew up a swimmer and my dad a scuba diver.So I guess you could say that genetics explains why I have no fear of water. Try running near water and maybe you too will have a similar relaxing experience. Also, depending on your proximity to the water, it might keep you cooler, especially in the warm summer months.
It’s officially summer; which means if you want to run outdoors you need to get out early. Waiting until later is not always practical. I was always a morning runner, but once I was injured for the second time, I forced myself to change my habit. Now, I am being forced to revert back to my old ways which is harder than I thought it would be.
Here are some tips to getting an early start over the summer months:
1. For one, go to bed earlier. It makes the early wake-up easier, especially if you are not a morning person.
2. Make mid morning plans. It will be an incentive to get out of bed when you are thinking about skipping your run.
3. Compare the temperatures over the course of the day. Sometimes the facts alone will motivate you to lace of the sneaks early.
There is nothing more frustrating than an injury or even a nagging pain. There have been an exorbitant amount of studies done, that seem like they have the “end-all, be-all” solution to your pain. A lot of the studies that are done are published almost as if they are an exact science. The truth of the matter is, everyone is different; and you have to have patience to find what exact remedy works for you because everyone is built differently. Dealing with an injury or nagging pain is down-right obnoxious, but a necessary evil. If you are like me, when you initially feel something out-of-whack you ignore it. Eventually, you have to face it though, especially if you are training.
When it comes to overcoming injuries, this Chinese proverb from Runner’s World Quote of the Day say it best, “[t]o get through the hardest journey [or injury] we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.”
Personally, knee pain has been my demise. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is the bane of my existence. I am not a doctor or trainer, but if I can give you any advice when it comes to combating knee pain, it is to do exercises that strengthen your hips, butt, and abductor and adductor muscles. When these muscles are weak, the knee pain quickly becomes unbearable. After much trial and error, I found my secret weapon to combat daily nagging and pain: my foam roller. My foam-roller was the best $20 training investment I have ever made. I use it every day, not only for my knee but I use it on my whole body. Using a foam roller is good to loosen muscles and facilitate better blood circulation. If you are experiencing consistent nagging pains or strains, my unprofessional advice is to try using one to see if your discomfort lessens. The best part about a foam roller is that there is not technically a proper way to use it. No matter what the nag or pain might be, some people swear by ice or ibuprofen or both. For me, I love my foam roller. I use it every day, for not only my patellofemoral pain, but also for the rest of my body. Give it a try at the gym and let me know what you think. Maybe you will end up being addicted to “rolling out” the way I am. Good luck staying injury free.
Despite breakfast being my favorite meal of the day, it is even more special when you share it with people you really care about. Since high school, it has been a tradition to go out to breakfast after morning workouts. Our favorite hot spot is Pat’s Colonial Kitchen. The whole-wheat banana-chocolate chip pancakes are amazing; and in the fall, I look forward to the pumpkin pancakes special more than I look forward to a Thanksgiving feast.
The most important part of these breakfast dates is not the food, but the friends you share it with. I go to Pat’s with some of my best friends throughout my high school running career. We are all busy people and just because we are not able to talk to each other regularly, we still easily pick up right where we left off when we get together. We reminisce memories we had together; celebrate each others accomplishments and take solace in the fact that somethings will never change. Outings like this are just as important for you mentally as lacing up the sneaks and hitting the pavement. So call up and old friend and make a date to catch-up. You will be happy you did.
Dorothea and Jacquie, I found this gem when I was inspired to write this post: