My First Few Weeks of Physical Therapy + A Good Balance with Exercise

My First Few Weeks of Physical Therapy + A Good Balance with Exercise

This has been a long overdue post! There’s been a lot going on with the holidays approaching, plus being busy as usual with work, etc. So I’m happy to be sitting down and sharing my physical therapy experience so far with you!

I went my first PT appointment the week after Thanksgiving at Optimal Performance Physical Therapy in South Tampa. I was pretty excited to get some help and learn something along the way. Plus I knew this was gonna lead me back to hitting the pavement hopefully sooner then later, so I was ready to learn and do all I could.

I had never been to a PT office, but this one was busy (are they all like this?). I was surprised at the amount of people who were in later in the afternoon and the amount of PTs working too. I saw all ages and abilities. I thought, “there’s really this many people that need PT?” as I watched people come in and out of the floor area steadily. There were even 2 people per PT (and there’s like 7 or 8 on staff regularly…). Luckily, that didn’t stall my appointment or anything. I was seen on time which I’m a stickler about. 😉 I had my evaluation where I explained everything and my PT, James,  who sent me home with exercises and stretches to do until we met for our next appointment:

Stretches and exercises I do once per day up to 5x a week, stretching multiple times per day:

  • Standing calf stretch- knee locked and heal against wall or off a step (we all know this one, but I hardly ever do it…reason #1 I need some guidance… LOL).
  • Standing soleus stretch- knee bent, heal/foot against the wall.
  • Exercises with resistance bands 3×15
    • Inversion
    • Eversion
    • Anterior tibialis
  • Tennis ball posterior tibialis roll out (as often as possible)

My PT is really nice and very easy going! So far he’s pretty chill about answering my questions and explaining everything. My heart actually skipped a beat when he did say I can run, just up to 1.5-2 miles 3x per week after my eval. I was ELATED! Although this is really low mileage for me, I’ll take anything I can get. He advised no consecutive runs, making sure I have a day of rest between runs or doing spin in between.

The following week, after seeing him twice, I explained my symptoms which were lessened thanks to soreness from our sessions and the exercises on my own. I was advised to add TWO runs consecutive which is symptom dependent. Honestly weeks that I can run have been hit or miss so I run when I can and fill in with walking, spin, or strength training.

Three miles have been my max mileage per run. If I don’t do 3 miles, I run 1.5-2 miles a couple times per week. The mix in mileage has been good since the short runs don’t take too long (less then 30 min). It’s kinda nice for a change running shorter distances instead dedicating a chunk of my morning to being on my feet! I take my pace easy regardless of the distance. The best feeling though is knowing I haven’t lost any running fitness or endurance. I’m thanking the spin classes that!!

Since I just added in 3 miles this week, I think my calf is getting used to it. I do feel some stiffness towards the very end, but I don’t push it. I try to be in-tune to my body after my runs, when the aches and pains set in. So far none of that!

So far, this has really been a humbling journey for me. I’m still appreciating the low-impact workouts while adding in some easy runs. I’m realizing running 3 miles is an accomplishment on its own! I would discount running 3 miles because it wasn’t “as far” as running 5, 6, 7 miles like I was. Taking care of your body and going slow is another lesson I’ve been learning. No one is measuring or comparing your distance or pace against another’s. On Instagram it feels like it is (I went off it because because the comparison trap is a real thing, not sure when I’ll return honestly). I’m working out and I’m feeling great without pushing mileage. I don’t fret about getting in a certain amount of mileage each day or when it will happen. Right now there’s a good balance.

In a bit, I look forward to adding more mileage pain free. But for now, I’m just moving when I can and getting stronger in the process!

Thanks for reading & Merry Christmas, friend!

Refocusing on Recovery and Taking a Break From Running

Refocusing on Recovery and Taking a Break From Running

After I ran the Ronnie’s Run a few weeks ago, I not only chaffed like a MF, but I overdid (and realized I’m also lacking) in more ways then I thought.

About a week after the race, I took it easy and did some easy runs (3-4 miles, maybe 5) and slowly got back into it since the race. I decided after a few of those, that I could up the mileage and challenge myself. A weekend or so ago, I ran 3 miles on Saturday, 7 miles on Sunday, and 5 miles on Monday. Rested Tuesday (typical day of rest). After 7 miles, I felt tight and achy. I never stretched or foam rolled. I just moved on with my day. I never questioned the next morning when I would plan to do 5. During the 5 miles, I felt tight at the beginning. Kinda typical right? The first mile is always a warm-up mile for me. *Side note: I have terrible if not, just non-existent warm-up routine that I rarely do. It’s needs work and it’ll become obvious why later…lol.

I was pushing the pace and felt good for most of it. On the last 2-3 miles of the run though my right foot, ankle, calf, hamstring…basically my whole right leg just ACHED and HURT. Like WOAH! This kind of pain was something I had not had since high school (ran cross country in high school, dealt with similar issues). I thought I just didn’t recover enough post seven miles, which was clear, but I also knew off the bat, I just pushed my body too far, too fast.

It’s been over a week since I had run last. I’m still having some issues with that side, and it’s annoying as hell. I’m doing my own rehab with help from my manager at work, plus foam rolling, and just taking it as opportunity to slow down. The universe has a funny way of making you just CHILL. It doesn’t hurt to walk, but any impact is questionable. I think it’s just overuse, but I know I also have tight calves and not so good ankle mobility. I’m getting new shoes this week so I’m hoping that will be a huge help!

Although I’m annoyed that I can’t just “go run”,  I’m using this little break to focus on other parts of fitness I typically by-pass. Aka: flexibility and cross training.

SO. Here I am, over a week of not running, but turning it around and making it a learning opportunity. Since I’m not on the run, I’ve decided since the day I hurt myself (10/22?) until the end of October to focus on flexibility. Keeping it simple and mixing in a combination of strength (balance, split squats, single leg deadlifts, towel curls for ankle/foot strength), mobility, gentle stretching, foam rolling, and yoga. I hate all of these things because they’re boring…being real here…but at this point, I know I need them all more then ever.

Among flexibility, I’m hopping on the bike more! I forgot how much I really like spin classes. They’re hard AF. I’m challenged the entire time and I get a similar movement pattern to running. It doesn’t bother my ankle or calf at all. I’m either at Soho Cycling (love the instructors and vibe there!) or the Peloton at work. I’d love to get in a pool too, since I miss that, but haven’t explored that as much yet. Among the bike, I’m also doing 2x per week strength training. Another thing I like, but not as much as I love cardio. Strength training is such a love/hate for me. 30 minutes is perfect and I feel SO SORE afterwards. I know my body is thanking me for all this change and less impact.

It’s funny, because now that I’m not running, I’m taking a totally different approach to exercise. Running is my love and will always be. But I’m seeing that there is more to life then just getting miles in. I’m enjoying the change of pace and I’m still being active, just in a different way. I feel more at peace and less stressed ironically. A few things in my life are taking on a similar perspective. If I don’t get “high intensity” activity in or my steps are less then 10,000…it’s a reminder that it’s not the end of the world. I end up focusing on other parts of my life that I enjoy like catching up with friends over coffee, organizing my new home, feeling focused and productive at work, and enjoying simple forms of movement like yoga or just walking.

Once I feel ready to return to running, I’m gonna ease into it SMART. A warm-up and cool-down will be a more regular part of my routine. Foam rolling and mobility will continue to make an appearance more often. I’ll either head over to Soho Cycle or the Peloton more often then every 3 months. I’m gonna enjoy the fact I CAN run and enjoy it and not always be so on pace.

As much as this has been a change for me, I’m kinda grateful I’m taking this bit of time off. I know it will lead to being better then I was before!

Happy Friday, friends! 🙂

 

 

 

Garmin Vivoactive HR Watch: The Perfect Gift For The Active Individual

Garmin Vivoactive HR Watch: The Perfect Gift For The Active Individual

My first blog post of the year! Hope everyone had a great first week of 2017. Looking back on 2016, there was a combination of both good and bad. Bad I feel isn’t a great word here, so I’m switching to “challenging.”

Challenges that were a lesson for growth and change. Plenty of tough real world situations, frustration, stress, and fear are a few of the characteristics I would describe tough spots this year. Even though negative at some points, I’ve gotten stronger and have learned what the real me is made of. Grateful for these experiences even though I wanted to jump out the window on a few occasions!

Good things: new friends, people, opportunities, growth, learning more about myself, and learning where I find my niche in the fitness industry. Continuing to trust myself, live independently in Tampa, and do what makes me happy are what I hope to continue in the New Year! One marathon, multiple races and miles, blogging, growing my personal training business and enhancing my group fitness skill set and classes, grad school this summer and fall, travel to Costa Rica, continue to live in sunny Tampa and meet the greatest guy, neighbor–turned boyfriend has been a few highlights of my year!

I’m not done with any of these yet, but every year I find myself getting a little bit closer to who I want to become. Big YAY!

OK. My year in review is recapped and I’m excited to share the purpose of post today!

My Garmin Vivoactive HR watch! 

I didn’t realize I would want this, but as soon as Harrison gifted it to me and I read about all it does, I was:

1.) Floored

2.) Excited to try it ASAP!

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I was in awe of such a generous and thoughtful gift, but also EVERYTHING this watch can do! Run, swim, bike, row, ski/snowboard (came in handy this Christmas in Steamboat), stand-up paddle board, golf (not really for me, but a possibility down the road!), as well indoor running, cycling, and strength training. I especially love the capability for strength training, especially during a HIIT workout or group fitness class!

It tracks heart rate as well, another component I thought was pretty sweet. Again, nothing I thought I would be sold on, but definitely a reminder to add that extra push and challenge myself during a run or cardio session. Although wearing a heart rate monitor around your rib cage is more accurate, which I still believe is, heart rate via your wrist is also fairly accurate compared to measuring my own manually.

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Sleep is also another feature I find fun to check! Again, nothing I monitor too closely since I’m a pretty sound sleeper, but seeing the amount of hours I slept, periods of deep and light sleep, movement, and awake time is handy. Sleep is a huge component of exercise performance, so knowing I’m sleeping well and sound and tracking it regularly is a feature that I’ve grown to like.

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Aside from the sport features, tracking steps, floors climbed, and intensity minutes are also recorded! All based around your profile you complete on the app, the watch determines your recommended steps per day, floors to climb (kind of tough at times), and intensity minutes for the week. It reminds you to move and congratulates you when you’ve achieved your goal! All good things to know throughout the day.

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Besides tracking fitness, the watch uses Bluetooth technology which syncs with your phone!!! Receiving calls and texts is easy and allows you to monitor notifications discreetly without the use of your phone. However, this is probably one draw back on this watch. I don’t care so much to see my texts and calls show up when I’m working out. My phone is away for a reason because I am busy! My workout time is my me time so I prefer to have that away. Luckily, this feature is not annoying and can be easily dismissed.

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I’m still get used to it, but I must say, it is easy to use and understand. Two buttons on the face, a large touch screen, and waterproof. Once set up, downloading the Garmin Connect App helps manage your stats via your phone. There you can go into details of your activity, sleep, calories burned, weight-loss tracking, and more. Did I mention you can sync it with myfitnesspal?! Too cool! I haven’t yet. Trying to decide if I want it connected or keep them separate. Will keep you posted! Pretty cool option knowing you can keep food logging and activity all on one app.

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Since there is SO many cool features, it can be easy to focus on numbers! Although numbers can be motivating, I try personally to not let them run my life.

I believe these activity trackers, whichever brand you buy, are a TOOL, not a measurement of success or failure. I feel that if I don’t track my sleep, I don’t get steps in, or my intensity minutes fall below the recommended amount, is not something to stress over. However, it is something to work on daily. Being reminded to move and take the stairs I feel are two very good features on this product–all of which doesn’t hurt any of us!

I do have my Garmin Forerunner 15 watch that is still my favorite and something I will continue to use! There’s something special about that watch–I think it has something to do with the races I’ve completed with it. In that case, I will be using it for my marathon and other races this year. General activity I will swap in with my Vivoactive HR watch for spin, walking, strength training, etc.! Overall, I highly recommend this watch since it plays a role in my active lifestyle that is more then just running! A perfect gift any time of year for the active individual in your life.

 

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

My Journey to 26.2: My Training

I wrote about my race day experience last week, now I’m writing part two of my journey about my training. Aside from it being an overall positive and successful race, there was way more then just “running all the time” to get me to the finish. Any runner who has done any kind of race, knows its more then that. This training was unlike any kind of training I’ve ever done. Besides just running longer and farther, each run, workout, meal, rest day, etc impacted my training in some way. They said marathon training is a beast in itself, and it is completely true! Don’t be discouraged though, if you getting an itch to do it, that means one thing: SIGN UP! I’ll be honest though, it was a very grueling three months and am thankful I can relax for a little from the training. I would say if you are seriously considering signing up for one, take a couple factors into consideration:

  • Type of work schedule:
    • Early mornings or late nights
    • Full-time vs. part time
    • A new parent or stay at home mom
    • Student in school
    • Traveling
  • Time of year of the race and training (e.g. marathon during the fall months requires summer time training)
  • Finances/budget–because marathons ain’t cheap
  • Type of race you’re interested in running (big city, rural, themed, destination, cause)

 

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Found my name!

REAL TALK: I mention these factors because training for a marathon is commitment. You don’t wanna run a race with high expectations then realize you picked a bad time to train based on whether you’re in school or have a crazy work schedule. This was a big factor in my training because I had the availability to train for one. I was not in school during my training which my a BIG difference in my commitment and availability to focus on my training and in some aspects, performance. Not to say if you are in school or have a busy/crazy schedule you can’t do one, just know it may take more advanced planning and/or a stronger level of commitment compared to someone who is more flexible. I purposely planned to do one once I graduated. I felt ready to make a commitment and knew my schedule allowed for it. To be honest, I would hesitate doing another once I start graduate school because of the need to focus on studying instead of the commitment to train. *this idea is subject to change* 😉

Back to the training! As mentioned in the race day post, I ran about four times a week. I combined running with twice a week strength training days, typically a push/pull day or an leg day and upper body day. Each strength day would take me about an hour and a half to complete since I like to take my time. On days that I was pressed for time, I did HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts and targeted total body in about thirty minutes with minimal rest. During the middle of my training, as a way to double up, I would run in the morning and do a strength day in the afternoon. Working on tired legs post run was tough but a good challenge since it mirrored what my legs could typically feel during the race. I did about three to four targeted exercises based on what I was doing that day plus two exercises for my core. I would finish with cross training on the bike or if I didn’t run the morning before, I would do a high intensity speed session of thirty minutes on the ‘mill before stretching and cooling down.

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Where accountability and motivation starts for the week ahead!

Aside from strength training days, I incorporated Peerfit for my cross training or anytime I wanted to change up my routine. Peerfit is a company creating a versatile, multi-location subscription used at various boutique fitness studios around Tampa Bay, Orlando, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota, and Jacksonville. See my post on working with Peerfit and experiences I had with them here. I was able to cross train using them at a variety of places through Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation, Soho Cycling Studio, and Mantra Tampa. The days of cross training helped keep my cardio fitness up and strengthing weaker muscles while giving my body a break from the running. I really enjoyed cycling, especially since I don’t consider myself a “cycler”–in fact, I wasn’t into it because I thought it was boring. Soho Cycling changed the game on that one! Mantra Tampa is a pure strength training workout using a Megaformer.  It was all about the burn, helping me focus on the slow part of the movements–so killer and unlike any soreness I’ve had in awhile lol! It worked my entire core and targeted my whole body in fifty minutes. Yoga helped with stretching out any tight muscles and helping me feel relaxed. I’m not so much into the sweaty, hot yoga classes but the stress relief and flow classes did wonders for keeping me flexible and balanced.

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I rested about one-two times per week. If I felt I needed another day, I took it. If marathon training taught me one thing about myself, is that I am incredibly stubborn and wanting to keep pushing for more. Pushing for more isn’t a bad thing, but on some occasions I forced myself to relax and if feeling the urge to still do something, I picked a yoga class. Resting is SO important during this kind of training. It really is a big part of the process in that it allows you to let your body heal and mind refresh. Check out my post on the benefits of rest here.

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Running down Bayshore Blvd

Meal prep wasn’t bad because I already love being in the kitchen. I tried to minimize on how much I went out, about once or twice a week at the most. I cooked and prepared ahead of time occasionally, but most nights I get home late, so I incorporated my assembly only meals for dinner–aka SALADS! Yes, they were filling and full of only the good stuff. Each one had a bed of greens, various veggies, a lean protein, nuts/seeds, cheese, dried fruit, and simple easy dressing. If anyone doubts this amazing meal, all I’ll say is see for yourself because this is heaven. The best part is that it didn’t leave me filling full and gross before bed!

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Another thing I incorporated was protein shakes. I made them veggie-based (usually with spinach or kale), added fruit (fresh and frozen–either pineapple or mango), almond milk, and protein powder. Simple. They were great because I took them on the go, knew what was in it, snuck in a serving (or two) of vegetables, and it held me over. Best part was that I couldn’t taste the veggies! As always, I drank a lot of water. I didn’t ditch coffee, in fact I needed that even more since I was getting so tired! I drank minimally. I didn’t miss drinking and wanted to only fuel myself with quality ingredients. Even post training, I’m not drinking and want to continue to keep it to a minimum. I felt my best and want to keep it that way! Aside from eating healthy, I definitely had my share of carbs, but nothing crazy. Still kept it to a serving. I really like quinoa and brown rice the best. Seeds of Change Brown Rice & Quinoa –the best of both worlds, was a great thing to have on hand since all you needed was to mic it! Super easy and healthy. I didn’t deprive myself and let the eating take over my life. If I was hungry, I ate. If I was full, I stopped. I had sweets when I wanted. I ate chipotle, which came in handy for those carbs post run or before a tough workout–LiveSweatSleep gets me 😉 No deprivation allowed! Marathon training isn’t the time to lose weight. You need your body to be fueled to the very best in order to perform.

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If you haven’t noticed a pattern, I’m really into bowls…especially from Chipotle

This is my training in a nutshell. Three months of planning each week of workouts in my logseven to eight consistent hours each night of sleep, positive vibes and thoughts, and supportive family and friends. I’m hoping to include these components of training for future races while learning more about myself. In the meantime, you’ll still find me on the run but not going quite as far LOL and getting ready to gear up for my next race–the Gasparilla Half Marathon!!!

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Miami Marathon finisher medal #MiamiFamous