sixteen weeks

A Running Injury Flash Back

February, 2010: Plantar Fasciitis

March, 2010: Runner’s Knee

Last year, I had plans to achieve my dreams of running a Half Marathon.  My body apparently thought differently.

But just as I’ll never let a crumbly piece of cake ruin my day, I also refuse to let a few injuries set me back from my ultimate goal.  I will run a Half Marathon.  And I will stay healthy and injury free in the process.

Today, I finally decided to take the plunge, as I filled up my calendar with key dates and weekly long runs.  This all feels so delightfully official. :mrgreen:

One devoted and supportive running partner.  Sixteen weeks of training.  And one determined attitude.

It all begins on January 29th!!

In an attempt to do all that I can to avoid any lingering, pesky injuries, I’m also adding a regular yoga/strength training routine to each week.  A wise runner once told me that running only works certain muscles.  This can create a muscle imbalance, so it’s crucial to keep the arms, abs and legs strong for pumping up those hills while keeping a proper form, even as the body grows tired.  

Know what else is important?

Sleep.  Never understimate the power of a regular sleeping schedule. 😉

Question: Have you ever set a major goal for yourself?  What were some challenges you faced and what made you successful in the end?

Injury Update

If you recall, my long distance running and plans for a half-marathon stopped at the beginning of Februrary this year due to foot pains that turned into severe knee pains.  I was told by my doctor that I had plantar fasciitis in my left foot and was told different things about my knee.  Basically, my knee cap was sliding all over the place rather than sliding up and down like it should (i.e., pain!)

I stopped running when even walking downhill gave my knees major trouble and headed to physical therapy for 2-3 weeks.   In addition to resting my body (but staying active through the elliptical at the gym and walking,) I continued physical therapy on my own after a week or two of learning the exercises from a physical therapist.

It’s almost been 3 months now since I officially stopped running, and I’ve slowly—oh so slowly—been reintroducing running to my routine.  Here’s what a typical week looks like:

  • biking: 2 days a week…currently I’ve been keeping the mileage at about 11 miles, but I’d like to increase my mileage and number of days at a gradual pace
  • walking: almost every day!  It’s a low impact, stress-reducing, heart pumping workout that I’ve re-fallen in love with.  Depending on the day, I’ll walk anywhere from 4-6 miles.
  • running: 2 days a week for 2 miles each run
  • yoga/strength training: 2 days a week or whenever I need it! :mrgreen:

My feet don’t hurt much at all any more, and my knee has felt some major improvements along with the knee exercises (and that awesome foam roller!)  I still don’t plan on pushing it any time soon.  I’ll keep it at 2 miles, 2x a week for at least another month, while building up some fitness through biking.

All in good time. 😀 

Thought of the Day: I like to remember the fact that you have to work with your body at whichever point in life you are at.  If you’re injured, don’t beat yourself up over the fact that you can’t do what you used to do.  Look at it with perspective…look at what your body can do and make some realistic goals that are achievable for where you are right now.  I won’t lie and say that I’m not at all disappointed about not being able to run the half-marathon!  But I’m also excited about progressing forward from where I am and making new goals for myself.  I would love to run a 5k by the end of summer and that is a reachable goal that I can work towards. 😀

Staying Normal

With the last day of classes comes a mixture of excitement and nervousness.  Excited to be finished and watch this semester’s hard work come to an end.  Nervous to see finals just around the corner. 

In an attempt to keep myself calm, cool and collected over the whole ordeal (finals tend to throw me into a studying panic,) I try to keep my eating, sleeping and exercise habits teetering around normal.  That means:

  • Be in bed by 10 and up at 6.
  • Eat normal (aka, eat when hungry, stop when full…keep focused on veggies, fruits and wholegrains. 😀 )
  • Keep Active!

Eat Normal?  Check!  I made a super quick breakfast for time sake.

  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1-1/2 c. kashi heart to heart
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • scoop of peanut butter

Simple + Yummy + Filling = Perfect.

Several hours later, with a homemade raisin bran muffin and a glass of milk sitting in my belly, I headed out for a 4-mile walk with mom.  Walking was the perfect energizer, and gave me some serious oomph for another few hours of studying.

Plenty of veggies found their way into my lunch, as I first made a salad of the remaining odds and ends in the refrigerator.  A piece of leftover cucumber, a couple chunks of tomato, the rest of the greens, etc.  I love clearing things out and seeing the fridge become empty before shopping day.  :mrgreen:

There were also some roasted brussels sprouts as an accompaniment (favorite. veggie. ever!) and 1/2 of a huge sweet potato with some homemade white bean dip.

White beans are lovely as a dip and perfect for spreading over crackers (or sweet potatoes! :mrgreen: )  I simply processed a can of rinsed white beans, added a bit of red wine vinegar to taste (about 1-2 T.) and some crushed, dried rosemary.  Simple but very tasty. 😀

+ an apple for some sweetness

Somehow I managed to plop myself right back down into my chair in order to sneak in some more study time.  I started to worry that my brain would explode but it never actually happened. 😉  Where does all that extra information go, anyways?  I hate feeling as if I want to remember everything and then realizing how much I actually forgot by looking back over my past exams and quizzes.  There’s just too much knowledge that I want to keep locked in my head, but there’s never enough room for anything.  *Sigh* 

This afternoon I decided to test out the new coffee/latte making machine by brewing up an espresso and frothing some milk.  I added a small tsp of sugar to the espresso, followed by the milk which frothed really nicely on top.  I can’t wait to test out soymilk on this machine. 😀

+ an afternoon snack of kashi’s and cashew butter

I was starting to cramp up from sitting down and studying all day, and decided to take advantage of the sunshine in the form of a long bike ride.  My legs felt nice and fresh and neither my IT band or my knees were bothering me at all.  Biking is such a wonderful thing during injuries. My dad and I were talking about how biking can really show you the world with less chances of injury (vs. running, for example.)  I would love to travel through different states with nothing but my backpack and bike…and maybe a friend or two.  Add that to my bucket list. 😉

When I came home from the bikeride, I was hungry for some fuel and found mom outside cooking up some Buffalo Style Al Fresco Chicken Sausages .  I quickly threw together some asparagus to include on the side (simply snap off the tough ends of the asparagus bunch, drizzle on a tsp or two of olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.)  Together, they only take about 7 minutes to cook.

I topped my chicken sausage with sauteed onions and ketchup for that perfect bite.  The asparagus came out lovely, along with the oven roasted potato fries (sprinkled with cajun and garlic.) 

+ sweetness of course 😀

Eat Normal?  Check.

Stay Active?  Check.

In bed by 10 and up at 6 this morning?  Check, check.

One day of studying like a mad woman down…5 to go! :mrgreen:

Question:  Do you try to keep things as normal as possible during busy (or stressful times?)  How?  And does it seem to help?  For the most part, I do try to keep things normal.  I find that a lack of sleep is the worst thing for me, and eating every 3-4 hours or so keeps me energized throughout the day.  And—I think it’s ironic—but staying active even when I’m mentally exhausted gives me a boost of energy as well. 😀

Always a Runner

This morning I was craving a big bowl of cereal.  I used to eat cereal every single morning, but lately it just doesn’t cut it for me in the “feeling full” department.  Adding a bit of healthy fat and subbing yogurt for the milk seems to do the trick though.  This kept me full for a good 3-1/2 hrs., which is all I would ever ask from my breakfast. 😀

  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 1.5 c. Kashi Go Lean
  • 1/2 banana
  • sprinkle of coconut
  • handful of almonds

Last night I layed out my gym clothes, so that I would have no excuse to skip the gym. 😉 

I also snagged 1/2 of this KIND Mango Macadamia Plus bar as a pre-workout snack…

Looks good, smells good…

Tastes good! 😀

I wasn’t sure if I would like this flavor, but I think the tropical flavored bars are starting to grow on me.  Coconut, mango, macadamia…what’s not to love?  I still like the KIND Fruit and Nut flavors the best though (i.e., Date and Almond = awesome!)

The gym was practically empty today.  I had the elliptical machines, treadmill and stairmaster all to myself, so I decided to switch off between machines and make things interesting.

  • Elliptical: 1.5 miles
  • Treadmill: 2.5 miles (intervals of running/walking)
  • Elliptical: 1.0 mile
  • Stairmaster: 10 minutes

I’ve been focusing on keeping my running fitness up by emulating my normal workouts.  The elliptical is actually pretty close to running in regards to fitness, only without the impact.  It makes a nice sub for when injuries prevail. 😉

That being said, what I was really interested in discovering through today’s workout was whether I still had knee and foot pains.  The elliptical felt perfectly fine, but the treadmill left me achy by the end.  My knee felt stiff and sore as soon as I stopped, and my plantar fascia near the ball of my foot felt tender.  No more messing around…it was time to call the doctor!

First I drove home and had a quick, easy lunch of Penne with Chickpeas, Feta and Tomatoes (courtesy of Cooking Light—click for the recipe!) with a side of mixed veggies.  This meal was super easy to throw together and is so versatile.  While I chose a vegetarian option, you could add diced chicken or shrimp if you wanted.  Black olives and spinach would also be a lovely addition. 😀

+ an apple-to-go as I was running out the door.

My doctor spent some time bending my knee and asking some questions, along with flexing my foot and massaging in different areas to see where my pain was.  She thinks I have plantar fasciitis (which was my first thought too) and chondromalacia patellae (damage to the cartilage which covers the back of the knee.)  In other words?  Running is still off limits!  In the meantime, she told me to build muscle in my quads for the knee problems and to buy some knee sleeves for stabilization.  I’m seeing a foot specialist by the end of March to see if there’s anything I can do aside from physical therapy for my foot.

One step at a time.

It did feel a little overwhelming to leave the doctor’s office with two new injuries to deal with, but I’m glad I went.  I will always consider myself a runner, and this is just the process I need to take in order to continue the activity that I love so much! 😀  It is not the end of the world and it is not the end of running!

When I arrived home, I got right into some exercises for my knee and took a break for a snack: plain yogurt with 2 T. wheat bran, 1/2 a banana and some granola.

+ the other half of my KIND bar

I can’t get enough salads and homemade bread lately.  :mrgreen:

Dinner involved 1.5 slices of toasted whole wheat and walnut bread with a pat of cashew butter…

And a big ol’ salad.

I think my repetitive dinner choice has something to do with the big box of fresh mesculin greens sitting in the fridge.  Just can’t get enough! 😀

For dessert, I broke into this Endangered Species Dark Chocolate bar.

One peice was perfect for hitting the sweet tooth, because it was so intensely dark. 😀

I’m about to make a snack and spend some time researching for a homework assignment.  Hopefully I’ll get to bed at a decent time tonight too, because I have an early morning planned for tomorrow. 😀

Question: Dark, milk, or white chocolate?  I will always choose dark chocolate over milk, but I’m a fan of white chocolate for an occasional treat too. 😀

Minor Meltdown

Did you know that eating protein in the morning has been proven to keep people full for longer then a breakfast high in carbohydrates?  This doesn’t mean you should slab a rib eye steak onto your breakfast anytime soon, nor does it mean you should throw out your morning bowl of oats (horror, horror!—I’m not knocking oatmeal by any means!!)  However, it does warrant good reason to include this nutrient into your morning meal. 😉  Whether that means adding milk to your cereal and oats, making an egg sandwich, adding peanut butter to your toast (healthy monounsaturated fats = double bonus!) or eating a dish of lowfat yogurt with fresh fruit…there are plenty of options! 😀

I made an egg sandwich this morning, which was incredibly yummy.  McDonalds has nothing on the homemade version of the sandwich. 😉

  • 1 whole wheat english muffin, toasted
  • 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, fried in a pan coated with cooking spray
  • 1 slice of American cheese

On the side, I also had a dish of plain yogurt with 1/4 c. wheat bran (a little too “branny” I’ve got to say…trying 2 T. next time!) 2 T. flax, and a handful of granola.  Plus a juicy orange on the side.

My egg was almost too big for the english muffin (i.e., fork required!.) :mrgreen:

I had a bit of a meltdown this morning, while thinking about my foot and knee injuries.  I think it started when I saw someone running up our street. I experienced “runner’s envy” and wanted nothing more then to go out and run. Common sense, of course, took over.  But I realized that the waiting game that I’m playing isn’t going to last much longer.  I can deal with whatever the doctor tells me, but I just need to know if there’s something wrong.  If there’s any way I can help my foot and knee heal quicker, then I want to be doing just that!  So…my course of action? 

Tomorrow I’ll be running 0.5-1 mile on the treadmill at the gym.  If I feel pain—any pain!—I will immediately set up an appointment with the doctor.  If there is no pain, I will finish the mile, ice my foot and knee, and continue this process for the week.  Any pain = doctor visit.  I’m holding myself to this plan in order to avoid furthering the injury, and also to prevent any future meltdowns. 😉

After a 3-mile walk this morning, I snacked on an apple and some pistachios. 

Sunday lunches are always awesome and usually involve Dad’s mad grilling skills. 😀

Indoors, mom and I were hard at work on the vegetables and rice.  My new favorite cooking method for brown rice?  Using this in the cooking liquid.  I swear, this stuff is about as close as you’ll get to making your vegetable broth taste homemade.  It’s fresh and flavorful…way better then canned versions. 😀  I love the light flavor it adds to cooked rice.

Dad grilled the wild caught salmon to perfection.  It was so delicately sweet and flavorful. 

When it comes to veggies, my mindset is: the more the merrier.  Roasted turnips, sautéed green bell peppers & onions, and peas mixed with brown rice.  If there was such a contest, this would easily win as being my favorite meal of the week. 😀

This afternoon I indulged in an iced coffee, but tomorrow I need to swear myself off of the afternoon caffeine fix.  I can get addicted to my caffeine way too easily. 😉

  • 1 c. chilled starbucks coffee
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp sugar

This afternoon I also had a favorite snack combo:

  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • 1 T. crushed flax
  • 1/2 whole wheat pumpkin muffin
  • 1/2 banana

I never feel much like cooking on Sunday nights, so I threw together a quick but delicious salad.

  • mesculin greens
  • carrot
  • cucumbers
  • tomatoes
  • cauliflower
  • last of the roasted turnips
  • black olives
  • red onions
  • dressing: balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and sprinkling of crushed garlic…stirred together.

+ a toasted slice of whole wheat and walnut bread with a pat of butter.

Slice #2…finally full! 😀

I think I need a night of relaxation, so I’m about to make a cup of tea and a snack while watching the last night of the Olympics. 😀

Question—Did you watch any of the Olympic events, and if so…what was your favorite sport?  I watched some of the Olympics this year.  I love watching the figure skating and snowboarding…the skiing was pretty intense too. 😀