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Running at Last

I got to run!!!!! Well, kinda. I am allowed to run 4-6 intervals of run for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. It was amazing and exhilarating and terrifying. In addition to worrying about my incredibly weak quads, I am also working on changing my style. This takes quite a bit of thinking power and is hard to do when your pup is LOVING the run and you can’t contain your joy of watching her zip by and get caught up in a sniff as she gets easily distracted. So….. what did I learn?

  1. My dog is incredibly cute and amazing, but I already knew that!
  2. I REALLY need to strengthen my legs.
  3. The floor is lava is a fun way to remember to pop up your feet to run. More on that in another post.

So, what am I going to do about it? First step, cuddle with the Holly pup! Next, strength train the heck out of my self. Special thanks to my running buddy, Kerry, for suggesting that our next Fleet Feet Book Club book be “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. If there were ever a book to get your butt in gear, stop the whining, and get life done, it would be this one. Check it out if you need a swift kick to the booty to get your life in gear! So, now that I have the motivation, what the fluff do I actually need to do? Squats, squats, and some more squats with some lunges thrown in! But in all seriousness, yes, some squats, particularly with excellent form. One thing to help with my knees on this exercise is to do the squats with a band just above my knees. It’s going to help me to keep my knees from caving in and ruining the benefits of this exercise. While I have that band on my legs, I’m going to keep that small squat and do a side-step shuffle, keeping low in the pose. Follow that with a monster walk forward and backward. Then the band comes of (phew) and I need to stand in front of a mirror for this next one to check form. Keeping the hips level, I’m going to drop into a lunge position (not too deep though) and use my front leg to stand up from the squat into a full standing position and then back down. Do this one to fatigue on the bad leg, then do the same number on the good leg. Having a wall or something nearby helps for balance. Next, drop it down and do a few Glute Bridges, keeping those hips level. After 10-15, switch to single leg bridges, still keeping those hips level. Want to step it up? My amazing PT, Kari, told me to put your heels on a foam roller and bridge up that way. Are you on fire yet? Do a quick Piriformis stretch by laying on your back, crossing one foot over the opposite leg, and pulling that leg in while pushing the knee of the crossed leg out….. Does it hurt a little? You’re welcome! Follow that up with a 30-60 second plank and some birddogs. When you’re finished, pat yourself on the back and do some calf raises on the stairs, making sure you push your weight into your first and second toes. Try an explosive up and a slow, measured down. Last, stretch. Always, always, always stretch.

What exercises do you do in your routine? What else should I add? My biggest setback in all of this is wallowing in self-pity instead of getting up and getting it done. I am taking a page out of “Can’t Hurt Me” and writing notes on my mirror to get my butt in gear and get it done. What’s been your biggest hang up when it comes to strength training?

Celebrating the Small Stuff

Today I lifted my leg off the ground without help. While that seems like such a very tiny thing in the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t do that two days ago, no matter how hard I tried at my PT’ s office. She had to assist… every…. single…. time. So today, I’m going to take the time to celebrate the small things. I’m now walking with minimal assist from the crutches (my knee wants to buckle a lot of the time), my dog has stopped following me around the house-especially near the stairs, and I showered without a monitor! WOOOOOT! Small victories. And while I’m terrified to try steps without the use of crutches, I’ll get there, one baby step at a time. So tell me? What have been your small victories today, or this week?

So I’ve Been Pretty Quiet…..

I know, I know, I was going to be better at this. A lot has happened lately, and it’s easy to get caught up and let life carry you along without realizing where the time has gone. The past few months have been a pretty major turning point in my life, and the lives of so many others. With the shut downs in response to Covid-19, I had to learn a completely new way to do my job as a Speech-Language Pathologist in the public schools. It’s a task that I am still working on. I’ve also been working on educating myself on racism and ways to be a part of the solution and work to create change and justice for BIPOC. I’m learning to have uncomfortable conversations and learning to confront myself. It has been a great period of growth personally. I am always down to have conversations with people on this topic, so reach out, let’s keep the tough conversations going and continue to share ways that we can help! But y’all visit this page for running things, and the biggest running thing I have to say that has been a major struggle during this time is that I had to have knee surgery.

These have been the stages and phases of Holly helping me to feel better. In reality, she was mostly looking to mooch some of the treats I have stashed next to me! Turns out I had something called Excessive Lateral Pressure Syndrome. Basically, a ligament on the outer edge of my knee was too tight, and pulled the kneecap down, compressing all the lovely things underneath that need to not be compressed in order to work smoothly. they cut that tendon, and cleared up the scar tissue that had formed (hello glass feeling!) and voila! I’m left with a pretty swollen and sore knee for now, a dog that wants to snuggle, but isn’t sure how, and a reminder of how awesome my parents and friends are.

So…what does this mean moving forward? I gotta keep up that strength training……I know, I know. It’s so easy to forget that and just keep the runs coming. But seriously guys……Do you want to wind up like me?

What I would like to do, not only to give myself a chance to research and share with you, but also to help me be a little more organized with blogging, is to share some strength tips each week. I’ll keep you up to date with my Physical Therapy and how we are working on things post surgery, but I also want to talk about ways to incorporate strength training in your weekly exercise routines. Feel free to reach out with any questions or tips!

Pity Party, Table for One…

My lovely tapped up knee (Thanks Rock Tape!) and also my favorite socks-cheers to Balegas!

So, many of you dear readers are runners, or are supporters of runners. Therefore, you know just how stubborn we can be. Pair that with genetics (I’m looking at you mom and dad) and the fact that I’m a Taurus (I think that stubbornness is our hallmark trait?), and you can see where this post might be leading. I had that niggle of pain during my race, and before that, during training, and after that when running for the fun of it. Did I stop the running? No! Of Course not, why would I?!?! Now, I most likely have a partial tear in my Meniscus. So, here’s the thing that I will be on my soapbox about for at least the next 2 months until the stubbornness reappears in my life: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!! And also, STRENGTH TRAIN!! So, naturally, after hearing that I could not run pain free without taking a few steps back, I threw myself the biggest pity party and invited no one else because I did not want to share the cake. But on the plus side, I did a lot of reflection and know that taking a step back isn’t the worst thing, especially if I learn about it and actually follow through with plans. So leading up to really buckling down and training for one of my bucket races (Chicago 2020, here I come!! EEEEKKKK!!), I’m going to take a step back from racing, and focus on building a strong foundation: strength training, cross training, stretching, and reflection before I focus on building my miles. Sadly, that means that no more impulsive race registrations, but my bank account does say “thank you.” I’m lining up my accountability partners now and asking them to put my stubborn butt back in place when necessary. But most importantly, I’m allowing myself grace. Am I going to mess up? Duh! I have the attention span of a fruit fly, so yes! But that doesn’t mean that I have to start all over from scratch or that I have to hide under the covers, waiting for the world to end. Let’s remember to use those moments of backslide as learning tools for growth and improvement and not for self-torture and punishment. I’ll help you remember, if you will help me to remember.

“An injury is not just a process of recovery it’s a process of discovery.”

-Conor McGregor

My First Blog Post: Redemption….kinda

Rachel starting the Philadelphia Half Marathon with her cousin, James

Taking the time, during a race, to remember my “why”

Three years ago, I signed up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I planned to run with my cousin, his wife, and one of my friends from home. This was to be a fun training run on my way to my first full marathon until I injured my hip. It was my first DNR and inside, I was devastated. Not only would I miss the history of the city, but the amazing crowds that cheer all the runners along the way. It’s been a long road to recovery, partly me learning to listen to my body and it’s needs. But mostly me learning how to properly train-complete with strength and cross training. This year, my cousin and I signed up to run. I was all-in on setting a PR-a time I had not reached since injuring myself. And in all that focus on running more than what I was capable of, I forgot my reason “why.” Around mile 4, the all-too familiar pinching feeling started. I started to berate myself, but then I realized, this was not why I run. I don’t run for time, I don’t run to push myself beyond my limits. I run to be a part of something bigger, to absorb all that is going on around me. I run since others can’t. Oddly enough, the moment of my epiphany, one of the many church bells along the route started chiming. That was when I let go and set my mind to enjoy the run, as much as one can enjoy 13.1 miles! Highlights: seeing Ben Franklin and his wife giving high fives next to the Liberty Bell, the amount of people braving the cold to cheer on complete strangers, the support an encouragement of fellow runners, and all of the fun signs! My favorite was “Pain is just French for Bread.” So, once I let go and enjoyed the ride, I felt redemption. This was the reason I had signed up in the first place, the reason why I run races (other than seeing all the fun medals). So, as I set my sights on loftier goals: completing a full marathon next fall (eek! It’s published online, that makes it official!), I am putting my focus on running to enjoy the feeling, and to encourage others to push their souls to the limits (because, let’s face it, anything after 10 miles is run with your soul, not your body). Let’s see what we can do when we run for more than just ourselves.

“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.”

— Unknown

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more.

My Story

With my cousins inside the Panathenaic Stadium

We all get that question “Why do you run?” Sometimes, it’s in a voice of disbelief, why would you be that crazy? Sometimes, it’s in a voice of curiosity, why would you choose running over a possibly more enjoyable form of exercise? And sometimes, it’s in a voice of wonder, what is your why, because I would like to find mine. I find that many times, my why changes: to push myself, to relieve stress, so I can eat whatever I want, to encourage others, to feel a sense of freedom. But, underneath it all, there is always one undying foundation: my sense of community.

What does this mean?

I run to build a sense of community in my fellow runners. There is always some point in your run, no matter the distance, when that niggling voice of doubt makes you question your heart, your abilities, and your strength. I run to help push others through that voice of doubt and watch them gain confidence in themselves. I run to hear other people’s true reason for their answer to that age-old question: “Why do you run?”

My goal with this blog is to talk a little about my experiences, but also to explore experiences of other runners. I would love to use this space as a way to help others push through that little voice in your head. I would love to connect with others and hear how you push through that point, your why, and to discuss your love of running. If you have something you would like to discuss or see added, please leave a suggestion in the comments!

A Little More About Myself:

By day, I am a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist. I work with preschool through 5th graders to improve their language and articulations skills. But I do more than that, I provide a safe space for them to talk about their hopes and dreams and to encourage them to grow, and know that they are loved. By evening, I am a coach with Fleet Feet’s Training Program where I enjoy running with my community of runners. When I am not working or running, I snuggle with my pup, Holly, read, travel, and explore.

“There is something magical about running; after a certain distance, it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul.” Kristin Armstrong