Tuesday, 31 July 2012

This world has gone to the dogs...

I think it is fairly safe to say that my runs are rarely boring.  I came to this conclusion during my run yesterday evening as I headed to Point Pleasant Park in order to avoid all asphalt and sidewalks - as prescribed by my physiotherapist.  I was contemplating how nice it was to be in the park among the walkers, runners and pet owners, when I was rudely awakened from my reverie by two snarling dobermans as they came barreling at me, their owners completely oblivious to my clear discomfort.  I do realize that they were playing, albeit roughly, however, when one owns two dogs like that, you should realize that people do not take kindly to teeth-baring animals following closely at their heels, or said animals running past you over and over as they growl.  I was not particularly interested in being caught in the middle of a doberman tussle.

I would like to note that I am not a pansy when it comes to dogs; I grew up with a very large golden retriever and a bernese mountain dog - go big or go home, I say!

My little Dukey-bear!
So, with great reservation, I ran straight out of that park and broke golden rule #1 - thou shalt not run on sidewalks.  I quickly looped back into the park and onto a different path.  As I started to calm down, and my heart palpitations began to subside, I found myself face to face with the sign below.

Possible coyote sighted in the park.  And a reminder to keep small children and pets close by.  How very comforting.  I decided it was time to assess the situation: a) deserted backwoods path b) no bystanders c) possible weapons choices ... an ipod and car keys.  Conclusion?  I could be coyote meat.  Upon completion of this assessment, I decided it was time to run like hell and make for a populated area...  where I found myself face to face with those damn dobermans again. Lovely. This called for a third path change where things remained much calmer for the remainder of my 18 minute outing.

This is what I came for!  

Despite the short time frame, I can honestly say that this was one of the most adrenaline-filled runs of all time.  It was also one of the few times in my life where I did not come close to losing my lunch.  Progress?  I'll take it.  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

And ... she's back!

It has been over two months since my last run, and yesterday my physiotherapist finally announced that I was allowed to run, with the following caveats:

- thou shalt not run on pavement
- thou shalt not run up hills
- thou shalt not run down hills
- thou shalt not use the elliptical on a run day
- thou shalt not cheat on the specified program (walk 5 minutes, run 1 minute, walk 1 minute, R 1 min, W 1 min, R 1 min, W 1 min, walk 5 minutes)
- thou shalt not exceed two runs in one week

So, with Salt n' Pepa telling me to Push It, I went out for my first "run".  Honestly, it felt good to get back out there, however, it was a bit anti-climactic in the sense that I would just start to run, and then suddenly that interval would be over.  The non-running-lover in me enjoyed the fact that it was not at all taxing, and that there was no need to contemplate a shower.  What I really enjoyed was getting my butt off the couch and back in motion; I have felt chained to my yoga mat and the stationery bike, so moving at a slow trot felt rather exhilarating.  Probably the best part of the whole thing is not a sound escaped from my bootylicious bottom, not even in the confines of the stairwell. Not one rumble was heard from my stomach, no moment of panic set in, and no 100 yard dash occurred to make it to the loo on time.

The only downside to my run was my pair of Run Inspire crops from Lululemon.  I bought these running capris back in April just as I injured myself, I wore them on my last run and was less than inspired.  I have done some yoga, elliptical, walking and biking in these, and really, they should be the Stationery Capri - mostly because one must remain more or less stationery in them.  Another name for them could be Moon Run, because of the fact that I moon innocent bystanders when I wear these performance inhibiting tights.  I was extremely frustrated as even at my sub-running pace, I had to exercise my right to hike that waistband while running in public.  Lock up your children, Running from the Runs is showing her buns!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Swimming after silence

Swimming is one of those simple pleasures in life. Since becoming a runner earlier this winter I have been waiting for that moment when running feels just as natural and relaxing as swimming. I hope that one day I will be able to duplicate that feeling.

Living on the east coast of Canada, it is extremely difficult to avoid being near a body of water. Luckily, my parents recognized how important swimming would be in a province full of lakes and surrounded by ocean. From an early age I was in swimming lessons, followed by synchronized swimming and then eventually lifeguarding, teaching and coaching. Honestly, making swimming a priority was such an important choice. Through swimming I not only stayed active, but found a job, found volunteer opportunities, made lifelong friends and created amazing memories. Swimming is also an escape for me, and each year as summer approaches I anxiously await the moment when I either don my wetsuit or my bathing suit and take my first plunge into the water. There have been many a party-goer who has jumped at the sight of a wetsuit hanging on the back of my bathroom door.

Medford Beach, Nova Scotia
This year it was a little later than expected, June 21, but it did not disappoint. Each summer I spend as much time as humanly possible in the lake, a little less this year due to the injuries. I swim occasionally throughout the winter, normally when my back is bothering me or to prepare for summer swimming. However, nothing compares to swimming outside. My way to achieve serenity is to drive to the lake early in the morning when no one is there and go for a swim. At that hour the water is pristine. It is so calm there is barely a ripple. It is so quiet that the only sound is the slight splash your body creates as you glide through the water.

Early morning silence at the lake
Swimming is one of the gentlest forms of exercise on your body. It is low impact and serves as an ideal option for runners who are trying to crosstrain. If you are injured you should seriously consider going for a swim, especially if you have back or neck problems. This is one of the first things I do when I have an injury as it helps to promote healing.

Working at a lake each summer throughout high school and most of university completely spoiled me. I spent hours and hours each week in the water, and since starting my career I have been chasing after every spare moment to spend time swimming. I have become jaded though, I am forced to swim after work amidst all the young bucks and screaming children. I love children and have nothing against young adults, but, they cramp my style out in that lake. I want to swim in silence. I am selfish; I want the whole lake to myself, and call me crazy, I do not want to worry about a hooligan stealing my towel and car keys!

Chocolate Lake, Nova Scotia

Monday, 9 July 2012

Tuning in and raising a glass

Listening to your body – this is a skill I do not possess, but one that I am scrambling to develop.  If I had only mastered this seemingly simple skill earlier on in life I could have avoided many unpleasant situations.  

As a runner, I have come to learn this lesson the hard, and expensive, way.  I am still recovering from the crushing blows to my IT bands, knees, hip flexors and hamstrings.  I have been in physio for several months and have seen improvement, but I am still in pain and still not allowed to run.  I continue be outpaced by the geriatric crowd in the row of recumbent bikes at the gym.  I am capable of taking my legs out for a spin in the evenings, but the crunching noises when I do my calf raises, quarter squats and lunges remain worrisome.  

All of this could have been avoided if I had heeded the warning signs – the limping during or post-run, the leg stiffness that never seemed to end and the searing pain throughout the upper portion of my lower body.  All of this because I was afraid of looking like a wimp.  Well, now I am the wimp who listens to her knees snap, crackle and definitely pop going down a flight of stairs, who is too sore to handle a foam roller.  Instead, I am armed with ice and a rolling pin to treat the pain.  I spend at least an hour each day doing my physio homework to atone for my sins.  

This is not the only time I have been punished for not listening to my body.  My whole existence as an IBS sufferer exemplifies this.  My biggest issue with IBS has always been tuning in early enough to what my body is trying to tell me.  Specifically, I have difficulties realizing that I am stressed and/or sick.  I never clue until I am already in the midst of a full-blown IBS episode.  

Since my last episode in late 2009 I have been trying to pay more attention to these signals.  Yoga is certainly helpful – first and foremost, by the end of a class I am utterly relaxed.  In addition, the yoga breathing has helped me through many close calls and through the pain often associated with IBS.  Yoga breathing is a small miracle, I kid you not.  Finally, yoga encourages you to pay attention to your body and to relax targeted areas.  Through yoga I am slowly but surely tuning in and trying to listen.  

What I have learned since my injury is that I should not be too proud to slow down when trying to achieve a goal.  It is certainly more worthwhile to slowly improve than to go out guns blazing and injure myself.  I have also learned that patience really is a virtue, even though I curse patience on a daily basis as I diligently stretch and roll my way to an injury-free body.  I have also learned that a glass of wine can cure a multitude of problems – like “I feel sorry for myself”, or “I cannot face doing another clamshell” or “no, I cannot go for a run, I am still injured”.   With this, I raise my glass of Nova 7 and propose a toast to being a wimp.  

Friday, 6 July 2012

Blogger Spotlight!

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of being featured in the Blogger Spotlight portion of FitbloggerFitblogger is an online community where health and fitness bloggers can connect.  It is also a fabulous spot for you, as the reader, to discover new blogs and articles relating to health and fitness.  As a perfect example, I received a comment on my spotlight from the Ethical Athlete, which in turn exposed me to a blog I had not yet discovered.  He has a great, thoughtfully written blog, and because of this experience I added a new name to my blog roll! 

It was an absolute pleasure to write the article, and Fitblogger founder, Rita, was wonderful to deal with and extremely helpful and professional.  I encourage other bloggers to seek out this opportunity and check out the site.  I guarantee you will not be disappointed! 

In terms of the article, I was a little unsure as to how to position it, honestly, I did not want to scare away any new readers with my cavalier references to all things derrière.  I did, however, endeavour to give readers an idea of what to expect when reading this blog.  So, a big thank you to Fitblogger for allowing me the opportunity to contribute and feature my blog!