What I Do When I Can’t Walk (Run Recovery)

So, yesterday my Type A / hardcore chick came out with my post on half marathon training! I definitely turn into a beast when I have a goal, but I’m not always that way. Case in point: It is currently 9:41pm, my mind is whirring, and I’m basically a lunatic with a laptop and a foam roller.

I do have big running goals, but I also don’t take running all that seriously. This shows when I do things like:

  • Long run on Saturday: during which the last 2 miles of my 10 miler felt like marathon and I almost stopped to walk 30.3 times –> it was not an easy jaunt.
  • Squat PR on Sunday: I woke up with no soreness, so I decided to hit the gym! (weekends are the only day the squat rack is ever free).

WELL, it turns out that when you do things like that, your legs start to hurt. A LOT. In an effort to not hobble around like an eighty-seven year old man, I’ve been taking some measures to help loosen up the poor fellows.

1. Slow recovery run. Since I only run 4x per week, I usually go fast-ish (for me) every time. NOT yesterday. I’m not even going to tell you what my pace was because it doesn’t matter – I just focused on getting that lactic acid outta there, and pretended that the ground was massaging my legs.

2. Foam roll all day. I know everyone says to foam roll, but I don’t mean one 10-15 minute session and then you’re done for the day. Every time I made it back to my room, I hopped on that thing and worked out a few more kinks. I probably did it 5-6 times and it is a godsend.

3. Torture Device Extraordinaire. AKA this magic ball. It has been a godsend with shin splits, but also areas like the balls of my feet and hipbones that a foam roller can’t quite get to.

pro-tec-spiky-massage-ball-web-h1_1

4. REST! I’m doing what I should have done on Sunday –> allowing my muscles to recoup and rejuvenate. My schedule is absolutely packed today anyway so it’s not like I will be missing out.

5. Keep moving. The worst thing you can do is to sit on your butt all day. Similar to recovery runs, keeping moving / walking will encourage muscles to stay loose, springy and extended.

6. Chowing down on the good stuff. There are no magic pills that will immediately cure you of DOMS. But, making sure you are still consuming a diet of a variety of nutrients will only speed up the recovery process. Lots of dark fruits, leafy greens, and healthy fats are ideal. <– and all the water! Never forget the water.

oatsBlueberries + nut butter = power food. Now if only I could find a way to incorporate spinach into oats. 

7. ICY HOT. If all else fails, this stuff is an absolute miracle worker. I used it for years while ski racing 20-30 hours per week, and I honestly do not know what I would have done without it. It is the only way my legs did not collapse underneath me after an 8 hour training day + 2 hour dryland training session (think squats, sprints, wall-sits, etc.). I’ve never been affiliated with them – I’ve just used their product for over 10 years!

I sincerely hope you aren’t in the position to need some / all of these measures, but I’ve got you covered if you are! Have a super excellent Tuesday, and I will talk to you guys tomorrow!

What do you do the day after a hard run/workout? 

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Squat PR + One of Those Runs.

Good morning!

I am deeply sorry for the lack of post yesterday. I have a computer science midterm in less than two hours (from 7pm-9pm!! Who schedules an exam that late?!), and have been panicking/telling myself not to panic all weekend long. I think I was actually successful because I don’t feel very stressed about it. I am nowhere near confident…I just don’t really care. Which is not great since I do need to pass this course. Ah, well. We shall see what happens.

not-panicking

So, when I WASN’T blogging or studying this weekend, I was actually in complete BEAST mode. I decided to go to the Lululemon Kitsilano run club on Saturday morning at 8am, and the ambassador said she was planning to do roughly 10km. A little shorter than I was hoping for on long run Saturday but I decided my knee would probably appreciate the cutback. Welp, she was off by more than a little bit and we ended up doing 15km (roughly 9 miles!). Yikes. We went quite slowly and stopped a few times buuuut it was the furthest I have gone in quite some time. Yay for progress! And sore legs…

walkJust a slightly active day.

Speaking of sore legs, I decided that the day after long run day was the perfect day to up my squat. I have been doing 3 x 8 at 95lbs and dare I say it was feeling a little too easy…so I upped it to 4 x 8 at 100lbs! Nothing monumental, or so I thought.

Fast forward to Monday and my hips are so tight that walking hurts. OUCH. I was hoping to do 3 miles this morning at a decent pace with a few pickups but all I could manage was 2.5 @ ~9:00 and then an increase to 8:00 for the last 800m (which was WAY harder than it should have been). It is also noteworthy that after running for 1 minute @ 7:40 I had to slow down to a 10:00 pace – the slowest I have run in about 4 years. Not so fun.

I’m a tad worried about this because I have a 10km run date planned for tomorrow morning! I really don’t want to bail, and I really REALLY don’t want to be as slow as I was today. Between this and the midterm, there is a lot of just “hoping for the best” going on around here.

I think I am going to go attack my foam roller and help “hope” out a bit! Hope you all have an amazing Tuesday! 🙂

How I Stayed Sane While Not Running.

While I have always been very active, it hasn’t been until very recently that I have relied on exercise for my sanity. Four or five years ago when I had a serious knee injury and couldn’t run it was definitely hard on me, but that was the months of inactivity. These days, even one changes my entire outlook on life.

Since starting university, my days have been jamFREAKINGpacked. As in, I literally don’t have time to breathe until 6pm, at which point I feel guilty for breathing/eating instead of studying. It’s quite the sad situation. And it is for that reason that I have come to genuinely love waking up at 5:30am to sweat every day. Yes I am sometimes a little bit tired, but I so crave that “me” time that I actually have no problem getting up and going.

stunning-mountain-sunrise-2560x1600Because waking up to scenes like this = WORTH. IT. 

Enter: Emma turns into an overconfident, overtraining runner and her knee slaps her in the face.

Translation: I increased my running mileage WAY too fast and as a result the knee recovered from said severe injury above started to hurt any time I put weight on it. NOT. COOL.

It wasn’t possible for me to just stop exercising. It’s not about weight/fitness/burning X. Truly, my morning workouts are simply the only thing keeping me sane. (And, okay, they do make me feel a little bit better about my nut butter spoonful habit. ;)) So last week, instead of being all depressed that I couldn’t run, I took the time to fall back in love with weight lifting and discovered a new love, spinning!

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 6 mile run with 3 @ 7:50 pace. (this was the run that started it all….. 😦 )

Wednesday: easy elliptical / spin

Thursday: DESTROYED my entire upper body + abs

Friday: easy elliptical / spin + glutes + abs

Saturday: Re-destroyed said unrecovered upper body + abs

Sunday: First leg day in weeks! Still at 95lb squat…

bambi-walking

I started my time off (Wednesday) with doing absolutely nothing that irritated my knee. I worked glutes because I knew of a couple exercises (donkey kicks, glute bridges, side leg raises) that would not affect it whatsoever. So I gave my knee four FULL days of complete and total rest. Then on Sunday I gave it a little bit of stress, but didn’t do things like lunges that still caused me pain.

AND YESTERDAY I RAN!!! 15 minutes easy, 5 x 1 minute @ 8:00 with the last 2 minutes increasing to 7:30 pace for a total of 3.1 miles. I had planned to just run 3 easy miles but got sooooooooo bored on the treadmill that I had to switch it up a teensy bit. Result was a success! I foam rolled after and have absolutely zero pain. 🙂

walking-out-of-the-gym-500x492

Now to attack this Monday – I have been up since 5:30am, and my “scheduled” day lasts from 9am-6pm with basically no breaks. Wish me luck!

My Running & Fitness Goals

Taking this past week off of running has forced me to focus on what I want from running long-term. I may be super jealous of all the people I see out running in the gorgeous fall weather / sprinting on the treadmill while I am on the spin bike, but I simply ask myself the same question every time I want to run:

“Would I rather run for an hour today or the rest of my life?”

Seriously – if I was lucky enough that my knee didn’t hurt during a run, I am quite sure I would be in pain 0.02 seconds after finishing and then be in CONSTANT pain for much much longer than  a week. I’m writing this post on Sunday evening, my fifth full day run-free. And guess what? My knee is 90% better. As if I needed affirmation that resting it was the right thing to do. This morning was the first time I put ANY stress on it (hello squats), but I still couldn’t do lunges without pain so I know I am not 100% yet.

Like I started off with – I have spent my time off thinking and dreaming about all the things I want to accomplish when I get back into running! Here is the list so far:

1. Run a sub 1:45 half marathon. This is nothing new – it is my HUGE, MAIN goal for running and my overarching focus with anything else I try to do. I am hoping to achieve this on June 7 in Calgary! 5 months of steady base training + 3 months of speedwork = goal achieved. We hope.

Calgary Marathon

2. Run a 10k in 45 minutes. In my mind, I need to be able to do this before I can run my goal time for a half. Ideally I will be able to run this on November 16, as that is the only 10k I am currently registered for! But that might be way too ambitious so we shall see I suppose.

3. Squat my bodyweight. I’ve sort of stalled at 95lbs and have been nervous to increase because I’m not confident about my form. I’ve never been taught so I’m hoping that I can get someone to check me out before continuing!

4. Become a personal trainer! This is happening summer 2015! It randomly occurred to me on my walk to the gym this morning as I was thinking about how much I genuinely LOVE the atmosphere there. It would be such a perfect side job for right now while I am in school and for the rest of my life! Until, you know, I am a millionaire. 😉

Tell me your biggest goal right now! 

How to be the Master of Crosstraining.

So, I have to say, from a workout perspective, I am kind of in love with last week. The student recreation group at my school put on a huge open house where you could go to ANY and ALL group classes for 100% free. Um, as a university student, anything with “free” attached to it is up my alley. So off I went! I was really outside of my comfort zone, which I loved. Isn’t that the point of university anyway?

scaryThe usual goal.

Monday: ZUMBA. So, I FINALLY tried Zumba. After it being extremely popular for 9000 years and me wanting to try it for the same length of time, I finally got around to it. The funny story behind this one is that I was planning to go to a yoga class at 7am. Well, geographically-challenged Emma walked around campus for an hour and a half before giving up and going back to her dorm room. I really wanted to do some sort of activity that day (I was writing an article about it!) so I made myself go to Zumba right after my class ended at 6pm. I am not even CLOSE to being called a dancer, but no one there cared! We were all just jamming out to the music and it was SO much fun. I definitely left sweaty – not in a “puke-your-brains-out workout” way, just a really nice, relaxing effort.

Tuesday: Cycle Boot Camp. This was definitely the week of firsts – first zumba class and first spin class! This was a combo of 25 minute spin + 25 minute bootcamp. I loved it! Spinning was a great way to switch up the cardio from running and I loved that you could alternate between hills/sprints for different “feelings” while still maintaining a hard effort. Occupied brain = happy workout. The bootcamp portion focused on shoulders/triceps/back, but honestly anything that gets me to do weights these days is a godsend. The gym is just so farrrrrrr. #lazystudent

Students

Wednesday: Early Riser Boot Camp. What it sounds like – a bunch of crazies getting together at 7am to sweat out the sleep. The instructor said he took it easy on us, but honestly this was the perfect level for me. It was a full-body circuit style workout and I felt like the not-so-challenging exercises helped get me through the super tough ones. I would be scared to go to a “real” version of it!

Thursday: 3 miles @ 8:33. My legs were PRETTY DARN SORE from the last 3 workouts (zumba = all the squats) and so I wanted to do a short run + stretch/foam rolling to get them ready for my hoped-for 7 mile run on Friday.

Friday: OFF. My alarm went off at 6am and after answering to it all week (after 5 hours of sleep!) I said “nope!” and promptly rolled over. It turned out to be a good decision because the legs were still hurting and I was just generally wiped. Rest is best. 🙂

Saturday: 7 miles @ 8:19. So this is the problem that sometimes arises when not looking at your watch. You THINK you are taking it easy when in fact you are running far far too fast and will pay for it sincerely during the last mile. 7 miles is still a somewhat uncomfortable distance for me (both mentally and physically) so it really needs to be run at an 8:30+ pace. I had splits all the way down to 8:00! The kicker came when I saw 5.88 on my Garmin (first time I checked), thought I was almost done, and then realized that 5 did not come before 7. BUMMER. Anyway I finished this run feeling like I had to throw up all the quivering muscles in my legs, but I also felt like a total freaking badass.

Sunday: Hatha yoga. I went back and forth with working out and after deciding to take a rest day, remembered that there was a free hatha yoga class at the studio close to my residence! I knew hatha was supposed to be just really gentle, relaxing stretching, so I hit that up to end my weekend on a good note and prepare for the week ahead.

I don’t love the fact that I barely ran this week, but I did have a kickass long run so I’m okay with it! I’m happy to have a crosstraining week before really zoning in on running again. The gym is about 2 miles away so realistically I don’t see myself going there a ton. I think my goal will be to run there, lift full-body weights and run back twice per week, with two other runs being one long and one workout. But only time will tell.

Tell me something different you did this week! 

Squat Heavier Leg Workout. (Time Efficient!)

Can I get three cheers for a new squat personal best?

I don’t know how much it reeeealllyy counts, since my last couple of reps of each set were a teensy bit questionable, but I did it so I’m counting it. 😉

In 5 weeks, I’ve gone from squatting 45lbs (just the bar) to 95lbs (bar + 50lbs)! I’m not very close to my ultimate goal of a bodyweight squat (yet) but I am DEFINITELY making major progress and decided to share how I did it!

*I’m not a personal trainer! This is the leg workout I’ve been doing thanks to 10 years of weight training experience, trainers at my gym and the lovely world wide web. Make sure you modify for yourself as necessary. 🙂 *

I tried to do the whole “Do my set, rest” thing that is touted to be such an amazing muscle building technique. I JUST GOT SO BORED. When I go to the gym, I like to leave knowing that I WORKED the whole time, and didn’t spend half of it sweating all over the bench. But I definitely realize that my quads/butt need to rest between sets of squats, so I came up with supersets that alternate hard/heavy work with more plyo/bodyweight style moves! No burpees though. Never burpees.

Burpees-Dont-Really-Like-You-Either2

I also aaaalways start with squats because if I wait then my legs already hate me too much to do anything awesome. Which is why I spend my entire warmup staring at the squat rack. 

Superset One:

3 x 8 barbell back squat

3 x 20 calf raises with pause

 

Superset Two:

4 x 8 deadlift

4 x 10 (per side) lateral lunge

 

Superset Three:

4 x 8 leg press

4 x 10 back lunge

 

Superset Four:

4 x 10 Smith Machine calf raise

4 x 10 jump squats

 

Depending on how I feel, I sometimes finish with this wonderful contraption that works your lower back. I have absolutely NO idea what it is called but you start with your torso supported, and the top of your head facing the floor. Then lift yourself up so your entire body is parallel with the floor!

0706_back_extensionThis thing. 

 

And now I can’t move. In total, this workout takes less than 30 minutes, but does NOT feel like it. AKA try not to stare at the clock every 2 minutes. Just have fun. 😉

Tell me your favourite leg workout! 

How to Love Your Muscular Legs.

Good morning! It was LEG DAY at the gym today, and the fact that I am consistently working hard to gain muscle and strength in my legs got me thinking, because I definitely didn’t always have this mindset. For example, today I did 4 x 8 squats at 85lbs. Not amazing, but a far cry from the 3 x 8 at 45lbs I could barely do a month ago. I am improving nonstop, and it feels STELLAR.

selfieRandom selfie because smiling = stellar. 

Growing up in sports meant that from the age of five onwards, I was working hard, developing strength and gaining muscle without even realizing it. My opinion on that right now is HOW AWESOME IS THAT? You go hang out with your friends several times per week doing something you love and build a foundation for yourself to have a lifetime of fitness.

My opinion on that about five years ago: My thighs look fat. 

 snape-displeased

[source.]

Let me tell you a fact or two. When you, for eleven years, are:

  • In a tuck position strapped to wood flying 100km/h down a mountain
  •  Doing tuck jumps for hours AFTER above exercise
  • Squatting/leg pressing more than the boys on your team

YOU ARE GOING TO GET LEG MUSCLES. This is wonderful. Having the ability to move yourself, whether it is walking, running, skiing, jumping, or anything, strong legs = freedom. Possibilities.

Not to mention the ability to move OTHER things. Do you want to rearrange your bedroom? Lie on the floor with your back against the wall and push that bed to the other side.

In this day and age, the focus is all about “long and lean”. Girls don’t want to get “bulky”. Well, I’m not here to tell you that lifting heavy won’t do that. I think the CrossFit/lifting movement has done that for me. What I am trying to say is that long + lean does is not the only way to look gorgeous.

Get-Lean-and-Toned-Legs-with-This-Workout[source.]

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a certain look – but google “leg workout for women” and “Slim lean legs!” will show up more times than you can count. That’s great for some women, and I’m not discrediting them at all. But what about those of us that just can’t achieve that look? Not without endless cardio and dieting to force our bodies to use up our hard-earned muscle? That doesn’t sound remotely appealing to me. 

It’s taken me a long time to love my legs. I kid you not, I used to google “how to lose leg muscle”. No, that is not a joke. I was so embarrassed of my “thunder thighs” (–> I will never use that phrase again), that I was obsessed with getting rid of them. They were different from all the other non-athletic skinny girls and I wanted to fit in.

Do you hear that, though? They made me different! My strong, muscular legs made, and still make, me unique and set me apart from the stereotypical female. They allow me to run far,

12-miles

to squat more than I used to weigh, and feel proud of the dedication it took/takes to achieve them. They make me unique, and for that, I love my muscular legs. 

This is my best advice if you are in the same situation as I was! So often we are uncomfortable with things that set us apart. It does make sense, though. If there was nothing different about us, we wouldn’t have anything we thought was “weird”, because everyone else would have it too.

And who really wants that? Who wants to look exactly the same as every other girl on the planet? EMBRACE your muscles, girls, not only for what they can do in the world, but for what they can do for you. 🙂 Make you unique, proud, independent,

and stronger than yesterday.