Runner’s Ramblings

 Monday’s run was a hot, hilly 11 miles at lunch.

My current post-run routine is to hydrate, ice and do core. I can’t get enough of the Nuun hydration electrolyte enhanced drink tablets this summer. You just add them to water and you get a very refreshing sports hydration drink without the sugar. The one pictured below is Lemon+Lime. I use two tabs in each drink for a little bit more flavor, but each tablet makes 16 oz. of Nuun, and has 360 mg of Sodium, 100 mg of Potassium, 25 mg of Magnesium and 13 mg of Calcium.

It’s a proven fact that frozen sweet peas are the best way to prevent running injuries. Okay, so not really, but for whatever reason this one bag of peas has been our go-to bag for icing for several years now. We even brought this bag of frozen peas with us when we moved last summer. Hey, I never said runners were normal.

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I try to make core/strength work a priority as soon as I get done running. Otherwise, it just doesn’t tend to happen. I have been doing core work fairly consistently for over a little over a year now and I definitely think that it has helped my running overall. For whatever reason, Brooks is all about the core work. Anytime I am doing planks or sit ups he has to get in on the action. Golden retrievers really are the best pets ever. He just wants to be where we are and doing whatever we are doing all. the. time.

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Monday evening was a 1 hour and 15 minute yoga class at Running Wild. This was a first for me! My training partner and friend, Rebecca, somehow convinced me that this would be a good idea. We are both bad about running and not stretching, so I agreed that this seemed like a good idea and something that we probably needed to try.

Yoga for runners

Yoga and running definitely lie on opposite ends of the exercise spectrum, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they make a good combination of strength and flexibility. Yoga’s internal focus centers your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Since I wasn’t very familiar with yoga, I did a little research …

According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, almost 70% of runners will be injured at some point in their running career. It is partly because of the incredible forces that we are subjected to. The body of a 130 lb runner, for example, has to absorb over 600,000 lbs of impact every mile! And it’s not just the lower body of the runner that’s affected. That jarring, tightening impact reverberates through the whole body, causing imbalances and tightness head-to-toe and leading a host of common injuries in runners.

And then there is also the intense “Type-A” approach that many runners are notorious for. This stressful, I’M-NOT-WORKING-HARD-ENOUGH approach tends to disconnect runners from the messages from our bodies, which is a leading cause of over-training and injury.

In addition to physically counteracting the strains of running, yoga teaches the cultivation of body wisdom and confidence. As you develop a greater understanding of the body and how it works, you become able to listen and respond to messages the body sends you. This is especially important in running, where the body produces a lot of endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals also double as nature’s painkillers, which can mask pain and the onset of injury or illness. Without developed body intuition, it’s easier to ignore the body’s signals.

Awareness translates to daily workouts, too. You learn through the practice of yoga that each day is distinct, much like each run. Your energy levels fluctuate daily, even hourly, thus it’s important to have a sense of your reserves. The calmness you get from yoga allows you to manage and economize your energy. You can learn to gauge where you are on a given day and what resources you have to give. Therefore, you don’t power drive through every workout mindlessly but rather respect your body’s limitations.

Not only does yoga give you a balanced, flexible body that performs better and is much less prone to injury, but yoga also has a profound effect on your mental attitude as well. And any athlete (or therapist!) will tell you how important that is!

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The class was definitely challenging. I couldn’t do a good 75% of the poses that we were supposed to do, but it did help me realize that I need to focus more on stretching. I also had a hard time “relaxing” and getting my breathing right, but that helped me realize that I need to slow down and decompress more often. It is supposed to get a lot easier after the first few classes, so I plan to at least stick it out and see where we go.

Tuesday morning Daniel and I did an easy 5 miles before I headed across the bay for tennis practice. My team is playing in the state tennis tournament in Mobile in a couple of weeks so we are all trying to get in as much practice as possible before then. Unfortunately, I haven’t been playing as much as I would have liked to have been at this point, but I plan to make up for lost time in the next two weeks. I even checked out a few rackets to test out over the next couple of days. I have been playing with the same racket since I was 15, so I think it is definitely time for an upgrade! I played at state last year for the first time and it was so much fun. The competition was pretty intense, but I loved it. It definitely took me back to some really good memories of playing tennis competitively when I was younger. My skills are a little rusty these days, so my main strategy is to chase everything down and run my opponent into the ground!

Tennis season

Tuesday evenings are group run evenings. We did 6 easy miles. There is usually a pretty good turnout for the group runs this time of year, even though there aren’t any specific training groups going on right now. The half and full marathon training groups start next month. I am really excited to be helping coach the marathon group this year (more to come on that). For now, everyone just kind of does their own thing, but there is always someone to run with. This picture is from a few weeks ago, but you get the idea. It’s a fun, social run.

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Daniel and I grilled out and hit some golf balls into the bay when I got home. We decided that we want to take up golf (because clearly we need more hobbies).

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We typically grill out on Sunday evenings, but since we went out to dinner Sunday, we are a little late with the grilling this week. We try to cook a bunch of meat once a week and then eat on that for several days. This time we just cooked some grilled chicken and conecuh sausage, but we usually throw a couple of steaks and hamburgers in there as well. Red meat is an excellent source of iron and iron is a very important component of a distance runner’s diet. I’ll probably do a post about the different supplements that runners need soon, as I learned some new (to me) information from my coach about that today that I found helpful. But this is it for now! I’ll leave you with this pic of the ultimate grill master and taste tester.

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4 thoughts on “Runner’s Ramblings

  1. I was just looking at Nuun tablets today! I had never considered alternate electrolyte sources other than Gatorade/Powerade until today listening to a Run to the Top podcast on my run. I’m glad to hear of someone else using them.

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  2. Sam, you have been a true inspiration to me. Thank you for the blog! I have many joint and muscular problems and am 61 years old so even when I begin a walking routine, I hurt! But when I was young (age 19) I got very good at yoga. It was very good for me. It toned my muscles and made me much more flexible. I am going to try to begin a routine of that. I had the most awesome little book of yoga poses and breathing that I lost many years ago but I am certain I can find some routines online.

    Keep up the good work! I appreciate you!

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    1. Thank you so much! Yoga is very adaptable, so it is easy to find poses that work for you, regardless of your current age or fitness level. It is so multi-dimensional as well and helps you work on your mental, physical, and spiritual sides all at once. You should definitely get back into it!

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