To say that I'm frustrated by how slow I seem to be recovering from this injury is an understatement. I haven't run in 6 weeks and I haven't had a hard bike ride in over two weeks. I've consistently gone to PT and still my recovery seems to be slow. I can still feel the pull of my adductors as they cross the knee. I still have pain at the pes anserine. Although the pain has disipated when I perform squats or lunges, I can still feel it when I walk at times or when applying pressure along the insertion points of the adductors.
I'm anxious to get back to training at full speed and am wondering how much longer till I can compete again. Not only is my body taking a hit, but my pysche as well now. Workouts are not as much fun as I'm always on the lookout for any pulling through my knee and I can't give an all out effort. I feel like a caged tiger or a racehorse in the corral. I want to get out there and run, but my body says no...not yet!
At first I looked at this period of rest as a opportunity to rebuild mid-season. Now that its taking longer than I thought it would (or think it should!), I'm just angry and frustrated. I keep wondering why the PT doesn't seem to be working. Is there something else wrong? Is this the end of running and triathlon for me? Why do I feel great some days and struggle with the pain and pulling others?
Honestly, I don't like the possible answers to any of these questions. I've spent all of my adult life competing in road races, duathlons and triathlons. To think that this injury could side-line that for an extended period or possibly forever, is a reality I'm not willing to face. I'm not sure I know who I am as a person without the competition. Who I am without running, where I think through lifes challenges and explore possibilities, coming back with a new perspective on things. Who I am without the rush of cycling, feeling the wind and excitement of going fast and taking risks. A lot of "who" I am is wrapped up in training and competing. I've never thought of myself as someone who exercises, but as an athlete who trains. I now wonder where that person is as I recover from this injury.
This is not the first injury I've suffered, nor will it be my last (endurance athletes experience their share of injuries over a lifetime and I've had few in comparison so far), but it certainly is the most challenging. I have a new appreciation for those suffering long-term injuries or diseases that alter their lifestyles. So much of who we are is wrapped up in what we do. Injuries and diagnosis are not just a physical challenge, but a psychological one as well. They test our spirit as well as our bodies.
I have good days and bad days depending on the pain. I continue to believe that this is just a temporary set back. An opportunity to learn more about the function of the body, new rehabilitation techniques and how to psychologically deal with setbacks. In the end, hopefully, this will make me a better person and a better trainer. Afterall, some good has to come out of this injury!!!!
Do you have a bucket list? You know, a list of things you want to complete during your lifetime.
A friend was just posting on Facebook about having completed one of his bucket list items. He was celebrating a birthday and was updating his bucket list. It was inspiring to see all the things he had achieved and to learn about the things he still wanted to accomplish.
I've kept my own bucket list for years now. It includes items that are both professional and personal. I try to review it once a year and map out which ones I'd like to work toward achieving in the next year. It's thrilling to check items off. Especially ones I've had to work long and hard toward. Things I once thought were not possible, now are with the proper planning and training.
In reading my friends list, I got to thinking about how his act of sharing his goals enabled me to cheer him on in his pursuit. How much richer his life was because he was involved in it, rather than just letting each day pass him by.
Think about it. We love to see others achieve things they've worked toward. It's why the finish line of a race is so exciting. The looks of exhaustion, excitement and joy as participants cross the finish line are priceless. Especially in endurance races like ironman triathlons or marathons where participants have put in long hours of training. We want to see them succeed. No matter how they finish, they've achieved a goal many others have not. Their personal win encourages us to reach for our own goals.
I've never shared my bucket list with anyone except my husband. Maybe out of fear (see an earlier blog about that from a few months ago!). Fear that others will laugh at my goals or tell me how unachievable they are (by the way...this only spurs me on to prove you wrong!) or how I'll respond to others if I don't achieve them. But as my friend showed me by sharing his list, I also lose out by not getting all the support friends and family can provide along the journey. Most people want to see you succeed. They want to cheer you on and see you cross your own personal finish line. It's the reason most people lose weight best and keep it off the longest when they have a support system or group in place to help when their own personal motivation is lacking.
Life is a team sport! And the finish line is that much more enjoyable when friends and family are there celebrating your success with you. Its the journey of achieving things you once only dreamed of accomplishing. And allowing that success to take you on a new adventure.
Ask my friend. The numberous posts he received on Facebook were all positive, encouraging and supportive. I can't wait to hear about his latest achievements and what he's ticking off next on his bucket list. And if I can help in anyway, I'll be there!
What's on your bucket list? Don't let fear hold you back, trust that friends and family will be at the finish line to cheer you on. Dream Big! Then revel in the achievement of that dream when you check it off your bucket list.
So here goes! Here's MY current bucket list:
1. Complete an ironman triathlon
2. Complete the Hawaii Ironman
3. Run a mudrun
4. Compete in an adventure race
5. Go spelunking
6. Ice skate at rockafella center
7. Take piano lessons
8. Take a martial arts class
9. Take ballroom classes with Jim
10. Visit all 7 continents (5 down!)
12. Go to a vacation spa with ggod girlfriends
13. Go on a sailboat cruise
14. Own a waterfront home
16. Play paintball
17. Ride in a hot air balloon
Which to tick off next?!
I'm often contacted by clients who want to lose the weight they've gained through pregnancy. They long to get back the body they had before they got pregnant or, in some cases, even a healthier one! Most of the time they have a "number" in mind. A number they want to see on the scale or a number of pounds they wish to lose. Sometimes they let me know that number right off. Sometimes I have to ask some questions, but almost all of them have a "number" they want to achieve.
While "losing the weight" or "toning up ______ (insert body part of your choice here)" is a goal that will certainly help you to achieve a healthier lifestyle, its often a longer-term goal. Meaning, the road to weight loss is more of a roller coaster than it is a set path. You're bound to have stumbling blocks, weight loss plateaus and set backs. How you address all of these will help you to achieve your long term goal, but it can often be a frustrating journey. One where you can easily give up on your goal all together, thinking you'll never achieve it.
I often try to ask my clients "why they want to lose the weight?". This doesn't always come about in one session, but usually after I've gained rapor with them and they begin to trust me. At the beginning the answers are usually, "Because my doctor said I needed to." Or "There's this great pair of shorts I've had in my closet for ages that I'm dying to get back into!" As time passes, the answers become "I want to be here for my children and set a good example for them of a healthy lifestyle." Or "I want to be healthy for my next pregnancy so I don't have so many complications."
Now we're getting somewhere!
The next question is....What does this look like? For some this is a hard question to answer. They haven't given it much thought. For others they have an answer right away..."They want to be able to complete the Thanksgiving walk their church does every year." "They want to run their first marathon." "They want to be able to walk up the stairs at work without being exhausted or having to stop."
These are the measurable, achievable goals that always make me smile and get me excited! Why?
- You know when you've achieved them! Be it a race, a walk, climbing the stairs without stopping, being able to touch your toes, complete a pull-up, push-up or sit-up. You immediately know when you've achieved this goal. And so does everyone else! The smile, joy and enthusiasm you radiate at that moment is infectious to everyone around you.
- Success begets Success! Along your journey to achieve your goal, you'll find that if you don't change certain behaviors you won't achieve your goal. Its hard to finish a marathon if you've fueled your body on french fries and diet coke! Just as its hard to complete a pull-up, push-up or sit-up if you don't train the muscles (strengthen & stretch) that you'll need to complete those moves. You'll make the positive changes in both your diet and your exercise habits as you start seeing your goal becoming more of a reality.
- A clear path to success! Physical goals tend to have a set path. Rather than the roller-coaster of losing weight, gaining some back, plateauing, etc. The steps to running your first 5K are easily measurable. First you walk, then add some running, then you're running. Increase distance slowly and strengthen/stretch the muscles you'll be depending on to get you across the finish line. You can see yourself getting closer to your goal each step along the way.
- Lots of additional achievements! As you progress along the path to your set goals, you'll find some incredible benefits along the way you didn't know you'd achieve. As you get stronger, you'll start taking on more risks and responsibilities in your personal life. If you can achieve it physically, you can achieve it mentally! Your self-esteem will grow! Things that you once thought tough, may not be so tough any more. You're more likely to face the challenge head on, than shy away from it! After all look at how much you've achieved physically! You'll empower yourself to make those same changes in your personal or prefessional life. Who knows maybe a promotion, new career or new relationship is in your future!!!
- Others will want to join in on the fun! Very rarely do people achieve a goal or finish a race with a frown. You've seen them. They're grinning from ear to ear, arms raised, maybe they're laughing or crying, family and friends are there to greet them and celebrate in their success. Maybe you've felt that excitement, that winning attitude when you've been there to cheer on a family member or friend as they achieve their goal. You understand then how contagious that excitement can be! It encourages others to set their own goals, to make healthier food and exercise choices, to start living a healthier life! And whats even more exciting than celebrating achieving your own goal?.....Celebrating achieving your goal with a group you train with who are also achieving the same goal!
So examine the "Why?" behind your weight loss goals and consider setting a physical goal. It will help you achieve your long-term weight loss goal and soo much more!!!
I had the great privilege to present at my daughter's career day at her elementary school last month. It was such a wonderful, uplifting experience for myself, the children, teachers and other volunteers.
I love my job! I love getting to interact with different people each day, helping them to make healthier changes that will enhance their lives and those of their families. I wanted to share that passion with my daughter's school. Career day was the perfect opportunity!
We hear almost daily about the growing obesity problem in the United States. The pathetic state of our children's school lunch programs. The lack of access to fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. The statistics are staggering...1 in 3 children in the US are now classified as obese, 11.6% of men and 34.35% of women in the US are ineligible for military service due to obesity, children born this decade are projected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to rising obesity rates,...
I firmly believe that if we teach our children, and mothers, to make healthier food choices and to move their bodies daily, we can correct these statistics. Mothers want to do what is in the best interest of their children and children are little sponges, they'll change their eatting and exercise habits if you make it fun. And they'll bring it back to their homes, encouraging their family to make healthy changes also!
I won't lie, I was nervous. Kids are a tough group. They'll let you know if they like you or they don't. You have a very short window to grab their attention and then an even more difficult time, maintaining it! My goal, to entertain, educate and share my love of healthy living!
Each presentation lasted 20 minutes. I talked about what I did, let the kids participate in some exercises, try some new equipment (the bosu was a big hit!), got the teachers involved and finished off with some nutritional info (gotta eat that rainbow of fruits and veggies daily!). Then the children were able to ask questions. They were so interested in what I did, why I did it, that I got to "play" all day, excited that they could eat a rainbow, but that the occasional treat was ok...as long as it was occasional.
Their energy excited me! They couldn't wait to tell me about a race they ran, what they did with their families that moved their bodies, what sports they played, to see if they could do a push-up/squat/hold a balance posture (especially if they were competing against their teacher!), and what good foods they liked to eat. They wanted to share all their achievements! I was thrilled to see their excitement to live healthier lives, to make good food choices and to move their bodies daily.
I think its important to share our passions with children. Its how they learn. People who are passionate about something, make what they love to do, seem exciting and achievable. Others respond to that excitement, that passion. They want to be a part of it. They want to experience it too. So share your passion. Show others how they too can do the same thing. Make it achievable! Little changes add up to BIG results!
I knew I had achieved my goal, when at the grocery store (we call them commissaries on military bases), one of the children who had seen me at career day, pulled on her mother's arm, pointed at me and said "Mom, that's the "Eat a Rainbow!" lady!" I couldn't think of a better title!
Side-lined by an injury. I knew it was coming. I had felt the pain in my knee for a few weeks now. It was slowly building during each running session, coming on earlier in the run. Going from a dull ache to a sharper pain. Eventually causing me to stop running altogether and finish at a walk.
Why did I push through? I know the drill. I tell my clients it all the time. Don't push through pain. Stop. Seek treatment. Rest. Recover. And come back stronger. So why didn't I listen?!
The same reason most of us don't. We think the pain will suddenly go away. We think we're "stronger" than the pain. When in reality, pain is our bodies way of tell us to slow down. Something isn't quite right. Fix it. Learn from it. Come back stronger.
I've suffered from runner's knee before. I have extremely flat feet and I'm prone to it. Most of us have alignment issues that cause our bodies, after repetitive movements (running, cycling, climbing stairs, sitting/standing, etc), to wear down in certain areas, mainly joint areas. Think shoulders, hips, knees, wrists, elbows. The list of repetitve movement injuries is lengthy for all those joints. Rotator cuff injuries, tennis elbow, runner's knee, bursitis, etc. Its the reason most personal trainers look at your alignment before starting you on a training program. It clues us in to any issues you may have before we start training. Giving us clues as to muscles that may be overly tight and need to be stretched or weak and need to be strengthened. Its the reason we ask questions about what you do for a living, how much time each week on average you spend standing/sitting, what recreational activities you perform, where you've had injuries in the past and what type of physical therapy, if any, you had, etc. We're trying to gain insight into how we can help you stay injury free and create the best individualized program for your needs.
My problem, I ignored all that advice. I stopped doing my physical therapy exercises once I no longer felt the injury (10 years ago!). Sound familiar? I didn't give myself enough rest and recovery time, going straight from one race to another. I was never good at wearing my orthodics! All the things I've learned from years of competing and learning how my individual body works best (I need longer rest periods between races and more stretching than most), I ignored. Why? Because I was trying to keep up with all the other athletes I was surrounded by, instead of listening to my own body. And, because I thought I could handle it. My body thought otherwise.
But at some point, we've all been there. We've all felt the start of the pain of an injury and ignored it. Pushing it out of our mind and pretending it would go away. For most of us, where did that get us?! With a larger injury and needing to take more time away from the activity or activities we love!
A better approach:
1. Listen to your body. If it hurts, stop. Find out why.
2. Do the work that you need to do to correct the issue. We all have alignment and repetitive stress issues. Your joints pay the price, but its your muscles that need to be strengthened or stretched to ensure that your joints line up correctly and can function optimally.
3. Rest the injured area.
4. Start back slowly. Your newly stretched and strengthened muscles will need time to get up to 100% in this new alignment. So go easy. It will help you to stay injury free.
5. Don't stop training! Just because you have an injury doesn't mean you stop exercising all together. You can rest the injured area, but still work the remainder of your body. Take this time to build up a part of your body that you don't get to concentrate on as much. Right now my knees need a rest, but my arms, abs and back are still a go. So I'm concentrating on strengthening them....the right way!
6. When in doubt, consult a professional. Ask what exercises you should be doing. How to perform them. How often to perform them. How to start back to your favorite exercise. Then follow that advice. And if you're not comfortable with the answers, then find someone else. Doctors, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, sports medicine doctors, orthopedists, and qualified personal trainers (ask if they have experience helping clients with injuries such as yours) are great resources.
Runner's knee may have me watching from the side-lines for a bit. But with careful rehab, I'll be back out on the road, training for my next triathlon. And you can be certain, that I'll be listening more to my body, keeping up with my exercises and coming back stronger than before my injury!!!