pittsburgh, run, runner, Running

Half Crazy?

I truly enjoy running in organized races, particularly the ones that benefit a good cause (and the ones that serve ice cream at the finish line). Up until now I have only ever set my sights on running in 5k races. They take under a half hour, I rarely feel sore afterwards, I can focus on speed or on encouraging a friend who is a first time runner, and training for them does not take a lot of time out of my day. To me shorter race distances are a fun and enjoyable experience.

Last year my sister ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and she had an amazing time. At first I thought she was insane because she described the half as “the most fun she has ever had in her life.” She loved the comradery and the sense of hometown pride the race had. Much of my extended family also participated in the race. I was naturally very jealous of all of them, so this year I am going to participate too. I am so excited for it and I registered on the first day the race opened.

While I am excited, I am also a bit nervous for race day. I have not decided on a time goal yet, and right now I am just focusing on finishing the race. If several people from the same gene pool as me can do it so can I (maybe?). I have a great support system and a lot of people I can reach out to for advice if I start to feel overwhelmed. I will be tracking my progress on the blog with the hope that I can stay 100% committed to this goal regardless of how cold the winter ends up being. Side note- I am so excited for the half marathon that I already purchased my outfit for race day. You can never be too prepared!

steel

I am excited to wear this awesome Pittsburgh themed outfit on race day!

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cancer, DC, Running

Running for a cause

Washington D.C. MMRF Race for Research 5K

Washington D.C. MMRF Race for Research 5K

I am not usually someone who will ask for favors, especially not monetary ones, but there is a cause that is extremely dear to my family that I hope you will consider supporting. My dad was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma a few years ago and he has been fighting the cancer ever since. I will be honest. I had not heard of the disease before our family received the heart breaking news of his illness. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the disease, Multiple Myeloma is the second most common blood cancer, and as of right now it is incurable. If you want to read more about the disease and how it affects people please visit http://www.themmrf.org/multiple-myeloma/what-is-multiple-myeloma/.

My dad has been through so much with this disease, and he has fought like a champion. Despite the fact that this disease is incurable, it can be managed. My dad is now in good health thanks to his amazing doctors and the many advances in treatment and care made possible by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF).

My family and I are participating in the MMRF Race for Research on November 16, 2014 so that we can contribute to a cure. We will be celebrating the progress my dad has made so far, raising awareness for multiple myeloma, and working to find a cure for this awful disease. The race is being held at National Harbor, so to my friends based in the DC area – I hope you will consider joining our team (Bud’s Bulldogs) and running in the race. There is a 5k race and a 1 mile long walk, so if you are a fitness lover this is definitely a good race to participate in. If you are not close by, I hope you will consider donating to our team by visiting http://support.themmrf.org/site/TR/RaceforResearch/General?team_id=32324&pg=team&fr_id=1761.

I know that so many of you, like me, have tight budgets and want to ensure that your money goes to something worthy. The MMRF is an extremely successful charity and they have earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating of 4 stars for the last 10 years. That means that the money they raise goes to research and not administrative costs – and they have a proven track record. The MMRF has brought many new drugs and treatments to the market, and the life expectancy of patients has increased significantly because of their work.  Their research also helps patients fighting other forms of cancer because many of the treatments they have produced for multiple myeloma have improved treatment for others as well. The MMRF Race for Research will raise money for this commendable foundation, and I hope you will consider donating. Our team website is located at http://support.themmrf.org/site/TR/RaceforResearch/General?team_id=32324&pg=team&fr_id=1761.

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DC, Fitness, Running

Injury Prevention

Doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred with my little personal trainer

Doing Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred with my little personal trainer

Since I have started running again injury prevention has been at the front of my mind.

During my previous bouts of training I suffered from many different injuries (mostly minor) ranging from a severe ankle injury occurring over ten years ago in high school that likely couldn’t have been prevented, to several overuse injuries stemming from improper running practices (poor shoes, lack of stretching, and upping my mileage too quickly). Overall, I have been pretty lucky despite not always doing the obvious and taking easy measures to prevent injury.

This time around I truly want to succeed and I have been taking serious precautions to prevent injuries.

I am certainly no expert on the subject matter, but I have been working very hard to stay healthy and these methods have worked well for me so far. Besides attempting to eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep below are some of the things I have been doing:

  1. Stretching

I have made it a top priority to stretch properly following each workout I perform no matter how short it may be. I have been lazy in the past and I would only stretch when it was convenient for me and I definitely paid for it. I know firsthand how important this is to my training and how it can put a halt to all of my hard work. Stretching and improving my flexibility have become an extremely important element to my fitness.

When I have the time following a run or on a day off, I also love my foam roller and I enjoy practicing yoga. I am not at all flexible and I am absolutely incapable of relaxing my mind but I still always feel great after attending a class or going through a video and at least attempting to relax and let go of everything. I would certainly prefer an in person class and I used to attend them at a wonderful studio when I lived in Pennsylvania, but I have never been to one in D.C. due to the high cost. This video from Ekhart Yoga is one that I find extremely helpful and it is tailored towards runners https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of2spyCtUkw. You can also find wonderful roam roller instructional videos on YouTube that are extremely helpful if you have never used one before.

  1. Properly Fitting Shoes

I was living in Washington, D.C. doing an internship prior to graduating college when I began taking running seriously and I was improving quickly, however I began to experience shin splints. Until this point I had never been fitted for a pair of running shoes by a professional and I thought I was being frugal by wearing a pair of shoes until there were holes in them. I had a lot of friends who were very serious runners and I went to them for advice about my injury. Upon seeing my shoes (that had relatively large holes in them) they knew exactly what the problem was. I visited my local running store to be fitted that weekend and my shin splints disappeared after only a brief period of rest and training in my new properly fitting shoes.

  1. Cross Training and Strength Training

Let me first say that I do not have a gym membership and I have no plans to purchase one anytime in the near future. They are ridiculously expensive in D.C. so I have grown to love workout DVD’s. I know that a traditional gym workout would probably provide me with more benefit, but I have a slim salary and I will do anything that can be done to save money in this crazy expensive city.

I am a huge fan of Jillian Michael’s and her at home workout videos. I own several of her DVD’s and I have found them to be beneficial to my training. I am particularly fond of her 30 Day Shred and her Ripped in 30 programs. Each DVD has multiple workouts and they have several different levels of difficulty for each program. The videos are short and intense and perfect for someone with long work hours and they incorporate both strength and short bouts of cardio. I know that Jillian’s style is not for everyone and most people either love her or hate her. I am definitely on team Jillian and highly recommend her videos. If you are skeptical and wish to try one of her workouts for free to see if they are something you enjoy before purchasing one visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pc-NizMgg8 and try Level 1 of her 30 Day Shred DVD.

  1. Taking it Slow and Take Off Days

I am notorious for pushing myself and doing too much too fast. To prevent injury when I began to build up my distance, I followed Hal Higdon’s free training program. Having structure is very helpful to me because I tend dismiss the signs that my body is giving me and I would work out every day if I did not have structure. Having a schedule demanding me to take a day off is extremely helpful to someone like me. I found my schedules here http://www.halhigdon.com/ but there are hundreds of training plans so do an online search and see if you can find one that works for you.

 

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DC, Fitness, Running

Running and me

Evening run by the United States Capitol

Evening run by the United States Capitol

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and competition have been a part of my life as long as I can remember. However, I began running in high school only after facing some setbacks. I had difficulty breathing, an asthma diagnosis, and minor weight gain that I suffered while trying to play soccer, a sport that I had enjoyed since childhood. I was by no means overweight for my height, but with the combination of eating fast food on the road while warming the bench as a freshman on my high school soccer team and traveling the marching band, I was overeating, relatively sedentary, and eating all of the wrong foods. I am petite and I have a relatively small frame so the excess weight brought me down quickly and I was struggling both physically and emotionally.

My family purchased a treadmill the winter following that difficult soccer season and I can still remember my first run. I attempted to hide in the basement away from everyone during the intermission of a Pittsburgh Penguins game. I had mentally prepared myself for the worst and ran about a mile with the treadmill speed set to 5.0 (which is about equivalent to a 12 minute mile) and forced myself through. I knew that I could not stop though if I wanted to maintain a healthy lifestyle and succeed in sports, so I ran through the winter gradually increasing both my time and my pace eventually adding inclines and as the weather improved, I moved outdoors to the track. Running certainly helped my endurance and performance on the soccer field.

While living at home, I still struggled with breathing issues when running outdoors, however years later after sporadic physical activity my first few years of college, I began running again. This time things were different. I was not running with the motivation of improving my performance in another sport, running became something I enjoyed, time that I got to dedicate to myself, and a way to work off the freshman 15. I was improving quickly and even beginning to win age group awards in some of the races I did locally.

Then several months after graduating college, I got a job working on a political campaign, where an easy short day of work would last from 9am until 9pm and the average diet was comprised almost entirely of pizza with a few donuts tossed in. This was not helpful to my waistline or my running goals, however I met my husband during this time period so those minor setbacks were completely worth it. Following the campaign, I moved to Washington, D.C. where I eventually got my dream job. I have been working in the city for several years now and I honestly still have not adapted to city living or the often unpredictable work hours.

I have been running actively again for several months now and my husband and my dog, Nigel often join me on my runs. I have a long way to go before I am back in good form but I am enjoying myself and running has helped me stay sane despite a crazy job and living in a still somewhat unfamiliar place.

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