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Posts tagged ‘yoga’

One Week (and a few days) Post Surgery

One week ago today, I came home pushing my new walker. I was in pain. I hurt. And all of the pain meds made me feel a little nauseous. The couch would be my new resting place for a period of time and taking a shower would become my least favorite task. I wasn’t sad about being immobile. I was sad about hurting. Fast forward one week later and I’m down to using one crutch. I can take a few steps on my own (although with a very awkward limp), and I’m down to using zero pain meds. I’ve been to physical therapy twice already this week and will continue to go two times a week for the  next month. Today, I decided, was my last day of being stuck to the couch. Tomorrow, I get back to life.

Throughout my many walks up and down the hallway, I’ve had a lot to think about. Add to that a few good life podcasts, and I’ve come to have an actual appreciation for this injury/surgery. I’m not mad about this and I’m not sad about it either. If anything, I’m glad because now I can move on and do the things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

For so long, I’ve ran. I’ve run the streets of Raleigh more times than I could ever count. I’ve spent my Saturday mornings pounding out the miles and my Sunday afternoons pounding out a few more. I loved every minute of it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Running has been my favorite activity for over 12 years. However, at the same time, there are so many other things that I’ve wanted to do. I’ve just never been willing to make time for these other things because running dictated so much of my life. Now that I can’t run, what better opportunity?

When I was a junior in college, one of my favorite professors had this very strange tattoo on his arm. For so long, I never knew what it was. Then one day I realized it was the Ironman symbol. I told myself within the next two years, I would train for and complete an Ironman. Obviously, that never happened. Heck, I’ve never even done a triathlon. All I knew was how to run, so that’s what I stuck to. Even though, in the back on my mind, I always wanted to test my endurance limits, I just ran. Swimming required extra effort (driving to the pool, learning technique, etc.) and I didn’t own a bike. Now these are the only two sports I can do.  Perhaps this injury is putting me on that path. Thanks to my friend Nikki, I already have a swim cap. That’s one step closer that I was last week.

Along with triathlons, I’ve always wanted to practice more yoga. There was a period of time when I did Bikram Hot Yoga every week and it was my favorite time of the day. There was something about pushing my body to the limit in 115 degree room that I absolutely loved. I loved the physical part of it and I loved the mental part of it. Every week was different with different challenges and that’s why I was so drawn to it. But again, running eventually became front and center of my life and yoga took a backseat. Now I can make a change.

Calisthenics is another area that I have always wanted to focus more on. Al Kavadlo is my calisthenics hero and I really want to use his workouts to build some serious foundational strength. Other than leg strength and some decent core strength, I’m lacking in a few areas. Fortunately, the doctor said as soon as I’m back to walking, I can start a strength program. Obviously it’ll focus more on the upper body for now but it’s a start.

And finally, Mario and I always said we wanted to start a family after Boston. Mentally, I struggled with the idea of having to cut back on my running and running slower times. Well now that’s a non-issue so no need for my mental struggles! See, everything does happen for a reason.

Monday I go to get my stitches taken out and for another physical therapy appointment. I’m curious to know how the healing process is going. If I had to give my input, I’d say it’s going well. But then again, I’m no doctor. 😉 Sadly, I have to miss out on a friend’s wedding next weekend. It’s a three hour drive  and the doc has advised me against it. Other than that, I’d say all is well on the healing front.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

 

Change, Willpower, and Happiness

Friday I watched the documentary Happy. (Check it out on Netflix if you have the chance.) I learned that other than social interactions and being in nature, one of the things that makes humans happy is change. Doing things differently. Then for some reason, this quote about insanity popped in my head, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And then I related it to running…

For so long I have planned on the rest of November and December being my months off from running, yoga, correcting body alignment issues, sleeping in past 6:00am on Saturday mornings, and taking a mental break from the mileage. Having done two marathons just 5 weeks apart, I figured my body could use the rest. Well the Las Vegas marathon was November 17th and since then, I have taken at most 5 days off from running. Why? Because it literally takes willpower and mental strength to not run. It requires more effort to do a yoga class instead of putting on my running shoes as soon as I get home. Running is a habit and to do anything else requires my brain to go off autopilot.

Thankfully, however, I just finished a book on willpower, which I followed up with the film Happy.  Friday night I reevaluated my weekend workout plans and Saturday morning I was at a hot yoga class with my best friend of 25 years. Change is good.

January I will start my training for the Boston marathon. I have been down this road many times. Excited to start my training, workouts planned, scheduled off days, planned yoga classes, time set aside for body maintenance. It all sounds great in my head but the hard part is actually doing it. And because it’s hard for me to run easy or take a day off, I’m never able to reach my full potential as a runner. I end up injured, mentally drained, and arrive at the start line 50% prepared. It’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been through over and over again. In other words, it’s insanity. 

I think I’ve finally realized that I am going to have to exert some willpower in order to make a change. It’s crazy to think I will reach my running goals if I keep doing what I’ve always done. It doesn’t work that way. Habits are hard to break.

For the month of December, I will not worry about running. Every day I will make a conscious effort to step out of my running “comfort zone,” and do something else. Maybe a pilates class, another hot yoga class, some hiking at a nearby park, a juice cleanse, or even just a few days of doing nothing. And perhaps once I realize that I can break the habit loop, it will not be that difficult to actually follow my marathon training plans. Perhaps I will actually run slow on easy days or even start practicing yoga at home. Any maybe, just maybe, the end result of my marathon training will be success and not injury.

Here is to a month of change, and happiness.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Lesson #4 – Running is a Complete Body Sport

Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I have learned over this year long journey is that running is a complete body sport. It’s as much about every other muscle group in your body as it is about the power of your legs.

From my personal experience, I can tell you that your back and hips play an important role in efficient running. In particular, if your back muscles are tight or weak, some other part of your body will start compensating. At first, this isn’t such a big deal, but over time it adds up. Back muscles might not be such a big area of concern for other runners, but for me, it is. I take 10 minutes before every run and do stretches specifically for my back. So far, so good. And I’m thankful I came to realize this.

With regards to hips, I’ve always thought I had pretty flexible hips. Many of the hip opening yoga poses are fairly easy for me. What has needed work is my hip strength. Back in February when I really injured myself, I think it was a combination of weak hip flexors and tight back muscles. I spent a month working on my hip flexors and the difference has been amazing. I can now feel my hip flexors engage and facilitate smooth running. I feel more upright when I run and overall, my hips feel stronger. Hip exercises have become a routine part of my workout schedule.

Runners get injured. It happens. But I think it’s incredibly important to analyze why we get injured. What part of our body is weak or tight? How has our mileage increased? Have we been too hard on our bodies without enough rest? We have to reflect and we must get in tune with our bodies. Many injuries don’t have to happen.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: I have to admit, I didn’t want to run today. I was incredibly tired and it was almost 90 degrees outside. But I spent some time reflecting on my running goals and made it out the door. It was hot. Really hot. And I had 8 miles on my schedule. Much to my surprise, in spite of the heat, I had an awesome run. The goal was to focus on easy and not push to a point where I felt like I was really trying. My last two miles were 7:40 and 7:35 and that actually felt easy. Perhaps all the hill running is starting to pay off. Stats are here

Back Opening Stretches

My return to running has been going much better than I could have expected 1 month ago. In addition to my strength training, there is one thing that I think is really helping me… back stretches. Going into my race in February, my left side felt congested and like it wouldn’t move right. It amazes me how much more freely it moves now. These are the three stretches I do morning, afternoon, and night – every single day.

1) Downward Dog

2) Bow Pose

3) Upward Bow Pose (although I do not look nearly as flexible as this guy)

Sometimes I think to myself I don’t have time to these poses. I should just go run. Then I remember my suffering at the beginning of the year. I make time. And that includes waking up at 4:45 am, doing yoga before lunch, and always stretching before bed. For my body and for my weaknesses, I know these three stretches are greatly helping my running form. And my running couldn’t be happier. 🙂

Happy Trails & Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Ran to the gym, followed by leg weights & abs, and then ran home. I was super impressed at how easy this run felt. Run stats here and here.

Standing on Two Feet

I have presented myself with a challenge for the next week. It’s actually quite difficult but I can already tell a difference. My challenge is… stand evenly on both feet. Crazy right?

I’d venture to say the majority of people do not stand evenly on both feet. Unless of course, you’re talking about Tara Stiles or Danny Dreyer. Think about how you stand most of the time. Or even better, just look at the people around you. People tend to stand to one side or another. Once or twice and that’s not a bad thing. However, over the years, you create that muscle memory. One leg gets stretched out, one IT band gets tighter, one foot gets stronger, and one leg gets weaker.

For the normal person, that’s not such a big deal. However, for the athlete (runner) who is trying to reach certain goals, this can become a problem. Everything is connected in your body. Your spine affects your hips, which affect your quads, which affect your knees, which affect your ankles, and so on and so on. I’ve decided in order to achieve these very far fetched running goals I have, I have got to get in tune with my body and master it.

Since I’ve started really paying attention to distributing my weight evenly on both feet, I’ve noticed two very big things. First, I feel so much more grounded. Second, I feel taller. Granted, I’m only 5’2, but I feel a towering 5’4. The world looks different from  up here 😉 .

Care to join me in the challenge? It’s a little harder than one might think.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recover/Running Update: I stuck to my word and did NOT run today. Instead I did an intense tabata session followed by lots of burpees, pushups, one legged squats, yoga poses, and back bends. it was a great workout and I loved the intensity. 🙂

On another note, it’s National Sibling Day and I have the best sister ever. I love you Toni!!

Toni & Tracie

See the love?

 

Spread Those Toes

I have a question for you… how far can you spread your toes? No, seriously. Try and spread your toes. How did it go?

Apparently spreading your toes is a little more difficult than one might think. And if you do have trouble spreading your toes, that’s not a good thing. The ability to spread your toes is important and here is why:

  • toes help you balance
  • toes are an important part of the push off mechanism when walking or running
  • stiff toes equal inefficient gait, which can cause other muscles to compensate, leading in inflammatory conditions (think tendonitis)
  • spreadable toes equal stronger and more flexible feet
  • spreading your toes helps stretch your achilles tendon

(Source: Yoga Journal and Bay Bliss Day  Spa)

Check out this article to learn some toe stretches. And because I am not ashamed to post a picture of my very old pedicure, this is how far I can spread my toes…. I think growing up with a dance background helps a little.

This picture looks really funny to me. Don't judge. Please.

This picture looks really funny to me. Don’t judge. Please.

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running Update: Still taking it easy with a little over 4 miles today. Tomorrow I’ll do some cross training just to give my hip a little break.

Toe Stand

In Bikram, there has always been one pose that I really wanted to master, but just really sucked at doing it. My left side was always better than my right, but I needed a lot of practice. That pose is toe stand.

Whenever I would do toe stand on my right side, my right hip wasn’t strong enough to hold me in place and my left back muscles were too weak to keep me upright. I have made it my personal goal to master this dang pose in one month (my ambitious goal). I practice first thing in the morning, middle of the day, and before I go to bed. It’s hard for sure, but I’m hoping that I’m building the muscle memory and will eventually be able to hold it for longer than 5 seconds. And how cool will it be to hang out in the air by just balancing on my toes?

According to this Bikram site, toe stand increases balance, strengthens stomach muscles, helps with arthritis, gout, and knee pain, and strengthens weak joints. I’ll be sure to post another pic when I’ve mastered it. 🙂

I don’t look nearly as cool as the girl in the pic above…

 

I love the look of terror on my face.

I love the look of terror on my face.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Opening the Hips

I’m keeping track of all the things that, from my personal experience, will help my running the future. One of my main focuses is the hips. The following video from my favorite yogi, Tara Stiles, has become my favorite hip opening routine. Whenever I do get back to running, I plan to do these stretches before I head out the door. Granted, my toe isn’t touching my head, but I do the best I can. Maybe one day I’ll move as gracefully as she does.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Hot Yoga

A few years ago, I did hot yoga once a week. Sometimes I dreaded going because I was so tired, but I always left with more energy I had than when I started. It was my favorite Wednesday ritual, followed by a hummus wrap and a beer. Is that wrong?

There are many different types of yoga classes, but no class appeals to me as much as hot yoga. It’s the athlete in me. Some yoga classes are more relaxing and more meditative. For me, hot yoga is much more physical.

I love hot yoga for many reasons. They are the following:

1) You sweat, a lot. I literally can’t stand not sweating if I’m working out. Hot yoga takes care of that in 2 minutes flat. And the element of heat makes it extremely more difficult, especially during the summer. Only once have I sat out a pose, and it was because I honestly thought I was going to pass out. A room that’s 110 degrees and a summer day that’s 100 degrees isn’t really the best combo. But for some reason, I love the challenge.

2) It’s difficult. Finding your balance, kicking your leg into your hand, putting your forehead on the floor… Whatever the pose may be, there is always a next level. You choose how hard to push yourself. I always enjoy pushing myself to find that next level.

3) It’s energizing. There is something about a really hard workout that gives me A LOT of energy. Granted, whenever I leave hot yoga, I need about 30 minutes of silence. However, after that, I have a new level of energy. It’s pretty awesome.

I stopped doing hot yoga because it was so far away from the house and it was a 3 hour ordeal. Luckily, I recently learned of a hot yoga studio that is only two blocks from our building. Wednesday was always my hot yoga day in the past. Tomorrow at 3:30, I plan to start that tradition again.

If you have a second, PLEASE read this really funny Craig’s List ad for a used mat from a hot yoga class. It’s freakin’ hilarious!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: Today is definitely the best I have felt. However, I am still not ready to run. Tuesdays use to be my track workout days so I try to do the same intensity at the gym, just with the bike. There is something about being next to someone, really loud music, and a hat that makes me extremely competitive. Needless to say,  I had an awesome cross training workout today.

The Handstand

Friday night I saw this video…

 

I immediately insisted that Mario and I start practicing our handstands and back handsprings, despite the fact it was 11:00 pm. It looked like fun and I wanted to do it too.

I'm working on it...

I’m working on it…

Handstands are a common yoga pose. I’ve never been in a yoga class where I actually had to do one (thank goodness), but I’ve always heard there are quite a few benefits. According to this article, here is why we should be doing a few more handstands in our lives:

  • Improved strength
  • Improved balance
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved metabolic and endocrine system

I started my Sunday morning with a few handstands today. Thankfully, I have a nice wall to keep me from falling over, because I know I could’t do it any other way. Interestingly enough, when I had Mario snap a pic, I was so crooked! I imagine that’s exactly how my body is when I run, except this time I was upside down. I was able to correct it, but it was still enlightening.

Maybe I’ll start all my mornings with a handstand. What better way to wake up?

 

Sunday morning at the Rodriguez household.

Sunday morning at the Rodriguez household.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Recovery Update: I’m continuing to walk better and with less pain. My goal is to get in two active recovery runs this week, but if I can not, then I will bike. It’s hard to imagine two weeks ago this time I literally could not walk. Time flies!