Monday, March 12, 2012

Water, A True Healer

   Who knew that water could be the best stretching tool after running?  After all these years, I didn’t even consider this!  It wasn’t until last week that I found out how much of a healer water really is.  (For water stretches like the ones described in this post, please see link below at 

      The mild weather outside, the extra pounds I put on over the winter, the advent of spring, a newfound appreciation for good health once again after pneumonia—any and all of these have given me motivation for pushing myself just a little bit more lately.  But pushing oneself physically can have its drawbacks; it can result in injury.   The danger of pain in a joint, leg muscle, or foot is that it can take several days to weeks of staying away from exercises that use those injured areas for it to heal.  In fact, last week, after trying spinning class for the first time, we ambitiously decided to run a mile to stretch out the muscles used in spinning.  It was such nice weather that we just kept running and talking.  We ended up running over three miles after doing spinning!  By nightfall, I knew that was a mistake.  My hip was making walking difficult—not something I can afford with four children running afoot!  I had overdone it. 
           The next day, when the “Tri-It Girls” started making plans for the day, my hip felt a bit better from rest.  I said I’d meet up and run a little bit, but I’d go slow.  One of the girls mentioned a quick water jogging opportunity afterwards.  We agreed to try it, of course!  However, in the back of my mind, I knew that if anything started to hurt in my hip, I would bail out of it.  I grabbed my bathing suit, met up with the girls, and ran four very slow miles.  As my hip warmed up, it seemed to loosen, but I was worried about what would happen when we stopped running and even later on, when it had cooled down. 
           My hip still warm, I put on a water belt and jumped into the water jogging mini-class, hoping my hip wouldn’t seize up.  We started to do quick movements that mimic jogging up and down the lanes (you can’t use your hands to help, so this is pretty active for your legs), then we started to do large “monster bicycle” movements.  The participant pretends that they are riding a very large wheeled monster bicycle.  Immediately, I felt a great stretch in my hip.  There is no way that I could get that big of a stretch in land-stretching, but in the water, my body was weightless; I could stretch better.  We had to repeat this monster bicycle ride all the way up the lane and back.  After our water workout of 30 minutes, we continued to stretch our weightless legs and arms against the side of the pool in a way that we could not be flexible on dry land.  Our more experienced running friend (who provided this opportunity) explained that very recent research is showing that when people push themselves, have an injury, or even just take a long run, getting into the water and swimming a little bit then stretching for a good long time has shown a tremendous healing effect on the body.  She wanted to try it.  I couldn’t agree more with her research!
           That evening, my hip, though a little tender, was fine.  I could walk.  I could tend to my house, errands, children, all the busy adventures of the day.  Today, three days later, I ran six miles for the first time in months and it felt great.  But tomorrow, I am soooooo going in the water! 
           If you want to try stretching in the water after your workout and see if it has the same benefit for you, I found some great stretches at  Let me know what you think! 
Water--the amazing healer for your whole body.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fast Walking in the Snow--Wordless Wednesday

Thank goodness for my neighbor who knocked on my door and talked me into taking a fast walk as soon as the snow on the roads had melted.  We saw some beautiful sights including this stream still running through the freshly fallen snow.  My neighbor, who is an avid fast walker, walked about as fast as I usually run.  She pulled us along for a four mile route of sight-seeing and once I was done, I realized why fast-walking is such a great sport--my shins, calves, and all around my ankles were all aching!  It seems to me that fast-walking hits some areas of the leg that running does not seem to hit--or that might be just for me!  Anyhow, as I've gained at least 7 pounds in the past month due to illness and inactivity, it was so great to exercise a different way, visit with my neighbor, and enjoy the beauty of freshly fallen snow: 

Happy Wednesday Everyone! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Running With Friends

Thank goodness for friends who can gently push me along past my "comfort zone"!  I was able to reach four miles today running--and talking while running.  It was cold, but not too cold in the sun.  These girls even stayed with me when I needed to take 30 second walks.  It makes the hard road back to fitness seem so much more believable to achieve!  Thanks for your support, ladies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting Back Into Shape After A Setback

     Getting ill with a respiratory infection or suffering a long-term injury has always been my fear (that and sitting in a room filled with Christmas cookies!).  Both of those situations mean that most exercise must be given up, training regimens must be put aside, goals put on hold, as the focus is getting healthy once again.  I've had to focus mostly on eating healthy, which has not been easy during the holidays! 
     Now that I'm allowed to get back to exercise and to concentrate, once again, on my exercise goals, it's time face my fear.  It's time to assess where my current fitness level is and face the uphill road back to my previous fitness and redefine my goals. 
     This week, I consciously thought about the best way to start back. The "Tri-It Women" had gained a few members now that the holidays were over and these women want to try running.  I thought this might be the best way for me to get back into fitness, by moving along with new people.  So, when people asked me what I was planning to do, how much distance to run, my response was, "I'd like to try to run as much as I can comfortably."  With a very yoga-like mentality, my goal for this first day back was to listen to my own body and to see where my own fitness level seemed to be currently.  If I was laboring in my breathing, I planned to slow down.  If any of my joints or muscles started to ache, I planned to slow the pace.  I was already pushing myself to get back to exercise, so I wasn't going to push myself at all while exercising now, and see how far I could go comfortably, naturally.  With a new friend by my side, I was able to jog a slow, super slow, 3 miles before my left knee felt like it was seizing up.  So I stopped.  So there it is--my current running fitness level after illness.  I'm facing the fear.  Will I ever be able to do three miles again? I don't know. Will I be able to move on from there?  I don't know.  But I know what I can do now, after a month of forced hiatus from exercise, I can certainly TRY!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nutrition Tips for Exercise--a great link

A little minor setback:  I'm laid up with pneumonia.  After racking my brain to figure out what I can do at home to make getting back to exercise easier once I'm well again, I figured my best best is to focus on good nutrition right now.  Nutrition and hydration are vital to having a good exercise experience, feeling great after exercise, and improving health.  Although this link provides nutrition for runners, honestly, I find that it's great nutrition advice for any person doing any type of exercise:

You may have to "play around" with what nutrition/hydration choices work best for you and fuel your body the best.  I usually start my morning with two big glasses of water at least two hours before I go to meet up with the girls for exercise.  It takes two hours for liquids to be absorbed down into the large intestines and then get through your body, so that's why it's so important to drink lots of water at that time.  Your body will be much better hydrated when you go to attempt exercise. 

Then about 1/1/2 hours before, I'll have something with a protein/whole grain carbohydrate.  My first choice is 1/4 cup egg beaters and half of a whole grain English muffin.  I'll take some sips of water during that time, but you really don't want a lot of stuff sloshing in your stomach when you are doing your exercise--and you certainly don't want nothing in your system, either.  You want to eat it in enough time so that it gets absorbed into your body a bit.  Some of the other women like to eat a banana with peanut butter or a little bit of whole grain toast with nut butter.  Some of them have been experimenting with shakes they make with whey powder. 

During exercise, I drink water.  Some of the women I exercise with like the G2, zero calorie drinks, especially in the warm months. 

After exercise, again, I like to have something with a little bit of protein and a little bit of carb.  It's kind of important to try to have it in the first 30-60 minutes after exercise, but I think that depends on your intensity choice of your exercise.  My first choice after intense exercise is a small Greek yogurt about 25 minutes or so after I've exercised. 

Really, nutrition is just as important as regular exercise to keep you healthy--and help you recover quicker when you are set back (like me with this pneumonia--ugh!). 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Used to Feel Guilty...

It is a mother’s conflict:  the balance of time spent on oneself, one’s work, and  family.  Exercising/staying active can seem like a dispensable luxury.  When there are so few hours in the day to get everything done, it can feel selfish to spend one of those hours on something like an activity for oneself.  It certainly felt that way to me. 
I have been back and forth in both situations as a working mother and as a SAHM.  No doubt I will be going back and forth in those same situations in the future. Both situations are demanding.  I started to exercise when my children were little and then, out of guilt in being pulled in so many directions, I gave up exercise… until I realized that I wasn’t spending any more time with my family in that extra hour, I was spending more time feeling exhausted and going through the motions of the day.  I wasn’t enjoying each moment as it came along.  I wasn’t fully present with each conversation.  It was then that I realized that exercise for moms is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Running and Cross Fit

So the Tri-It Women are at it again--mixing up the routine to stay challenging.  This week we tried something that anyone can try.  Based on emails that one of the group's women had with a fitness friend out in Arizona, we created a run/exercise or run/watered-down-Cross-Fit type of work out.  We have a few outdoor running routes that we've already mapped out and have calculated the mileage.  Once you figure out a route for yourself, try our work-out on your own, mix it up with exercises that work best for you, and see what you think! 

We did the following along a 3 to 4 mile route twice this week:

Run the first mile.  At the end of the first mile, do 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 sit-ups, 10 air squats (these can be modified to jumping air squats, etc.).  Run second mile.  At the end of the second mile, repeat with 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 situps, 10 air squats OR mix it up with 5 sets of 10 tricep dips (great if there is a bench at the second mile), 10 walking lunges, 10 situps.  Run third mile.  Repeat 5 sets of 10 pushups, situps, air squats.  If you have a fourth mile, run it and then cool down.  The key to the exercises is that they should be done fast--as in tabata.  We were able to do the whole work out in one hour at the most.  The fitness friend from Arizona does two miles of running with 20 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.  We are trying to see if we can work up to that, BUT for right now, this homegrown work out is definitely enough for us! 

Have a great workout!