Graston

Have you heard of Graston? It kind of sounds like the name of  a handsome French guy, but it’s not.

I never had until I read about it on Hungry Runner Girl’s site. I was intrigued, but at the time, didn’t have much use for it so I read it and forgot about not long after.

About a month or so later, I began experiencing intense pain and cramping in my Achilles and calf muscles during my evening runs. Being the stubborn schmuck that I am, I tried to run through the pain stopping occasionally to try to stretch the muscles out with no luck. After a while it got to the point where the cramping in my legs was so bad that running was completely out of the question and walking was a stretch.  With training for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon quickly approaching, I started to panic.

A few Google searches (and 1 scare that my legs may fall off…thanks Dr. Google) later, and I was back at HRG’s site re-reading about Graston. I did some research on the Graston website, and figured that it was a good place to start. I searched for a provider in my area that was within a reasonable distance and scheduled an appointment with a chiropractor (it seems that most places that offer Graston are chiros or physical therapists). After a consultation we set up an 8 week plan for my Graston treatment. I completed my 8 week plan just in time for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and I can honestly say that without it, there is no way I would have been able to even consider running that race.

For those of you that are curious, it’s like a super intense, deep tissue massage. Stainless steel tools are used to “scrape” across your muscles and tendons – the theory here being that the stainless steel, unlike the fat pads of your fingers, doesn’t “give” when it presses against your skin which allows you to get deeper (that’s what she said) into the muscle . I’m not going to sugar coat this – it hurts. A lot. Especially if your muscles are one large ball of  Charlie Horses. Having said that though, my doctor would never go any harder than I could handle.  Throughout the procedure she asks if it hurts too much, if I can handle more, etc. Once the actual scraping is over, though, there isn’t any residual pain. I walk right out of the office, and can even run right away if my little heart desires.  I, personally, like to wait a day just to give the muscles time to do their recovery thing.  The other “side effect” is crazy bruising. It’s part of the healing process and is completely normal, but my legs looked like they went a few rounds with Mayweather. Unfortunately I never thought to take a picture, so I can’t share that delightful visual with you, but it was pretty ugly. I really don’t care what my legs look like, as long as I can run.

I’m still having some minor problems with my calf muscles (nothing even close to what it had been) but I’m working on some preventative maintenance measures (stretching, icing, compression, rolling, resting) and it was pointed out in the comments that I may simply need to up my sodium intake which I will certainly look into! For now, I try not to run any more than 2 days in a row and am making it a priority to ice my legs not only after every run, but even on nights I don’t.  If I’m sitting around watching TV for an hour, there is no reason I can’t stuff some frozen bags of peas under my legs while I do it.

Right now, the plan is to go for Graston every 4-6 ish weeks to help work out any of the knots that may pop up during training. I just went a few days ago and can already feel the difference in terms of tightness and mobility. It’s awesome.

 

 

Pumping Some Iron

Or, as we like to say in The Burgh, “pumping some ‘arn’ ”  .

I know that strength training is an important part of any training plan, but it’s something that I have seriously neglected…ok, ok, completely ignored during all of my training cycles. Then, whenever I’m trying to chug up a hill or shuffling through the last few miles of a long run I always say “I am seriously going to start strength training. Tomorrow”. Then tomorrow comes and goes…and the next day, and the next, and….well, I think you get the idea.

 

I wish this was an exaggeration

I wish this was an exaggeration

This time, I really am going to make an effort to stick to a routine. Not only do I want to become stronger and a little faster, but I wouldn’t mind losing the “chicken wing” arms, and my pants fitting again would be nice.

I don’t belong to a gym, and have no desire to join one. Of the two that are a reasonable distance from my house, one is dirty and sketchy and not somewhere I’d like to spend extended periods of time; the second one I used to belong to, but I really didn’t like it. There were maybe 4 or 5 treadmills, a few weight machines and a teeny tiny free weight section that was always full. I’ll be honest, I was always really intimidated to go to the free weight section, especially if it was crowded; I had no idea what to do and was certain that all of the people there would be judging me (I know it’s stupid, but that’s what goes through a self conscious, not-so-lean person’s mind). To avoid all of the previously mentioned “issues”, I’ve been slowly but surely turning our basement into my own home gym – adding dumbbells, weight plates, and medicine balls to compliment the items we already have.

Having said all of that (if anyone is still reading), I’ve devised a plan that will help me ease into the world of pumping iron – something that will help me increase my strength without leaving me unable to walk for a week and that I can complete in my “home gym”.  Whew…no problem, right??  For now, in theory, my plan will be a total body workout 3-4 times per week. I’ll switch things up every few weeks to keep from getting bored.

Here’s what this week looks like:

3×12 of

  • Squats
  • Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
  • Overhead Walking Lunges (w/10lb weight plate)
  • Toe Touches
  • Arm Pullover*
  • Plank (30 sec.)
  • High Pulls*
  • Pushups (on my knees, because I’m a wimp)

*I do these moves on my Total Gym (yes, the Chuck Norris endorsed one. Don’t judge ’till you’ve tried it)

 

I’m pretty clueless about incorporating weightlifting into my marathon training, and tried to do as much research as I could but I know there is still a lot of room for improvement, and would love some input.  Is this enough? Too much?  What am I missing?

If you have any suggestions, recommendations, etc. I’m all ears!

What kind of strength training do you do? 

 

Toeing the Line

So far, my weekend has been some of this:

006

Strength Training

 

141

Living the High Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making a Training Plan

Making a Training Plan

And a whole lot of this:

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Photo bomb courtesy of Wilbur

I’ve been icing both legs as much as possible this weekend. Basically, if I’ve been sitting I’ve also been icing.

I still can’t put my finger on what the problem with my calves is, but I think I have it narrowed down to something between my toes and Achilles tendon that is aggravating the calf muscles. It’s hard to describe how it feels…almost like a constant Charlie Horse or knots in both muscles. It starts in my Achilles and works its way up the calf muscle.

As long as I run in the morning, I have no pain while running and the extreme tightness doesn’t set into until later in the day.  I’m trying to stay consistent with my icing and stretching after a run, but I only have so much time in the morning to run, shower, dress, eat and get to work. This is some progress, at least, but I’d still like to get to the root cause.

Some of the things I’ve considered:

My running shoes: unlikely as I’ve been running in this make/model (Brooks Adrenaline) for almost a year now, and really don’t experience the pain while I am running, and never had this problem during marathon training last year.

Not enough potassium in my diet: this could definitely be a factor. I’m really making an effort to eat potassium rich foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, orange juice, etc, and I’m also taking a magnesium supplement to ensure I’m getting enough of that.  This does seem to be helping.

My every day shoes. I think this is playing a huge part in my struggles. I am very mindful to wear the best running shoes I can find, but my everyday/work shoes? Not so much.  I wear flats to work nearly every day, since I really try to avoid wearing heels, but they don’t provide a lot of support to my feet and high arches. I need to start looking for shoes that provide support and cushioning that I can wear to work. And, because I am cheap and hate to throw away good (and cute) shoes, I’m going to shop around for some inserts for my existing shoes.  I tried a pair  of Clark’s, even though they were kind of fugly, but the fit was never right. They either strangled my toes, or flopped off the back of my heel. I gave up after one pair, but I really do need to keep searching.

I’ve never really had to deal with an injury before (if you can even call this an injury), and so I feel like I’m toeing that very fine line of not being a wimp maintaining my fitness before marathon training starts (in two weeks), and pushing too hard. I’m going to take these next two weeks to take it easy(er)

Pictures From the Week

I’m currently laying on the couch icing my calves, so I figured now is a good time to share some pictures.  I ran 3.5 miles yesterday and 4 this morning, and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, my legs are letting me know that tomorrow will be a rest day. Pecan pancakes are calling my name 😀 !

Some pictures from the week:

Apple Pie LaraBar….this may be my new favorite flavor! It really does taste like pie!

Apple Pie Lara Bar yuuum!

Yuuum!

I can’t be bothered with matching socks at 5:45 on a Friday morning

socks

All the cool kids are doing it

Shooter is really pissed about the Pens losing Game 7

shooter

Don’t mess with me

 

Had to stop and take a picture of  the full moon on Friday morning.

You can barely see it, but it’s there (that’s what she said)

This also explains why people have been so bat sh!t crazy this week.

Full Moon

Full Moon

 

My new favorite green tea – I was hesitant, but ended up loving it!

Tea Time!

I spy kitties!

 

Found these today at Target; my goodness are they comfortable!

Comfiest sweats ever

Comfiest sweats ever & gnarly runner’s toes

 

Tomorrow will be full of meal prep for the week, lots of laundry, and giving my car a much needed bath.

 

Being responsible is lame

How is it Friday already? This week just zoomed by!

I have no idea how people post every single day…seriously. It took me 3 days to write my last post.  By the time I actually publish this post, it could be Sunday.  I’m also seriously failing at the “crazy cat lady” title. 4 posts and not a single cat picture?! I will remedy that…just as soon as I can figure out how to get pictures from my phone/camera to the post. Patience is a virtue.

Moving along….

I’m easing back into running – I took Thursday off after I realized I ran two days in a row. My calves and toes were really letting my know they needed a break, and since it was a monsoon outside all day I figured that was perfect.  I ran some AM miles today, and felt great! Hopefully I’ll be able to run Saturday and Sunday with Monday as a rest day. I am just so anxious to keep running, but I don’t want to push it and end up sidelined again for a month. Being a responsible adult is lame.

This is a short post – maybe tomorrow I’ll take the time to figure out how to properly download then upload the pictures I’ve taken with the intent of posting. It’s high time I get some cat pictures up here.

Have a great weekend!