Category Archives: Running

Rugby and Running : Injury Update

Back in May I wrote about how much I love running and rugby and how sometimes they affect each other (see related post).

Sometime in June/July I was tackled poorly in practice and was severely injured. I went with “suck it up, RICE, and we’ll see how it goes”. Well, I got back in to running after a few weeks and thought I was fine. I “ran” (jogged) a half and bit through the pain.
This was a bad idea.

When the pain was not subsiding after a while, I went to a foot and ankle doctor. I explained how the injury happened, and he said it was likely multiple sprains including some tendon/ligament that ran from the side of my lower leg through my ankle and then some sprains in my foot and lower leg separately. Overall he said it was a really bad sprain that could take two to six months to recover from. He also said I have weak arches and am prone to bunions and that orthotics would help prevent issues, and that they might also help to stabilize my ankle to have it heal a bit faster. I agreed to get the orthotics which would take 3 weeks to receive.

I also tried running and training for my next half and I pushed myself on a 3-miler, stressing my ankle. When I went to a follow up visit I told him what I did, and how now certain exercises, like jumping jacks, hurt. He said I should only run ten minutes to and from at an easy pace, and add 5 minutes there and back as I feel okay. I wore the orthotics all day the first day, and have worn them all day every day since for the most part.

My ankle feels stable, I’m doing the stationary bike here and there or floor excercises that don’t stress my ankle, but I still can’t run for very long and I can’t push myself to try to get any faster. It’s deflating.

I feel sluggish, I know my mental state is better when I exercise a few times a week, and I want to go for a run (crazy, I know) and I can’t. Running is my preferred form of exercise, and I, like most people, don’t like not being able to do something that I want to do. This injury is affecting so much more than ankle/leg and I’m hitting the point of struggling.

With all of these side effects now realized, it’s making me reconsider my decision to play. At least for now, I’m benched with the injury and am likely out for the season so I have some time to decide. I’m hoping to train by stationary biking, weight training, and short easy-paced runs.

I’m interested, by the way, how other people handle continuing to train when they have an injury that needs to be rested? Or has anyone else felt this anxiety, sluggishness, or uselessness when they get a sport or aspect of exercise taken away? How do you cope?

New updates to come as I have a half marathon that I’ll likely be walking in two and a half weeks and 10k and half marathon weekend three weeks after that.

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Half Marathon Training

I made my own training plan (see above).
(Which, I now realize, needs a touch of editing as I left out the “MI” after the 6’s and 7’s.)

I trolled around for a good half marathon training and none seemed to suit me. I’ve run a few races and I run 3-5 miles no problem, so I took my starting point and mapped out how many weeks I have to train (nine starting Monday) and I made my own plan.

Reasons Other Training Plans Were Not For Me:

This is not to say they’re no good, they simply were not for me. I felt they started too low and increased mileage too much per week, or pushed too hard from the start. Here, specifically, were some issues.

-Rest day was the same every week. With an alternating rest day, I feel like I can do a whole body work out for the week and not push too hard, it also gives me more flexibility.

-Some had easy days as three miles per day so progression so there was a wide gap between weeks where the long run was ten or more miles, and it felt like maybe it would be too much of a break between distances, that’s why more short distances escalate a bit, too.

– Lastly, it felt like each week day was the same, with maybe one day rotating, and didn’t focus on evening out the body; even leaving out other muscle groups like shoulders and back. So I have more rotation and feel like over the course of one and a half weeks I get a full body workout.

This training plan is not perfect, but I think it’s what I need to be successful, and I think it’s aesthetically pleasing (sans the current error which I will update tomorrow, but likely not repost).

DIY:

To do this yourself, I recommend using a PC. I love my Mac but it just doesn’t use Microsoft products the same. That being said, all I did was find a pretty picture, size it, save it, and open an Excel spreadsheet. I went to the Page Layout tab, then clicked background and selected my saved photo. I then selected the number of rows I wanted and fit them to the background tile and did the same for columns.

As for how to plan… I’ve done 10 week training plans when I was running and a half to three miles per run and fared pretty well, so now that I run three to five miles per run nine felt like plenty of training time for me. I wanted to get a whole body workout in and ensure that I put sufficient training on my legs and core. Some people, however, only want to do legs, sprints, and hills. I’m not a professional of health in any way, shape, or form, so you should talk to a professional and include what you think is best for you in your training plan. (*#disclaimer*)

Get ‘er Done

I’ll check in each week with updates. The key here for my is getting the miles and muscle groups in, even if I don’t stick to the outline. As long as everything gets done each week, I’ll be happy.

If you use this plan, or make your own, or have one you followed that you love, I’d love to see them in the comments. Let’s all collaborate to make each other’s training more feasible and hit the ground running! (See what I did there?)

Semi-Annual Resolution

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Alright, it’s that time. The gym membership has run out and I “can’t decide on a new one” and “every time I go to run it’s raining” and “I’m too sleepy to wake up early”. Out of all these, the third is probably the worst because I know if I can just get myself to wake up at 5ish and put my feet on the ground I’ll stay up; I never seem to get my feet on the ground these days so I’m working on motivations to do so.

This is my resolution post in which I will proclaim my goals and what I plan to do to achieve them- not the exercises but the motivations.

Resolution:

I will run and/or work out three days a week, but regardless of a workout I will wake up between 0530 and 0615 each day (except weekends).

Plans/Motivations:

I’m too poor to reward myself with big things like massages or shopping sprees on a regular basis, so here’s the plan: points. I will assign points to activities and I will “purchase” rewards with my points. I will give myself the option to save points for a bigger reward. Points will expire at the end of each month.

Points:

  • running- 1 point per mile; minimum half-mile/half-point increments
  • biking any distance- 2 points
  • workout- 1 point for every 15 minutes, minimum 30 minutes if I didn’t run first
  • Waking up at or before 0600, so feet on carpet by 0605- 2 points
  • Dancing- in my living room or out on the town- 4 points for the whole event, regardless of time, minimum 15 minutes

Rewards: The key to these for me is demanding I pay up for any of the following. If  don’t have the points, I can’t have it, so some things will be left off since I know I can’t control myself.

  • Zebra Cake Roll- 12 points
  • Ice Cream – 15 points
  • Soda- 15 points
  • New Book- 30 points
  • New Workout Article of Clothing- 50 points
  • New Non-Athletic Shoes- 75 points

I will try this beginning tomorrow. Next week I will, along with a more traditional post, update my point collection and usage and so on for the next six or so weeks. If this doesn’t work, I will try another method of motivation in September.

Send good vibes!

Rugby and Running

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My two loves.

Running is my “me time”. Where I can get away, push myself if I want to or take it easy. I can run as hard, far, and with music as loud as I want. I run for fun or sanity when the desire comes. I train for halfs. I sign up for and run any race of any distance from 5ks to half marathons. I’m not fast, I run in a very strange manner awkwardly flailing and bouncing around as I pretend that it’s feasible to dance and run at the same time, and I often trip, slip, or cramp pretty often. I love it.

Rugby is my chance to be a team player, to show the power of a confident tackle, to be there to guide or take a pass from a teammate. I’m a wing so if I’m on the field I’m always on one end watching the rest of the field and doing a whole lot of yelling trying to push or pull our numbers where the action is. Yes, my 5’0″ has tackled and been tackled. I do a lot of running, and I’m still not fast. My teammates are strong and cooperative and helpful. Every water break is a sprint of support in the form of water, inhalers, and gummies. Half time is for strategizing. End of the game, win or loss, is a celebration of leaving it all on the pitch.

Similar yet very different; one singular, the other a part of a whole. They work together, training for one supports my training for the other. More often than not, though, they are contradictory.

Running is for fun, and for sport. I run in large herds of people who cause traffic just for a shiny thing and shirt; and it’s amazing. These events are not always local, so I travel and am gone for entire weekends for them. I’ve had to miss rugby games for these events.

Rugby, in its aggressive nature, has caused me injuries that made me lose training time, made me limp sadly through a non-refundable 10k, and made me miss signing up for events I’d’ve loved to do for fear of missing a game.

Sometimes I think I’ll have to choose between the two. How long can I keep up running on injuries, and how can I hone my rugby skills during the time and energy consuming process of training for a half marathon? I guess only time will tell- or maybe my body will.

For now I think I’m enjoying the push and pull of this love triangle. At least I know it keeps me centered.

The Most Magical Race

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The weekend of my very first Disney Race had finally arrived. I had the hotel, the magic band, the park tickets, and of course my bestie Jme who had our entire plan mapped out before she’s literally a pro at Disney. I kid you not, she is the most financially efficient and time-effective Disney-er you’ll ever meet. I landed at 11:15pm on Thursday night and was trying to find her in an airport when some innocent bystanders kindly let me know a that a woman was likely yelling at me-

“Alexa!”, I heard her, I knew that voice, “what the hell. I’ve been trying to flag you down for like two minutes”, Jme laughed. I ran over, slightly bogged down by my bags, and hugged her like I hadn’t seen her in ages- because I hadn’t. She and Lauren are my closest friends and I had left them behind in Fort Lauderdale. I was disappointed when Lauren had work obligations and couldn’t come but was glad I had at least part of my crew.I hugged her and we got on the bus to our hotel.

Small background; Jme runs all the Disney races and has more Disney race medals than I could enumerate. She’s also a frequent-flier to Disney outside of the races. I fully blame her for my addiction; like, second-hand smoking.

We got to the hotel, Pop Century Resort, and I had some technical difficulty. It was my first time using the new Disney MagicBand and the desk clerk had me do it about three times before my friend explained that you have to touch the Mickey face on the band to the Mickey face on the reader. Got it. The clerk then asked me for my PIN. What PIN? I ended up trying my traditional PIN for my credit card which was attached to the band. That was not it. Then I tried the four-digit code I use all other times and was in. We got her an extra key and took the long way to the room.

It was so cool, so magical, so Disney. Each building of hotel rooms was themed after a decade and had a wire sculpture surrounding the stairwell of something from that era. There was a Rubix Cube, which was probably the coolest thing there, and ours, the 80’s, was an old school cell phone; the numbers lit up at night and everything. Settling in, chatting a bit longer, and unpacking, we finally went to sleep around 1am.

I woke up and jumped out of bed to go run my 5k at around 4:30, head to the bus, get to Animal Kingdom, and hit the confusion wall again. As I follow the crowd of people, everyone already has their race bib. I knew I was able to pick it up the morning of but I had no idea where in this beautiful chaos I was supposed to find it.

Information Tent; perfect! I beeline straight toward it-

“Hi! Can I help you?”

“Yes, thanks. Can you tell me where I can pick up my race bib?”

“Do you have your authorization form?”

“Yep, hold on…”, as I dig out my form that Jme made sure I printed out before I flew out here, “Here you go.”

She passed it to the other tent-attendant who then looked through her file of bibs and handed me mine. They let me know that I can pick up my shirt after the race at the expo and just to not lose the bib or tear off the tabs until I get there. Check and check.

I head to my corral, and sit. There’s music, everyone is in race costumes, and I feel like I belong. It’s an interesting feeling. Being surrounded by strangers, not talking to anyone, and not feeling alone.

Race kicks off- I think I started around 5:30 and 6am- and we begin to run a winding and strange route; some through the Animal Kingdom guest grounds but also on back roads and through the parking lot.Throughout the race they had different, seldomly seen characters for photo opps, floats with music, and Disney crew members cheering everyone on throughout the trail. I stopped for a picture with King Louie (Jungle Book), and only King Louie. I couldn’t believe how many photo opps there were on such a short run.

Race ends, grabs medal, grabs water, grabs red Powerade off a table of blue and red, sees a new table with yellow, asks to trade, grabs a weird black and blue box with social media symbols in white, grabs a banana- lots of grabbing- and meanders with an armful to the busses. Asks a crew member in a vest how to know which bus is mine and he points me in the direction of the Pop Century bus. I was going to wait until I got to the hotel to open the box, but the suspense was too much. It was a snack box. At 7am, this snack box included nachos and cheese, oreos, applesauce, and cranberries. I was confused at the choices, but not disappointed in the slightest.

When I got back to the hotel, Jme hadn’t gone back to sleep so I changed and we got ready to Disney. We caught a bus to the park and hit the ground running. When we entered Magic Kingdom, it had been so long since I’d been there that Jme got me a “1st visit” pin and got herself a “celebrating” pin that she wrote “Alexa’s first visit” on. We were 2 hours in and had already done more than half the rides in the park.

We did the teacups and it was so fulfilling and exciting. She snapchatted me looking like a crazy person being so excited, giggly, and dizzy while spinning the cups and I could not have been more happy. We did the Dumbo ride, and a few other childhood favorites of mine. We had so much fun. Disney was so amazing, even as an adult, but was a memory and experience I’ll never forget because I had such a great friend with me.

Then, we had to reach our brunch reservation. This is probably one of the highlights of my trip. The food delicious; red velvet cupcakes, lox and cream cheese I had put on a croissant, and something called “strawberry soup” that was like a more liquid version of a smoothie that I added chocolate chips to, among many other dishes. Better than the food, though, was the company. Pooh Bear and Tigger both stopped by for pictures. I also got a picture with Mary Poppins in her white and red dress from the musical scene with the penguins, and, best of all, Alice and The Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. It was such an amazing start to the day.

We hit the park again and finished up the Magic Kingdom rides. We crossed over into Animal Kingdom for Mount Everest and  a night safari. Mt. Everest is  my new favorite ride. You have to sit in the front to experience the fully amazing view, but the ride is a thriller and the views throughout are breathtaking.

 

 

 

 

Out of energy, with sore feet, we went back to the hotel so I could wake up for the 10k. Woke up, feet mostly recuperated, and had the bib-pick-up adventure a second time. Ran the 10k, stopped for one or two pictures, and went with my armful of snacks and drinks to the bus again.

Jme, awake and ready to go, waits for me to shower and we hit the Expo so I can grab my shirts, my half marathon race bib, and do some Disney Race gear shopping. I also needed to try to change my race corral. The woman behind the counter sees that I submitted a race with a decent finish time but that I had clicked a square indicating I had not intended to finish in under three hours; she gave me a new corral based on my submitted finish time.

Pictures with Remy (Ratatouille), some gushing over how cool the race shirts are, and some contemplating about buying roughly everything at the Expo, we head back to the hotel, drop everything off, and finish up Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and the second half of Hollywood Studios. We meet my parents for dinner and had a great time overall. We get back to the hotel, Jme pops in the shower, and there’s a knock on the door. I open it, am speechless, then start shrieking and screaming at Jme to get out of the bathroom; it was Lauren! I was the absolute happiest. Here I was, in Disney, two out of three races done, all parks completed sans Epcot, and I had both my best friends here. Jme came out of the bathroom and explained that she had orchestrated park tickets and timing for Lauren; she had known the whole time. We laughed, chatted for a few hours, and went to sleep.

In the morning we, I woke up and headed out for my half marathon. This would be my first half in over a year, and only the fourth I’d ever done. I had hoped that since I lived in Colorado now and was training at a high altitude and on hills, that the race wouldn’t be too rough. I saw around for a little over an hour in my corral and the race began. At a slight uphill, compared to Colorado anyway, I made way through quite a bit of running-crowd. I stop for a picture with Princess Atta and Flik (A Bug’s Life) and continue running. About halfway through, I notice I hadn’t let up on my pace; I grinned to myself. It was a beautiful day, I was making good time, and I was doing a great job being selective of my photo opp stops. I came to Mike and Sully (Monster’s Inc.) and stopped. But after two minutes of not moving, I decided it wasn’t worth the wait. A few hundred feet later, I was so glad I hadn’t spent that time because I spotted Darkwing Duck and Launchpad (Darkwing Duck and Ducktales). I didn’t care how long the wait was, I needed this picture! It ended up being only about five or ten minutes and I was beaming when the camera snapped. I picked up the race again and when I had a little over a mile left I started to tear up. My feet were filling me but I had mustered through and was almost done.

The cancer survivor who had odds against her in being cured, who had a high potential in mental disability as a result of chemo and radiation, who had fought to overcome minor heart issues and other nay-saying side-effects, I was finishing a race challenge and I couldn’t have had more pride in myself.

Turned a corner, and there was Clarabelle and Horace at an old fashioned fruit stand. I thought most of the pictures were behind me, but there they were. Classic, dating back to Steamboat Willie classic, Disney Character. I wiped my eyes and got ready to smile.

Finished the race and felt weightless. Well, my feet felt like they were cinderblocks given all the walking and running I had done prior. Repeat of my water, Powerade, snacks, and snackbox grabbing, then re-corral-ing for medals.Once free of the re-corrals I found my bus and went back to the hotel.

I walked in, got my congrats’, took turns checking out my medals, showered, and then I asked if we had a spot for Lauren on our breakfast reservation. We called the restaurant and updated our count from four to five. My parents got there and gave the name on the reservation, but we hadn’t told them of the change so they had some confusion with the host. We sit down, Lauren introduces herself, and about halfway through breakfast my mom exclaims, out of nowhere, “Oh, you’re the Lauren Alexa is always talking about!”. We all had a good laugh, a great breakfast, and after my parents left Jme, Lauren, and I ran around downtown Disney, did some shopping (I got my BB8 Alex and Ani bracelet as a self-reward), some discounted cupcakes courtesy of all my medals, and went to the Wine and Dine festival for race-runners and friends and family, only. The unmistakeable Disney Epcot ball was lit up in typical nighttime fashion and we ate, drank, and rode a few rides.

All in all, the trip was amazing, my friends are the best I could’ve asked for, and my first Disney Run Challenge was a complete success.

I’m so glad to have already signed up for two more and decidedly committed to another Wine and Dine Race Challenge in November 2017.

Already an Addict

photo-1463109598173-3864231fade5In about mid-2016 I signed up for my first Disney Race Weekend. I signed up for the Inaugural Wine and Dine Festival Challenge in Disney World in Orlando. I had been waiting to sign up for Disney races until after my MHA degree was done and when I realized I’d be done in August, I figured a race weekend in November was plenty of gap-time to train. I signed up and shortly after also signed up for the Disney Star Wars the Light Side race in Disneyland Anaheim. I hadn’t even ran the first one and I was already signed up for my second. A few months later, in roughly September, I signed up for my third Disney Race weekend; Star Wars the Dark side in Disney World. As much as I loved running, I was convinced Disney race weekends were the absolute definition of where I belonged.

I was signed up for 3 Disney race weekends, 8 races total, before I ever even ran my first one. The first two, I had decided to sign up for the 5k and the challenge; a 10k and half marathon. Three races in one weekend plus an immense amount of walking and very little sleep; I didn’t fully understand what that all would mean. But I figured “Well, if you’re gonna wear yourself out on the 10k and half, you may as well do the 5k, too.”. The third race weekend, set in April of 2017, I decided to just do the challenge; the 10k and half marathon. All in all, by September of 2016 I had spent over $1000 on Disney races, and that doesn’t even include the hotels, park tickets, or food. But it was going to be so worth it.

Longest Running Joke

annapolisThe first half marathon I ever ran was the Annapolis Running Classic 2014 with my brother and my cousin. I made every mistake in the book.

We pull up and it’s freezing. I was dressed the part but it was still cold. We get out of the car, into our running corrals, and ready to go. My brother was in a different corral, but at least for the first few miles, my cousin and I would be in each other’s sites.

I was all set. I had made a playlist the night before, I go to push play, and it turns out my music didn’t save. Rule #1/Fail – have a sick playlist and make sure it saves.

I start running anyway and am keeping track of my recently injured knee and it feels fine for the most part. Rule #2/Fail – don’t run while injured. I figured since I had taken a small break from my training it would be fine. I also considered the fact that I had ran at least 12 miles during my training, even if I had to skip a few weeks to get to that point. Rule 3/Fail – I had to skip weeks because I hadn’t given myself enough time to train and make up for lost time.

Everything seemed in SNAFU-style order so I continued running. As we passed the first water-stop I noticed that runners were throwing their water cups; per normal. Except it was so cold that it was turning into ice on the ground and slicking the area. We tip-toed through the danger zone and picked up pace. Then the first incline came. Rule # 4/Fail- train how you fight. Try to run a similar terrain to your race. I had trained on flat terrain and the race route was made of long, steep inclines and declines. I’d also later find out about another cardinal rule: Rule #5/ Fail- the right shoes make a huge difference. I had committed shoe-i-cide (Fabolous); I had on Nike shocks which, while fine shoes, were not the right footwear for this endeavor

I was determined minus these setbacks to make decent time and to finish the race. Somewhere around the eighth mile my knee started to hurt. I took some walking breaks here and there, but I was losing time. I decided to push through the pain. I worked hard to get up another hill, stopped at a water table, took a cup, then threw it immediately because the Gatorade was an ice block, and picked up my pace again. The land evened out some and I was doing okay, and then we had to go back down the hill. I took a steady pace and the pain flared up. I was on mile nine or so and really just wanted to keep moving. The pain was horrible, I was crying and cringing while running, but my feet were moving.

Then, they weren’t. My knee buckled underneath me. It just took matters into it’s own tendons and made me stop. I sat for a few seconds, massaged, it, got back on my feet, took a good step with my right, and the left buckled again. I started crying harder; not because of the pain, but because I felt like a failure. I knew I’d have to wait it out. I gave myself three minutes, got up, hobbled for a few feet, and sat down again. Five minuted later I got up, felt some pain but was able to move, and told myself to set an easy pace. Even at my easy pace, I was in pain. I started crying again, but kept my feet moving.

Soon enough I was at a turn-around point. I passed group of midshipmen who definitely saw me crying as they paused their cheering, and saw my cousin on the other side of the turn around. She asked if I was okay and if I needed a medic or if I needed to stop running. I’m not sure if I sounded pathetic or upset when I said it, but I insisted I finish the race and that I’d see her at the end. She gave me a motivational butt-slap, which the midshipmen also definitely saw, and she went on to finish the run. I continued hobbling and crying, with some walking, and then I saw it. I had passed mile twelve and was waiting for eternity to find the finish line. I rounded a corner, had a few more runners ask if I was okay, and saw the big, metal, here-it-is structure of the finish line. I picked up my pace just a little and crossed the finish line.

I had barely missed my goal of being under thee hours with a time of 3:00:05. I sometimes think that if I hadn’t pushed so hard, my injury may not have flared up and I may have gotten a better time. But I hadn’t given up, and I could check this item off the bucket list. I said I’d never run another half, that this one was worth knowing I could push myself the way I had and was enough.

I have ran more, and glad to be doing so, but this one taught me a valuable lesson; or rather, five of them.