Wednesday, February 29, 2012

And I'm back!

After four weeks of crutches and swimming then biking then elliptical, I ran for the first time this morning! It was only for 3 miles in around 30 minutes and that means that with six and a half weeks to the marathon I still have a ton of work to do, but I'm healed and taking it one step at a time.

Now when the trainer told me to do the elliptical so that I could see how my foot did with a weight bearing exercise, I cringed. I hate the elliptical. I don't really like cardio machines to begin with but at least the bike and treadmill involve two of my sport's disciplines so I put up with them if its a super hot day in Texas or ridiculously cold in New England. But, I know a lot of people aren't runners and actually do like the elliptical, so I came up with a good workout using the elliptical that had my legs actually sore the next day.

The Elliptical machine workout:
I did 30 minutes on the elliptical on the interval setting then a five minute cool down.
Then I did a simple circuit of three exercises, three sets each.

First: Kettlebell swings. Those Russian kettlebells you see people swinging around in the gym might seem super intimidating but don't worry, its not as complicated as you may think. The link gives really good step by step instructions but my tips are to try to keep in mind this isn't a squat and you should not be using your arms that much. It is really a motion in your hips and involves really activating your glutes. I do between 20-30 swings per set, less if your form goes.

Second: Overhead Squat with a barbell or with no weight. If you need to start with less weight than the bar, sometimes the gym has 5 or 10 lbs rods that work well or in the link provided a woman starts out with a towel. Don't think because you've done squats with weight on your shoulders before means that you'll be able to do this squat easily. This is a challenging exercise as it really involves your core, keep your reps low to start 10-20 per set and form is crucial, especially if you are holding weight over your head.

Third: Hamstring curls on a stability ball. Find a mat and one of the giant exercise balls and you're all set. This bodyweight exercise can test your balance but just make sure your glutes are engaged the whole time. You can do 20 of these or break it up into 10 or 15 of these and 10 to 15 hip thrusts where there is no curling motion.

Then repeat each of those two more times, stretch and have a healthy snack!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Road to recovery

I'm healing well. Yoga wasn't too bad on my foot yesterday, I'm off of crutches today and I can ramp up the biking now as well as swimming. Hopefully next Wednesday the trainer will give me the okay on slowly introducing running back into my routine. I am determined to take my recovery very seriously and heal really well to be back in form as soon as possible.

Even more incentive to heal up for the marathon- friend and family contributions to my fundraising page and the warm thoughts they've sent my way! I have to get through this for me and for them now! Below is also from the Boston Athletic Association confirming my acceptance, another incentive!

For the next week I'll be continuing to take it easy on high impact activities but will increase my effort in the pool and on the bike to keep my legs in shape and my lungs working hard. Calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients are still my best food friends to help repair the stress fracture. To be honest this isn't a bad time to be injured... I take the GRE next Friday so I can use the time on the bike and extra time in my day to study - Silver lining! Setbacks aren't setbacks if you learn from them and use them to your advantage :)

Here are some useful or just entertaining websites I've stumbled on while researching recovery methods for stress fractures:
This is a blog post I came across of what I won't be doing for the marathon, cheating, but the stories are pretty funny and make you wonder how stupid these people are and how stupid they think race organizers are! Also if anyone else finds themselves with a running injury then this page will hopefully lead you to a cause and a way to become pain free as soon as possible, especially if you don't have access to university athletic trainers like I do. Also lately I've found inspiration and really good running tips from Jason at StrengthRunning who I happened to have met one time through Steve over at NerdFitness who is entertaining and helpful as always. 

Now off to make some roasted cauliflower and brusselsprouts with goat cheese and walnut polenta for an early dinner before class!  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Final semester of being "the healthy undergrad"

2012 is a pretty big year in my life: I will no longer be an undergraduate come May 20th. I am writing a senior project and I am taking my final classes, some of which I need, and some of which I just really want to take. Several other non-academic events have happened or started in the the past month that pertain to my life and physical well-being.

1. I found out I am on the Tufts Marathon Team and have officially filled out my registration form for the Boston Marathon! April 16th I will be running in the Boston Marathon!
2. A possible job I was hoping to get after I graduate did not go my way so I am having to do some adjusting and re-planning of how I go about job searching.
3. I signed up for a half-marathon in February so I can at least have run a half marathon race before I take on the 26.2.
4. I became a mentor in a program that works with 8th and 9th grade girls cooking and teaching them about food and nutrition and helping them come up with a service project aimed at hunger and food problems locally.
5. I found out I have a stress fracture in my right foot and I am on crutches for the next week and from there the trainers will assess when I can start back into running.

While most of those were positive things going on in my life, a couple of them would be considered setbacks. I will still be hopefully running in time for my half marathon and definitely in time for the Boston Marathon (fingers majorly crossed). But, it will take a lot of patience and healing and then proper training to get back into distance running form. Right now the pool and my indoor bike trainer are my best friends as well as a diet rich in bone healing nutrients to help repair the fracture. Lets look at my non-running workouts for the next week or two, and my diet.

The low impact of a swim workout will keep my endurance up while letting my foot heal. I am currently in a swim class and by utilizing the class for shorter swims with bursts of speed I can get in a good workout. Outside of class I can log in some longer swims to keep up my endurance. Both types of swim workouts will keep my lungs working. Because of the location of the stress fracture I am lucky that I can still ride my indoor bike trainer. Where the clips of my bike shoes line up with my feet doesn't put any pressure on the painful part of my foot. Spending some time on the bike means I will keep some endurance as well as leg strength without the impact on my foot. If I am out from running longer than I expect then I will try to utilize the bike even more and build up greater leg strength and leg endurance for when I can get back to running.

For the next week my training will look like this:
Th: swim class, short distances
F: hour of intervals on indoor bike trainer
S: rest and stretch
S: hour to hour and a half longer distance swims (main set pyramid of 100, 200, 400, 800, 400, 200, 100)
M: hour on indoor bike trainer
T: swim class and yoga to stretch out and test balance strength
W: back to trainer

My nutrition plan is essentially to watch my intake of calcium but also to make sure I'm eating foods that help my body absorb that calcium. Lysine is an essential amino acid that helps your body absorb calcium. Dairy products like yogurt and milk are high in lysine and help you absorb calcium but there are plenty of other non-dairy products with lysine. Nuts like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are very high in lysine, but surprisingly so are oats and tomatoes.  Good calcium sources other than dairy products are dark leafy greens: collard greens, kale, mustard greens, etc. (Be advised! Spinach and chards have a lot of calcium but your body can't absorb it easily, meaning that these are not optimal sources of calcium.) Vitamins C and K have also been associated with healing injuries so winter citrus is a good option for C and broccoli for K. Some foods that inhibit bone healing are foods high in salt and sugar, alcohol and caffeine, while I don't indulge in those often or in high amounts, I will still be watching my diet closely.

Recipes high in lysine, calcium, vitamin K and C for this week (but not limited to these) are:
Oatmeal with raw cacao, maca and walnuts for breakfast daily
Raw kale salad with baked sweet potato
Mixed bean and tomato veggie chili with sliced avocado
Roasted broccoli with hazelnuts and spaghetti squash with tomato sauce
Apples and almond butter for snacking
Oranges for snacking
And fruit smoothies with rice and pea protein powder

Hopefully this gets me back on track, setbacks are just opportunities to get somewhere on a different route. This new route might be even better than the one I was on before!