Running in extreme heat & humidity

I’ve been in Colombia for 6 days now, and I have yet to lace up my running shoes. First, because the heat and humidity are so extreme that I get dizzy and sweaty just standing still in the shade. (Oh, how I wish I were kidding.) And second, because I’m now waiting for an extreme sunburn on my legs to heal. Who knew a sunburn could be so painful?

I spent Easter weekend on a gorgeous white sand beach on a little island off the shore of Colombia. On my first afternoon, my legs were in the sun for 15 minutes, and they absolutely fried. The next day, I had to take ibuprofen to stop the extreme pain, yesterday they swelled so that I had cankles (CANKLES!), and today the swelling is gone, but they’re starting to look like alligator skin. I imagine the awful peeling is going to come next.

So, until I can walk without pain, I’m going to hold off on running. And I’m heading to more temperate Medellin tonight, so the heat shouldn’t be a problem any more.

It’s so, SO discouraging to be on such a long break. I need your words of encouragement!

I’ll close with two images, one of lovely Playa Blanca and one of the cankles. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Travel = death to my training schedule

I had my run on Friday and it was downright glorious. The 7000 ft altitude made for some shortness of breath, but it was fantastic to move my muscles. The gluteus medius pain started kicking in around 2.6 miles, so I took it easy and walked the rest of the 5K.

But no run ever felt ย better. ๐Ÿ™‚

And since then, I’ve been traveling like crazy, and haven’t had the chance to run. Rough two weeks for running. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I did get a lot of walking in, and I cannot WAIT to get my shoes on and run in Colombia tomorrow. After an overnight flight, long layover, and long second flight, I’ll need it!

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A week of slothfulness

I’m visiting northern Arizona right now, and the weather is perfect for running–sunny and cool-but-not-cold. The air is pure, and the scenery is lovely. It’s the perfect kind of spring.

And yet, I have not run all week.

Seriously. I’m like a super-sloth, working all day (tomorrow’s the last day!) from the couch, eating too much, and drinking delicious wine. I’ve been waiting to run until my butt/hip flexor soreness was completely gone–no sense aggravating it further–and until yesterday morning, I was limping when I walked. Today, my muscles feel great, but I indulged in a few too many cocktails last night and my head spins if I so much as get off of the couch for a glass of water. At least the dancing was a workout, right?

I miss my runs. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It’s been 4 days since the last one, and I don’t have much energy, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on work, and I just feel unhealthy (okay, so that’s partly the hangover talking). But seriously. A few days of vending machine crap–which used to be a dietary norm–has me realizing how far I’ve come with healthy eating choices, and how much I don’t want to go back to that college student-style eating. As always, I’m amazed at how strongly my body is affected by diet/exercise choices. Just like being sick always helps me appreciate my health, this mini period of sloth has helped me appreciate how amazing I feel when I’m running/eating well.

On a side note, it’s kind of daunting to find a brand new running route in a new place…I had to drive around for a while to find a relatively flat area that won’t put too much stress on my gluteus medius. I’m going to lay off hilly routes for a while.

I’m running tomorrow! It’ll be a celebration of finishing my job and ditching the slothfulness. ย Wish me and my glutes luck. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Strengthening the gluteus medius

Several of you have asked in emails/comments about specific exercises I’ll be doing to strengthen my weak gluteus medius. The PT recommended the “clamshell” specifically. The image below is from this post at JK Conditioning, which also gives a good explanation of what happens to the stride when the GM is weak (and explains why my other leg is kicking the affected one):

A comprehensive post at Wellsphere mentioned that standing balanced on one leg is also a good strengthening exercise: “Criteria to progress to stage II is that the patient can hold their pelvis level during single leg stance for 30 seconds.” Unfortunately, I can’t stand on my right leg without extreme pain. It seems that a weak GM can lead to ITB syndrome and a host of other problems, so thank goodness I caught it early!

I’m also going to do the exercises on this page about wilderness sports conditioning. Hopefully, I’ll be back to 100% in a month or so–but to be safe, I’ve decided to push my first half marathon to the end of May/beginning of June.

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In which I run my first 8-miler and learn about my weak ass

Today has been the most educational day of my short running career. It was–wait for it–long run Sunday! My favorite run of the week, my first 8-miler, and, to make it extra-special, my first long run at less than 5000 feet elevation. I had a route planned along a lovely desert wash, and woke up at 8am to beat the heat.

Lesson #1: just because the desert morning is cool and lovely does not mean you can skip sunscreen. My pale, winterized skin is now super-pink. I know better.

I borrowed my cousin’s water-bottle belt, packed up sports beans and a little bottle of water, and walked down to the start of the wash path. When I started to run, the water bottle bounced around like crazy and eventually flew out onto the sidewalk.

Lesson #2: Buy a proper running belt.

I looked around for crazies who would spike my water with drugs and then follow me until I passed out, and upon finding none, stashed my bottle in some sage bushes. (Hey, you never know. ๐Ÿ™‚ There were various shopping carts stashed in the wash, and I’m guessing it’s home to more than a few vagrants.) Took off running again, busting out This American Life because it works with the slow long-run pace. All was well.

I stopped for a quick walk break at the end of the wash and the “hip” pain came flooding in. Badly. I walked for a bit, pushing on various parts of my muscles to see if I could isolate the pain. Looked really brilliant, too, wandering around on the sidewalk, squeezing my butt muscles. It didn’t hurt much when I was running, so I turned back to complete the first loop. Gulped down half of the water and tried to stomach some sports beans while fighting the indulge-the-pain-and-go-home-now part of my brain.

Lesson #3: I’m going to need a ton of water when running in hot Colombia. It was only about 65 this morning in Phoenix and my accustomed-to-the-cold body was miserable.

Lesson #4: sports beans are gross. They taste like chemicals. I managed to eat about 4 before giving up.

I finally talked myself into doing the second out-and-back to complete the 8 miles, but it was a serious mental struggle made worse by my sore butt. (Turns out, the pain wasn’t in my hip.)

Lesson #5: one out-and-back is better for my mental state during running. It stinks to repeat the same one twice in one run, even if it was a lovely path.

Lesson #6: if you run with the beat of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” it puts you around a 9:40 mile. I need to make a playlist with some faster songs.

I finally made it back to the starting point, and literally limped back to the house. It took almost 20 minutes to walk 1/4 mile. My cousin’s friend came over for lunch, and she just happens to be finishing up her rotations in physical therapy. So, within 2 minutes of meeting me, she was pushing on my butt to find the pain and instantly recognized it as a weak gluteus medius. Nice to meet you, too. ha

Lesson #7: I have a weak ass, which is leading to weak-ass runs. Apparently, this weak gluteus medius of mine is causing all of the weird little issues I have on longer runs. Like, whenever I get tired, my right leg kicks the left ankle–today, I looked down and I’d actually drawn blood. The left GM is what’s giving me pain, and my new PT guru said that that when I’m tired, that hip drops and the leg rotates in, putting it closer to my right foot. And, I overcompensate with the right hip, so my stride changes when I start to fatigue–which is when I start noticing it.

Lesson #8: I have to strengthen my gluteus medius, and run at 75% of my training volume until it starts to feel better. What a relief to know that it’s a specific problem with a simple fix–and even more, that it won’t stop me from running!

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Old before my time

I seem to have injured my hip–apparently, running is turning me into an 80-year-old. And, my little sister turned 22 today, which means that I’ll be 28 soon, which is that much closer to 30.

But 30 is the new 20, right?

Apparently, Tuesday’s amazing run was a bit too amazing. I must have pushed too hard or something, because 1.5 miles into Wednesday’s scheduled 3 miles, the pain in my hip area was too strong to keep going. Have you ever had a run that just feels off? The rhythm felt weird, I was listening to music instead of NPR, and then the pain. All wrong. So I walked back to the car, took yesterday off, and am debating about trying to squeeze in a few miles tonight if things feel right.

This will be the third low-mileage week in a row, but I suppose it’s better to take it easy for a few days than get an injury that will last for a few months.

BUT– it’s Friday, I have one week left of work, I fly to Arizona tomorrow, and Vegas/Colombia are less than 1.5 weeks away!ย And I’m SO excited for my Sunday morning 8-miler! Here’s hoping the geriatric hip holds up. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Love me some spring!

Note to self: do not go all day eating only a bowl of oatmeal and a piece of toast, run 4.5 miles, and then expect to have a virtuous food evening. Ha. I’d better go to bed before I finish off an entire box of Captain Crunch.

Appetite aside, today’s 4.5 miles were fantastic! It was gorgeous and sunny, warm enough to wear my new sleeveless running shirt…which, despite being pink, managed to be shapeless and unfeminine. The idea was that a less form-fitting shirt that wasn’t super booby would be better for Colombia, but it’s just ugly. ๐Ÿ™‚ And, I ran the whole thing at less than 11 minutes a mile, which is better than the usual 11:15-11:30. My new goal is to get close to 10 minutes a mile on regular runs.

In pursuit of that goal, there’s sad, sad news: I might have to retire This American Life. I adore the soothing NPR voices, but they just aren’t inspiring me to go faster. Guess it’s time to bring back the bouncy pop music (Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” always get me moving).

Any fast-paced song suggestions??

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