Guest Post – More Life Less Running

The last few months have been rough, I’m not going to lie. I’ve battled my share of injuries and illness (the flu, major IT Band pain and a sprained shoulder), as well as two family deaths and a couple other issues. All of which derailed my running to the point that since May 27, I’ve had my running shoes on a total of 4 times – and 3 of those came in the last week when I finally felt well enough to run again.

While I’ve missed running, really missed my running buddies, and started to panic about some upcoming races I haven’t been training for, it’s also given me a chance to enjoy other activities and more time with my family – time that normally I’d be spending putting miles in. So instead of running, I’ve been focusing on other outdoor activities that I can do with my husband and stepdaughters (none of them are runners – unless perhaps they’re being chased by something!).

My husband and I have been camping almost every weekend – we own a small motorhome, so each week we draw a circle on the map, see where we can go within 2-3 hours of our house, and head out. From our home near Lansing, Michigan, we can get to locations in Indiana, Ohio and even Canada pretty quickly. We’ve discovered new parks, lakes, historical attractions, hiking trails, and off the beaten path places we wouldn’t have otherwise. We both love hiking and biking, so we try to find places where we can do one or both activities.

The whole family owns kayaks, so we’ve headed out to local lakes to enjoy some family time away from our electronics. If you’ve never kayaked, I highly recommend it – especially on lakes, marshes or streams with limited activity. When it’s quiet you get to see things like turtles, heron, muskrat, river otters, water snakes, birds, frogs and more. It’s amazing what goes on in the water when you can just sit and observe.

While this isn’t a family activity, I happen to work at a university with an outdoor 50m pool that staff have access to in the summer. As a former competitive swimmer, I still find myself more at home in the chlorine than in running shoes, so I’ve been putting in as many laps as I can a few days a week. Swimming bonus – I’ve developed an awesome swimsuit tan on my back as a result! 😉

What being injured these past couple months made me realize was that running had started to consume me – and while I don’t plan to give it up anytime soon (I still have a couple goals to conquer), it forced me to find a balance to do other things, especially things with my family.

Some might not agree with me, but life’s too short to be spending it all working out. Take a couple nights or weekends off, grab your kids, lace up your hiking shoes, rent a kayak and get outdoor and enjoy life’s treasures. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Who is Jessi? Jessi is a runner, triathlete, Jaycee, chocoholic, Disney fanatic, traveler, Broadway addict, boardgame enthusiast, and sock collector whose favorite mantra is Not All Who Wander Are Lost. You can find her supporting her two stepdaughters in their activities, camping with her husband, doting on her cat, and spending her free time with family and friends. Read more about Jessi’s adventures on her blog www.runningthroughlife.wordpress.com

Do I rest or do I run?

I ignored the slight pain when I ran Princess. I iced and rested my knee for a full week before I tried my hand at my next training run of 10 miles. But a sharp pain in my left knee stopped me in my tracks as I ran with friends several weeks back.

It was my own fault. I ran too far in snowy conditions on a test run. But I felt good, until I didn’t.

I stopped running for the next 10 days. Walking wasn’t painful. I traveled to Belgium with my husband and we walked all over four cities. No problem. I decided not to run a planned half marathon in DC in mid-March because I didn’t want to do further damage.

On the 10th non-running day, I headed to the gym to see what I could do.

Three times, I ran one mile. I followed each mile by walking a quarter-mile. By the time I finished, I felt great.

Two days later, I headed outdoors for a five-miler with my running partner Gary.

“How do you feel?” he asked me several times as we ran.

“Great!” I said several times. Then just after our fourth mile, I felt a twinge and asked Gary if we could walk.  Not a problem. We walked about 3 or so minutes before finishing our run. My knee wasn’t throbbing. but rather still felt tweaked.

So I’ve taken off since then. I’ll try again tomorrow.

I haven’t been to a doctor. My knee is just strained, I think set off from running on uneven snow for months on end this summer. But here’s my dilemma:

Coming up this Sunday is the Syracuse Half Marathon, and I have a half in Atlantic City and another in Rochester next month. I’m torn on what to do. I’m considering run-walk intervals and taking my sweet time with the Syracuse race, but am wondering if doing so would just set me up for further injury? That, I don’t want to risk.

 How do you handle a knee injury? What would you do in my shoes? (pun intended)

You say Yoga, I Say Pranayama

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, my profile pic might clue you in to the fact that I am a big fan of yoga. You might also see me posting my photos for the @prAna #taketheleap 30 day yoga challenge, or talking about some of the yoga events I attend.

I planned this shot for weeks and weeks.

I planned this shot for weeks and weeks.

yogaontherocks

#wewearyellow @ the Yoga on the Rocks event at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Summer 2014

My little sister got me hooked on yoga in 2011 when she dragged me to a class at her favorite studio. My stubbornness went something like:

“Why should I pay $16.00 to go to a class when I have YouTube and Gaiam DVDs?”

“Videos don’t give you the same level of instruction, they can’t correct you,” she explained.

“Great. Because you know how much I love people telling me what to do.”

“It’s a class, Jennifer, of course they will tell you what to do. Just shut up and come with me.”

She won the battle with that logic and I went to my first 90 minute hot vinyasa flow class. Turns out, my little sis is one smart, sassy cookie. Thanks to her, yoga is a huge part of my life. In fact, I now have a long term goal of becoming a yoga instructor. I am quite far from achieving that goal, so please take note that I am not a yoga instructor. That being said, I couldn’t help but notice the teachers repeating the same corrections to everyone. And holy wow, once enacted they made yoga so much less hurty for me. With all of the yoga challenges going on and people trying yoga for the first time, this is good info to share. So here goes!

Breathe – Primarily, yoga is about breath. Basically, pay attention to your breath and try to regulate it throughout your entire yoga sequence. Breathe at a pace that is comfortable for you. Try to make your inhalation take as long as your exhalation. I use counting to help me slow the breath. I slowly count to six as I inhale, I hold for three, and I count to six as I exhale.

Tuck Your Tail  when you are doing a standing pose. This engages your core and firms up your trunk to make back bends easier and extend reach. Check it out with mountain pose:

WRONG. OUCH.

WRONG. OUCH.

In this photo, my butt is sticking out like a duck’s and I am not fully extending my arms. Reaching higher won’t solve the problem, and if I bend backward more to extend my arms, my lower back hurts.

Tucked Tail = AHHHHHH. I AM A GODDESS.

Tucked Tail = AHHHHHH. I AM A GODDESS.

In the second frame, I have tilted my pelvis forward, or “tucked my tail” to root my core. Doing this allows me to fully extend my arms and bend backward with no pain or pinching. You can see how much further my arms are extended, and my glutes are engaged. My chest is open and so is my heart. In yoga speak that is a very good thing!

Keep your back straight. This is hard because we can’t see the curve in our back. Again, think about making sure your core is engaged. Yoga is very much about core strength.  When you’re hunched over, it’s hard to engage the abdomen.

No, no and more no.

No, no and more no.

With my back is curved, my bottom foot is not at a 90 degree angle and by curving my back to bring my head to my knee, I’m sacrificing a lot of the hamstring stretch I should be getting in this pose. Bending from the waist is more effective.

Not as impressive "looking", but waaaay more effective.

Not as impressive “looking”, but waaaay more effective.

With my back as strait as possible, I lower as far as I can by drawing my chest to the floor. My back foot is at a 90 degree angle to my leg, and my arms are not as far forward. In this posture I feel the stretch from my foot all the way up to my sciatic. This is a GREAT pose for runners!

Keep your hips level with each other. This is one your instructor will guide you on depending on the pose, but to give you an idea, consider pigeon pose. In this photo, my hips are really tilted to the left and although it feels comfortable, it is not making the most out of this challenging and amazingly awesome pose (also FABULOUS for runners).

I look like I'm missing my red SOLO cup.

I look like I’m missing my red SOLO cup.

Whereas here, my hips are level to each other, my left leg is straight, and you can actually see my other foot! With this correct posture, I am getting the full benefit of this hip opening pose.

IMG_1642

Roll your shoulders back to get them to play nice with you. Many poses have you clasping your hands behind your back or twisting with an extended reach. Roll to get into position first, and don’t forget to tuck the tail if you’re standing!

Take a Class. Or Five. For real. Once you have a basic foundation and understanding of yoga and your body’s limits, the videos and poses you see outside of class will make much more sense and hurt much, much less.

Variations are GOOD. – There is no such this as go big or go home in yoga. Use blocks to alter poses until you can fully extend. If it hurts, don’t push. If you can’t get into pigeon pose it’s okay. Do the best you can and keep practicing. That’s why it’s called a yoga practice. Crow pose and inversions are not for beginners. Trust me. You can get hurt doing yoga. Just ask my little broken toe.

Hint: When falling out of headstand, tuck and roll, do not flop.

Hint: When falling out of headstand, tuck and roll, do not flop.

Yoga is about your personal journey with your body and spirit. Yes, yoga is a fitness activity, but it began as a spiritual practice. Many fitness activities are focused on competition, spiritual activities are based on self reflection and discovery. In that way, Yoga is a private practice done in a group setting. There should be no judgement of you, by you, or anyone else. Only acceptance of your body, its gifts, and its limitations. Take it slow and forget about the destination. Live in the present and enjoy your journey in everything you do. Namaste!

Are you doing a challenge this month? Have you tried yoga or are you worried you’ll break your little toe? Let me assuage your fears in the comments!

Road Tested: RunSafe App

Okay, not to be too macabre (this is tough for me, trust), and I don’t want to freak you out, but do you guys like horror movies? Because I don’t. At all. I have nightmares about ending up in a pit and being told to rub the lotion in or get the hose again. When left to my imagination, I conjure up all sorts of horrifying scenarios about what could happen to me as I go about my daily business. Exactly none of them have a happy ending. Why watch a horror movie when your brain makes you worry that you’ll be staring in one any moment? (HAPPY MONDAY, by the way. I promise this post is about to get a lot more cheerful.)

This is my brain on my imagination.

This is my brain on my imagination.

All that being said, my fear of possible doom hasn’t kept me from running alone outdoors, but it has kept me from fully enjoying those runs. Can you relate?

I thought so.

Maybe you can relate to this, too. Sometimes you feel vulnerable when you run, especially if you’re running with your child. Or you find that you’re often running alone, or in the dark, or in secluded areas around careless morotists. Maybe you’ve been injured and you needed to alert a loved one and get help quickly. Perhaps you’ve noticed something suspicious, or there’s wildlife on the trail, and you’d like to alert others. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an app for that?

Well guess what?!

Enter Runsafe! I’m seriously SO EXCITED to tell you guys about this app because it has set me free of my obsessive fears. Not only does RunSafe track my runs with the same great features many popular fitness apps use, but it also has unique safety features that I love. Features like a panic button. Yes, a panic button, which alerts your numero uno contact when you press it to get help stat!

RunSafe tracks several activities with GPS, and calculates distance, altitude, time, speed/pace, and calories. It displays real time stats, creates splits and intensity graphs, and maps your routes. You can rate, annotate, and share your workouts on social media. It does all the things you want and expect a fitness app to do.Image (2)

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Those features are fantastic, but that’s not even the best part. I really love this app because it gives me a sense of security when I’m working on my fitness goals. I can focus a little more on my breathing or my pace, and spend a little less effort looking over my shoulder. The little extra peace of mind this app gives me and my family is priceless.

With the free version, the Runsafe app does all of the above and sends text and email alerts to your contacts, creates an Alert Profile for you which displays vital info like a photo of you, your height, weight, age, gender, and, if/when you hit the panic button, your last known location. When you hit the panic button, it’s game on! The app sends an alert to all of your contacts, initiates a loud siren and strobe light to attract attention, activates the microphone to record several minutes of sound that your contacts can access, and activates your Alert Profile so that contacts can mobilize a response.

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The premium features let you notify a designated contact if you’re not back when you should be. Your contacts can also see your workout in real time, and you can set automatic alerts.

NO JOKE. I really love this. It’s like an Amber alert for active people!

Many of the features of the app are free for users, which really punches home the message that the RunSafe folks are all about the safety and not so much about the profit. They were nice enough to set up an account for us to try their premium service for three months free. After that, you can continue with the premium features for $4.99 a month, or drop back to the free features (which are pretty amazing by themselves). Click the logo to check out the giveaway and run safer, everyone! #safetyissexy

http://runsafe.me/partners/scootadoot

Click here to sign up!

 

Have you wished for this type of app to exist? Have you ever felt in danger on a run?  Do you own pepper spray, mace or are you in possession of  kick-ass martial arts skillz? LET’S GET REAL, YO. 

Cleared For Takeoff!

Huzzah, I say! Huzzah!

Yes, friends, the day has come. The #bustedankle is no more.

Celebratory snapchats required

Celebratory snapchats required

After my physical therapy appointment last week, I got the clearance to run – albeit only for short intervals – but that didn’t matter. I’m allowed to run! And you know what? It felt gooooood (regardless of the fact that I was on a treadmill). While my ankle didn’t feel 100% that first go-around, after a few minutes, things loosened up and it felt better than it had in a long time.

Yesterday, I had my last physical therapy appointment – I graduated! Yay! Cleared to do all the things (except play basketball… that has to wait another month, because lateral movement).

Pivot. You know. Basketball.

Pivot. You know. Basketball.

With clearance to run again, now comes the hard part. Deciding which races to do! This is a seriously important question. I know I want to aim for another marathon this fall, but I’m not sure which one, yet. I have at least one half marathon on the docket in September – the Navy Air Force Half (more on that in my next post, exciting announcement to come!) – and probably another go-round at Bird-in-Hand, preferably with better temps and conditions than last year. There will be Jog n’ Hog again (because what beats ice cream in July? Oh. I know. RUNNING THEN ICE CREAM THEN RUNNING).

Team Scoot? Try Team Cute.

Team Scoot? Try Team Cute.

My first race back will be at a work function – the association I work for always has a 5K at our annual conference – so, my first race of 2015 will be in the great state of Texas! I’m teaming up with my friend Nichole to help her take down the boys we’re running against. Can’t wait for some friendly competition – just the motivation I need to get back in gear.

I am fortunate enough to live in a place where during the spring and summer there’s 5K or 10K or 10 miler nearly every weekend. There are so many options! Choosing is the hard part. I’m going to spend the next few weeks working those intervals and trying to narrow down my racing options. Bring on 2015, folks. I’m ready!

What races are you looking at/interested in/already planning for? Do you have any local favorites? Dream destination races?

This is How You Train with a #BustedAnkle

Remember back in November (GOSH that was a long time ago) when I did a dumb thing and my ankle ended up looking like this?

Not. Bueno.

Not. Bueno.

Well. It looks less like that now and more like a normal foot/ankle situation, albeit a little bit puffier than one would like. Two months of physical therapy later, and I’m still not allowed to run. Yet. My orthopedist made mention of “coming back to see [him] in a month if the ankle still isn’t better.” That was before Christmas.

For those of you that can count, Christmas was nearly a month ago. Ankle? Still not 100%. But, I’m waiting to make that appointment until my PT gives me a re-evaluation. (I really don’t want to have to do the surgery-thing. I want to avoid the surgery-thing as much as possible.)

Anyways. In trying to avoid the surgery-thing, my PT has me doing all sorts of fun things. Strengthening exercises, ultrasound, stim… and he’s cleared me cycle (THANK GOODNESS), do the elliptical, and walk briskly on the treadmill. So, I’ve headed back to the gym, with gusto, to continue to train and strengthen my sad ankle and try to stay in shape (a shape that isn’t a circle).

So, how do you workout with a sort-of busted appendage? Let me count the ways:

Cycle:

I’ve been spinning for about two years now and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorite things. I try to go at least three or four times a week. Lately, I’ve been going nearly every day. Because when my options are either spin or “walk briskly on the treadmill,” I’ll take spin every time. Not to mention the fact that it’s a great cardio workout and if you focus on form and power – it can be a great strength workout too. #quadzilla like whoa.

Spin is good for the soul.

Spin is good for the soul.

Weight Training:

I love lifting. Like, a lot. Because when you do it right, lifting weights burns a ton of calories, builds muscle, and works your whole body like crazy. I like to get in a session after a cardio workout, when I’m warmed up already. I haven’t been as disciplined about getting in the weight room in the last few months, and I’ve felt it. So, this month, I’ve made an effort to lift at least four times a week, and I feel SO much better.

Musclessssss. Sort of.

Musclessssss. Sort of.

Rowing:

Chick Vic is a real rower. I just like to hang out on the Concept2. This is a great upper body and core workout. And it doesn’t hurt my ankle which is an even better thing. I like to do this on days that I’m not spinning, because this wipes me out! Added bonus, if you row, you can be a cool cat like Frank Underwood:

Maybe I watch too much House of Cards...

Maybe I watch too much House of Cards…

I’m supposed to be cleared to run this week (I go back to my PT today), but in the event that I’m not, I’m going to ask about swimming. I haven’t been allowed to do that yet for fear of hyperextending my ankle, but now that it’s on the mend, I should be able to. Fingers crossed I get some good news today!

What are your favorite workouts? How have you coped with an injury? Because it’s just the worst.

Seniors Rule!

This time of year, there seem to be graduation related events every weekend. Driving around town, I see all the cars decorated in blue and white proclaiming that “Seniors Rule.” Clearly, the Class of 2K14 is the best ever! Hail the graduates!

We’ve all been there. And we’ve got the pics to prove it! So, Throwback Thursday style, may we present to you the Scoot A Doot Class of 2014!

Bec and her hair were quite a pair!

Name: Rebecca

Nickname: Becci, Speckles

Year of Graduation: 1992. Hair was big,  Bill Clinton ran for President and won, MTV changed the face of television with the introduction of The Real World,  90210 was on every Thursday night and my prom song was the epic “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men.

School Mascot: Pirate. Arrrgh.

Activities: Yearbook, newspaper, Peer Leaders

Sports: Ahahaha. You’re funny. No.

Favorite movie: Wayne’s World. This came out February of my senior year and I lost count of how many times I saw it in the theatre. And Pretty Woman. And Dirty  Dancing. And, as always, The Breakfast Club.

Theme song: Baby Got Back (Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt.)

Favorite subject/class: English, Government, Psychology

Favorite high school memory: Any time spent with my friends. Whether we were taking the train into Boston, making late night runs to Taco Bell, hanging out in my friends’ den watching Breakfast Club or seeing how far we could get the car to coast from my house, I loved my friends  so much.

Senior Superlative: Best Mom? I totally mommed everyone, so probably that. Or Tallest.

Dream job: Writer, Interior Designer, Speech Therapist, ASL Teacher, Hairdresser. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m still not.

Quote:  I had to look mine up, I honestly couldn’t remember. I was going to use the oft used Helen Keller quote about letting things go, but a good friend of mine wanted to use it, so I went with this.  “Only as high as I reach can I grow, Only as far as I seek can I go, Only as deep as I look can I see, Only as much as I dream can I be.”

Post high schools plans: Undecided. (Literally, I left high school with no idea what I wanted to do, or where I wanted to go, knowing only that I wanted to go somewhere and do something. And I did.

 

camseniorYoung Cam has serious curls!

Name: Camille

Nickname: Cam, Camoozle, Mo, Mojo potato, Camel, Cammyzoo (and those are the nice ones.)

Year of Graduation: 1998 – Grunge is God!

School Mascot: The Steeler Man (So lame, I know)

Activities: Drama Club – I participated in every theater production my school had from 1994-1998.  I was also Historian.  My senior year, I had 3 out of 6 classes in the drama room.

Sports: Um, drama club?

Favorite movie: Playing by Heart.  And Good Will Hunting.  And Romeo and Juliet…And like 50 others.  I was really, really into movies.  Also, I was a HUGE SNL fan.

Theme song: Creep by Radiohead

Favorite subject/class: Literature and Set Design

Favorite high school memory: Ditching class to play hide and seek at Target. Also, we would toilet paper houses a lot.  This one time we papered this guy’s house.  Then came back the next night, took the paper out of his outside trash can, and toilet papered his house again. At the time, it was the most hilarious thing I’d ever experienced.

Senior Superlative: Most Dramatic

Dream job: Writer, archaeologist, marine biologist, theater actress, psychologist…I changed my mind daily

Quote: “Try not, do or do not.  There is no try.” – Master Yoda

Post high school plans: Riverside Community College, here I come!  But first, the best summer ever.

Jess isn't really camera shy. We just come from an era before all pictures were digital.

Jess isn’t really camera shy. We just come from an era before all pictures were digital.

 

Name: Jessica

Nickname: Kiki

Year of Graduation: 2001. Boy bands were hot, fashion was questionable, and I drove a yellow Mustang.

School Mascot:Thunder (how is this even a mascot? It’s a sound)

Activities: Hanging with the BFFs, flirting with boys. This took up most of my time.

Sports: HAHAHA.

Favorite movie: Ocean’s Eleven

Theme song: Anything by *NSYNC

Favorite subject/class: English was my jam

Favorite high school memory: really anything involving my best friends. I can’t pick just one! Mainly because those memories are too incriminating.

Senior Superlative: I was voted Best Eyes, but if I’d had my druthers, I’d have been Best Booty.

Dream job: I’m pretty sure it was to be a writer. That’s always been my dream job.

Quote: I don’t think we did these. Mine would’ve been “after the show it’s the after party/and after that it’s the hotel lobby.”

Post high school plans: community college, mainly because I was so scared of germs that I didn’t want to live in a dorm room with someone and contract bacterial meningitis (this is a true story). But it all worked out because I decided to go to fashion school instead!

 

meri seniorMid-90s Meri

Name: Meridith

Nickname: Mer or Meri

Year of Graduation: 1995 (O.J. Simpson case, Forrest Gump won best picture, All Sheryl Crow wanted to do was have some fun.)

School Mascot: Braves

Activities: choir (sang The Star Spangled Banner in four-part harmony at graduation), band (flag squad captain), flute, theater (The King and I… I was a wife in the harem. Yep.)

Sports: um, no.

Favorite movie: Empire Records, open ’til midnight

Theme song: I don’t think I had one… but I just watched this best songs of 1995 video!

Favorite subject/class: Favorite subject was English and favorite class was Peer Counseling

Favorite high school memory: Dancing in car headlights with friends, playing on the playground instead of going to prom, eating lunch in the hallway between the theater and music rooms with people who made my high school experience so much more fun (and not having to go to the cafeteria).

Senior Superlative: Mostly likely to grow by leaps and bounds once she gets to college

Dream job: Broadway performer

Quote: I swear to the Lawd, this was mine. “People of the earth listen to the warning. The prophet he said for soon the cold of night will fall summoned by your own hand.” – Queen

Vic Senior

Vic, looking classy and classic

 

Name: Victoria

Nickname: Toria by my family (this I love) and Vicki by my friends (this I hate.) Seriously, if you call me Vicki, expect retaliation. I loathe this name, but am usually too polite to tell people.

Year of Graduation: I graduated in 1995, when my hometown band Live was dominating the national airwaves and flannel shirts were all the rage. Heck, front-man Ed Kowalczyk even picked out one of my fave flannels at our local mall.

School Mascot: Blue Streaks. Yep, I’m talking about a blue lightning bolt. And our rival school had a mascot that was a Tornado.

Activities: I played the tuba and was in marching band, concert band, orchestra and loved to sing. And (surprise!) I was on the school newspaper staff, literary mag staff and was a photographer for the school yearbook.

Sports: I was a competitive swimmer through high, middle and elementary school (and on two winter teams in high school). I also ran cross-country my senior year.

Favorite subject/class: English, photography, ceramics and sewing. I took four – count them FOUR- English classes my senior year (including two AP-level classes). I loved to read and write and even voluntarily wrote a term paper on school uniforms for a creative writing class my final semester.

Favorite high school memory: There was no feeling like walking across the stage to receive my diploma at graduation. That’s a milestone that remains sharp in my mind. I also fondly remember gathering with friends before school each morning in a random stairwell, literary parties with my favorite high school English teacher and classmates, and running (barefoot and dripping wet) into the snow with some swimming friends after a practice one winter.

Senior Superlative: Klutziest. I kid you not, I trip over air.

Dream job: I didn’t have a dream job but knew I wanted to write, in one form or another.

Quote: “Never cut what can be untied.”

Post High School Plans: Graduate from college, (preferably the biggest college I could find – I wanted to get lost in the crowd.) Also – become a writer, have a family.

We hope you enjoyed this walk down our memory lanes. And we would very much like to encourage your to share your senior pictures with us. Especially if you have really epic hair!