Stretching

Feeling Good with Pre and Post-Run TLC

Foam rolling keeps my legs in tact to tackle those long runs. (Photo courtesy of EcoWise)

Week two ­– done and done. This week for me was all about logging the miles. I’m still in the beginning of my training so it’s not a huge amount of miles yet, but it’s still a lot of time. Sticking with my trusty plan, I’m thankful that at this point, outside of the usual soreness, I haven’t had any injuries. Staying injury-free is a big goal for me during this process, and one thing I learned from The Biggest Loser is that sidestepping injuries when you are training has nothing to do with crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. That sounds silly, right? But when you think about it, how often have you really taken the time to concentrate on prepping your body for a run, or any workout for that matter? I know in the past the most I ever did was maybe a side bend or two. After injuring my IT band last spring I quickly realized the importance of taking care of my body not only before a workout, but after as well.

One of the best tools I have been using for the last two weeks is my foam roller. If you are unfamiliar with the foam roller let me first apologize for being the one to introduce you. Yes, “rolling” using the roller is not pleasant and in the beginning hurts a quite bit. It takes a few tries to get used to it, but I can truly say has saved my IT bands.  If you find you’re experiencing similar problems, pick one up at a sporting goods store of even online, they are pretty cheap!

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A Survival Kit and Sunny Skies

Another perk with these packs? They are designed to stay cold for 20 minutes, so you don't have to time your ice sessions! (Photo courtesy of TheraPearl)

I have to say (and I’m sure Olivia feels the same way), so far we’ve been extremely lucky with the weather here in NYC. There wasn’t a single morning last week where the temperature was below 40 degrees, which made getting out of bed a touch easier for me. I’ve always been a morning runner, but when you can run without snot dripping down your face and frozen fingers, it’s just a better way to start your day.

My runs last week were pretty long. The weekday runs varied between 5 and 6 miles and my weekend long run was 8 miles. Needless to say, I welcomed a 4-mile recovery run on Sunday with open arms! I noticed my pace was a bit slower (about 30 seconds), which I think is due to my legs adjusting to the mileage increase. They are tired, and who can blame them? I’m hoping to get back up to speed, literally, this week.

I also unintentionally assembled a bit of a half-marathon survival kit of little things that make my training easier. Here’s what I’ve been using so far:

  • TheraPearl hot/cold packs: These are great because you can microwave or freeze them depending on what kind of relief you need. I’ve been using heated ones for my back and iced packs for my shins and knees when I start to feel achy.
  • GU Energy Gel: For long runs, anything over 6 miles. I usually eat the tri-berry flavor, but am itching to get my hands on the peanut butter ones!
  • A foam roller: To keep up with my IT band stretches from my visit with Dr. Shure.
  • Lululemon Featherweight Socks: Not only are they comfy, they are so light you feel like you’re running barefoot. Minus the blistering and sweaty feet part, of course. The right one says “run” and the left one says “fast,” so clearly I’m also a sucker for motivational socks.
  • Nike Daybreak Running Hat: It might have been warm last week, but it was also a little drizzly! This cap keeps me dry in rain and shielded from the sun during the summer.

Here’s hoping that stretching, icing and foam rolling will have my legs feeling fresh and ready to go this week. We’ve got a lot of miles to cover!

Tell me: What’s your go-to gear for running or recovering?


Sticking to a New Stretching Routine

For the flexibility challenged like myself, this rope stretch proved impossible at first. (Photo courtesy of Karen Pearson)

Prior to training, I was beginning to feel a bit achy after my runs, no matter what distance they were. That paired with some serious back pain from sitting at a desk all day landed me in Dr. Shure’s chair at Madison Square Wellness. I wanted to get a consult on my alignment and what was going with my muscles in general so that once I started training my issues wouldn’t worsen. Below, Dr. Shure’s evaluation and course of action as I start to train in the upcoming weeks:

Interesting Findings:

  • My alignment is really out of whack! Dr. Shure had me lie down and reach my arms up over my head. The left side of my body did as it was told, elbow snug against the side of my head. The right side, however, was a little out of line (literally). Because I use my right hand to handle my mouse at work all day I had serious tension on the right side of my body, especially in my shoulder and upper back.
  • You might think alignment issues aren’t important to training, but Dr. Shure told me that by not stretching and planting myself in front of my desk without taking any breaks during the day, this would quickly affect my posture while running, which could then lead to other aches and pains down the road.

Stretches:

To help maintain vertical alignment, Dr. Shure gave me a series of stretches to incorporate into my workouts. Here are some you can do at home:

  • Pec Stretch: Start by standing in a doorway or next to a fixed object with arm lifted to the side at 90 degrees. Put full forearm on the door frame or object and step through, creating a stretch in the pec region. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat with other arm.
  • Rope Stretch: Start by standing, holding rope with the right hand over and the left hand under. Actively reach right hand down back and give gentle assistance with left hand, exhaling and holding stretch for two seconds. Actively reach left hand up back as high as possible and give gentle assistance with right hand, exhaling and holding stretch for two second. Repeat for 10 repetitions, then switch hands and repeat.

Read more to see Dr. Shure’s stretching recommendations for my legs.

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Meet Colleen, Our Half-Marathon Experienced Runner

Hello finish line, so nice to see you! (Photo courtesy of Brightcove)

Hi there! I’m Colleen, Web Editor here at FitnessMagazine.com and I am super excited to run my second More/Fitness Half-Marathon this year on April 15!

The last time I did this race in 2009 we had a freak day of weather that hit high 80 degree temperatures so early in the morning that New York Road Runners was forced to make the race non-competitive to protect runners from heat exhaustion and getting sick. That was the first half-marathon I ever ran, and I was terrified. I followed all the training rules by the book, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. There is a saying in racing, “Nothing new, tried and true.” This basically means that race day is not the time to eat or wear something you’ve never ran in before, just in case it upsets your stomach, causes chafing, etc. The entire time I trained I wore Under Armour Women’s Evo ColdGear Tights and nothing, not even the oppressing heat at 8:30 a.m. was going to pry them off my body for race day.

As you can guess, that was a big mistake. I finished the race but not without being very uncomfortable and very hot, something that could have been avoided if I had just worn shorts! Since that day I have tweaked the saying to include, “Nothing new, tried and true (unless it is 80 degrees outside and you are wearing pants!)”. I am excited to run the half this year with more running experience under my belt. Since that race, I’ve completed the ING NYC 2010 Marathon (that’s me crossing the finish line above!) and am gearing up to run another fall marathon in 2012.

Click read more to see what’s making Colleen nervous about this half-marathon.

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Stretching Out the Last Week of Training

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

Time to stretch and prepare for the race. (Photo by Karen Pearson)

We are down to the final week! I can’t believe that the big day is almost here. The past 10 weeks have flown by a lot quicker than I had expected them to, but I am happy to say that I am ready to do this! There’s no turning back now. How are my fellow half-marathon trainers feeling?

After running 10 miles last Saturday, I could sense that my body needed a little break. I was tired and needed a few days to rest. To stay active though, I took a dance class on Monday night at JoAnn’s Dance Studio in South Plainfield, NJ (I danced there for 18 years!), and I made sure to pop in an abs DVD every morning before work, to strengthen my core. Later in the week I picked my running back up, but kept it in the five mile range. I dedicated Sunday for my last long run before race day, and ran 8 1/2 miles. I was hoping to get in 10 miles again, but the wind was pretty harsh, so instead of pushing myself to the point of possibly getting sick or hurt, I called it quits and am crossing my fingers for nice weather on Sunday! As we move into this last week, I plan on keeping my  runs light and quick, sticking to no more than four or five miles.

On a side note, in one of my first posts, I mentioned that I had gotten stretched by Nick Nicholaides, who is a Fascial Stretch Therapist. I went for a stretch session again on Saturday morning and could totally feel the difference. Prior to being stretched, my muscles were tight, especially on my right leg (I am a righty). My muscles felt longer, lighter and not as tight after the hour session. Fascial Stretch Therapy is such a great stretching technique for athletes, especially runners, and I strongly recommend looking into it for after race day! I know I’m definitely going to need it.

Have a great last week of training everyone! We’ve all come this far and are almost there. I’ll see you all at the starting line!


Conquering the Longest Training Runs

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Marla's getting ready to toe the line on race day! (Photo by John Herr)

Only two weeks left to go! Hope everyone is getting excited. I know I am (and a little nervous too!).

Over the weekend I tackled my longest run yet, the big 10-miler. All week I had been psyching myself up for it, and on Saturday morning I set out for it feeling strong. I met with Stephanie Middleberg, my nutritionist here in NYC, on Friday afternoon, and we discussed how I should be eating on days that I run hard. Because I like to wakeup and do my runs in the morning, Stephanie recommended that I eat a banana and half of a Nature’s Valley granola bar an hour before running, to ensure high energy levels. I took her advice, waited an hour, and then hit the streets. With the sun shining, the fresh air, a brand new running outfit from the Helly Hansen team, and my iPod blasting my favorite tunes, I felt like I could take on the world!

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Marla Warms (and Lightens) Up

Marla loosens up her legs. Afterwards, she felt like she was gliding while running.

Marla loosens up her legs. Afterwards, she felt like she was gliding while running.

One week down…how many more cold ones to go?! Seriously though, this cold and snowy weather has been horrible!  It’s hard enough waking up to get ready for work on a normal day, but having to wake up an hour earlier (5:45 a.m. to be exact) to go for a run in the cold…not my cup of tea! Give me sunshine and a beach to run on, no problem. Icy, snow covered roads, no thanks!

But after some trial and error in the snow, I am trying to make it work and have resorted to training on the treadmill at my gym. This seems to be doable for now, but I know once the longer distances start rolling in, I am going to have to bundle up and fight the cold. Working in the fashion department here has allowed me to see all of the cool winter running gear that is out there though and I think I am fully prepared to face Jack Frost! My key bundling pieces this week were these awesome running mitts by Saucony (they also kept my hands toasty while watching my brother’s college ice hockey game the other night!), and these fleece-lined running tights by Champion. Hopefully with other winterized running pieces like these my outdoor training sessions will be somewhat bearable!

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