Preventing Injuries

WolfBlur / Pixabay

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been going to physical therapy for the past few weeks.  I’m not injured – rather I was realizing that I have some muscle imbalances in my hips and glutes, and I knew that if I didn’t get that figured out, I was definitely risking injury.

Could I have used the internet to research my issues and done exercises on my own?  Possibly.  But I very much like the personal guidance given to me at PT, plus anytime I use the internet to try to diagnose myself, I end up being told I have cancer or lupus.  Thanks, internet doctors.

I realize I’m really lucky to be able to go to PT.  I have good insurance that leaves me with only a $25 copay per visit.  I have a boss who understands running and doesn’t take issue with me taking 90 minutes out of my work day to go to PT.  I also have a great PT office within walking distance of my office.

And yes, while that means I’m burning sick leave and spending about $100 a month, it’s been so worth it to me.  I have learned so much about where my muscles are weaker and what I need to be doing to strengthen them.  I’ve learned a lot of great stretches and foam roller moves.  (By great, I mean excruciatingly painful, of course.)  I learned that yes, I do need to be foam rolling my adductors (inner thigh).  I hadn’t been paying them much attention because rolling there HURTS SO MUCH.  The sort of pain that I thought was perhaps the bad kind of pain and not the good kind.  Turns out that nope, even though it feels terrible, it’s the good kind.  Who knew?

I’ve also discovered the wonders of dry needling – basically poking needles into trigger points to help the muscle release.  You know when a massage therapist digs into a knot in your leg (or shoulder or back or wherever) and it hurts but then releases and feels awesome?  It’s like that, but with needles.  It’s amazing, but not always enjoyable.  Yesterday, I was definitely laughing and writhing on the table while my physical therapist laughed, held my leg down, and absolutely destroyed a knot near my knee with a needle.  And then she gave me a sticker.  So it was worth it.

A big part of my goal this winter is to really work on balancing my muscles, getting in strength work, and making sure my body is ready for the 2018 triathlon season.  But it’s not just about triathlon – it’s about being healthy and making sure I’m properly taking care of my body.  It’s the only one I get (unless science gets super advanced over the next few decades).


All the Running

A screenshot from an app called RaceAddict. (And yes, that race start time is the default and likely is not correct.)

I joke that I hate running.  I don’t actually hate running.  It’s just that upon taking up triathlon, I discovered that I like doing things in addition to running, and having to run four+ days a week is kind of terrible.  I love the killer workouts that triathlon season brings.  And yet I spent my winter season running.

Why?  Well, I’m one of those people where if I don’t race, I’m much more likely to skip workouts.  If I have something I’m training for, I’ll get out there.  (I’d like to think that with Chattanooga 70.3 on the schedule, that would be enough, but really, who knows?)  Plus I have a lot of friends who I met through running and I want to keep racing with them.  For me, running races are also a lot less stressful.  I think it’s because the logistics are much simpler.  So much less to pack.  Weather plays much less of a role (except in what I wear).  The races are also shorter, time-wise, so that makes things easier.

That doesn’t mean that I’m not aiming for big things this season, but I’m taking each race as it comes.  For example, with this weekend’s Army Ten Miler, I’d love to improve my time from the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler earlier this year, but I’ve been a bit tight for the past couple of weeks, and I’m just not sure my body’s up for it.  But we’ll see what happens race morning.  Goal is to finish and have fun.

Then it’s on to half marathon season.  I’m not sure what I’m most excited for.  Space Coast has become a tradition, and I’m excited to hang out with friends and get my that 5th coveted space shuttle medal.  Donna is also slowly becoming tradition and a trip to Florida in February is so amazing.  BDR New Orleans is new, but I’m pumped to finally get to run with Kim again.  So each race has something awesome about it in addition to the actual running part.

Plus if nothing else, all that treadmill time helps me keep up on my tv watching.  Thank goodness for the fall tv season!

September Mileage Update

Okay, how is it already October?  September absolutely flew by!

And not because I was working out.  Maybe it’s true – running doesn’t necessarily make your life longer, but it certainly makes it feel longer.

So in September, I raced my last triathlon for the year (and nailed it!) and then was on “active rest” for the rest of the month.  I was still gearing up for the Army Ten Miler, which is this coming weekend, but everything else was on a bit of a step back.  Plus I went on vacation, where I walked a whole lot, but didn’t exercise outside of that.  It was pretty darn glorious.  Also I’m fairly sure I gained 4 pounds this month.  Apparently, this is not the best way to live.

September Totals
Swim: 4.1 miles
Bike: 100 miles
Run: 30 miles

I’m really amused by how round my bike and run numbers are.  Certainly not planned at all.  But this really shows just how much my bike mileage stepped back this month.  My bike mileage was 200+ miles a month for the past three months.  I honestly really miss the biking, and I’m picking it up again after Army Ten.  My coach just wanted to give my body a bit of a break, and I will admit, I enjoyed not killing myself on the bike every week.   My run numbers will be picking up as well, as I head into half marathon season.  I have a love-hate relationship with the half marathon right now.  It’s a great distance, but after a summer of maxing out at 10ks, going back into long runs of more than 8 miles is mentally hard!

2017 Totals
Swim: 42.6 miles
Bike: 1647 miles
Run: 386 miles

Should You Wear Makeup For a Race?

croisy / Pixabay

A couple of months ago, Runners World posted a video of how to do your makeup for a race.  This got a lot of attention in various running communities, mostly with a lot of disdain.

Who needs to wear makeup during a race?

Racing isn’t about looking good!  It’s about racing!

If you’re doing it right, your makeup will wear off anyway.

I didn’t really participate in any of these conversations, but I have to admit that I’ve been thinking a lot about appearance and sport.

First off, no one should feel like they have to wear makeup for a race.  In one of the threads I saw, a woman commented that she didn’t necessarily want to wear makeup, but she felt that the appearance of her skin was so bad that she needed to.  This just makes me sad.  As long as all your key parts are covered and you don’t have offensive sayings written anywhere, you shouldn’t ever have to worry that your appearance at a race is bothering anyone else.  No one has to wear makeup to a race.

But along the same lines, if someone wants to wear makeup to a race, why does anyone else care?  We all have different motivations for racing.  Heck, we all have different motivations for racing depending on the race.  Some races, I go out to push myself and try to set a PR.  Some races, I go out to have fun with my friends, and my plan may even include running and chatting with a friend for the entire distance.  Both are valid reasons to run.  None of these things have any effect on anyone else’s race.

And let’s be honest, a lot of us do pay attention to what we wear to a race.  Yes, I want to be comfortable, but I also want my kit to be cute.  I’ve loved racing in my Coeur Ambassador tri kit this year, and weather permitting, I will be wearing it for my upcoming road races as well.  I feel great in it, not only because it’s comfortable, but because I think it looks really great.

When it comes to a triathlon, I have never worn makeup, because, well, swim.  Though I do often use a tinted moisturizer (mainly because it’s SPF 50 and doesn’t destroy my sensitive skin).  Does that count as makeup?  And for a road race, I sometimes put on waterproof mascara, though that happens less and less as I get older and care less about what other people think.  (Don’t get me wrong though – I wear makeup for work every day because I enjoy it – I love a bold lip and defined eyes.)

But who am I to judge if someone else wants to wear makeup?  Maybe they feel more confident with makeup on.  Maybe that added confidence helps them be a stronger runner.  Maybe applying it is a calming part of their race day ritual for all I know.  Maybe they want to ensure their photos look great (note – photos can look great with or without makeup, but it’s definitely personal preference).

So makeup or no, go out and rock your race.  No one should feel like they have to wear makeup (I certainly won’t be), but if you want to, go for it!

So What’s Next?

With an incredibly successful triathlon season behind me, I’m already looking at the 2018 season.  And it’s once again time to go big or go home. (No, I’m not doing a 140.6.  I am a retired marathoner.)

That’s right, in 2018, I’m headed back to the half distance and have registered for IM 70.3 Chattanooga!

I am really excited about this.  While I obviously had a great year this year racing olympic/international distance races, I found myself missing the pomp and circumstance of the 70.3.  I missed doing long bike rides.  While metric centuries are HARD, I still miss that distance.

The main reason I didn’t do a 70.3 this year was scheduling.  I couldn’t find one that fit in with my already planned schedule of life and work and vacation.  And that was starting to look like an issue for 2018 as well.  I’ve got a long planned trip to Europe in August, and I certainly don’t want to be worrying about training then, which meant I needed something earlier in the year.  I didn’t want to do a 70.3 in July because it’s stupidly hot.

I asked my Coeur teammates for advice on good 70.3 races earlier in the year, and there were a few recommendations, but Chattanooga kept popping up again and again, and even better, a number of my teammates are planning to race it!  I also have a number of friends who have done this race and enjoyed it, so things very quickly started to fall into place.  I asked my coach, who basically said “DOOOOO IT!” So that was an easy sell.

70.3 Chattanooga is on May 20, which is early, but not terribly so.  There will be plenty of open water opportunities in April and May.  I would like to get a triathlon in before the race, because I always joke that my first race of the year is mostly about remembering how to triathlete, so once 2018 schedules come out, I will be figuring that out (and will also accept recommendations).

This is going to mean a lot of winter training, and a lot of time on the trainer.  I think this should fit in well with the half marathons that I already have planned through the winter and spring.  Thankfully, I really like riding on the trainer, so this can only bring about good things.

And it also means that I can still race a bunch of Olympics next summer if I feel up to it.  Best of both worlds!

(We’ll see how I feel about this decision in a few months.)