Keep Calm and Get Your Nitrogen On

cryo-1.jpg

‘You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”

~ Brian Tracy

 My first cryotherapy sesh was just as exciting as it was intimidating. At the time, I was in training for my second marathon, the Tomoka Marathon in 2016.  I was investing a lot of energy, time and resources to take on Tomoka; therefore, I was open to any recovery method to help me get through training and run Tomoka in one piece.

Thankfully, Orlando Sports Chiropractor is equipped with a state-of-the-art cryosauna chamber – this one is a partial body cooling where my head was out of the chamber. I usually get into the chamber wearing a sports bra, shorts, socks and the gloves and sleepers that OSC provides. That’s it! I did one session during training, one session three days prior to the race and another session two days after the race. I believe it offered great benefits to my performance and recovery time as I did not sustain any injury besides the expected soreness from running or training for a marathon.

I’m currently training my body to run a sub-2 half marathon, and eventually, get down to 1:45; subsequently to work on a full marathon and BQ time. As my training and mileage have intensified, it has taken a toll on my body and time to adapt. Since suffering an Adductor strain on my left leg mid-March, I have taken a more proactive and consistent approach to recovery methods. I see my chiropractor once a month and I do a sesh of cryotherapy once a month.

So far the concept of once a month cryotherapy has been productive. I tend to schedule my sessions in the first week of the month. This way my body will recovery from the month that has passed and receives a boost for the new month ahead. I started with this approach in May and I have been doing since then and seeing great results for the past months. The month of my injury I was only able to log in 40 miles. April was still a recovery month and I logged even less than March with only 34.2 miles. In May, I closed the month with 60.4 miles – a huge difference in improvement, healing and recovery from the past two months.

cryo-2.jpg

In order to keep the rhythm going strong and steady, I continued with my recovery methods on the first week of June. The weather was getting hotter and more humid by the day and missing a cryotherapy session on the first week of June was not an option. At the end of month, I hit my first 100 mile for the month and over with 102.1 miles. I have never felt so strong and my recovery period from one workout to the next were a lot steadier. So if you ask me if it works, I’d have to say:  it is working for me! But I’d say it is also a compilation of many other things that I do as part of my recovery process and methods as I mentioned in my previous blog entry.

So, what is cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy was originally developed in Japan in 1978 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and it is a hyper-cooling process using liquid nitrogen that lowers a person’s skin temperature to approximately 30 to 50 degrees F for a period of up to three minutes by enveloping the body with extremely cold air at temperatures ranging from -100 to -274 F.

Thermoreceptors in the skin send signals to the brain to send the blood to the core to maintain body temperature with a process called vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). At this point, toxins are flushed from peripheral tissues and blood is enriched with oxygen, enzymes, and nutrients. The body activates all of its natural healing abilities and releases endorphins for further benefit. As the body warms up again, the enriched blood flows through the body through a process called vasodilation (the widening of blood vessels as a result from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessels walls). Thus, cryotherapy is very effective for athletic recovery and muscle repair, reduction of chronic pain and inflammation, and overall enhancement of health and wellness.

Some of the benefits from cryotherapy include:

  • Faster Recovery from Exercises – because of better blood flow, joint and muscle strength is increased and cryotherapy is effective against delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). And unlike ice baths, muscles don’t need time to recover after cryotherapy. I feel that it is the biggest benefit for me. After suffering an adductor muscle strain, I have been able to go over rehab and strength training with great recovery while slowly building up my mileage. In June I ran 102.1 miles – that’s my record for the month, and I have to give credits to my body’s acceptance to several methods of recovery, especially stretching and cryotherapy.
  • Happiness Boost – that’s because the procedure releases endorphins into the bloodstream. Immediately after a session, I feel a sense of well-being and happiness. I feel at easy and relaxed. It truly feels like I spent an entire day at a spa.
  • Decreases Inflammation – it’s known that ice when applied to a specific area of the body, reduces inflammation. Cryotherapy is helpful in a sense that targets the entire body not just a specific area. I found that cryotherapy has helped me a lot with body aches and with limiting the feeling of body tiredness and increasing the feeling of being fresh again.
  • Increased metabolism – a two to three minute session of cryotherapy takes a lot of energy to reheat the body which burn approximately 500 to 800 calories; therefore, when the skin is cooled to around 35 degrees F, it requires a lot of energy to reheat it to our regular body temperature. Immediately after a cryo session, I have to wear a light cardigan and I feel that it takes about 12 hours until my body temperature is less sensitive to the cold. However, I feel refreshed.

I am sure there are articles out there pointing out the “not-so-good” or risks of cryotherapy. After some readings, I found that as long as you don’t go into the chamber with damp/wet clothing (risk of frostbite) or decide to get into the chamber when nobody is around, the “risks” are very minimum.

The most I have been able to handle is -245 F for the whole period allowed of 3 minutes! But within 2 minutes, I started to feel pinches on my skin, especially the legs. How long you’re able to stay in really depends on the level of relaxation you are in and the number of times you’ve experienced cryotherapy. Mental preparation throughout the week also plays a big part on the length of time you are able to endure. Overall, I’d say it really comes down to how relaxed you are during the sesh.

And if you are skeptical about doing your first sesh of cryo, be brave and do it! You only stay in the chamber for as long as you can handle. Remember, baby steps!

It is now July and guess what? It is time for another monthly sesh. So, let’s go and give it a try!

“Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great catalyst for success.”

~Leslie Cassidy

 

Advertisements

Run Rest Recover Rehab Prehab Repeat

 IMG_3442

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

 Many times we do tasks that doesn’t bold well with our likes. They are necessary in order to get from point A to B; that is, if we really want to get to point(s) B, C, D and further. Bottom line is, whether we want to get from one point to another based on want or need, the tasks still need to get done, especially if such tasks are for a dream we chase.

Every day I am reminded that training to one day become a BQ it is not easy. The struggle is real – and it is not just the physical struggle, it is the mental struggle too. There are days that lacks motivation and energy, but when injury is added to the equation, it is even more challenging. It is then a time to really think and reflect, how bad do you really want it? Are you willing to do the extra work?

I came to a point once in which I doubted myself and wondered if my body was even made for this. At that time, I was starting to think that my body was not made for going single-digit paces because every time I pushed it hard or amplified mileage, something would set me back. And there I was, back in square one, only more frustrated than the previous time.

After taking time off from running, some meditation and an encouraging conversation with my physical therapist at the time I was injured, I picked myself up again. I was brave enough to try another half marathon and find out what I had left in the tank before I committed to working with a Coach again. Coach Victoria continues to train and teaches me that I can reach faster single-digit paces. She continues to work with me on my mental game and showing me ways to slowly get where I need to get.

IMG_3312

Easy run with my furbaby R2-D2 on a Saturday morning at the West Orange Trail

But none of this support will make a difference if I don’t apply it myself. Yes, I do want it really bad to BQ and run the Boston Marathon; therefore, there’s no doing half way training or recovery. As my PT said, “you just have to stretch more than other runners”. Okay then. That’s what I will do and more.

IMG_3227

The strained Adductor injury was really tough to get over with. It took more time than any other injury I’ve experienced. The pain was initially located on the left groin, then it was experienced on the hamstrings, quads, glutes and hip. It took about 4 weeks without running with the exception of some test-runs here and there at the end of week 2. This injury has taught me that my body needs constant help with recovery from a workout to the next. The best way to do it is through strength training, PT workouts, stretching, rolling and a sessions of AIS (active isolate stretch by a LMT). Also, icing, heat, tens units, Epson salt baths, ice baths, cryotherapy and chiropractor adjustments therapy are a must.

IMG_3543

Cross training on spin bike and rowing was what helped me stayed in somewhat cardio shape.

So here’s my plan to a steady rehab/prehab routine:

*Disclosure: I am not a doctor or physical therapist and this is not to serve as an advice to anyone’s medical treatment or condition.

   
MONTHLY

First week of the month

cryotherapy session

chiropractor adjustments, graston and ART

 

 
WEEKLY Once or more per week:

Epson salt baths and/or dry sauna

Pool therapy, ice and heat therapy, Tens Units

 

 
BI-WEEKLY Massage Sports Therapy

AIS (active isolated stretch) therapy by a LMT

Ice baths  (as needed)

Yoga

 

 

 
DAILY Active Isolated Stretch with resistance band or yoga band

Static stretch –free or with yoga block

PT workouts (Bosu, stability ball, resistance band)

 

 
3 or 4 TIMES PER WEEK Strength Training – weights, body weight (TRS), HIIT

Cross Training – spinning, rowing, walk, elliptical, swim

 
REST DAY

(Sundays or when needed on weekday)

PT resistance band workout

Stretching

 

 

That’s it! I’ve been on the plan for the entire month of May and it has been working for me so far. This is not to say that I will never get injured again, but I believe that it will help me to continue to build my body for stronger runs and perhaps lessen the time of injury. During injury month of April, I was only able to log in 34.20 miles. However, my hours of strength training, recovery methods and cross training increased significantly.

As I started to get stronger and run 98% pain free, my mileage for the month of May increased to 60.45 miles. This time around, my strength training hours spent was just 7 hours less than April, but my recovery methods hours increased to 2 hours more. My goal is to continue the practice of recovery methods to keep my body happy because you know, Summer is coming!

And here’s this post’s end quote with a bonus picture!

BB Do Your Job

Road To Recovery

img_3256.jpg

“Don’t lose your fire.”

~Unknown~

March was definitely the injury month, and even then, I managed to log 40.04 miles. It’s a significant decrease in comparison to February month at 90.1 miles, but things happens. However, I was hopeful that April would bring brighter miles and a speedy recovery; hence, I was mistaken.

April miles were even less than March miles. I closed the month with only 34.2 miles. It was frustrating, but what was even more frustrating was the fact the my left adductor injury aka: groin, hamstring, quads, glutes and hip nagging pain-in-the-ass for lack of better analogy, was still bothering me. The road to recovery was a long one, too long.

On the other side of the picture, the hours I spent doing strength training, cross training and PT workouts was something I’ve never had spent so much time on it. I wish I had done it before the injury. Not being able to run teaches to focus on what I can do instead of crying over spill milk. So for strength training I spent 17:25 hours working on arms, legs, core, upper, lower body. For cross training I opted to spinning sessions and I put on 1:11:52; equivalent to 22.23 miles. For every strength training session and cross training session, I included physical therapy (PT) workouts involving resistance bands, Bosu ball, stretching with resistance bands and yoga blocks, for a total of 12:00:00 worth of PT.

IMG_3231

It has been a difficult month for me both physically and mentally. At times I came to the realization that I just need to be patient and do what I can do when I can do, but in reality, it is difficult and challenging. It took me two weeks and some change off from running to start to feel that I could give it a try again. When I did my try-runs, they were still uncomfortable. Some of the runs were great; for example, a 3.10 miles at 9:37 average pace, but after the run was over, the stiffness on my leg didn’t lie informing that I still needed to be cautious and needed more rest.

Coach Victoria was very cautious with my training. She did not hurry anything and approached the new cycle with a new method – run and walk for a few weeks, 2-minute run, 2-minute walk and only for 2 miles. I was just happy to be on a training schedule again, but this time without any pressure to get ready for a race. The only pressure was to start to feel 100% better.

Patient is truly a virtue. Through this new method I had to learn to be patient with myself, be kinder to my body and focus on what I can control. As the weeks passed under this new method, I started to feel stronger and the stiffness on my leg were more manageable after each run; something I could fix with a post-run stretch and roll session. Seriously, I could not neglect stretching and rolling.  The Roll Recovery R8 has been a life safer for me. It has been so helpful that I decided to get R3 as well. With R8 I can roll my entire glute, hamstring, quads and especially the adductor area. I immediately feel the release of tension and flush of lactic acid on my legs. I roll my calves and Achilles as well.

Going through another recovery period has taught me a different kind of mental toughness. Instead of being upset and negative about it, I kept on focusing on the positive aspect of the journey. I realized I was doing things that would make me a stronger runner. I’d be lying to say that it was easy and that I didn’t have my crying moments on my husband’s shoulders and ears. But I did my best to stay focused on searching for positive quotes and acting upon it. And I truly believed on the saying: “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. But the breakthrough of learning to run by feel is one of the most valuable so far along with my Coach’s emphasis that “sometimes it takes more will power to hold back”.

It’s hard to get injured and disrupt the flow of the body’s adaptation to the hard work of training. But a setback is a form of adaptation, and every time we push our bodies, it will come to a point that it will need a break to regroup. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more valuable to feel than gratitude whether it is for a bad run or for the good ones. I believe that this time I was more ready to face a setback than I had ever been before. It’s about learning to get up stronger when I fall down. But a refusal to give up when falling down.

IMG_3184

2:2:2 recovery jog, faster pace , walk (w/out walk break) 11:19, 9:32, 10:20, 9:26, 10:05, 9:02, 9:46, 9:04, 10:01 8:47

“The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.”

Morihei Ueshiba

Tomoka Half Marathon No More

IMG_2717

“The pain of training is nothing compared to the pain of not reaching your potential.”

~Josh Cox, US 50k Record Holder

It appears that my push for a PR in Swamp House 5K and a surprisingly second place age group award came with a price. It was not a wonder that my calves took a beating on that race and that my legs were tired after logging 90.1 miles for the month of February. However, I was confident and feeling strong that with a few days of rest from running and some general rest, I’d be able to pull it off and gear up in the upcoming weeks for Tomoka Half marathon. After some rest, miles and hours of strength training later, my left adductor told me otherwise.

It was such a beautiful Saturday morning for a short-long run on the West Orange Trail with the fam. Kurt was getting his exercise on wheels with his rollerblades, R2-D2 was enjoying his 10:10 interval – 10 run: 10 ride on his stroller (yes, he has a baby stroller), and I was happy as I could be running an easy 7-miler on my own feet until I felt a sharp pain traveling from my the bottom of my leg all the way to my hamstring reaching the groin area. What in the world was that? I told Kurt about it, but we didn’t put much thought because pain is part of running.

IMG_2588

At West Orange Trail on the way back around mile 6 pushing to get it done

My pace slowed down during mile 5 and 6, but I was able to pick it up back at mile 7 but I slowed down for the last .50 and used as my cool down. I ended the run with a brief walk and a quick stretched sesh. The stretch was very uncomfortable and every step was getting stiffed by the second. Getting out of the car after seating for a 10-minute drive home was horrifying. I haven’t felt pain and stiffness like that in a very long time – not even when I finished a half marathon race or my 20-miler last year training for Tomoka marathon. It was super sore after Tomoka, but again, nothing like after this 7-miler run. Having realized the state of pain, I went on for a real stretch and foam rolling sesh before eating.

IMG_2598

I sat down for breakfast and I felt like I should not had done so. The pain again was sharp with every body movement I took. At that point, I decided that I really needed to take an ibuprofen and go to the pool for some cool water therapy since the water was a cold enough (68 degrees) as a short-cut to an ice bath. I spent about one-hour standing/walking in the pool in hopes that the discomfort would diminish with every passing hour. I suppose I can only hope but not ignore the fact that DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) was yet to come, right?!

I hardly ever take naps. First of all, I can’t afford naps since I work an eight-hour shift Monday-Friday. Second, I avoid creation such habit. And third, I use naps as a reference point to know when my body is really tired and in need of rest rather than being lazy for a nap. This Saturday, unfortunately, was a day that my body was telling me it was super tired and a nap was needed. After taking two more ibuprofen, I napped for almost two hours, but the soreness was still present with every movement I made and step I took.

The following Monday, I had a 3-miler easy run on the schedule. I did run, but it was brutal. My pace and strides were off as the discomfort was still present. At that point, I decided to see Dr. Brad at Orlando Sports Chiropractor. Dr. Brad diagnosed the injury to be a strained adductor muscle, some heat therapy, lots of stretch and rest. Going through gastron technique performed in the left inner thigh was ridiculous painful. I’ll take calf soreness if I had to choose.

Physical therapy, rest, spinning, heat and cold therapies, and strength training workouts was the priority at this point. After Monday’s chiropractor visit, I started to feel better. Kurt (he’s a licensed massage therapist specializing in sports massage and AIS) worked on me on Tuesday for a 25-minute session of AIS (Active Isolated Stretching technique) and it has helped a great deal. By Wednesday, I was hopeful that it was healed. I didn’t feel any major discomfort when moving, I was more stable in doing my Bosu ball stability workouts; therefore, I was ready to give a test-run on Thursday morning and find out for sure if racing Tomoka half was even possible.

Comes Thursday morning and I felt a little stiffness on the injured leg. I did drills warm up as usual but as soon as I started to run, the discomfort let me know that it hadn’t gone away just yet. I estimated to be foreseeable to feel some discomfort. Because the discomfort was a lot lesser than on Monday’s run, I kept going. At some point at mile 2, I had to pause and I wished I had not. The pain wanted to settle in, so I restarted the run to complete the scheduled 3-mile run. I was able to pick up pace to finish the run with negative splits at 11:32, 10:35 and 9:59.

IMG_2651

It was hard even to pose for a picture! Ughh! Ouch!

I haven’t felt anything worse than an angry adductor after a run until now, and I thought that Saturday’s run was bad! Oh my goodness… the pain was excruciating, my left leg was stiffed as a wood board; it hurt to bend, it hurt to stretch, it hurt to raise my leg, it hurt to put pressure on, and it hurt to walk. Some slow movements of stretch was the only thing that it appeared to alleviate the pain I was feeling, but still, it was hurting as hell. I got scared at that point. Getting in the car to go the gym for a more decent stretch and shower was becoming a hard and scary task. I was barely walking and it felt like I needed crutch. I was thinking, what am I doing to myself? But I needed this test-run to see where I was in this injury. With only nine days shy from race day, I was certain that I could go ahead pull out of the race and cancel all travel plans.

Since the mind-opening and body-painful experience I had in Lighthouse Loop half marathon in October 2016, I promised myself that I would never put myself in such situation again. I’ve learned to respect my body and mind more after this experience. No race (unless it is the Boston marathon) is worth pushing through pain when clearly I am not 100% healthy or confident. Logistically, there was no reasonable explanation or indication that I would have a comfortable and fun race; most importantly, there was not a possible outcome for a sub-2 result. Before Lighthouse Loop, I didn’t realize how mentally draining a race can be. There’s a fine line of pushing mental fitness boundaries for a goal and pushing it out of greed or ignorance. I will pick my battles wisely from now on.

Although it is frustrating to be on the shelf for a few days, there’s a part of recovery or rehab period that it is gratifying. We have to at least try to find the good in a not so favorable situation. It is part of the growth of being a better person and a better athlete. And in this phase, it is where practice of mental toughness and fitness plays a great deal on whether we stay on the path to our goals or take the short cut path which is to give up, because the reality is, there is no short cut. Either we do the work or we don’t. Either you learn to adapt or not.

IMG_2694

The first twelve days of rehab/recovery consisted of a straight-forward routine of physical therapy, strength training, cold and hot therapy, and a mental break as well on the days that I felt that I needed to give some rest while practicing not feeling guilty for not doing a workout.

Day 1
Epson Salt Bath Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
10 bird dog
5 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
Stretch

Day 2 3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat
10 each – Bosu side, lateral, front and back kick
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 3

Easy 3-miler run – It was a no-go for Tomoka half.

Dry Sauna session

AIS session w/ Kurt – lower body, focus on hip for range of motion and sports massage

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 4

Rest day

30:00 Heat Therapy

Day 5

2000 meters Rowing 55:00 Spin Class 1:40 Strength Training

3 x
10 bird dog
10 forward lunges (2 sets on Bosu)
10 step up
10 inverted flyers
10 front squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back lift
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 single leg bridge
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 stability ball sit up
10 single leg dumbbell dead lift
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
Stretch

Heat Therapy

Day 6

5 miles Outdoor Bike ride Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 7

Stretch / Foam Roll

1 x
10 bird dog
10 inverted flyers
10 Bosu squat
10 Bosu side, front and back leg kick
10 Bosu side lunges
10 Resistance band (or cable) standing hip abduction (leg out to the side)
10 Resistance band standing (or cable) hip adduction (leg crossing in front of standing leg)
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 fire hydrant
10 triceps dip
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 Dumbbell bicep curl
Foam Roll
Stretch

Day 8

15:00 Spinning Heat Therapy Pool Therapy

3 x
Reverse Crunch (10 reps)
Toe Touches (10 reps)
Plank Hip Twist (10 reps each side)
10 One Arm Dumbbell Row
10 Dumbbell Upright Row
10 squat (2 sets on Bosu)
10 Bosu, side, front and back leg kick
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
10 Resistance band standing hip abduction – hamstring and quad (front and back direction)
10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 9

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll

Day 10

2-miler Test Run – Great progress, but more recovery/rehab work required. 2.01 miles, 9:44 pace with negative splits – 10:10 & 9:18

Dry Sauna Stretch
Static stretch (focus on calves, hip, back)
Yoga Movements
10 Side Lying Hip Abduction with Resistance Band
2x 10 Resistance band clam shell

Day 11

Rest Day

Pool Therapy

Day 12

Rest Day

Stretch / Foam Roll Resistance Band PT workout

 

On day-10 it was time for me to do a test-run and see how far I have progressed. I was confident and eager to go out for run. I spent a little more extra time doing warm up drill, in part because I knew I had to focus more on that, and in part because I was getting a little nervous about it. As soon as I hit the start bottom, the feeling of being able to run again was exhilarating. I felt in peace and so grateful. I felt like a bird being able to freely fly again.

I was very conservative on my comeback test-run and made sure to go easy. Nothing really bothered me during the run and it was a solid 2-miler until the end. My heart rate averaged at 163 bpm. It’s in the aerobic capacity and a little higher than my recommended easy pace of under 155-150, but I’m excited to know spinning sessions and rowing sessions has helped keep my cardio going. After the run, my leg was a little thigh indicating me that stretch was a MUST and that more PT work was most certainly needed. The routine will remain until I feel 100% healed, and even then, I’ll be putting a lot more focus on hip flexor and legs strength training.

It is a bummer to miss this year’s Tomoka half marathon. It has become a tradition to run a Tomoka event for the past two years, and I was so eager to see how my performance would be since starting to work with Coach Victoria. However, I have nothing but gratitude for being where I am today with my progress in running. I’ve reached goals that I never thought possible. I know that despite this set back, my body is much stronger than it was a year ago. I am counting my blessings today and every day and I will continue to become an even stronger runner than I was yesterday. Giving up is not an option, not now.

I wish all runners a successful and fun race!

IMG_2715

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

To Work with a Run Coach Again or Not?

 

img_1556

December 16 workout run

“If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again.”

 ~ Unknown 

To work with a run coach again or not? That’s the question. Part of me was excited to work again with a run coach and part of me was intimated by the thought of inviting such responsibility and discipline into my running again. I was scared of failing and getting my hopes crushed. But I was curious to try a different approach in training with focus on heart rate training.

It had been a few months ago since I first read about heart rate training, but somehow I could not rationalize how running slow was going to get me running faster. It almost made sense, but it did not intrigue me too much to actually put some energy and research into it. After my burnt out with running, I put everything about running aside for a week, gave myself some space to meditate, observe and analyze the feedback the Universe was giving me. The messages and signs that came to mind started to appear about heart rate training and that’s when I  decided that I wanted to work with a run coach again, explore heart rate training and stay optimistic that I can become a faster runner.

All of these information and contact with a run coach were brewing, but it was the OUC race results that gave me hope and courage to continue chase that elusive unicorn. Time was still a part of the unknown, but this time there was a light present ready to radiate in my vast universe. It was really a matter of time which simply depended on how smarter I was going to train and trust myself.

I tried to avoid thinking about limitations, especially when it pertains to money. But I can’t deny about the fact that my husband and I are new homeowners and there has been so many other priorities which requires a great balance. At this point I knew I wanted to work with a run coach and most importantly, I knew that I needed to pick up pace strengthening my body.

Signing up for a membership at LA Fitness was nice, but the price charged to work with a personal trainer wasn’t very flattering. It was one or the other and I could not have both. A few weeks passed and my IG friend Christina shared the news that she was offering personal training and strength training coaching online services. There was no contract, budget-friendly, top-notch services and her app provides a video of all planned exercises so this way I know I’m doing the correct form. Challenge number 1 was solved!

One of most enlightening lessons I’ve received from all of these experiences (training, running, my husband’s surgeries, and everything else in between) was the expression of gratitude. I feel the need to share about it because gratitude has transformed my life and opened up new opportunities for me, perhaps others will feel inspired too. The Universe provided me with an opportunity to be able to work with a strength coach to get the energy flowing and with a run coach at the same time. I signed up to work with both coaches for the next four weeks, after that, I’d figured out how to make it work. However, my main priority was to make sure that my body was okay with both training plans and that I got accustomed to the strength training routine before jumping to other workouts. Because no matter how awesome a coach is, if the athlete’s body is not ready, there’s no magic in making it work.

I designated one-week for recovery from OUC before starting with both training. My run coach is Victoria with Run4PRs. She is an 11-time BQ and she runs the run! She started planning my training with some basic but effective workouts. Upon her recommendations and input, I decided to not run Shark Bite Half Marathon in January which was just six weeks after running the OUC. But instead, I swapped for the 5k and my training plan was designed for this particular race.

As expected, my training plan had some significant changes. My run scheduled was the same as Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays with Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays allocated for strength training. An interesting difference was that occasionally I had a run scheduled on Mondays something I hardly ever did, but these runs are low mileage run (think of a warm up/recovery mileage) and the focus is on keeping my HR under 155-150. Other easy runs (usually 4 miles) included some strides during the last mile at 4 x 20 seconds at 7:30 pace with 90 seconds jog in between. Based on statistics, my easy pace should be within 10:45 and 9:45, but I find hard to sync the pace range with a low HR. Of course that are many variables to consider such discrepancy, but overall, it has been an interesting practice and perspective. I can certainly feel the difference in every run whether it is easy run, tempo run or speed run.

img_1652

Strength training with Christina has been so fun and such a compliment to my run. Christina is truly an expert in strength training. She is so passionate about it and that is one of the reason why she has created Strength2Run. She is also a unicorn chaser, and there’s no doubt in mind that she will catch it soon. Some of the workouts were familiar to me and some absolutely new. I love how she incorporates weights, some of my PT routines and the feeling of doing high intensity interval training. She asks what you want and what you need, and bam – she delivers some killer workout plans that truly engages every inch of your body. My focus is on assuring that my core, hammies, quads and calves are strong. But the fact of the matter is, her plan really works the entire body with focus on whatever area you need.

img_1557

It’s exciting to work with Coach Victoria and Christina. Their professional support has made a huge difference in my life and running. I highly recommend you to hire them if you are truly serious in chasing your dreams or simply obtaining knowledge in running and strength training. In one of my run workout, 5.50 mile speed workout, it entailed of 1 mile warm up and cool down and 3 times 1 mile at 8:30 pace. I was beyond thrilled in crushing this run. My splits were: 9:55 warm up, 8:38, 8:31 and 8:12, and 9:36 for cool down. I never thought in my life that I would be able to hit a decent 8ish pace for one steady mile. There’s no doubt that such improvement is a result from taking a break from running, meditating on what I wanted and needed, and seeking Victoria and Christina for help and change.

At the end of the day, it is about trying to figure out what you want and need, especially what you need. The Universe will show you the way. All there is left to do is to roll up the sleeve, grab the opportunity and say thank you!

“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

~ Michael Phelps

“When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears.”

~ Anthony Robbins

“It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

~Unknown

“Doing your best is more important than being the best.”

~Zig Ziglar

Goodbye 2016 Bring it on 2017

img_0396

“Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.”

 ~ Steve Prefontaine

There is no doubt that 2016 has been a year to remember. It has been a year filled with challenges, triumphs, happiness, some unhappy moments, but most importantly, another year which was fully lived, day in and day out. We made count each of the 365 days like a boss!

There were times in which we didn’t know how we were going to make to another day. But you know what, you just do it! There is no right or wrong answer as to how we make it happen as long as we are in peace with ourselves and as long as there’s no harm to others. We just make it happen and believe that the Universe will show the way because all we need to do is to trust that the Universe got our back, believe we can do it and take action everyday.

It sounds easy, but sometimes living through challenges does not appear to be this way. It takes time and sometimes a step back to see how we can handle certain situations in the eye of the observer. Like many other aspects of life, this is how running goes. Months of training, day in and day out, we don’t think about how to get the miles in the bank because if we were to do think about it, it would not get it done. I mean, seriously? Getting up in the dark early hours of the morning to run some crazy long miles, go to work, take care of life, take care of ourselves and loved ones, and spent more time doing strength training or cross training to run more miles and spend even more time doing recovery work to fix the damage.. Well, you know the drill.

In January I came into realization that there is no feasible short cut if I want to run Boston. If I can’t came up with $5,000 in fund raising for a charity of my like under the B.A.A., it is just not going to happen. If I want this badly, I will need to be patient and earn every single mile, sweat and breaths to achieve a 3:40 qualifying time under my age group category. So January was my big moment in which I committed to put the hard work to chase the unicorn as I run one day at a time and race one race at a time.

January was also the month in which I ran the inaugural Shark Bite half marathon in New Smyrna. It was a fun race and my best half marathon at 2:08:25. A week later, my training to run Tomoka started and I could not be happier to have Coach Chris, our MarathonFest group leader, guiding and encouraging throughout the way. She provided me with a training plan, planned our long run routes, she put on the Gatorade and water on our routes. She did more than she had to. And for that, I am forever grateful for her love and help.

Running a marathon for the second time after six years was epic. It really takes a bunch of determination to even register for such an event and I could not be happier in getting it done in 5:01:48, just shy of a sub-4 goal, but such a great effort shedding 1:45:01 from my first marathon in 2010.

Training must go on and never in my life had I ever thought that I would be hiring a run coach. Growing up I only exercised because of PE classes. I never really cared to dig in deep into sports or workouts, but I did really enjoy playing volleyball. Later in life, working out was not a thought because my time was consumed with work and studies. So the fact I hired a run coach was out of the world! It was my stamp to show how serious I was in chasing this illusive unicorn.

In the middle of everything, my husband had two surgeries, we sold our place, bought a house, lived with his dad, went through a hell of renovation and kept life moving forward. It has been quite a year! A year that has thought me more than I could possibly image, in a sense, it has been a year of physical, mental and spiritual cleansing. Our experiences dictate what enlightenment process we receive after our acceptance. I can say that mine would probably not be the same if running was not part of my life.

img_0571

Feeling pretty frustrated with training. 

Through Lighthouse Loop half marathon, I was awakened by such enlightenment. The interesting part of it is that the learning was not over at the crossing of the finish line at 2:28:17. It continued for weeks after the race. It was an experience that allowed me to pause and observe my inner self which has helped me to reflect on what I really want and need – not just on the running lifestyle aspect, but on a creative aspect of life which brings our natural sparkly and bright light. It is still an on-going process which I am learning everyday.

img_0857

“Life was [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  But if we do put the effort in, it is only certain to reap from its benefits if we are just patient and grateful enough to see and receive it. After months of setbacks, patience and gratitude, I finally started to see some results from my hard effort. Running a single-digit pace felt so good and liberating; it felt natural and somewhat effortless. It feels like a sudden energy takes over and all the body wants to do is to run faster. It was and has been my magical moment in running in which I finally have crossed a line in another dimension. My moment of magic came in weeks prior to running the OUC half marathon and while running the OUC just 54 seconds shy of my goal of a sub-2 at 2:00:54. That’s a 9:13 pace! YESS!!!

img_1308

Wrapping it all up in a nutshell, I close 2016 with 764.58 miles in the bank! That is a 102% improvement in comparison to 2015’s mileage. A lot of these miles were harder miles (speed work) than I am used to, but most importantly, these miles were earned not given miles. And for that, I could not be more grateful to earn and own it. It is beyond gratefulness to have a body that allows me to do this and to have my husband’s support allowing me to enjoy and to be prepared for my runs. Running might look like a solitary sports, but  behind a successful result, it is a representation of team effort.  Somewhere down the line, there is an army that has helped you get where you are. Be humble and never forget that.

But to get up, lace up the shoes and cover the distance – well, that’s all on YOU! And for that, be proud of your effort!

 

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

~ Steve Prefontaine