runfreeforever

Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Take the Burn

http://www.dashingdiva.net/2012/04/100-leg-workout-nike.html

I love feeling sore. During track and cross country season, I feel like I’m not working hard enough if nothing is hurting every day. I feel like being sore is my body telling me that I did work hard and that I’m getting stronger. I enjoy that pain the next day, like a reward, an affirmation of how hard I worked the day before. When I do ab workouts, I feel like I didn’t do enough reps if they’re not sore the next day. If I do a bunch of squats and my butt’s not sore the next day, I think that I didn’t do enough. If I don’t have some kind of pain somewhere after a really intense workout or a hard race, I feel like I didn’t work hard enough and go all out. But I hate when it hurts in the moment. I hate staying strong through whatever I’m doing, when my legs burn, when it’s too hot or too cold outside, when I’m shaking while trying to do some new exercise. But at the same time, I know that if I back off and I don’t take the burn today, I’m going to regret it tomorrow when I’m not sore. It’s the opposite of what you’d expect. But it’s so true.

So take the burn. Don’t give up today. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow when you’re sore and you know that you’ve pushed yourself. You’ll thank yourself a month or a year from now when you’re so much stronger than you are today. It’ll be worth it, I promise!

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4x400m inspiration

I love the 4x4m relay. It is definitely one of my favorites both to watch and to run. At track meets, it’s always the last event, so everyone on every team always crowds the track, cheering. It’s one of the most intense, competitive, high energy races of the night. And a few days ago as I was watching the olympic 4×4 from this summer, I was so inspired. Just look at those girls’ abs. I want that! They’re so strong, so fit, so fast. And I know I’m not fat or out of shape or anything like that, but I certainly don’t look like they do and I most certainly can’t run like they do!

I’m running the 4×8 and the 4×4 at my meet today. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to pull out any crazy 46-second splits for my 400, but even under a 66 will make me happy! And my 4×8 team is currently ranked 19th in the state, and we need to be in the top 16 to qualify for the statewide meet next week. I want it so badly! Today and thursday are my team’s last chances. We need to drop at least 10 seconds from our time to qualify. That’s gonna be tough. But we’re tough. We can do it if we really push ourselves. If only we could be like those Olympic athletes who make it look so effortless!

I’ll keep you posted (pun intended 🙂 ) on how tonight’s meet turns out!! 🙂

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My Best Friend, the Roller Massager

I’d like to introduce y’all to my bestie, Pro-Tec Athletics’ Roller Massager!

Ta-da!!!

If you ever have tightness or soreness or pain ANYWHERE before or after a hard run or any other time, THIS WILL BE YOU’RE BEST FRIEND TOO!!! It’s a massage roller with four foam sections that feel like angels kissing your legs when you use it. According to their website, “The Roller Massager stretches muscles and tendons, breaks down soft tissue adhesion, and soothes tight fascia while increasing blood flow and circulation to the soft tissues. Deep tissue stimulation and massage maximizes muscle performance and flexibility!” I use it to roll out tightness from my muscles before and after races and tough workouts. At one track meet last year, my quad inexplicably cramped up while I was warming up for an 800. Without one of these, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to run my race with as much pain as I had before I used it. My calves are always so tight and it’s led to worse problems like shin splints and Achilles problems. But when I use the roller massager, it helps release the tension and it feels so much better! There’s also this thing that happens more often after a shorter distance race, like a 400m race or shorter, where your butt cramps up. It’s commonly known among the girls on my team as “booty-lock,” and, let me tell you, it is one booty-kicker. It hurts so bad and you can hardly walk until it’s stretched out. This roller massager helps with that too! And if you’ve got a huge knot in your back, the roller massager has you covered there too. The difference it can make is like magic. From calves to backs to butts to IT bands, this roller is a life saver! It helps reduce soreness and tightness like no other! Here’s a video on how it works:

I’ve also tried The Stick’s Original Roller Massager. While this one has the same basic idea, it’s basically a bunch of hard plastic beads that hurt a lot more than the foam on Pro-Tec’s Roller Massager above. My friend likes it; I don’t prefer it. I guess it’s personal preference, and maybe you’d get used to the way it hurts after a while, but that is not the thing for me.

WHITE/BLUE

 

I’m not trying to sound like a saleslady or anything, a girl I know uses a rolling pin (like the wooden kind you’d use in the kitchen) to roll out her muscles, and it works just as well for her! If you’re sore, there’s a seemingly endless supply of ideas out there to help you! I hope you try out the roller massager though, because it has worked wonders for me and I’m sure it will do the same for you!

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Don’t give up!!

Pinned Image

http://peace-love-run.tumblr.com/page/3

Every year, we start off the new track or cross country season with a sea of new faces…but then tomorrow, or the day after, or the week after, a significant number of them don’t return. Why? Why would they quit when they’re only just getting started? The first two weeks are always the hardest, as your body is adjusting to the stresses. When you’re so sore that you can barely move, that’s just your body telling you that it’s getting stronger and faster. Are they afraid that someone will be judging them if they come in last? I think that everyone has that fear of not being good enough. We all want to be first. We all want to win. We all want to be the one that people watch with awe and jealousy. But unfortunately, there’s only one winner. Being slow isn’t something to be embarrassed about. You’re not racing against anyone else but yourself and the clock. While getting first is always nice, in my opinion, I would be happier about getting a PR and feeling like I gave my all. Don’t least non-runners look down on you. If you keep running even through the pain, you’re stronger than they will ever be. I’ve heard people say that cross country isn’t a sport. They’re so wrong. Deep down, they’re just jealous that they aren’t as strong, fast, and fit as you are!

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t be afraid of people laughing at you or looking down on you if you come in dead last. Don’t let the initial aches and pains of running make you lose your motivation to run. It’ll be worth it in the end if you stick it out and keep putting one foot in front of the other!

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Resistance bands, my new love!

So track season is one week down, and we have so many more left! But that’s a good thing 🙂 The first week hasn’t been too hard – we’ve had three aerobic-paced 4-5 mile days, a time trial 1600m on Wednesday, and we ran a bit faster and shorter today – 3.25 to 3.5 miles in 23:33. I ran a 6:15 for my 1600 Wednesday, which isn’t ideal, but I’m happy enough, especially for the beginning of the season. I think that I could do better if I had another chance, just because it’s hard to remember how to run fast and still pace myself since it’s been so long since my last race. I’m mostly just glad that I didn’t get nearly as out of shape as last year! I think I’ve got a decent base and I just gotta go from here!

YESTERDAY WAS THE WORST/BEST WORKOUT EVERRRRRRRR!!!!!!!:D

We ran our 10 minute warmup, did our dynamic stretching, then ran 30 minutes at aerobic pace on the trail (somewhere around 8:15ish/mile pace, give or take around 10 seconds). It started snowing on the way back, which was pretty cool (literally!). Then we did some abs and worked with resistance bands!

Now abs and a resistance band workout may not sound like that much fun, but it really was! It burned and made me sore today, but it was great just because it was new, and I rarely mix things up in my own workouts as much as I should. Our distance coach brought prizes for whoever could hold a plank for the longest since it was Valentine’s Day. Our head track coach and cross country coach did it with us too, and that was another very good reason to stick it out longer to beat him…which I did, by the way!:) in the end, I tied with two other girls, and our coach let us stop after 3 minutes or so. I got one of these:)

M&M Valentine Candy Fan, 12 count

A Candy Fan!!! Super cute 🙂

We did some work with resistance bands too, which was quite exciting because I’ve never tried them before! I love them! We did some of the exercises shown in the video below, like the walks and the squats. It’s a great workout for your glutes! Maybe I’m weird, but I love the sore feeling I get after a hard workout. Kinda like the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality, it makes me feel like I really worked hard and that I’m getting stronger. Go ahead and give some of these workouts a shot, maybe you’ll have as much fun with them as I did!

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Kashi Dark Mocha Almond bars…YUMMM

I found a new favorite granola bar!! The Kashi Dark Mocha Almond chewy granola bars are the best!

They are delicious! They have the perfect amount of sweetness, and they’re especially great for all you coffee lovers out there. But they’re great not only for your taste buds but they’re also good for you! Their number one ingredient is whole grains and they have four grams of fiber, which leaves you full for longer. They also have no high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. They only have three and a half grams of fat, most of which are poly- or mono-unsaturated fats (the good-for-you fats that could help lower your cholesterol and improve heart health, and is found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc. To read more about poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, click here.)

Another plus to these tasty granola bars is their ratio of protein to carbs. these bars have six grams of protein and twenty-one grams of carbs, or between a 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. When you workout or run, especially for extended periods of time, it’s important to get both carbohydrates and protein back into your system within half an hour for proper recovery (to read more on proper recovery click here). The carbs are important to refuel your muscles’ glycogen stores so you are ready to go the next day. Protein is also important to help your muscles rebuild and repair torn muscle tissue. Both are extremely important to get your body working the best. From looking at various websites, somewhere between a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein seems to be the rule of thumb. It may take some experimenting to see what works best for you and your body. These granola bars are right in that range though, so try them out!

When you eat Kashi’s Dark Mocha Almond granola bars, you will probably forget everything I just told you about their healthy qualities and get lost in coffee-chocolaty heaven. I’ve found them at Hy-vee and Target, and I would definitely recommend looking for a box in your own grocery store! Let me know if you love them as much as I do! 🙂

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Why Don’t I Wanna Run???

Looking at the side of my blog, I was reminded that the start of my track season is a shockingly short fourteen days away. FOURTEEN DAYS!!!! as in ONLY TWO WEEKS!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!! D: I am so unprepared, feel so out of shape, and lack the motivation to change that. I think back to July, in the weeks leading up to my cross country season. I was so motivated, I ran every single day, and I was determined to have a good season. But I look at myself now, wish I was faster and more in shape, but I don’t really feel like getting my shoes on to do anything about it. We had a track meeting with our coach on Friday, and it shocked me how close we are to the start of our season. It was kind of like a cold slap in the face. But with the disgustingly freezing cold weather that we have right now and the ice covering the streets and sidewalks, running outside would likely literally slap me cold in the face. Why am I lacking the motivation and excitement for the upcoming season that I had back in July?? Why don’t I feel that same urge to get my shoes on and run? Why don’t I care that I’m not in the best shape or ready to kick some butt in a few weeks? Why don’t I care that I’m probably not going to start my season out at the top of the team and run varsity right away? It’s true that I prefer cross country over track, but that’s all just a mental thing. I know that if I don’t do the right things, I’m not going to get to go to state like I want so badly. I know that I’m not going to get the varsity letter that I’ve been dreaming of since last year. I know that my body takes a long time to get back in shape. I know that in May, I’m going to regret my lack of preseason training. But it is so much easier to stay inside, sit on the couch, watch some quality High School Musical or The Amazing Spiderman or How I Met Your Mother, or look at Pinterest and all of its inspirational and motivational quotes and ideas that are supposed to make you want to get up and get active. Like these:

Need to say this every morning.... .  40 Things to Try When You Don't Want to Work Out. I NEED these!  You will never regret at workout

I especially need to listen to this one:

But no. I ran once this past week, five miles on Friday. That’s it. I should probably go running after school today. After all, track season starts in fourteen days and the more out of shape I am now, the harder those first few weeks are going to be. So my goal for this week? Twenty miles. I’ll keep you posted on how close I get to that goal. It’s quite a big leap up from the five miles this week. Pretty wimpy compared to my cross country preseason training. But like Pinterest told me, the difference between my body this week and next week is what I do for the next seven days. I can’t make up for my insufficient running for the past few months. But I can start running more now, I guess it’s better late than never!

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i want abs

I’ve been thinking, for quite some time actually, that I really need to work on my core strength. I keep saying to myself that I’m going to do an ab workout, but it never happens. I go running with my friend and we always say we’re going to work on our abs after we run…but then we get done running and are tired, hot, cold, sweaty, and we never actually do anything. I really want to be good this year in track, and I think that having a strong core would help my running and my form and efficiency, but I’m so lazy! Doing an ab workout is so hard, and my abs are so weak! I love it when my abs are sore, because it makes me feel like I worked hard (I know, I’m weird). But I hate doing the actual workouts to make them sore and to make them strong. When it starts hurting a lot, all too often, I just give up rather than pushing myself further to make me stronger. My abs often get sore after I run a really hard race or after some hard, fast speedwork on the track. Running uses not only your leg muscles but your whole body, including your core. If I worked more on improving my core strength, I think that I would become a better, faster, stronger runner.  (plus it’ll make my stomach flatter and more beach-ready in the summer! 🙂

I’ve looked (probably not hard enough) for core workout ideas, but a lot of them involve all of this fancy equipment that I don’t have. Most of the time, I just end up doing a few crunches and 30 seconds to a minute of planks and I call it good enough, but really I should do more if I truly want a strong core.

I’ve recently found this ab workout video on YouTube, and I really like it because it’s easy, doesn’t necessarily require extra equipment, and it’s a break from the ordinary crunches and planks that I would normally do. I think another reason I am lacking in core strength is because I get sick of the monotony of my core exercises I’ve also been trying to focus more on my form when I’m doing crunches, because it makes a world of difference when you’re doing them wrong to when you’re doing them right. Here’s the how-to from Livestrong.com. I hope it helps!

Begin flat on your back with your knees bent and the heels of your feet only a  few inches from your buttocks.  Bring your hands to your temples with palms out,  and elbows out from the body at about thirty to forty-five degrees.  While  exhaling, bring your shoulder blades off the ground fairly quickly, until you  feel an intense pressure in the rectus abdominus muscles.  Hold for a one to two  second count, then slowly release, beginning the next repetition when the head  and shoulders are just about to touch the ground.

If you have any other good ab workouts that you like, let me know!!

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My Goals

Hey guys! I just added a page for my goals for running. I included goals for the rest of the winter, for this upcoming track season, for the summer, for my cross country season next year, for college, and beyond. Go check it out! Since I’m making it all public and everything, I’m hoping it will add one more thing to motivate me to keep pushing myself to that next level. I don’t just want to run without a place I’m running to. I need to keep pushing forward so I can become a better runner. But not only do I need to become a better runner, I also need to continue pushing myself to become a better person. Through pushing myself in my running, I am learning to not give up and to stay strong. I learn to appreciate my legs and my body just the way they are, because they’ve gotten me through all these miles just fine so far. Running gives me confidence in myself and who I am. Running helps me sort out my thoughts and feelings. In every stage of  my life, I want to continue running if physically possible. I need the structure, its stress-relieving capabilities, the motivation, the confidence and the euphoria after a good run. So looking back at what I wrote, I think I included in every one of my goals something along the lines of “Keep Running.” Because that’s what I do. I run. And I run. And I run some more. Yet it is most definitely not everything I am; it doesn’t define me. I define it. My body is my machine that I am learning how to use most efficiently by working it day after day. And one of these days, I will reach my goals. One step at a time.

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Getting Back in Shape

Finally. I ran again today for the first time in two weeks!:( I had surgery on my wrist two weeks ago for a ganglion cyst. It looked gross, felt weird when you touched it, and hurt a lot, especially when I was writing, typing, or playing piano a lot, so I’m glad I had it taken off after having it for about three years. But since I couldn’t run for two weeks while I had to keep my brace on full-time, I think I’m getting out of shape! Terribly out of shape! I struggled far too much for only a three-mile run! Granted, we may have started out a bit too fast, but I am unbelievably disappointed by how out of shape I’ve become. My legs didn’t want to move, I was gasping breath while I was trying to talk to my running partner, and I know it’s awful but I was tempted, so tempted, to take a walk break around mile 2. Awful. Embarrassing. I know. This is exactly the opposite of what I want to happen over this winter! My goal was to try to stay in shape and to keep my fitness level at least close to what it was during my cross country season so I’m not as slow as I was last year at the beginning of track season. Last year I hardly ran at all over the winter. I’m pretty sure that I’ve run more since state cross country than I did all year last year! As a result of my little training last year, I think I was running around a 7 minute 1500, and a fourteen-or-fifteen-something 3000 in our time trials in practice. At the first meet of the year last year, I ran a 2:47 800m, and I only got down to 2:37 by the end of the year. In comparison, I ran the first 800m (half mile) of my 2.5 mile state cross country race this year in 2:46. That’s a good second faster than I ran at that first meet in track last year, and I didn’t have to run 2 more miles afterward! That absolutely must change this year. I was an alternate at state last year for my track team’s 4×8 relay. If I want to make my claim to my place on that team this year, I need to get below 2:30. I’ve set some goals for myself this upcoming track season. I need to be at least under 6 minutes for a 1500 at the beginning of the year. I need to be under 12:15 at the very very very really-bad-day slowest for my 3000m. I need to be definitely under 2:40 for my 800m at the beginning of the season, but preferably I won’t run any 800s slower than 2:35 all season! I really want to get my 800 time down to a 2:26 by the end of the season, but I guess we’ll see how that goes! For now, I need to become more regular and consistent with my winter training, get in touch with my coach, and stay focused! February is closer than it seems!

See you out running tomorrow!

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