runfreeforever

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

the unfortunate reality of a student athlete

It’s crazy how quickly the school year flies by. My school uses a trimester schedule, so we’re almost to our midterms! And I’m scared. I guess I’m a relatively good student. I’m taking three AP classes and advanced math. But it gets hard to fit in time to study for all my classes, and to find time to get extra help from my teachers when I have track practice every day after school. I got a D on my last AP Chemistry test!!!!!:) And that was good for me! I was happy that I got over 50%! What is this life coming to?!?

And as a result, you also might want to know that I, being probably the most popular girl at school and having so many friends and being ever so cool (that was all a lie), spent this past lovely Friday night watching YouTube videos about AP Chemistry. Exciting, right?? I mean, who could resist the beckoning of all the AP Chemistry teachers in the world, just begging you to watch them lecture about acids and bases and titrations and redox reactions and electrolysis and molarity and molality and resonance structures and activation energy and precipitation and solubility and I think you’re probably bored with my recounting of AP chemistry.

Whenever I’m in season (August through October for cross country, then February through May for track) it gets so hard to try to stay on top of all the things I need to get done at home and school and everywhere else and still manage to maintain some sanity. Meets always take so long and it’s too hard to concentrate on any homework at all by the time I get home and I’m so tired. So that crosses out one or two days per week to do homework and piles on more for the rest of my days. Add church, piano lessons, vocal lessons, FCA, volunteering at the animal shelter, Best Buddies, and all the other various activities I do, and I have pretty much no time left for anything. It’s crazy.

I don’t think that teachers at school realize how hard it is to be a crazy busy high school student and how hard it is to fit everything in. And I gotta admit that sometimes I don’t prioritize like I should. I would much rather spend my time running and looking up track stats and rankings than doing my homework. I’d much rather go to track practice than spend any more time with my AP chemistry teacher. I think that student-athletes are choosing the “athlete” part over the “student” part more often than we should be. How do you fix that? I couldn’t tell you. I know that I can’t realistically count on getting a scholarship in college for running. I don’t even know if I’m going to run in college. I can count on getting academic scholarships for college more realistically, though. Running is a huge part of my life, and it probably will continue to be such an important part of me, but it’s likely not going to be my career no matter how much I love it. For all those other student-athletes out there, I know that you love your sport. You’re passionate about it. You’d rather be doing it than doing anything else. But is it really what you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life? What if you get hurt and can’t do it anymore? Then what will you do? Education is more reliable and more important, whether any of us like it or not.

What an unfortunate realization.

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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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Bye-Bye, Blisters!

Back in eighth grade when I started running on my own (outside of track season), I used to get awful blisters on my feet, especially on my arches. Especially after long runs and when it was rainy or snowy or wet, I’d get blisters so bad that I just wanted to take off my shoes, or I’d favor one leg over the other. If you ever have any ache or pain while running that causes you to change your running form, STOP RUNNING!!! It will only lead to even more injuries!!  But going back to my original point – blisters are so annoying! Part of my problem was due to my poorly chosen shoes, but even a new pair of quality running shoes didn’t cut it for me and my picky feet. But I’ve found a cure. Socks.

I used to just wear whatever socks I wanted – usually thin and 100% cotton. I had no idea that my choice in socks could make that much of a difference in my comfort while running. The most important thing that I look for in a good sock is that they’re made from synthetic materials. Even if they say that they’re sweat-wicking, but they’re made from 100% cotton, I wouldn’t get them. I’d always opt for something with more polyester, more spandex, more nylon, etc., over more cotton. When I started wearing socks made from better materials, I noticed a huge difference in the frequency of the blisters I got. Rather than being every single day, I now only get them on rare occasions! Here’s five of my favorite socks! (not necessarily in order of preference; I like all of them!)

1.)Pro Spirit® Women’s  Cushion Poly No Show Athletic Sock

Pro Spirit® Women's 3-Pack Cushion Poly No Show Athletic Socks - Assorted Colors

I first tried out these socks from Target. At only $5 for a three-pack, they’re budget friendly. They’re made with 79% cotton and 21% Nylon, and while this ratio isn’t ideal, they’re still good at wicking away sweat and moisture.

2.) Running II

I tried these socks from WrightSock, because they’re made specifically to prevent blisters. They’re made with two layers to reduce friction, plus they keep your feet dry and speed evaporation. I haven’t gotten any blisters from wearing them, but they have shrunk in the wash and don’t quite fit my feet anymore…so I would recommend making sure you get the right size before buying these!

3.)Women’s Recur No-Show socks

Besides being super fun, cute, colorful, and comfy, these Under Armour socks are made with a Moisture Transport System to get sweat away from your feet, with a blend of polyester, nylon, and spandex. Plus they have an Anti-Odor system to help prevent all that icky, stinky stuff that nobody wants!

4.) Women’s Grippy II No-Show Socks

These socks, also from Under Armour, are thinner than the previous socks. They’re made with Microfiber Nylon, Nylon, and Lycra® Spandex, and also have the Moisture Transport System. They have OdorBlock, Under Armour’s most advanced system of preventing odor-causing bacteria. They have the little grippy nubs on the bottom of them to help keep you from slipping too!

5.) Nike Cushion No-Show sock

161 - Spark/White

I’m not sure if they make these Nike socks anymore; I had a hard time finding them online. But they fit my feet great and have a specific left/right sock for an ideal fit. They also have a built-in arch that seems tighter than most built-in arches, in a good way. They’re made from Nylon, polypropylene, elastane, and polyester, so they wick away moisture as well.

If you are still having blister problems after you have good socks and shoes (or you have to wear certain socks/shoes for a uniform or something and have no other choice), Body Glide could be your new best friend. It looks a little like deodorant, and you apply it similarly. It helps prevent chafing and friction, and it doesn’t feel sticky or icky anything. I use it when I race or play soccer, when I’m running longer or faster than usual, or running in shoes that don’t fit my feet as well as my regular running shoes for some reason. It works wonders!

I hope these tips help! Happy comfortable, blister-free running!

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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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