January 17, 2017

Injury Update #2: Stress Fracture Recovery Begins

In case you missed it, I was diagnosed with a 4th metatarsal stress fracture at the very end of October/beginning of November and survived almost 4 weeks in an Aircast boot doing pretty much zero exercise of any type. Yup, I did pretty much nothing besides a few workouts during my time recovering. 


What I'm Doing

Physical Therapy
Das boot came off in December after an X-Ray and getting the okay from my orthopedist. I wore an ortho sandal for 2 weeks after the boot to still offer some protection, but could at least get around better. Luckily I was not having any pain in my foot. 

The second week of December I began to see a physical therapist once a week as recommended by my orthopedist. A gait analysis was completed and the body mechanics of muscles involved in running were analyzed.  Not so shocking, but I found out I have weak hips (main problem) and weak glutes. ::whomp::whomp::

But really though. Happy Gilmore, anyone?

To help strengthen these muscles I was prescribed weekly exercises to do at therapy and at home daily during with a Theraband. Lots of variations on clamshells, squats, step-ups, lunges, and fire hydrants. This article from Runner's Connect has a nice set of exercises which includes some that I have been doing. These will continue to be a staple in my life to help prevent any injuries in the future. 

Theraband exercises are why PT is short for Pure Torture, right? Just hitting you with some rehabilitation professional jokes. 

Working on My Running Form
I'm always sweating and doing hard work when I'm at physical therapy. As a future occupational therapist and science nerd, getting my gait analyzed has been really awesome. It's also been a little depressing because I want to have this great running form and then look at the recording all slowed down of me on the treadmill and am like GEEZ, THAT LOOKS TERRIBLE.

I have been working on transitioning from a heel striker to a midfoot striker as well as trying to keep my feet underneath me during my stride instead of reaching out with my legs and overstriding. Overstriding increases the force put through my foot and increases injury potential so that's not good. 

This graphic I found makes it easier to visualize. {Source}

Fixing my overstriding will in turn increase my cadence a bit-according to most your average cadence should be around 180 steps per minute. Pretty typical running form improvement suggestions. 

Secondarily I have been working on engaging my glutes and increasing my knee flexion and hip extension when I kick my legs out behind me in my stride. I do this weird thing where to keep my legs from hitting each other underneath me, I am rotating my hips and feet in and out instead of pulling my leg through straight from under me when I am running. 

Return to Running Program
My PT gave me a very conservative 6-week 'return to running' program broken down into 4 stages. I started with my first walk/run on Christmas Day, a.k.a. the best present ever, even if it was mostly walking with just a few minutes of running thrown in. 

I've been following the plan the past two weeks and am finally am at stage 2 where I can jog 15 to 20 minutes every other day starting this week. I've did most of the walk/run intervals on the treadmill because it was easier plus was nice to focus on my form on the treadmill while watching Netflix on my phone. 

How I Feel

My foot has been feeling okay except for some soreness I had last week which is apparently normal. I'm pretty paranoid about any twinge I feel which is going to take time for me to feel less anxious about.  I also had really intense calf pain most likely from all the calf raises at physical therapy plus running and working them after not doing so in over 2 months. My physical therapist tries to massage out where my calfs attach by the tendon near my heel on my right side because that area has been particularly tight. 

Emotionally and mentally I'm feeling pretty freaking discouraged. I came off of finally racing faster and my best marathon ever to not running for 2+ months and now huffing and puffing when I try to run 10 minutes at 9:00 min/mile and slower paces (which was an easy pace for me previously, for perspective). I know it hasn't been that long so this is to be expected, but in the moment it is a crappy feeling to have running suck in this way, when I'm just trying to go easy.  It's quite humbling. 

I'm trying to remain positive because getting to walk/run at all is truly a gift, particularly when you are in the rehabilitation field and see people less fortunate every day. 

What's Next
I have one more physical therapy appointment and then another follow-up with my orthopedist. The plan right now is to keep doing my hip exercises and keep on trucking with the return to running plan and hopefully feel less terrible the more I run. I know I'll come back stronger, but it will just take some time. I also REALLY need to consistently warm-up before runs and stretch after runs from now on. 

Have you ever been side-lined from running for an injury? What is your favorite stretch or warm-up?

January 3, 2017

2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

Welcome to my 2016 year in review blog post. I know it's a bit cliche, but this is a really fun way for me to reflect on the year. I always forget all of the amazing adventures I went on, the races I ran, and fun I had this year.  It's nice to scroll through the photos on my computer and really spend time thinking about the past year before jumping into the next. I'm sharing a couple fun things that happened each month in 2016 running, fitness, and beyond!

2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

Snowzilla hit Baltimore in January bringing the best snow on record for the city. It was crazy.  I also started coaching at Charm City Run which was definitely challenging with lots of snow and ice on the ground!


I also spent plenty of cold mornings running and working out with November Project Baltimore, which celebrated it's second birthday. 


Besides a lovely Valentine's Day dinner in with my boyfriend and some more running, I ran the Nuun Year Dash with a group of fellow Team Nuun runners and some cool people from Harlem Run. It was great to spread the Nuun love and run the FitFam virtual race in person! 


March is always when lots of spring races start popping off despite the weather still being a crapshoot. I visited Asheville for the first time and ran the Asheville Half Marathon at the Biltmore Estate-a BEAUTIFUL race! 


Baltimore also held it's first Light City which was a lights festival with light art installations, performances, and events. 


In April I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in DC which I hadn't run in a couple of years. I was lucky enough to be a social media ambassador for the race. The race day was cold and had big wind restrictions, but ended up being great.  The highlights for me were meeting/fangirling Joan Benoit Samuelson who was the first-ever women's Olympic marathon gold medalist and accomplished long distance runner. I also met Meb Keflezighi, famous American long distance runner and winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon among other races. I was so run-nerdy and excited to meet both!



April was also the month where I raced every weekend I think. I ran my first ever RunDisney race (which I still need to recap, yikes!) at the inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World. 


I also ran a surprise half marathon PR of 1:38:21 at the Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon


You can  run this great race on 3/26/2017 and save $5 with my code LAURENLOVE :) 

May I finished another semester of grad school and celebrated a birthday which included lots of running and eating! 


In June I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon and had a pretty great race running with Cori

Another race plug-you can save 10% off any ZOOMA registration with my code LAUREN2017. 

I also started training for my 4th marathon (and 3rd Chicago Marathon in a row!) in June. That meant lots of post-long run treats and many very sweaty summer runs.  

In July I went to Boston to volunteer with LiveUp Programs, a community that plans weekend adventures in different cities across the country for adults with down syndrome. It was an amazing volunteer experience that I recommend everyone checks out! I also got to hang with Sarah and make a couple November Project Boston workouts while I was up there. 


JULY ALSO MEANT NOVEMBER PROJECT SUMMIT. A.k.a the best weekend of the whole year. I had an amazing time running one of the hardest races I ever ran-a trail marathon relay literally up and down a ski mountain in Ontario. It was also full of the most fun, funny, and loving people and a ridiculous NP Olympics/party. November Project is a free fitness movement-learn what all the hype is about. 


I won a surprise entry to the Seawheeze Half Marathon put on by Lululemon in Vancouver, BC. I decided to turn it into a big solo trip out west and spent a few days in Seattle first. 


Being in Vancouver was amazing. Seawheeze was maybe the most beautiful race I've ever run. I had an awesome time exploring Vancouver, hanging out with November Project members from all over,  making friends, hiking, and eat good food. Two thumbs way up. 


The rest of August involved training, running, enjoying summer, and relaxing while I had a few weeks off from grad school. 

In September I ran the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon which I used as a pre-marathon tune-up and felt amazing. It was a great morning for a race despite humid conditions in which I surprisingly ran well in. 


I also continued tapering for the Chicago Marathon after running the Dogfish Dash in Delaware. I  partnered with Lululemon Harbor East in Baltimore to review some of their running gear and had some running glamour shots taken. 


My boyfriend and I drove down to South Carolina for a wedding and spent a couple days in Charleston. 


CHICAGO MARATHON 2016. The best I've ever felt during a marathon and where I surpassed my goal and ran a big PR and Boston qualifying time of 3:27:24, 7 minutes and change faster than my qualifying standard time. BOOM. This day was the best. It involved running a marathon, friends, pizza, and ice cream. 


A week after Chicago I ran the Baltimore Running Festival 5K and last-minute subbed in on a marathon relay team. It was so much freaking fun cheering for friends and running in Baltimore's biggest running event. Plus the crab medals are pretty sweet. 


::Whomp::Whomp:: Officially diagnosed with a stress fracture in my toe and not able to run or do much of anything, living that #bootlife. 


Thanksgiving was spent with my family followed by the Gilmore Girls revival, which was a bit disappointing but fun to get hyped up for. 


Officially 1.5 years done with graduate school. Finally got the boot off in December and am in physical therapy.  I also had the stressful experience of moving into a new apartment. 


Also a new surprise is that I became a Yoga Sculpt instructor at CorePower Yoga in Baltimore-another big goal accomplished! I visited my sister in Disney World before having a relaxing Christmas holiday with my family. 

Cheers to you 2016, despite the lows there were lots of highs. 

Here's to 2017: New year. Same me. New goals. 

What was one great memory or race from 2016? 

December 19, 2016

8 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Fitness Fans

I seriously can't believe it's the week of Christmas. SERIOUSLY. Between moving, bouncing around between doctor's and physical therapy appointments, plus finals, this past month has moved crazy fast. Luckily I have done some online shopping plus braved the crowds at Target this weekend so I only have a couple gifts left to purchase.  

If you have been mostly shopping deals to buy presents for yourself and now need to finish all your shopping in T-7 days, here are some great last-minute gift ideas for you! 


I shared lots of products that you can purchase on Amazon because I'm an Amazon Prime addict with that free 2-day shipping. You can't beat getting things in 2-days if you are short on time!  Check out some of my favorite items for runners, yogis, and any other fit fans in your life. 


8 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Fitness Fans

1.  Believe or Complete Training Journal and Believe Logbook

I have been using the Believe Training Journal for the past two years to record my weekly workouts, log my miles, and write down my goals and progress.  I love that it includes articles on different topics like goal-setting and nutrition. This year I was given the chance to review the Complete Training Journal and Believe Logbook


The Complete Training Journal is a souped-up version of the Believe Training Journal and focuses more on competitions and tracking progress towards goals and races more in-depth. The Believe Logbook offers an open and customizable, minimalist workout logbook with an annual calendar. 

All three are also available on Amazon with Prime shipping: Believe, Compete, Believe Logbook

2. Namast'ay in Bed candle

The Brooklyn Artists and Fleas Market is open Saturdays and Sundays in Williamsburg, BK and carries this cheeky 100% natural soy wax candle from the 125 Collection. The candle is hand-poured in NY and features one of my favorite quotes-perfect for the yogi (or sleepyhead) in your life.  

If you're not near Brooklyn, you can order the candle from the store's Etsy site

3. Foam roller/Massager like the Moji Foot Massager 

Foam rollers and massagers are great gifts for fit friends to give themselves some TLC and relieve some aches and pains from working hard in the gym or on the road. The Moji Foot Massager is an awesome massager 

The Moji Foot can be purchased on their website, Amazon, Brookstone, Charm City Run stores in MD, Target or other retailers near you. You can get foam rollers everywhere nowadays including Amazon, sporting stores, running stores, and even places like Marshalls. 


4. Boody wear shirts, leggings, and baby onesie. 

Boody wear is an organic, eco-friendly and incredibly soft clothing basics company. I first found out about the company at this year's Natural Products Expo East. Boody was nice enough to let me try out one of their short sleeve tees. It's one of the softest and most comfortable ones I own! I love that their clothing is made from organic toxic free bamboo plants which means it's also moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, hypo-allergenic, and thermo-regulating. Also the baby onesies they have are adorable too. 

You can see if Boody wear is carried in any stores near you or you can order on the Boody website (free shipping over $49). Boody is also on Amazon (check out the leggings and the baby onesie).  

5. Nuun Hydration Tablets

Nuun is the an electrolyte table that is all plant-based and gluten-free. It's the perfect stocking stuffer or gift for the athlete in your life. My favorite flavors are watermelon, strawberry lemonade, and cherry limeade energy. 


You can order on the Nuun website or various sites including Amazon and can also buy in various sporting stores, Whole Foods, Target and wherever else it is carried near you. 

6. Gundalow Juice

Baltimore's own Gundalow Juice is a great gift for anyone and great for sneaking in some fruits & veggies in between all the Christmas cookies. There is an awesome Gundalow Cocktail Kit or just go ahead and order a pack of juices. 


Order from their website for free shipping in the U.S. 

7. Feetures! running socks

Running socks make a great gift or stocking stuffer for anyone who gets their sweat on. Feetures! are my favorite wicking socks for working out plus I've been loving their elite merino wool socks which keep my feet warm all winter! Plus Feetures! socks are backed my a lifetime guarantee-can't beat that. 


Find Feetures! on their website (free 2-day shipping through 12/20!), Amazon, running stores like Charm City Run, or other local retailers near you

8. Gift cards
If it's really last minute, gift cards are an easy option. To make it more personal, get one to the person's favorite running store, a store that is a treat to make a purchase at (ahem, Lululemon), the coffee shop they always go to, or even register them for a race that you know they always run (if you can sneakily make sure they plan on running this year!).  

What is on your holiday wish list? Do you do mostly online or in-person holiday shopping?

December 7, 2016

5 Winter Workout Items to Put On Your Wish List {and Athleta Giveaway from one of the best gyms in Pittsburgh}

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by XShadyside. The giveaway gift card is provided by and will be delivered by XShadyside for my readers.

 I'm currently still recovering from my injury, but I can't wait for the day soon that I get to start running again. I'm going to start adding in some workouts this week after not having gotten my sweat on in over a month. That means I'm definitely adding some fun winter running and workout clothes to my Christmas Wish List. Who am I kidding, I rock tights and running clothes as part of my regular wardrobe even if I'm not working out. Here are five items I have my eye on from my favorite brands. 

Also thanks to one of the best gyms in Pittsburgh, there's a giveaway below for a $25 Athleta gift card so you can treat yourself before the holidays! 


5 Winter Workout Apparel Items to Put On Your Wish List 

1. Women's Distance Long Sleeve Running Shirt from Brooks Running ($44)
This is my favorite color and the shirt looks SO comfortable for working out or lounging around. 

2. Spandos Jane Bra from Oiselle ($64)
I LOVE all of the Spandos line which sells out fast. This bra offers nice coverage and is super cute. 

December 5, 2016

How to Survive Being an Injured Runner

Disclosure: I received Mizuno winter gear through a campaign with Fitfluential, LLC. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I survived 3.5 weeks in a boot due to a  a stress fracture and over a month of not running or working out really at all. This crazy runner lady has not run in over a month. If I can do it so can any injured runner. Honestly being swamped with school and work has made the time fly by.  I still am in a little bit of a funk and just got cleared to seated cycle so I'm hoping to hit the gym and start working on my cardio again this week. Running and working out makes me feel good about myself and is stress-relieving so it has been a difficult transition. Here's some of the ways I found to make an injury bearable. 

How to Survive Being an Injured Runner


1. Catch up on sleep. 


I have been running on fumes for the past 6 months and have been trying to catch up on sleep on the weekends because I was averaging 6 hours of sleep a night during the week. I don't know what caused my stress fracture, but I'm assuming that lack of solid sleep and recovery may have played a factor.  No early morning runs or workouts means an extra hour or so of sleep!

2. Netflix and chill, literally. 

At the moment at least! {source}

I spent lots of time relaxing on the couch, putting my foot and boot up, and catching up on my Netflix queue, guilt-free. Find a new show to binge when you get home from work or school. I'm currently making my way through Parenthood-it's SO good.  

3.  Stay off of social media. 


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