‘Tis the Season

Well, folks, running season is in full swing. I kicked it off with the Rock the Parkway half-marathon, and since then, have gotten a little registration-happy. Here’s my race calendar so far:

Seeing it all typed out makes me feel a teensy bit crazy, but also super-stoked. I went to Michael’s last weekend and bought all the supplies necessary to make my own race medal display. After this season, I’m gonna have that baby filled right up!

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How I Rocked the Parkway

Over the past few months, I’ve shared bits and pieces of my training for Rock the Parkway, a rather large, springtime Kansas City half-marathon. After my last half-marathon in October, I’d struggled with some disheartening ITBS issues, but after much … Continue reading

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Just Keep Running…

About a month and a half ago, I posted my new “secrets” to keeping my ITBS pain at bay during the upcoming running season. At the end of January, I began training for another half-marathon, and vowed to be diligent with IT band stretches and exercises. Well, I’m happy to say that so far this year I’ve run exactly 84 miles (yes, down to the 1/100th of a mile, it’s exactly 84. Weird.) and have had zero pain so far. I’m telling you, folks, these stretches and exercises are the way to go.

This past Saturday marked the “more than half” point in my training, at seven miles. So far I’ve finished two audiobooks (Sisterhood Everlasting and The Book Thief) and just loaded two more onto my iPod. I’ve completely lucked out weather-wise. Only one run has been sidelined to the treadmill due to snow, and only two runs have been completed in single-digit wind chills–much better than I expected when I first considered training in the middle of winter. The only downside is that I haven’t gotten to break out much of my cute new cold-weather running gear. (Three weekends ago I scored a puffy vest on clearance in the girls’ department at Dick’s Sporting Goods–seriously, they practically paid me to take it, it was such a good deal.)

After Rock the Parkway in April, I’m thinking of registering for the Hospital Hill half-marathon as well. Then, a friend of mine recently told me about the Color Run, a goofy experience in which you start the race with a white t-shirt, and are sprayed with colored paint along the route. I’ll be passing on the Warrior Dash this summer (once was enough for me), and am thinking this “artistic” run might be more my style of adventure racing.

Speaking of adventure racing, B is planning to sign up for the Tough Mudder when its Kansas City date is released. After the Ruckus Run and the Warrior Dash, he feels like he’s ready to tackle these 10-12 grueling miles of “mud, fire, ice water, and 10,000 volts of electricity.” Again, that’s a race I’ll choose to watch.

First “Official” Run of the Season

Today marks the beginning of my official training for the Rock the Parkway half marathon. After work today, I will log my first 3.5 miles that count towards my goal of completing my third half-marathon.

I started running again at the beginning of the month, building my mileage up slowly in order to ease my IT band back into the rhythm of the road. Now, though, is when the running really starts to count–and I’m so excited!

For those of you who are interested, here is the training plan I’m following: Rock the Parkway Training Plan

Using a plan that my personal trainer gave me back in June as a base, I’ve modified it a bit. I added one more long run (an 11-miler) and tapered off the week before the race. I’m hoping these changes will also help me to avoid the ITBS I experienced after my last half.

Wish me luck!

Back in Business

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I’m back in business. No, I’m not returning to my roadside beanie baby bed stand. Unfortunately, I believe that ship has sailed. But, after two and half months of elliptical trainers and Stairmasters, I’ve finally been able to start running again. This time, though, I’ve armed myself with a battery of anti-ITBS weaponry–that is, tricks and trades to keep that painful aching tendon at bay.

1. The Foam Roller

Foam Roller

I’ve been using this puppy religiously for 5-10 minutes after each and every run. For the video I watched to learn how to roll out my aching IT band (or “illiotibial tract”), click here. I’ll warn you–it is hella painful at first. (Yes, I used the word hella. It’s not generally a piece of my vocabulary, but seems most fitting to describe the sensation of squeezing all the lactic acid out of those hard-set knots.) BUT, as this article explains, and I whole-heartedly agree with, the foam roller has magical qualities, and is much cheaper than recurring trips to a massage therapist.

This is how I roll...

2. The Resistance Band

I was fortunate enough to be gifted these by one of the trainers we frequently work out with at the gym. Little did he know they were exactly what I needed for some extra IT band protection. Now, after my runs, I put the band right over my knees:

Then I do a little of this:

Side steps

Then some of this:

Leg Lifts

And a little of that:

Bridge

By strengthening my hips and thighs, and targeting that outer hip area that I’ve targeted as my “problem area” for IT band pain, I’m hoping to build up some strength for those longer distances.

3. The Pigeon

"The "Pigeon"

After learning this pose in Yoga, it’s one I turn to often. Now, hardly a day goes by that I don’t spend a couple minutes doin’ the pigeon. (I just got this great visual of “The Pigeon” as some kind of dance, involving a lot of head bobbing and arm flapping.)

4. This Stretch

Cross-Knee Stretch

Okay, I don’t know the name for this stretch. But it’s a good one. Just cross one ankle over the opposite knee, roll onto your back, and pull your legs in towards your chest. (P.S. You don’t have to lay down, but it makes for a pretty nice lower-back stretch, then, too.)

5. This Stretch

Standing Stretch

Alright, so I don’t actually know the name for this one either, but was recently introduced to it by a fellow runner. It seems to do the job, too.

I’m now doing what I call “pre-training training” for another half-marathon. As you know, I enjoyed my last one so much, and was super-bummed that my IT band pain kept me from competing in the Thanksgiving Gobbler Grind. A few weeks ago, I started by just running a mile, then stretching, stretching, stretching. Then I upped it to two miles and stretched, stretched, stretched. Now, I’m up to three- to four-mile runs, and am still (knock on wood) pain free. I’m hoping that with my collection of gadgets, and diligent stretching, I’ll be able to effectively train for and run the Rock the Parkway half-marathon in April.