Monday, December 10, 2012

What I've learned while being injured

Tis better to have run and gotten injured than to have never run at all.

When people ask about my most recent accidental injury, my ankle sprain, and I tell them that I did it on a trail, most people say that's why they are afraid to run trails.  There have been a few days during this period of not running that I have cursed that leaf covered, rock and root ridden trail.  But mostly, I've been o.k.  When I think back on this year and the places I've been, the views I've seen, and the people I've been with, I can't help but just be grateful to have been there and experienced it all.  I've been to the tops of mountains, gained perspective, and strengthened relationships through it all.  I wouldn't trade that for the 4 weeks that I couldn't run.  It's been an amazing year.

During those 4 weeks I snowshoed with my husband going further up the canyon than we did last year.  It was absolutely gorgeous and just what I needed that day.

I've hiked with my son to places he's talked about for years.  I'm soaking up every last minute that I can with him.  He's going to be leaving for Santiago Chile in 40 days for 2 years.  He's decided to serve a mission for our church and I couldn't be happier about his decision except that I'm going to miss him so much.  These hikes together are precious time and I wouldn't trade that for all the running weeks in the year.

I've focussed on my yoga a bit more and am loving it the more I do it.  I joined an Instagram challenge to do a pose a day and photograph it.  It's really helped me see what my body is doing and ways I can improve. It's also been fun to be creative and get my kids involved.  My name on Instagram is Runnerjen1 if you want to follow me.

I don't like being injured.  No one does.  But I didn't go crazy this time.  I knew I could find things that would keep me active and my mind busy until I could run again.  And I am back to running.  My ankle isn't 100% yet but it is still improving each day, even on the days I run.  I'm working on strengthening it still and getting full mobility back.  I also got into the second round of the Ogden Marathon in May and have that to look forward to again.

Being injured also gives time for reflection.  I know some people look for excuses not to run.  I know that some think I'm crazy for loving to run.  This injury gave me cause to pause and reflect on really why I run.  Cycling is not the same.  Swimming is not the same.  I decided that while it's so many reasons: my sanity, the physical challenge, ability to eat junk... I think one of the biggest reasons why I run is to be out in nature.  The trails are where my heart longs to be.  It's where I belong.  I love the perspective change from the top of the mountain.  I love the silence.  I love the constantly changing scenery.  I love being in trees.  I love rocks.  I love rivers.  And if I have to risk a scraped knee, a banged up toe or another sprained ankle to be there, I will willing go.

What about you?

What is your number one reason to run?

Oh, and I've run out of photo storage on blogger.  Time to make some decisions.  Advice?

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Case Against Ice-Why Inflammation Can Be Good

Let me begin by stating the fact that I am not a physician or have any sort of medical training whatsoever.  This post is purely my opinion based on careful thought and observation.  

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way we can get down to my latest crazy talk.  I'm sure this won't surprise anyone who knows me.  I ran barefoot to relearn how to run naturally.  I don't believe in arch supports or cushioning to the chagrin of my multiple doctors.  I quit using anti-inflammitories last year for my arthritis because of this article.  I have chickens roaming my backyard.  Half of my backyard is a vegetable garden.  I have 2 beehives.  I had a Ron Paul sign in my front yard for most of the year.  So I'm not exactly what you would call normal.  But I don't think I'm really crazy either.  Maybe I just think about things too much.  

Shortly after I rolled my ankle and the swelling was spreading from the outside of my ankle to the inside of my ankle and the top of my foot, I was sitting on the couch with an ice pack.  And I got to thinking.  Why does the body inflame the part that's been injured?  I knew it had something to do with increased blood flow and fluid, but why exactly does it do that?  And more importantly, why do we try to stop it?  We are repeated told to RICE (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) and to take copious amounts of vitamin I (ibuprofen).What are we trying to fight here?  So I did what any person would do and googled it.  (Dr. Google and I are pretty tight.)  I found pretty much the same answer every place I looked.  Here's an example:

A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues, which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue. adj., adj inflam´matory.  

The classic signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function. These are manifestations of the physiologic changes that occur during the inflammatory process. The three major components of this process are (1) changes in the caliber of blood vessels and the rate of blood flow through them (hemodynamic changes); (2) increased capillary permeability; and (3) leukocytic exudation.

Hemodynamic changes begin soon after injury and progress at varying rates, according to the extent of injury. They start with dilation of the arterioles and the opening of new capillaries and venular beds in the area. This causes an accelerated flow of blood, accounting for the signs of heat and redness. Next follows increased permeability of the microcirculation, which permits leakage of protein-rich fluid out of small blood vessels and into the extravascular fluid compartment, accounting for the inflammatory edema.

Leukocytic exudation occurs in the following sequence. First, the leukocytes move to the endothelial lining of the small blood vessels (margination) and line the endothelium in a tightly packed formation (pavementing). Eventually, these leukocytes move through the endothelial spaces and escape into the extravascular space (emigration). Once they are outside the blood vessels they are free to move and, by chemotaxis, are drawn to the site of injury. Accumulations ofneutrophils and macrophages at the area of inflammation act to neutralize foreign particles by phagocytosis.

A less complicated explanation is this:

Inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process. When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, the signs and symptoms of inflammation, specifically acute inflammation, show that the body is trying to heal itself. 

So after reading those explanations of inflammation, I wondered why we try so hard to fight this response from our bodies to try and heal itself.  Maybe inflammation is good.  Yes, it causes pain and we don't like pain.  But what if pain is good?  Like the kind of pain that protects you from injuring it further, from overextending it.  We try to fight pain, but maybe we shouldn't as much.  

After the explanations was this list of treatments:
  • Ice is the best treatment.

    • Applying ice to the injury will help decrease pain.

    • Ice counteracts the increased blood flow to the injured area.

    • It reduces swelling, redness, and warmth.

    • Applied soon after the injury, ice prevents much of the inflammation from developing.

I don't want to confuse acute inflammation with chronic inflammation that destroys healthy cells such as in Crohn's disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or ulcers.  I understand that kind of inflammation is not good.  But after an injury or any kind of trauma to the body, it seems that inflammation is just trying to help our bodies recover faster.  Why are we trying to fight the bodies response to bring blood in, and take the bad stuff out?  Is the main reason to fight pain?

Check out this study by neuroscientists at the Lerner Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. The title:  Inflammation helps to heal wounds- Surprise Discovery.

And check out this blog post by MobilityWOD about why he is convinced icing is bad and will become a thing of the past.

After thinking and doing some research, I quit icing.  In fact I only iced twice.  My swelling is almost gone.  And boy did it swell and bruise.  The bruising is almost gone as well.  I'm not limping anymore, although I think I'm still a ways from being able to run again.  Going down stairs and sitting cross legged is still painful.  I did go to the doc and have an x-ray taken to see if I had broken anything.  I didn't.  And I disobeyed my doctor when he told me to ice it and take Celebrex.  Whether not icing has actually helped or hinded my healing is yet to be seen.  But I like the idea of bucking the system especially when it makes sense to me.  

What do you think?
Wouldn't you love an excuse to quit taking those ice baths?
Do you have a good answer to my questions?  
Do I just not understand this stuff correctly?

Monday, November 5, 2012

I hate unhappy endings

Alternate titles:  Life sucks, Not again, Clumsy Idiot, Hidden Dangers Under Leaves, Trail Running is Dangerous...

I'm the kind of girl that likes a happy ending.  Especially in movies.  If you can't get a happy ending in a movie, there is no point in watching it.  There are enough unhappy endings in real life that I won't pay  money to see that in a movie!

I had a glorious running week.  I was pretty sore from the half last Saturday so Monday I just hiked 4 miles with a friend and really enjoyed myself.  Tuesday I ran some of fastest 6 miles ever and loved every minute of it.  

Wednesday I ran again and had a fall snow globe moment.  Really, it was magical.  The sun was just coming up over the mountain, the tall line of poplar trees lining the streets were lit up from the sun making their yellow leaves absolutely shine.  

Then a stiff breeze came along and the loose leaves from the trees started raining down on me.  I stopped in my tracks, looked up, and took the moment in and drank it deep.  The wind swirled the leaves on the ground all around me and it was really one of those magical moments that never would have happened if I wouldn't have stepped out the door that day.  

I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day. Funny how something so small made me so happy.  Thursday I went to spin class and Friday I rested anticipating a long run with my brother the next day.

Saturday started early in Mantua with an Eagle Scout and his crew building new trail on the mountain bike/hiking trail that our city is building.  

He had quite a group there and they made such good progress.  We're in the trees now and it's beautiful. 

The view isn't bad either!

I ran home, ate a snack, and my brother arrived.  We headed to the canyon that I love and couldn't wait to share with him.

We decided to take the White Rock loop which is about 10 miles.  Only we ran it backwards from the only other time I've ran it, so I was questioning myself the whole way until I finally figured it out.  We climbed to the top of the big rock at the half way  mark and enjoyed the view.  

I really love running with my brother.  He really tolerates a lot from me.  He doesn't complain when I have to walk or when I stop every couple of feet to pick up or look at a cool rock.  (I found one that looked like gold that I brought home to Logan! It was very cool!)  After about 8 miles and on our way back, we were booking down the trail pretty quick.  The thing about trail running on leaves is that you can't really tell what's underneath.  I roll my ankles often and it never hurts.  I kind of pride myself in having strong ankles especially after last year.  But as I rounded a corner a little too fast, I twisted and rolled my ankle and it stopped me in my tracks.  After a few minutes I walked it off and it seemed o.k.  And I started running again but slower.  Pretty soon we were back to normal when I hit something else and that same ankle just collapsed.  I went down.  It was some pretty brutal pain, enough to make me cry a bit although the cramp in my abs as I went down was almost worse.  I had my brother help me get up so that I could stretch out the ab cramp and then get my bearings.  It really hurt.  I couldn't put full pressure on it.  But I didn't hear it pop either.  We made our way down slowly the rest of the mile or so that we had left.  I was bummed but not devastated. 

I've done most of the traditional stuff like elevating it, resting it as much as possible, wearing my compression socks, soaking it in an Epsom salt solution, and even taking a Celebrex.  I did ice it the first day for about 20 minutes but have decided that I'm not doing that anymore.  I've come to the conclusion that inflammation can be good.  It might hurt, but isn't it the body's defense system kicking in to help it heal?  I've also been ultra sounding it twice a day.  I got that little handy dandy machine this last winter to help heal my stress fracture.  I really think it works.  My cankle is pretty nasty.  It is bluish in areas and the swelling has just sort of moved around to the inside of my ankle as well as the outside and onto the top of my foot.  It still hurts and I probably will go get it checked out, but I'm hoping that it won't be long until it's back to normal.  But since I've never done this before I'm not sure how long it will take to heal?  Anyone out there with similar experiences?  

One of these things is not like the other.  Sunday.

Monday morning
Until then, I got my bike back downstairs and as soon as I can wear that shoe for more than 10 minutes I'll be back on it for as long as I can stand it.  I also can concentrate more on lifting my upper body as well.  I guess being injured earlier this year has taught me that it's not the end of the world and I can find things that I can do in the meantime.   

I do have to say that things are just not lining up for me the way I thought they would.  I had this plan to do the Grand Slam this year and really get good at the marathon.  I got on the website and it's already sold out.  I entered the Ogden Marathon lottery and didn't get in.  Although I know there's still hope, it just seems like my plans are not working out.  I just started a new training schedule last week.  Is there a pause button?  Time to come up with a new plan and hope for a happy ending.  

Oh, and if you come up with a clever alternate title for my post, please share.  I could use a good laugh about now!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Syracuse Harvest Half 2012

 Heather and I decided sometime during the week that we would run a half marathon that is not too far away from home.  I haven't run long for over 6 weeks and I was starting to really crave it.  It was going to be a fun run with dressing up and slow times and a good chance to catch up.  Basically a long run like old times.  With costumes.  Good times.

I brought back my spider costume from last year hoping again that the extra legs would help me run faster.  Didn't work again! I don't know why.  My husband actually couldn't believe that I was going to wear that thing for 13 miles.  It didn't end up being that bad.

It was a really cold morning.  Like in the 20's.  We sat in her car until right before the start.  But as soon as the sun came out, it warmed right up and I even got a little too warm with nothing I could shed.  It was a pretty flat course with some little inclines and declines.  Overall though there was elevation gain in this course.  It is not a PR course for sure.  It really did feel like old times and running out west.  It was beautiful and much needed.

We took our time taking self portraits, then having some nice guy stop and take our picture, running across the bridge one at a time, and a very long potty break.

Overall, I shouldn't be surprised that our time was 2:26.  But I was a little disappointed.  We did pass 13 people in the last mile and no one passed us, so that was good.  But I didn't feel like I was taking it THAT easy!

They served root beer in a finishers mug and had lots of good after race snacks.  And the shirt was nice.  Overall, it was a good long run with my best friend and a great day.
Now if my calves were not sore it would be perfect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winner of Roo Sport Giveaway!

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Timestamp: 2012-10-29 14:11:16 UTC

Congratulation to Penny at Pink Hat Runner!  You are the winner of the Roo Sport!  Get me your info by e-mail and I'll get them to send it right out to you!  I know you're going to love it.
If you didn't win but still want to get one, go here to purchase.  It really is a great product!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Change in the Seasons of Weather and Life

If you haven't already entered the Roo Sport giveaway...check it out here!

I always like a cold snap and even a little snow in October.  It is a gentle reminder that the sunny, bright  days of fall are not going to last forever and winter is coming.  And I've been looking forward to getting out on the trail when it snows to see what it looked like.  So this week before it snowed at the house (which it has now) it snowed in the mountains and it got pretty low so I decided to go check it out.

Even though the leaves are fading, the colors are still gorgeous.

On the plus side the lower part of the creek now had water running in it again.  I love the peaceful sound of running water, especially when it runs over rocks and logs and such.

We've been blessed with an extended fall it seems this year and I'm trying to soak it all in.

The leaves cushioned the trail's hard bits and though they're not crunchy because they were so wet, they were a joy to run on top of. 

It was about 1,000 ft. up to get to the snow.  I figured it would be before the 2 mile mark which was where I was planning on turning around.

Signs of snow started to appear along the sides of the trail.

These next two photos are my favorite and had me thinking for the rest of the day.  They show beautifully the transition of fall to winter.  A changing of the guard.  At first I just thought about how much I love living in a place where there are four distinct seasons.  Just when I get tired of the extreme heat of summer, fall comes to bring relief.  When I'm tired of the snow, the buds on the trees signify that a bright change is on it's way.  And I like this little warning of snow that change is again in the air.

I ran for a while in the snow, smiling and enjoying the peaceful quiet that seems to come with the snow.  It's as if it insulates the world for a time.  There were still birds chirping and small animals hurrying to get out of my way, but it was silent, alone and peaceful.  At the turnaround spot I stopped for a couple of minutes and closed my eyes and just listened.  It was almost magical.

This was another favorite spot where the tiniest breeze caused the snow in the trees to lose a bit of their dusting and it swirled through the air all around me.  Like I said, magical.

The sun peeking through the clouds was definitely another highlight.
On the way back down I couldn't help but think about seasons in our lives.  I'm in a really great season of life right now.  But like that part in the trail, I can catch a glimpse of another season just ahead.  My kids are still all at home.  They're all pretty independent.  They all sleep through the night.  They're all potty trained.  They're all in school.  Soon another season will come that will include letting go.  Not as much control, grandkids (although I know that one's a ways off ;) )  and expanding our family with in-laws.  While I'm sure that season will be great too, I'm just really trying to enjoy the awesome season that I am in right now.  Running really teaches me unexpected lessons and makes me think about things in a different light.  And it never ceases to amaze me either.  If someone would have told me even 10 years ago that I would be seeking out snow to run in, I would have called them crazy.  But here I am and loving every second of it.

Any lessons you want to share with me you've learned or thought about while running?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roo Sport (The Perfect Runner's Pocket) Review and Giveaway

If you've been running for a while, I would bet that you have gadgets.  Whether it's a GPS watch or non cotton shirts or running tights or compression gear, I would bet that you have invested money into this sport beyond just shoes.  And I would bet that you carry your phone with you.  And if you don't, you wish that you easily could.  I use my phone as my camera, GPS tracker, and for music.  And just for safety reasons I like to have it with me.  Sure, some of my clothes have good pockets, the ones that are secured with a zipper and that don't bounce, but truthfully not many of them function very well.  I first got a Spi belt thinking that it would be great to store a bunch of stuff in.  And it really does expand to fit a lot.  However, it bounced.  It didn't matter how tight I tightened that thing, it bounced.  And it bugged me.  I moved to the i Fitness belt and found that I loved it.  No bouncing and it held everything nicely.  But it was still a belt and vainly I didn't like to wear it.  It made me look fat. And it made me sweat more all around it.  There was always the pain of trying to adjust it so that it fit nicely over my clothes and not under them and on just the right place.  I opted for not wearing it on daily runs and saved it for during races.  But it's really not smart to run without my phone.  And I'm usually wishing that I had it when I come upon some great scenery.  I bet you've been in a similar situation.   So, like in most inventive cases, someone had the same problem and solved it.  Meet Roo Sport.

Created by Brenda, a 25 time marathoner and super sewer.  She was approached by a friend who asked her to sew something up for an upcoming marathon to hold all the necessities.  A couple of years later and the real Roo Sport was born.  It really is brilliant.

You can see I'm wearing it during a 5K a couple weeks ago.
The inner pocket that is secured with velcro is made from a water resistant nylon.  It is the perfect size that fits my iPhone or any other smart phone.  It has a place to plug in my earphones and is easily accessible.  The back pocket is made of lycra and stretches to hold keys, money, gels or anything else and is secured with a zipper.

The whole little pocket then simply snaps in place with two really powerful magnets to the waistband of your shorts.  I've worn it both in front and in back and the really amazing thing is that it doesn't move and I forget it's even there.  Since I received the Roo Sport, I have worn it pretty much every single time I've been running.  And I love it.  Love it.

Here's my little secret.  I haven't worn it just for running.  I went to the store last week and didn't bring my purse.  I put my debit card in the zippered pocket and my phone in the other and left.  I did my shopping and didn't quite know what to do with my arm that is usually dragging with my big heavy purse.  There was no putting the purse in the cart and then not being able to walk away from it.  I felt free.  It was awesome.  And no one could tell that I had my money and my phone right there in that magical little pocket.  It got me thinking about traveling.  If I was going on a trip and especially out of the country, I'd be sure to take my Roo Sport.  What a great place to put all your important things and not worry about them being stolen.  Hey, it would even be great at a place like Disneyland.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

My only constructive criticism would be to make it more waterproof.  I know that it's water resistant, but there is still some condensation on my phone after a long run.  I know I could put it in a baggie, but I don't want to.  That makes it even harder for taking pictures.  And it really could be just a tad bigger.  It fits my new iPhone 5 with the headphone jack, but it takes some adjusting the cord.  Other than that, it's brilliant.  Just brilliant.

Now the great part.  Roo Sport is willing to give one to a lucky reader.  Here's the catch.  You have to report how you like it if you win; on your blog, Facebook, or twitter when you're done trying it out.  You get an entry for each task you do.  Please leave a separate comment back here for each one.

*Like Roo Sport on Facebook and leave them a comment saying that Jen sent you over to check them out.
*Follow them on Twitter
*Follow my blog or tell me if you already do.
*Leave a comment telling me if you carry your phone with you on your runs, why, and how you do it.
*Go to Roo Sport and enter your name and e-mail under the weekly contest on their header for another chance to win a Roo Sport pocket.
*Re-post on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter sending to them my blog for a chance to win.

Giveaway ends Saturday October 27th and the winner will be announced on Monday October 29th!  Good luck!

If you just can't wait to try it you can order one here  for $19.99  I would bet that it will be some of the best and possibly the least amount money you've spent on running gear.  They will also be at the Provo Halloween Half this weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sharing what we love with those we love

I was reading in Kristen Armstrong's book "Mile Markers" this morning.  It became one of my favorite books after just reading the first chapter.  In fact I'm reading it slowly.  Savoring each chapter.  I felt like so much of what she was saying was an echo of things I've thought and said and written.  It rang so true and I felt like she was an old friend.  Weird.  I know.  But it's no different than when I feel like I "know" some of you so well through your blogs.  It's funny how when we share things with each other we become connected.  Which brings me back to what I read that got me thinking.  She had just finished writing about an experience with her kids when she says this, "I have a lump in my throat just sharing this with you.  I almost didn't want to write about it, because I thought that somehow putting it out there might diminish the intimacy of the experience.  Or that it might lose some sparkle if I tried to translate it.  Some personally significant things are best kept personal.  But in the end I decided that like crossing over the bridge together, the best memories of all are the ones you can share."  I can't count the times I have felt like this.  Times that I've felt like I've done a disservice to the memory because I can't put into words the extraordinary way it makes me feel. But in the end I'm always glad that I've taken time to document it and at least try to express myself.  Why do we do this?  Why do we feel the need to share?  Why do we Facebook, Blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or e-mail?  Is it some narcissistic need to leave a part of us behind with the rest of the world?  Is it to feel important?  To feel like we're winning the popularity contest with the most "likes" or comments?  Maybe part of it is, if we're honest.  But deep down, I like to think that when we share things with the world, with those we love and those we don't even know, that we're just trying to share a little of the joy that we feel.  Be it through nature or family or the freedom of running.  We are happy and want to share a bit of that joy with the world.  We hope to inspire them to feel the same joy.

A couple of days ago I took my kids to the trail that I've been running on so that they could see the autumn colors.  It was a little piece of heaven.  It made my heart fill to overflowing to watch them having as much fun on that trail as I do.

 They were skipping and running in the stop and go fashion that kids do on the roller coaster hills, hiking with hands on hips on the steep uphills, and literally flying on the downhills.  The giggling was contagious.

The youngest had his bag to collect leaves and we stopped by the running water to listen and watch it falls down the rocks and look for fish.

 It was the perfect afternoon.  And I realized that while running on that trail makes me smile and brings me joy, it's not until I share it that my joy overflows.

So I am thankful to Mel for showing me this trail and I'm thankful that I get to share it with those I love.  I think that's part of the reason I have loved running with my brother this year.  It's so great to see him enjoy running and trails.  It's something we have in common and something we can enjoy without having to explain it.  I think it's part of the reason this blogging community is so great.  We can share what we love without trying to hard to explain why, because we all just get it.  

I shared this trail with Heather a while ago and recently shared it with Jodi.  We had a great time marveling at all the vibrant colors that we really weren't paying attention to the steep inclines and slow paced miles.  It was a great morning.  It's great how those shared times with friends are the ones that stick in my mind so well.  I not only remember the sights ands sounds and smells better, but the feelings that accompany them are locked in place.  I love running alone, but I sure love running with friends and sharing in their joys as well.  Running really is such a raw and emotionally charged activity.  I think that's part of the reason I love it so much.