Category Archives: Running

Finding Yoga {Again}

Yoga mat | happyfitmama.com

The snow falls slowly, flake by flake, on the ground. Piling up gently, one on top of the other, just like soft down pillows. As I lay in Savasana, I watch the snow pile up rather than closing my eyes. This scene is as calming as any that I can imagine in my mind.

Over the weekend, my yoga mat came out of hibernation and saw the light of a studio. A place it hasn’t been in quite some time. It felt like I was coming home. I seriously almost shed a tear walking into the studio. It truly was marvelous.

This weekend, was all about finding yoga {again}.

We slowly warmed up through the usual series of cat/cow, side bends, etc. We then moved on to Surya Namaskara A or Sun Salutation A (I was so pumped that I even remembered the Sanskrit names!). As I stood in mountain pose, I felt electric sensations pulsating through my hands, my feet, my legs, my core. My body awakened like it’s been asleep for years. In a way, it kind of feels like it has. While I’ve been a little bit better about incorporating some form of home practice, it’s definitely not the same feeling as a true studio. There’s no distractions. Cooper isn’t parking his butt directly on my mat. My kids aren’t jumping on my back as I’m in down dog. In a studio, it’s just me and my mat. And the other people in the class, of course, but they are too busy doing their own thing to even look at me.

Going back to a yoga studio has been on my mind for months (years?). I just wasn’t able to find a place that jived with my schedule. The last straw was last week after I had a re-eval for PT. It was with a different therapist than whom I had been seeing since November. As she went through the different tests for strength and ROM, the one word I heard a lot was tight. “Your ROM is decreased and you are tight in that area.” Tight is one word that has never been used to described my muscles. If anything, I’ve been TOO flexible. A red flag was raised.

Fix this or you will have more injuries.

Chair pose | happyfitmama.com

Besides feeling tight all over, I’ve also felt like my whole body has shrunk a couple of inches. I feel like my posture has changed. I feel like my core has shortened. I just don’t feel like me. Just like when I can’t run, I don’t feel like me. I want to feel like I did when I was really into my yoga practice. I felt taller. I felt longer. I felt stronger (in mind and body). I felt like I was actually breathing better with fuller breaths.

So that’s where I’m at. I am committing to making this work. How am I going to add one more thing? Good question. Marathon training takes up a ton of time, no doubt about it. Add that to the mommy guilt/family guilt for being gone for hours on the weekend for my long runs. If all I can squeeze in is one session a week, that’s good enough. If it’s two – fantastic. Stressing about it won’t do me any good.

But I know I need to do more than just run to be the runner that I want. Or really, the person that I want to be.

Yoga – fan or not your thing?

Small Steps, Big Changes

Bridge exercise  | happyfitmama.com

As a Stonyfield blogger ambassador, I was compensated for writing this post as part of my partnership with the brand. The thoughts and opinions expressed are, as always, all my own.

We are 14 days into 2015. How’s it going? Sticking with your goals?

I’m happy to say that I am still on track for my running goals. I met with a strength coach over the weekend who gave me an eye opening functional assessment. Good news? It’s not all my hips fault for my injuries. Bad news? My glute strength is basically non-existent. I’m using my hamstrings and quads to get me by. Which can only get me by for so long before there’s (another) injury. He’s giving me 3 weeks to work on incorporating high quality (not quantity) basic exercises into my routine (again) that focus on my glutes before we even begin to work together.

Simple exercises like one leg bridges, side leg lifts and a few clam shell variations. And squats, even one legged, I should not be doing. Why? My quads take over for my glutes every single time.

He told me one small step can make big changes in my running.

That got me to thinking about what other small steps I can take (or already do) in running:

  • Do a dynamic warm up before each run
  • Foam roll or use The Stick after every run
  • Run Garmin free sometimes
  • Practice my race fueling and hydration on my long runs
  • Get monthly deep tissue massages
  • Wear the proper running shoes
  • Wear weather appropriate gear
  • Cross train
  • Strength train my whole body
  • Eat a balanced diet for every meal and reduce random snacking
  • Keep up on PT exercises
  • Eat carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing a hard run
  • Proper refueling throughout the day of a hard workout

I haven’t been doing the greatest when it comes eating something within 30 minutes after a long run. It’s during those runs that I usually meet up with friends. Which also usually means it’s at least 30 minutes or more before I get something in my system other than water. I’ve begun to pack a Larabar since I usually don’t have much of an appetite immediately right after and those go down like candy.

Once I get home and have more of an appetite, I’ve been trying to refuel with a high quality organic protein and carbs. Stonyfield Greek yogurt topped with my Oat and Quinoa Granola and fruit is something I always look forward to. It tastes like dessert so it’s a good way to trick my mind into thinking I’m indulging in ALL the sweets because I ran 14 miles. Oat and Quinoa Granola with #Stonyfield  HappyFitMama.com

Another good option is a smoothie. Right now, smoothies do not even sound appealing. I’m cold enough! But when the temperatures are decent, I love to slurp on an Apple Pie Smoothie.

Small steps. Big changes.

Bigger and better. More advanced. Sometimes all you need are the basics. It’s true in strength training, fueling your body and in life.

Here’s to strong glutes and healthy refueling in 2015!

What small steps do you take in running that result in big changes?

3 Treadmill Workouts for Speed and Strength

Browsicles | happyfitmama.com

I like to think of myself as a runner who will run in any conditions.

I mean, I grew up in the frozen tundra of Upper Michigan. And now I’m a New Englander. We aren’t afraid of cold weather!

Browsicles, lashicles – no big deal!

The picture above is from my friend Sarah and I after our 13 mile run on Saturday in 9 degrees. I had marvelous company but it was far from a marvelous run. I don’t think it was the coldest temperature I’ve ever run in but it was definitely the coldest I’ve ever been on a run. The un-thawing afterwards was very painful.

I profess that I really dislike the treadmill and will not run on it unless I absolutely have to.

Well, last week, I willingly went to my treadmill. More than once.

It was a bone chilling, “I can’t feel my toes”, snot is frozen to my face, 3 degrees, when I woke up for most of my zero dark thirty runs.

I’m all, I LOVE MY TREADMILL, on those days.

Simple Treadmill Speed Workout  happyfitmama.com

The treadmill can be quite boring. There’s no doubt about that. I usually have to play with the speed and incline constantly to keep myself engaged in the run. Otherwise I’m ready to hop off and call it quits after 10 minutes. Music helps a ton. As does catching up on TV shows that you would never otherwise watch.

Having your own treadmill or access to one does have it’s benefits. Especially in the winter when the weather is usually far from ideal for completing quality workouts when you need to run hard.

The one good thing about the treadmill is that it keeps you on pace during a tempo or speed workout. There is a tendency to back off when you start feeling tired. However, the treadmill won’t let you do that unless you push a button.
Treadmill Progression Workout   happyfitmama.com
A couple of things to keep in mind while running on the treadmill:
  • Since the belt is constantly running, it will be dragging your legs under and behind you during your stride cycle. By doing this, your hamstring muscles (which would typically be doing this work when outside) will be working less and you will be relying more heavily on your quads.
  • The treadmill tells the brain that you’re running on an unstable surface, which activates your stabilizing muscles and can put more strain on muscles like the piriformis, hip flexors and lower back.
  • The treadmill encourages more heel striking and leg extension, which can put more strain on the knees, hamstrings and calves.

Treadmill Pryramid Hill Workout   happyfitmama.com

All of the workouts in this post are ones that I have done. I can attest that they will kick your butt just like any outdoor workout. You definitely are not cheating by using the treadmill.

When asked, I will now say that I love my treadmill. It’s the greatest thing ever.

I just don’t want to use it.

What’s the lowest temperature you have run in?