Y’all, after last week, I’ll be the first to say I needed a little physical and mental break. After running my highest mileage week in probably 2 years and feeling that familiar twinge of back pain, I was happy when my coach said this week would be a cut back week.
Monday, 3/20/17, barre3 video: I’ve been doing my best to up my core work, so a barre3 video was on tap for my workout. I could definitely tell I haven’t been doing it as frequently, so it’s time to get back to the grind. My back was talking to me during the workout, so that meant that it was time to head to the chiropractor and get this nonsense sorted out.
Tuesday, 3/21/17, 7 miles: First thing’s first: I headed to the chiropractor. I felt better when I left, but not back to normal quite yet. I opted to head to the Swamp Rabbit Trail for my run. The Swamp Rabbit is a 19-mile long multi-use path that runs through the center of downtown Greenville, but I almost never run on it because I usually run from my house. Since my lower left leg has been tight, I thought it might benefit from a break in the relentless hills I normally run on, so I headed to the trail after work. The run ended up being great – 9:20 pace that felt extremely easy and relaxed! My leg definitely bothered me less, too, and while my back was “there,” it was better.
Wednesday, 3/22/17, barre3 class and kickball: I had to head to Columbia for meetings again all day, so this Wednesday saw another early morning barre3 class! Getting that core work in!! For kickball, my only goal was not to injure myself, and thankfully, I accomplished that mission. We won a very tense and stressful game against a team full of terrible assholes (there’s really no other way to describe them), so it was a very satisfying victory – and I had another hit and an RBI!
Thursday, 3/23/17, 10 miles: I’m going to be 100% honest – I was not looking forward to this 10 miles at all. I had been sick all day from accidentally eating a single bite of a flour tortilla (they told me it was corn – it was not) at dinner the night before, so I didn’t know if I would be able to go at all. I took about a thousand immodium (ok, three) and decided I’d run the first few miles close to home, just in case. The meds kicked in and I ended up running better than I thought I would! Overall pace was 9:35 and my leg was tolerable and my back was ok. This was a big mental hurdle for me, for sure! Coach Bobbi, if you are reading this, please do not make next week’s mid week long run more than 10 miles. 10 is really more than enough. Thank you in advance.
Friday, 3/24/17, OFF: Some heavy duty recovery was necessary on Friday. My back had felt better, but not quite right on Thursday, so my first stop was the chiropractor. I also made an appointment for a deep tissue massage so that I could get some work done on my lower left leg, in hope of breaking up some of the knots and tension. I definitely felt better after the massage! This week, my love/hate relationship with rest days was all love.
Saturday, 3/25/17, Spartanburg Half Marathon: If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know how epic Saturday’s half marathon was. Short version: I broke 2 hours for the first time since my back surgery and set a post-surgery PR by three whole minutes. Long version: WAY more interesting than it sounds. Race report will be posted on Wednesday!
Sunday, 3/26/17, taught barre3 class: It worked out perfectly that I was able to teach barre on Sunday morning. The stretching and low-impact strength training were exactly what I needed to recover from Saturday’s hard effort! Even more exciting: my leg and back are still feeling good! Hopefully, we’re headed for a great week.
LEAVE A COMMENT: How do you recover from a hard effort? What strategies do you use to fend off injury?
If you’re traveling to New Zealand from the United States, Canada or Europe – hell, pretty much anywhere, let’s be honest – you’ve probably got a longer trip planned. After all, there’s a significant amount of travel time to factor in when you’re headed to New Zealand, so it makes sense to spend at least two weeks there to make the trip worth your while. When my husband and I started planning our trip over a year ago, we knew we could devote two weeks to the trip and wanted to get in as much hiking and outdoor adventure as possible.
This trip was a little different than the others I often take for a few reasons: 1) I was traveling with my husband, which rarely happens because of his limited vacation time, and 2) we would be meeting up with friends while on our trip. This meant that my wardrobe would need to allow for things like decent dinners out and wine tastings in addition to all the outdoor adventures I normally do, so it posed a little more of a challenge. Either way, I was determined to pack for these two weeks in New Zealand in a carry-on.
I’m also in the middle of training for the Prague Marathon, and while my training plan allows for time off during this trip, I definitely wanted to pack workout gear and my running shoes, all of which takes up space. I knew that my trusty packing cubes and stuff sacks would be my best friend once again. Here were the big rules I used when packing for this trip:
1. Bring as many dual-purpose items as possible. As you’ll see below, I brought two dresses- both of which could double as bathing suit cover-ups and which also are made of tech material and can be worn while doing outdoor activities but still look nice for dinner. All of my hiking tank tops also double as running or workout tanks, and my long sleeve tops can be worn while hiking or out at night because of the technical material.
2. Be prepared for the variable temperatures with layers. The weather in the summer in New Zealand can be unpredictable, especially on the South Island. Rain is common and it can often be cold and windy. Rather than packing a big coat, which would take up tons of space, I knew I wanted to bring thin layers that I could easily switch in and out as the weather changed.
3. Pack your biggest items in your suitcase. Conventional wisdom says to wear your bulky items – like hiking boots or jackets – on the plane with you to save room in your suitcase, but I personally disagree. I prefer to pack those items on the way to my destination and then, if I need extra room on the way home (thanks to too many souvenirs or just lazy packing), I can wear them on the plane ride home. I applied this rule to my hiking boots and jackets for this trip!
Following the three big rules, here is the clothing list I ended up with:
Then, it’s time to start rolling the lighter weight items and placing them into the packing cubes. I always start with my workout clothes first since they’re easy to pack and give me a sense of accomplishment before I tackle the bigger items. Packing for a big trip can be overwhelming, even when you do it all the time!
Next, I start working on the bigger items. For my “nicer” (and also bulkier) shirts, pants, and dresses, I place these into a larger packing cube where they are less likely to get tons of wrinkles. The jackets go into a stuff sack, as do things like sports bras. I like to keep all of my cubes and sacks organized by function so that I don’t ever have to rip all my stuff apart trying to find one item of clothing. It does take some thought and some persistence throughout the trip, but it’s worth it to not have to dump your backpack or suitcase out looking for your favorite shirt.
The next big part is fitting everything in your suitcase or backpack. This part can be tricky! The key is to leave no “dead” space. For example, my suitcase has hard bars on the back that make up the handle. These bars are raised slightly above the inside of the back of the case, meaning that if I just simply place a packing cube on top, I’m losing some valuable space. I wedge things like rain jackets, scarves, and more in there underneath my packing cubes! Also, there is sometimes room between my packing cubes and the edge of the compartment, so I stuff my underwear bag, hats, or smaller stuff sacks there. Be creative!
Now, the part many women struggle with – shoes! This used to be me, too. It took me awhile to figure out that some things – like heels – just weren’t realistic to bring due to the type of travel I do. Even if I have a nice night out, I’m probably going to be walking a lot. So, I bring ballet flats instead, which are a lot smaller! Hiking boots and running shoes obviously take up the most space, so to save room, I stuff my socks inside them. For this trip, I brought hiking boots, running shoes, a pair of neutral ballet flats, a pair of adventure/outdoor sandals, and a pair of TOMS for the plane/walking around cities. I wear my TOMS on the plane, pack the sandals in my backpack, and the other pairs go into the suitcase. NOTE: You do NOT need to bring this many pairs of shoes and if I were not training for a marathon, I’d be leaving my running shoes at home. On the other hand, if you don’t hike much, you could ditch the boots and bring your running shoes! If I wasn’t going with AJ, I wouldn’t even bother with ballet flats, but sometimes I try to look decent for him.
All of this fit neatly into my suitcase without ever having to use the expander or squeeze anything at all. Easy peasy! Next, it’s time to pack my bag for under the seat. Normally, I bring a large leather bag that easily compartmentalizes all my stuff, but I wanted a daypack for this trip since we’d be doing so much hiking. This made things a bit challenging, since it’s definitely smaller! Here is what I packed:
Work laptop and charger (How else could I travel so much?)
What I love about everything on this list is that nearly every item has multiple purposes. The lightweight, technical fabrics of most of the clothing mean that everything packs small and light, so I don’t have to worry about bulk. I even have room left over in my suitcase and backpack for souvenirs! You could definitely bring even less than this for your trip depending on what activities you’ll be doing.
At spin class the other night, I was forced to confront an ugly aspect of my attitude that I had forgotten about. My legs were aching and sore from my run and kickball the day before and teaching barre3 that morning, and I struggled to push myself through spinning. Sweat was pouring off my body in a way that was simultaneously impressive and disgusting, even for me, and I forced myself to keep going and not let up. At the end of the class, I only felt one thing: anger.
I didn’t feel proud. I didn’t feel like I had accomplished something by pushing myself. I didn’t feel satisfied or exhausted in that way that tells you you’ve done all you can. Instead, I was busy fixating on the fact that it felt hard in the first place.
Sometimes – ok, a lot of the time – I forget that hard workouts are supposed to feel hard. It’s like I believe that there is this point that I’ll reach where no workout will be hard because I’ll be in good enough shape. Any time I have a tough workout where I struggle, it’s a reminder (in my mind) that I’m not in the shape I want to be in. And trust me, I know exactly how ridiculous that is.
This feeling, and my inability to be proud of a hard effort – has shown itself multiple times this training cycle, including in my attitude immediately after the Swamp Rabbit Half Marathon. It’s also the reason that I’ve never really liked weight training (working my muscles to fatigue makes me feel like a failure) and why I’ve never enjoyed speed work. Logically, I do know how absurd all of this sounds (and is), and when I sit down to think about, I can talk myself down. But in the moment, my first instinct is always just to feel angry.
I don’t really know how to fix this besides to recognize when it is happening and counteract the negative self-talk with positive thoughts. I mean, that’s all I can do, right? The reality is that every workout where I push myself is one in which I am becoming stronger, and it means I can push just a little bit harder next time. I guess there’s still plenty of work to be done when it comes to upping my mental game!
LEAVE A COMMENT: Do you ever feel frustrated after a hard workout or effort?
I’ve hemmed and hawed about whether or not to actually make a formal announcement about this on the blog, but the excitement is overtaking me. I can’t help it. I have to tell you. You guys? I’m going to the 2017 Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which is hosted by RunCzech, in Prague, Czech Republic. Oh, andRead more