Tag Archives: ITBS

Back to Running… Finally!

It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like I am finally able to confidently say I’m back to running consistently. For those of you that haven’t been following along, I developed IT Band Syndrome at the end of October while training for the Philadelphia Marathon and had to DNS. I then spent the next few weeks desperately trying to rest and strengthen on my own to no avail.

Eventually I went to Physical Therapy (which I continued to go to weekly for nearly two months) and that along with a combination of strength and cardio from Refine Method, cardio from FlyWheel, strength and centering from yoga, and additional PT exercises I finally started to run again at the end of December, albeit sporadically. By the time mid-January rolled around I had “graduated” from PT, partially because I had improved and was able to run 3 miles without pain, and partially because my insurance would no longer cover my visits (even though they barely did to begin with) because sports injuries weren’t included and being able to run over a mile isn’t considered an issue by insurance (which is fine for the average person… not so much for someone that identifies as a runner).

Graduation from PT gift!

Graduation from PT gift!

I started back with a base-building plan with the understanding that if anything felt ‘off’ or it just didn’t seem like a smart idea to run on a particular day or to cut a run short, I would. I made a conscious effort not to put any future races on my calendar for a fear of having to pull out of them and I plugged along, logging anywhere from 15 to 22 miles each week in the last month or so. And to say it’s been trying on my motivation to start running consistently at the end of January/beginning of February in the tri-state area would be an understatement. There have been plenty of days I haven’t wanted to leave my apartment, let alone run along the Hudson. Yet I’ve managed to get myself out the door more days than not, giving myself some leeway when needed, but always remembering in the back of my head that my goals aren’t just going to come to me.

I don't like you, winter.

I don’t like you, winter… even if you are pretty sometimes.

This week (if all goes according to plan) I’ll hit my highest mileage week since October 14-19 and will finally be ready to tackle a double digit long run next weekend! I’m also running a 5k race next weekend, but don’t have any actual plans to race. It’s the first race in my quest for the NYRR 9+1 so I can run the New York City Marathon next fall and I’m excited to pin on a bib for the first time since September. In addition to having my eye on a few NYRR races for spring and early summer, I’ll be running the Broad Street Run in Philly again this May with some of my good friends from college. So as long as I can keep myself healthy, I have high hopes of doing some great base building so I can finally tackle the marathon I’m capable of this fall!

Tell me…
Are you training through this cold & snowy winter?
What are your spring racing plans? 

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My Newest Obsession: Refine Method

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or even let me talk to you about working out in person, you’ve likely noticed that in the last two months I’ve mentioned Refine Method… a lot. My first instinct was to apologize, but then I realized it’s a good thing – I have a (non-running) workout I’m in love with and I want to tell everyone about it!

I’ve known about Refine for a while. Ever since hearing about it through Dori, Ashley, Abby, and others, I was confident it was a workout I’d enjoy. Unfortunately I didn’t really have the opportunity to try it until I moved to Jersey City; I couldn’t justify an hour long NJ Transit trip (and then a subway ride) just for a workout! Even when I first moved it was on the back-burner since I was marathon training, but we all know how that ended. So when I found myself injured in late October, the series of unfortunate events came together to create a perfect time for me to not only explore new workouts, but to finally give this class that everyone raves about a try.

RefineSign

I took my first class at the end of October with unofficial Refine ambassadors Dori and Ellen. We travelled to their Upper West Side location where I was immediately introduced to the instructor, Laura. She explained their pulley system, asked me what kind of workouts I did regularly, and asked if I had any injuries. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that at the very least Laura (and my friends!) would make sure everything went smoothly. We started with a brief dynamic warm-up and quickly went to work. Three strength exercises followed by a power-set of heart pumping cardio, three times through. I like to consider myself to be a generally fit person and was able to do the “intermediate” weight suggestions (everything is scalable and modifications are made for injuries) for most of the exercises, but boy was it hard! The great thing about the workout, though, is that you’re constantly moving and not doing any one exercise for more than a minute. So right as I felt like I couldn’t do one more bottoms-up push-up or jump-back, the prescribed exercise would change. It went on like this for an hour. An hour! If you told me I would have been doing a non-running workout for that long and at that intensity level I would have told you I couldn’t… despite being relatively in shape. Thankfully I proved myself wrong. I had constant encouragement and form corrections from Laura, and everyone in the class was so fierce and strong which inspired me to keep pushing. By the time my first class was over I knew I’d be insanely sore the next day. And I was.

The day after my first Refine class, I felt like I had run a marathon and did push-ups along the way. It was rough, but I loved it – I loved feeling sore from working hard! Being a glutton for punishment I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next class… which was encouraged by the awesome new student deal they offer – buy one get one class free! After attending my second class a week later and loving it just as much as the first time, I knew what the next logical step was – their new client 1-month of unlimited classes option. Conveniently after buying the package, they opened a third location in the West Village which meant a short (2-stop) PATH ride and no need for the subway. Talk about extra incentive to get to a workout!

West Village studio - so gorgeous!

West Village studio – so gorgeous!

The new studio is gorgeous and the convenient location meant I had no reason not to go as much as possible during the month… which wound up being three (sometimes four) times a week! So with my unlimited month having ended last week, I feel like I’m at a good place to evaluate this new obsession of mine. While I’m hardly a fitness class expert, there are a lot of things that Refine does right, which is why they have such a loyal and enthusiastic following. So what are those things they do right, you ask? Because this post isn’t long enough already, I thought I’d let you know what I think makes Refine one of the very best workouts in NYC – bullet point style.

  • Every class is different in terms of the exercises that are done, but they follow the same format. So after going to only two classes I knew what to expect and when. Even though I was by no means a “regular” I didn’t feel lost. Every exercise is demonstrated, and the set-up of the room allows you to watch other students in case you do feel lost.
  • The workout props are in great condition and add a little fun to your workout. They have a proprietary pulley system at all three locations and an MIT engineer updated version at the West Village location, along with kettle bells of all different weights, medicine balls, TRX straps, slide boards, boxes, and mini-bands. So in addition to body weight exercises you have a bunch of fun props to keep your muscles guessing!
  • The locations provide changing and shower facilities. They’re small, but that’s expected in NYC. They have a rain shower in the new West Village location with awesome smelling Aesop products, and it makes that post-workout shower all the more enjoyable!
  • The workout itself is amazing. They call it “NYC’s Smartest Workout” for a reason! Living in the Northeast and especially the New York City metro area, we’re used to (and have come to expect) a fast paced way of life. Everyone is almost always rushing to or from somewhere. So to be able to get a full-body strength and cardio workout (that’s fun!) in 50 minutes is amazing. I’ve tried hour and a half long yoga classes and I just can’t stay interested – I always count down to the end of class! But not in Refine. Even when I feel like I’m about to keel over and drown in my own pool of sweat (I have dramatic thoughts when I workout), I don’t want the class to end.
  • And maybe the most important reason is that the hand-picked instructors are top notch. Everyone I’ve met has been so warm and inviting, and they somehow remembered my name after meeting me once! There’s something about being welcomed by name and encouraged by name throughout class. That’s another thing that makes the instructors great – they pay attention to everyone’s form throughout class and aren’t shy about correcting you. I look forward to getting corrections – I want to make sure I’m doing things right and getting the most out of my workout. In fact, there was a class when I first started where we did kettle bell swings (which I thought seemed easy enough) and the instructor, Lonnie, had me stop, reposition myself, and try again during the first set. Then he watched me and gave more corrections during the second, so by the third I felt like I was owning the swings. And now every time I do them I think of what Lonnie told me that day to make sure I’m doing them correctly.

I don’t think I would have stayed sane during this ITBS injury if I hadn’t started Refine. Aside from keeping me active, I know that it’s given me strength I didn’t have before, along with helping to correct some weaknesses and imbalances I have. I’m confident that I can get back to running and — with continued Refine Method classes — stay injury-free and continue to get stronger.

Reppin' Refine in Disney... with a fountain side plank

Reppin’ Refine in Disney… with a fountain side plank

So if you’re in the NYC metro area (living or even just visiting!) do yourself a favor and take a class. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Running Update: Physical Therapy & Massage

Last time I mentioned running on the blog I wasn’t running, but rather cross-training a lot. I figured an update was due even though much hasn’t changed.

For those of you that don’t remember, I first noticed some weird IT band tightness and aching on the outside of my left knee in the middle of October. I thought I was being smart about it and skipped a few runs, foam rolled and tried to do as much at-home strength work as I could, and crossed my fingers and toes. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough and by the end of October I had full-blown ITBS. I had to drop out of the Philadelphia Marathon, but assumed I would be back to running by the end of November at the latest. Well, here it is the end of December and I’m still not really running.

The funny (and frustrating) thing about this injury is that it doesn’t hurt unless I’m running. I can walk miles and have no issues, go to Refine Method, take a spinning or yoga class, and feel fine. But previously, if I went for a run, I’d start to feel discomfort that turns into pain anywhere between miles 2 and 4 (when it starts to hurt is random – depends on the day!). So as you can imagine, I’ve been doing everything but running. It stinks that I haven’t been able to run, but I’m thankful that I have access to so many different kinds of cross-training to help keep me sane. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m already seeing results from my Refine Method classes!

My cross-training best friends

My cross-training best friends

When I realized a few weeks ago that the ITBS wasn’t going to go away on its own I decided to visit a Physical Therapist. The first visit was an assessment where she had me do lots of walking, random movements, and basic strength tests. It was determined that my IT band and hamstrings weren’t actually that tight, but that the general area was tight and weak…. including a weak butt and core. I was given instructions to continue my at-home strength work (clam shell variations, leg lifts, etc.) and to come back for some manual massaging, stretching, and Graston. I also made an appointment for (and had) my first ever massage.

Originally I had dismissed the idea of going to Physical Therapy. I assumed they would just tell me to keep doing the exercises I’ve been doing without much else. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that they would be able to do manual massage and some myofascial release, which could be a huge help considering the injury I have. So when I went for my second appointment and she took out what resembled Medieval torture devices, I knew things were about to get serious (and painful). I’ve heard horror stories about how painful Graston is during as well as after, and I’ve seen pictures of some gnarly bruising. I don’t know if I just have a high tolerance for pain or my PT was just being gentle, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Sure, it was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t painful at any point. What I found most interesting was when she’d be working on one area, and another would hurt… goes to show it really is all connected!

Graston - torture tools

Graston – torture tools

I’ve had two more Graston and massage sessions since then (the second included some serious knot removal from my glutes), and as I mentioned earlier, I got my first-ever deep tissue massage on Sunday. Now if we want to talk about something that was simultaneously relaxing and painful, that would be it. Since it was my first massage and I’ve been dealing with injury, I splurged and went with 80 minutes versus 50… and it was worth every penny. She spent plenty of time with my legs and glutes, and on top of feeling relaxed when I left, I felt as though my legs were ready to run. So, that’s exactly what I did. On Monday during lunch I decided to go for my first run since December 1st (with only 3 runs before that in November).

I ran two pain-free miles! It wasn’t fast, it felt kind of awkward, and I spent the whole time worrying and waiting for that twinge of pain to start outside my left knee, but it never did. I had a slight ache outside my right knee for a moment (before being stopped at a light), but I’m hopefully that was just getting the cobwebs out. I’m hoping this is finally the end of my ITBS drama (it’s been 2 whole months!). I’m going to start out slowly and work my way back to regular running at a much slower pace than I have before, and I’m going to keep up with my strength work and cross-training… something I always say I’m going to do, but never fully follow through with. I’ve decided that 2015 is the year I become the strongest I’ve ever been. I need to invest in myself and my fitness (both running and just overall). I’m excited to see where it takes me. #GetStrong2015

Tell me…
Have you ever had a sports massage? Love it? Hate it?

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Marathon Pause

When I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, still high off of my spring half marathon PR, I was ready to crush training and run the race I know I’m capable of running. I had plenty of time to train, a great coach, and enough dances with the 26.2 distance to know what was required of me. My schedule was going to be a little hectic with wedding festivities almost every weekend in September and October, but I figured if that was the only hiccup I would be able to manage. A wrench was thrown in when I wound up moving – which was both exciting because I’d finally be in a location I wanted, but stressful because moving is stressful! – but I still had every intention of racing the Philly Marathon. Well, sometimes life gives you lemons and lemonade all at once.

Training was getting done, but I wasn’t running the way I wanted to. I had to skip a few long runs/cut them short due to being just straight up tired, and others were a mental battle to not only get out the door, but to actually finish the prescribed distance (though oddly enough one of my best runs was an 18 miler during a downpour). With all the weddings, moving, working, and trying to train, I think my strength work suffered. So I wasn’t shocked when I noticed the all too familiar twinge outside of my knee after a quick but easy 4 miler at the beginning of October. I took a few days off with some extra strength work and foam rolling and everything seemed to be okay – I ran 17 miles last weekend, and had an awesome fartlek workout last Tuesday. But then this past Friday during my long run (which was moved due to a bachelorette party this past weekend), the little twinge outside the knee I had felt two weeks prior slowly but surely developed into a sharp pain. Dreaded ITBS had reared its ugly head on my left side (I had an issue with it this past January on my right side). I made it to 10 miles, stopped, and spent the next mile doing a little run/walk combination in hopes it would somehow just go away. It didn’t, so after a few expletives left my mouth, I had to walk two miles home.

It was during that two mile walk home that I knew I needed to let go of my hopes to run the Philly Marathon. The thought had crept into my mind when the pain first appeared, but I was hopeful I could still salvage things. But this was the nail in the proverbial marathon training coffin. There hadn’t been enough mileage put into the bank earlier, and the last thing I wanted to do was run yet another marathon that my goal was to just finish. The next time I train for and run a marathon, I want it to be the race I know I’m capable of running. I e-mailed Jason and let him know what was going on and he confirmed what I was thinking: I will not be running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd. Or the half. There isn’t any running on my schedule for the next week, but starting tomorrow I’m getting back into strength work… and then I’m going to take it from there. I joked that maybe I should swear off marathons and Jason said I can’t just yet. So when am I going to attempt my next marathon? Who knows. Maybe this spring. Or maybe not until next Fall. But I know that I can’t let my dream of a successful marathon go just yet – I have visions of myself crossing the finish line with that goal time flashing on the clock and I get butterflies thinking about it. So it’ll happen… one day.

Of course I’m bummed, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big of a deal. I’d much rather deal with the pain now, rather than during the race! So, onward and upward!

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Running Update: Setbacks & Moving Forward

Running was going really well for me during the late fall and early winter. I PR’d two races (5 miler and 5k) and was crushing workouts and loving the run. I was running 6 days in a row with a long run, a tempo/workout run, and 4 “easier” days of running all together. It was a big adjustment to the type of “training” I’ve done in the past, but it was already producing results, and I felt great. I was being diligent about my pre-run warm-ups, and was actually doing post-run prehab, albeit not as frequently as I should have. I let time get in the way of things, and found myself coming in from a run, hopping right in the shower or getting started on dinner, and then going about my business and forgetting to do the routine that was scheduled. Well, that naturally resulted in a little bit of an overuse injury – dreaded ITBS.

I noticed a twinge when I would go from sitting down to standing up after a 10 mile run on December 21st. I didn’t think much of it, and continued the next week as normally scheduled. Looking back, I should have spent some extra time foam rolling and doing some strength work, but I didn’t. By the time I got to Christmas Eve, as I finished up an epic tempo run, I felt that dreaded tightness on the outside of my right knee. It’s a feeling I know all too well, as I’ve experienced it during almost every marathon I’ve run around mile 21. It wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was. Since it was slight, I was hopeful that it wasn’t much of anything, and Christmas morning’s 4 mile run would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Christmas morning’s run was painful, and I knew the ITBS I thought I had was, in fact, ITBS… and that it wasn’t going to just go away. The run on 12/25 was the beginning of a month of on and off runs, most peppered with knee pain. The pain would start about a mile and a half in, and come and go depending on my stride. Sometimes it was brutally painful, and other times it was manageable. But I’m happy to report that after a month of rest and rehab, I’m back on the streets and running! I think it’s so important for runners to take the time to do a warm-up before they start a run, and to also do some type of post-run prehab routine. There are a few things in particular that I found to be extremely helpful as I battled ITBS, and I wanted to share them with you!

  •  Strength Running’s ITB Rehab Routine – If there’s one thing I’ve learned with the injuries I’ve sustained over my short running career so far, it’s that having strong hips, glutes, and core can be the difference between pain free and fast running, and sitting on the couch whining about how you can’t run. This routine focuses on strengthening the glutes and hips, which is where the ITB starts. All you need is a resistance band and about 5 minutes post-run. I did this daily during the month of January, and now do it 2-3 times a week.
  • Mrtyl Routine – This also focuses on the general glute and hip area, and doesn’t require any equipment. I also do this about 2 times a week.
  • Core work: Strength Running’s Standard Core Routine & Dr. Lesko’s Dozen Routine – Let me tell you, having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core (not that my stomach is flat). I always thought my core was decent, since I swam for so many years and a lot of power comes from your core, but I’m learning that is not true. Both of these routines are more than just crunches, and they work your entire core. The supine leg lifts in the Standard Core routine are killer, and I dread that part of the workout every single time… but I know they help, and I’m looking forward to the day where I can get through it without shaking uncontrollably and not counting down every second of the minute.
  • Foam Rolling – it’s awkward and it hurts, but it works. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and for awhile, I just didn’t do it. I bought a foam roller about 2 years ago when I had tight hips, but I just couldn’t get into a regular routine. I learned quickly, though, that the foam roller is really helpful – whether you have an injury or not. I try to spend about 5 minutes everyday foam rolling my hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. If nothing else, it helps build my upper body strength as I’m trying to hold myself up while using the roller.

I’ve been running again consistently for two full weeks and am just starting my third. I have my fingers crossed that this little bout of ITBS is behind me, and I can carry on with training as scheduled for the month of February. How do I feel about finally being back in action? See below.

Hooray for pain free running!

Hooray for pain free running!

That being said, I don’t think the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16th is going to be a PR attempt. Unless training over the next few weeks goes fantastically (and it warms up and stops snowing and being icy), I don’t think I’ll have my fitness back up to where it was in December. So, my plan is to run the Shamrock Half as a workout, and run a goal half in April instead. There are quite a few around me, so after weighing my options and chatting with my coach, I decided on the Asbury Park Half on 4/26! This is the day before the New Jersey Marathon, so I’ll be able to cheer for everyone running the half or full on Sunday! Since it’s down the shore it should be relatively flat – I just hope it isn’t a windy day. I’m also planning to work a few other short local races into my schedule, but I haven’t committed to anything yet (as you can see from my Races page).

Tell me…
Have you ever dealt with ITBS? 
What’s your favorite runner specific strength routine?

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