async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: February 2020

Friday, February 28, 2020

Runfessions: February

Hooray for the opening of the runfessional! Even though February is the shortest month, there's no shortage of runfessions (and some crossfitfessions) for me.

Do you runfess? Marcia opens the runfessional monthly and cleansing the soles never felt so good!


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Can You Run When You're Sick?

Disclaimer: In my real life, I'm a nurse practitioner. As always, with any medical advice you read on the internet, it is always best to check with your personal medical provider. And just so you know, Dr Google is not your friend.

Influenza. Coronavirus. Norovirus. Rhinovirus. Enterovirus. 

If it seems like the whole world is sick, you might be right. Influenza activity remains high, with strains of type A and B still circulating. You can't turn on the news without hearing about Coronovirus and its imminent threat. Coronavirus is so widespread in Asia that the Tokyo Marathon announced it would be cancelling the race for everyone except elite runners and elite wheelchair athletes.

I guess elites are immune to Coronavirus? Not sure I understand that logic. Not sure I'd be traveling to Asia to run the Tokyo marathon right now. And now the Coronavirus is spreading through Europe, with an increasing number of cases in the US. It's enough to make you want to run away! 

If you've been lucky enough to escape illness this winter, count yourself in the minority. My clinic has been busy and I'm washing my hands like it's my job. I don't want to get sick and I'm sure you don't either. 

What if you do come down with something? Can you still run? Will you? How does an ailing runner know when it's ok to lace up? I've got some tips to help you decide if you should stay on the couch or if you can go.



Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Activity Hangover

As I've increased my mileage and upped my weights, I've noticed an increase in my RA disease activity. Physical activity, including running and strength training, can cause inflammation. In a person without an autoimmune disease, the inflammation brought on by vigorous exercise can lead to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). In those of us afflicted with RA and the like, not only do we get DOMS, but we can get an activity hangover.

Just like a hangover from being overserved at the bar, an RA activity hangover can cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms like nausea, fatigue, stiffness, and joint pain. The activity hangover is due to excess products of inflammation in the body. For the past couple of weeks, on and off, I've had these symptoms. I guess you could say I've been overserved at the bar--the lifting bar, lol. Yet, I keep going back for more. Deadlifts? Make that a double, coach...

I'm pretty sure that having an activity hangover is the reason I struggled at last Sunday's Auto Show Race. That 10 miler I ran the day before apparently was equivalent to too many glasses of wine. Was it worth it? 

Of course it was. After all, no good story starts with "I went for a walk"...

On Monday, I debated going to CrossFit because I still felt yucky. I woke up feeling stiff, achy, sore, tired, and a little bit queasy. But like I always do when I don't feel well is I decided to TRY. I was able to finish that workout strong! No regrets. Sure beats laying around on the couch. What's an RA warrior to do?

Avoid foods that cause inflammation. Eat more foods that reduce inflammation. Drink lots of water. Most important of all: take and respect total rest days.

The best remedy? A little hair of the dog: gentle movement. Gentle stretching and yoga. Hangover be dammed. Contrary to what you might think, laying around only increases the joint stiffness. I've found that once I get moving, I do feel better. 



Friday, February 21, 2020

Book Review: The Vail Method

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Vail Method from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links.

As an aging runner who would love to continue to stay active, I was intrigued by The Vail Method. I'm not a fan of fad diets or methods that promise to make me feel 20 years younger. So when I was asked if I wanted to read and review The Vail Method, I was reluctant. This is a running blog! Did I really want to go down this path and review this kind of book? But after reading a little bit more about Dr Ehrlich and his book, I realized that I was actually the target reader for his approach.

In his ophthamology practice, Dr Matthew Ehrlich observed many older patients who were struggling with health issues. Experiencing some age-related health changes himself prompted him to help middle aged and older adults stay active and healthy. His passion for fitness and healthy eating led him to complete a fellowship in antiaging medicine. Using evidence-based medicine, Ehrlich developed his plan, a holistic and practical approach to getting and maintaining fitness, increasing energy, and peace of mind.

Sounds good? Let's dig in.



Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Race Recap: CARA Honda Miles Per Hour Run

It has been many years since I attended the Chicago Auto Show. In the days before children, my husband and I went quite a few times with friends. We'd make a whole evening of it, going out to dinner after. It was always a lot of fun!

When the Chicago Area Runners' Association (CARA) announced they would be organizing a race through the Chicago Auto Show, I was intrigued! The race was going to be one hour and runners would be expected to complete as many miles as possible in that time frame. I had never done a race like that before and certainly, I had never run a race through an auto show.

I figured it would be different and it would be fun. Plus, I can do anything for an hour, right?



Sunday, February 16, 2020

These Shoes are Made for Running

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

These shoes are made for running
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days these shoes are gonna
Run all over you...
Apologies to Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood

I continue to put miles on my new trail shoes. Between running on the trails and the snowpacked path, my Brooks Cascadia 14 XTs were my main go-to for my runs this week. Since I've gotten so many questions about them, I'm going to post a full review in a couple of weeks. My early verdict: so far, so good.

There was also an indoor race on Sunday, but I wore my Brooks Adrenaline 20s. The race was run entirely around the Chicago Auto Show and in an interesting twist, we ran for one hour, trying to accummulate as many miles as possible. I'll share a full recap on Tuesday, but if you want to know how it went, be sure to check out my instagram!

Sunday's cold, windy run

Friday, February 14, 2020

Loving...Not Loving

Happy Valentine's Day! It's been a long time since I've done a loving..not loving post. I figured that there was no time better than the day of love...or not love, in some cases, to share what's been making me happy lately. My cup doesn't always runneth over with love, though...



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Race Recap: Universal Sole Valentine's Trail Challenge

What the what? Yep, you read it right. I ran a trail race. In the winter. In Chicago. Now, while our trails aren't what you might think of when you think of trails, we city people are pretty fortunate that about 100 years ago, civic leaders set aside land to create forest preserves, open land that everyone could use. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Regular readers of my blog know that I do a lot of training in the forest preserves. It's an opportunity to spend time in nature while living in a very urbanized area.

I wanted to run a race this past weekend and I was thrilled to see that Universal Sole, a race promoter in Chicago, hosts a trail race series in Schiller Woods, one of the forest preserves on the border of the city. I signed up 2 days before the race and at 8 am, arrived on-site to pick up my packet. It was 30 degrees, the ground was covered with snow, and I was wearing my new trail shoes.

It was pretty much a perfect day for a February trail run in Chicago!

The start/finish chute

Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Change In Plans

A few weeks ago, I posted my goals for 2020 as well as my spring race plans. I can't plan too far in advance because who knows what RA has in store for me. My first race was planned for this weekend, but my plans changed and so did my race! I'll tell you, flexibility is really the name of the game here.

Logistically, driving up to Madison for a Saturday morning race just wasn't going to work. My husband was also fussing about what to do with the dog. Since the weather was iffy all week, I hadn't signed up for the race yet--I was going to do that at the race. Instead, I signed up for a local trail race. I'll share more about the race on Tuesday's recap. But I will say that I was thrilled to find a trail race this time of year! I need some time on the trails to get myself prepared for my upcoming Everglades Trail Run and this time of year, trails are snow covered and difficult to navigate.

I had RA symptoms all week, with pain in my joints. I didn't let it stop me, but I did have to pop some ibuprofen and use some topical analgesics to get myself moving. Thankfully, I was able to keep up with all my workouts. Praying that RA doesn't pull any tricks on me this year.


Friday, February 7, 2020

My Favorite Race Medal

I really should have titled this post: "My Medal Rack is Full". At the end of 2018, I realized that there was no more room on my medal rack. I thought about ordering a new one, but I had the thought that maybe I didn't need one anymore, that maybe I wasn't going to run so many races, and then there was the never-ending flare of 2019 which threatened to put the kibosh on any races at all.

In spite of all that, I accumulated a few medals last year. They've been hanging on the very end of the rack while I figured out what I was going to do. Last month while scrolling through Instagram, an ad for Groupon popped up. The deal was serendipitously for a medal rack. I have this conspiracy theory that Google, and maybe Facebook too, is always listening to us, although I don't recall discussing my medal rack situation. Anyhoo, I clicked on the ad and found the deal. The medal rack was 65% off the normal price. You could customize it--oh the pressure! and there were several size options.

It was a sign. I made an impulsive decision to buy the Groupon. I optimistically chose the largest rack and ordered it. It arrived yesterday. While I put all the medals from last year on one tier, I had the opportunity to take a trip back with a look at all my past medals.



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

4 Don'ts and Dos for Injured Runners

Disclaimer: This is an updated post from 2017.

Been there, run that. I'm the runner who ran a race on a broken toe. I'm the runner who bought herself a road bike and road tested it wearing the boot. I'm the runner who trained for and ran a marathon while battling plantar fasciitis--with my doctor's approval, of course.

We've all got stories. While researching this post, I found multiple stories of runners "pushing their limits", including a story about a runner who was planning to crutch walk the Boston Marathon. I get it. He's injured and can't run. But come on man! These articles portray the runners who do these things as heroes. I'm thinking that this act of bravery could lead to new injuries, including nerve damage to the upper extremities. Brave or foolish? Not to say that any of us wouldn't consider said act of bravery. It is Boston after all!

I also read a race recap where the runner actually walked a half marathon--wait for it, it was the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon--wearing a boot. Foolish? Risky? I've been in a boot and all I can say is wearing it threw off my entire gait. I would imagine there's a huge risk of injury to the unaffected extremity. The author comments in the post that she regretted her decision to boot walk the race. But if you are interested in trying this, she has some suggestions on how to best attempt this. I'd probably stay away.

Even elite runners aren't immune from running while injured. Sarah Crouch ran the 2019 Boston Marathon with a 'stress reaction' in her femur. You know how this ended, right? She hoped to be the top American woman finisher but instead developed a fracture in her femur during the race, finishing in 60th place.  She and her coach received a lot of well-deserved flack for this. However, I think we runners all understand her determination to push through injury.

Common sense tells us that sometimes, as runners, we have to give ourselves a break. But common sense isn't always common when it comes to race day or training decisions. There's no glory in being sidelined. An injured runner may be longing to participate in an event he trained for. Is the price to pay--more time off the road, medical bills, or worse--worth it?


Sunday, February 2, 2020

I Cheated on my Body and my Body Fought Back

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

When will I learn?

After sticking to a mostly plant-based diet for the past couple of months and feeling so much better, I cheated last week. Big time. And I paid for it. I've been avoiding most dairy, which seems to cause inflammation for me, save for a splash of half and half in my coffee and a sprinkle of feta on my salads. I've been feeling so good. So good, in fact, that I got brave.

I made a quiche last week. Sticking to a veggie theme, it was spinach quiche. But it was made with 3 kinds of cheese. I figured I could try it, see how I felt after I ate. It tasted fantastic, my husband loved it, and I felt fine the next day. So much winning! Feeling brave, I got cocky. I had the leftovers for lunch. Twice.

My old nemesis, IBS (aka I'll be stopping) started to return. But it wasn't as bad as in the past and again, feeling brave, on Sunday at dinner, we ordered cheese curds. Tuesday, it was pasta with cream sauce.

Did I overdo it? You think so?

On Monday, I felt a little achy in my elbows. Slapped some CBD cream on it and I was good to go to CrossFit. On Wednesday's run, I also felt achiness in my knees. And my tummy--well, without being too TMI, let's just say I was stopping.

After that, I returned to my dairy-free life but the pain lingered on through the week. The worst was on Saturday. I woke up determined to run but every joint in my body hurt. The pain was making me a little nauseous too. I popped a few ibuprofens and hit the couch, waiting for it to pass.  While the pain simmered down to a dull ache, I still felt yucky. I finally gave in. There would be no run. I also canceled my massage--no need to poke the bear, right?-- and rested all day, hoping for a quick return to feeling good.