Showing posts with label Tuesday Topics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuesday Topics. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

9 Tips for Running Outside in the Winter

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I can't believe I've never posted on this topic. Certainly, I've talked about running outside in the winter here on the blog many times. After all, I am the queen of running outside all year round. Last winter, when my treadmill died, I seriously contemplated not replacing it. I used the old one so infrequently, it lasted 21 years! Then the polar vortex hit and that reframed my perspective. Still, my new treadmill has only been used a handful of times. I frequently espouse the mental and physical benefits of fresh air and natural light. Besides, running outside in the deep of winter will earn you a reputation with your family and friends. Either they will call you "Crazy" or they will bestow you with compliments like "Badass" or "Diehard".

It's all good.

If you want to brave the winter and run outside, I've got tips for staying warm and upright in the cold. You might be cursing me when you start, but I guarantee that when you finish your run, you'll be thanking me. Running outside in the winter can be a pretty amazing experience! It can also be a challenge. Being prepared will keep you warm and safe.



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15k

Will run for chocolate.

As much as I love chocolate, I'd rather run for beer, but it has to be a good beer and that doesn't seem to be much of an option these days! I've run the Hot Chocolate 15k three times now. It's not my favorite race--there always seem to be some glitches--but I do like the distance and the swag is good. My friend Steph wanted me to run it with her this year. My endurance is returning and I thought the timing was right.

With a 7 am gun time, Steph arrived at my house at 5:15 and we drove to downtown Chicago for the race! Thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time. That extra hour of sleep felt good.



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Second Opinion: How Do I Know Which Way to Go?

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to give medical advice, but to share my personal experience. You should always consult your medical provider for any concerns regarding your health. In addition, I am pro-vaccine and am not advocating for anyone to avoid a vaccine based on my experience.

Last February, I developed a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare that never seemed to end. Initially, I wasn't sure what was going on but my endurance was suddenly gone. Poof! It was as if I never had run a step in my life. My heart would beat into the red zone if I moved any faster than a walk. I was experiencing an uptick in joint pain and such severe fatigue that I could barely climb a flight of stairs without having to stop to catch my breath. Running became such a challenge that even the run/walk intervals I had used successfully in the past weren't helping me.

Was it the weather? Or something else? As the symptoms continued, I thought about everything that could have caused this flare. Then the light bulb went off. I had received a shingles vaccine week earlier-- could that have triggered an immune response that fueled my disease? Upon the advice of my rheumatologist, I held my dose of Humira the week before and after receiving the vaccine so that my immune system would properly respond to the vaccine. The day after I received the vaccine, I developed a fever and body aches. I figured it was just a typical vaccine reaction. I initially felt better but after a week or so found myself in a full-blown disease flare.

Unfortunately, this flare lasted for months. A course of steroids would tamp down my symptoms, but as soon as I stopped them, the flare would fire up again.

A long time runner, I have always used my runs to measure my health. I might wake up in the morning and feel bad, but if I have a run scheduled and it goes well, I know that I'm well enough to go to work and proceed with my day. I think most runners are in tune with their bodies and can read their symptoms pretty well. As a nurse practitioner, I joke that I have enough medical knowledge to be dangerous. The bottom line is that I have the ability to figure out what is happening with me.
If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I struggled with running and other endurance workouts for most of this year. I dropped down to the 5k in many of my planned races as well as DNSing races that didn't have a shorter distance as an option. It was disheartening as well as discouraging. In August, I wrote a post titled "Can I Even Call Myself a Runner". I was really depressed and frustrated. I thought I might not be able to run anymore.

My rheumatologist downplayed my symptoms. Among the other things she told me, she said that since my inflammatory markers were normal, my symptoms weren't due to an RA flare. Frustrated with her response to my concerns, I decided to seek a second opinion. Even though there was a 6 month wait for a new patient appointment with the rheumatologist I wanted to see, I was willing to wait. I knew that the flare would take time to resolve and that there was nothing magical to make it go away. I just wanted to find a provider who would listen to me.



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Race Recap: Backpack Buddies 5k Run

On my recent trip to Alabama, my friend Holly suggested we run a 5k. After all, we are runners, right? The race just happened to be on my birthday. I was a little worried about the waterskiing we did the night before as well as the infamous southern heat, and maybe the wine we drank, but reminded myself that this was just for fun.



Monday, September 23, 2019

We Fun SO Hard!

I'm a little overdue for a weekly recap--but when you read my post, you'll understand why! I'm resting on the couch recovering from an incredibly full and satisfying week. Sometimes life fills you up and makes you realize how truly lucky you are. This past week was one of those weeks. It was also my birthday week. I received some very good career news and I had some really good runs.

To top it all off, I headed south to visit my former Weekly Wrap co-host and waterskiing partner in crime, Holly. We were joined by the lovely Teresa for some fun in the sun, some running, and shenanigans. Who's old? Not us! Our motto for the weekend: We Fun So Hard!

We did!



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: The Athlete's Guide to CBD by Scott Douglas

Disclaimer: I received a pre-release copy of The Athlete's Guide to CBD by Scott Douglas from Net Galley and PenguinRandomHouse Books in exchange for my unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard about CBD (cannabidiol). If you believe what everyone is saying, CBD seems to be that "miracle" substance that can cure everything. I've had more people suggest I use CBD for my rheumatoid arthritis than I can count. The last time I went for a massage, my massage therapist opened a jar of CBD capsules, shook out a few, and offered them to me. "It will enhance the experience", she said. (I took a pass.) The local video store--believe it or not, there is still one just down the street--advertises CBD oil on its sign. A neighbor swears by the CBD oil he buys at the local gas station.

Can so many people be wrong? Is CBD the real deal? Or is it the modern version of snake oil? Is CBD something runners could benefit from?

I've been using a topical CBD product on my joints when they are inflammed and yes, I'm finding CBD to be an effective adjunct to my medications. I've also noticed that I have been sleeping better when I use it.

Is it the real deal? A magic bullet? Or is CBD just another supplement that is really a placebo?



Tuesday, September 10, 2019

My Social Media Dilemma

I've always had a love/hate relationship with social media, but especially lately, it's been less love and more hate. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in my struggle with all the hoops the platforms are making us jump through to get people to view our posts.

As an athlete, I've been active on social media for about 7 years. Facebook is where it all started for me, building a page around running even before I started blogging. Instagram came later, simply because I resisted committing to another social media platform. Plus, I struggled with the small text size on the screen, not to mention that I'm still all thumbs when it comes to texting. Yet, I adapted and to my surprise, built a pretty strong following on Instagram. Who knew?


I've enjoyed so many of the people I've met through social media. In fact, some of them are my best friends now in real life. I don't think I would have gone on to run the races I did--hello, 26.2! if I hadn't received so much encouragement from my tribe. Most definitely, my social media running friends validated my love for all things running! Races have turned into 'blogger meetups' and that has been one of the biggest rewards.

I also won't deny that I have loved all the cool opportunities that have come my way through my blog and social media platforms. Just this summer, I was able to attend that EMPOWER Summer Camp and had a fitness blogger's experience of a lifetime complete with tons of swag! I've also received a lot of products to review as well as being able to represent some wonderful brands and race organizers.

Sadly, though, for a lot of us 'smaller' bloggers, these opportunities have dwindled. Social media has evolved, becoming what I like to call a 'blog eat blog' world. Instagrammers have become 'influencers'. Platforms rapidly change their rules and algorithms, keeping users confused and frustrated. I just read that now we're expected to 'save' posts on Instagram? What the what? Don't we already have Pinterest? Pinterest wants us to leave comments on other peoples' pins? Facebook doesn't seem even to be relevant anymore.

What happened to just liking each other's photos and leaving a comment? Isn't the whole point to interact? Do I really want to do any more than I'm already doing? Am I no longer relevant? Should I still care?



Tuesday, August 27, 2019

How to Deal with ITB Pain

Disclaimer: The information in this post is purely informational and is not intended as a substitute for seeing a medical provider. 

Now that's a pain I haven't felt in a long time...

For about the past month, I've felt a little nagging pain in my right hip. Even as I write this, I've got this aching running down my outer right thigh to my knee. No, it's not RA. It's not joint pain, even though the pain is originating in my hip. I know this pain. Even though it's been a long time since I've felt it, it's a pain you never forget. Because like plantar fasciitis, once you've had it, you never want it again.

Have you ever experienced iliotibial band tendonitis aka ITB pain? If you have, you know of what I speak. I need to get it on it stat! before it gets out of control. Here's how I'm dealing with the re-emergence of yet another sleeping beast.



Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Race Recap: Homestretch for Heroes 5k

Homestretch for Heroes 5k is an evening event that has been held the last couple of years at the Arlington International Race Course, a well-known horse racing venue. The event donates all of the proceeds to benefit SALUTE, Inc, a local charity that provides financial, physical, and emotional aid to injured military service members, veterans, and their families. It's a unique event that has runners finish on the race track, their live images projected onto the leaderboard.



Tuesday, July 30, 2019

6 Drinks to Quench a Runner's Thirst

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Summertime and the running's not easy...especially if you're not hydrating! I never have to be reminded to drink. At work, there's always a bottle of water next to me so I can sip throughout my day. Hydration doesn't just start the morning of a race or a run. Runners need to stay hydrated all day, every day.

How do you know you're hydrated? The best rule of thumb is to make sure your pee is the color of lemonade. If it's like water, you may be overhydrating. If your pee is the color of apple juice, you've got some drinking to do, my friend.

Riddle me this...why do we compare the color of our pee to beverages? I don't know, but I can tell you that the color of urine is due to a byproduct of bilirubin, which is excreted by the liver. The amount of liquid we drink dilutes out the yellow. Multivitamins can color your urine bright yellow. Beets can make urine pink or even red (but not blood red!) Anything else should be checked by a healthcare provider.

What to drink when you need to quench your thirst? No ideas? Well, guess what? Urine luck...

www.takinglongwayhome.com


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Race Recap: AMITA FitAmerica 5k

As an All Community Events ambassador, I received a free entry to the AMITA FitAmerica 5k. My recap of the race was not influenced by my affiliation with ACE.

Earlier this summer, I optimistically signed up for the AMITA FitAmerica 10k. I really wanted to do the half marathon distance, but I haven't been running much in the way of long distances. Fast forward to some blazing hot, humid weather and after a tough 5 miler the Wednesday before the race, I made the decision to drop down to the 5k. I had been having some success with the 5k distance this summer but with the excessive heat warning the morning of the race, I had no expectations but to finish.



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Stampede 5k Race Recap

I've run the 10k distance of my hometown race many times, but this was my first time signing up for the 5k. Health issues and struggles with endurance and the summer heat made the shorter distance the best option for this year. I could have done the 10k, but it's a race and I wanted to race it, not just run it. You get me, right?



Tuesday, July 2, 2019

7 Reasons to Embrace Being Sweaty

With the onset of this hot, humid summer, I am reminded once again of how much I sweat. I think I sweat more than the average person. Even when I run outside in the winter, after I finish I am a sweaty mess underneath all my layers. After a summer run, I am literally dripping from head to toe. I've been asked many times if I got caught in the rain. My running clothes are wrung out and hung to dry until laundry day. If I shower too soon after I run, I sweat in the shower. I sweat after the shower.

It may seem gross, it may seem annoying, but there are benefits to sweating, even for a profuse sweater like me. I found 7 reasons to embrace the sweat!



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Race Recap: Crossroads Trail Run 5k

A few weeks ago, I was planning my weekend out of town to Door County, Wisconsin. No matter where I'm headed, I always check to see if there are any races near my destination. I was surprised to stumble upon this little trail race in Sturgeon Bay. The Crossroads Trail Run has been held for the past 10 years at the Big Creek Environmental Learning Preserves. The race supports the Crossroads Trail programs and is also intended to promote environmental awareness in the community.

I loved all that, but what really got me was that every finisher would receive A TREE. The trees were donated by a local nursery. Also, because it was the 10th anniversary, every finisher would receive a handcrafted cherry wood medallion. Ok, they had me at tree, but I was pretty excited about the medallion too. Cherries are the local produce that Door County is known for. There are a variety of distances offered to participants: 10k, 5k run/walk, and a 2k walk. Because I'm still working on coming back and building endurance, I decided to do the 5k.

I talked with my son, who would be accompanying me to Door County for the weekend along with his girlfriend. They were excited to participate but decided to sign up for the 2k walk. I warned them that it would be an early morning, but they assured me it wouldn't be a problem. On Saturday, I woke them up at 6 am and although they weren't excited about the early wakeup call, we made the 45 minute drive to Sturgeon Bay.



Tuesday, June 18, 2019

9 Self-Defense Weapons for Runners

Disclaimer: By discussing self-defense weapons here, I am in no way endorsing the use of any of these. This post is purely informational. Products listed are affiliate links. 

On Saturday, I took my long run to the forest preserve where so many local runners train. My running club is based there, but as I so often do, I took my time in the morning, sipping my coffee and catching up on emails and I missed the start of the group run. In the preserve is a 7.3 mile loop, which is popular with runners. I decided to run there because there are so many runners and cyclists on that loop on the weekends. I thought I'd be fine running by myself.

I finished my run feeling very strong and very happy. I had a lot of company on the path and very few stretches where I was alone. When I got in the car, I posted on Instagram and then opened up Facebook, where I saw a post from the president of our running club. He shared an incident from the morning on the very loop I had just finished running. A runner on the path was grabbed by 2 men, dragged into the woods, beat up, and robbed. He crawled out of the woods to the path where he was found by one of my fellow All Community Events ambassadors and the group she was running with. They stayed with him while they waited for first responders to help him.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Why You Need to Run With Heart Zones

Disclaimer: I received a Heart Zones Blink 3.0 monitor in exchange for my honest review. 

I've whined for a while now about my sudden loss of endurance. It's been the weirdest thing. In January, I ran a half marathon, followed by an indoor marathon relay. While over time, I had been slowing down, I was happy with my performances at both races. A month after those 2 races, I had a rapid decline in my ability to run anything of distance, much less with speed. Frustrated, I began looking at heart rate training. I pulled out my old Polar chest strap, bought new batteries, and prepared to start running with it.

At that very time, in an interesting twist of serendipity, I received an offer from Heart Zones Blink 3.0 to trial their monitor and join their ambassador program. While I'd never really done heart rate training in the past, the timing of this offer was perfect. I've been running with my new Heart Zones monitor for the past couple of weeks and am excited to share what I've learned.



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

9 Things No One Tells Runners About Menopause

No matter how much we wish we could avoid it, no woman gets out of this life without going through menopause. The average age for menopause is 51. Perimenopause, that fun period of time when things start happening, can begin 10 years before that. Cue Tammy Wynette singing "Sometimes it's hard to be a woman..."

While perimenopause was like being an adolescent all over again--mood swings, hot flashes, acne, and heavy periods--I did some of my best running during those years. Who PRs a marathon and a half marathon in their early 50s? I did. I was running so well that I thought I'd be able to snag a BQ!

Yeah, not so much. My body had other ideas.  Here are 9 things I've learned about running with menopause. It's time to talk about it.



Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My 6 Favorite Recovery Tools and Why They Work

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Runners love their recovery and they love their rituals. A few months back, I read Good to Go, by Christie Aschwanden, in which she explored all kinds of recovery techniques. The conclusion of her exploration was that in spite of all the recovery tools and methods being marketed to us, none of them have been proven to be beneficial.

Or are they?

Research has proven the power of the so-called "placebo effect". Your brain can convince your body that a treatment or procedure is useful, even if it isn't if it really isn't. When I reviewed Aschwanden's book, the feedback on my post was not at all surprising. People commented on how much better they feel after they foam roll or take an Epsom salt bath. It may not be the foam rolling or the bath that is healing, but the ritual of taking care of oneself after a hard workout or a run.

Speaking for myself, I love to run but I'm not so great about recovery. I do have a few tools in my recovery toolbox that I regularly use, regardless of whether or not science has proven their effectiveness. All I know is that they make me feel better. That's what really counts, isn't it?



Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Essential Supplements in My Anti-Inflammatory Toolbox

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. The information in this post should not be subtituted for the advice and guidance of your own medical provider. All recommendations are based on evidence based testing shared via Consumer Lab.

Got inflammation?

You don't have to be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease to have inflammation. Did you know working out causes inflammation? It's not bad news. Workouts done at high intensity causes inflammation as a result of damage to the muscles and tissues as you work them. This leads to soreness aka DOMS. If you've popped a couple ibuprofens after a particularly tough run or grueling session at the gym, you're treating inflammation. It's ok to use ibuprofen or other NSAIDs occasionally, but chronic use can lead to all kinds of problems including gastrointestinal and kidney issues.

After living with rheumatoid arthritis for 2 1/2 years, I've been changing my diet and taking supplements that have scientific evidence in reducing inflammation. At this point, I'll do whatever it takes to feel better and avoid taking pain medications. If you read my post on foods that reduce inflammation, you know I've been doing my homework. I want to share what I've learned about nutritional supplements and inflammation.



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

CARA Lakefront 5k Race Recap

The CARA Lakefront 10 miler is a perpetual favorite for me. I've run the race multiple times. It takes place along the Chicago lakefront in late March or early April. Organized by the Chicago Area Runners' Association, the race is a true "runner's race" and as such, attracts some really fast participants. This year, my running friend Steph wanted to run it with me.

I've been struggling with running for the last couple of months and that is mostly due to an ongoing flare of rheumatoid arthritis. Just as soon as it seems that I've gotten my symptoms under control, the disease flares up again. It's been frustrating for me. The week before this year's race was to take place, I had the worst flare since my diagnosis. Not wanting to DNS or risk a DNF, I made the decision to drop down to the 5k. I figured that at the very least, I could walk the 5k while Steph ran the 10 mile distance.