Tools of the trade…
Myth: runners only need shoes, a decent running surface, and gravity. Even before I began training, there were several tools I incorporated into my workouts to make life on my muscles and joints a little easier. I wanted to take a sec to expose you to a few of my faves, both old and new.
Foam roller While some pros will tell you this isn’t the most ideal, it works for me and many of my friends as well. Warning: it does put the hurt on! But in a good way, promise. While there are several how-tos on YouTube and blogs, I say find what works for you. I have always had IT band issues with running so I focus the roller just above my knee and work from the outside of the quad muscle to the top, always rolling up toward my torso, then back down. Find the intensity you need, some will say it has to hurt to work… I disagree, but for me it just happens to hurt because I’m a rubber band about to snap! I’d also recommend waiting a few hours after your workout so the inflammation in your muscles isn’t as great.
Tennis or foam balls There are also oversized tennis balls you can find at pet stores that work to cover a larger surface area, but this is a good pressure point tool. When I have “crunchies” or knots in my shoulders, back, or just want to roll out the arches of my feet, this is my go to. Find the spot and try to relax onto it (easier than it sounds!). Sometimes this is plenty. I like to do some active release and rotate my arm, shoulder, what have you around it to work out massive kinks. Breathing is key to both this and foam rolling… take deep breaths the whole time, and try to release further with each exhale.
Yoga Speaking of breathing… to me yoga is the meow to running’s cat. Not only does the intense stretching decrease the risk of injury, increase flexibility, but the mindful breathing is so key to running.
Fuel You simply need fuel for endurance and performance. I’ll admit, I typically hate taking in food during a workout and prefer liquids (Gatorade and water mixed is my fave), but I typically can’t (and really shouldn’t) proceed past eight to ten miles without some refueling. So as of late, I’ve employed the gels/gus I love to hate. Pictured above are some various brands - find some you can tolerate. I find the fruity ones are the worst, personally! I actually like the newer Honey Stinger brand; I just started using it a few weeks ago. I usually go for a lower caffeine level, take it with a swig of water, and use one or two every three or so miles beyond the eight mile mark, alternating water and/or Gatorade along the way.
Flats This was a tough pill to swallow for someone with short limbs who relies on her precious holy heels to keep her at least within viewing range of everyone around her… but they simply will not work to your benefit while training! Honestly, this may have been the most humbling thing to accept as training picked up. My favorite trick for short legs and big feet is wearing heels, but alas I had to embrace my height (or lack thereof) and sacrifice my heels for training season. I can’t say Jeri didn’t warn me!
Chamois Butter Or Body Glide… any skin lubricant is practically a must these days, lest you end up with the dreaded bra burn or bruises under your arms (which sadly look like hickies… try explaining that one). Another one I had to just suck up (pun intended) and embrace. I hate high maintenance hobbies, so when I started spending more and more money for the sake of comfort, I would roll my eyes. But let me tell you, it’s ALL necessary beyond mile six, especially when you’re a natural born sweater!
Biofreeze rules for pain relief in the muscles
Ice baths are fantastic for anti-inflammation; if you’re a weenie like I was, ice in general is just a good idea, whether in ice pack form or a frozen bottle of water rolled up and down the legs
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool which is cool enough, I used to immerse my legs from the knees down post-run, particularly in March or April when my pool was COLD
A happy helper in the form of a chiropractor and/or massage therapist! These are the best tools. I started chiropractic back in Dallas, and later became addicted to Active Release (see my post from a while back). Here are my recs from some excellent pros in the area:
Green Monsters for recovery (for me this is breakfast most days!)
My staple recipe is almond milk, spinach, ice, half a frozen banana, cacao powder, flax seed, dehydrated coconut or tbsp peanut butter, and sometimes a little agave nectar
I’m sure I’m missing something I use regularly in my running regime, but this should be enough to consider for now. Hit me with questions or other suggestions!
2 years ago
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