Lessons from the Pelvis: A runner’s thoughts

Ok, so I know I haven’t posted in a while. Usually my upbeat posts are centered around my runs, races, and nutrition on the geaux. For the past month, I’ve been sidelined due to a fractured pelvis.

I know what you’re thinking – “she ran too long, too often”. Oftentimes, women runners suffer pelvic fractures due to overuse. In my case my fracture was caused by low bone density. I was informed by my aunt that women in my family have weaker bones, and I also know that an eating disorder I dealt with prior to getting nutrition counsel at RevInMo may have been the culprit. Since then, I’ve been loading up on calcium and vitamin D. Over the past few weeks I’ve healed up enough to cross-train hardcore on the elliptical, in spin class, on the row machine, and so much more. I’ve been able to tone my upper body, strengthen my core, and achieve physiological balance.

While I will probably run again over the next few weeks, I was not able to run the Philadelphia Marathon, which I trained 7 months for. Needless to say I was devastated to miss out on the race. The most agonizing part of the injury process was when I first got injured and then tried to run anyway to finish marathon training. Due to health insurance issues in NYC, I had to fly all the way to Baton Rouge, my home town,  to get MRIs and x-rays. The doctor explained that I sustained two stress fractures to my pubic bone, so I’d have to let it heal. I quickly realized that if I want to run multiple marathons in the future, I would have to sit Philly out. My dad, being the amazing man he is, flew to Philadelphia from Canada anyway to spend time with me and help me cheer on my friends in the race. While I enjoyed supporting my fellow Whippets and promoting RevInMo at the expo, I felt overwhelming sadness and anger all weekend. I wished desperately that I could have advice from someone who had been injured just weeks from a huge race. While I had no words of wisdom then, I have them now. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Train smart and listen to your body

2. Before training for an endurance race, let it all out. On the doctor’s table. Make sure to get your tissues checked, nutrition levels, and bone density (Am I right, ladies?).

3. Heal smart – don’t push too much too soon or you will worsen the injury.

4. Don’t freak out and minimize devastation. There will always be more marathons and races, but you only have today and one body. Take care of yourself.

5. Make sure your shoes are the perfect fit for you. My old shoes had a wide heel, which, over time, messed with my running strike. This probably put unwarranted stress on my pelvis. Get experts, like the sales associates at JackRabbit Sports, to make sure the back of your foot is hitting the right place.

6. Cross-train enough. Develop a plan that works for you.

7. Focus on strengthening your lower body while your rehabilitating an injury. Thanks to Revolution in Motion, I know many exercises that strengthen my feet and knees in an organized motion that is highly effective.

8. If it is safe, maintain your aerobic capacity doing non-weight-baring workouts.

9. Be patient. Injuries take time to heal. I have been so frustrated and have officially gone stir-crazy. The key is to remember that this is just a small roadblock in a lifetime of road-running. Ensure improvement by letting your body recuperate. I’ve also had to remember that other athletes have suffered injuries far worse than mine and have faced greater disappointments. I am very fortunate that my injury was not worse.

10. Calcium, calcium, calcium.

Runners, be careful and love your bodies while training for races. You’ve got one life, so run smarter, live longer, and smile on the trails.

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The TCS NY Marathon: Volunteer Edition

Yesterday was a sunny day in Central Park, no doubt a beautiful day for the largest marathon ever.

Yesterday was also a very chilly day in Central Park – complete with winds that knocked over refreshment cups, gave flight to heat sheets, and blew away PR opportunities for thousands of runners.

I had the awesome opportunity to volunteer at the annual (and epic) 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. My job was simple – prepare recovery bags and give them to the glorious finishers. Except we stood for about 8 hours prepping over 50,000 bags. In case you don’t know, that’s a lot of bags. When the runners finally started flooding into the recovery zone, it was the coolest set of moments ever. Men and women, elites and first-timers, piled into the the recovery lane begging for food, hugs, and, most importantly, warmth and water. A French man hugged me, and the hug lingered, then ended with kisses on my cheeks. An awkward moment? Sure. But the relief across runners’ faces as they finished was amazing.

But as more runners finished, I was alarmed by the color of my friends’ (and most of the women’s) faces as they appeared. Everyone looked as white as sheets! A lot of the women begged for water, food, etc., and part of me wondered why they weren’t able to finish as strong as I had expected. I know that finishing 26. 2 miles pushed them beyond their limits, but what was missing from their faces was smiles.  Did they not hydrate properly? Dress warm enough? Fuel well? I was immediately reminded why I am choosing to pursue a masters in nutrition as it relates to physical exercise: to help runners get the most out of their bodies as possible. I also learned key lessons for when I race the marathon in Philly in less than 3 weeks. In any case, I hope to have as much fun as possible and to enjoy the moments!

Today I met Meb Keflizighi, Olympic marathoner and major American marathon winner. He said something to us at a UCAN breakfast today that will stay with me forever: “Sometimes being a winner is not about being in first place. It’s about getting the most out of yourself.” For anyone with races or competitions coming up, remember those words. I surely will.

Kelsey and Meb volunteer 1 Volunteers

Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

YUM

Mission for Fit

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Stop right now and look at the recipe for these amazing Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins!

Take it from me, I don’t bake much, and I’m hardly motivated to either…but these have rekindled some baking libido for me! (it’s healthiness ok??)

I even went all the way to the farmer’s market to retrieve 100% Organic Spelt Flour for this recipe. For the ‘cheesecake filling’ I substituted the suggested light cream cheese with a block of Greek yogurt mixed with cream cheese (probably doable at home).

More enjoyable made at one of your best friends houses with tea, I might add.

Click————> here and see for yourself 🙂

Toodles

S.

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Mind over Mile: Overcoming the Runner’s Roadblock

As most of you know, I am training for the Philly Marathon at the end of November since I registered too late to qualify for this year’s TCS New York Marathon. I’ll be volunteering at the race (which is awesome!), and I ran the Poland Springs 5 Mile Marathon Kickoff race last Sunday.

The race was 5 miles – not even a full loop around Central Park. The weather was gorgeous, the temps were perfect, and I ran a 10k to get down to the race itself. I was feeling good, and I was ready to complete a 20-mile training run that day. Speed was on my mind, but it wasn’t the end goal. What I didn’t expect was how difficult the measly 5-miler would be.

The morning of the race I found out that my grandmother was sent to the hospital. I received news that she was stable, but I was still worried. As a runner, I’ve trained myself to let go of personal issues in order to run well in a race. After all, there really is nothing you can do about life while in a race. All you can do is run. Things were speeding along pretty smoothly for the first two miles, and I knew I could hit a new PR for the distance. I was confident in my speedwork and my lift training at Revolution in Motion. But with Mile 3 came anxiety about my grandmother and a flood of emotions that seemed to weigh down my head and my sneakers. I thought very seriously about pulling over, stopping mid-race, and living with a “Did Not Finish” next to my name.

At that exact moment, one of my teammates who was volunteering at the race yelled “Go, Kelsey!”, which served as a reminder that I could not give up. The race was not a huge one in terms of team points and competitions, but I was representing my running team. I’m not one to fail, and if I do fail, I keep pushing. The support I received from that person could not go in vain, and I decided to keep pushing on for the 1.9 miles I had left. I finished 12th out of 3,000 women in the race with a new personal record and a win in my age group.

What I found so disconcerting was how I can run 18-20 mile races with such joy, but some of these shorter sprints are a much bigger mental battle. How do I even have time to get in such a bad headspace during such a short race? To all the runners who also deal with this mental block, you are not alone. I guess what got me to the finish at a decent time was knowing that I loved running. I also had to remember that if my grandmother were with me at the race, she would have forbidden me from throwing in the towel. There was nothing I can do in that moment except race with conviction, so that’s what I did. I think that’s the beauty of running, though.  When you run, no one can catch you – not even your personal shit. The only thing you can do when you are miles from home with only your feet to carry you is to just stay present in the run itself. It’s easy to get almost too reflective when on a run, so it’s important to remember the joy of running in the moment.

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Paleo Pumpkin Perfection

This weekend I ran 23 miles, celebrated the engagement of one of my best friends to her fiance’, and I cooked. A lot.

As you can guess, I ran a lot, which made for a ravenous Kelsey. So fall officially hit my apartment with the overwhelmingly delicious aroma of pumpkin. After cheating a little at an engagement party (hello, gourmet bowling alley food), I decided to cook fall comfort foods that were also paleo-friendly, clean, and full of nutrients. What did all three of my dishes have in common? Organic, sweet pumpkin.

First I made pumpkin, butternut squash, and beef stew. I added a little too much vegetable broth, so it looked more like a soup. But the “stoup” was so full of fresh herbs and flavor, that it still tasted excellent on such a cold Sunday night. I’m not including my recipe, as there really was none. I essentially combined chopped pumpkin, mushrooms, tomatoes, low-sodium veggie broth, onions, organic/lean beef cubes, and butternut squash in one huge pot and let it bowl until everything was tender and cooked through.

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I also roasted the extra butternut squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, and some brussel sprouts in a large pan in the oven (400 degrees F) for 45-50 minutes. Roasted vegetables are perfect for meal prep during the week because they freeze well and taste even better the next day. I tossed the veggies in some Tuscan herb olive oil and apple cider vinegar to add flavor flair.

My last pumpkin-paleo invention was a recipe for paleo muffins that became a paleo bread loaf instead. I guess-timated and combined coconut flour, almond flour, processed dates, processed pumpkin flesh, coconut oil, eggs, overripe bananas, and pumpkin pie spice. Then I pressed the mixture into a loaf pan. After baking my mix for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees, the result was rather yummy.

As you can guess, hunger is my mother of invention. I usually love following paleo recipes since there are more raw ingredients that can be tricky to cook with. But this weekend was all about fall feasting and creativity, so recipes had no place in my kitchen:).

This Weekend: No races, just paleo food and fun:)

It’s been a beautiful week at Revolution in Motion – training for the Philly marathon, meeting new clients, and learning more and more about my body. This weekend will be a fun one, complete with paleo butternut squash and beef stew and a friend’s engagement party. I have a long, fartlek run tomorrow since I am still recovering from last weekend’s 20-miler. While I’ve run shorter distances this week, the rest over the past few days will make tomorrow morning’s run even more lovely.

I’ll keep you posted on the paleo stew I’ll be brewing (it is fall after all!), but here is something I’ll leave you with until then. Happy Friday, readers!

dreams

Whippets take Staten Island

Over the past week, I’ve tapered my mileage, avoided spin class, and incorporated speed work to prep myself for the NYRR race I ran today: the Staten Island Half Marathon!

I woke up at 4:30 to catch the 5:45 1 train to South Ferry, not without my pre-race small meal of avocado, artichokes, and canned salmon. My running buddy, Marines, slept past her alarm, so I thought I would be heading to SI solo. However, when I got to the ferry waiting area, my teammates were there to greet me, and we faced the sunrise and a 13.1 mile race ahead. My thoughts included “I really want this race to be over already”, “what will I eat for lunch today”, and “does a PR really matter even though just finishing this thing means that I qualify for  the 2015 NYC Marathon? Of course, it was way too early for any thinking at all.

The sunrise view from the ferry was nothing short of spectacular. The New York skyline seemed to smile as light touched its surface. As the world woke up, I remembered why I do these races so often: the adventure, the fun, and the feat itself.

As the ferry docked and we headed to race day central, my clumsy self tripped on some nail plugs sticking out of the pavement. Before I even examined my body, I dreaded the thought of gushing blood from my legs or hands. Luckily, the wounds required one bandaid from the medical tent. But the frightening part was that other runners were already flooding into the tent due to falling at the same spot…before the running even started! One guy had a bloody nose and another man had scrapes all over his face. I immediately felt blessed for my minor injuries.

Approximately 9,000 runners herded into the corrals, and we were off! I was trucking along pretty well, pacing at 6:45 for the first 4 miles, and eventually hitting 10k at 6:55. Has anyone ever run a long race thinking “oh, if this were a 10k, I’d be done” at mile 6? A 5k at mile 3? That was the rut I was in the first half of the race. By mile 7, however, I broke through that wall, remembered to maintain my RevInMo-taught lift, and to use my feet to keep pressure out of my quads and calves. Then I was flying with some of the men on my team.

Mile 8 was simply gorgeous. From the road you could see the water front and the Manhattan skyline. I decided during our running tour of Staten Island that NYC is freaking cool. I was also reminded of New Orleans and Fairhope, Alabama during parts of this loop, and a twinge of homesickness set in.

Until mile 9. The hill that waited for us at mile 9 was no joke. After we were heading downhill, I switched to my 4-mile race day playlist, which includes Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen to get me home. Miles 11 and 12 were completed with a slight sprint, and I sped up to “drop the hammer” during mile 13. I finished the half at 1:32, a new PR and a fun time overall! My last half race was run at 1:46, so I was excited to see my progression as a runner. Then, I tacked on 7 more miles post-race to get an extra long run in.

What was really awesome today was the camaraderie I felt with my fellow teammates on the Dashing Whippets Running Team. The girls team rocked it out, and I feel proud of us for giving the race our all. Check out photos from the day!

 

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Spinning: Effective Cross-Training or a Runner’s Setback?

Every Thursday I wake up at 5 a.m. with a huge smile on my face because I know that my morning workout routine will involve a spin class at my gym in Harlem. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all week – a day sans running. I carefully attach my heart rate monitor, slip into a trendy cycling outfit, and my hamstrings, glutes, and quads are ready to go.

As I pedal against high resistance to some soulful beats (my instructor prefers James Brown), I convince myself that this is the best way to cross-train. I mean, if I am setting the right resistance intervals, my “running muscles” will be strengthened for the Staten Island Half Marathon this weekend, right?

Not necessarily.

As a runner, one of my biggest “problem areas” lies in my lift during a race. This means that sometimes my posture falls apart after running awhile. Every time I run a race, I see a lot of women running with their chests down, butts out. Luckily my training at Revolution in Motion NYC has helped to eliminate a lot of my training errors, improving my lift and arm swing exponentially. At RevInMo there is huge emphasis on maintaining lift in the torso, and lightness in the head, which means that I will get more oxygen during a long race.

As I continue to focus on my lifted form as a runner, I can’t help but evaluate my cross-training more closely. If immaculate running form involves a lifted head and torso, proper knee-tracking, full arm swing, and “hollowed” abs, where does spin class really come into play?

Let’s evaluate what many publications, such as Runner’s World, call an efficient workout for runners. Spinning involves three positions on a stationary bike – sitting straight up, a standing run, and a hunch over the handle bars with glutes over the seat. These positions are designed to provide low-impact strength and endurance training for the quadriceps, glutes, calves, and hamstrings. The problem, however, lies not in the intention of the workout but the duration of maintaining a hunched over form. When I take a spin class, I feel the effort exerted by my legs. But my main concern here is the strain on my upper body as I squeeze into a very tense position over the handle bars. If I am supposed to stay upright during a run, does this spin position defy proper sprint posture?

Unfortunately for me, it does. I love spinning to an almost obsessive degree, but recently I’ve eliminated it from my training the week before a race or training run. If you are a SoulCycle enthusiast, don’t throw stones at me just yet. At RevInMo, I’ve learned how to smoothly incorporate this activity into my training by placing spin workouts early in the week instead of right before a race. Also, I avoid the bicycle the week of a race altogether. That, along with tapering before a long run, really helps me maintain proper form and achieve race day PRs.

While many other runners may disagree with my “spin stance”, note that this is what works for me. Since I’ve been working and training at Revolution in Motion, I’ve learned so much more about my body and the most effective forms of training to achieve my fitness goals.  For more information about classes and programs at RevInMo, or to set up a private session, visit revinmo.com.