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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Zombies are Coming!!!

So, hi.

Long time no blog.

Here's where I am.  D is in 5th grade, as of this past Wednesday.  I'm starting my second year as DRE at a wonderful congregation nearby, where I am surrounded by a warm fuzzy feeling of love and acceptance like a nice warm blanket.  My sweetheart has become the Sole Proprietor of his business, which has its very good things and its not so good things.  There has been some stress, but I think some has also been alleviated: the kind that comes of not being able to control your own destiny, as it were.  He's also chair of the board of our church (not the one I work at) and that's been interesting. I'm hoping things settle down as the church year gets started and people have things to do.

And at the beginning of this past summer, having completed a successful (in the main) year coordinating RE classes for my church, I looked in the mirror and at the scale and went, yeah. Eew.

Fortunately at the same time, a few dear friends from the House Cup also looked at their scales and went "Eew."  And we all went over to MyFitnessPal and started cheering each other on.  This has helped me more than anything, ever... and I am down 15 pounds!  Well, it was 15 yesterday and 14 today, but close enough.

The other thing is, I started doing this thing that isn't walking.  It isn't running, mind you.  Running implies going faster than other people can walk.  But it also isn't walking.  My knees are lifting and my feet are leaving the ground much more determinedly than they would be if I were walking. And I'm working up a much bigger sweat than I would if I were just walking. My speed has increased over the summer, too, though I'm still blasted slow for someone who isn't walking. :-D  Darned short legs.

I always thought running was out of the question for me.  I have had knee problems, ankle problems, hip problems.  I huff and puff and get exhausted, and then when I'm done I've hurt every bit of me and then I can't move the next day (or week, or, you know, lifetime).  But a couple of years ago my friend Elizabeth clued me in to the concept of Barefoot Running, which at the time sounded like approximately the stupidest thing you could do ever.  Run barefoot? Huh? But everybody knows our feet need cushioning and padding and arch support or our legs won't do the things they're supposed to do, right?

Wait.  We're not born with shoes.  And runners from Africa have been showing us in our own marathons that actually, bare feet work just perfectly, thank you very much.  And as to the thing that freaked me out worst: stepping on a piece of broken glass and incapacitating myself forever?

This is the second pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes I've owned.  The first pair is a plain black pair with no treads.  I find them basically uncomfortable, the black ones.  They're too tight and the thing that comes up over my heel cuts into the back of my heel and hurts, and the drawstring tends to cut off my circulation even when I wear it loose.  And unless my toenails are trimmed all the way to the quick, the shoes press against my toes funny and then I start hurting.  And the soles aren't thick enough and so every rock drives into the bottom of my feet unless I'm really careful about where I step.  

So, I thought, okay, they must be too small.  So I went to REI (where you can now try on Vibrams! which is brilliant!) and tried on this pair (which was on clearance! Also brilliant!) and they felt bigger and lighter and didn't cut me in funny ways, and they have little treads on the bottoms that prevent me from stepping on rocks and really hurting myself.  And I bought them and wore them around and they are great! And I checked the size, and they are the same size as the other pair (Eur 41) but they are 1/2 inch longer.  'Tis a mystery, I tell you.

But just owning the shoes isn't enough.  The other thing I was still doing with Vibrams which was making things not good was running and walking in a way that is really bad for your hips, knees, and ankles.  All the padding on the bottoms of our shoes has made us think that it's okay to come down on the heel of your foot when you run (or walk fast! this is how I got Plantar Fasciitis a couple of years back!) and then stretch your feet out in front of you to make your stride wider in order to go faster.  Seriously, this is not good for your body, or at least, it's not good for mine.  As my friends are fond of saying, YMMV. (That's Your Mileage May Vary... yes, it took me a long time to figure that out). But this whole re-thinking how I run (and stand! and walk!) has made a world of difference for me and I can't figure out a down side.

So.  Then my friend Dan pointed me at this article.    I have this pinned in Pinterest, I've posted it in Rav and on Facebook, and I go back to it at least a few times a month.  It includes a link to this video which doesn't seem to be a YouTube one and therefore I can't embed.  But it's worth it! So the article is about HG George's Hundred-Up exercises.  It's all about proper form for running, and it's an exercise you can do anywhere!! that will help prepare you for running without injury.  I applied some, and hips, knees, and ankles--and the plantar fasciitis--all were happy and quiescent.

And then on August 11, I was out running Mission 19 of Zombies, Run! (another amazing, wonderful source of running motivation for those who love Zombies! I have a hard time not running when Sam says, "They're coming, Five! RUN!") with my dog.  Which means, heaven love him, that because I was concentrating on what my beagle was doing, I was not concentrating on what my body was doing.  Form flew out the window, and my calf muscle (right leg) started to ache during my mission.  I'd had some minor calf flare-ups before, and generally running through them and then resting and using Tiger Balm helped and I was able to go back in a day or maybe two.  But when I stopped to pick up the bag of poop I'd left at the beginning of my trip and then started up again, I felt a 'pop!' and then it hurt to walk.  

I spent a whole week hobbling around, using an ace bandage and even a cane if I had to go too far.  Much ice and Tiger Balm and Alina Shea Creations Arnica Salve were applied, and I was Oh! so careful.  And it started to feel better and last weekend I was able to take the dog out for a walk and even do a little tiny bit of running.  I've upped the running and my speed all week; my last workout was day before yesterday and I was able to jog for a full mile and then I had to walk a bit, and then jog a bit more and then walk.  So I'm hoping to be back to 2 miles by my next workout or the one after, and then start increasing.

I'm paying intense attention to form.  There's a difference between keeping elbows in to your sides and driving them straight back (good!) and letting them flop out to the sides a little (bad)... if I'm in the right form, just with my arms! then the rest of me is okay.  Also, my knees are coming up higher than they ever did--I'm really doing the Hundred-Ups form, which I wasn't before my injury.  I'm being careful about keeping my back straight and not leaning too far forward (which stretches my calf muscles in unpleasant ways).

I'm heading to REI today to buy some self-massage tools my friends have clued me in on... that should help too.  Even using my hands to massage my muscles helped work out the calf kinks, so using a tool is bound to be better.

Running.  Who'd a thunk? But I am doing it!!!