What I Learned On My Technology Vacation

For the entire month of January, I have run without technology. Five years ago, this wouldn’t have meant much, but today it feels like a big freakin’ deal. No music and no social media, and I even dabbled with no GPS. Here’s what happened — the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good …
No wires! I can’t tell you how great it was to get dressed and just run. I didn’t have to strap on an armband or fidget with ear buds or ensure my social sharing settings were juuuuuust right. I didn’t have to find the perfect picture to post, or decide whether to keep my news on Instagram or share it with everyone on Facebook, too. I didn’t worry about whether the song was right or if my phone would crash. I just ran. And I noticed things. Like my breath, my form, my feelings, other people. We even saw (what we think was) a coyote on the trail. Just awesome.

The bad …
That breath I noticed? It was pretty labored, it was heavy, and it made me feel out of shape. I could hear my footstrikes, and it annoyed me. I was bored and tired, and I just wanted to hear Eminem tell me to find that inner strength, to help pull that shit out of me. But he wasn’t there. It was only me, and I didn’t have the words. I needed to dig deeper to find the words. It’s not easy to do, friends.

The ugly …
The biggest issue, and one reason I haven’t ditched the phone until now, was a little more important. It’s the way I seek the approval of friends, acquaintances and complete strangers (seriously). At some point, this had taken over all other motivation to run. I have followers on Instagram (total strangers, BTW) who continuously fuel my passion to run, who motivate me to do better, and this is awesome. But what’s unawesome is running just to post a cool picture or to prove to others that you ran. Who freakin’ cares? Also, I thought my pace was connected to this approval system I had set up, that I only ran fast to prove I could run fast — but that’s another ugly discovery. I run fast because I don’t feel successful unless I’m working EXTREMELY hard. If I go easy or “slow,” I don’t feel good about myself. That has to change, and it has to change now.

Overall, I’m very happy with my decision to go tech-free because it has taught me a lot in a short time. I am going to go back to using GPS to train to pace myself better. I am going to bring music for my “hard” runs, when I need a distraction and another voice in the room. I am not going to use social media to track every mile because the only approval I need is from myself.

I recommend trying it, if only for one day a week. Unplug and run, and get reacquainted with yourself. – Amie

Taken 2

After the recent theft of my pants and jacket from my workplace locker room, I was feeling angry, frustrated and vulnerable.

The outpouring of responses surprised me. People have told me their similar stories of theft, others have commiserated with me, and a few people at work are taking steps to ensure it does not happen again.

Within minutes of passing along my tale of woe to lululemon, I received a message from the manager at our local store.

“Come on in, and we’ll take care of you. We’ll get you a new pair of lucky tights.”

I excitedly told her I’d be in the following day, and she assured me she would notify the staff that I’d be coming in.

The next day over lunch, I went to lululemon and sheepishly walked into the store.

“Can I help you?” a pregnant sales associate asked me.

“Yes, actually,” I stammered. “I, uh, I talked to your manager yesterday after my clothes were stolen, and she told me to …”

“Oh! Are you Adrea? Let me help you out.”

LW5F55S_0001_1She walked me over to the running tights and loaded me up with five different pairs. I labored over my decision, but let’s be honest, all of them were pretty great. I decided to go with the Speed Tights, mostly on the merit that they feature side pockets (a favorite perk of my stolen tights).

I carried the new tights up to the register, where the young guy at the counter looked at me and said, “Are you Adrea? What happened, exactly?” I told him my story as he cut the tags off the tights, put them in a bag and rang me up with a bill for $0.00.

That afternoon, I wore my new tights for a 4-mile run and clocked sub 9-minute miles. (That’s a big deal for this girl.)

In fact, I think now I might have a pair of tights that are more than just lucky. They are tights that prove there are good, supportive people in the world, and they’ve got my back. And that is a very good thing. — Aidz



On Pins and Needles

“I want to try dry needling on you. I’ve had a lot of success with it on my patients with hip injuries,” my physical therapist said recently.

“OK,” I said. “I don’t know what it is, but let’s do it!”

That’s basically been my attitude as I rehab my gimpy old-lady hip. I’LL TRY ANYTHING. Physical therapy, massages, cortisone shots (just had injection No. 2!), no leg crossing, sleeping with a pillow between my knees. Heck, at this point, if my orthopedist told me to stand on my head, I’d  only ask, “for how long?”

dry_needling-300x199Dry needling is similar to acupuncture (which I also have never done). The idea is to stick tiny needles into trigger points to create muscle twitches and, ultimately, release the knotted muscles to relieve local and referred pain. Because if this bursitis injury has taught me anything, it’s that all this shiz is connected.

My first dry needling session came at the end of a standard PT routine of massage, exercises and stretching. My physical therapist, Mike, who is certified to perform dry needling, said he would concentrate on three trigger points around my left hip: quadriceps, gluteus medius and IT band.

First, he massaged around each of those trigger points to find the most tender, painful, knotted-up point of the muscle. Once located, he took a 30 mm long acupuncture needle — 50 mm for my gluteus medius, because, well, more butt fat to get through — and inserted it into the muscle. It felt like getting a shot, a little pinch, but nothing major. He then needled the spot repeatedly to create muscle twitches. It was like getting a bunch of tiny charlie horses — or, in the case of my quad, one giant charlie horse that caused my whole body to convulse — that would subside. He spent a couple minutes needling each of the three trigger points until, eventually, it felt dull and numb. The most consistently intense pain came when he was needling my gluteus med. I was forced to employ some yoga breathing, but even that subsided.

When he was done needling each spot, he again massaged over the trigger point with his hands. But now, the tender, painful, knotted-up muscles weren’t so tender, painful or knotted-up.

The whole dry needling session only took about 10 minutes.

I was sore afterward; it felt similar to the pain following an intense massage or tough weightlifting workout. Some people bruise, but I didn’t. And my hip felt better. Was that because the hip pain paled in comparison to my new soreness, or was it because it actually worked? Tough to say.

"Stick 'em with the pointy end."

“Stick ‘em with the pointy end.”

But I liked it, and I did it again. The second time, he picked two trigger points, and the results were even more significant (re: painful). One particular muscle twitch caused me to start sweating profusely, the kind of involuntary, all-over body sweat that comes in a tense situation, like turbulence on an airplane or an awkward encounter with an ex.

Still, although it’s painful, it’s a good pain, and it’s over relatively quickly. I also find the science behind it fascinating (now I want to give acupuncture a try, too).

So I’ll keep it up and have faith that dry needling, coupled with regular-ol’ physical therapy and more time off from running, will do the trick.

Fingers, toes, but not legs, crossed. — Mags


Who Are You?

psychiatry-couch2So, I’ve got this theory.

It’s a theory about the true nature of a person and how it manifests itself in a person’s life. I’ve always been fascinated with personality tests and categorizations, but I’m often frustrated with the results because I tend to fall into a couple of different categories. That is, Myers-Briggs doesn’t seem to have me pegged exactly just yet.

So I’ve developed a little personality theory of my own. You see, I spent the majority of my developmental years on the court and on the field, so I have experienced first hand how sports can shape you as a person. As a result, I think sports are much more telling of what kind of person you are than a series of arbitrary questions in a traditional personality test.

But it’s more than just how sports help a person develop and grow. I believe how you participate in sports reveals who you are as a person, and how you deal with athletic pressure reveals how you will function under the pressures of life.

Simply put, I believe who you are in sports is who you are in life.

After all, aren’t sports a big metaphor for our lives?

Like Kim Griffin, 1982 NCAA and U.S. 10,000m champion, once said, “Succeeding in running should be seen as an allegory for succeeding in every aspect of life. Set goals, plan out how to achieve them, then stick to the plan.”

As runners, our true nature comes out on the road. The sheer notion that someone considers him or herself a runner allows us to ascertain a few basic things about their personality. For example, runners generally:

  • Exercise discipline and self-control.
  • Plan.
  • Take initiative and are self-motivated.
  • Have mental and physical endurance.

But outside these sweeping generalizations, there are a million different types of runners. And, this is why I think the way each individual runner handles the stress, fatigue, pressure, pain and, ultimately, victory of running varies on a deeply personal and individual level.

So take a minute and analyze your running self.

  • Do you prefer running alone? With friends? A mix of both?
  • When do you run? Where? Does the route change, or are you a creature of habit?
  • How often do you run? Are you a regular runner or a “binge” runner?
  • Do you run faster when you’re angry? Or when you’re happy?
  • Why do you run? What motivates you?
  • What type of races do you run? Small races? Huge marathons? Unconventional events?
  • How do you react to injury and set-backs?
  • What do you do when you fall short of your goals?
  • What do you do when you attain your goals?

What kind of runner are you? And what does that say about you as a person? A probing self-evaluation just might shed some light onto your true self and help enhance your running — and life — happiness. — Aidz 



Bad Angel Rule #191

a7d80c7afa819562d34397c3cfe9d052Change Up Your Training.

I’ve been training the same way for a very long time, and honestly, I’m getting bored. My motivations and goals remain the same, but I wondered what would happen if I made some tweaks to the program itself. So starting last week, I began to revamp some things to see if I can affect real change. Here’s what’s new:

No more Nike+. I know! How will you know when I’m running? How will I know my monthly totals? Who will cheer for me? It’s all a little ridiculous, and I’ve been on the fence about social sharing for months now. That, coupled with the fact that my phone constantly crashes when I use the app, I’m kinda over it. And let’s be honest, no one really cares how far I ran or my pace or any of that. Sure, my friends are supportive and polite, but I’m willing to bet they won’t miss my running statuses. Now, if I have a great run or race, you’ll still hear about it, don’t worry.

More weights. I have had great success with weight training, but I can’t seem to shake the soreness associated with it, which makes running difficult. It’s obvious that my body is aging, because the older you get, the longer it takes to recover from a hard effort. But all of the research I’ve done points to doing more, not less, to combat soreness. I will approach this very carefully, but I’m going to add one more weight session to the week to see if I can surpass this hump sooner than later.

Follow the 80/20 rule. This training calls for 80 percent of your runs at an easy pace/effort and 20 percent at a hard pace/effort. I struggle most with the easy days, and I must get better at it. This is a goal for 2015, intentional easy running.

More morning runs. I’ve gotten away from the dawn patrol, which means my workouts loom over my head all day and I have to squeeze them in at night. I hate this, and since I hate it, I’m enjoying running less and that’s not good. There’s no reason for me to skip the morning workout. I have 30 extra minutes now that I don’t have to take the kids to daycare; I’ve just been using it to lounge in my robe. Those days are over.

Are you in a rut, feeling bored or just looking for a change? Maybe some of these tactics will spark something for you. Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest difference. — Amie