Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exercise is Medicine!

I trekked back into NYC on Thursday to meet with Dr. Metzl. I don't know what I was hoping for ... maybe a miracle?
Dr. Metzl looked at my MRI and told me that I have the classic hamstring strain with tendinosis, exactly what he explains in the video.
Okay. 
Now what?
Next, he asked me how the leg strengthening exercises are going? I told him, "Great." I went on to explain that I really do feel a difference, and my butt doesn't hurt when I run, or go up a hill, (albeit, I've been choosing small hills). The only time my ass hurts is when I sit for long periods of time, or when I stay in one position too long, like at night, when I'm sleeping. 
Next, he asked me if I've ever done exercises like this before. 
I have, but not everything. I've done the squats, lunges, planks, sit-up, leg-ups, and push-ups, but I've never done them together, as a series, and I've never done them as plyometric exercises - jump squats, jump lunges. Also, I've always worked out doing 10-15 reps. of something. - and not within a time-frame, like doing something for 5 minutes. I told Dr. Metzl that since December, this was the first time I've felt as if I was able to produce force when I run. 
He kept staring at the MRI.
Then, he told me that even though I appear to be a perfect candidate for PRP, he wants to give it 3-4 weeks of the strengthening exercises before we went that route. 
He asked me if I liked the exercises.
I looked that high achieving, very successful Sports Doctor right in the face and lied,
"I love them!"
I really have a love/hate relationship with them. C'mon, it's hard to get up at 5 am, go to the gym, and do burpees, jump squats, push-ups, planks, mountain climbers etc, etc, etc....You have to be, well Half-Crazed, to do all that at 5 am!
It's really crazy when you have the club's personal trainers 
saying that they want you to join their classes, 
but they don't know if they could keep up with you!
So, I pressed on about the PRP, "What's holding you back from saying, 'Let's do this today!'?"He told me because I've felt improvement with the exercises, we should continue the exercises for 3-4 weeks.
So, that's it!
That's where we're at!
Strength Train, Strength Train, Strength Train.
When I was leaving to pay the bill (always fun!), I was given some info. about the PRP. Dr. Metzl's assistant, who gave me the PRP info. is Megan, the young girl in the Runner's World video's - how cool is that? Anyway, she told me that with PRP, you cannot do any lower body exercises for 3-4 weeks afterward!
What?
No running for 3-4 weeks?
But this is my competitive time of year.
I was shooting to do 5 half marathons this spring and summer!
OMG!
There really is no miracle cure!
Waaaaah!
Okay, girl.
Get a grip!
After swallowing that big lump, and reading up on PRP, I have decided to relinquish all power to those grueling, early morning strength sessions (at least for 3-4 more weeks). The exercises really have been helping, and on the positive side ...at least my butt will look better in a bathing suit this summer!
Tell me, what is your favorite strength exercises?
Do you have a favorite butt and hammy strengthening exercise(s)?
Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday: Track & MRI Day!

I've been taking it slow at the track. 
I've been doing all my strength training exercises, 
and I guess that's why
yesterday's four miles actually went really well.
APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE!
Yesterday was the 1st time, that I felt as if my left leg wasn't just absorbing the pounding of running, but was actually able to produce a bit of force. I could tell by how my left foot struck the road. The road seemed to roll off the front of my left foot, instead of feeling as if my left foot was hitting the road flat like it has been lately!
At one point I was running less than 8 minute mile pace 
- with a low heartbeat! 
So, I was psyched to get to the track today and do a little speed work. I warmed up 1.5 miles, did some strides, which were, brace yourself: 2 seconds faster than last weeks! 
Yes! 
I knew I had some force production going on! 
Next, I ran four 400 meters, with a 200 meter recovery jog. That's when I felt all those squats, squat jumps, lunges and lunge jumps catch up to me. In that last 400 meters, my legs felt sooo heavy. I averaged about a 7:20 minute pace. A little slower than I wanted, but, I'll take it. 
I looked forward to an easy mile cool down and some stretching!
Today, after the track, I had to hurry because I had to drive into NYC for my MRI at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). My hammy started to hurt while I was sitting in all that NYC traffic. 
Maybe I was trying to distract myself from the pain, 
or maybe I was just bored sitting in all that traffic, 
but I decided to take pictures. 
I always admire people who stop and take pictures along their races, or their runs. I started to think, "Wow, I never do that, so, instead, I'll take pics of my cross town road trip from the Lincoln Tunnel, to the East side, where HSS is, and back to good old Jersey! 
Here goes:
From the Lincoln Tunnel to 42nd Street!
Okay, there are no dancing feet, up this far on 42nd street! Let's take a left on 8th Avenue, and avoid driving into Time Square!
8th Ave
At least it's a nice day out!
I was hoping it would be better to go east on 56th street, than 42nd Street, 
so I turned right onto 56th from 8th Ave.
56th Street, with the Symphony House on the left.
Next pic - just had to take. Look at how pretty the architecture is of this building. This cell phone shot doesn't do it justice, there's all dental molding around each arched window.
The Manhatten Club on 56 Street
 And look, just a bit further, we have Carnegie Hall!
Do, Re Mi, Fa, So La, Ti , Doooooooo!
And how'd you like to work out here?
New York Health & Racquet Club
Okay, there was too much traffic to snap the shot I really wanted. The one with the delivery truck and the guy squatting to lift something - yeah, thank you Mister for that half moon (and crack shot). If only I was better at driving and taking pics! See, this is why I can't run and take photo's at the same time, I'm just not that coordinated!
A little perspective!
 Here's a not so exciting picture of 5th ,
actually I think it's Madison, Avenue.
Yes, it's out of my sun roof!
And another: Park Ave. 
This is actually one of my favorite streets in Manhattan!
Love the green grass divider!
Grass in New York! Love it!
Next pic, you can't really tell, but that's the Queens Borough Bridge up ahead!
1st Ave
Okay, almost there. Making a right on 70th street, and headed to HSS!
70th Street
I've arrived!
HSS
Wow! I didn't know MRI's were so loud!
Tomorrow, I go back into the city (I promise no pics!), 
to meet with Dr. Metzl, and get a diagnosis!
I think this is 9th Avenue
On my way back to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Lincoln Tunnel
How lucky am I? It's Passover, it's about 4:30 pm, and there's no traffic! I thought for sure there would be traffic. I guess it's still early. 
Okay, back in Jersey, and passing Giants Stadium. 
Let's go Giants!
Crappy shot of Giants Stadium to the left! 
And this is where the New York Giants train: Timex Performance Center, 
the dome-like building on the left.
Okay, this is a crappy pic, too, but there's no traffic,
so I'm doing at least 60 mph!
I couldn't wait to get home, my butt was really killing me from sitting in the car.
Home Sweet Home!
The snow crocuses are in bloom, on the front lawn, greeting me ....but, oh my aching butt!
Overall, it was your typical drive into Manhattan!
Tomorrow's repeat will be, I'm sure, just as thrilling!
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Baby Steps on the Track!

Don't you hate when you've skipped some work outs and you feel all yukky about yourself?
Like the other day when I got a call from my Sissy. She was asking me something about running - and I snapped, "Look, I'm lucky I can walk these days without pain. I haven't run!"
It's true, I haven't run since March 11th. 
Now, everywhere I go, I see happy runners:
Dropping my kids off at school: Happy Runners
Driving to classes: Happy Runners.
Off to the supermarket: Happy Runners.
Picking kids up from school: Happy Runners
Everywhere: 
Happy Runners, Happy Runners, Happy Runners!
Snap Out Of It!
So, today, I was determined.
I was getting back out there and starting small ...
Baby Steps.
Last week, I had my X-Ray and meeting with Dr. Metzl. When I asked if if I could run, he said, "Do what you're used to doing, but as soon as you feel pain, STOP!" He also told me to shorten my stride. I've been watching his Runner's World video's, "The Doctor is In", and picked up on his recommendation to run on flat roads.
So, yesterday, I did Dr. Metzl's recommended glute strengthening exercises 
- like a million different types of squats. 
It's very challenging!
And today, 
I ran on the track 
- a good flat start! 
I completed a 1.5 mile warm-up, and assessed myself to see if there was any pain. Nope, no pain, so I continued. I did 4 strides - a lot slower than normal - and I shortened my stride. I assessed again: No pain, yet - so I did two more strides, which were about 8 seconds slower than my best stride pace.
I repeated my new mantra: 
Baby steps, 
Baby steps, 
Freakin' Baby Steps, girl!
Next, I tried a little speed - about four 300meters at a 7:30 minute pace - a whole minute slower than I am used to doing! Again, I reassessed --> Still, no pain - just really tender from doing all those butt strengthening exercises. I followed all that up with a one mile cool down, about 100 walking lunges, and lots of stretching.
Next week, I have an MRI scheduled, and a follow-up with Dr. Metzl. Until then, Baby Steps - with my new goal for a strong butt! Besides, Maxine is right ...

Train Smart Today!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Through the tears, Comes hope

Well, I haven't been doing so great lately. 
The pain in my hamstring and butt has not gone away, even with lowering my mileage, and doing glute, hammy, and quad strengthening exercises. I stopped going to the Chiropractor, the ART therapist and the acupuncturist. They were only band-aids, I really just need:
A diagnosis.
I wanna know ...
Why is my butt killing me? 
Really, my 18-year-old gives me some problems, but I wouldn't consider her a true pain in the ass!
Well, not like this. 
This pain keeps me up at night, it cripples me on long car rides, and look ...
I got balls!
... this is what I use while I'm doing research, writing papers and studying.
I'm done!
And, the tears ...
I'm thinking,"Well, if can't train without pain, and I can't run without pain, I most definitely can't plan my next half-marathon!"
This goal is important to me. 
It really means something, to me. 
Recently, a few friends have been telling me, I guess, the obvious, "Get a diagnosis!" My chiropractor suggested that I go to The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Another friend suggested that I seek out a Sports Medicine doctor who runs, understands runners, and treats runners. 
So, that's what I did. 
I did a little research, and found Dr. Metzl, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery. And get this, "His focus is to safely return athletes to the playing field of their choice." He writes for Triathelete Magazine, and he has written two books, The Young Athlete and the one I just purchased, The Athlete's Book of Home Remedies.
Can't wait to get my copy!
So, as luck would have it, when I called, the young lady booking appointments told me there was a cancellation, and I could come in Friday at 1 pm. Poor girl, I couldn't stop crying, because when I called I was in so much pain, I just kept repeating, "I'm really not a basket-case. I' really not. I'm just in sooo much pain, right now." She was adorable, very encouraging and reassuring. I gave her a little bit of my background, and then she said those magic words,
"Dr. Metzl is going to want to see you reach your goal!"
Well, hallelujah! That's what I needed to hear. So, I booked the appointment, and yesterday, I drove into the city to meet with Dr. Metzl.
I even fought cross town traffic and made it on time!
A real first, for me! 
I checked in, got and x-ray, and met Dr. Metzl. 
He looked at my x-ray, and told me that it could be a number of things: a tear in the hamstring (let's hope not), tendinitis, or (most likely) tendinosis. He said that my tendon holding my left hammy to the ischial tuberosity (bottom part of my pelvis) is probably, "Really Angry," because I have a weak butt.  
He then forwarded me a link of a video that he put together for Runner's World, Inside the Doctor's Office: Kick The Pain in Your Butt.  
If you have a pain in the butt, 
from running 
(and not you're spouse, children or boss) 
you gotta watch this video. 
Dr. Metzl explains what the pain is, how to diagnose the pain, and how to treat the pain. For now, I am still in the diagnosing phase. 
Next step: 
An MRI!
So, meeting Dr. Metzl was cool - and he didn't even get upset when I asked him twice, three times, okay, four times, 
"How long until I feel better?"
He just looked at me, smiled and said those magic words:
"Oh, don't worry, I will get you to reach your goal."
13th Half-Marathon: 1st place in my age group
Goal: 37 more trophies - just like this one!
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Food Facts: Quinoa, March's Grain of The Month

That's right.
According to The Whole Grain Council
Quinoa is "March's Grain of The Month".

This is because in the South American Uyuni Salt Flats, 13,000 feet high on the plains of the Andes, quinoa is harvested in late March. For two days, the peoples in the Andes Mountains hold a traditional Harvest Festival this time of year to celebrate this super grain.
Quinoa, Flowering!
What makes quinoa so super?
Personally, I think quinoa has reached "Celebrity Status" not because of its tie to sacred Incan rituals, but because it's a great source of protein. Just one cup provides 8 grams of protein! So, maybe the Incan peoples weren't so far off believing quinoa empowered them, and was why they could survive the harsh conditions of the Andes Mountains. Maybe a little more quinoa in my diet could have helped me fair better through this harsh, bitter cold winter we've been having!
Let's not leave out our U.S. Native American Indians. 
History shows that they too grew Quinoa
 - in fact caves along the lower Mississippi have revealed 
remnants of Quinoa in charred baskets!
So, just 1 cup provides 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber (>3grams = high fiber food). This combo - protein and fiber - has been shown to help you feel fuller, longer. What's more is, unlike beans, quinoa protein is a complete protein.
Super Me!
One cup of quinoa provides 20% of the RD value of Folate and B vitamins, aiding in tissue repair; it's high in potassium to help with regulate blood pressure; provides magnesium, nature's muscle relaxant; and phosphorus for that high energy ATP molecule; as well as iron to help your blood carry oxygen - oh yeah, all this for only about 220 calories!
Quinoa is versatile, too. 
See, it's not really a grain, but a seed to a plant related to the beet, chard and spinach family. This makes it a perfect "cereal, grain or flour" substitute for people who are looking for gluten-free alternatives. Lots of home bakers are substituting wheat flour with quinoa flour to make breads and pastas. 
Quinoa is so popular,
you don't have to make anything yourself, 
there are lots of products already marketed using quinoa
- like pasta and surprisingly, even beverages!
Quinoa cooks in about 10-15 minutes, and can be eaten plain like a couscous, or added to rice, beans, soups or salads. Some great recipes can be found at Bob's Red Mill,  Cooking Light, and The Whole Grain Council.

This one looks delicious:
Chick Pea Bajane
Do you eat quinoa?
Do you have a favorite quinoa recipe?
I'de love to learn more.
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Food Facts: March is National Nutrition Month!

I knew there was a reason I gave birth to my son in March: 
It's National Nutrition Month!
Well, at least it is according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Stop sulking mini-man....

Huh?
The real reason you were born in March was to worry me to pieces when you turn 21, since you were born on March 17th, St Patty's Day. Yup, I can still hear your Dad say, "The boy will never have to buy a drink on his birthday."
Yeay ... I think?
National Nutrition Month is The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics campaign to help educate people on the importance of making good food choices. 
Do you think this is important?
Or do you think this is an organizations way of justifying itself
and spending government funds?
Does anyone care?
Based on these statistics, it does not seem as if anyone cares:
2011 CDC Heart disease, Cancer,  Stroke, Respiratory and Diabetes
Top USA Disease-Related Deaths
Unless ...people don't realize that what they eat, drink and put in their body, like cigarettes or recreational drugs, actually effects their health. 
Is that possible?
Absolutely, positively! That has got to be part of the reason. Why else would a national organization launch a campaign every March to help educate people on the importance of healthy food choices?

So what can you get out of this program?
At Eatright.org there are lots of tips. Just go to that link provided (after, of course, fully enjoying this post) and move your cursor to the left side bar. Here, you have tons of tips on healthy weight and healthy weight loss, how to use the MyPlate Guide, how to eat right on a budget, how to eat right while managing a chronic disease, allergies or learning disabilities, and how to eat right if your a woman, a man, a kid, or an athlete. There are even articles on how to keep food safe, and avoid food poisoning. Move your cursor down, a bit, and you can calculate your BMI, Body Mass Index.

Today, I'm going to interview someone and get a 24hour recall of what foods they ate, yesterday. It's for my nutrition counseling class. After the interview, I'm going to plug this information into Supertracker. I will get a break down of their total caloric intake, percentage of carbohydrates, protein and fat. It's a great tool!
You can even use this tool to set goals for yourself, like:
I want increase my fruit and veggie intake to 
2 fruits and four 1/2 cup servings of veggies per day.
Then, track, or supertrack, your intake and what's on your plate!
I love MyPlate
I really do love MyPlate, it's such a better visual than My Pyramid. Only thing it's missing is the exercise aspect. Do you think MyPlate should promote physical activity in any way? Or do you think it's fine the way it is?
How would you build physical activity into this picture?

Stop by Eatright.org and celebrate National Nutrition Month, and
Train Smart Today!