Wednesday, April 26, 2017

5 Ways to Help a Sore Knee

Spring has sprung up here in Michigan! Temperatures are rising and so is my desire to run longer and faster. I've done two 5K races already this year, and I've got a wish-list of races that I want to sign up for. But first, I have to rehab my right knee. It's super sore right now. I'm not a doctor or physical therapist, but I have a basic understanding of the muscles—I can tell that my pain stems from a tight one.

Maybe it's my sartorius?

leg muscles, knee issues, ACE Fitness
As you can tell by the picture, the sartorius muscle inserts on the medial side of the knee—where my pain is. If the sartorius is tight, it will pull on the knee joint and cause pain and pressure. That said, I supposed I could also have a problematic gracilis muscle. It also inserts on the medial side of the knee. And then there's always the quads and hamstrings. So, who knows really. It's something.

How did I hurt myself?

It started after an indoor 3-mile run. I did my second mile on the treadmill at an incline, which I don't normally do. So I think the hill tightened everything up.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it (for right now, anyway).

What's the pain like? Dull, achey tightness. Nothing sharp, no swelling or bruising, which is also why I think the underlying cause is a tight muscle. At the time, I thought it would go away so I went about my business. Read: Classes, yoga, stretching as per the usual. I don't think it got worse, but it certainly didn't get better.

So here I am.
Focused on helping out my sore knee

Because: I signed up for the Soldier Field 10 Mile Run in Chicago on May 27th.

Stupid? Maybe. I don't know. I ran six miles this Sunday and it felt really good. It's the aftermath that killed me. Which, again, I'm taking as further proof that something is tight. Don't worry (mom), I'm being smart about this.

Got a sore knee? You should be smart about it, too.

dealing with pain, knee issues, leg muscles, foam roller
1) Rest and modify as needed.
I've been modifying my classes this week. Read: I haven't been doing any of the leg work. If something hurts, giving it time to rest is best.

2) Hop on a foam roller. 
When your muscles get tight, you have to find a way to release the tension within. Stretching is great, but can be problematic if taken too far on a particularly rigid muscle. I have four different rollers that I am currently rotating through:

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3) Check out your shoes.
Running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, depending. If you suddenly develop problems out of nowhere, it could be that your shoes aren't cushioning or supporting your feet anymore. A potentially easy fix, right? I just purchased a pair of Saucony Freedom ISO shoes and my Kinvaras are still pretty decent, so in my case, I don't think this is the issue.

runchat, running, fitness gear
4) Medicate carefully.
Prescribing medication to any of my clients is not within my scope of practice. I would never tell you what to take...that's a conversation you need to have with your doctor. I can only tell you what works for me. If you choose to try these methods, that would need to be your call. So, speaking from experience, I can tell you that an anti-inflammatory is helping me. But I'm using them sparingly. This stuff, on the other hand, gets used regularly:

arnica gel, biofreeze, muscle pain, yuni beauty
I also bought some epsom salts. Verdict is still out on their ultimate effectiveness, although I did notice my legs feeling better in the hour or so after my bath. And, you know, it was a good excuse to sit in a hot bathtub for 20 minutes.

5) Call your doctor.
Bottom line, you need to respect what your body is telling you. If these easy methods of pain relief aren't working, you need to take it a step further and get an assessment from a qualified physician. Don't mess around with a nagging pain, friends.

Question: What do you do when you've got a sore spot? Ever have knee issues? How did you make them feel better? What's your take on Epsom salt baths?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

So you want to be a runner...

There's something so incredible about the concept of running. It harnesses two of our greatest human sensations: fear and pleasure. In a book appropriately titled Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall explores this concept. "We run when we're scared, we run when we're ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time," he writes. And he's right. We run. All of us.

Some of us do it for fitness reasons.
Maybe this is you?

If it isn't, that's perfectly fine. Running isn't the only worthwhile of exercise. But if you want to make it your exercise of choice, then I encourage you to begin. Take that first step, maybe two or three, and see how running make you feel.

Good? That's wonderful.
Bad? Totally normal.

As a beginner, you should know the following...

running, running advice, run chat, running shoes
1) Running is hard, and it always will be.
Consider it a beautiful challenge. Running will constantly push you above and beyond your limit, taking you in and out of your comfort zone every time you lace up.

2) Two steps count, so does a mile or a marathon.
Running can be a team sport, but it's very much an individual battle. It's you, your feet, the road ahead and your determination to rise above what you did the day before.Therefore, every step counts.

3) Forward is a pace.
Running is often associated with racing. To some runners, pace (how fast you run) is everything. To others, it doesn't really matter—and that's perfectly fine—because forward movement of any kind will always generate progress toward the end result.

4) Rest is important.
Once you embrace running and all the joys it can generate, it can very easily become that one thing you need to do every single day. BUT—you must rest. The physical aspects of running will challenge any body, and you need to honor yours at all times. So don't deny yourself a rest day when you need it.

running, run chat, running shoes
5) Good shoes make all the difference.
One doesn't need much to run. sure, you can find a wide variety of accessories that will enhance the experience. Realistically, there's only one thing you truly need—great running shoes. So invest in a pair that makes your feet happy, because when your feet are happy, the rest of your body will be, too.

And therein lies the beauty of running.
You can always find joy in the journey.

Question: Are you a runner? Why do you run?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

So I'm running a running store...

I worked a lot of retail in college. I started off at American Eagle Outfitters, after which I went to Bath and Body Works, then Abercrombie and Fitch. When I finished school, I moved on to my first job in advertising, but worked a few hours at Express to fund the professional wardrobe. Truth: I hated that job at Express, so I quit retail and focused on my advertising career, which lasted for seven years before I decided to start a fitness career.

While I made the switch to fitness, I worked at a local boutique. But only for one Summer. Fast forward to today: I've been in the fitness industry for almost seven years now, and I'm not leaving it anytime soon.

Guess what, though?
I'm going back to my roots in the retail industry.

I'm running a running store.

running, run chat, run store, Saucony, Kinvara
No, I didn't quit my job at the gym. I am still the fitness director, also a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. That was, and still is, my primary part-time job. I just added another 15 hours a week to my life with this new position at the running store—managing partner, officially.

I have been tasked with revamping a dying running store that has buckets and buckets of potential. Don't worry, I'm not in it alone. My partner is my running buddy, also a personal trainer on my team at the gym. Neither one of us could do it without the other. We wouldn't have the time. But together, we can be the type of manager the store needs. And we are so excited about that.

Also, we're like Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory.
We are literally surrounded by shoes (and desperately trying not to buy them all).

running shoes, running store, run chat
We are meeting left and right with shoe reps. We've checked Saucony and Mizuno off the list, and are anxiously awaiting our scheduled meetings with Brooks, New Balance and TOPO.

Guys, it's so much fun.
A lot of work, indeed.
But, it's much fun.

This is a different type of retail job than I've ever had before. I'm not following corporate rules and punching a clock. I'm making something, a new environment for every local runner in my town. My partner and I are full of ideas. We have a vision, and we cannot wait to bring it to life.

But first, we have to learn this shoe industry thing. How to order, when to restock...all that good stuff. So some of those big ideas have to wait for a minute while we familiarize ourselves with the inventory, for example:

running store, run gear, run chat
We are fairly stocked with all the essentials, but we see room for more. I'm learning so much about running shoes. I'm even getting sneak peeks at shoes that aren't out yet. Really, though—I'm helping people find shoe love, and in doing so, I'm making connections in the community. And that's what we hope to do with the store.

We want to reconnect it to the community.

My partner and I are (hopefully) going to make this store a hub of running activity. This community we live in, it's full of runners. My town is an active town and hopefully this store will be a bigger part of that.

Again, it's hard work, but I'm loving it.
And I'm so grateful for this new opportunity.


Question: Do you have any retail experience? What stores have you worked at? If you frequent a local running store, what makes you go there versus websites on the Internet? 


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