Happy ACL-aversary!

This week marks 3 years since I broke up with my old busted left knee ACL (thanks to the work of my amazingly talented, trust-him-with-my-life doctor, Todd Ryan) and started a new, healthier relationship with a piece of my own patellar tendon in its place.


This was 3 weeks post-op. You don’t want to see it right after.

That’s right – 1/29 marks three years since I went under the knife to reconstruct my torn left ACL with my own tendon graft after twisting wrong out of a water stop during the Atlantic City Half Marathon in 2012.

That first year was tough, and I still don’t have perfect knees (what runner does?), but I’m grateful every day for that surgery and what it taught me.

I get asked a lot about the surgery and recovery, so in honor of my ACL-aversary, here’s a look back at my surgery journey through blog posts:

This doesn’t cover everything, but it’s a start. And as always, hit the comments with any questions or stories of your own – I love it all!

Happy Knees, Happy Life

Ever since my ACL reconstruction in early 2013, I’ve had knee pain. The surgery knee aches when the weather changes, and I’ve got patellar tendinitis in my “good” knee from favoring it so much post-surgery. To deal with the achiness, I turned to glucosamine and chondroitin (PS, don’t tell me these aren’t words, autocorrect. They very much ARE words). After surgery, my surgeon recommended I take them via a supplement to help with joint discomfort – but the pills were HUGE. Seriously, they’d get stuck in my throat and hurt all the way down… not fun. So I chose achy knees over choking and stopped taking them.

When when I discovered Joint Juice, angels sang. It’s the same stuff in those honking-ass vitamins, but in a tasty liquid that’s only 20+ calories per bottle. Full disclosure: Joint Juice hooked me up with a bunch of juice and asked me to talk about it here on the blog, but I was happy to do so because I was already a fan. I love reviewing stuff – and don’t hold back on my real opinions, even if they’re negative! – but when it comes to something you put in your body, like this supplement, I would never recommend something I didn’t use myself.

And use it I do! It doesn’t erase the pain entirely (nothing will do that), but the aches take longer to set in during a run, and go away faster afterwards. I also threw in a Plyoga class (hello, jump squats and side lunges), lifting, biking, boot camp, and other stuff that make my knees go “nope”, and never slowed down. Even last night’s 4 mile treadmill run felt like a breeze, and the treadmill is usually where my knees go to die!


Because I’m a science-behind-the-magic nerd, I learned that glucosamine occurs naturally in your body. We tend to produce less as we age (and piling on the miles doesn’t help either), so supplements like these actually do help. And chondroitin is a major factor in healthy cartilage, meaning that when you combine it with glucosamine, you get improved joint function and mobility.


Yes, that’s a mini fridge filled with Joint Juice and champagne. This is 32, guys.

Long story short, I highly recommend this stuff! If you’re looking for something to help your joints as you ramp up your spring training, you can find it at Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or order at their online store. I dig the Cran Pomegranate flavor (if you couldn’t tell by the picture of our mini fridge up there), but the Blueberry Acai was delish too. Try it out and let me know how it helps you run happy!

Do you have any favorite supplements of your own? Any knee issue sufferers prefer something different? Let me know in the comments!

Cinderella’s New Shoes

You know that saying “the grass is always greener”? Turns out it applies to running shoes too.


Back in November, I noticed my knees ached after running even shorter distances. The two pairs of trusty Brooks Transcends I rotated (1’s and 2’s) were both getting up there in mileage, after getting one pair in June and the other in July. So I went back to Road Runner and had my gait analyzed, where I discovered that while my Transcends would still be just fine for my over-pronation, their most popular shoe, the Adrenaline, would also work.


I’d been running in my Transcends for years. They were like a piece of well-loved furniture. Comforting, molded to me, you know how it goes. But I was intrigued by a different style. I had the seven-year itch, but for another pair of sneakers. So I caved and bought the Adrenalines.

The first run was great – this shoe is much lighter than the Transcend, and as a result I felt quicker. But there wasn’t as much cushioning. It felt almost like a pair of well-loved Transcends when all the oomph was gone; not like a hug for my foot, but still comfy. I ran shorter distances for two weeks in them, when suddenly I noticed a new kind of ache after a longer run of 6 miles: my arches were killing me and my calves were tight. With super high arches I’d experienced this before, but never like this. Could it be the shoes?

To test it out, I switched back to my old Transcends for my next run and it was like heaven. The aches and pains disappeared, I ran long and steady, and while my knees were kind of ouchy at the end because they were older shoes, my arches and calves felt like new. That’s what I get for cheating on my old lovers!

IMG_1386 (1)

After a few more experimental runs in the Adrenalines vs. the Transcends, I deduced that it was in fact the shoes that were causing me those pains. This is by NO MEANS a knock against Brooks – I’m one of the  brand’s biggest fans and would never think of jumping ship because of this. It just proved to me once again that there is most definitely such a thing as “the right shoe for you”. I’ve heard horror stories from other folks about switching shoes for a cute style or new color only to get sidelined by injury because of the wrong shoe.

So I returned my slightly used Adrenalines (thanks for the full refund, Road Runner Sports!) and went back for good. Because the Transcend 3 is now out and the 2’s gave me a tiny top-of-the-arch issue, the 1’s will forever have my heart. And without knowing what the new style has in store for me, I got 2 pairs of 1’s for the same price as ONE pair of the new 3’s. Bargain shopping for the win!

Have you ever cheated on your perfect shoe before? How did it go?

Everything’s Better at the Beach

This weekend the hubby and I made our 9th annual trip down to Long Beach Island, NJ, for a few nights of relaxation, seafood, claw games, and fun – and even though it rained for most of the time, we still had one of our best trips yet!

We arrived in the early afternoon on Friday to a brisk 59 degrees and a light on-and-off drizzle, but we made the best of things by hanging out at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and heading out to one of our favorite low-key restaurants before taking over the arcade for shoot-em-up video games, skee-ball, Donkey Kong, and claw machines!




I won little Grumpy Cat on the first try!

The next day I woke up and decided to go for a run. I tried something different and took a gel (peanut butter flavored, my new fave!) about 20 minutes before I hit the pavement instead of during the run, and I think I’ve finally cracked the fueling code! It made a huge positive difference in my run and I look forward to trying it out at the Oakley Mini 10K this weekend.


It was a perfect 55-ish and still drizzly but not enough to stop me – I took off down one of the super-long, super-straight roads that go the entire length of the island and fell into a rhythm almost immediately. See the runner in the dark blue shirt and shorts in the distance on the left up there? I kept her about that far away from me for the first mile and found that her 11:15/mile pace was almost effortless for me! That was a huge shock, especially after all the wine (and ice cream!) I had the night before – hey, it’s vacation, I don’t deny myself the yummy stuff!


I set out with the goal of doing 5 miles, so I planned on going out 2.5 then heading back. LBI is my favorite “destination running” spots because the roads are as flat as you can possibly get and the area is so runner/biker/fitness-friendly that you can’t help but want to get out there with your people as often as possible. Even in the miserable weather, the 2-3 other runners and bikers that passed by gave me big waves and hearty “Good morning!”‘s – I swear if it weren’t for our jobs, we’d move down there in a heartbeat!


Everything’s alright down the shore – even a run in the rain 🙂

Suddenly around mile 1.5, the skies opened up and unleashed a full-on monsoon! My unwitting pacer slowed down slightly but I kept pace – I hate passing people then seeing them pass me when I inevitably slow down later! So for about 10 minutes we ran through the rain, me about 15 feet behind her and both of us wiping buckets of water away from our eyes every few feet. I was drenched in seconds, but I can’t lie – I felt pretty badass 😉

I briefly considered turning around at mile 2 and calling it at 4 miles, but persisted. After 10 minutes, the soaking rain started to taper and my pacer slowed to a walk. That’s when I decided to keep going for my 2.5 miles and passed her, thanking her for pacing me as I did, to which she smiled widely and said “No problem!” I love that island.

From there I stayed steady for the next half mile and finally turned around at around mile 2.5, seeing that my pacer had vanished. I briefly worried that I would slow down without her, but I did just fine! At mile 3.5 I stopped briefly to adjust my BioSkin (both the brace and my capris were completely soaked through so a little slippage was expected!), and  the wet weather did cause my ACL to ache in general. But other than that I felt great all the way through mile 5 as I stopped right at our hotel and discovered what an absolutely stunning time I had posted!


Seriously, I haven’t seen consistent, effortless numbers like that since before my ACL surgery, so this was a serious breakthrough. I haven’t been logging as many pavement miles as I feel like I should be, but my knees need a break and the DeskCycle is evidently keeping my endurance up quite nicely! The only negative part about this run though? The completely solid, knotty rat’s nest that was my ponytail after an hour in the wind and rain:



After 20 minutes of conditioner and painful combing, I managed to tame my mane and we headed out to the local Wine Festival, conveniently being held right down the road! I swear I didn’t plan it like that, it was just a happy coincidence!
IMG_6016The next day (yesterday), I woke up early and took off for a quick, watchless 2-miler to wake up and stretch out – the hotel bed was absolute murder on my back. I also wanted to keep up the momentum from Saturday’s run, and had a great time! While I don’t think I was as fast (I can’t be sure), the beautiful sunny weather and gorgeous scenery made it perfect. After we packed up the car, we ended our vacay with a walk on the beach and the most perfect ice bath ever:


As I stood there letting the water freeze up my toes, I looked out at the waves and breathed in deeply a few times. Things have been a little hectic lately; and without getting into too much detail, I got a bit of a wake up call a few weeks ago and realized that I had to refocus and re-prioritize what’s really important to me.


It’s a hard lesson to learn (especially when you’re a stubborn Polack like me) but this weekend was just what I needed, and those few moments of peace were the cherry on top. And as if I needed any more proof that was the case, a little waterlogged ladybug landed on my toe in the water as I stood there!


Don’t worry – I saved him and left him on a wooden dune fence to finish drying out 🙂

So that was my weekend – how was yours? Did you have any running adventures, or do you have any planned in the future? How do you find a proper balance between life, work, and family? Have you ever experienced the ponytail from hell after a messy run like that? Tell me everything!


Review: BioSkin Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap

A few weeks ago, a rep from BioSkin contacted me about writing a review in exchange for some gear and I jumped at the opportunity: I’m always looking for new tools to help build my strength & improve my running. Plus I love sharing info with you guys – it can be hard to weed through the endless stream of running-related products out there and I rely heavily on runner reviews of products before I buy, so now’s my chance to give back with a review of my own!

After offering to send me a pair of compression calf sleeves, I asked the rep if I might be able to try out one of their knee braces instead. I explained that ever since my knee surgery, I’ve dealt with recurring knee injuries; most recently the patellar tendonitis flare up last summer that caused me to drop from the full marathon to the half in October.

The rep was super helpful and offered their Q-Baby Patella Tendon Strap. After my injury last summer I picked up a similar (albeit much cheaper) little tendon strap from the local running store and found it to be immensely helpful. Until it gave me a rash while running and stretched out to the point of being unusable after a week. I had high hopes for this BioSkin brace, and I’ll spoil the surprise for you right now by saying I was not disappointed!

IMG_5348The brace arrived much quicker than expected, along with a handful of snack samples and a fun ladies cut t-shirt too. This made me laugh – in the rep’s initial email, he actually said “I see that you like to take the occasional running selfie, so how about we give you a shirt, too?” I was super impressed – the man had done his homework!

IMG_5345 IMG_5346aThe next morning I decided to test this baby (literally, the Q-Baby – what a cute name for a brace) in some pretty harsh conditions: by 9am it was already 80 degrees and rising, at about 75% humidity. Because the sun was so hot, I opted to run under the shade of Holmdel Park, which worked out great: I was able to really put myself – and the brace! – to the test with hills, uneven trails, and lots of other knee-crushing fun. If it could survive an hour or more of sweat and challenging terrain, it could probably survive anything I’m capable of.


I was a little intimidated at first by the setup of the brace – it’s comprised of two parts that all velcro together – but the instructions were super easy to follow and I got it right on the first try. The design and quality stood out immediately: because the strap narrows down in the back, you don’t get the itchy discomfort of leftover velcro rubbing on your skin with every step, and the second part of the brace served as reinforcement to the first compressive strap. This means that even if the initial brace with the compressive pad stretched out like my old cheapie brace did (which the Q-Baby did not, more on that later), the second strap that wraps around it will still be there to hold the pad against the tendon and ease your pain.


After a few hops and laps around the yard without any brace slippage or pain (hooray!), I hopped in the car, picked up my running buddy, Kevin, and we headed to the trails. Once we warmed up and started to pick up the pace, the sweat started to drip pretty much everywhere. It was one of those humid days where your legs instantly get a sheen of sweat as soon as you step outside, but that did nothing to move this brace. In the first mile we trekked over rocky hills and a cute little bridge and I absolutely forgot about the brace on my knee. No pain in the patella, no uncomfortable rubbing from the brace, nothing!

IMG_5401At mile one we made a bathroom stop, and that was the only time I adjusted the brace all day. It wasn’t slipping, but I tightened it more for reassurance than anything, because we were ready to attack the next 4 miles with intensity. We’d coast down hills in one mile then double back to see if we could keep pace on the way back up, and breathlessly fought each rolling hill. It was hard work, especially in that heat, but we had a blast!

IMG_5390From the moment we started until the very last steps, my knee felt great. In humidity it tends to act up, but the brace was like a little security blanket that kept it happy and allowed me to really push myself. I was even able to shift my weight and experiment with different ways of tackling the hills, like focusing on using my glutes on one, then using my hamstrings on another. I was able to use my legs in ways that I’d been previously afraid to because of my tendonitis, thanks to this brace!

IMG_5395When we finished our 5 miles in 1:15, I expected the strap to be stretched out and basically unusable (just like my old cheapie brace). But even after more than an hour of bending, sweating, and running, I was shocked to find that with the exception of some streaks of sunblock, it’s still in perfect shape and ready to rock again. I can’t wait to take it out on another run and see what else I’m capable of!

Have you tried BioSkin before? Are you digging any other compression/braces to ease your aching joints? Share your opinions in the comments!

Disclosure: BioSkin provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

It’s been a quiet month for me as far as running goes – but I’m happy about that! After my excellent 5K at the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line, I thought I’d be itching to get back on the pavement to see how much better I could get! But the day after the race I took off on a rocky cruise vacation where running was all but impossible without Dramamine (damn my inner ear imbalance!), so I focused on strength training instead.

photo 1Roses are red, poems are hard, go to the gym and squat.

When we returned I was happy to hit the bricks again, and maintained that 11-15 mile a week average that I stick to in the non-training months. But I also really liked the feeling I had after my strength training workouts! So in addition to running, I added a few more strength sessions into the rotation each week, working up to 3-4x.

I know I’m stating the obvious when I say this, but all of that strength training has got me feeling super strong! I’m so pleased at how easy it’s become to open the heavy-ass door of my office building every morning, and how little energy it takes to haul multiple grocery bags anymore. But the best part is how great it’s got my knees feeling! That pinchy twinge I get when I try to squat or bend has all but disappeared! Stairs in heels don’t need to be taken one at a time, because my quads are finally (FINALLY!) starting to get that old strength back.

ACL surgery was an eye opening experience, and I’m amazed to see that it’s still teaching me things almost 2 years later. Yes: recovery was hard work – going from 20-ish miles a week to *nothing* for 3 months will seriously kill your strength. But it’s just the bare minimum. Once they get you back up on two legs and release you into the wild, you need to do some serious pushing on your own!
photo 2
In the 2 years since my surgery, without that doctor telling me to do my clamshells every day or the therapist urging me to try one more flight of stairs, I got – for lack of a better word – lazy! I thought “OK, I’m out of therapy, I’m ready to go!” and I jumped right back into running. Sure, I was vaguely aware of the need to incorporate strength training into my routine, but dammit, self-motivation is hard! Especially when my knees were killing me all the time from the rapidly increased mileage.
YES, hindsight is 20/20, and I realize NOW that my knees were achy because I let the weights collect dust, but you live and you learn.
The moral of the story is I’m happy to report that I’m finally feeling more balanced in my fitness routine – without something to train for, I’ve been able to take a break from the stressful “must get the miles in!” anxiety and really focus on strength, and I’m loving every minute of it. How about you? How many days do you strength train when you’re training vs. off-schedule? Let’s compare notes!

The Girl Who Cried Marathon – Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post, but I’m back! And it has been a week or two, let me tell you. After getting all jazzed up for my long run with my last post, I made the bold choice of going for a 6 miler that Thursday night.


The first three miles were filled with pace-destroying calf pain, a totally new issue. I’d had calf strain issues due to overcompensation on that leg in a few recent runs, but nothing like this. I couldn’t go more than 50 yards without walking because of this intense burning sensation from my ankles to my knees. It subsided around mile 3 and was replaced with major chafing for the last 3 miles. BUT I finished 6 in [relatively] good time, then rested Friday and set out Saturday for my long run. And it was bad.

I was motoring through mile 6 when the wheels fell off the wagon. My knees locked up, my calves coiled into tight springs, and I felt a shooting pain grow from the outside of my right foot straight through my right calf up to the knee. I walked in circles, stretched it, even sat on a curb to rest, but it wasn’t having any of that. When I tried to run one last block, my right knee gave out and I had to call my husband to come pick me up.

Talk about a shame spiral while I waited? In 15 minutes, I went from “You can’t even finish a 13 mile training run” to “You can’t finish anything you start, even your marriage is just you trying to pretend to be an adult.”

photoMy inner voice can be a real douchebag sometimes.

So I punished my body all of the next day working in the yard, rested on Monday, then tried running again on Tuesday and found that I was ok after 2 miles. Not 100%, but OK. Wednesday I took off from running and told myself to focus on really pushing for a full night of cross training. So I surprised the hell out of myself with a double workout at the gym.

photo 1 And I felt great!

I started with a nice slow stretch, then did 4 miles in 50 minutes on the elliptical. After some more stretching I finished with 25 solid minutes in the pool. Lap after lap, I build my confidence up, stretched out those sore muscles, loosened everything up and generally played mermaid.Then that night I spent some time researching the possible causes of my injuries. I watched videos on common running problems, read up on knee issues, and picked up a few things that I couldn’t wait to try out on Thursday. I was tired by the time my run rolled around after work, so I told myself to go by feel with my new knowledge.

And 6 absolutely pain free miles later I was smiling from ear to ear 🙂

photo 2

That is one happy runner.

Throughout the run, I focused on 3 little things that added up for a huge difference:

  1. Shortening my stride. Overstriding is a common running issue that creates knee/calf issues, and as it turns out, I was doing it. A LOT.
  2. Paying closer attention to my pace. I stopped doing that a while ago because I just wanted to get faster but I only ended up going too fast and burning myself out early.
  3. NOT paying attention to my overall time. In my rush to get faster, I was too focused on what my overall time should be, and getting discouraged when the number wasn’t what I expected.

By the end of 6 miles, I felt great! Tired and spent, but good. A few aches in my calf, a tight back… I certainly couldn’t have done it all over again back to back to make 12, though. So while I was thrilled to have figured out what was causing some of my major issues I still had some lingering doubts, mostly about how I was going to build up my endurance to:

  • do what I just did 3 more times in a row
  • PLUS 2.2 more miles for a full 26.2 miles…
  • in just 6 weeks.

In my next post, we’ll look at that list in greater detail… and you’ll finally learn what the title of this post is all about!

High Five (+2)

photo 1slap it high!

If you’re wondering what the title is about, I ran 7 miles this past weekend! That’s a big deal considering our beach vacation the week before turned me into a jelly-like, suburned wad of cookie dough. But let’s start from the beginning.

I packed two running outfits for the 2 nights we’d spend in Atlantic City. I wanted to run on the boardwalk. It would be great practice. BUT. Vacation (and red wine) has a way of sneaking up on you, and I’m sorry to say that the sneakers didn’t even come out of the suitcase the whole time. I know, bad runner! But I have no regrets, because I hit it hard for about 3.5 miles the night we came back and felt pretty good.

photo 2I mean with this view, how could I not?

Friday I relaxed so that I could run long on Saturday. 7 miles! It was a high, apple-pie-in-the-sky kind of goal, but I didn’t back down. Well, I kind of did when I lazed around too long in the morning and missed my running window before my hair appointment at 11:30am, but I manned up and ran at night. And it was a run. It wasn’t the worst, but it most certainly wasn’t my best either. It was just… a run. Because while my good (right) knee is still achy at times due to runner’s knee, I’m now developing similar pains in my left (ACL) knee too!

You see, for the first mile or so of every run this week, both knees decide to act about 75-80 years older than me. But rather than call the whole thing off at the start of each run like I think I should, I push through every time and have found that with slowing my pace and focusing on my knees, I’m able to get past the pain and correct my form so that it’s not as excruciating as it was last month! So that’s a plus 🙂

Towards the end of mile 5, I started to get those doubts again – “If you can barely finish 7 now, what business do you have taking on 26 in 2 months??” BUT thanks to new positive thinking methods I squashed that thinking pretty quickly, with a promise to take one day – and one run! – at a time. The only way I’m going to be strong enough is by training, and training HARD. But I’ve got it in me. I know I do.

So Sunday I cross trained (the benefits of bumping up my long run to Saturday: an extra day of cross training!) with my Bosu ball, and let me tell you – that stuff is no joke! I took it easier on the squats because of my tender knees but didn’t skip anything, and I’m still feeling it in my core today!

photo 3

And apparently I love bright colors.

Monday and Tuesday I went right back into running mode and I’m finally feeling ready to call myself a “runner” once again.

After 3 sweaty miles with some new on Tuesday night, I iced and prepped for a second straight day of running, which I haven’t done in almost 3 months. I wanted to baby my knees but now that I’m getting more confident in my form and the rest of my leg strength, I’m going to give it a shot. After all, I can’t build up my mileage base without actually putting on the miles. it’s time to shut up and nut up!

My 4 miles yesterday though? Were a total suckfest. I tried a new approach and went while it was still light out, before dinner. The last few weeks of running at night after dinner have been a bit of a struggle – I always rush into the run, trying to beat the sunset to get the miles in but my pace has suffered because I’m still digesting.

The result of this new approach was 4 hot, sticky miles of UGH. I walked a few times, and even had to stop to take off my calf sleeves because they were cramping up my legs (maybe they were too tight? anyone else experience this wtf moment?), and I legitimately fantasized for all 4 miles about a dog at the park breaking off of its leash and mauling me and giving me an excuse to lay down and stop running. It was THAT bad.

photo 5

I AM smiling.

So imagine my surprise when I finally made it to mile 4 and stopped my Garmin: I had clocked an even 12 minute mile all 4 miles! I haven’t seen pacing like that on a run over 2 miles since May!! WTF? Even though I felt like dying the whole time, I still managed to eke out one of my best times in 3 months.

You know, every time I think I understand this running thing, it pitches me another curveball like this. And that makes me love it even more. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

Keepin’ it Real

I don’t want to delude anyone or say everything’s happy slappy when it really isn’t. So here it goes: my knee is killing me. My good knee. The one that wasn’t cut open and operated on last year. It’s the knee that stood strong after its partner was disabled and carried me solidly through the finish line of my half marathon in April without a twinge. Until this past month. It started after a random run in mid-June. A stabby-ache started ust under the kneecap and I would baby it when I wasn’t running, but still the pain returned.

photo 2Getting real tired of your shit, legs.
It finally became a thing last week. A hard run early in the week, excruciating pain while walking downstairs at work in platform sandals the next day, and the ankle roll on Friday all culminated into a very bad, no good long run that didn’t pan out this past weekend when I went up to Packanack Lake to join my “marathon machine” friend (I’m sorry if you don’t like the name, Tina, but I’m not changing it) because our long runs were the same distance. In case the knee gave me hell, I brought my bike along. And it’s a good thing I did. Because give me hell it did.
photo 3Thank goodness the view was nice.
As we got to the parking lot at the end of the first 2.5 mile lap, I tapped out and hopped on my bike. My knee felt much better, but as I struggled up one last hill to start lap 3 on the bike, I hopped onto the downward spiral:
I had 8 miles on the schedule and I didn’t do it. I failed at a long run. And my knee would probably prevent me from getting one in this week. What if it really was injured and I had to skip running for a week or more to let it heal? How would I recover from that in time to run a marathon? Would I have to defer? How humiliating would that be?!! If I talked it up for months and then had to drop out? What a failure. I can’t even train for a marathon right. Millions of people do it every damn year and I can’t even train for 2 months properly without having to quit. Typical, I can’t see anything through to the end…
As I was about to finish 5 miles on the bike, I told myself to suck it up and tried running Tina in as she finished. Instead my knee gave out on me and I hobbled with her back to the car. We chatted for a while, took some selfies on a pretty bridge:
photo 4Why is my head so huge? The world may never know.
Then she took me out for a great post-run Starbucks trip, after which I drove myself home and cried for the. Whole. Hour. In the car. It was not my proudest moment. I just couldn’t help getting caught up in the fear that it was happening all over again and that I was doing everything wrong. So I got home and cried some more, went to lunch with mom for her birthday, and resolved to call the orthopedist the next day. And that’s basically where I’m at right now. Waiting for an appointment to see where this knee takes me and resting in the meantime. I haven’t run since Sunday and it’s still a bit tender. I’m hoping that a few more days of rest will help it get back to normal and that I’ll be smarter about the rest of my training (I’m even looking into a local running clinic to work on my form), and I’m grateful for everyone who’s offered me encouragement and advice these past few days.
I posted this photo with a little caption about my knee pain on Instagram and was so overwhelmed with positivity from my virtual friends that I cried.
photo 5The running community is seriously the best.
So keep checking back as I post more about how this knee feels, how my training goes, and everything else that’s knocking around in my brain – in the meantime, how’s your training going? Tell me everything and let me run vicariously through you in the comments! 🙂

Boot Camp “Fun”

Today, just like last Wednesday, I decided to do cross-training instead of running the miles that were on my plan. At this point, I don’t want to subject my knees to 3 days of running in a row just yet. I had a simple 3 miles today, so I opted to take a free 45-minute boot camp class with my friend before work instead of running for 45 minutes.

Which it turns out was kind of like opting to shave my head and setting my scalp on fire instead of combing my hair.

Anyway – I heard about this class randomly on Facebook at 9pm last night and was intrigued: Back in 2010, I’d taken this very same boot camp for about 3 months when the camp was just starting out. Three times a week after work, I’d join 10 other sweaty folks in a garage for an ass-kicking of epic proportions. Then, with wedding planning in 2011, life got hectic and my wallet got tighter so I didn’t go back. Fast forward to now, when I’ve been looking for something fun and intense to add into my training.

So I asked my friend who is currently a boot camp regular if he wanted to come with me, and he said yes (yay!). Then I set my alarm for 5:20, laid out my clothes, and went to bed early. Waking up before the sun was not something I enjoyed, but when I got there I was greeted with the same old familiar face of the class leader (who did not remember me) and the same old ridiculously insane workout.

photoI’m surprised they didn’t give me a mop afterwards to clean up my sweat.

After warming up with 5 minutes of jumping jacks, planks, and stretches, we broke into groups of 6 and jumped into 40-20’s: Alternating between 40 seconds of 2 exercises 8 times at each of 4 stations, with 20 seconds of rest between each set (MATH!). The punishment began immediately with ball squats/wall ball tosses, followed by 24 inch box steps. I purposely wore my knee brace to keep myself under control (and frankly, to get the instructor to cut me some slack if it looked like I was wimping out), but I surprised myself with my leg strength!

The rest of the workout got progressively harder as I got weaker: 44lb overhead bar presses and 10 squats/1 sprint with a 10lb sandbag on my shoulders, TRX cable tricep dips and kettlebell tosses, topped off with sled pushes across the length of the gym and lifting a tire that may as well have weighed a thousand pounds because my jelly arms couldn’t even lift the damn thing. Seriously, I spent all 4 sets of those tire presses with the stupid thing around my neck because that’s as far as I could lift it.

By the end of the 45 minutes, I was shredded. I haven’t done a super-high-intensity workout like that since before my injury in October of 2012, and that fact was very apparent. I started struggling at just 20 minutes in. It was a wake-up call: I’m nowhere near as strong as I used to be. But instead of getting discouraged, I thought about how much stronger I’m going to be in a few months of training! It was exciting to get my blood pumping again, to feel the “totally spent muscles” burn, to gasp for air between sets.

I’m not saying I’m going to sign up for 3 times a week, but it was definitely a win in the cross-training department. What about you? Do you do boot camp (or Crossfit or TRX or anything else that makes you sweat like a beast)? What’s your favorite cross-training workout?