As most of you know, I am elbow deep in training for the Chicago Marathon. It will be my first marathon and let me tell you a little somethin’ somethin’ about the training. There is a LOT of running involved. No. Seriously. Like 4 days a week, somewhere in between 6 and 15 miles each time. And the days I’m not running, I’m thinking about it. I think about it when I walk from my desk to the water cooler for the 7th time that day to refill my cup, so I will be totally hydrated in this humidity. I’m thinking about it when I’m watching Husband and our friends partake in alcoholic beverages on a Friday night, while I sip – YEP – water in preparation for my long run the next morning. I’m thinking about it when the clock says 8:30pm and I have convinced myself that it is perfectly cool and not lame to go to bed before the sun goes down, so that when my alarm goes off at 4:30am I don’t go into a murderous rage. And I’m thinking about it when everyone wants Mexican for lunch and I stay back to eat my nice, non-tummy aggravating quinoa and veggies. So there’s that.
I’m not burned out yet. I say yet because I’m afraid it is going to happen. See, I used to HATE running. So much that when I was in 8th grade and found myself on the track team, I would lie to get out of running. How did I find myself on the team if I hated it so much? I honestly can’t remember – I was at a new school and my GUESS is that I was trying to impress a boy. And his name might have been Shiloh. And it totally worked because Shiloh gave me my first french kiss, which was totally awkward because while we were kissing I started swaying as if we were slow dancing because dancing was the only other time my face was so close to a boy for so long of a time, and people saw and made fun of me….I’m sorry – we aren’t on that story are we?
Back to track. I was on the track team, and because the coach knew I was athletic (I was also on the volleyball team), she thought it MUST mean that I am an awesome runner. Not the case. She signed me up for events like hurdles, the 100 yard dash and the mile relay. So what did I do? Faked volleyball injuries. I said that my volleyball coach didn’t want me to run and potentially injure myself, and that I could only do non-running related events, like shot put. 8th grade me didn’t understand that my coaches probably talked to one another in the teacher’s lounge and that I was totally busted. Nevertheless, it turns out I suck at shot put and was only on the track team for a season. Believe it.
That was 1995. And 17 years later, I still look at people weird when they call me a runner. ME? No, you must be mistaken. I can’t run more than a mile without getting so winded that my breathing sounds like your aunt who smokes Unfiltered Reds. I can’t run farther than 6 blocks without getting so incredibly bored that I start playing the “Step On a Crack” game with myself and don’t get too far before I break momma’s back. Sorry, Lil Kathy.
Except that I can. So because I’m “not a runner”, I have to mix up my workouts so I don’t burn out. And I know changing up my workouts keeps my body guessing, which equals more efficient muscle burning! Since I follow some AWESOME fitness bloggers like Annette, Tina and Melissa, I have access to great workouts. Like this one from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers. It left my upper body burning in that “I want more” way. Thanks, Julie!
With all this running and strength training, my muscles have been pretty tired and sore. If you spend any time being active, you know what I mean. Here are some foods to ease those aches – all natural and probably already in your kitchen! And don’t forget R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Recover smart, recover quick!
Pain Fighting Foods:
1. Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale and green lettuces are rich in muscle-relaxing magnesium, which relieves post-exercise pain, fibromyalgia and migraines. Try and consume 500mg of the green stuff each day to reap the therapeutic benefits. (A cup of spinach contains about 150mg).
2. Tart cherry juice: Antioxidants in cherries fight muscle and joint pain from strenuous exercise, osterarthritis and gout. Docs recommend 8oz of the red juice per day – check your local grocery stores health food section or Trader Joe’s. Tart cherries are also known to help lull you to sleep, so try and drink closer to bed time.
3. Salmon: Omega-3 fats in salmon and other fatty fish reduce inflammation, easing pain from arthritis and migraines. Aim for 2 to 4 servings a week or at least 3000mg a day of fish oil supplements. Are you a veggie? Try chlorella and spirulina instead!
4. Turmeric: Used in India to relieve pain and swelling, this spice has been shown to inhibit the destruction of joints from arthritis. If you are typically achy, take 2-3 tsp of powdered turmeric daily; add to dishes, take capsules or brew into a tea. For turmeric tea, simmer 1 TBSP of ground turmeric in water for about 10 minutes. Strain, add honey and lemon to taste.
Do you remember your first kiss?
Did you ever play a sport you hated?
What are your tricks for spicing up your workouts?