The one with the shins…

I feel like I have been neglecting my blogging duties. I find this most troublesome.

When I realized today that it had been more than a week since my last post I wondered what on earth happened that threw off my schedule so much?! The answer, of course, is life. I’m coming into the home stretch of school, roughly four weeks left before I go on my internship. I’m trying to prep for the real world that will be on the other side, keeping up with volunteer commitments and of course leaving plenty of time for my training.

I was recently given the opportunity to write an article for an upcoming issue of OptiMYz Magazine. It was very exciting, especially once I learned that I would be interviewing an incredibly inspiring marathon runner/triathlete that lives in my city. I met her for coffee and we chatted for an hour, it was awesome. I definitely asked questions far beyond the realm of the article but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity when there was a wealth of knowledge sitting right there in front of me. I won’t go into many more details because I don’t want to spoil the article. (It’ll be in the May/June edition – Goodlife members get the mag for free so there’s no excuse not to read it :P)

Before the interview my running had been less than stellar. Fine, less than existent. My running had been going… okay… back in January/February but I let weights take over and let the cardio fall by the wayside, my own fault. Part of the reason I typically avoid running is that I always get shin splints. I could jog to catch the light at a crosswalk and get them. I dream about running and wake up with sore shins.

Prior to suffering a knee injury in 2007 I had never even heard of shin splints, let alone had them. I’m unsure if perhaps the months of being injured followed by months of recovery had altered my gait or if my shins just decided to hate me but once I started running again it was awful.

When I started looking up causes/preventions there seemed to be a general assumption that if you get shin splints you don’t have strong calves or you’re a beginner. Neither of those things really apply to me. Some people said ‘oh they just go away after a few minutes!’ except they don’t. I’ve had them during and after every single run since 2007.

I finally cracked and saw the doctor. Which, for me, is huge because I hate to complain about my ailments. The doctor sent me to physio, the physio said get new shoes. Got new, expensive, not-supposed-to-lead-to-shin-splits quality footwear and still got shin splints. I then saw a pedorthist (which I still credit for being one of the best things I have ever done!) who discovered that I have one leg that is longer than the other, which may have been the root cause for my knee problems, hip problems and *gasp* shin splints! I got amazing orthotics which have made my knee stronger than ever and corrected the issues with my hip but I’m still getting shin splints!

I’m at a loss at this point. I can’t enjoy running if every time I do it I want to rip my shins off five minutes in. There’s got to be something else I can do, someone else I can see for a different opinion, to try and rectify this problem. Have any of you ever suffered with this annoying curse?

The one about inspiration…

This week I really needed some inspiration and I am thankful to have gotten it.

I haven’t talked much about my training lately because honestly I always have a lingering fear of failure in the back of my mind. I worry that if I’m too vocal about what I’m doing and then fail, I’ll have to be accountable for it. I’ve come to realize though that talking about it just means there are more people there to support and encourage me which makes it easier to succeed. So, upon the suggestion of a peer friend, I will be sure to update more often with my training progress.

I’m one day shy of finishing the fifth week of some fairly intensive strength training and I won’t lie, I’m starting to get tired. I’ve been fighting off a cold for a week and although working out regularly has kept my immune system high enough that I haven’t fallen completely into the grips of illness it’s still left me feeling a bit drained.

This week kicked off with two really terrible workouts. Monday morning I did an hour of lacklustre weights and was about halfway through my cardio when out of nowhere my engine sputtered and stalled. I had totally run out of gas. That would normally be the point where I would push myself to just make it through the rest but I couldn’t. I can’t recall the last time I felt like I had nothing left like that. I left the gym literally sick and tired. I went home, ate, and relaxed for a bit and did manage to have a much better cardio session later in the day.

I was desperately in need of some motivation and it came in the form of a simple Twitter notification.

If you remember from this post, she is one of my biggest fitness idols. I randomly replied to one of her tweets and she started following me because she thought the name of my blog is funny. It might seem silly but her follow on Twitter reminded me of what I’m trying to accomplish. Some day I want to be as inspiring to others as she is to me and I don’t think she would let a couple of bad workouts or some sore muscles stop her from reaching her goals. She is to me what Sidney Crosby is to every TimBit hockey player in Canada.

I kept those women that I mentioned weeks ago in the back of my mind as my alarm went off at oh-dark-thirty the next day and I powered through my workout. By Wednesday I was feeling better (albeit still trying to kick some chest congestion) and Thursday I felt more like myself again.

I workout alone most of the time so I don’t have another person driving and motivating me from five feet away. For me, I need to surround myself with strong, positive influences while I’m not in the gym and use them as my inspiration. I might not know Emily Stirling beyond Twitter (though maybe one day I will, I don’t want to speak too soon! lol) but she inspires me to push through one more rep the same way that trainer Cathy does for me when we are able to find time together.

I followed up that excitement by meeting with that friend I mentioned up at the top who told me I need to talk more about my training. She gave me some really great advice that I am definitely going to take, and likely blog about later. 🙂 I thought I would kick off my new trend by listing my current goals. Maybe getting them out there will help me make them reality.

Goals (as of March 2012)

In the next six months:
1. Finish my advanced diploma in public relations (five projects and one internship remain!)
2. Work out six times a week (six strength – three cardio)
3. Eat clean
4. Be able to finally give trainer Cathy that chin up she’s been demanding for years

In the next year:
1. Get a communications job in a health/fitness focused organization
2. Earn my personal training certification from CanFitPro
3. Compete in a fitness competition

Wish me luck!

The one where I strap on some sneakers…

I have officially signed up for the Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon 2012, Goodlife Fitness 10K. (It took a lot for me to not sign up for the Bens Smart 5K. Mostly, because it’s sponsored by bread.) I’ve done a lot of runs before but this will be the first time I have made an effort to race against my own time. I’m thinking at this point that I maybe should have gone for the 5K but I want to challenge myself. At the same time though I would rather have a really good 5K run then struggle through a 10K cursing my decision the whole way. Bah!
I guess there’s nothing to say I won’t be able to do the 10K as long as I work for it! And work it will take because running is a weakness for me. I don’t like it, and I don’t think I’m very good at it. I always have to push myself to run when I would much rather be in a weight room. I just need to do it though and I think that knowing I have something coming up in the spring will give me the drive to do so.

Ideally I’d like to work my way up and run a different race each year. Start with the 10K this year then next year do the half marathon and marathon. Running a 42.2K marathon is an incredibly daunting goal that will take a massive amount of dedication and determination but I know if it’s something I decide to do I can do it.

Normally I do my running indoors. I have a treadmill in my apartment and I use a treadmill when I go to the gym but I think for the purposes of training for this race I need to get outside. Running outside has such a different dynamic but I feel ready for it. Starting my foray into outdoor running in the middle of winter probably isn’t the greatest idea but hey, you burn more calories in the cold! 😛

My initial goal is to start getting up early and going for a run rather than the late night treadmill action I normally have on the go. I think it will be refreshing to kick off my day with some fresh air and exercise! I’ll keep you posted.

Are you available and near Halifax on Victoria Day weekend? If so, I’ll race you. http://www.bluenosemarathon.com/en/

Product Review – Zaggora Hot Pants

I’ve always wanted to be a consumer reporter. When I got into journalism I was jealous that while I sat through tedious town council meetings and covered court there were reporters out there getting tons of free stuff just so they could say “you should buy this!” or “this product sucks!”. It was just so cool to think that not only did they get to try out things that hadn’t hit the market yet, but they were also really the driving force behind why many people buy things. Your product showing up in a newspaper, or on TV with some reporters stamp of approval can really make or break it. So when I embarked on this blogging journey I knew I wanted to do some product and website reviews. I am somewhat limited by the fact that I am a full time student and part time broadcaster; meaning I don’t have much in the way of funds and this project was going to take money. What I lack in money though, I have in determination! I also have an uncanny ability to bargain shop. 🙂 To be clear, no one is paying me to talk about their products!

One day a couple of months ago I got an email from a certain “group coupon buying” website – I won’t say which one – about a product called Zaggora Hot Pants. The company claims these exercise shorts (now available in both capris and leggings also) can cut you down by two sizes in just two weeks. All you have to do is exercise in the pants for 30 minutes 3 times a week. After what could only be described as an over-exaggerated eyebrow raise I thought this would be a perfect product to start with! Zaggora is based out of the UK but they ship worldwide. It cost about $15 for shipping after the exchange rate (though they do allow you to shop in the currency of your choice, it is charged to your credit card in British pounds) and I was quite surprised when I had to pay an additional $31 in customs charges when it arrived! Just some things to note…

They fit pretty well, here I am rocking a size medium.
The texture of the fabric is interesting, overall comfortable but I couldn’t get over the noise! Even breathing is noisy in these things. Luckily when I’m running at home I can’t hear the swishing over the sound of the treadmill and my music but I don’t know if I would wear them to the gym. A recent update on their website now has the shorts in nude and says they are less noisy than their predecessor. I hope so! Also, I wore them a total of three times before one of the seams broke and I had to fix it. There was no way I was shipping them all the way back to the UK for an exchange.But the real test is whether or not they can achieve what they claim and make a person lose two sizes in two weeks based on 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week in the pants. Consider it a challenge I am taking up. I’ve now done two workouts in them and I will say I’ve never sweat so much in my life and for anyone who has seen me after a run that’s saying a lot. (I’m a sweaty girl, what can I say!) I had sweat running out of the bottom of the shorts, it was unreal. This may be TMI (it likely is) but when I took them off the undergarment I was wearing beneath them looked like it had just come out of the washer. Clearly they have some kind of magical powers, we’ll see whether that power lies in water loss or actual fat loss. They also claim to be a solution to cellulite but (don’t hate me) I don’t have that problem, so I can’t speak to it.

For the purpose of this exercise I measured myself before I started wearing the shorts. As a reference point… my thighs are 25.3”, hips are 42”. I think those would be the most likely areas to change, if any do, since they’re shorts. 🙂

In two weeks we’ll check out the results! (if there are any…)

It feels a bit like spring out there!

I just went for the most amazing run! 😀

It’s quite mild, almost spring-like, today so I knew I wanted to get out for a bit. I bundled myself up (though admittedly ended up peeling back some layers it was so warm at one point!) and set out. Last couple of times I have been out it has been dark so I took advantage of the daylight to choose a different path.

I went through a small park and wooded area which made things interesting having to run over rocks and up grassy hills, then merged back onto the road. The path I chose had a lot more hills than I had been anticipating but there were as many down as there were up so I got a chance to take a breather and build some momentum every now and then.

I was out for about 45 minutes including a 5 minute warm up and cool down and had to make myself come in since I was starting to get damp and chilly (it’s about 3°C/37°F). It made for a fantastic afternoon, I’m now full of energy and ready to take on the evening!

The one where I keep talking about myself, or everyone needs a Cathy…

I can’t control food without back up, I’ve discovered. I need empowerment, a physical support system which as it turns out is exercise. Not only does working out make me feel happier (so I don’t feel compelled to binge) it takes up the time that could be otherwise spent nibbling. I had been in a gym before I started going as an adult, but did I know what I was doing? That’s where Cathy comes into the mix. She is a personal trainer and genuinely one of the most caring people I’ve ever met.
There’s a stereotype that all personal trainers are drill sergeants in disguise. Not the case with Cathy. She is a petite woman, former hairdresser, in excellent shape… but a bit of a softy. She can be tough when she wants to be but I really feel that she is more about making you want to come back than scaring you into coming back. I guess in a way, for me, it became more about making her proud of me. My interest and focus was weak at best when I first started my introduction to the world of fitness, even with a personal trainer.
I would go to the gym at the times I was scheduled to go, and I would do everything that Cathy asked me to do, but looking back I wasn’t really giving it my all. When I went home I considered my workout for the week complete and grabbed a snack. I saw some changes in my body, lost a few inches here and there but I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing anything. After years (YEARS!) of working with a personal trainer I still couldn’t run without getting winded, or lift weights in excess of five or ten pounds. It was pretty pathetic, truthfully.
My body got back at me though and I paid for my lack of commitment through something called a plica band in my knee (essentially an extra piece of tissue that was keeping my leg from being able to straighten). It should have never happened but I was working out beyond my skill level trying to convince myself I was doing things that I wasn’t. Another injury that sidelined me and knocked me down both physically and mentally.
About five years ago, post knee surgery, I made the decision to stop lying to myself and stop lying to everyone else. While I was laid up recovering I started reading and discovered that the human body is an interesting machine. I absorbed as much as I possibly could about fitness and nutrition, and how to properly fuel your muscles. I developed a keen interest in power lifting, and bodybuilding, and just strength in general.

Once I got back into the gym after recovering from surgery I was a totally different person. Even Cathy said she noticed the change in me, that I was working that much harder, pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, and I absolutely loved it. I became her guinea pig for new exercises she learned about at conferences, I was trying anything I could, and I got stronger.

I bulked up a bit and I was fine with that because I knew I would eventually lean out. It never happened though. My muscles got bigger, my body got stronger, and I did lose some weight (back down to about 178 pounds and a US size 10, with more to go) but I just can’t shake this fluffy coat.

That sort of leads me to where I am today. I know that there are muscles down there, I just need to find them. Some people think the easy solution is to just say, “You just need to be more disciplined!” MORE discipline?! Do you know how much “discipline” it’s taking not to mow down every time I hit candy row at the grocery store?
I could be more disciplined, I could be more motivated, I could be a lot of things, but I’m me. My goal right now is to trim down a bit but I’ve accepted that some people, no matter how disciplined they are, are meant to carry around a bit more fat than other people. I just need to find out for sure whether I’m one of those people.

How to do it without failing is the hard part I’ve yet to figure out…