How to Recover Properly After a Race (published in Women’s Running Magazine)

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I hate to say it but it’s been awhile since my last post as Physiotherapy School has taken up most of my time but it’s time to get back to writing! So here we go…

A few months ago I was fortunate enough to get an article I wrote picked up by Women’s Running Magazine, here it is incase you missed it!

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2015/05/health-wellness/how-to-recover-properly-after-a-race_40682

“There’s a secret race that most athletes neglect—the one that happens after you cross the finish line. That forgotten but tremendously important event is the “race to recovery.

Any athlete, recreational or elite, understands the importance of preparing for a race or run. In training you prepare for distance, hills and speed. You cross-train, stretch, taper and follow proper nutritional guidelines. You drink the right stuff, wear the right wicking, reflective and compression apparel and even swap in the right running shoe laces. But have you ever thought about what your body needs in order for you to fully recover and get you ready for the next event?

Regardless if that next event is a marathon, 5K or just getting back to walking around the office without two peg legs, the quicker and more you can recover, the better.

Here are some tips to help you win your next “race to recovery”:

1. Dine and Dash. Within 20 minutes of crossing that finish line, grab your medal and head over to bag check or the food tent and grab some grub. Your body has a window of opportunity to soak up the largest majority of the incoming nutrients. That food replenishes the stores that your body drained in order to fuel you through the race.

  • Dine: Aim for 10-20 grams of protein and a 3.5:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio.
  • Dash: Rehydrate and add a dash of salt for replenishment and water re-absorption.
  • Try: A small chocolate milk or crackers with avocado and a water bottle with a dash of salt.

2. Rock and Roll. Pull out your lacrosse balls and dollar-store bouncy balls–it’s time to rock and roll. Lets face it: No one likes stretching, but you need to do it. Even if you only take 3 to 5 minutes to stretch out the major muscle groups (quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, calves and pecs) it is better than nothing. You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.

  • Rock: Sit in a chair and place bouncy balls under the arches of your feet. Apply as much of your body weight as you can handle and start to roll the balls around under your feet. Think of it as a mini massage.
  • Roll: Place the lacrosse balls under the trouble spots that seize up and give us a post-race hobble. I recommend rolling out your pecs, piriformis, IT band and calves.
  • Try: Just make sure you don’t overdue it. Running places trauma on your muscles, and although they may feel tight, remember there are multiple micro tears throughout the fibers. Do a little bit on the first day and a bit more the next day, but listen to your body. Make sure you’re not doing more harm by aggressively rolling still-inflamed and aggravated tissues.

3. Float On. Throw a cup or two of Epson salt (aka magnesium sulfate) into your warm bath, or if you have the time and funds, take a trip to your local float house and let them do the thinking. All you have to do is relax.

  • Try: The DIY version is cheaper. There’s minimal science behind why it exactly helps alleviate sore muscles, but if all it does is give you an excuse for a warm bath, go for it!

4. Shelf the Shoes. Trade in those shoes for some barefoot yoga classes for a couple of days. Stretch out those muscles and focus on your core while you let those major running muscles repair.

  • Try: Classes are great, but they can be expensive. Search for a Groupon, Living Social or local ClassPass deal—or an even more affordable option is to download a recovery yoga session or podcast and do it at home. A recommendation for you: Blissology Project.

Read more at http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2015/05/health-wellness/how-to-recover-properly-after-a-race_40682#cgtyT4U4r3siAoVL.99″

Crowning Canada’s New Marathon Princess

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While working at the BMO International Vancouver Marathon last weekend I was witness to the crowning of Canada’s new Marathon Princess.  The indescribable, but so recognizable, emotion of relief and euphoria swept across young Kim Doerkson’s face as she stepped across the BMO Finish line at an outstanding time of 2:43:04. I was lucky enough to be working with the elite awards team over the weekend and was right there to see Kim cross the finish line.  Just as she strived to be she was right up with the boys, man she was flying on Sunday!

Not only did Kim burst onto the scene she did it in style under some awful conditions.  Being in May the BMO is usually a warm(ish) typical Vancouver springtime race. Last year I actually burnt my legs while cheering on runners along the Kit’s beach corridor.  This year I wore a polar fleece, under armour top and mittens as I huddled under my BMO rain jacket (Saucony provided team captains with gear this year and I must say that rain jacket is fabulous! I will be keeping my eye out to pick up another one because the cut allows movement while keeping you dry and warm.) .  Needless to say at my 6am call time downtown I was oh so thankful that I was Volunteering on that particular day and not running 43 soaking soppy Km (although beautiful).

All of the elites were the most humble, warm and genuine group of athletes I have ever met.  Not one ego stood to as a thorn and all the athletes shared what appeared to be a sense of camaraderie.  Each athlete competing obviously with each other but more so with themselves, all working towards doing the very best they can do on that day instead of focusing on specifically beating someone else.  That’s something you definitely don’t see in all sports.  Legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden would have been proud of the elites competing at this year’s BMO.  Wooden has said multiple times that he always tried to teach his athlete’s that success is determined against yourself, doing the best you can do and being the best you can be. Wooden also felt that when the game was over he shouldn’t be able to tell which players had won or lost from their body language because each person should feel proud for doing the best they could do.  Last Sunday each athlete won, each athlete that crossed that finish line and struggled through the natural elements for 43 gruelling kilometres is a winner in my eyes.  Whether it took them 2 hours and change or 5 hours and pain I am proud of them and proud of this city I call home for supporting them.

#StunningRunning

#BMO 2014

#RunVan

 

Finding Strength in Scars

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Scars.  If you’re human you’ve got them, we all have scars on our bodies from one thing or another.  Instead of rubbing “scar away” or bio-oil on them I propose we embrace them, for they are the visible reminders that we are alive and that we have lived.  Scars represent something you have done or have lived through and just as skin regenerates we become stronger too.

I recently took a tumble on a run and sliced up my side pretty badly.  Yes it may not be the prettiest thing in a bathing suit this summer but I don’t mind, and I won’t be putting “scar away” or any other miracle cream on it.  I know that in time the skin will heal itself.  Falling was a fluke, a full on accident, no ones fault, my foot simply caught a sidewalk crack and down I went, like a tree.  I didn’t even have enough time to flail around or try and catch myself I was simply running along and suddenly flat on my face, groaning in startled pain.  My body was stinging, tingling and yes it hurt but the overall feeling was that of living.  I hadn’t fallen and truly been abruptly physically injured since I had stopped playing soccer two years ago.  Back then I was used to getting knocked around physically on a daily basis on the soccer field, but now that I’m not playing, even when I push myself running or spinning, cross training etc there is never that physical bump, that skin contact and that visceral reaction of “ouch!”  Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to boxing at a local gym. But still it’s all premeditated and no one actually hits me. Call me crazy but I kind of miss that “ouch!” It’s like a mini wake up call to pay attention to what’s going on around you, to be present in the moment and a very real reminder that I am invincible and that “it’s not about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”


   I was once involved in a group “get to you know activity” where the leader asked each person to say their name, where they were from and the story behind their favorite scar.  The stories behind everyone’s favorite scar told you a lot about them, their pastimes, their travels, and what inspires them to persevere.  I’ve since used this as an ice breaker activity in groups I’ve lead and although at first it’s a question that catches people off guard, when it’s their turn to talk everyone I’ve encountered has gotten passionate about their own favorite or most memorable scar. In speaking with people about their scars you realize that they all have two things in common.  The first: Only time heals them.  The second: Although they fade over time that skin is never exactly the way it was before.  Little glimmers of faded scars remain even after years and years of healing, and the person has learned something from each scar experience.  Whether from athletics, burns from hot ovens, cuts and pain inflicted by accidents or other people or surgeries, scars express that you are not just a passive being in existence but are engaging in this thing called life. Even from a biological standpoint scarring symbolizes building strength.  When athletes build their muscles up by weight training the muscle fibers actually have little micro fiber tears that get healed and make the muscle stronger. So again, scars make us stronger! Embrace them!

I guess it’s fitting that my favorite poem, penned by Michael Ondaatje is entitled “The Time Around Scars”  http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/michael_ondaatje/poems/15882

rain boots

Puppies and Babies and Bikers, Oh My!

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Spring has officially sprung on the calendar and  also on the Vancouver coastal running paths.  With a glimmer of sunshine today the optimistic heat worshipers of Vancouver emerged from their rainy cocoons and embraced the beautiful walkways and waterfront our city has to offer.  It felt like I was watching a scene from the Lion King where Simba is triumphantly displayed and announced to the animal citizens of the Sahara as the new royal baby.   As my feet carried my through Jericho beach along the seawall to the more popular kits beach I passed multiple couples having engagement photo’s taken, pregnant mothers having their growing bellies photographed, new dads fumbling with how to tuck their kids into their strollers, and puppies galore.  It was like everyone was out to debut their new baby or puppy and show them off to the rest of the walkers along the commonly used strolls. I think I fell in love 7 times today with various little fluffy puppies trying to eat their leashes.

Although it all felt a bit cliché out and about today, the cherry blossoms, puppies, babies, kids learning to ride two wheel bikes for the first time (and crashing and crying .. which I have to admit always makes me giggle as I have very personal memories of myself and my sisters struggling to ride a two wheeler and I think my parents wanting to kill us in the process) I must say Vancouver sure is purdy.  And happy! We’re notorious for being no fun, no smiles and definitely not a city where strangers say hi to each other.  While normally I would have to agree with this stereotype our city has, today was different today there was a sense of happy and joy and community.  Strangers talking and people saying hi, runners giving each other the “hi” hand up as we passed each other.  Maybe Vancouverites are normally so “unfriendly” because we are too focused on not getting stabbed in the eye from a passerby’s umbrella while avoiding the over the Hunter rainboot deep mud puddle blocking our path that we forgot to give a quick wave or hi to the people amongst us.  Maybe if we lived in a climate the encouraged light jackets and sunglasses we would be a friendlier bunch.

                                            Sidewalk Art imprinted in Kits – hidden gems

Run your race Run your pace

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A friend of mine recently joined a running group to train for an upcoming 10K.   She’s an active girl but up until now would not have included “runner” on her athletic resume.  When I asked her how the training was going I had to laugh when she said “well I thought I hated running but I’m actually having fun! I think I’m having more fun each weekly actually.”  I had to laugh when my response to her was “ya I hated running too a few years ago.”

Most people wouldn’t expect me to say that I hated running, but it’s the truth I absolutely hated it.  I would run as a means to an end.  I would run to stay fit for soccer, basketball or my other athletic pursuits but never because I enjoyed it.  I actually have vivid memories of dragging myself on a 20 minute run in the summer before training camp for soccer and literally thinking I was going to die the entire time, counting the seconds until the run would be over.  Teammates would drag me out and there would be a grimace on my face the entire time, it was never a pleasant experience. It felt awkward to me, running without a ball in front me or towards an opponent of any kind.    My pace was always rushed; my breathing heavy and the whole experience was uncomfortable.  Alternatively I could run 90 minutes during a soccer game without even batting an eye.   I would lose myself so much in the game that I wouldn’t notice how tired I was and heavy my legs felt, the game was the ultimate distraction.

When I look back now I can’t pinpoint an exact time or day when running became something I actually enjoyed doing but all I know is that suddenly I found myself excited to throw on some headphones, runners and just go out for an hour- me, my feet and the pavement.  There were incentives that drove me to that place of running enjoyment,  I would run with a friend and share the latest gossip or major life talks, run to a special bakery or coffee shop, or to catch the perfect sunset from a bridge, or just to catch up on my newly downloaded music without distractions.  The big difference was that I would run at whatever pace I wanted without feeling pressure to push myself to get “fit” for training camp. Overtime I found I didn’t rely on the distractions or incentives to get me through my run, and the pain of running had subsided.  As my personal pace became engrained into my muscles everything became more comfortable and all around fun.

This brings me back to my friends comment about how she hated running but now enjoys it. There comes a time when the body stops fighting and begins to ease into a natural running pace.  I think we all have a natural pace inside of us and over time if we can find, harness and accept that pace running becomes an enjoyable activity instead of a stressful and forced event.  There are so many stresses in life, really why should running be one of them? Run your own race run your own pace