20 miles on the treadmill.

Two weekends ago I ran 20 miles on the treadmill. Thanks Joaquin. No seriously, thank you Joaquin. Some people have a very strong dislike for the hamster wheel, however, I flourish on this machine. Water, change of clothes, bathroom, snacks, great people watching, all readily available, what’s not to love? Don’t forget the massive mental win when you can say you completed such a daunting task. Yes, I am aware 20 miles is a tad extreme for the treadmill, but it can be done.

As you read the tips below, you will hear a ton about mental wins. Try to pretend you are playing Mario Kart and each mental win is a gold coin. These coins may not seem immensely useful at first glance, however, they most definitely can prove their usefulness as you reach dark places during a workout!

  1. Mentally prepare, early. It was supposed to rain cats and dogs all weekend, therefore, I decided on Wednesday I was going to do my long run on the treadmill regardless of the conditions outside. I had a full three days to repeatedly tell myself I was running 20 miles on the treadmill Saturday. Over and over again. I also told others to hold myself accountable.

  1. Make a plan. My dad used to coach his players to compete in four minute intervals, from TV timeout to TV timeout. I use the same method for my long runs & it is crucial (mentally) to do this when on the treadmill for exorbitant amounts of time. On Saturday I broke mileage down into three hour segments. The treadmills at my gym stop after an hour so the decision was a layup. 20 miles = 7 miles, 7 miles, 6 miles. Breaking a huge task into small, attainable chunks is vital to your mental state, at the end of each interval you get a gold coin.

  1. Get to the gym early. I was the second person at the gym Saturday morning and it was such a gratifying feeling having the building to myself. I deemed myself queen of Vida Fitness and started to have inner competitions with others as they entered my court. Unbeknownst to them, they stood no chance. I won every competition and you know what that means, more mental wins!

  1. Don’t be afraid to hop off and take care of any issues that come up. I got off the treadmill several times to change, refill my water bottle and go to the bathroom. The goal of a long run is to prepare your body for 3-4 hours on your feet. Getting off to take care of business is not going to downplay the benefits of this training exercise. Note: It is a little strange to get off the treadmill after a long period of time, you go from watching others physically move from place to place as you stand still to moving yourself. Don’t try to rush to avoid any injuries!

  1. If you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole of boredom there are things you can do to keep a fresh head on your shoulders, such as switching speed, incline, channels, treadmill, etc., however, nothing is as important as constantly reminding yourself how marvelous it is going to feel when you can tell yourself you hiked a Mount Everest size mental mountain. If you complete your long run on the treadmill, think about how your next run outdoors is going to feel. Money in the bank.

Like I said above, thank you Joaquin. You can never underestimate the power of a good run and a mental win. If you are forced inside for a long run, don’t fret. Hop in your cart and start collecting those gold coins, you won’t regret it!

Ouch! Workout Solutions for Joint Pain

My mom, brother-in-law and I at bootcamp that Molly was running!
My mom, brother-in-law and I at bootcamp that Molly was running!

Recently, I’ve had a few people, including my beautiful mother, ask me to get something up on the blog about working out when you’ve got joint pain or some other restriction. For some, either because of past injuries or their age, running and plyometric-type activities can be absolutely brutal on your knees/hips/ankles. Before I begin, let me be clear that I am not a doctor or physical trainer, I am just able to write from my experiences.

In the past, I’ve dealt with tight IT band issues (more on that below), which can cause anything from lower back to knee pain, and I’ve had to get creative with my workouts. It’s a lot harder than you’d think!

Here are some low-impact workout suggestions:

  • Elliptical Machine for cardio: I tend to hate this machine. I feel like a weird baby gazelle, trying to be graceful, but looking like a fool. However, it is also deceivingly hard, depending on the setting you use. The movement of the machine is designed to be very low impact and is a great alternative to running or the treadmill.
  • Cycling for cardio: Cycling actually hurts my knee, however in a lot of cases, cycling can be low-impact and can provide a fantastic cardio alternative to running or the elliptical. You can use a stationary bike for an even smoother ride. Or hit the great outdoors on a road bike. Mountain biking may not be such a great idea if you experience joint pain…
  • Swimming for cardio: In all honesty, I don’t swim as a workout. Not because I don’t think it’s an absolutely fantastic exercise, but because I don’t want to drown. But swimming is about as good of a full-body workout as you can find. It provides both cardio and some strength training.
  • Weight machines for strength training: Soreness, minor injuries and aches and pains don’t have to completely sideline you from getting in some weights. It’s a matter of listening to your body and adjusting the weight or type of machine you’re using. If you’re injured, I’d advise against most free weights because there is no margin for error. But take it slow, and stop immediately if something hurts. If you’re unsure, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, ask a doctor.
  • No access to a gym? No problem: For cardio, try power walking. It is much lower impact than running, but is a really good way to get your heart pumping. For strength training, find some body-weight exercises that you can do while sitting or lying down. Here are a couple good ones: push-ups, crunches (many variations), donkey kicks, planks (many variations), dips with a bench, hip raises. Avoid anything with jumping because landing incorrectly could really do some damage.

Now, in a somewhat related note, back to my IT band issue. If you’re experiencing some pain in your joints or back, it could be that your IT band is too tight. Seek medical advice, and if they say it’s an IT band problem, then here are my fail-proof tricks to getting those suckers loosened up!

  • Roll it out: If you’ve never used a roller, go buy one. It will be your worst enemy and best friend for life. Frenemies! I try to roll at least once a day, but when I’m injured, sometimes two times a day.
  • Ice: Even if the cause of the pain is your IT band, still give the painful joints some lovin’ and care with a few rounds of ice per day. Definitely ice it after a workout. Icing should be a somewhat unpleasant experience, unfortunately. So if you’re wrapping a bag of pees up in a towel, it’s not really going to help. You only need a very thin layer between the ice/pees and your skin.
  • Advil: I am not big into medicines, but I am a firm believer that swelling should be dealt with quickly. If I am experiencing joint pain and swelling, I usually take a couple Advil after a workout (along with my ice) to help relieve swelling.
  • This one amazing IT band stretch: A friend of mine, and trainer for professional athletes, taught me a life-changing IT band stretch that I do after every run or leg workout, regardless of if I am experiencing any pain. You sit down, lean back so that your weight is on your arms, bend you knees, pick up one foot and put it on the outside of the opposite leg, then use your foot to pull that opposite leg across your body. Keep adjusting the angles until you feel the stretch on the outside of your leg. It won’t feel good, so if it hurts on your IT band, you’ve probably got the spot!
The magical stretch.
The magical stretch.

Best of luck, fellow joint pain friends. No excuses, get on out there!