Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Alternatives

Welcome back from the long weekend, everyone! What did you do with your 3 days off? Sleep in? Throw in an extra long run? Stay in your PJs all day long? Ahhhhhh, I absolutely looooooove a 3 day weekend!

(Oooooo, sorry to those of you who didn’t have the extra day off this weekend)

Anywhoodle, I do not really consider myself an optimist. I’m more of a realist. But lately, I’ve been seeing Alternatives everywhere in my life, which leads me to believe that I’m leaning toward conversion to optimism. Uh-oh.

  • I can’t run outside these days. Too many horribly embarrassing variables. Alternative? The gyms at my university. On the treadmills. Go ahead and judge me if you want, tell me I’m not a “real” runner anymore. Whatever. I’m still running.
  • Yesterday I wanted to run 10 miles on the treadmill at school. They were packed! I guess hooray for the active NYU community on a day off from school but BOOOOOO for me. Alternative? I called JB and we took a long walk on a nice day.
  • I get up at 4:30 for work almost every day. It’s not ideal but someone’s gotta keep the world working out! It means I’m super-pooped at about 8pm and dead to the world by 9pm. Bummer? Nah. Alternative? I work out early and *BONUS * it always gets done.

See, what’d I tell you? Lemonade out of lemons. Who am I? Pollyanna! Nellie Forbush!

Alternatives!

I do not always feel like this, believe you me. Some days I just wanna throw in the towel, go home, and eat the 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that currently reside in my freezer (Girl Scout cookies delivered the day before Lent begins? It’s a cruel, cruel world). Sometimes I do. Most of the time I do not.

There’s too much good in the world to obsess over every single thing that’s going “wrong” in my life. Hell, if I got bummed out by every bit of bad news that came my way, I’d be suicidal. Or dead. Seriously, though, there are good things out there. You just gotta have the right attitude and see the Alternative in the situation.

“I’m stuck like a dope
With a thing called hope,
And I can’t get it out of my heart!
Not this heart…”

Happy BTAT, friends.

Now go out and run!

The Great Illiotibial Band Mystery

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had Illiotibial Band Syndrome.

*Hand up*

That mysterious pain on the outside of your knee or hip that hurts more the more you run? That’s the one. If you’ve been a runner for more than a month, you’ve probably come across some IT Band problems. It’s such a common issue for runners that it gets its own post!

Hello, little band. You are a big pain in the butt.

There are a couple of things to understand about the IT Band:

  1. It’s fascia, not a muscle.
  2. Its origin (upper attachment) is on the muscle belly of the Tensor Fascia Lata (which attaches to the hip) and the iliac crest and girdle (hip).
  3. Its insertion (lower attachment) is to the femur (thigh), the patella (knee) and the tibia (shin).
  4. In a cadaver, the fascia is about as thick as tissue paper but wicked-strong.

Because the attachment sights are at the hip and the knee/shin area, the wider your hips are, (or more knocked-kneed you are) the more prone to IT Band problems you will be. This is why women experience more cases of IT Band syndrome than men. Yet another awesome anatomic anomaly in favor of the fairer sex. Yay.

Essentially, it is the job of this fascia to stabilize both the knee and hip. It is tense in both extension and flexion of the knee (when you bend and straighten it = all the time) and it is also involved in hip abduction (moving your leg out to the side). What does this mean for runners? Well, it’s always working. In every direction. For the whole run.

Ergo, without proper training it gets pooped out easily.

Why IT Band Syndrome happens:

  1. Your hips/glutes are weak.
  2. You add too much mileage or speed too soon.
  3. Your shoes suck.
  4. Your gait is wonky.

These problems are easily fixed by the following methods:

  1. Hip/Glute strengthening exercises.
  2. Stretching (live in half-pigeon for a while).
  3. Only add 10-15% more mileage every week (and cut back if you have pain).
  4. Foam roll your hips and glutes.

See? The IT Band isn’t so scary now that you know what to do with it! You should really be doing all of this anyway to prevent IT Band (and other) injuries so get on it! If your pain persists after implementing these tips, lay off the running and see and orthopedist to make sure it’s not something more serious.

Happy trails!

Now go out and run.

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Oldies…

…but Goodies.

Tell you what, there is no better way to celebrate a momentous occasion than with family and friends. My friends are the best. Old and new, they rock the whole wide world.

But what makes this Tuesday Better Than the Alternative are the Oldies.

I’ve had three friends since I was about 5 years old. Two of them are twins (hi Twins!) and one of them is my friend from up the street, Teeny. Teeny is half my size and packs a whole lotta fabulousness in her just under 5′ frame.

I’ve seen the Twins any number of times since my family moved away when I was 15. Luckily, their jobs have taken them to NYC several times since I’ve lived here and I adore visiting with them, if even for just brunch before they head for the airport. They’re fabulous.

Teeny and I see each other far less often. I think we were nearly 7 years, two children, and one husband between visits when we finally touched base last winter. This weekend, Teeny and her husband happened to be visiting and were able to not only meet some of our closest friends, but celebrated the very exciting occasion of me being accepted to NYU’s doctorate of Physical Therapy program.

Yes, I’m still talking about that.

Drinks, dinner, more drinks, two gorgeous runs in Central Park (Teeny’s longest run EVER: 8km!) and lovely visits with our husbands got me to thinking how great it is to have Oldies.

  • Oldies ask about my gigantic family and they actually know all of them by name…and sometimes by nicknames.
  • Oldies remember when I was a scared, awkward kid with low self-esteem (braces AND glasses) and praise me for how far I’ve come, and I believe them.
  • Oldies don’t mind the dirty (not that kind of dirty) talk that is usually reserved only for JB about how “I’m feeling” lately with my UC.
  • Oldies love JB before they even meet him. And know him by face. And cannot get enough of learning about him.
  • Oldies cry with me.
  • Oldies want to know everything about everything and will stop the world if I need them.
  • Oldies are never ashamed of me just being me.
  • Oldies are as proud of my accomplishments as JB, my parents and my siblings are because they know that they helped me get to where I am today.

You know who the Oldies in your life are. They’re the ones who “knew you when” and still know you now. Do you have Oldies? I bet you have at least one. I am lucky enough to have 3. Love you, girls. Thanks for believing in me.

Those Oldies are exactly why today and every day is Better Than the Alternative.

Who are your Oldies? Do you see them often? Do you drink as much as I do when you see them…what is WITH that? Tell me all about your Oldies.

Now go out and run!

From A Newbie Marathoner

Tonight, I am shamelessly going to direct you to my blog friend Ali’s recap of her very first marathon that she completed on Saturday in the Hamptons. You might think, “oh, the Hamptons sounds like ann exciting place to run…maybe I’ll run right into J. Lo or Alec Baldwin.” Can I tell you, it is no small feat that Ali #1. completed her first marathon and #2. did it out in the Hamptons. The Hamptons is the boonies, people. I mean, farmland and deserted roads with scattered mansions along the beach. The season of everybody going out and partying in the Hamptons ended Labor Day weekend and that place is a ghost town these days. No small feat at all for her to have slogged through late miles with few crowds to cheer her on (though her family gets and A++ for cheerleading). It’s not like the New York Marathon where there are crowds everywhere. So, mad props on both fronts, Ali!

Ali’s journey to the marathon was part of the Run For The Rabbit campaign sponsored by my favorite running shoe store here in the city, JackRabbit Sports. Ali has Chron’s disease and her charity of choice was the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation of America. She finished second in her fundraising efforts (amazing!) and raised over $20,000 for CCFA. This charity is close to my heart, too, because I was diagnosed and am learning to live with Ulcerative Colitis. I’d like to thank Ali *very* publicly for all of her efforts to help researchers discover more about our collective diseases and work towards a cure. *sniff*

Marathons (or any races at all) always mean more to me when I’m running for someone besides myself. Don’t get me wrong, I run for me, too. But when I’m struggling through a tough part of the race, what gets me through is not my vanity or my desire to be a better runner, it’s the idea that I’m out there for people who can’t be out there for themselves. Ali ran for herself, but she ran for me, too. And I will never forget that. *sniff*sniff*

Imagine the impact you could have on someone’s life just by choosing run for a charity…

Consider this next time you sign up for a race. Did you know you can always raise money at any race for any charity? Just contact them and find out how to set up a donation page. Simple as that.

Anyway, her recap is worth reading. It made me cry, which is apparently not too hard to do today. Ali’s hard work and dedication to her training is both admirable and inspiring. She is also to blame for my current addiction to 16 Handles.

Now go out and run, friends!

Maybe share a little about who/what inspires you these days???