Sweet Solace

sol·ace

/’säləs/

noun 

1. comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness

——–

Yesterday was my perfect idea of sweet solace. I’ve been feeling the winter blues lately and when I woke up this morning, somehow, even more so.

I was coming back from a friend’s house, after she let me steal some of her yummy homemade blueberry pancakes and play with her rather dapper pup, Finnley (as exhibited below), and I was taking notice of the beautiful day it was.

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My car said the outside temperature was 27 degrees Fahrenheit, but somehow I felt it was a bit warmer. Wishful thinking, maybe?

I wanted to get outside and stretch my legs, if only for a little bit. So I came home, threw on my running gear and headed out to the local nature preserve.

I had reasoned with myself on the drive over that I wouldn’t put too much pressure on myself to run if my leg was hurting me too much. I knew that only a month earlier, I couldn’t run a minute without the pressure in my lower leg beginning to cause numbness in my foot.

With low expectations and butterflies in my stomach, I started a slow jog. It was slower than I usually go, but I didn’t want to push it and it was such a beautiful day with the sunshine and the crisp air, that I wanted to spend as much time enjoying it as possible.

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About a half mile into the run, I was planning on my leg to begin to hurt. It didn’t.

After a mile, I thought I should walk because I haven’t run in a month, so I didn’t want to get over-exhausted too quickly. I walked for a mile and then started back up again.

I repeated the same process during mile three and four. By the time I started mile five, I decided I didn’t want to stop, but I did want to press my luck a bit.

Afterwards, I was glad I did! I had run three miles by the end of it and was feeling great and had zero pain in my leg. But actually. Zero (0) pain!!

By the time I was ready for my cool-down walk, I was so happy that I wanted to cry! I have been waiting for a painless run for just about a year now, and it’s finally come!!

Even writing this now, I’m getting all the feels.

I had fallen back into my stride, back into my solace, where I could work out my stress and issues by pounding them out on the trails.

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After walking almost another mile for my cool-down, I was exhausted. But the good kind of exhausted where you know that you accomplished something so great that makes it all worth it.

I can’t wait to get back out and run again, but I’m taking it easy today with a bit of stretching and cross-training. Getting back into my running routine will still be a long process, but I’m so excited to know that I can finally begin it with no pain.

I feel that as long as I know I can go out and run without pain, I’ll always have a bit of solace.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – TriggerPoint GRID STK Foam Roller

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a runner who’s trying to make her way past an injury. My orthopedic surgeon has ruled it a fascial tear or bruise in my lower leg and says that I should take it easy and run very little, if at all.

Doc said that if I do run a little bit (less than a mile), ice and Ibuprofen would help with the pain afterwards. But I wanted to do more to ensure that I can come back fully from this injury and start training for a marathon again, so I did some research on how to help along the process a bit.

Reading through this article I foam rollerfound in Running Times and other subsequent articles, I’ve found that foam rollers can not only be used for muscle pain but can also help relieve fascial tension as well. Enter: TriggerPoint’s GRID STK Foam Roller ($34.99). I absolutely love this little thing because I can easily give my lower legs a great massage before and after workouts, leaving me with a lot less pain to deal with.

It’s so easy to use because it’s easy to grip and you can use it in more places on your body than you can with regular foam rollers. Not only do I mainly use it on my lower legs, but I also use it on my neck, back, thighs, calves and feet.

How to use the GRID STK:

You can use it in any multitude of ways and different ways can be found on the TriggerPoint educational videos page. I use mine by focusing on two areas of my lower leg. I work the outer part of my lower leg muscle, not the top where I can feel the bone.The first section that I workout starts right above the ankle and ends at the midpoint of my lower leg. The second starts at the midpoint of my lower leg and ends right below my knee.

IMG_0420To get the most out of my foam roller while I’m massaging the outer muscles of my lower leg, I follow these steps:

1. Sit on the floor with your legs resting flat on the ground. Bring your foot up so that you’re making an “L” shape with your leg + foot and your toes are pointing upwards.

2. Hold the foam roller firmly to your leg and roll upwards on the first section between your ankle and the midpoint of your lower leg.  At the same time, stretch your foot forward so that your toes are now pointed out in front of you.

3. If you find a knot or trigger point (a spot where it’s tender to press down on) you can hold your foam roller on it and leave it there while kneading out the spot for a good 20-30 seconds to try to work out the trigger point.

4. Repeat 4-5 times and then rest for a minute or so.

5. Repeat the same set of motions 1-3 for the second section of your leg and then again on your other leg.

The GRID STK is really the best foam roller I’ve used and is now a part of my running/workout routine. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re feeling tension and pain while you run or workout.

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Getting Lost is Half the Fun

Over the past weekend, I was feeling a bit stir-crazy just sitting in my apartment as I usually do, until my cousin texted this picture taken from the condo balcony in Maui:

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No, but seriously. That actually happened. No photoshop. No filter.

Feel free to hate her just a tad.

So in spite of her sending that, I decided to grab my tenni’s and hit the trails. And then this happened:

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I’m not really sure what ‘this’ is, but it still happened and I am sure it looks just as epic as those swaying palm trees, full rainbow and crashing waves. I mean, those things are the kind of obvious beauty some people love. And who would rather see that than some blonde chick losing her shit on a snowy trail? I don’t know, there seems to be a clear winner here.

Anyway, despite the 32 degree weather and zero sunshine, I ended up having a blast playing around in the local arboretum with my old college roomie, who’s also apparently super photogenic and can be seen effortlessly hanging from a tree below.

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After deciding that we were bored of just walking on the ski trails, we decided to live really dangerously and listen to my sense of direction. It wasn’t long before we were trying to figure out how to use our compasses on our iPhones and trying to read the cryptic arboretum trail maps.

Needless to say, we were kind of lost and with my directions, it probably would’ve just been easier to travel into Mordor (insert: joke about Boromir quote meme).

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The only thing we knew for sure was that we needed to go “north and slightly west,” as my friend would keep saying. And for you expert trail-people, yes, that was our code for “northwest.” Of course after my friend had come up with our general direction, I took the liberty of telling some classic North West jokes to pass the time, because obviously.

We did, eventually, find our way out of the arboretum and back to car to warm up, but it was still fun getting lost.

I encourage everyone to get a little lost and have some fun just because.

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Until next time,

C. Brooks

Favorite Things – Aveda foot relief moisturizing creme

Getting back into running has been so great for me with helping raise my energy levels and feeling way less stressed, but it takes a toll on my body for sure, especially my feet. Working out means that I will usually shower twice a day, so I lose a lot of the moisture in my skin. Of course I have great lotion for my face and body, but I couldn’t find a moisturizer that would replenish moisture on my feet for the longest time.

So after complaining about this problem to my mom –Avedabecause you always have to complain to your mom since 9 times out of 10, she’ll know how to fix the problem- and she suggested that I try Aveda’s foot relief moisturizing creme. I thought this would just be one of those creams that only helped on the surface for a whole five minutes until you eventually had to reapply it again, but it’s really the best hydrating lotion I’ve used.

I don’t want to go all info-mercial on you, but in just a couple of days, my feet made a complete 180 and had no dry spots anywhere. The lotion is creamy, but not heavy and it smells so amazing, which isn’t unlike any other Aveda product. However, it does have a larger price tag, starting at $9.50 for the travel size and $24.00 for the normal size, but it’s one of those lotions that’s always in my gym bag and totally worth every penny. The way I look at it, if I don’t take care of my feet, running becomes a lot more difficult to do.

Also, if you end up loving the foot relief creme, they also have hand relief creme that does amazing wonders for your hands too. You can order them both online or stop by your neighborhood Aveda store and the associates there will get you hooked up.

Happy running and until next time,

C. Brooks

Take a Hike

This weekend I wanted to get away and travel, but then I looked at my bank account and decided that it probably wouldn’t be the best life choice at this moment.

I needed to get away though. It was a busy week and I just wanted to leave the hustle and bustle behind and go somewhere. Then I realized it was 40 degrees and sunny outside, so I could totally have a day vacation here and still get out of the city.

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I decided to enlist the help of a good friend to go on a hike through the local nature preserve so that we could enjoy the sun and burn off some energy at the same time.

We’d decided to walk on a trail leading into a peninsula on Lake Mendota and it was snowy, slushy and kind of slippery. We had fun not knowing if the next step we took would be sound or if it would send us flying on our backs. But, we took the gamble because we like to live dangerously like that.

Processed with VSCOcam with kk1 presetOnce we got to the end of the peninsula, however, it was totally worth the muss and fuss to get there. From that vantage point, you could see the downtown                                                               cityscape clearly and it was really beautiful.

Walking back, we took another trail and it led us into a more forested area with a small iced-over pathway. So, single file, we took our steps cautiously and had fun laughing and slipping all the way to a safely paved trail.

We ended up walking around the trails for a good hour and a half. The hike was a great workout and a great way to feel as if I had a small                                                                         getaway without actually leaving the city.

That’s really all it takes; just going somewhere to get you out of your daily element helping you refresh and recharge. Plus, when you do it with a friend, you come away with a good workout and so many memories.

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Until next time,

C. Brooks

First Day Back – Apps on Apps

Today was my first day back from my running hiatus and it was great to feel my body sink back into my stride.

But before I started running, I did my morning meditation and stretches. I started meditating with help from the Head Space app (shout out to Katie at Post Grad Professional for telling me about it!) and I am absolutely hooked! The sessions are 10 minutes each and make it so easy to focus and really clear your mind. Plus, Andy (the coach) has a delicious accent, making it all the more easy to drift into your “zen zone.”

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After feeling relaxed and stretched I headed over to my gym to start my first workout. Now, the deal I made with my orthopedic surgeon is that he’d only clear me to run as long as I don’t make my workouts too strenuous. In an effort to keep myself from training too hard right off the bat, I’ve started the 5K Runner: Couch to 5K Training app again.

I first started using the 5K Runner app after I decided to run my first half marathon and I had no idea how to even begin to train. This app is perfect for beginner runners who want to start training in a way that isn’t too hardcore and that makes beginning to run as painless as possible.

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Today I did the first workout on the program, which is one minute of running combined with one and a half minutes walking for 20 minutes. After not running for months, it was best to start slow to avoid further injury. But even running for a short period of time, it was still so great to use muscles that I haven’t in so long and I can’t wait to go again tomorrow.

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Using apps to help with your workout is a great way to keep you energized and keep you motivated. Feel free to comment about some of your favorite fitness apps; I’d love to hear about them!

Until next time,

C. Brooks

Beginning Again

long may you run

I was recently told that I would be able to start running again after a fascial injury in my right lower leg.

When my orthopedic surgeon told me the news that it wasn’t compartment syndrome and that I didn’t need surgery, I was elated.

“Finally,” I thought.

Although, when I really started thinking about how much pain I went through throughout the past year, physically and mentally, I began to think that maybe I would be better off not running.

But then I came home last night to find some inspiration. I immediately went to where I keep my old race bibs and medals. I don’t have many, just four, but I needed a reminder of what I’d once accomplished and what I knew I could accomplish again if I just got back out and ran. Each medal, for me at least, signifies a lesson that I learned from training for each race.

1.

The hardest part of running is walking out the front door. Your body is stronger than you think it is and all you have to do is have the courage to start.

2.

A 10 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile. Be patient with your stride and never let it discourage you from thinking you are a “real” runner.

3.

You aren’t a quitter because you walk. If you walk during a race or during a daily run, it’s okay. You will have bad running days, but you have to keep in mind that it was still a run nonetheless.

4.

You run with your heart, not your legs. No one is going to force you to run. You have to do it because you love to do it. You don’t need to be skinny, to have fancy equipment or even the perfect conditions.

You just need to get out there and run because it makes you feel better and freer than you’ve ever felt before.

“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” – John Bingham

Until next time,

C. Brooks