Category Archives: Running Strong and Injury free

17 Life Lessons I Learned from Running in 2017

“Running is like a blooming rose – each petal encapsulating its own beauty amidst thorns. Running is also peeling off the layers of life one petal at a time to achieve the ultimate magic.”  Carmen Micsa

 

At the end of each year, there is reflection and remembering all the lessons we have learned.

 

Physical Fitness Lessons

 

  1. When your first injury as a runner strikes, learn to let your body heal through cross training, such as swimming and biking.

I consider myself pretty fortunate to avoid injuries, as I do have a decent form and I am good about listening to my body if something hurts me during a run. However, this year I got my first injury that sidelined me from running for almost two months after doing a tough track workout with my Fleet Feet Sacramento Racing team. We did mile repeats and I felt great during the workout. However, when I returned home, I was visibly limping, which is why my husband asked me if I got injured. I replied that I felt great during my track workout and that it is probably just temporary. I was wrong: I had peroneal tendonitis, which hurt my foot when I walked, so I had to take time off and heal using acupuncture and my new best friend the TENS machine, which is short for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

 

Although my tendon was not completely healed, I have decided to race my favorite 5K race the ZooZoom Run. I finished second in my age group, but at the end of the race, I was barely able to walk. I knew I had to listen to my body and start healing and take time off from running. Poor decision to run the race.

 

2. Let aqua jogging be thy medicine!

Although we runners believe there is no such thing as swimmer’s high, swimming is one of the best methods to recover from an injury. I did different pool jogging intervals to keep my cardio fitness up and the tendon loved the gentleness of the water. http://running.competitor.com/2014/07/training/cross-training-101-swimming-for-runners_82017

 

 

I was lucky that my California Family Fitneess club had the hydro-fit belt that helped me do pool running, gave me joy, strength, and helped me heal my tendon.

 

3. Biking is another great cross training method for runners. 

Biking is extremely beneficial to keep your cardio level up, as well as one of the favorite with injured runners, but I have decided to continue biking as cross training when not injured.

 

Preparing for my first triathlon. Combining swimming, running, and biking is quite fun and challenging. I have also enjoyed doing bricks workouts, such as biking followed by running.

 

4.  Getting injured can help one put perspective on things, as well as become more adventurous in trying other athletic endeavors, such as a triathlon. 

After I healed from my injury, I gained a new perspective on things and learned to appreciate swimming and biking, which is why I have decided to do compete in my first triathlon on Sept. 9 organized by Total Body Fitness. To my great delight, I finished third in my age group, doing very well in swimming, OK in biking, and outstanding in running.

 

I finished third in my age group, even though I did my very first triathlon. Yet, the highlight was the discovery that I can have stamina and strength to swim, bike, and run.

 

5. Learning to trust our bodies after an injury and come back stronger. 

It took me almost a month to regain my speed and confidence in my ability to run strong and continue to get PRs in all my half marathon races, my marathon, and my 10K. At first, I tried to stay away from track workouts, but I realized that I needed to continue my running journey with passion and confidence.

 

Running together with my friend Andrea Brizendine helped me bounce back from injury and made me look forward to my runs.

 

6.  Learning to respect my body and to strengthen it with key workouts and specific exercises to avoid future injuries. 

 

One of the best exercises to strengthen muscles are kettle bells thrusts. My gluteal muscles often hurt after long runs, so I knew that I needed to do specific exercises to keep strong and be a better runner because of weekly strength workouts.

 

7.  Learning to trust your body when running higher mileage weeks in preparation for a marathon.

Getting my own coach to prepare me to run my strongest marathon so far was the best decision I made, as Robert-Ressl Moyer, a top ultra runner and winner of many 50k races, taught me to trust my body when running between 50 to 70 miles a week. He helped me get my body stronger by having me do a few easy runs after every tough speed workout, which kept me healthy and uninjured through California International Marathon.

 

Running strong and faster with the help of my amazing coach Robert Ressl-Moyer.

 

8.  Running fast on tired legs is not a myth!

With the help of my coach, I have learned to finish my races with negative splits, meaning running faster at the end.  The main workout to help me accomplish this were my weekly progressive runs for the first month I trained with him to get me to run faster on tired legs at the end of our workout.  I succeeded to negative split the Urban Cow half marathon finishing with a 3-minute PR in 1:43:56 with a 7:56 pace, The Mandarin half marathon finishing in 1:41:21 with a 7:45 pace another 2:30 mins PR only a month later after running Urban Cow half marathon, and the California International Marathon, where I had a 7-minute PR and qualified for Boston for the first time.

 

My awesome friend and training partner Andrea and I after finishing a smooth progressive run together.

 

Boston-Bound at California International Marathon, where I finished my fourth marathon in 3:40:41.

 

Mental Fitness Lessons

 

9.  Dig deep literally means just that when you use your mental toughness during your training runs or races. 

Digging deep as a runner, or a human being on the quest of achieving a big goal means just that. Although I am not a gardener, I find this expression to represent physical and mental strength when digging a hole, but more importantly, the strength is imperative to dig one’s way out of the hole. As runners we have to find that inner fortitude to run strong through the pain when our bodies rebel against us. My revelation came during the middle miles of my fourth marathon that I ran on Dec. 3rd, 2017. I was getting really tired and my gluteal muscles were sore and hurting. I slowed down by 30 seconds from my goal marathon pace of 8:16 and I was even thinking that marathons are not my cup of tea and why was I insisting on abusing my body like that. I even wanted to stop and use the bathroom, but I decided to harness my mental strength and focus on good form technique, and running the best I could to Loehman’s Plaza past the 20 mile point. Sure enough after that my body stopped hurting, or was it my mind overwriting the body? I started to run at 8:14 pace and felt rejuvenated and confident in my ability to finish strong.

 

I was able to run part of the CIM with my wonderful friend Karen Clark who ran ahead of me during the middle miles. I managed to catch up with her around mile 22 when my mental strength helped me dig deep and get out of the pain hole that slowed me down.

 

10.  Find another gear. 

How do runners differ from bikers? They just don’t have as many gears. Nevertheless, once we allow our brains to process and transcend physical pain, we become stronger and able to find faster gears that we did not know existed and were available to us. The way I learned to access my faster gears was by finishing many key track workouts with a few 200 meter repeats on tired legs. The first time I discovered that I could run super fast at the end of the workout on tired legs, I felt like a legit athlete.  Running strong at the end felt like pulling a rabbit out of a magician’s hat, since the pain had disappeared and allowed the legs to do their thing.

 

My super fast and supportive team mates Genevieve Clavier and David Pai made me look forward to our 5:20 a.m. Tuesday workouts, when we all gave it our best and felt as if we were hanging off a precipice, but somehow managed to stay in control of our tired legs and finished the workouts strong.

 

11.  Overwriting our doubts and mental weakness.

I was doing 800 meters on track with my awesome team mates, when my body and legs rebelled and started to slow down. My coach who was timing us noticed that I slowed down, so he said: “Your legs are not tired; it’s all in your mind.” I smiled and tried to process that statement. My next 800 was stronger, and the last one was the strongest. I had to simply overwrite my brain that was giving wrong signals to my body. All of a sudden, I found renewed energy in my running and knew I could do it! I felt in control of my body, thoughts, and managed to subdue the doubts that were creeping up like tiny spiders ready to weave their web of lies around my tired legs that were capable to give more that morning on track. Positive thoughts and reinforcement are an important tool for runners to have when needed.

 

Doing track workouts with friends is always more fun and motivating.

 

12.  The power of visualization.

It is essential to visualize our goals and even more important to let our friends, our social network and media know about our goals, so that they can keep us accountable. Besides visualizing our goals, it really helps to repeat to yourself what you wish to get out of a race. For instance, when I ran the MandaRun half marathon, I kept telling myself that I wanted to finish with a 7:45 pace, since my pace during my Urban Cow half marathon was 7:56. During the race, I felt great and the speed was effortless, but I kept pushing myself to run a little faster than 7:45 to account for slowing down on a few hills. To my great surprise, I finished the half marathon in 1:41:21 with a 7:45 pace. I was elated and surprised that I finished third in my age group, as half marathons are harder to place. This was my first time finishing in the top three at a half marathon and felt that repeating the magic pace numbers worked well for me. The brain and the body were focused on the same goal and worked as a team!

 

Showing off my two medals that I earned at the Mandarun half marathon. First time getting an age group award for a half marathon race.

 

Spiritual Lessons

 

13.  Jumping with Joy.

To me running is the perfect harmony between body and mind. In order to celebrate that inimitable feeling, I often jump with joy suspended between Heaven and Earth and rejoicing in the runner’s high.

 

No description needed. Too much joy and exhilaration!

 

14.  Running is divine.

I have enjoyed doing trail runs for the change in scenery and for the divine beauty I see all around me. Just like we need to break up the monotony in running and run trails instead of road all the time, it is the same with life. We need to find the divine in various activities, in the people we meet, and in the ordinary that we can easily transform into extraordinary. The divine is within each of us and once we learn how to access it, we will feel our hearts expand with love for others and ourselves.

 

Serendipity and divinity.

 

The divine nature of  wild flowers.

 

15. Running is finding God in nature.

Even though we need to watch our feet and pay attention to each step we take on the trails, I always rejoice in connecting with God during my runs. This year, I saw a cross in the sky right before Easter and I teared up thinking how much God loved us and how much I enjoyed discovering and talking to God during my runs through nature.  Then on Christmas Eve when I ran the Foresthill Divide Loop with a few wonderful friends from our racing team, I stopped on the trail enthralled to discover God’s Temple.

 

I took this picture on Good Friday before Easter this year. At first, I thought it was just the evening sky right before sunset, but when I looked at the picture on my phone, I was in awe to see the clouds forming a cross in the sky. I cried, prayed, and wrote a poem about this divine apparition in the sky.

 

 

The light filtering through this old, mature bent over tree stopped me in my tracks. I felt God’s infinite love for me and all mankind. This deep spiritual connection filled my heart with love and gratitude for the existence of a higher BEING and for being ALIVE and closer to GOD.

 

16. Running is transcendence. 

Whenever I run, there is a calmness descending over me that transcends any worries, crazy thoughts, doubts, or fears. Moreover, running becomes my way of transcending time and space and propels me in the NOW.

 

I love bridges, as they connect two ends, two worlds, two souls, two hearts, and many transcending moments in time.

 

17. The Zen of Running.

 

Running is controlling the shallow and deep breaths into a rhythmic breath, which I call the Zen of running, for it gives me inner peace, calmness, and composure to be the best human being possible. I also feel serene when I enter the Zen realm and know that no matter how difficult or long the run is, I will end up overcoming pain and come out cleansed and elated.

 

This art reminds me of the Zen of running, of breathing and living a meaningful and joyous life.

 

I am humbled to share what I have learned from running in 2017 and hope to hear your stories, too about your ultimate running experiences. Please share any special moments and lessons  you have learned during your runs. Namaste!

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Every Runner Should Do a Triathlon to Become a Stronger & More Well-Rounded Athlete

I graduated with my Masters degree in English from Sacramento State University in 2011. One of the highlights of my going back to school besides learning and becoming a better writer was biking from home to school using our beautiful American River Parkway. I was biking 20 miles round trip and loved my bike rides and the freedom they brought to my day. At the time, I was doing century rides for the American Diabetes Association in memory of my dear father who died of a heart attack due to his diabetes at the young age of 53.

TRIATHLON – A NEW SPORT TO MAKE US MORE WELL-ROUNDED

 

Now as a runner, I experience tremendous freedom and joy, but I also use the same muscles. After attending a free Triathlon information session at Fleet Feet, I have decided to jump right at it and do my first women only triathlon coming up on September 9th. Being new to triathlons, I did not even know what it really meant to do a triathlon. I found out that I would have to swim half a mile, bike 20 miles, and run 4 miles, so all doable.  Moreover, after taking some clinics and talking to my runner friends who have done them, I realized that doing my first triathlon will open up new fitness doors that I never knew existed. This reminded me how important explorations and trying new things are.

At my first swim clinic wearing a wet suit for the first time in my life and feeling like a seal – all sealed up – ha!ha!
I figured the wet suit is not needed, so I bought myself some comfy swim shorts for my triathlon, as Carolyn, one of the women who has done many triathlons told me that it is easier to swim in a swim suit and transition easier and faster to the bike. I agree and have accepted the great advice.

 

What is a BRICK in triathlons? Why runners should do them once a week, or every other week to become stronger and faster whether training for a triathlon or not?

 

Veronica, one of my trail runner friends , who used to do half Ironman told me that I needed to start doing brick workouts.  She explained to me what they meant, as I had no clue. The biking-running brick workout is one of the most popular, as one bikes first and then runs to prepare for the triathlon.  Second most popular brick workout is swimming first and biking second. These two brick workouts can also be done in reverse, meaning run-bike, bike-swim, but the idea is to experience the same conditions and order as in the triathlon.

https://www.trainingpeaks.com/blog/using-brick-workouts-in-triathlon-training/

According to Chris Carmichael, there are various type of Brick workout, which he describes in his article.

http://trainright.com/get-it-together-with-brick-training/

Doing my first brick workout in preparation for my first Triathlon. I biked for 12.7 miles and then ran 4 miles.

 

Meeting Christy, a new fellow biker, who rides 50 miles on her days off.  Wow! We rode together and  immediately connected due to our being health conscious, vegan, and loving the freedom and control that exercise brings into our lives. To new friends! To more happy rides!

 

TOP FIVE REASONS TO DO BRICK WORKOUTS AS A RUNNER, OR JUST FOR OVERALL FITNESS

 

  1. Excellent cross training exercises and routines.
  2. The two sports help work and train different muscles in our bodies.
  3. Reduced risk of injuries.
  4. Increased cardio fitness.
  5. Fun, fun, and more fun!

My first brick workout was biking 13.7 miles at a brisk pace and running 4 miles in the low 8s right after the biking. Although I felt my legs turn into bricks right after biking, I was able to run at a decent pace easing into each mile and being amazed at what my body could do. I felt confident and happy with my very first brick workout. I will report back after doing my second brick workout swimming and biking.

My selfie picture during the 4-mile brick workout. I had to quickly stop around mile 2, as it was getting hot. Running was not easy after biking, but what a great training!

 

Whether doing a triathlon, or not, I highly recommend mixing these type of brick workouts into your training to help you stay stronger and  infuse more variety and fun into your workouts. Happy feet! Happy pedaling! Happy swim strokes! This is my favorite order for my upcoming women only triathlon, but everyone will have different favorites.

 

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!

 

5 Worst Running Injuries I had in My First Two Years as a Runner and What You Can Do to Prevent Them

Romanians (Yes, I am Romanian American and quite proud of it) have a great saying: “smart people learn from the mistakes of others, whereas not so smart people learn from their own mistakes.” I would love for you to learn from my mistakes and know that learning from your own mistakes is unavoidable. Besides,  when things happen for the first time, it has little to do with your intelligence level: it has to do more with life’s constant element of surprise, or what I like to call an ocean wave sweeping us off our feet when we are least expecting it.

Balance

 

One of the things I think I am pretty good at is balancing my busy parent, professional, intellectual, and athletic life.  I feel that I can juggle things, because I use my calendar well and try to write down all appointments, all my to-do lists, and still have room left for fun activities. I also found out that as a runner, balance is key. I need to balance my workouts, the time on my feet, as well as make room for tennis and strength training. But what happens when you become a little too confident in your running abilities? Well, you tip the balance scales to the heavier training cycle of running, so you start doing two runs a day even after a race you did the same day, which I have done and felt great at the time. You know that your form is good, so you won’t get injured, but overuse injuries can creep up upon us. Our bodies take the beating up to the point of quitting, so that’s when we start having problems.

 

Five worst running Injuries I have had in the last two years

 

I always thought I had a stronger body than my body really is! And, yes! I am an optimist who likes to wear the rosy glasses often. Moreover, just because I have played tennis for 22 years and never got injured is not enough to proclaim the Herculean strength of my body. As a matter of fact, once I started to run in 2015, I realized how many weak areas I had in my body, starting with the ankle which I injured in my first month of running due to poor form and improper shoes for my feet (I was wearing the low Altra shoes that offer no support to our ankles), but bounced back in 4 days. Then the knees pointed out to me that I had developed IT band syndrome, when I felt pain on the side of my knees and runner’s knee when my knees hurt right below the knee cap.

My first  half marathon Run the Sly in 2015, my first year running. I wore the copper fit knee sleeves to protect my knees from hurting, especially during longer runs.
My first CIM marathon that I finished in 4:13, even though I pulled my groin muscle at mile 18 and had to slow down.

 

Although I always ran with my knee sleeves on for about a year, as if they had magical powers, I had discovered that I could run without them with no pain when I forgot to put them on. That day I ran freely without any “crutches,” so to speak and felt like Forrest Gump .

Next injury took me almost six months to clear, as I had developed Planter Fasciitis after buying running flats that had a lower heel drop than I was used to and due to my tight calf muscles. Every morning, the sharp pain in my heel felt like walking on needles or stepping on a nail, but once I started my run, I was pain free and kept on going.

Towards the end of 2016,  I also developed a mild form of shin splints, with pain running up the inside of my lower legs.  Shin Splints can happen to runners whose feet maintain ground contact too long, or if the foot lands too far in front of them. Higher mileage will also contribute to shin splints.

My fifth injury came on totally unexpected on March 21st, 2017 after I did some intense speed workout on the track. I did 4 mile repeats and felt great until I got home and started to limp badly. My husband asked me if I twisted my ankle, or my foot. I said “no.” My speed workout felt wonderful as always.  I just didn’t know what happened, but I was sure I would be like brand new by the morning. And, yes: my rosy glasses were on. I had no clue that I had developed one of the worst injuries that only affects 0.6 percent of runners from what I have read – see how special I am?

I had developed peroneal tendonitis on my right foot, which is extreme pain on the outside area of the foot right above the ankle. Unlike all the above-noted injuries that never stopped me from training and running races, this one left me limping and unable to run. Yes, I was smart to stop running, while resting and icing, but it was mainly because my injury forced me to do that. I have not run in two weeks, doing aqua jogging, stretching exercises, and foam rolling.

After two weeks of rest and doing aqua jogging, Pilates class, and core exercises, I have tried acupuncture http://www.acupunctureinsacramento.com for the first time in my life to attack the tendon and be able to restart my Mountains to Beaches marathon training coming up on May 28th in Southern California. It worked so well and I highly recommend it, but check about your injuries with your doctor first.

Do You Have Peroneal Tendonitis? Here is How to Fix it

http://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/peroneal-tendonitis-stretches#2

Although the article below talks about 5 most troublesome running injuries, which I had all, my sixth running injury comes and goes depending on how long and intense I run. I have had piriformis syndrome on and off, which is simply pain in the gluteal muscles, making it hard to maintain a certain pace, once it kicks in. I like to call this injury a kick in the butt, not figuratively speaking, as that’s the area that hurts and slows me down.

The 5 Most Troublesome Running Injuries

 

When it comes to healing all kinds of running related injuries, I recommend reading James Sullivan’s advice below and then read about my healing methods.

http://www.mensjournal.com/expert-advice/how-to-recover-from-running-injuries

 

CARMEN’S 20 HEALING METHODS FOR THE ABOVE-MENTIONED INJURIES AND ADVICE:

 

  1. Listen to my body and address the issue promptly.
  2. Read many running books and changed my running form after reading the Chi Running book by Danny and Katherine Dreyer. I highly recommend it, as I was able to apply the lessons and improve my form and speed.
  3. Read about the injury and take action to heal the body while running, if safe to run.
  4. Changed the type of shoes I wore and currently run in the Nike Lunar Glide 8, which are better for my feet.
  5. Changed my running shoes every 400 miles to avoid injuries.
  6. Rolling my foot on a tennis ball daily and often while working at my desk to get rid of Plantar Fasciitis.
  7. Using the foam roll often and doing different Yoga stretches.
  8. Doing weekly core and strength training exercises, such as squats, lunges, kettle bell swings, bridges, and so on.
  9. Doing hills to strengthen my body, especially my gluteal muscles.
  10. Running much slower on my recovery days to allow my body to fully recover.
  11. Running with friends to keep myself accountable.
  12. Using the sauna to loosen up the muscles and recover well from tough workouts.
  13. Using the Epsom salt baths after long runs.
  14. Not running the day before a race and especially before a marathon.
  15. Using the chiropractor once to realign my body.
  16. Using the acupuncture and common sense to heal the tendon.
  17. Not taking Levofloxacin or Ciprofloxacin antibiotics, as they can weaken the tendon and ankles, leaving one more prone to injury.
  18. Talking to other runner friends and asking for their advice.
  19. Staying humble.
  20. Being wiser about life and running – hopefully!

 

CARMEN’S 12 GOALS FOR RUNNING STRONGER AND INJURY-FREE IN THE FUTURE ALL THE WAY TO 100:

 

  1. Balance my tennis and running better, meaning that I won’t do a speed training session the same day that I play tennis. Instead, I will do an easy run the day I play tennis, or no run.
  2. Strengthen my muscles more.
  3. Do more stretches after my runs and ice more often at the first sign of soreness.
  4. Give up racing, if a small nagging injury is present and wait to be totally healed.
  5. Run mostly 5 days a week instead of 6, unless I am behind my schedule and my body feels healthy to handle the extra pounding.
  6. Do two easy runs a day when feeling good, but never a hard run followed by an easy one. After a hard run, or race, I can do aqua jogging to relax the body and muscles.
  7. Incorporate aqua jogging and biking into my weekly workouts for cross training and getting the body stronger.
  8. Listen to my body more and respond with rest when needed.
  9. Be flexible in rearranging my running schedule, if my body cannot accommodate a speed workout that day.
  10. Mix road and trail running, but avoid running too many hills on tired legs.
  11. Order custom orthotics for my high arched feet to take away the pressure from the calf muscles.
  12. Use acupuncture, deep tissue massages,  and active release techniques to stay strong and healthy.

 

I have tried Crossfit for a month and got my body stronger, while learning to incorporate some of the moves into my own strength training schedule, such as the deadlift move.

 

Although these injuries seem to be too much, I have enjoyed my running tremendously and highly recommend it to all my friends as the best mediation in motion out there. I have been successful at it, winning many age group races and even winning first female overall in the Gumby 5K trail run this year. I believe that with the right plan and improved running technique, I will continue to run many more races and marathons. Running is life!

For more info on running and real estate, whether buying or selling, please e-mail me at carmenmicsa@yahoo.com, or call me at 916-342-2446. Running for real estate with joy!