Posts Tagged ‘running’
Last night Dave Yudkin, owner of Hot Lips Pizza, came to talk to my Sustainability class about his adventures and trials in implementing the Natural Step to make his restaurants ultra-green. One of his main themes was that sustainability isn’t an end goal, but a continual process. It’s an ideal that we never really reach, but must constantly strive toward.
I couldn’t help but draw parallels to the other moving carrots in life. Just like in running or wellness, you can’t reach an optimal level of fitness and then decide to rest on your laurels. It takes constant effort. In the pursuit of health or sustainability, changing habits at the beginning is difficult but the gains are much bigger. Once you pick the low hanging fruit, the rate of return diminishes and you have to work harder to see incremental improvements. However, the initial stage of changing and forming new habits is hardest. For me at least, once I am over that hump, the journey becomes more enjoyable.
In my own life, I equate living sustainably with employing a certain amount of minimalism. Though the two are not entirely interchangeable, they work in concert. The Natural Step encourages creating a vision of an ideal future and “backcasting” to determine which steps will lead you down the right path toward the goal. I tend to think of my own quest for minimalism in the same way. Though I am no where near the extreme of living with only 100 possessions, I have my own vision of what a streamlined, efficient life with less looks like for my family.
To be honest, the 100 things challenge would have been a great exercise in my life BS (before Sebastian). Not only do babies seem to come with their own plethora of possessions*, but being a mom has also changed the way I view the world- almost like a soft focus lens. I was resistant to believe all the people who insist that having a baby changes everything, but it does. I’ve seen my priorities shift and my edges soften. Becoming a mom has altered my life in that it has forced me to strip away the non-essentials. It hasn’t changed my beliefs, but rather it’s helped refine them. Though I own more things now, I own less things that I don’t use.
Now, unfortunately, Hot Lips doesn’t make a gluten-free crust** so I might have to satisfy this new craving (too much talk of sun-dried tomatoes!) with a trip to Mississippi Pizza in the next few days.
*Coming soon… Suggested minimalist baby items for a natural-minded mom
**Hot Lips let me know that they do offer a gf crust, just not produced in a gf environment.
Well, I guess the nice thing about the Pacific Northwest is that you can run on trails all year long in the lower elevations. That was what I loved about coming to Washing for college after growing up in Colorado… there was never (ok, twice) snow on the ground that prevented me from getting a good run in. But trail running in the winter means embracing the elements, especially the MUD. We take the University of Portland team for long runs every Sunday to different areas of Forest Park and I have a rule about walking directly to the shower to undress. The shoes go straight to the drying racks in the garage and don’t set foot inside. It’s all about dirt containment!
The summer here in this corner of the country… is generally another story.
Trail running is an enjoyable way to get in longer, slower runs to build endurance. Dirt is great for lessening the risk of impact related injuries like stress fractures. The uneven terrain also helps build strength in your core and works your stabilizing muscles… this can also help prevent injuries from happening over time. If you feel uneasy on trails, you could try doing some balancing exercises at home and work on ankle strengthening exercises (like sitting with your legs crossed and tracing each letter of the alphabet with your foot in the air). The most common trail injuries are turned ankles, so you’ll want to watch for rocks and roots. The good news is that more you run on trails, the stronger your ankles will get!
For me time goes by so much more quickly gliding through forests or along the ocean than pounding the pavement. Running in these settings is my mediation. Somehow being surrounded by towering redwoods or the vast sky of the horizon, my problems seem tiny. All I have to focus on is breathing and taking it all in.
If you happen to be visiting Portland, Oregon or if you live here… the Portland Monthly magazine has a great issue out right now. I picked it up last weekend at Whole Foods as inspiration to get out to the Gorge and the Coast. My husband and I love driving to different trails for adventure runs when the weather’s warmer and we don’t have weekend practice. I hate to say it, but living in the Northwest, but when it’s cold and rainy- I’d rather just slog through Forest Park then drive out of town. When I’m freezing, I like to be close to a hot bath when I’m done.
Enough about the rain. The weather has been warmer for a month or so and it feels like Summer is just around the corner. I can’t wait to get out of town for some fun! The hardest part for us is usually choosing where to end up.
Portland Monthly Article: The trails are broken up into categories based on the following locations:
- The Coast
- The Gorge
- St. Helens (the mountain not the town)
- The Valley (down toward Salem)
- Mt. Hood
By no means an exhaustive list, but a great start and includes both well-known and interesting ones as well.
Find a Trail Map: Check out the featured tool where you can find a trail close to a certain area. It’s great if you’re looking to minimize your drive time or looking to for a route close to a known destination!
And hey, are you looking for people to run with? My friend Mallory who ran XC and Track at Portland State helps to organize a group called Trail Factor. They meet every Sunday at trails all over the area. As long as you don’t mind an 8am start time, it’s a great group full of interesting people of all ability levels. For more information or to check out their schedule: www.trailfactor.com
Wishing you sunshine & happy trails…
I feel that my situation was pretty typical of what a number of female athletes go through. I was prescribed Ortho Tri Cyclen* when I was 17 because I hadn’t had a period for more than two years. Not wanting to put anything artificial in my body and being scared about the hormones, I didn’t actually start taking the pills until I sustained a stress fracture in my foot during my freshman cross-country season at college.
After the fracture, a doctor convinced me that it occurred because my bone density was low. He said my bones were suffering because I didn’t have periods. This was the case because the absence of menses meant that my body didn’t have enough estrogen… and estrogen was the key to calcium being absorbed by my bones. He told me that my estrogen was low because I ran so much. And he said all this could be corrected by taking the birth control pill because it would supply my body with artificial estrogen that would keep my bones strong.
The Female Athlete Triad- of disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis- was a relatively new buzzword ten years ago and doctors, trainers, and coaches were quick to jump to the conclusion that the birth control pill was the easiest, quickest-fix band-aid solution to the most bothersome part of it. I wish that I could say that as a community, sports medicine has made tremendous progress – that doctors, coaches, and trainers know a great deal more about how to address these situations with their athletes, but I don’t really believe it’s much better. Birth control pills are more than ever being prescribed to young athletes (and non-athletes alike) as a quick-fix solution to problems that require a much deeper and more comprehensive look at the whole system.
When I look back at my own situation, I realize that the Doctor made a lot of assumptions in his hypothesis. First, he assumed that my stress fracture was due to having low bone density, though he never measured the density of my bones. In reality it was my training that changed significantly – I had gone from running maybe 40 miles per week on dirt roads in high school in Colorado to running 70+ miles per week in college mostly on pavement.
The other reality about my situation was that running or body fat percentage wasn’t the cause of my amenorrhea. I was always a very active teenager and a “late bloomer.” I played 3-4 varsity level sports during high school. I only had a couple “regular periods” when I was 15 years old and they ceased when I left to be an exchange student in southern Brazil. In Brazil I wasn’t allowed outside of the house alone. It was, by far, the most sedentary I have ever been at any time in my life. And like all exchange students, I gained a few pounds. And yet this is the time in my life when my periods stopped. When I returned from Brazil, I embarked on a 30-day wilderness education course backpacking across Colorado’s San Juan Range. But still my cycle didn’t return.
Over the years I stopped taking birth control twice for several months at time to see if my period would return on its own. Each time I noticed a marked improvement in my mood and digestion, but each time a friend or doctor encouraged me to go back on the pill because I needed it for my bones. I remained on a mono-phasal birth control pill until the age of 25. At that point, my digestive problems and allergies were so bad that I wanted to try anything to alleviate the situation. I read as much as I could find on the subject, scheduled a bone density scan that came back on the low side of normal, and quit the pill for good. It was a liberating feeling!
Eventually, about 7 months later, my cycle returned naturally for the first time in over 10 years. For the first year or two it was not consistent- some months it wouldn’t come, some months it would only last a day. However, the overall trend was one of progress.
Acupuncture has been the single most helpful tool for me in finding hormonal balance and regulating my periods. I highly recommend it!
1 Cup blueberries (I use the frozen wild blueberries from Trader Joes)
Birth control pills have always been a subject of much debate for female athletes. It seems like it is the modern-day doctor’s answer to any irregularity in the menstrual cycle. They want you to go on the pill for everything, you bleed too much, your cycle is too short, too long, non-existent… or hey, you have acne? No problem… take this pill. It only gives you a constant supply of synthetic hormones. (!)
Popping a pill is a much easier solution than trying to look into the root cause of the hormonal problem in the first place. What really upsets me is the lack of studies that have been done on the long term side effects of being on the pill and the real lack of studies actually done on athletes.
This latest study finds that women on the pill are “less likely to build muscle” than those not taking it. “You can still gain muscle on the pill, you just have to work harder.” The reason for this is because the pill drops levels of circulating testosterone. For the collegiate athlete, or the competitive athlete this is a serious issue.
My favorite part is at the end of the video:
Q: Should you reconsider taking the pill in light of this study?
A: Probably not unless you are a competitive athlete or body builder.
Sipping on my coffee here in the mid afternoon sunshine, I wonder if living here would actually kill me. August through November wasn’t so bad, at least not three years ago when I settled into my double studio apartment across from Hayward field. It was bittersweet to say the least. Like a child contently playing at dusk, I wasn’t ready to come inside yet and settle down. After weeks spent running and exploring the eastern Oregon wilderness, law school felt like a lead weight attached to my ankle, relentlessly pulling me down. I fell in love with Eugene the spring before. After a relapse of plantar resulted in a disappointing track season my senior year, I felt like I needed another shot at collegiate distance running. Whatever I was out to prove, I was still chasing.
And so as the acceptance letters arrived, it came down to Colorado or Oregon. On one hand there was in-state tuition, and all the comforts of home with friends and family nearby, mountains, skiing, and everything else familiar. On the other hand there was something new and exciting about Eugene. It had a presence and energy that appealed to me, both as a runner and a citizen. And Dave was in Oregon. That didn’t make my decision, but it made my decision easier. Watching the monarchs flutter on the petunias now I understand why I’m still in the great Northwest. I admit, though, that I still feel very much like a mountain girl playing at city life. Maybe after ten years I’ll start to consider myself an Oregonian, instead of an outsider or a transplant. Still, every time I pull out my Colorado driver’s license I feel a sheepish sense of comfort.
We all have days that are burned into our memory- that for one reason or another we can’t let go of, even if forgetting was for the best. This was one of those times. October light was breaking through the blinds as usual that morning when I turned toward the clock to open my eyes. I hated Mondays even more then. They meant a long drive down I-5 to make it to Civil Procedure on time. There is nothing particularly bright about the overcast days that fill the months from fall to spring, but if you’ve lived here long enough, you begin to squint nonetheless. The window faced another building, another set of blinds looking back. I lay there heavy, unable to collect my thoughts, for once not knowing how to push everything back into place. Finally without meaning to, I opened my mouth, “I’m not going back.”
There was no argument. I had no idea what I wanted- but I didn’t want to be miserable. There are a thousand reasons why I told myself I didn’t belong there. But ultimately when you are unhappy, it doesn’t matter. As an endurance athlete, you are taught to persist through pain, pushing your body farther than it wants to go on its own. The first twenty-two years of my life had been based on the practice of putting mind over matter, delayed gratification, and perfectionism. I still feel that it was the single, most powerful decision I have ever made. And I’ve been dealing with it on many levels ever since.
Recently in a bookstore, skimming through Dr. Drew’s book, I came across a passage where he describes the difference between high school girls and boys. Boys, he says have nothing to present at that age, they have no idea who they are yet. In these formative years relationships are difficult because the boy is trying to attract a girl, but really doesn’t have a firm grip on what he is looking for because he has much to learn about himself. Girls, on the other hand, have it all together as seniors in high school, it is only later when they begin to lose themselves. Reading this passage I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Human experience really isn’t so different. This hit the nail on the head for me. And yet, we feel completely isolated in our own problems. No one really talks about this, not enough. Before my 18th birthday, I was never wrong about anything. And yet, I have managed to lose myself after high school, twice.
The first time was my freshman year in college. At first all I wanted was anonymity. I wanted a chance to start over and not be the kid that all the other parents want their kids to be more like. After living in a small town where everyone read about my accomplishments in the local paper, I started to feel like I lived under a magnifying glass. The heat was exhausting, but I dealt with it because I knew there was a looming expiration date to it all- a light at the end of the tunnel. Junior Olympics came and went, with two gold medals and a record to take home. My father drove to Seattle from a business meeting in Montana to watch the finals. In both races I crossed the line and ran into his arms. We both cried and I knew that in a couple weeks, we would be back in the Northwest for college, and that next time he would go home without me.
The transition from child to student to adult is supposed to be seamless. As long as you follow the path that is. I started to realize that this was the main reason I was in law school, because it seemed like a logical next step. I had no real passion for it, no good answer for the question that everyone always asks. What are you going to do next? Any graduate will tell you how tiresome it is to be on the receiving end of this query. I didn’t know. I wanted to run, I wanted to play in the mountains, to be a kid in the summer, and that was about it. College was fun and exciting and exhausting. I wanted a break, and I thought that maybe I could reconnect with myself again a little better after taking a step back. There were so many great memories, but much of it I was ready to leave in the past. I was ready to move again.