Happy Valentine’s Day, Running- 14 Reasons I Still Love to Run

Don’t running and I make a good-looking couple!

I might always love running, but I don’t always like it.  Sometimes we just need a break from each other, but we always end up back together again.  Initially our relationship felt very one-sided.  I was faithful, but running let me down: injuries, burnout, perceived lack of progress.  Most of the issues were my fault.  I demanded more than my fair share.  I expected running to reciprocate my affection in ways that just weren’t mine to claim.  I wanted fast legs, shiny medals, and a body made of steel.  I saw others reach these goals in their relationships with running, so why shouldn’t I?  Time and time again running tried to tell me I was unique.  Our situation was one-of-a-kind.  I wasn’t like all the other girls.  I didn’t want to hear that.  I blamed my injuries and fatigue on running until one day it dawned on me.  If running was treating everyone else fairly, maybe the problem was me.  Maybe I needed to change. Maybe the problem was more one-sided than I thought.  When it was good, it was really good.  When it was bad, well, whose fault was it, really?  I needed to own my part in this dysfunctional partnership.  I needed to quit playing the victim and look for ways to make our bond stronger.  I needed to reassess what I really wanted from running.  I needed long-term perspective rather than instant gratification.

Fast forward to today and I think we’re in a good place now.  I respect the recovery running demands from me.  Instead of focusing on what running isn’t giving me, I appreciate what it does.  I understand we need some time apart, but when I take a day off, the make-up runs are so great!  Our relationship is stronger than ever now that we have mutual respect and understanding.  So, to running, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Click on the link below to read all about the 14 reasons I still love running after all these years.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865673241/Reasons-I-still-love-running.html

My Recovery Routine

 

Ali’s first downward dog.

Come to my group X classes long enough and you’ll hear me say, “What you do after a workout is just as important as what you do during.”  The older I get, the truer those words ring.  Proper recovery allows the muscles to repair stronger.  We are humans, not machines.  We need to replenish the well before we drain it again.  Physical and mental recovery from tough workouts will make us stronger in the long run, and really, that’s why we move.  We aren’t getting ourselves into shape to impress old friends at a reunion or strangers on the beach during our vacations.  We are getting in shape to improve our daily lives and increase our longevity.  Recovery is a critical part of our overall health.  Click on the link below to see what I do to recover.  Take a deep, cleansing breath and enjoy.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672137/How-I-recover-from-a-tough-workout.html

From the Archives- Gimme A Break

Funny how little things change.  Six years ago I wrote about needing a break from the thing I loved most- running.  What started out as a forced recovery from injury has become a yearly tradition.  Each year during the holidays I take a break from running.  Sometimes it’s physically necessary.  Sometimes it’s mentally necessary.  It’s always a good decision.  This year I took over a month off to recover from a hysterectomy.  For the first time in almost 8 years, I have nothing planned.  No races.  No training cycles to jump into.  I’ll admit it feels freeing to do what I want.  I’ve been showing my spin bike a lot of love.  The road will be there when I’m ready, just like it was after I wrote this post.

Teaching Ali the importance of recovery. She wasn’t even two years old, but she caught on quick!

Taking a Break

Too much of a good thing can be, well, too much.

Take chocolate, for example. Most definitely a good thing, but in high doses can cause even the biggest Willy Wonka fan a stomach ache. Ask my brother.

One Easter, when we were younger and ignorant of food pyramids and nutrition labels, my brother decided that if one bite of chocolate was good, the whole basket much be sensational. Halfway home from Grandma’s house, he was singing a different tune as we made an emergency roadside pitstop. I won’t go into details, but I’ll just say that he rarely overindulged on candy after that.

I may not have a problem abstaining from baskets full of chocolate- although it is still a fantasy of mind to live in a house made of donuts- I can, and often do, overdo my running.

Continue reading “From the Archives- Gimme A Break”

Christmas Wish List

If you’re like me, your holiday shopping was done a month ago.  If you’re like my husband, you’ve only just begun.  Let me add to the gaggle of Christmas wish lists and give you a few of my wanted items for the season.  (No, this is not a way to sneakily give my family gift hints… or maybe it is.

 

Asics Kayanos-

I’ve run in these shoes since 2008.  The one time I switched, I got a nasty stress fracture.  Lesson learned.  You can find great deals previous seasons’ models right now, too.  If you live close to an Asics Factory Outlet, you can find them as cheap as $60.  Normally they run $150-180.  Worth every penny.  http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Feetures Socks

You need something to wear with these shoes and I’ve worn Feetures! almost as long as I’ve worn Asics.  With so many styles and options and with their perfect fit, you don’t need to worry about your sock slipping down or causing blisters.  https://feeturesrunning.com

 

Coast LED Headlamp 2-pack

I just bought these at Costco a few weeks ago after an old headlamp burned out.  These are super bright.  But what I love most is that they don’t have a middle strap, so if I don’t want to wear it on my head, I can wear it around my waist.  Still great visibility.  Perfect for your runner during these darker months.

 

Asics Softshell Jacket

I am an admitted jacket hoarder.  I have somewhere around 30, but this one has stolen my heart.  I hate the cold, but with this jacket, I really don’t mind it as much.  Fleece lining.  The sleeves are tight around the wrists to keep out the cold.  Three layers for added warmth.  Thumb holes and a longer sleeve to keep your hands extra toasty.  Tons of pockets, too.  I’m only 5’2″, so this jackets hits me below my hips, but I love that.  Keeps my bum warm!  It’s pricey at $145, but I found it at the outlet store in July and only paid $30!   http://www.asics.com/us/en-us/

 

Sweaty Bands

I love headbands.  Sweaty Bands are among the best.  My head is smaller, so headbands usually slip right off.  Not these.  And bonus for you, you can find a link on this page for a discount code.  http://www.sweatybands.com

 

Run Fast.  Eat Slow- by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky

I don’t have this, but I want it.  Hint, hint.  Written by marathoner and 4-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan and chef Elyse Kopecky, this cookbook is chalk full of delicious recipes designed to help you feel and perform at your best.  Indulgent nourishment is how they describe the recipes.  I’m dying to make the bison meatballs.  The superhero muffins already have a large fan base.  I’m not a cook, but this book makes me want to be one.  Find it at any major book retailer.

 

Audible.com

The only thing I love more than running is reading.  Why not combine these passions with a subscription to Audible.com.  Subscribers can download audiobooks and listen while they run.  It’s great motivation for those days when running becomes a chore.  If I’m in the middle of a juicy novel I only allow myself to listen to while running, I’m more likely to lace up my shoes and go.  You can try Audible.com for free and get one free audiobook.  After that it’s $14.95 a month. http://www.audible.com

 

Trigger Point Foam Roller

Roll your aches and pains away with Trigger Point foam rollers.  It’s pain you enjoy.  Actually, start using these foam rollers and that pain will disappear.  Since I’ve started using mine daily, my hamstring aches have almost disappeared. https://www.tptherapy.com/product/GRID_FoamRoller

 

Epsom Salts

I used to be an ice bath believer.  But I’ve found that Epsom Salt baths feel just as invigorating.  During long, cold runs I find myself fantasizing about sinking into a warm bath with epsom salt and a good book.  The bath is often as long as the run.  Find them at any major retailer.

 

Nutzzo Seven Nut and Seed Butter

This ain’t your mama’s peanut butter.  And it’s not cheap.  It can run upwards of $12, but it’s so, so good!  And it’s the holidays, so splurge a little.  And this is a splurge you can feel good about.  Made with cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds it’s delicious and healthy.  There are a number of varieties and versions, but I have yet to find one I don’t like.  Just don’t let the family find yours.  Put it in a safe hiding spot and hoard it for yourself.  https://www.nuttzo.com

 

There you have it.  My 10 Favorite Things to give to the runner/health nut in your life.  Oh, who are we kidding.  Get these for yourself and don’t feel bad about it one bit.  Happy Holidays!

Surgery Recovery Update

Me, pre-op trying my best to look sad and despondent. Instead it just looks like a failed duck-lip attempt.

A week ago I was in the hospital’s pre-op room wearing nothing but a surgical gown and hospital socks accessorized by the latest and greatest in IV’s and patient bracelets.  It would be another two hours before my scheduled hysterectomy.  Up until this point I was calm, even happy to have this procedure done once and for all.  But sitting in the actual hospital listening to the doctor’s explanations, expectations, and directions I started to literally shake with nerves.

There’s a reason I keep certain parts of my life private.  For some reason many feel the need to share their own experiences, and often, in an attempt to bond and relate, can scare the living be-jeebus out of me with their horror stories.  It happened when I was pregnant.  It became almost a contest to see whose labor was the worst.  Guess what.  No one wins that contest.

So when I learned I’d need a hysterectomy because of fibroids, I only told a few people, and many of those only out of necessity.  I’m not embarrassed.  But I didn’t want to hear the gory details of a friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s procedure back in 1998.  Alas, it was not to be avoided.  As suspected, I was regaled with tales of woe.  It seemed that every story also involved vacuuming.  Weird.  Every woman in each story started to feel fine, decided to vacuum her house prematurely and was rushed to the hospital hemorrhaging along the way.  Some, I was led to believe, never fully recovered (said in a hushed voice, head shaking).

Days before my operation I asked my doctor about these stories.  I could tell this was old news to him.  He didn’t miss a beat and went on to explain why that was definitely not going to happen to me.  I was going to have a Total Vaginal Hysterectomy (TVH) with no incisions if everything went as planned.  If it was easy to do, he’d also remove my fallopian tubes just to reduce any risk of future cancer.  I got to keep my ovaries.  His Christmas gift to me.  Thank you.  Seriously.

He gave me a 2-4 week recovery, but no running for 6 weeks.  I could lift as much as a gallon of milk without worry.  I asked about riding my bike and teaching cycle classes.  He was fine with it as long as it felt okay to me.  I calmed down a little, checked out half the books in the local library, hooked up Netflix in the bedroom and was ready to go.

Fast forward back to surgery day.  I’m telling my experience because in the days prior to mine, I scoured the internet looking for others who’d had the same procedure I had and who were as active as I was.  My biggest concern was how to deal with being bedridden and how long it really would last.  I found almost nothing.  So I write my recovery story for future Kims in the
Gym.

Continue reading “Surgery Recovery Update”

How I Recover From a Marathon

Classic.  My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race.  Keeping it real.
Classic. My friend Elfi and I obviously NOT enjoying life post-race. Keeping it real.

When you ask people to name their talents, you usually hear singing, playing piano, acting, sewing, cooking and the like.  My talent is a little off-beat.  My gift is recovery.  Whether from a hard workout or a race, recovery is key to long-term health.  A doctor once explained to me that running a marathon is like little bombs exploding in leg muscles.  How they repair and recover are key.  There are some recovery methods that aren’t in my control: my body hoards water to help the muscles recovery.  What does that mean?  It means the scale goes up significantly the week after a race.  We’re talking around 5 pounds for me.  No need to worry.  The body’s just doing what it was designed to do.

But other recovery methods are in my control.  Click on the link below to see what it is I do to get myself back in the game of life post-race.  Remember, what works for me may not work for you.  This isn’t a “how-to”.  It’s just me sharing what has been successful for me.  Enjoy.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865663863/Kim-Cowart-How-I-recover-from-a-marathon.html?pg=all

Crash Recovery Update

Crash recovery update
Shelly and I hiding our fear with smiles before our first ride back post-crash

Crash recovery update.

It has been almost three months since Shelly and I had our big crash and the results are still coming in.

The good news: we’re back on our bikes.  We had our first ride last Friday.  I was more nervous for this ride than I was before giving birth to my oldest daughter.  We chose a relatively safe route- Legacy Parkway.  No vehicular traffic.  But let’s get real.  We didn’t have our big crash with a giant SUV.  We had our crash with a piece of wood.  I was paranoid of everything, and it turns out, rightfully so.

Only two miles into our ride we encountered a dad and his daughter on a scooter.  Shelly and I slowed down to around 6 miles per hour, made eye contact with the dad, verbally let them know we were about to pass.  Dad pulled daughter over to the right side of the path.  Not trusting anyone, I continued to ride slow.  Just as I was about to pass them, the daughter pulled out on her scooter right toward me.  I swerved left to avoid her, yelling at her to get over.  Dad started yelling.  Shelly was yelling behind.  I’m certain I closed my eyes and accepted that I was about to even out my shoulder injury by falling on my left.

But I didn’t.  I stopped a little further ahead.  Dad was still yelling at his daughter.  Shelly and I rode on shaking in our bike shoes.  Not the best way to start our first ride post-crash.

We decided the goal that day wasn’t to ride hard and fast.  The goal was to ride and survive.  Conquer our fear, if you will.  I wouldn’t say we conquered our fear, but we faced it and that’s good enough.

crash recovery update
We survived our first ride.

Scary as it was, it was nice to be back, although I’m not sure I’ll ever feel totally comfortable again.  The idea of riding on major roads again terrifies me.  A little fear is good.  I have a lot to live for.

Shelly’s arm is healing nicely.  No more “Frankenshelly”.  She looks good and has an awesome scar to tell the story.

I’m about 75% better.  The shoulder burns bad when I run and effects my neck and back, too.  Surgery is definitely a possibility.  The cost is holding me back.  I have a consultation appointment with a surgeon next month, so we’ll see.  I could always sell my bike to offset the medical bills!  Kidding.  Maybe.

Reasons Not to Run

My first run after getting my cast for a broken hand. It was slow and easy, but oh, so wonderful.
My first run after getting my cast for a broken hand. It was slow and easy, but oh, so wonderful.

My first writing assignment was for a blog called “Reasons to Run”.  It was an easy assignment.  I could spend days listing all the reasons that keep me running.  But once in awhile, the smarter decision is NOT to run.  There have been times in my life when I’ve allowed my love for running to cloud my judgement, take me away from family, push my body beyond its breaking point.  I’m not proud of this.  Thankfully, with age comes wisdom and I’ve learned when to draw that line and give my body, mind, and spirit a break.  Running is always there for me when I decide to come back, and I always come back fresher and stronger than ever.  Click on the link below to read more about reasons not to run.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865658689/Lots-of-reasons-to-run-but-sometimes-the-better-choice-is-not-to-run.html

Post-Crash Rehash

It’s been almost two months since our bike crash adventure and Shelly and I are still on the mend.  Our injuries turned out to be far worse than originally thought.

Our first run post-crash. I don't have my cast yet and I refused to run with my sling. Result- I could hardly move my arm.
Our first run post-crash. I don’t have my cast yet and I refused to run with my sling. Result- I could hardly move my arm.

Shelly didn’t just rip a hole in her elbow; she sustained an 80% rupture in her tricep which required surgery to repair.  She was in a full cast, from knuckles to shoulder, for three weeks.  She has yet to be able to put pressure on her right arm or lift anything more than a pound.  She has a gnarly scar on her elbow that I’m a little jealous of.  Scars are cool, especially when they come with a good story.  She goes to her doctor next week and we’re hoping she gets the okay to start riding her bike again.

Just doing what we can. I'm wearing a cycle jersey because I can't lift my arm overhead to put on a normal tank top.
Just doing what we can. I’m wearing a cycle jersey because I can’t lift my arm overhead to put on a normal tank top.

My Grade 3 AC separation is still a source of pain, literally and figuratively.  Grade 3 separations live in a gray area.  Most don’t require surgery, but a few do.  Since I’m so active and it feels like someone’s lit a match under my shoulder every time I go for a run, it looks like surgery is, indeed, in my future.  When I hit my shoulder, I tore the ligaments that connect my shoulder to my collarbone.  That baseball bump on my collarbone isn’t from my collarbone popping up on impact.  My shoulder actually dropped.  When I stand up, you can see that my fingertips are a good 3-4 inches lower on my right side.  I’m not a vain person, so this doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me are the shoulder aches, the neck pain, the inability to do a push-up without popping and slipping in the joint.  Ick.

Not the best shot of my bump, but it will do. I like to rub it for good luck.
Not the best shot of my bump, but it will do. I like to rub it for good luck.

To make it even more interesting, turns out my right hand was sore because I broke the navicular bone.  Not a bad break, but enough to warrant a soft cast for four weeks.  It’s off now and I’ve been given the green light to lift weights, run, bike, whatever I want.

This cast is right where it belongs- in the trash. And yes, I drink Diet Sunkist and I am not ashamed.
This cast is right where it belongs- in the trash. And yes, I drink Diet Sunkist and I am not ashamed.

As far as surgery goes, I have three races scheduled for the fall.  Top of Utah Marathon, Goldilocks century ride, and the Amsterdam Marathon.  My doctor said I would be fine waiting until those were done to do the surgery.  A few cortisone shots to get me through and then we can put me back together like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.

Things could be worse, but they have been better.  My patience is wearing thin, but I am still grateful for what I can do.  Below is a link to my Deseret News article about never taking our health for granted.  Check it out.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865656088/Learning-to-be-grateful-for-every-run.html

Be Careful What You Wish For

Warning: this post may contain one graphic image. It’s also very long. Settle in.

The fact that this post exists is a miracle in and of itself. I’m figuring out how to navigate typing with my dominant arm in a sling. In fact, I’m figuring out how to do everything with my dominant arm in a sling. I’m realizing how important thumbs are to overall life function and just how tricky ponytails can be with almost no range of motion in one arm. I’ve also learned my husband stinks at ponytails, too.

But all that being said, I need to say I am fine. My friend Shelly is fine. But there were some moments this weekend when we weren’t sure we would be fine. After ten years of road cycling, we finally had our big crash.

Continue reading “Be Careful What You Wish For”