Safe Running

I just returned from a spectacular vacation in Florida with my family.  We had beautiful weather, days full of activities (hello Disney!), and tons (and tons and tons) walking/hiking.  In fact, we walked, on average, about 15 kilometers each day.  My FitBit loved it.

In addition to all the walking and activities, I, of course, had to venture out for a few runs.

My first trip running while in Florida happened around 9 pm.  We’d returned to our hotel from a very long day but I felt like I needed something more.  Plus, it was just so gorgeous that I couldn’t wait to slip on my sneakers and get trekking.

I left my hotel room and headed out on a paved trail around the lake adjacent our resort property.  A few minutes into my run I realized I may be a bit insane (or paranoid).  Here I was in a different country, in the evening, by myself, on a path surrounded by trees and a lake (with signs warning to watch out for alligators and snakes, mind you).  I swiftly turned myself around and headed right back to the resort.

Instead of putting myself at risk of danger, injury, psychopaths, or death by alligator, I decided to stay right on the resort, making my way up the stairs to the top floor of each hotel, running around that floor, back down the stairs to the next floor, and continuing  that cycle until I was finished the bottom floor.  Then I would move on to the next hotel.  It turned out to be a really great run/workout!  And there were security cameras and people everywhere – including kids (it was a family resort), so I felt safe the entire time.  I don’t know if I would do the same thing at other hotels, perhaps if the atmosphere was the same.

Anyway, when I returned the other day from this vacation and saw that November is National Running Safety Month AND that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series recently made a stop in Las Vegas, I figured it perfectly coincided with my vacation runs.  In addition, Vegas.com will be posting tips on their site on how runners can stay safe while running in Vegas (and, pretty much anywhere you happen to be).

With all that being said, here are my tips for safe running while in Vegas (or just on vacation):

las-vegas

visit Vegas.com  🙂

Tip #1 – ANNOUNCE YOUR RUN

Okay, so you don’t have to hop onto the loud speaker or anything, but ALWAYS let someone know where you’re going.  Even if you’re traveling alone be certain to tell someone what you’re up to.  You can advise the hotel staff that you’re heading out  for a run on your own and your ETA will be 45 minutes.  Or you can phone or Facebook a friend/family member advising that you’re at whatever hotel, heading out for a run at whatever time, expecting to be however long, and you will touch base upon your return.  (I actually do this all the time when I’m heading out for a run by myself – either from work or from home, or from wherever.  Even if I’m taking my phone, I still let people know I’m heading out.)

Tip #2 – RUN WITH A BUDDY

Obviously, running with a friend or in a group would be ideal when it comes to safety, especially when you’re away from home (like in Vegas, baby!), but that’s not always an option.  As noted above, some people travel alone….and then sometimes you’re traveling with people who have no desire to run with you (been there!).  But, if you are fortunate enough to be on vacation with someone else – who happens to also run – definitely take advantage of it and get out for a buddy/group run.  There is safety in numbers.

Tip #3 – TAKE YOUR PHONE

Cell phones are a basic staple for most people these days, so bringing yours on your run isn’t a bad idea.  Not only can you listen to your playlist while your feet are hitting the pavement, you can “check in” to places when you pass by them.  I’ll be completely honest – I’ve never checked in anywhere and am not completely sure how it works, but it’s worth looking into if you’re venturing out on your own.  This will leave a trail of breadcrumbs on social media of where you’ve been.

Tip #4 – MAP OUT A ROUTE

map-my-run

Usually for narcissists….this time for safety. 😉

Normally, I’m not a fan of mapping out a route.  Maybe it’s because most of the people I know who map out a route simply do it so they can post it to social media and wait for accolades.  It drives me nuts!  Fitness should be for you – NOT for how much applause you can get from posting about it.  But, in this case, when it’s for safety purposes then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to map out a route for your run when you’re out of town (and, I mean, if you’re taking your phone anyway….).  Especially, if you’re heading down the Vegas strip.  I still wouldn’t venture down any blind alleys or anything, but if you’re making your route public to those back home then you should be able to relax a teensy bit more when you’re heading out.  It’s still not a bad idea to touch base when you’re safely back in your hotel room.

Tip #5 – STAY HYDRATED

hydrated

We think of this one as a no-brainer – water is important.  I usually drink several liters a day.  But, let me tell you that while I was in Florida, I did not drink as much water as I normally do, or what’s required.  I was a little dehydrated on this trip.  It happens.  We’re out of town, we get busy, we’re having fun…the idea of drinking more water often leaves us.  Therefore, we have to become more aware and alert of how much water we’re drinking, especially if we’re going to be running in the Vegas heat.

Tip #6 -UTILIZE THE FITNESS ROOM

hotel-fitness-room

I love a good hotel fitness room!

I almost always check out the fitness room in any hotel I stay in.  Working out is important to me and my fitness routine and health need not suffer just because I’m away from home or on vacation.  Especially when I’m training for races, I do not want to get out of my running routine.  And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t always want to hit the streets for my runs. That’s when the hotel fitness room can be a game changer.  Jumping on the treadmill and hitting the incline can often be the way to go. Get it over with and move on to the fun stuff.  Aside from running, there are other ways to stay fit and in training mode in the fitness room (strength training, stability training, other cardio machines).  Step out of place and change it up once or twice.  In addition to the fitness room, you can make up a program (or YouTube one) in the privacy of your hotel room – or,  you can do like I did in Florida and race around the floors of the hotel.  Of course, when I did it I was going around the outside perimeter of the resort blocks, but, if you’re quiet enough you might be able to get away with running in the halls of your hotel.  Look into some awesome Vegas hotel deals here!

Tip #7 -STAY ALERT

We often let our guard down, especially if we’re relaxed, or exercising, or having fun or on vacation – especially in a place like Las Vegas – so we have to work harder at being alert.  It’s the same as with what I mentioned about staying hydrated….we simply forget or become so consumed with what we’re doing that we don’t think about it.  So, for your safety, think about it….THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY!  Stay alert, check your surroundings, be safe.

~Fit Bitch

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Preventing Knee Injury When Exercising

I have mentioned many times over the course of my posts that I have very weak ankles.  I’ve had problems with my ankles for as long as I can remember – since I was a toddler, I believe.  They’ve both been sprained, strained, twisted, torn, rolled, and broken (yes, both of them).  Because of my ankle weaknesses I am always super diligent in doing my best to prevent (further) ankle injury.  So much so that I sometimes need to remind myself that other parts of my body need to be looked after.
Like the knees.
via Yahoo

via Yahoo

Because I’m so active, and because there is a history of osteoporosis in my family, I have made a conscious effort to be kind to my knees – and I’m going to let you in on these efforts:
First of all, be aware.  That’s pretty easy, right?  Our knees carry us and they take a lot of crap throughout each day.  So, if we are aware of the possible injuries we could endure – and what our lives might be like with a knee injury – we can ensure better care and safer performances.  We want to avoid a bigger situation, such as getting a knee replacement and having ongoing problems after that.  (The Zimmer Persona Knee Replacement is just one example of this.  Coincidentally, a few months ago I posted MOM-spiration and told the story of my mom being injured in a hit-and-run accident and has suffered her whole life with bad knees as a result. She is potentially facing knee replacement surgeries but is doing her best to avoid that option.  She’s been coming on-and-off to my boot camp classes (go mom!!) and has joined a walking group.  Knee replacement surgery is clearly something we all want to do our best to avoid.)
And of course having proper footwear is a key factor in preventing many types of injuries – knees and ankles included.  Making sure you have the right type of sneaker for your particular exercise is necessary, even if it will cost you a few extra bucks, it’s worth it in the long run.  Since I run and do a lot of plyo exercises I find it necessary to have a high end pair of sneakers or two with excellent shock absorption and tread, to start with.  And wearing proper and well-fitting gym shoes will help maintain leg alignment and balance (something I often need help with due to my weak ankles).
Having an exercise routine that includes a warm up and a cool down!!  THIS IS KEY.  I REPEAT <<– THIS IS RIDICULOUSLY IMPORTANT!!!   I make sure my clients, my fitness groups, and myself are all properly warmed up prior to exercising.  I can’t tell you how often I see people at my gym jump right into a workout without warming up.  That right there is one of the biggest factors causing injury.  If the body isn’t warmed up properly we’re not respecting it and we put it at risk.  Warming up before a workout will reduce the chance of soft tissue injuries and will lubricate your joints for easier movement. Cooling down and stretching after a workout is just as important as the warm up.  Our muscles tighten during exercise, so stretching post-workout will help loosen our muscles and joints, getting them back to proper mobility.  Although, we must be cautious of overstretching as this can further ail us by softening the ligaments under the kneecap or pulling tendons and muscles further than they should be pulled (stretched).  The Runner’s Stretch is guilty of this.
Having a strength-training routine is great for me for supporting my ankles and knees.  Strengthening my leg muscles will help me in the long run to reduce further injury, stabilize my muscles and joints, and keep me better balanced.
Knowing how to treat a knee injury is very important.  If it’s an injury due to over-training or over-use then there are several rules to follow.  I had an over-training injury to the side of knee that lasted for months this past winter and spring.  It was a terrible joint injury that caused me more pain than I had bargained for.  Here’s the routine I followed for a very.long.time: Ice and elevation, for starters.  I would come home from the gym, or from work, or from a class and elevate my knee over some pillows and then put the ice packs to it.  I was also very big on Epsom salts baths (Epsom salts are brilliant.  The sulfates play an important role in the formation of joint proteins and easing muscle pain.  Also, the magnesium helps with nutrient absorption, which can help with osteoporosis).  I would soak my knee for a good 20 minutes nearly every night for weeks on end.  I found a lot of comfort in doing this. I also made sure that I did some light stretching while my knee was warmed and soaking.  Compression wraps are something I had to deal with.  It would look big and bulky underneath my gym pants or whatever I was wearing but it had to be done to reduce the swelling.  Anti-inflammatories* became my best friend.  Well, not really, but when the pain and/or swelling got too bad I had to pop an Advil** here and there to reduce both.  (* and **  I am not promoting this, nor do I have any affiliation with Advil.  Please either see your doctor or your pharmacist or other health professional before taking any medication, and follow the instructions and/or recommended dosage of any medication.)  I also spoke to a professional to determine that my injury was indeed an over-use injury.  Because my pain was in a weird place I wanted to ensure it wasn’t anything more worrisome.
Following a yoga practice definitely helped – and continues to help me.  Yoga has helped me: increase my flexibility, enhance my performance, reduce stress, and stretch my muscles.  After all the exercising I do, incorporating a regular yoga practice is probably one of the smartest things I’ve done to help my body recover after my workouts and from the daily wear and tear I put it through.  My body (and mind and soul) continually thanks me for introducing it to yoga.
And lastly, but certainly not less important, knowing my limits and exercising properly is just as important as every other factor.  And this goes for everything I do.  Thankfully, my over-training injury healed up several months ago and I’ve been fortunate enough to not have another flare of it (I’m knocking on wood as I type).  If we are educated properly about exercises – whether it be by a trainer, an instructor, a doctor, or a teacher, then we can prevent almost any type of injury. For instance, we know that when doing a basic lunge the knee is not supposed to come out further than the ankle.  Just like we know that in a plank or push up our lower back should not sink in.  Anytime either of these happens we are putting our body at risk.  But there.  I’ve just told you the most important rules of a basic lunge and of a plank or push up.  Educating ourselves on correct form and exercise basics (what to do and what not to do) and how to avoid injuries is a great start to any fitness routine and respecting our body.
{FYI: I work with a man who has ongoing knee problems stemming from an old injury and ever since I found out about his issue (somedays, when flare ups occur and he’s visibly in pain) I will send him tons of info on preventing knee injury, strengthening his knees, and taking care of himself to prevent further injury/flare ups.  I think, perhaps deep down, he appreciates my scolding and sticking-my-nose-in.}
~Fit Bitch