Archive | June 2012

And On the 18th Day, She Ran

After more than two weeks of swimming, loafing and general moping, I finally got my sneakers on and my butt out the door and hit the pavement for a very slow 3.5 mile loop of Prospect Park, my first real run (at least, a run that wasn’t aborted after half a mile because it felt like someone was stabbing me in the kneecap with every step) in 18 days.

I won’t say it felt good, because it didn’t. I was slow (I don’t know how slow, because I left my Garmin at home for precisely that reason). EVERYTHING was tight. I’d been doing a lot more strength training and swimming in the past three weeks since my preferred forms of exercise — running and biking — were off limits. This meant that I was exercising muscles I don’t normally use — and NOT using muscles I normally uses — and they let me know it. But I made it around the park in one piece, and my sucky, good-for-nothing right knee only twinged during the last half mile or so, which was up a big hill. So I’ll consider that a success. I’m going to swim again tomorrow instead of running and then try again on Friday. Maybe this time I’ll even have the courage to bring the Garmin.

After my run, my mom and I headed over to the Y for our favorite strength training class and a session with my new buddy, the foam roller.

We don’t have these guys at my college’s gym, so I’ve been taking opportunity of my time at home to roll out my super tight quads and calves. It hurts a lot, in a kind of awesome, make-it-stop-but-actually-don’t kind of way. Fun times at the Prospect Park YMCA.

Other things… Mostly I’ve been getting ready for my impending trip to Egypt, which amazingly, miraculously, terrifyingly begins in exactly 3 and a half days. This time on Sunday, I’ll be about to land in Cairo. Holy guacamole.

“Getting ready” mostly means cramming all the Arabic I said I would study all summer (and then proceeded not to crack open my books til last week) and shopping for light-weight long sleeved shirts and ankle length skirts I can wear there that don’t make me look like a nun. (Oh, it’s also going to be 99 degrees in Cairo the entire time I’m there. How do Egyptian women do it?) Also downloading books onto my Grandpa’s kindle, which he leant me for the summer so I wouldn’t have to cart 8 weeks worth of reading material across the Atlantic. So far I’ve got The Marriage Plot, Death Comes to Pemberley, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Born to Run, All the Pretty Horses, and a book about cooking called The Everlasting Meal. I know I’m going to be pretty busy with school work while I’m in Alexandria, but catching up on reading has always been one of my favorite parts of the summer and I’m hoping to get through these books and more in the next eight weeks.

And now, your turn: Do you have any good book recommendations? Foam rollers? Love ’em or hate ’em? Love to hate ’em?

Tales from the Island of the Injured (And the Valley of Vegetables)

Alliteration is a wonderful thing, my friends.

Moving on. I’ll be honest: the reason I haven’t been blogging is that I haven’t been running. Not since two Saturdays ago, when I got a really bad pain in my knee, a kind of sharp pain underneath my kneecap. I actually was scheduled to get a sports massage that Thursday anyway (which is a whole other dramatic story — I still have bruises on my legs from it) and my masseuse (is that how you spell that word?) said that I have really tight calves and hamstrings that are probably what’s making my knee hurt. Which really shouldn’t come as a surprise, since I’ve hardly done any stretching or yoga since the marathon. I gotta get back on that bandwagon.

Since I can’t run or bike with my bum knee, I’ve been trying to get exercise in other ways. I’ve been walking a TON (shooting for 4 miles a day, since that’s roughly how much I’d be running if I had the option) and swimming. I’ve also started my own core/strength training regimen that I’ve been trying to do every day. This morning I did 25 crunches, 2 sets of bicycle for 1 minute each, a minute and a half plank, 20 push ups, 25 crunches, 25 vertical leg crunches, 30 seconds of alternating heel reaches, 5 sets of squatting and pulsing for 10 seconds, 20 push ups, 25 crunches, 30 seconds of boat, side plank for 45 seconds on each side, and then 20 more push ups. I also stretched for 15 minutes afterwards, to hopefully alleviate my tight-hamstring induced knee injury. The whole routine was nowhere near as good as running and not really a ton of fun — you don’t really get an endorphin high from plank and crunches — but I did work up a sweat! I hope that if I keep doing this every day, by the end of the summer I’ll be doing sets of 50 crunches instead of 25, and possibly even a 5 minute plank? We’ll see.

Since I haven’t been exercising as much as I’d like, I’ve been trying to clean up my diet a bit. More fruits and veggies, less processed food. This was made easy by the fact that my mom signed up for a CSA this summer and we just got our first share today. OH MY LORD there are so many vegetables in my fridge right now. For dinner today I made a veggie stir fry with spinach, bok choy, broccoli and green garlic from the CSA, plus tomatoes, red bell pepper, onions and sweet potato.

My dad took one look at it and asked if there was anything else in that bowl besides vegetables. “Don’t you even want rice or noodles of something with that?” he said.

Nope. I like my veggies unadulterated, undiluted straight up. I’m a hard-core consumer of vegetables. I wouldn’t be surprised if I looked in the mirror and saw this when I woke up in the morning:

(By the way, this is a photo of a piece of art made by a guy named Carl Warner, who constructs images and landscapes entirely out of food. You should see his celery stalk forest. It’s incredible stuff.

I didn’t really follow any recipe for this, instead kind of just tossing stuff in the pot. First I covered the broccoli with a little bit of olive oil and a few pinches of cumin, curry powder, and pepper flakes and then roasted it at 400 degrees in the oven, along with the sweet potato. Then I sautéed the green garlic and a small red onion in olive oil, added a chopped red bell pepper and the stem-y part of the bok choy and continued cooking that on the stove for about a minute or two. Next I poured 1/8 cup of orange juice, a tablespoon of soy sauce and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar into the pan, along with a tablespoon of grated ginger and a few pinches of hot pepper flakes. I cooked that until the liquid has mostly cooked down, then added the leaves of the bok choy and some spinach, both roughly chopped. I sauteed everything just a little bit longer until the greens wilted, then took the broccoli and sweet potatoes out over the oven, mixed them in with the rest of the veggies, and was ready to go! It was a super yummy dinner, and colorful to boot!

Hope you all are having a delicious and active weekend!

Do you have any kind of strength training routine? Any advice to get rid of knee pain? How do you like your vegetables?