Tips for Running in the Heat

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Alright, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I am a Michigan gal, and I do not like hot weather!!!  We’ve now been in San Antonio for a year, and I’ve come to realize that there are basically three seasons here hot, too hot, and miserable.  Okay, but I’m not here to complain.  San Antonio has plenty of other things to offer.  It’s just this dang weather that makes it fairly unbearable for a cold weather girl like myself.

Anyway, at least us getting assigned here has forced me to do some training in REALLY hot weather, and because of that, I’ve got a collection of tips that I’ve figured out to help when the sun is trying to melt me during my runs!  Growing up in Michigan, I’m a pro when it comes to cold weather running tips, but now I get to share with all of you what I’ve learned  here so that you can still lace up and get out there despite the searing heat.  That being said, when temps reach over 100, personally, I think it’s better to just go for a hike or to run on a treadmill.  No sense in causing yourself to become ill for a single run – that’s nonsense!

Okay, but for you hard core runners who really want to get out there even when the thermometer tells you to stay inside in the air conditioning, I have found some things to help, so let’s get to them!

1.) Stay Hydrated – duh!

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If you’re a runner, or really anyone who knows the importance of health, you know how important it is to stay hydrated.  When you go for a run, you sweat, and that means fluid loss.  When it’s hot outside, that fluid loss is magnified tremendously.  Thus, it’s important to make sure you are taking in enough fluid to prevent dehydration and keep your body functioning at optimal performance.  To do this, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of water before your run, during your run, and after your run.  The before and after is easy, but what about during?

When it comes to staying hydrated during a run, of course, you can always carry a water bottle with you.  However, this isn’t always ideal.  When it’s really hot out, I usually do one of two things.  One, I run in areas in which I can map out different places that I can stop and get a quick drink of water at a drinking fountain.  Two, I map out my course, and then drive it and drop off water along the way at different points.  Of course, the second takes a bit longer, but it’s worth it in the long run…pun intended. 🙂

2.) Run in the morning or late at night.

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Obviously, the weather is always cooler in the morning.  Of course, if you’re like me and are not a morning person (at all), you could also opt for running late in the evening when the sun has gone down.  Without that hot sun beating down on you, it is much easier not to overheat.  It’s still cooler in the morning than in the evening, but by changing the timing of your run to one of these two options, you can more easily beat the heat.

3.) Slow Down!

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I know it sounds odd to say “slow down” when it comes to training, but when it’s hot outside, it’s your best bet.  Running by itself is exhausting.  Running in extreme heat is even more exhausting.  When temperatures are high, try to reduce your pace accordingly.  A good rule of thumb is for every 10 degrees it is over 75, reduce your running pace by 45-60 seconds per mile.  In doing this, you will still get a great workout in, and you won’t be forced to stop due to heat exhaustion.  When it comes to heat, slow and steady wins the race!

4.) Dress (or undress) accordingly

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Me at the finish of a race in which it was 85 degrees at the start!

When temperatures are high, don’t be shy!  Cute, huh?  I just made that up!  But, it’s true!  When it’s hot outside, wearing minimal clothing can be extremely helpful.  What you do wear should be light in color and loose fitting if possible.  Hats and sunglasses are really helpful too!

Have you ever heard of the Badwater Marathon?  Temperatures at that race are well above 100 degrees.  In all of the pictures I’ve seen of runners of this race, they are always wearing a lot of white, and their clothes are very loose.  Almost all of them are wearing white hats with flaps along both sides and sunglasses.  Dark colors attract heat, and tight clothing can trap sweat and heat causing you to tire more quickly.  So, don’t be shy – when running in the heat, less is best!

5.) Sunscreen is a must!

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In the summer months (or all year round if you live in a place like San Antonio), when you are heading out for a nice long run, sunscreen is imperative!  That being said, most store bought sunscreens have a lot of very harmful ingredients in them, but don’t worry!  Fortunately, I’ve got a fantastic DIY non-toxic recipe for sunscreen lotion, so you can whip up a batch of this and slather it on before your run, and you’re good to go!  Make sure to remember your lips too!  Use a good SPF lip balm to protect your smile!

6.) Ice cubes can be a life-saver!

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When it’s hot outside, some strategically placed ice cubes can really help to keep you cool! You can wrap some ice cubes in a bandana and wrap the bandana around your neck, or wrap it around your wrists or even ankles.  I will usually stick a few ice cubes in my sports bra or headband (if I’m wearing one) before heading out to help keep me cool.  Really anywhere you can put one where it will be held in place is good!

7.) Plan your running route accordingly

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The last hot weather running tip I have for you has to do with where you run.  It’s no secret that black roads and asphalt attract and give off heat.  Because of this, it is a good idea to try to run on surfaces other than these.  Running in the grass is good, and trail running is great in the hot summer months, because it provides a cooler surface, and there is usually lots of shade, which is another thing to consider when planning your route.  Try to find routes that are as shaded as possible – the less sun the better when it’s super hot outside!

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As you can see, you don’t have to let the heat completely ruin your running routine.  With a few adjustments here and there, you can continue to train even when it’s hot outside.  As I said though, use common sense!  If temps or the heat index is above 100 degrees, it may be a better idea to hit the treadmill in the air conditioning or cross train.

Happy Running! 🙂

Anti Inflammatory Cauliflower and Injury Update

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As I explained in my post on extensor tendonitis, I’m injured.

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Sooooo, I am on week 4 of complete rest, and I am going somewhat insane with cabin fever, but I am hanging in there…sort of…

Last time I updated, I was just starting complete rest and the light therapy.  I’ve done the light therapy for 3 1/2 weeks now. I’m not sure if it’s really doing anything, so I am backing off on using it and will only use it sporadically here and there.  At my last PT session, we decided to try putting me in one of those air boots.  It felt okay for about 1/2 an hour, but after about 6 hours in that thing, my foot was actually feeling worse, so I decided that’s a no go.  We also tried massage – hokey pete, that hurt!!!  I didn’t want to do dry needling, so we tried “irritating” the area with massage.  That turned out about as well as you would expect it to from the sounds of it – won’t be doing that again!  I do think that once the pain settles down much more (yes, it has settled down some) that massage will be good for the tightness.

Okay, so let’s talk about some positives.  The things I have noticed that have helped a bit are icing, resting, and eating as much turmeric as is humanly possible.  I’m  noticing that I can now sit indian style without much pain, which was an impossibility before.  I also notice that I can wiggle, point and flex my toes with much less difficulty and pain.

I’m thinking I’m going to have to go old school with this injury and just follow R.I.C.E and stretches.  I’ve notice that my body doesn’t seem to like anything aggressive, so I’m going to have to just be patient and gently guide my body in the right direction to healing.  I’ll get there, it’s just going to take some time.  I’m hoping to be walking again in another month or so, and then I will get back to running VERY slowly hopefully next fall.

So, as I mentioned, I have been eating TONS of turmeric!

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This spice is one of the best anti-inflammatory spices you can possibly put in your body.  Many people use it to treat pain as opposed to anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, because it’s MUCH better for your body, and it WORKS!  I’ve been making a lot of rutabaga fries using turmeric as my seasoning.  I also have a great recipe for turmeric cauliflower, and I’ve been eating it as much as possible!  It’s delicious, easy to make, SO healthy, and STRONGLY anti-inflammatory!  Not only is the turmeric anti-inflammatory, but so are ALL the other ingredients!

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY TURMERIC CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients:

  • Red Onion, chopped
  • Cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • turmeric
  • sea salt
  • water

Directions:

1.) In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

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2.) Add your cauliflower, garlic powder, turmeric, and sea salt.  Stir to combine.  Add a small amount of water, then cook until the cauliflower is tender (or to desired consistency), probably about 10 minutes.

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Transfer to a plate, and enjoy! 🙂

 

Dealing with a Runner Injury (Extensor Tendonitis) – Laughing Through My Pain

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Ack!!!  I’m injured! 😦

About two months ago, I finally had to admit that the nagging pain on my foot wasn’t just a little ache or pain that would go away even if I kept running on it…ugh.  I had been noticing a nagging pain on the top of my foot running over my ankle towards my toes for about a month, and because I’m a runner, I was in complete denial.

028fc4c527438aa9e052a3bf37065a9eDoc: It’s red and swollen.  Me: No!  My feet are just blushing.

Once I got to the point where I was actually limping while running, I decided it was time to call it.  After a normal x-ray and MRI, we’ve settled on the diagnosis of extensor tendonitis of the foot…aka – evil inflammation that makes you want to cuss at the top of your lungs.

Okay, so what now?  Of course, my first question to my doctor and pt was “Can I still run on it?  I’m pretty sure if I just ice it, I’ll be fine.”

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Yeah, that was pretty much my mentality.  Unfortunately….um, no…they both said no running.  So, I went straight to the elliptical and pilates.  However, because of the location being on top of the foot, I quickly learned that the elliptical still puts pressure on the area (heck, just standing puts pressure on the area), and pilates involves a lot of pointing and flexing the foot – not good till I let this thing calm down some.  Sooooo, just this past Sunday, I decided to take about three weeks of complete rest.

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After complaining, sobbing, and throwing a temper tantrum that could put some two year olds to shame, I realized that at least this would give me some good material for my blog.  So, here we are.

Runners HATE injuries.  Anything that takes time on the road away from us is the enemy in our eyes.  In my running career, I’ve been blessed that I’ve only had two other injuries aside from this one (An inflamed SI Joint, and a torn hamstring).  This is my first time with tendonitis though.  I figure that I can post from time to time through the healing process on different things I do to help with healing.  Hopefully, it can help others out there dealing with tendonitis as it is an extremely common injury for athletes in general, but runners especially.

As I said, though I am two months into this injury, I really am only just now starting to get serious about treating it with complete rest, etc.  Hubby has had tendonitis in various parts of his body, and he’s said anywhere from 4-11 months to heal, and even after that, I may have some flare ups for a bit.  He is MUCH better at dealing with an injury than I am.  He has no problem taking time off, gaining a bit of happy weight, etc.  I, on the other hand…

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Okay, so at my last pt appointment, we decided to rest it and I am going to be using light therapy.  I bought two different home units: the Light Relief unit and the Tendlite unit.  I just started the light relief two days ago, and I am waiting to receive the tendlite in the mail.  I will post again giving a review of these products and let you all know if it helps me.  I know if you’re a runner and you have an injury, you get a little desperate, so hopefully, I can let you all know some things that work and some that don’t!  In the meantime, I will attempt to hang in there! 😛

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The Importance of Rest for Runners

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When it comes to running, the importance of rest cannot be overemphasized.  I first started running over 20 years ago, and like many newbies, I didn’t rest as often as I should in the beginning.  It wasn’t until my college track coach explained what actually happens to the muscles when we run that I started to understand how important rest was.  In all honesty, even after that, it took me quite awhile to really implement rest days into my training, but once I did, I was blown away by the improvements I saw in my running.

Most new runners make the mistake of thinking that running as often and as hard as possible will result in better performance results, when in fact, the opposite is true!  Just like most new runners, when I first started, I thought that I was getting stronger when I was out there running – WRONG!  During a workout, we are actually breaking our muscles down…it is when we rest and refuel that the muscles build back up stronger than they were before the workout making us stronger.  Thus, you see that rest days are an integral part of the training process if your goal is to get stronger and faster.

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Because muscles are broken down while running, if we don’t rest and give our muscles a chance to build back up and repair, then we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  By continually breaking down the muscle, the muscle becomes weaker and more prone to injury.  Obviously, weaker muscles don’t result in stronger runs or faster times, so we see that rest is essential to reaching our running goals.  Rest gives our bodies the chance to adapt and improve as well as repair muscles, tendons and ligaments that get broken down during your run.

Another reason that rest is important is because it restores glycogen levels, deals with fatigue and helps fight infection.  This is extremely important, because long runs or hard effort runs lowers our immunity making us more susceptible to colds/flu.  Rest compensates for this and allows our immune system to get back on track after a hard workout.

How do we incorporate rest into our training?  There are a few different things that are important to make sure you are doing in your training to minimize injury risk and maximize strength and ability.

1.) Get your sleep!  Sleep is incredibly important as this is when the body really repairs itself.  Aim for a minimum of six hours (preferably eight) of uninterrupted sleep each night.  Follow the typical sleep rules: keep your room cool, quiet and dark, only use the bedroom for sleep (no tv or electronics), don’t eat or workout too close to bedtime as these things can make it harder to fall asleep, and lastly be aware of things that may impede your sleep quality such as coffee, alcohol, or spicy foods too close to bed time.

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2.) Take a minimum of one rest day per week.  Yes, this means don’t run on that day.  I know, I know – this is REALLY hard for runners to do, but believe me when I say your body will thank you by producing better times and less pain when running!  Try to schedule your rest day(s) after a day when you’ve done a long run or a hard workout to let your body rebuild.  This will allow you to get back out there feeling great!  Even though it’s hard to take days off, it’s worth it, so just try to think of it as part of your training.

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3.) Every fourth or fifth week during a training cycle should be a “cut back” or “recovery” week.  This means that every four or five weeks during your training, you should back off a bit on mileage and effort to let your body adjust to and accept the training you’ve been putting in.  This will allow you to get stronger in a way that is most comfortable for your body and minimizes risk of injury or burnout.

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4.) Always take time off after a race or extensive training block.  This one’s a hard one.  You’ve just finished a race, and either you reached your goal and are amped to get back out there and capitalize on your fitness, or you didn’t reach your goal and are looking to make up for that fact.  Either way, your are tempted to jump right back into training.  RESIST!!!  Your body has just been through a long block of intense training culminating in an all out effort in a race.  Your muscles are beat whether you feel that way or not, so you need to rest.  A good way to decide how many days to take off is about 1 day for each mile that you raced, (5K: 3-4 days off, 10K: 6-7 days off, half marathon: 2 weeks off, marathon: about a month off).  Don’t worry about losing fitness during this time.  The truth is that you don’t lose much fitness for about the first three-four weeks off.  After a month is when you really start to lose fitness, but for those first few weeks or so, it’s minimal.  Give your body this time to rest, rebuild, and repair.

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5.) Feed your body right while resting.  This goes without saying!  As I keep saying, when we are resting, our bodies are repairing themselves, so it is important that we give it the nourishment that it needs to do so.  Lean protein, fruits and veggies, healthy fats – lucky for you, there are TONS of great recipes here on Pinning Junkie that are awesome for aiding the body in repairing and healing itself! 😉  Treat and fuel your body correctly and it will reward you with feeling amazing and running to the best of your capabilities.

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To summarize, the following things are just as important as your workouts when it comes to training.

  • Sleep
  • Rest days
  • Cut back (recovery) week
  • Time off after a race (1 day for each mile raced)
  • Fuel yourself well

Incorporate these things into your training regimen, and you will definitely notice the benefits that come from rest when you are a runner.  You will not only feel stronger, but you will feel healthier and find more enjoyment from your runs.  Happy Running! 🙂

TIPS FOR RUNNING IN THE COLD

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I remember in college, my track coach used to say that running in the elements is like running with weights on, and then come race day, you get to take the weights off.  I like that.  With the weather getting colder and winter approaching, I thought this would be the perfect time to share some cold weather running tips!

Growing up in Michigan, we never had a shortage of snow, ice, and frigid cold temperatures in the winter.  This allowed me to really learn to enjoy running in this type of weather, and also forced me to find tons of different tips and tricks for running when it seems like it’s just too friggin cold to get out the door!

Usually late autumn/early winter is about the time that many runners decide to hang up their running shoes till springtime.  The downside to this is that running doesn’t like to be neglected for extended periods of time!  Come March when you lace up again, you will quickly regret the time off based on how your body feels after time away!  Anybody that has ever had an injury or just taken an extended period of time off knows this well.  When you attempt to come back, it hurts, and on top of that, it takes quite a while for it to start feeling good again!  I’m going to discuss some tips for running in cold weather here in hopes that it will help many of you avoid this terrible effect of time away from running, and continue to run through the winter season.

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1.)  First and foremost, DRESS APPROPRIATELY! It helps to dress in layers. Wearing several thin layers of clothing helps trap warm air between each layer keeping you much warmer than if you were to wear one heavy layer. That being said, you also don’t want to overheat while running – this is extremely unpleasant, and yes, it is possible in cold weather.  A good rule of thumb is to dress as though it is about 10 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually is.  If you are a bit chilly before you start running, don’t worry, you will warm up as you go!

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2.) You may want to RETHINK YOUR SHOES.  In the winter, less mesh is more!  Good winter running shoes will help keep the warmth in and the snow, sleet and slush out.  You want to look for something that is waterproof to keep your feet dry, yet still breathable.  Another thing you may want to consider are Yaktrax.  These can provide traction when running in the snow and ice, and allow you to continue your training during the winter with the same stability you are accustomed to on dry surfaces.

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3.) On the subject of feet, it is also important to LAYER YOUR SOCKS.  This goes along with #1.  Wearing two pairs of socks keeps your feet warmer and drier than one heavy pair.  That being said, never wear cotton socks in the cold and wet weather.  You want a sock made out of some sort of wicking fabric to keep moisture out and warmth in.

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4.) There is nothing that will ruin a run faster than frostbit fingers, so it is a good idea to GET HANDWARMERS.  This is a must for me.  Before discovering hand warmers, I can’t tell you how many times I would go out for a run and end up so miserable because my hands literally hurt due to the cold.  Anyone that has had this happen to them knows that once this happens, it’s nearly impossible to think about anything else, let alone enjoy your run.

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5.) It’s extremely important to STAY HYDRATED.  When it’s cold out, you won’t feel like you need to take in as much water as you do when it’s warmer out, but you do!  You can dehydrate in cold weather just as much as you can dehydrate in warm weather, so use your camel back, water belt, hand bottle…whatever it is that you use to bring hydration on a run – bring it!

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6.) It is a good idea to try to COVER AS MUCH OF YOUR SKIN AS POSSIBLE.  You will lose most your heat from any exposed skin, so you want to stay covered.  This means gloves and something on your head are extremely important.  Personally, I prefer mittens over gloves – these are great for holding my hand warmers and I find that keeping my fingers where they can touch each other helps them to stay warm.  Make sure to cover your ears.  Ears can get frostbite very easily, and if this happens, you’ll be sorry.  Wear a running hat or a headband that fully covers your ears.

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7.) When it’s windy out, it is a good idea to wear a waterproof windbreaker as your top layer.  This will keep warmth in while keeping cold out.  If your dressed inappropriately, you will feel that wind blow right through you – brrrr!  No thanks!

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8.) STAY MOTIVATED by signing up for a mid winter race.  This will give you a reason to keep training even though it is cold out.  I love winter races – they’re tons of fun and quite cozy if you ask me!

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9.) When running in cold weather, it is important to STAY SAFE.  You can do this in a number of ways.  Always tell someone when you are going for a run.  Let them know your route and give them an estimated time frame on when you should be back.  Make sure to wear reflective running gear if you are out after dark (this is important since it gets dark quite early in the winter).  Rather than running a long loop, run shorter loops and do more of them when it’s nasty outside.  By doing this, if you start to get frostbite, or you slip on a patch of ice, you are closer to home where you can remedy the situation.  Make sure to carry your cell phone, ID, and some cash in case of emergency.

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10.) BE CAREFUL WHEN ROUNDING CORNERS!  I remember in grad school, I was out for a wintery evening run (I went to grad school at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, so LOTS of snow, ice and cold).  I was rounding a corner just off campus where there was a line of people waiting to get into a bar.  I hit a patch of ice and down I went smacking my bum really hard on the pavement!  I was SO embarrassed, and of course, I got a few “I give it a 10” calls.  Thankfully the bruise I had on my bum was smaller than the bruise that my pride took, but lesson learned I suppose!  Take it easy on the corners!

Nobody likes to take time away from running, and by implementing these tips, winter won’t cause you to have to!  You will find that as long as you can keep yourself comfortable, running in the winter with the peaceful snow and the beautiful scenery can actually be quite enjoyable .  At any rate, no excuses – gear up, lace up, and get out the door!  Happy running! 🙂

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5K FOR APOLLO

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This is a pin of my all time favorite quote.  It is by William Penn, and I try to live my life by it.  A few days ago, I saw a friend of mine’s post on Facebook about her son, Apollo.  Apollo is one of the sweetest, strongest, and most incredible kids you will ever meet.  He’s been handed some challenges in life as he was born with Ichthyosis and also suffers from Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Encopresis (lack of bowel control), but he keeps smiling and remains an inspiration despite his pain and suffering.  Here is a picture of this amazing boy.

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His mom (an equally incredible woman) set up a page on Facebook called “Apollo’s Creed” to give friends and family a chance to donate to help her provide the best and most comfortable life possible for him.  In the about section she writes

“My son Apollo was born 4/20/05 a preemie with Ichthyosis, a rare skin disorder characterized by dry scaling skin that may be thickened or very thin. Ichthyosis causes complications like dehydration, infections, chronic blistering, overheating, and rapid-calorie loss. It was unexpected and shocking to the staff and myself to see a baby almost skinned alive. He could barely wear clothes the first year of life. Due to also being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Autism he did not start walking or talking till almost 4. He also suffers from Encopresis (lack of bowel control) at 9 years old he still wears a diaper at all times. I was a single working mom missing weeks and months of work to be with Apollo. When he turned 7 I left the workforce to become his fulltime caretaker. Any one of these 4 diagnosis is hard enough on a child and Apollo got hit with a quad whammie. When he is comfortable in his own skin he is the most amazing, sweetest, helpful kid ever. He is loved by all. My goal as a parent is to provide him with the best climate to make his skin manageable. We have visited dry climates, hot climates, cold climates and humid climates. Last winter we were fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in Hawaii over x-mas and New Years. It was the best he has ever felt and looked. Since then, he has been begging to move there so he can be a “new boy”. Until recently I had a plan, a place and a future set to move there. But things fell apart. I promised him the moon and didn’t deliver. Please help “Apollo’s Creed” to be a “new boy” and have a chance to live in comfort on the outside, so we can concentrate on the other 3 internal issues he has going on inside.” 

To learn more about Ichthyosis, click on the following pin:

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It’s always been my philosophy that if a friend, family member, or anyone for that matter asks for help, then you help…you do whatever you can do to help.  I donated, but I wanted to do more, so I decided I would run a 5K to raise money for this little guy.  I told my husband about it and about Apollo’s story, and he immediately wanted to help too (see why I love him so much!), so he is going to do the 5K for Apollo as well.

Sometimes, the problems in this world seem to be so many, and I feel so small and wonder how I can make a difference, and I am reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa – “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”  Well, here is a chance for you to “help one person”.

Ways you can help:

  • You can donate to Apollos family by clicking on Apollo’s Donate Page or you can go to Apollo’s GoFundMe Page.  Every dollar counts – there’s no donation that’s too small.
  • After donating, please post a comment on the 5K event page letting us know you donated and how much.  I have an anonymous donor who is willing to match up to $250.00, so I want to keep track of donations!
  • If you wish to remain anonymous, please message me with the amount.
  • You can contact me on Facebook as well anytime.
  • If you would prefer to send a direct donation to me please contact me and I will give you details where to send a check to.
  • If you are unable to give monetarily right now, please consider re-blogging this post, or sharing the 5K event page on your Facebook page.  Please pray for this cause, and tell your friends and family – do whatever you can to help.

In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. ~Acts 20:35

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~Deuteronomy 15:10

Here are some more pictures of Apollo and some pictures of his skin:

Apollo and his mommy – kissing his owies

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Apollo’s side before being bandaged

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Apollo’s elbow

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Apollo’s ear

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Apollo’s leg

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Apollo’s feet

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Bandaged and sleeping

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As always, he’s still got that adorable smile on his face!

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You can donate by clicking on Apollo’s Donate Page or by going to Apollo’s GoFundMe Page.  Let’s help this amazing little guy!  God bless you! ❤

 

SETTING REALISTIC RUNNING GOALS

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When it comes to running, I can’t emphasize how important goals are.  I mean there’s nothing wrong with running just to run, but goals keep us working towards something and keep us motivated.  The thing I love about running is that there is ALWAYS room for improvement.  Once you’ve reached a goal, then you can set an even loftier goal.  There is always something to work towards.  Even if you are a world record holder, you can still aim to run faster – it’s brilliant!  You never run out of things to strive for, and I love that!

The above pin got me to thinking about running goals and how to choose them so that they are attainable and so that you won’t quit till you get them!  Through the years, I’ve had SO many different running goals.  I’ve reached some and set new ones, and there are some that I am still striving for!  The best thing about goals is that you can’t fail if you don’t give up, so the key is that wonderful saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try try AGAIN!”.  With all of my different running goals, I’ve found some key things that are important in setting them.  I figured I would share these things with you in hopes that it will help some of you to set realistic and attainable running goals.  Here we go!

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1.)  BE SPECIFIC!  This is extremely important.  If you set unspecific goals, you won’t know when you’ve achieved them.  For instance, if you say “I want to be a stronger runner”, that is a great idea, but how do you know when you have achieved that?  What constitutes a “stronger runner”?  And for that matter, if I run strong one day, and feel like crap the next, does that mean I am getting further away from my goal?  There are so many questions that pop up, it is impossible to tell how to achieve this goal.  You want to set specific goals, such as “I want to shave a minute off my 5K time in the next 2 months” or “I want to run x miles a week for y weeks”.  These are goals that you will know you have reached and can gladly reward yourself for.  Thus, when making your goals, BE SPECIFIC!

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2.) MAKE YOUR GOALS SPECIFIC TO YOU!  When setting goals, it is important to set goals that you and only you are responsible for.  For example, if you set a goal such as “I want to win a race”, then you may be setting yourself up for dissapointment no matter how hard you try for this goal.  The reason why this goal isn’t the best is that you have absolutely no control over quite a few factors that will play a role in this goal.  For instance, Who will show up for the race?  What are the other people that will be running this race doing in their own training or what are the other runner’s natural abilities?  You can’t control these things, and they are a huge part of that specific goal.  You want to have your goals such that they have to do with you and you alone, and the only factors involved in achieving this goal pertain to what you put in, not to what others are putting in.  A goal such as “I want to run 150 miles this month” is a goal that only you can make happen — there are no extraneous factors that can keep you from your goal, which makes it much more attainable.

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3.) DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS WHEN MAKING YOUR GOALS.  This ties into #2.  If you set a goal such as “I want to be as fast as so and so”, you are introducing extraneous factors (namely that persons natural ability or training habits) that can keep you from our goal.  While a little healthy competition between runners is fine, your goals should pertain to you.  A better goal would be “I want to run this distance faster than I ran it last time.”  The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person that you were yesterday.  Not only that, but as a side note, comparing ourselves (in anything) to others is incredibly discouraging.  We are all unique and different, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses — that’s what makes us beautiful and special.  By comparing ourselves to others, we are discounting our own beauty!  I can assure you that while you are busy wishing you had what someone else has, there are a number of people out there wishing they had something that you have – appreciate who you are and how uniquely God made you! 🙂

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4.)  KEEP IT RELEVANT.  Make sure to keep your goals relevant to you.  Your running goal doesn’t have to be a common one – it just has to be one that is important to you.  It should be something that you consider worthwhile and important.  For instance, I’ve coached a few soldiers in bringing down their 2 mile PT time.  Their goals varied in terms of time, but they had no interest in “running a marathon” or “running x amount of miles a week”.  They just wanted to get that PT time down because it was relevant to their life.

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5.)  KEEP IT ATTAINABLE.  While it’s good to shoot for the sky when it comes to your goals, you also want to make sure that your goal is something that you can achieve if you are willing to put in the work.  For instance, I would love to say “I want to run a 4:00 mile”…yeah, that’s not gonna happen, so even though I would love to have that as a goal, I would never reach it.  You don’t want to make it too easy, and you want to have to work for it, but it is important to make sure that it is a goal that is attainable through hard work.

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6.) GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE.  When setting a goal, it is always good to keep it timely.  Know when you want to achieve your goal by.  This will help to keep you motivated and give you a bit of a sense of urgency.  If you are setting goals like “I want to run a sub two hour half marathon”, and you don’t say when you want to do it by, then there is no sense of urgency which can lead to procrastinating training.  It is better to have a race, event or date in mind for when you want to reach that goal.  That being said, I always want to use caution with this one, because while you should have a timeline in mind, if you don’t reach the goal you wanted in that timeline – you DID NOT FAIL TO REACH YOUR GOAL!!!  You just didn’t get the goal in the given timeline, so you just change the plan, not the goal and you keep trying!  I said it before, and I’ll say it again – YOU CANNOT FAIL IF YOU DON’T GIVE UP!

These are just a few things that I’ve come across that help to set realistic, attainable, and exciting running goals!  It’s always good to have a goal – it keeps us reaching and moving forward.  What running goals do you have in mind?  Make today the day that you set that goal — go for it, stay focused, and most importantly – DON’T GIVE UP!    Happy running! 🙂