My Half Marathon Journey – August Entry (Part 5)

Hello Everyone! Here is my final Pre-Marathon blog post.

The last time you all heard from me, I shared some “pearls of wisdom” that I have learned while training for my first half marathon. I have found that the best resource for training tips is listening to those who have trained before you.

At the time of my last post, I had achieved 7 miles but man did I struggle! I kept getting fatigue and muscle tension that was leading to pain. I thought, “I pushed my endurance and strength training hard to be able to handle more than 6 miles and I didn’t get this “tanked” feeling. What could be the problem?”

One topic I brought up on the first blog was my diet.  I talked about how I had prepared prior to training, the changes I was going to make during training, and why it was important to give my body the energy it needed to sustain long duration activity. I didn’t do it.  I started to eat more carbs to fuel my body, and did not stay with the keto diet which I was doing during HIIT training. I kept with intermittent fasting because my blood sugars are more stable and I feel better with that diet. I thought that if I ate a higher carb dinner than my runs would be fueled in the morning. This was true up until 6 miles and I expended most of my energy storage. I started to have oatmeal ~1-1.5 hours before my run to get some long lasting carbs and time to digest before running. This seemed to give me more energy through my runs up to a 7 mile range but I was still feeling tired.

When in doubt, talk to a marathon runner! His answer, supplement intake while running. Oh my gosh! How could I forget that my muscles were completely out of “immediate” energy stores to keep pace while running. I had read so much and was not new to the idea of gels, caffeine, or electrolyte intake while running, but I had just not followed through with the idea that I needed them. My next run, I supplemented prior to each of my typical “slumps” getting myself all the way to 10 miles! I felt I could actually keep going but thought no need to overdo it and risk injury too early.

My muscles were exhausted and tight AFTER I stopped running. I stretched and did some easy dynamic movements in the pool and had no lasting pain. I am feeling ready for this run! I plan on doing one last long-ish run this weekend because of recent travel and lack of opportunities to perform longer runs. This will give me that last confidence boost that I can accomplish my bucket list goal.

Wish me luck! That’s the latest update. Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram.  

Shawnee Perkins PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Mobilize Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington.  You can schedule with Shawnee online at mobilizept.com.

SUP Tips and Safety


The sun is shining and for many of us that means longer days to spend outside doing what we love. In Seattle we have many options for outdoor activities to stimulate out bodies and minds. One great summer activity that gets us out on the water and is fun, is stand up paddle boarding (SUP). SUP is a water sport where, much like surfing, you stand on a long but thicker and wider board, and use a long paddle and propel yourself on the water. It involves balancing with your legs and feet, and using your core and upper body to help you move forward in the water while standing.

The first thing I want to discus in regards to SUP is safety, because you want to make sure you are prepared before you get out on the water. I have a small list to get your started, but this link has a more in depth list if you prefer.

  1. Wear a life jacket with a whistle 
  2. Start in calm waters and avoid a windy day and avoid areas with high motorized traffic. So check the weather and dress appropriately
  3. Wear a leash. This is what keeps you connected to your board if you happen to fall. 
  4. If planning to SUP alone bring your phone and let someone know where you will be.
Another thing to remember is that motorized boats and sail boats often have the right away and it is best to stay along the coast if you find yourself in a high traffic zone. It may be best to avoid sunrise and sunset times as they can be the times it is the hardest to see.  Bring a dry bag with food and water and sunscreen if you plan on being out for a while. Also, start on your knees when leaving the dock and stay on your knees if standing seems intimidating at first.
SUP has increased in popularity over the years as an easy and fun sport that lets us explore the outdoors by way of water. It is great for all ages and can be enjoyed on lakes, rivers, oceans, and bays. SUP has been shown to lead to an increase in better aerobic and anaerobic fitness which can lead to improved cardiovascular fitness. By working the whole body through isometric strengthening of the entire trunk, gluteals, and lower leg muscles to resist the pulling motion as well as the upper back, and arms and shoulders to perform the pulling and digging of the paddle in the water (Schram, Hing, & Climstein, 2016). Don’t worry you can paddle as slow or as fast as you would like!

 

A study by Schram, Hing, and Climstein (2016) suggested that, The fact that many physiological, musculoskeletal and psychological benefits can be obtained from participation places SUP as an ideal option for those who are time limited and still looking to improve strength and fitness. Due to it being accessible, relatively easy to learn and low impact on the joints is also of great benefit. The obvious psychological benefits and enjoyment obtained from this activity delivers an alternate means of aerobic, anaerobic and strength training than the traditional methods.

So get out there, have fun, and please be safe! And to learn more about safety and body mechanics with SUP, schedule online with Jane Hosman, PT, DPT at mobilizept.com
References:
Schram, B., Hing, W., & Climstein, M. (2016). The physiological, musculoskeletal and psychological effects of stand up paddle boarding. BMC sports science, medicine & rehabilitation8, 32. doi:10.1186/s13102-016-0057-6

My Half Marathon Journey – June/July Entry (Part 4)

Hello everyone! I have been training for the past 2 months and what do you know…life happens. You can do everything you can to research, plan, and prepare for the perfect training progression but sometimes life just has a different plan for you.

I last posted when I hit a challenge progressing past 6 miles without pain. Since that time, I have been working on shorter runs (3-4 miles) while performing Physical Therapy exercises for control training and began a spin classes to increase my muscle endurance. This weekend I ran 7 miles before I hitting fatigue with slight discomfort. The most I have ever ran at one time!!

These are the pearls of wisdom I did not “truly” understand before I attempt training for myself:

  • Bad Runs Happen: Stress, diet, and pain in other body areas can affect a run. This does not mean you failed at your run or have done something irreversible to your body. Listen to you body and, if it is not having a good time running, it is not worth continuing that day. You may overdo it and mess up future runs. Just stop and try again later.
  • Never Never Forget Cross Training: As a Physical Therapist I should know better but I broke my own rule. After cross training for a few weeks, my body feels more stable and I have more “spring” to my run which makes training more fun. Cross training does not have to be heavy weight lifting or “crossfit” training. I have worked in body weight exercises 4-5 days a week performing – squats, lunges, lateral lunges, heel raises, and upper body exercise lying on my back to improve my core control. The body just needs to “remember” how to use other muscles to make movement easier. When it forgets and doesn’t use them to control your body as you run, bad habits form and pain sets in.
  • Other Methods to Improve Endurance: When I realized that I was hitting an endurance barrier at 6 miles, I became a defeated thinking of how was I going to run 13.1 miles by August if running is painful. Because of past injuries, I have simply never trained my body to tolerate running at an endurance level. Spin class became a great option to push my muscles to the limit without the problems and pain I was feeling pounding the pavement for another half mile gain. It is also a great option for cardiovascular training.
  • Sleep is Key: No sleep = No energy. Pretty basic concept and circles around to the “bad runs happen” rule. If I didn’t get a good sleep, I would fatigue earlier and my run would go south pretty quick. Flexibility in a training routine has been a great way to keep working towards my goal without taking steps backward. I could perform a short run and then go work on cross training later that day. No time lost.

Last post, I had some goals to reach for improved training:

  • I am running minimum of 3 x week, 2 short runs and 1 long run. The short runs I am also training my dog to run with me so the first 2 miles are at a faster pace but more start and stop. She pushes me to run faster but she is still learning. I run another 2 miles keeping a good pace and stride.
  • I have found a good easy pace to work on long run endurance and now have a “zone” I keep to during the short runs which has been improving.
  • On my short runs, my route has a gradual hill and some stairs. When I reach these segments, I work on my running technique and drop my pace to stay in control.
  • Cross training has focused on single leg loading and balance control.

That’s the latest update! Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram.

Shawnee Perkins PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Mobilize Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington

My Half Marathon Journey – May Entry (Part 3)

Training has begun! I am 2.5 weeks into my Half Marathon training and it is going as well as could be expected. The initial challenges to beginning a new style and focus of workouts is to adjust your schedule and change up your habits to fit in new workouts. The game plan going into training was to run 3-4 x week, HIIT training 1-2 x week, and yoga daily. I have maintained running 2-3 x week, HIIT 1 x week, and yoga intermittently with some addition foam rolling after runs. I have some work to do.

WARNING: Physical Therapist Soapbox Moment – technique is paramount to distance, speed, and…everything. If you do not have good technique OR “mechanics” while running, any discomforts will continue to worsen as you progress training.

I have a long history of pain during running so you can bet I have some poor mechanics related to pain avoidance on top of control issues that never fully resolved after surgeries and injuries. This has been my focus in the early stages of training. I was able to have my co-workers look at my movement and suggest adjustments to my mechanics that would increase my control and decrease the pain in my ankle and hip generated from poor mechanics. I focus on these new areas during my runs and have a “check in” system to see how well I am maintaining my new control technique as I run farther, faster, or with changes in terrain/routes.

My recovery/medium length runs have been ~3-4 miles, easy pace, focused on control with small challenges of gentle inclines. These have gone quite well with my most difficult portion of maintaining technique occurs during inclines. I have performed one interval run at 2 miles with 1/8th mile sprint/recover. This was difficult to control at first but I was able to improve my technique with a slightly slower sprint and increased focus on my area of control. I have also performed one long distance, easy paced run for 6 miles with another planned this week. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to maintain my technique for the majority of this run with more difficultly when I came across inclines or steps. This was exciting because I have past problems getting further than 4 miles without pain. I wont say it was completely pain-free but much better than prior attempts.

Overall a good start. The first few weeks of training sheds light on our strengths and weaknesses as well as establishing a routine. One of my goals is to finish the half marathon under a faster pace than my current long run. Therefore, my areas of weakness discovered from the past few weeks of runs are also areas I need to improve on in order to reach my goal.

Plans for training adjustments:

  • Increase run frequency to 3-4 x week: Medium easy/recovery run, Short run with interval/sprints,  Stairs/Hill training, Long distance easy run with tacking change of my average pace.
  • Establish an easy pace and a moderate/tempo pace for more effective training.
  • Commit to hill and stair training to improve my control and strength and my weakness areas.
  • Supplement my HIIT training with focus on single leg control with increased weight or increased range – I.E. step ups, pistol/single leg squats, TRX assisted leg clocks, and resistance band work for glutes. Additional focus on single leg balance control.

That’s the latest update! Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram.

Shawnee Perkins PT, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Mobilize Physical Therapy in Seattle, Washington

My Half Marathon Journey – April Entry (Part 2)

By Shawnee Perkins, PT, DPT

Leading up to my half marathon training, my primary focus has been on getting back into shape following the holidays from all the wonderful, but excessive, amounts of food that comes along with family gatherings. Come the New Year, I began the Keto Diet and started performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 3 times a week, weight lifting 1-2 times a week, and yoga once a week. Here is my current routine and how it will change once I start training for the half marathon.

The Keto Diet is something I have tried in the past and has been a great way to get rid of my bad eating habits, regulate my blood sugars, and lose weight when paired with a strict workout schedule. For those of you who are curious about the Keto Diet, the basics are an extremely low carbohydrate intake with increased fat intake. This forces your body to switch its fuel source to fat. Now, everyone responds differently to different diets. I have trialed and error-ed with countless diets to see what my body likes and doesn’t like. This lets me understand what to give my body to gain strength, endurance, or power without upsetting anything internal. I am not a nutrition expert but I find it very interesting and understand the value of knowing your own body and what works best for you. This type of diet works well for me with HIIT training because of the short duration of workouts and the protein intake for your muscles. This will NOT be the diet I maintain while training for the half marathon. Running longer distances require longer sustained energy sources that fats and protein do not fully provide. AGAIN, I am not a Nutritionist but I know my body and what I can and cannot sustain given what I eat.

HIIT training is something I utilize throughout the year. I like efficient workouts that get the job done quickly. I also like variability in exercises that allow me to hit different areas within the same workout. My workouts are about 30-45 mins depending on rest breaks. Each day emphasizes either upper body, lower body, or core so you get a targeted burn but the exercises switch often so you don’t wear out too quickly. Currently, I have been HIIT training 3 times a week but this will most likely reduce to once a week when I am training for the half marathon. My focus will narrow to power and speed activities with HIIT training verses adding strength.

I have been weight lifting for about 10 years. The amount I focus on lifting changes depending on my goals: building muscle, leaning/toning down, or just maintaining status. Over the past 3 months, my focus has been more maintaining certain strength areas that were not the focus of my HIIT training. I will continue lifting 1-2 times a week splitting into an upper body and lower body days to build strength in areas that running does not target. A BIG problem when people focus on running is that they neglect “cross-training”. Running is very one-directional but ALL muscles must be strong to prevent injury. This is why weight lifting will continue to be important while training for the half marathon.

Yoga is a wonderful way to release muscle tension and prevent flexibility limitations when performing in any type of training. All stretching is good but I choose yoga as my focus because “dynamic” stretching utilizes movement to release muscle restrictions. Yoga also places an emphasis on balance and core stability. As noted in the first blog entry, I have a long history of ankle issues that has affected my balance and control in a single leg position. You NEED single leg balance and core control to run! I attend a yoga class once a week but will most likely perform yoga at home almost daily for 15-20 mins when I begin my half marathon training.

That’s the latest update! Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram.

Hiking Fever Part 1

 

Emily Burghardt, PT, DPT at Oyster Dome

The beautiful spring here in Seattle has the Mobilize team ready to get out and enjoy some of the sunshine! There are so many options for great hikes in and around Seattle. Here are a few tips and exercises to make sure your hiking season stays injury free.

Whether you are going on a walk in the woods or summiting some of Washington’s beautiful peaks, being prepared is the first rule. Physical preparation before hiking will make your hike more enjoyable and reduce your risk of overuse or new injuries.

Hiking is a total body workout that is a great combination of cardiovascular exercises, strength, endurance and balance.  

  • Goblet squat 

  • High box step up

  • Split lunge on step

  • Lunge forward and reverse on bosu

  • Single leg deadlift on bosu

Stay tuned to our blog for discussion on common hiking injuries and how to rehab them. If you currently have an injury you’d like help with, schedule online at mobilizept.com!

 

Posture Training Mis-cue

Posture Training Mis-cue

Many people often struggle with finding the right sitting or standing posture. Improper positioning can cause pain in their neck and back when sitting or standing for extended periods of time. There are many tricks or “body cues” we try as an attempt to make these situations better. The problem becomes that not every person sees results from the same cue. We all have different weaknesses, flexibilities, and strengths. This is why your co-worker’s suggestion to “pulling your shoulders back” or “pulling your abs in” may not be working for you.

Posture Cues and What They Target:

  1. “Pulling Your Shoulders Back” : This cue tells your body to target the muscles between the shoulder blades to stop the shoulders from rounding forward while sitting or standing. This is a big issue with desk jobs and using a computer. This cue can be tricky because your neck or back position may not change therefore it may not improve your overall posture. You may need to strengthen these muscles but improving the whole posture is needed to prevent that neck or back pain at 30 minutes at your desk.
  1. “Pull Your Abs/Core In” : This cue targets the abdominals to tighten the core and brace the low back and pelvis. This is often used in standing and during activities such as weight lifting or sports. By pulling in your core, you increased the overall pressure into the abdomen and “brace” the spine as a whole. This is where “too much” support can be not good. The spine needs to be controlled, not braced. If you move like a stiff person, your body will become stiff. This cue may also not change any muscle tension at the neck or shoulder that can still affect the back. This is also A LOT of work and is not sustainable throughout the day.
  1. “Walk/Run with the Knees or Feet Straight” : This is often what people try because of foot, knee, or hip pain when attempting to run or walking for long periods of time. Some have been told they have flat feet, weak glutes, or poor knee control. All or none of these issues can be true but may not be the ONLY problem causing pain. There too many moving pieces in these situations and this cue will not work for everyone. This can lead to people walking or running on the outsides of their feet, straining the muscles in the quads or hips, or causing back or neck pain from tensing up trying to change your running or walking posture.
  1. “Pull Up from Your Spine” : This cues the spinal muscles to help support from the pelvis to the neck primarily while sitting, standing, and even running. This can take pressure off the neck and low back muscles without having to tense the whole core. This can be helpful if there is nothing restricting your posture, such as tight muscles. If there is too much resistance from flexibility limitation, the body plays tug-of-war, making it difficult to achieve the right position, causing more frustration and discomfort.

Most of these cues have a purpose but a cue needs to improve the WHOLE posture or movement to be effective. This is where Physical Therapy can help you! Let us identify where your body is restricted from tight muscles, lacking movement control, and areas needing strength. We can improve the WHOLE YOU!

Call us at (206) 402-5483 for an appointment or schedule online at mobilizept.com. Let one of our therapist assess your individual needs to get you on the right track and better movement and less pain.

My Half Marathon Journey – March Entry (Part 1)

Hello Everyone! My name is Shawnee Perkins and I am a Physical Therapist with a bucket list goal of running a half marathon. Now, for the big time runners out there, this may seem like a walk in the park. For others, it could be comparable to climbing Mt. Everest. For me, running a half marathon falls somewhere in the middle.

I have never been a great runner. I would run as part of sports conditioning but never for exercise alone. I am more of a gym-goer and enjoy lifting weights and HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training) with a focus on building strength, power, and stability. I enjoy the feeling of working hard until I drop…but in a timely manner. Endurance is not my strong suit.

About 6 years ago, while I was attending university, I had been going to the gym regularly to lift weights and attend fitness classes. The biggest drawback was TIME. It took so much time to get ready, walk across campus to the facility, put extra stuff away, before even starting my routine. Although I walked to the gym and I would occasionally ride my bike to save time, I was lacking a solid cardio routine. I wanted something easy and straight forward so that I would stay devoted to the plan. Several of my roommates were runners and it seemed so easy to just change, walk out the front door, and take off for wherever and how ever long I wanted. I made a goal to get up every morning, rain or shine, and run before classes. I set my alarm for 5:00 am and began a steady love/hate relationship with running.

Let me explain more about my background so you may understand why this is a love/hate relationship and why I am committed to this goal. I have a very long history of ankle pain resulting in additional injuries and eventually underwent two surgeries on my left foot. Running had always been a painful experience for me. During sports, I envied my teammates who were fast and could run for lengthy periods without painful consequences. I desired to run but my body held me back. This is the HATE part of this relationship. On and off throughout high school, I would try again to identify as “a runner”. I would head out for 2-3 miles, get lost in music, and let the world melt away. When I got back from a run, the following 10-15 minutes was the most rewarding exhaustion you could feel.

After a run, there was no energy left to spend on stress or worries, just energy to focus on breathing. Complete Freedom. This is the LOVE part of this relationship. However, after about 30 minutes, my ankle pain would come roaring back full force and even walking would be a challenge for the next two days. And the vicious cycle continues.

Painting a picture of the situation?

Since recovering from my last surgery four years ago, I have been working towards improving my ability to run. Specifically, running without pain. It has helped that I am now aPhysical Therapist with a better awareness of my previous faults and proper training methods. I now start small and gradually increase my distance while I continue to train for strength, stability, and flexibility. Whole body health is BETTER health. I have since ran several 5k (3.2 miles) events and even reached a period of tolerating 6 miles, but never a distance like a half marathon. I feel a full marathon may be too much for me, so my sights are set on the 13.1 miles between myself and success.

Now that you know my story and why I am determined to achieve this goal, I will be blogging monthly updates on my journey. I have entered a half marathon for August 17, 2019 and am excited to keep you all posted on things that do work, what didn’t work, what I struggle with, and what I am succeeding with. Follow the series on the Mobilize Physical Therapy Blog or Instagram page to support me and inspire yourself!

https://www.instagram.com/mobilizept/