Arctic Ease

Arctic Ease - Red A couple of months ago I was sent some Arctic Ease to try out. And I looked at it, but wasn’t quite sure how best to evaluate it when I didn’t feel that I needed the product at that moment. So I kind of sat on it and pondered it… until this weekend when I had my sudden spat of knee pain and I realized that “TA DA!!! Now I can test things that were meant for situations like that for my site!”

Arctic Ease wraps are reusable wraps that require no refrigeration and stay in place on their own. Suitable for minor aches, sprains, repetitive motion injuries, arthritis, bruises and muscle cramps, they are safe for any body part.

Benefits:

  • Provides instant cooling relief for up to 3 hours
  • Uses dual action cold and compression therapy to treat aches and pains sustained by active adults and athletes
  • Enables active recovery; unlike ice, the Arctic Ease Wrap conforms to the body and does not inhibit movement
  • In a recent clinical study Arctic Ease® was shown to be as effective as ice therapy in reducing pain, swelling and improving mobility, and because it was more comfortable and convenient, patients kept it on longer.

How It Works:

  • Arctic Ease® wraps are a two-in-one solution, offering cryotherapy and compression. The fabric’s elasticity creates therapeutic compression. Simultaneously, the gel coating absorbs and evaporates heat energy from the body, providing hours of targeted cold therapy.

I did check out the smaller wrap just before Christmas to see what it feels like, it’s got this weird gel like substances on it which I worried would be messy all over the place, but it’s really not. It can flake off a tiny bit, but nothing that really concerned me.

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But with legitimate pain, I was able to wrap it around my knee this weekend and put it to a real test. I know there is some research saying that cold therapy isn’t as effective as once touted, but I still think it has its place. Arctic Ease combines the cold therapy with compression in one easy treatment… and it also has the added benefit of allowing me to still be somewhat mobile. I’ve tried sitting on the couch with an ice pack on my knee and you know what happens these days? My daughter comes over, picks it up off my leg, tosses it aside and asks me to come help her with something.  At least this way I can still play the role of “Mom” and get some soothing comfort for a trouble spot.

I found it kind of immobilized the joint some, making it hard to walk up and down the steps. Thus it would be impossible to run in it… although I don’t know why you would want to run with an “ice pack” on your knee anyway. It’s a recovery mechanism and it’s fine to slow down some for recovery!

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The fabric is a blend of cotton and lycra, Arctic Ease wraps are odor free, and contain NO latex, fragrance, sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil or menthol. You can reuse a wrap up to 5 times, just add a tiny bit of water to the container and shake it around to reactivate the cooling gel. They come in two sizes: 4” x 60” Full Size that sells for $14.99 and the 2.75” x 36” Small Size, at $9.99. That is kind of expensive for icing when you can buy a reusable ice pack for the same or less (or a bag of frozen peas for even cheaper) but those also limit your mobility a lot more. I don’t think that these would be the forever alternative to more traditional ice packs, but they sure add a lot of convenience. Not requiring a refrigerator or freezer is a big benefit, especially if you’re traveling to an event and know you might need something like this. Post marathon – perhaps wrap the legs up for recovery? I might do this!

Available in Red, Blue, Black and Pink and can be purchased at CVS, Vitamin Shoppe and online at ArcticEaseWrap.com, Arctic Ease seems like a pretty decent tool to have in your recovery arsenal!

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Baby Steps to the End Goal

When I coached Team Challenge, my team was usually mostly newbies to the half marathon distance… or to any kind of distance and organized training plan. I used to tell the team to keep the end goal (their half marathon) in mind, but to not let it obscure the view to all the steps along the way (the training plan). It can easily feel overwhelming to think “OMG I’m going to run 13.1 miles and I’ve never run at all!” and let that cloud your vision. But you can’t just forget about the end goal completely either, else there is no motivation to keep walking that path.

I had one of those moments this weekend, I was really looking forward to my long run but on Saturday I woke up with a dull ache in my knee and by mid-afternoon the pain was pretty intense. And by that evening it was getting difficult to walk on it. I knew I had to get off it and take some recovery measures. Some cold therapy, some compression, some tape and it was feeling better by the next morning, but not good enough to run. So I rode the bike for an hour.

Disappointing, but my knee hurts and I’m exercising caution. #teamstonyfield #fitsnap

A photo posted by @jillwillrun on

Not an exact match for my training (have you seen the Zero Runner?! I really want one of those for days like this… and for other days of the week.) It was hard to skip my run mentally, but I also knew that I had my end goal: running the Boston Marathon with Team Stonyfield in April. I have several more weeks of training and the race, but if I am feeling a little overuse tenderness and then push it too much, I could end up on the injured list and not even make it to the start line, much less the finish line.

Basically this approach works for a lot of things in life. It’s nearly the end of January, did you know that a lot of resolutions have already been dropped by now? In fact, many people give up on their resolutions just 9 days after they start them. And one of the problems is that people make resolutions that are not specific enough and neglect the small steps that need to occur along the way, instead making it one big leap at once. If people tweaked those resolutions, they may have more success.

Old Resolution: Eat better
New Resolution: Tweak one eating habit each week
Baby Steps: Pick a produce item off the Dirty Dozen list to start buying organically, switch to whole grains, savor each bite and eat mindfully, chew your food more thoroughly, stop calling foods “bad” and choose to focus on the benefits of foods that nourish the body more.

Old Resolution: Be a better parent
New Resolution: Focus on parenting quality each day
Baby Steps: Put down the smartphone, read one more story, listen with your full attention, never be the one that ends a hug

Old Resolution: Exercise More
New Resolution: Exercise at least 3x a week
Baby Steps: Add workouts to your calendar, try one new workout each month to find what you like, speak positively about exercise, don’t compare your efforts to somebody else

Perspective: Keep the end goal in mind, but don't let it obscure your view of the journey along the way.

As part of Team Stonyfield, I’m excited to represent the brand at the Boston Marathon. The company is certified organic, I’m helping to share the message that making little changes can help improve health and wellness. 

Is your city healthy or not?

I received a press release the other day about a study done by BetterDoctor.com that ranks cities by how healthy they are. I just had to say “GO VEGAS! We’re #7…. least healthy! Woo hoo!” It’s not that surprising to me. Las Vegas isn’t very “walkable”, we have kind of crummy public transportation and the whole city runs on the ideas of decadence and parties and lasciviousness.

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The Top 25 Least Healthy Cities
(each city’s total score on a 100-point scale is shown in parentheses)

#1: Memphis, TN (15.8)
#2: Oklahoma City, OK (24.1)
#3: Louisville, KY (26.3)
#4: San Antonio, TX (27.3)
#5: Nashville, TN (29.0)
#6: Indianapolis, IN (29.5)
#7: Las Vegas, NV (29.8)
#8: New Orleans, LA (30.8)
#9: Los Angeles, CA (32.7)
#10: Jacksonville, FL (34.6)
#11: Detroit, MI (34.7)
#12: Riverside, CA (35.1)
#13: Phoenix, AZ (35.6)
#14: Orlando, FL (36.7)
#15: Tampa, FL (38.2)
#16: Miami, FL (38.3)
#17: Columbus, OH (38.5)
#18: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (38.9)
#19: Houston, TX (40.0)
#20: Kansas City, MO (40.0)
#21: Charlotte, NC (40.1)
#22: Birmingham, AL (42.2)
#23: Cleveland, OH (42.5)
#24: Virginia Beach, VA (42.9)
#25: Milwaukee, WI (43.4)

On the flip side, we’ve got the healthy cities ranked. Some of those surprised me, not because of personal experience with them but because of stereotypes and rumors about places.

The Top 25 Most Healthy Cities

#1: Boston, MA (74.5)
#2: Minneapolis, MN (73.6)
#3: Washington, DC (72.6)
#4: San Francisco, CA (66.4)
#5: Hartford, CT (62.7)
#6: Pittsburgh, PA (60.1)
#7: San Jose, CA (58.6)
#8: Salt Lake City, UT (58.5)
#9: Seattle, WA (57.7)
#10: Cincinnati, OH (57.6)
#11: Portland, OR (56.7)
#12: Denver, CO (56.6)
#13: Sacramento, CA (56.6)
#14: Atlanta, GA (55.9)
#15: San Diego, CA (55.3)
#16: Baltimore, MD (55.0)
#17: St. Louis, MO (54.7)
#18: Austin, TX (53.9)
#19: Raleigh, NC (52.7)
#20: Providence, RI (51.3)
#21: Buffalo, NY (50.3)
#22: Richmond, VA (48.6)
#23: Chicago, IL (48.4)
#24: New York, NY (47.7)
#25: Philadelphia, PA (44.0)

Criteria examined:

  1. Population data about physical fitness (exercise rates, eating habits, chronic health problems and disease rates, access to parks and recreational activities, and more).
  2. The percentage of doctors in the state that are highly rated according to BetterDoctor’s comprehensive, seven-variable algorithm.
  3. The percentage of residents with health insurance coverage to assess how feasible it is for residents to get medical care.

Boston Training Update

I thought I’d post a little update on my training for the Boston Marathon. I’m running the race as part of Team Stonyfield.

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Stonyfield got Megan Searfoss from Run Like a Mother on board to be our coach. She sent out a training plan that called for 3 runs a week. Each run is a real “quality” effort, meaning hills one day, tempo one day, and a long run. It seems kind of like the FIRST method. I know my body well enough to know that a) I’m going to burn out if I train that way and b) I feel better with 4 days of running, mentally and physically. So I’m using the plan as a kind of “guideline” combined with Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Marathon plan and my own knowledge as an RRCA-certified coach.

The last time I trained for a marathon, my life was very different. I did have a full-time job still, but I wasn’t the director of my department at the time. So now I have 4 employees who report to me. I didn’t have a dog then and I didn’t have a child. There are a lot more things competing for my time and energy these days!

Also, I am not training for this race with a goal time. My goal is completion. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a marathon and while my running experience is deeper these days than it was, I’m still approaching this like a beginner. I don’t need tons of speedwork, or Yasso 800’s (Still love you Bart!) and my focus is making sure my body is prepared for the ups and downs of the infamous course. Fortunately I can’t run from my house without encountering hills.

Boston Marathon elevation profile

This weekend I will do my first run that exceeds half marathon distance since running at the 2011 Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon as a coach. (I ran 17 miles that night on the course, not knowing I was pregnant. I figured it out two days after the race when I passed out for seemingly no reason at all. Good thing that didn’t happen during the event, huh?) I’m excited to do this milestone once more and keep advancing my training.

I keep thinking that I need to slow down my runs though, especially my long runs. I have been running at, “I’m comfortable” pace so far and it follows the 1-1:30 minute per mile slower than goal pace for half marathons. But I really don’t know that I will be able to do that for a full right now. If I was coaching someone, I would tell them that their estimated training pace should probably be slower… but it’s so difficult to take that hard/objective line with myself sometimes!

I recently ordered two new pairs of Saucony Virrata shoes via Amazon. I have 3 pairs of that shoe already, I really love them. But I have been bad at tracking shoe mileage lately and when I started digging back through my shoe pics and Garmin Connect data, I figured that all of them have over 300 miles run on them. And one pair is falling apart (there is a small hole in the left toe and the whole Saucony emblem on the sides is peeling off.) Since Saucony seems to be discontinuing the Virrata, I wanted to make sure I had some pairs to get me through this mileage.

Training runs have to take place early in the morning, before work, so I wake up during the 4am hour. And as I get further into my plan and my midweek runs get longer, I’m a little afraid I will have to be out running at 3am or something ludicrous like that! But from 7-4 each day I have to work, then I go pick up my kid from school and I have to read with her, make her dinner, bathe her and get her to bed. My husband the CPA works long hours and I never know if he’ll be home at 6pm or 10pm (or later) during this time of year. Plus he works every Saturday too, so my long runs have to take place on Sundays.  So far it’s working, except I feel my fatigue building. I should start going to bed earlier than 10-10:30 each night, but after my daughter goes to bed at 8pm, those 2 hours are the only time I get to make her lunch for the next day, to try to catch up on my blog and blog emails (it may never happen at the rate my life is going lately) and try to relax/foam roll/destress. It’s a lot on my plate. But it’s exciting and I am confident that I can do this. I’m EXCITED to do this and I WANT to do this. It’s just a bigger balancing act than I’ve ever tried to take on, and I overburden myself a lot!

I’m trying to be better at saying “No” in other areas of life to make this work!

Food & Fitness Trends in 2014

I received this infographic from MyFitnessPal and thought it was interesting, looking at how certain things in the health world trended over the past year. I’m not surprised that wearable tech increased in popularity over 2014, but I’m surprised at how much SoulCycle increased. I hadn’t heard much about it, just had heard the name. So I went to their website and it seems the regions that they are actually operating are kind of limited still. Maybe that will spread to more regions in 2015? I think wearable tech will continue to climb this year too… I’m kind of obsessed with it!

Does anything on this surprise you? Intrigue you?

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Friday Fête

The runner

The runner by Petteri Sulonen, on Flickr

Someone I know had an incident with a runner recently and it has compelled me to remind runners to be safe when running on the roads. (I know, I harp on this all the time, huh?!)

But here’s what happened: the person I know was at a stop sign at a very busy road. A runner ran in front of their car, but the driver simply did not see the runner coming at all and very lightly bumped the runner when the runner passed in front of them. The runner was fine, angry and yelling, but not harmed. The driver was upset and traumatized that this runner had seemingly appeared out of thin air. Despite looking both directions, the runner was not seen. So here’s your safety tip for today:

When crossing the street, especially at stop signs, MAKE EYE CONTACT with the driver before crossing in front of them.

Seriously, we just can’t guarantee that we are seen. There can be reflections, weird light angles, distractions, etc. Now if the driver makes eye contact with the runner, waves them on and then still hits them… well now we’ve got some intent and malice and that jerk deserves to be reported.

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Marathon training for Boston began with the start of 2015 and so far things are going well… although, my longest run thus far has just been 12 miles. Lots more miles to go, but I’m having fun and doing pretty well with fitting in my training. But I’m afraid I’m going to have to start waking up even earlier to run because waking up at 4:50 AM to do my weekday runs and then showering is really pushing the time limits. I am supposed to start working at 7 AM and it’s hard to do that lately! My weekday runs are just going to get longer over the next few months too!

I’m just running 10 miles this weekend. “Just” 10… but the following weekend is when I’m going to start venturing into mileage beyond the half marathon distance for the first time in years! Woo hoo!

I’m still just ecstatic to be part of Team Stonyfield and to have this experience.

I keep thinking that life will even out and I’ll be able to get back into a regular schedule of blogging, but work has been kicking my ass lately. I’m a little fearful it will just keep on going that way for a while. I know change is a constant in life, but I’ve had too much change lately, it’s exhausting!

I’m participating in the 2015 miles in 2015 challenge as part of a team of 3. Basically, the goal is to run/walk 2015 miles during the course of the year 2015. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? But man… some of the people in the Facebook group are asking the most ridiculous questions. I feel bad for the group organizers.

“Can I count my rollerblading?”

“What if I run a quarter-mile warmup, can I count that?”

“I ran/walk/danced 3 miles yesterday.”

Wait, what? You danced 3 miles? Ask your question out loud to yourself or a good friend… if it sounds ridiculous, it probably is and maybe you don’t need to ask it in a public forum.

This book, it’s next on my to-read list.

Egg White Chips – Protein snack food

Remember I said I was going to try to eat more protein this year? (If you don’t, it doesn’t matter… here’s an update: I’d like to try eating more protein this year.) Anywho… I was excited about the possibility of trying a chip made out of egg whites. Sounds kind of weird, huh? But that’s exactly what ips All Natural chips are made from! (ips = rhymes with chips = intelligent protein snacks)

ips All Natural Chips

These egg white chips come in four flavors and each bag has 130 calories and 6 grams of protein. They don’t have much fiber, all of them have less than one gram. They are non-gmo, preservative/artificial color-free and gluten-free.

I liked the story about how they came to be: The founder, Sean Olson, makes breakfast for his kids and they always liked the crispy edges of fried eggs.  So he thought he would try to make a healthy snack that incorporated that good source of protein.

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All of those aspects made me want to love them… but I didn’t love every flavor. I found the Sea Salt and Black Pepper flavor to be too peppery for my taste buds. And the cheese flavor was just so-so. My daughter ate a couple of those and then stopped and told me to “Put them away.” The BBQ is decent and the Cinnamon Sugar flavor was my favorite. And even though they have “sugar” in the flavor name, there are only 3g of sugar so it’s not like they’re super sugary.

You can look for them in a store near you (they’re at a lot of Vitamin Shoppe stores in Vegas) or you can order online.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

2014 Resolution Run 5K [Race Report]

Late afternoon on New Years Eve I got in my running clothes and drove to a park to participate in the Resolution Run. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve run this race. In 2012 I did the 10K, first race back after having a baby. In 2013 I did the 5K pushing the stroller. This year I did the 5K just on my own because it was super cold here in Vegas and “A” had a cold so I didn’t want to push her in the race. The weather was also predicting snow for this race, which would have been an interesting dynamic, but one that didn’t come to fruition. Just cold.

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I got there around 3:20. The race started at 4:00 but packet pickup was right before the race and I didn’t want to push it too long, lest the race start late. (It did start late… because so many people waited until the last second to get in line for packet pickup!) While waiting in line some dude behind me blew a snot rocket on the ground. That is not right, okay?! I think blowing a snot rocket while you run is nasty, but when you are just standing in a line and you propel one right in the path of where people are walking and waiting so they can stand there and stare at your… um… contribution to society… that’s just gross.

Anyway, the race course basically goes uphill until the turnaround point, then we get to run back down. I just set off after the start countdown and started to pick off people who immediately started to walk in front of me. I felt really good and the hills didn’t bother me at all. In fact, that’s the best I’ve felt running on that course in a long time! (Lots of races are held at this park.)

I wore a pair of fleece lined leggings that I picked up at Target the day before with a pair of shorts over them to help keep my butt warm! (Did you know that your butt often gets colder than your legs when running because your leg muscles are working harder than your glutes?) I had on my new Mizuno Breathe Thermo hoodie over a long-sleeve shirt. The hoodie feels so thin yet it really does keep you warm. Mizuno has some crazy “body mapping” technology that is designed to keep the heat in while still maintaining a very lightweight piece of apparel. I was impressed!

I actually pulled the hood up while standing around waiting for the race to start, it kept my neck warmer.

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As I got toward the finish line I was running right next to two other gals and we all crossed the finish line very close to each other, they were just ahead of me. But when I looked at the results I should have charged harder to beat them. They were considered the 3rd and 4th place finishers in my age group, making me 5th in the Female 30-39 AG. However, that’s based on gun time. If we go based on our chip time, I beat them and I’m 3rd place!

All finishers receive a champagne glass and they have cider to toast the race finish and the approaching new year. However, it was still cold and getting colder, so I drank my cider as I walked to my car and drove home. I didn’t want to hang around too long!

Once home I immediately jumped into mom mode and made homemade pizza with the kiddo. “A” had helped me put together the dough earlier that day, she helped me top the pizza, watched it bake in fascination and then ate two bites. We had a bit of a problem with food over the holidays, she started eating one or two bites of food and then wanted to eat candy.

alex-makes-pizza.jpg homemade-pizza.jpg

I enjoy this race each year as a way to close out the year. It just feels right to me to start and end a year with a run.

2014 in Review

If anyone follows me on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter… my foot selfies have become pretty commonplace and expected. I actually took a photo during or after nearly every single run of 2014. (I can think of about 5 off the top of my head that I know I missed.) I’ve amassed quite a collection of them!

Other things I realized from this:

  • I did a terrible job of tracking mileage on my shoes this year.
  • But the majority of my runs were done in the same few shoes.
  • Despite getting other brands/models of shoes, I kept falling back to my Saucony Virrata.
  • A shoe that I’m pretty sure is on its way out the door.
  • But all of these photos and knowing my habits, the shoes have to have 300-500 miles on each pair.
  • Perhaps I should scrounge up a few pairs before they disappear completely.
  • For marathon training, ya know…
  • I need more variety in my running apparel!

There are lots of races in there. Seeing the shots with my daughter’s feet are sweet and spotting her different shoes reminds me of how much she has grown and changed throughout the year.

I’ve already started 2015 with a few of these shots. I don’t think I’ll stop taking them anytime soon… but I feel like I need to do something different too. Maybe stick with the exact same weather template for the whole year? Add lame stickers to the shots? I have a run tomorrow morning, will I decide on something by then?

2015 New Year Crap: Resolutions-ish

So… you’re supposed to make a list of things to do each year, huh? So here’s a loose list of things I want to do in 2015.

Note: If you don’t make a list of things to do at the start of each new year, you’re doing things just right too! Congratulations!

1. Eat More Protein

I used to obsessively count every number that could be counted with every morsel of food that crossed my lips. Calories, carbs, fat, protein, sodium, magnesium, etc. I had an eating disorder, I don’t want to be there again. But I learned to eat more mindfully and pay attention to my hunger cues in recovery. And then I had a kid and learned to shove food in my face as fast as I could in between feeding her, or wiping up spills or taking a kid to the potty repeatedly. But I get hungry a lot and my instinct is to grab sugar. So I am guessing that if I make an effort to eat more protein that will help satiate me a little more.

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2. Foam Roll Regularly

Right now my foam rolling plan is “Hey, look… there’s my foam roller, I should roll something.” And then sometimes I actually do it. So that means about once a week I give my legs a quick roll. But if I did a daily quick roll like that, maybe I would feel amazing? If only I could figure out a way to foam roll my upper back that actually felt like it was attacking those knots instead of just making me feel awkward.

Foam roller

3. Watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I started watching this show on Netflix last month. It’s an ambitious goal, but I’m going to watch every episode this year. Actually, it shouldn’t be too hard to do. My husband will start his busy season and I won’t see him, thus I’ll be able to watch what I want on TV (aka Netflix) in the evenings after the kid goes to sleep.

4. Speak Up

I do way too many things because I think it will make other people happy. Not necessarily things like, “I bet it would make that person happy if I sent them flowers.” but things like “Okay, I’ll change my plans to accommodate yours because I’m afraid you will be mad at me if I don’t.” Yes, life sometimes means you have to do that. But it’s also not healthy to do that all the time. I need to let people know things are causing me inordinate amounts of stress when I am trying to bend to do what I think they want. Sometimes I need to keep my mental priorities in mind.

5. Get Feeling Well

I feel kind of crummy. I don’t want to go into all the details because honestly I get embarrassed by it, but let’s just say my gut is in turmoil and has been for much of this year. The only correlation I can see with the change is when my lady cycle returned at the start of this year (it had been absent since 2008 – at least). Then I started to feel sick all the time. It makes training hard, it makes living hard, it makes happiness hard. Maybe feeling unhappy a lot exacerbates it… I know that stress is bad for the GI system. It’s a neverending loop, a bug in my programming. But there should be some kind of fix, right?

6. Take my Kid to a Zoo

I don’t know what zoo, but I think she would enjoy a zoo. She likes animals a lot and right now the extent of our animal excursions involves PetSmart and their fish tanks, bird cages and “adopt a pit bull” days. (Okay, it’s not really called “Adopt a Pit Bull” but that’s mainly what they seem to have for adoption.) She loves it and I think a zoo could be fun.

Jill and Giraffe

My super mature visit to the San Diego Wild Animal Park several years back!

 

7. Run a Marathon

Yep… training officially started for Boston. I’m simultaneously thrilled, excited, and terrified! But as part of Team Stonyfield… I’m going to be running the Boston Marathon this spring. April isn’t that far away!

What things would you like to accomplish this year?