Posts in running
Pelvic Health

I recently gave a talk to a group of women about the Pelvic Floor: what is is, what affects it, who is affected, and what to do about it. This was the 2nd time I’ve given this talk (for a monthly series) because it was so well-received the 1st time.

The first talk was a huge success.  There were several people that came to the talk AGAIN the second time around.

The first talk was a huge success. There were several people that came to the talk AGAIN the second time around.

In my talk, we dive right into the hormonal aspects of pelvic floor health, the personal history contributions, and the physical/mechanical factors at play.

I have long taken for granted the fact that people do not know their internal anatomy. I fell in love, head-over-heels-passionate-sleepless-nights-in-love with human anatomy when I was 19. I am visual. I locked in on where every organ, muscle, bone and ligament lived in the human body. Now, I’m teaching people in their 40’s where their bladder is relative to their uterus (or prostate!) and their colon and rectum. it feels like I have always known.

It is now believed to be true that 70-80% of the general population has some degree of pelvic floor dysfunction serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit. The median age for females is 41. Let that sink in. That is why we decided the time had come for us to do a pelvic floor talk. My bootcamp leader at Wy’east Sisterhood and I were involved in a discussion with women who had never been pregnant, talking about incontinence.

Hold the phone.

People that had never been pregnant had pelvic floor issues? That’s when a light came on for me. I had treated tons of people for pelvic floor issues, but most of them were postpartum. I even said, “Every body that has a pregnancy needs pelvic floor work afterward”.

I had bought into the misunderstanding. People who had not been pregnant would not come to see me for things like constipation, low back pain, prostatitis, erectile dysfunction, or recurrent UTIs because those things haven’t been connected to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction in the mainstream. They didn’t know to come, and I hadn’t told them.

Well, I am telling them (and you) now. We are at a time when the importance of the pelvic floor muscles and organs is being realized. It’s about more than Kegels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21160318

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26926816

Wild Woman Trail Marathon and Relay

Ahhhhhhh, year SIX of the Wild Woman Trail Marathon and Relay (and 50K).  This was an ON year for me.  That puts me at 4 good years with this race and 2 not so good years.  I shaved 39 minutes off last year's race (an "OFF" year) and 15 minutes off my fastest time for the course so far. 

Beyond the actual race, I simply love going to the event every year.  I get to meet up with runner friends from Idaho, Washington, and Oregon....and every year there are runners from far-flung places that show up.  It's a great event.  So great that I'm stoked to announce I'll be sponsoring a team of high schoolers to run next year! 

Pic by Launa Gray: Cooling off in the stream-fed horse troughs at the finish line.  Mission Accomplished!

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Endure
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I have been reading the book "Endure" by Alex Hutchinson over the past few weeks, and today was the day I put into practice what I learned.  I challenged myself to hike Dog Mountain before work today, and I knew it would be tight.  I'd have to keep moving up the 3000ft elevation gain over 3.8 miles up the side of that mountain. One of the big take home lessons that I gained was "actual" vs "perceived" exertion.  This chart really stuck with me.  The decision to stop. The decision. To stop.  So all morning I practiced deciding to continue and push myself.  It felt kind of magical.  There were moments of "what the heck?", but there were more moments of, "Look at me go!"  I must've asked myself about 50 times if I was actually needing to slow down or if I was deciding to slow down.  

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One of the final, glorious pushes to the top!

Working in working out

  You know how sometimes, you can plan for something, work at it a bunch, and still have it fall flat on its face?

That was me this time last year.

I picked the Tillamook Burn Trail Race as my first 50K distance race.  It's beautiful, or rather....brutiful.  With over 7000 ft elevation gain and loss over 30 miles of lush old growth forest, I really had my work cut out for me when I found out I had gotten a spot from the waitlist for this race.

I toed the line last spring, started strong, but then a few hours in, the terrain started to eat me alive.

I realized around mile 16 that my finish was in jeopardy.  With each mile completed, it actually started to feel like the finish line was moving away from me.  There was a 5pm cutoff for the race.  I was dangerously close to going over time.  The final 1450ft ascent before the finish, I knew it was over for me.  They let me through the last aid station so I could complete the distance and cross the finish line.  My family was waiting there for me, and it didn't matter to them that I missed the official time by 14 minutes.  It really only mattered to me.

Turns out it mattered to me a LOT.  Way more than I understood until the past few weeks.

I took the fitness attained from training for that race and churned it into the next race, and the race after that.  I volunteered at other races and got inspired.

I went to grown up up running camp and highlighted my areas of weakness so I could hone those skills and become a better athlete.

I cross-trained when I could (read: grabbing those 5-10 minute slots to kettlebell, stretch, squat, handstand, lunge, or whatever!).  I ran in the rain, the mud, the snow, the ice, the numerous mini-landslides, in jeans, pajamas, snow gear...to make it happen.  For me.

I studied the Tillamook Burn course this year and chunked it down into 8 sections.  I set time goals for each checkpoint.

Do you know what?  It worked.  I finished 38 minutes faster this year, and the day was a pure joy.  365 days and a lot of work later, I finished that bad boy.

Set goals, huge goals, and work towards them every day.  Work it into your day.  Stay focused. It's important to me that my kids see me doing this valuable self-care, even though I'm balancing parenting them and seeing my patients.  Be patient.  Do many small things.  I promise, it's worth it.

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The sweetest finishes sometimes take a long time to get to.

 

 

 

Green space exercise

There are a growing number of articles that show a clear connection between increased mental wellbeing, stress relief and even immune system activation. when exercise is conducted in forested green spaces. In the UK and Japan, they study this phenomenon extensively, citing active components that are directly responsible for all these positive effects.  That fresh pine smell, for example, is actually alpha and beta pinene.  These naturally occurring volatile aromas increase Natural Killer cells, which help us battle things like viruses and tumor cells.

You don't have to smell the woods, to get the benefit though.  In the UK, researchers found that just looking at peaceful, natural scenery while exercise increased several health parameters.

So, exercise in nature if you can, but also consider switching from zoning out with a TV show on the treadmill to treating yourself to some seriously beautiful views instead.

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Li Q1Kobayashi MWakayama YInagaki HKatsumata MHirata YHirata KShimizu TKawada TPark BJOhira TKagawa TMiyazaki Y. Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2009 Oct-Dec;22(4):951-9.

Li Q1, Kobayashi MInagaki HHirata YLi YJHirata KShimizu TSuzuki HKatsumata MWakayama YKawada TOhira TMatsui NKagawa T. A day trip to a forest park increases human natural killer activity and the expression of anti-cancer proteins in male subjects. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2010 Apr-Jun;24(2):157-65.

Humpel N., Owen N., Iverson D., Leslie E., Bauman A. Perceived environment attributes, residential location and walking for particular purposes. Am. J. Prev. Med. 2004;26:119–125. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2003.10.005. [PubMed] [Cross Ref]

De Vries S., Verheij R.A., Groenewegen P.P., Spreeuwenberg P. Natural environments—Healthy environments? An exploratory analysis of the relationship between greenspace and health. Environ. Plan A. 2003;35:1717–1731.

Training With the Flow by Amanda Roe, ND

Having a uterus and ultrarunning is generally pretty rad. There is nothing like running into some badass women in the woods, tearing up the trails and having a great time. We push each other to be better, dream bigger, run stronger. How many times have you been digging deep for the next internal power surge to arise and been inspired either by thinking of another woman runner, or witnessed within yourself that core sense of knowing you’ll rise to the occasion? We lift one another up in this sport. In the interest of elevating women in sports, let’s lift the mystique of that monthly visitor that can throw a bit of a wrench into an otherwise finely tuned machine. Periods run interference on even the best training schedules and can set you back a week or two at a time. Most of us are already balancing our running with career, family, and the odd (gasp) other pastimes besides running. Raise your hand if any of the following scenarios sounds familiar. I know.

“I was packing the car up a few months ago to leave for an early morning race. I ran back in the house to pee only to find that Aunt Flo came by to wish me luck. The race was set to start in 2 hours. I thought she was coming on Tuesday!”

“I’m scheduled for a long run on the weekend, but have been bleeding and cramping for the past two days. My legs feel weak, my back hurts, and I would eat a Taco Bell Party Pack faster than a gaggle of teenaged boys right now. How can I cement the wherewithal to get 20 miles in bright and early? My 50K is 6 weeks.”

“Looking ahead at my race calendar, again I count the weeks to go: seven weeks until the next race. I have my period this week. It should be 8 more weeks until ‘that time of the month’, but it’s going to be a close call. Can’t I just plug it up and pretend it’s not happening??”

There are so many factors that affect our biggest days out there racing and training, and uterine behavior (or misbehavior) doesn’t need to be another big unknown. Getting a general sense of your cycle can empower you to do all the right things to guide your body toward training and racing strong, before, during, and after your period.

HERE COMES AUNT FLO: Running before period (Days 15-28 of cycle)

Hydration is key. There are a lot of hormones leaving the system during this time, and it can feel akin to a detox. For women who experience premenstrual headaches, be extra sure to keep those electrolytes balanced and the excretion (ahem, peeing and moving your bowels) humming along. If you’re up for it, a trip to the sauna or hot yoga class can aid with the processing. Decreasing inflammation is also vital, particularly if you get bad cramps or have endometriosis. Focus on foods high in essential fatty acids, known for decreasing cramping and clotting, like olives and olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, fatty fish (like salmon, cod and halibut). Decrease coffee, alcohol, and limit sugar, as these amplify inflammatory pathways in the body.

SHARK WEEK: Running during period (Days 1-7 of cycle)

Use your discretion in determining when and how much to run. For some women, the increased circulation from exercise actually helps relieve cramping and clotting. For other women, running can cause more fatigue. Eat iron-rich foods: dark leafy greens, eggs, beets, poultry, and beef. Combining iron-rich foods with Vitamin C or foods high in Vitamin C (citrus, spinach, berries) will help your body absorb more iron naturally. Magnesium can also help a bunch. Epsom salt baths are great way to relieve muscular tension from cramping, low back pain, and leg pain.

GETTING OFF THE COTTON PONY: Running after period. (Days 7-14 of cycle)

Sleep is your buddy, and you’re likely to be feeling much better now that your body is resetting. Treat it to some daily nourishing blood-builders like spinach, black beans, dates, and carrots to stay on top of your game. Run strong, and tear it up out there, my friends!