Could your pain be all in your head?

Race week injuries.

We've attributed them to over training and "taper madness" for years, but we still believe something physically must be wrong.

This post is going to piss off some a lot of runners.

Your pain is all in your head.

Back up, reverse, start from the beginning:
5 years ago I had IT Band pain that sidelined me for months.

It no longer even made sense, as I wasn’t running, I’d done all the PT and more importantly…it hurt when I was just sitting still. The only kind of injury that should hurt when you aren’t doing anything is pretty major, not a strained muscle.

At this point, I did what many runners do…I investigated every available avenue from acupuncture to massage to 52 hail Mary's to beet juice and well finally to a new way of thinking.

Namely an idea {not new, but not widely held} presented by Dr. John Sarno: my pain was in my head.

Well not totally, the pain was absolutely real, but the cause was my brain not my body.

The mind is able to activate the physical conditions.
The motions and their physical expressions tell us how the mind is acting
and reacting in a situation it interprets as favorable or unfavorable

- Alfred Adler 1902

Stick with me here, I know your first thought is “she’s lost her marbles”.  Yet we have all heard about the mind body connection; it just wasn’t described so succinctly and usually not related to our running.Learn how to heal chronic running injuries through emotionsA few emotional pain examples we’re all familiar with:

  • Race week pains…yes those little twinges in odd areas that suddenly hurt and then disappear on race day never to bother you again.
  • Tension headaches
  • Ulcers..caused by stress
  • Nausea from an emotional event
  • Pain in your chest from “heartbreak”
  • Recent medical studies prove that depression is a greater cause of heart disease than smoking.

None of these would be resolved by taking medicine, you have to resolve the emotional issue. Sarno argues that many of our recurring injuries are caused by the same mechanism: tension. Which is why doctors can find no specific physical cause or point out a cause that doesn’t make sense.

Americans are a nation of doers and workers.
We take life seriously and responsibly.
As our lives become more complex, we generate more and more tension

Pain Cycle caused by tension and how to resolveTension reduces oxygen flow to the muscles…which causes inflammation or pain.

Now your brain is entirely focused on your pain rather than on your emotions.

How I came to believe all of this…my Injury History
2002 - Start running by training for a half marathon
2005 - Run first marathon
2007 - First major injury: IT band Syndrome which restricted running for a few months, required PT …all occurred while suddenly leaping my pace to hit a BQ goal I wasn’t ready for
2009 - Second major injury: Dislocated knee cap (runner’s knee) -- occurred a few months after the stressful wedding

Otherwise the last 12 years have included little bouts of twinges and aches, but nothing that truly sidelined me and I now credit much of that to what I learned during the 2009 injury. At that point my IT Band still frequently hurt, but never enough not to run…but that injury felt never ending until I read Dr Sarno’s book and was literally running again a week later.

His newer books have also helped me to see that much of my digestive issues were probably caused by such repressed emotions and in working through that recently I’ve noticed my stomach feeling much better.

Tension myositis syndrome is the brain utilizing pain as a distraction from your true emotions.

The primary repressed emotion is anger.

It’s usually subconscious…

Are you like me and thinking “um no..I’m not an angry person”?!  I kept reading and started to see anger wasn’t exactly what I imagined…it wasn’t the road rage driver or someone who unleashes a verbal assault on an unsuspecting cashier for missing a coupon.

Unconscious rage was…

  • Tired of feeling the need to be perfect
  • Frustrated at wanting to just enjoy life, but having so many responsibilities
  • Needing to meet others standards
  • Pressure to do it all {work, children, aging parents, fitness, friends, etc}
  • Residue of anger from things in childhood

Back PainSource: Another excellent article on mind body pain resolution

First to be absolutely 100% clear, the physical pain is real. Not made up…but treating the symptoms will never resolve a pain caused by the brain trying to repress emotions. Or maybe your knee stops hurting, but suddenly it’s your foot then your foot is fine and your digestion is horrible.

  • Knowledge is the first step {i.e. understanding there is nothing physically wrong with you}
  • Stop all treatment and start to resume activity
  • Begin thinking emotionally {Daily start to think about what you might be repressing}
  • Talk to your subconscious (“I am in charge, not you. Start sending oxygen to my___)
  • Learning to be kinder and gentler with yourself {life doesn’t have to be so serious}
  • I also like the Louise Hay method which is utilizing affirmations

Athlete examples are available throughout his books, but here is one to illustrate the point:

Aaron, an Olympic athlete, contacted me is desperation to explore whether his chronic hip and leg pain could be due to TMS. Despite seeing a multitude of physicians…and religiously following their treatment protocols, he could not run without significant discomfort.

During the consultation, he revealed his perfectionist qualities….also able to tick off a whole host of life stressors…

He was soon back to running without pain {after understanding TMS was the cause}.

Following are the various books Dr John Sarno has written on the subject. The most recent book The Divided Mind contains results from numerous doctors around the world in various fields that have found TMS to cure their patients from sports injuries to digestive issues to depression.

The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders
Mind Over Back Pain {his first book on the topic in 1986}
Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection {the first book I read}
Louise Hay - Unlike his scientific approach she approaches mind body simply based on experience and intuition

What do you think about the mind body connection?

Have you ever read any of his books?

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Post workout recovery drink to fight inflammation

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Evolution Fresh. I received coupons for Evolution Fresh juices to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

How much thought do you put in to your post workout recovery?

Quick foam roll? Epsom salt bath? Ice bath {you’re insane}? Yoga, meditation, swiftly logging on to Instagram to share your amazing run before you’ve even had time to wipe the sweat from your face?

For me inflammation fighting starts with food. When life is clicking along just fine, it’s easy to forget the impact food can have on our recovery as athletes.

Silver lining to my knee was that it helped me get refocused on foods that would help my body repair. Of course while I was in a van in Ireland I was munching on sugar and not so much green juice. Which meant when I got home I wanted to get going right away and without any brain power needed.Juice Benefits for RunnersUSING JUICE FOR WORKOUT RECOVERY
Since juices are often high in sugar, I’m very picky about which one’s I select, you’ll notice most of these are purely greens or low in fruit. While fruit sugars are great for us, they our body can only utilize so much at one time, UNLESS we use them as post workout food when muscles are primed to utilize the sugar for recovery.

Green juice might not be magic, but I had one Sunday morning after waking up from my 10 hours of flying and wouldn’t you know the swelling started dropping right away! Each bottle of Evolution Fresh contains 2 servings and I’m not one to waste liquid gold, so I poured 8oz of Essential Greens with lime in a glass to enjoy as dutifully spent time with the foam roller.
Evolution Fresh Essential GreensMonday I was ready to test the knee with a short run and some weights. After working out I decided to pump up the Sweet Greens by turning it in to a smoothie. Again my cupboards were a bit bare post travel, so this made it insanely easy to get my greens. I added in a half a banana, half scoop of Vega Sport protein and water to the Vitamix…recovery perfection once again.
Anti-inflammatory Juice ingredients for post workout recoveryAfter a few days of greens, I was ready to switch up my anti-inflammatory strategy with different veggies.

Many of us use the same group of greens in every smoothie and we miss out on benefits of othersparticularly beets!    DSC05514

  • The dark red violet pigments in beets are Betacyanins, which are powerful anti-inflammatories
  • Beets detoxify the body, so start with no more than 1 per week
  • Some studies say drinking prior to exercise can boost stamina
  • Helps dissolve calcium deposits {like the one I just found in my knee}
Benefits of beet juice for workout recoveryUnlike many packaged juices {which I have said NOT to drink} Evolution Fresh peels, presses, and squeezes raw fruits and vegetables. Yup literally it’s just fruits and veggies that have been through High Pressure Processing (HPP) to help protect flavors and nutrients. Click here to watch a video on how this process works.

Learn more and connect with Evolution Fresh
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More on sports nutrition:
How to fuel pre, during and post workout
Sports nutrition should we stop talking calories 
How to fuel your running with whole foods

What’s your favorite post workout recovery meal?

Do you pick foods specifically to help with inflammation?

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16 Healthy Ways to cook with Tahini {giving away 6 cases!}

Admit it you’re addicted to nut butters.

Time to expand your horizons from peanut and almond to Tahnini! I’m sure some of you are fans already, but if it’s new to you tahini is simply ground sesame seeds that is nice and creamy like peanut butter.  At least that’s all it contains if you get a quality brand like Once Again Nut Butter.Tahini PasteSource carrot and beet root slaw

Tahini is often used in hummus and is a staple for many Middle Eastern dishes. You’ve probably been noshing on it for years without evening realizing it. Other quickie ways to incorporate it:

  • Mix with Greek yogurt and herbs to create a veggie dip
  • Add to a green smoothie
  • Replace peanut butter in your noodle sauce
  • Mix with miso and lemon for a salad dressing

Why you might want to use it?

  • 2 tbsp contain almost 30% of your daily calcium needs
  • Rich source of zinc and fiber
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15, which support metabolism, enhance immune/nervous system function, and maintain healthy skin and muscle tone.

16 healthy ways to incorporate Tahini in your cooking16 ways to cook with Tahini that aren't hummus

Spicy Coleslaw and Tahini from The Simple Veganista
Tahini Lemon Dressing {great for kale salads}
Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Tahini Sauce 
Spicy Coleslaw + Tahini Dijon Dressing {pictured above}
Curried Tahini Carrot Slaw 
Tahini Egg Salad {finally no Mayo}
Warm butternut squash and chickpea salad

Vegetable Stir fry coconut tahini sauce from the Roasted Root

Lobster and Shrimp Soup 
Cauliflower Soup with Tahini and Pine nuts 
Vegetable Stir Fry with Coconut Tahini Sauce {pictured above} 
Falafel inspired scotch eggs {Paleo}

Tahini Muffins with Figs from Serious Eats
15 Minute Tahini Cookies
Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cinnamon Tahini Bread {Paleo}
Tahini Cacao Nib Plantain Bread Sandwich 
Paleo “Peanut Butter” Pie 
Tahini Muffins with Figs {pictured above}

Once Again Nut Butter has graciously offered up 6 cases {that’s 12 jars} for 6 winners!! You can put Tahini in the freezer to make it last longer if needed…but really once you start…it’ll disappear in a flash. As always just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below...
Tahinia Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclosure: I have been a long time eater of Once Again Nut Butter and they are providing the product for this giveaway. All opinions, ideas, salvation are my own.

Race To Kinvara - an Ireland Relay

When life hands you a four leaf clover, hold on to that bad boy for dear life!! Especially if it happens to be on some of your favorite running gear {aka the Saucony Kinvara}.
Saucony Kinvara Special EditionI certainly felt like a little luck of the Irish had come my way, when I was given the opportunity to join Saucony for a special event they created called the Race to Kinvara.

What is this race?? How do you people get selected? 

Running specialty stores aren’t just a place for us to geek out with other runners, they are really the lifeblood of the running industry. Ensuring that we all get the gear that will help us perform well and enjoy running.

Saucony wanted to reward the amazing people who show up every day in those stores to service our gnarly, sweaty, runner’s feet…so they thought BIG…really BIG. For the second year, associates were able to enter a raffle based on number of shoes sold. While of course Saucony loves their shoes they were also very adamant it's about getting people in the right shoe which may not always be one of theirs. As you might notice this is not normally a blogger event, Jess and I were extremely honored and blessed to have been selected {randomly} from the 26Strong coaches.

I love that they stitched their motto in to our hoodies: Empowering the human spirit through running.Saucony Race HoodieStage Relay overview
Have you ever done a Ragnar or relay race? Been holed up in a stinky van with 6 people for 32 hours?

Now imagine flying first class...yup it was that different. Each of the 10 teams had a driver and a large Mercedes bus and to make you feel really special, a moto driver riding nearby to protect you from cars.

Below one of the team buses…of course we decorated them!! And a snapshot that my moto driver took while tailing me along the water.Relay team busesRunning in IrelandUnlike a Ragnar which is run straight through the night, a stage race is done over multiple days. This allows you to finish in the afternoon, shower, enjoy a little of the city, dine with your team and sleep in a bed!

Teams were comprised of associates from the US, Canada, Germany, France, UK and Ireland. We were proud to be the first US team finishing just 9 minutes behind the UK/Ireland team and we won’t get in to how far behind the French and Germans who were seriously there to win. TeamRedRiderThat being said it was really more about fun that winning…but 80 runners together is going to breed some competitive thinking, right?!

We left Dublin and kicked off the race next to the beautiful Blessington Lake. Setting the scene already that we would be enjoying the countryside and small towns for the next two days of running. Blessington Lake IrelandI was really hoping to run a lot of miles like I did with the Palmetto 200 because that's how I wanted to see the country. Fortunately for me fate intervened and we drew names for most legs so I ended up with just 5.6 miles on day 1…saving my increasingly swollen knee from more injury.

I had no sharp or intense pain with my knee, just an ache and swelling so I made the decision that running was absolutely worth it and stand by that choice now too!! One of our first hand-offs came in a little town called Hollywood…where some local sheep farmers had put up a sign in the hills!!

DSC05082Hollywood IrelandDSC05131My leg was the first time we moved off road and I found myself along the River Barrow in solitude, until I'd pass a local fishing or swimming...and then if course the fleeting moments were a girl running 6 min miles zipped past me.
Running the River BarrowRunning the River Barrow in IrelandWe finished day 1 at a pub in Kilkenny where most teams recovered with some local brew and a well earned massage!
DSC05185DSC05187DAY 2
Rising early for another breakfast of smoked salmon and Belgian waffles, we headed out for a 2 hour drive to the start line of day two…it was through some beautiful countryside and lead to one of the most amazing start lines I’ve seen in 12 years of running.
DSC05369Epic - that word gets thrown around a lot these days, but seriously one look at the start line and I think you'd agree. 10 guys took off single file on a small path three feet from the Cliffs of Moher on the Burren Way walking trail, which happened to also be crowded near the start with other tourists.
From there we continued running through tiny towns, past cows and sheep, around Galway Bay and with views that were never endingly green and locals who were definitely curious about this sweaty caravan. DSC05409DSC05424DSC05456DSC05447Finally we reached Kinvara, where each team ran as a unit across the finish line and then promptly began to celebrate with another massage, drinks and food, while cheering on others!IMG_7054IMG_7061IMG_7062After that was a night of fun with an awards dinner, Celtic dancers and just enjoying the new friends that we had made over the last three days. Certainly not an adventure that I will forget anytime soon and one that I still feel a bit in awe of having been blessed with the opportunity to do.

Have you ever done a Stage Relay?

What’s the coolest place you’ve run?

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21 Day Rejuvenation Challenge {Clean eating, core work and soul}

In just 21 days I’ll be turning 33…and you know what every year I have been excited about my birthday. Wanting this year to be no different, I thought I’d spend the next 21 days doing a Rejuvenation Challenge!21 Day Clean Eating ChallengeChallenges are more fun {and easier to stick to} with friends, which is why I’m inviting you to join me. I love the accountability! The goal of this particular 21-day challenge is not just food, but overall feeling more centered and happier because it seems everyone is a bit rushed these days with mind and body:

  • Feel more energetic {balanced energy throughout day}
  • Reduce cravings {no more must have sugar feelings}
  • Improve body composition {no lie, I’d like to see this core look stronger}
  • Reduce inflammation {it’s not making running any easier!}
  • Better mood
  • Better sleep
  • Better workouts {increased recovery, more energy}
  • Improved concentration and clarity
  • Overall health improvements

This challenge is nothing crazy, no meal plans or workouts to follow. Literally just committing to getting back to the basics with our food and recognizing how it makes us feel.21 Days to Flatter Abs

How you decide to do the the challenge is up to you, but here are the basic guidelines:

  • Tons of water throughout the day {start day with lemon water before first meal}
  • Avoiding processed foods, alcohol, sweets
  • Focusing on vegetables, fruits, high quality protein sources, healthy fats, nuts
  • Dairy and grains are optional {they are the most common food sensitivities, so cutting them out to test could be beneficial} If included opt for unprocessed such as plain Greek yogurt, brown rice, quinoa, oats
  • Mindful eating {yup not in front of the TV}
  • 4 minutes each day meditating or reading something uplifting
  • 4 core workouts per week

STEP 1 - Write down exactly how you are feeling today! Skin, hair, digestion, energy, weight or measurements
STEP 2 - Write down your why. Why are you doing this challenge? How do you want to feel?
STEP 3 - Get mentally prepared and create a shopping list or meal plan {ideas in CL emails}
STEP 4 - Commit and get ready to feel amazing.

We start tomorrow! That’s right, no more putting things off till Monday, let’s just do it!21-Day-Challenge-Tracker-SmHOW TO JOIN
Free Get Started ASAP:
Commit below to joining the challenge by commenting {over 50 of us going strong!}!
-- Download calendar for tracking. Each day cross of which goals you completed.
-- Use #bestfoot on social media to share your progress with others
{I’ll be following, retweeting, and answering questions}
-- Each week check in with progress on the Rejuvenation Challenge post
Start ASAP whatever day of the week that may be!

Get seriously committed by signing up to receive the Clean and Lean Project emails for a birthday discount of just $13 (normally $27). These emails will give you daily tips and motivation for sticking to a clean eating diet without feeling overwhelmed.
-- Those who have signed up previously will be offered a chance to receive them all again for free.
-- Inside the CL group on Facebook we will have a daily check in thread.

Follow the Clean Eating Recipes board on Pinterest to get ideas
7 day sugar detox series for managing withdraw, defining your why and emotional cravings.
Review the Ab Challenge exercise demo and ab calendar for ideas
Tips for beginning meditation

Look for a round up of recipes next week in a Rejuvenation Challenge update!

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