H-Town Run Tourist

9 ways marathon training prepares you for life's most stressful situations

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

This week was super stressful. I stay busy and keep an even busier schedule, but this week was worse than most weeks. I don't want to go into it, but I'll just say that it started with my car getting booted and towed from in front of Market Square Park and it costing over $1000 to get my car back. I knew that I was going to be tested beyond belief to recover from this small catastrophe. So, I decided to go back to my marathon training days and use some of the skills I learned on race day. Since we all have stressful days, I'll share them with you.

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Assess your situation and come up with a plan.

From getting to the start line, finding your corral, and planning how to get your pace takes constant planning during the race. Remembering this, from the start of this situation, I began to lay out my circumstances and all of my resources in the best short notice plan. During the week, I checked back to cross off the things that were completed. It was encouraging to cross things of the list.

Periodized Progression

When you are at the start line, its best not to think about the race as 26.2 miles, but to take it in parts. How are you going to run the first 3 miles? You probably assessed that you will be consumed with finding your proper position and getting away from slower runners and walkers. By mile 5-10, you will be all loosened up and ready to enjoy the scenery. By mile 22-26.2, you will be super serious and on your game. The is a form of periodization. You only worry about the stage that you are in.

While I frequently imagined myself being at the solution of my problem, I knew all the steps that I laid out. During these steps, I was not concerned with much else but to complete the step and progress to the next step.

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Come with your own nutrition

During marathon training, you would have learned the nutrition that your body needs to go the distance. For me, I need 2 Gu's and a pack of chews for energy. You know when you can skip a water break and how much is too much. Your goal is not to stop for a bathroom break.

With this in mind, I would always make sure I had my meals and water with me. It is too easy to say that you will get some later and the wait until you are totally irrational to stop and get some. I was sure to have mine next to me.

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Breathe

If you are trying to run a marathon without breathing, you will pass out or die. So, you have to breathe right. A good rule of thumb is to breathe to keep calm. It takes the stress out of breathing. During this week, I would regularly check to make sure I was breathing deep breathes. These breathes not only kept me calm, but made me feel slightly high. Much needed.

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Ditch negative self talk for positive self talk.

Imagine deciding to run 26.2 miles and telling yourself that you can't do it every step of the way. You would give up. In high stress situations, ditch any negative thinking. Every time you think a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive one. Can't think of one. Here's one. "You are doing good. You got this!"

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Stop and smell the roses.

Around mile 10 is when I start to feel good. I'm loose and looking good. I take pictures, look for snacks, photo bomb other people's pictures, and just listen to my music. It was a long ride to get here. In high stress situations, it is good to stop and smell the roses a bit, listen to music, and laugh. You can't stay in a stressful state all day.

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Ask for a helping hand.

In a marathon situation, you would have asked advice on the race course like where the water stops and port-o-potties are. You may ask to run with another runner that you don't know for company or stopped at the first aid station.

During high stress situations, it is time to ask for help. Admitting, you ain't got this and you cannot do it alone is a great way to learn humility and gratitude. It's also interesting that you will find out that others need help to. You are not the only one who is going through stuff.

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Have faith.

Have faith that you trained well and that you will know what to do when the time is right. In high stress situations, they say "Faith brings a basket to market." Meaning, even if you don't know how things will work out, keep doing what you are doing and you will get what you need. If you stop trying, you will never know what it takes to succeed or how good it will feel to get to the solution.

REPEAT! All I know is that I learned a lot this week! I would not have traded the emotional training that I got. I feel much stronger than before and I am grateful to be at True Anomaly with my Go Flight IPA, writing this piece while I wait for my tourists to arrive for my Mural and Brewery Tour. Like I do every Sunday!

H-Town Run Tourist

5 mystery pains explained

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I remember when I first started running how excited I was. I ran every single day to get that runner's high. I felt like a gazelle with the wind in my hair. But, sometimes, I'd wake up with the most mysterious pains. Some were serious enough to make me stop running for a couple of months and some were just enough to make me run slower. Little did I know that these mysterious pains were common to all runners, especially the new ones. To help you with your running experience, I've made a list of the 5 most common injuries of a runner.

Mystery Pain #1

Shallow muscle pain in random parts of the body.

If you are feeling pain just below your skin or right above your muscle, you probably have sticky fascia. What is fascia? If you have ever prepared chicken, it is that slimy, transparent film just under the skin and over the muscle. We have the same thing in our bodies. It's job is to hold our organs in place and help our muscles to move correctly. Without it, our organs would not stay in place. Healthy fascia is slippery. Whenever it is dry, it gets sticky. This causes the random pain because your muscles are restricted.

Remedy: Stay hydrated with plenty of water.

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Mystery Pain #2

Throbbing pain in your shins.

This is more than likely shin splints. This is caused by stress on the shin bone and stress on the connective tissue. This causes that whole area to become inflamed thus causing pain. Causes could be having flat feet, shoes that offer no support and having a weak core.

Remedy: Buy your running shoes at a specialty running store and get fitted so that your shoes properly fit the needs of your foot. (Read more about the right running shoes here.) Make sure you warm up and cool down properly. As always and I do mean always, do core strengthening exercises. You can add some for the hips and ankles too.

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Mystery Pain #3

Mild, sharp, or burning pain in the lower back that you radiates through your lower back, hips, glutes, and down your leg.

You are experiencing Sciatica. This condition happens when you have a pinched nerve, a slipped disk, or herniated disk. Your sciatic nerve extends from your lower back, deep in down your leg. This is caused by prolonged sitting for those couch potatoes, people who work in an office or UBER drivers. Other causes are running without rest days or running to hard and fast too soon after a long break from running.

Remedy: It's time to incorporate strength training in your training schedule. Do not forsake recovery like hot baths with epsom salt and foam rolling. And as always, build up that core. A great exercise to do is superman's which build your core, but offer a great lower back stretch. Make sure you have proper posture focusing on distributing even weight on both sides of the body.

Mystery Pain #4

Swollen or stiff ankles that hurt when you run.

You have achilles tendonitis. This has happened to me many times. When you cross train just as hard as you train this tends to happen.

Remedy: There are many ways to work with this one. Foam roll especially your calves. Wear an ankle brace to stabilize your ankle to limit movement. Do ankle strengthening exercises. Choose one activity to go hard at and minimize the other. Use the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). The last option is just plain old time, not the most popular choice.

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Mystery Pain #5

Pain and tenderness just under knee joint and/or the thigh.

You have an overworked IT Band. This happens when you over use the connective tissue that starts on the outer thigh and connects to the knee.

Remedy: Again RICE is best for this injury. It would be good to do some strength training for your lower back, hips, knees, and leg muscles. Training with a band is key for this.

I feel like I am beating a dead horse, but I'm sure you noticed a trend with these remedies. Stay hydrated. Foam rolling and stretching are a must. Consider these a part of your training or you will have to take time from your training schedule to heal.

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