H-Town Run Tourist

Where to find inspiration and motivation for running

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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

If you are anything like me, you love the beginning of the year. You check all the running calendars and pick out all your races for the year. You go to the local running store and buy your new shoes. You even get a pair of new socks to go with them. You download some music....to get ready for your first run of the season. You get to the park and put your feet on the cinder path. You about a quarter of a mile in......and you run out of steam. You are just not as motivated as you thought. I know I'm not the only one. Because I made it my job to motivate you I have created a short list of things that can motivate you quickly.

Nothing like good tunes on the open road.

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Music

This sounds like the obvious answer. Of course music is motivating. When was the last time that your heard a song and really felt it? Like, you really got it. When I trained for the Houston marathon in 2008, I was really feeling Refugee by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers. I had come off of a rough patch and I was ready to move forward. Tom, singing his heart out with, "You don't have to live like a refugee." just resonated with me because I knew that I was not going back to that. I got to acknowledge the hardship, recognize that it was significant and that it was over and agree to move on. This leads me to my training for the 2009 Honolulu Marathon. No Drama by Mary J. Blige was the song. I decided to actively "allow no more drama in my life." Those songs got me through training and the finish line.

Who is your favorite superhero?

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Your favorite Superhero.

My favorite thing to do when I run is to pretend that I have superhuman strength and abilities. I imagine myself in different scenarios overcoming odds and doing super cool things just for the hell of it. Because running did not come naturally for me, it felt like I needed superhuman powers to get through a run. It really seemed to fit. Here are a couple of superheroes who have always done it for me:

The Juggarnaut: Because once he gets started and gains momentum, he cannot be stopped. Not by rain or a heavy wind blowing against him or a slow and steady incline that never seems to end.

The Wolverine: He heals fast. It you have a cramp, a sprain, a pull, or your legs, toes, or feet are hurting, you can be the Wolverine and it will heal in about 10 secs.

The Phoenix: The bad thing about the Phoenix is that there is nothing that she can't do so, for this exercise, you have to be specific. This helps me take my mind off of pain and think about something I like to call "micro impossibilities." If the concrete of the road is bothering your joints, you could imagine that you are the Phoenix and that you can change your drops of sweat into a path that you can run on instead of the concrete. And everyone knows that running on sweat is great for your joints!

Live oaks look like lightening.

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Nature

Nature has a lot of things to glean inspiration from. I am obsessed with fractal patterns. Fractal patterns are reoccurring patterns in nature. They signify how things start from a small seed, grows and replicates. They are the natural order of things and a great example of why science is so cool and how and why you can count on it every single time.

They make me think about all the possibilities that are out there and how everything is connected. Live oaks are native to Houston. Have you ever noticed that the trunk and branches of a live oak tree look exactly like lightning. I see a row of live oaks and I think of a thunder storm because it looks just like that. I makes me think of having a brainstorm. I always ask myself: What else do I have up there? See how this works. Flowers and leaves are great for this too.

If you are on your next run and you are starting to run out of gas or feel pain, remember to look up, look down, and definitely don't forget to look inside yourself. You will find yourself at the finish line.

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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