dogs · fitness · injury · running · shoes

New shoes and poor Cheddar

I’m trying on the running shoes I ordered and deciding which ones to keep.

The only problem is that each time I put shoes on Cheddar thinks he’s getting a walk.

I might need to wait until Susan’s adult kid Emily comes to get him for a walk before I try on any more!

Such a sad dog face.

Cheddar and a Hoka Kawana
fitness · running

Gently teasing runners is okay, promoting driving is not

Tim Hortons spoofs running

A few people shared the new Tim Hortons ad with me thinking the mockery of runners in it would hit a nerve with the blog.

And sort of, maybe, it did. But not in the way people thought it might.

The ad is cute, I guess. Gently teasing runners (cyclists, whatever) is fine with me. Likely we do take out activities too seriously.. We could do with some teasing.

But what we didn’t like was the add promoting driving and drive-thru. Ugh. In a time of climate catastrophe and record setting storms tearing the east coast of Canada apart that seems off-key to me. We need to see the association between the way we live and get around in the world and the environmental future we collectively face. Whether we run, bike, walk or take transit, we all need to take seriously the alternatives to driving gas powered vehicles.

“A run is something you can do from the comfortable seat of your car—that you can do in slides and socks,” claims the press release. “The best kind of run is one that doesn’t require a km/h tracking watch.”

Tim’s is even selling run club merch.

Meh.

Run Club, by Tim Hortons

fitness · habits · motivation

Go Team: Some reminders

Hey Team!

I’ve been talking to a lot of kinda-burnt-out, feeling-kinda-meh, not-very-motivated people lately (and I’ve been one of them sometimes.)

Just in case you’ve been feeling that way too, I thought it was a good time to remind us all about a few things:

1) You don’t have anything to prove to anyone (fitness-wise or otherwise)

2) Doing the thing you like doing in the way you like doing it (fitness-wise or otherwise) is totally cool

3) You don’t have to go hard or go home, you can set your own pace in any damn direction you want (including towards home)

4) You don’t need to feel motivated to do the thing you want to do. Sure, it’s easier to get started when motivation is there but if you make a little list and take some teeny steps you’ll be able to move toward your goal no matter if motivation shows up or not.

(Starting when unengaged or unmotivated is even harder for us neurodivergents than it is for neurotypicals but I find that reminding myself that I can proceed without motivation is sometimes helpful. You might find it helpful, too, but please be kind to yourself about it either way.)

5) If you find yourself avoiding your fitness routine (or even just one exercise in your routine), you don’t have to force yourself to do it. You can find another way to work those muscles or build strength in that area.

No matter how meh you are feeling these days, I wish you ease and I hope you can be kind to yourself as you make your way along.

And, as always, here’s your star for your efforts.

Image description: a wire-framed 3-D star ornament sits on a wooden surface in the sunshine. Its shadow is falling on the grey surface in the background.
Photo credit: J.Drodge. Image description: a wire-framed 3-D star ornament sits on a wooden surface in the sunshine. Its shadow is falling on the grey surface in the background.
fitness · Seasonal sadness · self care · training

Checking in one month after knee replacement: Sam is gearing up for a winter of rehab

They tell you that recovery from total knee replacement is a long haul of physio and rehab.

I’m here to say it’s just dawning on me how true that is. It’s not that I didn’t believe it before. I did. But now I’m feeling it too. That knowledge is real in a way that it wasn’t before.

There were big gains in weeks one, two, and three. Not so much this week. This week I might have overdone it. Too many tiny walks? Too much mobility work? Possibly going to a Tafelmusik concert in Toronto might have been too much. But the music was beautiful and I had a lovely visit with my daughter so that was all good.

Handel’s London, Experience the energy of baroque London, a lively metropolis where musical influences intersect.

I had hoped to report that I could turn the pedals over on my bike my now, but I can’t, yet. And yes, I know there are no fixed timelines for these things and that people regain mobility as different rates. Still, in my head it seemed reasonable to be back on the trainer in a month and I’m not there yet. I mean, I’m there, but I’m not making full rotations of the pedals just yet.

Weirdly, I am so close when I do it backwards. Weirdly backwards everything is easier. I’ve been doing walking backwards without crutches drills for physio and I don’t limp walking backwards.

Why is pedaling backwards easier? Here is one explanation:

“Pedaling backwards after knee surgery is often easier because of the hamstring activation. When you pedal an exercise bike forward the quadriceps is likely more active and the hamstring is likely less active. By pedaling backward after knee replacement surgery your hamstring is pulling the lower leg back which often improves knee flexion.”

YouTube video about starting on a recumbent bike after knee replacement

The other hard thing is simply pain. I’m surprised that a month out things still hurt this much. I take pain relief medication regularly, not the narcotic stuff–the narcotic pain meds ended more than a week ago. But I’m still waking at night with pain some of the time and by end of the day things hurt a lot.

It’s also fall of course, not my favorite season, and I’ve been brainstorming ways of coping given that my options are somewhat limited this year. My friend Todd is similarly scheming and I’m enjoying reading about his plans even if I’m jealous that they include running.

What am I up to that’s positive?

🍁Well, I’m seeing more of friends and family. I’m out and about more than I was.

🍁Today I get to start driving again. Cars aren’t my favorite things but it will be nice to be independently mobile.

🍁I’ve joined a new gym that has aquafit classes and I’m looking forward to that over the winter. Aquafit isn’t my favorite thing but it’s a thing my healing knee can do once the incision heals fully . And I do love being in the water.

🍁This week the blog’s Catherine Womack comes to visit. She’s giving a talk at Guelph’s Philosophy department called “Epidemiology Food Fight: a fat feminist takes on values in nutrition science.” That’s October 6th, 430 pm.

🍁I’ve dug out my light alarm clock.

🍁I’m very happy to be planning my return to work. I miss the university. I love fall semester even though I’m not a fan of fall overall.

🍁I’m thinking I might start my November gratitude practise early this year and make it a fall thing, beginning October 1. Gratitude is good in its own right and it makes me feel better. Right now I’m thankful that I got to have knee replacement surgery and that I have lots of support through the healing process.

Bright red and orange leaves

kayak

Catherine learns to support swimmers in Sharkfest (reblog)

Hi everyone– Sharkfest Swim is a series of open-water swims hosted mostly by US big cities. Participants get to swim in places they usually can’t, like busy working harbors. Local officials close areas to boat traffic and the event organizers provide a lot of support, both in and out of the water. In 2015, My friends Janet and Steph and I provided kayak support for hundreds of swimmers doing a 1500-meter open-water course. I had signed up to do it this September, now that I have my own kayak. But, along with many other events since COVID hit, it’s been postponed to Sept 2023. Well, I can wait.

While we’re all waiting, here’s my blog post from the 2015 Sharkfest event. Take a look. Readers, are you doing any open-water events this year? I’d love to hear about them.

-catherine

fitness

On Gender, Stairs and Finding the Progress Where I Can

Well, after a summer whizzing across the continent, I have settled back into home. I came home to a new job that was waiting for me and for the last three weeks, I have been the Program Assistant in the Department of French Studies at Western University. This has me speaking French daily, after not having spoken it for more than 20 years, and also has me tied to a rigid work schedule. Add to that my youngest son starting highschool and my husband being away for a week at a conference, and it’s been an intense time. When it comes to my relationship with fitness, I have some mixed feelings. I have a gripe and a satisfying observation.

The Gripe: Of course, all this new-ness and intensity has left me precious little time for exercise. I’m innately intimidated by exercise at the best of times, but what is it that makes it so easy for women to put our needs last? Ok. So I have a degree in Gender Studies – honestly I have a good idea of gender dynamics, especially in families. I just wish that understanding could help me influence my own actions a little more. Truthfully, I have had to focus on settling into my new routine. I have the aquafit schedule on my desk now. The time to swim is coming. But for now, it’s aggravating me.

The Positive: So despite this complaint, I DO have something positive to say about my fitness. It’s not exactly an exercise routine, but I can tell that going up the 110 stairs (I counted!) from the parking lot to my office every morning is helping my fitness levels. When I started on Sept. 1st, I went up the stairs slowly and pretty huff-y and puff-y. The past week, I’ve noticed that I just walk up them now, one foot after the other. It might sound small, but to me it’s actually BIG. Something I’ve never experienced before. Cheers to me!

A few months back, Sam posted a link to a long-ago post she wrote, explaining that if you hate exercise, you might simply be really out of shape. The upshot of that was you just need to do small things. Well my friends, I used to hate exercise, and I think this is a bit part of my story. So I really need to celebrate these small victories.

image of a woman wearing a grey knitted hat and drinking from a purple mug. Both the hat and mug say "Western Arts & Humanities"
Here is me drinking from my new Arts and Humanities mug, modeling my welcome touque!

I’m also, on principle, trying to notice my blessings even (especially) when I feel intimidated, disappointed or otherwise down. Schlepping up these stairs every morning, I have often thought of Sam and her recent knee surgery. I have also thought of myself, prior to my own hip surgeries (2021, 2019), and how the stairs would have been so painful. So, the stairs may be long in the AM, they may be no fun, but dang, I’m sure glad I can walk them.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you climbed your own staircase? Struggled with family and your own exercise needs? Where did it lead you? In this time of transition in my life, I’m looking for inspiration and I guess advice.

Thanks for reading!

Amanda Lynn

aging · health · injury · menopause

Menopause, depleted estrogen and increased rolling of ankles

By Martha

A few weeks ago, I ran into my house to retrieve a beach rug and I ended up rolling my ankle severely. While it wasn’t bad enough to warrant a visit to urgent care, I wasn’t my swiftest either.

Having dealt with the sprained ankles of others over the years, I knew I had to rest, ice, apply compression and elevate my injured ankle.

I was curious though: over the last few years, I have rolled my ankle just slightly enough to pause but never enough to feel pain.

As someone with ovaries and estrogen, it occurred to me maybe this might be connected to menopause. Our bodies change in response to depleted estrogen (cessation of periods being one symptom and hot flashes being another.

Turns out our ligaments are affected by menopausal hormone changes including increases in swollen tissues in our feet. Good foot care is important at this stage of life as recovery from sports related injuries such as sprains in feet and knees can take time.

I was lucky. I bought new shoes, acquired some fancy compression socks and regularly applied a topical pain reliever. I’m back to walking lengthy distances without post walk aches. However I’ll keep practicing my ankle exercises (flexing, pumping, and writing the alphabet with my toes) while also stretching my upper leg muscles which compensated for my injury.

So if you are a pre, post or experiencing menopause person, maintain your weight bearing exercises for strong bones and remember to pay attention to your ligaments and soft tissues in your feet.

MarthaFitAt55 likes learning new things about how our bodies work.

fitness

Fancy Women (and others) Ride Bikes

According to Wikipedia, The Fancy Women Bike Ride is an event started in 2013 by history teacher Sema Gür in Izmir, Turkey. The event draws attention to the themes of freedom and women.

This year, it was held in some 200 cities in at least 25 countries. In 2022, Sema Gür and co-organizer Pınar Pinzuti were awarded with UN World Bicycle Day Award. World Bicycle Day recognizes “the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle as…a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport”.

I joined the ride in Ottawa on Sunday September 18, along with about 20 women, men, and girls.

The FIFI bloggers had debated a bit about who was being left out by calling it the Fancy Women’s Bike Ride, but I found that it was inclusive and focused specifically on safe infrastructure for all riders.

Some of us had dressed up, while others preferred sensible GoreTex. we all decorated our bikes with flowers before starting, which was rather fun.

A group of cyclists lined up in the rain, with the Ottawa River in the background.
Cyclists of all ages in brightly coloured gear.

Cycling infrastructure matters a lot to me. I have ridden my bike to work for many years, most of them on streets that were rather terrifying. Modest changes over the last few years have made my commutes feel much safer, but I am still learning where I can avoid most of the worst traffic. I have been known to rant that “paint is not infrastructure!”

Will I go again? Almost certainly. I had fun connecting with other cyclists, and exchanging notes on best gear for different weathers. I am very happy to support better cycling infrastructure too – it makes the streets and sidewalks safer and more accessible for everyone, not just cyclists.

Diane Harper lives in Ottawa. She commutes to work by bicycle, mostly for environmental reasons.

fall · fitness · fun · paddling · running

Wacky Wednesday: Pumpkin kayakers, T. Rex racers, and beer can marathoners

Fall is here- well, almost. According to the online Farmer’s Almanac, the astronomical start of fall is Thursday Sept 22, 9:04pm, EDT. But it’s never too early to start planning your fall novelty races. Costume races can be fun– I did a short for-fun cyclocross race in 2016, dressed as a banana.

But that’s child’s play compared to the level of commitment and willingness to exhibit publicly that these folks have. Consider the annual pumpkin regatta, held in Windsor N.S., moved to Shelbourne N.S. this year (because of low water levels in Windsor). Here are some details:

Kean said the race will take place [on Oct. 8] in Shelburne’s harbour, between the waterfront and Islands Provincial Park. “We’re pretty confident we can make it work. I mean, Shelburne has a world-class harbour so we want to make use of that,” she said.

Danny Dill, the owner of the Dill Family Farm in Windsor, will supply five oversized pumpkins for the race. His family has been providing the giant gourds since the regatta’s inception in 1999. Dill said he feels good about Shelburne taking on the regatta. “It’s like we’ve passed the torch, so to speak,” he said.

Maura Macumber, paddling her craft at the 2019 Windsor Pumpkin Regatta.

Racing in costume might seem much easier than racing in an enormous pumpkin. Well, consider this recent T. Rex event at a horse racing track.

T. Rex competitors cross the finish line by any means necessary.

If you’re feeling down about having missed your chance to channel your inner theropod in sneakers, there’s still time. If you’re in the Richmond, VA area, you can register for this T. Rex race.

Then there’s running a marathon in a human-sized beer can. Ultramarathoner Glen Sutton decided to make a beer can suit to wear while running a marathon. The rest is youtube history:


Two marathon runners flanking a human-sized beer can, also running. Don’t blame me, I just work here.

Speaking from experience, it’s so much fun to let go of everything but a commitment to fun and a modicum of large/small motor skills, and just get out there, laughing and moving in equal measure. Readers, do you have plans for any costume races or active events this fall? We’d love to hear all about them.

Dancing · fitness

Sam dreams of dancing

I love this dancing video, have watched it a few times, and it provided moments of cheer. I won’t belabor the point but physio is boring and painful. That’s not exactly news. But wow, I’m doing a lot of it and I’m needing to remind myself why.

Why did I have knee replacement surgery anyway? Okay, there’s the mundane everyday stuff. Like, it’s nice to be able to come in the grocery store to get groceries rather than waiting in the car.

Yes, it had come to that.

I also want to take Cheddar for longer walks and walk between meetings on campus. I look forward to sleeping through the night without knee pain.

All true but there’s also fun stuff I’m looking forward to. Everyone asks about running but the thing is I’m never going to run again. Yes, some people do run after knee replacement. Some people even race. But me, I’ll be sticking to low impact activities like walking, hiking, and biking.

I may return to martial arts though my inability to kneel might ruin that.

One fun thing I’m definitely looking forward to is dancing. I’ve written before about dancing. See here. I promise I won’t worry about bad dancing. I’m going to embrace my inner Muppet. See you on the dance floor!

Dancing Kermit