In Her Own Words: Grace Iltis - Crosstraining

Hi everybody! How has your week been? I'm sure all y'all are still bouncing off the walls from conference championships, so let's put that energy towards regionals this weekend! Also, shoutout to some absolutely amazing peeps that dominated at KVACs (@mtbluexcgirls and @maranacookgirls, wowza!!), I couldn't believe the speed and confidence that everyone showed. The crowd certainly fed off of it. And this week is regionals prep! Remember, as those of you running this weekend approach this race, that you are already super speedy; it's just a matter of getting your head in the game, and running with a smile on your face!

It's been about two weeks since I raced at my home invitational. From that day, though I am not doing any post season meets this year, I've made quite a bit of progress! I thought it would be good to describe some of my outside-of-running training in this post, as it's equally important to those weekly miles!I have recently discovered the joys of cross training. Yes, to many runners that sounds like a boring day in the pool or on the bike, but I'm growing to love it. Every other day, I am in the pool doing something, whether that be aquajogging in some form or swimming. Swimming, as my good friend (s/o to Christine) helped me to realize, improves endurance substantially! Being underwater for long periods of time, having to regulate your breath accordingly, really helps to increase your lung capacity. It has helped me so much to save my body from the impact of running, and at the same time to bring my endurance back from my injury so much faster!

Never underestimate the difference that strength training can make, either. As everyone reading this probably knows, runners use every part of their body to run. Strength training with lighter weights and lots of reps, while it may seem ridiculous using a five pound dumbbell, increases muscle endurance, especially during long distance runs. A combination of running practices with my team, swimming, and strength training is what I have been working at since being able to train again, and it has really changed my perspective in regards to training evenly and not overdoing it.

This week, I have pushed my body a little bit. Trying not to think about the tiniest twinge of pain in my back is difficult, but the more I am beginning to have the ability to run, the less I think about it. I did a six mile hill run on Sunday, and pushed the pace a little bit from what I was used to. Again, I still have bad days, some when I feel pain and some when I don't, but progress is progress! I was expecting to have a little bit of pain, doing something I haven't done in a bit, but with all of the tools I have learned in PT, I was able to regulate it. That's another important one: if you have had an injury from the past, and you begin to feel it sometimes, don't stress! The purpose of physical therapy is to give you tools to decrease that pain. I also did a five mile run with the team yesterday, and was very surprised at the pace that I ran. Having forgotten my watch, I just went with the feeling of it. The pace ended up being much quicker than I have been going while looking at my watch every ten seconds. A third key point: run without your watch sometimes! Remember that you love running and why you love running, without your pace/distance being shown to you on your wrist.

That's a wrap for this week's post! I hope that regionals go well for everybody. Remember to jump in that pool occasionally, even if you absolutely hate it; you may be surprised!

Thanks for reading! ~Grace