Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year Update

After a long break, I figured it was time for a new post in the new year.

After almost a year of injury, I am back to running! (Picture from a warm MA Christmas)
First, if you have been following my athletics, you may have noticed an absence of my name from results this past year.  That is due primarily to an achilles injury.  My left achilles/calf area has been bothering me off and on since my freshman year of college and starting near the beginning of 2015 I started having more acute pain in my achilles tendon.  After running through it with some inconsistent treatment here and there it became more of an issue.  I developed a bump of scar tissue on the tendon, which caused a lot of pain when running, but I was still able to run a few miles a few times a week with some longer (6-7 miles) runs following treatment.  Despite the pain when running -- completely preventing me from running faster than run pace -- the pain when not running was possibly worse.  When running the pain was more of a sharp tearing pain at the start of the run, transitioning into a bearable stretching pain once I warmed up, but when not running (including when biking and swimming) I would sometimes get a searing 10/10 pain in my achilles that lasted for about 2-5 seconds.  Throughout this time I tried taking time off, but as expected it had absolutely no impact,  and I found that light running a few times a week made my achilles neither better nor worse.  Eventually, in fear of needing surgery, in the fall I committed to a consistent treatment plan and saw Dr. Welt  once or twice a week until it felt better.  I had a partially torn achilles with a large bump of scar tissue that had built up, so the treatment essentially consisted of straightening out the fibers of the tendon and getting rid of the scar tissue.  At first it was slow going and unbelievably painful, but after about two months of consistent treatment it started feeling better, at which time I took about two weeks off to allow the recovery to fully take place.  My achilles feeling better correlated roughly with the end of my fall semester of school, so I built up slowly and now that I am on break I have been running more and getting back into shape.
Post-treatment bruising. 
The bump.
Other than my achilles injury, pretty much everything else has been going well.  And now that my achilles is feeling better I can count that in the going well category too.  My fall semester of law school went well and I was lucky to have some really great professors.  I took one of the most interesting classes I have taken in my life, which was Federal Indian Law.  Heading into the semester I had very little expectation of what the class would be like and would certainly not have expected to learn nearly as much as I did.  If you ever have an opportunity to take a class in Native American law or history I highly suggest doing so no matter where your interests lie.

Now for some pictures from the fall.

Tom and I stopped at Walden Pond on Christmas Eve during our bike ride.  There were many people in the water and kids playing in the sand like it was summer.
I helped plant some trees with the Newton Tree Conservancy.  That green bag at the bottom gets filled with water that slowly drips out of the bottom providing water for the tree. 
Tom and I took a trip up to North Conway at the end of November.

Heading up to the North Conway area is fun because it is only a bit over two hours away and there's so much to do.
To end, one of my favorite pictures from my garden this fall. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

High School XC Advice

For my 300th post on this blog, I figured I could offer some advice to the many high school athletes entering the fall sports season!

From speaking to high school teams, directing camps, or coaching teams, I have often been asked to give advice to high school athletes on how they can optimize their athletic ability and have the time to do it.  My most basic advice is to pick what you want to excel at and work hard at it.  For some this is to be the best student he or she can be while also participating on a high school sports team for all three seasons, or it may be to be the top athlete in his or her sport -- whether at the team or the state level.  To do this and not be overwhelmed with having too much on your plate, simply make sure not to have too much on your plate.  Set a schedule that you think is a good one and stick to it.  This may mean that you will not be able to participate in an extra club or after school activity, but having down time to relax is very important.

Here is some cross country specific advice (which you can apply to your own sport):

  1. Work hard.  Whatever level you are at, the most fundamental way to improve is through hard work.  When I first switched to running cross country my sophomore year of high school, I knew that to be the best I had to outwork my older and more experienced competition.  Starting in the summer and through the end of the season I trained every day to be the best that I could be and I ended up winning the state title. 
  2. Set goals, both big and small.  Setting big goals that will take a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve are good because they give you something to always work toward and to always look forward to, but setting small more quickly achievable goals is very useful as well.  Setting small goals, such as drinking another bottle of water each school day, remembering to eat a snack before practice, or moving up to the faster running group by the end of the season, are good ways to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. 
  3. Unless your coach has specifically indicated Sunday as a day off, use Sundays as a long run day.  A lot of runners take Sunday off since it is a non-practice day, so you can get an advantage by at least running a few miles on Sundays and ideally by running a long run.  
  4. Properly fuel your body.  Even if you are completing the best training in the world, if you do not properly fuel your body with both hydration and calories, you will not perform at your best.  This is a day-to-day requirement and is especially important on school days where students often do not drink more than a few sips of water and eat lunch up to 4 or 5 hours before running.  A few years ago I wrote a post on high school sports nutrition, which you can find by clicking here. If you are ever looking for actual sports nutrition advice, we are lucky to have one of the top sports nutritionists, Nancy Clark, working here in Newton. 
  5. Listen to your body.  Some days you may feel good and want to run faster on an easy run and some days you might want to take your easy run days extra easy, but either way it is important to listen to your body so as to both optimize your training and not train too hard. 
  6. Consistency is key.  No matter how you cut it, the cross country season is pretty long.  During the season you will complete many workouts and race in many races.  One thing to keep in mind is that the biggest races of the season are at the end and while doing well during the league meets is important and fun, taking recovery days as recovery days, taking the time to stretch, foam roll, and do strength work, are all important in the long run.  Additionally, some days you'll be sick, others you'll be extremely tired, don't be afraid to sit out a workout, run day, or race if you know it's not the best thing for you to do that day.  You know your own body and some days it will be beneficial to push yourself and get through the workout, but others it will not. 
  7. Focus on the task at hand.  You may have a big school project or something else on your mind, but do your best to focus on cross country while at practice and meets! 
  8. Have fun and enjoy the process.  Doing well at a certain race is fun and can add that extra motivation to push yourself day in and day out, but try too to enjoy the hard work that goes into doing well in cross country.  If you're running a hard 5k it is going to hurt and if you're running a hard workout every rep might be grueling, but try to enjoy the process of the hard work.  Going to practice with your team after school should be fun and whether you're running with a group or alone, both can be very enjoyable.  
Feel free to add your thoughts and advice in the comments section!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Track and Field Camp Starts August 3!!

For those looking for a great one week camp in Newton, I will have my Garden City youth track and field camp again starting next week (August 3-7) at Newton North High School.  Below you will find a description of the camp and please email me with any questions at jessbarton1117@gmail.com.

Click here (familyid.com) to be brought to the Garden City registration page.

Track and Field Camp August 3-7 at Newton North
  • August 3 - 7
  • 9am - 3pm
  • Ages 8-14
  • At Newton North High School
Both Newton North and Newton South, as well as surrounding area high schools, have a great tradition of track and field success and this camp is an excellent way to get started in the sport! The Garden City track and field camp is a great way for youth athletes to get introduced to the great sport of track and field.  The camp is great for both newcomers to the sport and for athletes looking to improve and gain more experience.  The coaches at the camp are all high level experienced track and field athletes with experience coaching youth athletes.  Over the five days of camp, we will work on the hurdles, distance running, shot put, sprinting, long jump, high jump, relay running, triple jump, turbo javelin, and strength and conditioning.  Campers will get to be timed/measured and try to improve their best marks throughout the week.  Campers will also learn about the mental side of the sport and competition, ways to improve on their own, and how to be a better overall athlete.  The small camper to coach ratio is great for campers to get individualized instruction on the various events.  The top notch facilities at Newton North that we have access to include the mondo surface 400-meter outdoor track, the indoor track and accompanying SOA area, the weight/exercise room, and the 25-yard indoor pool with diving boards.

The basic structure of a typical day of camp will look something like this: 

Morning:  Campers arrive and get into warmup groups with their coach.  Go over and participate in the morning event (sprinting, distance running, hurdles...) Then end with the morning session activity of a game or competition.

Swim/Lunch: All Garden City camps have access to the indoor pool at Newton North and we will eat lunch in the high school cafeteria. (The cafeteria will not be serving food so campers need to bring their own lunch.)

Afternoon: Warmup session as a group. Break into groups for strength and conditioning session (we will have access to the fully equipped exercise facility) and track and field event.  We will end the day with a wrap-up of what we covered and popsicles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Acadia National Park

This past weekend I went up north to Acadia National Park with Tom and his brother, Brandon, for a three day trip.  Acadia is one of my favorite places because there is an endless array of activities to choose from.  We hiked Cadillac Mountain (the highest point on the Atlantic Seaboard), went to the beach, climbed on the rocks at the ocean, ran and biked on the carriage trails, had s'mores by the campfire, played mini golf, and had delicious big breakfasts to start our days, and a lobster roll to finish up the trip.

Our campsite

Before our first run at Eagle Lake

You can't swim at Eagle Lake but the water is very clear!
There are spectacular views along the way up Cadillac Mountain
Brandon at the summit of Cadillac Mountain
On the way down Cadillac Mountain.  The hike is about 3.5 miles each way, but it is relatively easy with only a few steep sections. 

Near the end of the hike.  There are short bridges like this one at a few spots near the bottom of the trail. 

Agamont Park, right in Bar Harbor 

If you're ever at Sand Beach at low tide, you should check out the tidal pools on the far side of the beach.

Pre-run at Eagle Lake

Enjoying a s'more by the campfire. 

We climbed along the rocks on the side of the beach.  There is also a trail (probably easier and safer) that I think brings you to about the same place. 

Climbing back down toward the water.  About straight down from here there were some great tidal pools with really cool snails.  
A skipping rock at Eagle Lake.  If you look closely, you can see the rock that created that splash in midair. 

Bar Harbor. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mid-summer Garden

Here's some updated garden photos.  My garden is doing pretty well at this point in the summer although lots of the plants are not too tall, so I think they need some sort of compost or fertilizer.

I had lots of strawberries this year.  They are now out of season but last year I had some grow in early fall as well. 
My nasturtiums are growing really well this year. 
As my flowers bloom throughout the summer, I will have many more bees
One of my favorite things about my garden at this time of year are the endless peas and sugar snap peas. 
A cricket visited 
He enjoyed posing for the camera 
A lady bug also decided to stop by 
The California poppies open up during the day and close up in the evening. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cohasset Triathlon -- the race that wasn't

Yesterday, in the rain, wind, and unseasonably cool weather, was the Cohasset Triathlon (turned into a 5k run).  Unfortunately, I was unable to race due to an injury.  For the past month or so, I have had pretty bad pain in my achilles as well as a bump right on the middle of the tendon.  Two weeks ago I saw my sports chiropractor, Dr. Welt, and found out that I partially tore my achilles.
I've been enjoying getting out an riding in my new SOAS kit!

After treatment to reattach some of the fibers in the achilles, it has been feeling better, but I have been cautiously building back into running and if I run too many days in a row or at all "fast" it hurts.  So, long story short, I decided not to do the race once it was originally turned into a duathlon style race with a 1 mile run, bike, then 5k.  I was originally considering competing at Cohasset if was a normal race since it is such a great race year in and year out and I could have just cruised the run at an easy pace, but that was not to be.  However, I am jealous of those who did compete this year because the pictures make it look like quite the fun and memorable experience!

Also, our TDT Summer Program starts practices this week, so I am looking forward to that!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I am running for a seat on the Newton Board of Aldermen

Hello everyone,

I am announcing my candidacy for a position on the Newton Board of Aldermen.  The preliminary vote is not until September 17, so I will spend the summer going door-to-door, meeting new people, and generally trying to get my name out there.  If you have no interest in what's going on in the City of Newton, not to worry, as I will only post sparingly about the campaign on this blog.  However, if you would like to follow along, whether from Newton or not, you can find my website at BartonforNewton.com and can also check out my Facebook page by clicking here.