Knee Pain & Foot Strain

Hello friends,

Holy guacamole. The summer has been crazy crazy! The after school program I work for has switched into summer mode, and man is it exhausting.

My summer has started off very well! I completed my 5th half marathon in Acadia National Park and it was beautiful! It wasn’t my best time bit I shaved almost 10 minutes off my last race! The GU, stretching, meal prep adjustments have really made these races more enjoyable.

Then, I hiked Mount Lincoln! My favorite 4000 footer hike thus far. It was a 5 hour hike total and the top was crazy windy! I really enjoyed the trail. We crossed a river at five different points just on the ascend!

The fourth of July was celebrated with my annual 4 mile race in Maine with my cousins. This year wasn’t my best time, but I don’t want to stress my knee out. I’m never upset if I’m slower for a good reason. I’d rather have slower times to run my whole life than to burn out quick.

Recently, I also added Mount. Tecumseh to the 4000 footer list- making this number 8. Only 60 more to go!

With all this crazy activity, my body is starting to talk back. But I have found a new love, KT tape! The best way to explain it is a personalized brace for your body. The way you apply this tape is specific to your pain and can be modified for your needs. Research videos of application for better information.

I’m also finding that more and more mornings my feet are very sore when I get out of bed to start the day. I use my lacrosse ball for the myofascial release. This type of treatment is useful for getting more circulation into the connective tissue of the areas that tighten up from repetitive use. The pain is normal but shouldn’t be unbearable. I recommend any person participating in running, hiking, sports, and even weight lifting to use a foam roller as often as they can.

What’s next?

I’m going back to school for Kinesiology and UMass Amherst this fall!

Stay tuned🙂

»<3 «

ps. I had some cool pictures but for some reason wordpress is kinda on the fritz right now. I’ll update later!

Exercise of the Month: SeeSaw Barbell Press

Hello there!

I hope you all are well🙂

I’ve recently been revamping my workouts and I cam across a really sweet shoulder/tricep/traps exercise I wanted to share:

The SeeSaw Barbell Press

You can do this with a bar, or dumbbells! The key is to not move your body side to side while moving your arms. It’s also important to move slowly, that’s how you get that tricep burn!

Right now I’m at 3 sets of 16 reps at 20lbs. The lady in this picture looks like she’s using more weight, but I’ll get there!

That’s all I have for now, hope you al had a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

Recording Progress

Finding the right way to record your workouts is crucial to really seeing and feeling progress.  Before I found my current routine, I was trying to write it all down after the workout and it just wasn’t working for me! I would forget the exercises I was working on or the weights/ reps I was on. It was getting a little frustrating.

Then it dawned on me, doesn’t MyFitnessPal have something?!

Yup!

Me and my interestingly named exercises.

 This has helped me so much! Not only can I change up my routine more, but I don’t have to remember what my weights were at. I’m getting stronger faster, and I’m never discouraged if I can’t up my reps that session. Plus, I can look at that day compared to the last time I did a certain workout and see what effected me.

Time to see some progress!

The Biggest Fitness Plateau

Fitness plateau: (noun) A body plateau refers to a period of time in which your body no longer responds to your fitness or diet routine. Plateaus often occur as an abrupt halt to progress that had previously been results in weight loss or muscle gain. Plateaus are the results of your body’s impressive ability to adjust to stress and change. Your body mass is the major factor that determines your body’s basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which you burn calories for essential body functions. When you reduce your body’s mass through exercise, your basal metabolic rate also declines. Your body burns fewer calories at rest, and weight loss tends to slow or stop completely as a result of your reduced metabolic rate.

Holy. Crap.

I feel like every person whose ever written a blog and gotten sidetracked with life says “sorry I haven’t posted in a while, life has been crazy” blah blah blah.

But in all honesty… I gave up on the blog.

I doubted myself. Why would people listen to some random person online who may not have the right answers and isn’t in banging shape and loves ice cream. More blah blah blah. And then this weird dark cloud took over and I started doubting myself at the gym, at work, in relationships. Big. Dark. Cloud.

And of course big dark clouds bring rain. Lots and lots of rain. I was sad. I felt like I was failing a little. Not a big pity party, but I was disappointed with the way things were going. I expected more from myself because I can do better and try harder.

But now I’m back! Now I’m trying to pull myself out of the funk. I’m really trying because I have goals and a military boyfriend coming home in one month! Blogging keeps me focused and keeps me honest about my progress. It keeps me in check when I doubt myself. 

Sorry I was gone for so long, hope you all missed me!

Sums up my recent Colorado trip.

Daring Smoothing Concoction

Hey folks,

A few weeks ago, the yoga studio invited a couple to come teach us about Ayurveda-more specifically Marma (which is essential Ayurvedic acupressure). They discussed yoga, body types, diet, massage techniques, and so much more. It was all so fascinating! I could share all the notes I took, but we’ll save that for another post.

Okay, so what does this have to do with a smoothie adventure?

One of the biggest things emphasized was digestion. Not just physical digestion of food, but digestion of the total self and others around you. How can you digest your giant breakfast, your own life, and anyone else’s life all at once?

On top of that, they also discussed when/ what to eat during these times depending on your body type. Food consumption between 10am and 2pm- especially in the summer- should be as liquid based as possible. It is the hottest time of the day for the human body internally, and a solid meal at this time will take more energy to break down, leaving the individual slower.

Well, this was interesting. I have been dealing with a weird heat rash that appears every summer right on my stomach. I was told it’s because I am very sensitive to this heat fluctuation of my core temperature. Interesting, no?

I wanted to see if this “liquid lunch” would make a difference for my heat rash, so for the past two weeks I’ve been having very light lunches or smoothies.

Today, I was really struggling. What I call a “two-cup-of-coffee” kind of day and thus this daring blend was born.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs of coffee (any flavor-but I chose columbian blend)

I’m not even joking about the next ingredients.

Let me just say though, I was trying to think about blending flavors while still getting benefits and was prepared for something lacking in flavor but bursting in nutrition:

  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 2/3 cups of fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 medium sized banana
  • ice

I know, I know. I was kind of terrified too.

I had to try it.

Funny thing is, it just tasted like a sweetened coffee! If I had a better blender I wouldn’t have even known kale was in it! The best name I can come up with is the Caffeinated Kale Smoothie… I’ll work on the name a bit.

The product of this smoothie came out to something quite similar to this.

My Fitness Pal logged the nutrition as-

  • Calories: 423
  • Sugar: 44 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Carbs: 74 g
  • Fiber: 13 g
  • Fat: 4 g

Try it out… if you dare!

What I Really Want To Pass On to My Yoga Students

Hey everyone,

This weekend I graduated from teacher training! 200+hours down!

picture with kathy

Each student is asked to present something before graduating about yoga. Anything yoga related. Which really leaves the door open to many possibilities- I had a very hard time figuring out what I wanted to do. So, I kept taking classes, teaching classes, and learning. I figured maybe the right subject would appear and life would be easy. Nope, that did not happen. One month from completion and I was still at a loss.

So, I took a step back and thought about what I focused on the most- having a good base.

Every balance pose starts off with a strong foundation

This can mean physically having a good base in a posture. Working on the feet or the hands and then going from there. I started to focus on getting stronger arms so I could get better at arm balances and inversions.Working with the fingers and toes to hold weight evenly through out for longer periods of time. Learning to trust your body and knowing it’s limits and knowing when to push those limits.

This can mean spiritually and existentially having a good base. Felling like you have a place or a purpose while on this earth that is similar or unique to those surrounding you-and being perfectly okay with that. Believing or not believing in something greater that brings you deeper into the human experience.

This can mean mentally and emotionally having a good base. Grounding within yourself is very important when faced with obstacles and uncertainty. Counting on the strength and security you have from within to get you through trying times, and knowing yourself inside and out.

This is something I have been dealing with for a long time, and teacher training helped me find my base. I’ve opened up to new opportunities because I am secure with myself. Instead of saying no, I say yes, and I’ve taken part in some pretty cool events because of that. Relationships have grown because I am not afraid to say how I feel anymore. I can now say I believe that I am important and if you love me, you’ll listen to what I have to say. Some relationships have even been broken because I know my limits and what I can take and sometimes you just have to let things go.

While training at the gym and learning more and more about yoga, I was honored to have a client and a yoga student who I tried to pass this along to.

Will is in Med school and works here at the desk with me, he’s very smart and athletic, but has crippling panic attacks and consuming anxiety. He asked me to teach him yoga to help him relax and stretch out his legs. I decided to take it a step further with him- to his emotional base. We repeated sun salutation A and B breath by breath. My goal was to get him to know it by heart, so that when he found his heart racing in class he could just sit and do them in his head, imagining his body working with his mind… inhale arms up, exhale fold… We also worked on some fun poses to challenge him and show him how much fun yoga can be!

What Will and I worked on

My client, Donna, came to me as a shy, middle aged woman, who was trying to get fitness back into her life. Her initial goal was to touch her toes, but I wanted to help her physical base all around. Over the months of us working together, her self image and body awareness skyrocketed. It was a slow start, but now she can walk all over the gym with her head held high. She’s confident in her workouts and she trusts her body when I push her outside her comfort zone. She’s still working on reaching her toes, but getting in touch with her body has changed not only her physical base, but her entire base. She even told me that before she met me, she was a “defeated old woman. I helped give her back her life and the desire to really live again”.

I know that I won’t get a lot of time with each student, but if any little part of finding your base can be absorbed from a class, or a series, private session, or even a personal training session, I’ll feel pretty good.

If not, then at least I tried. That’s the best you can do sometimes. »♥«

Preparing for the Killington Spartan Sprint

Hey everyone!

Boy, has it been hectic transitioning to living at home! My mom broke her ankle really badly and ended up needing surgery. She’s healing, but pretty banged up. I told her when she starts to feel better we’ll do some chair yoga haha. So, while I’ve been waiting to start my new job, I’ve assumed the title ‘Nurse Taylor”. Can you say Cabin Fever?

This past Sunday I did get a little break-okay, a big one. I participated in the Killington Resort Spartan Sprint! So much fun! When I was working at HammerFit we created a team. Just because I moved away doesn’t mean I’m not still part of the team!

Part of team HammerFit

The course was set up with a few obstacles, and then a hike to the top via some double black diamond trails. Once at the top, the rest of the race consisted of more tasks as we made our way down the mountain through the wood trails The thing I focused on the most this summer was hiking and cross training my legs. (If anyone is interested in training for this sprint make sure you get some serious hiking in).

So, the week before the race, I hiked Mount Washington.

IMG_0419

Yup. That’s right folks.

Washington was AMAZING. It was so beautiful the whole time and so dang exhausting. I’d like to consider myself an intermediate hiker- I haven’t been hiking for very long, but I had done the other 4000 footers this summer. Holy cow was this tough. We drove over to White Mountain National Park, took Tuckerman’s Ravine up, hung out at the top, hiked Lion’s Head down, and drove back to Burlington.

Total time: 12 hours

SO WORTH IT.

IMG_0387

It was a spontaneous decision. Alex and I had wanted to climb it, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. When we saw partly sunny at the top in the 5 day forecast, we took advantage of it. Although when we got to the top we could see some wicked clouds. By the time we got back to the car, it started pouring!

Of course I had to take a yoga pose opportunity!
Of course I had to take a yoga pose opportunity!

After tackling this mountain, Killington was pretty easy! I took the back of the group to help out another girl on the team. We finished in 3 hours and 19 minutes! A few of us want to try to get our trifecta next year and I’m searching for a spring half marathon. My new shoes have really gotten me back in the running game! Not only am I back to hitting the pavement, my times are getting better and my feet aren’t peeling!

Spartan Trifecta: When a participant accomplishes at least one Sprint, Super, and Beast within one calendar year.

Stay tuned….

The HARDEST Hike Yet

Wednesday, I think I had my most challenging hike yet.

Alex, Katie, and I took the dogs up to Mount Ellen and we had no idea what we were in for.

First off, we didn’t even make it to Mount Ellen. We got confused and ended up at Stark Mountain which is part of MadRiver ski mountain. The map told us if we hiked to the top of this small mountain, we could walk across to Mt. Ellen. So we decided to just try it that way. A nice walk along the ridge line sounded beautiful and relaxing.

MadRiver

Let me tell you…

Katie and her dog (Tegan) haven’t really been hiking like we have. Because its a smaller mountain, we figured “shorter hike, right?” No. Nope. Not even a little.

The ascent picked up right away and we were using our hands and hauling both dogs up rocks and over tree branches. Everyone was pretty sweaty, but doing great! Once we made it to the top of the mountain, we realized where we actually were, and decided to try and walk across to Mount Ellen. It was a race against the sunset. That’s when we noticed one of the dogs limping and realized it was time to turn back pronto. Her feet were all ripped up and the pads of her paws were bleeding! Poor thing wasn’t even crying or making any sound. I made the judgement call to walk down the access route on the mountain. I was a lot easier and we could send someone to walk up and get the car.

Thanks goodness we decided top take that route down. The first dog wouldn’t walk at all, so Alex essentially fireman carried an 80lb dog 2.5 miles down the winding road. If that wasn’t bad enough, half way down, the second dog’s pads gave out. So, I carried her the second half of the mountain. I had to start from kneeling, get her on my shoulders, and then slowly stand. Talk about a monster leg workout.

Upon reaching the bottom, I then walked with Katie another mile uphill to retrieve the car. Pretty much a second hike with how steep and windy the road was. Some how, after 6 hours and 8.5 miles later, we were all back in the car on our way home (with our beloved McDonald’s chocolate milkshakes- I think we deserved them!) Everyone is okay, the dogs are resting and being extra loved!

There are two things I have been working on that I think saved my legs and my back from serious injury.

  1. Pull upsthe quest for the pull up is already paying off! Since I’ve been isolating the major muscle groups for pull ups, as well as slowly working on my assisted pull ups, I was able to carry my dog while keeping a strong frame as well as engaging multiple large muscles to help with shoulder fatigue. Engaging the abs in a hollowing fashion (what we call “udyana bhanda” in yoga) while still being able to breath was key.
  2. Step Downs– I saw a woman doing this at the gym and I’ve been all about it ever since.To perform the step down (that’s what I named it), you stand on the assisted pull up machine platform with one foot while the other foot stays down on the ground/step to support you. Using the assisted weight as your a counterweight, slowly push the platform down until your leg is strait. Then let the knee bend (watch that it doesn’t go over the toes) until it’s at a 90 degree angle. The trick here is to not let your backside move towards and away while doing it, the only thing that should be moving and working is the pushing leg. This corresponds to hiking because it’s similar to stepping uphill and having to put more body weight into each leg than we do on solid ground.

I think it’s safe to say I am totally ready for that Spartan Race now…

Pumped Up Kicks

Hello everyone!

I think I have FINALLY figured out the whole “blister issue” I’ve been having while running.

Let me fill those of you in if you haven’t heard before:

I started running my junior year of college. I finished my couch-to-half marathon training and was pretty hooked on the 13.1 mile distance. First race was no problem, maybe a blister or two, but things only got worse from there. No matter what I tried, my blisters would keep coming. Any planned run over 3 miles resulted in at least one blister- per foot! Half marathon times were ruined due to the sheer pain of running on raw skin. The worst half was when I finished with 8 blisters on each foot.

I thought that time would fix my problem, maybe my feet are still getting used to running? But one of my clients, whose an avid runner, kept telling me I didn’t have to just deal with it. “There is a solution to this problem”.

A few weeks ago during a 5am desk shift, I was perusing shoes and saw I saw an ad for a local running coach. Let’s start there!

Sam has been running for years, doing all sorts of distances in crazy time. I could only dream of finishing my half marathon in 2 hours flat, while his FULL marathon was a little over 2 hours. He and I met in the back of a physical therapy place in downtown Burlington, where I told him my running history and my blister issues. He told me to get my feet fitted for the right running shoe and have them video tape me while running to watch how my feet land. I’ve been fitted before but never recorded. Most shoe/ running specialty stores will ask you to take your shoes off and have you walk so they can see how your foot naturally wants to land, and then see how shoes can help it if there are any issues. Dramatic pronation is the biggest and most common issue they see, and most running shoes are designed to help manage that. They then have you try out a few pairs of shoes and let you run a little in each so see how your foot compensates in the orthotic (because in this day and age almost all running shoes have some sort of orthotic property).

Some places get really high tech like these people at Asics, but a lot of running specialty stores will provide a similar service free of charge.

I’ve done this at least three times at different places, and have usually ended up in my Asics. I thought maybe my toe box was too small, so I ordered 8.5 instead of 8. Sam told me to find a place, even bring my current shoes, and see what it looks like when I run. Surprisingly, this time I went and the girl helping me didn’t even bring out Asics. Instead, she brought out Muzimos and Brooks- which tend to have a little more of an arch support than Asics. From my experience, Asics generally have no real arch in them, and is referred to a “neutral” shoe. I decided on the Brooks, and took them home to try out.

It’s not about how the shoe looks, it’s how it feels. I just happened to luck out on a sweet design too!

I did one or two short runs, and noticed some foot cramping. I chalked it up to “wearing in the new shoe”. Then took them out for a 4.5 mile spin and immediately figured out the problem I’ve been dealing with for two years- I have weak arches! The blisters I got after 20-30 minutes of running must have been coming from my arches getting tired and losing their form. It explains the big toe rubbing no matter what I tried and the odd cramping my feet were having. I also began to see this in my yoga, where certain positions I would notice most of my weight going into my arch instead of the outside of my foot where it has more stability. I researched some simple arch exercises (one of which I’m doing now while I type) and hope that over time I can finally run blister free!

Runner’s World Arch Enemy exercises:

  1. Calf raises– raise to the balls of your feet and slowly lower down. I’ve been doing this for a while so I challenge myself with one foot at a time for balance or more weight or trying it pigeon-toed. You can also do this on a step, so that your heels don’t touch the ground when you lower- this can also just be a nice stretch.
  2. Doming– This is a yoga technique (the one I noticed I need to work on) for anything that requires a grounded back foot, you want to have a strong balance and even weight distribution. standing with your feet apart, try to put even amounts of weight in your toes and heal while thinking of lifting your arch without actually doing so. Your foot should automatically take weight from the arch. Hold for a few seconds and release. If you want to apply this to your practice, try warrior 1 and 2 and concentrate on your back foot being flat to the ground. If your foot falls in towards your arch, make your stance smaller and focus on the arch staying off the floor.
  3. Squeeze/ Spread: The spread-taking a toe separator (like when you get your nails painted) or a thin sock/tie/something. Separate teach toe from one another, then try to squeeze them together and release.  The squeeze– taking a resistance band (or if you don’t have one pretend you do haha) and wrapping it around your toes, then work hard to spread them apart and release. If you don’t have a band, try to get all your toes to separate and widen against the wall or the floor.
  4. Toe curls: take a small towel or thin article clothing and stand on top of it (one foot at a time). Curl your toes in, taking the cloth with them, then release.
  5. Massage: This one isn’t included in the article, but I like to do it anyways-especially after a run. Find a small ball/canned food/ bottle and roll your foot over it. Don’t press too hard! If it doesn’t feel strong enough, just play around with different sized/textured objects.

I am so excited to be in less pain during and after a race! »♥«

Sometimes the Best Thing To Do is Go Home

Hey Readers,

I’ve been toying with the idea of moving home for a while, and I officially gave my two weeks last Thursday. As much as I was excited for things to pick back up in the fall, the summer’s shrinking clientele numbers really hit me hard, and financially I struggled a little too much to overcome. So, September 11th is my last day at HammerFit- fitting because it’s my one year anniversary at this gym.

One whole year. Crazy! I have learned so much from teaching and training while I worked here. I will forever be grateful that this gym took a chance on a newbie like me and really influenced how I train and will continue to train. I was fortunate to have a diverse group of clients over the year that helped me better myself as a trainer more than I could have ever asked for.

I’ll miss this gym. Granted, it’s not the most state-of-the-art equipment, and could totally use some heavy duty cleaning (of which I had tried to do over the year of me being here). But it made me creative with my workouts and challenged me to think outside the box for clients. I know that where ever I train next, I’ll already have some rather funny but effective looking workouts.

What’s next? I’ll move home, finish up yoga, transfer back to my old job, and see what other opportunities life has coming my way, I’m not too stressed about it :)