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.

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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.

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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 🙂