Close Out the Year with Self Love

As the holidays approach, media and marketing will sell you on thinking it’s the most wonderful time of the year (and hoping you spend that pretty penny too). While I hope nothing but good cheer for all, sometimes this time of year brings forth heartbreaking reminders of those we’ve lost, failed resolutions, being stuck in careers, relationships, or unsatisfied life choices, or just simply feeling lonely. I’m here to remind you that even though these times may play havoc on your emotions, you’re still amazing and now, not just January 1, is the perfect time to practice some self-love.

I’ve come up with some practical ways for you to bring back that lovin’ feelin’, woah that lovin’ feelin’:

De-stress Monday’s

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There’s an account on Instagram I follow called @destressmonday and they also have a webpage here. Stereotypically, Monday’s are the “worst” but the account gives you little reminders to breathe, smile and think positively, not just on Mondays but for everyday of the week.

 

Start Saving Weekly to Give Yourself a Present/Trip

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Chanel Boutique in Paris

It may seem ironic to put away money when you know you probably should spend it towards the gifts for others this holiday, but how can you be your best for them if you don’t take care of yourself once in a while? Practicing some budgeting and rewarding yourself for making the means to grab something you really love or a getaway you’ve been craving for is not selfish, it’s making a goal, being diligent, and taking pride in your work. That’s an achievement!

 

Pay it Forward

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Be Kind from Momentum Jewelry

If you are feeling slightly guilty for thinking about yourself, which you SHOULDN’T, you can always give back to those in need or just do random acts of kindness. Smile and hold a door open for someone, buy the person’s coffee behind you, volunteer at the local food pantry, give to charity. There are literally millions of ways to help and be kind and in the long run, you’ll feel better because you brightened someone’s day!

 

Listen to Inspiring and Interesting Podcasts

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This American Life Podcast

I might get a little heavy here. Personally, losing 3 family members over the past 5 years actually makes the holidays suck, to be brutally honest. My mom was the champion of Christmas with the decorations, several little ceramic villages, lights, dinners, pies, and presents. She made the holidays feel lively, animated, and she made everyone around feel loved. This will be my 4th Christmas without her. It doesn’t get easier, but I know that by holding everything in could be disastrous. When I’m out on long runs, I like to listen to podcasts to pass the time, like This American Life with one episode in particular talking about a way to speak to loved ones who have passed and reconciling with others who are still here. The first act is discusses a documentary in Japan about the Wind Phone. It’s a non-working, old, rotary phone in a white phone booth box on a man’s garden that over 10,000 people have visited or used. It’s popularity began following the 2011 Tsunami and became a way for friends and family members, of those lost or taken from the disaster, to find a way to speak to their loved ones and grieve peacefully. I did end up watching the documentary here at this link, but be forewarned if you’re human, you’ll probably cry. The second act is about two elderly brothers, in their 80’s, who held a somewhat unknowingly grudge and hadn’t really spoken in about 20 years. The son of one helped to reconcile them, knowing time was not on their side and helped guide them to have an adult conversation about their grievances which helped to take some ‘weight’ off their shoulders. Both stories are healthy reminders to allow for time to think about your loved ones who are no longer here and to not wait to reach out to those who still matter to you while they are still here.

 

#12days12ways

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Brady the Cat, named after the GOAT Tom Brady

On a lighter note, because there are only 12 days left until Christmas there’s a hashtag going around called #12days12ways. It’s a reminder to reflect back and document, however you wish, 12 ways your life has changed positively over the past year.

Here are mine:

January: Got to celebrate the new year with my friend Liz, who visited us in France from NYC

February: Watching the Patriots win the SuperBowl

March: Spending a week in the Swiss Alps snowboarding

April: Completing my 9th Marathon in Rome, Italy and during that same week watch Julien crush his PR in the Paris Marathon

May: Completing the Luxembourg night half marathon, the hottest race I’ve ever done in my life

June: Growing my influence in the running, fitness and wellness community on Instagram and having my hard work, “little hobby”, get recognized with sponsorships and ambassadorships from companies like Under Armour and Nordstrom

July: Getting a new kitten and fur baby, Brady

August: Visiting my one of my oldest friends Dorothy, in Rotterdam, Netherlands while at the same time being lucky enough to have her on this side of the pond with me

September: Twofer, sneaking home on a super discount flight for Labor Day weekend to go on, one of my best friend’s, Katie’s sailboat and completing my 10th marathon and 3rd World Major in Berlin

October: Having my Dad visit for a couple weeks and then all of us flying back to the US for 3 weeks, 2 weddings and an east coast adventure

November: My birthday in Budapest, Hungary with my American bestie here in Metz, Carmen

December: Having Julien’s family embrace and welcome me into their home for Christmas this year

Here’s to ending the year on a positive note and feeling optimistic for what is to come!

 

April Happenings!

4 days until the Rome Marathon. Holy Moly time went by fast. I’m ready and a little beaten up today from my girl, Gigja Kristinsdóttir, who works at LuxChiro. It was a “good pain” to find someone who does deep tissue massage like myself. I told her my life story, in any attempt to prevent me from laughing or crying of pain, and practiced meditation and breathing while she worked her magic. I typically get sports massages before each of my marathons but hadn’t thought about it last year in Paris. Evidently it is part of the key to my success because without it last year I had my worst finishing time, so here’s hoping!

I head to Rome with a direct flight out of Luxembourg and meet up with my dad who is flying in from the states on Friday night. Saturday I hope to eat amazing pasta, take in some sights and venture to the Expo to grab my bib number. I’m hoping to meet up with an Instagram running friend, Stephane, from Lyon, France as he’ll be running his first marathon ever in Rome. Sunday I’m starting in the last wave with a start time of 8:51am. The weather will end up in the high 60’sF (a little warm for my liking) with 40% chance of rain. If the rain holds off and there is cloud coverage, I’m expecting my race to go pretty smoothly.

My Instagram page is continuously growing. The support of the running and fitness community on there is abundant and with it comes my desire to take great photos. Rome should be no less scenic and I can’t wait to show it off!

This weekend I’ll also be taking over the account @inspiringwomenrunners, who has almost 28k followers!!  Speaking of Instagram if you aren’t following me @thefitwanderluster, go ahead and do that 😍 I request this because I have an awesome squat challenge coming up in April that I’m hosting with some of my other favorite Instagrammers where YOU, the participant, gets to gain strength while having the chance to compete for some pretty awesome prizes!!!

There will be weekly prizes from cool companies like:

Curio Spice
73 Threads
Gear By Shock
Roll Recovery
Mind Over Matter Athlete

The a grand prize of the newest model of Saucony Ride sneakers!!!!

How cool is all of that?! Want a booty? Go ahead and follow my challenge!!

April Squat Challenge

#nosquatnobooty

Achilles, what a pain in the heel

I’ve got 11 days until my next half marathon. This past weekend I went for an 11 mile run. Exactly half way through, I started getting right calf tightness. I stretched, I continued to run and this process happened probably every half mile for the remaining 5.5 miles. As I continued the discomfort intensified. I was able to finish but my calf, and into my Achilles, felt like there was a tourniquet around it. The pressure was intense and I knew I had to do some serious foam rolling in my future. I have to admit, I’m my own worst patient sometimes and have not been rolling throughout training, so this issue was likely brought on by my own actions, however I would like to teach you some preventative and rehabilitative protocols you can follow to reduce your chances of developing Achilles injuries.

Anatomy


The calf is comprised of a few muscles: the smaller plantaris and the bigger gastrocnemius and soleus. The muscles combine together distally before the heel bone to form the Achilles tendon (the connective tissue of attaching muscle to bone).

Function

The calf helps to push the foot downward (the gastroc with the knee straight and the soleus with the knee flexed), like a ballerina pointing her toes. This is called plantar flexion. The gastroc and soleus also assist in bending (flexing) the knee. The Achilles tendon itself is like a spring and is responsible for storing kinetic energy for power moves like jumping and sprinting. 

Achilles Injury Causes

A typical injury can be minor (tendonitis) which can be treated conservatively to quite severe (full rupture) which requires surgery. The cause for injury stems from two possibilities: structural tightness and mechanical instability.

When putting the foot under load (weight bearing) the muscles and tendon will need to both shorten and lengthen in different phases of gait, therefore one must have adequate flexibility of the tissues. The foundation, bottom up typically the forefoot which is made up of the big toe and arch and top down the pelvis, must provide stability to demonstrate efficiency of movement, again through different phases of gait.

Treatment

A physical therapist can help to determine your root cause (too tight or too unstable) but acutely (the first 48-72 hours after injury) you can start with the RICE treatment. R: rest, no running! I: ice, 10-20 minutes until skin turn pink, can be done several times throughout the day. C: compression, can be stockings or compression socks if there is swelling. If no swelling, massage. E: elevation, raising the foot above the heart to use gravity to eliminate swelling.

In the sub-acute phase (48 hours to 6 weeks), we can start to work on lengthening the tissue with stretches and soft tissue mobilization. Secondly, we can work on foot and hip stabilization. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, the late phase (6 weeks to 12 months), load and agility will be the focus for return to sport. *This phase and the sub-acute, for proper return to sport, should be done with a trained professional*

Exercises

To lengthen the tissue, begin with gastroc and soleus stretching. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds 2-3 reps, 2-3 times per day. 



Incorporate foam rolling or trigger point massage with the use of a dense ball (lacrosse ball works). Sit on floor and place leg on apparatus, applying body weight and begin to roll from heel to back of knee. When finding a tender spot, hold pressure for 20-30 seconds while flexing the foot up and down. Repeat process on each sore spot found. 


Regular deep tissue massages can be helpful in prevention, and if you are near Luxembourg you can book directly online with me at LuxChiro.
To stabilize the foot, begin with 3 point single leg balance. Stand on one foot with the opposite leg reaching out to a 12 o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds, shift non-weightbearing leg out to 3 (or 9, depending if you are on the right or left) o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds. Lastly, shift leg to 6 o’clock position and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 3 times in each position for each leg. 


To work on eccentric lengthening, start with a small step (2-8 inches). Step onto stair with heels off edge. Begin with both feet in a stretched position and push heels up by putting weight on toes. Progress to single leg with knee both straight and flexed. Work up to 3 sets of 10 reps on each side. 


For pelvis, try sidelying and putting yourself into a modified side plank. Raise the top leg up straight, keeping hips stacked and toes toward floor. Work your way up to 3 sets of 10 on each side.



Footwear

See my previous post on selecting the right footwear A PT’s Perspective on Running Shoes

I was lucky my injury was not too severe, and has resolved in 72 hours with foam rolling, stretching and not running. My 5 miles today were a breeze and I incorporated the strength training after my run as well. Lesson learned and thankfully not too late.