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!

 

The Boa System: Fit to go Further

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been selected to be part of #TeamBoa. If you aren’t aware, The Boa System has branched into the running world to combine their innovative technology with top brand shoes to enhance your running experience.

Best known in the cycling world with over 16 years experience and used by over 100 of the Tour de France cyclists, The Boa System has made a name for themselves. Their technology has also been widely used in golf shoes, snowboarding boots, utility boots and even in advancing medical bracing systems for preventative and post-operative care. Most recently while working closely with several top running brands, they’ve put their system to the test in the running world. They are a brand I am proud to stand by and run with.

What is The Boa System?

It’s a patented system combining 3 integral parts…

1. A micro-adjustable dial

2. Super-strong lightweight laces

3. Low friction lace guides

The system couldn’t be easier to use. You push to engage, turn to tighten, and pull up for quick release.

The system provides a noticeable comfort across the front of the foot that isn’t found with typical laces. That is a nice feeling to run without worrying about irritation or your laces coming untied. The Boa System provides peace of mind to really let you focus your attention to the purpose of why you put the shoes on in the first place: running.

The best part about this company is how they back their product up. The Boa System dials and laces are guaranteed for lifetime on the product they are featured on. That’s customer service at their finest!

Combined with The Boa System, I’ve been fortunate enough to also receive the most comfortable, highest quality running kit from Outdoor Voices, sports underwear from Invisii, and a classic duffel bag from Topo Designs to carry it all in. Outdoor Voices materials are the softest I’ve ever felt while providing long lasting materials for performance enhancement and durability. I could live in my Outdoor Voices joggers, no joke.

While looking good on the outside, Invisii underwear works undercover. Providing hygienic, breathable and comfortable underwear, Invisii allows you to workout without thinking about panty lines or scrunching up in uncomfortable places while trying to perform at the top of your game.

My Topo Designs Classic Duffel Bag got me and my gear to Budapest, Hungary last week to celebrate my birthday (future blog on my trip there to come)! The durable bag is large enough to get me through the weekend with day, night, and workout outfits, but also compact enough to get me on my flight with just a carry-on. Thanks to Topo Designs, I was ready for my destination. Being a tourist is no excuse to not get a workout done!

I can’t wait to sign up for 2018 races now and begin training with Team Boa!

What are your thoughts on The Boa System gear? Have you heard about them or tried them out? Let me know!

Pilates for Runners

Approximately, 10 years ago I became a certified Pilates mat instructor and taught a weekly class when I used to work at Marathon Physical Therapy in Norton, MA.

That was the same year after I had run 2 full marathons. While in preparation for my marathons, I neglected regular strength training. My form suffered with the prolonged distances. It was noticeable in my race photos. By 20km I was leaning into the hip of the weight bearing leg with both knees knocking. This repetitive form during high impact can result in compensatory wear and tear throughout the kinetic chain. 


This is an example of an elite athlete demonstrating what is called genu valgum. You can appreciate even the trained professional can have dysfunctions late in the stage of a race, emphasizing such importance for strengthening your core and hips during training programs. 
Pilates has found its way into mainstream fitness and is closely associated in the same pop cult as yoga, but it’s foundation is core stability and fine motor control. Fine motor control is so important in protecting your joints when your bigger, grosser muscles are firing. You may think you are activating these smaller muscles but they require proper sequence of firing to become efficient and not over or under activate these muscles. 

Examples of the stabilizers include the diaphragm, transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, multifidus, glutes min/med/max, obturator internus/externus. 

Pilates fires this collective group along with creating tension on the posterior and anterior fascial systems, creating a powerhouse surrounding your solar plexus. 

Here are some Pilates moves you can try to incorporate: perform each exercise once for 8-12 reps, 1-2x week for 20-30 minutes. Form is much more important than quantity.

Transverse Abdominus


Tighten abs as if you were contracting to protect yourself from a small punch to the gut. Maintain contraction but breathe in and out for 2 breaths.

March


Maintain engaged abs and bring both knees to table top (both hips and knees to 90 degrees). Exhale and lower one foot to ground maintaining 90 deg at knee. Inhale and bring to top. Alternate with other leg.

Bicycle


Maintain engaged abs starting in table top. Exhale and extend one leg a few inches from the ground, inhale and return. Alternate with other leg.

Bridge 


Engage abs and peel your bottom up from the floor, one vertebrae at a time and slowly return, maintaining C shape with spine, starting from shoulders to pelvis.

Hundred


Peel head and shoulders up from floor and lower straight legs, as low as you can maintaining good form. Pump hands by sides as you inhale for 5 pumps and exhale for 5 pumps working up to a hundred breaths.

Full roll up


Lay flat on back with arms overhead, inhale and roll up keeping C shape in spine to seated position, exhale and roll forward. Repeat reversing steps back to laying flat.

Teaser


Start seated balancing on tailbone. Exhale and extend legs out and arms out to side. Inhale and return to start position.

Scissors


Start with legs extended to ceiling. Angle one leg to 45 degrees while pumping the other leg to floor 2 times. Alternate legs while keeping abs engaged.

Corkscrew


Start with both legs extended to ceiling. Slowly draw a circle with both legs. When you get to the top of the circle, use your lower abdominals to create a small lift of your tailbone off the floor. Reverse the circle and repeat.

Sidelying hip series (abduction/flexion and extension/bicycle/double leg lift/circles, clamshells)


Lay on side and try to maintain stacked hips and do all 6 exercises for 8-12 reps, consecutively, without break. Repeat on other side.

Bird/dog


Start on all fours. Inhale and extend one arm and opposite leg away from body. Exhale and draw the knee and elbow together. Alternate sides.

Swimmers


Lay on stomach, keeping gaze toward floor, raise both legs and arms in air. Start to flutter your arms and feet while inhaling for 5 and exhaling for 5 breaths.

Saw


Start in seated position with legs apart. Bring arms to shoulder height, inhale and twist body to one side, exhale and reach towards foot with opposite hand. Inhale back to start position. Alternate sides.

Supine happy cow


Lay on back and cross one leg over the other. Grab both ankles toward you. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

A PT’s perspective on Running Shoes

I know what it’s like to get overwhelmed when it comes to options for finding the right running shoe because there are quite simply too many choices. Some of it is marketing and sales ploys but a quality shoe isn’t necessarily about the style and color. And a good pair will probably be pricey, as in most important investments. But picking the prettiest or most expensive may not be the right fit for YOU.

There are several aspects involved to individualize the process of buying sneakers which include foot type, weight, biomechanics, running style (forefoot, midfoot, or heel striker), weekly mileage, road or trail running, and cushion preference among a few. Each category can take up it’s own blog (and I may go further into each at another time) but for the simplest and quickest way to pick a shoe, especially for a novice, go by your foot type.

FOOT TYPE

Basically this is the type of foot you are given with birth and is dependent on where your arch rests in standing.

Try this wet test to determine your foot type.  You will need a water, shallow pan, and a paper bag.

  1. Pour thin layer of water into a shallow pan
  2. Wet the bottom of your foot
  3. Step onto paper bag and put weight onto that foot
  4. Step off and look at the shape of your foot

Compare your shape to the following shapes.

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 Flat/Over Pronator (low) Arch: If you see no visible arch, this typically means you probably collapse inward when you run. This can cause additional stress your feet and knees and increasing your risk of injury. Motion control footwear is recommended. These types of shoes emphasize medial support with the use of internal wedges, dual-density midsoles and supportive posts.

Normal/Neutral Pronator (Medium) Arch: Typically the most common foot type, the arch that naturally supports bodyweight and pronates normally under load. Some pronation of the foot is desirable and acts as a natural shock absorber. Most runners with this pattern can wear just about any shoe, but typically a stability or neutral shoe is recommended. This type combines cushion and neutral support features into its design.

High Arch/Supinator: If you see little arch contact and more of the heel and the ball of your foot, you have a high arch. Your foot may not roll in much when you run, but it also doesn’t absorb much shock. It is recommended to use a well-cushioned shoe with little or no arch support or stability features. Cushioned footwear emphasizes enhanced shock dispersion in its midsole.

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If you have the ability, ask your physical therapist to analyze your gait mechanics in a running analysis video. This will help determine the type of striker you are or where you may have faulty biomechanics that can be addressed with a formal treatment plan. 

Some people have preference to improve speed but others choose shoes for comfort. The firmer and thinner the midsole, the faster you may be but the harder on your feet (this leans towards the minimalist group). The softer and more supportive your shoe, the more comfort you will experience but at the cost of slowing your pace. 

Once you are aware of your foot type and running style, seek out a fit specialist from a speciality running store who can assist you by asking questions about running and injury history, looking at old shoe wear pattern, and observing you run. You should absolutely try on and run in any shoe before you buy it.

Update 2/26/16: my good friend and colleague Dominick Marchesiello, PT, DPT and owner of Advanced Foot Orthotics in Saratoga Springs, NY who works closely with specialty running store Fleet Feet, pointed out my original lists contained some errors (just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true 😝). Check out this corrected list to find the right brand and model for you!

  
  

  
     
 
  
 

 

Picking the right shoes for running is a process of experimentation and elimination. It will be purely subjective based on right fit, feel, and functionality. And if you are training for a marathon, expect to buy two pairs. The typical shoe can last about 300-500 miles. For a marathoner or high mileage runner, expect to be replacing your sneakers every 6 months. I’ve personally stuck with Asics GEL-Nimbus for each of my marathons because I need extra cushioning for my toe box, and through 7 marathons I’m not gonna fix what ain’t broken!  
What’s your favorite running shoe?