I Started It: a 40 Day Kriya

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Kriya is a Sanskrit term. Essentially it’s a set of exercises to help move energy throughout the body. Although there is some resemblance to “normal” Yoga asana, it’s quite different too.

Fairytales and Fitness

I am definitely no expert in either Kriyas or Kundalini Yoga, which is the type of Yoga Kriyas are often associated with. I have dabbled a bit, though, taken a course here and there and read a few books. So I am not doing a deep dive here — if your interest is piqued, I will point you to my teacher, Brett Larkin. She has a YouTube channel here (just search Kundalini), and also an app which is amazing, but not free.

Often when you start a Kriya, you do the same set of exercises for 40 days. The exact same exercises in the the exact same order. I did one last December I think. I haven’t done another one since then . . . until the other day when on a whim I picked up one of my books and just did one. I did it the next day, and the next . . .

According to the “rules”, if you skip a day, you have to go back and start from day one until you complete forty days straight. Many Kundalini practitioners practice in the morning — for the same reason many runners run in the morning. Get it done before the day gets away from you!

So it’s sort of like a run streak, except that there are consequences if you skip a day — unlike a run streak, which you can break at any time. Of course you could just stop doing your Kriya; I don’t think you’d be struck down by lightning or anything.

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That’s all my AM Yoga that you see on my weekly run downs!

Kundalini is different
There are many different types of Yoga. Kundalini was shrouded in mystery for centuries. There were few books, and of course way back when no Internet. Generally it was passed down from Guru (teacher) to student. In fact, for thousands of years that’s how all Yoga was taught.

Now we do have Internet, and the veils have been pulled aside. In Kundalini Yoga asana, pranayama, and meditation are all bundled up together. “Regular” Yoga, for instance, has you practice asana, then pranayama, then meditation. Kundalini may have you do asana, pranayama, and meditation all in one pose.

Many poses have movement in them, or involve holding your legs or arms up for fairly long periods of time. It can be very challenging physically, and sometimes triggering mentally. It can also help tone your body all over — especially in areas we don’t get to as much as we should, like our core, lower back, and hamstrings.

Why am I doing a 40 day Kriya?
I didn’t really have that intention when I picked up my book. I guess my intuition guided me to try something different. You can practice Kundalini Yoga without doing a 40 Day Kriya.

I settled on a Kriya for energy. Because I feel as though I’m always lacking energy. You know what? I definitely felt better after I practiced that particular Kriya! That’s why I decided to just keep going with it.

My teacher advises not judging a Kundalini pose/Kriya on how you feel during, but how you feel after (sound familiar, runners?).

Final Thoughts
I don’t really recommend that you just search YouTube for Kundalini videos. You can trust Brett’s videos.

Committing to something — much like running a long distance race — can give you such a sense of accomplishment when you finish. Some days you’ll be excited and some days you really won’t want to do it, but in the end, you just know that you’re going to come away a changed person — in a good way.

Does this just sound really bizarre to you or interesting?

When have you committed to doing something for some amount of time (not running!)?

What did you gain from that commitment?

Playing Cards for Running

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Did you know that there are card decks for all sorts of topics? Yes, I have a few different card decks for Yoga. I have a couple for positive affirmations. Imagine my surprise, though, when I went looking for running card decks and came up empty.

Fairytales and Fitness

So I decided to just make a few running cards. Not a whole deck (maybe someday?), but just a few. Feel free to right click (PC) and save them if you want.

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If you run, you’re a runner
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Celebrate every finish line!
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Find the good in every run/race
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Smile! Your run will feel easier!
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Will run for chocolate!

Enjoy!

Running isn’t always serious!
It’s always good to put a little fun into our running — and into our days! If you had a whole deck, you could pick a card at random every day. Maybe we need a famous runner deck with short bios? That would actually be a fun project.

Do you have any fun decks of cards you use?

What quote would you like on a running card?

How do you put the fun in your running?

Finding Good Even in Pandemics

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We can all agree that 2020 has been “interesting”, right? And by interesting I mean the gift that keeps on giving — not in a good way. Or is it?

Of course there is just so much about 2020 to hatedislike, to want to move past, to want to forget. I often spend time thinking about how I can make people feel better with a blog post — if only for a little while. Here’s my rundown of some good things to come out of 2020.

Fairytales and Fitness

Less time on the road
Since I wasn’t working outside the house, I already drove much less than most people. Which is why my car is 20+ years old. For many months I didn’t take Lola to the vet, but now we’re back to regular visits.

I go grocery shopping about once a month (the rest is delivery). Dinner “out” is usually delivery. I spent months not visiting my mom, and I’m back at it twice a month, but unless they start letting us inside, that will come to a halt as it gets cold.

I rarely drive to run these days. Well, you get the picture. It saves wear and tear on the car, saves money on gas, and it helps lower pollution. If you’ve seen those photos of heavily polluted cities — the difference is astounding.

Getting stronger
I wrote my thoughts about why strength training is important here. Ironically I also chose Strong as my word for the year (se why here). It’s still totally appropriate for 2020, for many of the same reasons — although at the same time things changed, too.

I have made the personal choice to run less — some choose to run more, to each their own. With less running I have more time to cross train and strength train, and there is less stress in an already stressful year.

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More time on the phone, more Zooming — who would have ever guessed my mom would Zoom (with a lot of help)

More time with family
Well, more time with Mr. Judy. Not so much with my family. I know some families have had much more time together though. The reason sucks, but spending time connecting is a very good thing in our unconnected world.

Getting creative about get togethers — and other stuff!
I will admit I haven’t been that creative about get togethers, but some people really have! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as they say. It’s also amazing to see how creative some companies are.

Speaking of getting creative, how about those Blogger Zoom calls?
It was fun to put voices with faces of people you haven’t met. I’ve met some bloggers, but I haven’t been able to make any of the big blogger meetups, so that was nice.

How have you gotten creative this Summer?

Do you feel you’ve gotten closer to your family?

What good can you find in 2020?

4 Running Masks . . .

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. . . I Haven’t Run In

I do wear masks:

  • I wear them when I go grocery shopping or take Lola to the vet (even though I don’t actually go in with her).
  • I wear a mask when I visit my mom (even though we’re outside at either end of a bench).
  • I wear a mask when I get together with friends, even outside.
  •  I often have a mask in my pocket on our daytrips (and wear it as needed).

I have yet to wear a mask on the run. When it was colder I wore a neck gaiter, which is how I run when transitioning from Winter to Spring anyway.

In the summer the neck gaiters annoy me. I run in my neighborhood or on the sides of the roads bordering my neighborhood. Sure, there’s a lot more people out there these days, but the roads are wide and most (but not all) people are respectful of your personal space.

Fairytales and Fitness

BOCO is one of my favorites. Cute! Lightweight! Nose piece — which I didn’t even realize for a while

Here are four running masks I own (and one that’s not made for running):

 

  1. Athleta. So far the Athleta masks are my favorites — although it’s neck and neck with the BOCO mask. They don’t come in a huge variety of colors, but it’s a pack of five for $30. Surprisingly affordable, which Athleta is not known for. There’s a bendable nosepiece and little circle thingies on the ear strings so that they’re adjustable. It took a very long time to get these; they might be shipping quicker now and they’ve come out with a slightly different design — but it still has the adjustable ear pieces. Buy them here (the link is sneaky — it’s not just the masks).
  2. BOCO. BOCO is a close runner up. It’s cute, and it actually fits my face well. I have a small face, so I wonder if it might be too small for larger heads. Cute designs, but they sell out quickly. Shipping was quick. They are $11.99. You can also custom design one. Buy them here.
  3. Pro Compression. I was ordering some socks recently and saw that they sell masks. Very plain jane. Kind of heavy for running. You can’t choose what color you want, you get what you get. Shipping was quick. They are $12.50. I had a coupon. Buy them here.
  4. Zensah. I have to admit I haven’t worn this mask at all yet. I’m sure it will come in handy during the colder months. It’s also quite plain and seems even heavier than the Pro Compression mask. I bought the gaiter as well: both the mask and the gaiter have copper woven into them. Copper has anti bacterial properties. The gaiter is huge though! Regular masks are $16. They come in a variety of colors, US flag, and camo. The one I got goes behind your head & neck; they have newer masks with ear loops (same price), but in fewer colors. Buy them here. Ask Cari @ Travelingcari about them, I’m pretty sure she’s run in them.
  5. April Marin. This mask isn’t for running, and it was not cheap at $24. It’s linen, and also a bit heavy. It has a bendable nose piece. They’ve come out with it in some really cute prints, and of course you know me, I’ve been tempted, but no. I can’t use it for running and I don’t want to pay that much for a mask. I’m pretty sure I had some kind of discount initially. I was getting so frustrated at masks that were too large for me that I had to constantly adjust, but this one stays put. I wore it on a hot walk with a friend, and yeah, it got kind of stifling in there. But so did my friend with a regular cloth mask — it was hot! I may wear it more when summer is over. Buy it here.

It’s a toss up between BOCO & Athleta. Athleta is actually a lot cheaper.

Pro Compression verdict: meh. Can’t choose the color. Heavy. Maybe good when it gets colder.
Ultimately the I don’t really like this one so much, but it will go with anything and the truth is as far as spreading any germs, thickness is a good thing.

I am not going to lie: I don’t like wearing masks. I don’t like how they look. I don’t like that it makes it harder to breath — or even tell people’s facial expressions. The main reason I’ve bought so many:

  • I prefer to wash my mask after wearing rather than throw it out (or see masks everywhere out walking or running — seriously, I do! how lazy are people?).
  • The cheaper masks irritate my skin.
  • Yes, a little vanity; just like I like cute running clothes, I like cute masks and somewhat matching my mask to my outfit.
  • I said a while ago that I think mask wearing is going to be with us for a while — I’m sad I was right, but I don’t see mask wearing going away anytime soon.

It’s still important to wear your mask. It’s being kind to human kind. It’s a relatively small sacrifice to make to help bring this pandemic to a close. We all want that, right?

I wrote a post about where to get running masks a month ago. You can read it here. Now it seems everyone is making & selling masks!

Here are more options for you:

  • Headsweats. They sell regular and small size masks, and they’re reversible. They are $13, but if you don’t care about the design and just want to be surprised, you can get one from their “grab bag” for $7. Find “elite” masks here, and grab bag masks here.
  • Rabbit. A company I’d never heard of. They sell both regular and kids sized masks. They’re made from scraps from their clothing line and there are cute designs. They sell for $15. Buy them here.
  • Addidas. A reusable face mask that apparently comes in black or blue. They sell for $20. Buy them here.
  • Under Armour. A reusable face mask, apparently just in black, but in a variety of sizes. Glancing through the reviews, though, I wouldn’t plunk down $30 for it. For that amount of money it ought to be the most comfortable running mask! At the moment they’re on pre-order. Buy them here.
  • Asics. Hey, you thought UA was expensive? How about $40? Yup, that’s what Asics will set you back. No, I don’t plan to be buying Rabbit, Addidas, or UA, (although the Rabbit masks are tempting . . . maybe). It’s an interesting design with adjustable ear pieces but seriously, for that amount of money I could be buying running clothes (well, on sale maybe). I’m just giving you options here. Oh, and it’s another pre-order. Buy it here.

I definitely do look forward to the day masks are a thing of the past. It’s coming. I don’t know when, but there will be a day when we can all breathe easy again.

Do you run in a mask?

Do you have a favorite mask?

If a race required you to run in a mask: would you do it?

Keeping the girls cozy

bwoolbras

I Tried It: Wool Bras

I have sung the praises of the Skirt Sports Wonder Wool line many times (get yours here). I seriously just love it so much. The skirt with attached leggings are great for in between weather (about 30-40), and the tops are all I run in in the Winter these days. Because, wicking.

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There are also Wonder Wool Jackets which is a nice light, warmish layer

I realized, though, that one of the reasons I become so chilled after winter runs is the dang bra. Sure, I wear good bras, they say they wick . . . not so much. I just have really sweaty boobs, apparently.

Then I had my lightbulb moment: what if I bought some wool bras? Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing. Now, I know what you’re thinking — that must be awfully itchy! But is it?

Medium support, no chafing at all

Smartwool PhD Racerback Bra
I first tried out the the Smartwool racerback bra (Amazon Affiliate link here). It fit much like the Champion racerback bras I get from Target — I’d say medium support, which is fine for me as I’m very small on top.

On the first run it seemed just a little itchy under the arms and the band when I first put it on. I put on some anti chafing cream just in case, but there was no chafing and I wasn’t bothered on the run.

The second run I’d lost just a little bit of weight and it felt more comfortable and I didn’t use any anti chafing stuff — still no chafing. Keep in mind my runs are very short (1-3 miles) at the moment, so I can’t say how these bras will do on a longer run.

These are last year’s season, by the way, and a fairly reasonable $30 – $45, depending on size and color. Works for me.

I got my normal size in a running bra, a M, and that fit just right.

Light to medium support

Icebreaker Merino Sprite Racerback Bra
Is anyone else amused by the description Women’s Bra? Do men wear bras (well, I guess some may, but still). This bra seemed rather skimpy for a running bra (Amazon Affiliate link here), but it was surprisingly about medium compression, too. It was less coverage, which again was fine for me — it actually gave me some cleavage though.

This bra didn’t feel itchy when I put it on. I’d ordered a slightly different version of this bra first, and my normal M was way too big. I read the comments and ordered a S in this model instead, and that fit much better, although the band was just a bit tight — it will probably be perfect when I’ve lost just a couple more pounds.

Not a lot of coverage and no padding

This bra also felt less itchy than the Smartwool bra when I first tried it on, and I didn’t use any anti chafing — again, there was no chafing and no discomfort in the bra, either. I came back home after the run and walked the dogs without changing out of the bra — it was a cool day, and I never felt terribly chilled.

Saturday I did my mentoring run (just a little over a mile), waited for my friends, ran a couple of miles with one friend, and then hung around for a while with the other while we waited for one friend to finish up.

It was in the low 40s, cloudy, and again — I never felt chilled or particularly sweaty after either run. Still no itching and no chafing, but again it was a short, easy run. So far, so good. Still no long runs in these bras.

Final thoughts on wool bras
The pros are the wicking — you can get sweaty, but the sweat will mostly wick away and the bra will dry out quickly. Which also means that you can wear them more than once without them getting stinky. They are not itchy, and so far I have not experienced any chafing at all — but whether or not that remains true for longer runs is up in the air — probably until next Winter.

If you are a large breasted women who needs a lot of support (I am not), I don’t think this will work for you. The Smartwool bra has more support, but you larger women would probably have to  wear this underneath another bra (for support). I wouldn’t want to do that.

I think for myself wool bras will be a huge game changer next Winter. Especially wool bras plus the Wonder Wool tops — they keep me much drier, and that keeps me warmer in the “long run”.

  • Have you ever worn a wool bra?
  • Is that an area that gets really sweaty for you?
  • What is your favorite piece of cold weather running gear?

btuesdaytopics

Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup

coachescorner

All the miles . . .

. . . all the food

Oh, how I wish that was true: that I could just eat whatever I wanted to because I run. I found out quickly, training for my first half marathon, that that is just not the case. Nor for me, anyway.

But I do love the fact that I do have more wiggle room with eating when I’m running more miles. And these days, I’m often turning to Real Fit Kitchen recipes to fuel and recover from my runs with real foods.

brealfitkitchen

Real Fit Kitchen: a review
I wanted to delve into nutrition in February. Nutrition absolutely fascinates me, and I’m always tinkering with what I eat, how I fuel my runs, and how I recover.

Real Fit Kitchen is written by Tara Mardigan, who has many credentials, including nutritionist and runner, and Kate Weiler, a sports nutritionist and triathlete. You pretty much know that you’re in good hands.

I had never heard of this book, but I am so glad that I picked it up. The following quote sums up the aim of the book (which I think they fulfill nicely):

The mission of this book is to help you eat real, delicious food. We want to introduce you to some wonderful ingredients, ones that you may not know about or may not know how to incorporate into your diet. We want to help you move awy from products concocted by food scientists in a lab and empower you to create your own food: food that will give you more vitality and strength than you can imagine.

The authors lay out what they call real fit values:

  • Plant Based
  • Sustainable
  • Strong
  • Pure & Simple
  • Colorful
  • Consistent
  • Balanced
  • Intuitive
  • Yours, Not Theirs
  • Real

Real food requires no health claims

They introduce you to the Five Fingers approach to eating a balanced diet, which is to include these five ingredients in every meal:

  1. Fruits/Vegetables
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Proteins
  4. Healthy Fats
  5. Fluids

They also introduce the Powerful Plates concept, which is how your plate should look, loosely by percentages, if you’re an endurance athlete, working on strength + endurance, at a healthy weight, or less active (and give guidelines on how to adjust if you’re trying to lose or gain weight).

Finally, they talk about the healthy ingredients you should have in your kitchen.

The Recipes
The Recipes are broken down into categories:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch & Dinner
  • Snacks & Portables
  • Vegetables & Salads
  • Dressings, Marinages, Dips, & Spreads
  • Desserts
  • Sports Drinks, Energy Drinks, & Juices
  • Smoothies & Milks
  • Anti-Inflammatory Solutions

The recipes don’t have nutrition informaton, but they do have nutrition tags: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan, Low FODMAP. They also includes tags on the best times to consume the recipe:

  • Preworkout
  • Postworkout
  • Nutrient-Packed Mainstays
  • Nutrient-Packed Treats

Some of the recipes call for ingredients you may not have heard of — or don’t normally stock in your kitchen (hello, mochi — except now I’m obsessed). Some are extremely simple (banana with salt and chia seeds for post workout) — most are a bit more complicated than that, but none of them are super time consuming.

But how do they taste?
Really, really good. Even the odd combinations like the salty bananas, although I did find myself having to decrease the amount of salt in those simple postwork recipes — and I like salt!.

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My beloved PR Mochi Bites

Some of the recipes have already been made multiple times in my kitchen, and will become a staple in my recipe repitoire:

  • Maple mustard glazed tempeh
  • PR Mochi Bites (my favorite recipe!)
  • Not Your Mama’s Cookies
  • Maple Chia Sweet Potato Chunks
  • Biked Apples (my second favorite recipe!)
  • BQ Bars
  • Chocolate Recovery Pudding (I made it a smoothie)
  • Mint Chip Smoothie
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Cherry Recovery Smoothie

I think there was only recipe I made that I felt was just okay — that would be the Marathon Muffins. It’s not that the muffins were bad, just that I don’t feel moved to make them again — which is too bad; they sounded really good! Actually, the Madzoon soup, which sounded so good, was too soupy for me. Go figure. It’s a yogurt based soup — I actually like the simplicity of it, but I think I might enjoy it more with less broth in it.

There are still many, many recipes i haven’t yet tried, and I’m excited to experiment with more recipes from this book.

Who is this book for?
Anyone that is interested in fueling their workouts with real foods — and for people with an open mind and a somewhat adventurous palate, as some of the recipes may be quite different from what you’re used to eating — but not all.

There are quite a few recipes that will appeal to vegetarians, and quite a few that will appeal to Paleo eaters.

If you need nutrition information and macronutrient information, you’ll be disappointed: there isn’t any.

My only real complaint about Real Fit Kitchen? That there aren’t more recipes! I am so glad I picked up the kindle version of this cookbook. Disclaimer: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, and when you buy the book via my link, I make a small amount of money — thanks! I bought this cookbook with my own money, though, and the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Other cookbook book reviews you might enjoy:

Tell me in the comments:

Real food or packaged gels and bars?

What’s the weirdest thing you’eat/drink for recovery?

Is there a cookbook you’d like to see a review of?

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run

The 2 that got away

Today I’m talking about half marathons that didn’t go quite the way I expected, and what I learned from them.

Las Vegas 2011
Still love to know how I could do knowing more these days

Las Vegas RnR: the first time
I chose (sort of) Las Vegas to be my first half marathon because:

  • Running with friends (or so I thought)
  • I love Vegas
  • Mr. Judy also loves Vegas
  • Running down the strip at night sounded like a ton of fun

And it was fun. It was also my first half (you can read the recap here), I was unknowingly under trained, and despite all my reading and research, I had a lot to learn.

So why would I like to rerun this? Because I’m really curious how I could do now in a flat and fast race. Well, aside from the fact that it’s a big race, and that has its challenges.

Blackstone Valley
This half marathon may just have had the most perfect running weather I’ve ever had in a half. It was also one of the flatter races I’ve run (although nothing is flat in the northeast).

Little did I know that every single half marathon I ran after this race would be unseasonably hot — with the except of Green Mountain Half (and that one was only insanely windy, but not hot — it is my current half PR, although I came close with my latest half to beating it, but you know what they say about close).

I haven’t yet written up my recap for this race, maybe because it is still too painful to do so after three years. It’s the one with the knee pain.

I learned:

  • It’s normal to ache, but if there’s pain, you better seek professional help
  • It’s not always wise to push through an injury
  • I will not get through a half without pain if I am not properly trained

These were painful lessons — literally. I learned a lot from them, though, mostly about what not to do.

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That darn hill!

Craft Classic Phoenix
I know: I haven’t yet recapped this race and that makes three, not two. There hasn’t been time yet; I’m aiming for next week. Maybe. It was so close to a PR, though; I’m still mulling over what I could have done differently to make it happen.

It was a hard fought race — actually, it may just be the hardest race I’ve run to date. The hill in the middle made Heartbreak Hill look like a mole hill — because while I’ve never run Boston, I did do the Heartbreak Hill Half. In fact, the weather conditions for both races were incredibly similar — and I took almost 5 minutes off my Heartbreak Hill Half time.

That hill, and the smaller one towards the end did me in, though. I’m not quite sure yet what I’ve learned from that.

One and done
Going after a half in every state (and being 54) means that I’m one and done: I don’t do over races. Although maybe Vegas someday . . . maybe. Just because we like Vegas. Probably not.

Every race presents its own unique challenges, but what you learn from those challenges can help you in future races. I know I’ve learned a lot from five years of running half marathons. I also know I have a lot more to learn!

Let me know in the comments:

Is there a race you’d like to run again?

Is there a race you have run again because you weren’t happy with what happened the first time?

Don’t you think time should be taken off results for, say, every 5 degrees above 50 or so?

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run

ShinTekk: The best gadget I didn’t know I needed

Wouldn’t it be great if some fairy godmother came to you and gave you something that took away the pain (whatever pain you might be experiencing)? I feel like that’s what happened to me when the folks at ShinTekk reached out to me and asked if I wanted to review it.

I love to try things, but I explained that I don’t suffer with shin splints. I have, however, been suffering with an achy ankle for months. I’ve seen my chiropractor and a physical therapist about it. I’ve tried new DVDs devoted to foot strength. For a while I taped it.

Everything helped, but nothing took the pain away, until I started to use the ShinTekk.

A simple tool that simply works


What is the Shin Tekk?
It’s a very simple contraption.There’s a plastic bed that has a trough at one end; you put your foot into that trough. There’s a small bar above the trough; your toes go underneath the bar. There are handles attached to the bar, and bungees attach to the handles.

Post run lower leg strengthening


You simply place your food on the bed with your toes in the trough, underneath the bar, with or without shoes, and lift. That’s it. You can either raise and lower the bar, or raise it, hold, and then lower it.

There are a number of bungees that come with the Shin Tekk, going from very light resistance to very strong resistance. I started with the lightest bungee and changed it each week to the next strongest bungee.

Did it help?
The answer seems rather obvious from my opening paragraph, but here’s the thing: the chiropractor helped — but it was temporary.

The physical therapy helped, and I did it religiously for months. I still do some of it, sometimes. It added at least a half hour, I’d say, to every day.

The DVD I bought helped, too. I did it religiously for a while, too.

But nothing made my ankle feel normal.

The very first week I used the ShinTekk, even on the lightest bungee, I felt relief, but I won’t lie: after my 10 miler that first weekend, my ankle ached fiercely. After my 10 miler the following weekend? Nothing. My ankle felt normal.

Even the ShinTekk hasn’t made my ankle completely normal — but it almost has. Most of the time it’s just fine. It still aches, a little, on and off; usually wearing compression socks for a while deals nicely with that, but I no longer have to live in them as I did for a long time (which was nice in our hot summer).

The best part? Using the ShinTekk only takes about 5-10 minutes — it’s super simple to add to your running routine.

A little Q&A with Shin Tekk
I had a few more questions before  I wrote this review, and here they are:

I read about how/why ShinTekk was created, but what sort of background (aside from being runners) do the inventors have?
Paul and Charlie are machinists by profession and inventors at heart. For the ShinTekk, Paul and Charlie worked closely with other runners, coaches, podiatrists, and physical therapists to ensure the effectiveness of the ShinTekk for runners who love running.

What sparked the idea for this design?
Really, the idea for the ShinTekk was sparked by a problem. Charlie was having trouble with shin splints and went to physical therapists for help. He was prescribed to do resisted toe raises, but he found the methods using resistance bands (or even loaded paint cans) to be difficult and inefficient. He just thought there must be a better way to accomplish the exercise, and here we are!

What sort of runner problems (aside from shin splints) can the shin tekk help with?
So something we always convey to runners is that the ShinTekk is useful for more than just helping to pre-hab or re-hab shin splints. The strengthening exercise the ShinTekk provides improves running performance overall. Strengthening the muscles that control the movement of the foot help the leg bear the load forces that come with initial contact, braking/absorption, and midstance steps of
the gait cycle.

Coming back to injury prevention and rehab, the resisted dorsiflexion exercise also strengthens the ligaments of the ankle. This helps prevent ankle sprains and other overuse ankle injuries. For runners this is very important and is one of the reasons why the ShinTekk is also immensely beneficial for use in other sports that involve running like basketball, soccer, tennis etc. (and seems to have definitely helped my ankle problem — most likely an overuse injury).

Is it better to use before or after exercise, or does it matter?
The ShinTekk can be used before and after exercise. Many run coaches we work with like their runners to use the ShinTekk as part of warm-up routines. Some choose to use it as a post exercise cool-down. Mostly, runners use the ShinTekk as a cross training tool, dedicating exercise time on non-run days along with other strengthening and flexibility exercises. (I had been using it post run, but recently switched to pre run — when I can. I haven’t been doing it long enough to report if it makes a difference).


Is there an optimal number of times per week to use the Shintekk?
You can refer to the Workouts section on our website which provides training routines for beginner and advanced athletes. Each suggested workout routine has different goals and optimal uses per week.

This one might be just for me: what can I do when I’m traveling and unable to bring my Shintekk with me?
An exercise commonly done is toe taps. Essentially, in a seated position, you pretend you’re tap dancing and kind of tap the balls of your feet to the floor while keeping your ankle planted. You can find many simple exercises and stretches for lower leg health online, but they can only go so far. Maximizing the benefits of lower leg strengthening really requires a tool like the ShinTekk to make sure the exercise is targeted and an efficient use of time.

Can you overuse it?
As with any training tool, if you begin to feel pain or strain you should immediately refrain from exercise and seek help from your healthcare provider. That said, many of our runners find the workout highly engaging without any sort of strain. The great thing about the ShinTekk is that if you feel like a Resistance Bungee is too challenging, you can always dial it back with a lower tensioned Bungee.

Any other products in the works you can give us a hint about?
We will soon be launching our ShinTekk Foam Roller which many people have been requesting. We’re excited because our goal is to make sure we can provide athletes with a comprehensive set of injury prevention and recovery tools. Myofascial release through foam rolling is an essential part of running.

Any other tips for running injury free you care to share?
Running injury free as a runner revolves around 5 key elements: proper footwear, proper form, flexibility, recovery, and strength. It’s essential for runners to consider each of these elements because they interact with each other as part of your biomechanical chain.

Do the shoes you’re running in fit the shape of my foot correctly? Am I heel striking? Is my body flexible and limbre? (I say body because it’s not just about the legs!) Am I rolling and giving my body time to recover? Are my muscles and ligaments strong enough? The ShinTekk focuses on the strengthening side of injury prevention, but a runner should consider all of these elements together to effectively ward of injury

Disclaimer: I was provided a ShinTekk free in exchange for a review on this blog. The opinions expressed in this post are my own.
My ShinTekk traveled with me all summer


Would I buy a ShinTekk?
I will be the first to admit: if I had looked at the Website and seen the price tag, no way would I have bought the ShinTekk. Having used it for approximately six weeks? The answer is a resounding yes!

ShinTekk has made a huge difference in my ankle; everything else I tried helped, but nothing helped as much as using the ShinTekk. It’s worth every penny if you suffer with lower leg, ankle, or foot pain and I highly recommend it.

I can’t, however, address shin splints or plantar fascitis, as I don’t suffer with those conditions (knock on wood). My guess is that ShinTekk would help — immensely.

My ShinTekk did arrive with the handy backpack — it was cool that it zips into a little bag, but frankly, the backpack is where my ShinTekk lives. It traveled with me all summer long: on numerous trips to my parents and our trip to Cape Cod. The backpack made it easy to take with me — and was roomy enough to also accommodate some soft weights, Ooofos, water bottles, and my worm (amazon affiliate link — another tool I highly recommend).

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.

Tuesdays on the Run

5 Favorite Yoga DVDs

yoga

I love yoga. I mostly practice at home with DVDs, although through the years I’ve taken classes, too, which I really enjoy — but remember my number one complaint about running? Yeah, it’s less time consuming for me to practice at home.

It’s favorites Friday from  Cynthia from You Signed Up for What?, Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, and Mar from Mar on the Run and the Friday Five Linkup and I’m sharing my favorite yoga DVDs — the ones I use over and over and over again (disclaimer: the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a very small amount of money if you click on the title of the DVD to purchase your own DVD).

Christine Felstead’s Yoga Essentials
This is a DVD that will work well if you’re a beginner, and certainly is fine for more advanced yogis too.

I like it because it’s broken down into mostly short segments:

  1. Foundation (10 minutes)
  2. Lower Back (10 minutes)
  3. Hamstrings (10 minutes)
  4. Hips (20 minutes)

I love doing the foundation poses at the end of a day or after a run or race, as it ends with legs up the wall (which Mr. Judy finds entertaining). I don’t have lower back problems, but every once in a while it will bother me, and I’ve used that segment and it definitely helps.

I also like to use the hamstrings and hips segments regularly. It’s very rare that I do the whole DVD, I usually just pick one or two segments to do in one practice.

Yoga Tune Up Quickfix RX: Lower Body
I found this DVD when my ankle started to bother me recently, and have been doing the Feet & Ankle segments almost daily. This DVD also includes segments for: low back, hips, and stress relief.

I’ve tried, and liked, them all, but the ones I use the most are the hips and feet & ankles, since those are my weak points.

Each segment has a 5 minute and 10 minute quickfix. You can choose to play all the quickfixes, just one, or both quickfixes for a particular segment. An option to create your own program would have been nice. The navigation is a bit clunky, but I think this DVD has helped me a lot.

It’s more stretching and rehab than yoga, but I’ve found it very helpful and have been using it almost daily since I bought it.

Yogaworks Beginner AM/PM
This DVD is not aimed specifically at runners. but it’s a great introduction to yoga — and one of my favorite DVDs.

There is a 10 minute AM & a 10 minute PM routine, as well as a 45 minute beginner’s class.

I’ve done them all, and I’m particularly fond of the AM routine — I’m always amazed at how much they manage to get into 10 minutes without seeming rushed. They’re good about showing modifications, too.

It’s a great introduction to yoga for the non-yogi.

The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga
I have several of Sage Rountree’s books, and really enjoy them, but it took me a while to warm up to her DVD. I don’t use it as often as the ones above, but I do enjoy it when I have a bit more time to devote to yoga.

There are preprogrammed routines for many things, including: IT band, Balance Flow, Core Work, and much more. You can also program your own routine.

Power Yoga for Sports Runner’s Edition
This is a more advanced yoga DVD, although I still think it’s accessible to beginners. I don’t do it as often as I’d like to, as it’s longer at about 30 minutes and not broken down into different segments.

I love doing this DVD as  cooldown after a run or on a recovery day.

Do you have a favorite yoga DVD? Favorite fitness DVD?

Discalaimer: The links in the post are affiliate links. If you decided you wanted a FitDesk Bike, too, and bought it through my link, I’d earn a small amount of income. I bought all these DVDs with my own money, and all the opinions in this post are my own experiences with the DVDs.

The 4 x 4 Diet (Book Review)

4x4

The 4 x 4 Diet (Amazon Affiliate Link) is a fairly simple book about clean eating and a healthy lifestyle geared to beginners and experienced exercisers alike. It includes:

  • Relatively simple, tasty, healthy recipes
  • A simple to follow clean eating program
  • Tabata-style routines from beginner to advanced
  • A meal plan/exericise schedule

I reviewed an ebook, so I can’t speak to how the physical book looks.

Who is The 4 x 4 Diet For?
Anyone interested in trying to eat healthy and stay fit (and maybe lose some weight) by eating and exercising sensibly.

But What’s in the Book?

  1. The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle
  2. Eating Clean
  3. Getting Lean
  4. The 4 x 4 Diet

Erin Oprea lays out her philosophy of getting, and staying, healthy in four sections. She calls it the 4 x 4 Diet because the clean eating is based on 4 simple rules and the tabatas are 4 minutes each. Don’t be fooled by that simplicity; they can get you results!

The first section, The Clean and Healthy Lifestyle, is an overall roadmap to Erin’s take on clean living.

In Eating Clean, Erin delves deeper into what she calls clean eating, and that consists of 4 basic guidelines:

  1. Cutting out starches at night
  2. Reducing sugar
  3. Reducing sodium
  4. Reducing alcohol

Erin guides you through how to stock your pantry, and arms you with simple recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and the occasional treat.

In Getting Lean, Erin gives you a little bit of history on tabatas: interval workouts where you go hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat 8 times for 4 minutes of exercise.

Erin lays out a variety of tabatas for you to do, and they are broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Erin ties it all together in The 4 x 4 Diet, where she gives you a 4 week meal and exercise plan.

What I Tried
I tried many of the tabata workouts, at least a few from all the levels. The ones from the advanced level seem so simple, but they kicked my butt — in a good way.

You are supposed to aim to get 4-5 tabatas a day; I usually did 4, with a warmup and a cooldown, and that basically was 30 minutes of exercise.

I’m not sure I’d term them fun and addicting, as Erin does, but I did enjoy them, and I especially love that you can do just one or a couple at a time, and more throughout the day. My philosophy is that small bouts of intense exercise like that throughout the day keeps your metabolism burning all day long.

Erin does say it’s better if you do them back to back, but it’s okay not to. Many involve short bursts of cardio: jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, etc. I had to modify them since I was dealing with some ankle problems, but I still felt I got in great workouts.

 

Protein Brownies

I tried a few of the recipes: Asian Tuna Steak, Mashed Cauliflower, Honey Roasted Butternut Squash, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies (which I thought were really good, but my husband thought they were dry).

There are actually a lot more recipes I’d like to try, but just didn’t get around to. Most are pretty simple and don’t take a lot of time or strange ingredients. Lunches were heavy on salads, which I do enjoy, except it was quite cold while I was reading the book, and I’m not as into salads when it’s cold.

Some of them are so simple I wouldn’t call them recipes and are actually things I already make, like the Peanut Butter Apple Crunch and the Not-so-boring Brown Rice Cake (only I use a dark chocolate rice cake which really makes it not so boring!).

The only thing I didn’t try was the exercise schedule/meal plan. I’m never good with being told what to eat — I like to do my own thing.

What did I think?
I really enjoyed the workouts. I enjoyed all the recipes I tried. I don’t drink, so that was easy for me. Reducing sugar consumption is always an aim for me, because I have a wicked sweet tooth.

The reason Erin suggests no carbs at night is that we tend to be less active at night, and therefore can’t burn off carbs consumed at night as easily as those consumed earlier in the day, when we’re more active.

I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist, but even this layperson thinks that’s probably untrue. For the most part, my understanding is that if you eat more than you need, it will be stored as fat, whether or not it’s carbs, protein, or fat.

I was never a fan of the whole “I’m not eating past a certain time” thing. If I’m out late, and I can’t eat til late, you better believe I’m going to eat — otherwise I’ll be starving and much more likely to overeat the next day.

Erin even suggests that you shouldn’t be eating the fruit higher in carbs after 4 pm — apples, bananas, for instance. Again, I highly doubt there is scientific data to prove that a banana after 4 pm will make you fat. I did try to adhere to that rule, and stuck more to mandarins and berries at night, but I won’t lie: there were nights I had the second banana of my day or an apple. I still lost weight.

You are allowed a couple of dinners a week that can be heavier on carbs, and that made it workable for me. I found myself adding back in more carbs during the day, which did seem to make me less hungry towards the evening anyway.

I did lose weight while going through the recipes and the exercises, but it’s unclear if it was due to the tabatas and reducing carbs at night, or simply the fact that I normally start to lose the winter weight around this time of year.

Would I Buy This Book?
Yes, I would. I really enjoyed the recipes, I really enjoyed the workouts, and I plan to keep using both.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Blogging for books

Discalaimer: The links in the post are affiliate links. If you decided buy this book through my link, I’d earn a small amount of income. I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for this review, and all the opinions in this post are my own.