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Showing posts from June, 2012

Foam Rolling (and Other Self-Massage Techniques)

*Originally written for and published in the CrossBoot Newsletter.

While we all know the benefits of a professional massage (relaxation, stress relief, muscle health, pain relief, etc.), most of us don't have the time or money to get a massage as often as we'd like. So this week, we explore the various options of self-massage therapy. We look at the foam roller and other apparatuses we can use at home to help alleviate pain associated with muscle tension and trigger points.    Probably most familiar to athletes of all genres is the foam roller, or, for more extreme types, plain old PVC pipe (ouch!). Newer versions of the foam roller also contain special "fingers" and knobs to better reach trigger points, and are made of dense foam surrounding a solid plastic cylinder. The basic foam roller is easily found at sporting goods stores and even at superstores like Target; more technical rollers can often be found at running specialty stores or online. Foam rollers can range…

Breathing Easy(er)

I've been in somewhat of a summer funk lately. It hits me every year with the onset of summer: work slows down dramatically, running gets tougher with the onslaught of heat and humidity, and I feel overcome with restlessness and a lack of focus. I blame it on idle time--something I've never been good at handling--and summer just seems to encompass idle time, does it not? While I've never quite figured out how to beat these blues, I've found recently that focusing on breathing is helpful, both in stillness and in physical activity. This is no great discovery; the benefits of breathwork and conscious breathing have been heralded for decades in Western society (and since Ancient times in the East), largely alongside the rising popularity of yoga, which in its most basic form is a focus on the breath.

However, as a lifetime asthmatic with numerous environmental sensitivities, I've always struggled with breathing. Not focused breathing or breathing exercises, but merely…

Ctrl+F5 on Life

Sometimes I get so accustomed to being at a computer that I instinctively want to apply certain toolbar functions to my life--"Undo" comes up frequently, along with "Back," and oh the situations I could "Copy" and "Paste" at work to save myself time. But most recently I had a need to "Refresh."

I've been training at a pretty rigorous pace (for me) in the past few months, hoping to increase my strength and maintain my endurance before I begin my marathon training next month. While I was accomplishing these goals and feeling the results of my hard work, the unintended consequence was that I began to feel worn down before my real training even began. I dragged myself out of bed last Sunday to go for my weekly "long" run (which hasn't been very long lately), and I felt as though my legs were wrapped in weights. I just couldn't will my body to go any faster or any farther than six miles, which I struggled to complete. …

New Things for Summer

In the past couple of months I've added some new things to my fitness regimen that I hope will help get me through a summer of marathon training. While I have biked casually over years on my cruiser, I recently bought a true road bike that is taking my cycling to a whole new level--ready or not! Additionally, I've attended several hot yoga classes, which I was previously against, but my mind (and my practice, literally) is opening up to it.

My bike, a women's Specialized Doce Elite, sat in my home for a month before I took her out. I did get her fitted for my body and comfort right away, and for free, thanks to the good folks at the USF bike "shop."

But once the time came to actually ride, I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. Even though my hair stylist (from whom I bought the bike) went over more operating and safety information than my brain could possibly retain, road bikes are so much more complex than cruisers. The gears, the tires, the brakes--these …