A Look Back at 2018

Happy New Year Everyone!

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We all looked so cute for New Years Eve!

It’s the first day of 2019 and I’ve been logging the miles! It was a cold day out in the mountains, but I got my first peak of the year! As I leap into 2019, I wanted to look back at what I liked most about 2018. Here’s a quick look at my year.

Best Race: Squaw Peak 50

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Squaw peak is probably my favorite race I’ve ever run. It’s beautiful, wildly challenging, and you still get a full night of sleep (unlike Javelina Jundred). I also really enjoyed the 50 mile distance. The race itself was particularly well put on and the course was perfect. Although it does give over 10,000 feet of gain, it has a very high finishing rate and I attribute that to the awesome aide stations and volunteers.  And although I did lose a few toenails in the weeks following, the race gave me the confidence needed to finish my 100-miler in October.

Best Run: Kings Peak in August

At 13,527 feet, Kings Peak sits as Utah’s crown. It’s a fantastic 28 mile trail through woods, alpine tundra, and skree fields. I met up with the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers to run it on a crisp and cool day in early August. I went alone and wasn’t entirely sure that I should go, but once I got out on the trail, I met people at my pace and stuck with them. It was a wonderful day. The route took me about 8 hours, which is a moderate pace and never felt too difficult (except at the end while I was struggling over loose rock). I did have many fantastic runs throughout the year, but this one certainly stood above the rest.

Favorite Trail: Pfeifferhorn Peak via Red Pine Lake

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Red Pine Lake Trail as the fog rolled in

I had seen Pfeifferhorn from afar many times, but this summer was the first time I climbed it. It was a foggy day, unusual for Utah, but the conditions made the trail so much better. At the top, the fog cleared and we were able to see the Wasatch and the Salt Lake Valley. It was a beautiful route and a beautiful day. This is a trail that I’ll definitely do again this summer.

Most Used Gear: Salomon Pack

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Me in my trusty Salomon pack

I went through multiple pairs of shoes, many different socks, and even switched out my spikes and trekking poles. The one piece of gear that remained constant was my Salomon Skin pack. It never chaffed, never bounced too much or hurt my shoulders. Basically it did everything it needed to do.

Most Used Running Fuel: Run Gum

As anyone who knows me will know, I am a caffeine addict. I love coffee and tea. Unfortunately on a run, it’s not always so easy to get an extra boost when you need it most. While I was training for Javelina, I was looking for ways to take caffeine during the night, but not hurt my stomach. The Wasatch Running Company suggested Run Gum and I loved it! It comes in three different flavors, all of which are great. The little bit of sugar helps too and gives me something to look forward to when the miles get long. At Javelina, I never really felt sleepy and I largely attribute that to Run Gum.

Favorite Cross Training: Climbing

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Unless you consider hiking as cross training (my physical therapist does not), I have never really been very good about doing other things besides running. I manage an okay yoga practice, but when the miles get high, my yoga practice tends to suffer. This year I really tried to remain consistent at some sort of cross training and found that climbing really works. It keeps me strong and mildly flexible and helps a lot with the mentality it takes to finish long ultras. I’m still a considerably better runner than I am a climber, but I’ve had a ton of fun going out and sending some routes.

Total Mileage: 2,040 miles

Total Vertical Gain: 285,098 feet

What are some of your favorites from 2018?

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The Friday 5: My 5 Favorite Balancing Poses

Hey everyone! For today’s Friday Five I am going to talk about my five favorite leg strengtheners. This post was inspired by Judy’s post on the importance of single leg stability. It’s super important for runners to have strong legs, but also have stabilizing muscles in our legs for balance. So these five yoga postures (and movements) not only help gain stabilizing muscles in your legs and hips, but also a lot of strength and flexibility. Remember to do each posture on both sides!! Also, Sydney (my cat) is featured in all of the photos. 🙂

Standing Splits

We’ll just start with a posture that I find incredibly challenging. It requires extremely flexible hamstrings and hips, which not all of us have. Start with your feet together in a forward fold. Then shift your weight to one side and lift the opposite leg as high as you can. Once the leg is lifted, draw the hip of the lifted leg down very slightly. As a modification, you can use blocks or books beneath the hands or bend the standing leg.

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Standing Splits – For me this is one of the most challenging poses

Standing Stick to Knee to chest

This is a movement, not just a single posture. Start in standing and reach your arms up over head. Shift your weight to one side and hinge forward at the hips while lifting the opposite leg. Stop wherever you start to lose balance. Eventually you may get to the point you that you can create a “T” with your torso and legs. This is called Standing Stick. Hold for one breath, and then begin to lift back up, bend the lifted leg and once you are upright, pull the lifted leg in towards your chest. Return back to standing sticks. Make sure to draw your hips in towards center so that one hip isn’t popping out. Repeat 4 times and do both sides.

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Standing Sticks

 

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Standing Knee to Chest

 Standing hand to big toe pose

This is another very challenging pose that requires a lot of flexibility. Start in standing. Shift your weight to the left and draw the right knee towards chest. Then, draw that knee up a little higher than you think you need to using your right hand hand. Take the index and middle finger of your right hand around your right big toe. Begin to draw the leg forward and then out towards the side. The leg does not need to be straight, and as with any standing posture, feel free to lean up against a wall. Make sure that your left hip is not popping out and try and draw it in towards center. Repeat on the other side.

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Hand to Big Toe Pose

Eagle Pose to Standing Stick

This is a bit of a strange posture. Start in standing by taking your right arm over your left arm and see if you can bring your palms together (if not, that’s ok. Just get it as close as you can). Make sure your feet are together and then bend the knees and drop your seating bones back (like there is a chair behind you). Take your left leg over your right (just like your arms are but the legs and arms are opposite). You can try to wrap your right ankle around your left leg, if not, just let the foot stick out. This is Eagle Pose. Hold for a breath or two.

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Eagle Pose

Then, unravel the right leg away from the left leg (keep the arms the way they are) and start to kick that leg straight back. Now you are in standing stick again, with the arms in a different variation. Take a breath and then slowly come back into eagle pose. Repeat 4x and do both sides.

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Standing Sticks with Eagle Arms

 Half Moon Pose

Most people benefit from a block or pile of books for this pose (or chair as well). Take the block and place it out in front of your feet. Come to standing and hinge forward at the hips for a forward fold. Place your right hand on the block and make sure your wrist is stacked under the shoulder. Shift your weight to your right foot, take your left hand to your left hip and begin to lift the left leg up. Keep the foot flexed and take your left hip above your right hip so your left toes are facing towards the left. Maybe lift that left hand.

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Half Moon Pose

Thanks everyone for checking this out and thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed Up for What?! for hosting the linkup.

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What is your favorite balancing posture? Do you work on single leg stabilization?

The Friday Five: Five Yoga Poses for Runners

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this post, I want to do a shout out to my mom. Today is her birthday! She’s pretty awesome, and is a yoga teacher, too! I’ll be heading home in two weeks to celebrate with her.

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We do slightly resemble each other. 🙂

Thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run DC, and You Signed Up for What?! for hosting the Friday Five Linkup. This week I’ll be talking about five yoga postures that are great for runners.

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Reclined Pigeon Pose

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Start on your back with the knees up and the cross the right ankle on to the left knee. Go ahead and lift that left foot off the ground and hug around the left thigh. Keep both feet flexed to protect your knees and ankles. This is a great stretch for the outer hip, glutes, hip flexor… pretty much everything in the hip region. If it hurts your knee, back out a little. Switch sides when you’re done.

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If you want to go deeper, come down on to your hands and knees or downward facing dog. Draw the right shin forward and place it on to the ground. Eventually (with lots and lots of yoga), your right shin will be parallel with the front of your yoga mat. Draw your left leg back a little until the entire left leg is on the ground. Make sure the ankle comes out straight from your leg. Now, bring your attention to your hips. Draw your right hip back and left hip forward and make sure that you are not flopped off to one side. Come down to your forearms or lengthen the arms long. Be sure to do both sides.

Low Lunge

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Come on to your hands and knees. Step your right foot forward between your hands and bring your left knee back maybe two inches. Make sure that your front ankle is not behind your front knee, so that your knee is stacked over the ankle joint. Now, you can lean a little dropping your pelvis towards the front heel (it wont go far, I promise), or lift up and out from your hip bones so that your hips are drawing away from the front leg (this is the more proper way to do the poster). Hang here for a few breaths with your hands on the ground or on blocks. Low lunge will really open the front part of your hips, quads, and the outer hips. It should feel really good, so if it doesn’t, back out a little.

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If you want to go deeper, tuck the back toes under and lift the back knee up. Feel as if the power from your back leg is coming from your hamstring muscle lifting towards the ceiling.

Hamstring Stretch

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This posture is a simple stretch and is super great to do right after a run. Come back into low lunge (posture before this one). Come back half way until the front leg is straight and your hips are stacked above your back knee. Flex the front foot. Place your hands onto books, blocks, or the floor and begin to draw your chest forward. Try to keep your back long, so I want you to feel like you are drawing your chest towards the toes… not your head. Breath!

 

Bridge Pose

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Alright, now that your hips are warmed up, come on to the back with the knees up and your hands by your sides with the palms down. Make sure that the feet are hip width apart. Just start by pressing your feet down into the mat as if you were standing up. The power from this posture comes from your feet! Press your hands down into the mat and draw your lower back to the floor and your belly button towards your spine. Now lift the hips up. If you want to go a little deeper, from here try to draw the shoulder blades towards each other and roll the arms under your shoulders. Press into your feet a little more and lift those hips up! Notice how much strength you have in your outer hips and glutes!

Half the Lord’s Fishes Pose (weird name, huh?)

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Come to your seating bones and extend the legs out in front of you. Take your right leg over the left leg so that your knee is bent and the palm of your foot is down. Keep your left foot flexed and take your right hand behind you right up against the spine. You want your spine to be very long. If you want to go deeper, once you have the right leg over the left, bend your left knee and draw it in so your left foot is towards your right glute. Take your right hand behind you up against the spine and either hug your right knee, or bring your left elbow to the outside of the right leg. Don’t forget to breath and do both sides.

Hope you enjoyed this short little (written) yoga practice. Gaining range of motion while working on your training will only help keep you from getting injured AND it’ll make you feel good. Namaste!

What is your favorite yoga pose or stretch for runners? Feel free to give a shout out to my mom for her birthday!

 

Bring some balance to your day

A little over a year ago, I tore the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) in my ankle. This is the most commonly torn ligament in the body and is the main place people have injuries from an ankle sprain. One of the major problems associated with this kind of injury is balance instability. I went to physical therapy and it was to my therapist’s surprise that even with my full tear to the ATFL, I was still able to balance on the injured foot with relative ease. She attributed this to my history of a vigorous yoga practice, and I think she was right. Yoga is great for building muscles around joints, so that when you do get injured, you have a backup system to rely on. Although my ankle still had a great deal of pain, I could balance without trouble, which helped me heal from my injury even quicker.

The ankle has many ligaments and tendons that can be stretched or torn when you roll the foot a little too far. Practice with balance can help strengthen your stabilizing muscles and potentially prevent injuries to this area of the body.
The ankle has many ligaments and tendons that can be stretched or torn when you roll the foot a little too far. Practice with balance can help strengthen your stabilizing muscles and potentially prevent injuries to this area of the body.

This week I’m going to touch on three cool (and helpful!) balance postures. There are 26 bones in the foot and ankle alone, making this a very complex area of the body, especially for injury prevention. Because of this, we always need to keep ankles (and knees) healthy, and one way to do that is by building the stabilizing muscles in your legs. Balance doesn’t have to be restricted to that, though. We can also stretch and open our bodies while we build the muscles necessary to keep us healthy while we run.

Tree Pose

Tree pose is often considered one of the classic yoga asanas. In almost any class you attend, you will be doing this posture, or some variation on it. But tree pose is not solely a balance posture. It is also a hip opener. To harness it’s hip opening powers, remember to draw the knee of the lifted leg back and down. You should feel a stretch in the inner thigh and outer hip.

Come into this posture by shifting your weight to one side and lifting the opposite leg. You can test the waters a little by keeping the toes on the ground and the heal of your lifted foot on your ankle. If you would like to go deeper, place the lifted foot on your calf or draw it all the way up above the knee. The only rule to tree pose is to make sure your lifted foot is not on the knee. We don’t need any extra pressure there.

Tree Pose: Place the lifted foot on the standing leg. Make sure that the foot stays above or below the knee.
Tree Pose: Place the lifted foot on the standing leg. Make sure that the foot stays above or below the knee.

Standing Pigeon Pose

Standing pigeon pose is a staple among runners. Before almost any race I go to, I see at least one person in this posture. Standing pigeon has a lot of fun variations including a forward fold, a few twists and an arm balance. Today I’ll be going over two of these variations. I’ll hit on this posture a little more in depth another time.

Start by shifting your weight on to one foot and lift the opposite leg while keeping the lifted leg’s knee bent. Begin to bend your standing leg and take the ankle of the lifted leg on to the knee of the standing leg. You’ll notice that as you bend your standing leg deeper, the hip opening of the stretch becomes deeper.

Standing pigeon: Take the ankle of the lifted leg on to the knee of the standing leg. Bend the standing leg. The deeper you bend the standing leg, the deeper you will be in the pose.
Standing pigeon: Take the ankle of the lifted leg on to the knee of the standing leg. Bend the standing leg. The deeper you bend the standing leg, the deeper you will be in the pose.

From here, begin to fold forward over your legs. If you know your hips are tight, have a block or some stacked books in front of your standing leg. As you fold forward, the stretch will become more intense. Place your fingers on the ground or on your block for stability.

Standing Pigeon variation: Bend over until your fingers touch the ground or a block. This will get nice and deep into your IT band and outer hip.
Standing Pigeon variation: Bend over until your fingers touch the ground or a block. This will get nice and deep into your IT band and outer hip.

Eagle Pose

Eagle is one of my favorite balance postures. It is great for stretching the outer hip, shoulders and upper back. I am often surprised how often this posture gets overlooked, since it manages to hit almost every part of the body. I almost always do eagle in my yoga classes. This is a very complex posture, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it the first time.

To start, bring your arms out to a “T” and then wrap the right arm over the left so that your hands touch opposite shoulders. If your shoulders are tight, stop here. To go deeper, lift your hands off your shoulders and see if you can wrap your arms around each again other so that your palms eventually are together. Make sure both of your feet are together and then bend your knees coming into chair pose (a squat with the feet together). Then, lift up your left leg, so you are balancing on your right and place your left leg over your right (the toes of the left leg can come down for stability if needed). See if you wrap your left foot around the back of your right leg so that your arms and legs mirror each other. Continue to draw the shoulders down your back and the elbows against your chest.

Eagle Pose: wrap the right arm over the left and see if you can bring the palms together. Then, bend the knees and wrap the left leg over the right.
Eagle Pose: Wrap the right arm over the left and see if you can bring the palms together. Then, bend the knees and wrap the left leg over the right.

Be sure to even these postures out on both sides. If you know that instability is a problem, use a wall or a chair to help you with balance. Balance can be fun, but it is also humbling. Everyone falls, and that is OK! The strength and flexibility you will build with these postures will not only help you with your running, but also with your daily life. Enjoy some balance!

Namaste! 🙂