Fave Fix: BioSkin Calf Skin Sleeves (+ giveaway!)


During a particularly mucky morning workout recently (#BecausePortland), I bit it while running up some slick stone stairs and slammed my right shin directly into the corner of a step. It was one of those moments where your heart stops, your stomach drops, and a split second before the pain hits you try to do a full-body scan to assess the situation.

Fortunately, it was nothing too serious (aside from ego damage). It’s taken a few weeks, but the nasty bruise has finally subsided.

Unfortunately, though, this incident coincided with me needing wanting to ramp up my mileage base to get ready for the upcoming race season. And although a goose-egg lump and lingering tenderness certainly didn’t pose a huge threat, I figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to test a new pair of Calf Skin Sleeves that BioSkin sent me to check out.


BioSkin designs and manufactures compression supports, orthopedic braces, and human performance gear for the orthopedic, sports medicine, and recreational sports markets worldwide. They’re an Oregon-based (Ashland) company, and I love their mentality — i.e. they chose the location not because it’s the easiest place to run a manufacturing business, but because it’s such a great place to live.

It’s this kind of attitude — quality over quantity — that usually carries over into great products. Especially because they also believe in focusing on the little details, which can make a big difference when you’re talking about products that people wear on a daily basis.

So, why compression? Well, it not only cuts down on muscle vibration, but also helps ensure that your muscles are in the proper position to maximize force production without wasted energy. Decreased muscle fatigue and improved proprioception also protect you from injury by giving you more precise control of your body.


My first thought, out of the box, was that these aren’t your average compression sleeves. I wear a good amount of compression gear, but I’ve never run across anything quite like this; BioSkin uses a special material (non-neoprene and non-latex) that not only allows your legs to breathe, but also keeps it from sliding down your leg during vigorous activity.

They feel less like a sock and more like a super-thin wet suit. Getting them on can be a workout in and of itself — these suckers are tight! — but throwing on a thin sock makes it easier to shimmy them on over your heel and onto your leg.

The feel does take some getting used to at first; like I said, they’re designed to fit snugly. But I’ve been actively seeking a higher level of compression for my legs since my tibia injury last fall, especially because I envision it being a free mini-massage with every step.

And as much as I like them for workouts, I l-o-v-e them for recovery days. Whether it’s an easy session of running or biking, or just an off day, I’ll throw them on and feel noticeably less discomfort and soreness. BioSkin for the win!

Speaking of winning (I know; horrible segue) BioSkin’s been kind enough to provide me with a $20 gift card for one lucky reader. Enter here via a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Are you a fan of compression wear? When do you wear compression sleeves/socks? 

Portland fit fix: Rejuvenate, refresh and replenish at YogaPod


Contrary to the 21-day myth, there’s now scientific evidence that it takes about two months — or 66 days, to be exact — to form a new habit. But thanks to YogaPod, a vibrant and transformational yoga studio in Portland, I’d argue it only takes about a week to fall back into a much-neglected, yet healthy, routine.

Bear with me for a moment: Like those green, cruciferous veggies, we all know how good yoga is for us, but I find (in my experience, at least) that it takes some time to develop my palate enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it, especially during training when the goal is to keep your head above water with workouts. Anyone else?

Well, this is precisely why Carolyn (one of my LUNA teammates) and I decided to get back on track with a recent seven-day #YogaBinge at YogaPod.


Not only would a week-long yoga immersion aid in off-season recovery, I figured, but it’d also be a great way to see how one of the newer workout facilities in the city stacked up. YogaPod founders, husband and wife team Gerry and Nicole Wienholt, expanded the Boulder-based brand to Portland this past summer after seeing a need for a luxury yoga studio in Portland’s Pearl District, and true to form it’s got a high-end look with a welcoming feel.

If there’s one word that comes to mind upon entering YogaPod, it’s community. From the friendly management and front-desk staff (shout out to Anthony, a fellow ultra runner!) to the inspirational chalk board in the hallway, and from the relaxed vibe in the space to the teachers who take a genuine interest in their students, it’s clear that this place is rooted in creating an experience full of positivity, clarity and compassion for all who enter.


And as far as the classes go, we took advantage of the convenience of morning, afternoon and evening slots to get a good sampling of what YogaPod has to offer. Throughout the course of the week we toggled back and forth between the two rooms — both clean, light and spacious — for Restorative, PodHot and PodFlow.

Classes are well-balanced (i.e. not all Chaturanga Dandasana-heavy) and the music is right up my alley — a thoughtful blend of traditional instrumentals with some newer songs that gently flow with movements. When Carolyn and I compared notes, we both agreed that our time at YogaPod was the perfect antidote to a hectic week — so much so, in fact, that we both found ourselves feeling like the time passed quickly in each session.

If you’re local and want to jump-start your own yoga journey, YogaPod offers a free week of classes for first-timers. Or if you just want to dip your toe in the yoga waters before jumping in, come check out their free community class on Saturdays at 5 p.m. with Ati, one of my favorite yogis in the city.

She brings such lightness and enjoyment to her practice that you can’t help but want to come back for more. And that habit — for rejuvenating your body, refreshing your mind and replenishing your spirit — is one you won’t want to break!


Interested in learning more? Check out YogaPod’s website at Portland.YogaPodCommunity.com.

Detroit Marathon: Week 13 training recap

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One upside to being banned (for the time being) from running? Getting to mix things up for a change with my favorite forms of cross training!

For consistency’s sake, here’s what the schedule would have been this week. Yes, I realize I’m missing out on some peak mileage here (argh), but I keep telling myself that even though backing off may slow me down in the short-term, it’ll allow me to be stronger and healthier in the long run.


So here’s a snapshot of my actual workouts for the week:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: 6-mile walk & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF (migraine) & physical therapy
  • Friday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Saturday: Elliptical (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40 miles!)

Nope, it’s nowhere near the numbers or the intensity I should be doing, but I can assure you I’m still breaking a good sweat each day and challenging myself. In fact, it actually feels really good, mentally, to be doing some non-running activities and, physically, to be working some non-running muscles for a change.

photo 1

Another tip for staying positive amid a setback is to continue setting goals (within reason, of course) and striving for them. No, I may not be able to hit my weekly running mileage, but I can keep pushing myself on the bike and do some longer weekend rides to maintain that strength and endurance in the interim.

Plus, I’m loving all the quality time with Winnie, and it’s fun to try to keep up with Hubby, who is currently training for a triathlon.

photo 2

And in the meantime, I’m being religious with my physical therapy routine. From stretches to rolling, legs lifts to lunges, the exercises are something I can check off my to-do list each day to feel some kind of accomplishment — plus my PT says my mobility, range of motion, strength and stability are getting better, which is just the encouragement I need to keep it up.

photo 4

As for when I can get back to running, there’s no clear answer. Most of the aching has subsided in my shin, but there’s still a good amount of tenderness, so we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

My PT is pretty confident that I’ll be back on my feet in time for my race in Detroit in October, although I won’t be resuming my training schedule anytime soon. All I can say in the meantime is…onward to week 14!

Fighting the good fight against plantar fasciitis


During my Detroit Marathon week seven training recap, I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with a case of plantar fasciitisPlantar-huh, you say?

Here’s what it is

Unless you’ve been plagued by it (and in that case you know all too well), plantar fasciitis (or fasciosis, as some say) reveals itself as heel pain. Technically, it’s been described as an inflammation (hence “itis”) of the plantar fascia, which is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes.

Non-technically speaking? It sucks.

The most common symptom is a very painful first few steps out of bed in the morning. Once the foot warms up, the pain subsides, only to rear its ugly head again after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.


How’d it happen? I can’t pinpoint a specific incident, just that it appeared toward the end of training for my marathon last fall. Certain types of exercise (i.e. running), faulty foot mechanics, age, obesity and long periods of time in your feet are the usual suspects in terms of contributing factors, though.

What I can say for certain is that it’s frustrating — not only because it threatens to derail training, but also because there is no real consensus on treatment. So in the meantime, I’ve been taking matters into my own hands to manage the heel pain, which morphed into a related calf/shin injury after Hood to Coast.

Here’s what I’m doing about it

1. Sensible Shoes. 

Because I spent a few weeks this summer traipsing around Italy in flats and sandals (whoops), I’m paying the price. So now I opt for shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. And while I haven’t completely given up flip flops, I also try not to go barefoot for long stretches of time, especially on hard surfaces.

2. Enough Rest.

Although not running is one way to try to stop PF, it’s no guarantee. And even though I’m mid-training, I do try to give my feet a rest when I can. This means not only cutting back on activities like walking or running on hard surfaces without proper support, but also taking advantage of rest days and putting my feet up whenever I can.

3. Ample Ice. 

I’m not always great about it, but when possible I try to reduce pain and inflammation with ice. The protocol is to hold an ice pack over the area of pain for 15-20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. But my favorite is an ice massage: I freeze a water bottle full of water and roll my foot back and forth over it for 10 minutes.

4. Anti-inflammatory Meds.

To kill the dull ache (and try to keep things from getting too inflamed after a workout, I’ll take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve) or aspirin. All of these are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help relieve minor aches and pains.

5. Rolling and Stretching.

Immediately after activity, I try to stretch out my plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles. But the best tip I got was from when I was at a fitness studio in Seattle: They had us step on a lacrosse ball to roll out our arch, so I went right home and bought one. Now it’s my favorite thing to do in front of the TV or on a  conference call.


6. Night Splints.

I ordered a Strassburg Sock, which stretches my calf and the arch of my foot while I sleep. The idea is to hold the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position for an extended period of time, although it’s not super comfortable sleeping with a flexed foot, so I haven’t been consistent enough with this to say whether or not it works.

7. Insoles and Orthotics. 

My running shoes are outfitted with Superfeet’s Berry insoles for added support and impact reduction, but I also wear these arch sleeves — thanks to a recommendation from Twitter friends! Not only do they keep my foot from rolling in, but the gentle massage feels great when I know I’m going to be standing for long periods of time.

8. Replacing Shoes. 

Did you know that running shoes lose their support and cushioning after around 300-500 miles of use? Here’s my trick: I buy two pairs at once and alternate them every other run to allow each pair an “off day” to bounce back, plus I’m tracking their mileage carefully to make sure I’m not wearing anything past the point of no return.

9. Ah, Massage.

There are countless health benefits to a good massage, plus it’s one of my favorite rewards for training and recovery. ‘Nuff said.

10. Non-Running Work. 

Even though I’m a former personal trainer, training myself for a marathon leaves me with little time (or energy) to focus on the other stuff. That’s why I’m consulting with a local trainer to help me build a base of stability and range of motion to correct any underlying imbalances, manage injury and keep me running safe and strong in the long run.

11. Physical Therapy.

Finally, another medical professional I’ve recently started working with is a PT. She was able to diagnose some underlying issues and imbalances and provide me with a series of exercises to help get my foot more mobile, stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen my lower leg muscles, which stabilize the ankle and heel. Plus, she offers a host of other tips and tricks, which will hopefully get me up and running again soon!

Have you successfully dealt with PF? And, if so, what worked?

Detroit Marathon: Week 12 training recap


I’m not quite sure how to start this one off, except to call it “the week that wasn’t.”

Here’s what was on the schedule:


How much of it got done? Zip. Zilch. Nada.

What happened?

Well, after last weekend’s long run (a 16-miler), I felt pretty good. Yes, the calf/shin “tweak” was still there, but I seemed to warm up out of it a few miles in and was able to run with minimal discomfort.

Monday morning, though, I awoke with the same lingering pain; only this time it was more of a constant dull ache. At this point, I knew that it wasn’t getting better and I was probably only going to make it worse if I kept hammering away at it, so Hubby and I swam and biked instead.

Early Tuesday morning I set out for the track, determined to try to get back on track with my workouts, but a block away from my apartment I stopped, turned around and walked home. No, the pain wasn’t any different or worse, but I just knew in my gut that something wasn’t right. From years of running — and subsequent injuries! — I was fairly certain that this wasn’t a passing sore muscle.

Yesterday I was finally able to get in to see a professional and get some answers. I found a place that specializes in runners and triathletes (and therefore knows our quirks – i.e. me calling obsessively every day this week to see if someone cancelled and I could get in earlier to see what was up), and the PT there is amazing. She was my favorite kind of medical professional — straightforward, to the point and totally knows her stuff.

So after a series of evaluations, exercises, pokes and prods, she diagnosed me with a locked-up right midfoot (I’m not able to properly pronate through the joints), which most likely has contributed to my lingering case of plantar fasciitis (aha!) and most recently caused the acute “stress response” near my tibia. More culprits? Weak glutes, hips and core muscles — all of which are being “lazy” and throwing everything else off (oops).


The good news? It’s not a stress fracture (yet); I caught it just in time. The bad news? No running for likely two weeks (maybe more), which totally throws a wrench into my training plans. Although she said that if I’m conservative with my activity and do my homework exercises to strengthen my glutes, hips and core in the meantime, I should be able to get stronger in month and can likely run my marathon in October — although the PR part may be questionable.

What’s next?

Because running is off the table for the immediate future, I’ll be re-acquainting myself with the pool, the bike…and this fellow, my cross-training nemesis: the elliptical. It used to be one of my main forms of cardio during college (with a magazine, no less!), but since then it’s something that’s been reserved for injuries and off days.

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Emotionally, I did give myself a few days to mope around; it’s usually easy to adjust to these things physically — but it’s the mental part that’s the most difficult. Adjusting your course when you’ve been going full-throttle in one direction toward a goal can be tough, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. But now that I’ve had a chance to process things, I’m picking myself up and getting ready to attack this next phase of training with the same dedication as my previous one.

The lesson here: Being injured isn’t an excuse to throw up your hands and quit. It doesn’t mean you’ll never reach your goal; you’ve just got to figure out an alternate route to get there. It’s an opportunity to work on your weaknesses, get stronger and come back healthier. And it’s about a long-term plan, versus a short-term focus.

The other lesson? Get yourself checked out by a professional sooner rather than later, people! I am kicking myself that I didn’t go to see someone about my plantar fasciitis earlier because we might have been able to recognize the underlying issue and address it earlier. But hindsight is 20-20, and I’m thankful that I found someone who is helping me address it now so I can be a smarter, stronger and more efficient runner in the future.

Onward and upward to week 13 — let’s hope it’s a luckier one!

Iron(wo)man Meghan Manion on recovery, racing and relationships


Meghan Manion will tell you that her Ironman finish last fall is a testament to what an “average” person can do with with proper training and coaching, but I happen to think it’s more about someone who lives her life putting a little (or a lot) “extra” in the ordinary.

And, clearly, I wasn’t the only one inspired by my interview with her about that 140.6 race experience; it’s been one of the most popular posts, most likely because her positive attitude and outlook are simply infectious.

So I thought it’d be fun to sit down again with Meghan to check in on what she’s been up to since swim-bike-running her way around the Sunshine State.

KineticFix: Thinking back to those first few days (and weeks) post-race, can you walk us through the recovery process after your Ironman?

Meghan Manion: When I woke up the morning after my Ironman, I remember my eyes welling up with tears, just realizing that I had really done it. It all kind of sunk in at that moment.

My next thought was that I was hesitant to move for fear of intense pain! I moved slowly, and quickly realized that I was feeling just fine. No chafing, no soreness, no joint pain at all. I walked normally to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I did not expect that to be the way my morning went!

I’ll attribute the lack of chafing to four generous smearings of Chamois Butt’r throughout the day. The lack of pain….I’m still pondering that. I think the most likely answer is that Team Z just prepared me THAT well for the Ironman.

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Petersen

Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Petersen

I definitely continued training after the race in all three sports, but at a much lower intensity. My motivation did start to fail as the winter arrived; however, I had signed up for the Goofy Challenge (Saturday half marathon, followed by Sunday full marathon) in Disney World two months after the Ironman to give me something else to work for through the winter.

That helped a little bit, but I definitely could have trained better for the race! In March, I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach, feeling not very prepared, but actually ended up with a PR that day!

Ironman does some crazy things to your body; it is incredible how much stronger I feel, even months later.

Photo courtesy of Felipe Wells

Photo courtesy of Felipe Wells

KF: I saw that you just completed another Half Ironman recently, too! What are your other race aspirations this year – triathlon, running, or otherwise?

MM: Yes! I did Ironman Raleigh 70.3 in June. I had raced Raleigh last year as a member of a relay team (I did the bike leg). After that race, I knew that I wanted to do the entire thing this year.

The swim there is fantastic. I had a rough day, including a complete tire blow-out about two miles from the bike finish! I carried my bike the last two miles that day. These things happen!

I’ll also be racing a Rev 3 Williamsburg on June 15. I’m doing the Olympic distance there, and I’m really excited to head back to Williamsburg. I raced the 70.3 last year, and it was my first half distance race.

Even more exciting, I met my fiancé Nate at that race last year, and we are both looking forward to reliving that first meeting. And after Williamsburg, Nate will be focusing on training for his first Ironman in Chattanooga in September, so I will most likely follow him around to whatever races he finds useful in his training.

Photo courtesy of Matt Koirtyohann

Photo courtesy of Matt Koirtyohann

KF: Speaking of…you two just got engaged (congrats!).  Any tips you can share for successfully balancing a relationship with training, racing and other commitments, since he’s a fellow triathlete?

MM: Nate and I were engaged on May 1, and we are planning our wedding on the beach in Florida in November! What an exciting year it has been.

We both love having triathlon as a shared interest, and we will always have it as the thing that brought us together. We aren’t able to train together much, because I cannot keep up with Mr. Speedy Pants. But every once in a while we will run together, or go on a casual ride.

We definitely enjoy racing together, or just being there for each other’s races. I think we motivate each other to get out and get the workouts in, too!

Photo courtesy of Stacie Edington

Photo courtesy of Stacie Edington

Thanks, Meghan, for taking the time to chat. And here’s wishing you just as much success and happiness in the second half of your year! 

Feel the squeeze: 4 reasons to try compression gear (+ giveaway!)


Once reserved for diabetics and frequent flyers, compression socks have gone mainstream, thanks to athletes who swear by their performance benefits in training, racing and recovery.

“I started wearing compression gear in 2007, and I sure got some funny looks as the first person in the USA to wear them [at Ironman Louisville that year],” said Chris McDonald, a professional triathlete and four-time Ironman champion. “I was chatting with a surgeon about post-op recovery, and he said to me, ‘I know nothing about sport, but I can’t tell you quality compression socks will help with return blood flow.’ So I just tried them!”

Although experts are still debating whether the effects are more in your head than your legs, I’m a proponent of compression gear, based on experience. Not only do my legs feel fresher mid-run, but they’re also less sore the day after. Plus, blindingly-bright colors keep me happy during hard workouts 🙂

Personal opinions aside, though, there are a few reasons why it may be worth setting your gear budget back a few bucks (prices for these puppies are in the $45-70 range) to get ahead in your training:

1. Improve circulation. Ever get that “heavy legged” feeling while working out? Compression gear can help prevent blood from pooling in hard-working muscles to keep legs feeling peppy.

2. Stay comfortable. If you’re worried that wearing compression socks means you’ll have to give up your favorite cushy, anti-blister socks, think again. Many brands offer arch support and extra padding in the toe and heel.

3. Increase protection. Socks aren’t just for shielding feet against shoes. Much of today’s compression gear does double duty with special materials that provide a cooling effect and SPF sun protection.

4. Speed recovery. Bounce back faster with recovery-based styles, which are engineered to help get fresh blood into muscles and flush out byproducts, such as lactic acid.

All the brands and technology out there can get overwhelming, which is why I recommend starting at a site like BrightLifeGo. They’re an authority on the subject of compression, having tested and handpicked their entire collection of socks and stockings — both for athletic use and everyday wear. 

I even found a new favorite brand there — Sigvaris. Style-wise, they’re a departure from my usual obnoxiously-colored gear…but functionally, I just couldn’t pass up their graduated compression design, extra-cushy footbed and anti-blister toe fabric. 


Factor in all the other bells and whistles, like high-tech fibers to regulate temperature (and odor), Achilles Tendon Protectors to reduce vibrations on ligaments, plus extra-wide top bands to keep everything in place…and, well, I pretty much live in these things when training, racing and traveling. 

Want to feel the squeeze yourself? Here are a few things to take into account when picking your perfect pair: 

  • Length: Do you want a knee-high sock or a full-length legging?
  • Use: Are you looking to use compression for work, play — or both?
  • Level: How tight do you want it — mild relief or moderate support? 
  • Design: Is form (aka style) just as important as function? 

“I definitely feel the benefits with both performance and recovery time,” said McDonald. “If you can recover quicker you can train harder. Put on compression for all travel (including drives over two hours), wear them during and post workout, and put a pair of compression socks on as you are sitting around at night. It’s not rocket science; it just takes routine.”

Is compression a part of your training and racing attire?

Enter my Rafflecopter giveaway to win two FREE pairs of Sigvaris compression socks or sleeves, courtesy of BrightLifeGo!

10 tips for recovering from a 50K


Let me be the first to say it: Finishing one 50K definitely does not qualify me as an expert in all things ultra marathon.

But I have been training for, running and racing all kinds of distances for almost 20 years now (crap, that makes me feel old), so I am somewhat of an expert on my body and how to help it bounce back from pretty intense endurance events.

This is by no means an exhaustive checklist; it’s just what I like to do to help kick-start the recovery process, which — if done properly — is where the real gains in your training can occur.

1. Celebrate — You just ran 31 miles! Accept that round of hugs, collect your medal, then take a load off for a few minutes…preferably in the shade.

2. Eat — Refuel your body so it can repair and rebuild. For me, this equates to fistfuls of candy at the finish, but I always follow it up with a good meal.

3. Drink  — Celebratory glass of Pomegranate Cider (see step no. 1) aside, I spend the rest of the day trying to rehydrate until my pee runs light yellow.

4. Assess — Do a head-to-toe check for injuries or issues. From blisters to poison oak to tweaked joints, it’s better to recognize it sooner rather than later.

5. Address — I pop Advil for aches, wear compression gear to soothe muscles, apply Tecnu, and bathe in ice or Espom salts to reduce inflammation.

6. Sleep — Restless legs may make it tough to sleep the night after the race, so two nights later I aim for a long, deep sleep to allow my body to reboot.

7. Rest — More than just sleep, this means taking a day (or two) off after a race that gives my body — and mind — and break from the training grind.

8. Reflect — Drafting up the race report while the event is still fresh in my head lets me figure out what worked well — and what didn’t — for next time.

9. Move — I start with light walking the day after and ease in with a gentle swim on day two. By day three, I follow it up with an easy session on the bike.

10. Plan — Last but not least, it’s important to continually set goals to stay motivated. This usually comes in the form of a new race registration!

What are your best strategies for recovering from a big event? 

How I work out…of a workout funk


Fitness has always been a part of my life. Initially, yes, I had to force myself to find the enjoyment in it, but as I got into better shape it became a habit, which has now evolved into a full-blown lifestyle.

Most days, it’s not even a question; breaking a sweat is like scratching an itch. Hubby even jokes that I’m like a border collie and need to get out my extra energy with a good run.

Throw in a race with a training schedule, and I’m in my happy place with A) a game plan, B) a goal, and C) the satisfaction of being able to check something off the list each day.

But once in a while the pendulum slows, and it’s tough to maintain my usual momentum…whether it’s a case of the post-race let-downs, a schedule lull, workout burnout, life throwing a temporary curve ball — or  a combo of all of the above.

Like now, where I’m still processing my HITS Napa race and loosely training for my 50K at the end of the month, all while Hubby and I are preparing to mark some milestones and life changes together in the next few months.

Needless to say, the resolve with which I approached triathlon training has waned. So what to do when your usual outlet(s) for release become potential source(s) of stress?


Yup, my new mantra came via mail recently from one of my best friends who wanted to give me a boost (thank you, Marisa!). And little did she know, it led to my return to the pool last week.

I knew I needed to get back on the proverbial horse after my race went poorly, but I’d been feeling cautious, tentative and — honestly — a bit deflated with regards to the water.

So for the first time in a little over a month, I took the plunge. My body wasn’t feeling it. My mind wasn’t into it. So I tricked both by taking a different approach.

Instead of a workout, I went “naked” (sans tech devices) to just try to enjoy splashing around for 1500 yards. Right away I could tell I’ve lost some fitness, but about 1000 yards in, I started to feel a glimmer of that mojo I’ve been missing.

No, I’m not signing up for that bucket-list half ironman anytime soon (I’ve got a lot of work to do first), but it did get me thinking about staying present, finding enjoyment in the process and celebrating incremental victories instead of focusing solely on the pursuit of a singular goal.

So, in the meantime? Just like the shirt says, I’m going to keep calm, put one stroke, pedal and foot in front of the other…and embrace the journey.

How do you bounce back from a tough race or work out of a workout funk?

Effective Exercise: The right way to warm up and cool down


When you’re pressed for time, it’s easy to think that skipping a warm-up, cool-down and stretch might be the most efficient way to work out, right?

Big mistake. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, taking some time to allow your body to ease in and out of things — even if it means shortening the actual workout — will actually help you reach your goals faster.

How? It’s simple, really: Focusing on flexibility can lower your risk for injury, so you’ll be able to keep a more consistent workout schedule, thus obtaining better results in the long run.

I’ve talked before about several other benefits to warming up and cooling down, but here are some specifics to consider before your next sweat session.

Ideal Workout Sequence: 

  1. Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio to get blood pumping
  2. Light stretching: Mix gentle and dynamic moves to prime body for performance
  3. Intense Exercise: Attack the workout confidently now that you’re loose and limber!
  4. Deep stretching: Take advantage of warm muscles, which are more pliable
  5. Cool-down: 5-10 more minutes of low-intensity cardio to bring heart rate down

How to Warm Up:

Gradually increase intensity. If you’re going to run, for example, progress from a fast walk to a jog to a run. For biking, start in a low gear and allow legs to spin out before adding elements of speed and resistance. And if you’re lifting, try a series of light weights before progressing to several sets at your goal weight.

Wake up your brain. Get your mind and body in sync for workouts or sports that require hand-eye coordination or fancy footwork. Add some balance and agility drills to activate your reflexes, which will help you respond and react better during peak activity.

Include dynamic movements. After your body is warmed up and you’ve done a few static stretches, move onto dynamic stretching, which takes your body through its full range of motion and should include things like arm and legs swings, torso twists, jumping jacks or fast running.

How to Cool Down:

Gradually decrease intensity. Reverse the progression, whether it’s slowing from a run to a jog to a walk, allowing legs to spin out at a slower speed on low resistance or doing a few sets of easier exercises with lbs in the weight room.

Think loose, long and lean. It’s time to reward muscles for a job well done by allowing them to relax into some deep stretches that speed circulation to joints and tissues, remove unwanted waste products and reduce soreness and stiffness.

Refuel and replenish. Within an hour (really, the sooner the better), drink up and eat up. Use water to rehydrate, and aim for a snack with a carb/protein ratio of 4:1 for maximum benefit when it comes to repairing muscles and restoring energy levels.

Do you bookend your workouts with a warm-up and cool-down for better results?