Do You Hear Your Heart’s Whispers?

Happy 11/11/11!

poppies, kalanit

Today I want to share with you a passage from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I have shared from this book on the blog before. This tiny, simple little book is such a guiding star for me. I have almost the entire thing underlined and highlighted!

This passage pretty much sums up what this week has been for me, both personally and professionally. Lots of wheel spinning going on around me. Many good souls being held back by shadowy fears. Not much bold stepping forward happening. I don’t like to see this in others and I certainly don’t like to see it in myself! Every day this week I opened my morning pages with the prompt “What is holding me back?” Then one day, I flipped through The Alchemist and found my answer. I hope it speaks to some of you as well:

‘Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him,’ his heart said. ‘We, people’s hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them. We speak of them only to children. Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate. But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them – the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness. Most people see the world as a threatening place, and because they do, the world turns out , indeed, to be a threatening place.

So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won’t be heard: we don’t want people to suffer because they don’t follow their hearts.’

‘Why don’t people’s hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?’ the boy asked the alchemist?

‘Because that’s what makes a heart suffer most, and hearts don’t like to suffer.’

From then on, the boy understood his heart. He asked it, please, never to stop speaking to him. He asked, that when he wandered far from his dreams, his heart press him and sound the alarm. The boy swore that, every time he heard the alarm, he would heed it’s message.

Training-wise however, I had a great week.  Despite the ongoing backache, I feel strong and healthy. The weather now is simply glorious. Perfect temps, sunshine, flowers blooming, green filling my eyes, instead of summer’s dusty brown. I LOVE running in this weather!  Here are the T-minus 20 weeks training details:

Sunday, Nov.  6 – Ran 5K, plus strength training abs + arms

Monday, Nov. 7 – Ran in Vibrams 4K (yay!), strength training back and lower body

Tuesday, Nov. 8 -1 hour strength training full body

Wednesday, Nov. 9 – Spinning

Thursday, Nov. 10 – Rest Day

Friday, Nov. 11 – Ran 11.5K (68 minutes)

Training Song of the Week: I’ve logged a countless number of miles to this song over the years. To all of The Who’s songs really.  Quadrophenia was pretty much the soundtrack of my younger running years.  This special video that I found looks like it may actually be Keith Moon’s final appearance on film. He died 3 weeks after this song was released. Gone, but never, never forgotten. And I love that his headphones are duct-taped to this head here.

Come on, tell me who are you?:

Samosa Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

Don’t even ask.  One of my dear friends so kindly noticed and remarked the other day “Emily, you are falling apart, girl!”  What is up with my body, people? Truthfully, I spent a few days feeling discouraged and sorry for myself.  But that didn’t make anything better happen, so I decided to give it up.  If I’m going to keep being kicked back to Square One, then at least I can spiffy the place up while I’m here!

Back at Square One Gratitude List(Rainbow Writing Yay!)

1.  Gilad Shalit’s homecoming was the single best moment of my aliyah (immigration) to Israel.  The fact that I got to be here to witness that was worth all the other struggles.  It’s not just that he came back, but the way we as a country reacted.  I came here because I wanted to be part of something and on Tuesday I got to actually LIVE that expression “our hearts beat as one”.  It was electrifying!

2.  Now that I can barely run around the block, I can start re-training with my Vibrams.  Hello Silver Lining.

3.  The Jewish holidays are over.  I should be sad, but enough is enough!  I kissed my machzor (holiday prayerbook) when I put it back on the shelf and thought “see ya next year Avinu Malkeinu.”  Back to school and work on Sunday, yippee!

4.  The lovely day my husband and I spent with just our youngest son in Yafo (Jaffa) this week.  Little brothers shine like stars when not trying to compete with their Bigs.

5.  Picked up the latest Percy Jackson book.  In case you don’t know, Percy Jackson is Greek Mythology’s Harry Potter and we are crazy about him in this house!

6.  Since I decided to move in and explore this Square One place, I have already re-examined something I initially scorned and found it to be fascinatingly useful.  I have a feeling I will be writing more about that in the days to come.

7.  The cone will come off on Sunday.  I hope.

dog in elizabethan cone

8.  Daytime temps no longer go into the 90’s and one evening I actually wore a sweater! I am so grateful for this you can’t even imagine!

9.  It’s Pomegranate Season. oolala oo ooo

pomegranate

10.  Twice-Baked Potatoes that taste like samosas:

Samosa Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

Samosa Stuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe is from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I am re-printing my version of her recipe which appears many places online (including the preview in google book reader).

Ingredients

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • extra oil for brushing or spraying potatoes

Instructions

  1. Bake the potatoes until crispy on the outside and soft in the center. Set aside to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the mustard and coriander seeds briefly to toast them
  3. Add the carrots and onions and saute for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, ground cumin and turmeric and saute for 3 more minutes.
  5. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half length-wise and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4 inch shell.
  6. Mash the potato flesh (adding a bit of broth or soymilk if it seems too dry) then add the sauteed veggies and lemon juice and mix well.
  7. Brush or spray the inside of the potato skins with oil and then re-fill with the spiced mashed potato mixture.
  8. Bake at 200 C for about 20 minutes until heated through and golden.
http://triumphwellness.com/samosa-stuffed-twice-baked-potatoes/

This post was submitted to Wellness Weekend over at DietDessertnDogs.

The Care and Feeding of Sports Injuries

So, I’ve been back in Israel for a few weeks now.  Upon returning home, I plunged right into writing my holiday recipe e-book.  I was also super busy with a wonderful round of new clients who all started up in the last few weeks.  

During this time, I have also written a number of blog posts.  They were all very eloquently, well-written versions of:

WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!

I have been reluctant to hit “publish” on these posts because I felt crappy and discouraged and that is never fun to share.  But things are on the upswing and now I feel ready.  Plus, several of you have mentioned that, you too, need this post.

So here’s the deal:  After my last glowing post about my Vibrams, I must report a sad downturn of events.  The Plantar Fasciitis that I bought the Vibrams to cure, is not going to go down without a fight.  There was about a week there where I almost couldn’t walk, let alone run, and I have had to delay the official start of my race training until I heal.

Now, I am not a doctor or a physical therapist.  I’ve taken ONE college-level course in anatomy and I know the difference between quadriceps and biceps, but I claim no official medical knowledge.  None-the-less, I can tell you this:

DON’T.  TRAIN.   THROUGH.   INJURIES!

When you get hurt, you need to stop and rest.  Rub arnica into your sore spots, ice them down, get massaged by a professional, try foam rolling, and do other things in the meantime, such as swimming, yoga, spinning, walking… whatever does not aggravate your injury.  But most of all, be patient and wait.

I know it is an ugly suckfest to get derailed right when your train has begun forward momentum.  I know because I am super crabby about it myself.  But it happens and if you keep going, you will get really, really hurt and that’s when people start with the “running is bad for you” business.  It’s NOT bad for you if you listen to your body and don’t push through injury pain.

So, there’s the pain of injury but there is also the pain of plain old soreness.  Do you know how to tell the difference?  This is important, because that good old soreness responds best to MORE exercise, whereas injuries, as we said need to be rested.

Soreness can feel very painful, but if you try to exercise again, it will probably start to feel better.  If it doesn’t, it feels worse with exercise, or if the pain is very SHARP and localized, it might be a more serious injury.

Soreness is a “hurts so good” sort of pain.  It may make you whimper, but you’ll laugh while whimpering.  Injury, on the other hand, may make you weep and swear.

Here are some of the most common running injuries you may experience:

1.  Shin splints

I don’t know exactly what shin splits are but they hurt like the dickens.  If you have them, you will feel terrible pain anywhere along the top of your foot up your shins to your knees.  Once when I was running track in high school, I had such bad shin splints I had to stop and sit on the side of the road while the team ran on without me.  I don’t remember how I got home, but it wasn’t on my own two feet!

Shin splints are usually caused by over-training and they are especially common in new runners.  The cure is to stop running for awhile until they stop hurting.  There is also this cure I use myself (but remember I don’t know jack, so at your own risk, baby):

Sit on the edge of a chair.  Put your feet on the floor.  Now put your right foot on top of your left foot (pigeon-toed).  Push down hard with your right foot while pulling up hard with your left.  Repeat on the other side.  Do a couple of times to build up your shin strength.

2.)  Plantar Fasciitis

PF happens when the ligament on the bottom of your foot is too tight and tears every time your foot strikes.  The tear isn’t what hurts but the calcification that builds up around it hurts like an SOB.  This is felt as stabbing or throbbing heal pain, arch pain and sometimes ankle pain.  The classic symptom is not being able to walk to the bathroom first thing in the morning.  Yes, I have honestly crawled to the toilet and apparently I’m not the only one.  As the day progresses, the pain lessens, except after periods of sitting or inactivity.

PF is fickle.  It can come and stay, or appear suddenly and disappear just as quickly.  Current treatments involve custom orthotics, steroid injections, a boot to wear at nighttime, and some sort of laser or sonogram wave treatment.  I have never had any of these treatments.  I get PF and I stop running.  It goes away and sometimes doesn’t come back for years.

But I can tell you that if your arches are low or flat, or your calves or hamstrings are very tight, you MUST spend a good amount of time stretching the bottom of your feet, calves and hamstrings.  Down dog pose in yoga is a good one, as is that runner’s stretch where you lean against the wall and stretch your calves out behind you.

 3.)  Knee pain

There are so many causes of knee pain, I’m afraid I can’t offer much help here.  Your best bet is to ice sore knees, rub them down with arnica, take ibuprofin, and if the pain persists, get to your doctor.  

It’s always a good idea to make sure the muscles surrounding your knee are strong and balanced.  That takes quite a bit of strain off the knee itself.  Consult a personal trainer or physical therapist if you are not sure how to strengthen these muscles.

4.)  Other foot pain

Some foot pain can indicate a stress fracture.  If it doesn’t get better, see the doc and get an xray.

5.)  Hip pain and back pain

This can be anything from alignment issues, poor strength levels, muscle strains, or arthritis.  Doctor, doctor, doctor…

For all of these injuries, athletic taping can be a real lifesaver.  But again, you need a pro to show you how to tape, so don’t be shy to get help.

Overall, exercise should feel good.  Yes, there will be soreness and pain as you push your physical limits, but you really must not live in denial about being injured.  Err on the side of caution and treat pain before it ends up being something seriously wrong.

This is one of my favorite quotes about exercise.  It’s by former Ironman (and Vegan Ironman, at that!) Brendan Brazier, from his book Thrive:

Training is really nothing more than taking advantage of our body’s ability to heal itself.  When faced with post-exertion muscle damage, the body will surmise that it must grow stronger to perform the task more effectively next time it is called upon.  Really, the body is taking the easy way out;  it’s easier for it to grow stronger now to reduce strain placed on it next time it must perform.  Little does the body know, as soon as it demonstrates its improved strength, more demand will soon be placed upon it.

Vibrams Virgin No More

I want to spend a little moment talking about my new shoes:

Vibram 5 Fingers, Bikila

I mentioned in a previous post, that I first heard of Vibrams about a year ago, when some odd-ball, way-out-there, extreme runner types, began donning these funny-looking slipper things and proclaiming their glory.  I read all the reports:  these 5-fingered shoe gloves brought about the cessation of aches and pains, the elimination of chronic injuries, faster running times, a renewed passion for running, and even the motivation to live a life more connected to nature.  “These must be some sort of wonder shoes!” thought I.

But running in flimsy, unprotected slippers seemed scary to me.  My tender tooties!  My on-again-off-again plantar fasciitis (which is totally debilitating when it’s ON)!  My ache-y knees!  What if I step on a big rock?  What if I look like a freak?

(see my naked toes peeking out below!!)

Then, last year I read Born to Run and was introduced to the concept, that it is likely our Running SHOES that are causing our injuries not the actual running itself!  The human foot and leg are perfectly designed to walk and run without any shoes at all.  Well of course they are!  Our ansectors didn’t have shoes for a long time and they ran and hunted and survived just fine.  Then when they learned to make things, they made flat sandals that probably protected them from that hot, hot sand.  They walked MILES in just flat sandals or barefoot!

When we pad our modern-day feet into stabilizing, cushioned pods of  bouncy “comfort”, our own foot structure cannot do what it was made to do.  For me, 20 years of running in increasingly specialized running shoes had not stemmed my aches and pains or strengthened my ever-falling arches. Lightbulb moment.

Suddenly it made sense.  Just as I believe my body knows exactly what I need to eat to stay healthy and that man-made, factory produced frankenfoods and pharmaceuticals only complicate and confuse my “animal” body, so with these factory-made, heavily engineered running shoes and my smart old paws.

I did my homework and for a full year before I got my Vibrams and I worked on strengthening my feet…  by just allowing them to be feet, au naturale!  I walked barefoot at home.  I took my running shoes off when I reached the part of my run that goes through the park, and I jogged softly barefoot through the grass.  I gripped things with my toes and did lots of calf raises.  I did lots of yoga and focused on spreading my toes out nice and wide and straight.

Then came the day when I felt ready to get my first Vibrams.  I had read that one must start slowly as the legs and feet need to learn an entire new gait and foot strike.  Running shoes make you lean back, stride wide, and strike with the heel.  Injury City.  Barefooting makes you lean forward, take smaller steps and land mid-to-forefoot.

I have now taken 2 short runs in my Vibrams, just 2 -1/2 miles each, and I have to tell you it was hard to stop each run.  I wake up in the morning wanting to put them on and run!  The experience is far better than I could have imagined!  I feel like a panther!  I feel like all these years, my feet have just been along for the ride in their shoe pods, not participating at all in the sport of my legs.  Now my feet feel the earth, my toes grip it and push off, I feel light and freeeeeeee!

I was thinking that I would just use the Vibrams to strengthen my feet, but still run long runs and the marathon in my regular shoes, because I am still a bit afraid.  Lurking fear and doubt.  But on one run last week, I switched shoes mid run and I couldn’t even run in my regular running shoes!  I felt off balance and disoriented.  WOW.

So it’s a bit too early to say how I will use my Vibrams in training, but I can tell you that I am in love, love, love.

And if you’re wondering about the paradox of Barefoot Running SHOES, yes, it is a bit strange.  But the Vibrams really just give you a rubber base that protects you from things like glass, and nails that could seriously harm or even end a running career.  And from bees and too hot sand or asphalt!

If you decide you might want to give them a try, do some reading online.  Visit the Vibrams website to learn about the different models.  If you are in Israel, there is a list of stores HERE.  I know they have them at Wertheimer Triathalon in Herzilya, and I’m pretty sure you can find them at Al Derech Burma in Beit Shemesh and at various branches of Maslool, but check that full list and call ahead.

(Of course they are cheaper if you are going to the US or have someone bringing them back for you.  I got mine from RoadRunnerSports, which is where I buy all my shoes and gear).

Happy Barefootin’ Me!

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