Monday, 27 February 2012

To tape or not to tape?

WARNING! The following picture of my knees is not for the squeamish, LOL!!!!!

****Please remember that the following was prescribed for my specific knee needs. Don't attempt this on your own without professional assessment and training. Ask your health and wellness  provider if this technique might work for you.

When I went for my muscle imbalance assessment a while ago, one of the first things Steve Georges, my physiotherapist, told me was that he would teach me how to tape my knee to help the kneecap (patella) to track properly. This didn't surprise me. About 35 years ago, my left knee was subjected to a major tendon-transfer operation. Although necessary at the time (I was limping through life with a lot of pain), it never really fully recovered. It was a major operation back then, with a 3-day hospital stay and a Loooooong recovery period, then physio for a long, long while. The atrophe never really disappeared despite exercises. In the following pic of my "lovely" (definitely not) knees, the green arrows show the length of the massive scar, the red dots the width of the scar (including the stretching in the midsection) and the areas of atrophe (pretty obvious even taking into account the foreshortening of the photo). Other smaller scars on the bottom right of that knee are areas where fluid (and hardened matter as well) was removed after a bad healing process and subsequent injury. I have no surface feeling on the outside of that knee. As Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy would say in Star Trek IV when encountering our medical procedures, "My God, what is this - the Dark Ages?".

Now for the taping thing. In order to train the patella to track properly and waylay any furhter damage, Steve taught me how to do the McConnell taping technique:

I use considerably less of the brown leukotape, but in three separate strips, with the white Hypafix underneath to protect the skin as shown in the above diagram. I have been using this method for about a month now and have found it to be beneficial on long or strenuous training days. In a future blog I might show how I go about taping my knee for my own individual needs.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Hammock Camping and Hiking

Being avid backcountry hikers and campers, we're always looking at tweaking our gear. We had particularly been thinking of an ultralight tent for multi-day hikes, but then you also have to have some king of underpad and sleeping bag (at least I do - think Princess and the Pea, LOL!), which simply makes for too much gear. I came across the concept of hammock camping quite by accident, and after much research have ordered a Hennessy Expedition to try out in the back yard before we actually use it in the field this summer.

expedition hammock

The cool thing is that it's your own individual tent, bug screen, rain fly and bed (also can be used as a camp chair) and is easy to pack and carry (weight is important when you're out there!). With the "snakeskins" (a kind of sleeve that they easily roll into), you can even hook it on the outside of your pack. They're supposed to be very comfortable to sleep on (pressure points are murder after a hard day of hiking).

You can check out the specs on this model here  (scroll down to our model). While you're there, check out the info on hammock camping. Once it has arrived and we learn how to use it, I'll report back with some pics!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Farewell to Beorn....

I tend to anthropomorphise inanimate objects. For instance, all of our vehicles have had names and, IMHO, "person"alities. We bought Beorn (named after Tolkien's man/bear from The Hobbit), a 2005 VW Touareg, in 2006, so got a pretty good deal. It's an amazing vehicle - drives like a luxury car, with that level of interior comfort and amenities, but tackles nasty off-road driving like it was born to it (which it is!). Beorn took us on many amazing adventures in New Mexico and all of the states between here and there. We stored him in the winter so as to keep him in good shape for the Spring-Autumn expeditions. With an SUV tent, he was tranformed into a two-room camper, or he could just carry everything we needed for regular tent camping. Six years of use puts wear on any vehicle, and our extended warranty was coming up. We knew that sometime in the near future brakes would have to be redone, and who knows what else. It was with great sadness that we traded Beorn in this week. He was in such great shape that we got a really good trade-in deal and leased a 2012 VW Tiguan off-road (it's a smaller SUV than the Touareg).

"Little Bear"
It ("Little Bear") is also a great vehicle, but there will only be one Beorn. Here's a little pictorial tribute to him:

The "SUV tent"

Sunrise at Lackey Point

Sacred Mountain

Happy Trails, old friend.......

Sunday, 12 February 2012

There are training cycles and then there are Training Cycles.....

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've been doing a lot of research, reading and pondering on training theory and training practice as my Intensification phase (or meso-cycle) approaches. I've amalgamated my findings into a chart of the macro-cycle for a half-marathon goal which kind of gels everything for me and makes it easy to comprehend. I decided to go to a 10-day micro-cycle as this incorporates the hard day/easy day ratio I need better than the usual 7-day outline. 8 of these microcycles is about 12 weeks. Not everyone can accomodate this type of micro-cycle due to weekly commitments, however.
I've hesitated sharing this outline as people tend to take these things as carved in stone and/or ultimate wisdom, which it most certainly is not. I did finally decide to share, however, in case you find it at all useful, although the caveat is, of course, that this was developed for my own needs from various sources and might not work for you. Please don't use it then scream at me because you didn't PR at the race or because you injured yourself or jumped in doing something too strenuous without your doctor's approval, LOL!!!!!! Also, please note that VO2 max training (in the "Intensification" phase) should only be undertaken by experienced walkers/runners, and then with extreme caution.

Now I'll take those 8 10-day microcycles and fit them into a chart for use:

Please note that the entire mesocycle ("Intensification Phase") is divided into two chunks of four micro-cycles each. This is to accommodate the "micro-cycle" pattern outlined in the chart above, something I wanted to try.

The type of workout is listed at the top (defined in the first chart), with a small box for mileage in each day-box. The divided "Mileage" box at the beginning of each micro-cycle will be for goal/actual or mileage/% or any other configuration you might want.

I'm going to use this training plan for my upcming half in May and will report back as to its usefulness at that time. I'm sure it will need tweaking or maybe even perhaps a complete overhaul, but I like the look of this as it stands. Took me quite a while to develop it, with my own goals in mind.

Had to add this for Scott:

"Well, Gilligan, it's really quite simple...."

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Back in the Kitchen!

Just finished eating up the last batch of PLbars. That flavour was one I call Mocha-Macaroon (to the basic dough I added Starbucks Columbian Via, fairtrade cocoa and coconut). They were so delicious - just like the chocolate macaroons my Granny used to make when I was a tot (only probably a whole lot healthier!). I bought a mini-processor today (for $8 on sale!) and used it for my new batch. Worked like a charm for everything! I didn`t have to add any water to process the dates (so they were less gooey) and the nuts were chopped ever so perfectly. Today`s batch I call Peanut Butter Cup. To the basic dough of dates and nuts I added organic natural peanut butter and more fairtrade cocoa - I admit it, I`m a bit of a chocoholic, but only unsweetened pure choco. I also added a bit of pure vanilla). They`re in the fridge firming up, but of course I cleaned the bowl. Got another winner there, folks!

Right now, there`s a pot of soup stock simmering on the stove (nothing much goes to waste around here, LOL!) and two loaves of gluten-free dairy-free cornbread (from a mix) in the oven. Smelling good around the Walkin` Fool Homestead right about now!

In other news, I`ve been revamping my training schedule as my Intensification Phase looms ahead. Been reading a LOT on both theory and practice. Don`t have to tweak too much, but did come up with a good basic plan based on various sources and am now working on a specific chart for 4-week cycles. Although these are both tailored to me and my needs, I`ll share them in a future post in case somebody might find them useful.

It was another gorgeous day around here today, so was outside walking. What happened to winter.....

Happy Walking!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Gentlemen, They Will Rebuild Her

A little over a month ago, Coach Carmen Jackinsky gave me some really great advice - to go to a Physiotherapist to get a wellness assessment. This turned out to be one of the best pieces of advice I have received as a walker. I did my research and found Loaring Physiotherapy about a half hour from my place ( The description sounded like the place I was looking for - they specialized in sports medicine and even sponsored a local thriathlon! I made an appointment with PT Steve (he's the guy smiling in the picture on their website). The assessment went great - Steve knows his stuff! He pinpointed exactly the muscle weaknesses and imblanaces which would cause problems down the road as I upped my training, then he and kinesiologist Sharon proceeded to give me exactly the exercises I needed to correct the problem areas. These are not in-your-face beef-me-up kinds of things, but subtle balancing strength-knitting things that will last a lifetime. I went back for three followups in the three following consecutive weeks, adding to my repertoire of hip/quad/balance exercises, getting some deep core work and learning how to tape my knees so my pattella would track correctly. Now I have my work to do! I'll go back in a couple of months for a tuneup, and will likely take a block of visits later in the year for additional deep core work. The great thing to know is that my "team" is there for me. Gentlemen, they will rebuild her - better, stronger!

Thanks Coach Carmen, Steve and Sharon!!!!

Now all I need are some cool bionic sound effects and my own theme song.......

The Gluten-free experiment, Part 2

It has been 10 days since I have eliminated gluten from my diet. I can now confidently call the "Customer Service" numbers on packaging to check if products are gluten free, LOL! Really, it is "hidden" everywhere...ever check the ingredients in soy sauce?

I did discover (the hard way) that kicking wheat out of your diet causes detox and withdrawal symptoms if you have an intolerance???? That was fun. I felt great the first day of The Plan (Sunday, January 29th). Then my original issues got even worse than they had been before. I felt like doo-doo. I seriously questioned the validity of this, but also felt that I needed to stick with it at least two weeks (shorter than the original three week plan, but about all I could hack at this point). That's when I found out about getting all of the nasty stuff out of your system (can you Google "gluten-free detox"?). So I continued feeling, well, "under the weather", shall we say (a genteel Victorian understatement if ever there was one). Suddenly, on Saturday the 4th everything cleared up completely! I felt better than I have for a long, long, long time. Sunday ditto, etc.. I guess it's true that anything worth doing is worth sticking to (honestly, I do know that a mere week isn't much to suffer through - unless you're the one doing the suffering and questioning your sanity).  Turns out I was lucky. Talked to a friend last night and he suffered for 5 weeks with detox before he finally just went back to gluten. He said his symptoms with it were better than those without.  Obviously, his sensitivity to gluten was a lot stronger than mine.

Now, I've been making my own quick breads (not that I eat a lot of that stuff anyway) and have discovered a whole world of interesting flours! Different pastas that actually taste better than the whole wheat ones I had been using. We already ate a lot of rice, quinoa, amaranth, etc., so no change there. I've even found some decent gluten-free beer! Feels good!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Walker-friendly Races for 2012

I've pretty much finalized my own personal 2012 race calendar, limited to two half-marathons and two 10K training races. Most are close to home - not as much travelling time or expense that way. First up will be the Meteor 10K at the Martian Marathon (Dearborn, MI) in April, then the Sudbury Rocks! Half Marathon (Sudbury, ON) in May (because we'll be visiting family up there at that time). Hiking in the US Southwest usually occurs in August, so back into the racing in September with another 10K (Run with Heroes, in Amherstburg, ON), and the Cincy Half Marathon (Cincinnati, OH) in October.
Of those I've chosen, all accept walkers, but only the Cincy one has dedicated Competitive walking divisions. There are others that have such, but economics and pre-planned travel had to play a part this year! Also, I usually only race in the Spring and Autumn. In my search for a Spring or Autumn race this year, I came across a good many walker-friendly or walker-welcome ones, so thought I'd share (even threw a couple of Summer ones in for you). There are a LOT more out there; these are just some of the ones that happened to fit my criteria. Email me with more and I'll gladly add them to the list!



April 14th, 2012: Martian Marathon (Dearborn. MI): walkers welcome, but no separate divisions

May 6th, 2012: Borgess (Kalamazoo, MI) -walkers allowed, but no separate division

May 6th, 2012: Cincinnati Flying Pig - a great one for walkers! Separate walking divisions (honour system) and results posted separately, no awards

May 6th, 2012: Mississauga, ON-separate results; no awards

May 6th, 2012: Quebec City, Quebec -walker division and early start

May 12, 2012: Journey's Marathon ( Eagle River WI) - separate 13.1 Power Walk division (honour systems) and results. Beautiful area! No awards (due to honour system)

May 13, 2012: Sudbury Rocks! (Sudbury, ON) -walkers welcome, but no separate divisions, results or awards.

May 20, 2012: Cleveland, OH -separate divisions and results; 5k; unsure about awards (rumour has it yes).

May 26-27: Ottawa -separate walking division and results. No awards.


August 19th: Edmonton, AB -separate walk division and awards

August 26th, 2012: Bayshore (Owen Sound, ON)-separate walkers divisions, results and awards.


September 23rd: KW Walking Classic (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON) - Walkers only Competitive Event: half marathon, 10K, 5K.

September 23rd:: Toronto Island Girl Half (Toronto, ON) -separate results, but no awards

September 23rd, 2012: Run for Heroes (Amherstburg, ON) -fast walkers allowed (at least in the 10K that I know of), but no separate divisions

September 29, 2012: Run for the Toad, Pinehurst Conservation Area (Paris ON) -- separate division with awards; 25k distance for walkers

September 30th, 2012: Brooksie Way (Rochester, MI) -walkers welcome…that’s all.

October 7th, 2012 - Portland Marathon (Portland OR) -one of THE premiere races for walkers. Racewalk AND Nordic Walking divisions. Sells out quickly!

October 14th, 2012: Mother Road (OK/ KA/MO)-walkers welcome; no separate results or awards

October 20th, 2012: Cincinnati Half Marathon (Cincinnati, OH)-walking division! –capped at 5,000 – through downtown and along the Ohio River – separate start – walking awards!!!!

October 20th, 2012: Waddell & Reed Marathon (Kansas City, MO) - walkers welome, but no separate division

October 21st, 2012: Niagara Falls, ON  -walk division; late start (10 am); no awards due to no marshals; results posted separately

October 21st, 2012: Detroit Free Press Talmer Bank Marathon (Detroit, MI) -very walker friendly; separate walking division and results; must wear second bib to keep you honest!; awards

October 21st, 2012: Columbus Marathon (Columbus, OH) - simply one of the best for walkers. Separate Competitive Walk division with awards. Walkers treated with respect!

October 21st, 2012: Grand Rapids, MI -walkers have early start (so stats are separate); no awards

October 21st, 2012: St. Louis Rock n’ Roll-walker-friendly; no separate division

October 21st, 2012: Des Moines, Iowa-walkers welcome

October 20th/21st, 2012: Duke City Marathon (Albuquerque, NM) - separate walking division, results and awards for the 20k walk. Also a 5k walk.

October 27th, 2012: Monster Dash (Minneapolis/St. Paul)-generous time allotment but no mention of walkers; Great swag

November 4th, 2012: Bass Pro Marathon (Springfield, MO)-walkers allowed

November 17th/18th, 2012: Tulsa Route 66 -walkers welcome, but no separate divisions or results.

November 25th: Seattle Marathon -separate marathon and half marathon walk divisions, but no awards.