Knot A Problem: A Guide to Foam Rollers

Foam rollers tend to be seen as a form of torture rather than an assuagement. I’ve suffered painful IT bands, sore calves and plantar fasciitis but was able to relief a lot of my symptoms through incorporating foam rolling into my fitness routine.

As a form of self-myofascial release, the act of rolling out muscles after strength and cardio training helps to free the muscle of adhesions. This form of self massage also helps to increase circulation and blood flow to the area creating better mobility and performance to the athlete. While not as pleasant as a massage, foam rolling certainly does wonderful things for our bodies.

I remember asking my friend for a foam roller for Christmas one year and she thought she was giving me the strangest gift ever. As I have been to race expos and different gyms and experimented with different types of rollers I have started a little collection. Rollers can be as inexpensive as a tennis or lacrosse ball or can have more technology implemented into the device causing a more expensive product. I am providing you with some of my favorites I have come across so far!

Trigger Point, $39.99

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Trigger Point makes some wonderful rollers in various lengths as well as foam balls for targeted relief. This was my first foam roller and will always hold a special place in my heart, even if I did curse it out a few times in the beginning. I believe Trigger Point makes the perfect roller for those looking to add foam rolling into their routine. With cushioned, grid pattern, this roller is not as harsh as some but still manages to get the job done.

PVC Pipe

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Seriously! After discovering this trick at my local gym, I visited a nearby Home Depot, and was able to purchase a pre-cut piece that is about 30 inches long and 4 inches wide for less than ten dollars! Not only is it a more economical option, I feel that the PVC Pipe has the perfect firmness to help rid muscles of adhesions.

The Stick, $27.95

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Also known as the toothbrush for muscles, I love The Stick’s convenient portability. Standard flexibility keeps the base pliable while spinning, plastic knobs keep the muscles fresh. An excellent tool for a runner’s legs  provides enough pressure to relieve those knots while on the go!

Addaday Echo Oscillator, $90

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If you don’t have a vibrating roller in your collection, you should hop on this band wagon! I love this rechargeable option from Addaday, the Echo Oscillator. Three settings at low, high and alternating intensities allow for versatility. Being the most technical of the bunch, this cordless roller can be used alone in or placed in another hollow foam roller for a lighter intensity. Operating in 10 minute increments, this roller will last for two hours on a charge. Not to worry if the juice drains, as it charges quickly!

R8 Recovery, $119

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The R8 is a deep tissue massager that consists of eight wheels on a spring that self adjust to fit individual needs. The design while not lightweight, the R8 is compact and I love the fact that one can use it standing up or sitting, rather than laying on the ground with most other rollers. The pressure is strong but feels wonderful as it work out kinks and helps increase circulation. The design of wheels on dual sides allows both inner and outer legs to be worked simultaneously.

Do something nice for your muscles and start implementing foam rolling into your routine! Even if you spend ten minutes, your body will thank you. Do you have a foam roller that you love? Let me know about it! 🙂

The Runologist

Disneyland Half-Marathon 2017 Recap: Buying Stock in Gatorade

The weather in Anaheim for race weekend made Hades and the Underworld seem a bit chilly. After a fun course, running primarily through both Disneyland as well as California Adventure on Saturday, I was ready to tackle thirteen miles the following morning adorned with a red cowgirl hat and cow print chaps!

Another early wake up call, prompted a protein bar on the go, and a zombie-esque crawl to my corral. A trumpet sounded the anthem, queuing runners from their corrals onto the first mile of the course.

RACE

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Disneyland Half-Marathon Course 2017

Similar to the 10K, the half-marathon course had us starting in California Adventure.  Runners legged it past the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, through Hollywood Land and towards the Ferris Wheel. The water was dramatic in vivid colors portraying a World of Color performance as I looped around the boardwalk. After seeing Russell, Mr. Fredricksen and Dug greeting runners by the Redwood Creek play area, the course took participants into Disneyland.

The route passed through a backstage area where cast members stood with the horses that pull the trolleys up and down Main Street each morning! As a horse lover, I loved seeing them on course! After entering the park just behind Splash Mountain, runners were greeted by Woody as he waved from the balcony of the Saloon! I loved seeing the newly remodeled area where the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ and petting zoo used to be, now transformed by unfamiliar caves and abandoned train mines beckoning explorers.

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All smiles running through the castle!

After bounding through the castle, around the Matterhorn and through Tomorrowland (Note: Distance sounds far superior than actuality) runners hit the streets of Anaheim. This is the point in the race where runners usually take it to a walk once photographers are out of sight. Due to the heat advisory, I noticed the energy was low and many runners  were taking breaks less than a mile into the race. It was unusal not to have that excitement from atheletes around you, but luckily the cast members and course entertainment made up for it!

A couple of miles along the Anaheim roads brought runners to wonderful and much-needed entertainment. I enjoyed the marvelous Mariachi band and dancers around mile 7, shortly followed by hula dancers, rolling their hips and hands to He Mele No Lilo (Main Title) from Lilo and Stitch.

I always look forward to seeing the Classic Car Row during the run! This year did not disappoint. Many eager car aficionados were waving runners on and even honking their horns in acclamation.

I could see the giant symbol for Angel’s Stadium growing closer with every stride. After a few minutes, I had finally reached the stadium. This was the stage of the race I was most excited for, waiting almost two years until I would run past the dugouts, along the field! An announcer read names from bibs, as young kids and family members waved outreached arms, hoping to snag a high-five. The energy was contagious and it really helped with the last few miles of the half-marathon.

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Home run!

After exiting the stadium, shortly after, volunteers were passing out mini bags of Jelly Belly’s Sport Beans. Each small packet contained an assortment of flavors, containing electrolytes and both Vitamin B & C. While easy to consume, I appreciated the sodium and potassium but found myself missing the usual Clif gels found on Disney’s half courses.

I carried onwards, seeing a freeway overpass coming into view. I had to laugh as Endorphin Dude behind me was commenting to a volunteer stating how he thought the course was supposedly flat. As I trotted up the “mountain” I could not take advantage or gather any momentum heading down towards the finish.

Just within the last two miles it started to rain. When I thought it could not get hot enough, the combination of water and hot asphalt made the air more muggy. Finally hitting Katella and seeing the tops of attractions, I finally found the push I was looking for many miles back.

I sprinted past the Disneyland Hotel, along enthusiastic cheerleaders with amusing signs, and clanging cowbells. I could not wait and get to the finish to enjoy a tall, cold , refreshing WATER! Did I mention it was hot?

FINISH LINE AND BEYOND

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As I crossed the finish beside runners who looked as if they had just gotten out of a swimming pool, I could only eagerly anticipate the next twelve months until Disneyland half-marathon weekend would roll around again.  While the temperature was much warmer than anticipated, I thought the race staff, volunteers and cast members went above and beyond to make an enjoyably fun weekend.

After a hot weekend of running, I now have a new appreciation for water and Powerade! I made sure to hydrate just after collecting my medals.  For completing the half, I received a Toy Story themed medal as well as the Double Dare medal for running the 10k Saturday and the half on Sunday. This medal displays Luxo Jr. and Pixar’s famous brick architecture!

This will continue to be my favorite weekend of all the Disney races due to course entertainment and pure bliss of running down car row and through Angel’s Stadium. It is always a pleasure to reunite with friends and make some new ones with each race I run. I am enjoying this run journey thus far and cannot wait to see what the remainder of the year will bring!

Hope to see you out on a course soon!

The Runologist

Disneyland 10k Review: Earning My Ellie Badge

Post race sadness is real, especially when you had as fun as a racecation as I just did. I spent most of the weekend in Anaheim running Disney’s Double Dare challenge. The weekend events dedicated themselves to famous Pixar films such as Up, The Incredibles, Monsters University and the beloved classic, Toy Story.

Expo

I started my weekend by picking up my bib and browsing around the expo on Thursday morning. I was happy to find minimal crowds and was able to walk straight up to the volunteer and show her my ID. I received my bag tag, a small pamphlet on the weekend’s events, and an adorable luggage tag that resembled the Double Dare medal, commemorating the five-year anniversary. After taking a couple of pictures with fun backdrops, I headed upstairs to retrieve my race shirts and check out a couple of the vendors.

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Expo Selfie!

All the runDisney expos are similar for the most part, give or take a booth or two. I enjoy the familiarity because I know where I can purchase items when needed. The Anaheim expos always have many vendors handing out fun freebies. Booths such as Goodsense and Raceguards were giving out handy medical items such as band aids, ice packs, samples of Biofreeze, first aid pouches and water bottles. ABC had items to be enjoyed by younger ones such as inflatable beach balls and a mini notebook and colored pencil set.

While first aid items are handy, there were edible freebies too! GoGo SqueeZ apple sauce was handing out pouches of their product. For those desiring a natural option, Zespri was handing out their gold variety kiwi to eager expo attendees. Jelly Belly also handed out mini sample packages of their Sport Beans.

After paying a quick visit to Fit2Run to buy some last-minute Gu, I took a picture with the Pixar Ball wall before heading back to my hotel.

Monsters University 10k

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10k Course

While I was hoping to add the 5k to my itinerary, it had sold out, leaving my weekend to start on Saturday with the 10k race. Every Disney run starts out with an early alarm, so I was off and running, well walking to the start at 4 a.m. With my badge adorned sash draped over my shoulder and my Wilderness Explorer flag hanging from my hydration pack, I headed to my corral. It is not every Saturday morning that I dress like a boy scout, so I wanted to make Russell and all of Troop 54 proud!

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Pre-Race entertainment from Carissa and Kevin made the time spent in my corral fly by. While I was hot in my polo shirt, I just tried to focus on the energy around me. Before I knew it the anthem led us to the start and it was time to run 6.2 glorious miles in celebration of Monsters University within the boundaries of Disneyland and California Adventure Park!

Once I broke away from the pack, I was happy to find slightly cooler temperatures. Maybe it was the breeze as I flew towards California Adventure or the fact that I was no longer being sandwiched between runners, but I was determined to have fun and beat the rising temperature.

Just as I entered the park behind the California Screamin’ coaster, I heard a clink and could see my grape soda pin plunge to the road. (Note: While not an avid pin collector, this one struck a chord with me when I bought it a few years back, so it was a tough one to hear clash against the asphalt.) Instead of stopping and squatting to pick it up and risk injuring myself and other runners behind me, I sighed and let the metal badge start it’s new life, lost to the graveled roadway.

I charged on, entering the park by Radiator Springs, the sound of revving engines made my feet want to move faster. Numerous Pixar characters adorned the boundaries of the course. I saw Flik and Atta from A Bug’s Life, Russell from Up, Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars, Mike and Sully from Monsters University as well as many dancers from various parades. The course did not dismiss classic characters such as Mickey and his friends which were found in Disneyland a few miles in.

My favorite aspects of any Disney race are running through the parks and seeing the energy of the cast members, throwing high fives (complete with a Mickey glove!) at runners, and all the lively rides and lights operating before the sun.  The race crew did a wonderful job having music and various cheer squads in the backstage areas, making every mile of the course spirited and vivacious. Special shout out to the course designer who opted not to use any of Anaheim’s streets for the 10k and kept all the magic and mileage within the two theme parks!

After running past the Rivers of America, I bounded across the drawbridge of the Castle, onto Main Street! A couple of minutes after I had passed the mile 5 marker, I found myself behind the roller coaster once again, looping back towards the finish. I did a quick glance at the ground and saw my pin! A few runners were a couple strides behind me so I was able to grab my pin and sprint towards the finish. While the backing was bent and the image scratched, it was a favorable return. I guess I needed to run five miles before I could truly earn my Ellie badge! 🙂

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Graduating to a Senior Wilderness Explorer!

The weather was not ideal but I always love catching up with friends on course and seeing the creative costumes. Running through Disneyland at 5 in the morning never ceases to put a smile on my face!  I had a monstrous good time at the 10k but after collecting my medal, water and a snack box, I was off to rest my feet and seek some air conditioning before running the half-marathon on Sunday.

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All smiles after the 10k!