KT Tape review & giveaway

At this time last year I was desperate for healthy knees. I had two big races on the horizon and didn’t want injury to get in the way.

I took the usual routes and lowered my mileage, went to physio, did my prescribed exercises, and rolled my legs like crazy. Everything helped a little, but nothing helped a lot.

If you read my blog last year of followed my Instagram (thechangeofpace), you would also notice the bright tape I wore for all my races and any long rides or runs.

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IM Coeur d’Alene 2013

Kelly, dealing my frustration, picked up a few rolls of KT tape for me to try. I was instantly a fan.

KT tape is an elastic sports and fitness tape designed for muscle, ligament and tendon pain relief and support. It creates neuromuscular feedback that inhibits or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons (from their website).

In simple language, it provided my knees and quads the additional support they required and took pressure off my kneecaps.

The good

It really does help. I fell in love with the tape instantly. Sometimes I doubted its ability and thought it might be placebo effect. But each time I tried to go long without it, my knees hurt. Each time I used it, I felt great.

You can wear KT tape for virtually any activity. I wore KT tape to bike, run, and even swim. I wore it for a half iron distance triathlon and two Ironmans. The tape stayed on throughout the full 12+ hours!

IM Canada Whistler 2013

IM Canada Whistler 2013

It’s user-friendly. The KT tape website has instructional videos for nearly every body part. (Side note- don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before…I’m going to try it on my hamstring!)

It also comes in handy strips and easily tears for application. You can put it on anywhere. (I actually put extra KT tape in my transition bags in case I’d need to reapply during my races, as I knew it would be easy to do.)

Comfort. I wore the tape literally hundreds of times over the summer. It never irritated me, and most of the time I forgot I was even wearing it. KT tape flexes with your movements.

Pops of colour. Call it superficial, but I love the colour selection of KT tape. It’s bright and reflective. I made it my mission to match my KT tape to my outfits!

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The bad

Tan lines. Depending on where you need the tape, it can make for bad tan lines!

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Cost. KT tape can be expensive if you’re using it often and for multiple body parts. But, it is on par with other tapes out there. To me, you can’t put a price on running/biking/insert your activity here pain free!

Adhesion. The website says you can wear it for up to five days but I found I couldn’t wear it for more than two. With the amount of sweat and water I poured into the strips though, I couldn’t have asked for more.

Truthfully, there aren’t really any negatives to KT tape. I am convinced I wouldn’t have made it to the start line of both races, nonetheless achieved a personal best in one.

Since I started using it, I’ve recommended it to numerous people! If you have a niggle that’s causing you problems, or if you’re trying to recover from an injury and still train, KT tape may be the answer.

Giveaway time

One reader will receive a roll of KT tape to test out! Here’s what you can do to win…

USE THE RAFFLECOPTER LINK to enter! : http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/85a9af0/

Mandatory: Visit the KT tape website and leave me a comment about what colour you’d like or what body part you’d use it on.

Optional extra entries:

The giveaway ends Sunday, April 27 at midnight. Open to residents of the US and Canada.

*KT Tape offered to send me a roll to try. Since I know I love the product, they offered to give one to a reader! I wasn’t compensated for the review; I just truly believe in the product.

My first personal training conference

I attended my first personal training conference last weekend!

canfitpro hosted the conference, which is the organization I got my certification through.

They hold events in all of Canada’s major cities, with the biggest event in Toronto each summer. Apparently Toronto’s conference is one of the largest in the world for fitness professionals with over 10,000 delegates and 400 sessions with speakers like Jillian Michaels.

I was quite impressed with Edmonton’s and learned so much in one day. I went to four amazing sessions. Despite there being four sessions at each time, I went to the same speaker three times in a row. I wish I could have attended many more sessions!

I wanted to share a bit about each session so put a blurb of what they were about under the title then listed the three top tips or lessons learned. I’ve listed the sessions in the order I attended them.

The gentlemen I listened to are experts in their fields and were big on research and citing other professionals and studies.

Effects of strength training on weight loss. By Alexandre Pare
Proponents of strength training have long claimed it to be a crucial part of weight loss programs. But is that true? This workshop may shock some of your training concepts.

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  • If you gain one pound of muscle mass, you only burn an extra 20 calories per day at rest. (Cardio is a better option for weight loss; however, strength training is important and there are so many health benefits.)
  • Lactate production is crucial to elicit a growth hormone (GH) response, which burns fat. Large, multi-joint exercises produce lactate.
  • GH increases during the night, so adequate rest and sleep are essential.

Women’s symposium. By Scott Josephson
Muscle strength, body composition, metabolism, peri-menopausal challenges and the hormone roller coaster can play an enormous role in cardiovascular and weight training programs. Learn how to create a superb training program for women, and determine the appropriate dietary intake and energy expenditure guidelines.

  • Genetic variations influence energy metabolism. (Studies show that genes explain approximately 50% of weight. Also consider hormones, age, body shape, etc.)
  • Females tend to restrict calories, which contributes to BAD (bone loss, amenorrhea and disordered eating) and a lower metabolic rate.
  • When your hormones lose balance, your body acts in unpredictable ways (increased fat storage, poor thyroid function, cravings, etc.) The body strives for homeostasis.

Eating for energy. Eating for performance. By Scott Josephson
There’s a fundamental difference between regular fitness and athletic intake – training like a pro requires eating like one. We’ll cover several steps for specific nutrient timing, calorie intake and caloric quantities, helping hormones, and the role of phytoestrogens, probiotics, and antioxidants. Sports nutrition is the core component to any program.

Fuel for IM Canada 2013

Fuel for IM Canada 2013

  • Training as an athlete requires eating like one to maximize performance, recovery, and repair. (What you eat and what nutrients your body absorbs today prepares you for tomorrow.)
  • Nutrient timing – 65% of carb intake for the day can fall into a five-hour window around workouts.
  • Eat protein with a high biological value (the quality of a protein- how well a body can use and absorb it). He cited whey proteins or Sunwarrior as a vegan option.

If you don’t already read Cotter Crunch, check out Lindsay’s blog. She’s a Nutrition Manager and Fitness Consultant who keeps her professional triathlete husband well nourished! She often writes about eating for performance.

No bones about it. Osteoporosis programs and prevention. By Scott Josephson
Over 30 million Americans have osteoporosis and 80% of them are women. Learn about practical preventive treatments, functional techniques, bone physiology, risk factors, and dietary and pharmaceutical supplementation.

  • People at high risk for osteoporosis: small or thin-boned Caucasian or Asian women, family history, consistent amenorrhea (loss of period), early menopause, excessive exercise, and eating disorders.
  • Prevention programs: high resistance training focusing on hips, spine, and knees (bone loading), and proper vitamin absorption.
  • If someone has it, maintain their bone density levels with multi-joint movements with a focus on functionality, mobility and balance.

Remember, I’m not a dietitian or expert in this field! This information is for interest. If you want to learn more, here are some resources:

Women have unique needs, especially if they’re active. Find a sports nutritionist or dietitian to help ensure you’re fuelling your body the right way.

Have you seen a nutritionist or dietitian? Do you have any healthy links to share?

Work Free Wednesday movement

I’m thinking of starting a movement: Work Free Wednesday.

I took a Wednesday off from work a few weeks ago. I got 10 hours of much-needed sleep and woke up refreshed. I had an awesome workout followed by a healthy breakfast (that I had time to enjoy). Then I went for groceries and ran a couple errands.

Once I got home, Harold and I went out for a lovely hour-long walk in the sunshine. I followed that up with baking cookies, making treats for Harold, and a little house cleaning.

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Harold’s dehydrated sweet potato treats

After Kelly got home from work and went for a run, I had a delicious and nutritious dinner cooked and waiting. I also made our lunches for Thursday during this time.

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Lastly, we took Harold for another walk, I did 20 minutes of relaxation yoga, and had time to read.

I felt refreshed and ready to put my all into work and everything else for the rest of the week.

I have zero science or research to back it, but I swear employees would be more productive, homes would be cleaner, relationships would be stronger, and people would be healthier if Wednesday’s were work free!

I think I’d even choose four, 10-hour workdays to get every Wednesday off!

Are you in?! Do you work Monday to Friday or a different schedule? 

The walk of shame

You know what I’m talking about…
…things didn’t go as planned.
…maybe you feel sheepish or a bit embarrassed.
…sometimes you even have to swallow back tears.

I’m not talking about that walk of shame.

I’m talking about when you go for a run only to find out you’re hurt or sick and have to walk the rest of the way home.

I’m no stranger to it: I’ve walked for long distances, I’ve called family to pick me up, I’ve walked in the middle of winter when my clothes are soaked with sweat and not nearly warm enough (one of the main reasons I always try to run with a phone now!).

It’s happened to Kelly, and I’ve run home to get a vehicle, we’ve called family, and he’s even hopped in a passing cab.

With the exception of one time (gut-wrenching cramps), it’s always due to injury-related pain that stops me from going any further.

I’ve had the walk of shame a few times in as many weeks.

Luckily I haven’t made it more than a block from home, so it’s been a short walk. That doesn’t mean tears of frustration don’t threaten to bubble out. Unluckily, it means I wasn’t able to go more than a block without intense pain.

After my IMS treatment, pain moved into the upper calf muscles of my left side. It was so sharp and severe I had to stop immediately. It felt like something was going to explode.

I talked to a few people about it. One physiotherapist thought it was just really tight calf muscles, so he gave me stretches to work it out. (Unfortunately, those gave me knee pain!) Another person thought it was a bursa sac bothering me.

I stretched the best I could, tried to roll it (so painful), used tiger balm, and wore compression socks.

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I’m not out of the woods yet, but it’s been feeling much better. I ran on the treadmill last weekend so I wouldn’t have to walk home dejected (again) if the pain came back. It was a success! I ran again on Wednesday on the treadmill, incorporating six miles into a circuit.

On Saturday I rode long (and at better watts than ever before for 80km/50 miles). I’ve been itching for a good run in our spring weather, so Kelly and I planned a Sunday morning date.  We went for about an hour and 20 minutes and my calf felt awesome!

My left hip and hamstring got pretty tight, but I’m going to baby them for a few days and stick to strength and cycling.

I miss doing all my workouts in the fresh air!

Kelly’s gone mountain biking the last two weekends, but I’m not brave enough to go in freezing temps. Hopefully soon.

Have you experienced the walk of shame? (Either definition…no judgment!)
Tell me about it! 

Eat Sleep Ride: a book review

I read Eat, Sleep, Ride: How I Braved Bears, Badlands, and Big Breakfasts in My Quest to Cycle the Tour Divide by Paul Howard in California.

Click for image credit: Amazon

Click for image credit: Amazon

It wasn’t my typical beach read (meaning it wasn’t chick literature that I could read in one sitting) yet I really loved it.

The story is Howard’s personal account of a mountain bike race, the Tour Divide, running from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the Mexican border. It’s 2,700 miles long and includes more than 200,000 feet of climbing.

Howard had never owned a mountain bike and could only recall two off-road cycling misadventures. That didn’t stop him from buying a plane ticket from the UK to Canada, signing up for the race, and leaving his wife and toddlers for four weeks to attempt the adventure.

The book goes into detail of some bitterly cold days, rides that seem insurmountable, stops in forgotten towns, food in countless diners, and the spirit of riders who are in it for the long haul and all that comes with it.

I just can’t imagine sitting in the saddle each and every day for hours. I also can’t imagine riding up to 135 miles a day on a mountain bike, and then getting up the next day to do it all again.

The journey through Howard’s eyes is a tale of friendship, challenges, and adventure- all with that dry British wit!

The style of writing had me cheering along the riders; it felt like I knew them and I wanted them all to succeed.

I’m not a mountain biker (more of a wannabe!), but this story made me want to take on the 2,700 mile bike tour!

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I wonder if I could talk Kelly into doing it alongside me (instead of hundreds of miles ahead)?!

Do you mountain bike? Would you consider a multi-day race?

Other book reviews:

Wednesday web links – warmups, race transfers, beaches & the office

I haven’t shared any interesting links/reads with you guys in forever! Here are a few sites that caught my eye lately.

Best warmup
I’ve been having serious issues with my left leg (from the top down)! I went and saw another physio therapist last week, and he thinks by strengthening my hips and loosening my calf muscles I should be ok.

He also gave me an awesome warmup to do, which will really help to open my hips and prepare my legs for a workout.

It’s actually from Lesley Paterson, the bad-ass beauty who races (and often wins) XTERRA events. It takes 10 minutes and focuses on dynamic stretching.

Ironman transfer program
One of the scariest things about signing up for an Ironman (in my opinion) is not knowing if you’ll make it to the start line. Will you get injured? Will life events come up preventing you from participating? An Ironman is not a cheap entry fee ($750+), and it would be a hard pill to swallow to lose it.

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(Thank you KT tape for helping me get to two big finish lines last year!!)

I was so happy to read Ironman has implemented a North American transfer pilot program. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s an awesome step in the right direction, allowing people to transfer Ironman races or move down to a 70.3! Read the fine print for all the details.

(The Challenge Family offers a decent cancellation policy and is growing a ton!)

Best beaches
I’m a beach lover through and through. The tables at our wedding were actually beach names of places we’ve visited together.

We’ve only been to two of Tripadvisor’s best beaches, so it looks like we need to plan a few beach vacations!

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Whitehaven Beach, Australia in 2004

Office plants
I’ve had a few different plants at work, all of which die in my care. I want to get another one and remembered an old article I read, The 6 Best Plants for a Healthy Office, from Men’s Health.

I have direct sunlight, so I’m thinking peppermint since they say it’s easy to care for!

Do you do a proper warmup before a workout? What’s your favourite beach?