Amanda Sullivan – the story of what it means to persevere

Amanda’s shining smile is a beacon for anyone at an event that feels like they may want to quit. Refusing to lay down after two horrific incidents in her life, she has learned to overcome by adapting and focusing her strengths into pushing on and grinding out results.

Cookie of Team SISU caught up with Amanda and through a longer than normal podcast, Amanda relives what happened to her and why she refuses to ever call it a day.

Today is a couch day

Earlier this week (despite knowing better) I did a workout that was too much for my body at the time.

 

I started thinking:
If I’d done that workout on a day that I was feeling better, it might have been okay.
If I’d gone just a little slower, it might have been okay.
If I’d warmed up a little better, it might have been okay.
Or, if I’d allowed myself some extra time for a more sufficient recovery after that workout, it might have been okay.
If I’d done any of these seemingly small things, who knows — I might have been feeling a lot better than I do now! Or, maybe not.

 

Unfortunately, the damage is done, and there’s nothing I can do to change that!
But I can choose to make smart decisions now.

 

Here’s what that looks like for me: instead of doing the hill workout I’d planned for today, I’m hanging out on the couch with some ice and a not-so-fun minor calf strain. The bright side is, it’s only minor! If I’d decided to push it and do those hills today…. well, that would be a different story! So I’m studying, watching Gilmore Girls, doing some light stretching/core work, and decorating cookies with friends!

 

It was difficult deciding to stay on the couch this morning, since my agenda had a workout in mind — and I find it tough to stray from that!

 

As tempting as it is to use my body, I know that pushing it today means more pain tomorrow. So, after a short pity party, I came to terms with the fact that the couch will be my friend this weekend, and that’s okay! I’ll play it by ear, and hopefully I’ll be doing some cross training in a couple days.

 

I’m by no means an expert at running. It teaches me something new about my body, my limits, and my potential every week! But I think, regardless of your experience with the sport, there’s always that challenge of finding the boundary between progress and injury. To improve, you have to explore your limits and push yourself. But pushing too far can lead to injury and set back.

 

I don’t know the secret to avoiding injury entirely (CLEARLY), but I think a flexible mindset is a massive asset if injury does sneak in! For me, this means understanding that the past is out of my control, but that the choices I make in terms of recovery are entirely in my hands (regardless of what my training schedule had planned for the coming week).

 


Ultimately, we all have to be champions of our own bodies. We have to work with them, and make decisions that are best for them. Sometimes that means challenging our bodies, and sometimes it means resting them. But in either case, what the body needs may not match up with what the mind wants, and that can be challenging!

**The purpose of this post is simply to share my experience with a minor injury — something we all go through at one point or another! Even though these injuries aren’t that a big of a deal, injuries of any kind are hard to ignore and can be really discouraging! My injury is nothing to complain about in the big scheme of things, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me — and I think others have been in a similar boat!

STSS 6: Leptin — The Satiety Hormone

 

Leptin is a neat little hormone that tells us when we’ve had enough to eat.

If there’s a hormone for this, why do we often tend to overeat?

Note: While this video focuses on leptin, other players (ie: hormones like orexin and ghrelin) also influence appetite. It’s important to remember that the body is incredibly complex, and there are always a number of factors at play!


It should also be noted that the general process discussed in this video is not as instantaneous as I make it out to be! The amount of leptin released is directly proportional to the amount of body fat that an individual has — and that body fat does not increase instantaneously when you eat 3 mini eggs. On the whole, an individual with more body fat will have higher levels of leptin in their circulation than an individual with less body fat. 

 

The toughest girl in the world: Amelia Boone

What can be said about Amelia that hasn’t already? Champion of World’s Toughest Mudder, destroyer of Spartan Races and all-round amazing athlete, it appears that she has no achilles heel.

What has she learned from endurance and OCR and what advice does she give others? Team SISU chats with the powerhouse and finds out.

Walking on [an excessive amount of] sunshine

I’d like to share a few boring, self-centred facts with you:

 

Fact 1: This past summer, I spent tons of time soaking up the sun. My sister and I spent several weeks wandering around Europe, and I spent the remaining summer months doing maintenance at a cemetery (I know, I know. Dream job, right??).
So yes. Lots of time in the sun.

 

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Sending our love back home from Porto, Portugal!

 

Fact 2: Throughout the summer, I was taking a multivitamin. I’ll admit, I’m not the most consistent person when it comes to taking vitamins, but I was trying to remember to take the recommended dosage of one a day.

 

Fact 3: On occasion, I was also taking a calcium gummy vitamin. As a woman and a runner, I know calcium and vitamin D are of particular importance for keeping my bones healthy. As a person in general, I was pretty excited that these vitamins were tasty gummies (because let’s be real, they’re the best kind), so that was a bonus. Since calcium and vitamin D work in tandem, these calcium vitamins also contained vitamin D. Like I mentioned, I only took these on occasion; the recommended dosage was 2 gummies a day, and I was maybe having 2-3 a week.

 

 
Ohhhhkay Kalli. Enough with the random, insignificant outdoor/vitamin facts. Please get to the point.  

 

 
I’m getting there!
So in what seemed like unrelated news at the time, I ended up getting very sick in July. At first, I thought it might be the flu. The nausea came on quickly — one minute I was driving down the highway, scream singing (You know. The kind of terrible, ridiculously loud singing you do when you’re alone in the car?), and the next, I was crumpled over the wheel due to intensely painful nausea. Seriously. I just wanted to pull over, curl up in a ball, and cry! I spent that night on the bathroom floor, and it was, of course, less than fun. To my relief, this whole episode only lasted about 15 hours, and I was back to my regular self by the morning.

 

I was glad it was over, but I was puzzled. No one around me had been sick, so it didn’t seem likely that it had been the flu. I also had some weird symptoms that I’d never experienced with a flu in the past. Maybe it was food poisoning? I decided that it must have been something I’d eaten and I left it at that.

 

Unfortunately, two weeks later, the exact same thing happened!
Same symptoms, not fun.
So I started to get a little bit worried about this. I must have done something, eaten something, changed something… but I couldn’t think of anything out of place in my diet or routine!

 

As it turns out, I had overdosed on vitamin D.

 

If you’re thinking it seems a little bit weird that simply spending time outside and taking a few vitamins (less than the recommended dose, in fact) would result this, you’re probably right. In this case, there was more going on….

 

photo-1429277158984-614d155e0017

I don’t have a photo of myself working at the cemetery, but this is probably a pretty accurate depiction.

 

On top of the 8+ hours/day spent in the sun and the multivitamin I was taking, I found out that that seemingly harmless gummy vitamin had been recalled that same week. Apparently the gummies had more than 4x the tolerable amount of vitamin D in them.
Not 4x the recommended amount… 4x the tolerable amount!

 

Needless to say, those vitamins met the trash can in a hurry.

 

There’s no big lesson here. It was a fluke and could have happened to anyone. How was I to know that those innocent little gummy vitamins were actually working against me?

 

So why am I writing about this…
Well, first off, it’s just kind of a ridiculous story! I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t betting that there would be a dark side to a tasty little gummy!

 

If anything, I suppose it serves as a somewhat violent reminder that too much of a good thing might turn into a really bad, not-so-fun thing. As athletes focused on improvement, I think we can easily become obsessed with ‘good things,’ forgetting that moderation is healthy and perfection is… impossible. Overtraining can lead to injury, excessive diet restriction/control can lead to health issues and/or eating disorders, etc. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that too much of the ‘Happy’ vitamin can leave you feeling much less than happy!


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Walking on [an excessive amount of] sunshine

I’d like to share a few boring, self-centred facts with you:   Fact 1: This past summer, I spent tons of time soaking up the sun. My sister and I spent several weeks wandering around Europe, and I spent the remaining summer months doing maintenance at a cemetery (I know, I know. Dream job, right??). […]

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Ultra Dirt:03 Stress is stress – jet lag, high mileage, and (un)supportive people.

They say podcast recording is like running an ultra. They don’t say that. But we love a good running analogy.

After months of technological difficulties, we may have finally reached the starting line. The last few months have taught us to persevere through frustration and false finish lines.

As Scott Jones said, “I feel like we all just ran a 100 miler together through a snow storm.”

Ultra thank you’s to Scott and Athlete on Fire. And, if you have a minute, go check out the site behind Ultra Dirt HERE.
On this show we talk about how even though running can be our medicine, it does not always help with stress. If it feels stressful, chances are it is taxing your mind or body – or both.

Connecting the body and mind (as non yogis). Also, why it is important in life to find your unicorns. Ultra Dirt is the newest edition to the Athlete On Fire network.

Cover Photo credit: Hilary Matheson

Find your unicorn!

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An amazing woman, achilles issues treatment, and try this workout!

This Athlete On Fire was recorded on the daunted Monday after Daylight Savings.

An inspiring email was read on air and you are probably going to be able to relate if you are training for anything.

We talk about an amazing upcoming guest, a great workout to try, achilles treatment, and why training for health alone is pretty dumb.  Enjoy this episode of the Athlete On Fire show!

Links from the show:

  • Runner’s World article on Lisa Smith-Batchen.
  • Dreamchaser’s Events.
  • Why training for health isn’t that great article.
  • An article regarding achilles pain and way to treat.

Achilles Pain: Three to do’s, one not to do.

Let’s talk about nagging chronic injuries like achilles pain.

As a lifelong Exercise Physiologist/Trainer/Coach/”whatever you wanna call me” I have helped athletes and recreational athletes alike get over common ailments with basic regimens that are universally prescribed.
 
Often, after they go through physical therapy and they are ready to move on and often as a preventative measure for athletes in redundant sports, like running.
 
In any case, until I experience some of these nagging issues I can never feel 100% confident that the exercises are working.  So, you must understand the joy I had after dealing with ITBS ( iliotibial band syndrome) for 4 months a few years ago and being able to kick it with what I was using to help others kick it for good.  So now, in the spring before running the trails of Colorado will be a weekly occurrence, I have some achilles pain that I need to treat.
 
The main causes are increased load or volume, bio-mechanic (efficient movement)  issues, tight calves and muscles of the lower leg.  There are many other things like glute weakness, ankle mobility, and nutritional deficiencies but let’s deal with what we assume is the issue for this athlete (myself).
 
I get to guinea pig myself for my future clients and so far, it’s working with only three additions and one omission.

Three things I am doing to treat for now:

  1. Heel drops:  From the top of a calf raise on a step or other raised surface (plantar flexion) slowly drop your heels as low as you can.  This mimics and trains the eccentric contraction that may not be as efficient or powerful as needed to support the lower leg, ending in this pain in the achilles.  3 sets of 15-20 per day.  It burns (muscle burn) a bit but feels really good. Excessive pain and you should stop, hopefully obviously.
  2. Manual massage and foam rolling the calves:  Both of these serve to loosen the calf at the belly of the muscle.  This will and should take some of the tension off the achilles.  The foam rolling feels good but I think I am getting the most bang for my buck from manual massage.  Yep, I’m massage my calves and lower legs for 10-15 minutes a day.
  3. Ice:  Especially with obvious inflammation.  Ice over drugs as many of the orals you take could eliminate blood flow to area, not good.  I hate icing but it seems to be helping.

One thing I am dropping for at least a month:

  1. Basketball:  The sport is still fun for me but I am noticing major inflammation from playing.  I have hypothesized it is more from the shoes, they are digging into the achilles, than the movement but I want to back off to make sure.

Notes:

  • As long as it doesn’t get worse, I’ll keep running.  When it worsens, I will back off and cross train.  Usually a decent model if you treat everything to get better in theory the nagging issue should resolve.  It’s worked with many of my clients and my past injuries.  That blood flow is a huge benefit so keep moving.  And, there are plenty of things to omit but basketball is mine for now.
  • Get a legit diagnosis if this is new to you.  These tips are for athletes that are somewhat experienced and typically won’t stop for anything anyway.
  • A little rest now is better than a lot of forced rest later. Be smart and don’t turn it into something bigger.
  • Lastly, as someone with my M.S. in exercise physiology, I always refer outside my scope.  If I don’t know something for fact, it’s time for a real diagnosis from an ortho or PT.  Some of my pals in the industry. Good coaches and trainers work with these pro’s, not in spite of them.  Goes both ways.

What chronic issues have you had?  What worked with your achilles pain?  Let’s talk.  For now, I need to go ice….damnit.


AOF Signature BeanieScott Jones is the founder of Athlete On Fire and still trains a handful of clients one on one in his hometown in Colorado and virtually. Athlete On Fire was founded to inspire 1000’s every hour instead of just one every hour! Reach out, always. scott (at) athleteonfire (dot) com

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Hustle and podcasting. Life as an athlete and active entrepreneur.

Dre Baldwin of DreAllDay.com  and Scott Jones, founder of Athlete On Fire, cohost a show all about their experiences.

Dre is a prolific social media icon and expert in all things media, marketing, empowerment, and basketball (how it all got started).

Today they speak about the hustle it takes to produce so much valuable content and specifically, their schedules.

Also, why is Dre launching his own podcast?  Come hang out on our newest weekly and only cohosted show on the Athlete On Fire network.

On The Show:

  • The three reasons Dre is launching a podcast
  • Where Dre spends his time on social media
  • Why finding and bouncing ideas off people in a similar situation is so important
  • Both Scott and Dre’s daily schedule (is 4am early for you?)

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Acknowledging the Sneaky Things: A Lesson on the Knee Joint

The body has many sly little processes that it carries out everyday — processes that are crucial to our health, but they don’t draw a lot of attention to themselves. We probably don’t even know they’re happening! To give an example, I’ll share a little knee anatomy lesson from a class I had last semester. Hopefully it might help you to question what silent things could be going on in your body right now, and to better understand the importance of these sneaky, highly specific processes that take place in your body every day!

 

The knee joint is, of course, a very mobile joint. Specifically, it’s a ‘synovial joint’: a type of freely moveable joint contained inside a ‘joint capsule.’ Inside the knee capsule, there are two key components: menisci, and synovial fluid.

 

 

1) You’ve probably heard of the menisci before — these are essentially two pads of cartilage that provide cushioning between your femur (thigh bone) and your tibia (weight-bearing bone in your lower leg). They’re impressive shock absorbers (obviously essential while walking, running, jumping, etc).

 

2) Synovial fluid is a thick fluid with a couple of jobs. It a) lubricates the joint and b) provides nourishment to keep the menisci healthy so they can continue to be the wonderful shock absorbers that they are.

 

photo-1434973539530-5538b4681aac

 

Now that we know the components, here’s the cool part.
When there’s no pressure on the joint, the knee takes a break to replenish itself. The menisci act like sponges, sucking up the synovial fluid for nourishment. But when the joint is forced to take on some stress (like when we stand up), these ‘sponges’ release the synovial fluid into the joint cavity so it can act as a lubricant, rather than a nourishing agent. In the absence of lubrication, there’s friction. Not something we want!

 

Let’s put this into some context. Imagine jumping those well-nourished, but non-lubricated knee joints out of bed and straight into a hard workout. Ouchies! Warming up before a workout gives your knee joint some time to get that fluid moving again so it can properly lubricate the joint. Of course, we don’t see that, and we don’t immediately feel it, so, like so many other processes in our bodies, it’s easy to ignore.

 

 

Challenge: Be kind to your body! Work with it, not against it. Do yourself a favour and do your warm up drills! 

 

Yes, there’s value in having the mental strength to carry out a challenging workout… but there’s equal (or more) value in having the mental strength to back off of a workout/training plan when you know it’s best for your body.