February in Review – Massages & Half Marathons

It’s hard to believe another month has come and gone already (I say the same thing about each day, each year, and each other month that passes by).  For me, it always feels like each day brings similar events and responsibilities with the occasional rare event thrown in; life’s not much different from day-to-day.  Looking back in retrospect, however, it’s interesting to see all the different experiences–good, bad, exciting, dreadful– that life has thrown our way in a short amount of time.

February is NEVER my favorite month of the year.  It’s the shortest month and the longest month all wrapped into in one.  Where I live, the snow always seems to be at its worst in February (I guess I should mention that I am not a huge fan of snow– not since the school-aged years of cancellations and two-hour delays, at least).  And by the time February arrives, I am at a point where I’m ready for spring– not another month of excruciating snowfall.  March promises a hint of spring-like weather, but it seems like it takes forever to get here.

This year, I tried my best to avoid the February blues that seem to be inevitable for me, and I think I did a pretty good job at succeeding.  The month flew by for me.  I started off the month with an ultra-relaxing, super-soothing massage at my chiropractor’s office.  I have never understood all the fuss about massages; I always thought they were an unnecessary expense and only had one or two in my lifetime.  However, I’ve been plagued with chronic upper back pain ever since I graduated college and started working a desk job full-time.  Recently, it’s gotten really, really bad (like, ruin-my-day, sleep-all-evening kind of bad).  So bad that it was affecting my breathing– and therefore affecting my exercise habits– and therefore affecting my overall happiness levels (I was having trouble RUNNING– oh my!).  I started seeing a chiropractor for it (again) in November of last year.  I was getting adjusted twice a week at $35 a pop.  That’s $280 a month for adjustments that did nothing for me– the relief would only last a few days, until my tight muscles would pull my ribs & spine back out of alignment.  I decided that maybe a massage would be more beneficial (and obviously now a more cost-effective expense) for me, so I booked one.  Let me tell you, it was wonderful.  The massage therapist found each of the knots in my back and did a fantastic job at working them out.  She gave me relief that lasted about three weeks with no visits to the chiropractor, at a fraction of the cost.  Not to mention the state of pure relaxation bliss that follows a massage session.  I’ve now decided that I’m going to schedule a visit to the massage therapist once every three weeks.  If you’re an active person, I highly suggest that you do, too!  Tight muscles can have a drastic affect on your overall well-being and performance– but more importantly, they can lead to muscle imbalances over time.  Which can lead to injury, especially for active people.  Many establishments offer Sports Massage therapy, which is great for athletes and active people who are having specific problem areas.   If a frequent massage isn’t in your budget, get yourself a foam roller and/or a tennis ball.  Both of those can be effective ways to massage your muscles and apply trigger point therapy at home at a really low cost (maybe $20 or so).  Check out this About.com article for more info on self-myofascial release (aka foam rolling).  Here’s a great Livestrong.com article on using a tennis ball for tight muscles.

To keep my month rolling smoothly and my wintertime-happiness levels up, I also committed to keeping my fitness and nutrition on track whether I felt like exercising/eating right or not.  This is one area that I usually skimp on in the wintertime; I get lazy and then try to make up for it in the spring.  No one benefits when I do that– neither me nor the poor individuals that have to put up with me.  As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been keeping up with the FitnessMap workout program designed by James Wilson – Faith, Family and Fitness.  This is a great circuit-style resistance training and cardio program that is effective without being extremely time-consuming.  The program also has a nutrition template and an exclusive Facebook group which provides lots of support.  I try to work out early in the mornings (5 a.m.) at home, so it’s nice to have the online support from others in the same boat.  I haven’t always followed the program to a “T,” but I’ve tried my best and have definitely seen results with it.  I also committed myself to try to get to spin class twice per week.  If you haven’t tried spin but are looking for an awesome cardio workout, you definitely should give it a whirl.  I can’t say I enjoy any type of indoor cardio, but spin class always kicks my butt and gives me an unmatched workout, so I do “kinda-enjoy” it.  I go to a 45-minute spin class Tuesday and Thursday nights on Tuesday and Thursday nights when I can.

The ultimate highlight of my February, though, was the Dasani Half Marathon in Myrtle Beach on February 16th.  I plan to do a full recap in a later post, so let me just tell you here that it was a great experience to help me make it through the month!!  The training was rough (I’m not a fan of going outside in the freezing cold temps– brrr), but running 13.1 in the South Carolina sunshine was worth it.  I’ll recap later.

On a final note– I apologize for this post’s lack of pictures.  How boring!!  I promise to do a better job at photography from here on out.  =)

If you’re like me and dread the winter chill, what sorts of activities do you do to make it through the season??


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