Sitting all day makes you sleepy; having physical things to do helps me stay focused on the task at hand. It’s nice to have a large table top at standing height when prepping for meetings or packing for a race. I typically only sit two hours a day, but I like having that option to sit, especially if I’m tapering for a big race—or sore after one.
When my work group was preparing to work from home, I did the research and made an investment in my office space as well as my physical health. I picked the Jarvis not only for it’s modern look and sustainable materials, but also the rapid ability to change from sitting to standing positions.
I wanted the Topo Mat so I could stretch and maintain flexibility; all its angles looked good for stretching and improving tendon and ligament stability. I also have a lot of “time on legs” (running, climbing, walking) with my training schedule, so this was an important piece of the puzzle. I like the Capisco chair because it allows me to open up my hips, in addition to having a variety of sitting position options.
Preparing for Tour Mont Blanc — The Ultimate Bucket List Run
In 2018, I decided to take my ultra running journey international and run Mont Blanc.
For the trip, I turned to Territory Run CO, an independent trail running apparel brand created to empower the wild-hearted to chase down their dreams. Through Territory, I met former military personnel, professional moms, educators, interior designers, and cosmetic tattooists who share my love of ultrarunning; I wouldn't have met these kindred spirits otherwise.
Territory Run organized the trip along Tour Mont Blanc (TMB), an existing trail that circumnavigates the Mont Blanc Massif mountain range in the Alps across Italy, Switzerland, and France. The TMB trip was organized by Run the Alps, a trail running tour company that helps provide for the best trail running and logistics in the Swiss, French, and Italian Alps. Run the Alps provides both guided and self-guided trips.
With approximately 109 miles of trail and 30k feet of ascent and descent, Tour Mont Blanc is a top bucket list thing among trail runners. It’s one of the big, amazing runs with spectacular scenery that you do if you can. I decided about 6 months ahead of the trip that I was going, and started researching.
As soon as I’d paid them, I started training. I planned weekly trips out to mountainous trails of Mt Hood National Forest here in Oregon, and the limited number of trails open in the Columbia River Gorge after the 2017 Eagle Creek fire. To get additional steep climbing, I used our incline trainer at 20-30% incline grade for 60 to 90 minutes at a time (this was mentally challenging, but helped a lot).
I ran the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim in the Grand Canyon in April with other members of Territory Run, including several who planned to run Mont Blanc. It was a big training event, with approximately 44 miles and 12k feet of ascent and descent. My training for this run was difficult in its own right, and really kept me on schedule for training for the Alps.
Integrating training into my work was key to success. I do my best to be mindful of mostly standing during the day and integrating balance and stability exercises both while working on tasks and during conference calls. I do concentric and eccentric calf raises and stretches to strengthen the achilles tendon and help improve stabilizer muscle strength. With the number of hills I run, the arches of my feet get very tight.
To help prevent and stave off recurring plantar fasciitis, I used a combination of Topo Mat foot and ankle stretching, and myofascial release using a lacrosse ball on top of the mat. Here are some of the exercises I developed using Topo and my Fully workspace:
Training Exercise, or How I used my Topo Mat to train my feet and legs
Video: Eccentric Reverse Calf Raises
Eccentric reverse calf raises (Achilles tendon)
This exercise helps to elongate and strengthen the Achilles tendon for injury prevention.
Stand on the back lip of the topo mat on your tip toes and slowly lower yourself downward to the count of 10. I recommend starting with both legs simultaneously and doing 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps, working your way up to be able to conduct the exercise single-legged, alternating left and right leg between sets.
Concentric Calf Raises
Concentric calf raise (pigeon toed, straight foot, duck foot)
This exercise helps to strengthen and stabilize the calf muscles and related tendons and ligaments. Conducting the exercise barefoot also helps strengthen the feet.
Stand on the back lip of the mat and do double leg or single leg calf raises, two sets of 10-20 reps each with feet pointed pigeon toed, straight ahead, and duck footed.
Topo mat with Lacrosse Ball
Topo mat in combo with lacrosse ball
This exercise helps to stretch and strengthen the foot arch for plantar fasciitis prevention and treatment.
On your Topo Mat, balance on your left foot, and use a lacrosse ball or similar object to roll the arch and plantar fascia of your right foot to loosen and strengthen the foot muscles. Do this for 30 seconds and then switch feet. Perform for 3-4 reps each foot.
Single Leg Stabilization
Single leg stabilization on varying mat topographies
This exercise helps to mimic landing on uneven terrain while running. It also helps improve balance and refinement of stabilizer muscles.
Stand on one leg for several minutes until you feel minor fatigue. Alternate legs and repeat around various topographies of the mat to help engage varying muscle groups. Remember to activate your core and glutes, and maintain proper posture.
The trip arrives! Highlights from Mont Blanc Massif
The trip was a total of six days and five nights touring the Mont Blanc Massif, running two days in France, two days in Italy, two in Switzerland. What started out as a running adventure turned into a cultural tour de cuisine and mindfulness retreat, where running was merely the mode of transportation. I was really able to unplug and enjoy the sheer beauty of the mountains.
The culture was amazing: everyone on the trail was very friendly, as were the locals in the high alpine huts and in the villages. Mountain and extreme trail running is part of the culture there, unlike here, where you’re sometimes seen as a nut. People there aren’t loud or rude, and they’re extremely hospitable and spatially aware. They’re not the center of the universe. There’s a shared understanding that you’ve made this huge trek to experience their culture and nature in a respectful way, and they reward you with their sincere hospitality.