Tour de Fonk

My current favorite SF writer, Barry J. Hutchison, is responsible for getting me on this running kick.

Barry posted a challenge for himself for December 2018 in a Facebook fan group that he administers. He wanted to “run a 5k every day”. It was an ambitious goal.

Having not done any running myself since fall, 2017, but having the shoes and equipment, I decided to join in solidarity and hit the treadmill every day.

I continued; not many other folks who joined the Strava group did. I made it through December and, well, I kept going.

In my last post, short, fat, and slow, I talked about this more at length.

It’s month 6, and many of Barry’s fans are partaking in another fitness challenge called the Tour de Fonk. We’ve signed up and paid for medals and everything.

We got to set our own challenge, and mine is “two miles a day.” Since I have done so well at making exercise a daily habit, having only taken a handful of rest days in the last 6 months, I figured I would push myself a bit. I had been doing 1.3-1.5 miles the first few months of 2019, then was up to 1.7 in April. At the end of April, when I chose my 2 mile goal, I started 2-mile walk/runs to make sure I could do them throughout May.

Today my husband surprised me by taking me shoe shopping, as my Hokas from 2017 are really on their way out. I got exactly what I wanted — Brooks Ghost in a men’s wide shoe. So comfy!

I pronate my left foot severely, and these have way more arch support than my Hokas ever did. A little lift in the heel, and huge toe boxes. I feel closer to the ground, which is good. My feet are more natural in these as well. So far (3 miles!), so good.

I know the whole Tour is supposed to be a personal challenge, but I love seeing my name close to the top of the leaderboards in my Strava clubs. Having never, ever been an athlete before in my life (save for bicycling club at the high school in my teens), it’s a real lift to see myself getting stronger and faster at something I don’t dislike.

I almost exclusively run on the treadmill. I like it because it’s a controlled environment. Compared to any other runners, I am still a rank beginner taking baby steps. Going running out of doors is still beyond my fitness capabilities. But I’ll get there and I’ll be ready, mentally and physically, when I do decide to take some miles outside.

It doesn’t hurt now and then to look at my stats on Strava. I feel pretty proud of these.

I did 15 miles this week. I walked an extra mile today just for the fun of it (and because of the new shoes).

One thing I’ve always hated about fitness goals is that you’re never done. You never reach a point and which you are happy with your work. It’s hard to see progress when you’re in it, too. You want to be faster and stronger and the carrot on the stick just keeps getting further and further away. I hate things that aren’t set, discrete, and doable. But getting in two miles a day is a set task and an achievable goal, and the long-term trends toward better cardiac health are noticeable (because I track those meticulously as well).

I am completely data-driven at this point; if I have a morning where my sleep and HR and HRV show that I have little to no reserves (which, sadly, is often!), I don’t push things. I don’t set my goal higher than is achievable, because I playing the slow and steady long game here.

Fitness isn’t fun, but I’ve made this a habit now, which is exactly what I wanted. Doing something every day has ended up being the magic formula for me. Prior to this, the on again, off again training plans of 3-4 days a week never worked for me. Couch to 5k barely got me ready for my 5k in 2017. (I ended up having to walk it due to shin splints, ugh.)

I have a long way to go before I’ll ever be a outdoors, public exerciser. I am glad that for this challenge, I could set my own goal and achieve it however I see fit. It’s working.

Yay, new shoes. Tomorrow I will pick up the pace a bit!


Short, fat, and slow

I don’t write much about my struggle with exercise and physical fitness. I can tell you that it’s *been* a struggle pretty much my entire life. Even in grade school, I was slow and not very good at things like kickball or running back and forth senselessly like they always made us do in PE. Oh, I wanted to be athletic. I just wasn’t.

I did try out for a few teams in my junior high years, albeit pretty unsuccessfully. Basketball and tennis, no matter how much I loved them, didn’t love me back. The only athletic thing I did with any skill was play softball. I could hit both right and left-handed, and right-handed, could strike a mean line drive.

I still couldn’t run very fast, though.

I started riding road bikes in high school and was fairly competent at that, but road biking is an expensive sport, and even though I trained (we had an after-school club in which I was the only girl), I never went anywhere with that, either. I loved it; I just never raced or continued to train after I graduated.

Mental activity has always been my forte, and reading has always been my favorite mental exercise.

Alas, that isn’t going to keep the body in shape.

Fast forward thirty years and here I am in middle age, fighting an ever-increasing weight and headed down some health paths that I really would rather avoid.

Yoga hasn’t stuck as a daily habit, even though I’ve been a trained instructor for 8+ years. Going to the gym hasn’t stuck (though we still pay that membership). Water aerobics worked for us for a while, but then the holidays hit and the spouse got sick and his work schedule got crazy and I got crazy and decided to upend my entire work scene by moving offices.

What to do? Fitness was the LAST thing on my mind, as usual.

But health never is the last thing on my mind. I just realized that “eating well” and sleeping enough and hoping food and sleep will save me aren’t going to stave off the scary health concerns.

I have a hard time with “intermittent” habits. Meaning — it’s tough for me to do them. “They” say you “should” exercise 3-5 times a week for a total of 150 minutes. However, I am an odd duck, and just having a day or more a week that I am NOT doing something makes it way too easy for me NOT TO DO IT EVER AGAIN.

Enter the running challenge I decided to join in December.

You read that right. Running. I hadn’t run since I “trained” for a 5k in November of 2017. I ended up with TERRIBLE shin splints after that ordeal (walking the entire actual race) and had to stop all walking and running for exercise for MONTHS afterwards. I wanted to love running. I really did. But it didn’t love me at that time.

December’s thing wasn’t a formal challenge. In fact, I think I was the only person who actually got on the treadmill every day. One of our favorite authors had stated in a group that he moderates on Facebook that he wanted to run a 5k every day in December. A few of us decided — hey, that’s just OUR kind of crazy!

So, in December, I got on the treadmill every day.



At first, I was jogging and walking, very very VERY slowly, and it felt like it would kill me. But I had joined Strava, and joined the author’s group there, and I started posting each “run” every day and well… I felt like unless I got seriously sick or seriously injured, I was gonna see this thing through.

Guess what. I saw it through.

With all the encouragement I got on Strava (from like three other people in the group) and my tendency NOT to want to break streaks when I start them (thus my meditation “streak” on Insight timer of over 1700 days in a row — apps and community make a difference!), I was able to get on that treadmill, a half hour every day, close the damn Exercise ring on my Apple Watch, get some nice feedback from my Strava peeps, and… start to get healthier.

Incrementally, but surely.

I haven’t lost a pound. That isn’t why I am doing this.

But I have gained noticeable cardiac health. That is what I was going for. That, and the streak, and the other things that exercise seems to be doing for me — helping stave off depression, making me feel stronger and healthier, sleeping better, and noticeably better running as I progress (better ventilation, better stamina, better heart rate, etc.).

I’ve continued “running” in January, though there was one day I walked three miles outside instead of running. I hit a turning point after that day; for some reason, since then, I can do a continuous jog at a higher miles per hour than when I started (2.6 mph was my max rate then; 3.2 is a good rate now) and keep my heart rate from exploding.

I am seeing progress, and I am doing this EVERY DAY, and I have no plans to stop. I do not care what “they” say — a little run or run/walk every day is turning out to be the right thing for ME to do. I haven’t been injured. I am not “overtraining”. I don’t push myself beyond what is reasonable for me to do. Every day I make a tiny little bit of progress, even if it’s a terrible day and all I can do is walk for 30 minutes. Just completing my time every day is progress.

I remain short, fat, and slow, but I am HAPPY with this experiment, this setting time to do this for myself every day.

Sooner or later I’ll go back to the doctor and see if this experiment has affected my numbers. I don’t really care about weight, though it would be nice to turn some of this fat into muscle. Running isn’t what does that, though. I do care about the other numbers that we get all up in arms about when we are middle aged. I hope to see those numbers improve.

I may be “running” at everyone else’s walking speed, but it’s working for me. Someday, I’ll look back at all my numbers on Strava and be able to see this long, upward curve toward speed and distance that’s just a dream right now. (I am agog at the idea that 5 mph is a normal “slow/beginning” running speed. I looked it up, of course. I couldn’t hit 5 mph on the treadmill without falling flat on my face. It’s just too fast for me right now!)

30 minutes a day, every day. That’s what I am doing. I hope I haven’t jinxed it by writing about it here. I wasn’t able to do yoga every day for the January YoMo challenge. But an hour a day of two things I am liking doing — meditation and running — seems like just enough goodness for now. Yoga will always be there, and someday, maybe an hour and a HALF or two hours of this kind of self-care that includes yoga maybe won’t seem so unreasonable.

Short, fat, and slow kicks ass! My husband and I are thinking of starting a real-life running/walking group by that name. Gotta call it like we see it. 🙂

From cool to warm

Started painting at the new office today. Taking the colors from cool to warm.

The oranges are new. The blue-green is the old color.

With the rug that will go in here (which is orange, cream, and a little sage green) I am hoping the room will feel warm and inviting.

This office will be open in a couple of weeks! I am planning a gift certificate sale just in time for Christmas gift-giving.

Stay tuned!


Picked out paint colors today. I believe I got them right on the first try. I thought a lot about them before choosing, though.

These are Behr’s Tibetan Orange and Almond Milk in eggshell finish. I look forward to seeing how they mature.

I want this room to feel like a hug. That’s how I described it to my office mate. Once I get it painted and get all my furniture, lights, and accoutrements in, I hope it will feel warm and inviting.

Sunday will be paint day, and then hopefully my contract will start next week so I can start building a clientele here.

I am happy that most of my current clients are excited about the move and want to follow. Thanks, everyone, for that. It really feels great to have your support.

Catch you later on down the trail…

A door opened…

…and I stepped through.

(Finally — here is the fantastic news I teased about in my last post.)

I am moving my private practice to beautiful Downtown Lawrence at the end of 2018.

I am excited to know I’ll start my 29th year of bodywork in my own massage room. I will consolidate both my home office and my current practice here. My regular house call clients can count on me continuing to visit them at home, however.

It’s honestly been decades since I have had my very own bodywork space, and I am looking forward to transforming these plain walls into an oasis of healing and heartfelt work.

I feel I am at a crossroads after almost three decades doing bodywork. It’s something I love to do and something I do well, so the thoughts of either continuing to work for someone else or quitting to try to start another skilled career just didn’t sit well with me. It was at this time this new door opened, and I said YES.

I can see years of happy practice here. I may even take up teaching yoga again at the studio across the street. I had fun teaching classes there before I stopped in 2016.

Updated location and other details about the new business location are coming soon.

I will see you then!

2018 Changes

There are barred owl laughing outside my window as I write on a post-full-moon evening. 

I am ready and going to work mightily toward creating the bodywork practice that *I* want this year. In year 28, I want to move to what will be perceived by everyone as “lighter” work. I prefer to call it “more profound” because it’s braver and more mindful than what most of us are used to doing every day.  But I’ll get to that.

Writing this post, it’s my intention to reinforce my desire as well as put it out there for reinforcement from the larger world. I’ll remind myself when I forget I wrote this (which I will).

I sincerely hope to keep going in bodywork until I am in my 70s or maybe even 80s. I believe that for me, this is the way to do it. Read on for my rationale.


Over the weekend, I came across this quote in a note I wrote to myself (in my Notes program on my phone) at the beginning of the year:

“Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.”

I have no memory of actually writing this to myself or what may have prompted me to think about the subject; not remembering even writing it down, I just did a Google search and I could not find any attribution of this quote to anyone else.

So yay. Go me! Apparently I had a deep thought and wrote it down. Mine mine mine!

Let me say it again:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Honestly, I was surprised to find this note to myself — and very, very glad. It reinforced the changes that I want to make in my practice this year and beyond.

I believe myself and what I wrote with my whole heart. Bodywork should not be another trauma or ordeal that supposedly helps you heal. At least, not bodywork received at my hands.


I just finished an Oncology Massage intensive in Austin, Texas. I had been planning to take this specific training for about two years and am glad I made it. I had the blessing of having two coworkers in my office along with me; without them, I would likely still have driven down alone, but boy, it was much, much more awesome all around to go with people I know!

Now our office is poised to be the the premiere office in our town to be doing this kind of work. It could not come at a better time for where I am in my career.

Since joining a group practice again in 2016, I’ve been challenged with finding the balance between what clients believe they want and what they may be used to receiving and what I am able to provide for them. This requires a lot of careful thinking and being able to assure people that what I can do is effective, even if they are not suffering as they are used to while I am doing the work. I  will admit, I don’t always get to this point. I cave. I give them what they want, not what I am comfortably able to do. It sucks.

In my private practice from 2013-2016, after I moved back to Kansas, I was developing my own neuromuscular style of work that was informed very heavily by training I did in Passive Fascia Restoration with Deborah Bruce (which is now called The Finesse Massage Technique). Training with Deborah was my first attempt at bringing a more informed and attentive version of bodywork into my practice so that I could ensure my longevity as a practitioner.

Just like structural integration was a hard sell for me in the 1990s (here, let me stick my elbow in you until you yell “Uncle!”), PFR (now FMT) was a hard sell for me moving back to Kansas. I am just not that good at explaining HOW lighter work works and WHY it works. I just knew it worked. Alas, it’s been on the back burner for a while.

When I joined a group practice, I found I wasn’t able to continue the exploration of a lighter, more profound assimilation of all of the training I have done in my life. There were many factors that made my new office no longer my laboratory for exploration of integrated concepts. My work got rougher and more aggressive. I actually lost private clients at my home office due to the changes that working on the broader public brought, and the pressures to meet some level of perceived deep tissue work that I find rough and coarse and hard to effect. I am not happy to say this.

I believe that the general public wants what they perceive as “deep” massage. Spending precious time in the hour of therapy trying to convince someone who is used to being roughed up by a 20-something therapist that going lighter can actually go deeper and be more relaxing ended up going by the wayside in a more public setting. To survive, I had to call upon that long-gone 20-something Alison rather than just being the (then) 40-something, more mellow person I was at the time.

All of the times I caved to the crowd, I was acutely aware that my own body and spirit suffered for it. Both client and therapist suffered for some sort of perceived greater good.

When you are in a group practice or an office where you cannot control who may be getting on your table, and you may not even know the client or their history beforehand, it’s tough not to fall into the “The Customer is Always Right” mentality or the “I could do this in my 20s!” mentality. Even after 27 years, I might have known better, but often I still don’t listen to what I need in any given moment.

With Oncology Massage, the work is often SO vastly different from what clients have received before they had their cancer experience that their resistance to the idea of HAVING to receive lighter work in order not to cause harm or potentially bring irreversible changes in their health can be mighty. I actually experienced this scenario the day after I returned from the training! I held my ground, and used the principles I now know because I can’t un-know them; but I did feel as though I disappointed this client, in spite of explaining why *I* could not do what previous therapists might have uninformedly done. I don’t think it was my best session ever. That never feels good.

Never do I want someone to come to harm at my hands, though. That is the baseline. I know now what work I can do in these special situations, and I need to learn to translate to clients what a new normal means for them when it comes to bodywork. Most of the time, it’s going to be lighter work than they are used to.

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.  I am going to print this out and put it in my treatment room tomorrow.

Lighter work get such a bad rap with clients though! For decades now, even while caving, I have attempted to dissuade clients of the idea that “deep tissue massage” is “better” or “of more value” than any other kind of massage. I’ve had people on the table who literally wanted me to hurt them because either that was what they were used to, or that was what they thought was the most value for their money.

When I have caved, many clients have also been sore. Many people WANT to be sore from massage. They expect to be sore from massage. If they are NOT sore from massage, they didn’t get their money’s worth!

For a relatively healthy human being with no major medical conditions and no compromised lymphatic system (or so we assume), maybe creating this kind of “therapeutic inflammation” is all right now and then. Heavens know that I’ve received enough bodywork through which I thought I had to suffer and be sore the next day because I believed that in the long run, the work would benefit me. Honestly, looking back, I can’t say whether or not it did… I’ve had three series of The Original Recipe (structural integration) and I am not sure I am any more well-aligned or taller than I was in my 20s.

All facetiousness aside, I know SO many ways to do incredibly effective, tissue-changing, restorative bodywork that I just don’t DO on folks because I am worried that they won’t see value in it — and I can’t translate yet what the value actually WOULD BE for them.

My main challenge, even though I believe wholeheartedly in lighter work, is and will be learning to explain why and how this work can have vastly more value over suffering (elbows and hyperemia) through what they (and I!) have been used to. Who doesn’t want to feel completely relaxed and refreshed after a session?

So, I come back to this prescient quote I wrote to myself:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Giving bodywork should also not be another ordeal through which I suffer in order to please a client — OR get a paycheck.

I am hoping that given the abundant support of the language provided in my Oncology training, me, the shy therapist who just wants to work and not have to explain why I am incredibly good at what I do, can learn to explain to clients why suffering is optional in massage. Why the kind of informed work that I CAN do will be better for all of us. Why being sore from a massage is injury. Why I’ve got to be cautious when someone has lymphedema or DVT risks, or has had lymph nodes removed. Why a lighter, saner, more present form of bodywork could revolutionize their lives. It’s everything I’ve ever learned and truly believe about what bodywork can do. It’s who I want to be as a bodyworker, too.

I need to promise myself to get braver and to hold my own ground. I need to return to the work that I love, the amazing, slow, profound, lighter, attention-saturated neuromuscular and connective tissue work that has helped so many people in my private practice. I want to make this transition, to bring it to the world I inhabit in my group practice.

I am excited to start seeing Oncology clients soon, too. We have to put some system into place so we can identify clients who don’t self-identify and make sure they understand why we are doing the work we are doing in the way we are doing it. I am hoping that almost all of them will appreciate that we’re looking out for them rather than feel shortchanged.

It’s long for a mantra, but I’ll repeat again and again:

Massage should not be another ordeal through which you suffer in order to get better.

Thanks for reading.