Have you heard about the elite female runner, four time Boston marathon winner named Catherine Ndereba?  I didn’t until yesterday, and I was very intrigued to learn more. So I followed the link to the blog, read through it, as well as watched a brief clip of an upcoming documentary.  It gives an inside look at her life.

The goal of the producer Stefani L Weiss in her words: “My journey to tell the story of how World Champion Kenyan marathon runner Catherine Ndereba has inspired many through her running and how her faith has guided her. This story will explore the many ways she stands as a role model for Kenyan women and girls and how she inspires others to pursue their education and dreams and not be bound by the traditional role women have been bound to in Kenya. “ Although Catherine faced many obstacles in her country, she was able to overcome it and persevere. She has been an inspiration to many young girls in Kenya. I am not an elite runner, but I am a runner. I run because I love it and have a passion for it. In watching the short clip, Catherine’s passion for running emanates from the screen. Her eyes and her entire face just light up.

Here is the link to the blog and the link to the making of the documentary. Let me know what you think.


Strong ankles are important for preventing and recovering from injuries. The Achilles tendon which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone and provides the power in the push off phase when running or walking; is also  the largest tendon in the human body and can withstand forces of 1,000 pounds or more, but it is also the most frequently injured. Some causes of Achilles tendonitis:

  • rapidly increasing your running mileage or speed
  • adding hill running or stair climbing to your training routine
  • overuse resulting from the  lack of flexibility in the calf muscles

Symptoms of Achilles tendonitis:

  • Mild pain after exercise or running that gradually worsens
  • Morning tenderness about an inch and a half above the point where the Achilles tendon is attached to the heel bone
  • Stiffness that generally diminishes as the tendon warms up with use
  • Some swelling

Here are some exercises for the lower leg muscles which can help strengthen and stabilize ankles after injury, as well as help reduce the risk of injury.


Heel raises works the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Stand upright on the end of a platform or stair with the balls of your feet on the edge and your heel free. Raise your heel as high as you can with your weight supported on the balls of your feet. Then slowly lower your foot until your heel is below the level of the stair.  Or you can do this without a platform, facing a wall, place both hands against the wall, rise up on your toes, hold for a count of 5, then lower and repeat.

ankle_017To increase the work on your calf muscles perform the exercise with your weight supported on one foot by placing the other foot behind your heel. Your front lower leg muscles are small but are prone to injury, aka, shin splints; you need to work these front lower leg muscles to help balance the development of your calf muscles. Toe raises strengthen the lower leg muscles. While standing either with your hands on your hips or holding onto body bar to help with balance.  Raise your toes off the floor, balancing on your heels, and lower. Lift and lower several times, you will definitely feel this in the front of your leg.


Seated calf raises should be included in your routine because this works the soleus muscle more than the gastrocnemius.  We can all benefit from this exercise but especially distance runners because the soleus muscle is made up of mostly slow-twitch fibers thus making it an endurance muscle. Sit down on the edge of a table or exercise bench with the balls of your feet on a surface two to four inches high. Place a barbell or 2 dumbbells across your thighs and raise your heels as high as you can or if you are in the gym, you can use the seated calf raise machine. Towel Stretch- Inversion Wrap a towel around the ball of your foot. Start with your foot turned out then pull your foot in, and return to the start. Repeat on the other foot.







Towel Stretch- Eversion                             

Same instructions as above, but this time  start with your foot turned  then pull your foot outwards. Repeat on the other foot.    

Supination and Pronation – Heel of Foot

Sit with your foot on a towel, placing your heel off the edge of the towel. Use your heel to push the towel inwards towards the inside of your foot. Then reverse the movement and push the towel outwards. Repeat on the other foot.

Walking on your toes (preferably with shoes on) for 1-5 minutes; then alternate walking on your heels for the same amount of time, will also help strengthen the ankles. Simply balancing on one leg for up to 1-2 minutes will also help to strengthen the ankle.  Once this becomes easy, try it with one then both eyes closed, when that becomes easy use a wobble board or the BOSU ball.


Let’s keep our ankles healthy and strong and injury free.  


I love the Marika Brand of workout clothes. I have been wearing their active wear for quite a few years now and I thought it was about time I share my love for them with you.    Not only is the fit fantastic but they hold up well in the wash.

Here is a little information about them, taken from their website:  Marika has been producing stylish and functional women’s active wear and basic fitness merchandise since 1982. Marika Fitness, the company’s namesake fitness brand includes multi-sport and lifestyle driven active wear. Within the last four years, the company has also become one of the leading manufacturers in the alternative fitness market with its Balance Collections. I bought the following from their Balance Collection line.

Tie Dye Pant

V-Neck Long Sleeve Burnout Tee 

Crew Neck Long Sleeve Burnout Tee  

Here is a link to their websitehttp://www.marika.com/ More reviews to come.


Hip Strengthening Exercises

Strong hips protect our knees as well as it will reduce IT band issues, Trochanteric bursitis, Piriformis syndrome just to name a few.  Here are a few exercises that I have found to be helpful hip strengtheners.

The Bridge Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your knees bent; squeeze your glutes and slowly lift your bottom off the floor.  From your shoulders to your knees should be straight line. Hold at the top 2-3 seconds and lower.

Single Leg Bridge (advanced) Same start position as the above movement, bend one knee and straighten the opposite leg straight up, squeezing your buttocks muscles and raising your bottom off the floor. Hold for 2-3 seconds, lower and repeat.

Straight Leg Hip Extension  Lie face down with your legs extended, tighten your buttocks muscles and lift one leg, hold for 2-3 seconds.

Bent Knee Hip Extension Same position as above, but bend one knee, foot flexed and the opposite leg straight. Squeeze your buttocks muscles and lift leg upward. Hold for 2-3 seconds and lower and repeat.

Side Lying Hip Abduction  Lie on your side with your legs fully extended and straight. Lift your top leg to hip height with your foot flexed. Hold for 2 seconds and lower.

Side to Side Band Walks (these burn but they work) Loop an exercise band under both your feet, with your feet about 12 inches apart. Cross the band so it forms an X, hold the handles in each hand. Keep your chest up and shoulders back, maintain tension on the band throughout.  Start taking small lateral steps (side to side). Perform 2-3 Sets, 15-20 steps in each direction.







Clam Lie on your side with hips bent forward 45° with your feet together and your knees bent approximately 90°. Slowly rotate your top kneecap up towards the ceiling. Hold for 3 counts, and then slowly lower your knee. Do not lean your hips back or lift up your top foot.

Lets stay injury free.