Recovering From a Running Injury – And Making My Dream Team!

Hi Guys!

I am currently super excited! If you read my Instagram post yesterday (@Little.Miss.Expat) you will already know what I’m talking about. I’ve been selected to run in the 2018 Cross Country MESAC competition!!! For those of you who don’t know, MESAC is the Middle East and South Asia Conference, which is basically the big sporting competition we get to compete in. Ever since I joined the Cross Country team, my dream has always been to qualify to be able to run in this competition, but I honestly didn’t think I would make the cut till maybe my Senior year of high school? But here I am, a Sophomore, celebrating going to MESAC! In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about my injury, how I recovered from it, and how I made the MESAC team, stay tuned!

How Did I Get Injured?

Well, It’s actually a kind of embarrassing story, but I want to be 100% real with you guys. So about 2 months ago I was on a field trip, doing an obstacle course in Bounce (which is a trampolining center). And I hit my toe on something, it just felt like I had stubbed my toe, so I waited a few minutes for the pain to go away. But the pain never went away, and my toe started swelling up and hurting even more. I asked the nurse to take a look at it, and she didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with it, so I carried on and ran at practice later that day.

I had a successful practice, and my toe had stopped hurting a bit. But when I got home and took off my running shoes, my toe had turned purple, it had started to bruise, and I couldn’t bend it. I asked someone to look at it, and we were positive that I hadn’t done anything serious such as breaking it. So the next morning I went out to my 6am practice and ran with it. I carried on like this for a few weeks, running through the pain because I didn’t think it was anything serious. But what I didn’t realize at that time was that because I wasn’t really putting any weight on my toe when I walked or ran (because it was painful), I was sort of limping and shifting all my weight onto my ankle rather than throughout my whole foot, which turned out to be very bad.

The breaking point came during the Winter Holidays when I was walking around 10K a day because I was on holiday in Europe, and then I would go back to our hotel and run another 10K as my workout for the day. After one tiring day, my ankle couldn’t take it anymore, after I finished my run I couldn’t even put weight on it. I’ve been sore before, but this was a completely different feeling, and I knew that there was something was wrong.

I took a break from running for the rest of the holiday and booked an appointment with a running doctor for when I came back to Dubai. By this time I was itching to run again because 1) I love running, and 2) I felt like I was losing all the fitness that I had worked so hard for. When I went to the doctor I told her all about my ankle, and she asked if anything had happened to my foot recently, I told her about my toe, but it didn’t even cross my mind that these two could be connected (because by this time my toe was almost getting back to normal).

Now, to backtrack a bit and give you a little bit of history about my body. I’ve only been running this intensely for about 2 years now, and I’ve received a lot of feedback saying that I have a weird running form, or that my ankles stick out a lot when I run. Which is all definitely true, and it is something that I am working on. I get a lot of these problems when I run, because I have double jointed ankles, really flat feet, and I have hypermobility. I never like to say I have all these issues because sometimes I think it sounds like I’m making excuses for myself, but it really does affect my running. There are a lot of really successful runners who have flat feet, and as long as you know how to deal with it, it’s not that big of a deal. But I have hypermobility which means that my joints move around more than they should be able to, which also goes hand in hand with being double jointed. For example, when I’m running my ankles move from side to side, and it’s hard to control them, which affects my form, makes it easier for me to get injured, and also wastes my energy. These issues have always been things that I’ve had, but nothing that has ever really affected me that much, until this injury.

So when I saw this doctor, I told her about all these problems I had, and what she told me is that I was very close to having a stress fracture, because I had been running when my toe couldn’t take any weight, and because of that, my ankle had been compensating by supporting me and taking on the extra weight. And because my ankles are very weak and I can’t control them as much as I should be able to, it was making it even worse. She referred me to a physiotherapist, who I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and we came up with a plan on how to get back on track.

How I Got Back On Track

My physiotherapist gave me a lot of strengthening exercises and tips on how to build up muscle around my ankles so that this wouldn’t happen again. And we discussed gradually getting back into running and practicing with my team again. But honestly I was a mess, I love running, and it’s my outlet for stress and it just makes me happy. I had been off running for about a month at this point and I was miserable. To be completely truthful, I cried almost every day because I just wanted to run, and also because I really thought that there was no chance that I would be able to run fast enough this season to make the MESAC team.

I’ve been gradually getting back into running, by first of all not running on consecutive days. Then I started running every day again but I took it very easy, and I didn’t do any hills or stair drills. I’m finally pretty much back to normal, but when I feel my ankle start to hurt again, I stop and take a rest. Because I’ve learned my lesson, no more running injuries for me!

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Listening To Your Body

If there’s one thing that I have learned throughout this whole experience is how important it is to ‘listen to your body’. For a sport like running, you’re so dependent on your body, and pretty much your whole success in the sport depends on how fit your body is. I made the mistake of running through the pain and not listening to my body when I should have, and I paid the price for it. If I had just listened then, I wouldn’t have ever got that injured. But now every time I feel a pain that I know is related to my injury, I make sure I stop if it gets too much, and treat it in the way that I should. Your body is your temple, and we should be doing everything we can to keep them in pristine shape!

 

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I’ve been stretching and foam rolling after running, to keep my legs healthy and strong.

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So What’s Been Happening?

Last week was our hardest race of the season, which is a 5K run up in the mountains in Hatta. I was really nervous because this was the first race I was allowed to run after recovering from my injury, and I felt like I wasn’t as fit as everyone else, and I definitely hadn’t done as much hill training as the rest of my team. I did my best to stay calm before the race, and I just went out and performed my best. Last year when I ran this race I came in 4th place, so originally my goal for this year was to be able to get 3rd place and medal individually, but obviously after being injured this goal had pretty much deteriorated. But I was able to push through this race and I did end up placing 3rd overall! I have never individually medaled at a Cross Country meet before, so I was over the moon. I was also crazy happy because my biggest fear was that I had lost all my fitness while I was injured, but I was still able to run faster than I have before and beat my PB from last year.

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The Hatta Course

Making The MESAC Team

Making the cut for the big Cross Country competition has always been a dream of mine, even if I was the slowest person out of the 8 that made the cut, it would have always been such an honor to just get picked to run in the competition. I really thought that all my hopes of making the team this year were washed away with my injury, but my performance at the Hatta race allowed for me to make the MESAC team. I’m so happy everytime that I think about it, and I’m so grateful to be running at this event. Obviously, I’m nervous! But I’m going to be doing my best to keep my nerves under control so that I can run my best races ever at MESAC.

I’m still definitely not the fastest runner on my Cross Country team, and I probably will never be. But I’m so proud of where my dedication and strength got me, with running you reap what you sow. If you don’t train or work hard you’re not going to get anywhere. And trust me I know what it’s like to miss out on these opportunities, as I said, this is my first time running in the competition, I didn’t make the cut in years past. But not making the cut doesn’t mean that you failed! It means that you tried your best, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. There’s always another year to work hard and improve for, and with running, there will always be a new opportunity for you to run faster and push yourself even more.

Wow, that was a really long post! I wanted to share every little bit of what’s been going on with me and I would love to hear your feedback. Have you ever been injured? Do you like running? Have you ever run in a big competition, if so what are your tips? And did you enjoy reading this post? Please let me know in the comments!

See you next week!

Little Miss Expat

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The Vienna Eating Guide

Hi Guys,

So, if you’re one of my regular readers you’ll know that over winter break I visited Vienna, which meant that I ate lots of yummy Christmassy treats and snacks. One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip was to visit Christmas markets, instead of going to the big tourist attractions. And because I LOVE FOOD, I got to try lots of different fresh and delicious street food snacks at the markets.

I tried a mix of traditional food and general street food, but I wanted to share it all with you. Here you go!

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You have got to have roasted chestnuts, they’re my all-time time favorite winter street food!

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You CAN NOT go to Austria without trying an Apple Strudel!

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This chocolate cake is traditional to Vienna, it’s called the Sachertorte… it’s a must-have if you’re visiting Vienna. 

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How beautiful do these strudels look?

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I WANTED TO EAT EVERYTHING… I’m not joking…

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In one of the dessert shops, we could see the chefs working on their cakes.

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Finding yummy snacks at the Christmas markets.

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Chocolate covered fruits and nuts were sooooo good! And it made me feel like I was being a little bit healthy.

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And of course, because it was Christmas time, I had to try all the gingerbread!

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I didn’t try this cheese, but how cool does it look?

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These sweet pastry rolls were delicious

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And of course, you can never go wrong with fries and onion rings…

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I’m literally drooling looking at this sandwich right now, it was amazing!

These are all the different foods I tried when I was in Vienna, I hope the pictures aren’t making you too hungry!! Have you ever been to Vienna, if so, what did you try? And if you could try one of these foods, which one would it be?

Little Miss Expat

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Eating For a Purpose – Health Food Haul

Hey Guys!

So, if you’re one of my regular readers you will know that one of my new year’s resolutions is to learn more about the food I eat, and what it does for my body.  This year I want to eat for a purpose. I already have a very healthy lifestyle, and I’m really interested in nutrition, so I wanted to combine these two things and do something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. This year I want to learn about all the vitamins I need to eat, what food contains which nutrients, and what types of carbs will let me run better. In other words, I want to know what every piece of food I eat does for my body.

So… For Christmas this year my parents got me a hamper full of healthy ingredients from Daylesford Farm, and honestly it was the best present ever! You should have seen my face when I opened that hamper. As well as all the ingredients I got from Daylesford Farm, I also picked up some goodies at Whole Foods when I was in England, and I ordered some powders from Tropeka, that I’m super excited to try out.

I thought that in this post I would share what ingredients I’m planning to use this year, and why I chose them. So here’s what I’m using so far:

  • A natural tea that is meant to calm you down: It has all kinds of whole ingredients in it, such as rose petals and dried fruit. I like to have this in the evening or before I go to sleep.
  • Manuka Honey: this is a really good alternative for sugar when you’re cooking, and it has all kinds of antibacterial properties.
  • 3 Grain Museli & Granola: So these aren’t really ‘health foods’ but you guys know I love my granola and yogurt, so I got some new ones for the new year.
  • Pink Himalayan Salt: This serves to balance your electrolytes, and keeps you hydrated. As a runner living in a desert, hydration is key.
  • Dried Mulberries, Goji Berries, and Blueberries: I’m planning to put these together with some nuts and seeds into a trail mix that I can have as a snack during school. Mulberries, goji berries, and blueberries are all rich sources of antioxidants.
  • Almond Butter: I know people that swear by their nut butter, I’ve never really tried one, but I’m planning to give this one a go.
  • Tumeric: I think Tumeric has to be the health craze at the moment, it has anti-inflammatory properties, it’s an antioxidant. I’m not too keen on the taste, but I’m definitely going to try using this a lot.
  • Lucuma Powder: This powder contains, calcium, protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B3, and It’s perfect to put in your smoothies.
  • Cacao Powder: This powder is super high in antioxidants! And, I mean it tastes like chocolate, so what could be better?
  • Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds are a source of magnesium, which helps keep your immune system healthy, and makes sure your muscles are working properly.
  • Almond Flakes: Again, I’m planning to put this into my trail mix, as it’s really high in protein, magnesium, and vitamin E.
  • Spelt Flakes: Spelt helps you to build strong bones, and aids your blood circulation.
  • Coconut Sugar: It’s a healthy alternative to sugar when you’re cooking, it’s on the low glycemic side of the scale which means that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much.

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These are the healthy ingredients that I have at the moment, and I’m super excited to start cooking with them! Let me know if you’re using any of these ingredients, and what you like to use.

See you next week!

Little Miss Expat

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Conquering Homesickness

Hey everyone!

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but I’ve found it a bit hard to word all my thoughts and write them down here, as there’s so much I want to talk about. I haven’t written an ‘expat life’ post for a while, as there’s just been so much holiday content recently, but today I want to talk about something very important, homesickness.

For me, winter break usually means going back to England and spending time with my family and friends. This year my time in England went by so fast, and before I knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to Dubai. Usually, I find myself a little teary on days we head back to Dubai because as much as I love my life here, it’s always hard to leave England. I think that anyone who lives away from home, or who has family that lives far away can probably relate to this. Leaving your family behind can sometimes feel like you’re leaving a little part of yourself behind. I sometimes feel like I’m torn between the two places because Dubai is my ‘home’ now, but England seems to natural and safe to me.

When I go back to England it seems weird to head down the roads that used to take me to school every morning, to pass the hall where my brownie camp was, or to see the coffee shop where I used to sip on hot chocolate. It’s almost like looking back at a part of your life without recognizing it. What I mean by this, is that these things that used to be so natural for me, seem so far away now, I can hardly remember doing them anymore.

When we go back to England for the holidays these are the things that I always look forward to, seeing the places I missed and that I have memories in. But it’s always a shock to find that things are never the same as they used to be. One of the hardest things to come to terms is the fact that your ‘old life’ moves on while you’re living your ‘new life’. People move on and keep evolving. It’s easy to let this make you feel upset, I’m guilty of it sometimes as well. But this ideology of going back to the ‘safe place’ that we think will be the same as how we left it is merely a mind game that we have to overcome. What do I mean by a mind game?

Think about it this way; for most of us when we’re having a really bad day or feeling a little down, this is when our homesickness kicks in, and we wish we could be back in that ‘safe place’, that place where you’re surrounded by family, and where times seemed simpler. But it’s a mind game, from experience I know that when I’m upset I crave something natural to me, a place where I have good memories. This usually ends up being where I used to live in England because it’s where I grew up, and where I remember being a carefee10-year-old and not worrying about anything. But the reality is, that if I was in the same place again at this age, I would still be going through the same things that I am right now. The trick to conquering and overcoming homesickness is to re-programme your happy place or safe place.

What I mean by this, is that it’s time to move on. Of course, it’s normal to feel homesick, everyone does from time to time. But it’s how you deal with this homesickness that really matters. Instead of craving a ‘safe-place’ from your past, re-programme your brain to search for a ‘safe place’ in your ‘new life’, or in other words the life you’re living now. When you next feel sad or down, try and think of a happy memory in the place you are now. Slowly this will change your mindset because there’s no point dwelling on the past and keeping yourself tied to a place that’s evolving when you’re missing out on opportunities in the place where you are now.

Feeling homesick is totally okay, and sometimes it’s even good to have a big old cry and get everything out of your system. I know as well as any of you that it hurts, that it’s hard to live between two places and constantly feel like you’re leaving a bit of yourself behind. But it’s the way you deal with this that really matters, and that will eventually help you to get over this. I, myself am still learning more about homesickness, but I’m just trying to share my ideas with you guys. I would really appreciate it if you left a comment letting me know how you deal with homesickness, and any thoughts you have on the subject.

Lots of love and stay strong!

Little Miss Expat

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