Massage Therapy: Where to Begin

Active people work HARD! Some of us may have even been saddled with an injury at the end of last season and have been babying it all winter.  But spring is here and it’s time to start fresh!!  What have you got in mind to stay injury-free this year?  Have you considered massage therapy?

Massage is an excellent, natural tool to maintain and improve the health of your muscles, keep your physical and emotional stress at a healthy level, and get individualized instruction on fantastic self-care techniques.

Behind every available massage therapy option is a person who will be your guide and very own muscle-care guru.

  • How do you judge the competency and legitimacy of this individual?
  • How do you build trust with someone who is going to help care for your temple?
  • Basically, whom do you choose?

Unfortunately, this can be a costly and dissatisfying process.  Lacking a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend or family member, you may spend quite a bit of money receiving massage from different therapists before you find the right fit.

Or even worse, you may give up and never get the full benefits of the therapy.

Here are some tips to get you started.

1) Is he/she licensed?  

National- and state-licensures are the highest available official certifications at this time, defining general competency.  Expect that your therapist be licensed.

2) Does he/she actively grow their skill set?

Continuing education is an important requirement for professional growth and to maintain licensure.  Thoughtfully chosen courses enhance the skills of and specialize the therapist.

3) Does he/she understand my needs?

Listening skills are often more important than an alphabet of letters behind a therapist’s name.   Trusting that your practitioner has truly HEARD you can be the first step towards noticeable results.

Additionally, a therapist with experience helping people in your chosen sport or activity can greatly enhance your performance results and satisfaction with the service.

4) Do we get along?

This very important question may not seem like a necessary consideration when choosing your massage professional, but once you’ve set your baseline requirements, the practitioner/client relationship could be the deciding factor on whether your session is successful or simply so-so.

Whether you regularly receive massage therapy or you are looking forward to your very first appointment, these steps can help steer you to go beyond the basics and search out the best massage experience you’ve ever had!

I wish you an amazing season.  Hit the ground running!


Lauren Lucia of Balance Massage & WellWorks is a WI licensed massage therapist (LMT) and is accredited by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).  Lauren has been going beyond the basics to meet the needs of the active and fitness-minded person of any age in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa since August of 2011.  Check out her website to take advantage of a printable certificate for a free half-hour session!



It’s time for the 2013 Great Milwaukee Race!


Good news! We are (finally) announcing the date for this year’s Great Milwaukee Race! The 2013 event will take place Saturday, June 22nd at 9AM and we’ve got some fun changes up our sleeve.

NEW FOR 2013:
Introducing the Great Milwaukee Race Light! This year we are offering a  “mini” course for teams who want to participate but aren’t necessarily wanting to cover a longer distance. The Light version will be 3-4 miles and will feature about half of the clue locations. Bring the family!

As for the full race, the course will continue to cover between 6-8 miles and feature locations all around downtown Milwaukee and the lakefront. There will be a physical or mental challenge at every clue stop to test your brains as well as your brawn. Prizes will be awarded to the top five finishing teams in BOTH races!


Registration for the Great Milwaukee Race opens on Friday, March 1st. The price per team is $100 for the “full” race and $80 for the “light” version. After April 30th, the price will go up to $120/$100 for the full/light events. Check out the Great Milwaukee Race website for more info on how to register!

We will be needing even more volunteers to pull this bigger, better version of the race off this year so please fill out our volunteer form if you’re interested in helping out on race day. Also, let’s take a look at the photo gallery from last year’s “Strike a Pose” clue location. Just for old time’s sake.


Site relaunch/redesign/rebirth coming soon(ish.) Stay tuned Fit Milwaukeeans!

Accountability: Thanksgiving Day Workouts

I don’t know about you but I’m not in the mood to read any more articles about how many calories are in my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Instead of stressing over whether or not I should enjoy stuffing or pumpkin pie I’d rather just get my body moving on Thursday morning to help keep things in balance. You probably have heard by now about the Drumstick Dash happening out at State Fairgrounds (P.S. You need to register by the end of today to get in!), However there are some other events going on as well that morning. Coach Amy Friese is giving a FREE Thanksgiving workout at Fitness for Everybody in Bay View bright and early Thanksgiving morning at 7AM. And just up the road at Wild Workouts & Wellness, Amber is hosting her own Turkey Trot at 9AM. There’s a 2 mile walk, 5K run/walk and an 8K run. All you have to do to to attend either of these events is bring a non-perishable food item to donate and you can get your sweat on before gobbling up some turkey!


On a side note: The FitMKE blog will be taking a break over the next few weeks from now until the end of the year and may only be posting intermittently. I would really love to expand the number of voices who contribute to this site so if you’re interested in sharing your ideas for blog topics and articles, shoot me an email at


Heard  of any other Thanksgiving Day workouts going on in town? Are you planning on burning some calories Thursday AM?



Icebreaker Relay Winner!

The entries:


The winner:



Congrats to Dean Milinski on winning the FREE team entry to the Indoor Marathon Relay! For the rest of you, there are still a few spots left in the event so register today!. (Pssst. For those of you who entered this contest, check your email later today for a discount code courtesy of FitMKE.) Hopefully we’ll see you all on the track in January!

It’s Indoor Marathon Relay Time!

It’s become a January tradition in the Fit Milwaukee community: The Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay. In the depths of the Wisconsin winter, runners from all around the Milwaukee area come together to cheer each other on as we run lap after lap around the track at the Pettit National Ice Center. The 2013 race will take place on Saturday, January 19th and promises to bring all the excitement and camaraderie we’ve come to expect from this exciting event.

Also keeping with tradition, FitMKE has a team entry we’re giving away once again this year (a $120 value.) So here’s the question:


What’s the most amusing relay team name you’ve heard? 


Comment below with your answers and we’ll pick a winner at random to be announced a week from now on Thursday, November 15th!


Unfrozen Caveman Runners at the 2012 indoor marathon relay.


Turkey Trotting with Girls on the Run Milwaukee

I’ve been a big supporter of Girls on the Run Milwaukee for a couple of years now, starting back when I volunteered to be a coach. It’s a fantastic program that encourages young girls to be active, all while focusing on promoting a healthy body image, self esteem, friendship and teamwork. After holding their first official 5K at the Pettit Center last December, GOTR-Milwaukee is now taking it one step further and putting on their first outdoor race on Sunday, November 18th at Greenfield Park. This event is open to everyone! 

1. You don’t have to be a kid. 

2. You don’t have to be a girl.

You simply have to:

1. Enjoy running, walking, or simply being outdoors.

2. Enjoy supporting organizations that do positive things for the community.




We’re also looking for volunteers to help  make this event a fantastic experience for everyone involved. Check out the Girls on the Run Milwaukee website for more info on how to register or to volunteer for the event. 

So come spend the morning with us and get inspired by all the girls who have worked so hard over the past few months to run their first 5k! 




Thai Massage and the Runner in You

As we all start to focus on recovery this winter season, I’d like to take a look at one of my favorite things: Massage. No longer simply an indulgence, massage can be an important part of rebuilding your body after a summer of training hard. Our guest author, Tori McShane, is a licensed Massage Therapist at INVIVO where she offers Thai Massage and Bodywork.


One of the great things about Milwaukee is everyone’s willingness to try new things. The past two years have seen an abundant increase in extreme races like Dirty Girl and Tough Mudder, half marathons, marathons, and other adventure races.  It’s a fun way to get out, be social, and stay healthy.  But these races can put great demands on our bodies. We may have the fancy new shoe but the repetitive motion and pounding of our ankles, knees, and hips creates compressed and dysfunctional joints, tight muscles and pain. It is critical that we take care of ourselves. Now Milwaukeeans are turning to an ancient form of massage known as Thai Yoga Massage.

Thai Yoga Massage is different than the table massage you may have come to enjoy. Being on the Thai mat enables your body and joints to open up 3 dimensionally. The therapist, using her arms, feet, legs and hands moves around you opening up the body using many of the stretches found in yoga in order to lengthen and decompress the joints from the impact of running. The stretches are deep and held until a release is achieved. In addition, the use of acupressure to taught fibers and cross friction helps to release the body’s holding patterns and begin to detoxify.

Thai Massage also uses the power of meditation. The client is asked to focus on their breath, breathe into a stretch, notice where the body is restricted or blocked and let go. This practice encourages runners to be in their bodies and brings the focus to the breath. It encourages a focused attention that can be applied during a run to help manage the breath and let go of tight muscles and restrictive postural patterns.

For runners tight joints and muscles require more energy to move. Decompressing these joints and lengthening tissues results in fewer restrictions making movement more energy efficient.  People often report that they feel taller and rejuvenated after a session. Runners, however, often report faster run times! For as much as training and racing can compress, restrict and stress your body Thai massage is exactly the type of bodywork runners need to stay healthy and competitive!


Want to learn more? Contact 414.265.5606 for more information or check out!

What about you? Is massage a part of your recovery process?

Have Your Cheese and Eat it Too

It’s been a while since a recipe has been posted here so when Coach Amy Friese sent me this one I wanted to share. With the start of “comfort food” season it’s nice to have healthier versions of our favorite go-to dishes. Enjoy!

If you love creamy, comfort food but feel a little guilty when “indulging” in traditional mac ‘n cheese,
this is the recipe for you! This dish still offers the satisfying fullness of cheese with an extra perk of
veggies added in more depth and flavor. It’s a definite must if you’re trying to sneak in veggies for
your kids, and it’s healthier than tradition mac ‘n cheese, too!


Cooking spray
½ pound elbow macaroni (wheat, quinoa, or other grain pasta)
1 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
1 cup 1 percent low-fat milk
2 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about ⅓ – ¾ cups)
1 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about ⅓ cup) ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon powdered mustard
Dash of cayenne or fresh cracked pepper
1 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons unseasoned Panko crumbs
½ teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1. Preheat the oven to 375 ℉. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
3. Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring
occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and
cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, Jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and
cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and
cheese to the baking dish.
5. Combine Panko crumbs, Parmesan and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and
cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

Serve with your favorite roasted meat and steamed veg on the side. Sit back, savor every bite and enjoy knowing youʼre eating something comforting AND healthy!

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 1 hour Serves 4

The Long and Short of Measuring Race Courses


Photo by crossn81.

What’s the last thing a runner wants to to at the end of a 26.2 mile race? How about run another half mile to reach the finish line? I had this experience at the Haunted Hustle Marathon this past weekend and  if you’re looking for a new way to test your mental strength, this is it.

I’ve been around the block a few (hundred) times when it comes to racing. I know that courses won’t match every single runners’ GPS device. I’ve logged a couple extra tenths in pretty much every half and full marathon I’ve run. (Although a .5 mile discrepancy is a little excessive if you ask me.) But what causes this mismatch between the numbers on your Garmin and your “official” finish time?

1. Tangents

Courses are measured using the “shortest possible route” the runner could possibly run on race day. This means the measurement is taken assuming you hug every corner on the route, don’t weave back and forth trying to get around other runners and basically take the most efficient path you can manage (while not cutting off any part of the course.) The races where I’ve logged the most distance have all been at very large events where I did a lot of moving laterally to pass other runners or wasn’t able to see upcoming turns until the last possible second.

2. GPS devices aren’t infallible. Especially if part of the course takes you through areas where the signal is obstructed or lost completely. (In the past, I’ve never found this to be that big of a factor in road races I’ve run personally, but it could be something that contributes to the numbers not jiving.)  It turns out that certified race courses are actually measured using a bike! Something called a Jones Counter is mounted on a calibrated bicycle and it counts the revolutions of the wheel to measure the length of race courses.

3. Did you know that most marathon courses ARE actually a smidge longer than 26.2 miles? (Pausing for a moment so you can shout: NO FAIR!)  Something called the Short Course Prevention Factor requires a race to be one-tenth of 1% long. This is to simply to ensure that nobody comes up short, especially in the case that a record is broken. So how long is one tenth of one percent of a marathon? 42 meters.

Photo by redjar.

All this being said, its certainly a huge bummer when you realize that the finish line is not where you expected it to be. Is it still possible that a race could be long or short due to simple human error? Yes. For example, in this particular race, even some the pace groups finished 2 to 3 minutes behind their projected time- despite hitting all their mile splits. Runners who had paced themselves with these groups came up short of their goals- and this was no fault of the pacers. Many pace leaders I know have paced in enough events that they can nail their finish time down to the second.

Sure, something like this is not the end of the world, but it is a bit disappointing. Especially if you are someone who has trained and planned for months to run a specific time on race day.Personally, I tend to account for a couple of extra tenths of a mile when deciding on my pace for a longer distance race. I like to give myself a little bit of leeway in case I’m unable to run the most efficient path on the course. A half of a mile is definitely more than I usually allot though. I wasn’t gunning to break a personal record that day but I have to admit the extra distance messed with my mind a little when the numbers kept ticking up and up on my watch and the finish line was still nowhere in sight. After 26-plus miles you feel every extra step.

In the end, a couple minutes on my finish time is certainly not that big a deal. All things aside, everyone else about this race was incredibly enjoyable- from the costumes, the volunteers and yes, the course itself. We wound our way through some lovely areas of Middleton, WI and although there were a few challenging hills, most of them came with killer downhills on the other side which felt pretty fantastic. It’s difficult to give a thumbs up to an experience though when it ends on such a strange note.


Have you ever run a race course that went “long?” Do you factor for extra distance in a race? What are your thoughts on this?


And just for fun, check out this article about the official course measurer of the 2012 Olympic Marathon.