Warm Weather Running Tips

Between spring arriving with a bang here in NJ and running in the overwhelming heat and humidity of Florida last week at the Dark Side Challenge (recaps coming soon!), I’ve had to adjust my running strategies pretty drastically in the past week or so.

And now that I’m prepping for the Newport 10K on May 6th, I realize that I’m probably not the only one who’s had to adapt quickly. So today I’m sharing some of my tips for warm weather running as we take on these first few weeks of pre-summer heat!

giphy.gif…also this is the perfect opportunity to finally use this gif of a shirtless Adam Driver in tiny shorts. so. win-win. you’re welcome.

Tip #1: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

And I mean during AND before! Seriously. Upping your water intake and starting your run already properly hydrated makes a HUGE difference. Leading up to your long run or race – or even your regular outdoor runs! – be sure to take in extra water and stay away from caffeine and alcohol as those have more of a diuretic effect. Then while you run, make sure to keep those levels topped off. I’m no doctor but the rule of thumb is to check your urine: if it’s clear, you’re overhydrated. If it looks like iced tea, get ye to the water fountain STAT. Straw-colored is the goal here.

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But while you’re doing this hydrating thing, also be aware of hyponatremia, which is a deadly condition that occurs when you drink TOO MUCH water and your blood sodium levels drop to dangerous lows and cause  So yeah. It goes both ways, this hydration game!

For actual REAL expert advice on hydration, check out this article on Active.com. They’ve even got a handy guide for you there!

Tip #2: SUNSCREEN

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My god, sunscreen. Please, people. Don’t forget the sunscreen. I know we wear those uneven shorts and racerback tan lines as badges of honor, but burnt skin is damaged skin. Besides, a sunburn makes it more painful to run than it already is. When it’s 85+ degrees out there, why make running any more painful than necessary?

Tip #3: Slow Down!

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I know: it seems very counter productive. I’m racing, you’re thinking. The faster I go, the faster it’ll be over and I can cool off! Yeah, no. When the temperatures soar, you need to adjust your pace accordingly and run by perceived exertion, not by the pace you think you *should* be hitting on your watch.

Tip #4: Minimal, Loose Fitting Clothing

This is a lesson I learned late in the game: the less you wear when you run in the heat, the more comfortable you’re going to be. I used to run in capris all the time because I was afraid I’d scare passersby with my jiggly thighs. Until I ran a 10 miler in like 80 degrees in capris and nearly finished the run pantsless. Now, I rock the shorts, jiggle be damned.

Recently, on a solo run in my stifling hot office gym, I discovered the joys of being a part of the Sports Bra Squad and let me tell you: while I was petrified of someone coming in and seeing me wobbling all over the place, I also felt COOL.

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When it comes to running in the heat, run in what YOU’RE comfortable in. Try running in a sports bra. I was shocked to see how much more comfortable I was, and nailed my run even harder because I felt so badass. Now I’m looking forward to giving it my all this summer!

Tip #5: Maybe Don’t Run?

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What kind of running blogger am I, suggesting you NOT run?! Well I’m going to keep it real: if it’s TOO hot? You shouldn’t be running. I’ve seen some sites say skip the outdoor runs at 89, 90, or 92 degrees and up. But ultimately, you need to listen to your body. If you set out and immediately feel like your lungs are on fire and your skin is going to melt off your bones, maybe today just isn’t your day. It might feel badass, but you could do some real damage (heat stroke, anyone?). So when it gets TOO hot, consider moving your run to a treadmill. It won’t ruin all of the training you’re doing, I promise.

Do you have any hot weather running tips that you swear by? Share in the comments – and I’ll see you at the Newport 10K next week!

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Things I Wish I Knew About Running (Before I Started)

It still amazes me that after almost 6 years of running, I’m still learning new things about this sport every day. Some of these things I wish someone had told me about before I started running. Not to deter me, but to warn me, in the gentlest way possible that…

You’re going to want talk about it. A LOT.

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You’re going to find yourself really excited about something running related: new sneakers, conquering a new distance, registration opening up for a race you’ve been dying to go to… BUT. Try to refrain from going on and on about it (much like I do here on this blog!). I’ve learned the hard way from some friends that talking about nothing but running all the time can be exhausting for those around you. I’ve actively tried to get better at this in the past year, but I’m still a major PITA with it. Just this morning I got all worked up over being assigned my Rock n Roll Brooklyn bib number and corral assignment…. and had to refrain from shouting it from the rooftops. I’m SUPER excited to take on this race. But my coworkers? Are not.

You’re going to chafe. A LOT.

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Do you see that girl up there? Do you know how CHAFED she is in that moment? I used to think I had the chafing game figured out: just keep the skin covered, go for longer length shorts in warm weather, use some chafe guard products when needed, boom. Problem solved. Then I ran an 11K race in a total monsoon and discovered that there are OH SO MANY MORE SPOTS to chafe in when it’s raining or you’re wet all over. Like your butt. And your lady parts. And… you get the gist. Let’s just say I screamed so loudly when the water hit my newly chafed spots during my post-race shower that housekeeping knocked on the hotel room door to make sure I was OK. I found myself at a corner bodega later that day desperately searching for diaper rash cream to smother basically my entire bathing suit area and allow me to walk without looking like I rode a horse across country. Something similar happened during the NYC Triathlon when I was running under firehoses and dumping cups and cups of water over my head to completely soak myself and stay cool on the run course. Lesson learned: water (in any form) + running = chafing.

It makes you hungry – but don’t use it as an excuse to eat!

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You’ve no doubt seen the articles out there about “runger” and how you’re going to want to #eatallthethings while you’re logging lots of miles. Being firmly in the “I LOVE FOOD” camp, this is one of the major reasons running first appealed to me: if I’m running all the miles, I get to eat all the food, right? WRONG. For a while I was all “I get an extra glass of wine at dinner and maybe dessert. Then I do it again Monday on a rest day, you know, for refueling purposes. And Tuesday I get dessert because I ran again!”And so on and so forth. Then I wondered why I couldn’t lose weight! Thanks to MyFitnessPal, I learned that all those extra calories weren’t necessarily being burned off, especially during rest days. Now I stay conscious of what I’m eating, what I’m burning, and pay closer attention to how certain foods affect my body and my performance. It’s trippy, but a good mix of veggies and fruits throughout the week really DO fuel you better than McDonald’s and Burger King all week. Go figure.

Cut your toenails.

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Before I ran, I was big into pedicures at the spa: sanding down my feet to baby softness and sculpting each toenail to beautiful perfection then walking away with a beautiful French pedicure? Ahh… Now? I’ve got to hack away at my feet in the privacy of my own home or else I pay the price. On the rare occasion I get a real pedicure, I have to tell the nail tech to put the sanding stick down – trim my nails next to nothing and leave the callouses please, I’ll end up with blisters if you sand them off. And don’t judge me for a third black toenail in 3 months. I picked a darker polish on purpose, just paint it. Oh and that pinkie toe where the nail fell off? Just paint the skin and give me the illusion of a toenail please. Don’t look at me like that, just paint it! Or if you don’t want to, paint 9 and give me a 10% discount for using less polish.

How about you – is there anything you’ve learned about running that you wish you’d known before? 

Springtime Update!

Oye. I can’t apologize enough for the break in blogging I’ve taken recently – I have good reason though! Work has been gearing up in anticipation of a big product launch and a lot of events that I’m managing, and I also came down with a nasty stomach bug that knocked me out for pretty much the last 4 days. BUT – I have been running, and happy, and all the things that you keep coming here to read about, so let’s recap the past two weeks with a LOT of pictures!

After my hooky day in the city, I had a pretty OK long run that weekend. It was definitely not the great 10 miler I had the week before, but I know exactly why that was the case: I had no water. 
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The time on the watch up there is a lie, because I stopped the watch each time I took a break to heave for breath and work the paste out of my mouth, which was about 4 times after mile 5, when I ran out of agua and the temps soared past 65.

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But, the weather was nice and I was able to finally wear my new Skirt Sports Happy Girl skirt in Psyched – a print that while sufficiently loud for my tastes, matches nearly everything I own!

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Want some Skirt gear of your own? Use code JRH20 at the new SkirtSports.com and get 20% off your order!

After that learning experience, I took on the next week of training with a little less intensity than I wanted. My first run of the week was banging, thanks to Mr. Kenny Loggins here (any Archer fans out there get why I was so stoked when this was the first song of my run??)
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But after that I did some biking on Wednesday to cross train, and Thursday was lost due to it being St. Patrick’s Day. I DO celebrate other high holy days aside from Christmas, you know.

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So does Sammy “I’ll Allow This” Gamgee

I also was super stoked to get my shipment from Swanson Health Products:

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Full disclosure – these folks reached out to offer me a gift card to order whatever I wanted in exchange for a shout out here, but after one order I can honestly say they’re freakin’ awesome!

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This chocolate bar I ordered from them: EVEN MORE awesome.

I’d never heard of them before, but once I took a look at their website I was sold. They’ve got everything you could possibly want: vitamins, snacks, cooking stuff, juices, you name it they’ve got it. And the prices are really more affordable than I expected too. I’m a big fan of the brown rice pasta pictured up there, and of course that amazing chocolate bar (the wrapper of which I had to fish out of the garbage for a picture because I ate it so fast). The Tart Cherry vitamins were also a great find – I’ve been meaning to try them out and thanks to their deal of the day I was able to get two bottles for the price of one! Give them a visit and let them know I sent you 😉

That weekend – yes, after skipping my second run of the week, bad runner – I took on 9 miles. And it was not very good.

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This is another case where the numbers lie – I carried a bottle of water with me and managed to get my hydration situation under control, but the last 4 miles were allll aboard the struggle bus thanks to skipping my second run. I just felt out of shape. You know what I mean. I managed to push through a much slower second half than first half while having flashbacks of horrible race experiences where I burned out too early and vowed to take on the next week with renewed intensity – but not after a pretty awesome weekend filled with hockey, BB-8, and Starbucks (Cherry Blossom Frappuccino, I love you)!

My first run that week was better – my usual 4 miles at a bit slower than I wanted, but still solid pacing. I swam on Wednesday for the first time in a while and remembered just how awesome swimming really is (thanks for coming with me, Kevin!), and then took on another 3 miles on Friday to break in my new Brooks Transcend 3’s.

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Saturday night I went out to a bachelorette party at Pinot’s Palette, where you can bring wine and snacks and paint a masterpiece – which was a stinkin blast!

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I did take it easy on the wine and snacks though, because I had a long run early the next morning before Easter festivities:

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And while the pacing on this looks slower compared to other long runs, I’m actually extremely proud of myself: the first 5 miles were excruciatingly slow thanks to a 2 am bedtime, and yes, SOME wine, at a total of 1:02. I told myself those whole 5 miles as I saw my pace hover around 12:15 that this run was about endurance, not pace. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. But after my gel at mile 5.5? I ran those last 5 miles in 56 minutes, baby! My final mile was even in the 10’s, I almost screamed. It was TOUGH, and took a lot of focus especially in that final mile or two when I just wanted to walk, but I did it and proved to myself that I could come back from a sucky start.

I vowed to look at training not as *just* training but as a way to build my confidence in long distances, and with each long run this cycle I’m learning something new and loving it. Nevermind the fact that I woke up late Sunday/early Monday with the stomach flu to end all stomach flu’s. Seriously, I was curled up on the bathroom floor at one point, crying and begging Jesus to take my pain away. He must have been super surprised to hear from me then, of all times.

BUT the plus side – if there is one – is the 4 days I had to take off to recover gave me time to heal from blisters, calf pain, and general soreness. I’m ready to rock a few miles tonight as a shakeout before Saturday’s 11K down in Atlantic City for the April Fool’s Race Series for sure! This race is about fun – coming off a bad illness like this I know I lost a lot of strength (I broke a sweat taking the stairs at work today), so I’m not going to push myself. It’s not worth it with my goal race coming up in May.

So that about does it for me, kids! How’s your training going? Tell me all about it in the comments!

I’m a Pro Compression Ambassador!

If you’ve seen any of my pictures, you know that I’m a huge Pro Compression fan and have been since I started running a few years ago.

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I really dig their products while I’m running and during recovery too – if I’m running long or training, 9 times out of 10 you’ll probably catch me in over-the-calf PC’s out on the pavement AND after I’m done running too. Their socks make my legs so happy and keep my calves from cramping up or getting sore after a run – and on flights or long car rides they keep me from getting stiff too. So I’m thrilled to have been chosen as a Pro Compression Ambassador for 2016!

IMG_1653.JPGThis means I get to spread the PC love with giveaways, sales, and more – so I hope you’ll stay tuned and see how we plan to #keepittight in 2016!

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how hard it is to balance things out without feeling like I’m stuck in an endlessly repeating loop.

giphyKind of like my friend the gray rat there..

In the past when a big race loomed on the horizon, I would get so focused on The Plan (with a capital P) that by week 10 I felt like a zombie. I’d spend most of the last few weeks wishing the monotony was over, plodding through each workout while repeating the faithful mantra “trust your training”.

duhFat lot of good that did me through endless treadmill miles.

I went from being excited to dreading those workouts, and if we’re being honest here, that kind of defeats the purpose of running, right?

So once my big spring races were done back in April, I scaled back my weekly mileage and looked for other ways to get my fitness kicks. And wouldn’t you know it, my running endurance has improved overall a result!

obvs I maintained a lower base mileage per week, kept my long runs to 5-6 miles on the weekend, and found that I looked forward to weekends because I could fit even more fitness-y type fun things in my day! On days when my knees and my heart just didn’t feel like running, I started doing stuff like yoga and walking (who knew?!). I biked more, both down the park on my trusty two wheeler and on my DeskCycle at the office.

IMG_5516Seriously, 18 miles while working? A few times a week? Hello, leg muscles!

As a result, the past few runs and smaller races I’ve done in May and June have been immensely better than my training runs and races in March and April. I go out strong and don’t waver after 10 minutes like I used to. My pace is consistently improving, even if by a few seconds. I feel stronger, more confident, and less anxious about race day in general. I’m also a few lbs lighter, which never hurts! Hell – yesterday I caught myself jogging up the spiral staircase at my office – I’ve never done that in the 2+ years I’ve been here!

hyperApologies to my coworkers for my new found energy.

I’ve got a 10K race coming up this Saturday and while I haven’t actually used a Plan with a capital P to prep for this race, I’m 100% fine with that. I’m trusting my training, even though it doesn’t fit into a rigid schedule and add up to a certain amount of miles per week. Sure, I’ll probably feel like dying halfway up those Central Park hills, but I look forward to it! Instead of “trusting my training”, this go-round I’m “embracing the journey” and look forward to smiling through all 6.2 miles.

How about you – have you ever just thrown “The Plan” out the window and gone for it? How did your race turn out? Want to race up the spiral staircase with me? 🙂

Trying out the DeskCycle

If you’ve seen some of my recent Instagram posts, you’ll notice that I’ve been doing some different cross training this past week, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to tell you all about it!

IMG_5426aAfter throwing my name into the pool for a “calling all bloggers” post on the Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador page, the folks at DeskCycle contacted me asking if I’d like to review their flagship product. I felt like I’d won the lottery! I accepted, and last Monday I received a note from our office warehouse manager saying that I had a package downstairs. It was like Christmas morning!

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Once my lunch hour rolled around I quickly got to work on putting it together – and surprised myself when I got it all right on the first try in under 10 minutes! Ikea furniture takes me like 3 hours and half a bottle of wine, so I was impressed with myself. The directions were super easy to follow and they even included that cute little wrench you see in the pic up there to help speed things along.

I was also very surprised by the high quality of this thing – it was SOLID. I had a little difficulty getting it up to my desk because the box was so heavy (maybe that’s a sign that I need some Desk Arm Weights?), and the pieces are heavy metal, ensuring that it’ll stay put no matter where you place it. Really impressive!

IMG_5433The coolest part was this little egg-shaped desktop display that connects to the bike and gives me a live feed of my speed, distance, calories burned, and total pedaling time! It’s extremely motivating to see that little thing staring me in the face, urging me to pedal some more. But I’ll get to that in detail later.

IMG_5429Once I got it all set up and under my desk, it took about 15 minutes to adjust the height of my chair and distance I needed to sit away from it in order to not bash my knees into the underside of my desk with every rotation, but luckily I’m a fast learner.

After a handful of co-workers all wandered by to take their turn trying it out (I had 4 coworkers who practically threw their credit cards at me to order their own once they tried it out), I settled in after lunch for some actual WORK, adjusted the handy little tension knob right between my feet to a level of 2 to start, and pedaled away.

It was virtually silent – the number one question I received on IG when I first posted about it – so unless you work in a library or office where you can literally hear a mouse fart, you don’t need to worry about annoying anyone. The only related noise I’ve heard in a week of using it is my chair squeaking as I pedal, but that’s my chair and not the bike!

I soon fell into a super focused zone as I compiled stats and did my day job work, and about 10-15 minutes into my ride, I found myself really sweating!! Usually I’m the one huddling up in a thick cardigan and complaining about how cold I am, but just a few miles on this thing and I was burning up! It happened so quickly that I had a brief moment of confusion before I realized that yes, I’d been biking, and… holy crap I did like 3 miles already! That was when I was hooked. Throughout the rest of the day, I’d pedal some more, step away from my desk to take care of something, come back and start up again. Before I knew it, 5pm rolled around, my legs were jelly, and I had completed more than 10.1 miles in 47 minutes!

IMG_5441That was all it took to hook me – now it was a game. I HAD to beat my mileage the next day! So Tuesday rolled around and I started my biking even earlier. I cranked up the tension to 3 this time, and felt the difference immediately. It also made me experience some “drifting” for the first few minutes too, which was a little annoying. I would pedal harder, only to push myself away from my desk and the bike, then have to wheel myself in again.

The folks at DeskCycle already had me covered though, because the bike comes complete with this neat little velcro Tether Strap that you can loop around your chair base and the front stand of the bike. Once you get it hooked around nice and tight, you magically stay put with no effort at all! Once I took care of that, I was able to crank out 15.5 miles throughout the day, with a total of 55 active minutes and 572 calories burned! I again sweat through my shirt after a few particularly strenuous bursts of cycling while filing emails, and while I’m not 100% sure how accurate the calorie counter is, 15.5 miles is nothing to sneeze at! Even if I burned 1/2 of those calories, that’s still something!

IMG_5452The competition with myself became fierce – my legs were super tired at the end of every day, but it was a great feeling getting this hard work in when I was sitting at my desk. I’m usually bushed by the end of the day, and pushing myself for a ride or run after a full day is sometimes a struggle. But with this fun little device, I was getting a good hour’s worth of workouts done each day while also working!

Wednesday I clocked a total of 17.1 miles in just over 59 minutes, and Thursday I managed to get in 18.2 miles in 66 minutes! It became a game – my coworkers would see me sweating as we held impromptu meetings around our desks and I pedaled away, and every few hours someone would yell out “How many miles are you at now?” and no matter what the number, their responses were always something like “I have got to get one of those!”

IMG_5516Friday was the final day of my self-imposed challenge, and I managed to clock a total of 18.5 miles, beating Thursday’s mileage by a hair. It’s true that 2.5 of those miles were running in the morning because I hadn’t run in days! But the 16 miles I biked throughout the day were still 16 miles, and I was amazed at the numbers I racked up over just one week’s use:

  • Total Miles Biked: 77 miles
  • Total Active Minutes: 4:44:09
  • Total Calories Burned: 2,828

All told, I was thoroughly impressed by the DeskCycle. I went into this thinking it might be a fun thing that I’d use and get tired of because it was too flimsy or didn’t give me a good idea of what I was doing, but this far exceeded my expectations. I get such a sense of accomplishment seeing those little numbers add up, and the wobbly-leg feeling I get at the end of every day tell me that I’m doing something right! It’s a super high-quality bike that will get your blood pumping while you’re doing every day tasks at your desk or even on the couch at home! My husband is dying to get one, and while I’ve promised him I’ll bring it home for him to try out, I have to admit: I think I’m just keeping this one and getting him one for our anniversary so I don’t have to share!

For more information or to get a DeskCycle of your own, check out their website – and tell them that JessRunsHappy sent you!

Disclosure: DeskCycle provided me a free sample in exchange for my honest review. Receiving product did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

The First 10 Minutes of Every Workout

Confession time: the first 10 minutes of every workout I do – running, strength training, cross training, you name it – are sheer hell. I spend the whole time just going through the motions while one long “UUGGGHH” drones on silently in my head. It takes a good 10-15 minutes before I’m feeling the burn, sweating it out, and reaping the benefits of the whole fitness thing.

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This is especially the case when I work out in the mornings. I simply cannot drag myself out of bed, get warmed up and get an efficient workout in less than like 2 hours, and I’m not losing 2+ hours of sleep if I don’t have to, dammit. By the time I get in a groove, I need to start cooling down, showering, and getting ready for my day. First world problems, I  know.

Having said that, I keep trying to fight the system by waking up early for a morning run every now and then. And while these runs are always technical successes in that they are runs that take place in the morning, I can still safely say that I hate morning workouts.

IMG_5303Every time I try to run before work, I only manage to get about a half hour (or 2.5 miles) in before the morning routine has to start, and then I’m exhausted for the rest of the day. Sure, it feels good knowing my workout is done, but the pros don’t really outweigh the cons there.

IMG_5314But of course that sunrise was really something to see, and I would have missed that if I slept in.

I know what my problem is: I need to build it into my schedule just like everything else to make it a habit. Once my body realizes this is the norm with more frequent sessions, it won’t be so bad. But until then, I’ll tough it out and try to enjoy myself.

IMG_5302I also battled the “first 10 minute scourge” this weekend when I did my favorite HIIT workout in the living room Saturday morning.

IMG_5328Back when I first started working out in 2004, I relied heavily on group fitness classes to stay motivated. Looking back, I’m like 90% sure the strict start times and “follow me exactly” routines were the sole reason that I was so successful back then. Working out on your own time, by your own rules, and doing your own made up routine? It’s really hard to stay focused. Especially when you’ve got a nosy cat and a husband watching Bob’s Burgers and laughing in the next room.

IMG_5332I would do one set and get distracted by the mailman or the cat or my own short attention span, but I finally managed to  struggle through the full 40-or so minutes (burpees included)! The humidity outside was a real killer, but I felt nice and accomplished afterwards – even if my legs and glutes were screaming for mercy.

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And that’s the happy, sweaty truth I have to keep reminding myself of: even though the first 10 minutes of every workout suck a pretty big windbag, the last 10 minutes are probably the most rewarding and blissful moments of my day. And SO worth fighting through that wall to get to 🙂

How about you? Do you suffer from the same affliction? How do you conquer the first 10 minutes?

Kicking Off Spring in a Healthy Way

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend – I know I did! It was my first weekend without “having to” train, and I lived it up by doing what I wanted and when, and I loved every minute. It started on Thursday afternoon when I followed up my 3×3@3 workout with 40 minutes of cardio hell on the Arc trainer and 40 minutes of Runners Love Yoga‘s new Hip routine.

IMG_4737It’s a great 14 day Instagram program where they post a pose a day that focuses on opening up those tight runners’ hips. I started on Monday and in just 6 days, boy do I feel a difference! Hell – in my run yesterday I was easily able to start right up and fly from the start. I felt loose as a rubber band!

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I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of this program will take me! By the time I got home Thursday night my head started to throb with a migraine – I get one once a month (ladies, you know what I’m talking about) and I ended up having to take off of work on Friday to stay in a dark room and sleep it off. I finally started feeling better after dinner so we went to Shop Rite to restock the kitchen with healthy staples and cook-ahead meal supplies. Once we were done with that, I listened to my body – and my body was screaming “Bedtime at 10pm please!”

I woke up 11 hours later on Saturday, 100% better and ready to run as far as I damn well pleased! It was a gorgeous, sunny morning, and I decided to layer up my Skirt Sports Marathon Girl skirt with a pair of my favorite capris (because this booty + that skirt = a running peep show) and created the perfect spring running combo. PS: they’re having a major Sale on clearance stuff over at Skirt Sports, so go check it out! And if you find any full priced-items you like, be sure to use my discount code SSJRH20 for 20% off (code only applies to full-priced items, not on sale stuff).

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I set out towards the park and just went by feel – and I felt great! The first mile clicked by without me even realizing it, at 10:43 pace, and I ran like I was light as a feather. If only I moved this well a week ago for my race! Ah, such is life.

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day down the park, the breeze was light and the sun was shining, and that runners high was in full effect. After a miserable winter like the one we had, I’m truly treating every nice day as a gift and taking full advantage of it by getting outdoors and being active!

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I breezed through the park and back towards home around mile 3.7, and coasted through the next few blocks for 4.05 and walked a nice cool down the rest of the way home.

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The rest of the day was spent helping my mom & dad move furniture and bringing a new mattress set from the store up to their 2nd floor (another workout entirely!), and then we had an awesome seafood dinner at The Barge in Perth Amboy. Highly recommended!

Sunday morning I had a date with my dad to head down to the flea market in Collingwood for some good old-fashioned daddy/daughter treasure hunting!

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We had a blast! My dad has always been super supportive of everything I do, including running, and we spent the whole time wandering the flea market aisles talking about training and sneakers and life and music and everything in between. I even found some awesome treasures too: a shelf-sitting mermaid (who looks like she’s doing a sit-up when you lay her on a flat surface!) and a copy of Circus magazine with my favorite band on the cover: The Smashing Pumpkins! I remember buying two copies of this when it came out in 1996 – one to read and the other to cut up and hang all over my bedroom walls. Today I got to take a trip down memory lane with the same issue for just 50 cents!!

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After that I came home for a nice lunch with hubby, and then we headed out to the park again to take advantage of this still-gorgeous weather! But this time instead of running, I brought out my trusty bike for the first time since last summer!

At first it was cold, but after a mile or so, I warmed up and fell right into the groove again while Mike walked a few laps. The park was packed with people enjoying the weather, so I had to stop a few times to get around large groups (and let’s face it, I had to stop and take pictures of the scenery!), but it was a great ride.

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I was just about to call it at 5 miles, but I couldn’t help it and powered through for another 1.2 to make it an even 10k.

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I had to laugh when I saw my final stats: my 6:49/mile pace is half the speed I ran last week’s race at, and it still wouldn’t be fast enough to keep up with the amazing athletes that led the Boston Marathon. I was cranking as hard as I could. To imagine running that fast? It’s simply unbelievable how speedy those folks are!

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When we got home I started working on dinner (and lunches for the next few days too): Ground turkey, stewed tomatoes, onion and chopped broccoli stir fry over quinoa!

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I even roasted up some chickpeas for snacking in the coming week too. The result of all that cooking meant that the whole house smelled delicious when we woke up today!

And that was it for me! How was your weekend? Did you get outside to enjoy the nice weather? Did you race? Tell me all about it, I want to know!

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My Favorite Interval Training Workout

Now that I’m feeling confident in my running, I’ve starting incorporating more strength training into my weekly plans to improve my overall fitness. I’ve mentioned these strength workouts a few times here, and since some of you have expressed interest in them, today I’m going to share my favorite HIIT workout with you!

This is a combination of a workout I found in a magazine and a “tune up” workout a fitness instructor friend of mine created. It’s a quick, 6 set routine that I need virtually no equipment for – just a chair and a pair of dumbbells of my choice. It can be done almost anywhere and hits almost every area of the body (arms, back, legs & abs) and depending on what level I want to tackle, I can fit this into just 20 minutes!

HIIT Workout

Just Starting Out: Do each move for :30, rest for :30 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 twice.

Feeling Strong: Do each move for 45, rest for :15 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 three times.

Superman Strength: Do each move for :60, rest for :10 between sets. Perform sets 1-6 a total of 4 – 5 times

Set 1: Chair Squats & Decline Push-Ups

Chair Squats: Squat as close to the chair as possible without sitting, then return to standing position.

Decline Push-Ups: Get into plank position with feet up on the seat of the chair, then perform a pushup.

Set 2: Bent Chest Flies, Chair Step Ups (one set = both legs)

Bent Chest Flies: Sit on chair and bend over at waist with a dumbbell in each hand (I use 7.5 lbs). Without moving the torso, engage the core and lift arms straight out to the side and back down.

Chair Step Ups: Using one leg, step up on seat of chair and stand, then step back down and return both feet to floor. Repeat with other leg.

Set 3: Triceps Dips, Split (Bulgarian) Lunge (one set = both legs)

Triceps dips: Sit on the chair and hold the seat, then slide off while still holding the seat and dip up and down off the chair, focusing on the muscles at the back of the arms.

Split Lunge: Stand facing away from the chair and rest the top of one foot on the seat. Lunge, and repeat.

Set 4:  Seated Leg Lifts, Hip Bridge

Seated Leg Lifts: Sit on chair and hold onto the sides of the seat. Lift legs up in a crunch position and lean back, then alternate between tucking legs up to chest and straightening them.

Hip Bridge: Lay down on the ground with knees bent and feet on floor. Lift hips up slowly, hold for a few seconds, and release.

Set 5: Incline Push-Up, Calf Raises

Incline Push-Up: Face the chair and grab the seat with both hands, extend legs and lower hips for a straight back, then perform a pushup.

Calf Raises: Stand on a slight ledge (or just stand), and raise onto tip-toes, then back down.

Set 6: Straight Arm Planks, Burpees

Straight Arm Planks: Get in the same position as the decline pushups in the first set, but hold in a plank for the time allotted.

Burpees: Chances are you know how to do a burpee. But if you don’t, just watch this – and accept my hearty apology for introducing you to this move from hell.

For a super full body workout, you can also add a 15 Minute Cardio Boost after this workout too:

  • Warm up 3 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Sprint 1 Minute
  • Run 2 minutes
  • Cool Down 3 Minutes

I’ll admit that doing both workouts one after the other will be tough at first, but it’s ultra fat burning and when I was doing this 3x a week I saw big results!

Keep in mind that I’m in no way a professional. I’m not a registered personal trainer or physical therapist, and I take no responsibility for pulled muscles, injuries or sprained anythings. Keep in mind: this is just a workout that I like to do, and I’m sharing it for entertainment purposes only. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness or nutrition program. I just really enjoy this workout and wanted to share it with you guys!

Let me know how you enjoy it – now I’m off to go do this myself! 🙂

Change of Plans

Many, many people have trained for and successfully completed their first marathon using one of the countless training plans out there. But I can’t shake the feeling that the plan I first picked might not be the right one!

You see, through training for 3 half marathons and going through ACL reconstruction, I’ve discovered a few inalienable truths: I cannot run more than 2 days in a row without extreme joint pain; the day after my long run I need movement but my knees hate me; etc. So the cookie cutter plans that have worked for SO many others kind of won’t work.

After my first month of Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 plan, I’ve found that skipping that middle day of running and replacing it with cross training won’t work – I still need those miles to build a solid running base. But I also have to break up the runs so I don’t burn out, while still incorporating strength and cross training. And don’t forget building up to a distance that’s close to the full 26 miles… It’s enough to make a girl go insane. But instead of losing my mind, I took matters into my own hands and created my very own plan!

I found this great plan on CoolRunning.com and liked the increased mileage on the long runs: mentally, I need to know that I’ve gotten as close to that magic number of 26 in my training so that I’m prepared to take it on come race day. But it lacked cross training, which Hal’s Novice 2 had plenty of, although it only took me up to 20 miles. Factoring in all of my special needs, I finally came up with a custom-made plan that knocks it out of the park, if I say so myself! Here’s a sample week:

  • Sunday: 15 miles (Long Run)
  • Monday: Swimming
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 7 miles
  • Thursday: Cross Training or Rest
  • Friday: 4 miles (Speedwork)
  • Saturday: Rest

Basically what I did was break up the 3 days of running in a row in Higdon’s plans, changed the rest day after my long run to a cross-training day with swimming (saving my knees around the long runs), and increased the mileage of the long runs each week by 2 or 3 miles to have  me peak with 23 miles instead of 20. I don’t know why but it makes me feel more prepared, just let me have my little bit of madness!

So there you have it: my new plan, which will (hopefully) bring me across the finish line in October with both legs intact and a smile on my face. What do you think? How have you worked through your training schedule? Am I being crazy here? Tell me in the comments!