10-24-2014

New Workout Playlist 15

It’s the start of the weekend – woohoo!

My weekend will be kinda busy and I wish I had one day of sleeping in, but I won’t :-p

Tomorrow is my XC team’s last meet. It’s our Region meet and I have high hopes for them, they’ve been nailing their workouts and I think they’ll do great. 

Sunday I am running a 5K with my dad at Rutgers, and then him, my mom and I are driving down to Philly to check out the half marathon course and figure out race day logistics. I’ve only been to Philly once so it’ll be a fun little day trip. Any suggestions for place to get lunch? 

Anyway, to kick off the weekend, here is my latest workout playlist. I’ve been obsessed with Nick Jonas’s new song. I can’t stop listening to it. I know, I’m so lame.

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Any tunes I should add to my playlist? What song have you been listening to on repeat?

What are you up to this weekend??

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10-23-2014

Why Do Runners Pay To Run?

Before writing this, I did a Google search to see what would pop up if you type, “Why do runners…” I thought it was pretty funny :)

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I’ve gotten the question, “Why would you pay to run??” a lot over the years. My BF just doesn’t understand haha. I bet most non-runners don’t get it. I mean why WOULD you pay hundreds of dollars to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles? Or even hundreds of dollars each year in 5K or other race registration fees? You’re literally paying to run a few miles! Crazy right?

Well, I obviously don’t think so, since I run race ;) So I wanted to talk about why pay to run, and what it means to me. I actually got the inspiration from I Heart Running, since she wrote up reasons why she pays to run. Here are my reasons:

  1. It holds me accountable. Registering for a big race like a half marathon or marathon gives me a goal to work towards. Without a race goal I really lose motivation. After NYC Marathon last year I had no race goal and just wanted time off. I didn’t end up running much at all. I was going to the gym and lifting regularly, but when it comes to running I need something to work towards.
  2. I can’t run race pace on my own. Might sound silly, but if I go out and say, okay I’m going to run my own 5K and see if I can break my PR…it definitely won’t happen. There’s something about running a race with a bunch of other people pulling you along that helps me run faster than I ever would on my own. Does anyone else feel that way?
  3. The experience. I want the New York City Marathon experience. And maybe next year the Chicago Marathon experience. One day maybe Boston. Sure it’s super expensive but some people choose to spend their money on vacations to other countries, and I choose to spend it on races that I can experience and also remember forever. I love that I can say I run with my mom and that we can have all these race memories together.
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  4. The challenge. I love challenging myself and working towards new goals. Races allow me to test my fitness and see how far I’ve come. In strength training, people log PRs when it comes to how much weight they’re lifting. And in running, we run races to set PRs. Over and over again ;)
  5. The community. This is one of the more important reasons for me. I’ve written about the running community a couple of times, and this is really one of the main aspects that I love. Whether a runner or a spectator, this community supports runners of all levels. Runners are a friendly bunch and you can always make some new friends at a race. Who else can you talk to about bloody toenails, port-a-potty woes, etc? :) And spectators are who really get me through races. Like I’ve said a million times, spectators are what made the NYC Marathon experience magical for me.

So how about you? Why do you pay to run? (or bike, or swim?) Do you ever get asked that question?

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10-22-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

You know what I just realized? The NYC Marathon is next weekend!! I’m seriously so pumped for all of you running it and I can’t wait to go be a spectator. And to see Kara Goucher run!

Let me know if you’re running so I can try to find you in the crowd! I plan on having this sign :)

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Anyway, here are your links for today!

Featured: 4 Yoga Poses For Tight Hips (Keeping It Simpelle)

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I love this pose though I can’t lean forward like that. And I’ve never tried the shoelace one. Think I will do these tonight!

  • Spooktacular Smoothies (Run To The Finish) – Cute idea and the smoothie recipes look delicious. If you have a smoothie recipe, head on over to Amanda’s page to link up to this post!
  • Yoga Must Haves (Tina Reale) – Those shorts/underwear by C9 look really comfy! I need to get more tops specifically for yoga. I like my running shirts baggy but this doesnt’ go well when you’re in downward dog :-P
  • Taco Pizza (A Mindfull Mom) – This just made me really hungry. Combining tacos and pizza? Sounds awesome.
  • Last Minute Healthy Meals (SuzLyfe) – I’m all about quick, healthy meals – especially for dinner. I usually get home from the gym and just want to eat. There are some good ideas here.
  • 30 Best Kettlebell Exercises (Lifting Revolution) – I need to get a kettlebell to just have in my apartment for when I don’t go to the gym. Bookmarking this!

Do you wear different types of fitness apparel for different activities? What do you prefer? I need loose fitting shirts and spandex shorts!

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10-22-2014

Add Pull Exercises To Your Routine

Chances are, if you’re like me, you sit at a desk for the majority of your day. This can wreak havoc on your posture and muscles. I wrote once about posture tips in the office, but today I want to talk about what you can do at the gym to help your posture.

Something I learned when I first starting personal training in 2010 was in regards to exercises we do that can either help or end up making our posture worst. Pull exercises are the #1 that can help you maintain better posture (I feel like I already typed posture 10 times and I’m only 2 paragraphs in).

Add These Back Workouts To Your Routine

Most people do push exercises when they’re at the gym, or do a combo of push and pull exercises.

Push exercises include: push-ups, bench press/any type of press

Pull exercises include: pull-ups, rows, pull-downs

I know that banging out a few bench press reps makes you feel awesome and hardcore, but it may not be the best thing for your posture. When you sit at a desk all day, chances are you’re probably hunched over, at least a little bit. That means your shoulders are rounded forward, and as time goes on, they stay like that. Your pectoral muscles get tight, and doing more bench press reps just ends up making it worse…meaning then your shoulders are hunched over, and the vicious cycle continues.

That’s why I suggest doing more pull exercises than push exercises. I rarely even do push exercises to be honest. I’d rather work on my back anyway, which is one of your largest muscle groups. I also have horrible posture so I know going for a bench press PR won’t help me (though I did try this winter haha).

Doing anything that involves pulling will work your back muscles, which is good for a few reasons.

  1. Working a large muscle group like your back means you’re burning more calories, before and after the workout.
  2. Your back muscles are what keeps your posture up and also pulls your shoulders back. A strong back will help correct posture imbalances.

When you start doing more back workouts, just make sure you mix up horizontal pulls (seated row) and vertical pulls (lat pulldown).

MY FAVORITE PULL EXERCISES

Here are a few of my go-tos, and I wrote about more in a previous post as well:

Negative pull-ups

Can’t do a pull-up? No problem. Start with these. These are really tough but will make you stronger really quickly. This exercises focuses on your lats and biceps. Yeah you’re not actually PULLING yourself up but you’re working towards being able to do unassisted pull-ups (if that’s your goal)

Start with lowering in 5 seconds, and work your way up to 10 seconds (aka it takes you 10 seconds before your arms are straight again)

Seated row

I love seated row. It’s probably my favorite exercise and has really helped me build a stronger back. Make sure you sit with your chest up and shoulders back. Shoulders back always!! Pull in with force, then take 3 seconds to let the weight go again. Don’t rush through any of these exercises. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades as you pull in.

Cable row (Runners, add this to your routine!)

I just started doing this as I’ve been half marathon training and I believe it has really helped me running. Go to a cable machine, pull the cable out a bit and stand in a split stance. Leg that goes back matches with the arm holding the cable. As always, chest up, shoulders back and when you pull make sure to maintain that posture and don’t let your body turn in any way. Your torso should stay facing forward. Pull in with force, then slowly let it out.

She’s not standing in a split stance but her form cues are exactly what you need to be doing.

Why is this great for runners? Because it’s working on your arm strength specific to running. When you need power, what do you do? You pump your arms. You need that arm force. This exercises goes through that exact movement pattern, and as you get stronger you’ll have more power when you need that finishing kick.

To make it more challenging and add in a leg workout too, you can grab the cable, do a reverse lunge, and as you come up do the cable row.

So my main tip? Stop doing as much pushing and start pulling!

Do you do chest AND back exercises or tend to focus more on one?

What’s your favorite pull exercise?

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10-21-2014

How To Wash Your Workout Clothes

I have way more workout clothes than normal clothes. My laundry days consist of probably 90% workout clothes. I love that I work in an athletic office and as a coach so I can wear fitness apparel to work too. Though now it sucks because when I put on jeans I feel so constricted, blah.

Anyway, it’s important to take care of your workout gear if you want them to last. I used to just throw them all in the wash with my normal clothes and call it a day. Now I’m careful to wash them how they’re supposed to be washed, and hang dry them.

I learned key things once I started working with Raw Athletics, a company that puts out a natural sports detergent and a sports spray (for your funky smelling shoes). I actually also wrote up a post on their products, so if you’re interested in trying it out, read it here!

I mean, did you know you shouldn’t wash your workout clothes with things like jeans and towels? I definitely didn’t. 

How To Wash Your Workout Clothes

So now I’m going to share a few tips I learned from Raw Athletics on how to wash your workout clothes :)

Like I mentioned above, you probably already know to wash your athletic wear in a cold wash and air dry. For some reason I used to wash in hot because I figured a scalding hot wash would kill all the bacteria and odor. Most performance apparel laundry instructions state to use a cold wash.

Don’t wash with abrasive fabrics. This includes jeans, towels, and anything with zippers. I made the mistake of doing this with a lululemon top and something got caught and pulled out a thread. Very annoying when you pay $$$ for lululemon stuff! Besides that, washing with other clothes can cause pilling and fraying.

Use powdered detergent. Raw Athletics does a good job of explaining this so I’m just going to quote them here:

Most brands, especially Nike Dri-Fit, recommend using a powdered detergent because powdered surfactants gently yet very effectively remove soils and debris from the fabric much better than liquid surfactants, without leaving behind any residue.

Don’t use detergents with fragrances. Like Tide Sport or Febreze. The smell clogs up the pores of your clothes, which leads to even smellier clothes as time goes on (from your sweat being stuck on the fabric). You’d think using fragrances would HELP the whole smelly clothes issue, but that’s not the case! Brands like Nike and lululemon even put on their instructions to avoid using fabric softeners.

Turn clothes inside out. According to a few brands’ washing instructions, you should turn your clothes inside out before washing. I actually did not know that until I started writing this post! Good to know. Doing so reduces fading of colors and also reduces pilling. 

Random side note (speaking of pilling) – I just bought a pair of lululemon Wunder Unders last weekend, and the inside groin/crotch area is already starting to pill. WTF?? When something costs upwards of $90, shouldn’t this not happen? Or is this normal? Anyone else have this issue?

Anyway…those are just a few tips to help you out on your next laundry day. I’ve noticed that once I started taking better care of my garments, they lasted longer and stayed in decent condition. Also, once I started using Raw Athletics, it really helped take that awful sweaty smell out. Or you know how sometimes you wash your clothes, but then as soon as you sweat in them they stink? That would always happen to me. 

If you want to read other reviews of their products, you can find one here from MCM Mama Runs, and one from The Active Guy. Feel free to leave any questions below!

Oh also, here are washing guides specific to each popular fitness brand, brought to you by Raw Athletics:

Do you take care of your workout clothes? Do you follow the washing instructions or just throw everything in together?

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10-20-2014

Philly Half Marathon Training Week 12

Another week down. I actually had a decent week of training minus 2 days missed due to some pain which I’ll get into below. Here’s how things went last week:

Monday: Lifting. I hadn’t lifted in like 2 weeks so after this session, I was SORE. My glutes were sore for days. I did this leg workout.

Tuesday: Track workout! I really do look forward to “Track Tuesdays.” I love running on the track and feeling fast (well, fast for me). My mom and I warmed up with 3 miles, then did 6×400 at 2:00 min. per lap. That was the goal, we actually did: 2:01, 2:00, 1:56, 1:54, 1:57, 2:01. I think I could have gotten the last one in sub-2 as well but it got dark out fast so I actually was just following the white lines and also didn’t want to sprain an ankle. It’s the first time I have consistently been able to do several 400s under 2!

 

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Wednesday: Off

Thursday: 3 mile group run at FitBlogNYC. This event was put on by Fitness Magazine and was awesome! So many goodies given to us bloggers, including sneakers. Will definitely be going back next year. We ran 3 miles along the West Side Highway. It was great meeting a bunch of new fitness bloggers!

Friday: 9 miles. This was a decent run. Didn’t feel amazing but didn’t feel awful. Just felt tired starting mile 5ish. Average pace was 10:33 per mile. I’ll take it.

 

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Oh yeah, so the pain I told you about…that’s the reason I didn’t run Saturday and Sunday? Well, after my 9 mile run, I walked around to cooldown, then sat down to stretch for 10 minutes. When I got up, as soon as I took a step with my left leg, there was this really sharp pain on the side of my foot. I couldn’t put weight on it. I was kind of scared I broke a bone in my foot or something. I took a shower but it wasn’t going away. Took some Tylenol and then after an hour it subsided a bit.

Now it is not hurting me when I walk around but it hurts when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or something, and hurts when I first wake up. I decided to give myself two days off to rest it and hopefully it’s nothing. Has anyone experienced anything like this before?? I wear orthotics in my left shoe (it’s my left foot), and sometimes the outside of my foot hurts a bit, I guess because of the arch support – but it has never hurt that bad. Hmm…

Anyway, tomorrow is another track workout so I hope my foot is fine by then!

How’s your training going? Have you ever felt pain and immediately assumed the worst?

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10-15-2014

Top 5 Running Moments

I was inspired to write this post after Jill posted about her half marathon race being one of her top proudest moments. I wanted to take the time to reflect on my top 5 running moments :)

PS – the races are linked to my race recaps – not sure why it only shows as a link if you hover over it.

#5. NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile (2012)

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This was my first one mile race and one I’ll always remember. First of all, running a one mile race is awesome. Short but still tough…but you can dig deep for just one mile. I ran this race in 7:07 and was definitely feeling that runner’s high after! It was my fastest mile time since high school track. I’m not sure what my mile time would be now…now I kind of want to go out and run a mile as fast as I can! Oh also, I got to meet Jenny Simpson and Kara Goucher that day :)

#4. My First Half Marathon (2011)

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Our first half marathon was part of the New Jersey Marathon – the Long Branch Half Marathon. Never in a million years did I think I would run longer than 5K. I was inspired by the running community I found on Tumblr, and told my mom we should train for a half. She said no way. I convinced her, and now we are about to run our 4th half in November! We figured we would run this race in 2:30 and started with the 2:30 pacers. We left them behind after mile 1, and finished in 2:10. We were so proud of our time and finished strong. It was the beginning of our running journey.

#3. My First 5K With My Mom (2010)

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This is at our local 5K, Miles For Matheny (which is actually where I have my 5K PR). It was our first 5K together, and we had no idea what we were doing running wise. Sure I ran XC in high school, but at that point that was 4 years ago. Funny story about this picture, we got to the start line like 30 minutes before the race because we wanted to be in the front/have room. Then we had to move back anyway because only “6 minute milers should be in the front.” Such noobs :-P We have ran almost every race together since this race!

#2. New York City Marathon (2011)

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Our first marathon. Your first marathon will always be a race you’ll never forget. I was proud of my mom and I for finishing – especially for her because she felt strong the whole way. But I’ll also remember it for feeling like absolute crap starting around mile 18. Then it turned into a walk/run the whole way, and ended up in the medical tent at the finish. Pretty sure I was close to having hyponatremia. It left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I wanted to come back with a vengeance…which leads me to my number 1 moment…

#1. New York City Marathon (2013)

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This is definitely my proudest moment as a runner. I trained for 18 weeks using the Hansons Marathon Method. I worked my butt off and was running 6 days a week. I had never run so many miles in my life. And it all paid off. My mom and I ran a 33 minute PR, and felt strong the entire way. I didn’t walk at all. I stopped once to stretch out my hip flexor really quick. We crossed the finish line smiling as opposed to me being angry from feeling so awful. I got to take everything in. The crowds were amazing. Everything about that day was just perfect. I can only hope my next marathon goes just as well or is even better. I’m so proud of my mom too for finishing her second marathon. I can’t imagine running races without her! I’m not sure yet what I will do in 2015…but it will include at least 1 half and a marathon. Where? I don’t know! I’m open to suggestions, especially for spring races so please leave a comment below!

What are your top 5 running moments? Tell me below or if you write up your own post, come back and leave a link so I can read!

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10-15-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Happy hump day! I can’t wait for the weekend…mainly Friday, because I have a “girls night out” on tap :)

Here are your links for today!

Featured: 4 Move Total Body Dumbbell Workout (A Lady Goes West)

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Got 20 minutes? Then this workout is for you! I love all of these exercises, so I think I’ll have to try it after a run soon.

  • 3 Tips To Beating Diet Boredom (Journey Of A Dreamer) – Eating healthy can be so blah sometimes. At least that’s how I feel. These are some great tips!
  • Race Etiquette & Pet Peeves (Runner Girl In A Rocking World) – I agree with these…especially the water stops. Nothing worse than almost running into someone because they come to a dead halt.
  • Sausage & Wild Rice Stuffing (The Lean Green Bean) – Um, this just looks delicious.
  • Cinnamon Cookie Overnight Oats (Lean Clean Brie) – I have been making different types of oatmeal recently, and actually only just started putting protein powder in. I want to try this recipe!

What’s your favorite way to eat oatmeal? Give me some oatmeal ideas!

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10-14-2014

10 Online Resources To Help You Become A Better Runner

Running is easy right? Just step out the door and go. That’s the beauty of it. You don’t have to make things complicated, but there are numerous online resources available to you if you want to take your running up a notch and become a better runner.

I’m not saying necessarily a faster runner, just better because you’ll have access to your data, training routines, injury prevention tips and more.

So what are these online resources? These are some of the websites I visit on a daily basis that I know will definitely help you as well. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Become A Better RunnerPhoto Credit: amira_a via Compfight cc

LetsRun.com – You can find running news, race recaps, videos and more on here. The main thing I like is the message board. Sometimes they get a bit ridiculous, but I have found great tips on there, whether it’s about shin splints or what marathon I should run next. Go through the board and you’ll find a topic relating to you. The only thing I don’t like is the automatic video that plays when you’re on the site.

FloTrack – This is my all time favorite website for running inspiration. Here, you can find running news, race videos, interviews with runners ranging from high school to elite, and more. One of my favorite features is their Workout Wednesday videos, where they follow a runner or team for a workout. It always gets me pumped to go for a run! I just showed this one to my XC team before a meet and now they love Mary Cain:

Watch more videos on Flotrack

MapMyRun – I’m sure you’ve all heard of this one. I always use it to map out new routes and check mileage. The one feature I’ve been using more often is seeing what other people have mapped out in my area. It has led me to discover some new running routes!

Runner’s World/Running Times – I think both magazines are under the same umbrella? Not sure but either way both are good resources for running related info. While I feel like Runner’s World (magazine) can get a bit redundant, sometimes I find some great stuff on their website, especially their injury prevention videos. I also like their SmartCoach tool. Even though I haven’t used it, I have used to create a general outline of a training plan – and many people have had good reviews about it as well.

STACK – I love watching the training videos on here. You can find them based on your goals (strength, get faster, etc.) or sport. Each article has a how-to video with it, making it easy to implement into your routine. Feeling some knee pain? Try these tips.

DailyBurn – So much great information in one place. I found out more about DailyBurn through Theodora, and now regularly read their articles. Whether you’re looking for nutritional information, recipes, running tips, marathon tips, or more, you will find it here. I’ve regularly referred to their best marathons and half marathons posts to decide what race I should do next :)

Athlinks - Athlinks is a great tool to keep track of all your racing times. You can “claim” your races, and have all of your times all in one spot. Mine date back to 2008 or something! You can also track other people, connect with athletes, and find events. I mainly like it because I can look back on my previous times in past years.

RunningInTheUsa.com – Looking for an upcoming half marathon in Nevada in April? Well you can find that on this website. This is my go-to when looking for marathons/half marathons. I’ve been using it a lot to determine what spring race I will do (still undecided). I like that you can find any distance race anywhere!

DailyMile - I don’t use this as much as I should/used to but I still love it. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but it’s a website to track your workouts. Many use it for running, but you can also track other workouts as well like cycling, lifting, etc. I liked it because it’s social media specifically for runners! I can talk about running all day long and no one will get annoyed, like my Facebook friends might ;) If you’re on there, add me! I will try to update more often.

#runchat – I can’t really link to this one but if you’re on Twitter then you need to be following this hashtag. I’ve connected with so many other runners AND had runners give me tips and advice when I used the hashtag. You can find some great info this way and speak to other runners going through the same stuff as you are. Just search it when you have extra time and go through the tweets…I’m sure you will connect with someone :)

So which one of these do you use regularly? Or never knew about? If you have one not on the list, leave a comment please so I can check it out!

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10-13-2014

Philly Half Marathon Training Week 11

Last week I was sick for the first half of the week…so a few runs did not happen. But I do want to talk about what I did do!

Wednesday: Easy 4 mile run with my XC team. Well, easy for them, not for me. I was still pretty stuffy and mucous-y so I felt weak towards the end. But oh well, got it done.

Afterwards, I went to a yoga class with two friends. I bought a Groupon for a local studio in Morristown, NJ called Be Well. Classes are about 6-10 people. I was really excited for this because I have never done yoga in an actual yoga studio. I’ve done yoga videos and lululemon community classes but never in a studio.

The class we were taking was a “strength” class, and yeah it was hard! We practiced a bit of crow pose which I still can’t do. Ugh! Meanwhile my friend easily gets into it and gets up into a headstand…and it was her first yoga class! My two yoga goals are crow pose and to be able to hold a hand stand.

Anyway, the class was great. It was a good combo of stretching and strength work, especially in the lower body. My hamstrings were pretty sore for a few days. I’m excited to continue doing yoga and see where it takes me.

Thursday: No run – worked until 8 pm.

Friday: 7.5 mile run. This run went really well. It was a very hilly run…up and down and up and down. But my mom and I maintained a consistent pace throughout. There was one hill that was definitely at least a half mile long if not longer. But you just gotta keep cruising along and not think about it.

It’s crazy to me how a little over 2 months ago I could barely finish 3 miles, and now 7.5 miles “ain’t no thang.” Well it is challenging but I remember my first 3 mile run I honestly didn’t think I could finish. 

Oh and I won PRO Compression socks through Coco! I wore them on my long run because my shins have been giving me trouble and they fit perfectly. So cozy and snug.

 

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Great 7.5 mile run! (Finished the .17 after I stopped run keeper) pretty hilly run but glad we averaged about 10/mile! Also, love my new @procompression socks!!! Bright pink is what I’m all about