12-18-2014

Fitness Apparel Under $25

I’ve written about fitness apparel on a budget before…from Forever21, Old Navy & T.J. Maxx. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot to get some cute workout clothes! The other good thing about not spending a lot is that if you get a rip or a run in your clothes, you won’t stress over it.

Since it’s the holiday season, you may be looking for last minute gifts for your fitness or running fanatic, or you may just want to treat yourself! My gift to myself last week was the limited edition red lipstick from MAC called 5 Alarm. I love it. It’s glossy and sheer so you can do one layer for just a bit of red or layer it on for a more dramatic look. I decided I’m going to get back into doing my makeup/trying new looks. Is that something you’d be interested in reading about? Such as makeup reviews, etc.?

Anyway, back to fitness apparel…here are my picks for items under $25…can’t get much better than that!

Forever 21 Activewear

Seamless Athletic top – $15.90 (Forever 21)

This top reminds me of the long sleeve Swiftly tops from lululemon. No seams means no itchiness or chafing!

Merino Wool Running Socks

Merino Wool Running Socks – $15.95 (Darn Tough)

I actually need a pair of these myself. Hey, Kara Goucher told me to run in wool socks in the winter, so that’s what I’m going to do ;)

Forever 21 Activewear

Seamless Athletic Leggings – $11.90 (Forever 21)

To go with the seamless top. These look like they would be super comfy, and I’m all about high waisted leggings. 

Victoria's Secret Leggings

Victoria’s Secret Leggings – $19.50 (on sale)

These are actually originally $29.99, though some of their leggings with printed waistbands or that are reversible are more. AND Victoria’s Secret is having a 30% off all leggings sale, and free shipping on orders over $40. If you’re looking for a good pair of thick leggings definitely check out these out. They have a thick waistband so it doesn’t awkwardly cut into to you. I actually prefer these over my lululemon wunderunders now. I paid over $80 for wunderunders and on the 3rd or so wear they started pilling. Awesome. Ok, /rant. ;)

Running Earbuds

Dynamic Sports Earbuds – $5 (Five Below)

Okay, this isn’t technically apparel, but it’s pretty awesome. I found these at my local Five Below and love them. If you’re like me, you lose your headphones a lot or only use them to sweat, to why spend a ton of money on them? These are similar to Yurbuds in that they do not budge in your ear. That piece of rubber that sticks up goes into the crease of your ear and they don’t move at all. Trust me, I hate earbuds because they ALWAYS fall out due to how much I sweat…these are awesome.

**Post contains some affiliate links. 

Is there anything you know of/love that is under $25? Leave a comment and share!

Have you gifted yourself anything this holiday season?

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12-17-2014

25 Writing Prompts For Bloggers

We’ve all had writer’s block. In fact, I had no clue what to write about for today until this idea came to me. We all need inspiration for new posts, and I’ve written about tips for creating content in the past. But today I figured I’d share 25 writing prompts for when you’re stuck. If you write any of these, tweet it at me or leave a comment so I can read it and share!

25 Writing PromptsPhoto Credit: net_efekt via Compfight cc

General

  1. How To ________ In (#) Steps
  2. (#) Tips For Better ___________
  3. The Best Piece Of Advice For ____________ This one could be more personal, where you share your best piece of advice you’ve received for something (running, lifting, etc.)
  4. (#) _______ Items Under $20 (Fitness, running, clothing, etc.)
  5. Recipe or Workout Roundup
  6. Unexpected Uses For __________
  7. ________ vs. _________: Which is better?
  8. Test/make something from Pinterest and write about it.
  9. (#) Books You Have To Read If You __________
  10. (#) Things You’ve Learned From ___________

Running Related

  1. How To Save Yourself From Running Injuries
  2. (#) Ways To Get Faster. Share what has helped you.
  3. The Beginner’s Guide To Running
  4. How To Deal With Shin Splints (or any injury you relate to)
  5. How To Finish A Race Strong

Fitness Related

  1. The Beginner’s Guide To Lifting
  2. How To Build A Strong Core
  3. My Top Exercises For __________.
  4. (#) Ways To Get Stronger (or “Get Stronger At _________”)
  5. How To Become A Personal Trainer (Share your story, who you’re certified by, benefits of being a trainer, etc.).

Food Related

  1. How To Cook __________
  2. (#) Of Ways To Make Oatmeal (or any food really)
  3. General recipe
  4. Quick Way To Cook _________
  5. Healthy version of _________

What would you add to the list? Are you interested in reading any of these? (Because then I’ll write one up!)

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12-16-2014

Facebook Pay To Play

I’m sure you’ve all heard about how Facebook will now make it very hard for business/brand pages to get organic reach (for free). Probably 1% or less of your fans will see your page posts. I believe this will roll out in January 2015 (not 100% sure on that so correct me if I’m wrong).

Lots of bloggers are upset, and rightfully so. Who wants to pay to boost posts or create sponsored ads? It’s not like we have a marketing budget like brands do. We’ve worked hard to build a Facebook community, only to now have it be rather pointless. I do wonder though if having a blog page will be seen differently by Facebook than an actual brand or company page. I guess we’ll find out in the near future…

So what are we supposed to do with our Facebook pages? You basically have 2 options:

  • Continue to post and engage with the few people who DO see your posts.
  • Boost posts & pay to promote posts.
  • Start using other social media tools more heavily.

I personally love Twitter, and that is where most of my interactions take place. If you’ve been debating on joining Twitter or Instagram, now is definitely the time to start!

There is another option that I brainstormed though, which is what I wanted feedback on from you all.

Facebook posts get seen more when there is more engagement. Meaning shares, comments, and likes. We are a community of bloggers who already support each other and read each other’s content…we can help each other continue to use Facebook successfully.

Would anyone be interested in having a “Facebook Link-Up” of sorts (couldn’t think of a better name)? Basically maybe once or twice a week, I’d host a link-up here on my blog and we can all share links to Facebook posts that we would like interaction on. So if you want people to comment on a funny photo you posted, or a question you asked, or if link promoting an important blog post, we can share all of that here.

I would say that we would shy away from promoting all your blog post links because that’s what other link love groups are for. This would be solely for getting more interaction on daily posts. More interaction on those posts also means more people seeing your links promoting your blog posts as well.

I’m not 100% sure how this would be organized yet, but just wanted to get feedback and gauge interest. 

Please leave a comment with your thoughts…or will you simply be forgetting about Facebook altogether? 

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12-11-2014

Give The Gift Of A Running Coach!

We’ve seen all the holiday gift guides for runners and fitness buffs…and probably added a lot to our own wish lists, or at least I have :)

Well, I have another great idea you can add to your wish lists or gifting lists - a running coach.

Hire A Running CoachPhoto Credit: Minchioletta via Compfight cc

As you all know, Coach Marc helped me train for the Philly Half, as well as train to get faster in general and work towards a 5K PR. It was great having someone who would write a specific training plan for me, and also provide accountability and support. Because really…if you know someone will be checking your training log to see if you ran that day, you’ll be less likely to skip that run.

I think giving the runner in your life, whether beginner or advanced, a running coach, even for just a month, will greatly benefit them as a runner. Here’s why:

  • As I mentioned above, provides accountability and support. This is especially important for someone who may be just starting out and doesn’t know much about training specifics.
  • A coach provides you with a personalized training plan tailored to you. Marc asks you how many days you want to run, cross train, have off, etc. If you have conflicts or injuries, he will change up the training plan for you to suit your needs. 
  • Access to a knowledgeable source. Marc recently was inducted into his high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame! He won three individual Group 4 titles in track and the cross country and a Meet of Champions title in cross country. He then went on to run at Villanova University. This guy knows his stuff. Have questions about cross training? tempo runs? track workout paces? Recovery? He can certainly help!
  • Someone to go back to the drawing board with. Have you ever had a bad race and have no clue why? Having a coach means having someone to go back and look at your training to see what was lacking. Your coach will be able to create a new plan for the following training season based on previous races, improvements you’ve had, workouts, etc. You always want to be progressing your workouts, whether it’s running or lifting. Following the same training plan every year will lead to the same results.

I have progressed as a runner since I started in 2010. I know much more about running in general, and my body can handle different things now versus when I was first starting out. Having a running coach helped me navigate that time in between. It’s awesome having someone tell you exactly what pace to run track workouts or tempo runs in. 

So definitely check out Coach Marc if you need a gift idea this holiday season! If you know someone whose resolution will be to start running in 2015, this could be perfect for them. And if not, then take a look at Marc’s training logs – that is a great gift in and of itself! I gave a detailed look into the log here.

Have you ever worked with a coach?

What is on your runner wish list/what are you giving your fellow runner? I want new sneakers…or anything from lululemon :)

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12-10-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Holy moly…in exactly 2 weeks it is Christmas Eve! I have done like 1% of my Christmas shopping…anyone done already? If so, way to go…I always end up waiting until the last minute.

Today’s featured link is a really cute/nice video…it’s not health or fitness related but it put a smile on my face! Can I get pulled over today and given a present? :)

Featured: Christmas Surprise Traffic Stop

Isn’t that nice? I’m way jealous of the girl who got the iPad…and the girl who got the New Balance sneakers…because, running. 

Here are more links for you to check out today:

  • Holiday Gift Guide: Under $35 (Nutritious Eats) – For those of you who are still shopping like me…and this reminded me I would like a new pair of fleece PJs!
  • Arms on Fire (Running Escapades) – Looking for an upper body workout? Try this one – all you need are dumbbells.
  • Super Simple DIY Medal & Bib Holder (Erica D. House) – I definitely want to make a medal holder. I love this idea.
  • Become A Morning Workout Person (Lake Shore Runner) – This just won’t happen for me, but if you’re making some resolutions, this may help you!
  • Yoga Core Workout (Apples & Arteries) – Definitely trying this 20 minute video today or tomorrow.

How’s your holiday shopping going? Have you treated yourself to anything? I bought some “fiber” mascara from Sephora yesterday to try out :)

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12-09-2014

Gym Etiquette

I just joined a new gym and so far I love it. It’s big and has probably 30 treadmills, which means I’ll never have to wait again! (knock on wood)

But with a new gym comes new questions. I wanted to get your input on a few things, and then talk about general gym etiquette for those who may just be starting to go or plan on getting a membership for the new year.

Proper Gym Etiquette

Questions:

Okay here are my questions for you gym folks…

  • At my other gym, when you wanted to use the squat rack, you waited behind the person squatting (kind of a line I guess) and when they were finished you stepped in. Is this normal practice? If I wait behind someone at my new gym will they think I’m a creep?
  • Do you bring your dumbbells to other places in the gym? We had a room where people took equipment to do circuit type workouts. At my new gym, the way the treadmills are set up, it’d be perfect to bring dumbbells or kettlebells over to do running and strength circuits. Thoughts?

Okay so I though I had more questions but that’s basically it haha. I’d love to hear your input!

General Gym Etiquette

If you plan on getting a gym membership this upcoming year and aren’t sure where to start, here are a few “rules” people tend to follow at the gym. I mean, basically just be courteous and no one will give you the stink eye ;)

Wipe stuff down. Don’t leave your treadmill, bike, mat, bench, etc. without wiping it down. 1) Who wants to touch your sweat and 2) Think of all the bacteria that can be passed around that way. Let’s all try to avoid getting sick so we don’t have to skip days at the gym :)

Don’t hoard equipment. I know I asked above if I can take dumbbells to a room or the treadmill, but some people take dumbbells, kettlebells, a bench, a box, a jump rope, etc. etc. to their little corner and then the rest of the gym doesn’t have access for a while. If you’re doing circuits, just take what you need for the first circuit, then go exchange it for other stuff as your workout progresses (especially if it’s during peak hours).

Be quick. No one is saying to rush your workout, but don’t take a 5 minute break in between sets either. I hate when I’m waiting for a bench or the squat rack and the person on it is texting during their break, walking around talking to friends and just taking forever in general. When I know people are waiting, I take a short break, and then get right back into it. Plus, that’s a better way to keep your heart rate up anyway!

Ask someone to spot you. Don’t be afraid to do this! Personal trainers and gym staff are there for a reason. If you’re just starting out and unsure of the weight you’re lifting, definitely ask someone to give you a spot. You’ll stay safe and perhaps learn some cues and tips from the trainer who helps you.

Put your stuff away. Nothing peeves me more than when I go to the squat rack and someone left the bar on the rack with multiple weights on it. Why??? You couldn’t take the time to take the weights off?? Be courteous and put things back where you got them…isn’t that something we learned in Kindergarten? ;)

Let people work in with you. If you know you need to do 5 sets on a machine, let the person waiting work in with you. They’ll ask “Can I work in?” and then you just switch on and off. You can also ask people if you can work in. I mean, I know people who find this annoying, but it doesn’t bother me at all. What are your thoughts on this?

I want to hear your thoughts on gym etiquette…what would you add to this list? Or any general tips you’d give beginners?

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12-08-2014

The Big Chill 2014 Race Recap

You can find my previous recap of The Big Chill here

The last time I ran this race was in 2012!  I do love this race because it is for such a great cause. Race registration is one unwrapped today for a child in need. Many people bring more than one toy to donate, and they display all the toys on a stage in the Rutgers gym. Seeing all those toys is amazing!

I got to the race on time for once and actually had time for a 10 minute warm up. I ran some stairs in the student center, then went out for a run and finished with some dynamic drills + strides. I had no idea what to expect for this race because I had only run about 4 times since the Philly Half.

At 8:45 I went to line up, and then found out that everyone who had not registered online (I did in-person the day before) would be sent all the way to the back. When there are about 8,000 runners, all the way to the back really is the back. That sucked but I tried to inch my way along to the front before the gun went off. Here’s someone else’s photo of what the start looked like:

 

A photo posted by isapr594 (@isapr594) on

And here’s a picture of the starting line from 2012:

876b804a414511e29a1922000a9d0dee_7

Once we started it was stop and go for about a block because people would slow down or we’d all be bunched up. It was a bit frustrating but I figured it’s good to hold myself back and not go out too fast. Well, I did end up going out too fast anyway ;)

The course has some inclines but nothing crazy. I went through the first mile in 8:35 and was like okay, either I can maintain this or I’m going to slow waaaayy down. The second one happened lol. Second mile was about 9:30, third mile was about 10:30, final time was 28:21.

I don’t mind the slowing down though. I knew I wasn’t going to PR so I wanted to go out as fast as I could and see what happens. I felt fine throughout the race, my legs just felt out of shape, so I had to slow down. The finish is on an incline but people are lining the roads and cheering you on so you have the energy to really give it all you got.

This is a picture my mom took of me running to the finish (she didn’t run this one).

 

A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on


I felt much better than when I ran in 2012. 2012 was a way faster time but I remember feeling miserable. This time I ran slower, but felt great (obviously tired, but great) throughout and was happy to be running among so many other runners. 

After the race, they have a ton of food inside the gym where the toys are set up. My mom and I always stay for a bit after to eat and hear the awards. My dad wanted to run but he had some knee pain…his age group winner (40-49) ran 19:47!! He’s like “I have a lot of work to do!” 

20141206_095405_1

The next 2 weeks I will get back to running consistently so hopefully I can get either a PR or a season’s best at my last 5K on Dec. 20. PS – Aren’t those santa socks awesome? 3 bucks at Marshall’s. Downside? During the 5K they got a hole in the big toe somehow.

Did you run a 5K this weekend? Or are you done for 2014? What races are on tap for 2015?

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12-04-2014

How and Why You Should Nap

Who loves naps? I would take a nap everyday if I could. The nice thing about working from home some days is that I CAN take a nap, but usually I don’t because I just think of everything else I could be doing with that time. But some days, desperate times call for desperate measures ;)

If you nap, you’ve likely experienced that nap where you pass out, wake up 2 hours later, and still feel tired and groggy. Those are the worst. Dan never naps because he always wants to take long naps – I try to tell him 20-30 minutes is the perfect amount but he says that’s too short. 

So with that being said…let’s talk about some nap tips!

Napping Tips

Napping boosts productivity

Taking a short nap gives your  mind some rest and helps you wake up refreshed and ready to get back to work. In a study done by UC Berkeley, they found that a test group who took a 90-minute nap did much better on tests and were actually able to learn and retain more information than those who did not nap during the day. 

It’s as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail. It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder.”

Now obviously we can’t all be taking 90 minute naps, but it goes to show that taking a short, power nap on your lunch break could make you more productive for your afternoon work shift.

Short naps are key

According to the Mayo Clinic, 10-30 minute naps are the perfect length. You will wake up refreshed as opposed to groggy. Taking shorter naps will also decrease the chances of it interfering with your sleep at night. The Mayo Clinic also suggests taking naps between 2-3 p.m. I always get the afternoon slump around this time! If you do want to take a longer nap, then go for 90 minutes. This will equal an entire sleep cycle, so you’ll wake up with no grogginess. This graphic from Lifehacker is very helpful!

How Long Should I Nap
Drink coffee before a nap

My roommate actually told me this in college. If you drink coffee before a nap, it takes about 20-30 minutes for the caffeine to kick in, so you’ll wake up from the caffeine, and wake up energized and ready to get back to work.

I visited Google headquarters in NYC a few years ago, and they had this awesome nap pod for their employees. I mean how cool is this?

Google

I’ve seen WeWork coworking spaces with nap areas as well. Companies are starting to see that napping can really boost productivity, as opposed to slogging along with your work half asleep. I remember when I had an internship in college that was about an hour commute. I would go to my car and take a 20 minute nap during my lunch break. I seriously love naps.

In Paraguay, their lunch break is two sometimes three hours, to allow people to go home for lunch and take a “siesta.” Though, their workday ends at 7. Not sure which I would prefer, 9-5(ish) with a one hour lunch, or 8-7 with a 2 hour break in the middle. Probably 9-5 because staying longer would interfere with my gym time ;)

Do you take naps? If you had a nap pod at work, would you use it?

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12-03-2014

Cardio Acceleration Workout

Yesterday I was going to run on the treadmill then do a strength workout. Well, as I’m driving to the gym I realize I forgot a sports bra. The worst! There’s no way I can run without one, so while my mom ran 2 miles as her warm-up I just foam rolled and did some stretching. I decided to add cardio into my strength workout, and came up with this workout below:

cardio-strength-workout
I wanted to mainly focus on legs, but did some upper body as well with the presses focusing on shoulders and the rows on my back. I’ve never added in cardio while lifting – I typically just like to lift and do cardio separately…boy, was this killer! I was dripping in sweat. 

Doing intervals of cardio in between lifts is called “cardio accelerations.” According to Men’s Fit Club:

A study done at UCLA (University of California) showed that cardio acceleration delivers better blood flow and gives you a much better pump and also has shown to increase the rate of recovery because of the addition nutrients and oxygen pumped into the muscles. 

Cardio acceleration intervals also create that afterburn everyone always talks about. If you’re not keen on doing treadmill intervals or hill sprints as “HIIT,” then this type of workout is perfect for you!

The step-ups were done on a bench with no added weight – just do them as fast as you can. Harder than it sounds! For the last round, where I wrote cardio of your choice, I did stair sprints. 

I think I am going to start doing this type of workout more often, since I think it will have a benefit for me as a runner as well. Not only will I be burning extra calories, I’ll be doing plyometric/explosive type movements as cardio, which will make me a stronger runner.

Have you added in cardio intervals to your strength workouts? What’s your favorite way? I hate mountain climbers!!

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12-01-2014

Gratitude

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and weekend! I spent it at home with my family, which was really nice and relaxing. 

Something I’ve been thinking about since Thanksgiving is gratitude…and what I’m grateful for. I recently watched a video of a high school runner with multiple sclerosis. It brought tears to my eyes. If you haven’t seen this video on Kayla Montgomery you need to watch it now. It truly inspired me and made me realize there are so many things we take for granted.

I reflected on this and really thought about my own running. The next time I’m complaining about my shins hurting, or that I don’t want to run, I’m going to remember this video. She gives it 1000% because she knows she has limited time to run. I am grateful for simply being able to get up and run when I want to.

I’m also so happy I got to spend time with my family. Saturday night we went bowling with my uncle and it was so much fun. I haven’t laughed ’till I cried in so long. 

 

A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on


Make the most of the time you spend with loved ones, whether it’s family or people who are basically your family. I always tell Dan that I believe that saying, “Money doesn’t buy happiness.” Sure it can buy some stuff that may make you happy, or take away stress, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t buy health, family, friends and much more.

I’m not sure what the point of this post was…a little word vomit of how I’m feeling. And so I can look back and remind myself to be grateful for everything I have.

Definitely watch that video! It is worth the 12 minutes of your time. Trust me.

What are you thankful for this holiday season? What things have you realized you sometimes take for granted?

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