11-10-2015

Which Fitness Tracker Should I Get?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Alright, alright…I think I’m ready to jump on the fitness tracker bandwagon. I have been intrigued by FitBit’s for a while, and now Dan has one that his company gave him for inter-office “competition.” 

I have seen many bloggers review various fitness trackers, so I don’t know which to get! I was leaning towards the FitBit wrist tracker (is the the official term? The one that looks like a bracelet?). But I figured I would talk about some of the more popular trackers and their features…perhaps this will help me make a decision!

best-fitness-trackers

FitBit Charge HR - $149.99

455975-fitbit-charge-hrPhoto source

There are different type of FitBits, but this is the one I would want. I love that it has a heartrate monitor – I think I need that when it comes to my running. I would like to track my HR and make sure my easy runs are easy, and hard runs are hard.

Like all FitBit’s and most trackers, it measures your steps too. When I had my Samsung Galaxy, it had a built in step-tracker. I was always waaayyyy off the recommended 10,ooo steps her day. I really want to work at this because I know I sit too much throughout the day. Between blogging and my business, everything is on my computer. Sometimes I don’t want to get up just to fill up my water bottle because I’m in the zone with my work. #truestory I really need to get more steps in. 

The battery is supposed to last 5 days which is impressive. I just worry that it might be too bulky on my wrist? I have bony wrists…hmm…

Garmin VivoSmart - $129.99

garmin-vivosmartPhoto source

I like that this is smaller on your wrist than the FitBit, but am not sold on it due to the fact that you need the chest strap heart rate monitor to get your HR. I’m sure that might be more accurate, but I also don’t know if I want to wear one on runs since I chafe…a lot…

The Garmin VivoSmart allows you to get push notifications from your mobile device which I think is actually pretty cool! You can’t respond to them obviously, but I think it is a nice feature. It also has vibration alarms which is perfect for me. I hate waking up to alarms, it always jars me awake. I feel like a nice vibration on my wrist would be better :)

The battery life lasts about 7 hours, and it also measures steps, sleep, calories burned and active time.

Jawbone UP2 - $99.99

jawbone-up

 

Wow I love the look of the Jawbone UP2! This is exactly what I would want a fitness tracker on my wrist to look like. It is sleek and small, and not obviously a fitness tracker. The only downside is that I want one that displays info on it while you’re wearing it, as opposed to having to plug it in to my computer to get the info or opening an app (there is an app for this one).

It tracks steps, monitors sleep and has a smart alarm feature which wakes you up when it feels you’re most ready to wake up, instead of jarring you awake while you’re still in REM cycle (which can lead to grogginess). From the reviews I’ve read, the Jawbone does a great job of giving you details on your sleep…something I need because I feel like I NEVER get a good night’s sleep.

Interesting…I started writing this paaragraph thinking I wouldn’t be interested in this because of the lack of screen but as I kept typing, I kind of want to try one out now!

Misfit Flash - $24.99

misfit-flashPhoto source

The Misfit Flash is only $24.99! Can you believe that? I honestly might go pick up one of these after work today just to try it out before I dive deeper into the fitness tracking world.

While this one does not have a screen interface, it still tracks steps and sleep AND can running, swimming and cycling. You can tell it what activity you will be doing and it will track accordingly. However, this is mainly just to track what kind of activity you did – it does not provide pace, distance, miles, etc. Also, the circular part seen above actually comes out so you can either put it into the watch strap thing or into the clip. Very cool.

Like the Jawbone, since it doesn’t have a screen, you can track using an app. Since the Misfit uses a watch battery, the battery lasts about 6 months!

Garmin Vivofit 2 – $99.99

garmin-vivofitPhoto source

The Garmin Vivofit 2 comes in different colors BUT also allows you to buy the wristband separately so you can can switch it up. I believe the above photo features a Jonathan Adler wristband.

The Vivofit 2 tracks your steps, goals, distance and calories burned. It can also be paired with a heart rate monitor/strap. You can connect to the Garmin Connect app to get even more details about your day and activity. This tracker also uses watch batteries, so battery life is a year or longer! I like the look of this and it looks slim/not bulky. From what I’ve read, you can also pair it with your MyFitnessPal app.

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Ahhh, decisions, decisions. I like the FitBit Dan has, but I do think I want something more robust (hence why I like the FitBit Surge). BUT I like the look of the Jawbone and Vivofit. Help!

Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one?

Do you get in 10K steps per day? I think I was getting around 3-5K…definitely need to step it up (no pun intended).

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08-18-2015

What To Pack For College – Fitness Edition

Can you believe it’s almost September?? My cross country team has their first meet in 2 weeks! I’m so ready for fall weather, and especially fall running. My ranking of seasons goes: fall, spring, summer and winter. I just hate how much I sweat in the summer, blegh.

Anyway, end of August means back to school time! If you or someone you know is heading off to college, then you’ve seen the packing checklists. But I wanted to make a fitness edition one! With the help of my sister, who is a college student, here are a few ideas as to what you can pack for college to be prepared to be fit and healthy (scroll down for full checklist & pin it!):

Big Water Bottle

I love having a big, reusable water bottle. You can easily track your water intake and the bigger the bottle the better (obviously). You can find fun water bottles at places like T.J. Maxx or HomeGoods, WalMart, or Target. This is the one I have been using a lot lately, which is from WalMart, and I like that it’s like a normal water bottle:

Aladdin Water BottlePhoto Source

You can order it online or find it in the store for like, $3-$4. If you like infused water, you should check out fellow fitness blogger Diatta’s infused water bottle…perfect to add in fruits or lemon to flavor your water!

Fun Workout Apparel

I’ve done numerous posts on finding cute workout clothes on a budget..check them out here, here and here. You can shop on a budget at places like Old Navy, Forever 21, T.J. Maxx, and Marshall’s! I would definitely recommend Forever 21. You can find great pieces ranging anywhere from $8-$20, and a lot of their pieces are very similar in feel and look to lululemon! Here’s another post I wrote specifically about Forever 21 and a picture of my workout gear:

Forever 21 Activewear

FlipBelt

If you plan on running a lot, a FlipBelt will be key. You can find my review on it here. It has multiple pockets and does not move around at all. You’ll be able to fit your phone, gels, keys, ID, etc. It could also come in handy for football tailgates so you don’t have to worry about carrying around a purse or have anything in your hands :)

Protein Powder

Protein powders are perfect for making smoothies and quick post-workout recovery shakes. It’s good to have it handy for when you’re on the go and running to class. Here are some of my favorite smoothie combinations

My favorite protein powder would have to be PlantFusion. It’s a plantbased protein powder and tastes great. I have found others to taste chalky and not that good unless you add in things like bananas or almond milk. PlantFusion is great on it’s own, and they actually just came out with single serving sample packets and bottles!

And here is my full checklist!

Want to be fit and healthy in college? Here's your college packing list!

What would you add to this list?

Are you or do you know someone heading to college? Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to relive those college days! :)

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08-12-2015

Why I Love 400 Repeats + Backyard Workout Video

On Monday I had a track workout that might have been the most challenging track workout I’ve ever done. It wasn’t so much that I felt like I was pushing myself to the max (like some workouts where you “go to the well”) but it was just a non-stop workout with minimal break…Thanks Coach Marc!

My mom and I did a 1.5 mile warmup, then 12x400s at 2:05 average per lap with only 25 seconds break in between, THEN 2 more 400s at 1:50ish but with a longer break, then 1 mile cooldown. We were supposed to do 4 total of the 1:50 laps but we only did 2 because I was so beat I couldn’t hold the pace any longer.

Running those 400s at 2:05 was hard I knew I wasn’t running 100% effort. The hard part was that as soon as you finished, you only had 25 seconds before you had to go off again. My sister went to be our official timer :)

I started the first few closer to 2:10, just to get a feel. I have never done 12 400s in a row…let alone with such little break…so I was kind of nervous.

This was the exact workout I needed though after a few iffy weeks of training where I just felt slow and off. I wanted this as a confidence booster. I love 400 repeats and they always make me feel fast and strong. Here are a few reasons you should incorporate them into your training too:

  • Even if you’re marathon training, 400s (or any track workout) will benefit you greatly. It will help improve your speed, strength and leg turnover. With shorter breaks like I did, you’ll challenge yourself to hold a faster than marathon pace pace (did that make sense?) so that your usual marathon pace will then feel “easier” come race day.
  • There are all sorts of variations of 400s you can do based on what you’re training for. Coach Marc is the perfect person to ask about this. You can do faster 400s with more breaks in between, slower 400s with minimal break, or a combination of both. Even many elites do combinations of paces. For example, I’ve seen videos of Brenda Martinez‘s workouts where she’ll do sets of 400s or 800s, then finish with a “tag” aka a 400 at 100% effort. Like I said, it all comes down to what you’re training for.

I slept like a baby Monday night AND last night because this workout really tired me out. No joke, I could have gone to sleep at 8 pm last night if I didn’t have stuff to do.

Anyway, I also put out a new workout video on my YouTube channel today! It’s a workout you can do right in your backyard, and it targets your lower body (with some cardio thrown in). Check it out:

Make sure to make it higher quality on YouTube by clicking 780 or 1080P :)

Let me know if you try it out!

Do you love or hate track workouts? What’s your favorite distance?

If you’re on YouTube, please subscribe to my channel! Will be adding many new videos :)

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07-14-2015

Strength Training Workout For Mud Runs

As I mentioned yesterday, I ran a mud run/obstacle course race this past weekend…and it was awesome! It was the Rugged Maniac in New Jersey, but they have locations all over the country and in Canada as well. If you find one near you, definitely try it out. I’m going to go into a detailed recap later this week and add in reasons why you should do it. I noticed yesterday a lot of you said you’re nervous about injuries…so was I! But still…you should do one ;)

The day after my race I was actually surprised at how sore I was. I consider myself in decent shape, though I know I’ve lost muscle and strength in the past few months. My arms were really sore after the race and my quads. Weird! So today I wanted to share a strength training workout specifically for those who might be training for a mud run.

These races are a lot of pulling yourself up and over things, squatting, crawling, etc. So those are the types of moves I focused on.

Try this workout if you're training for a mud run or obstacle course race!

As always, do A1, A2 first, then move on. Perform each exercise for 3 sets of 15 reps. So do A1 15 times, then A2 15 times, then repeat 2 more times before moving on to the B exercises. Okay here we go:

  • A1: Lat pull downs (Reason? Strength for pulling yourself up on obstacles like wall climbs)
  • A2: Push ups (Reason? Chest and shoulder strenght for those barbed wire crawls)
  • B1: Squat hold (Hold for 60 sec. Reason? Some obstacles require you to go through it in a crouched or squatting position…talk about quad burn!)
  • B2: Negative pulls ups (Reason? Monkey bar or rings – where you need to use upper body strength to cross. Negative pull ups help build up strength so you can do unassisted pull ups. Start at the top of the bar, and take 3-5 seconds to lower yourself down SLOWLY. Use a box to boost yourself up to the top of the bar, repeat)
  • C1: Walking lunges (Reason? You need quad and glute strength for all that hill running you’ll be doing!)
  • C2: Inverted row (Reason? More upper body/pull strength)
  • CORE: Planks, walking planks, any type of moving planks. (Reason? A lot of crawling is involved in mud runs, so planks/moving planks are good practice)

I was so tired during the barbed wire crawls because I know my core strength is lacking. I ended up rolling myself under them instead of crawling LOL.

What exercises would you add? 

If injury wasn’t an issue, would you try a mud run? 

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06-10-2015

How To Create a Full Body Workout In 6 Steps

My sister is always asking me what exercise she can do for this or that everytime she goes to the gym. Same with my parents actually, now that I think of it. I don’t mind it at all, but it made me think that perhaps there are many who head to the gym without a clue as to what workout they will do that day. 

So I created 6 steps for you to create a full body workout routine next time you need to strength train. My suggestion is to start the workout with your weakest link (of the major muscle groups). So if you’re deadlift is weak, start with that exercise.

You can follow this template to create 2-3 different workouts for the week, then change it up after 3-4 weeks in order to avoid a plateau.

How To Create a Full Body Workout in 6 Easy Steps

Step 1. Choose a glute/quad dominant exercise

We know that glute strength is key for a strong core (which can help alleviate lower back pain), and is really important for runners. I always start my workouts with a glute exercise. If you’re not sure what you can do besides squats, here are some ideas:

  • Walking lunges
  • Split squats
  • Reverse lunges
  • Front foot elevated split squats
  • Bulgarian split squats
  • Sumo squats
  • Kettlebell squats
  • 1.5 squats (Lower down, come up half way, lower down again, stand up to complete the squat. Oh, you’ll feel the burn.)
  • Step-ups
  • Box squats
  • Rear foot elevated split squats (rear foot elevated less than the Bulgarians – that’s the difference between the two.)
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Single leg squats/TRX single leg squats

If you’re just starting out, I would recommend not starting with walking lunges. It can be hard on the knees until you build up that quad strength. This would be my progression with lunges: split squats > weight split squats > front foot elevated split squat > reverse lunges (step back, lower, step forward) > walking lunges > bulgarian split squats.

Step 2. Choose a back exercise

Who doesn’t want a strong back, especially in the summer when you’re tank tops, strapless dresses, etc.? After you complete your first exercise, move quickly into a back exercise.

Once you complete the back exercise, take a 1-2 minute break, then repeat the glute and back exercises again for your chosen amount of sets, before moving on to step 3 and 4.

Here are a few back exercises you can do:

  • Seated row
  • Lat pull down
  • Pull-ups/chin-ups
  • TRX rows
  • TRX assisted pull-ups
  • Dumbell row on a bench (one knee, one arm on a bench)
  • Barbell row
  • Inverted row
  • Cable row
  • T-bar row (Barbell is between your legs. Barbell usually has a piece at the end where it is attached, or you can put it in a corner.
  • Chest supported dumbell row (put your chest on an incline bench, so you’re facing down, and then row with both arms)

I think back exercises are my favorite to do. It’s one of my stronger points and it translates into stronger running (stronger back = stronger arms for that finish line kick).

Step 3. Choose a hamstring dominant exercise

Hamstrings are just as important as glutes! Having strong hamstrings and glutes means better posture, stronger core, and more strength in general. If you’re a runner and can only focus on one thing, make it your glutes and hamstrings! So many runners have weak glutes which can lead to injuries and other issues.

Here are some exercises to choose from:

  • Barbell Romanian deadlift
  • Barbell traditional deadlift
  • Trap bar deadlift
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Hip raises
  • Swiss ball leg curl
  • Single leg hip raises
  • T-bar row
  • Single leg deadlift
  • Walking lunges with large steps
  • Step-ups with a higher box

Step 4. Choose a chest exercise

While I personally focus less on chest exercises (for this reason), it is still important to include them in your routines. I prefer to do overhead presses and other shoulder press exercises as opposed to traditional bench presses.

My posture needs serious work, and tightening up the muscles in my pecs will only exacerbate the problem (pulling shoulders forward), which is why I like to do more back exercises (which help pull the shoulers back). Doing shoulder presses still works some of your chest muscles and also helps build strong and stable shoulder joints. Here’s a great list of exercises for improving your posture. I’ll list shoulder exercises in the next step when I get there.

Here are chest exercises:

  • Barbell bench press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Decline bench press
  • 1.5 dumbbell press (lower all the way down, lift halfway, lower, lift to the top)
  • Pushups
  • Feet elevated pushups
  • TRX pushups
  • Single arm dumbbell bench press (or incline press)

Step 5. Choose a bicep, tricep and shoulder exercise

If you’re cramped for time, I would say you can skip this step. If you chose challenging enough weights in the previous steps, you will already have worked these muscles anyway. For example, if you did pull-ups you worked your biceps. If you did bench presses you worked your triceps and shoulders. If you did inverted rows, you worked your shoulders.

But when you have enough time, definitely add in these exercises to help build an overall strong body. Remember runners, strong arms = stronger pump = stronger finish at the end of a race!

Here are some ideas:

Biceps

  • Dumbbell bicep curls
  • Barbell bicep curls
  • Zottman curls (instead of palms facing up as you curl, palms are facing down)
  • Single arm dumbbell curls
  • Single arm half-way curls (While one arm is curling, the other arm is holding the dumbbell halfway up, as opposed to holding it up by your shoulder in a resting position)
  • Decline bench bicep curls (sit in a slightly decline bench and do bicep curls)

Triceps

  • Standing tricep extension
  • Flat bench tricep extension (lowering dumbbells by your ears then bringing up). This is my absolute favorite tricep exercise.
  • Tricep rope pull-down
  • Dips
  • Cable overhead tricep extension

Shoulders

Step 6. Choose 2-4 core exercises

Do I even need to talk about how important core exercises are? Here are my go-to exercises:

  • Any plank variation
  • Plank with knee drops
  • Side planks with reach under (with or without dumbbell)
  • Reverse crunches
  • Standing pallof presses
  • Medicine ball twists
  • Leg lifts (same time and/or alternating)
  • Deadbugs

Obviously there are many more exercises for each bodypart, but these are what came to mind of exercises I include in my routine regularly. I’d say my top picks are barbell squats, trap bar deadlift, pull-ups, incline presses, and pallof presses.

In terms of sets, I usually do my workouts as Step 1, Step 2, break, repeat 1 & 2 3-4 times, Step 3, Step 4, break, repeat 4&5 3-4 times, etc.

Let me know if you try creating your own full body routine with this guide! I’d love feedback :)

Do you create your own workouts or follow a routine (either from a personal trainer or website like bodybuilding.com?)

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06-05-2015

Thoughts You Have While Lifting

Yesterday I was reading this Buzzfeed article, 75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out For a Run…so funny and so true! I have written my own version of what I think about while running, and figured I’d have a little fun today and write up my thoughts while lifting at the gym. Let’s see if you can relate to any of them!

  1. Okay, time to warm-up. I really hate warming up. I guess I’ll do some jumping jacks and arm circles or something. Maybe walk on the treadmill.
  2. First up is squats – oh look the squat rack is taken.
  3. Okay, I’ll just do bench press then. Oh look, the benches are all taken.
  4. Stop chatting with your friends and get your set done so I can squat or bench! (My gym is full of high school guys that come in groups.)
  5. *Waiting patientlty by the bench press until the person is done*
  6. Finally, I can get on it. 
  7. Okay, what weight did I do last time? I’ll add like 10 lbs.
  8. Crap, this is heavy. What if I can’t get it back up??
  9. *Pushing hard on last rep* Please don’t let anyone be watching my struggling right now.
  10. I did it, phew. Okay onto the squats.
  11. *Feeling bad@$$ doing barbell squats*
  12. Someone asks “How many sets do you have left?” “I just got on.” Now you have to patiently wait like I did!
  13. I hope my shorts/leggings aren’t see through when I squat…probably should have checked first
  14. I wonder what my form looks like…am I squatting deep enough?
  15. Okay, done with that. Next.
  16. Look at that dude doing deadlifts with a rounded back…hurts my back just watching him!
  17. Look at that girl running on 8.0 on the treadmill like it ain’t no thang…I wish…
  18. *Finishing workout*
  19. Time to stretch and foam roll…I probably look like I’m flopping around everywhere on this foam roller.
  20. Must. not. make. weird. face. in. public. (as foam roller hits all the tight and painful spots.)
  21. I guess I’ll do a few planks and then get out of here.
  22. DONE. Time to eat.

Does anyone have a lot of high schoolers go to their gym? They go and it’s so funny because the guys hang out in groups by the weights, and the girls sit in a circle “stretching” or “doing abs” in the stretching area (in reality they are sitting there gossiping and laughing).

What thoughts do you have while at the gym? Any of these? Or am I the only one holding in my pain while foam rolling? ;)

Thoughts You Have While LiftingSource

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05-13-2015

My Forever 21 Activewear Picks for May

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Forever 21 did not sponsor or compensate me for this post; all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Since my posts on affordable workout clothes are some of my most popular, I decided to feature my picks each month. This month, I’ll show you two pieces from the Forever 21 activewear line that I just bought and love!

I have to be in the right mood to shop at Forever 21. I feel like their hangers are always so tightly squeezed together, it’s so hard to actually browse through clothes. I discovered their activewear line a few months ago and really liked the quality, especially for the low prices! Some of their stuff feels like the same type of material as a lululemon swiftly shirt…I actually wanted to buy one to show you for this post but they didn’t have my size :( This is one of the ones I’m talking about.

I found the last of this tank top I’m wearing in the photos below, and really comfortable spandex shorts. The shorts don’t ride up much, and are such a soft material. I love the wide waistband and waistband details as well! Check out my photoshoot and I’ll link to the items at the end :)

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear

Forever 21 Activewear
Forever 21 Activewear
I love this last photo…my hair – what is it doing??

The pink run top is really soft and I think will be perfect for summer races. Unfortunately, I can’t find it online, but here is a similar option that says “See You At The Finish Line.”

Here are the colorblocked shorts in both gray (like I’m wearing) and black. The shorts are $12.90, and the top is also $12.90…can’t beat that!

Pin it!

On a budget? Try the Forever 21 Activewear line!

I think next month I’ll show my workout finds from T.J. Maxx or Marshall’s. Sometimes you can find great deals there as well.

Have you shopped at Forever 21 for workout clothes? Where is your favorite place to shop?

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05-12-2015

Printable Workout Log

A month or so I posted two workouts: this full body 30 minute workout, and the 30 minute workout part 2. I’m (still) working on creating an ebook with an 8-12 week workout plan that follows the outline of those workouts.

It combines strength and cardio, and I promise you will be dripping in sweat by the end of those 30 minutes! Each week will get progressively more challenging, which is what will help you hit your goals and avoid a plateau.

So today I wanted to share a printable workout log you can use to track your exercise, either with the workouts above or any workout you do in general. We all know it’s important to keep track of your workouts – it helps you see how you improve over time and get stronger, as well as make notes of how you felt on a certain day, injuries, etc.

You’ll see you have 5 sets listed (not that you need to do 5 sets but I just wanted to give you enough room), as well as boxes to list your weights and reps. For example, even though my 30  minute workouts are AMRAP (as many rounds as possible), you should still be keeping track of how many rounds and reps you do. If in those 7 minutes you only do 2 full rounds and on the third you only get a few reps of an exercise, mark that down. The following week you might complete 3 full rounds, which will show you that you have improved.

It’s important to list the weights you use as well. Not only to remember what you used, but also so you know when to increase your weights. If you have been using 5 lbs. for 2 weeks, perhaps try increasing to 8 lbs. If you need to decrease after a round, that’s fine, just make a note of it. Then, the following week, start with 8 lbs again and try to get further with those 8 lbs. before you decrease back to 5 lbs. Does that make sense?

Here’s the log:

Use this printable workout log to track your workouts!

Or click here to download as a PDF and print –> Printable Workout Log

Do you use a log, write things down in a notebook, or use your phone to track your fitness?

Femme Fitale Fit Club

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05-06-2015

What is VO2 Max Anyway?

If you’re a runner, you’ve heard the term VO2 Max being thrown around. If you’re like me…you aren’t 100% what it even means. Something about oxygen and how it makes you faster…or something…

What exactly is VO2 max and how can I improve it?

So what is VO2 Max? I decided to do some research and find out.

According to Breaking Muscle:

The short explanation is that VO2 represents the body’s ability to use oxygen. It is measured in units of oxygen used per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml O2 per kg per min).

That is still somewhat confusing to me, so let’s find another explanation. RunnersConnect explains it like this:

VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize during exercise. It’s a combination of how much oxygen-rich blood your heart can pump, and the muscles efficiency in extracting and utilizing the oxygen.

Furthermore,

Your VO2 max occurs when your oxygen consumption redlines—this usually happens at a bit faster than your 5k race pace.  At this point, your heart rate is also maxed out, and you’re working pretty hard.

So you can understand how a better VO2 max (point at which your basically maxed out) can lead to better running times. It allows you to use oxygen more efficiently, which leads to faster running feeling “easier.”

We know that elite runners have a crazy high VO2 max, and much of this can be genetic. But, us “normal people” as I like to say, can improve VO2 max simply by running more and/or doing specific workouts. 

Breaking Muscle says that you are able to improve your VO2 max by up to 15% with training! I’m in. Although you need to be in a lab to know your exact score, they did provide a table with a general idea of what yours might be. Let’s just say I’m towards the bottom of the chart.

What is VO2 max?Photo source

So how do you improve your VO2 max? Like I said above, run more. Build your base and once you’re ready, you can add in VO2 max specific workouts. Breaking Muscle suggests losing weight as well. That is one of my goals between now and when I start really getting into marathon training. I know I have at least an extra 10 lbs. on me that I need to shed. Side note: why is it so easy to gain 10 lbs. and so hard to lose???

Anyway, back to the workouts. Workouts are basically interval training, where you are running at or faster than 5K pace. It will be a struggle, but that’s the point. Over the winter, I was challenging myself by doing 400 meter repeats at faster than my 5K pace (and faster than I’ve ever done them), but it really is motivating to improve week by week and feel it getting somewhat easier.

Here’s an example of a workout taken from that same Breaking Muscle page I liked to above: 

  • Warm up – 10 minutes easy
  • 3:1 x 3
  • Recover for 5-10 minutes easy running or riding
  • 3:1 x 3
  • Cool down for 10 minutes

The 3:1 x 3 means that you’re running hard for 3 minutes, taking a 1 minute break, then running for 3 minutes hard again, for a total of 3 times before taking that 5-10 minute break. Once you’re ready to progress, start increasing the time you’re running hard. I’m tired even thinking of this workout.

I tried looking up other workouts and they are all basically the same. Run for a couple minutes at your VO2 max (or a bit faster than 5K pace), recover for anywhere from 4-10 minutes depending on your level. 

Apparently,VO2 max isn’t really that important for marathon runners, but it is key if you’re looking to improve your 5K time. I really want to work on getting faster between now and mid-June, so looks like I’ll have to throw these workouts into the mix. You can do anything for just 3 minutes right? ;)

If you have no clue when to schedule certain workouts, like Vo2 max, tempos, etc., I highly recommend working with a running coach. If you’re looking for one, definitely check out Coach Marc of TrainWithMarc

I actually have a 5K race this evening (if it’s not still raining) and know I will not be happy with my time…but it’s a starting point. Plus, it’s on a cross country course which will make it even more challenging, but I like it because it takes me back to those high school XC days!

Have you ever gone to a lab to get tested for VO2 max, or anything running related? I’d love to…and I’d like a professional gait analysis too!

What is your favorite running workout? I like anything on the track and hate tempo runs :)

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05-05-2015

5 Ways Spinning Can Help Your Running

I recently bought a Groupon for a spin studio in my area and really enjoyed it. It is super challenging for me, and each workout I never think I will make it the full hour. Before I signed up, I had been doing research on ways spinning can help your running. I wanted to learn more about the benefits and how it would translate to stronger running. Turns out there are many ways it does! 

5 Ways Spinning Can Make You A Better Runner

Builds both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance.

A spin class is a mix of easy portions and challenging portions. You might have a series of hill climbs, flat sprints and recovery sections. Because of this, spinning works both your fast-twitch muscles and slow-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch muscles are used during speed or hill intervals, and slow-twitch muscles are more endurance based (which will obviously help if you’re training for a marathon). No matter what distance you’re training for, spinning can help you get stronger and faster.

Non-impact.

We all know spinning is a great form of cross training for runners. It’s a similar movement as running, and obviously works your lower body. If you’re injured or just want something more low impact on a certain day, spinning is the day to go. When I couldn’t run for 3 weeks before the NYC Marathon in 2013, I did all of my “workouts” on the spin bike, and even completed “track” workouts on there too. I would suggest mixing up your cycling workout with seated and standing intervals in order to work different muscles.

Helps with cadence.

You’ve heard how you’re supposed to run at 180 steps per minute, right? Well, apparently, spinning can help imrove your cadence and increase turnover. A higher cadence on the bike translates to a higher running cadence. I believe it, because in my spin classes recently we’d be biking at 80-90 RPMs and it was killer! Apparently that translates to around a 7-8 minute mile. So the premise here then is that if you go to spin classes and are consistently in that higher range, it might help your speed and turnover (feet moving faster) which is obviously key in a big race!

You have control.

Since you’re indoors, you don’t have to worry about cars or other road safety hazards. You can fully immerse yourself in your workout. Also, you can give it 100% for the same reason. You can go all out in a sprinting portion without worrying about flying off the handlebars or crashing. On the flip side, you can control your resistance, and make the workout as challenging as you want it to be. I love being able to control resistance, especially on hill climbs, because if I were riding outside I would definitely be the person walking their bike up a hill :)

Increase your weekly miles.

If you’re like me and trying to increase your weekly miles, spinning might be the way to go. If you’re already running most days of the week, doing a morning or evenining spin class is a great way to add in more “miles” without the pounding of a second run of the day. It obviously counts as cross-training, and you’re getting the cardiovascular benefit which will help in your running. This is also a great option for those who are more injury prone as they add more weekly miles. I know plenty of runners who do count cross-training as miles (i.e. – a 60 minute spin class is equivalent to about 6 miles). 

I really do enjoy spin class, but like I said in my post yesterday, I need to work on balance as I get into my marathon training. I want to be able to at least do a spin class or yoga class once a week, which might require two workouts in one day…we’ll see.

Do you take spin classes? If you run most days of the week, how do you balance it with your training?

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