09-27-2017

A Day In The Life Of A Cross Country Coach

As some of you may know, I coach cross country at a community college in New Jersey. I love it. I love seeing the athletes improve as the season goes on, and seeing how hard they work. This year I’m grateful to 1) finally have a full men’s team and 2) have a committed, motivated team. 

cross-country-coach

Some seasons (and if you’re a coach you might know this), you get student-athletes who are on the team but not giving it their all. They complain or just seem blah to be there…and I wonder, “Why are you even here?” lol. But this year our team is solid, and our men’s team has a good chance of making it to Nationals as a team. We’ve had runners qualify for Nationals every year I’ve coached, but as individuals. We’ll see what happens!

Last weekend, we had a meet out in Harrisburg, PA. It was pretty low-key but a good chance for them to see where their fitness level is at. It was the first 8K race of the season for the men (the first meet was a 5K). 

I decided to do a little vlog to capture the day and show a day in my coaching life :)

This Friday, we race the Paul Short Invitational, which I’m super pumped about. It is a pretty big meet, and I plan to do another vlog for that one too.

For us, race days usually go like this:

  • Get on the bus and get there about 1-1.5 hours before start time
  • Get to location and set up in our spot. Hang out for a bit.
  • About 30-40 minutes before start time, I send them out for a warm up. We’ll start with drills like A skip, B skip, high knees, butt kicks, cariocas, side skips and more, then they will go on a 10-15 minute easy jog, then come back for more dynamic drills and stretching.
  • Head to the start area with about 10 min. to go and start doing strides.
  • They run, I run around and try to catch them at certain points to give them splits or simply motivation.
  • Afterwards, they go for a 10 min. cooldown jog and then we stretch.

Let me know what you think of the vlog! I want to do more videos again…future topics might be:

  • My dynamic warmup routine before runs
  • Tips for getting faster at the 5K
  • Quad/glute workout for runners
  • My go-to stretching routine

Any of those sound interesting? Or do you have an idea for a video? Let me know in the comments!

Do you have a set routine before runs? Are you superstitious about anything before races?

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06-07-2017

8 Running Workouts For Global Running Day

It’s Global Running Day! Although I won’t be running today because I just ran yesterday (read this post on why I need to take it easy), I wanted to share some easy running workouts that anyone can do today. Whether you run a block or run 10 miles, get out there and celebrate Global Running Day!

Here are some workouts I’ve shared in the past:

If you want to start doing more hill workouts or hill intervals, check out my video below on 5 Hill Running Tips:

And here are some ways to make your run fun today:

Fartleks

Fartleks basically equates to an interval workout, except it’s much more relaxed. You can go by time if you want, but if you want just a fun, no pressure run, I would do the following:

Warm up for about 5-10 minutes, and then start your run. Pick an object, either in the distance or close, and accelerate to that object. For example, pick a tree in the distance, and sprint to that tree. Then slow down for however long you want and repeat. You can mix it up by choosing something further away (and running at a moderately challenging page), or picking something within a block or less away, which means you gotta sprint!

This is a great way to make runs less monotonous and also get your heart pumping.

One Minute On, One Minute Off

This is what I’ve been doing the past few days since I’m back to running. It’s great for beginners or anyone getting back into shape like me. Run at whatever pace you please for one minute, then walk or jog for one minute. If one minute is too long, start with 30 seconds. Go for as long as you want.

Run To The Music

If you’ve taken a spin class, you know how the instructors create workouts that go along with the beat of the music. You spin faster during the faster portions of a song (usually the chorus) and slow down after. You can use this premise on your runs. Start slow, then as the song picks up, start speeding up. If the chorus is shorter, do a sprint. If it’s longer, make it into more of a moderate pace. Once the song ends, take a little break by walking or jogging, and then repeat on the next song! For slower songs, you can try to maintain a moderate pace for the whole song (sort of like a tempo run).

I’m so excited to get back to running, especially since summer is here! 

PIN the image below to save these workouts for later :-)

8 Running Workouts For Your Next Run | http://reach-yourpeak.com

 

Who will be running for Global Running Day today? What’s your workout/how far are you running?

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03-08-2017

6 Half Marathon Race Day Tips

I’m so jealous of everyone about to run their spring half marathons! I was 2 weeks into training for the NYC Half when I started working with my nutritionist and she advised against it. (Insert crying emoji)

That’s why I’m excited to join the Race Day Tips linkup hosted by You Signed Up For WHAT?!Running on HappyBrooklyn Active MamaOrganic Runner Mom, and Coach Debbie Runs.

Here are my half marathon race day tips (which can be applied to the marathon too):

Read these 6 half marathon race day tips  before your next big race! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Don’t Worry About Sleep The Night Before

Now, I’m not saying don’t worry about sleep at all. Definitely TRY to get sleep. But if you don’t, don’t worry about it. The night before isn’t as important as the week leading up to the race. For a full week, or more, before the big race, you should be trying to get your best sleep yet. I’ve gotten 2-3 hours of total sleep before a 5K before and somehow PRed.

I remember last summer we had a long training run in Central Park with NYRR and I got legit 3 hours of sleep (I’ll explain in a sec), and that was my best paced long run up until then! For some reason when I have a big race or long run the next day, I just toss and turn all night thinking about how I have to get up early and run. And worrying about whether I’ll be able to do it. But as long as I’m well rested from the week before, it has not affected me.

Watch Something Motivational 

I love watching elite runner’s race videos the night before a half marathon or marathon. It just pumps me up and then on race day I envision myself running as smoothly as them. Runners who inspire me are Shalane Flanagan (obv), Jenny Simpson (can’t believe I ran with her once in Central Park!), Brenda Martinez, Emma Coburn, Molly Huddle and Kara Goucher. Go follow them on Instagram to see their workouts and and stuff! 

Here are a few videos I’ve watched to get me pumped in the past…my mentality is, if they can put in all this hard work and gut it out, so can I:

FloTrack also has great videos following athletes in their workouts – those motivate me for races AND every day runs:

Take Lots of Pictures and Video

My mom is great at this – she doesn’t get nervous before any race. She will take photos and videos…be smiling throughout the morning. I’m usually a hot mess and can barely eat my oatmeal. I’ll be like OMG MOM STOP YOU’RE SO ANNOYING. Yet, after the race is over, I’m like “Can I see all your photos and videos??” lol

This past NYC Marathon I told her I’d be less cranky and try to take more photos and videos too so she can be in them. Since I felt so amazing (read my NYC Marathon recap here), I took the majority of video that day, which you can watch in this recap video I made…and maybe use it as motivation too :)

If you have spectators, you can ask them to take photos as well…maybe they’ll capture gems like this one from my first marathon:

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I laugh every time I see this photo.

And that’s it too – you will want even the bad photos to look back on! :-)

Focus On Details When The Going Gets Tough

This is a tip my friend, who is a therapist, gave me. She knows I struggle with mental strength when things get hard in a race. So her tip is this: When you start feeling tired or like you’re struggling, start focusing on all of your senses. What do you see? Focus on the details. The bead of sweat on the person in front of you. The waving flag in the distance. Or what do you hear? Focus on the crowd? What chants do you hear? Listen to the breathing and footfalls of the runner next to you. Or the conversation going on behind you. Really get detailed with it. It distracts your mind, at least for a little bit.

Add Intervals Towards The End (If You’re Struggling)

This has helped me in countless races, whether 5K or marathons. If you’re struggling in the last mile or 2, start doing intervals. It will help time go by faster and the changing of paces helps switch things up. Distance depends on how I feel. I will pick up my pace from one light pole to the next, and then slow it back down. If I have a watch, I will pick up the pace for 1 minute, then slow down for 1 minute. If I’m REALLY struggling, it will be more like 30 seconds. But as long as you continue that forward motion, you’re getting closer and closer to the finish.

Take In The Finish Line

It’s so easy to sprint (or try to) towards the finish and want to just be DONE. But really take it all in. This past NYC Marathon was the first time I really did that, and it brought tears to my eyes. Look around you – all these runners are in the same boat, and all of you are accomplishing your goals. You did it! You crossed the finish. Stop and just take it all in, snap a picture if you have your phone. Get a volunteer to take a photo of you. Smile!!!

I hope these tips help! As I was writing these and looking through my race photos, it just made me miss running so much. I can’t wait to get back out there with my mom. 

What spring races are you doing? Do you like taking lots of race day pics and videos?

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12-07-2016

StrideBox Review & Unboxing

So far so good with my daily vlogging (though it’s only been 3 days haha). On today’s vlog, I opened up 2 StrideBox boxes, showed the different products inside and shared my thoughts.

Disclosure: Stridebox sent me these boxes to try out and review.

Check out my StrideBox review and what came in my boxes! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

StrideBox is a monthly subscription box for runners. I wasn’t sure what kind of products would come in each box or if it would actually be of interest to me as a runner, but I was pleasantly surprised! I actually can’t wait to try a bunch of these products, especially Tailwind. I’ve heard so many great things about it.

Here’s my vlog from yesterday and more specifics on StrideBox if you’re interested:

If you don’t have time to watch, here are my quick thoughts:

  • Most of the products are really helpful or beneficial to runners. Some I thought were a little random (calcium + magnesium supplement or this special tea) BUT it is still relevant to runners.
  • This is a great way to get supplements or fuel to try out. I’ve tried SO many different things when it comes to fuel (and finally found one I love – GenUCAN), so if you’re like me, this is a good way to get monthly samples and figure out what works for you. My 2 boxes had Accel gel, Tailwind and Sport Beans in them – a good variation to test out.
  • If you’re like me and notice packaging, the packaging is awesome! I love the little inspirational sticker (where can I put these??) and the card at the bottom of the box that shares a workout and recipe.

Have you tried StrideBox? What other monthly subscription boxes do you order?

PS – Here’s my first Vlogmas video in case you missed it :-)

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07-06-2016

6 Marathon Training Tips For All Levels

This week is week 3 of marathon tranining and I can’t believe we just ran 10 miles yesterday. It’s amazing how fast your body can get back in shape. Just a month ago I was struggling to run 5-6 miles. Shooting to run anywhere from 3-6 miles today depending on how I feel. I want it to be a longer recovery day but I can only run at 2pm so it will be HOT. 95 degrees and 50% humidity. And I just do not want to run on the treadmill, so we’ll see…

Anyway, today I’ve got some great training info for you from the author of Running a Marathon For Dummies (and many other running related books), Dr. Jason Karp. I am following his intermediate plan in the aforementioned book. 

I sent him a few questions related to training that I thought might benefit other runners as well. Let’s get into it!

Training for a marathon? Check out these tips and insight from Dr. Jason Karp! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

1) What are your suggestions for adjusting pace in tempo runs or track workouts when it’s hot/humid?
Adjusting pace is okay as long as you are still running at the correct pace given the conditions. For example, if you’re doing a VO2 max interval workout on the track and it’s hot and humid, you still want to run at your VO2max pace whatever that pace may be on that day. It’s hard to know exactly by how much the weather will affect someone. Your VO2max pace may be a few seconds per mile slower on a hot/humid day, so adjust the time for your reps. If someone has a heart rate monitor, the pace can be adjusted by heart rate. For example, if on a cool day, you’re running at 7:00 mile pace at 100% max heart rate, but on a hot/humid day, you reach 100% max heart rate at 7:10 pace, then run at 7:10 pace that day.

2) I’ve seen you mention that exercising 250 min. per week and watching your nutrition will easily help you lose weight. Do those 250 minutes include easy runs? Or just hard workouts? What other tips do you have for getting to your race weight WHILE marathon training?
The number 250 is based on the 2009 position statement from the American College of Sports Medicine. It includes aerobic exercise. My next book is all about running for weight loss. Even though the subject tends to be made complicated, it’s really easy€” — to lose weight, you must expend more calories and consume fewer. So, when marathon training, don’t replenish all of the calories after long workouts. Only replace the calories you need to fuel your running and recover from workouts.

3) What do you think of cross training? Your plan has 1-2 days of rest. Do you think adding a day of cross training like cycling or swimming is beneficial? What about cycling in the AM and running in the PM, to get more cardio in but less impact on the legs?
I promote cross training for runners who aren’t running a lot of miles. In that case, cross training can definitely help with cardiovascular improvement. However, if you want to be a better runner, you must run. Swimming won’t make you a better runner.

4) Can you explain the running science behind the tempo runs and track workouts, and how they can help one achieve their marathon goal pace?
This can take a long time to answer. I’ve written entire books on this subject! Briefly, tempo runs help your endurance by training you to hold a faster aerobic pace by raising your lactate threshold, which is your fastest sustainable aerobic pace. Track workouts can help a variety of things, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with the workout. For example, VO2max intervals can help improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen because you’re running at the maximum capability for your heart to do its job. Anaerobic workouts can recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, improve your speed and the ability of your muscles to generate energy anaerobicall, without oxygen.

5) If you had to pick the ONE thing that I MUST do in training, what would it be? (i.e., long runs, tempo runs, sleep 8 hours per night, nap, etc.)
Train consistently and progressively from week to week and month to month and year to  year.

6) I know many people in the same boat as me, trying to BQ and feeling it is impossible. They are also in the same boat as me in terms of time goals. Dropping from a 4:30ish marathon to a BQ marathon time of 3:30ish. Do you think that is realistic?
It depends on the person’s genetic ability and the commitment he/she makes to train. With adequate training, most runners can run much faster than they are. Can someone go from 4:30 to 3:30? That depends on how much training went into that 4:30. If the person ran 20 miles per week without any other types of workouts, then I’d say probably. But if that person ran 60 miles per week and did tempo runs and interval workouts, and is still running 4:30, then a 3:30 is probably out of reach.

So there you have it folks! Some great info from Dr. Jason Karp. I’ve been stuck around 4:30-5, but I know I still have a lot I can do. Like running more, running more consistently throughout the year, doing more tempo runs, strength training, etc. So we’ll see what happens for NYC Marathon!

Who else is running a fall marathon?

What is your biggest running related question?

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06-20-2016

How To Improve Your Running Form

I cannot believe marathon training starts in 2 weeks for NYC Marathon…and for some of you doing a 20 week plan, it starts this week. I’m going to follow the first 2 weeks of a 20 week plan loosely, but not OFFICIALLY starting until 18 weeks out. Getting nervous!! Because running will really ramp up.

I’m not 100% sure yet what training plan I will be using, but I will post more about that once I choose (along with the 2 I’m considering and their pros and cons).

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about running form. We have all read about running form in one way or another, I’m sure…especially about foot strike. 

Running form can affect your injury patterns (or whether you get an injury), your efficiency and how much energy you use to run, your strength up hills or in that final sprint, and more. Here are a few tips that I have found helpful throughout my running journey and can maybe help you improve your running form as well:

4 ways to improve your running form today! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Arm Swing

Arm swing is something that really helps propel you forward, especially when you’re getting tired. When you watch race videos (or am I the only one watching elites race on FloTrack lol), you notice how they really use their arms and pump them hard in order to run faster.

This is why doing upper body exercises are essential as well, especially in your off season. The stronger your arms, the faster you will go once your body is tired (like at the finish line, or up hills). 

When you’re running up hills, think of your arms as pulling on a rope to get you up (at least that is how I imagine it). Pump them like pistons. Same thing when you’re tired. During track workouts, I will also imagine “whipping” my hand back with power in order to help me excel forward.

You also want to makes sure your arms aren’t crossing over your chest/mid-line. Your elbows should be swinging straight back, and your hands straight (or almost straight) forward. “Hip to nip” is what I’ve read in many places.

Lastly, make sure your hands are relaxed. It’s easy to get tense and make fists when you’re going all out, but you want to stay relaxed. Pretend you’re holding an egg in each hand – if you squeeze too hard, you’ll break the egg. 

So to review:

  • Use your arms as pistons when you need more power.
  • Hip to nip. Don’t cross the midline.
  • Relax your hands, don’t make fists.

Stand Tall

Good posture is key. And something I also have to work on. I’ve noticed after marathons/long runs, my neck hurts, and my lower back. During Chicago Marathon, about half way through, I had to stop to get ibuprofen from a medical tent because I had such a bad headache from my neck tension. As I mentioned above, you want to make sure you’re relaxed and loose.

On runs, I regularly check in to see how my posture is. More often than not, I have to re-adjust. A good cue (and one I’ve mentioned here in the past) is “chest up, shoulders back.” Once you roll your shoulders back, it will help align everything else. Your neck won’t be forward, your lower back won’t be too arched, etc.

Your gaze should be ahead of you not staring down at the ground (unless you’re on a trail run, in which case, look at the ground so you don’t sprain an ankle). And your core should be engaged. I will talk about that in the next point.

Quick review:

  • Chest up, shoulders back.
  • Look ahead.
  • Relax your face. It’s easy to get all tense when you’re working hard, keep your face muscles relaxed.
  • Head and neck straight up and down (don’t lean your head back or forward/down when you get tired)

Pelvic Tilt

Have you ever heard of “sitting in the bucket?” It’s a common term that describes many runners. If you have had lower back pain after a run, this might be why (and definitely why I do as well).

Sitting in the bucket is when, “the pelvis tilts forward and the hips push back. “This posture reduces the power of the hip extensors, stresses the lower back, and shortens your stride. This posture is responsible for a lot of runners’ back and hip problems,” from Human Kinectics.

According to Runner’s World, “when the lumbar area is contracted and weak, the pelvic girdle will begin to rotate backward, causing the back musculature to overwork. This causes pain and keeps you from activating the proper muscles to propel you forward, making you compensate with other muscles.”

If you were to lay on your back and press your lower back into the floor, that is the posture you should have while running. Obviously this is easier said than done, and requires good core strength, which is why doing core exercises is so important.

A good exercise to do (and one suggested in that Runner’s World article) is reverse crunches. Here’s my how-to video:

You can hold on to a heavy object or bench if you need to, and work your way up to just using your own body strength. I also like to do leg drops where I keep my lower back pressed firmly against the ground. I can only lower my legs a few inches, but the key is to not go to low where your back starts coming up off the floor. Eventually you’ll work your way up (or down I guess) to lowering your legs fully.

While you’re running, check in and see if you’re engaging your core. Sometimes on a run, I will place my hand on my abs or hips and push on them to remind myself to engage my core and move my pelvis back.

Foot Strike

This one has been controversial. Initially, people were all about forefoot strike, but then people started saying foot strike wasn’t the be all end all of running form…who knows exactly? My thoughts are that you have your own running gait/pattern. Your body moves in a way that is most efficient to you. Many elites have a heel strike, and many have a mid-foot or forefoot strike. I think the key point is that you don’t ever want to be OVER striding.

A lot of new runners I’ve spoken with have been like “so and so is so fast because she has really big strides, I need to do that too!” And I’m like please don’t! 1) You should be shooting for 180 foot strikes per minute and 2) big elongating your stride past its natural point, you will then be forcing a heel strike, which means more braking forces on your legs, which could lead to injuries.

Next time you’re on a run, count how many steps you take per minute. Surprisingly, I’m exactly at around 180 per min. This might vary depending on how you run, your leg length, etc. 

Going along with the stride length, I think another key point to remember is to try to land beneath your body (and not in front of it). You can achieve this by having a slight forward lean while running, as opposed to leaning back, which many do once they’re getting tired or working hard at the end of a race.

Quick review:

  • Don’t overstride. It will lead to injuries
  • Shoot for 180 steps per minute.
  • Have a slight forward lean…do not lean backwards!

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If all of this confuses you, I highly recommend getting a gait analysis done, or just filming yourself running. I’ve learned a lot about my running form by doing a slow-mo video from behind of me running on a treadmill. 

I wouldn’t recommend getting a gait analysis done at a running store because often times it’s just younger kids working there or they are trying to push a certain shoe…I don’t know, there are a lot of factors. 

I would say go to a physical therapist or athletic trainer to get a running analysis done…or even a running coach like my old coach Marc! He has a special software to watch your running videos and analyze all your specific angles (like foot strike, leg stride, arm angles, etc.) You can find his running gait analysis services here.

Have you ever had a gait analysis or had a PT tell you something that needed to be changed?

Have you ever felt lower back pain after long runs? The worst!

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06-08-2016

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels

Soooo…I meant to post this on Global Running Day but lately I just have not had enough time to blog consistently. I apologize about that! I will try to get back to the regular scheduled programming soon :-)

Anyway, I wanted to share these great running tips I gathered from fellow runners. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, I guarantee you’ll find something helpful here. I’ve broken them up into specific topics, so I hope you find something helpful!

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Training Plans & Tips

Getting Faster

Weather & Terrain Related Tips

Running & Life

So many great posts and tips! I need to read the trail running ones because I DO want to start running on more trails, especially since I have 5 week or so left where I can run for fun before marathon training starts.

For those of you training for a marathon (and marathon runners in general), do you run on trails even during training? Do you feel like it slows you WAY down? I run at least 2 min. per mile slower.

I hope these tips were helpful for you! If you have a link to one of your own running tips, please feel free to leave it in the comments so I can check it out and bookmark it for my next roundup.

Stay tuned for a France trip recap – spoiler alert: we only ran once lol.

How many times do you run per week as opposed to cross training? Or do you run every day?

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05-18-2016

Running In Paris (Or At Least Trying To)

I haven’t been blogging as much lately, so not sure if I’ve mentioned this (if you follow me on instagram you have probably seen it) but I’m heading to Paris and Nice with my mom and sister tomorrow!!

6672156239_89c77d53d8_o-2Photo credit

This has been on my bucket list since middle school. I took French in middle school and high school and always dreamed of going to France. Paris has been my number 1 dream location forever. I just can’t believe we are actually going!

We’ll also be hitting up Nice in the south of France to see Coldplay there. They are my sister’s absolute favorite band, so I got us tickets when they first came out as a graduation gift. 

I would love your help in planning our itinerary! Honestly, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to give it much thought. But we do know we want to see the obvious: Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre. I would love to have time to go to Mont St. Michelle, but it’s about a two hour drive…so we’ll see.

Honestly, I am a bit nervous for the trip. I’m nervous about 1) flying over the Atlantic the whole time lol and 2) just general nervousness about the state of the world at the moment, and alerts for traveling to Europe. But my sister and others have said to think positive and not let fear dictacte what I do. So I’m trying to just not think about it.

Anyway, my mom and I DO plan on running while there. We need to continue our base building plan in order to start marathon training in July strong. So I found a few routes online and on Strava I figured I’d share in case anyone else ever is looking for places to run in Paris. Below are a few resources!

Running in Paris? Here are some running route suggestions! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

The Tuileries Gardens, next to the Louvre and encircled by a 1.1-mile path, are a prime Right Bank running locale. Two spots outside central Paris good for hill work are Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Montsouris, another Hemingway favorite.

I can’t wait to explore the city!

Please do leave any suggestions or recommendations for places to eat and things to do :)

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01-14-2016

Exercising In The Mornings

I did it! I woke up 3 times this week to exercise in the AM! Tomorrow will be 4 since I’m signed up for an 8:30 am spin class.

On Monday, Tuesday and today I woke up at 6:30 am to get my butt to the gym or spin class. Monday I ran in the morning and did a spin class in the evening. I did a track workout on the treadmill and felt pretty strong for not having ran much recently. I really wanted to bail on the evening class but felt so great once I got started:

 

A photo posted by Patty Rivas (@pattyrivas13) on

Tuesday I did a morning spin class and took off from running. It was nice to be done for the day (workout wise) by 8:30 am.

Yesterday I ran in the evening and lifted some weights. Let me tell you, I DID NOT want to go to the gym. I ALMOST talked myself out of it, but said shut up and just do it. I told myself I’d just run for 20 minutes…and then ended up running 45 min + 15 minutes of weights.

Honestly, I have never woken up this early to exercise in my life. Because I am not a morning person at all. I definitely prefer evening workouts. I don’t know what got into me, but this week I am feeling great! I told you all that I want to lose weight, and so every workout I want to skip I remind myself of my goal, and how sitting on the couch won’t get me any closer to losing 15-20 pounds.

After the first day, I was like okay…waking up this early isn’t that bad. I feel great after my workout, though in the afternoons I do crash a bit. But once I actually begin the workout, my energy is there. It’s just dragging myself to the gym that’s the problem.

The moral of the story/this post is that when you really don’t want to exercise, just do it. Today I woke up with a sore throat and tired but told myself I’d be disappointed in myself if I didn’t get up to run. I ran 3 miles, and although my shins hurt, I’m feeling good now. Doing a spin class with yoga later today!

One last little piece of motivation…I loved this tweet from Jeanne:

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 11.30.52 AM

“I’m still tired and I could’ve run by now.” So true…that will be my mantra from now on ;)

I know so many of you get up way earlier than 6:30 to exercise, but for me that feels like the crack of dawn lol. 

Being a total newb to this, here is what has helped me make it a bit easier/what I do the night before:

  • Pack my gym bag and lay out gym clothes 
  • Pack my work bag 
  • Make my lunch for the next day
  • Plan out what smoothie I’ll have in the morning

I literally get up, brush my teeth, drink my morning tea while I make my smoothie and change, and am out the door. “Do it before your brain figures out what’s going on,” right?

For my morning workout peeps, what tips do you have for people new to exercising in the AM?

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01-11-2016

Does Spinning Make You Faster?

Okay, so I’ve only been doing spin for the past 2 weeks, probably a total of 6-8 classes but I already feel the difference with my running.

This morning I did a 4×800 meter workout on the treadmill and was seriously doubting I could even hold a 9:00/mile pace for a half mile. I surprised myself and felt great! I did them in 4:20 (8:40/mile pace), 4:15 (8:30/mile pace), 4:14 (8:28/mile pace) and 4:00 (8:00/mile pace). It was challenging but not THAT challenging. 

When I had talked to the owner of the spin studio I am going to (Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ in case you’re curious), she was telling me how spinning can definitely help my running and aerobic capacity. It has helped many of her clients which are also skiiers.

As runners, we constantly read about cross training and how important it is or how great it is if you’re injured. I have been skeptical about it because in my mind, in order to get faster/better at running, I figured I should just try to run more. I’m still planning on increasing my miles this year BUT I really would like to also include spin classes into that routine.

I did some googling and found a lot of great facts about how spinning can make you faster and a better runner…let’s get into it:

Does spinning make you faster? Here are a few ways how it can! | reach-yourpeak.com

Spinning is non-impact

Duh, right? Well the benefit here is that for those of us that can’t run twice a day for fear of injuries (I hate my shin problems), a spin class can be the second workout of the day that will help with cardio/aerobic endurance. As long as you’re properly situated on your bike, you should feel comfortable and no pain. I recently met a man who has had double knee surgery and is at spin everyday (and has no issues). Truly a great cross training option. If you still have your doubts, here’s what Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running has to say about it:

Physically, I got stronger than ever. I was doing more cardiovascular exercise than I had ever done with barely any extra injury risk. If you’re injury-prone, this is exactly how you improve your personal bests.

Spinning strengthens your legs

This is key for running, right? I can’t tell you how hard my first spin class was. My quads were on fire. I was so thankful it was only a 30 minute class because I was so done.

According to Breaking Muscle:

Spinning develops the leg muscles more than running, simply because it takes more muscle power to push a pedal through different levels of resistance than it does to move the leg through a running stride, although running uphill develops considerable leg strength, too.

Spinning can be a great recovery tool

I haven’t used a spin class as a recovery session yet, though the studio I go to does offer 30 minute gentle rides. Here’s a good excerpt from this article on Runner’s World:

Cycling can benefit runners for both recovery and training. It aids in recovery by flushing the legs out. A super-easy spin has no impact, and you’re moving blood through the muscles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cycling can be great for building high-end aerobic training doing intervals.

Spinning can increase your cadence

You’ve probably heard that you should run around 180 steps per minute. My body naturally falls into that routine (and my brother always makes fun of me saying I take quick little steps lol), but if you need help with that, spinning can help. Throughout the class your moving your legs faster and faster – and you’ll even notice improvements in each class. I now do about 2 miles more than the first class I went to 2 weeks ago. By pedaling around 90 RPMs, you’ll mimic the 180 steps per minute, and it might feel more natural when you hit the roads.

As I said in the beginning, I still feel like more running = better running. I know many who disagree, and each runner is different, so to each his own. But I do think adding in spin classes (or cycling outdoors if you like that better) can build up your leg strength and aerobic capacity. I liked this last quote by Jason of Strength Running:

To be a good runner, you have to run a lot. Alternative training can help bridge the gap, especially for injury-prone runners, but you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots (I love that line!).

My goal for this year is train now through March for 5K, perhaps run a spring half, and then begin marathon training in June/July. I want to have a solid base by then and also ramp up my miles during marathon training. Last year was doing average of 30. During my last NYC Marathon training I peaked at 55 (seriously how??). So my goal for this time is to also peak around 50ish. We’ll see what happens!

Do you regularly take spin classes? If you don’t mind my asking, how many miles to you get in 45 minutes? I’m currently at 17!

What is your favorite form of cross training?

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