11-19-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

I am starting to get nervous about the Philly Half this weekend. I usually LOVE tapering (less miles woohoo) but this is the first time I’m feeling kind of anxious about the drop in mileage. I know I can do this but then I’m also like “omg what if only running 3 times this week isn’t enough?!” Crazy thoughts, I know ;)

Here are this week’s links!

Featured: Loaded Philly Cheesesteak Potato (Skinny Taste)

Philly-Cheesesteak-Baked-Potato
I had to feature this because I made it last night and it was delicious. I found it yesterday when someone on Twitter suggested I check out Skinnytaste for recipe ideas. Even the BF loved it – and he’s a picky eater!

  • Running & Weightloss (Run To The Finish) – A shameless plug for a guest post I wrote for Amanda of Run To The Finish today. Go check it out if you’ve had issues with running more and more but hitting a weightloss plateau.
  • 20 Delicious Thanksgiving Day Side Dishes (Jessie Loves 2 Run) – Thanksgiving is almost here! I am bookmarking this for myself in order to make something new this year. Can’t wait to eat!
  • 15 No Equipment At-Home Workouts (Ex Sloth) – Winter time means less motivation to go to the gym or exercise outdoors. No excuses with this list of workouts you can do right in your own living room.
  • How To Mobilize & Stretch Hip Muscles with Tennis Ball (TriDosha Wellness) – I love using a tennis ball as opposed to a foam roller. Gets in deeper and you’re able to move around on it more. 

Do you use a typical foam roller? Or one of those rollers with the grooves or ridges (I love the RumbleRoller too!)

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11-07-2014

Random Fitness Tips

Happy Friday! Today I just wanted to share 2 fitness tips that have popped into my head in the past few days. Perhaps it will help you out as well.

Tip Number 1:

running in the winter
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know I ran 10 miles on Wednesday and already read this tip. Well, my mom and I needed to run 10 miles, but knew it would be dark out by the time we even started. So we headed to a local college campus (Rutgers) and ran around there. Luckily, Rutgers is big enough that we could run through all the campuses and complete 10 miles. But if you live near a college campus, utilize it! We had no issues with lighting and didn’t have to use our headlamps at all. There should be plenty of well-lit paths, and with students all around you will feel safer than running through unlit streets. Rutgers is about a 30 minute drive for me, but worth it, in my opinion, to be able to run comfortably at night.

Tip Number 2:

snapchat-logo-png
Snapchat. (Add me on Snapchat! I’m under pattyrivas13) Now that winter is coming, your motivation may be lacking. Even though my mom and I run together most days, there are some days where we don’t. It’s harder for me to WANT to go run when I’m alone, but in order to check in with each other and motivate the other we send each other “snaps.” Yesterday, she told me she really didn’t want to run our recovery run. So I made sure to snap her while I was running with a funny video, and then she snapped me back later on when she was done running at the gym. Make a deal with a friend to snap each other when you do workout, and that way it will motivate the other. Plus, who doesn’t like getting funny snapchat videos/pictures from friends? :)

How do you stay motivated to continue to run or workout in the winter? Because last winter I did not run at all, and I don’t want to lose fitness this winter!

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11-05-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

I feel like I say this every Wednesday but this year is flying by!! How are Christmas decorations already up?? Dan and I are debating on getting a Christmas tree…I personally think it’s a hassle and am not super gung-ho on Christmas decorating, so we’ll see ;)

Okay here are some great links for you to read today!

Featured: Quick (better than nothing) Treadmill Workout – Comfy Confident

Quick-Treadmill-Workout

 

Sometimes, you only have 20 minutes. But that’s still better than nothing. This is a great treadmill workout to try out. I’d probably also add in some different inclines if you want to make it even more challenging!

Do you run outside in the winter or resort to the treadmill? Or not run at all? Because last winter I didn’t run whatsoever :-P

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10-22-2014

Add Pull Exercises To Your Routine

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

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

Add These Back Workouts To Your Routine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MY FAVORITE PULL EXERCISES

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

Negative pull-ups

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

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

Seated row

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite pull exercise?

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10-03-2014

Pin It Party!

Lindsay of The Lean Green Bean is hosting a Pin It Party today which I’m really excited for. I love Pinterest and could spend hours perusing different categories. I don’t know what’s gotten into me but the past few days I’ve been pinning like crazy.

The rules of the Pin It Party are that you link to 5 of your blog posts (which have a pinnable image) that you’d like others to pin, you link up to her page, and then you pin other people’s content as well. Here’s the first roundup I did for one of Lindsay’s Pin It Parties.

Okay so here are my 5 posts…pin away…and thanks in advance!

Hansons Marathon Method ReviewHansons Marathon Method Review

I followed this training plan for my first marathon and even though it was tough, really enjoyed it. Hint: it includes a lot of running.

How To Avoid Hitting The WallWays To Avoid Hitting The Wall

Speaking of marathon training…here are a few ways to not bonk in your next race!

Different Types Of Squats7 Different Types Of Squats

I outlined various types of squats to incorporate into your routine. Barbell squats are my favorite.

Bust A PlateauCrush A Plateau

Stuck in a rut? Here are a few ways to get out of it. One of my favorite ways is adding in 1.5 reps into sets.

Coconut Protein BitesCoconut Peanut Butter Protein Bites

Best. snack. ever.

Head on over to Lindsay’s page to see other blogger’s content and pin some good stuff! And of course add your own link! If you do, leave a comment here with your link so I can add your stuff to my boards :)

Let’s end with a random question: Would you rather be able to fly…or read minds? I think I’d choose fly.

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10-02-2014

Why You Should Keep A Training Log

Do you track your training – whether it’s lifting, running, cycling, etc.? If not…you should!

Using a training log helps you keep track of your progress. I love being able to look on old notes to see how far I’ve come, as well as what I’ve lost or what weaknesses to work on. For example, a few months ago I can look back and see that I couldn’t do any unassisted pull-ups. Well, now I can do 4.5. Though not in a row…I need a 1-2 min. break in between each one, but still ;)

I keep a training log when it comes to my lifting AND my running. So I want to talk about how you can use one for both of these different activities.

Training LogPhoto Credit: Jonathan Rubio via Compfight cc

RUNNING LOG

There are many ways to keep track of your running. You can use a good ol’ notebook, or online tools like Google docs or Daily Mile. I try to keep up with Daily Mile but I’m really bad at updating it.

Benefits of keeping a training log for running are:

  • You’re able to see how consistent you are with training (or inconsistent which has happened to me).
  • If you’re a numbers person, seeing increasing mileage and paces can help motivate you
  • You can track how you feel on runs. If you have been feeling a certain way on certain runs, write it down. You may see patterns.
  • You can track amount of time spent running, as well as cross training and lifting.
  • Once the season is over, you can review your log and see what you did well vs. what you can work on next season.

The tool I work with is Google docs, because that’s what Coach Marc has me use. His training log is seriously awesome. I am able to see my year in review, my training plan, and each month broken down into miles I’ve ran (based on what I put in obviously).

He has a notes section where I can write how I felt in each run (which he reviews to tweak my plan as time goes on). It’s so funny reading notes from my 2011 log before my first marathon. And also funny to see how my training has progressed so much since then.

Here’s a screenshot of the “year in review” section:

training log
I think it’s cool you can see previous months AND years miles. This version of his is newer from the ones I was using since 2011 which is why my yearly miles don’t show up.

Oh also, you can input what shoes you wear so you can track how many miles they have. No more forgetting when to replace your shoes!

Each month tab on the bottom allows you to input your miles, pace, shoes work, notes and more. See below:

running log
Pretty cool right? The cooler thing is you don’t have to be coached by Marc to have access to this training log. He sells them on his site. He also has a special offer for you all: if you buy the 2015 log, he’ll give you the 2014 log for free, so you’ll be set for the rest of this year and next year. Just mention my blog in the comments of his order form :)

Even if you don’t order one, start using a running log for yourself. You may be surprised at the results, and you may even improve your running! Make sure to track miles, type of run, pace, how you felt and what sneakers you wore.

Lifting Log

Okay so you don’t run? No problem. A log is just as important in strength training…maybe even more important. You don’t want to be one of those people who goes to the gym day in and day out, does the same workout, and never sees results, right? Not keeping a training log can lead to a plateau.

Here are the benefits of keeping a lifting log:

  • You can track what weights you use for every exercise. This means as the weeks go by you can steadily increase your weight, as opposed to forgetting what weights you used for what, or staying at the same weight.
  • You can track what workouts/exercises you do on certain days.
  • You can track sets, reps, and tempo. If you’ve done the same number of sets and reps for 4 weeks, it’s time to switch it up.
  • You can write notes about how you felt during lifting sessions. For example, I write down “felt good” so I know that the following week I need to increase my weights. Or I write “Stay” which means to stay at the current weight I’m using because it’s challenging.

For my lifting log I am old school and go with a notebook and pen. I have a small notepad I bring to the gym, but then I transpose everything when I get home to my bigger notebook. Yes I could use an app or the Note app on my phone but I like pen and paper for this.

Here’s what my lifting log looks like:

PS – the middle row is my brother’s weights. I wish I could bench 75 lbs.

Anyways, the information I like to write down is the exercise (and what exercise it was paired with in a set), number of sets, number of reps, tempo if I’m using one, and weights. On the right you see I have W,R,W,R repeated (for weight and rep). That denotes the number of sets. This is my system to remember how many reps I did on a certain set, because if I get to the last one and can only do 8 reps as opposed to 10, I need to remember that for next week. Did all that blabbering just make sense?

I looked up strength training log and a lot of things came up. Find one that works for you. I haven’t used this tool, but BodyBuilding.com offers a custom log creation tool. Check it out!

No matter what your workout is, keeping a log is important. Even if you don’t care about numbers or stats, wouldn’t it be cool to look back in a few years and see how much progress you’ve made? It’s almost like a diary (oh man I don’t even want to read my middle school diary). I look back on my first lifting logs ever and see that I could barely dumbbell press 10 lbs. That makes me feel awesome about how far I’ve come.

Do you keep a training log? Did you keep a diary as a kid? :-P

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09-30-2014

What We Can Learn From Shalane Flanagan’s American Record Attempt

This past weekend, Shalane Flanagan went for the American Record at the Berlin Marathon. She needed to run below a 2:19:36 (crazy town). Although she didn’t get it, she did run a 2:21:14, and ran 48 seconds faster than her personal best.

Shalane FlanaganPhoto source

In April, she also ran the Boston Marathon (I was there!), and led most of the way, running at a blistering pace. She didn’t win, but she ran the fastest time an American woman has run at Boston, and many of the women who ran that race (and who ran Berlin), ran PRs.

The winner of the Boston Marathon, Rita Jeptoo, ran a course record that day (by almost two minutes!!). Furthermore, the second and third place females also ran under the course record.

So what’s my point? My point is that elite runners are able to break through mental barriers. When Shalane set a pace, other women went after it no fear. They knew they were running faster than their personal record pace but went for it anyway. That’s why so many ran below the fastest course time in Boston. They didn’t doubt their abilities.

Here’s a great quote Shalane gave in an interview about Rita Jeptoo in that race:

Rita gave me credit again at the awards ceremony that night, and credited me with her record run and she said she actually didn’t want to run that fast early on, and I think she was a bit frustrated. But she told me she couldn’t let me go. If she gave me any room, she may not make it up. It was too much of a gamble, so she just had to stick with the pace.

Shalane is known for racing hard and “wanting to hurt” in races. She’s not afraid to go out fast. All of these elites aren’t afraid of going out fast and working for it. I want that kind of grit when it comes to racing, especially in longer distances.

PS – She was aiming for 5:19 mile splits when trying to get that American Record. So crazy to me!!

I admire that she laid it all on the line and told the media exactly what her goals were. Sometimes I’m afraid to do that for fear of not meeting those goals, or being WAY off.

I want to learn how to be mentally strong in races like those elite runners. Running really is a mental sport.

Sure, in marathons (and in training) your legs get tired and achy, but sometimes it really is all about your mental fortitude. Can you push through and ignore your body being tired? When you start thinking, “I can’t do this,” can you immediately stop and switch your mentality?

In future races I’m going to think back on Shalane’s races and be motivated to push through. A good analogy I read recently was this: Squeeze your fist as hard as you can. Now squeeze harder. You could squeeze harder couldn’t you? Same thing goes for pushing your body. You can probably push harder when you think you can’t.

Now I’m really pumped for my next 5K and especially my half marathon in November!!

Have you watched any of Shalane’s recent races? She is one of my main running inspirations!

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09-23-2014

5 Reasons To Use The Treadmill

If you’re like me, you hate the treadmill…or the “dreadmill.” But sometimes, there are reasons to use the treadmill where it can help your running. Just make sure you’ve got a good playlist so you don’t get bored ;)

Reasons To Use The Treadmill
Photo Credit: MilitaryHealth via Compfight cc

Hill sprints. Treadmills are a great way to get in hill sprints if you live in a flat area. Even if you don’t, I doubt you have abundant hills at 10% incline in your area (well, at least I don’t). I love getting on the treadmill to do hill sprints of varying inclines and speeds. This one is my favorite and only takes about 10 minutes!

It’s safer. Recently, I’ve unfortunately read about more and more runners being attacked while running or hit by vehicles. It scares me to think that anything can happen while I’m out for a run. Not only this, but now that it’s fall, it means it will be getting darker out. Stay safe by wearing reflective gear if you must run outside.

Track workouts. I’m not a huge fan of running in the winter. Which is probably why I took such a long break after NYC Marathon :) I just hate the cold. I wish it could be fall all year. So therefore, I do my track workouts on the treadmill. You can also use the treadmill if you have trouble pacing yourself in workouts. Set the pace and run the intervals. It may help you internalize the pace and learn how to run with even pacing.

Running with a partner. I’m lucky in that my mom runs the same pace as I do, but if you have a workout or gym buddy, the treadmills make it convenient to run together. No more worrying about keeping up with the other person or slowing down for the other person.

Simulate a race course. Whether it’s the winter months or you don’t like in an area similar to your course, the treadmill can help you run a course exactly (well, almost) like your race course. For me, I don’t like near any flat land. Anywhere I run will have hills. So running on a treadmill can help me learn what it’s like to run on flat land for an extended period. Vice versa if you have no hills near you or hills like those on the Boston Marathon course.

As much as I don’t like running on a treadmill, it does have it’s advantages when it comes to certain things. I don’t mind doing hill intervals on them, in fact, it’s one of my favorite gym workouts to do after a lifting session. One day when I have a home gym, I know I’ll also have a treadmill for convenience.

What do you think about running on the treadmill? I have a friend who can run for an hour+ no problem. How?!?

Have you ever tried simulating a course?

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09-18-2014

10 Things To Do Before & After Your Next Track Workout

Track workouts are awesome…at least in my opinion. I soooo much rather prefer a track workout over a long run.

Whether you’re a beginner runner or not, we could all use these reminders before our next track workout. I’m the worst with warming up and cooling down, but recently I’ve had my cross country runners going through a certain routine, which has made me want to “practice what I preach.”

Track Workout Tips

BEFORE

Eat something. Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank to do the work. Nothing is more frustrating (to me at least) than being pumped for a workout but stopping or slowing down halfway because I feel lightheaded or weak. Make sure to eat a good meal or snack beforehand, depending on what time you’re doing the workout.

Warm-up. If you’re anything like me, you slack on the warm-up before runs. You just get up and go…well I do. And hey, Jenny Simpson told me she does too ;) But the warm-up is so important when it comes to doing any type of speed workout. You want your muscles and joints to be primed for the action. They need to be warm and loose. Coach Marc usually has me doing a 1 mile warm up before any sort of workout.

Do a dynamic warm-up. Okay, so you did your 1 mile warm-up. But you’re not ready to go yet. Now it’s time for dome dynamic movements. I have my cross-country team do a series of moves before a workout or meet, which I wrote about here. This includes A-skips, butt kicks, mummy walks, cariocas and more. When I was personal training, I had clients go through these movements as well. It’s another way to get your joints ready and loosen up the muscles through your range of motion.

Strides. Before a workout or race I like to do a few strides, or pick-ups. Once again, it just helps loosen you up a bit and get you acclimated to that faster speed you’re about to run. Do anywhere from 3-5 for about 50 meters. Marc has me do them after runs too just do get in a little speed at the end of a run.

AFTER

Cool down. I actually hate the cool down more than the warm up. When I’m done with a hard effort, all I want to do is go home and collapse on the floor or couch. But a cool down is so important for your muscles and heart. It gradually brings your heart rate back down and will prevent your muscles from tightening up or being too sore the next day. I usually do anywhere from a half mile to a mile cool down after workouts. Pace doesn’t matter!

Stretching. Once you’re done with your cool down, it’s time for some stretching and more dynamic stretches. Before getting into static stretches, I have my runners do some mummy walks and skips. It helps get everything flowing and also stretches the muscles. Once you’re done, go through a stretching routine. I switch it up between certain yoga routines or my own routine, but stretches I always do are calf stretches, quad stretches, pigeon pose, and hamstring stretches.

Hydrate. This one is obvious right? You just had a hard effort. Drink some water!!

Protein. Within 30 minutes of any workout, whether it’s running or lifting, you should be eating a recovery meal or drink. If I’m having a shake, I have PlantFusion, which is my all-time favorite protein powder. Getting in protein right away will help with muscle recovery, which means you’ll be ready to go (and stronger) or your next workout.

Pre-hab or rehab. If you have a nagging ache or pain like I do (shins), speed workouts may make it worse. My shins are always sore after track or tempo workouts. Monitor yourself for any sort of pain and do the proper rehab right away. Don’t wait! For example, I had a track workout two days ago and right when I got home I made sure to massage my calves and shins with Biofreeze.

Foam roll. This kind of goes with the pre-hab, but while you’re watching TV after a workout, get on the foam roller or tennis ball. Your muscles will probably be tight, and a foam roller will help work out those knots. You don’t want to be tight for your next track workout! I love sitting on a tennis ball and self-massaging my glutes…even though it hurts SO much.

I just did a track workout on Tuesday and I felt awesome! Coach had me doing 8×400 and I told him I felt on fire!! 

When’s your next track workout? What kind of warm-up do you do beforehand?

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09-17-2014

Health & Fitness Links To Get You Through The Day

Feeling so tired today. Ever have those weeks where you just need like 1 day to sleep in and catch up? That’s how I’m feeling this week. Oh well…gotta keep trucking along! At least it’s already Wednesday :)

I have some great info for you all today, so when you have some downtime, take a look!

Featured: Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Balls (Nutritious Eats)

OatmealRaisinCookieDoughBall++-590x826

These look so good! I have made similar “protein balls” in the past, and I can attest to the fact that they taste like a cookie or sweet treat, when in reality they are much healthier. Doesn’t take long to make at all!

  • Ultra Fluffy Vanilla Pumpkin Chickpea Pancakes (Strength & Sunshine) – I’m currently all about pumpkin so I need to make these. I’ve never actually had pumpkin in anything other than coffee :-P
  • 18 Spiralized Recipes (Side of Sneakers) – I have been loving spiralized zucchini lately. I use my Veggetti which works well and is small so it’s easy to store. Except yesterday I accidentally sliced my finger in it =(
  • Killer Legs & Glutes (Fighting For Wellness) – This looks like a great lower body workout. I love swiss ball leg curls.
  • Better Than Takeout Chicken Fried Rice (Eat Pray Run DC) – I actually haven’t had takeout in forever, which now has me craving takeout. Perhaps I’ll have to make this for dinner this week!

Have you used a spiralizer? What are your favorite veggies to use?

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