Friday, November 29, 2013

Fitness Friday: 2nd Annual Chilly Challenge

Happy (Black) Friday. I'm guessing many of you laced up your running shoes and hit the Black Friday sales in the wee hours this morning. Hopefully, you at least had time to digest your Thanksgiving meal before racing around to the stores.

Not me! I enjoy sleeping in when I'm at the in-laws, but I am going for a nice little fun run later. And I'm planning on lacing up my brand new pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 17 sent to me by my favorite Mizuno Running buddy Lori Ann to try out.

Before I go, I want to tell you how you can win a pair of Wave Rider 17s for yourself. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you already know that I love daily challenges almost as much as I love my Mizunos. This year, I used those challenges as inspiration for the 2nd Annual Chilly Challenge.

Here is a calendar of the daily challenges! I look forward to seeing your Instagram pictures or videos.

Update: link to calendar download here.

Who's in for the Chilly Challenge this year?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WIAW: My Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Tomorrow I will be celebrating my first Thanksgiving...gluten free. It should actually be pretty easy since there are several family members who have been GF for a while now, but I'm going to add some GF options to the menu myself.

For an appetizer, I will be preparing gluten free crab dip. A good friend of mine in Cincinnati gave me this recipe and I've made it for years. Now, I just make sure to buy GF ingredients.

A new recipe I'll be trying is gluten free stuffing. I found a couple of great looking recipes here and here, but I will be trying the one that I found posted by my fellow FitFluential Ambassador and Mizuno lover Krysten on her blog The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail.

In addition to the appetizer and side dish, I'll be bringing along some gluten free brownies that I picked up at a local g-free bakery. They are soooo big!

What item on the menu is your favorite to eat? to make?
Are you avoiding any foods this year?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Training Truths: Out with Old and in with the Cold

Starting over is hard. It's hard not to think about what I used to be able to do before I went and got injured. Last week I realized that comparing myself to other HEALTHY runners was only making me unhappy. So instead I tried to embrace the season and be thankful for what I can do and remind myself that I am re-training my body the right way.

So, I worked to push out the thoughts of "the old days" and was rewarded by the arrival of colder weather. My body runs better in the colder temperatures, so I am thankful to have cold day runs as I focus on slowly rebuilding my mileage base.

Monday: Started another week of the #squatstreak with some squat kicks added in from the #sweataday challenge. I'm also doing one minute wall sits on my non-running days to strengthen my quads.

Tuesday: Colder temps arrived just in time for this two mile run. This was my second run trying to focus on starting slow and getting a good one mile warm up before picking up the pace and hopefully hitting an average pace of 9:30. (10:12, 9:16 = 9:43)

Wednesday: Another round of Active Relase Therapy with the PT. He's still focusing on some adductors and now my ITB. Came home to some new toys from mrC. I told you he was the greatest!

Thursday: Another cold two mile run, and more work on my pacing (9:59, 8:54 = 9:26). Maybe a little too fast coming back. I don't think I could hold that pace for long.

Friday: Long. day. Didn't get home until after 7PM. Took the night off except for my #squatstreak.

Saturday: My visit to the booty barre left me longing for another full body workout, so I reserved a board and went urban surfing. This class had tons of ab work and planks. My arms and abs were so tired afterwards. I also burned 471 calories according to my Polar FT40

Sunday: After waking to a surprise first snowfall, mrC. suggested we head to the Manchester Trail for our run. It was a seriously cold and windy 4 miles, but my legs were super toasty in my Athleta Polartec tights. I'm happy with my average pace, but I still need to work on starting slower (9:25, 9:36, 9:45, 9:32 = 9:35).

If you could get rid of something "old", what would it be and why?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fitness Friday: Booty Barre Recap

If I was thinking that Becki, owner and instructor of Strength in Balance NH, was going to go easy on us at the Booty Barre Blog & Tweet event, I was proved WRONG! But I'm totally ok with that!

The Strength in Balance NH Barre Fitness Studio is located at Z Club in the old mill buildings on Factory Street in Nashua and is the first barre fitness studio in southern NH. This total body workout is a mix of dance, yoga, Pilates and balance.

Becki got us warmed up quickly with some arm and leg strength work in the middle of the room. Using two pound hand weights seems like nothing at first, but by the end warm up I had to put them down and go through the motions without them.

After the "warm up", Becki moved us over to the barre for the bar/ballet part of the class. She would show us the exercise in small parts first and then put it all together. The balanced moves made my legs literally shake!

These barre workouts would be interrupted briefly for some open floor cardio like burpees and mountain climbers to get the heart pumping before heading back to the barre.

Janine, Allie, Amber and Candra

Just when I thought I was mastering the barre moves, we busted out the blue sponge balls. Yikes! The goal was to squeeze it between our legs while doing squats and behind our knee while doing leg lifts.

Lastly, we moved to the mats for some core work similar to Pilates moves but using the barre. I liked these exercises better than regular Pilates class moves because it felt easier to control what my core was doing.

Class ended with a good dose of stretching which felt so amazing after the complete burn I had just put my body through. Despite feeling spent, I was all smiles!

I wish I lived closer to Nashua because I would make Booty Barre class one of my regular cross training workouts. I loved the high energy, loud music, open and roomy studio. Becki was awesome about walking around, checking our forms, and correcting when necessary. It was a fun and challenging class, which it makes it totally worth the time.

Strength in Balance NH offers a wide variety of classes designed for all levels, so there's no excuse not to try it.

Have you tried barre? What do you think?

Special thanks to Becki for hosting us all for the Blog & Tweet event. We attended the class free of charge, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIAW: Chocolate Protein Puffed Rice Bites

My favorite post-workout snack is a little ball of chocolate. Literally. Normally I'm not a chocolate kind of person, but sometimes a little bite of peanut butter, chocolate, and crispy just hits the spot.

I'm a big fan of Lindsay Cotter and her delicious Healthy Bites. In fact it was her Muddy Buddy Mochas that started my interest in little bite sized post workout treats.

I've learned over the years that it is important to consume some protein within 30 minutes of a hard workout because it aids muscle recovery and also prevents over-eating later (my biggest problem). The (other) problem for me is that I usually don't feel like eating anything right away.

After ordering some Healthy Bites and then purchasing her recipe eBook, I was inspired to create my own bites. I thought about some of the chocolate candy bars that I've liked over the years and sometimes crave as a little snack: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and 100 Grand Bars were at the top of my list. 

After jotting down the recipe, I got right to work. Not only was I excited to see how my own creation would turn out, but ever since going GF, I have so much more energy! Most Sundays you can find me wearing my "Chef's hat" and going a little crazy with projects in the kitchen. Ok, back to the treats...I tossed all the ingredients into a bowl and started mixing it up.

After mixing all the ingredients together, I rolled the mixture into 1.5 inch balls (approximately) and placed them on wax paper before putting into the freezer.

About an hour later, my new bites were ready to try. The puffed rice wasn't as crispy as a candy bar, but they are absolutely yummy!

Disclaimer: I did not claim my recipe to be healthy, but it is gluten-free. Enjoy!

What's your favorite post-workout snack?

Today I'm linking up again with Jen from Peas and Crayons. Don't forget to take a look at a ton of other awesome recipes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Training Truths: Rebuilding the Runner in Me

Let me start by sharing the results of the fitness calendars giveaway. The winners are:

Presley - Complete Runner's Day-By-Day Calendar Log
Allie - Runner's High 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar

Check your inbox for an email from me!

Last week I continued to rebuild the runner in me. I'm at day 49 of my #squatstreak and I added a few days of wall sits also. The #sweataday challenge has been getting a little tougher, but I'm using the modifications and pushing to increase my upper body strength. Fortunately the mini-workouts often include upper body exercises, like the reverse burpees I tried on Friday.

See that terrible form? Time to build up some strength!

Monday - I started the day with a nice two mile run with my veteran. I decided to go back to avoiding hills until all the muscles in my hamstring and quad are back to 100%. This "flat" out and back was much speedier than I expected, but felt good.

Wednesday - After 30 minutes of ART, I learned that my IT band is tight. Now I have a new stretch to add to my routine and more reason to stay focused on strengthening my hips and glutes.

Thursday - I ran two miles after school on the same route as Monday and felt awesome. Again, I was speedier than I expected which felt good, but I'm pretty sure that I need to continue to restore the base mileage first.

Saturday - mr.C joined me for a 3.5 mile run along the river. I was very happy with my run, and even though I went out too fast, I managed to reign myself in and almost hit my goal pace of 9:30. Afterwards I tested out some new trail shoes for a review.

Sunday - I joined up with the NH Bloggers and Tweeters at Strength in Balance NH for Booty Barre class and I had a blast! Like SurfSet this class is a great cross training option. This class was a perfect strength session with tons of stretching (especially the hips) worked in.

You know I like a good reward challenge and logging miles to win prizes is about as easy as it gets. I was recently contacted by Nick from the National Running Challenge - a challenge that rewards you for running races. The NRC is basically a series challenge that assigns points for the miles you run in races. You submit your races during the current series. At the end of a series, winners are chosen. You can learn more here. Even though I'm not running many races right now, I know a lot of friends who are piling on the miles and would probably win some prizes!

What are you rebuilding?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fitness Friday: Giving Thanks, Runner Style

Of course I'm thankful for my wonderful family, our heath and home, our jobs, and our friends. Since it is the season for gratitude, I thought it would be appropriate to show my appreciation for the things that make my running life better.

Running buddy husband: I don't know what I would do without this guy. He might not be "jolly jogger" all the time, but he has supported me through all my training and helped me through being sidelined with injury. I probably still owe him big time for running the BAA Half Marathon with me (when neither one of us was prepared) just so I could get some bling!

PT Brian: My Physical Therapist is the best because 1) he knows what he is doing 2) he listens to my complaints/symptoms 3) he married an Ohio girl - like me, oh wait, that shouldn't matter! 4) he's a master at Active Release Therapy and it works!

My foam roller: Since running that half marathon under-undertrained, I have been faithfully foam rolling every morning. Not only does it help loosen up my tight muscles and release tension, it is also great for a good back cracking and opening up the rib cage.

Good running shoes: I'm grateful that I found Mizuno. The company boasts that you will find mezamashii, a brilliant run, in their shoes and they mean it. My Mizunos have helped me become a better runner because the shoes make running easy, and when it's easy, it's fun.

By the way, have you seen the Mezamashii Run Project video I filmed in Atlanta yet?

Under Armour Challenge: These monthly challenges saved me from going crazy during my non-running injured-runner days. Now that I'm addicted, the daily exercise helps me stay focused on keeping myself strong and shows me how easy it is to fit in a mini-workout every damn day. Plus they have great rewards!

What's on your fitness gratitude list?

Why not show yourself or a running buddy some appreciation and enter to win a fitness calendar? More details here! Giveaway ends at midnight November 17, 2013.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Training Truths: Getting In Tune

Last week I found myself getting back in tune with my body. Trying to stick to the 10% mileage increase rule, I upped my weekly mileage slowly and paid close attention to which part of my thigh was achey, and then attacked it with the foam roller! After my runs I also made time to stretch with my yoga for runners app.

The #squatstreak continued, but I found a new favorite version thanks to Shauna Harrison and the Under Armour #SweatADay challenge: in & outs. After doing 50 basic squats every day for the last 40 days, the in & out squats woke up some gluteus muscles that apparently had been snoozing through the traditional ones.

Tuesday's two miles outside will probably mark the end of running in shorts, but I welcome the cold weather. I stayed on the flattest route from my driveway and kept the hamstring happy.

I was feeling pretty sore after my ART session at PT on Wednesday, so Thursday's two mile treadmill run motivated by the rainy weather was fortuitous. With the pace nice and easy, I focused on my form.

Saturday's "long" run of three miles was my best run of the week. It was my longest post-injury run on a hilly route which in the past would aggravate my hamstring, but it finally felt really good.

On Sunday we welcomed another half marathoner to the household. My step-daughter ran the Seacoast Half and we were there to cheer her across the finish line.

It was an exciting week and I like what my body is saying. What has your body been telling you lately?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fitness Calendar Review + {giveaway}

As a member of a fitness blogger review network, I was sent copies of some upcoming 2014 fitness titles to review. I was super excited to see that they were running related and quickly noted that they would make excellent gifts for runners.

Complete Runner's Day-by Day Calendar Log: This is a year long training journal that includes logs for easy tracking and offers tips for all levels of running. 

The journal pages allow you to record daily mileage, race details, and more. Each month you'll find tips to keep you motivated. Even the most electronically driven runner will enjoy looking back at the stats from the previous years' log.

Runner's High 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar: This is your standard desktop tear-off calendar.

The daily pages offer fun facts, motivational tips, and quirky race day moments. This would look great on a runner's desk or kitchen counter.

I'm happy to announce that the publisher has generously offered to let me host a giveaway of these titles! 

The giveaway includes: 
- 1 copy of Complete Runner's Day-by Day Calendar Log 
- 1 copy of  Runner's High 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar

To enter: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway details:
- Winners must be US residents
- Ends November 16, 2013 at 11:59 PM
- Two names will be selected randomly from the valid entries. First name will win Complete Runner's Day-by Day Calendar Log. Second name will win Runner's High 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gluten Free Crock Pot Chili and Pilates & More with Elina

Last week I met up with the NH Bloggers & Tweeters group for the monthly Blog & Tweet event, but not before having a bowl of my husband's delicious wheat-free crock pot chili.

He has masterfully created a yummy chili recipe that simmers in the crock pot for about 5 hours:

2 pounds browned hamburg
2 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 can green chiles
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can dark red kidney beans

I add crackers to my chili and like Glutino gluten free original crackers the best.

The October Blog & Tweet event was a Pilates Fitness Class at Pilates & More with Elina in Manchester. Pilates is a conditioning routine meant to help build flexibility and strength. It's a great cross training option for runners.

Pilates & More with Elina is located in the old mills buildings of downtown Manchester. Parking was free and easy, but finding my way to the studio inside the building was just the start of the adventure.

The studio, which opened in September, was a cozy space with hard wood floors that easily accommodated our group of seven.

Elina, who has 19 years fitness experience, greeted us right away and after filling out some paperwork, she led us to the Pilates mats we would be using for the class.

The 45 minute Beginner's Mat class was a mix of beginner Pilates moves put together as a sequential series and a lot of giggling. That's what happens when you put a group of girls together!

Photo credit to Janine

Some of the Pilates exercises involved a good stretch at the end, which felt awesome after Elina pushed us to do more repetitions. Even though we were not moving around a lot, I could feel my muscles tiring from the repetition or holding of positions. I wish I had remembered to wear my Polar Heart Rate monitor because I would love to know how many calories I burned in this class!

In addition to the Beginner's Mat class, Elina explained to the group at the end of the session that she also offers several other classes:

Cardilates - low impact cardio and Pilates with music
Bandilates - Pilates with resistance bands
Rehabilitation - Focus on range of motion and stretching

Pilates & More with Elina offers a range of pricing options from $15 drop in rates to packages and private sessions.

I've done Pilates before and had forgotten what a great workout it is. It was a nice change from the high energy workouts that I've become accustomed to doing. Thanks again to Allie and Janine for organizing our monthly Blog & Tweet events.

And special thanks to Elina for hosting our crazy Blog & Tweet NH group!

me, Amber, Sarah, Allie, Kathy, Karlene, Elina, and Janine

Have you ever done Pilates? What do you think?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Training Truths & #GoalGetter2013 October Update

Wow! October really flew by.

The truth is: I spent much of the month nursing my injuries and woking on strength training, but I also ran another race! As for working toward the remainder of my 2013 goals, it has been good and not-so-good.

I knocked off my first two goals for the year, PR Half marathon and Run in NYC at the New York City Half Marathon in March. It was awesome! I was not expecting to PR, so earning my current best time of 1:57:27 was super exciting. I can't wait to be healthy again and see if I can beat it.

The truth is I would be ok with keeping that PR

Another one of my 2013 goals is to host a fun run. I have put together a couple of group runs in honor of Boston and National Running Day, but I am hoping to organize something bigger and better still to come.

The truth is I would love for this to happen before the end of the year, I just don't know now as I'm still recovering from my injuries.

I added a little mileage to my goal to run 1000 miles and most of that came from pushing through the BAA Half Marathon with the help of my amazing runner husband. After the race, I really went into recovery mode and have been playing it smart as I ease back.

The truth is I really began running again last week. I ran an easy mile on Monday, two miles on the treadmill on Tuesday, and two miles on Saturday. I'm determined to take things slow and get healthy in November. 

My running injury continued to allow me to focus on doing strength exercises consistently and a couple of challenges helped with that. The Under Armour October #SweatADay Challenge hosted by Shauna Harrison and the October #SweatFor5 by ElectraFi showed me new exercises and helped me work on my overall body strength. On Tuesday I also attended Pilates with Elina and really worked on my strength. Recap coming soon!

The truth is my core is the strongest it's been since I was a kid playing high school and college soccer. When I nailed the crow pose (even for only 3 seconds) last week I was so proud of my 42 year old self!

What's your training truth?