Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Running and 3 Non-running Products I Love

Running in New England has been such a treat. I've been enjoying long sleeves, capris, and all the COLOR!

Then yesterday was rainy in NJ, so I used the fitness center here at the hotel for the first time. The treadmills have workout programs, so I selected a 4:1 interval workout. Usually the workouts are 30 minutes long. This one was 60! I happily completed 6 miles and then put in a good stretching session.

When I set out for my #runstreak mile this morning, I was disappointed to see the temperature was back up in the high 60s. It's a gorgeous fall day, but for running, I would rather see 40s. I run better in the cold.

Afterwards, I did a 30 minute strength session in the fitness center. It's equipped with free weights, medicine balls, and a Bosu ball. I mixed up some arms and legs with little spurts of cardio like we did at Boot Camp on Saturday. I might have been a little excited about the Bosu ball though; I felt a little tweak in my left hamstring, so I stopped.

Switching gears, I wanted to share three products that I am loving right now (and I'm stocking up on while in the US).

Keep Me Clean Facial Wipes: I have talked about these before, but they are so good that I'm still talking abut them. I use them daily, but they are perfect for post workouts when I can't shower right away. I've used other brands, but these do not leave my face feeling dried out. I can usually find them at Ulta.

Clinique Moisture Surge: I started using this in China when I bought a makeup bag and found free samples inside. I love the cool feeling when I apply it, which is especially refreshing in tropical China, but also after a good workout. I have normal skin and this does not make my skin greasy.

Aquage Straightening Ultragel: I was just introduced to this at the salon when I got my last color & cut, and it is amazing! I straighten my hair and this cuts the time in half. Plus, it doesn't leave my hair feeling sticky or crunchy the way I other "gels" have in the past and it works by using just a small amount (which is saying a lot because I have a ton of hair!).

Do you like Fall weather?
Any awesome products you are using right now?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hanging Out in NH: GMMRTT, SurfSet, & Trails

Wow! Time flies when you're having fun! 

After landing in New Jersey last Wednesday, mrC and I spent a day and a half letting our bodies get used to being back in the USA.  On Friday I hopped on another plane for a short flight to New Hampshire for a long weekend visit.

I started the weekend with a Girl's Night Out with MRTT. We pretty much took over an entire room at the Bedford Village Inn tavern. I haven't seen these women in person since we were home in August, but because we interact so much in the Facebook group it felt like I'd never been gone. 

After dinner, some of us braved the chilly NH night to hang out by the fire pit. It was a great night!

On Saturday I headed to TI Fitness for some Boot Camp and SurfSet. Although I keep busy in China with running, biking, hiking, yoga, and Zumba, nothing compares to a good full body cardio workout. 

Boot Camp was broken into two parts: first we were on the floor obstacle course style and then on the ledge (which you can't really see in the picture). On the floor we ran, shuffled, zig-zagged, and jumped while mixing in some strength exercises that we pulled from a box. For example after going through the floor course we did 20 reverse flies. On the ledge we focused on step-ups, jumps, triceps dips. Stuff like that. It was awesome! 

The 30 minute SurfSet class was fast paced and challenged my body in every way. I miss these classes so much because it's such a fun way to get sweaty and it's the only way I ever did strength. I'm struggling with that in China.

On Sunday morning I hit the trail for a MRTT group run. I ran a lot of miles on the rail trails in New Boston, Goffstown, and Manchester before moving. I've been watching the progress of improvements via Facebook, so I was super excited to see first hand the newly finished bridge connecting Manchester to Goffstown. 

The weather almost didn't cooperate, but the skies dried up just in time for the group to hit the trail. 

After fitness class on Saturday I raided Runner's Alley for some new running shoes. The Mizuno Wave Rider 19s are so much lighter and softer than my old shoes (which were overdue for replacement) and I love how Feetures socks just mold to me feet. 

Between the cooler temps, the trail, and my new gear, running the 5.3 miles felt amazing. 

Do you do non-running things with your running group?

What was the last pair of running shoes you bought? I'm loving my new Mizuno Wave Rider 19

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

9 Instagram Truths

This post is being written while also trying to pack for our upcoming trip back to the US. mrC has some work stuff to do and I'm tagging along!

If you follow me on Instagram (if not, you can here), you might have already seen these photos, but today you'll get a little more of the true story behind each one.

From left to right starting at the top:

1. Friday morning mrC was on a trip so I headed out for my #runstreak mile. The colors of the sky are beautiful, but I've been noticing more foggy smoggy-ness creeping in and I don't like it.

2. Heart rate monitor shot after taking 60 minute Pilates class. I really want to take pictures during class because my classmates are so strong and flexible, but it seems inappropriate. Calorie burn is the next best thing.

3. mrC was back in town and I ambushed him as soon as he woke up to go for a run with me. He conveniently wore a semi-pinkish shirt that I made work for breast cancer awareness, even though I questioned his choice before we left. 

4. The view from our awesome 14km hike on Sunday in Hong Kong. We were only at the top for about 15 minutes. I wanted to spend more time at the top, but now I'll just have to go back to explore more.

5. Back from our 12 hour hiking trip, I still did my daily run. One night mile along the waterfront. I was nervous about running in the dark (afraid I might step in something left behind by one of the lovely Chinese dog owners), but there were tons of people out and I didn't step in anything :)

6. My newest Fitbit award! I paced around the apartment for about 2 minutes to reach 30,000 when I saw how close I was and it was almost cut-off time.

7. mrC was picked up for his trip at 4:20AM and I tossed and turned after he left. When I finally got up to do my daily mile before meeting the hiking group, I was tired and even a little cranky. 10 minutes in my running shoes changes everything.

8. The we-made-it-to-the-top hiking group picture. The picture is taken by a local Chinese park employee and he likes to take a bunch of pictures. There are 7 different countries represented in the photo.

9. On today's run I practiced using a breathing pattern again. A reader recommended 4:2 exhale/inhale. It works pretty good, but sometimes I like to take deep breaths and it messes up the rhythm. This pic is from the end of my run when I was feeling a little tired. It was a great spot to take a MRTT #runfie and catch a little break.

There you have it. The truth behind my Instagram feed. Not every picture is as perfect as it appears.

See you in the USA!

Have you ever wondered what really happens behind all those Instagram pictures?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

How to Practice Better Running Breathing

I'm pretty sure that running and biking a 10K on Tuesday inspired mrC.

Yesterday, he put on his running shoes and joined me for my #runstreak one miler. 

Before our run, I came across an online article about proper running breathing (here) and it got me thinking. There are times when I run that it feels effortless and other times when I can't seem to do anything except gasp for air. 

Here's the article in a nutshell:

1. Runs are made better when using breathing patterns and patterns can help prevent injury
2. Deep breathing is a powerful tool that delivers much needed oxygen to muscles during a run
3. Breathing is made better through nose and mouth simultaneously
4. Core strength impacts breathing

On my last two runs, I tried it and it's not as easy as it sounds. 

Run #1:
It was a short run and I ran with mrC, so it was hard to maintain a rhythmic pattern. I tried to follow the 2:2 inhale/exhale ratio, but that must work for faster runners. I modified to 4:4 and started to get the hang of it near the end of our mile. I also tried to keep my exhale on my left foot (my weaker leg), but learned my right foot has control issues.

Run #2:
This run was solo and my breathing practice went much better. I still found myself breaking the pattern anytime my mind wandered, but it was easier. The longer run gave me a lot more time to focus on exhaling on my left too. Overall, the 3.5 miles felt easier than my 5K on Tuesday.

I'm optimistic that with more practice it will get easier and my runs will get better.

In other fun news, after wanting to throw-down my bike and stomp it like a pro-wrestler after Tuesday's combined run/bike 10K, mrC offered to take it for a little tune up. Instead he came back with a new bike! Today I took my new luxury bike on a ride around town.

Last night we went to see Chris Botti perform at the the Shenzhen Concert Hall. It was a wonderful show. Not only was the music great, but we were impressed with Chris Botti's interaction with the audience. 

Do you practice rhythmic breathing when you run?
What was the last concert you went to?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Let's Call it, 10K Tuesday!

Tuesday is a regular run day for me. Instead of heading out while mrC was still sleeping, I waited until he woke up and invited him on a little 10K adventure to mark day 10 of my run streak.

First we rode our bikes to Shenzhen Bay Park. My bike has one gear and that one gear is tight and squeaky. Normally I enjoy my bike rides, but today I couldn't wait to get off and run.

After locking my bike and putting my gear in mrC's basket, I set out in my Mizuno Wave Rider 18s and he set out on his bike. He rode next to me for a little while.

And he played paparazzi leap frog, getting in front and behind me.

He kept me company all the way to the end of my 5K run.

After some stretching and water, we rode home to finish our 5K round trip bike ride.

I'm pretty lucky to have a guy like mrC. He indulges my need to run and get outside and then lets me play on the computer while he makes me breakfast. He's the best photographer too!

Do you like non-running company while you run?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Motivation Monday: Seize the Day

I learned today that walking around our tile apartment barefoot might be causing some of my heel pain. I'll just have to spend more time in my Oofos!

That little twinge of heel pain reminded me that injuries are sometimes right around the corner threatening to mess up my fitness plans. As I slipped on my running shoes, I vowed to myself to embrace each moment of my #runstreak. I'm following my doctor's recommendations. I'm running smart. I need to stop worrying.

After my one mile run, I met up with the SWIC hiking group. Today was a great day for climbing the mountain.

Normally after we get to the top and take a group photo we head down to complete the short loop. Today a small group wanted to keep going and do the long loop. I've only done the longer loop once back in May. I didn't have any reason not to join them, so I figured CARPE DIEM!

It was hard. We had already climbed 850 steps and then we kept climbing across the top of the mountain before coming down further away from where we started.

In the end, of course, I had no regrets. Great exercise and great company!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Where I Run: Mermaid Peninsula Loop

No matter where I have lived, I have always had one route that served as my no-planning-just-lace-up-my-shoes-and-go route.

After just 4 months of living in China, I have already found my go-to route. I call it the Mermaid-Peninsula Loop.

My go-to route starts outside the entrance of our apartment complex: Rose Garden.

I follow the sidewalk to the west toward the area of town called Sea World.

Run along the length of the waterfront.

After the quick out and back on the waterfront, I head back toward the street via the garden view.

I pass by the mermaid statue of Goddess Nuwa and run some steps.

I follow the sidewalk again all the way past the starting point.

At the area of town called Peninsula, I head toward the lighthouse.

I loop around Peninsula and follow the sidewalk back to Rose Garden to hop on the waterfront there.

What I like about this route:

1. It's a double out and back so if I need to stop or use my bathroom, it's an easy pitstop.
2. It has loops on each end that can be modified in ways to make the run a little longer or shorter.
3. It's mainly flat, easy running.
4. There are water views from three different locations.

I ran this route this morning. The weather has finally turned (I hope) from tropical to fall, perfect weather for running. I felt good and was happy to see negative splits in my results.

Do you have a go-to route?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Running, Tennis Balls, and Random Saturday Stuff

This was on my daily quote app the other day and now that I'm doing a run streak it seems to apply to me.

I was strong today. Granted I only ran one mile. I say only, but then realize that I have already run 17 miles this month. I have run every day for 7 days. And, I'm being smart. I'm running every day, but only a mile or two on what used to be my non-running days.

After my run, mrC made me my favorite breakfast: cheesy scrambled eggs with ham and pb&j apple cinnamon rice cake. Today the jelly came all the way from France (perks of being married to a pilot) and it was really good!

With all these new miles I've been putting on my feet, it was time for some pampering. It wasn't hard to convince mrC to get a pedicure with me considering there are so many benefits: good foot health, releases stress, prevents in-grown toe nails. Even without polish, his feet look good.

We stopped for lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We love this place, but they serve a ridiculously small amount of salsa and chips. While we were out, we ran some errands: stop and buy grapes from a street vendor, pick out gluten free products at the international store, and hunt down frame maker shops.

Back at home, I dug out my tennis ball for a little at-home-PT. I read this article on treating plantar fasciitis that explains the best treatment focuses on the fascia and releasing it. I don't know if I have PF, but I do know that I have tight calf muscles and pain in my heel.

The idea is to use your body weight to pin the fascia and then stretch it by pointing and flexing your foot. It's like DIY active release therapy. The challenge is finding the right spot. It takes some work.

Tomorrow is a run day. I'm hoping the weather stays in the low 70s like this morning.

Do the men in your life get pedis?
Have you ever tried DIY treatments?