Fitness Favorites

I was recently asked what my absolute must-haves are when it comes to working out – what items I can absolutely not live without when it comes to exercising.

WATER

Water

This girl needs to stay hydrated.  I usually go through a couple of bottles of water when I’m at the gym.  I’m constantly guzzling because I’m sweating so much (it’s super hot at my gym) and I’m always trying to quench my thirst and dry mouth.  I try not to drink too much at once to avoid stomach aches, but when I’m at the gym I’m usually there for a while and going all out and water is definitely a game changer.

COOL AIR

Fan

via Daily Mail

I cannot stand being hot when I am exercising.  I find that if I am overheating I am not crushing my workouts and just feel gross.  I tend to run hot when I exercise, so I like to ensure that I am being cooled down efficiently.  So, in addition to replenishing my water intake, I also like to ensure that I can keep cool – either with multiple fans, open windows, or air conditioning.  If I’m at the gym then I usually hog the oscillating fan(s) and also make sure the overhead fans are so (I’m nagging for air conditioning).  If I’m working out at home I usually have the windows open or the AC on (if it’s summertime).  And if I’m teaching a class I take advantage of what’s available (inside = fans or AC / outside = shade and hopefully a slight breeze).

MUSIC

iPod

I 100% need my iPod when I’m working out, especially if I’m running.  The right song can keep me going.  (My song of choice for my run lately has been Anyway You Want It by Journey.)  When I ran my first 10k a few years ago I ran along to Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen on repeat.  It kept my perfect pace.  If I’m strength training I will put on a random play list and let the iPod work its magic.

HAIR GEAR

hair ties

This includes hair ties, headbands, hats, and bobby pins.  I have naturally curly hair and a whole heckuva lot of it and it is constantly in my face.  It is my second biggest peeve when I’m working out – right behind being hot.  I can’t stand little fly-away hairs in my face so I try to make sure I have what’s necessary to keeping my Wookie-do out of my eyes.

FITBIT

FitBit

I totally had buyer’s remorse when I first purchased my FitBit, but now I am addicted to it.  I love being able to track my steps, my distances, and my heart rate when I’m working out.  I picked up the HR Charge specifically to keep track of my heart rate. Since I have a heart condition, I figured it would be interesting to track the pattern and BPM and anything else that would correlate.  I also love the step challenges – within a group or simply on my own.  I am very aware of how active I am throughout each day and honestly make more of an effort to get up and move – especially if I have been sedentary for too long.

APPs

Aaptiv

I’m really not an app-y person when it comes to my exercise routine.  I’m fairly rogue that way.  I’ve downloaded apps in the past and rarely utilized them.  But one great new app I’ve reviewed is Aaptiv.  Aaptiv is an on-demand audio fitness app that combines the guidance of a trainer with the perfect playlist.  If you are considering a fitness app as part of your routine, you should definitely check out Aaptiv.

Aside from proper footwear and a good sports bra, that about does it for my list of workout must-haves.  What are some of your favorites?

~FB

Safe Running

I just returned from a spectacular vacation in Florida with my family.  We had beautiful weather, days full of activities (hello Disney!), and tons (and tons and tons) walking/hiking.  In fact, we walked, on average, about 15 kilometers each day.  My FitBit loved it.

In addition to all the walking and activities, I, of course, had to venture out for a few runs.

My first trip running while in Florida happened around 9 pm.  We’d returned to our hotel from a very long day but I felt like I needed something more.  Plus, it was just so gorgeous that I couldn’t wait to slip on my sneakers and get trekking.

I left my hotel room and headed out on a paved trail around the lake adjacent our resort property.  A few minutes into my run I realized I may be a bit insane (or paranoid).  Here I was in a different country, in the evening, by myself, on a path surrounded by trees and a lake (with signs warning to watch out for alligators and snakes, mind you).  I swiftly turned myself around and headed right back to the resort.

Instead of putting myself at risk of danger, injury, psychopaths, or death by alligator, I decided to stay right on the resort, making my way up the stairs to the top floor of each hotel, running around that floor, back down the stairs to the next floor, and continuing  that cycle until I was finished the bottom floor.  Then I would move on to the next hotel.  It turned out to be a really great run/workout!  And there were security cameras and people everywhere – including kids (it was a family resort), so I felt safe the entire time.  I don’t know if I would do the same thing at other hotels, perhaps if the atmosphere was the same.

Anyway, when I returned the other day from this vacation and saw that November is National Running Safety Month AND that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series recently made a stop in Las Vegas, I figured it perfectly coincided with my vacation runs.  In addition, Vegas.com will be posting tips on their site on how runners can stay safe while running in Vegas (and, pretty much anywhere you happen to be).

With all that being said, here are my tips for safe running while in Vegas (or just on vacation):

las-vegas

visit Vegas.com  🙂

Tip #1 – ANNOUNCE YOUR RUN

Okay, so you don’t have to hop onto the loud speaker or anything, but ALWAYS let someone know where you’re going.  Even if you’re traveling alone be certain to tell someone what you’re up to.  You can advise the hotel staff that you’re heading out  for a run on your own and your ETA will be 45 minutes.  Or you can phone or Facebook a friend/family member advising that you’re at whatever hotel, heading out for a run at whatever time, expecting to be however long, and you will touch base upon your return.  (I actually do this all the time when I’m heading out for a run by myself – either from work or from home, or from wherever.  Even if I’m taking my phone, I still let people know I’m heading out.)

Tip #2 – RUN WITH A BUDDY

Obviously, running with a friend or in a group would be ideal when it comes to safety, especially when you’re away from home (like in Vegas, baby!), but that’s not always an option.  As noted above, some people travel alone….and then sometimes you’re traveling with people who have no desire to run with you (been there!).  But, if you are fortunate enough to be on vacation with someone else – who happens to also run – definitely take advantage of it and get out for a buddy/group run.  There is safety in numbers.

Tip #3 – TAKE YOUR PHONE

Cell phones are a basic staple for most people these days, so bringing yours on your run isn’t a bad idea.  Not only can you listen to your playlist while your feet are hitting the pavement, you can “check in” to places when you pass by them.  I’ll be completely honest – I’ve never checked in anywhere and am not completely sure how it works, but it’s worth looking into if you’re venturing out on your own.  This will leave a trail of breadcrumbs on social media of where you’ve been.

Tip #4 – MAP OUT A ROUTE

map-my-run

Usually for narcissists….this time for safety. 😉

Normally, I’m not a fan of mapping out a route.  Maybe it’s because most of the people I know who map out a route simply do it so they can post it to social media and wait for accolades.  It drives me nuts!  Fitness should be for you – NOT for how much applause you can get from posting about it.  But, in this case, when it’s for safety purposes then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to map out a route for your run when you’re out of town (and, I mean, if you’re taking your phone anyway….).  Especially, if you’re heading down the Vegas strip.  I still wouldn’t venture down any blind alleys or anything, but if you’re making your route public to those back home then you should be able to relax a teensy bit more when you’re heading out.  It’s still not a bad idea to touch base when you’re safely back in your hotel room.

Tip #5 – STAY HYDRATED

hydrated

We think of this one as a no-brainer – water is important.  I usually drink several liters a day.  But, let me tell you that while I was in Florida, I did not drink as much water as I normally do, or what’s required.  I was a little dehydrated on this trip.  It happens.  We’re out of town, we get busy, we’re having fun…the idea of drinking more water often leaves us.  Therefore, we have to become more aware and alert of how much water we’re drinking, especially if we’re going to be running in the Vegas heat.

Tip #6 -UTILIZE THE FITNESS ROOM

hotel-fitness-room

I love a good hotel fitness room!

I almost always check out the fitness room in any hotel I stay in.  Working out is important to me and my fitness routine and health need not suffer just because I’m away from home or on vacation.  Especially when I’m training for races, I do not want to get out of my running routine.  And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t always want to hit the streets for my runs. That’s when the hotel fitness room can be a game changer.  Jumping on the treadmill and hitting the incline can often be the way to go. Get it over with and move on to the fun stuff.  Aside from running, there are other ways to stay fit and in training mode in the fitness room (strength training, stability training, other cardio machines).  Step out of place and change it up once or twice.  In addition to the fitness room, you can make up a program (or YouTube one) in the privacy of your hotel room – or,  you can do like I did in Florida and race around the floors of the hotel.  Of course, when I did it I was going around the outside perimeter of the resort blocks, but, if you’re quiet enough you might be able to get away with running in the halls of your hotel.  Look into some awesome Vegas hotel deals here!

Tip #7 -STAY ALERT

We often let our guard down, especially if we’re relaxed, or exercising, or having fun or on vacation – especially in a place like Las Vegas – so we have to work harder at being alert.  It’s the same as with what I mentioned about staying hydrated….we simply forget or become so consumed with what we’re doing that we don’t think about it.  So, for your safety, think about it….THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY!  Stay alert, check your surroundings, be safe.

~Fit Bitch

RaceSpiration

In the last two weeks I’ve competed in my two favorite race – The annual Zombie Trail Run and, just yesterday, the Valley Harvest Marathon.  Although I didn’t run a marathon – or even the half-marathon as I’d planned (opting out, due to my tarsal tunnel) – I ran a good race.

racespiration

In fact, I ran a great race.  I shaved off 6 minutes compared to my time last year (although they were different distances). That’s a pretty big deal.

But I’ve been feeling a little down about it.

Y’see, I have an ongoing back injury (I’m sure I’ve mentioned it in past posts but let’s just keep it short by saying one slip, wretched back, 2 ambulances, 5 paramedics, and lots and lots and lots of morphine), and every so often I’ll do something that wretches it again and then it’s out.  A few years ago I put it out in kickboxing class, one night while running I skidded on the wet pavement and out it went.  And then about 6 weeks ago, while demonstrating a move in my bootcamp class – *bam* out it went again.  And it has been off and on ever since.  In fact, two weeks ago I didn’t think I’d be able to run the Zombie race because it was so bad the day before I could barely stand up.  But I made it through the run – with a lot of walks on the rough parts of the trail.

And for most of the last two weeks my back’s been pretty good.  Then yesterday, after the “On your mark, get set, GO!” and we runners were heading off-field from the start line, I was waving to a co-worker on the sideline and…it happened.  Another runner cut me off and ran into me.  Other than a little embarrassment (did I mention my coworker is super cute??), I felt no pain.  Until I hit the 2k mark.

The 2k mark is when the pain set in.  Have you ever injured yourself to the point that you have nearly blinding pain??  I’ve only ever had that a few times – when I broke my ankle/severed the ligament, and with this back injury.  The further I ran, the more intense the pain got.  When I passed the 3k mark I honestly thought I was going to throw up.  With each swing of my hips, the burning in my lower back pulsed harder and longer and I felt like I was being stabbed in the spine.  I had to stop every little bit and walk for 30-60 seconds and then I’d march run on.  I was hot, my face was red, I was using my knuckles to rub my lower back, and I’m sure there were sounds of whimpering leaving my body while I trotted around other racers.

But, I finally made it to the finish line.  I did have to stop and take a walking break on the track to gather what I needed to actually run across the finish line, but I did it. And I when I heard my name on the loud speaker when I made it over, I felt proud (albeit, also a little defeated).

And when I checked my FitBit (which is just slightly off from the race bib tracker time) I was pretty.damn.elated.  I’m really happy with my race time.  And I think about what it would be without feeling like I’m being kicked in spine and know I can only do better.

So, although I’m bummed out about what happened yesterday, I’m happy with the results to this point.  I’m not going to let anyone else take away from my accomplishment. And I’ve challenged myself (and my boyfriend!) to run the same distance once I’ve let myself heal a bit and we’ll see what the results are then.  Stay tuned.

~FB

Progress, Again

The other night I went for my first outdoor run in a very long time.  Pretty much since my ankles/tarsals got to the point of unbearable several months ago.

SNeaker

I had to take a break and the break, unfortunately, last longer than I’d expected.  My with the constant pain and swelling and bruising, I didn’t have much of a choice.

I’ve been doing a mile here and there at the gym, easing my way back into it, but taking it super careful, and even resorting to wearing compression socks (which, by the way, worked wonders.  I highly recommend them.  Thanks, Mom!).  And it’s been working.  Slowly, I’ve been making progress.  Hallelujah!

So, the other night was perfect weather.  And I felt kind of blah and like I needed a little cardio, so I went for it.  And, it was glorious!  I had such a good run.  In fact, the run was so great and pain free that I actually forgot about it until last night when I was updating her on the tarsal tunnel.

I am pumped to get back in the saddle again and start hitting the pavement when I can – especially in the evening once the sun starts to go down.  I love evening runs.

The major downside from this setback – aside from the pain, swelling, and bruising caused by the tarsal tunnel – is that it’s looking like I won’t be running in the Harvest Marathon this year.  At least not the half marathon like I’d planned.  There’s no way I can start training for a half marathon set for the start of October this late in the year.  And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I really want to.  Not that I don’t want to run the half, because I’ve had my heart set on it all year and had been in training for it, but because I don’t want to go right back into hardcore running and put my ankle health back in jeopardy.  That would just be stupid and irresponsible of me.

Hurts to stop

Truth.  But it was the right decision.

So, for the time being I will work my way slowly back into a running routine and, perhaps I will set my sights lower for the Harvest this year and do a 5 or 10 k.  I just need to remember, no matter how disappointed I am about not running the half, is that I am doing this for me and it is the right decision.  Because in the end….being able to walk the rest of my life is more important than running one day.

~Fit Bitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road Again-ish

Last week I decided, while in my gym routine, to try a run.  I hadn’t been running in about a month or so since my tarsal tunnel flared up and we discovered I have tendonitis on top of it.  But I figured I’d given them enough rest to try a run again.  I ran a mile on the treadmill and carried on with the rest of my workout.

The run wasn’t too bad, although my ankles were tingly afterward, I expected much more pain than what I had.  So, this week I decided to try a run again.  I ran two miles before carrying on with the rest of my gym routine.

That was Thursday night.  By Friday night, not only were my ankles completely puffy (although, the puffiness seems like it has found a permanent place in my feet), they were bruised on the inside once again.

What the heck is going on??

When I saw my doctor a few weeks back my biggest concern was the bruising and hers was the swelling.  I’m wondering now if she’d be more concerned with the bruising.

My ankles feel splintery; like shards of bone are being pulled away on the inside.  I can feel my bones clanking together where my leg meets the top of my foot.

Foot Description

Basically, we’re talking with the fibula meets the talus. *clank clank clank*

And so, it looks like running will have to be put on hold once again.  My BFF -slash – running buddy and I have a race weekend away planned for this upcoming weekend but it looks, too, like that is out of the question.

I am devastated by all of this.  Running is so important to me.  It’s something I have done, albeit off and on, for so long and to not be able to do it not only makes me sad but also terrifies me.  I’m not certain of the damage, if any, that is being done inside my legs and feet, and I know that I have to heal, but I feel defeated by not being able to pursue something that I have loved for so long.  At least for the time being.

So for now I make the choice to sit this one out – that may include this whole season, or just this race.  I don’t want to push myself to the point that I’m damaged goods for life.  Although it pains me, I need to be sensible and do what’s right for my body in order to keep it in its best form for as long as I can.

In a few weeks’ time I will attempt another mile and see how it goes.  I’m looking forward to getting back on the road again.

~FB

Sacrifices

Three weeks ago I aggravated my tarsal tunnel syndrome to the worst it’s ever been.  For the last 21 days I have been living in agony while my ankles have vibrated, ached, pained, splintered, and I have been barely been able to walk.

I’ve had to put on hold my running (ACK!!) and have had to go down in weight while lifting.  Thankfully, my classes have been over the last 2.5 weeks – although new boot camp classes start this week.

I’ve had some massage therapy – and I’ve got a great boyfriend who’s been wonderfully massaging my ankles while we’re home.  But there’s a lot of puffiness and bruising – which was concerning.

I finally got into the doctor today and she confirmed the tarsal tunnel aggravation and says there’s likely some tendonitis in there as well.  Although, she too is concerned about the swelling and bruising.  (My colleague told me I had a case of “O.L.D.” – but the doctor said I was still young -ha!)

Needless to say, it’s been a tough couple of weeks.  Not being able to run (or walk, for that matter) it’s race season!! -, having to go down in weight when strength training, etc.  I have had to make some decisions and some sacrifices.  It sucked, but it had to be done.  This is the worst flare of tarsal tunnel I’ve ever had and I need it to go away. Fortunately, it has been subsiding the last few days, but my joints are still very tender to the touch.

I will continue to take it easier – although with the start up of teaching my classes again this week my “easy” is a bit limited.  I have to doctor’s go-ahead, but with the orders to “go light” and ice when finished.

My biggest annoyance is not being able to run.  This is the longest hiatus from running I’ve taken in about a year and a half.  I’m hoping to get back into it very soon.  I have a race in June, dammit!!

I have an ankle massage scheduled for tomorrow and I’ll be icing them tonight.  Hopefully this will pass soon and I can get back into it (semi) full throttle.

~FB

 

Arm Envy

There’s a girl in my Zumba class who I have a complete arm-crush on.

This girl is itty bitty without an ounce of fat on her little frame – and she has the most gorgeous arm muscles:  biceps, triceps, shoulders.

Look at her arms

She can also be an object of my affection.

She is always a few rows ahead of me so she’s always in view.  And there I am in the back row stalking her arms.

I have arm envy.  (I also have leg envy.  I’ve talked about that before.)

I have a very weird frame:  I’m tallish (5’6) with short legs and a long torso.  I always tease that I’m built like a football player with a wide rib cage, a narrow waist, and narrow shoulders.  I have always had thick legs and arms, and now that I’m getting older I’m working my booty off (literally) to get my limbs toned and strong.

Last night I was thinking about my strength training and I’ve decided that it’s time to increase the training and the weight at the gym.

I’ve been so dedicated to my running this last year and preparing for races that I’ve accepted that I’ve let my strength training slide a bit.  I still do it.  I just don’t do it often enough through my week.  And after I had whiplash last year I went down in weights and when I was ready I didn’t go back up enough.  So, that’s it.  I’m owning it and buckling down and am going to work at becoming my own arm envy.

~Fit Bitch

 

 

 

Recap

Can you believe summer is nearly over?  I’m still having a hard time believing it.  It seems like it just flew by.

But, I’m not fully complaining.  It was busy…and it looks like the busy-ness is continuing through into the fall.

So,  the summer brought me back outside to teach my boot camp classes.  The classes were small this summer but the new sessions begin tomorrow and I’m full – with mostly new faces *AND* my first boy!!  I’m so excited.  I’ve had a little interest from men in the past (and currently) but none have ever bothered to follow  through.  I’m thoroughly stoked about this.

I’ve continued to run several times each week throughout summer, and in the disgusting heat wave.  However, most of my outside runs have been in the evening.  The rest of the runs have been in the gym – although that hasn’t been much better.  Twice last week the gym was a few degrees warmer than the air outside.  It was gross.

Twice last week the gym thermometer read 29 degrees (C).....that's like 82 or 84 (F).

Twice last week the gym thermometer read 29 degrees (C)…..that’s like 82 or 84 (F).

I also joined a yoga studio and got a 30 for 30 promo which allowed me to attend several classes a week on my lunch break, as well as some really cool evening classes.  My body loved it.  I always try and promote yoga to people because I love it so much.  And let me tell you that I love it even more now.  ❤

On top of all that yoga-ing for those 30 days I also participated in a huge yoga festival two weeks ago.  It was so much fun.  I was in absolute heaven!  Y’know, aside from being in the scorching sun and not thinking to wear protection on my head, which resulted in a sunburned scalp.  Other than that it was a blast and I’m looking forward to next year.

Valley Yoga Fest via K.W.

Valley Yoga Fest via K.W.

Valley Yoga Fest via S.C.P.

Valley Yoga Fest via S.C.P.

On top of all this yoga I’m also participating in the Sunset Yoga festival in Halifax in mid-September.  I am really looking forward to this.  It’s going to be a great evening with yoga, music, vendors, and friends.

Sunset

If you can remember, last year I participated in the Zombie Run.  I was so stoked when I found out that the event would be coming to a community semi-close to mine (it’s at least an hour away).  My friend Angie and I had the best time so we were certain to sign up again this year.  The race is the weekend following the upcoming Sunset Yoga event….as you can see, September is filling up.

And, on top of the Zombie Run I am the most excited to have finally been able to register for the huge annual Harvest Marathon.  I’ve been wanting to do this for so many years but something has always been in the way.  Last week I finally officially registered!!  I am beyond happy!  This race takes place the second weekend in October (Thanksgiving weekend in Canada) and it’s always a huge deal.  I usually have to get re-routed during my travels.

The next race on my list will be the Wine Run.  Wine + running.  Need I say more?

~Fit Bitch