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

Race Season

Race season has started and charity and fun runs are popping up all over the place.

Next weekend is the Bluenose Marathon here in Nova Scotia (http://bluenosemarathon.com/).  It’s a bit of a big deal here and it’s a race that I’ve thought about/wanted to do the last couple of years but, in all honesty, I can never remember to sign up for it.  I’m clearly a dough-head.

I have managed to participate in several races over the years.

My favorite – and by far the most fun – race is the Zombie Run (http://www.zombietrailrun.ca/).  Of course there are variations of this fun run all over the place (http://www.zombierun.com/, https://zombiesurvivor.ca/index.php, http://www.the5kzombierun.com/ <– Seriously, just Google “zombie races” and I’m sure you’ll find one in near your area).  I’ve already participated in this race twice and my bff/race buddy and I have already pre-registered for September’s run again.  It’s something to look forward to.

Zombie Run2

Last year I messed up and ended up rolling my ankle on the trail (https://nsfitbitch.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/zombie-run-2015/and ended up with a good sprain.  Good as in bad.  Ugh.  The worst part of last year’s mishap was that it happened two weeks before the Harvest Marathon and I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to participate.

But I worked through the sprain. I did take it easy for a bit but as soon as I really thought I was able, I continued my training so that I could complete the Harvest.

The Valley Harvest Marathon (http://www.valleyharvestmarathon.com/) is a pretty incredible event.  The Harvest is for serious runners.  And, although it certainly isn’t classified as a “fun run”, it is definitely a huge deal and an accomplishment.  When I completed my run last October I was elated (and tired!).

In fact, my most memorable moment from any race was probably fighting to cross that finish line last year.  I had to pee so bad (I refused to use a Port-a-Potty) and my hip had kinked up part-way through the race and I was in pain.  I really had wanted to stop and walk but I kept pushing and when I got to the track to circle it and make my way to the finish I kicked ‘er into high gear and gave it everything I had left.  I felt incredible.

And, one of the best thing about running in Nova Scotia in the fall is that it looks like this:

FALL RACES

Seriously – one of my favorite running paths looks like this in October.  I love fall in Nova Scotia ❤

There are so many races I’d love to participate in but they add up so I try to choose wisely.  My BFF/race buddy and I are checking out some fun runs in the US to participate in.  There are a few in Maine and New York that we’re looking at that seem like they’d be a lot of fun.  And it would give us a reason for a girls’ weekend/road trip.

When I am gearing up for a race here are some tips I follow:

  1. I run at least a few times a week.  Inside and out.  Although I prefer to run outside, sometimes the only option is to hit the treadmill.  And when that happens I definitely increase the incline and the resistance.  I need my practice runs to be similar to the terrain I’ll be racing on.
  2. I increase my strength training.  Although I’m a big pusher of strength training anyway, when I’m approaching race season I try to bring it just a little bit more for the few months preceding the race.  Strength training is important for structural fitness (the ability of your bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to withstand the impact of running), it aids in injury prevention, and it helps you run faster.  Strength training also strengthens your bones.
  3. I try to do a “run thru” of the run.  Not the exact course, but a run thru of the distance of the upcoming run.
  4. I find the “right” tune and make it my racing buddy.  Over the last two years my two favorite training tunes have been “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker (please don’t judge me – that’s a really good song) and “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen.  These two songs have basically been playing on repeat while I’ve been training and running.  They keep me at a good pace so I can count my steps and not overdo it, ensuring that I don’t burn out fast.  In fact, when I was running in the Harvest last year, Wagon Wheel was my running bitch.  I had the song playing continuously through and I kept my pace down so that I could keep my cardio up and finish the race in a decent time.
  5. Carb up – but don’t overdo it.  As you know, carbohydrate is the fuel for your body.  I’ve made the mistake of not eating properly before workouts and runs before and nearly killed myself.  Nowadays I know better and I’m careful what I put in my body so that I can make the most out of a workout or a run.  I want to ensure I have enough fuel to last me through the entire race too.

I really love running.  And the races I participate in give me a goal to work toward.  I would encourage anyone to check out runs in and around their specific area.  Or look at runs in other areas and make a mini-vacation out of it.

Charity runs are something I have participated in and plan to participate in again, likely this season.  It’s great to get out and support a great cause, show some community spirit, and have a great run.

Check out cool websites like Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.ca/) to search for upcoming races, or, to create your own https://www.eventbrite.ca/l/event-management-software/.

Ready.Set.RUN!

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginner’s Running Guide

When I started running years back, I just started running. It was just something I got up and did. I didn’t run with anyone or enlist in a “Learn to Run” program. (In reality, I was too self conscious to do either.) I just ran.

Now-a-days there are tons of opportunities in my area for people to join programs to learn to run and there are dozens of websites to show you how to get started. So today I am jumping on that bandwagon.

Running*

*Note – Be sure to stop and rest if it’s required. If you’re having trouble making the times set out in this guide, try cutting it down to half or a third the time. You can always increase it.

The thing with running is that, really, you can only get better. You might stumble, you might roll an ankle, you might run out of breath, you might pants and wheeze and want to die (please, as with any exercise program, be cautious of your health limitations) – but it WILL get better.

When I first started running I had to stop and rest and catch my breath more often than not. I have a heart condition and I have lung problems and, I basically just sucked. But, I kept at it and I’ve learned to condition and pace myself. My stamina and longevity improved, my lungs, for the most part, function better and take seem to take in more air – which is attributed to proper breathing technique and better overall fitness. I can now run long distances without having to stop (unless it’s for a pee break, which is a whole other can of worms) and I feel exhilarated when I think I’m ready to stop but just keep on going.

Below are just a few tips on how to ensure a better run:

1) Make sure you have good running shoes. I mean it. Don’t try to run in Converse or old sneakers. Splurge and get yourself a great pair of runners with shock absorbers. Your entire body will thank you.
2) Ladies – invest in a good bra. ‘Nuff said!
3) Have some good beats. The right kind of music can keep you going longer than you think. If you’re like me, find even that one song and stick it on repeat.
4) Have a running buddy and motivate each other. And if you’re deciding to run on your own (and not on a treadmill) be sure to tell others of your trail and/or take a phone for emergencies (try carrying a piece of ID as well).
5) DO NOT RUN WITH AN INJURY. I made this mistake. Trying to run with shin splits, a pulled hamstring, a rolled ankle or even a bad headache can/will do more damage to your body. Treat your body with respect. I learned the hard way.
6) Do not run in crazy heat. Again, I made this mistake. I ran in the early morning in July in a heat wave, ended up with a migraine, heatstroke and collapsed on the trail. It was not a pretty sight.
7) Hydrate. Drink lots of water the few hours leading up to your run (not so much that you’ll have to stop and pee as soon as you get started) and within the hour following your run.
8) Rest when it’s needed. There is no shame in walking!
9) Dress for your body and the temperature. Assume it’s 10 degrees warmer than it is and dress for that. Your body will warm up and you don’t want to overheat. Also, if things tend to chafe or you sweat in strange areas, try wearing something spandex-y or applying deodorant or Vaseline in that area so that things glide. 🙂
10) Protect yourself with sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, gloves, extra socks, whatever is required depending on the conditions.

You can find a bazillion other running tips online – just use your Google. 😉