Tips To Become A Morning Exerciser

Now that the sun is rising earlier in the day, I’m excited to get back into my early morning workout routine!  I just feel so much better when I bang out a workout before 6:30 am and don’t have it hanging over my head all day.  Plus, it sets me up mentally and physically for a great day ahead. :)  And I know it’s not the easiest thing to do {especially if you’re not a morning person in general} but it’s so worth it in the end!  

REASONS why you should workout in the morning:

You won’t have to squeeze it in later in the day.  Between working late, happy hours, preparing dinner, doing laundry, walking the dog, picking up the kiddo’s, etc… there’s just so much to do in the evening and so many excuses as to why you don’t have time to workout.  Why not just get it over with in the morning before the craziness begins?

To revvvv up your metabolism. Morning workouts get your metabolism going which = more fat burning throughout the day.

You’ll avoid the crowds at the gym.  I get anxiety just thinking about how crowded and stuffy the gym will be after work and will do almost anything to avoid it.  Whereas, the gym is practically empty when you’re there between 5-7 am.  

You’ll only need to shower once that day!  

It’s cooler weather in the morning which is KEY during the hot & humid summer months.  The weather in Boston can be brutal in the summer which means I either have to run super early or not at all.  This thought alone usually gets me up and at it!

TIPS on how to do it:

Pack your gear in advance.  Before bed, set out your clothes, sneakers, headband, gym bag, iPod, protein bar, etc.  This will save you crucial moments and give yourself the peace of mind that you don’t have to do it all in the morning.

Prepare your breakfast, lunch & snacks for the next day. This will also help you sleep better at night and make your life easier in the morning.

Go to bed early.  It sounds like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how much easier it is to rise and shine when you’ve had a good nights sleep.  I’m usually in bed by 9:30 when I know I have to wake up extra early for a workout.

Plan out your entire workout. Instead of saying ‘I’ll go for a run in the morning’ or ‘I’ll head to the gym’ actually plan it out detail for detail such as, ‘I’ll run the 3 mile loop around the neighborhood and then stretch for 10 minutes’ or ‘I’ll use the elliptical for 30 minutes then focus on core work {crunches + planks}’.  Going to sleep with a set game plan is essential!   **Also, if you’re out of workout ideas, you should create a new ‘workout’ board on Pinterest and pin away! 

Do something you like.  So this tip goes along with the one above…  When you’re planning your workout, make sure it’s something you really like!  If you love yoga then sign up for the 5:30 am yoga class.  Or if you’re into spinning then plan a workout around the morning spin class at your gym.  I looove a morning run so most of my morning workouts revolve around different running routes.  

Find a workout buddy. You wouldn’t blow off 6am run when you know your friend is waiting for you, right?  Having a workout buddy makes you obligated to show up so make weekly dates with a friend — or spouse!

Think POSITIVE. The hardest part of being a morning exerciser is just getting out of bed but once you’re up and at it, you’ll feel a million times better!!!  So just think about the feeling of accomplishment and the amazing endorphin’s you get after a great workout!! :)  

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Do you have any tips or tricks to working-out in the morning?

Do you prefer AM or PM workouts?

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Spring/Summer Running Essentials!

So even though it’s currently in the 30’s here in Boston, I still feel the warm weather is right around the corner.  Which means it’s time to stash away the running spandex and break out your summer workout gear!  

Here’s my list of the must-have ‘Spring/Summer Running Essentials’:

Shorts: For the past 10+ years I’ve been a big fan of the Nike Tempo Shorts.  These shorts are lightweight, super comfy, have a small inside pocket and they come in an assortment of fun colors.

Light Tank Top: Running in the warmer weather means you’ll need a lighter, breathable tank top.  A current favorite of mine is the Lululemon Swiftly Racerback Tank.

Headband: Sweaty Bands are awesome because they actually stays in place thanks to the little strip of velvet under the band.

Sneakers: If I could give just one piece of advice it would be, don’t buy running shoes based solely on how they look or the price tag.  Buy running shoes based on fit and comfort (and it’s probably best to get a good fitting at a running shoe store).  Right now I’m wearing the Brooks Ghost 6 sneakers but I usually switch to the Brooks PureFlows on warmer days since they’re such a light-weight sneaker.

GPS Watch: With it being race season, a GPS watch is a must-have item.  I wear the Garmin 410 and can’t imagine training without it.

Water bottle: We all know that water is essential when it comes to working-out, especially on the warm, humid days.  I usually plan my running routes near water fountains or I keep a water bottle (loaded with ice cubes) in my car.  Just make sure you get a BPA-free bottle!

Sunglasses: The Oakley Oversized Sunglasses are perfect for running since they don’t bounce all over and they’re super stylish.

Sunblock: I always lather on the sunblock before my long runs – mostly to avoid funky tan lines but also to prevent sunburns!  A great sunblock for runners is the Coppertone SPORT Sunblock which is SPF 30 and sweat-proof. 

Music: It’s time to switch up the ‘ol playlist and/or Pandora station and jam out to some fresh summer tunes!  We all know that music can make or break a run so it’s important to change it up with the seasons.  Summer for me = Jack Johnson and a little Bob Marley. :)

Happy Running!

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What are your favorite spring/summer running essentials?

Racing at 20 Weeks

I’m 20 weeks along and halfway there!!!

So let’s talk about what it’s like running/racing during your pregnancy.  While I have had a few good runs over the past 5 months, most of my runs have been a struggle and not as easy breezy as I’d expected.  But then there’s a day, like today, where I feel almost like my old self again and back in my running groove!

Today I ran the St. Patty’s Day 5K race in Davis Square along with about 5,000 other runners.  While I did have a small game plan for today’s race, I’m sure pure luck also played a part in it.  For me, the most challenging part of running is the constant urge to pee.  Not kidding, I feel like I have to go the entire run.  I don’t know if the baby is chillin’ on my bladder?  Or if I just drink too much water in general?  Either way, it makes running outside a real pain in the butt.  Besides the bladder problem, I’ve also experienced crazy cramping (like PMS cramping) during some of my runs and shortness of breath so it was a nice break when none of these problems occurred today. :)

So here are a few tips that helped with today’s race:

Eat & drink way before the race starts:  The race started at 11 so I woke up at 7 and quickly prepared a filling breakfast.  I had a bowl of greek yogurt with strawberries, granola and a scoop of almond butter and a small glass of water and small coffee on the side.  I also made sure I didn’t drink any more liquids before the race (this might not be ideal but it helped with my little bladder problem… )

Support the girls!  It’s so worth splurging on a new sports bra in order to keep the girls in place.  I finally purchased a larger, more supportive one yesterday and it made such a difference.  The brand I got wasn’t anything fancy but I’ve heard great reviews about the Moving Comfort sports bra’s so I’m hoping to pick one up this week. 

Run with a long top: Tugging non-stop to keep your shirt down is the worst!  With this growing baby bump, I’ve had to pick up some new tank tops that are longer in length.  So far my favorites have been from Lululemon and Marshalls.  

Leave enough time to use the porter potty before the race: We arrived at the race 30 minutes early which gave us plenty of time to wait in line for the porter potty’s.

Run with a fun playlist: I never race with music since it distracts me and slows me down…  which is exactly why I ran with it today.  Running + the Rihanna station on Pandora is the best!

Take it slow and enjoy the race: Even though I really wanted to run a faster pace, I kept reminding myself that today was a fun run and I was there for the atmosphere and not to break any PR’s.  Right now, my only goal is to keep my heart rate down and do what’s right for the lil’ peanut.  Plus, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to run a faster pace after the baby is born.

And those are my tips.  But if none of these work for you, just power-walk the course and focus on your delicious post-race meal!  That trick always gets the booty going. :)

Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day Eve, everyone!

Do you know what’s fun?

Running a road race in the dark!

Do you know what’s not fun?  Trying so hard to break a 23 minute 5K and finishing in 23:25.  

But let’s rewind…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run the weekly 5K race last night considering it was in the mid 80’s and hot out (which Rocky and I will  happily take in October)

So instead I headed over to La Fitness to try out the 4:30 cardio kickboxing class.  When I left the gym the weather cooled down a few degrees and I figured I might as well suck it up and run the 5K.  I paid the $2 registration fee (which goes to charity) and got ready to kick some butt!  The gun went off around 6:55 and I took off in the dimly lit streets.  My plan was to keep up with the guys and maintain a 7:30 pace and pick it up towards the end.  

Even though it was only a 3.1 mile race, there were still a bunch of times when I wanted to slow it down and take it easy.  But I held strong and reminded myself of how great it’ll feel to finally break 23 minutes.  I repeated the mantra ‘NO REGRETS!’ and went for it even passing some more guys along the course.   It was too dark out to read my Garmin (and I don’t know where the indigo light button is… ) but I figured I was on track to PR and raced towards the finish line, finishing in….  23:25.  Seriously?  What the hell?! 

Thankfully, Mike was on his way home from work and met me at the bar near the race so we could have a few drinks together.  And although I’m bummed I didn’t break 23 minutes I shouldn’t be surprised considering I never do any speed work. ;)

By the time we got home it was 8:30 and I was too lazy to cook dinner so I snacked on carrots, hummus, and triscuits and then reheated sweet potato wedges, added cottage cheese w/ chives and called it a meal.

Sometimes a simple meal is just what ya need. 

Today

Started with a protein packed smoothie (plain greek yogurt, pineapple, strawberries, frozen banana, protein powder, and almond milk), 

and ended with a 5:30 pm yoga class. :)   Which means I did yoga 4 times this week!  And I’d prob go again in the am if I could only afford to keep up with this pricey new obsession.  

What is it about yoga that leaves you feelin’ so good?  

OK, time to shut down the computer and start packing for DC.  We’re heading there in the morning for a fun filled wedding weekend!  See ya’ll on Sunday!

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Have you ever raced in the dark?  

Do you practice yoga?  If so, how many times a week do you go??

Bring on the hills

Do you know what’s a hard workout?  

Hills.

And more hills.

As soon as I arrived home from work yesterday, I changed into running gear and ran 1.5 miles towards Breakheart Reservation.  I’ve run the 3 mile loop around Breakheart many times but yet those hills always get me.  They don’t look crazy at first but as soon as you reach the top of a hill, you realized, oh there’s another one just waiting for ya.

Thank god it was a gorgeous weather – 60’s and sunny – and the route itself is always so nice and peaceful.

There were multiple times when I wanted to stop and the bad part of me kept thinking ‘hey, it’s a Monday.  I’m tired.  Walking is better than nothing….. ‘   But the better part of me, pulled through and repeated positive mantra’s to keep me going (<– seriously, they work!!)  Besides my usual ‘NO REGRETS’, I also repeated this one:

And I kept thinking about….

How AWESOME I’ll feel after completing a hard workout!

Dinner

After my run, I stretched, showered, and hung-out with this lil’ stud before making dinner. 

 Lately, I just haven’t been in the mood to cook much for dinner, plus Mike was away so I quickly threw together a tasty bowl of pasta.  In the mix: whole wheat penne pasta, frozen green beans, crumbled feta cheese, EVOO, and ground black pepper.  Done and done. :)

And this is how I really eat dinner 85% of the time:

Plopped on the couch in my sweats while watching the nightly news (or celebrity gossip depending on the time).

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Do you run hills?  How often?

What’s your easy, ‘go to’ dinner?

Buzzed Shopping, StrideBox, & Free Yoga

What happens when you consume 3 glasses of wine at happy hour and you’re at a bar right next to EMS?  Well, if you’re like me, you buy about 20 energy gu’s and a ridiculous running belt.  Why why why…. 

Actually, I’m happy about the gu’s {I’m a bit addicted} but not very pleased with the running belt.   I mean, do people really run with these things?

I decided tonight would be a good time to test it out during a nice and slow run.  I threw it on and crossed my fingers hoping it would stay in place and actually be enjoyable.

But within 4 minutes the belt was bouncing all over the place and was SUPER uncomfortable.  I should have just left it in the street for a car to run over it but I took it off and carried it for the rest of my run.   I guess I’ll have to keep planning my runs around routes with water fountains since carrying a bottle just isn’t working for me.

StrideBox

And on another running note, my first StrideBox arrived in the mail the other day!

Have you heard of StrideBox?  Basically, for $15 a month, they send you a little box full of running related items such as gels, gear, protein bars, energy drinks, etc.  Here’s what arrived in the mail this month {and a package of organic energy chews which I already ate}:

Not sure if it was worth the money this month but I’ll wait and see what they deliver next month before deciding if I continue or not.

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And lastly, I tried out a free outdoor yoga class yesterday, woohoooo!  I debated about whether to go or not but how could I turn down a free class?  Plus, it was from 4:30-5:30 which worked out perfectly for me.  So I changed at work, headed over to the Commons in Lynnfield, and set up my yoga mat on the grass with about 10 other people.

Not only was the instructor really cool but it was also fun being outdoors enjoying a crisp fall summer day! 

Btw, the instructor was saying how Lululemon not only hosts this free weekly class, but they also have free outdoor kickboxing and a spinning class at Market StreetLynnfield this weekend!  Pretty sweet, right?  Do all Lululemon locations offer free classes?? :)

Second Female Finisher!!!

TGIF!

And Thank Goodness It’s Payday Friday too!  Which means I get to treat myself to a tasty grande, non-fat Starbucks latte.  Damn, those drinks make me so happy.

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Yup, I was the SECOND FEMALE FINISHER in a 5K on Wednesday night!!  I don’t think I’ve ever been second place at anything in my life?  There was probably a total of 6 female runners (and some walkers) in the race but I’ll still take it. :)

So the race is part of the weekly 5K that is held every Wednesday @ 6:45pm at the lake in Wakefield.  I knew I loved Wakefield before we bought our house last April but now I def love Wakefield knowing it’s a town full of runners.  I mean, a weekly 5K is pretty sweet! 

Registration was a whopping $2 and the course was a simple, flat route around the lake…. 

I would say it’s a ‘flat & fast’ course like you usually hear but it’s actually not that fast when you’re weaving in and out of all the other runners/walkers/dogs/bikers/ baby strollers/etc.   But it’s fine, it’s still a great opportunity to work on my speed and really push it for 3.1 miles.

I ran at a moderate pace and picked it up the last mile, finishing in 23:34.  Although it’s not my fastest time, I’m still happy considering it was hot outside and I was exhausted from working all day. 

I was also happy since I was able to eat a bunch of free twizzlers within 5 seconds of crossing the finish line.  

Overall, the race was so much fun and I can’t wait to start incorporating it into my weekly workouts.  I figure if I start running this race once a week, do yoga once or twice a week, and continue running outdoors then maybe I can cancel the gym membership that I haven’t used in months?  

Plus, if I continue running this weekly race then maybe I’ll finally break a 23 minute 5K.  I’m so close yet I keep finishing around 23:30{ish}.  I just need to practice picking up my pace earlier in the race and get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a couple of miles.   Here’s my new 5K motto:

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Do you like running 5K’s?

Does your town have a lot of runners?

Any fun plans for the weekend?

 

What I Wear on Long Runs

Happy Labor Day, friends! 

So first off, how does a 16 mile run only amount to 24,419 steps on my pedometer?!?  I feel like it should be closer to 40,000, right?!?

This morning I headed to Castle Island {yet again} for my long run of the week.  The first 4 miles of running in the rain flew by but once the rain abruptly stopped, I was left struggling with 93% humidity levels for the next 12 miles.   But I did it and now I can check my 16 mile run off my training schedule. :)

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Speaking of running long distance, I finally figured out what running attire works best for me.  It’s taken a few years but I think I finally have it down to a T.

What I always wear on long runs (from head-to-toe):

Headband: I wear the super skinny sparkly headband (or occasionally the thicker 1″ black headband) from Sweaty Bands.  The headband is great since the inside is made of velvet which prevents it from slipping off my head.

Sunblock: Aveeno Face SPF 30 lotion on my face and then I use SPF 30 spray sunblock for my arms, chest, and shoulders.

Anti-Chafe stick: Yup, I finally caved and bought this stuff for my armpits and it’s made my long runs so much more enjoyable. 

Sports bra: ‘Run: Stuff Your Bra II’ by Lululemon.  Guys, seriously this sports bra is amazing!  It cost a fortune compared to my usual Champion sports bras at Target but with out a doubt it’s worth the investment.  Not only does it keep your girls from bouncing around but it’s also super comfortable.  And as a bonus it has little built-in pockets in the front to hold your chap stick, keys, cash, ID, etc.

(I have the bra in black)

Tank Top: I wear this running top from Target.  It’s nothing fancy but it works and doesn’t ride up when I’m running.  And since they’re so cheap I was able to stock up and buy 3 of them.

Watch: I’m pretty much obsessed with my splits and look at my Garmin 410 running watch at least once every 5 minutes.  As long as I don’t touch too many buttons, this watch is pretty easy to use. 

Shorts:  I usually run in the Nike Tempo shorts but my other favorite style is the ‘Game Day Shorts’ by Oiselle.  These shorts are super light, comfortable and they stay in place.  They also have a rear zip pocket which is ideal for holding my big car key.  

Socks: I picked up these socks at the running store and can’t say enough good things about them.  So I’ll let the website describe how great they are:

FEETURES!® Ultra Light Cushion No Show :: Eliminate painful blisters and experience pure running comfort with Feetures! patented Coolfeet Ventilation System and seamless PerfectToe™. Enjoy the perfect combination of cutting-edge innovation and superior fit and feel with the Coolfeet Ventiliation System that provides unique 360° mesh ventilation for maximum air flow and breath-ability. Plus, power bands of Lycra® soothingly hug the foot and keep socks in place. Feet stay cooler, drier and fresher – thanks to Feetures! iWick™ moisture managing fibers.

Sneakers: I’ve been wearing Brooks for a few years now and lately I’ve been lovin’ their PureFlow 2.  They’re lighter than most of my running sneakers which makes them feel pretty awesome.  

**And on my WISH LIST….    These lovely, polarized Oakley Womens Overtime Sunglasses:

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What do you LOVE to wear while running?

What’s on your wish list?

 

So what makes for a good run?

I feel like lately my runs have either been great or crappy with no average runs in the mix.  And I don’t want to jinx myself here (prob. just did… ) but my last couple of runs have felt pretty great.  Last night’s run started off with horrible stomach cramps (I guess that happens when you have too much fiber late in the day (such a rookie mistake)) but by the third mile the pain subsided and I started to really enjoy the run.  I even pushed out my 7 miler into an 8 mile run with my last mile at a 7:46 pace.  And this afternoon I went out for a nice 3 miler and then did a yoga workout right after.  But just a few weeks ago, it felt like every run I went on sucked ass.  I think I even went a couple weeks before actually looking forward to my next run?

Like I just said, I’m not an expert by any means and still have crappy runs all the time but here’s what usually makes for a good run:

1) My playlist.  I’ve talked about music in previous posts, but it really does have a major impact on my runs.  Last night I jammed out to a 90’s Hip-Hop station and this afternoon I went with my girl Rihanna on Pandora.  How can you not push it when you have fun, upbeat music blaring away?

2) A running partner.  Running + chatting away with a friend = awesomeness!  Mike and I don’t run together often but when we do it’s always a good time.  Not only is he a good distraction from the mundane run, but he also starts out on the slower side and really picks up the pace which motivates me to keep up.

3) A good nights sleep.  So, I kinda suck at sleeping.  But on the days when I do get a good nights sleep, I have so much more will-power and I’m less likely to bail on a run.  I also have more energy and actually want to go out for a run!

4) When there’s little or no pressure.  If I tell myself I’m just gonna go with it and not worry about my pace or distance then I usually have a better run.  I leave any and all expectations at the door and just run!  

5) What I eat (or don’t eat) before the run.  I try not to eat anything for at least 2 hours before a run in order to prevent stomach cramps (and urgent bathroom breaks… ).  On mornings when I have a long run (over 10 miles) then I usually set my alarm for an hour before the run and eat a small granola bar asap.  I then fuel up during the run with energy gu’s for more calories.

And lastly…..  

6) The weather! 

This might be the biggest factor of whether I have a good run or not.  If it’s overcast and cool outside then I know my run will be a good one.  And if it’s drizzling out, then my run will be even better!  But on the flip side, I suck at running in the heat & humidity.  Seriously, I’d rather skip a run than workout in the soaring heat.   So in order to avoid the sun/heat/humidity, I make sure to check the weather forecast before planning out my workouts for the week.

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And on another note, I’m trying to eat no carbs (except alchi) after 2pm.  Why?  Well, because I’ve been overdosing on carbs and feeling super bloated/ tired the next day.  I haven’t been following my new ‘no carbs after 2pm’ rule every day but it’s always my end goal. :)   A typical dinner consists of  a meat/chicken/fish and grilled veggies so it’s really not that bad.  

Last night’s dinner included a turkey burger with cheese and grilled mushrooms and asparagus on the side.  And tonight’s dinner with will include turkey kabobs with grilled cauliflower, tomatoes, and zucchini.  Heck ya! :)

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What makes for a good run for you? 

Do you eat carbs at night?  

Any fun plans for Labor Day Weekend?

-I’m heading to the Cape bright & early tomorrow for a beach filled weekend.  Then I have a 16 miler on Monday morning!

Longest Run Ever

Helloooo and Happy Sunday!

This morning I tackled my longest run ever….  14 miles!!  Let me tell you, it was hard.  Around mile 9 my knees started throbbing, and I wanted to call it quits but I pushed through the pain (maybe not the smartest idea?) and finished the 14 miles on a strong note.  I averaged 8:50 min/mile with my last mile at 8:32.

Love running around Castle Island!  So much that I ran the loop 4 times today…

As soon as I finished the run I plopped down on the grass to stretch and literally could not get up after.  My body felt so old and was in so much pain.  All I could think about was ‘how the heck will I run 12 more miles and complete a marathon?!?!’.  But I’m going to try to be POSITIVE, work on strengthening my knee muscles, continue stretching and icing, and hope it all works out.

Brunch

Since Mike was also completing a long 12 mile run this morning, we made plans to quickly shower and head down the street to a fun lil’ coffee shop (PS my goal is to try every restaurants/bar/coffee shop in Wakefield.  We have about 7 down and a ton to go).  I went with the ‘Aloha’ wrap and it was so freakin’ good! 

Obviously a wrap with eggs, ham, cheese, and pineapple is gonna taste amazing. :)  I’ll have to remember to make this exact wrap sometime soon!  And I ordered a large iced non-fat late.

Check out the label on the coffee:

I don’t know if I’d call that my ‘Chateau’ but that combination definitely = a pretty fantastic day!  Right?

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Alright, guess it’s time to log off and start packing for my trip to Riga, LATVIA (<– yeah, who goes to Latvia!?).  My flight takes off in a couple of hours and I haven’t even started packing yet…   oh boy! 

Anyone else have a long run or race over the weekend?  How was it?

Do you also put off packing ’til the very last-minute?