Category Archives: Fitness

Running Essentials: Fuel

I see and hear a lot of questions about fueling for runners. I can’t really tell you what the best strategy for you will be, but I can tell you about my own experience. This fuel strategy has come from a lot of trial and error, and I really do believe that is what it takes to find it.

About 20 minutes before I run, I will have a carbohydrate snack. For me, it needs to be something very mild and easy to digest. If I have a race, which requires me to get up very early in the morning, I’ll start with toast or half of a bagel and peanut butter. I will then eat a pack of belVita Breakfast Biscuits spread out over the time before the race. If it’s just a training run, I will eat a banana or just two of the belVitas. This seems to work for me for any kind of workout, not just running.

If I am running for more than an hour, I need a steady source of carbohydrates to keep my energy up. I have tried a lot of things and have not had a bad experience with any of them. Through my trial and error, I have determined what works best for me, and is the easiest for me to carry and eat. Honey Stingers makes a lot of good products, which are easy on my sensitive stomach. My favorites are the chews and the waffles. They work really well, but are harder to carry in my belt. The chews are sticky and take up a lot of space, and the waffles crumble easily. I just continued trying things until I found something that worked for me on all fronts.

My current fuel of choice is Jelly Belly Sport Beans. According to their website (www.sportbeans.com), “Sport Beans jelly beans are a first-of-its-kind carbohydrate replenishment for sports performance from the makers of Jelly Belly®. They have been specially formulated to fuel and replenish the body during exercise. As glycogen stores in the muscles become depleted during prolonged exercise, a carbohydrate source helps maintain blood sugar levels to keep you going.” They come in Lemon Lime, Orange, Berry and Fruit Punch. There are also “Extreme Sport Beans” that have caffeine, but I have never used those. Sport Beans are easy to eat, and carry, and they are basically candy. Who doesn’t want to eat candy?

I know there are some who can run on an empty stomach, but I am not one of those people! As I said, the right fuel is different for everyone, and takes a lot of experimentation. I hope this has given you some ideas for different things you can try. For those of you who are runners, what do you use to fuel? Feel free to reach out to me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let me know if there are any other running or fitness questions you would like to see me cover. I am by no means an expert, but I would be happy to share my experience!

Note: All products mentioned here were purchased by me and all opinions are my own, and just that…opinions!

Beginning Again…with Beginner Shred

While I was planning this post I went back and read my last one, which was several months ago.  It was about how I’m constantly abandoning this blog, because I feel like I have nothing to share.  It was another post about how I’m starting again and I’m going to keep fighting.  Well…here I am again.  I often feel like I have nothing to give and I can’t help anyone, because look how much of a mess I am.  Maybe this is exactly what I have to give.  I’m someone who makes mistakes.  I’m someone who lets life get in the way or gets down and frustrated and quits.  I’m also someone who keeps starting again.  One of these times I hope it sticks, but I’m not going to stop fighting until it does.

 

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s where I am right now.  I have done all 3 races at the Princess Half Marathon weekend for the first time since I was injured in 2015.  I am working on taking care of myself and making my health and well-being a priority.  It seems that this is something many people struggle with.  How do we balance it all?  I don’t think anyone has it all figured out.  All we can do is keep trying, and that’s what I’m doing right now.

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After I got back into running, and had my comeback half marathon, I needed a new challenge.  Strength training has never been my thing and I’ve always wanted to work on it.  After a trip to the Dollar Tree, where I hit the jackpot on workout DVDs, I discovered Beginner Shred with Jillian Michaels.  I like a lot of her other videos and this seemed like great way to get myself back into strength training.   It includes three twenty-minute workouts (not including warm-up and cool down), which combine strength training and cardio intervals.  Each workout increases in intensity and is meant to be done for 10 days.  This is very similar to her other DVDs, but it is meant to ease you in.  It makes a good choice for people who are just getting into fitness or starting over after some time off.  I just completed day 5 of level one, and I’m excited to see how it goes.  Stay tuned for my progress, and other fun things.  Let me know if there are any common weight loss or health and fitness questions you have.  I’m certainly no expert, but I’ll do my best!

Keep Getting Up

I feel like I’ve written almost this same blog post so many times over the last couple of years. For one reason or another, I have had to start from zero on my fitness journey many times. I’ve let it get me down and discourage me from sharing, because I felt like I didn’t have enough to give.

This time didn’t seem any different, but once again, God has used a song to speak to me. Music is powerful, and this song is no exception. It played while I was in the gym, starting over for what seems like the millionth time. It’s only been a day or so since I told myself that I probably can’t run another half marathon. “Can’t” is that word I used to hate so much. It’s the word that got me to start running in the first place. I started running because I refused to admit that there was something I couldn’t do, just because I was afraid to try. For so long, I’ve felt like that girl was gone. The girl who never stopped trying, no matter how many obstacles got in her way? I thought she was gone forever. For the first time in a long time, I saw a glimmer of her in me again.

I’ve gotten off track again! The song! It is called, “Keep Getting Up” by Mandisa. The words have been speaking to me for a while, but the person in the song always felt just beyond my grasp. Today, as I got lost in the words, I felt them start to sink in. They actually started to feel possible.

It’s not gravity that tethers us to the ground
What if it’s only doubt and we can somehow shut it out
Get mad and shout, “I won’t stay down”

I still have a lot of work to do, and I know I’ll still have tough days, but today was the start of something. Today, I started to feel like me again. That girl is still in there, fighting. Step by step, day by day, maybe even minute by minute, I’ll get her back. I have to.

My first race ever! One of the best days of my life.

Passing the time on the Dreadmill

I’ve just finished my first full week of getting back on my fitness track, so I thought I’d give you a little training update! I went to the gym 6 of 7 days this week, and completed 3 training runs. I alternate with cross training using a combination of 30 minutes of cardio (bike, elliptical, etc.) and weight training.

I’m not back up to my full running capabilities, so I am not running the entire distance. I’m still covering the miles though! For my short runs, I walked 10 minutes, ran intervals (15sec running/30sec walking) 10 minutes, and walked 10 more minutes. I set the treadmill on a bit of an incline and 4mph to give myself a bit of a challenge during the walking portions. For my “long” run, I did the same ratio of walking 1/3, run/walking 1/3, and walking 1/3. It was harder than it used to be, but it felt good. Next week, I plan on increasing the ratio to 1/2 and 1/2.

As some of you may know, I hate the treadmill. Unfortunately, because of the hot weather and allergy season, it has kind of been a necessity for me. I have figured out a couple of ways to pass the time, and thought I would share them with you.

1. Podcasts: Find a subject you enjoy, and search for podcasts. My favorites involve running, Disney, and pop culture.
2. Audiobooks: Find books you like to read, or people you like to listen to. I like to find audiobooks written by funny people. They are usually read by the author, which makes them even funnier. I usually try to find good deals on Audible, but I have also gotten them from my local library.
3. YouTube videos: This is my current favorite. If you are lucky enough to have wifi where your treadmill is, you can watch them either on a device, or on the treadmill itself. I am lucky enough to have internet on the treadmill at my gym. Right now, I am enjoying Disney vlogs. People film their Disney trips, so it is kind of like you are experiencing it with them. That definitely passes the time!

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If you do have a love/hate relationship with your treadmill, like I do, I hope some of these tips are helpful! I’ve got a long way to go in my training, but I feel like I’m off to a good start.

NOTE: I am late posting this, so I am actually on week three of my modified training plan. I am running 2/3 of the time or distance. So far, so good! I will keep you posted!

Finding my way back to running…finding my way back to me…

Wow. Has it really been a year since I’ve written here? I suppose it has! What a year this has been. Most of it was plagued with injury, which meant I was mostly frustrated. I was in physical therapy for several months. I’m technically “discharged,” but I still have a long road to recovery ahead of me. It seems like I take two steps forward, then one step back. I am getting better, but setbacks have been a regular occurrence. I have gone from being sad to angry to afraid, and back to sad again. I miss running. Most of all, I miss who I am when I’m running.

My running has been a lot like my therapy. I would really get going for a while and then something (an increase in pain, the flu, etc. etc.) would hit and derail me. Then, I’d have to start all over again. Sometimes I’d get back to it and keep progressing for a while. Other times, I just didn’t start again for months. In the last couple of months, I just haven’t been running at all. Today…I ran. I didn’t run far, and I didn’t run fast…but I ran. I lip-synced, I danced (only from the waist up…I was on a treadmill after all), I got sweaty. It was amazing. I cannot remember the last time I had that much fun. I felt alive. I felt like me again. I had forgotten what the runner’s high felt like. It is real and it is awesome.

Since I am starting over again, I think I’m going to try to approach this like a new runner. As someone who has been running for a few years now, I remember being a little jealous of people who were new. There is nothing like the excitement and the sense of accomplishment you feel every time you accomplish a new goal, no matter how small it might be. Now, I have the chance to experience all of those things again, but with the knowledge of a more experienced runner. It might just be the best of both worlds. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it will be worth it. I am worth it.

When I go back and read what I wrote last year, it looks like I am in exactly the same spot. Sometimes it feels that way too. All I can do is go from here and work every day to get back to who I know I’m meant to be, even in small ways.

We’re on this journey together! Please don’t hesitate to contact me by email, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter if you have questions or just need to talk to someone who understands. Blessings and happy running (or walking or whatever you love) to everyone!

Note: I wrote this last week, and technical difficulties delayed the posting. A few days after I ran, I got sick. It’s another setback, but I’m not giving up!

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Why are you running?

On a run several weeks ago, I encountered a family pulling a little girl in a wagon. As I ran past, she said “Hi,” and I said “Hi,” back. Just as I got past her, she said, “Why are you running?” I was in the zone, and already gone by the time her words hit me. They stuck with me though. Why am I running? As I ran, I thought about this. My first thought was, “Because it’s fun.” This is true…sometimes. It can be fun, but any runner can tell you that it’s not fun 100% of the time. It can be hard, frustrating, painful, and downright maddening. All these things considered, it is also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

Anyone who knows about my background knows that I was never an athlete. Pushing my body to the limit, and accomplishing something on this level, gives me a joy that I never imagined. I am living a life I never thought possible, and it is thanks in large part to running. It sounds crazy, and sometimes I wonder why I do it. Then I remember the indescribable feeling I have when I accomplish something I never thought possible.

I used to see people running and think, “They are crazy! Why would you put your body through that?!” Now I know. I do it because is part of who I am. No matter how fast I go, no matter how far I go, I am a runner.

If you run, why do you do it? If not, insert any other physical activity you enjoy! Why do you do what you do?

Overcomer

For various health reasons (none of which turned out to be serious, all of which are on their way out), this has been a rough year. I started out running my first half marathon (and the 5K and the 10K…) at the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. I was in the best shape I have ever been in, and it was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. After I came home, it seemed like one thing after another sidelined me. I tried to keep my fitness level up, but I would take two steps forward and one step back. As soon as I would start getting my running built back up, something else would happen to set me back. It has been pretty discouraging, to be honest. It has been far from the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through, but I definitely had some down times. There were moments when I wanted to just give up. What was the point of trying, if I was just going to have to start over again later?

Over the past several weeks, however, I have been getting stronger every day. Sure, I have had some setbacks, but I feel like I am on my way to a comeback. As He often does, God has been reaching me through music. Each time I run, I seem to hear the song I need at the moment I need it. This song is “Overcomer” by Mandisa. I’ve always related to it, due to the healthy living journey I have been on. Now, I hear it in a completely different way. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend you find the video on YouTube. I hope you are changed by it too.

Here is a sample of the lyrics:

“You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds you
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer”

“The same Man, the Great I Am
The One who overcame death
He’s living inside of you
So just hold tight, fix your eyes
On the One who holds your life
There’s nothing He can’t do
He’s telling you”

Deep down, I have always believed these words. I know “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13). However, I am still human. Doubt creeps in. I begin to think that I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go on. Little by little, I am reminded that God has made me strong. I am capable of so much more than I thought. I am an Overcomer…and you can be too.

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THE Best Earbuds! Yurbuds!

Hello everyone! I have noticed some common questions in running groups regarding gear, fueling, etc. and I thought it might help to address some of them here! One question is “What kind of earbuds can I use that will stay in my ears?” I had the same question a year or so ago. Earbuds, earplugs, anything that is supposed to go in my ears will stay there for about 10 seconds and then fall right out.

I always thought I could not use any kind of earbuds, because none existed to fit my weirdly shaped ear canal. I always used the over-the-ear kind, but those were too big and cumbersome and took up too much room in my bag or around my neck. I was looking for a new pair of those and found Yurbuds. The box said they were designed for women and guaranteed not to fall out. “We’ll see about that!” I said, and decided to give them a try. Guess what? THEY DIDN’T FALL OUT. Now, this may not seem like a life-changing event to you, but it was to me! I can run, I can jump, I can do anything, and these things don’t budge! They kept their promise, and they are the only earbuds I use for running, at the gym, for travel, or just to throw in my bag for every day. The key is what they call a “Twistlock.” You can see a video on their website showing how that works.

My first pair of Yurbuds came from Target, but I have since seen them in running and sporting goods stores as well. The plain and simple version (which is what I have) is called “Inspire for Women.” These are just the regular model, with no bells and whistles. They are generally around $30, but I have found some on clearance at Target and even at stores like Ross or TJ Maxx for $14.99! Needless to say, I always grab every pair I can find when I get a deal like that. They come with two sizes of covers for you to try, so you can find which size will fit best. If neither of those work, the Yurbuds website states that you can contact them via telephone or email for fit advice. There are six sizes to choose from. On their website, you will also find the wide variety of earbuds they carry, with all kinds of features. The only drawback I see is that the covers sometimes fall off and get lost. You can order replacements for $10 on their website. It looks like right now they only have sizes 4 and 5 for the model I have. I have also seen a booth at a race expo where you could buy replacements. I may do this some day, but for now I have so many extra pair that I have gotten on sale, it is not necessary. I also bought a behind-the-ear pair from Marshall’s recently, but I have not tried those yet.

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(Also pictured above is my nifty earbud case from iFrogz. I don’t see it any more on their website, but I hope they still exist. They are awesome for keeping your cords neat and tidy!)

So there you have it…the best earbuds EVER, at least in my current opinion. What earbuds do you use? Do you ever have trouble getting them to stay in like I do? Do you have any other running/fitness gear-related questions I can try and answer for you? Can I possibly think of any more questions to ask you? You can contact me in the comments or on all of the various forms of social media seen on your right. Until next time, y’all!

Check out the Yurbuds website at: http://www.yurbuds.com

Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored or requested by Yurbuds. I am just a huge fan and wanted to share with everyone! All products discussed in this post were purchased by me and all opinions are my own.

I run AND I walk – The Jeff Galloway Method

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Many of you may be familiar with run/walk intervals as a form of training/racing. For example, you run for 1 minute, then walk for 1 minute. What some may not know is that this is not always a method for beginners or the injured. Many people (including myself) use this for life. In February, I completed the Glass Slipper Challenge (10K + Half Marathon at Walt Disney World) with run/walk intervals. Jeff Galloway, a former Olympian and the creator of the Jeff Galloway Method, recently qualified and completed the Boston Marathon this way.

I have previously discussed the fact that I never thought I wanted to be a runner. Long story short… during my weight loss, I decided I would give running a fair shot (mainly because I was too stubborn to say it was something I COULDN’T do). I downloaded a Couch to 5K app, planning to train all the way through to a 5K before I decided if I would quit. This program does use the run/walk intervals, but only until you work up to running the entire distance. After about a month of training, I was running 5 minutes, walking 1 minute. I did it. I was proud that I did it. Did I enjoy it? Not really. I didn’t hate it enough to quit, but I also was not sure if I wanted to run beyond the planned 5K. I certainly did not think I wanted to run a half marathon.

Being the Disney nerd that I am, I was very interested in runDisney. This is the Disney-sponsored racing series, in which runners can race through the Disney parks. They have a very informative website (), on which one can find tips from a nutritionist (Tara Gidus) and training plans from a training consultant (Jeff Galloway). As I learned more and more from the official site, message boards, and blogs (I told you I was a Disney nerd), I discovered the Galloway Method. I was pleased to see that this was a running technique in which walk breaks are integrated, but it is much more flexible than a Couch to 5K program. Runners can choose their own intervals and pace. It is not a means to an end, but a technique that can be employed for a lifetime of running. I downloaded the Galloway Easy 5K app and got to work. At first I tried 4min/1min intervals. This was fine, but the more I studied the method, I learned that many people use shorter intervals. I started playing with the times and discovered that the shorter my intervals were, it gave me either the same pace or faster. I experimented until I arrived at the 30sec/30sec intervals I still use today.

Some may think that those who run/walk are not runners. I say that if you run, you’re a runner; no matter how fast, or how far. We are getting out there, putting one foot in front of the other, and crossing the finish line, just like those who do not use intervals. If you’re a beginner, afraid to start running, think you hate running, or just want to try something new, I highly suggest this method. You may find that you will not only finish a race still upright, still smiling, but you will finish ahead of some people using different techniques. The beauty of running is that everyone runs their own race their own way. Find what works for you and enjoy the journey.

The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon - Part 2 of the Glass Slipper Challenge!
The 2014 runDisney Princess Half Marathon – Part 2 of the Glass Slipper Challenge!

For more information on Jeff Galloway, check out http://www.jeffgalloway.com/. You can also visit the official runDisney website at www.rundisney.com for information about future races and to download specific training programs.

NOTE: Though it might seem like it, I have no affiliation with Jeff Galloway or runDisney, nor was this post sponsored by anyone. All reviews and suggestions are my own. I am just a huge fan and excited to share with all of you!

Finding my way back to running…

A few weeks ago, I started running regularly again. I started out with about 15-20 minutes, because I didn’t want to overdo it and get injured. It was hard…really hard. I got very discouraged, because I thought “If I can’t run for 15 minutes without wanting to quit, how will I ever run a half marathon again?” I kept pushing forward, gradually increasing the time, but it wasn’t really getting any easier. I really thought about giving up. I told myself that maybe that amazing race weekend was a once in a lifetime experience. It was just a moment in time I would have to remember fondly, but never experience again. I tried to tell myself that would be okay, but the truth was that it broke my heart.

I kept pushing through, refusing to accept that my first half marathon would be my last. A little over a week ago, something happened. I finished a training run and while it was still difficult, it felt good. Really good. It felt like I was on my way back. For the first time in months, I actually felt like I can do this. I can find my way back!

I decided at the last minute to register for a 5K that I had been considering running for several months. This was the same race I ran last year, after completing a month-long road trip during which I ran twice. Results were not good. If I recall, it took me nearly an hour to finish. My mom was there again this year as official cheerleader/photographer/stuff holder. I told her not to start worrying about me until after the one hour mark. Since I was even more out of practice than I had been last year, I did not have high hopes. It was a pretty hot day, and I expected that to make things more difficult as well. I crossed the starting line, and made my way through some narrow spots. Soon, I found my rhythm. It was hot and it wasn’t pretty, but it was amazing. I felt like me again. Surprisingly, I finished in 40 minutes! This is only about 5 minutes slower than my PR!

I met Deena Kastor (Olympic medalist in the women's marathon) after the race!
I met Deena Kastor (Olympic medalist in the women’s marathon) after the race!

I don’t expect this to be an easy road, by any means. I do expect that I will get there. I will get back to the girl who finished that half marathon a few months ago. Who knows? Maybe I will even pass her.