Goal Inventory & Teaser!!

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It seems like just yesterday I was creating and posting my goals for 2017.

Here we are, already about halfway through the year and honestly, I haven’t looked back at my goals post since I published. So today, I decided to take a glance to see how I am doing.

Race-Related Goals:

  • Mile – I wanted to break 6 minutes and clock a 5:45. Last week, 5:21. CHECK!
  • 5K – Breaking 20 was my goal for this year. Added in speed work as I had planned and ran sub 19 in May. CHECK!
  • Half Marathon – 2017 goal was to break 1:40. Shamrock Half was very kind to me in March – 1:29. CHECK!
  • Marathon – I mentioned I wanted to simply beat my 2016 time of 3:46 and possibly BQ. In progress…  Training well underway for Erie at Presque Isle Marathon on September 10 and I am definitely chasing that unicorn.
  • Ultra? The thought was a maybe. However, all signed up for JFK 50 with Sara! In progress…

Other Goals:

  • Train my husband for his first half: CHECK!
  • Find more opportunities in the fitness/running industry – started working full-time in fitness once again. CHECK! Also in progress, PT certification.

As I stumble upon exciting new experiences offered to me, I now hesitate for only a second before jumping in with both feet. Why not?

Unsure if I purposely found more opportunities or the opportunities found me! Since late last year, I’ve continued to grow in several areas – who knew I would willingly tell my story in front of a group (and like it!)?

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project (I obviously do not have enough on my plate). On one early morning run, a business idea appeared in my mind. (Side note: anyone else find clarity while running? I find my best ideas and thoughts occur on runs).

Next thought – can this idea work? This little spark soon turned into a raging fire to determine how to put this plan into action. Like any unchartered path, there have been obstacles, excitement about the unknown, and a little self-doubt. However, I’ve been lucky to not have to blaze this trail alone.

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The time is coming to let you all in on the secret.

With some collaborative sweat equity, a simple idea developed into more than I anticipated. I am so excited to share the plans which have been in the making for months and I hope you all will be excited as well.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook so you don’t miss the big announcement!

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As for now, I need to go update those goals…

 

 

Workout Wednesday: Barefoot Strides & Partner Core

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Bouncing off last week’s post about adding strides into your running regimen by RunningDad.com, today I want you to strengthen your feet by going barefoot.

For thousands of years, our ancestors walked and ran sans shoes all the time without injury. Somewhere along the way, shoes became an extension of our body. As years went by, soles became thicker and our feet became weaker.

There are twenty-six bones in each foot on average, plus the tibia and fibula of the lower leg. There are around a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the foot and ankle. When your feet are in shoes for the majority of your waking day, there is a compression of these bones and muscles that limits blood flow and weakens the supportive nature of your feet.

At the very least, I encourage you to kick off your shoes once you get home from work. Even better, go au naturel, free your feet and add in barefoot strides at the end of your next run. Running barefoot not only feels good on the tootsies, but can help strengthen the muscles in the foot.

Spring is finally here – the grass is green, so go out on your yard (or scope out the best lawn in your neighborhood) or if all else fails, head to a turf field. Be sure your surface is free from small rocks, sticks, glass and….poop (from animals, not people…hopefully).

Try doing 4-6 100-yd strides with rest in between after your next slow run!

And…a double feature for your Workout Wednesday – A Partner Core Workout

1st: Find a spouse, significant other, running partner, friend or random victim to help challenge your core. Do each exercise for 30-45 seconds; take 15 seconds to rest and transition. Do circuit two times.

Double Leg Circles: Lie on mats feet-to-feet. Each of you will extend your legs out and rotate your legs/feet in a circular motion around your partner’s legs. Don’t forget to go both directions!

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Plank Shoulder Pushes: Go into a plank position face-to-face. Take turns firmly pushing on each other’s shoulders. Stay strong and don’t let you partner push you back!

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Crunch w/Dumbbell (or Medicine Ball) Pass: Lie on mats feet-to-feet – knee bent. Both people come up to a crunch/sit up position at the same time – one passes a dumbbell or medicine ball to the other. Both return to starting position; come up into crunch/situp and pass weight again. Repeat.

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Oblique Sit-Ups: Lay next to your partner on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Hands should be placed on either side of your head. Your back should be flat against the floor. Engage your core and lift your shoulders off the floor to an upright position, rotating your torso towards your partner as you reach the top. Take the outside arm (the one that is farthest from your partner) and reach across your body, firing your oblique muscles, to give your partner a high five. Carefully lower your upper body back to the floor. Repeat, then switch sides.

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WWPhotoContest

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday exercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RunningDad.com and I are challenging you during the month of May.
Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!

(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!

 

Rules:
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.

Workout Wednesday: Strides

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Your workout of the day includes strides….what are they? And why I am doing them?

Coach Jeremy chats today about the benefits of strides, how to incorporate them into your running plan and how they can make you feel badass.

Workout Wednesday: Strides

Don’t forget your #WW selfie!

WWPhotoContest

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday exercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RUNaissance Mom and I are challenging you during the month of May.

Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!

(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!

Rules:
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.

Workout Wednesday – Agility & DIY Ladder

Some may argue distance runners may not benefit from SARQ — Speed, Agility, Reactivity and Quickness—training, but I disagree.

SARQ training can benefit runners a variety of ways.

Key Benefits of Agility Work:

  • Provides a great dynamic warm-up.
  • Helps to improve coordination and body awareness.
  • Agility drills use more muscles than linear running – engaging more muscles requires more oxygen which increases the amount of energy that is expended = more calories burned!
  • Movement variability. While running, we are performing the same repetitive movement patterns. During agility, you can move in a variety of planes to strengthen your joints, ligaments and tendons which can help stabilize your muscles and help with injury prevention.
  • Use as a tool to work on form and cadence.
  • FUN. Doing the same workouts day in and day out can become monotonous. Adding in new types of engaging workouts can be challenging as well as exciting.

Do I think you need to spend a lot of time doing agility drills? Not at all; but every now and then it’s fun to shake up your routine.

Today’s workout utilizes an agility ladder. Ladders come with a cost so a few DIY options:

  • Easy version: chalk. Draw two parallel lines 15 ft in length and about 19 inches apart. Draw connecting lines every about every 15 inches.
  • Duct Tape (double layers).  Same as above.
  • Duct Tape & Paint Stirrers.  I tried this method below. First try was a bit rough, and I would recommend longer sticks and larger boxes.

Check out the video for the basic idea (thanks to my 10 year old for helping!).

Now that you have your ladder, let’s get to work!

For photo purposes, I made my guinea pig Coach Jeremy do the workout after one of our 4:45 a.m. runs. Between pre-dawn runs, ab workouts and now agility drills, I am pretty sure his neighbors think we are lunatics.

It was close, but he did a little better than this guy:

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Agility v.1: Basic Ladder Drills

Forward High Knees: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Run forward, driving knees up and placing 2 feet in each square before moving on.

Hmm, looks like the master has become the student. I have some work to do (I will give him a little leeway since his brain was probably still half asleep)!

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Lateral High Knees: Start at one of the ladder, with the “rungs” on your left. Move laterally performing high knees; placing 2 feet in each square before moving on. Change directions.

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Single Leg Hopscotch: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Both feet jump outside each square, then alternate one foot inside each square while moving forward.

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In/Out Hops: Start at one of the ladder, facing the first “rung”. Move your feet inside and outside each square while jumping forward.

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Lateral Switch Jumps:  Start at one of the ladder, facing the ladder side and “rungs” vertically in front of you. Move laterally while switching feet in/out of each square from side. Change directions.

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Overall, job well done by Running Dad Jeremy (no tears shed or pants pooped).

Now it’s your turn! This week you can get one entry for posting a picture of your agility ladder as well as a photo of you doing one of the drills!

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday WWPhotoContestexercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Challenge yourself! Need some incentive? RunningDad.com and I are challenging you during the month of May.
Take a #WW selfie of you doing one of our workouts and post on either of our Facebook or Twitter pages to try to win!

(1) Prize: (1) Nuun tube, (1) pair of Lock Laces, (2) Honey Stinger waffles and a $20 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods!

Rules:
1. Post your selfie on the Workout Wednesday post and use the #WorkoutWednesday tag. Photo can be submitted on either RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom Facebook or Twitter accounts.
2. Each photo equals one entry. Only one entry per Workout Wednesday will be counted. 5 Wednesdays in May = 5 chances to win.
3. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, Nuun, Honey Stinger, Lock Laces or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
4. Contest will close at midnight EST on June 1, 2017. One winner will be selected and contacted on June 2, 2017.

Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

“You can keep going and your legs might hurt for a week, or you can quit and your mind will hurt for a lifetime.” — Mark Allen

A few months ago, I discussed the mental battle many of us feel when running whether you are a beginner or an experienced runner. A friend read my post and mentioned I should read How Bad Do You Want It? by Matt Fitzgerald. 9781937715410

So, during a cold winter weekend, I downloaded a copy and curled up on the couch to gather some knowledge about the mental game. I knew this book would speak to me, but I wasn’t prepared for the negative emotional effect.

I’ll admit the beginning of the book was tough for me to read. To be brutally honest, I was pissed off. Sometimes reading the truth and admitting previous self defeat really sucks.

In college, I felt like that athlete who “pulled up lame”. I was tired. I had lost interest. My passion for running was at a low. I’ll confess I claimed a fake injury once or twice during a race when I couldn’t hang. So many life changes had occurred when I was in college and some days I felt I was just a lost ship at sea. Or maybe I just stopped trying.

For years, my goal was to use my running talent to earn a college scholarship. Looking back, once I achieved this major feat, I don’t recall setting a new goal. No goal to win the 800m at ACCs or qualify for NCAAs. Did I stop dreaming? Was I just happy to settle and have college athletics be my final destination? Unsure.

I’ve strayed – back to the story.

This book is a collection of stories about athletes who share their experiences; their battles and the coping mechanisms they have used to conquer the beast within themselves. I especially enjoyed reading about a runner named Jenny and her disaster of a race at 2009 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Later, you find out her married name – Jenny Simpson – who was just in the most recent Olympics.

Upon finishing this particular chapter, I thought, “thank goodness”. I am not the only one. This fierce battle between mind and matter even happens to the best of the best.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into the area where running is HARD is difficult for everyone. During a typical 5K, you have at least 3,000 steps to conjure up many thoughts – good or bad. And the bad tends to scream much louder than the good.

Since finishing the book, I have utilized a couple key tips while racing.

Embrace the hurt. Accept the fact that some of your run/race may be tough.

One of our local 5ks ends with a windy, gradual uphill about a half mile long. During the race, I knew it would be in front of me soon. I told myself, accept the challenge; yes – it will hurt. But you WILL run the hill and you will be finished soon. Fitzgerald mentions bracing yourself for a tough race or workout can boost performance by 15% or more.

Preparing yourself for the inevitable helps.

Also, reading and being reminded your brain is going to try to quit before your body is ready to give up. Studies show although you mentally feel you cannot take another step, your muscles are not at maximum effort yet. Mind over matter or matter over mind??

I encourage you to read this book if you’ve ever engaged in this mental war while running. You can admit you do – it’s more common than you think.

Whether you are an elite runner or a recreational jogger, I’m sure your mind has tried to make you quit before your body was ready. Arm yourself with a few coping tools and next time, you’ll be prepared to power through!

Now years later, my passion has been reignited and I’m back to racing. I feel as though I’ve been given a second chance to give it my all.

From here on out, and especially when I toe the line chasing that BQ, I will I ask myself, “How bad do you want it?”.

The answer?

Bad…very, very bad.

Workout Wednesday: Core

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Runner or not, when the warmer weather arrives we all start thinking of trying to get tank top arms or rock hard abs. Abs may be made in the kitchen, but you still need to work on your core strength in the gym.

So, what do you consider your core?

Most obvious answer may be abdominal muscles, which are actually a very small part of the core. Our core consists of a variety of muscles which stabilize the spine and pelvis, and run the entire length of the torso including our glutes, hamstrings, obliques, and hips.  

In addition to rocking your summer attire, building a stronger core will also help you be a better runner. Benefits of adding core into your workout routine include:

  • Stabilizing muscles we use for posture. Have you ever had the opportunity to see your form at the end of a race; maybe a particularly difficult finish? Our postural muscles begin to fatigue just as much as our legs do. Maximizing power in your glutes and obliques helps create a better running posture and use less excess energy.
  • Stave off injury. Core exercises help reduce injury by helping to withstand the repetitive nature of running.
  • Create a solid foundation. Core exercises can help improve your balance which is helpful in missteps especially on uneven terrain.
  • And of course, you will look good in your racing attire.

Core for Runners V.1

Plank: Assume a basic push-up position. Rest weight on elbows and forearms flat on the floor. Raise hips and maintain a straight line from shoulders to feet. Position can be modified on knees. Hold for up to 60 seconds.

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Target: deep core and strengthen your lower back.

Running Benefit: Helps prepare core for hills and fatigue late in the race.

 

Reverse Plank:  Sit on floor with legs straight out in front of you and arms at your sides. Lift your hips off the ground and hold for up to 60 seconds.

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Target: work on glutes and hamstrings in this plank variation.

Running Benefit: Helps generate explosive power in the stride and protect against injury.

 

Donkey Kicks: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Flex your feet. Keep the knee bent to 90 degrees and drive one heel up towards ceiling. Squeeze glutes, lower leg and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.

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Target: hips, lower back and glutes

Running Benefit: Helps maintain a fluid running stride.

 

Fire Hydrants: Start on your hands and knees – hands should be under shoulders and knees under hips. Raise one leg out to the side, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees. Raise, lower and repeat. Do 15-20 repetitions per leg.

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Target: hips.

Running Benefit: Injury prevention in hip and knee.

 

Windshield Wipers: Lie on your back on the floor and raise your legs 90 degrees. Spread your arms straight out to your sides for support. Rotate legs to one side, stopping short of touching the floor. Rotate to other side. Do 15 total repetitions.

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Target: obliques, hips.

Running Benefit: Strengthen oblique muscles will help minimize side-to-side motion while running. Less energy expenditure = more efficient runner.

Single Leg Lowering w/Crunch: Lie face up on a mat with both legs straight up in the air. Lower your left leg to ground and return to upright position. Do a crunch up towards legs then return to starting position. Lower right leg, return to upright and crunch. Repeat. Do 15 repetitions per leg.

Target: abs, hips, quads.

Running Benefit: Overall core challenge.

 

Try these exercises after your next run. You don’t need a rock-solid six pack to be a good runner, but a strong core will definitely help (and you’ll feel good too!).

WWPhotoContest

Make sure you take a photo of yourself doing one of the Workout Wednesday exercises then post on the Facebook or Twitter pages of RunningDad.com or RunaissanceMom to be entered to win a prize!

Workout Wednesday – Static & Dynamic Strength

My turn for Workout Wednesday!

During strength training, our muscles can produce force in three different ways. In the lifting phase of an exercise, the muscle is shortened, which is called the concentric action. When lowering the load and lengthening the muscle, this action is referred to as the eccentric action. If you have strength trained before, you are most likely familiar with these two dynamic actions.

Normally, many of us do not tend to focus on the static contraction.

This third action which causes our muscles to produce force are called isometric contractions. In an isometric contraction, no length in the muscle is created. Incorporating isometric exercises into your training can lead to gains muscle strength, flexibility and improved balance.

Today’s workout pairs all 3 contractions in a modified Tabata-style workout and we add in a little cardio as well.

Remember to warm up at least 5-10 minutes before starting. You will need light dumbbells and a mat.

Each exercise will be completed twice for 20 seconds on/10 seconds rest Static/Dynamic/Static/Dynamic before moving to the next set.

Workout will take approximately 25 minutes.

 

Group A:

  1. Static Squat/Squat (i.e. Static Squat/Squats/Static Squat/Squats)
  2. Low Push Up Hold/Push Up (i.e. Push Up Hold/Push Up/Push Up Hold/Push Ups and so on; pushups can be modified on knees)
  3. Static Lunge/Alternating Lunges

CARDIO: Jumping Jacks (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

Group B:

  1. V-Sit/Chest Fly/V-Sit + Chest Fly (on floor; this one has 3 parts)
  2. Wall Sit/Squat Jumps
  3. Tricep Dip Hold/Tricep Dips

CARDIO: Skater Jumps (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

 

Group C:

  1. Superman Hold/Superman Raises
  2. Side Plank Hold/Side Plank Hip Dips (Do Left, then Right; can be in modified position)
  3. Downward Dog Hold/Downward Dog Press

CARDIO: Jack + Alternating Kick (20 on/10 off X 4), then 45-60 Seconds of REST

 

Remember, the first exercise is a static hold, second is dynamic/moving (ie squat hold; up & down squats).

All of these strength and cardio exercises can be found online if you aren’t sure what to do. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Enjoy!