Fun Summer Running Gear

Fun Running GearI participate in various forms of movement and physical activity but I think I would have to say that running is definitely my physical activity of choice, or at least I am most stubborn about it.  There is something about just being outside with your thoughts, listening to your breathing or boom of super loud music in your ears, that just makes me so happy.

I have mentioned before that when I am not feeling super motivated I will purchase a new pair of running socks to get me excited about running.  Socks are my go to because out of all the running gear I could be buying to motivate myself socks are the cheapest.  But this got me thinking what are my favourite running things?  This is when I realized there are very few things besides my running watch (which I honestly feel could be any brand), orthotics and sun block there are only a handful of things I feel I couldn’t live without.

So here they are the items I feel like without them running would be that much more difficult.

Run Gear1. Lululemon Stuff Your Bra: This bra is nothing short of incredible! Not only does it offer amazing support, the bra itself has tiny little pockets for your keys, cell phone, tissue, lip gloss, tiny little sunblocks.  Sure it is a bra so you don’t want to be stuffing a water bottle in there, but for a house key or your iPod or cell phone this bra is perfect.  The addition of items to the bra’s pockets doesn’t compromise the support it offers, this bra is also awesome in the gym to carry around your music so you don’t have ear phone cables all over the place.

2. Lululemon Run Inspire Crop: another lulu gem.  I love these pants because the mesh on the back of the leg.  I am not much for running in shorts on longer runs however that can become challenging on hot days.  The mesh helps to cool down your leg while still giving you some good coverage.  Also as #1 didn’t give you enough options for storing things, these guys have a nice little pocket on your backside for keys, cards or whatever you would like to put in there.

3. Fuel Belt: The fuel belt above is from the Running Room, it isn’t necessarily my very favourite ever but it is one that has lasted me over 5 years and came in at under $25 so I really have no complaints. Regardless of the brand you choose if you are running more than 5k and it is warm out you should be bringing some water with you and for body balance reasons I find hands free is the best way to go.

4. WATER BOTTLES: as mentioned above water and hydrating is an absolute must during your day, and more importantly when you are outside in the sun being active.  Personally I have two of these little guys threaded onto my fuel belt, one is filled with straight up water and the second normally has some type of electrolyte concoction in it. I like these little bottles because they aren’t overly heavy, and to be honest running with water can be annoying but I am always thankful for it after a long run.

5. Running Hats: I am sure I have mentioned this in the past. I don’t do well with sunglasses, I get too sweaty behind them and become uncomfortable pretty quickly.  I prefer a hat, not only for the reduced sweatiness but also for the protection from the sun.  I am a ginger and therefore burn pretty easily, plus who doesn’t want to protect their face from the harmful rays of the sun?  Now there is a difference between a regular old baseball hat and a running hat.  Running hats are so much lighter and breathable than other hats out there.  To be honest I have no idea what brand my hat is, I went to a Sport Check and bought a hat for $20, the back is mesh and the rest of the hat is made of light weight material.

There you have it. These are my tired and true items, if you didn’t notice I am not much for spending huge amounts of cash on my running gear (I guess besides my slight Lululemon obsession). I find the key to good summer running gear is to make sure the materials used are light weight, breathable and whenever possible moisture wicking!   I understand that I didn’t list my running shoes here which are arguably a must have when running, however when it comes to shoes we all have very different needs and feet.  Personally I tend to buy the same brand year after year, but always try on various brands when purchasing a new pair because designs change, shoes fit differently from year to year and you never know when you might find something that is better suited to your needs.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Let me know what your favourite running gear is in the comments below, I am always on the look out for fun new running stuff.

 

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Exploring Self Through Yoga

GingerIf you have ever been to a yoga class you have probably heard your teacher say “listen to your body” or “pay attention to your breath” or “honour your body” or something of the like.  To be honest when I first started participating I had no idea what these nutty teachers were talking about.  Listen to what? who? where?  I was so focused on looking the way everyone else looked or figuring out how to do one of those crazy push-ups (chaturanga) to realize that I had no idea how to listen to my body.

I approached yoga like I approached my running. Grin and bear it to get to the end! Initially it was more important to make it through a class and get a good sweat on than it was to pay attention to any of those “fluffy” things my teacher was saying. I mean really how do you  “listen” to a body anyways it can’t say anything.  Then one day it happened I heard it! I was doing my best at forcing my body into some crazy hand balance pose (Bakasana or crow) when I realized I full on wasn’t breathing. I was holding everything in so tight that I didn’t realize it was this misdirection of effort that was continuously knocking me out of the pose. I wasn’t listening to my body!

Many years later I began teaching yoga myself. I would find myself giving the same direction about listening to your body and your breath, while encouraging my students to find their personal edge.  Then it occurred to me…do they have any idea what it feels like to listen to their body? do they know what I mean when I say “find your edge”? or are they doing the exact same thing I was doing trying to do…win at yoga?

It was through this realization that I allowed me to modify my queuing, and *fingers crossed* this has helped my students. Yoga has afforded me the opportunity to not only explore through my solo practice but I have also been given the gift of teaching others and learning through their experience, breath and postures.  It is during these times of exploration and learning that I have found yoga to open me up to exploring alternative ways of absorbing new material and allows me to actually understand what my body is saying.

Now after that huge lead up…time to explain what I mean by our bodies talking.  Through my life as a runner and a poor food choice maker (is that a thing?) my body has told me things weren’t right but providing me with achy knees, eczema, a sore stomach, irritated bowels, and now you probably know more about me than you probably ever wanted to.  It was by not listening to these discomforts that I drove myself down deeper into this spiral of pain and unpleasantness. However, not sure if you are or ever have been on one of these spirals, over time my body stopped telling me what it didn’t agree with (probably because I told it to shut it so much with the use of antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, etc.).  After my body found its equilibrium again I started to feel “normal” so the next time I had some type of unpleasant flare up I once again blamed it on my body instead of what I was doing to my body.

How did yoga help with this? It gave me one single second.  It gave me a second here or there to just sit with my body.  It gave me the opportunity to learn that pain isn’t some type of punishment that my body is dealing out, but it is more like a memo. Once I was able to start slowing down, getting out of the mind set of winning at yoga I was able to listen.  Now, please don’t be mistaken, I am still a fairly competitive person (and in the worst way…you know one of those people that says they aren’t competitive but are) but I respect that part of me and use it to motivate me but understand that it isn’t always the right voice to listen to all the time.

So what, right? Who cares if I can understand what is up right? Well for one really care.  It is awesome to know that when my stomach acts up I should probably lay off the dairy or that when my yoga teacher is telling us to push deeper but listen to our breath I know what my breath should sound like for me.  It is awesome and empowering to know that achy knees means I need to build strength, that low energy means I should check how many veggies I am eating, that moving deeper into a pose might be right for some but it’s not right for me.  Yoga has taught me how to use those precious seconds in my life to learn a little bit more about myself and what my body needs.

So next time your yoga teacher says listen to your breath or your body use those seconds to listen and hear what your body is throwing your way, and then ride the wave of the positive benefits of the new connection.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

It’s Running Season – Tips for Injury Prevention

Spring has official sprung and the residents of Ottawa have definitely emerged from their homes, packed up their winter clothing and are sporting flip flops and shorts. It is that time of the year where all of the extreme runners, fair weather runners, first timers and weekend warriors start heading outside in their brightly coloured tank tops, running shorts and their newest pair of light weight running shoes.   As running season approaches and people get excited about moving, being outside and shedding the “winter weight” it is good to take a second just to go over a couple reminders to keep us all healthy, happy and injury free as we start to increase our kilometers, speed and endurance.

Running HappyKeeping your Body Happy during Running Seasons:

  1. STRETCH! I lead a run club for women in the summer months and this is probably one of my top struggles as a run coach. I can tell you to stretch and I can be there to make sure you you have a quick post run stretch, but once you get home I can’t make sure my runners are grabbing their foam rollers and going to town as suggested. So I beg of you please for the love of your joints, muscles, range of motion and injury prevention stretch! Get on your foam roller, find some yoga tune up balls, or follow a running magazine stretching sequence, no matter what JUST STRETCH! Our joints and muscles take a serious beating when we run so it is important to show them some love.
  2. Drink more than you think you need. This might sound like a real silly reminder but we don’t always feel thirsty. Maybe it was cool out or maybe it was raining, sometimes the weather surrounding our runs makes us feel more hydrated and in less need of water than we really are. It is important to consume water before and after your runs and to bring some along when running anything over 5km, ESPECIALLY when it is super warm out.
  3. Running gear can be cool, but it is also useful. I said it, running gear is cool, it is fun and gets me motivated to lace-up my shoes and hit the pavement. You don’t need fancy running gear to get out there, but things like a good pair of light weight socks, a running hat, a fuel belt for your water (see #2), a supportive/comfortable pair of runners and some light weight clothing will go a long way when running outside in the summer.
  4. Strength training. Chances are you may have picked up running because you are more of the endurance type, than the “let’s pick up heavy things and move them” type. However life is about balance and so is running. Similar to stretching you are much less likely to suffer an injury if you strength train regularly. I am not suggesting you go out and buy yourself a fancy pants expensive gym membership, however I am recommending committing to at least 2 strength training (with weights or body weight) workouts a week in addition to your runs, heck they can be after your run, right there outside in the sun. Focusing on building and supporting the muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, quads, shins, calves and core) involved in supporting your body during your running sessions.
  5. Turn your runs into learning opportunities.  As runners (new or veteran) there is a tendency to push through, because let’s be honest if we didn’t “push through” on a regular bases we probably wouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It is in our nature to ignore pinches, pains, and aches and instead wear them like badges. Feel free to continue to be proud of those sore quads after a good run or those tight calves as you roll them out on your foam roller (see #1), but be sure to take a step back and listen. Our society has gotten away from listening to the tips and clues our body gives us, we numb the pain with Advil/ Tylenol, we rub on joint relief creams and slap a brace on it, but don’t take the time to understand what our bodies are telling us. So if that heel, hip, knee or whatever hurts after your runs take stock, take a step back and figure out what your body is telling you.  Maybe you need to get checked out by a sports doctor, perhaps more stretching or more strength training is in order.  Regardless of what the “fix” is support your body instead of telling it what to do.

Now that you are geared up, stretched out, strengthened and hydrated lace up those shoes and get a nice run in.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Stress and Motivation

These past few months I have been slowly adapting to my new life style of part time yoga teaching, part time personal training, part time government work and full time school.  Oh goodness when it is all written up like that it seems a little overwhelming, and at times it feels that completely overwhelming. During this change in my life and my routine I have been struggling with finding a balance and finding a way to commit to my workouts and my yoga practices.

20140427-161649.jpgLuckily (sometimes I think not so luckily) two of my jobs are personal training and teaching yoga so making time to get to the gym or get on my mat is not only good for my personal well being it is good for business so to speak.   But when there is such an easy overlap sometimes it can take away from my “me time” that which is normally what my gym/yoga time is.

So all of this being said how do you keep motivated at reaching/ surpassing your personal goals, while lowering or maintaining stress levels? Unfortunately, I don’t have any 100% works all the time fix but the following tips have helped me out more than once, and to be honest are helping me out right now (I have slipped and have been a little less productive with my goals than I would like, but that is part of the journey).

motivateHow to keep Motivated when you are Stressed out:

1. Consider taking a break.   Now I don’t recommend this often, but if your stress levels are through the roof working out and physically stressing your body out can actually put you in a worse off position.  The best way to explain this is that we all have a bucket and this bucket collects “stress”.  It doesn’t care if it is emotional, physical, mental or environmental the bucket just collects it all.   If you are on the brink of having a full bucket have a big project due, are putting over time at work and have a heavy lifting session followed by some cardio it is quite possible that your bucket will overflow.   So maybe instead of hitting the gym as hard as you normally would consider taking a restorative yoga class, reading a book in a nice bubble bath, go on a walk with a friend, get out in nature.   Don’t write the day off do something just listen to your body and take it down a notch if you need to.

2. Focus on what you are putting in your mouth.  This one has been extremely challenging for me lately.  We all have different responses to stress, some of us might want to run miles, stuff food in our faces or maybe sleeping all day long and avoiding the problem is more your jam.   I am a mix between wanting to run for miles and stuffing my face, and unfortunately for my waist line I have been nursing a running injury so face stuffing has been front and centre.  I understand that I am going to trip up every now and then and that is just part of life, I also know that taking the care to put food in your body that has been lovingly grown and prepared will do me better than any bag of chips ever will.  Although I have had a bit of a hiccup it is important to get yourself back on track and move forward.  Cooking with a friend and pre-making your food for the week is a splendid way to remove excuses and fill your fridge with easy, healthy and loving food.

3. Schedule it.  I am sure we have all heard this at some point in our goals building a healthy life style, but it is so important especially in times of stress.   We tend to make room in our lives for our work, our homework, cleaning, friends and family but it is just as important to make time for ourselves and our well-being.  So schedule in your workout, schedule in your yoga practice, bring your runners to work and head out at lunch, encourage your family to come with you, do what you need to so that your health and fitness is just as important (if not more) than all the other items on your to do list.  Also having it scheduled will help to remove the “how am I ever going to fit this in stress” because you have already thought of that and it is planned out all you have to do is get there.

4. Timed Goals.  This might sound like a bad idea but it helps me out every time.  I love running but when I have a reason to run, like a race, I am more likely to lace up when I really don’t want to.  Setting well structured and time limited goals are great motivators to get your revved up and excited to take care of your physical and mental body.   When I am having a particularly rough time I try and set weekly goals so I can feel that satisfaction of accomplishing something no matter how chaotic my life feels at the time.

I hope these tips help you get back on track if you have also taking a bit of a detour. 

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Motivational Monday – weekend workouts

Yup you heard it first I workout on weekends. Traditionally would give myself Sundays off as a rest day but the new training plan I am on has me resting Mondays instead. Because of this change in my regular programming it took a substantial mental push to make sure I put on my gym clothing and got my but in gear Sunday morning.

I went through the internal back and forth of “maybe I will just skip this one Sunday and workout on Monday this time” to the “my belly hurts I couldn’t possibly workout” and the ever famous “I am too busy I don’t have time to spend an hour at the gym”. After trying to talk myself out of it I eventually went on auto pilot and reminded myself that it was only an hour and my reward would be getting to have a full Monday off.

Having Monday off this week was fairly attractive because I was writing an exam for school in the morning and the idea of having to do nothing but some meal prep and watching Charmed until my husband got home from work was pretty appealing.

Also as it turned out hitting up the gym at 8am on a Sunday have me loads of space for my workout, I didn’t have to share equipment and I was out of there before most people started to come in for their own workouts. Also lucky for me the gym is located next to a Starbucks so I had some prime study space available right after working out.
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Basically after trying to talk myself out of the gym I realized that workout on the weekend has now made me less busy for the week, gave me an excuse to study some more (not that I needed one) and I got to finish up some weekend errands on the way home, all before noon.

What I am trying to say here is your motivation for getting yourself to the gym, lacing up your runners or showing up on your yoga mat can be as simple as having a free evening during the week. Also early morning workouts help to kick start your metabolism and your day. You will surprise yourself at just how much you can accomplish and still have time to relax with family.

I hope you took that time to give yourself some time this weekend. Even if it wasn’t a workout, maybe it was time with a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while, a relaxing bubble bath or taking the time to plan and prep your meals for the week. Whatever it was I hope it served you well.

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I hope you all had a great weekend and happy Monday.

Holiday Melt Down

No I am not having a nervous breakdown, although I do realize that is definitely what the title to this blog post sounds like. I am actually having a fabulous time.  A cold time however a fabulous one.

I figured with this time of year being synonymous with stuffing our faces and maybe indulging in one to many spiked eggnog’s or perhaps a couple too many holiday beverages at our fifth holiday party of the week, it might be nice to share a quick and easy workout.  This can be done at home, all you need are some 8-12lbs weights.  If you don’t have weights and it is too cold to encourage yourself to go to the gym using your body weight is more than alright, this workout will have your heart pumping and your muscles hurting one way or another.

If you are just starting out, maybe getting a head start on that new years resolution, I recommend you stick to the 30seconds work to 10 seconds rest ratio, if you are looking for more of a challenge crank your work time up to 45-60 seconds depending on what your fitness level is.  Keep in mind you will be doing each round 2-3 times for a full workout.

So go and get your space set up, blast your music and get ready to get sweaty.  I hope you all enjoy!

photo 3 (2)Stay Warm!

Finally Here

At times it felt like this moment would never come.  After over a year of waiting, planning and saving today marks my last day of work before I start to get serious about my upcoming adventure.  I haven’t talked about it much since I announced signing up for Yoga Teacher Training back in February, not because I am not spilling over with excitement but rather because I have been so per-occupied with other endeavors (Personal Training Certification, Run Club, etc).   Now with everything else out of the way I feel like I am going to burst with a mix of excitement and nerves.
yoga CollageI have started a small collection of items I require for my travels on our dinning room table and I get butterflies every time I walk by and see my mini stock pile of items. Nervous excitement seems like the best way to explain how I am feeling about my trip.

This adventure will be the first time I am away from Canada for as long as I will be, and it will also be the first time I travel for an extended period of time on my own and instead of meeting up with friends I will be meeting up with strangers. It is a whole bunch of new and firsts for me and I am just so curious to see how it all works out.

UntitledIt will be nice waking up Sunday morning to warm temperatures and sun as opposed to this mornings snow and below zero temperatures. I can’t wait to bring you some sunny blog posts and to keep you all up to date on how things are going at yoga school. So stay tuned.

Happy Wednesday!