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!

It’s More than just Physical

Throughout my life I have struggled with accepting my own accomplishment and have even found it difficult at times to graciously accept a complement. Over the past few years this has been something I have really worked on about myself. Through my regular yoga practice, my running and my lifting I have found small and some not so small portions of my life that I was able to find tangible accomplishments as a way of practicing my gratitude.

Being able to assign a number, measurement or flexibility range to “progress” made it easier for me to physically observe and enjoy my accomplishments. Yet over time of doing this type if physical life based accomplishment/reward system I began to notice I was  obsessively tracking and I was missing out on all that my accomplishments could be.

20140420-100840.jpgI think for me when I began to go deeper into my yoga practice I started peeling off the superficial layers of my accomplishments and my view of them started to shift.  Sure it feels great to do a yoga pose I have always found challenging and adding another 20-50 pounds to a lift doesn’t feel so shabby either, but I began to realize it was more than just the physical. Yes, of course all my yoga practice is making my shoulders look great and those dead lifts are providing some perkiness to my butt, but this whole journey/ adventure has become so much more.

Over the past two years I have done detox diets, juice cleanses, insane workouts, yoga teacher training, etc. etc. But what really came out of all of this has been an incredible sense of self and confidence, something I had believed to be lost not too long ago.

20140716-080300-28980516.jpgIt has been through my exploration of my physical changes that I have learnt how to stop and take it all in and to at times turn inwards.  Sometimes these little journeys inward aren’t always the most fun thing in the world and this is likely why it has taken me so long to open up to the idea of self exploration in more than just a physical sense.

I think as humans it is easy for us to sit there looking at our external appearances and to judge (ourselves and others). I believe it takes some time to feel comfortable and confidence enough to stop and look at our person not as someone with a long yoga body or a six pack or a perfectly balanced macro diet, but as the sum of that and our nature, love and humanness.

Although my realization of this has not make the struggle to acknowledge this in myself much easier, it does provide me with the comfort of knowing there is much more than just my physical accomplishments.

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All of this to say it is important for all of us where ever we are in our lives to take a second  to honour who we are, what we have accomplished and all the good that we can do for others. Although our physical accomplishments demonstrate amazing resolve and determination they are not the sum of all of your parts.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Getting Ready for Success

This summer has turned into a bit of a write off.  Yoga challenge and half marathon training aside I have allowed myself to indulge maybe a bit too much.

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I normally fluctuate a couple of pounds depending on the time of month, the time of day, how much water I have had, etc.  But this summer one too many pizzas or BBQ style foods has made its way into my body.

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Seeing how my foot is out of commission and I recently did a number on my wrist I am limited in what I can do physically right now.  So in order to get myself back on track I have contacted some friends that are also fans of fitness for some tips and tricks on how to stay active and I have piggy backed on my girlfriend’s 3 day juice cleanse.

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After doing some research I am actually starting to get excited about this little nutrition restart and cleanse.  So this week I have started to charge up my diet with my veggies and salads in order to get my digestive system ready for 3 days worth of liquid nutrients.

I hope to share my juicing recipes with you after the fact to be sure that they are not only nutritious but also tasty.

So here’s to leaving the past behind me and moving forward and getting back on track when it comes to health and fitness. Sometimes it takes step backs like this to remind yourself of your priorities and your goals. So instead of sitting here and dwelling on what I have done wrong I have decided to start taking the appropriate steps to move forward and get back to a more positive healthy place.

Happy Wednesday everyone.

Top 10 – Running Thoughts

Yesterday I went on a LSD run as a part of my half marathon training.  These runs average from an hour and a half to two and a half hours so I end up spending a lot of time with my thoughts.  While on my run yesterday there were several reoccurring thoughts that came to mind so I figured it would make for a fun light hearted post.   Perhaps you are a runner and you can relate.

20140415-091529.jpgTop 10 – Running Thoughts:

  1. I am so fast like the wind! I could keep the pace up forever!
  2. Why in the world didn’t I pace myself at the beginning I knew I had 22 km to run right?
  3. Look at that guy/gal running so fast! Whatever they are probably only out for 5k
  4. Finally someone waved back!
  5. This song is my JAM! wait I am singing out loud, how many people have I run by?
  6. Why am I doing this again?
  7. It doesn’t matter if you want to you already paid to.
  8. Everything hurts, if a cab comes by you better believe I am hailing it!
  9. You are half way just 12 more kilometers
  10. Thank god it’s over!

What are some thoughts that cross your mind when you are running?

Back Again – Recap

I have been dormant for a while and for that I apologize but I am back and trying to get back into the swing of blogging. The school year had been coming to a close which meant lots of reading and writing and studying. Now after a week of recovery and relaxation I am back to give you all a fun recap of the past little while.

20140716-080301-28981438.jpgBack in March I started school again, heading back with the goal of becoming a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, since finishing my university degree years ago, heading back to school has been an interesting experience. I forgot just how exhausting using your brain on a regular basis could be, the program I am enrolled in is also a one year intensive so it is exactly that, intense.  But enough about school. I don’t have to think about that for another 10 weeks or so.

What have I been up to.  Well quite honestly school has taken up about 80% of my time, but in the mist of all that craziness I have managed to complete the 101 day Digestive Detox I started in the spring and I just wrapped up a 30 day yoga challenge with my yoga studio, so I thought figure I would do a little recap, and then I am hoping to start bringing you delicious recipes and fun workouts again really soon.

So the 101 days of clean eating is over and thank goodness.  It was great to know that I was able to remain 100% committed for the majority of the experiment, however it is even more fantastic to know that it is over!  I have discovered that I have a pretty good 80/20 balance and I am keen on committing to that.  I found that the full on 100% clean eating, no drinking etc. was a little too extreme and made me dig my heels in at some points.  But it is always great to push your boundaries to get to places that make you feel a little uncomfortable.  Now it is over and I am back to a nice balanced diet of healthy, live, fresh foods with the occasional glass of wine while sitting on my patio.

20140716-080301-28981108.jpgThe clean eating challenge wasn’t the only thing I was challenging myself with this spring, I also signed up for a 30 day detox yoga challenge.   Now this was an incredible experience.  After returning from my yoga teacher training in Costa Rica and enrolling in school I was finding it challenging to attend more than one or two yoga classes a week.  I realized that I wasn’t committing to myself, my personal development and my practice.   The 30 day challenge really helped me to refocus and to make my practice a priority.

20140716-080300-28980516.jpgMaking my own yoga practice a priority allowed me to be more creative with the classes I was creating for others and helped me to find a little clarity in the midst of school, training, half marathon training, my part-time jobs, family and friends.   This challenge also provided me a way to start becoming a part of the yoga community.   The studio I frequent here in Ottawa has a great yoga community but I always felt like I was in a rush so I never took the time to say hello and speak with others.  This challenge showed me that I have the time to say hello and make new friends.  I strongly recommend if your local yoga studio does a challenge like this you make the commitment to yourself and try it out.

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Now that all of the challenges are over I am settling back into my regular gym, running and yoga routine and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible.   I have also started teaching my first outdoor fitness class and it has to date been a complete blast!

All in all I am happy to say it is officially summer for me. I get some time to relax and rest before school starts up again in September, I get to do some yoga outside on Parliament hill and in my yoga studio and I have a half marathon to look forward to in August.  In the mean time I am going to be spending time catching up on my personal reading and spending time in the sun.

20140716-080301-28981809.jpgHappy Humpday everyone!

Question:  What types of recipes and workouts would you like to see in the future?