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.

 

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!

Weekend Round Up – Learning!

This past weekend was a busy one and it was super fun. My weekend started off Friday evening with the first installment of my Personal Training Specialist certification and it definitely wasn’t 100% what I expected (in a pleasant way)

I had expected for the course to be hands on and give us some practical experience when it comes actually training someone, but I was not prepared for the actual intense physical aspect of the course.   After doing some practice runs at training another classmate we had about an hour and a half of plyometrics Saturday afternoon. By the end of the day I was zonked from all the class learning and physical activity.

I was zonked and went straight to bed at 8:30pm, something about feeling like you have been working out for the past 5 hours will really take it out of a person.

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Seeing how the half marathon Susan and I sighed up for is in under a month we wanted to get in one last super long run before we started to tapper down to prepare for the race. So Sunday morning the two of us were up bright and early for a nice 17k run.

While running we saw volunteers setting up for Ottawa’s Army Run and we had the opportunity to watch the runners starting to head into their corals getting ready to start their race. Seeing everything being set up and the look of excitement on the faces of the runners, just revved Susan and I up for our half in October.

After our run we headed on over to the farmer’s market for some weekly groceries, then I quickly headed off for day three of my certification class and hoped there wouldn’t be any intense working out during the day. When I found out the focus would be on program design and stretching you better believe I was excited. After 17km my legs were loving any stretch they could get.

After three days of intense learning, exercising and stretching I was definitely ready to flop myself on my couch and just watch some movies with my husband and kittens. Although it wasa fast weekend it was still pretty great.

Now back to Monday and back to work. Happy Monday everyone.

Weekend Round Up – Hello Monday

Hello Monday! Although I would much rather be lazy snuggled up in my ridiculously comfortable bed I did have to get up and head on down to work. It seems that the longer the summer goes on the more challenging my 5 A.M. wake up call becomes.

This weekend started for me last Friday, I work a compressed schedule and I get every second Friday off, which normally ends up being reserved for running errands and getting things done around the house, but this Friday I decided to relax a bit. So after heading over to the gym for an early workout i started preparing lunch.

Last week it was a dear friend’s birthday and we hadn’t been able to celebrate so we schedule a lunch date and I went to visit her at her office with a little picnic.

20130819-053341.jpgI made us some salad with the organic baby kale I finally managed to find in the store and we sat outside and chatted for a bit.

After lunch I headed home and opened up some course books that arrived, my course (more on the course later) doesn’t start until the end of September but I am a nerd like that and like to get started early. Then I finished my afternoon off with a long chat with one of my sisters. It felt like a great Friday and I felt so rested by the end of it.

Saturday morning started pretty early for our house as we were having an old unsafe chimney removed. To get out the house and move around for a bit I went on a short bike ride and ran some errands. Once I got home I parked myself on the deck and was back in my books.

Sunday I woke up bright and early and got myself ready for the farmers market and a nice little 7k tempo run. This weekend had been so perfect temperature wise and I had the chance to run my favorite path on the south side of town.

After my run and grocery shopping my husband and I did a little quick gardening and running of errands before deciding that it was time to relax and enjoy the rest of our weekend. We decided to watch some classics like “the man in the iron mask” and “not without my daughter” before sitting down to a delicious meal of BBQ chicken and zuchinni with roasted potatoes. All in all a pretty great weekend and the best part is now it is less than a week before my sister comes to visit and before gingersneezes run club’s first 10k race!!!

Happy Monday!

Another Glorious Weekend and another Recap

This weekend was pretty great. Now with summer definitely being here I have a feeling most weekend are going to be pretty glorious which is going to make Monday mornings all the more difficult.

I started off my weekend with a Friday evening workout. It was leg day and it owned me. After having a rough week the week before (I didn’t make it through my whole leg day) I was excited to get a full workout under my belt. I know I sound crazy when I say this but I absolutely love leg day. I know most people like push and pull type days (generally speaking back, arms and core) but there is something about leg day that just makes me feel like a powerhouse, so I am always stoked to do some squats and deadlifts.

20130617-070128.jpgAfter the gym I came home to a wonderful meal of grilled tuna steaks with asparagus and mushrooms cooked by my wonderful husband. Just a side note the tuna steaks were so huge they provided both of us with a second meals.  It is also getting nice enough out that we are able to eat out on our deck, which is always so nice and relaxing. After supper we tidied up and then just relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Saturday started off early with a glorious run with Susan.  We have started a new training program to start lengthening our distances and it has, so far, been pretty easy to stick to, we will see what my tune is once the distances start to exceed 10k.  After our early morning run we both decided that it was a great day to pamper ourselves, so we stopped by Starbucks for some shaken iced teas and headed off to get our nails did. Once I got back home I was definitely ready to dig into some lunch, so I whipped up a quick salad with the leftover tuna steak and it was fantastic!
nails and salad

After lunch it was time to run some quick errands and stop off at Art in the Park. The art was awesome and it was so fun to look at everything.  Also check out the house that looks like a castle, how awesome would it be to live there?

art in the park Collage

Following Art in the Park, we headed over to a BBQ for a friend’s birthday and what a perfect day for some outdoor activities and mingling with friends. I also had the chance to see one of my favorite little ladies, and boy is she getting big! She is such a little ham.

bbq babes

Following the BBQ it was a quick stop at home to change for an engagement dinner, and then off we went to a lovely supper at one of my favourite restaurants in the city, Fresco’s. They are always super tasty! I probably should have taken pictures of my Arctic Char but I am always way too excited to eat my food to remember to snap a photo of it. I used my last “cheat” that evening so I could have some wine and indulge in the nut free dessert, it was tiramisu, I had never had it before and I am definitely a fan now! After supper everyone else continued the festivities but having started my day pretty early I was tuckered and ready to just unwind.

Sunday started off same as most Sundays with a visit to the Farmer’s market to stock up on my weekly groceries.  June is my favourite for the market because the amount of fruit and veggies really starts picking up, and  as delicious as asparagus is it is always fun to have some variety in what’s available.  I also finally purchased some plants to start a mini backyard garden.  I picked up some tomato and kale plants and I can’t wait for them to get bigger and start producing.

garden party

After finishing off at the market and getting the rest of our groceries for the week it was time to fully engage in some lazy sit on my butt time, so my husband and I loaded up Pirates of the Caribbean and got ready to enjoy a marathon movie watching day, while it rained outside. Basically a pretty fantastic ending to a weekend.

Now it is Monday and there are 3 days left of the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge so a huge congrats to everyone who is sticking with it!

Happy Monday everyone! 

Weekend Round Up

This weekend started off a bit rough with some work frustrations at the end of the week, but it really turned around. I had Friday off so I took that opportunity to lay low a little bit until my husband was done work (the lucky guy gets summer hours). Once he got home we decided to run some errands, like getting me some new (much needed running shoes) and buying some groceries so we could eat that day.

But back to my running shoes! They are completely amazing. I run in a supportive shoe for my pronation and because of this I normally get jammed with some pretty heinous looking shoes. But not this time. This time they are beautiful and bright pink! Thank you shoe industry for finally a supportive shoe with a bit more kick. Not only are they pretty but they also feel like running on clouds, what can I say I am in love.

new shoes

Saturday started off early with 8am gym session with my trainer to go over my new program for the month. I am starting build this month and couldn’t be more excited for it. The beginning of a phase is always so fun because that is when you can feel your body responding the most to the new exercises and it is this “burn” that gets me so excited to give it my all and dive in.

After my gym session I made my way over to finally test out the monkey bars. It was wet out which really challenged my grip, and I totally failed at getting a picture of it. So I will go and try it out again when it is dryer outside and get someone to snap a picture of me as proof. But besides it being slippery my arms didn’t feel like they were getting pulled out of their sockets as much as I had assumed they would so a bit win!

Later on Saturday evening I got to thinking about how much my body has changed since I became serious about strength training and having been introduced to functional training and then I thought “I wonder if I have back muscles?” Excited to find out I got my husband to take a picture of me “flexing” and to my surprise I am definitely developing some back muscles. After taking the picture I really wished I had taken a before so that I could have compared the difference. Now if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have already seen this picture but I figured I am pretty proud of it so I would share it here as well.

back musclesjpg

I guess this just goes to show you that hard work really does pay off, so if you are starting, in the middle of or struggling in your health and fitness routine, just remember that it will all pay off in the end so keep up your forward momentum. This picture has definitely motivated me to keep going and to continue to make new goals for myself.

Sunday was an awesome day. It started off early because I find it impossible to sleep in, and my cats generally help to keep it that way. But I was up and getting my meal prep for the weeks started by cooking up some turkey and sweet potatoes for my lunches. Then I met up with my running buddy for a nice 8km run under the, finally, blue sky and before we headed on over to the farmer’s market for some groceries. Sunday was a pretty perfect day, that I rounded off with some gardening and bonding with my neighbours while setting up an agreement for a plant exchange.

All in all the weekend was pretty incredible which makes it a bit easier knowing that the majority of my week will be spent sitting in a cubical.

I hope you all had amazing weekends! Happy Monday!

Jello Legs – Running Hills

Lately my posts have been focused on the Gingersneezes Eats Clean challenge seeing how it is the big thing I have going on right now, but I don’t want to forget about our Run Club. The Gingersneezes Run Club has been going great, and remember it is never too late to join in! The club started as a learn to run and 10k training clinic and the women who joined are quickly becoming great strong runners, it is so exciting to see each and everyone of them excel week after week.

Now that I have gotten my gushing out of the way I figured I would do a bit of an informative post on hill training and why it is important to a balanced running program. There are other forms of training (tempo and interval) that are important too, but today I want to focus on hills because I personally think they are so very important to good form, strong legs, glutes and abs and good performance as a runner.

Yesterday because of my bum ankle instead of going on a 60 minute run of 5:1 intervals we (running partner and I) decided to take the group over to a magnificent hill. We figured at least everyone would still be getting in a good workout, and they wouldn’t be penalized by my bum ankle. It also gave me the chance to see everyone’s form and encourage the group from the bottom of the hill while Susan (my running buddy and co-leader of the group) ran the hills with the group to keep them moving.

Hills CollageThe hills maybe weren’t loved by everyone but it was a nice way to shake things up and a way to give the group a little taste of things to come as training progresses.

Why are hills so great for you as a runner? Besides me loving hills just because I personally find them challenging, they do a whole load of great things for you. One of the main things is that hills (either hilly runs or hill repeats) help remind you of your form. As runners we sometimes take our form for granted or we get a little stuck on what “perfect form” looks like. With hills you have no choice but to straighten up a bit and remind yourself of your abdominal and glute muscles so that you can power through each hill.

If you exercise poor form while running hills your body will let you know almost immediately, everything will feel much more challenging, and you are likely to become winded much more rapidly. But a quick reminder to engage your core and glutes will have you up right and taking on those hills in no time.

running form

Hills are great for your form, but are they great for anything else? The short answer is YES! The longer answer is that by doing hills and being mindful of engaging the appropriate muscles you are actually working those muscles out much more than you would be had you done the same run on a flat surface. Hill running allows you to build your running muscles (quads, calves and glutes primarily). Building these muscles helps you to avoid injury and to make you a faster stronger runner.

The run is shorter am I still burning enough calories? Hill running is awesome for torching calories. The high intensity of the hills challenges your body to rev it up, more than it would if you were just running on a flat surface. The quick bursts of energy are completely exhausting for a reason, you are burning up your fuel source like no one’s business and the steeper the hill the harder the workout.

Now that you are all super excited about running hills and are all itching to lace up and test it out yourself. I have a wonderful beginner’s exercise to share with you.

running hills

Test it out and let me know what you thought.

Happy Tuesday! The sun is peeking out. I am hopeful that it is warming up!

P.S. remember to be careful when running hills. It is important to watch your footing and to stay alert, you don’t want to slip and then stall your progress from an injury that could have been avoided.