It might take a couple months, a year or even half a lifetime, but eventually most folks who start running on a regular basis decide to take it one step further by signing up for a full-fledged race. Even for those who don’t consider themselves “competitive,” running in an organized race is a great way stay motivated, test current fitness levels, breaking a sweat and bask in personal post-race glory alongside hundreds, if not thousands, other runners on a like-minded mission.
But, if you’ve never touched toe to the start line of a race, the sheer variety of endurance events and unfamiliarity of the “scene” can make it overwhelming and even intimidating to click the “register me” button. The best advice is to seek suggestions from seasoned veterans, poke around to find out what local races friends and family have found to be newbie-friendly. Even then, the “type of race,” should suit your own unique personality and running preferences. Read on to get the high-level low down on some popular “types” of races: Continue reading →
I don’t usually do a “5 for Friday” shoutout, but this week has been full of so many interesting, fun, amazing things that I though I should. Then, I realized I had excessively more than 5 things to share – so, you’re getting “15 for Friday!” I’m talking about everything from amazing eco-wellness products from Shiftcon, the lotions I put on my face, a really cool app-based, customized meal delivery service, my latest ambassadorships, the 3M Half Marathon, mystery excitement news, and more! You have to read on to find out all the deets!
Today’s post is sponsored by Smoothie King, but my content and love for their Meal Replacement Smoothies is all my own! Take the challenge as part of a low-calorie diet and daily exercise program. Weight loss depends on individual needs.
I can’t believe it’s already 2017, the New Year snuck up on me before I had time to formalize my goals and best intentions for the next 12 months. I’m not so much a fan of “resolutions,” per se. Somehow that implies a certain past wrongness and need for fixing! But goals are a good thing, and I like to set them high – that way, when and if I fail, I most likely have achieved above and beyond par. Find out why I don’t diet and how snacks like Smoothie King helps me fuel up for and recover from workouts and fill my nutritional gaps.
This post is sponsored by Potatoes USA however all opinions, comments, recipes and enthusiasm are my own!
Ever heard the expression “all meat and no potatoes”?
Ironically, this old-school insult means, “Dude, you’re fat!” But, many would probably assume the opposite in this high-protein diet world where we’re all freaking out over carbs. Yes, while protein is good, so are carbohydrates. I’m not talking about sugary or highly-processed carbs that are stripped of their inherent wholesomeness, I’m talking about complex carbohydrates – like the very healthy potato.
Can I get a virtual high-five for the potato?!
As a lifelong athlete, I’ve used potatoes as part of my training diet year after year. Potatoes are an on point food choice to help fuel an active lifestyle. Spuds for speed, that’s what I’ve always told people! Potatoes are packed with complex carbs to provide the energy my body and brain needs to train, compete and recover optimally. Because they are unearthed from the ground, potatoes are also a great source of minerals including potassium, iron and magnesium. Athletes need these things in abundance and that’s why potatoes are actually a common sight along the courses of ultra-marathons, Ironmans and century rides.Oh, and you can use a 10-lb. bag of potatoes for a pull-up challenge!
Other potato perks — they come in their own wrappers, are simple to cook, extremely versatile in recipes and are inexpensive – I just love the cleverness of Mother Nature! If you need a healthy, balanced meal on the quick and cheap, it’s a loaded baked potato piled high with all the leftovers in your fridge for the win.
Another way I love to eat potatoes, just roasted in a pan with some olive oil.
If you’re getting bored with potatoes, think creatively. There are so many other ways to enjoy them than the traditional baked potato. Plus, there is a rainbow array of varieties including white, red, russet, yellow, purples, fingerlings and petite potatoes. While my go-to side dish the night before an endurance event is a simple baked potato with salt, I am way more potato crazy in the weeks leading up to a marathon or long beastly obstacle race. Mashed, minced, toasted, riced, pureed, grilled, spiralized, oven-fried … whew, I’m the Bubba Gump of potatoes.
Today I’m sharing a unique and family-approved way to eat your potatoes that includes a healthy balance of protein – and, by the way, a medium (5.3 ounce) potato has more than 3g of protein on its own! My recipe for Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars uses the fluffy innards of a baked potato along with Greek yogurt, eggs and a scoop of protein powder to create a marvelously moist “bar” that has the texture of a muffin. Each muffin bar has only 70 calories and no sugar, but 10 grams of energy-boosting carbs and more than 6 grams of protein. Plus, between the potato and protein powder, there’s no need to use any type of flour, other grain or filler, meaning these muffin bars are gluten-free.
I devour these Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars for pretty much any occasion – breakfast, pre-workout fuel, post-workout recovery snack, and dolloped with fruity yogurt for a healthy dessert. I betcha these special spud snacks won’t last long at your house. That’s why I always bake two batches and freeze bars from the second batch individually in zip-top bags for grab-and-go munching – they are always thawed out after my workout!
How are you putting potatoes on your plate? Favorite recipe? What’s the last endurance event you tanked at? tanked at? Do you think you needed more carbs?! Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Chai-Spiced Potato Muffin Bars
Fuel your next run or workout with this nutritionally balanced energy bar that will optimize performance -- the potatoes provide healthy carbs for energy plus potassium for hydration.
Wash and dry potatoes and pierce around sides with fork. Place in center of microwave and cook on high for approximately 4 minutes, or until yielding when squeezed and soft and fluffy inside. Cut in half, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Using a tablespoon, scoop pulp of potato and place in blend, discarding skins. Add eggs, Greek yogurt and ¼ cup of the milk and blend until smooth. Next, pulse in vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and white pepper until just combined.
In small bowl, mix together baking soda, salt, white pepper, and protein powder. Pulse this mixture into the blender in batches until smooth, adding the additional milk if batter seems to thick.
Prepare 9” x 9” rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. Pour in batter and bake for approximately 14 to 16 minutes or until turning lightly golden brown and toothpick pulls clean from the center.
Let cool for 30 minutes and cut into 8 bars.
Dust with additional cinnamon and a bit of powdered sugar, if desired.
This post is sponsored by Matrix Fitness, however, all opinions, exercise instruction and enthusiasm are my own.
In a perfect world, I would prefer to challenge my running abilities in the great outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the scenery and practicing my fancy footwork on any obstacles thrown my way. However, all too often, 21st century life gets in the way of marathon training and outdoor adventuring like bounding up real rocky trails or jumping puddles in an intersection. But, sometimes the weather is just too bad, daylight has vanished or you’re traveling and worried about safety or getting lost on a run. That’s when a treadmill becomes a most welcomed tactic in your training battle plan.
Yeah, sure, die hard runners will train in the elements, whatever they may be – rain, sleet, ice and snow. While you should try to do this occasionally to acclimate for potential race day conditions, there is no reason to put yourself in harm’s way, Get struck by lightning or plowed down by a car that didn’t see you in a downpour and you’ll not be enjoying bananas, high-fives and a shiny new finisher’s medal at the end of your marathon. There’s no need to be a modern-day martyr and suffer needlessly to prove your toughness. Sometimes a little bit of comfort and convenience go a long way in nailing your marathon race goals.
So, for safety, convenience and comfort, I will frequently knock out my marathon training, especially the speedwork) on a treadmill. This also helps me when I don’t have a faster running buddy to help push the pace – the treadmill keeps me on task and working hard. By the way, I’m a huge fan of the treadmills from MatrixFitness.com, more on that in a bit. Today, I’m sharing my “Special Ks” Treadmill Run Workout that will help you learn to battle fatigue in the later miles of a marathon. Building up this speed and endurance will make you unstoppable and unbreakable and undeniably more race ready than yesterday.
Remember to PIN THIS and make it part of your next marathon training cycle!
After finishing this nearly 7.5 “fast-faster-fastest” workout with very little rest in between 1k intervals, you’ll probably stop looking at the treadmill as the weenie way to get in your workout. A good treadmill can give you so many workout options that will challenge your stamina, raw strength and relentless grit. You just need to have access to a good treadmill (why not buy one for home use?!) and know the machine’s capabilities. As I mentioned, I like the treadmills from MatrixFitness.com and I have my eye on one with all the bells and whistles that makes a runner-geek like me feel woozy with excitement. My goal is to have my very own in-house by mid-December as a little early holiday present for myself. With as much as I spend on race entries, travel and other must-haves for my fitness lifestyle, I feel like this is justifiable purchase. Plus, I’m worth it – haha!
These Matrix treadmills aren’t at all like those puny, pathetic ones that can’t keep up with my relentless workout style. With heavy-duty frames, extra-thick decks and super durable cushions, and they hold up beautifully for miles and miles of “getting after it.” The high-def consoles make it easy to monitor the status of my sweat fest and many models offer cutting-edge functionality including entertainment options, preprogrammed workouts, data transfer popular exercise/fitness apps, Bluetooth connectivity and some even with Passport compatibility, a “visual booster” that puts HD destination athlete point-of-view landscape footage on your home big screen television.
For recovery days, my body responds to “riding” a gentle, ergonomic elliptical machine – active recovery is so important people! Just think how amazing it would be to have an Elliptical sitting in the corner of your bedroom or basement ready and waiting for 20 minutes of active recovery the day after an intense workout.
Check out MatrixFitness.com to find out what model of treadmill or elliptical suits your needs – they have quite a few options to suit your price point, space availability and workout needs. It’s an investment in staying fit and strong for life!
Before we jump into the workout, let’s chat about other important stuff this season – like shopping! There is a Black Friday sale and all sorts of Daily Deals going on at the Spartan Race Shop. I just got my hubby this 2016 Trifecta Shirt (I hope he’s not reading this). Also, most Spartan Races are 25% off with the code HOLIDAY(through 11/27) and then after that the code FINISHER will always get you 10% off. Who wants to Race Spartan With Me?! Aroo!Typically, I’d say a legit Spartan or obstacle course racer prefers the challenges of exercising outdoors, rather that indoors. In the wild (even if it’s just your backyard), you can react to the obstacles and hurdles Mother Nature throws down in the path, and these are always changing! Unfortunately, the problems of a super-scheduled, modern-day life can prevent Tarzan swinging over rivers and slithering on your stomach through misty mores. That is, unless your place of employment or car pool pick-ups don’t care if you show up for service wallpapered in stickers and swamp mud. That’s when a treadmill becomes a necessary evil in your training battle plan. Of course, die hard obstacle course racers will train in the elements, whatever they may be – rain, sleet, ice and snow. It makes sense to add these uncomfortable weather days in every now and then, to acclimate for potential race day conditions. However, there is no reason to put yourself in harm’s way, Get nailed by lightning or run over by a bus that didn’t see you in a downpour and you’ll not be chanting “Aroo” come race day.
No need to suffer needlessly to prove your toughness, although some might say the treadmill is more pain-invoking than any trail – haha!In the winter, wind and dark of night, I need a little more “comfort” and convenience and the treadmill keeps me on task with myrunning, OCR and Spartan training plans. (Above) Mountain Climbers on the treadmill (belt will just move w/o turning on)
So, for safety, convenience and comfort, I will frequently knock out obstacle course training on a treadmill Today, I’m sharing a full-body workout (a 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper) that will challenge your limits and make you more unstoppable and unbreakable and undeniably more race ready than yesterday. Exercises like Burden Runs and Mountain climbers on a treadmill get you ready for the demandsconquering an obstacle course race – like bucket carries, sandbag hoists, rock climbing, bear crawling and more. Do you accept the challenge? Good, I thought you would! (Above) Burden Run on the treadmill, switch carry sides as needed.
So stop looking at the treadmill as the weenie way to get in your workout. A good treadmill can give you so many workout options that will challenge your stamina, raw strength and relentless grit. Disclaimer: Please note that the treadmill is being used in a manner not “prescribed” by most manufacturers, so you will use extra caution, right?!
Description of 30 Minute Treadmill Chipper exercises:
Warm Up Run: Set treadmill on 0% incline and jog at a slower, comfortable pace to warm up.
Incline Push-Ups: Turn treadmill belt off and hold onto handles, facing console. Form a straight line with your body and bend at elbows to perform a pushup, bringing chest towards console and engaging triceps. Pause, and then push back up.
Reverse Mountain Climbers: Turn treadmill belt and get into plank position, facing away from the machine. Feet will be on sides of treadmill base and hands on floor. To start, move feet to belt and drive one knee into chest while other extends backward. This will safely push the belt at your pace Alternate legs back and forth.
Handle Bar Rows: Turn off belt and get into reverse plank position holding onto handle bars, looking upward and with feet and end of belt. Pull body upward, toward handles, using arms and chest. Pause and then slowly lower down and repeat.
High Intensity Hill Run: Set incline to 5% or higher and run and a pace equal to 85 to 90% of max.
Overhead Balance Walk: Slow treadmill to 1 mph and hold medicine ball (try 25# women or 35# men) overhead with straight, locked out arms. Start at front of belt and raise one leg to high knee and hold while belt moves you backward, when reaching end of belt, step down and walk to front of belt and repeat on other leg.
Side Shuffles: Set treadmill at 2 – 5 mph and stand sideways on the belt with knees slightly bent. Quickly bring outer foot to meet leading foot (the one closest to console) and then hop the leading foot out forward again, repeat.
Walking Lunges: Set treadmill to about 3 mph at a 3% to 5% incline and step forward with right leg, lowering body until knee bent at 90 degrees and brushing over belt. Keep hips stacked over knee, not behind it or ahead of it. Rise up, bringing back foot forward, alternating legs for the duration.
Burden Run: Set treadmill to slower jogging pace (try 10 to 13 mph) and place medicine ball ( try ball 25# women or 35# men) on right shoulder reaching up and over with right arm to secure. Run or walk fast for 800 meters, moving ball from shoulder to shoulder, as needed.
When something is so good that it’s been repeated through 20 seasons, that’s saying something special. In December, I’ll be reflecting on 20 years of celebrating Christmas as a mom or mom-to-be, two decades of my dad’s delicious holiday tenderloin and running my 20th marathon. Mizuno is also celebrating a special benchmark, it’s the 20th edition of their best-selling shoe, the Wave Rider 20!
Admittedly, I haven’t worn all 20 iterations of this running shoe (although quite a few), it’s amazing that the basic concept has resonated with loyal fans through the ups and downs of running shoe design – and I say that quite literally in terms of all the cyclical changes in heel drop and rise! After nearly two decades of refinement, this latest version of the Wave Rider claims to “exceed all expectations.” Does it, will it?! Only the miles will tell . . . . so I slipped into the Wave Rider 20 and logged a few! Lucky thing I had some running to do with the San Antonio Marathon right around the corner! My workout today was this Endurance + Speed Run Workout — a challenging 10 mile running workout that takes you from a manageable marathon pace to a fast and furious 5k pace finish. This long speed workout will get you used to running with leg fatigue so that you will nail your next big race!
Well, my feet were definitely happy after a long run – sometimes my high instep and arch makes shoes uncomfortable and sometimes even feel like they’re going numb. Nope, not in these. While I’m not a heel-striker, I still felt comfortable landing mid-foot despite the 12mm rise. I did appreciate that these were a “moderate: cushion shoe but only weight about 8 ounces, sometimes on longer runs my feet feel beat up in super “nothing” shoes – I need just a bit of cushion!
Guys and gals, you each have three color choices in these snazzy shoes – honestly, I liked some of the guy colors a lot and was a little jealous! They run about $119 full retail and debuted in mid October – pick up your pair at your local running store (and support Small Business Saturday) or online at Mizuno.com
Exercise is a smart choice for maintaining physical health and it also plays a role in promoting overall happiness and well-being. But, can exercise make a person more intelligent? Probably so say sports scientists from Finland who recently published some surprising findings on how the type and intensity of exercise may have a bearing on brain power?
The study compared pitted moderate-paced running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and weight lifting against each other to observe how these various forms physical exercise can increase hippocampal neurogenesis (e.g. the creation of new brain cells) in an already mature brain. The test subjects – rats! The running rodents were left to run on their cage wheels (a moderate jog, some up to several miles a day) with free will while the HIIT group was given a daily 15 minute regimen of repeated strenuous effort sprinting with jog recovery. And, the weight-lifting rodents climbed walls with little weights attached to their tails as a sedentary control group lounged around and watched. I laugh just thinking about this!
Whether mouse or man, it appears that the winning exercise for long-term brain health may simply be moderate running or “jogging” and, by my semi-educated extrapolation, other similar “aerobic and sustained” activities like biking, swimming and brisk walking. It seems wheel-jogging rodents had the most vigorous rates of new brain cell growth, significantly higher than the sedentary, lay-around rats. The hightailing HIIT group had some brain cell growth, but not as much as the aerobic joggers, with researchers hypothesizing that physical stress impedes neurogenesis. Interestingly, the resistance-trained rats were no different brain-wise at the end of the study – which keeps the status-quo on “muscle head” jokes!
Seriously though, all forms of exercise are beneficial for the body. Just like variety in diet is important for optimal health, so is mixing up the way you move. While jogging or easy running may boost brain cells, lifting weights strengthens muscles, bones and tendons, helping to improve every day work capacity. And, both resistance training and HIIT up the body’s metabolism, one of the keys to keeping a lean silhouette.
I think trail running and obstacle course races like Spartan are a great way to add “extra” to simply running – a well-rounded athlete is a smart athlete, too!
Below are some of my favorite running, HIIT and other workouts — pick your favorites and get strong, get smart!
Here are a week of workouts to get stronger and smarter: