Benefits of Running & Music | Get 1 Free Month RockMyRun Rockstar + Giveaway

WANT ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR, NO STRINGS ATTATCHED? KEEP READING . . . (btw, this post and giveaway sponsored by RockMyRun.com

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas Half Marathon

Crushing a challenging Texas Hill Country race (Zooma Texas Half Marathon) with the help of music. Music for the win!

Should you run and workout listening to music, or not? I’ve blogged on the topic before (here), so no need to rehash every little detail. In my opinion, if music provides some motivation to get up off the couch and is used safely (be aware of traffic, stranger danger, and hearing loss if too loud), then by all means hit the play button and boogie on. I wear headphones on the treadmill and in many longer races, perhaps half of the time while running my neighborhood – but rarely in a shorter races or speed workouts on the track. In these cases, I like to focus all my senses on the feedback I’m getting from my body – it just seems like music gets in the way.  Oh, and never with a friend – there is just too much catching up to do!

One Free Month RockMyRun.com Premium Rockstar Membership

I do love music, but must have a short attention span. One thing I’ve noticed is that I get bored with my music library very quickly — ugh, and then it’s just the same old songs wearing me down. So needless to say, I was excited to try out Rock My Run, a free, top rated fitness music smartphone app available for iOS and Android. RockMyRun creates high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise – right now, I’m listening to the Super Twerk Mix (don’t laugh) that has a two hour play list of hip-hop specifically mixed to keep 200 beats per minute (bpm). I like the faster mixes that are 180 to 200 bpm because that’s the same number I like to keep per minute for foot strikes during tempo runs, speed work and races.

Rock My Run Giveaway - TheFitFork.com

If you use the RockMyRun app on your iPhone or Android, check out the myBeat™ Body Driven Music feature. Proprietary algorithms read your steps per minute, heart rate and soon pace to adjust and deliver content (music tempo – BPM) in real time to match, motivate or calm you at just the right moment. MIND BLOWN! You can also able to manually change the BPM of the mixes on RockMyRun to help them achieve a personal goal.

RockMyRun creates lots of other high energy, motivational mixes that are designed by DJ’s specifically for exercise. Use of the app has recently been proven to increase the enjoyment of the running experience by up to 35 percent compared to static playlists or no music.  Other studies have shown that running with music can increase your performance by 15 percent —  the USTFA lifted their strict sanctions against headphone use in 2008 and left the decision in the hands of individual race directors. However, headphones remain banned for any athlete competing in a USA Championship — no music doping, you must suffer in silence!

Music and Exercise Infographic - TheFitFork.com

Click infographic to find out other interesting info about music and exercise.

It’s superfast and easy to download the Rock My Run app on your iPhone or android, create an account and start downloading mixes through WiFi. If you don’t want to hear ads while streaming music, you can sign up for RockMyRun Rockstar (premium) memberships for as little as $35.99 per year or $4.99 going month to month – you are even allowed to download a limited amount of mixes to a personal music player – that’s how I’ve been listening on the Wifi-less trails. I also really appreciate how clean lyric mixes are available, because who really wants to explain Truffle Butter to their kids?! To get you started, Rock My Run is offering ALL MY READERS a code that will get you ONE FREE MONTH OF ROCKMYRUN PREMIUM ROCKSTAR – just enter RMRBJ at RockMyRun.com, download the app onto your phone and get rockin’!

fit 2.0 jlabI am also giving away one GRAND PRIZE —  an entire YEAR of RockMyRun Rockstar plus a pair of JLab Audio’s Fit 2.0 Sport Earbuds.  Whoohoo, take advantage of the one free month and enter to win the full year and headphones in the Rafflecopter app below:

 

rock my run logo

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Why You Should Workout with Your Sweetie + Partner WOD

Benefits of Working Out Together - TheFitFork.com

Most people don’t equate Valentine’s Day with working out, but maybe they should! Breaking a sweat with your sweetie is not only a fun “date” and good for your health, it also boasts bunch of benefits that will keep any relationship fit and strong.   Here are the three most compelling reasons, in my opinion, why couples who sweat together, stay together.

Soulmates make the best ‘swolemates’. Opposites often attract and even similar-personality partners may not have many interests which overlap. However, exercising together is an activitity that can help every couple connect — it creates accountability, increases synchronicity, and promotes a shared passion. One study (Aron, Norman, Aron, & Heyman, 2000) suggests that couples who participated together in an exciting and challenging physical activity reported a higher level of love and relationship satisfaction.

More fun, less stress.  The never-ending responsibilities of adulthood can take a toll.  Instead of coping with worry, anxiety and conflict in an unhealthy manner, exercising is a positive way to shed life’s irritations . . . and maybe even a few unwanted inches. And, when you hit the gym, tackle the running trails, or go zen in a yoga class with your spouse or significant other, it’s like a date – and that’s fun!

Ooh, la, la endorphins and other hormones! The racing pulse, shortness of breath and sweatiness that comes from a good workout sounds a lot like the symptoms of romantic attraction! Researchers (Dutton & Aron, 1974) say that people can easily mistake the two – so if you’re feeling hot and bothered at the gym, this is why!

Here’s a partner workout you can try with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day – or any other day of the year!

Heart Pumping Partner Workout - TheFitFork.com

zooma buttonI also want to give a shout out the Zooma Women’s Race Series again – I’m back in my 4th year as an ambassador for this very fun and empowering race targeted to women. While there is a lot o she-power going on at Zooma, MEN are not excluded – in fact, they are welcomed! I especially love it when I see a couple running side by side, one giving encouragement to the other! So, round up your most loved running partner and enter the upcoming Texas race on March 28, 2015.  Pick from the half-marathon, 10k or 5k and don’t forget to toast each other afterward with complementary wine and bubbly at the finish line!  Register for the Texas race HERE and use discount code JENNIFER15 or 10% off any distance.

Here’s another fitness shout out – this time for Tommie Copper, a line of stylish yet functional compression wear that supports muscles for improved performance, recovery and relief. Look at some of these cute items I’ve been wearing to the gym and on my runs – and Tommie Copper has just as much gear for the guys! Right now a huge Presidents’ Day Sale is going off and you can save up to $40 on your order along with free shipping – check it outtommie copper jennifer fisher

Michele's Granola BarsReady to share a post-workout snack together? Well, if I was picking, I’d split a Core Power High Protein Shake with my hubby and one of these delish granola bars from Michele’s Granola. Made from scratch in small batches, these healthy treats are packaged 10 bars (assorted flavors) to a pack and can be ordered from Michele’s Granola web store. Ooh, the Cherry Chocolate is my favorite.

Disclaimer: I was provided product or sponsorship in return or my review and promotion of these products. However, all opinions are my own.

Friday 5 |So Many #ShoutOuts it’s Scary + Running Giveaway!

Boo, it’s Halloween! I don’t do this very often, but I wanted to share with you some of the products and events I whole-heartedly stand behind. Actually, I have so many, that I’ll shout out another five next Friday. Don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom of the post for a Spartan entry, two tubes of Nuun, and a pair of Altra running socks.

1) Core Power:  For years, I’ve been a big fan of this product and remember way back when it was called Athlete’s Honey Milk.

Jennifer Fisher Core PowerNow these high protein shakes are big time popular, so I’m super honored to be one of their athletes . . . plus, you’ve probably noticed I do a lot of workouts and recipes for their social media.   I like to stash a bottle in my gym bag for the perfect amount of protein recovery after a long run or intense workout. The six yummy flavors are also the base ingredient for many of my crazy delicious smoothie recipes – like the Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie I whipped up for Halloween.

Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie  Recipe

Vampire Slayer Smoothie

Core Power Vampire Slayer Protein Smoothie

  •   1 (11-ounce) Strawberry-banana Core Power
  • 1 cup frozen berry blend
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • Ice, as needed

Place all ingredients in blend and blend until smooth. Serves 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Zooma Women’s Race Series: This is my 4th year to be a Texas Ambassador for this female-focused running event that takes place in fun destination locations like Austin, Napa, Cape Cod and others.

Jennifer Fisher at Zooma Texas 2014The Austin race is on Saturday March 28, 2015 at the Hill Country Hyatt Resort – a gorgeous, gorgeous place to run a race. The bluebonnets and other flowers are blooming this time of year and this welcomed distraction of Mother Nature has always made the hills seem less painful! The main race is a half marathon, but there is also a 10k and 5k and everyone is encouraged to run, laugh and celebrate. Oh, and did I mention the massages, wine and pretty necklace-style finisher’s medal to be enjoy afterward.  Register using code JENNIFER15 and get 10% off any distance in the Texas lineup.

3) Spartan: I’ve never actually done a Spartan race but it’s been on my bucket list for a while.

Spartan - If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change youOne of the things that’s been holding me back is my own competitive nature – what if I don’t kill it, what if I don’t WIN (ha)? But, then I realized that’s totally the wrong attitude – if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you  — right?!  I’m going to be signing up the next time Spartan comes through Texas, meanwhile YOU can enter to win a free entry. Enter through the Rafflecopter app below, the winner will receive a registration code that will work for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race (check out the upcoming races) in the continental US.  You can also just go ahead and register now and get 10% off any race (Sprint, Super or Beast) in any US with the code: SPARTANBLOGGER

4) Nuun Hydration: This sugar-free electrolyte tablet that you plop into a bottle of water and it magically fizzes up, has saved my butt from dehydration many, many times.

Nuun Hood to Coast Team 2013I use Nuun on my long runs, marathons and even out when watching my kids play sports all day in the Texas sun (I put it in their water bottles too!)  They have a fairly new line, Nuun Energy, which combines the same optimal electrolyte blend with B vitamins and caffeine — yeah!  The products are awesome, but I also can’t say enough about the people who work at Nuun –as a lucky ambassador, Nuun has invited me twice to be one of their runners in the Hood to Coast Relay, and I got the royal treatment each time!

nuun bottles If you want to stock up on Nuun, use the code nuunbassadorfriend to get 20% off a one-time purchase (through the end of 2014).  Oh, what the heck, I’m going to throw two tubes of Nuun (my choice) into the giveaway below!

 

5) Altra Running –  I was first introduced to this line of “zero-drop” shoes several years ago when I was tweaking my running form with the Pose Method.

Altra TRE13 smallAs an ambassador for the brand, I’ve shared my testimonial on how these shoes have helped me as a mid-foot striker, improved my natural running form and saved my toenails from turning black and falling off! I’ve worn them in every distance from a 5k to 50 mile ultra. Currently, I’m wearing the Ones Squared, and loving the lightness with a touch of cushion!  They also make socks with a wider toe box and I’m giving away a pair of Women’s White No Show Sprint Socks

altra sock

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RUN HAPPY & RUN FAST + Motivational Fitness Jewelry #Giveaway

I have my lucky ladybird earrings, go-to running shoes and a favorite route (and friend) for long runs. Despite all these creature comforts that get me out the door, I often I lose sight of exactly WHY I’m running. Sometimes running seems like such a chore, I will grumble and grouse about it in not-so-eager anticipation for longer than it actually takes to do the run. But, I’ve noticed time and time again that my mood is elevated, my worries are worked out and my heart is lighter when I finally hit the streets to run– although it can take a few miles to get to this RUN HAPPY state of mind.  Other times, I’m so anxious and excited to run, I can’t even sleep at night. Can I trust my training, will my performance meet my expectations, and will I really be able to RUN FAST? words to sweat by bracelets I’ve been wearing these two motivational bracelets to remind me of why I run – to RUN HAPPY and to RUN FAST.  At first, I thought I’d wear them one at a time, based on the type of run on my day’s agenda – like a race, a track workout or a social run with a friend. But, then I had an “aha” moment and realized my ultimate relationship goal with running is to RUN HAPPY and RUN FAST at the same time (well, most of the time). So, now I’m wearing the bracelets as a pair  and happily reminding myself that the reality of running fast is all relative.

So, I know you are probably in LOVE with these motivational bracelets too– they are from Words to Sweat By, a fun fitness jewelry and apparel online boutique.  The inspirational words are hand-stamped on an aluminum charm and attached to a one-size-fits all jersey cuff. There are TONS of colors and motivational word choices to choose from and the bracelets are a great little gift for yourself or a fitness friend. words to sweat by categories

Words to Sweat By makes other motivational fitness jewelry and apparel that will inspire you to start a new fitness routine or help push you through those last minutes of a workout or run.  With the holidays coming up, I bet any girlfriend in your group exercise class or running club would love receive such a thoughtful and thought-provoking present.  If you have a “Best Running Friend,” Word’s To Sweat By even has a Best Running Friend Forever necklace set (one for you, one for her) designed with a running shoe design, race distance and initial letter charm. custom necklace from words to sweat by Hello, can you believe the fabulousness of this necklace that was custom-designed just for ME! A miniature fork is resting on a salad bowl of beaded greens and the words “THE FIT FORK” are stamped on a circle charm.  If you want something special made just for you or to give as a unique gift, Words to Sweat By has a lovely selection of custom and personalized items.

words to sweat by header

I have a treat for one of my readers – a giveaway for a $50 gift credit to Words to Sweat By! Don’t walk, RUN over to the website start making your list now – you may be the big winner!  Rafflecopter entry below.

This post and giveaway were sponsored by Words to Sweat By. However, all comments and opinions are naturally my own.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Paleo Pecan-Paprika Tilapia on Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss + Fit Foodie 5k

With autumn just around the corner, it’s time to start salivating about all things that include pumpkin and pecans to bacon and Brussels sprouts – and, of course, other delicious fall-inspired ingredients. The Paleo diet embraces so many healthy foods that remind me of the cooler weather season – squashes, sweet potatoes, onions, cranberries, persimmons, pomegranates, broccoli, chard, spinach, all types of nuts, turkey, wild game and more.

Check out Fall Into Paleo

by The Fit Fork at Foodie.com

If you’ve scrolled through my blog, you may have noticed I don’t live and die by the strict rules of the Paleo diet. That being said, I DO believe that the Paleo diet has many great benefits that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle and I always feel great when I’m eating meals that follow a Paleo-esque menu. However, this regime, which eliminates wheat, cereals, dairy, starches (including most starchy vegetables & fruit), grains and anything containing gluten and/or legumes, can be difficult for me to maintain for many reasons including practicality (sometime I just can’t find or afford grass-fed beef), performance (I need extra carbs to support my athletic output – check out the book Paleo Diet for Athletes) and personal sanity (an excessive focus on food makes me freak out). So, I’m one of those “I eat 100% Paleo 80% of the time” kind of people and I don’t feel bad about it nor do I pass judgment on others who are strict abiders or those who would never, ever eat caveman style.  Also, when I’m thinking about Paleo recipes and what I should or shouldn’t do, I remember a quote from one of the go-to cookbooks on my shelf, Paleo Comfort Foods. The author makes a great point that the “Paleo (diet) is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.”  Amen. pecan crusted tilapia and warm brussels sprout salad I hope you enjoy my fall-season paleo dinner I whipped up as part of a Foodie.com campaign — Pecan-Paprika Crusted Tilapia on Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss.  Of course, this duo is delicious together, but can also be made and served individually – for example, the fish is also excellent in lettuce-wrap tacos and the warm Brussel sprouts salad makes the perfect seasonal side dish to bring to a potluck or Thanksgiving dinner. .paleo diet pecan paprika tilapia For Pecan Paprika Tilapia Recipe:

  •  1 lb tilapia filets
  • ½ cup pecan meal (ground raw pecans)
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  1.  In large shallow dish, mix together pecan meal, paprika, and salt.
  2. In another shallow dish, whisk egg.
  3. Dip each fish filet into egg and then dredge in pecan mixture.Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add fish to skillet and pan fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping once. Fish will be done when white and flakey throughout and turning golden brown on crust. Serves 4.

Paleo Bacon Brussels Sprouts For Bacon Brussels Sprout Toss:

  • 4 slices bacon
  • ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet or hot, your preference)
  • 1/3 chopped raw pecans
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup wine or cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 lb shaved Brussel sprouts
  1. In large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and crumble up (set aside); reserve about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in skillet.
  2. In same skillet with drippings, add paprika, onion and pecans; stir over medium-high heat for several minutes until nuts are lightly toasted, onions are softened and paprika has become fragrant.
  3. Add vinegar and cooking wine to skillet; stir quickly for 1 minute to deglaze pan. Lower heat to medium and add syrup and garlic paste; stir combine.
  4.  Add shaved Brussels sprouts (either slice thinly with sharp knife or mandolin or buy prepared) to skillet and saute for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften and caramelize.

Tips: Finely slice the Brussels sprouts with a knife or mandolin – or just by them pre-prepped from the produce section of your market.  Also, it’s important to add the paprika to the beginning of the saute so the spice has time to bloom, lending a richer and deeper flavor – this is a trick of trade with chefs fiitfoodierun collage Also, I want to share with y’all an upcoming event that so matches my personality and interests, I’m assuming it must have been put together specifically for me! But, I want you to come join the fun too – it’s the Fit Foodie 5k Weekend hosted by Cooking Light and Health magazines. In addition to the 3.1 mile race, there are gourmet tastings from Texas chefs, fitness demos, sunrise yoga, an obstacle course and boot camp. Allison Sweeney from The Biggest Loser television show will be there signing her newest book and showing support for the race beneficiary, City of Hope. City of Hope is a leading treatment and research center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases – 10% of all race entry proceeds benefit this official charity.

The Fit Foodie Weekend is coming up quick (Sept. 12 – 14), but it’s not too late to register!  Use the promotion code FITFORK and get 10 percent off your registration. Please let me know if you are coming by sending me a note in the comments – I’d love to plan a meet up! Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Foodie.com, however all opinions, comments and recipes are my own.  Also, I am an ambassador for The Fit Foodie Race Series – whoot, whoot!

Flexibility Foremost – Reebok CrossFit #Nano4 Review & WOD

reebok nano 5.0  overhead shoe text

 

The following post is sponsored on behalf of Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Reebok. 

There are plenty of perks that make the latest evolution of the Reebok CrossFit training shoe, the Nano 4.0, a winner. First, the nearly indestructible yet lightweight upper holds up to intense workouts filled with jumping, lifting, running and even rope climbing (special RopePro protection). In terms of sole performance, the shoe provides enough stability for Olympic lifting without sacrificing the flexibility and light cushioning that keep feet springy and safe during high-impact moves like jumping and running.  Available in a kaleidoscope of colors, the Nano 4.0s not only look cool but they also keep your feet cool with improved breathability on the uppers.  Feet that sweat less mean fewer blisters and less overall foot stench in the CrossFit box – thank you very MUCH! Even though the Nano 4.0 might seem kind of pricy at an ARV of $119, it’s like getting at least two pairs in one – a pair for running and high-impact activities and a pair for stability on deadlifts, overheat squats, kettlebell swings and such!

collage of crossfit box pictures

Whoohoo, look at all the things I can do in my Reebok Nano 4.0!

However, what really impressed me about the Reebok Nano 4.0 was the overall flexibility it brings to a cross-training shoe. By flexibility, I don’t mean “versatility” — but I should add that as a benefit too, since I did everything in them from box jumping, sprinting, agility course running, rope climbing, gymnastics, weight lifting and even some post WOD yoga!  As far as flexibility, Reebok reports that they re-engineered DuraCage from the Nano 3.0 for greater benefits in the fore foot and toe area. While I don’t have any experience with the shoe’s predecessor, I can tell you that the Nano 4.0 is the most comfortable and flexible cross-training shoe I’ve ever worn without a doubt.

I could share my woes of really black toe nails thanks (make that no thanks) to wearing rigid shoes during a burpee-filled WOD – but I’ll spare you those nasty details. But, I do want to share that as a CrossFit athlete who likes to compete in running (and vice-versa), flexibility in a shoe is a really big deal for me.  It was about five years ago when I worked with Master Pose Method and CrossFit Endurance Coach, Valerie Hunt, to change my running form from heel striker to the much more forgiving mid-foot striker and I have nary an injury to report, knock on wood! Obviously, it’s not merely luck; this type of running is just better for my body biomechanically and, with the addition of CrossFit and proper recovery, has kept me a competitive runner well into my 40s. While, it’s not the shoe that makes the athlete, I won’t argue the proper shoe can certainly help in the process.

While, I probably wouldn’t make the Nano 4.0 my go-to shoes for everyday running or . . . er, like the crazy 50 miler I did on a whim last year , I totally could wear them for casual running – they are really quite light and have that low-profile heel (4mm) I like which aids in proprioception with every foot strike. Whoa, I know – big word. But what I’m talking about when I say “proprioception” or the “proprioceptors in your feet” is the overall body awareness transmitted through the neuromuscular system with each foot strike that can help improve stride and speed. The same idea applies to other taxing physical activities you may be doing in CrossFit as well– just imagine how much quicker you could do box jumps in light, responsive shoes rather than in a pair of clunky cowboys boots! While no one actually wears cowboy boots to the gym, some of those rigid, thick-soled gym or running shoes sure feel like ‘em.

jennifer thefitfork crossfit workout

My final thoughts on the Nano 4.0? They are all-around performers for all around performers – just the shoe to wear for a WOD filled with my favorite things like running, lifting and throwing your body weight around (just like one I made for you above)! And, YES, that’s four MILES of running. ENJOY!*

*Or, if you’re not up to that much running, you can do 4k which is about 2.5 miles!

 So, do you wear a separate shoe for running and going to the gym?

What is your favorite WOD or exercise in CrossFit?

 

 

Why I Run & Running Day Giveaway ( Compression Socks )

three women runners austin

It’s National Running Day today! Whether you plan to hit the trail or the treadmill, you can feel super awesome and inspired to know that you’ll be doing good things for your health – that’s why I celebrate running as often as I can!  As an adult, I’ve been running for more than 25 years and hope to be running at least that many or more years in the future! By the way, enter to win a free running day (everyone’s a winner, so just do it)! But, seriously, I do have a cute pair of compression socks to treat one of y’all to.

national running day

Healthy Reasons I Run:

  • Running makes me happy and wards off anxiety and depression.
  • Running keeps me at a fit weight, which has a host of other health benefits.
  • Running keeps my bones and heart strong, plus I get a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.
  • Running will keep me looking younger than my age, or so scientists say! I hope it is true!
  • Running adds years to my life and life to my years.

national running day

2012_01 3m finish line

Running also challenges me to push my limits and, because I usually run alone, running has taught me to dig deep within myself to find that persevering motivation that usually serves me well at races.

But, running isn’t just all “eye of the tiger,” running can be meditative and calming – a great way for me to reduce stress. And, when I get to run with friends, running becomes social and silly and something to look forward to.

 

 

Here are a few running workouts that will have your feet flying today!

running workouts collage

 

womens runningLadies, if you love to keep up on the latest in running, check out this great subscription offer from Women’s Running magazine – if you subscribe or renew today, the rate is only $1 per issue.  I enjoy this monthly magazine, it features everything from running plans and recipe ideas to the latest in running fashion – plus lots more!

 

 

 

vision-pink-striped-twelve-compression-11128big

And, that’s not all! I also have a pair of Swiftwick Compression socks to give away, the Vision “Pink Stripe” Twelve. These knee-high compression socks are going to give your legs and feet a great big hug on that next long run — or wear them afterward for recovery. Just think of the fun tan lines you’ll get! Actually, I still wear compression socks in the summer; however, my runs are much earlier in the morning out of heat-beating necessity — so the tan line thing isn’t really a problem!  Find out more about why I love compression socks here and then enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter app below:

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Tomato Strawberry Smoothie & 2014 CrossFit Games Open Recap (Finally)

Yesterday while I was knocking out some burpees, my mind started to wander and I realized that I never gave an “official” update on my experience doing the CrossFit Games Open 2014. But, first let me give you the quick backstory. I’ve been a fairly competitive runner for a long time and my first real experience with CrossFit was back in January 2011, when my good friend Valerie Hunt, a running coach and owner of BVM CrossFit, drug my scrawny runner’s rear up to California to a CrossFit Endurance (CFE) camp being put on by Brain McKenzie.

On top of the world & running from mountain lions at CrossFit Endurance Camp in CA.

On top of the world & running from mountain lions at CrossFit Endurance Camp in CA.

Brian’s CFE program follows the CrossFit model while adding precise training protocols for endurance. It is fair to say I was skeptical of the claims that weaving CrossFit into my fitness routine would make me a better runner. It is also fair to say that despite my high level of cardiovascular fitness, I was pretty darn out of shape. I could only do one pull-up and after running a marathon, the sorest part of my body would be my lower abs and back as I had the core strength of a flea.

Jennifer Valerie deadlift

Valerie and I working on deadlifts for 14.3 – it’s a little easier to lift with a friend!

I took what I learned from camp and with Valerie’s encouragement and advice turned my wimpy self into a much all-around fitter person, if I dare say so myself!  The one measly pull-up turned into 25 unbroken “kipping” style pull-ups and I overcame (most) of my fear of Olympic style lifting – all this “old dog trying new tricks” translated into some great Master’s running PRs. Despite all the improvements, I do need to get over my tendency to just do the parts of a WOD that I like – which tends to be the body weight and endurance stuff. My weaknesses became readily apparent when obligated to perform the CrossFit Games Open 2014 workouts exactly as prescribed – for it to count, there could be no scaling back the weights, substituting or skipping over a move!

Scenes from my experience in CrossFit Games Open 2014.

Scenes from my experience in CrossFit Games Open 2014.

14.1 WOD Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 10 minutes of jump rope double-unders (30 reps) and 55-lb. power snatches (15 reps). Started off the whole Open with a skill I have never done (why jump rope when you can run had been my mindset)! I felt like an uncoordinated kid, but wasn’t going to let it all start and end with first hop. I reminded myself that you have to believe you can do something to actually do it, so I kept my confidence up and at one point actually strung along about 7 rotations.

14.2 WOD Every 3 minutes for as long as possible complete: From 0:00-3:00 2 rounds of 10 overhead squats and 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 3:00-6:00  2 rounds of 12 overhead squats and 12 chest-to-bar pull-ups; from 6:00-9:00 2 rounds of 14 overhead squats and 14 chest-to-bar pull-ups.  I was SO looking forward to doing the chest-to-bar pull ups; this is one of my stronger skills. The only thing standing in my way was the overhead squats with a 65 lb. bar.  Overhead squats are one of the lifting moves that I had always ignored; rationalizing this un-love with the excuse my tight runner’s hips don’t work like that. I practiced all weekend and was having trouble even finishing one with an un-weighted ladies’ 35 lb bar. Well, by some miracle, I made it through the 10 reps (not pretty) and was able to knock out the chest-to-bar  pull-ups with ease. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get one more squat with quite a bit of time remaining on the clock, so no more pull-ups for me. Sniff.

14.3 WOD Complete as many reps as possible in 8 minutes of: 95-lb. deadlifts (10 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 135-lb. deadlifts (15 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 155-lb. deadlifts (20 reps) and 15 20” box jumps, 185-lb. deadlifts (25 reps) and 15 20” box jumps through 205-lb and 225-lb deadlifts same pattern. So this is one of the WODs I was most proud of because I always scale back my deadlifts “to save my legs for running.” So, knowing that I had only lifted 135-lbs for a few reps here and there, I totally surprised myself to get all the way through the 20 reps of 155-lbs! I had about 35 seconds left to go for some 185-lbs, but decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of injury considering I had just run a half marathon the day before!

14.4 WOD Complete as many rounds and repetitions as possible in 14 minutes of: 60-calorie row, 50 toes-to-bars, 40 wall-ball shots, 20 lb. to 10-foot target, 30 cleans with 135 lb. 20 muscle-ups. The rowing was totally tolerable, especially when reflecting on the time I thought it would be a good idea to row 13.1 miles at one sitting.  I had raced a 5k the day before and my glutes were screaming during the wall-ball shots – I never made it to the muscle ups, but definitely some day!

14.5 WOD 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of 65-lb. thrusters and burpees. No surprise to me that the easiest workout for my athletic abilities and also ranked me the highest on the leaderboard – despite having run the Dallas Half Marathon and winning my age division the morning before!

Recovering after a CrossFit WOD with Sun-Rype and Spaulding,

Recovering after a CrossFit WOD with Sun-Rype and Spaulding,

What I learned:

1)      Always start a WOD with an “I can do this” attitude. When I start to self-doubt, I’m not focused on the task at hand, only failure.  Case in point, the double-unders and the overhead squats — decided I “could” do them, and I did!

2)       Road racing and the Open mixed better than I thought. I really wanted to do the CrossFit Open, but also had two half-marathons and a 5k scheduled on three of the five Sundays during the Open – I went for it ALL anyway!  With the WODs being announced on late Thursday night, my hand was forced to compete on Mondays, the last day scores would be accepted. This meant no significant practice prior and often competing with delayed onset muscle fatigue.However, recovering proper after my races with a lot of quality protein (BEEF) helped significantly as did a lot of warming up before the start timer went off.

3)      Pay more attention to my weaknesses and actually put in the work to improve them.  In CrossFit you have to be ready for anything at any time – constantly varied, functional fitness and all that! Until they come up with a “Jennifer WOD,” doing only what I “like” isn’t going to make me very adaptable or competitive.

4)      I didn’t get bulk up like a beast and lose my streamlined runner’s shape doing Crossfit. Many women have the misconception that this type of exercise is going to make them huge and man-like. Your body is genetically programmed to have a certain shape, more or less. So, unless you are from Amazonian stock, you are just going to look like a fitter, leaner, slightly more muscle-y version of normal yourself.

5)      Winning isn’t everything. In running,  I compete to win overall, master’s or AG depending on the race. If I don’t, I can be very hard on myself  However, the CrossFit Open reminded me that showing up and getting it done is something to be proud of. I put in a lot of work, even though I didn’t get any sort of golden ticket. So, how DID I do 0 that IS the burning question, right? Well, according to the online results,  worldwide I ranked 1078 and in the South East region I ranked 70th, I’m assuming this is my age group or the entire Master’s division; I’m having trouble interpreting the leaderboard.  I think there were around 125,000+ competitors in the whole event, so I’m actually quite happy and surprised. I felt like I would be at the bottom when I compare myself to the strength and talents of many others I know.

And, now onto the refueling smoothie of the day! It sounds sort of strange, but tomatoes and strawberries make a really interesting, yummy combo for a fruit smoothie! I mean, a tomato is a fruit — right?! Check out my recipe for a Strawberry Tomato Smoothie.

tomato teaser smoothie

Blend 10 ounces almond milk with 6 frozen grape tomatoes, 6 frozen strawberries and Stevia to taste. Add ice to achieve desired consistency, if needed. Top with chia seeds.