Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy compression socks, massage tools, foam rollers, mobility gear, and special lotions and potions and some good eatin’ that can soothe sore muscles and quicken workout recovery — in my world, this kind of self-care IS the very definition of happiness. That’s why I’ve put together this Holiday Gift Guide for Sore, Tired, Hungry Runners!
I’ve compiled a Holiday Gift Guide for Sore, Tired, Hungry Runners with my favorite items to help make muscle soreness and fatigue a distant memory and ready an athlete up for his next scheduled sweat sesh! From totally-worth-it splurges to little stocking stuffers, there is something for every sore and tired athlete in your life . . .or maybe you! Continue reading →
It happened, I turned 50 years old today! No biggie, in fact I embrace it – it took half a century to get this awesome (haha)! While my speed has slowed and my recovery time has doubled, I may be at the best place ever in my fitness journey. I’m not obsessed, I’m not a slave to my watch or training plan, I’m not trying to prove myself. I still strive to be the best I can, but I also focus more on balance, fun, rest and recovery so I can keep on doing all this for another 20, 30, 40 years!
In honor of my birthday, some of the great sponsors and brands I work with are letting me treat one lucky winner to the running/fitness things I can’t live without. This giveaway includes everything from running shoes and compression socks, to coaching and mobility gear – oh, and sports nutrition, wellness products and healthy snacks. Read on to find out more about this running giveaway and how to enter! Continue reading →
I am a huge fan of compression socks and am hosting a giveaway for a really fun pair (of winner’s choice) at the bottom of post. I wear this type of knee sock for nearly every race and workout and also on those work days when I’m standing for lengthy periods of time at an event expo, teaching cooking classes or otherwise running around. In fact, I’ve found that on those days when I do have to stand up all day, I still have enough spring in my step later in the evening to fit my training in or going around with the jump rope in a pair ofPolka Dot Compression Socks (as above).
I’ve written quite a few posts about compression socks in the past (like this one about compression and running-CrossFit-yoga, so I hesitate to rehash everything – but the basic ideas is that the compression in socks (which usually starts the strongest in the foot or ankle and then moves up the calf), keeps the blood flow from slowing and giving you that lethargic, swollen, dead-leg feeling. I like to call this squeezing, “happy hugs for your feet” – it’s doesn’t really feel as much “tight” as it does “embraced.” Anyway, this ‘hugging” encourages better circulation and, in turn, legs will feel more energized, less achy and heavy. Some doctors even suggest compression socks may help to prevent varicose and spider veins. Oh how I wish stylish compression socks were available during my pregnancies, as I had vein problems quite bad and was forced to wear thick, full-length compression hose in an awful “suntan” color” – I was quite the sight to behold.
But, today there are so many fashionable choices in compression socks that don’t sacrifice any of the function. BrightLifeGo.comis a great online shop that features a wide range of compression sock brands that will help you put your best foot (and leg) forward! The carry lots of great brands like CEP, Zensah and Top & Derby — of course, my favorite brands is Vim & Vigr – I am a very enthusiastic (and official) ambassador for Vim & Vigr products. I am actually wearing a pair right now as I type this up (which reminds me, while I wear compression for my active pursuits, they also help keep things circulating when sitting all day at a desk or on a plane).
VIM & VIGR socks are definitely do not have that elderly vibe that compression socks of yore had – these beauties are designed with rich colors, timeless patterns, and just enough sass to satisfy my funky style. Look at some of my favorites in the collage above! Every time a wear a pair (and I never keep them hidden under pants!) I am always stopped with questions and compliments about my socks!
If you are a newbie to compression socks, you may have legitimate questions before you shell out what is a fairly substantial chunk of change for a pair of socks – which typically run $30 – $60 per pair(although so WORTH it). BrightLifeGo.comhas a easy to follow Guide for First Time Compression Sock Buyers that will walk you through the decision making process including identifying your primary need (from pregnancy or an on-your-feet job to maternity and travel) along with other concerns, like what grade of compression, what size and care instructions.
So, whohoo, I’m so excited that BrightLifeGo.com is letting me give away a pair of is Vim & Vigrcompression socks (of winner’s choice) to one of my readers. They have GUY’S SOCKS also! Check out the Vim & Vigr collection at Bright Life Go right HERE! Then, see below for the entry instructions and Rafflecopter widget.
I’m an UPPER, not a DOWNER. I’d love for you to read the guest post I wrote for Vim & Vigr about “Self-Love” and discover how I stay UP on myself. When my friends at this awesome active brand asked me to share, I’m pretty sure they scored the Queen of Loving Yourself – I mean, have you seen my Instagram Profile?!!
I’m half kidding when I say that and half not — it takes a good dose of chutzpah and big brazen cajones to put yourself out there for everyone to judge! But, it doesn’t really matter what other people think about me, just what I think about me. Of course, God’s opinion of me matters and then, to a degree, my family and very closest friends, but otherwise what other people think of me is none of my business (haha)! This once shy and self-doubting young girl is now an unabashed confidence queen – read the post “I’m Not Embarrassed to Say I LOVE Me” and find out how I get my mind and body in the right place to achieve my sports, family, work and life goals!
I have never been much of a sugar-coated quotes type of person or someone who wants to sit around all day and talk about feelings – especially when daylight’s burning and I want to run, workout or practice yoga. However, during these alone times my mind is freed up to reflect on personal mantras (this is one) and focus on popular motivational sayings – I find this to be a productive way to pull up my confidence when it is sagging.
Here is a collection of “Confidence Uppers” I curated for Mode Media – hopefully one or two of these quotes will inspire you as much as they did me!
What quote, mantra or what-have-you boosts you confidence? Do you have a favorite I didn’t mention? Who is the most confident (in a good way) person you know, what makes them that way? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer
This post sponsored by Mode Media, but all opinions, thoughts, ideas and kick-butt awesomeness are my own.
Most Unexpected Race Win: In October, I was the first OVERALL winner of the Hill Country Half Marathon in Marble Falls, Texas. Granted, the field wasn’t Rock ‘n Roll marathon kind of huge, but that being said, I beat all the women and the MEN with my scrawny legs — the hills were some of the worst I’ve ever seen (not kidding, one went upward for at least half a mile).
Craziest Conditions in a Race: The Spartan Beast Dallas was not what I was planning for, it was crazy! With a half marathon being in my wheelhouse, I expected to nail this race — but unforeseen Texas flooding delayed the start for hours and created a running situation in ankle deep mud the entire distance. I was sore the next day in some pretty weird places! Although hoping to do better, I managed to pull off a 2nd place podium finish in the Elite Master division (and it was only my 2nd Spartan, and first “beast”).
Most Unusual Prize Won in a 2015 Race: A $250 gift card for a tattoo! I am no saying if, when and where I used it! 🙂
Best Pre and Post Race Festivities at a Race: Hosted by Health and Cooking Light magazines, The Fit Foodie Run in Austin (but also in Fairfax, Chicago and San Diego) proves that a healthy lifestyle can mesh with culinary enthusiasm! The weekend is packed with celebrity chef tasting, food and fitness interactive demos, yoga sessions, and yoga boot camps – there is so much food! Plus, the goodies and samples you get to take home from the after run are some serious healthy nom-noms – bring a big bag!
Best Running & Fitness Moments on Instagram: Of course, I blew up my @thefitfork profile with photos of my favorite yoga poses and running with friends!
Favorite Women-centric Race: I’ve been an ambassador for Zooma Race Series for 4 or 5 years now and have run that hilly Austin-area half marathon and said – “never again” at the finish line. But, after I catch my breath a few minutes later, I’m like “awesome, that was the best race ever despite the course challenges.” The Austin race is now defunct, but the other fabulous locations across the country beckon for a mini-vacation! Created and run by women, this race focuses on females supporting each other, no matter age, ability or life situation – and the weekends make great girlfriend getaways! My mom and I have made a tradition of it! Even though I’ve been in a role to mentor and support the runners, I can’t tell you how much more energy and inspiration I’ve received from them – always so happy to see those smiles and high-fives at the half-marathon turnaround.
Favorite Yoga Pose: Always the Crow or some variation! Hopefully this time next year, my hamstrings and back will be more bendy and stretchy so my Instagram profile can be more well-rounded!
Running / Workout Injuries: Thankfully, nothing serious this year – eg. no stitches, concussions or pulled rib muscles like last year! Only falling off a box doing the Murph CrossFit WOD and spraining ankle, numerous palm tears, one lost toenail . . . looking for some wood to knock on! Despite the healthy year for me, I did write a helpful post on 4 Ways Sports Injuries Build Better Athletes that will keep all of us focused on end goals.
Weirdest Workout Moment: It would have to be working out with watermelons for the second summer in a row on my #LivingOnTheWedge blog series! I CrossFitted with watermelon, ran with watermelon, and even worked out in the swimming pool with a watermelon! Oh, you don’t want to miss that watermelon pool workout video – please make sure you are wearing Depends. On behalf of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, I will be taking the show on the road at IDEA World Fitness & Nutrition Expo in L.A. in July 2016.
Best Blooper(s): Oh, there are a lot of bloopers and outakes, my phone is filled with them! Practicing on the parallettes is cause for crashing on my face or rear, but still it’s fun. There are also some awkward moments coming out of a handstand in a walkover when my old back decides “no” midway through!
More Bloopers: Because research shows you live longer if you laugh.
Favorite Running and Workout Gear / Fuel:Vim & Vigr Compression Socks (super functional , fashionable and fun in a variety of stripes, polka dots and fun patterns), Altra Running Shoes (I love the super lightweight, zero-drop “The Ones” ) and Nuun for my hydration needs — I’m digging their fairly new product called PLUS for Nunn. Unlike regular Nuun that is virtually calorie free (there are a few, but under 10), PLUS provides a boost with fast absorbing performance carbohydrates that keep me hydrated and provide quickly sourced energy for demanding endurance events. Also, I still love my bottle of Core Power High Protein Shake in Chocolate Lite Flavor for 20g of quality protein to help my muscles recover right after a long run or intense workout.
I’m also really appreciating mobility gear from ACUMOBILITY – a great company that I connected with this year at The Running Event that not only makes rollers and other mobility products, but also assesses, corrects and unifies movement to reduce injuries and unlock improved performance. Stay tuned because I will be having an awesome giveaway at the beginning of January! And, for “on the go” rolling, I really love The Original Worm (based right here in Austin).
Most Used Mantra: When times get tough in a race, I break out the “If you can take it, you can make it”line from Unbroken. Or, when I try to get too controlling about stuff – “Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.” – from Dan Millman’s book , “The Way of the Peaceable Warrior” Both books are so inspirational — read them!
Favorite Kettle Bell Workout:
My Best Way to Stay Motivated: When I start to feel burned out, I take an active fun day! And, always more crazy with my friend Valerie (by the way, she’s an internationally known running coach, not kidding — check her out at @runrx )
If you’re anything like me, I bet you’re a runner, a weightlifter, an obstacle course racer or some other type athlete who thrives on a tough sweat session but not so much the attention to mobility and cooling down that should follow. Over the last two years, I’ve come to realize that yoga is a fantastic and fun way to stretch out, unwind and realign the body after working out. Plus, it can be done at home in 15 minutes or less – meaning, “I have no time for that,” is a pretty lame excuse!
Forget the hassle of heading to a yoga class after the last mile has been run or burpee been thrown down, Grokker, an online resource of home workout videos, has a relaxing post-workout yoga practice for athletes that really works to help ease muscles and the nervous system into cool down mode immediately following a high-intensity exercise event. Actually, Grokker has 1,500+ fitness videos for to choose from, I just thought you’d like to get a taste of this one I keep putting in my queue – Post Workout Yoga for Athletes.
What I like about this athlete-centric practice is that it gently stretches and opens the body to optimize the workout I just finished. Each pose helps my taxed muscle tissue start to repair while I’m still warm and grounds my energy after being in “beast mode” for a couple hours. Because runners, weightlifters and other athletes tend to have tighter muscles than uber-bendy yogis, I appreciate how this video provides simple modifications so that I can attempt each pose without getting injured.
I couldn’t reach my hands together on the other side, but the Grokker instructor showed me how to modify this pose with a yoga strap.
Home workouts and yoga videos from Grokker round out my fitness and keep me competing at the top of my game.
Plus, did I mention how easy it is to do a Grokker yoga workout at home?! Just log in, search the library and hit the play button – or schedule a reminder for a later date and time! Somedays, I barely have time to fit in a quick run, let alone finding time to drive to a yoga class in crazy Austin traffic. There’s no denying the social benefits of exercising in a gym or group fitness class, but often – very often – that is not convenient, or even possible. Grokker video workouts have been a solid addition to my widely varied fitness toolbox – there are all types of workouts and even healthy cooking episodes to suit my current interests and abilities.
Here are some other reasons to check out Grokker (in addition to receiving a 14-day free trial and 40 percent discount).
Variety: A library full of 1,500+ premium video classes in popular genres like yoga, fitness, meditation and healthy cooking. Videos last 10 minutes to 1+ hours and are available in beginner to advance fitness levels – you will never get bored!
Quality: Grokker’s videos, made in-house, are beautiful and inspiring to watch – the expert fitness instructors also know what they’re talking about and will wisely teach and lead you through all the steps.
Community: You can contact your fitness instructor to have questions answered and also connect with thousands of like-minded fitness enthusiasts from around the world. You’ll also find all the latest health and fitness tips at Grokker – they keep you in the know and motivated!
Convenient: Workout as YOUR schedule permits, where, whenever and as much as you want. The Premium videos can be accessed on any device including laptop, tablet and phone.
It’s only the beginning of November, but between dwindling daylight hours and cooler temperatures many are already wondering how to stick with a fitness routine when it’s time to move indoors from outdoors. Both professional and recreational athletes alike complain that seasonal weather swings, along with hectic holiday schedules, can contribute to fitness fallout. Don’t let your workouts get sidelined this fall and winter– these suggestions will keep you motivated and on task until the return of sunny skies and warm weather. Oh, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a pair of VIM & VIGR Compression socks – cute new gear is ALWAYS one of the ways I stay motivated to workout.
Embrace Cardio Equipment: Take your heart-pumping workout to the treadmill, stationary bike or row machine. While logging loads of miles without physically moving forward poses a mental challenge, the monotony of machines can be overcome by incorporating intervals, hills or other challenging elements that keep you pushing buttons and pushing the pace. For example, runners can sprint a ladder of eight 400 meters intervals with each getting successively faster.
Consider Gym Alternatives: While it may be too dark or dangerous to participate in your favorite outdoor activity, look around and you can probably find an indoor comparable at the health club. Obstacle course racers can hone skills at rock climbing gyms or CrossFit boxes while hikers can jam it out on the Jacob’s ladder machine or stationary stair climber while listening to nature-inspired music. Get creative!
Widen Workout Net: Keep your interest up by trying out new classes; the fall and winter are the perfect time to challenge yourself with new skills. Plus, working out in a group setting offers the motivation and structure many need to succeed. Mix it up and try a fitness class you’ve never done before like yoga, TRX suspension training, trampolining or even indoor surfing! A Class Pass or similar service is a great way to exercise within a large network of fitness studios without having to have a membership to each.
Build a Bootcamp: Recruit your family, friends and neighbors to join the workout fun by organizing a boot camp. You provide space in a basement, garage or den with the couch scooted to the side and attendees provide the on-the-spot comradery and encouragement needed to get the job of burpees, pushups and squat jumps done. To keep things fun and fresh, take turns writing up the workouts or start a friendly “challenge” style competition.
Reward Your Hard Work: A pat on the back for busting your butt in the gym is nice and all, but sometimes a more tangible incentive is in order! List out short and long term goals for your fall and winter fitness and then pick a few rewards – maybe something smaller for the short term rewards, like a new pair of compression socks or new music downloads and something bigger like a snazzy new GPS watch or fancy sunglasses for the season-end goals.
If you’re into compression socks like I am, then you’ll love to reward yourself with a pair or two from VIM & VIGR. If you’ve seen me running and hand-standing my way through Instagram, you’ve most likely taken note that I am partial to knee-high compression socks – and the brighter and more patterned, the better! Compression socks keep my legs feeling fresh when running fast or long, they keep me warmer when the weather cools down (cold is under 75 degrees to me), and they facilitate muscle recovery by keeping blood circulating. Compression knee-high socks also keep my shins from getting scuffed up doing dead-lifts, box jumps or rope climbs. They are also excellent for traveling or days when I have to stand all day working at a conference or cooking demo.
VIM & VIGR has to be the most fun, most hip and most happy brand of compression socks around – for both gals and guys. This is the only brand I will wear now, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a lucky-duck ambassador. The fit is great, the “squeeze” is just right, and the styles are modern and fun and begging to be shown off! There’s not a day that goes by when someone doesn’t tell me that “they love my socks”! You need to enter the giveaway below – three of my readers will each win a pair of their choice!
Visit VimVigr.com and let me know which pair of compression socks you like best! Share in the comments below. And don’t forget to enter via the Rafflecopter app below for more ways to enter! XOXO, Jennifer