Cold weather gear

I have returned to the frozen tundra that is my home.  Its not really a tundra- but I do live in the mountains of NC so it does get significantly colder than the rest of the state.  Before I lived here, I lived in a beach town, where it was flat and warm pretty much all year round (I’m talking running in shorts in January, people).  So moving up here was a pretty big adjustment.  Here are some of my favorite products that have helped keep me warm while on my winter runs:

Sugoi Subzero Tights – $80

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This tights are fleece lined and wind resistant, with a jelly band around the ankles to keep the warm in and cold out.  I love them  because they don’t feel bulky- other wind resistant tights feel like you are wearing neoprene, but these don’t.  Bonus, they are super flattering if you are looking for tights that will pull double duty as street clothes – and yes, I am one of the shameless women who wear tights as pants.  If you are too, these fit the bill.

Sugoi Firewall Jacket– the latest version is $150, but you can find earlier versions for less

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Basically if you are an endurance athlete and haven’t heard of Sugoi, you are doing yourself a disservice.  I bought this jacket when I worked at a running store for cycling initially, it got too hot where I used to live, but it is perfect for the mountains.  It is lined with silver dots and it is windproof, so it gets toasty really quick!

Brooks Ghost with Gore-tex – $150

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I am a die-hard Brooks fan.  And so you can imagine my glee this winter when I realized they made my shoe in Gore-tex, so now my feet can stay dry and warm on snowy, muddy trails.  If you are a neutral cushion lover craving dry, warm feet, give these a try.

Smartwool PhD ultra light running socks – Prices vary, but get them on Sierra Trading post, they are the cheapest, but STP will send you coupons for ever and ever after.

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Tech wool is one of my favorite things on the face of the planet.  These keep your toesies warm, but aren’t bulky, they feel just like regular ultra thin running socks, so no blisters.

Hotsnapz hand warmers – $12 a pair

hotsnapz

I have pretty significant Reynauds syndrome and these things are magic.  You click the silver disk in the center of a gel, and this causes a chemical reaction and the whole thing warms up.  I stick them in my mittens.  Yes, I wear mittens.

Finally, keep your ears warm with a Nike reversible ear warmer– about $17

nikeearwarmers

I like this particular one because it is fleecy on one side and neoprene on the other. I keep the fleece towards my ears and the neoprene on the outside to keep the heat in.

Happy running and stay warm!

-jules

10 Minute Core

Having a strong core is important!  Remember when we talk about core, we aren’t just referring to the 6-pack, we are talking about obliques, hip flexors and back.  Here is my quick core routine that I fit in after all my runs.  Short, sweet, and hits all the hot spots 😉

  1. 100 crunches.  Actually 4 sets of 25.  I do one set with my legs straight out in front of me, a set with my knees bent and feet on the floor, a set with my knees bent up in table top, and then with my legs straight up.  Take your time, consider this your core warm-up.
  2. 2X25 Russian twists.  Sit up and lift your feet up so that you are in a boat position.  Twist from your waist so that you are facing the right, and bring it back to center, and then twist to the left.  That is 1 rep.  I do 25 reps twice, with a break in between.  You want to do these with a good speed.  I usually do these with a 10 lb weight but start off without any weight because these are tough on their own!
  3. 12X2 stability ball pass.  You’ll need a stability ball, but if you don’t have one, start off doing this exercise unresisted because its particularly tough on the hip flexors and adductors.  Starting off unresisted will get you used to the movement.  Lying on your back and feet straight out in front of you, position stability ball in between your feet.  Holding the ball with your feet, lift legs up to a 90 degree angle, and crunch up to grab the ball with your hands.  Extend legs back out and bring the ball over your head and crunch back down.  Crunch back up and pass the ball back to feet and lower back to the ground.  That counts as 1 rep.  I do 12 2 times with a break in between.
  4. 2X1 minute bridge.  You should always have a back component to any ab workout.  Lying on your back, bend knees with feet on the ground, and while keeping shoulder blades on the ground lift up your butt and lower back and hold.  If you’re feeling good or its too easy, try it with your feet on the stability ball. I do this 2 times for a minute.
  5. 2X1 minute Plank.  I like to alternate this with the bridge.  Roll over onto your belly and lift yourself up to your knees and elbows.  Keep your core tight and butt low and parallel the the ground.  If you haven’t planked before or its been a while, you may need to work up to a minute.

If you haven’t done a core exercise before or its been a while, it could be difficult.  Remember to keep good posture, don’t strain your neck, and move from the waist, not the neck or shoulders.  You might be sore the next day, but your core usually adjusts to new exercises fairly quickly, so it’ll be easier the next time you do it!  I personally like to be a little sore, it makes me feel like I worked hard.

Let me know what you think!

-jules

“How to look like a Victoria’s Secret model”

Pinterest is a great source for workouts, especially for people new to exercise.  I’m finding it troubling however, that theres a significant number of pages claiming to get you that “Victoria’s Secret body.”  According to all of these articles, you can get their abs, the thigh gap, the long lean legs and arms.  Just do these squats 500 times or just eat a paleo diet or gluten free diet or vegan diet…it goes on and on.  Dear ladies, here is a news flash that you may or may not like to hear:  unless you are 5’11 with a naturally lithe build, you will never look like a Victoria’s Secret model.

Like many other women, the Victoria’s Secret fashion show is a hallowed event for me and my girl friends.  We gather around the tv with snacks and watch, commenting on our favorite models, the beautiful lingerie, the over the top themes, and the lucky performers.  I do have friends that do not like to watch the show, however, saying “No thanks, it makes me feel bad about myself.”  Lets take a moment to identify and analyze the facts:

  • Models are naturally long and lean.  On top of that, they all have a litany of people helping them look their best: personal trainers, nutritionists, stylists, makeup artists, etc.  In addition, for the month before filming the fashion show, the girls undergo 2 a day boot-camp type workouts, and are typically on low carb, low fat, and sometimes liquid diets.  For the 24 hours before filming, they don’t eat or drink anything.  Thats not healthy.
  • We all know bodies come in different shapes and sizes, and will thus put on muscle and fat differently.  I grew up figure skating and thus tend to put muscle on really easily in my butt and thighs- there is truly no possibility of a thigh gap for me my friends, and I’m sure thats the case for most of you.  I also have an anteriorly tilted pelvis, so the most abs I’ll ever have is a 4-pack.  Bummer.

Lets reframe the Victoria’s Secret fashion show.  Lets not make it a body-shaming, idealistic event, but rather a motivating one:

  • The models work out hard!  Lets all be motivated by their strength, not the appearance of their muscles or lack of body fat.  Go ahead, try that VS model workout on Pinterest.  Do it for the strength.
  • Lets be sexy!  Lets use this event as a reminder to own your sexuality and feel good about yourself.  Thats the point of lingerie isn’t it?
  • Lets be realistic!  Remember the girls are wearing layers of face and body makeup, plus self-tanners, plus hair extensions, and sky high stilettos. They don’t go out every day like that.  They  aren’t expected to and neither should you be.  Feel good in your own skin.  And then…
  • Have fun!  The models always look like they’re having a blast- they’re dolled up, they’re working it.  You don’t have to be a model to work it too.  If you feel good, you look good, and others will notice.  Be healthy.  Thats sexy.

So lets all accept that we are not Victoria’s Secret models, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive for better fitness and better, healthier selves.

-jules

Resolutions

So, its getting to be that time of year…and I’ll go ahead and be the first to ask: Whats your New Year’s resolution?  Mine is to floss more and get more serious about resistance training.  Sounds good right?   Yours probably sounds pretty similar right?

Well, you and I are not very good at making resolutions then.

There is a reason why most people don’t stick to their resolutions.  We tend to make broad, non-specific goals.  Flossing and resistance training might sound specific on the surface, but really what qualifies flossing more?  I don’t floss at all currently, so technically flossing just once a week counts as more.  There. Done.  But then whats the point?  The same goes for resistance training.  What does it mean to take it more seriously?  I’ll go to the gym but IN NO WAY will I smile about it- must be serious.

There is a specific formula that can help you make and achieve your goals.  the SMART formula:

  • Specificity: What exactly is your goal?  Mine, for example is to floss and to resistance train.
  • Measurability: How can you measure your goal?  You need to be able to quantify your progress.  I can quantify flossing by number of times per day per week.  I can quantify resistance training several ways, but I will most likely focus on strength gains based on my 1RM in a few core exercises.
  • Achievable: Is this a feasible goal, and do we have control over all of the variables?  Flossing, yes.  It is entirely under my control whether I floss or not.  For resistance training, and achievable example would be to perform an hour of resistance training twice a week- this fits with my school, work, internship, and marathon training schedule (busy busy!).  Whats not achievable?  GYM all day every day.  Don’t do that to yourself.  Set up something you know you can do.
  • Relevant:  How is this related to you daily life and how will it be recorded?  For me flossing and resistance training will improve my overall health, and reduce my chances of developing heart disease and osteoporosis later in life.
  • Time-Bound:  How long until you re-evaluate?  Ok flossing isn’t a good example for this, because that should be indefinite.  But for resistance training, I can say until my marathon in May, then I will re-evaluate and make changes based on my gains.

So there it is, based on this formula, my New Year’s resolutions will be to 1) Floss at least once every day until the end of time because its good for my teeth and my health, and 2) Resistance train for 1 hour two days a week until May 31 because it will help my running and improve my bone density and keep my blood pressure and metabolism in check.

If you want to lose weight, or eat healthier, you can follow the same formula.  Start out with something basic for your new years resolution, (like swapping sodas for water, or walking 5 days a week for 20 minutes), and after 3 months, re-evaluate.  Bump up that walking to 30 minutes, or start running, or even join a gym.  A personal trainer’s job is to come up with goals for you and design a plan to help you achieve them.  Just make sure you keep your goals SMART!

Workout today: Today was supposed to be my long run day, but I’m still visiting the parents for the holidays and my mother had other plans for me.  So I swapped out my Tuesday workout and did 40 minutes with 6 1-minute pickups, and I’ll probably get to my long-run Monday or Tuesday, which will be a slow 10 miles.  I followed it up with my normal post-run core routine.

-jules


Meet Sydney

Everyone, meet Sydney, my favorite non-human running buddy and best friend.

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Sydney is a two and a half year old German/Australian shepherd mix.  Being a shepherd, she has a lot of energy for my two bedroom apartment, so she goes on just about every run with me.  As soon as I start lacing up my running shoes she perks up her ears and heads straight to the door.  I love having a pup to run with because she keeps me engaged and motivated; I feel bad if she doesn’t get outside and get some exercise after being cooped up all day!  She did every training run and workout with me while I was training for my half back in November, but I’m afraid the volume that marathon training is going to entail will be too much for her.  For the half I only ran 4 days a week and topped off at 35 miles with a 10 mile long run, but for the marathon I’m running 5 days a week and topping off at 65 miles with a 23 mile long run.  I draw the line for her at 10 miles (she could probably do more, but I worry for her paws), so long runs are definitely out.  She’ll be sad to be left those days for sure.  In honor of my long distance running buddy, I’m making this post about running with your pet.  If you’re wanting to start running with your favorite four-legged friend, heres a few things to consider first:

  1. Start slow: Your first run ever probably wasn’t a 6 mile tempo.  Neither should your pup’s!  Start with walking and work in some jogging, and work up using the 10% rule.
  2. Leash up: Leash train your pet before you take her to the trails.  The trails we run also serve as hiking, mountain bike and horse trails, with the occasional cluster of grazing cows.  Take your dog to a place and let her get used to a new running locale, so she doesn’t go nuts over all the new things and smells (and in my case, spook a horse).  Also remember, not all people are comfortable around dogs.  So while your pup might just be lunging towards someone just to get a head pat, they might not want anything to do with her.  Keep her close.
  3. Learn your breed: Just like people can have higher propensities towards slower or faster twitching muscle development, so can different dog breeds.  Check up on your breed.  A more muscular dog may have a greater proportion of faster twitching muscle fibers, meaning she might not be a distance dog, but more of a sprinter.  Learn about your breed so you know what to expect, and are less likely to injure your pet…or have to carry them home…5 miles.  Some breeds, particularly squishy nosed ones (oh hi pugs) just aren’t cut for running because of how easily they can overheat.
  4. Know your route: Its pretty well known that canines don’t thermoregulate as well as humans because they can’t sweat.  That on top of a thick coat of fur means your pet can get overheated very easily.  Only ever run your dog where you know there will be plenty of water and shade to cool her off.  I only run Sydney on our greenway so that she can take a dip in the creek whenever she gets hot.
  5. Check the paws: Sydney loves our runs, but sometimes she has to take a week off if the bottoms of her paws are looking too rough or cracked.  Try to run on soft surfaces, and check your pet’s paws regularly.  Dogs need down weeks too.
  6. Bring a baggie: The number one cause of ground water pollution is pet waste.  Don’t be that person.  Pick it up.
  7. Last but not least, Hydrate!: Seems obvious.  But is very important.  Make sure you AND your pup get plenty of cool water post run.

Happy running humans and non-humans!

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If anyone is interested, today on the plan I had a 40 minute easy run with 6 1-minute pickups.  I’m still in base training, but adding in some pickups reminds my legs how to go fast, so that my speed workouts coming up in a few weeks won’t be such a shock.  Except I apparently don’t know how to count and I don’t know my parents’ neighborhood as well as I used to, so I did 45 minutes and maybe 7 pickups instead of 6.  Whoops!

jules

Barriers

Wow!  In one day I already have some followers and comments.  Thank you so much for the positive messages!  When I saw in my email that I had comments my first thought was “Oh no.  Someone has found me and thinks I am terrible and now they’re calling me out on it.”  How bad is that?  That was my first instinct, that people were going to be mean and negative.  So thank you for proving me wrong, it really shows how much I need to be more positive about the world and reframe my thoughts and expectations.

So in my second blog post ever, I’m going to talk about barriers.  As an exercise professional, one of the most important things we need to discuss with our clients is their barriers to physical activity.  Barriers to physical activity involve any reason, real or imagined, that keeps someone sedentary.  It can be not having time to exercise, not having a gym or equipment, to not having the confidence to start exercising.  I have my own barriers too.  Working out is not on my radar when I’m not at home or in my regular routine.  Usually when I go to my parents house for the holidays, I don’t even work it into my day…for 20 days straight.  But I am marathon training, and as an exercise professional, I need to lead by example.

Today on my training plan I had a cross training day, so I counted my hours of walking through the mall as my cardio (Waited til the last minute to get my Christmas gifts, oops!).  And then I did an easy resistance workout using what weights I could find around my parents house.  I could only find some 5 and 10 pounders, but thats okay because I am in early base training so I’m staying low weight and high reps for the next few weeks.  I did 3 sets of weighted lunges, squats, calf raises, and the typical arm exercises (curls, rows, TYIs), with 15 reps in each set.  I also did some single leg squats, some pushups and dips, and followed it up with my go-to core routine that I do after all my training runs.  I was sweaty and proud.  It may not have been my usual workout, but I did something.

Going back to barriers, another barrier I need to overcome is this negative perception I have of myself.  I am my biggest barrier.  The best thing I can do for myself is work towards having a more positive and open outlook on myself, because, after all, when one door closes, another one opens 🙂

jules


So I have started a blog

This blog is the result of failure.  Ok, that may be an overreaction, but I did not get a job I very much wanted.  So in my very first blog post EVER, I will explain myself and my purposes.

The first thing anyone will ever find out about me is that I love exercise and I love sharing my love for exercise and I will have many many reasons why every single person should exercise.  In particular, I love running, swimming, cycling, and am picking up some weight training (see what I did there?!).

I am a also grad student, studying clinical exercise physiology in the mountains of North Carolina, and am in fact just a few short months away from receiving my Masters degree, which, not to brag, will be my third degree, along with my BS in exercise science and a BA in psychology.  In addition, in the midst of those short months, while I will be graduating one school, I will begin a nutrition program and will be working towards becoming a registered dietitian, because really exercise and nutrition go hand in hand.

Now, the dream job?  Cardiac rehab.  Or any clinical exercise program.  I love my internship in cardiac rehab, and I want to use my degree in exercise, and my future degree in nutrition, to help treat and prevent cardiovascular disease in people who don’t know the first thing about exercise.  And even if you do know the first thing about exercise, theres a TON of things you probably don’t know.  Trust me, I’ve been studying it for 6 years now and I’m still learning.  So while I may not be able to do this immediately in the job I applied for and unfortunately did not get, I can and will take to the internet, and share with whoever will listen.

So that is the gist.  I’ll keep it short & sweet today.

Sincerely,

jules