Thursday, December 1, 2016

Stay Safe with Knuckle Lights

This time of year is always tough for runners. With the shorter days, there's a pretty good chance you're either running in the dark in the morning or evening most days. I am always looking for ways to see and be seen, so when Knuckle Lights approached me to try out their new rechargeable lights, I jumped at the chance.

Typically, I wear a headlamp when running in the dark. I like headlamps, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I never feel like they light very far in front of me and I have to hold my head in a particular way in order for the light to shine in a way I can see! This is especially true when running the trails in the dark. So, I've never felt 100% in love with my headlamps and always felt there had to be a better way to do things. Enter Knuckle Lights. These light, easy to use lights may be changing the way I do things from now on! Here are my thoughts after using Knuckle Lights Rechargeable Lights for about a week's worth of early runs :)

1. They're super light. One of my gripes with headlamps are that they're heavy, especially when I'm wearing a hat (which I usually do). The idea of running without a headlamp is really attractive to me but I was afraid I would hate holding something in my hands for an entire run. During the San Diego 50, I held a flashlight for the last 6 miles and I hated it! That tiny flashlight felt like it was 1000 pounds by the end. Right out of the box, the Knuckle Lights were super light. I was wondering if the rechargeable battery would be heavy but not at all. And you barely notice them on your hands.



2. They charge quickly and hold charge a long time. Technically, when used on high power, they should last about 4 hours. I've used them on high for 3 runs ranging from 4-6 miles and haven't had to charge them yet. When used on low power, they should last about 8 hours. That will come in handy when I'm running my 100-miler next year. I'll probably get another pair to keep in my pack! In addition to the high and low settings, there is also a blinking setting. Battery should last about 14 hours in this mode. They are also magnetized, so when you take them off the charging station, they bind together. This helps prevent you from losing one :)


Magnets keep them together! 

3. You barely notice them on your hands. I was apprehensive about running with the lights on my hands based on my flashlight experience mentioned above. I thought I would hate them, they would bounce and be annoying. None of the above! When placed correctly on your knuckles, you don't even notice them. And when adjusted correctly, they won't move. I was concerned about making sure they would fit on my hands, but they fit perfectly! I wore them both with and without gloves and didn't have any issues with the lights bouncing or moving around.






4. They're all-weather proof. This was especially helpful as it actually rained on and off for 3 days here in San Diego and I got caught in some on one of my runs with the lights. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry about any damage from the moisture and rain.

5. You can see far. Light up whole street if you want to. In order to take the video below, I placed the camera far down at the end of my street, perhaps 0.05 mile away. As you can see, I'm not hard to miss. While my jacket had some reflective strips on it, I made sure not to wear my reflective vest I usually wear because I wanted to see how much the Knuckle Lights illuminate me, as well as the road around me. As you can see, I'm not hard to miss :)

video


I highly recommend picking up a pair of Knuckle Lights for you or the runner on your holiday gift list. They will appreciate how much you care about them! To help you out, here's a code to receive 10% off your order: YKAF5599. Stay safe out there with the easy-to-use and comfortable Knuckle Lights!



I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

*The Knuckle Lights were provided for me to try but all opinions, photos and experiences are my own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Strength Every Runner Should Do: The Plank

I'm not going to lie: I lurve me some planks. I think the standard plank is one of the best strength moves you can do, regardless of your ability level. You don't need any equipment and you can do it anywhere. It is one of the best way to strengthen your core with minimal impact on your spine (unlike crunches). I am not a big fan of crunches or other moves where you're flexing your spine awkwardly. This can compress the discs between your vertebrae and if you're not paying attention to your form 100%, chances are you'll end up hurting yourself. This is why I have every single one of my clients do some variation of the plank. In fact, it doesn't just strengthen your core (which is basically everything apart from your arms and legs), but it can also help to strengthen your shoulders, arms and legs. It's pretty magical. As runners, the power of the plank is huge. Our power comes from our core and a strong core will not only help your running form be more efficient but it will also help keep that form intact as you tire out. As we get tired, that form gets compromised and that can lead to injury. Performing planks on the regular can help not only keep that core strong, but your entire body.

Once you learn how to do it correctly, the sky is the limit. Here's the standard push-up plank:

Lie face down on your mat, floor, whatever, with your legs extended and your elbows bent directly under the shoulders. Push up into push-up position. Keep feet hip-width apart with elbows shoulder width apart. Contract abs and then push your toes to lift the body. Your body must form a straight line from your head to your heels. So, your shoulders are directly over your elbows and your elbows are over your wrists. Your neck is in neutral position with your gaze towards the floor. Your pelvis is tucked under, which helps to keep your spine neutral and your hips in line with the rest of your body. You can have your feet together to increase the challenge or widen your stance with your feet about hip width apart. Just be mindful that your core is engaged and you're not dipping your hips.

Voila!

If you need to make this more challenging, you can bend your elbows and perform a forearm plank. You would keep your elbows directly under your shoulders and press your palms into the floor. Be careful not to sink into your shoulders but lift out of the shoulder girdle and keep the neck nice and neutral. 

If you need to lessen the intensity, you can plank against a wall. You would perform the exact same push-up plank described above but your hands would be on a wall (or a table, bench or other raised flat surface). This will still work the core but if you have back issues, this will be easier. As you build strength, you can progress to lower surfaces and eventually the floor. 

There are so many variations, I will post several. But just to name a few: side planks, mountain climbers, spider climbs, cross-body climbs and so many more. You can even just change the game by lifting one arm out to the side or in front or lifting one leg slightly up. All while keeping your hips level.

How do you feel about planks? What's your favorite way to plank?

I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!


Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

It's time for some fun! It's Friday, which means I'm linking up with the girls over at the Friday Five 2.0 link up. Today's theme is sharing five things most people won't know about you. This was actually a little difficult for me because I'm pretty open here on the blog. I had to dig deep on this one.

Before I continue, as mentioned, I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

Without further ado, here we go:

1. When I was kid I wanted to be a pilot. I think I was in 6th grade when I fully realized this dream. We had a career day and an airline pilot was there and talked about the fun and rewarding job he had as a pilot. He mentioned that there were very few female pilots out there and it was an up-and-coming career path for women. Well, say no more. I went full throttle into researching becoming a pilot, what college I would go to (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical, of course), which airline I wanted to fly and so on. But then one spring break, I think it was sophomore year in high school, we went to the Bahamas for vacation. The flight was AWFUL and I got very sick. It kind of made me re-think the whole pilot thing and I really lost the vim and vigor I once had. It's a little embarrassing that my career hopes were dashed by some air sickness but that's just how it goes sometimes.

2. I have a pretty obsessive personality. I kind of latch onto really weird things and obsess over them for a period of time. I've had some really odd obsessions that have included salad storage containers (don't ask) and buying collars for every occasion for my dog (don't ask about that one either). One that was kind of fun was my Elvis obsession. I don't know why but I got on an Elvis kick when I was a senior in college. I read every book about him I could, watched his movies, everything. When I graduated and moved back home, my dad and I drove across the country (I went to school in Arizona and lived in New York) to go back home. But not without a stop at Graceland. It was by far one of the best touristy things I've ever done! I don't know how it is now but at the time, you could take a self-guided tour through the house and grounds of Graceland while listening to some audio tour. You went everywhere except in the private bedrooms upstairs. It was SO COOL. Everything was still in the condition it was when Elvis lived there. The basement was interesting as there was a TV room with 3 TVs (he wanted one to watch each network station...at the time there was only NBC, ABC and CBS). And there was a game room with a pool table, etc. The whole room was covered in this quilted fabric: the walls, the ceiling, the pool table. In fact, in the center of the ceiling was this button (of the same fabric) that gathered all the fabric together. Hard to explain but so hideous that I still remember it. Outside was his dad's office (his dad Vern was his manager) and a "gym" that not only had workout equipment and a racquetball court but also a full bar. Perfect. I still think about that trip and would go back if anyone asked me too :)

3. I have the worst willpower when it comes to food. Yes, I try to eat right and all that but when I'm faced with temptation, I have a hard time saying no. I briefly touched on this with the donuts last week. This is the main reason I got licensed as a Sports Nutritionist. I needed to arm myself with as much info to not only help others, but help myself too. I'm only human and I need to work on stuff too :)

4. I have an awful phobia of insects and rodents. I do not love insects at all and have a hard time being in the same vicinity as an insect. When I lived on the east coast, crickets would often come in the house when the temperatures dropped and some of my worst nightmares include seeing a cricket in my room. I've had nightmares of being attacked by mice as well. I have a vivid imagination, apparently. But the worst has to be spiders. They are just too awful for me to even talk about in full detail. Now that I'm a mom, I have to keep my fears in check so I don't pass them onto my kids. I will usually run away when I see something and go scream in the bathroom or cry in my closet.

5. The summer before my senior year in high school, I was lucky enough to be an exchange student for the summer. I went to Australia for 4 weeks and it was amazing. But I was 16 and didn't exactly appreciate it as much as I should have. We went to Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, part of the Outback and even the Great Barrier Reef. We also stayed with two different families and went to school with the kids. I often forget that I even went there, which is why I wanted to bring it up now. It was a great experience and maybe if I think about it enough, we can make a plan to go back. I recently got back in touch with a couple of the friends I made there through Facebook, which was pretty awesome. It was fun but I would love to go back as an adult. Someday, we will! Perhaps I can plan it around some ultra...now that would be amazing!

Now it's your turn! Share something only a few people would know about!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Strength Every Runner Should Do: Lunges

No strength training program would be complete without including the often-underrated lunge. The lunge is an important move because it is a combination of standing and kneeling, both of which are important movements patterns we perform daily. Therefore, performing lunges will help us perform our regular daily functions in a more efficient manner. As a runner, lunges helps build strength and mobility in the hips and legs, allowing us to move more efficiently and remain injury free. Just as there are a million different ways to squat, there are a million ways to lunge. But first and foremost, it's important to master the initial lunge before progressing to more challenging variations and/or add weight to the move. If you can't master the lunge using only your body weight, adding additional weight can only further reduce the quality of the movement and potentially cause injury.

There are three main lunge movements I encourage every runner to do: the forward lunge, the reverse lunge and the side lunge. Doing these three forms of the lunge will help increase stability in the hips and legs, allowing you to move with a great range of motion. This will help you to move more efficiently and help keep you from getting hurt.

Forward Lunge:
                               


Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your gaze is ahead of you with your ears over shoulders, your shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles. Step forward into a lunge with your left foot. Keep your upper body upright with proper posture and your chest open and lifted (don’t bend forward at the waist) as you bend your knees, lowering your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles. You back heel is raised with ankle over toes. Be sure to keep your hips level and do not sink into either side. Come up to starting position. Now step forward and lunge with your right foot. This is one rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy.

Reverse Lunge:

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Your gaze is ahead of you with your ears over shoulders, your shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles. Step backward into a lunge with your left foot. Keep your upper body upright with proper posture and your chest open and lifted (don’t bend forward at the waist) as you bend your knees, lowering your body until both of your legs form 90-degree angles. You back heel is raised with ankle over toes. Be sure to keep your hips level and do not sink into either side. Come up to starting position. Now step forward and lunge with your right foot. This is one rep. This lunging movement is typically more difficult for people with hip instability. I would make sure this lunge is always included in your workouts! Again, aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy. 

Side Lunge:

                       


Stand with your feet hip width apart with your hands clasped in front of you. Keeping your gaze forward and your abs tight, take a big step to the right with your right foot and bend your right knee 90 degrees, keeping your left leg extended. Make sure the weight is in your heel of your right foot. If you want you can raise arms straight out in front of you, keeping them parallel with your shoulder (do not raise higher than shoulder). As above, aim for 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions as part of your regular strength training routine, adding weight when this becomes easy. 

There are tons of different variations such as curtsy lunges, Bulgarian squats (which are a form of lunges), lunge jumps (where you jump into and out of lunge position), lunges on unstable surfaces and so many more. But, as always, be sure to master the basic lunge movement before adding weight, instability and jumps.

What's your favorite way to lunge? 


I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!

Friday, October 28, 2016

October Runfessions

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time to wipe the slate clean and runfess all of my fitness indiscretions. I haven't runfessed since July! That's a lot of time for many, many indiscretions.

But before I continue, I'm linking up with Marcia's Runfessions link up over at Marcia's Healthy Slice. Head over there when you're done here!

And, since I'm releasing five runfessions, I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

I runfess:

1. As my big race approached (Cuyamaca 100K on 10/1), all I could focus on was the time off after the race was over. I know, I should have been excited about the race and all that but I really wasn't. I was really burned out from training. I was having a hard time with my health issues and really just wanted to be done running for a while. I wanted to get my surgery over with and begin to move onto something else.

2. I finally had my surgery a couple of weeks ago. You know that looking-forward-to-not-running thing I mentioned above? Yeah, that is over now and I'm ready to be active again. I've done a few strength training sessions and some yoga. That's been great. As for running, I have only run once so far. It was kind of pitiful and I'm trying to stay positive and upbeat. But I have to runfess that I'm disappointed in myself that I can't run well yet. Trust me, I know I'm still in the recovery and building-back stages. I'm trying to not be too hard on myself. But it really kind of sucks to go from running a 100K to having trouble with a mile. I know...patience. And I'm Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, I know. I want a break. I don't want a break. Really, I just want to feel like myself, which is a runner. And I'm not that right now :(

3. I do NOT do well when I'm not feeling well. And these current health issues take me back to a sad place in my life. As I mentioned in my 100K race recap, the majority of my issues stem back to when I was pregnant with my twins. Yes, that was a happy time but it was also a time of extreme anxiety and fear that we would lose them, like we lost the pregnancy before them. I have battled depression off and on since then and having to go through all of this again now kind threw my emotions for a loop. I have been off emotionally since finding out about this back in July. Being cooped up inside and not being able to do much activity in the week after surgery kind of set the tone. I am thankful for my friends that called, texted, visited, brought treats and made us dinner. That really helped keep my spirits up, especially when that first week was so painful and I just felt like crap. And as I've gone back to work and gotten back into the swing of things, I'm feeling better. But I still don't feel like myself.

4. With all this non-running and not being that active, I'm living vicariously through my clients.  I am giving them the workouts I really want to be doing right now. I'm not being mean or anything, but I've definitely upped the intensity of workouts. In fact, I had one gentleman in one of my classes tell me that the class was "f*cking brutal" and he was only happy when it was over. Oops. But in all honesty, they're not paying me to take it easy on them, right? Maybe I should ease up a little...

5. My parents came to help out for a few days when I had my surgery. They are the absolute best. My dad took the kids to school, my mom did the majority of cooking and stuff. They really helped ease the load since I was completely out of commission that week. But the one bad thing they did was buy some donuts the morning they were leaving. Now, I had lost my appetite most of that week following the surgery so I didn't want any of the donuts. My mom put them in the pantry for when I would want one. My husband moved them to the garage so he wouldn't eat them. Well, a couple of days later when I was going back to work for the first time, I passed the donuts in the garage. So I quickly ate one before any of the kids came out to get in the car. I was basically that cat in that pic because I did that twice more and stuffed almost an entire donut in my mouth so my kids wouldn't see me eat it. But I was fully dressed and not in my underwear! I love my mom but I wish she wouldn't buy donuts!!

And that's a wrap. What do you runfess this month?