My Newest Obsession: Refine Method

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram or even let me talk to you about working out in person, you’ve likely noticed that in the last two months I’ve mentioned Refine Method… a lot. My first instinct was to apologize, but then I realized it’s a good thing – I have a (non-running) workout I’m in love with and I want to tell everyone about it!

I’ve known about Refine for a while. Ever since hearing about it through Dori, Ashley, Abby, and others, I was confident it was a workout I’d enjoy. Unfortunately I didn’t really have the opportunity to try it until I moved to Jersey City; I couldn’t justify an hour long NJ Transit trip (and then a subway ride) just for a workout! Even when I first moved it was on the back-burner since I was marathon training, but we all know how that ended. So when I found myself injured in late October, the series of unfortunate events came together to create a perfect time for me to not only explore new workouts, but to finally give this class that everyone raves about a try.

RefineSign

I took my first class at the end of October with unofficial Refine ambassadors Dori and Ellen. We travelled to their Upper West Side location where I was immediately introduced to the instructor, Laura. She explained their pulley system, asked me what kind of workouts I did regularly, and asked if I had any injuries. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew that at the very least Laura (and my friends!) would make sure everything went smoothly. We started with a brief dynamic warm-up and quickly went to work. Three strength exercises followed by a power-set of heart pumping cardio, three times through. I like to consider myself to be a generally fit person and was able to do the “intermediate” weight suggestions (everything is scalable and modifications are made for injuries) for most of the exercises, but boy was it hard! The great thing about the workout, though, is that you’re constantly moving and not doing any one exercise for more than a minute. So right as I felt like I couldn’t do one more bottoms-up push-up or jump-back, the prescribed exercise would change. It went on like this for an hour. An hour! If you told me I would have been doing a non-running workout for that long and at that intensity level I would have told you I couldn’t… despite being relatively in shape. Thankfully I proved myself wrong. I had constant encouragement and form corrections from Laura, and everyone in the class was so fierce and strong which inspired me to keep pushing. By the time my first class was over I knew I’d be insanely sore the next day. And I was.

The day after my first Refine class, I felt like I had run a marathon and did push-ups along the way. It was rough, but I loved it – I loved feeling sore from working hard! Being a glutton for punishment I couldn’t wait to sign up for my next class… which was encouraged by the awesome new student deal they offer – buy one get one class free! After attending my second class a week later and loving it just as much as the first time, I knew what the next logical step was – their new client 1-month of unlimited classes option. Conveniently after buying the package, they opened a third location in the West Village which meant a short (2-stop) PATH ride and no need for the subway. Talk about extra incentive to get to a workout!

West Village studio - so gorgeous!

West Village studio – so gorgeous!

The new studio is gorgeous and the convenient location meant I had no reason not to go as much as possible during the month… which wound up being three (sometimes four) times a week! So with my unlimited month having ended last week, I feel like I’m at a good place to evaluate this new obsession of mine. While I’m hardly a fitness class expert, there are a lot of things that Refine does right, which is why they have such a loyal and enthusiastic following. So what are those things they do right, you ask? Because this post isn’t long enough already, I thought I’d let you know what I think makes Refine one of the very best workouts in NYC – bullet point style.

  • Every class is different in terms of the exercises that are done, but they follow the same format. So after going to only two classes I knew what to expect and when. Even though I was by no means a “regular” I didn’t feel lost. Every exercise is demonstrated, and the set-up of the room allows you to watch other students in case you do feel lost.
  • The workout props are in great condition and add a little fun to your workout. They have a proprietary pulley system at all three locations and an MIT engineer updated version at the West Village location, along with kettle bells of all different weights, medicine balls, TRX straps, slide boards, boxes, and mini-bands. So in addition to body weight exercises you have a bunch of fun props to keep your muscles guessing!
  • The locations provide changing and shower facilities. They’re small, but that’s expected in NYC. They have a rain shower in the new West Village location with awesome smelling Aesop products, and it makes that post-workout shower all the more enjoyable!
  • The workout itself is amazing. They call it “NYC’s Smartest Workout” for a reason! Living in the Northeast and especially the New York City metro area, we’re used to (and have come to expect) a fast paced way of life. Everyone is almost always rushing to or from somewhere. So to be able to get a full-body strength and cardio workout (that’s fun!) in 50 minutes is amazing. I’ve tried hour and a half long yoga classes and I just can’t stay interested – I always count down to the end of class! But not in Refine. Even when I feel like I’m about to keel over and drown in my own pool of sweat (I have dramatic thoughts when I workout), I don’t want the class to end.
  • And maybe the most important reason is that the hand-picked instructors are top notch. Everyone I’ve met has been so warm and inviting, and they somehow remembered my name after meeting me once! There’s something about being welcomed by name and encouraged by name throughout class. That’s another thing that makes the instructors great – they pay attention to everyone’s form throughout class and aren’t shy about correcting you. I look forward to getting corrections – I want to make sure I’m doing things right and getting the most out of my workout. In fact, there was a class when I first started where we did kettle bell swings (which I thought seemed easy enough) and the instructor, Lonnie, had me stop, reposition myself, and try again during the first set. Then he watched me and gave more corrections during the second, so by the third I felt like I was owning the swings. And now every time I do them I think of what Lonnie told me that day to make sure I’m doing them correctly.

I don’t think I would have stayed sane during this ITBS injury if I hadn’t started Refine. Aside from keeping me active, I know that it’s given me strength I didn’t have before, along with helping to correct some weaknesses and imbalances I have. I’m confident that I can get back to running and — with continued Refine Method classes — stay injury-free and continue to get stronger.

Reppin' Refine in Disney... with a fountain side plank

Reppin’ Refine in Disney… with a fountain side plank

So if you’re in the NYC metro area (living or even just visiting!) do yourself a favor and take a class. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Running Update: Physical Therapy & Massage

Last time I mentioned running on the blog I wasn’t running, but rather cross-training a lot. I figured an update was due even though much hasn’t changed.

For those of you that don’t remember, I first noticed some weird IT band tightness and aching on the outside of my left knee in the middle of October. I thought I was being smart about it and skipped a few runs, foam rolled and tried to do as much at-home strength work as I could, and crossed my fingers and toes. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough and by the end of October I had full-blown ITBS. I had to drop out of the Philadelphia Marathon, but assumed I would be back to running by the end of November at the latest. Well, here it is the end of December and I’m still not really running.

The funny (and frustrating) thing about this injury is that it doesn’t hurt unless I’m running. I can walk miles and have no issues, go to Refine Method, take a spinning or yoga class, and feel fine. But previously, if I went for a run, I’d start to feel discomfort that turns into pain anywhere between miles 2 and 4 (when it starts to hurt is random – depends on the day!). So as you can imagine, I’ve been doing everything but running. It stinks that I haven’t been able to run, but I’m thankful that I have access to so many different kinds of cross-training to help keep me sane. And it doesn’t hurt that I’m already seeing results from my Refine Method classes!

My cross-training best friends

My cross-training best friends

When I realized a few weeks ago that the ITBS wasn’t going to go away on its own I decided to visit a Physical Therapist. The first visit was an assessment where she had me do lots of walking, random movements, and basic strength tests. It was determined that my IT band and hamstrings weren’t actually that tight, but that the general area was tight and weak…. including a weak butt and core. I was given instructions to continue my at-home strength work (clam shell variations, leg lifts, etc.) and to come back for some manual massaging, stretching, and Graston. I also made an appointment for (and had) my first ever massage.

Originally I had dismissed the idea of going to Physical Therapy. I assumed they would just tell me to keep doing the exercises I’ve been doing without much else. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that they would be able to do manual massage and some myofascial release, which could be a huge help considering the injury I have. So when I went for my second appointment and she took out what resembled Medieval torture devices, I knew things were about to get serious (and painful). I’ve heard horror stories about how painful Graston is during as well as after, and I’ve seen pictures of some gnarly bruising. I don’t know if I just have a high tolerance for pain or my PT was just being gentle, but it really wasn’t that bad.  Sure, it was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t painful at any point. What I found most interesting was when she’d be working on one area, and another would hurt… goes to show it really is all connected!

Graston - torture tools

Graston – torture tools

I’ve had two more Graston and massage sessions since then (the second included some serious knot removal from my glutes), and as I mentioned earlier, I got my first-ever deep tissue massage on Sunday. Now if we want to talk about something that was simultaneously relaxing and painful, that would be it. Since it was my first massage and I’ve been dealing with injury, I splurged and went with 80 minutes versus 50… and it was worth every penny. She spent plenty of time with my legs and glutes, and on top of feeling relaxed when I left, I felt as though my legs were ready to run. So, that’s exactly what I did. On Monday during lunch I decided to go for my first run since December 1st (with only 3 runs before that in November).

I ran two pain-free miles! It wasn’t fast, it felt kind of awkward, and I spent the whole time worrying and waiting for that twinge of pain to start outside my left knee, but it never did. I had a slight ache outside my right knee for a moment (before being stopped at a light), but I’m hopefully that was just getting the cobwebs out. I’m hoping this is finally the end of my ITBS drama (it’s been 2 whole months!). I’m going to start out slowly and work my way back to regular running at a much slower pace than I have before, and I’m going to keep up with my strength work and cross-training… something I always say I’m going to do, but never fully follow through with. I’ve decided that 2015 is the year I become the strongest I’ve ever been. I need to invest in myself and my fitness (both running and just overall). I’m excited to see where it takes me. #GetStrong2015

Tell me…
Have you ever had a sports massage? Love it? Hate it?

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Friday Favorites: What’s In My Gym Bag

It’s been quite some time since I did a Friday Favorites post! I thought now that I’m attending a lot of fitness classes, it would a great opportunity for me to share with you the favorite things I keep in my gym bag. So far since being injured I’ve taken a bunch of different yoga classes (including aerial!), spin classes, and my current beloved, Refine Method. It’s almost a guarantee that I’ll be a sweaty mess after every class, so I make sure to pack my bag accordingly – doesn’t matter whether I have errands to do after class or I’m just going home… no one wants to smell or be sweaty on the train or while walking home in the cold!

Gym Bag Essentials | FoodosaurusRex.com

My collage making skills are less than stellar, so this one goes counter-clockwise… which kind of drives me insane, but I don’t have the patience or time to re-make the collage.

Forever21 Gym Bag

The most important piece here is my gym bag, obviously. I never had the need for one before, but since I started taking classes that require me to hop on the train, I knew it was time to upgrade from my old Long Champ Le Pliage tote. I really loved the look of quite a few bags, but didn’t want to plunk down the cash for something that was just going to hold my sweaty clothes and sneakers. Eventually I found one from Forever21 that was only $23 and had great reviews. I figured that for $23, I couldn’t go wrong! I’ve been using it multiple times a week for a few weeks now and couldn’t be happier with it. It has plenty of compartments both inside and out, and is large enough to hold everything I could possibly need without being a huge bag. Unfortunately they don’t have the same bag online anymore, but they do have a few others that look awesome!

Pacifica Coconut Water Facial Wipes

I got these facial wipes as a sample pack in the Fitness Magazine Meet & Tweet goodie bag, immediately fell in love with them, and went to Target to buy some. They smell amazing (think coconut butter on a tropical island) and do a good job of wiping off all the dirt and sweat without being harsh. My skin is really sensitive (and dry and acne prone, yay!) so I have to be careful about what products I use. I love them so much that I also bought some of their body butter which is equally amazing.

Nathan Power Shower Body Wipes

These bad-boys are a life saver. I’ve had plans after almost every Refine Method class (usually errands or brunch and not something that required a full shower) and I sweat a lot, so these have come in handy. One wipe is all you need to refresh yourself and feel like you can go about your business without being the smelly kid in class. They aren’t a shower replacement by any means, but they definitely keep me from feeling gross. I bought a bunch on Amazon and they’ve been perfect after races where I want to hang out and cheer or go grab food after!

Nuun/Picky Bars Water Bottle

This might seem silly, but I’m kind of picky about my water bottles when it comes to working out. I want something that I can easily grab and don’t have to struggle with to get a drink from. The bottles that I’ve gotten from Nuun and Picky Bars do the trick! The body of the bottle has enough give so I can squeeze it if I’m in dire need of water, and the  top doesn’t require anything fancy from me in order to actually get water out. Plus, it fits perfectly on a FlyWheel bike, next to my yoga mat, or in between stations at Refine Method!

Infinity Scarves! 

With winter (officially) only a few days away, I’ve found an infinity scarf is the perfect thing to have with me for pre and post class. It keeps me warm on the walk there, but it also helps to keep my sweaty hair off my neck for the walk home! My favorites are the Oiselle Runfinity scarf (I have the regular stripe in fresh green, the lux runfinity in fast red, and the fleece infinity scarf) as well as the Lululemon Vinyasa scarf. I pack one even if it’s a “warmer” day because by the time I’m heading home and back out in the cooler air after sweating, I need a little something extra. Once the cooler weather months hit, you can almost always find me wearing some type of scarf, so it seemed only natural to wear it to and from my workouts, too!

Tell me…
Do you have any gym bag essentials? 
What’s your favorite group fitness class?

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BackJoy: Posture Positives!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted about BackJoy products and their #GiveBackJoy campaign. As someone who has horrible posture and is always up for spreading the word about companies doing something good, I was more than happy to participate.

So, as a participant in BackJoy’s “Give Back, Spread Joy” campaign, I received a PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls. I’ve been well aware of my poor posture for over a decade; my mom was constantly telling me to “stand up straight!” in middle school and high school, but I usually just shrugged it off. Most of the time I chalked it up to being exhausted – she’d notice it the most while I was down on the pool deck during a swim meet. My excuse was always that it was mid-meet and I was either tired from just racing or trying to conserve energy and not wasting my time with perfect posture! Well, I haven’t competed in a swim meet in 6 years, and my posture still kind of sucks.

backjoy

I think my poor posture is a combination of things, but there are two glaring reasons. One, my torso is rather long, so I just naturally lean forward a bit. Second, I have a weak core (as pointed out by my physical therapist last week – more on that in another post!), so I get tired quickly when trying to sit or stand up straight. These aren’t medical issues by any means, so I don’t really have an excuse for my poor posture aside from just being lazy about it. So when I got the PostureWear Shirt, Sit Smart Posture Plus, and Roller balls, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to stop being lazy and start getting better about my posture. I mean, good posture can help with so many things… especially that little sport I love so much (running)!

So onto the products. As a runner, I’m a huge fan of the roller balls. They’ve been great for trigger point work on my legs, but also to help work out some tightness and kinks I’ve had in my back since starting to cross-train more (hello upper back knots!). It’s worth noting that my cats also love playing with them. Since I sit most of the day working either at my desk, table, or on the couch, the Sit Smart Posture Plus was an interesting addition. I could feel it encouraging me to sit up straight rather than collapse my core and slump forward and it was easy to move from seat to seat with me. While I haven’t had any long drives yet, I imagine it would be the perfect addition to a car ride – my back often hurts just from being in the car for an hour! The most fascinating product (to me) was the PostureWear shirt. I couldn’t help but think, how could a shirt help my posture? I’m not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I put it on, I could feel myself standing taller. As the product description states, its “ergonomic fit is flexible and comfortable enough to wear during both high and low intensity sports. It features a seamless construction for a comfortable fit, and performance fabric that wicks away moisture.” I was fascinated by the shirt because I could truly feel it encouraging me to stand with proper posture, and it wasn’t uncomfortable!

So at this point, you’re probably wondering why I decided to do a blog post about these products. First and foremost, I think they’re actually good products that can help with poor posture… I think I’ve seen an improvement in the way I sit during the day and it doesn’t feel like such a struggle to sit or stand tall (though I’m far from having “good posture” and I certainly don’t have it all the time). But more importantly, BackJoy is donating $100 worth of their products to chronic pain and rehabilitation centers (such Wounded Warrior Project and Denver Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center) just for this blog post alone (and any others)! I’ve been trying more and more to give back whenever and wherever I can, so I couldn’t turn down this opportunity.

If you have less than stellar posture like myself or suffer from back issues, I encourage you to check out these products – they might be just what you need to help ease your pain and get you to stand up taller!

Disclaimer: These BackJoy products were provided at no cost to me. All opinions are my own.

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Cross Training Tools: The Zero Runner

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by Octane Fitness featuring their Zero Runner machine. The machine, similar to an elliptical, offers a more realistic running-like motion to its user with zero impact to joints. Because it so closely mimics the motion of running without the constant pounding of being out on the pavement, it’s a perfect cross-training and injury prevention tool for a runner to add to their “runner’s toolbox.” At the event, we listened to Olympian Carrie Tollefson and “recreational” runner Larry Schmidt talk about the machine and how they incorporate it into their training (I say recreational with quotes because Larry has competed in 80+ marathons, 100+ mile endurance runs, Ironmans, and more!). By the end of the night all I could think about was how great it would be to get my hands on one of these machines!

You’re probably thinking, what’s so great about this? Well, if you’ve ever been injured, you know how hard it can be to sit idle without running. Sure, you can go to a physical therapist’s office and hop on their (super expensive) Alter-G treadmill, or spend time in the pool running… but it’s not really the same. The Zero Runner is a relatively affordable (comparable to a treadmill or other at-home fitness equipment) machine you can own and use for both rehab and prehab. As I mentioned in my last post, I need to do a better job with my own prehab – it isn’t always easy to remember that injury prevention is something that needs to be practiced all the time, even when you’re feeling good.

Hearing from Carrie Tollefson and Larry Schmidt about their experiences with running and injury was fascinating. I’m a C Tolle Run fan, but I admittedly didn’t know that much about Carrie’s running career. Learning about all of the injuries she faced (multiple stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, hernias…) and her belief that if a machine like the Zero Runner was around during her elite training days she could have prolonged her career was an eye opener. I find myself often forgetting about the long term when it comes to running – it’s a sport I love and one I want to be able to do well into old age – I need to be diligent in not only preventing injuries, but dealing with them in a way that won’t hurt me down the line when they do happen. As they said at the event, all runners want three things: to be efficient, to run faster and longer, and to stay injury free… and sometimes that’s easier said than done!

Some of the major highlights I took away from the event (a.k.a tl;dr):

  • The machine is almost completely silent, battery powered, and cordless. Making it easy to use anywhere, at any time.
  • They have an app for the machine that you can connect to and see not only your running stats, but also your gait and cadence.
  • It offers “Cross Circuit,” meaning you can do more than just ‘run’ on the machine – you can easily attach strength bands to make it a full-body workout.
  • It’s really suitable for everyone – from a casual exerciser all the way to elite athletes.
  • It’s perfect for prehab, active recovery, and the always dreaded rehab.

The Zero Runner is a really impressive machine, and one that I want to own. So naturally I was jealous when one of the event attendees won one (spoiler: it wasn’t me)! I can honestly say that I left the event feeling more inspired to be diligent about my cross-training and injury prevention than I already was. Now I just need to figure out how I can get one of these into my apartment!

Feel free to check out Octane Fitness and the Zero Runner on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more!

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

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More Than Running

When you love a sport, you want to do that sport all the time. And when you’re trying to be competitive in it (whether “competitive” means against others or just yourself), it’s easy to get wrapped up in doing just that. But if there’s one thing I know as an athlete, it’s that you need to do more than just your sport in order to excel.

As a swimmer in high school and college, I understood the importance of “dryland.” I didn’t always make it a priority, but I always tried to remind myself that there was more to swimming than just swimming. When I actually hit the weight room and did things to supplement my time in the pool, I saw results. I’ll never forget the summer after a disappointing freshman year season – I made as many 6am long course practices as possible and, thanks to not really having a job (which was not so fun when I had no money sophomore year) I also did a lot of running and weight training. It paid off big time and I told myself I’d be diligent with cross-training for the rest of my swimming career.

No shame then, no shame now. See, I used to swim!

No shame then, no shame now. See, I used to swim!

Well, my swimming career ended (for now), but I didn’t keep the promise to myself to be good at cross-training when I started running. I’ve found myself being great at it when I’m injured, but as soon as I start to get into the depths of training for whatever upcoming race, my cross-training falls by the wayside. It’s a combination of things; I’m tired, I’m spending more time running and have less time for “other stuff,” and if we’re being honest, sometimes I’m just plain lazy. But with this last injury preventing me from running a fall marathon for the second year in a row, I realized it was time to get serious. Or as my mother would say, time to shit or get off the pot.

Since I’m slightly injured right now, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to explore some cross-training options that would allow me to help me reach my running goals. Not having to worry about weekend morning long runs leaves time for fitness classes that I would otherwise skip because I wouldn’t want to waste energy on a non-running activity, or be afraid I’d be too sore. I’m also much closer to a variety of fitness options that I didn’t really have before… so there’s really no excuse!

Swimmer turned runner... kind of.

Swimmer turned runner… kind of.

This past weekend I got adventurous and tried two new-to-me workouts. First up was yoga with Dori on Saturday at a local yoga studio. After finding an Amazon Local deal a few weeks ago, we decided it would be in both of our best interests to check it out. The studio, Jivamukti Yoga, offers a variety of classes throughout the day, which is convenient. Unfortunately they don’t offer any early classes, making it a weeknight and/or weekend-only kind of thing.

Since we’ve both practiced yoga before, but it’s been awhile for us (and we’re far from experts), we decided to try the Beginner Vinyasa class. The mid-afternoon class was small (there were 7 of us including myself and Dori) which allowed for personal attention and a relaxing environment. We started with some chanting which I always have to try not to smile/laugh during because I’m a child, and then we moved on to some basic poses and a few sequences. It felt good to stretch out while also getting a little bit of a workout (my back and arms were slightly sore the next day). We ended the class working on an assisted shoulder stand, but both Dori and I agreed it would have been easier with out the blanket prop. It also made me realize the importance of a shirt with an elastic or adjustable waistband! Since we purchased a 5-class package, we’ll definitely be back. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other types of classes they offer, like their spirit warrior class which is a one-hour workout styled class, as well as their aerial vinyasa.

On Sunday, I finally tried out Refine Method, which I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I have a lot of friends who love it, so now that I’m a quick PATH ride away from the city, it was the perfect time to give it a try.

As with all new things, I was a little nervous for my first class. Not because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do the work, rather I was scared of the unknown. I didn’t want to look like a total newbie, and sometimes when I’m working out I don’t pay close attention to instructions which leaves me clueless. Thankfully I had nothing to worry about because Dori was with me to help, and it was all really straight forward and simple – I wasn’t confused at all! The instructor, Laura, took the time to introduce herself and set me up on their pulley system, and to tell me what weights she thought I should use. Once the class started it was go-go-go for 55 minutes (followed by core-work and a cool-down for the last 5 minutes).

I was dripping sweat by the end of the class, and knew I’d be sore on Monday. We did everything from side lunges with single leg squats, to jump-backs (burpees) and kettlebell swings. My favorite part about the class was that each exercise was done for no more than a minute at a time, and just as you were starting to feel like you couldn’t continue, it was time to switch to the next exercise! And each set included a move targeting your upper body, followed by one targeting your lower body (or vice versa). It really is a total body workout that pushes you without feeling impossible. I felt really accomplished by the end of class, and was already thinking about when to go back! I think doing workouts like this two times a week could really help with my running because a lot of the exercises are things that are part of my simple strength work now. The classes are a little expensive, but I think I can make it work if I scale back on other things (aka my online shopping habit).

Needless to say, I’m ready to put in the work – both with my runs as well as my cross-training to make sure I stay strong, healthy, and get to the start line so I can crush my goals!

Tell me…
Do you cross train to supplement your running (if you’re a runner)? And if so, what do you do?
What’s your favorite workout?

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Marathon Pause

When I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon, still high off of my spring half marathon PR, I was ready to crush training and run the race I know I’m capable of running. I had plenty of time to train, a great coach, and enough dances with the 26.2 distance to know what was required of me. My schedule was going to be a little hectic with wedding festivities almost every weekend in September and October, but I figured if that was the only hiccup I would be able to manage. A wrench was thrown in when I wound up moving – which was both exciting because I’d finally be in a location I wanted, but stressful because moving is stressful! – but I still had every intention of racing the Philly Marathon. Well, sometimes life gives you lemons and lemonade all at once.

Training was getting done, but I wasn’t running the way I wanted to. I had to skip a few long runs/cut them short due to being just straight up tired, and others were a mental battle to not only get out the door, but to actually finish the prescribed distance (though oddly enough one of my best runs was an 18 miler during a downpour). With all the weddings, moving, working, and trying to train, I think my strength work suffered. So I wasn’t shocked when I noticed the all too familiar twinge outside of my knee after a quick but easy 4 miler at the beginning of October. I took a few days off with some extra strength work and foam rolling and everything seemed to be okay – I ran 17 miles last weekend, and had an awesome fartlek workout last Tuesday. But then this past Friday during my long run (which was moved due to a bachelorette party this past weekend), the little twinge outside the knee I had felt two weeks prior slowly but surely developed into a sharp pain. Dreaded ITBS had reared its ugly head on my left side (I had an issue with it this past January on my right side). I made it to 10 miles, stopped, and spent the next mile doing a little run/walk combination in hopes it would somehow just go away. It didn’t, so after a few expletives left my mouth, I had to walk two miles home.

It was during that two mile walk home that I knew I needed to let go of my hopes to run the Philly Marathon. The thought had crept into my mind when the pain first appeared, but I was hopeful I could still salvage things. But this was the nail in the proverbial marathon training coffin. There hadn’t been enough mileage put into the bank earlier, and the last thing I wanted to do was run yet another marathon that my goal was to just finish. The next time I train for and run a marathon, I want it to be the race I know I’m capable of running. I e-mailed Jason and let him know what was going on and he confirmed what I was thinking: I will not be running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23rd. Or the half. There isn’t any running on my schedule for the next week, but starting tomorrow I’m getting back into strength work… and then I’m going to take it from there. I joked that maybe I should swear off marathons and Jason said I can’t just yet. So when am I going to attempt my next marathon? Who knows. Maybe this spring. Or maybe not until next Fall. But I know that I can’t let my dream of a successful marathon go just yet – I have visions of myself crossing the finish line with that goal time flashing on the clock and I get butterflies thinking about it. So it’ll happen… one day.

Of course I’m bummed, but I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t that big of a deal. I’d much rather deal with the pain now, rather than during the race! So, onward and upward!

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Recipe: Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash

It was starting to feel like fall late last week, so I picked up an acorn squash at the Farmer’s Market on Thursday thinking I could put it to good use this week with the cooler weather. Naturally the temperatures have been in the upper 70’s all week – summer forever, please! – which doesn’t really put me in the mood for a warm fall dish… but I made one anyway. And when I shared it on Instagram and everyone was interested in the recipe, I figured I’d share it with you all!

This comes together pretty easily and it doesn’t require you to do multiple things at once which I always appreciate. I made this as my main dish, but you could easily have it as a side to something else. Acorn squash are great vehicles to stuff with pretty much anything – so get creative!

Stuffed Acorn Squash | FoodosaurusRex.com

Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Serves 2 - 

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash
3 cups kale, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 can (15oz) black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup cous cous
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a cheddar blend)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Slice the squash in half, remove the seeds. Spray a baking sheet and cut side of the squash with non-stick spray and place the squash cut side down. Bake for 30-35 minutes. 
3. Meanwhile, prepare the cous cous by bringing 3/4 cup of salted water to a boil. Add the cous cous, stir, cover and remove from the heat. Fluff after  5 minutes. 
4. Heat the tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the kale, sauteing for another 5 minutes. 
5. Add the garlic, beans, spices (chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano). Cook until beans are heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. In a large bowl, combine the kale and bean mixture with the cous cous. 
7. When the squash is done, flip them over and spoon the filling into the squash cavity (it’s okay if it’s overflowing). Top with cheese and bake another 2 minutes until the cheese is melted. 

 

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Filed under Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Reflections: Internet Friends

A few weeks ago I attended a conference for work (put on by my company). Being a software development company and trying to stay on-trend with social media, the event had a hashtag and participants were encouraged to Tweet and Instagram throughout the week using the conference hashtag. Being the good employee that I am, at one point I Instagrammed a picture of cupcakes that were served during one of the session breaks. Later than evening while talking with a few partners, one stopped, looked at me and said; “You posted a picture of cupcakes earlier, right? And you’re a swimmer turned runner? Sorry, this sounds creepy.” I couldn’t help but laugh, and it actually didn’t creep me out. I mean, I put it out on the Internet, didn’t I?

At one point during the conversation (where he went on to say how he doesn’t like things like Facebook to post his own stuff, but likes reading about others… okay), I told him how I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some really great people through the Internet. And it got me thinking… I’ve been really lucky! I remember not too long ago talking to “strangers” on the Internet was dangerous. AOL chat rooms? Better hide the screen when your parents walk by! Meeting someone from the Internet? Forget about it! Yet now in my late twenties (when did that happen?) I’ve been fortunate enough to forge some really special bonds and create real friendships… thanks to the good ‘ole Internets.

I have a few great examples of how fortunate I’ve been with people I’ve met online and how those online relationships have become true friendships. One of my very first Internet-turned-real-life friends was Krissy. We connected over a love for running and Disney, and when we finally met IN Disney (of course) in 2012, it felt like we had been friends forever. She’s always so positive and enthusiastic, and runs full marathons like it ain’t no thang.

Runnin' with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women's Half in 2013!

Runnin’ with Krissy & Ashley at the Nike Women’s Half in 2013!

Another great example of this was yesterday. Ashley, who I first connected with on Twitter based on our love of running and New Jersey, quickly became a close friend. We hang out (which usually involves food), run together, complain to each other about work on g-chat, and yesterday I had the pleasure of attending her wedding! If you had asked me just a few years ago if I’d be attending the wedding of someone I met on the Internet, I would have looked at you funny. But I did and it was wonderful (of course)! And Dori, who I also connected with via Twitter because we were both running Richmond last year… now lives two doors down from me! And she introduced me to two other awesome ladies who love to run, eat, drink, and snark (some of my favorite things!). Talk about fate.

Ashley & Dori!

Ashley & Dori!

And there’s my favorite diner date, Hollie, who I can text any time with random thoughts and will likely reply that she was thinking the same thing. Her name isn’t FueledByLOLZ for nothing – she always knows how to make me laugh, and can provide invaluable running advice whenever I need it.

Just hangin' out in the subway

Just hangin’ out in the subway

I’d be remiss not to mention all of the wonderful women I’ve met through the Oiselle Team, and while I can’t name them all, I’m thankful for the bond I’ve formed with so many great women across the country.  Not to mention my birthday twin Allie!

My favorite birthday twin

My favorite birthday twin

Even though the Internet has been around for quite some time and social media isn’t anything new, it still blows my mind that you can have these connections with complete strangers, who turn out to be some of your very best friends. I can go from sharing a few 140 character interactions with someone to talking on g-chat (cough, Leticia, cough), to texting and hanging out, to attending their wedding! Maybe this is a sappy post because I’m coming down from a love-fest high of weddings three weekends in a row and I’m just so thankful to have a close friend living mere steps away, but this whole social media thing has connected me with so many great people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. The Internet is a funny place… and I’m grateful for it.

Tell me…
What’s your favorite way to connect with people online? (mine is obviously Twitter!)

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Omron Electrotherapy Review & Giveaway!

*UPDATE*: The giveaway winner has been chosen! And thanks to random.org, it was commenter #6 – Hollie!
[Hollie, I will e-mail you to get your info!]

Disclaimer: The Omron Elctrotherapy unit was provided at no cost to me. All views and opinions are my own.

It’s no secret that marathon training hurts. Usually it’s that “good kind of hurt” where you wake up in the morning, take those first few steps, and immediately remember the long run or hard workout from the day before. I always joke about it, but sometimes I really do feel like an old lady first thing in the morning! Of course this isn’t the case every day, but as runs get longer and workouts get harder, there’s no denying the residual soreness. I foam roll, ice, and spend plenty of time with my legs up the wall, but sometimes you just need a little something extra. So when I was given the opportunity to try an Omron Electrotherapy Unit, I couldn’t say no. Especially when they offered to provide my readers one as well!

Omron Electrotherapy Unit

The idea behind the electrotherapy unit is that it can provide nerve stimulation through electrical pulses, aka TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). Depending on the problem area and the level of discomfort you’re experiencing, you can customize each session to fit your needs. The machine itself is small and very easy to use; it’s just like a remote control! And since it comes with two pads that can be placed almost anywhere, the uses are endless. Sore back? No problem. Cranky calf? Give it a zap!

I won’t pretend I wasn’t skeptical at first. I mean, could this little machine really make my muscles feel better? Well my quads were conveniently very sore a week ago, so I put it to the test. It was kind of fun to sit there and watch my my muscles involuntarily twitch (which is why I took a video of it, obviously). With each contraction and release I could feel my muscles relaxing. Now don’t get me wrong, it didn’t make my legs feel brand-new, but it definitely helped speed up the recovery process. I definitely think it’s a nice addition to any runner’s arsenal of recovery tools… or anyone who has lots of aches and pains!

Lucky for you guys, I have one to give away to a reader! All you have to do is leave a comment below and let me know your favorite recovery tool. You have until Wednesday (10/8/14) at 9pm EST to enter!

 

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Filed under Giveaway, Running