Five For Friday

Rather than do a Friday Favorites post, I thought I’d switch it up a bit and make it a Five For Friday (sorry, can’t escape the alliteration). This post will be a little random; a mix of things that I am currently loving, as well as just some updates and tidbits. But only five of them!

NYC Marathon

I decided to enter the NYC Marathon lottery this year after getting in for 2012 and it getting canceled, and then cheering the last two years… and I’M IN!

Woohoo!!

Woohoo!!

Considering I live in the Northeast — specifically in the tri-state area — I didn’t have high hopes for actually making it in, but I did! I really can’t wait to run through the streets of New York City and see all my friends (and family) along the course. This race will hopefully be a fun “victory lap” of sorts after either Chicago or Steamtown (depending on my lottery luck with Chicago).

Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream

So this is something I’m loving… and have been since I got the Origins Ginger Souffle lotion as a Christmas gift from my sister. She’s recently become a huge Origins fan and I always trust her judgement when it comes to beauty products, so I was excited to give this a try. Every time I put it on I feel like I’m in a spa – it smells like one and just feels so luxurious!

gingersouffle

I’ve been using it pretty regularly since Christmas, but I’m only about halfway through the container. A little bit goes a long way and it really hydrates your skin without leaving you feeling greasy, or with a strong smell. It’s been a life saver with these frigid winter temperatures… hopefully I won’t have to use it as much in the coming months!

Writing [Code + Other Things]

I decided late last week that I’m going to try to teach myself how to write code. I don’t necessarily think it’s something I can turn into a career (but hey, you never know!) but I know that it would be a very valuable skill to have. After thinking about it for a bit I settled on learning PHP through Code Academy. Gizmodo actually published an article back in August that included a list with some great resources which is what I used to help make my decision. I have plenty of people I can ask for help, so I’m hoping this won’t be as painful as I’m imagining. Only time will tell!

codeacademy

I’m also trying to write more fiction. I don’t have any particular plans for it, but I love to write so I need to do it more. The hardest part has been to actually take the time to do it since I’m overly critical of myself when it comes to my writing and I think everything is awful. I also have what I like to call writing ADHD. I’ll start to write something, get about a paragraph or two into it, and next thing you know I’m over it. I tend to have a lot of really great beginning ideas, but I don’t take the time to flesh it out. At least I can pinpoint my problems… now I just need to work on them. Work makes work.

This Weather! 

I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of saying “It’s so gorgeous outside!” Mother nature really turned things around in the last week and after one last snow storm things have been pretty great. I’ve been able to wear shorts on a lot of runs and even wore short sleeves with arm warmers for an 8-miler I did mid-week! It’s always windy where I run (Liberty State Park) because it’s along the water, so it’s been a nice change of pace to have wind and not numb-your-face-off wind blowing as I’m running. I’ve also obviously enjoyed not having to put on 3 layers in order to just go outside. I went through so much extra laundry this winter wearing an extra layer over my workout clothes to and from Refine, spin, and the gym. After all my classes this week I didn’t feel the need to change out of my clothes and into something new for fear of freezing… I was able to come home yesterday morning in my capris… an (almost) springtime miracle!

While it is definitely warmer than it was just a few weeks ago, there is one thing I don’t quite understand. Outside dining. Yes, there are a lot of restaurants that already have their tables and chairs set up outside… and I’ve passed people eating dinner outside (in their winter coats)! I just don’t get it. Sure, it’s warm and 40 degrees is a heck of a lot nicer than 20… but I’m not sure it’s warm enough to eat a meal outside just yet. But at any rate, the weather has been great and I can’t wait for it to get even warmer.

Organic Avenue Coconut Water

We can add this to the list of “things I think I need all the time, and buy even though I know I don’t.” I’ve never been a huge coconut water fan, but when Dori told me that the Organic Avenue version is delicious and I should try it, I took her word for it. Well, that was a mistake… because it IS delicious and I want it all the time!

coconut water

There’s one I pass on my way to/from Refine, so on days when I’m feeling a little dehydrated, I stop in to pick one up. The coconut water is nothing special (no fancy flavors like some brands offer), but it manages to be sweet without being TOO sweet and totally refreshing. I’ve found myself craving it when I wake up after having one-too-many drinks the night before (you know, like a whopping three of them) as well as after a workout. It isn’t cheap so I’m trying not to buy it too frequently, but boy is it delicious.

So tell me…
Anything you’re loving lately?
Something random you want to share? Spill it!

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Becoming A Morning Person

I’ve always needed a lot of sleep… always. No matter how many hours I’ve slept, I rarely feel refreshed and ready to go when my alarm goes off. For a long time I chalked it up to just not being a morning person; but I’ve never been a ‘night owl’ either. Once I can fight through the battle of actually getting up out of bed I’m fine, but that push to get myself up has always been the real struggle. As I’m getting older, though, I’ve come to appreciate those quiet hours in the morning where I can get a head start on the day with less people around. Plus, as a runner being down with early wake-ups are especially important in the summer when it’s hot and humid as soon as the sun rises.

Sometimes you just need a little extra caffeine

Sometimes you just need a little extra caffeine

So where am I going with this? Well, it wasn’t until Sunday morning where I found myself casually sipping coffee at 8:30 in the morning at a local Starbucks before my 9:30am Refine Method class that I realized, “hey, I think I’m finally a morning person!” I had been up since about 7am and took an early PATH train to make sure I had enough time before class since they run infrequently in the morning on the weekends… and I didn’t hate it. To me, getting up at 7am on a Sunday (when we sprung ahead, no less) was early; and it wasn’t a struggle to convince myself to get up, either. After thinking about it for a bit, I realized there were some tangible things I’ve done over the last few months to condition myself to being able to get up early in the morning (sometimes it’s 5am, sometimes it’s a weekend 7am) without trying to make a deal with the devil to let me sleep more. I know there are a lot of people who want to get more out each day just like I do, so I figured I’d share some tips that I’ve found really helpful.

  • Set your clothes out the night before – this is something my mom made me do when I was in elementary school and it stuck with me. By figuring out what I want to wear in the morning, I avoid going through the inevitable “wait, no, I want to wear this instead!” and it requires little to no thinking – I pick up the clothes, head to the bathroom, and get ready. I do this whether I’m getting up to work out or go somewhere. Easy peasy.
  • Be aware of your bedtime – it’s easier said than done, but obviously the earlier you go to bed, the early you’ll wake up (in theory). Being cognizant of the time you need to wake up and how many hours of sleep you’d like to get can help a lot. If you’re used to going to bed way later than you’d like, be gentle and slowly make your bedtime earlier… it’s pointless if you’re in bed tossing and turning!
  • Be consistent – this is something I’ve read over and over recently and it is finally ringing true for me. The whole idea of “sleeping in” on the weekends isn’t the smartest – it throws your schedule off and makes it hard to get back on track for the week (which is often why Mondays feel that much harder). I don’t get up at exactly the same time every single day, but on the weekends I try to get up no later than an hour from the latest time I get up during the week. Sure, it might seem silly to wake up at 8am on a Saturday when you have no plans, but your body will be thanking you mid-week. Eventually your body will get used to the timeframe you’ve been waking up in, making it easier for you when that alarm finally does go off.
  • Sign up for a fitness class or make plans with a friend – this has been the biggest catalyst for my transition to being a morning person, I think. Fitness classes in the NYC area have cancellation windows and if you miss that window, you usually forfeit the class credit and are oftentimes charged a fee as well. If that isn’t motivation to make it to the already pricey class, I don’t know what is! Or, if you aren’t going to a class make plans to meet someone – you’ll be less likely to cancel if there’s someone waiting for you!
  • Treat yo self – it can be something simple like stopping for coffee after your workout or on your way to that early morning meeting, but reward yourself every so often for a job well done. Getting up early isn’t always easy so there’s nothing wrong with making the early wake-up a little sweeter (sometimes literally).
And you'll be rewarded with views like this (sometimes)!

And you’ll be rewarded with views like this (sometimes)!

I know that none of these things are ground breaking or new information for most, but it’s the kind of thing that everyone says and you just shrug it off… until you try it for yourself. Doing the 5 simple things I’ve listed above have made it possible for me to get up before the sun on most days and not hate it. Of course there are still days where I’d like to just sleep forever, but for the most part I’ve conditioned myself to get up and get going earlier than I ever have before. If you’re struggling to get up early, whether for a workout or just so you can enjoy the morning hours and add more time to your day, I definitely suggest trying some of the suggestions above. You don’t have to do them all at once and maybe just one change will make a difference, but definitely give it a try… It can’t hurt (much).

Tell me…
Are you a “morning” person?
Do you have any other tips or tricks to help get you up in the morning?

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Back to Running… Finally!

It’s been a long time coming, but I feel like I am finally able to confidently say I’m back to running consistently. For those of you that haven’t been following along, I developed IT Band Syndrome at the end of October while training for the Philadelphia Marathon and had to DNS. I then spent the next few weeks desperately trying to rest and strengthen on my own to no avail.

Eventually I went to Physical Therapy (which I continued to go to weekly for nearly two months) and that along with a combination of strength and cardio from Refine Method, cardio from FlyWheel, strength and centering from yoga, and additional PT exercises I finally started to run again at the end of December, albeit sporadically. By the time mid-January rolled around I had “graduated” from PT, partially because I had improved and was able to run 3 miles without pain, and partially because my insurance would no longer cover my visits (even though they barely did to begin with) because sports injuries weren’t included and being able to run over a mile isn’t considered an issue by insurance (which is fine for the average person… not so much for someone that identifies as a runner).

Graduation from PT gift!

Graduation from PT gift!

I started back with a base-building plan with the understanding that if anything felt ‘off’ or it just didn’t seem like a smart idea to run on a particular day or to cut a run short, I would. I made a conscious effort not to put any future races on my calendar for a fear of having to pull out of them and I plugged along, logging anywhere from 15 to 22 miles each week in the last month or so. And to say it’s been trying on my motivation to start running consistently at the end of January/beginning of February in the tri-state area would be an understatement. There have been plenty of days I haven’t wanted to leave my apartment, let alone run along the Hudson. Yet I’ve managed to get myself out the door more days than not, giving myself some leeway when needed, but always remembering in the back of my head that my goals aren’t just going to come to me.

I don't like you, winter.

I don’t like you, winter… even if you are pretty sometimes.

This week (if all goes according to plan) I’ll hit my highest mileage week since October 14-19 and will finally be ready to tackle a double digit long run next weekend! I’m also running a 5k race next weekend, but don’t have any actual plans to race. It’s the first race in my quest for the NYRR 9+1 so I can run the New York City Marathon next fall and I’m excited to pin on a bib for the first time since September. In addition to having my eye on a few NYRR races for spring and early summer, I’ll be running the Broad Street Run in Philly again this May with some of my good friends from college. So as long as I can keep myself healthy, I have high hopes of doing some great base building so I can finally tackle the marathon I’m capable of this fall!

Tell me…
Are you training through this cold & snowy winter?
What are your spring racing plans? 

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Brussels Sprouts… On Pizza

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point there seemed to be a shift from kale to Brussels sprouts as the coolest vegetable on the block. There wasn’t a specific moment I remember (i.e. some celebrity talking about how they OMG LOVE Brussels!), but when looking at recipes I noticed about a year ago or so that there were suddenly a lot more Brussels sprout recipes than ever before. I can get them as a side instead of french fries at my local burger joint, there are shaved Brussels salads with beets and goat cheese on tons of menus, and I’ve made a delicious Brussels sprout mac ‘n cheese. But I distinctly remember that when growing up Brussels were always the horrible side-dish that every kid dreaded, right? I actually didn’t have them until I was an adult, but always wanted to try them simply because they seemed to be everyone’s least favorite. Naturally I loved them immediately and started incorporating them into my meals whenever possible. So when my sister told me she made an amazing Brussels sprout pizza, I knew I had to give it a try myself.

Brussels Sprout + Goat Cheese Pizza | FoodosaurusRex.com

The pizza is actually really simple, and really delicious. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve had Brussels sprout pizzas out a few times in the last year or so, and I liked mine the best! Admittedly, I didn’t make my own crust (ain’t nobody got time for that), but the Trader Joe’s dough I bought was good enough for me. I want to make this pizza all the time, and I’m confident you will too!

Brussels Sprout + Goat Cheese Pizza | FoodosaurusRex.com

Brussels Sprout + Goat Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pizza dough/crust (I used Trader Joe’s dough, but anything will work – you can even get fancy and make your own!)
1 cup Brussels sprouts, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
salt + pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven for the pizza dough (i.e. 450 degrees)
2. In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil and add the onions with a little salt and pepper. If you have the patience, make these caramelized because the flavor will be a million times better. This is going to require you to stir the onions frequently for at least 10-20 minutes.*
3. Once the onions are beginning to brown, add the diced Brussels and toss to make sure they’re coated in the oil. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until they start to get crispy.
4. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface. When ready, add the 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, followed by the Brussels and onion mixture. Top with the crumbled goat cheese.*
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

*NOTES: 1. You don’t have to make the onions caramelized, but the pizza will taste better if you do.
2. If you don’t like goat cheese (blasphemous!), then feta will work well as a replacement

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Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Pizza, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Friday Favorites [& a Giveaway!]

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m hoping to get back into regular blogging again. I’ve been in a bit of a cooking slump – I’ve been preparing meals, but haven’t been creating anything particularly noteworthy but I have high hopes that’ll change soon. Plus, now that I’m back to running I’ll hopefully be able to talk about that more, too! That being said, let’s kick off my attempt at getting back to blogging with some of my current favorite things. I also have a giveaway for you at the bottom of this post!

Kate Spade Saturday + New Balance Collaboration Cross Training Sneakers

When I saw these badboys on Instagram, I knew I had to have them. I run in New Balance 1400s (I currently have three pairs of v1’s stocked in my closet and ready to go) and I absolutely love Kate Spade. Since becoming a runner, I never really spent time to buy myself sneakers other than ones I planned to run in – I’d usually just use older running sneakers when cross training or needing to throw on a pair to go outside for something quick.

KS_NB

Now that I’m trying to be better about cross training (hello Refine) I knew I should have a solid pair of sneakers to wear – not just a pair of old running shoes (that are developing holes in the upper). They had quite a few different prints to choose from, and while I was first drawn to the floral print as well as the all-over stripes, I eventually settled on a pair of black 810’s with stripes on the soles. I figured they were still fun, but in an unassuming kind of way. I’ve worn them twice now since getting them on Tuesday and I absolutely love them. They manage to be both lightweight and supportive, and I love the funky soles!

Hindsight

Hindsight is a new TV show on VH1, and I’m obsessed with it. As soon as I saw the previews for it I was excited to watch, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet. It’s based on a woman that grew up in the 90’s and is suddenly transported back in time right before her second wedding. She’s given the opportunity to live her life again knowing what she does about the future.

source

Getting to relive some of the trends and things that were “cool” when I was growing up is so much fun. And it makes me really glad most 90’s fashions are no longer a thing.

Good Eats in Rochester, NY

This past weekend I had a chance to visit my sister in Rochester, NY thanks to a flash sale from JetBlue for $32 each way tickets. Everyone always says that I’m such a great cook and so creative, but my little sister is seriously impressive. You name, it she can make it… and a lot of times without a recipe! So in addition to her awesome cooking, we made sure to get some good eats out too, because Rochester has a really impressive food scene!

Sticky Icky Plate, Breathe Smoothie, Pasta w. asparagus & mushrooms, and Gouda grilled cheese w. tomato soup!

Sticky Icky Plate, Breathe Smoothie, Pasta w. asparagus & mushrooms, and Gouda grilled cheese w. tomato soup!

When I first visited my sister in Rochester back in 2011, we went to Sticky Lips BBQ. Even though I’m a vegetarian, their fried pickles and vegetarian Sticky Icky Plate were two of my favorites, so I insisted on going back this visit. My sister also discovered a new yoga studio not too far from her apartment that in addition to yoga classes, they have an awesome boutique and juice bar. While my sister doesn’t practice yoga, she does enjoy smoothies and juices, so she took me there for breakfast on Sunday before the Super Bowl. I got a smoothie with peanut butter, dates, bananas, and almond milk, and it was SO delicious. I just wish there was a cute little yoga studio like that near me!

Yoga Challenges

Quite a few people I follow on Instagram are really into yoga and do challenges frequently. So when I saw one for arm balances in January I figured I’d give it a try. I quickly realized that there were a lot of poses that seemed pretty impossible to me that I just couldn’t do. But there were also a lot of poses that seemed pretty impossible to me that I could do!

yoga

I’m trying to get better at having a more well-rounded approach to my fitness and running (hello Refine Method), so doing yoga at least once a week has been on my to-do list. The challenges have helped me try things I wouldn’t normally try, and it’s an extra opportunity to practice patience (which I am not so great at) and perseverance. I definitely want to keep working on my yoga – I know that it’ll help me get my core stronger, which I’m constantly reminded is so important.

SEPO Sauce

I’ll be the first to admit that I love condiments. I’m always looking for something to use as a dip or spread – and I’m not ashamed of it! You can usually find me spreading dijon mustard on my sandwiches, hot sauce on my pizza, dunking my french fries into BBQ sauce, and more. So when I was contacted and asked if I’d be interested in giving SEPO Sauce a try and doing a giveaway with it, I couldn’t resist. The sauce is creamy with a hint of garlic and horseradish, and it reminded me a lot of Caesar dressing, only better. I’ve used it on a bunch of different sandwiches (grilled cheese, egg and avocado, etc.), as a dip for french fries, as well as with salad. My jar is almost empty… and I want more!

sepo

Luckily, I have a jar to give to one of you! All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me something you’re loving lately. I’ll randomly pick a winner by Tuesday 2/10 at 9pm EST!

Update: The giveway is closed! Thanks to random.org the winner of the SEPO Sauce is commenter #7 – EMG!

Winner

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Filed under Food Blogging, Life, Restaurant, Travel, Vegetarian/Vegan

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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Filed under Life, Running

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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