Tag Archives: Cross Training

I’m Running & A Giveaway!

Well hello there… it’s been awhile, huh?!

I always think about things I want to blog, but I never take the time to sit down and actually write something up. I’ve also found that any time I’m coming back from a running injury or down time (which has been pretty frequent over the last 3.5 years) when I come here to blog and talk about how I’m finally back, things will be different this time, yadda yadda yadda… I jinx myself and wind up hurt again. So call me crazy, but I’ve been afraid to come here and talk about my running for fear of winding up hurt again! But I’m sure the words on this blog do not correlate to my running injuries, so might as well rip off that proverbial band-aid. And what better way to do it than with a giveaway?! But first, let’s recap running lately.

After my weird femoral stress reaction in March 2016, I took some time off and tried to slowly get back into running. It seemed like I was a little overzealous coming back (not doing anything super long, but maybe running too fast), and so I wound up taking off about another 2 months in the late summer/early fall to try finally get rid of any issues hanging around. I started running again consistently in October to prepare myself for the Disney Half in January. I just wanted to be able to finish the 13.1 miles in one piece, so my mileage wasn’t anything crazy; I was running 3-4x a week with two to three of those runs being 3 to 4 miles, and then one longer run. Everything seemed fine. I went to Disney World… and then the race was cancelled due to bad weather (but I ran around the resort anyway!). When I got back home, I tried to increase my speed and mileage thinking that I was finally far enough away from my initial injury that I could just jump back into things… wrong. I started to feel some weird pains and discomfort in my hip and thigh again in late February, and shut things down. I was SO frustrated because we were now coming up on a year of this femoral drama, with it still nagging me. And I’d been going to PT almost every week for a year! I took off another month and then decided to get back into things VERY slowly. I didn’t have any big races on my calendar, so I was happy with being able to get back into things without stressing over future races. Since starting to run again in mid-March, I’ve just been slowly building my weekly mileage. I’ve done a handful of races, but they’ve all been at a moderate effort; I don’t see myself completing a race at race effort for another few months. In fact, last week was the first week I broke 20 miles per week!

My goal for the summer is to just continue building a solid base for myself. I’ve completed a bunch of New York Road Runner’s races and am signed up for a few more, because no matter how much I try to ignore the facts, the hills of Central Park are helpful for building strength. I love running in Jersey City, but it’s just so flat! No race I’ve completed (with the exception of the Brooklyn Half) or have on my schedule for the foreseeable future is over 10k. It only took 3.5 years, but I’m finally figuring out the combination of things that seem to consistently lead towards my demise. My biggest issue, I think, is that each year I’ve had a big race looming on my schedule in the future, and I’ve tried to scramble to start training for it to get in the appropriate mileage. This has obviously not worked, so I’m excited to not have anything on my schedule over 10k, and nothing past July (as of right now). If the summer goes well, I may consider a late fall half marathon, but I’m not signing up until the last moment if I decide to do it! I’ve also realized that there is a precise way for me to do strength work in conjunction with my running. As much as I’d like to be the person that does multiple workouts a day, that just isn’t for me. Sure, my body can handle it if I’m not running, but once I throw running into the mix, all bets are off. And at the end of the day I want to run… so why jeopardize it?! That isn’t to say I’m not doing anything else, I am… strength training is important! But I’m being more deliberate in what I do and when, and I’m hoping that will make a big difference. So fingers crossed that my relaxed (but smarter) approach to running this summer works out! And now onto the giveaway!

I’m sure most of you have heard of NATHAN Sports. Since I’ve used a few of their products before (their power wash, some reflective gear), I was excited when they reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering with them for Global Running Day. Now I know Global Running Day happened last week, BUT I wanted to make sure I had enough time to test out everything before offering it up as a giveaway… I wouldn’t want to do a giveaway for stuff I didn’t like myself! With summer running in full-swing here in the Northeast, all of these products are great additions. You can enter to win a package with the following goodies:

  • uCool Ultra Cooling Towel – This is a copper infused towel that can cool surface temperature by up to 30 degrees! I can see this coming in mighty handy this summer.
  • Hipster – I’ve been thinking about getting a belt like this for awhile, and I was sold on this one as soon as I read about it. It’s the #1 product across all categories of running essentials. It can hold your keys, gels, ID, cash, lip balm, tissues, hair tie, and even sunglasses! I used mine during the Mini10k this past Saturday and it was so great. Being able to have everything right there on me without needing to check a bag or worry about it fitting in my shorts pocket is a great option.
  • SpeedShot Plus Insulated – An insulated handheld that keeps 12 ounces of fluids, and has a pocket for running essentials. This will be great to have available to me when it starts to get really hot… I’m looking at you, July!
  • Power Wash – I’ve used this wash before, and highly recommend it. It’s eco-friendly, pH neutral and fragrance free, and has a new detergent formulation to combat smelly workout gear. Considering I could smell myself on the train on the way home after the race Saturday, I need to use this more often!

So, how do you enter? Simple! Follow the instructions on Rafflecopter below! This giveaway ends Monday, 6/19 at 1pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Giveaway, Running

Spin City

No, this blog post isn’t going to be about the Michael J. Fox TV show from the late 90’s, but rather (a few) studio spin classes in New York City. Sorry to disappoint!

I’ve mentioned a few times over the last year or so that since living in Jersey City and working in NYC that I’ve been exposed to more fitness studios and workout classes than I could ever imagine. You name the type of workout, it’s available. It’s actually one of my favorite parts about NYC and something I longed for when I was living in suburbia. While I’m not on a quest (yet) to try as many different workout classes as possible, I’ve found myself recently trying a lot of different spin studios.

When I was injured this past summer, spinning was my saving grace. I was able to get in a serious sweat and keep my cardio up, without further aggravating my sinus tarsi. I was going to Flywheel two to three times a week, and reaping the benefits. I started running again in the fall, and was thrilled to see that I hadn’t lost nearly as much fitness as I had feared. While there’s still plenty of work I need to put in, I was in a much better place this go around than any other time I’ve come off an injury.

But I digress… I realized that a few weeks ago I went to FOUR different spin studios. Four! In one week! And I didn’t even crack the surface of spin studio offerings in the city. I thought it would be fun to recap and breakdown the differences between the four I visited, since I’m always looking for workout class recaps and feedback from others. With the four studios I visited, two were studios I’ve been going to since I started spinning last year, and two were new-to-me as of last week. I’m going to break down each studio so you can easily compare them!

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Flywheel Sports
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know Flywheel is where I spent the majority of my summer getting in cardio. There are a TON of locations, so it was easy for me to get to; whether I was near work, meeting a friend, visiting my parents in New Jersey or traveling to Chicago, there was a studio nearby.

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Cost: $28-$34, depending on your location. Includes shoes, water, fruit.

Studio: The studios are all pretty small. As most of you know, space is hard to come by in NYC, and it’s no exception for Flywheel. Some studios are more spacious than others (like the Millburn, NJ location – SO MUCH SPACE!), but generally speaking you often feel like you’re in someone’s way no matter where you are or what you’re doing. But it comes with the territory. They all have a little retail area, and depending on the location, either a men’s & women’s locker room, or individual shower and toilet rooms. Again, the size and set-up varies at each location, but they follow the same general concept.

Bikes: Easy to set up and comfortable. Each bike has a ‘tech pack’ that displays your RPM, resistance, current power output, and total power. Everyone’s total power is tracked throughout the class, and if you opt in, you can have yours displayed on the Torq board during class. This set-up favors the competitive types, but can be intimidating for those that aren’t. The good news is that you can opt-out of having your name and stats display on the Torq board. The number of bikes depend on the size of the studio, but the set-up is ‘stadium’ style, so even if you’re in the back you have a good view of the instructor. It’s dark and the music is loud, so you really have the opportunity to get in the zone and leave everything behind for 45 (or 60 or even 90!) minutes.

Class itself: Think combination of heavy hills, leg flying flat roads, and tons of sprints, ranging anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. The playlists are always great, and I’m yet to take an instructor I don’t like. An arms sequence is done towards the end of class (you don’t have to do it) using a 2 and/or 4 pound bar. Different locations have different vibes (like the Flatiron and Upper East Side locations have regulars that know one another and the instructors well, while Tribeca is more of a business get in/get out), but they all deliver the same high energy classes. And, if you’re into barre workouts, there are a few locations that offer barre too!

Peloton
I stumbled upon Peloton early last year when I found a deal on Gilt City for a 5-class pack. At the time, I didn’t realize that their primary business was selling bikes for at-home riders, and their studio is where they actually shoot and live stream the classes for the at-home riders.

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Cost: $30, includes shoes, water, fruit

Studio size: Impressive! This studio is on the larger side and offers more than just a retail section and locker rooms. They have a fun little lounge area that encourages riders to come early or stay later after rides to just hang out and relax. They also have a smoothie & coffee bar, where you can order drinks before your ride to have them ready for afterwards! The locker rooms have an impressive number of showers and toilet stalls, and a decent amount of lockers. I also love that they have face wash! It sounds silly, but most studios that offer bath products only have body wash, shampoo, and conditioner, so I appreciate the face wash. It can still get pretty crowded (especially in the locker room), but it feels much less cramped than a lot of other studios in the city.

Bikes: Best I’ve ever ridden! Seriously. They are SO incredibly smooth and comfortable. Considering their main focus (at least at the start of the business) was the sale of these bikes, it makes sense. Each bike has a little tablet that displays your stats, and you can see others in the class — both studio and at-home riders — stats and where you rank. It’s nice to have it right there in front of you, rather than on a giant board for all to see.

Class itself: Similar to Flywheel, the classes offer sprints, hills, intervals, riding to the beat, and an optional arms section towards the end of class. Also stadium style seating, this has an added bonus of cameras for the at-home riders! The cameras are facing the instructor, so you don’t have to worry about being seen, but that changes the dynamic a bit since the instructors are there not only for you in the studio, but also for everyone riding along at home either live, or as a replay.

SWERVE Fitness

SWERVE is a new-to-me studio with the theme, “together we ride.” When their PR team sent out an e-mail blast about their soon to open Midtown studio offering the chance to come in for a ride, I jumped at the offer. I’m all for trying new workouts and I was interested to try a team themed workout.

Cost: $34, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: Impressive. They have a similar set-up to Peloton in that there is a lot of space; the studio is actually downstairs, leaving plenty of room for lockers and a lounge area including a smoothie bar! It encourages riders to come early/stay after classes to relax and socialize, which is a nice change of pace from the head down, always in someone’s way feeling at a lot of studios in the city. They have separate locker rooms for women and men, but only two bathrooms. So the line for a quick pre-class pee can get pretty long… something to keep in mind!

Bikes: Okay. Admittedly I had a little bit of a rough start due to my own mix up of dates for class, so I was on someone else’s bike then had to quickly switch to a different open one right as class was starting, so I didn’t really settle in until class was already a few songs deep. That being said, the bikes were fine, but nothing to write home about. Since the class does focus on some numbers here and there, there is a tech pack of sorts that provides you basic information like your RPMs, your current resistance, and your overall output.

Class itself: Really different! The concept at Swerve is teamwork; the studio is split into three groups that are color coded (blue, red, and green) and your goal throughout class is to work together during different segments. There are a few TV screens throughout the studio, but they don’t display everyone’s output, but rather the team output. Like most spin classes there are sprints, hills, and portions where you ride to the beat. The TVs display a countdown of the different sections the teacher calls out to be a competition, and as a color team, you work together to hit whatever goal (maybe 75 beats per minute for 38 seconds… or sprinting as fast as you can at a certain resistance number to get you to a specific output number). This approach is a nice medium between the competitiveness of say the Torq Board at Flywheel, and the complete lack of it at a place like Soul Cycle or Cyc Fitness. You also get an e-mail right after class letting you know all your stats (your personal output, estimated number of calories, etc.).

Cyc Fitness
I’ve known about Cyc for awhile since I know a bunch of runners who enjoy frequenting their classes. Up until a few weeks ago, though, I hadn’t made my way over to take a class.

Cost: $28, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: I visited their location at Astor Place, which is inside a David Barton’s Gym. Therefore, I guess you could say the location is huge. The locker rooms are shared with the gym, so there is plenty of space for you to get ready and store things (but you need to bring your own lock!). I think their newer Hell’s Kitchen location is stand alone, so that may be smaller. That being said, there was plenty of room near the actual Cyc section of the gym to wait for class to begin, and I liked that they had little cubby shelves for people that maybe don’t have enough stuff to warrant bringing a lock and going into the locker room, but need to put their street shoes somewhere.

Bikes: Meh. The bikes themselves weren’t really that great; I couldn’t seem to get the handle bars to not jostle despite tightening it as much as I could, it wasn’t a very smooth ride, and turning the knob seemed to make it either dangerously easy or impossibly hard; there wasn’t much middle ground. There also isn’t any type of “tech pack” so you’re really not sure about your resistance or RPMs. I know that could be a deal breaker for some, but I think it’s nice to not focus on the numbers sometimes.

Class itself: Party on a bike! Seriously. There was so much movement and while intimidating at first, it was so much fun. While I’ve never taken a Soul Cycle class, based on what people have told me, it seemed similar in terms of the constant moving on the bike. This was also the first class I’ve taken where arms were done two separate times, once towards the beginning of class and once closer to the end. All other studios do their arms sequence towards the end of class. The moves were also geared towards other sports moves (think mimicking shooting a basket, spiking a volleyball, etc.) which was interesting.

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Overall, I’ve realized quite a few things about myself and what I look for in a spinning studio after visiting four different studios in one week. I’m extremely competitive, and thrive off of that in a workout environment. My competitiveness is often hidden because I’m an introvert, but not only am I constantly competing with myself, I’m often sizing up and competing with other people in a class. Call it a strength or a weakness (I suppose it depends on the day), but it’s my reality. That being said, despite hating math, when it comes to workouts, I’m a numbers girl. BUT with all that said, every so often I need a break from that constant competition, so having the option to spin somewhere that isn’t so numbers focused is great. Workouts don’t always have to be something where you’re teetering on the edge of exhaustion and aren’t sure if you’re loving it or hating it — they should be fun!

I’m thankful to have so many options for cross-training available to me. I wouldn’t have been able to get through my last two bouts of running injuries without them, I’m sure of it. It is hard sometimes to pick and choose what I want to do, just because I want to try everything and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in cross-training workouts, running, and a little thing called work (not even including a social life!).

I’d love to know if you have any favorite spin studios I haven’t checked out yet! OR another favorite cross training workout? Tell me!

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Filed under Running

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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Filed under Life, Running

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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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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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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Running Update: Setbacks & Moving Forward

Running was going really well for me during the late fall and early winter. I PR’d two races (5 miler and 5k) and was crushing workouts and loving the run. I was running 6 days in a row with a long run, a tempo/workout run, and 4 “easier” days of running all together. It was a big adjustment to the type of “training” I’ve done in the past, but it was already producing results, and I felt great. I was being diligent about my pre-run warm-ups, and was actually doing post-run prehab, albeit not as frequently as I should have. I let time get in the way of things, and found myself coming in from a run, hopping right in the shower or getting started on dinner, and then going about my business and forgetting to do the routine that was scheduled. Well, that naturally resulted in a little bit of an overuse injury – dreaded ITBS.

I noticed a twinge when I would go from sitting down to standing up after a 10 mile run on December 21st. I didn’t think much of it, and continued the next week as normally scheduled. Looking back, I should have spent some extra time foam rolling and doing some strength work, but I didn’t. By the time I got to Christmas Eve, as I finished up an epic tempo run, I felt that dreaded tightness on the outside of my right knee. It’s a feeling I know all too well, as I’ve experienced it during almost every marathon I’ve run around mile 21. It wasn’t painful, but I knew exactly what it was. Since it was slight, I was hopeful that it wasn’t much of anything, and Christmas morning’s 4 mile run would be fine. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Yes this is what I wore when I ran Christmas morning.

Christmas morning’s run was painful, and I knew the ITBS I thought I had was, in fact, ITBS… and that it wasn’t going to just go away. The run on 12/25 was the beginning of a month of on and off runs, most peppered with knee pain. The pain would start about a mile and a half in, and come and go depending on my stride. Sometimes it was brutally painful, and other times it was manageable. But I’m happy to report that after a month of rest and rehab, I’m back on the streets and running! I think it’s so important for runners to take the time to do a warm-up before they start a run, and to also do some type of post-run prehab routine. There are a few things in particular that I found to be extremely helpful as I battled ITBS, and I wanted to share them with you!

  •  Strength Running’s ITB Rehab Routine – If there’s one thing I’ve learned with the injuries I’ve sustained over my short running career so far, it’s that having strong hips, glutes, and core can be the difference between pain free and fast running, and sitting on the couch whining about how you can’t run. This routine focuses on strengthening the glutes and hips, which is where the ITB starts. All you need is a resistance band and about 5 minutes post-run. I did this daily during the month of January, and now do it 2-3 times a week.
  • Mrtyl Routine – This also focuses on the general glute and hip area, and doesn’t require any equipment. I also do this about 2 times a week.
  • Core work: Strength Running’s Standard Core Routine & Dr. Lesko’s Dozen Routine – Let me tell you, having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core (not that my stomach is flat). I always thought my core was decent, since I swam for so many years and a lot of power comes from your core, but I’m learning that is not true. Both of these routines are more than just crunches, and they work your entire core. The supine leg lifts in the Standard Core routine are killer, and I dread that part of the workout every single time… but I know they help, and I’m looking forward to the day where I can get through it without shaking uncontrollably and not counting down every second of the minute.
  • Foam Rolling – it’s awkward and it hurts, but it works. I don’t particularly enjoy it, and for awhile, I just didn’t do it. I bought a foam roller about 2 years ago when I had tight hips, but I just couldn’t get into a regular routine. I learned quickly, though, that the foam roller is really helpful – whether you have an injury or not. I try to spend about 5 minutes everyday foam rolling my hips, hamstrings, quads, and calves. If nothing else, it helps build my upper body strength as I’m trying to hold myself up while using the roller.

I’ve been running again consistently for two full weeks and am just starting my third. I have my fingers crossed that this little bout of ITBS is behind me, and I can carry on with training as scheduled for the month of February. How do I feel about finally being back in action? See below.

Hooray for pain free running!

Hooray for pain free running!

That being said, I don’t think the Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on March 16th is going to be a PR attempt. Unless training over the next few weeks goes fantastically (and it warms up and stops snowing and being icy), I don’t think I’ll have my fitness back up to where it was in December. So, my plan is to run the Shamrock Half as a workout, and run a goal half in April instead. There are quite a few around me, so after weighing my options and chatting with my coach, I decided on the Asbury Park Half on 4/26! This is the day before the New Jersey Marathon, so I’ll be able to cheer for everyone running the half or full on Sunday! Since it’s down the shore it should be relatively flat – I just hope it isn’t a windy day. I’m also planning to work a few other short local races into my schedule, but I haven’t committed to anything yet (as you can see from my Races page).

Tell me…
Have you ever dealt with ITBS? 
What’s your favorite runner specific strength routine?

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Running and Swimming

I often think about just how similar running and swimming are in terms of sports. At the outset they’re very different; one is on land and the other is in water. As someone who has spent time dedicated to each sport individually, as I delve deeper into “being a runner,” I notice more and more similarities.

capngoggles

For those of you new to the party, before becoming a runner I swam for 10 years. It started innocently enough; we moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey, and for the first time we had easy access to public pools. I spent my summers up until that point cooling off with fire hydrant water. So naturally out of fear for my own safety my mom and dad signed me up for swimming lessons, and I rocked those bad boys. But by the time I was 11, I had outgrown swim lessons and it was either time to join the team, or find a new sport. So with intense hesitation, I joined the local YMCA team. Fast forward 10 years and I found myself graduating from The University of Scranton, having swum and lettered all four years in high school and college, with a few records and championships under my belt. It was natural I picked up running, right?

2007 University of Scranton Women's Team in Puerto Rico... can you spot me?!

2007 Women’s Team in Puerto Rico… can you spot me?!

Well from the outside, someone may say no, that swimming and running don’t go hand in hand (unless of course it’s swimming as rehab for running). But if you take a quick poll of runners, I think you’ll be shocked to find many of them have spent some quality, non-injury time in the pool. I’m no scientist, psychologist, or researcher, but based on my own experiences and personality, it’s become clear to me over the years why runners and swimmers gravitate towards one another’s sport (or at least that swimmers eventually become runners).

All alone, and liking it

All alone, and liking it

I find myself thinking about this every so often when I’m running, and there are a few things that stand out to me. The most obvious is that swimming and running are both very individual sports, yet they contribute to a common team goal. Sure, when you’re running or swimming a race, you’re the only one in that lane/on the road, and you’re racing against yourself, the clock, and whoever else is in the race with you. There aren’t teammates you’re relying on for the win (there’s little teamwork involved) – it’s just about you. But all of those individual efforts are combined to make up a team. Because of that, I think it’s natural for swimmers to turn into runners (and even vice versa), because they function similarly; even if one is on land and the other is in the water.

And aside from that individual, yet simultaneously team-like environment, we’re all a little crazy. I mean, think about it! Both sports require hours of repetitive monotony. Lap after lap, mile after mile, oftentimes only with your own thoughts. A lot of the time, the only person or thing that determines if you work hard or phone it in, is you. Both sports rely heavily on intrinsic motivation, and I think because of that, people who participate in either sport find that the highs are so high (new PR! race win!) , and the lows can be incredibly low (total bonk. injury). So naturally, I like to do both!

After a week of long course doubles, you go a little mad.

After a week of long course doubles, you go a little mad.

Admittedly, I haven’t been swimming nearly as much as I’d like. I blame this on the fact that there aren’t really any gyms with pools nearby, and those that have them come with a heavy monthly price tag. My parent’s still belong to the municipal pool where I grew up spending most of my summer days, so I try to go whenever I have the chance. I went this past Friday and did laps for the first time in at least 2 years (but I haven’t done a real workout in about 5)! While I was swimming I remembered how much I loved the sport, despite being slow, out of breath, and having my shoulders on fire. Swimming and running really are a great pair, and I really need to add swimming back into my routine. It may mean I’ll have to tone down my online shopping habit, but if it means getting back to a sport I fell in love with at 11 and obsessed over for the next 10 years, I think it’s worth it. Now if only I could get over my fear of biking, and I may have a shot at being a triathlete!

So tell me..
Do you use swimming as cross-training for your running? 
How many of you used to swim on a team (summer, high school, YMCA, club, etc.) and now run? 

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Oh Hello!

Hey friends, remember me?!

I know I haven’t posted in awhile, but that’s because I’ve been busy trying to enjoy the last days of summer (while refusing to believe it’s almost over), and more importantly, because I really haven’t had much to say.

I’ve been in the kitchen cooking up some really great dishes. There have been a few that I’ve come up with on my own and hope to re-create for blog post purposes, but the majority of them have been based on recipes I found online. I’m not one for “photo dump” posts, but I want to share these recipes with you guys, since they were big hits in my house.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Dessert theme, clearly.

Clockwise from the top left:
1. Vegan Oreo Pancakes: Reminded me more of an Almond Joy (it uses shredded coconut) and is awesome. Definitely a “dessert for breakfast” type pancake.
2. Flourless Chickpea Chocolate Chip Blondies: I know, chickpeas in your dessert? It sounds weird, but is absolutely delicious. It’s vegan so you can eat the entire thing raw if you want (and it’s gluten free)! I need to make these again ASAP.
3. Peach & Blueberry Spiced Muffins: I’ve had a surplus of blueberries and peaches from my CSA box, and this was the perfect way to use some. The spices added a nice hint of almost-Fall, with fresh summer fruits.
4. Agave Lime Tofu with Asian Slaw and Chipotle Sweet Potato Mash: First time using The Conscious Cook cookbook I’ve had forever – SO awesome and easy to make.

Aside from cooking and eating, I wish I could say that I’ve been running and crushing marathon training with my ankle issue far behind me. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. I took a full week off per my doctor’s suggestion, and seemed okay when I started back up for that first week. I was a little achy and sore in places, but it wasn’t unbearable. I assumed that I would just have to run through the discomfort, and eventually things would start to feel better. I started the second week after seeing the doctor with a decent 6 mile run, and followed it up the next day with a 4 miler that just didn’t feel good. I woke up the following morning barely able to walk, and extremely frustrated. I saw my podiatrist that afternoon, and he really didn’t have any suggestions for me. He told me to come back in a month, and if the pain was still there, I’d be sent for an MRI. Nothing like a non-answer to make you feel better! I haven’t run since then (it’s been a week), and to be honest, I’m kind of lost. Do I wait until the pain is completely gone from walking (it is now), and try to run again? Do I wait longer before trying to run? I need to find someone with answers, or at least suggestions! I’ve had a few suggestions to go to a chiropractor and get some ART done, so I think that is next on my to-do list. I’m still planning to run (or walk, if I have to) the 10k and half marathon for the Disneyland Dumbo Dare at the end of the month, but I’m undecided if I’ll still run the Richmond Marathon. I may drop down to the half, or defer to next year. I’m so thankful that this particular race at least provides those options!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

At least I have this sweet all-sport Picky Bars water bottle to keep me company!

Even though I haven’t been running, I’ve been trying to stay in shape. I also figured if I couldn’t run, it would be the perfect opportunity to try and get myself a 6-pack, and increase my overall strength (LOL on the 6-pack). I’ve been participating in Kat’s August Core Focus, and adding in my own variations (hello Pinterest). I’ve also come up with some decent arm workouts that use only your body weight and 5-10lb. dumbbells. Maybe I’ll share it in a fun little graphic one of these days. I’ve done a few biking sessions at the gym, have done yoga almost every single day, and have a swim planned for tomorrow — first time back in the pool in at least a year… wonder how many yards I can do!

The biggest thing I’ve been doing during this whole “situation” is trying to stay positive, which I think I’ve actually been pretty successful at. In the past, as soon as I felt a twinge of discomfort or had a bad run I would immediately freak out and become a ball of misery. Recently I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not run a fall marathon, but there are marathons all over the country every single weekend, and my health is more important.

Have you ever dealt with a non-injury, injury (or as I’m calling it, a “situation”)?
Any great non-running cross training things I should try?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan