13.1

Well, I did it. All the training and hard work definitely paid off. 13.1. It was amazing, when it was over with.

On April 22, I ran the Earth Day Half Marathon in St. Cloud, MN. I stayed in St. Cloud the night before to avoid having a drive in the morning before the race. The evening before, I indulged in some pasta from the Olive Garden. Any excuse to eat carbs is completely okay with me.

The morning of, I ate a peanut butter and jelly, English muffin, some eggs, a yogurt and banana. I also drank plenty of water and was sure to get a lot of sleep. I ended up wearing running leggings that tied on the top so they didn’t move during the run, an Under Armour tank top and a running light zip-up jacket. I had Brooks running shoes on as well. 18033301_10155627064796874_6654001974034216975_n

As a rookie marathon runner, I figured out before the start–that you want to line up at your projected finish marker, since you will be running at a similar pace as those people.

So, once I decided where I wanted to finish (I choose the 2.5 hour marker), with hopes that I could finish around that time. Once the run started, I was feeling good. There were so many people lined up along the route, with encouraging signs and were cheering as people ran by.

For the first 5 miles, I didn’t have any pain and was running at a great pace. I was using the Map My Run app on my phone, so I knew where my pace was at each mile and what my split pace was. I was keeping up with the starter marker, and I was feeling good.

At mile 6, I started getting some cramps in my stomach and my lower back started hurting. Now before the 13.1, my longest run that I trained for was 10 miles long. When you are at 6 miles, 10 doesn’t seem that far off. When you’re going all the way to 13.1, you’re not even half way there at 6.

After reaching mile 8, my stomach and back started to feel better. There were a lot of people I was keeping pace with, and we just kept going. Once you get to 10 miles, your legs just aren’t all the way “there” anymore. My legs just kept going, although my body was very exhausted.

The last few miles were exciting, but it became hard to concentrate on anything else besides “I’m almost done, it’s almost over. Just a little longer.” The last mile was by far the best. My pace had fallen a bit at mile 11, but I was still doing better than I had originally hoped.

That last mile I gave it my all. My app I was using however, was off from the measured distance the run had calculated. So when I thought I was about done, I still had what felt like forever to go. I started to sprint, which was a great idea–but I did it too early. Knowing I was so close (may .3 of a mile out now) away from the finish line, I just couldn’t give up. I ended up making it over that finish line and just wanting to crash.

It was amazing. I felt so great. I did it. I just ran 13.1 miles, and I did it well under my goal of 2.5 hours. My final time across the finish line was 2:11:10.

My body wasn’t hurting significantly besides my lower back. I took pain pills before the run and when I finished, and the pain went away within 5 hours or so. The evening of the run, I was feeling great and was amazed at how well my body handled it. By the end of the night, I realized I may have injured myself a little more than I had hoped.

My foot had endured a lot of pain and seemed to be getting worse the more I was on it. For the rest of the weekend, I continued to ice my foot and try to rest it as much as possible. It has been about 2 1/2 weeks now, and my foot is still hurting. Unfortunately, I think I may have a slight fracture that is going to continue to need time and rest to fully heal.

I was all ready to sign up for the Tough Mudder which takes place in July, but I may be looking at the Tough Mudder 2018 to ensure my foot heals properly. All in all, I a so glad I tried a half marathon and it has inspired me to do more challenges, like the Tough Mudder.

My overall advice from my experience is to listen to your body. Goals are amazing to reach and it’s exciting to finish what you started out for, but be careful. If you’re in pain, your body is telling you it’s too much. Don’t hurt yourself in the process. Your body is a beautiful thing.

 

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Yoga: Time to give it a go

I love to workout, but sometimes-it’s time to change things up a bit. I took a yoga class a few years ago and right away felt uncomfortable, not being at the level as the rest of the class. It was my first time, and I felt I didn’t know what I was doing- so I never went back.

Three years later, I have decided to give yoga a go again. Why? Because it’s great for you. Check it out:

 

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For a more detailed information on the benefits of yoga, click here.

I am going to kick off my yoga adventure with 30 days of yoga with Adriene. She has all these videos on YouTube, which are easy to follow at the comfort of your own home.

Give it a try, see what you think! Day 1 video.

4 Must Do Exercises for Weight Loss

Repost: By:  // August 8, 2014

Whenever I talk to beginner exercises or people who are coming back after a long break and want to lose weight, they will say to me, “I’m just going to start with cardio and once I lose weight I’ll begin strength training.”  I totally understand that the idea of doing it all at once can be overwhelming, but strength training is not only a huge part of losing weight and feeling healthy—it’s  the KEY.  Best of all, it is easier than some people think.

Exercises for Weight Loss

Don’t get me wrong … I’m a huge fan of cardio. I love the way it makes me feel and I love the satisfaction of seeing how many calories I’ve burned, how many steps I’ve taken and what zone I’ve been training in.  But when it comes to long-term weight loss and getting strong: STRENGTH TRAINING RULES!  Muscle is more metabolically active than body fat.  In other words, muscle burns more calories per day at a resting heart rate than body fat so the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns daily.  In addition, muscle is more compact (dense) than body fat and helps to sculpt your body (nice bonus).  Lastly, strength training keeps your joints mobile and promotes your ability to do daily activities while feeling good.  No matter what your goals are, strength training is an important component of your exercise program, and it’s never too late to start.

I am a stickler for form.  If you want good results, you need to use good form.  Here are a few tips for some of the most effective bodyweight exercises that will help you build muscle, lose weight and get strong! (CLICK ON EACH of THE IMAGES for more information)

Push-Ups

Why you should do ‘em: Push-ups are one of the best body weight exercises ever invented, they require zero equipment, build strength in all of the right places, have many variations to keep things fresh, and are easy to modify and track progress. You can burn calories working multiple muscle groups and shape your body at the same time. Push-ups make you strong.

 

A fitness trainer doing Push-ups

A fitness trainer doing push-ups

How to do a push up: When it comes to push-ups, your form is crucial. Each push-up needs to be a full range of motion. If you only go half way down or push your butt up in the air for several reps, you shouldn’t count them. Sounds harsh? Well, cheating never gets you ahead. Here’s how to get set up to do a push-up:

Set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hands facing forward.

Set your feet directly behind you at a comfortable position (together or slightly separated). The further apart your feet are, the more stable you will be until you are able to build your balance up enough to put your feet together.

Make your body into on straight line from the top of your head down through your heels. Your butt should stay in line with your legs and back, never up in the air. Your abs engaged and your shoulders over your wrists. (Basically a full body plank position.) Keep your neck neutral, don’t drop your head or crank it back.

With your arms straight, glutes and abs contracted, slowly lower your body until your chest touches the ground, or arms are at approx. a 90-degree angle, and push yourself back into your starting position. Try to keep your core body steady. Don’t sag through the low back or push your butt way up in the air.

Squats

Why you should do ’em: Be proud of your buns!  You heard me right.  Strong and firm is sexy.  When women ask me the best way to firm their butts and tone their legs… I tell them to: Get their Squats On! ou need those glute muscles to do lots of everyday activities.  Squats also improve the mobility in your hips, legs and upper back.  And as you get older, the strength and stability you develop from squats can help you out of a chair or reach for something on the floor or simply prevent injury.

 

A fitness trainer doing squats

Drop and squat. Take an athletic, wide stance, point your toes outward slightly and sit back. Your butt should protrude out like you are sitting down in an invisible chair. Stay steady and strong as you squat deeper and try to keep your heels on the ground.  The wider you put your feet the more it works your glutes and hamstrings (the back of your legs) and the easier it will be for you to stay stable. If your feet are a little closer, you will work your quadriceps a little more intensely (the front part of your thighs).

Make sure your knees track over your toes. Don’t let your knees cave in to the center, engage your inner thighs and quads.

Keep your chest lifted, shoulders down, abs tight. Make sure your spine is in proper alignment. Make sure you aren’t arching your back or scrunching your shoulders up around your neck. Pull your belly to your spine and contract your abs.

Don’t round your neck. Look straight ahead or find a point of focus in line with your eyes. You don’t want to round your neck or look down at the ground.

Get deep. Depending on your hip flexibility, you may be able to squat pretty low – try for quads parallel with the floor.   If your flexibility isn’t yet to that level, that’s okay. Just remember that flexibility is something you can work on to improve. Aim for parallel which will deeply engage your thighs, hips and glutes.

Lunges

Why you should do ’em:  Lunges pretty much are the bomb.  You can do them anywhere, they firm up your backside, give you a shapelier bottom (who doesn’t want that?) and they also strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. The lunge is also a great conditioning exercise for many sports and activities. Get ready to see the results in your bottom half.

A fitness trainer doing a lunge

How to do a basic forward lunge: With your chest lifted, chin up and abs contracted take a big step forward with your left foot.  Sink straight down so your front left knee tracks over the top of your shoe and your back right  knee points down toward the floor.  You are on your back left toe.  Push back to the starting position. Repeat on the right leg. Keep alternating. A good place to start is with 10-12 lunges on each leg and work your way up to 3 sets.

Keep your knees aligned, front knee over your shoe and back knee pointing down.

Watch yourself lunge with a side view mirror.  Make sure you aren’t leaning too far forward or back or rounding your spine.

Keep your knees, hips and shoulders all facing in same direction, forward.

Think about how you are distributing your body weight.  Don’t force your weight into your kneecaps but rather use them as a hinge.  Engage your quads, hamstrings and glutes.

Full Body Roll Ups

Why you should do ’em:  I call the Full Body Roll Up the mother of mat Pilates exercises. It has been said that one Pilates Full Body Roll Up is equal to six sit-ups and way more effective than a bunch of mindless crunches.

Lie flat on your back with your arms extended overhead.

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Inhale arms to the sky, exhale and slowly roll up into a “C” curve reaching for your toes. (Think about threading your belly button to your spine, and activate your transverse abdominus.)

Full Body Roll Up

Inhale and start to slowly go back in a C curve.

Full Body Roll Up

Exhale as you uncurl your body one vertebra at a time back into the mat.

Full Body Roll Up

 

The key is to keep your feet on the ground. Use your abs and back to gracefully articulate down to the mat and avoid using your hip flexors and glutes. If you have trouble keeping your feet on the ground, have someone hold your feet or use a resistance band around your feet and hold the handles in your hand. Or bend your knees as you come up. It’s always okay to modify!

Start with three to five and see if you can add a couple more each day.

Are you ready to power up your muscle and metabolism with these four must-have moves? Tell me how they work for YOU in the comments section below! Muscle On my friends!