Gear roundup: running

running gear

It’s hard to believe I’ve had this blog for two years now. I’ve come a long way, especially considering I took about a year off for no good reason. Oh, and happy Chinese New Year!

Anyway, on this here blogiversary, let’s do a running gear roundup! One great thing about running is that it’s pretty close to free. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to gear, and try not to buy too many things in general, but there are a few must-haves. (*Note: this post contains affiliate links. See my Disclaimer page for details.) Let’s get started!

Running

Beyond the basics (running shoes, shirt, pants), here are a few things I ALWAYS take on a run:

My Fitbit. This isn’t a necessity, but for the metrics-obsessed it’s great. I have the Flex 2 model, which is pictured here. (I even have the lavender color! So trendy!) There are a million fitness trackers on the market, all of which have different features, but I only have experience with Fitbit. Beyond tracking steps (and thereby extrapolating miles and calories), it also tracks sleep, which has been enlightening for me. This model is around $60, but if that’s a little high just download a step-tracker app on your phone. Or don’t. Whatever.

A running belt. These things are wonderful for holding your keys, ID, and pepper spray. You don’t want to run with crap in your pockets (if you’re lucky enough to have pockets) and these belts are lifesavers. They’re comfortable enough that I forget I’m wearing one!

A water bottle. I love these Gatorade bottles because they hold 32 ounces, fit comfortably in your hand, and are virtually indestructible. As someone who has broken 4 plastic water bottles in….3 years? Trust me.

A lightweight jacket. I’m picky about running jackets, because they’re usually a bit short and ride up when I run. This jacket is long enough to stay put, fleece-lined, and thin enough that if you overheat you can wrap it around your waist.

Gear for before/after running

Rest and recovery are very important to running without injury. Here are a few tools I have to maximize my non-running days:

A yoga mat. I like doing a yoga routine when not running to keep my muscles and joints limber. Even regular stretching after a run is better on a mat than the bare floor. I prefer a medium thickness mat, as the thin ones don’t stay flat on carpet and the thick ones are just…too thick.

A foam roller. As far as I’m concerned, this right here is a necessity. I have this exact model and it’s WONDERFUL for working out tight muscles. I’m really prone to calf and foot cramps, but diligently rolling out after a run has nearly eliminated them. You can get a flat-surfaced roller, but for the same price you might as well try one with textured surfaces. Play around — I like the bumpy side on hamstrings and quads, but the smooth side on IT band. This is also just nice to have around, and rolling out your back is like a mini-massage. Cannot recommend this highly enough.

So there you have it!

These are my nice-to-haves. Of course, you can get really fancy gear, or high tech…anything, but for someone just starting out these are the basics. Again, the great thing about running is you really only *need* shoes and enough clothing to not get arrested. What’s your favorite gear for running? Tell me in the comments!

Rock-heavy music for workouts

So, popular opinion says my music preferences are trash. I’m also calling all my family and friends “popular opinion,” now.

Image result for forcing people to listen to my music

I prefer the term ~eclectic.”~ Besides, everyone loves Weird Al. The Barbie Girl song is appropriate for any occasion. “Word Up” by Cameo is a national treasure and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. True, my playlists are loosely organized by mood instead of genre, but when was the last time you were in a “prog-rock” mood? My mood, and therefore music preferences, vary depending on the workout I’m doing.

  • Running = happy, even silly music (Blink 182, Lady Gaga)
  • Weights = badass, kinda angry music (AC/DC, Jay-Z)
  • Rowing/elliptical/etc. = rhythmic music whose tempo you can match (any reggaeton, 80’s pop, and honestly, Ke$ha)

When I go to lift weights, I like to feel powerful. Strong. Totally badass. I want to hear people kinda yelling at me. I want to daydream about being coordinated enough to play the drums. It’s much easier to get in the zone and push yourself when Seether is pumping you up. Music can be very polarizing and there’s a good chance you won’t like these songs, plus many of them have bad words, but if that doesn’t scare you, give this rock-heavy playlist a listen!

What music makes it onto your workout playlist? Check out this post for more ideas on making working out easier!

Origin stories: why I blog

Now feels like a good time to revisit why this blog exists.

A few years ago, I sat down to read some women’s fitness magazine. Like the dozens — maybe even low hundreds — I had read before, its usefulness was limited. It was full of really pretty pictures and really fluffy advice. If I recall, there was one workout in the entire thing. The food ideas ranged from “twelve-ingredient salads you can make in two minutes for work lunches” to “try this black garlic that you can only find in Japan on Thursdays and costs $50 and tastes like dirt.”

Beyond things that didn’t appeal to my personal tastes, many things advertised don’t apply to people outside of LA and/or the mega wealthy. I bet the citizens of Missouri would love to try surfing, or snowshoeing, or spelunking, or whatever the hell else rich people do to burn extra calories…but they can’t. Barry hasn’t moved his boot camp to Stillwater, and I’ve never even heard a southern person talk about Orange Theory.

(Is it…yoga? With…oranges?)

There I was, consuming hours of media (costing me who-knows-how-much money) that didn’t improve my life. All the magazines, and websites, and Instagram accounts did little more than make me some bitchin’ collages. And the people giving that “advice?” It’s their job to be healthy, so of course it’s a little easier for them.

You’re telling me a personal trainer can easily find time to run the stairs at lunch? The guy who works 40 hours a week as a nutritionist manages to eat 5 servings of veggies everyday? No shit?

Where are stories for families with shoestring budgets and picky eaters? How about realistic exercise tips for accountants who’re stuck at a desk all day? What happens when you ignore the damn magazines and eat everything in sight on Thanksgiving, then spend the next 6 months trying desperately to lose your new 15 pounds? (Asking for a friend.)

Put simply, I couldn’t find that resource. I couldn’t find anyone who’d give it to me straight. I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t airbrushed or expensive or holier-than-thou.

So I decided to become that resource.

My goal is to make that health and fitness and nutrition accessible to people. Healthy living shouldn’t be intimidating or punishing, and I believe it doesn’t have to be! You don’t have to join a gym unless you want to. You don’t have to get the $90 sports bra unless you want to. You don’t have to eat kale if you don’t want to (as I type this, I’m nursing a handful of chocolate chips, so…).

I want this blog to be a source of realistic advice — no fake smiles and Photoshop here. I’m not going to give any advice, or post any recipe, or hawk any supplement unless I’ve tried it myself and think it’s useful. The ENTIRE POINT of all this is to give YOU the insight and resources to make healthy changes in your life.

You guys are the heroes. You guys are the ones making commitments and following through. You guys are the ones double-checking nutrition labels and going for walks after dinner. You guys are noticing subtle gains in strength, or that your clothes are fitting better.

I’m just here for the comic relief and (maybe?) a touch of inspiration. So tell me in the comments, what’s your origin story? What brings you here today?

Half-marathon training update

Here we are, at the end of week 3!

But I’m actually trying to catch up from week 2. It’s a long story.

Basically, my training plan is to run three days each week, with cross-training two days and active rest two days. The first five runs in my plan are for two miles each time, with the Saturday on the second week being three miles.  (Saturdays are the “long run” days, where I work on building endurance and stamina, and the mileage increases pretty substantially over time.) So there I was, showering and getting ready for my Saturday, with a three mile run planned for the afternoon.

My elbow hit a shampoo bottle.

And it fell on my toe.

It was the sharpest, most intense pain I’ve felt in a loooooong time. 

half marathon training update Continue Reading

Meal Prep 101

Meal prep can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. I see people moaning and groaning about the work involved, or the fridge space, or getting bored of eating the same things all the time. Well, those people are totally right, but don’t forget all the benefits of meal prep! With a few hours on the weekend set aside to cooking, you can have an entire week’s worth of lunches (and/or breakfasts, dinners, and snacks) DONE.

Stuck late at work on Tuesday? No problem, because dinner is already DONE. Feeling tempted by the vending machine? Not today, snacks are DONE. Usually skip breakfast because it’s not worth the effort? Too bad because breakfast is DONE.

meal prep breakfast quiche

This quiche is six breakfasts!

Continue Reading

Introduction to Half-Marathon Training

Last November, I surprised myself.

The corporate health program sponsors registration fees for races throughout the year, on a first-come, first-serve basis. I received the email, with spots available for a 5K, half-marathon, full-marathon, and a relay. Instead of signing up for the 5K, I clicked the half-marathon. And continued on through with the registration, half-marathon selected, knowing full well what I was doing.

I clicked submit. Oh my.

In what may have been temporary insanity, I signed myself up for 4 months of training so I can run 13.1 miles with a bunch of strangers. That said, I don’t regret it. In fact, I’m getting more excited each day. However, I’ve had to get my ass in gear. The plan: Continue Reading