Five Favorite Stability Ball Workouts

As much as I love to just run, I know my aging body needs a balance of running and core strength work.  Right now, I am enjoying some easy miles a few times a week and adding in more core and strength workouts before I start rebuilding my base mileage for early spring 10ks and half marathons. Honestly, it is a mental challenge at times to commit to consistent, daily and weekly workouts that strengthen my core, improve my balance and my flexibility.  However, I know how important all those pieces are to my continued running success.

stability-ball-graphic
Stability Ball-Perfect for Balance and Strength

Lately, the stability ball has kept me focused, engaged and motivated to incorporate core strength workouts into my weekly running schedule.  I have a few “Go-to” Stability Ball Exercises that I rounded up from this SITE

  1. Wall Squat-Great for strengthening back and quads- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  2. Bridge-Focus on the Hips- 5 Reps, 1 minute each
  3. Pike-Love this SITE for proper form and technique
  4. Ball Leg Lifts- Great video HERE
  5. Reverse Lunge- Check out this VIDEO  for proper form and technique

Finally, this is a good set of exercises with the Stability Ball that I have kept me engaged and motivated to be more consistent with core and strength training!

How do you fit in core strength to your weekly running routine?  What is your “must have” piece of equipment for core and strength training?  

-MaineGirl2Runs-

Friday Fitness: Favorite Exercise Equipment

image

Training Update and a Focus on Core Fitness and Strength Training-  The month of April {four weeks}, I spent focusing on building in more base mileage.  The goal was to reestablish a strong base and increase aerobic endurance.  In the aerobic phase, it is all about increasing stamina and endurance.  My mileage increased, but I was keeping my pace in the “low heart rate zone.”   I ran easy miles each week, focusing on 6 to 7 miles, three times a week, as well as a long run of 10 miles.  Typical weekly mileage right now is around 27-30 miles a week.

Towards the beginning of May, I reevaluated the amount of time I was spending on my core and strength training.  I must admit, I am not always great about making core and strength training a priority.  In order to finish strong, you must train strong!

Two weeks ago, I met with a personal fitness trainer.  Through working with her, I have learned some great core and strength exercises that utilize minimal equipment.  We focused on sets of exercises that targeted many areas at once, called compound exercises.  I really enjoyed my sessions with this local, personal fitness trainer.  However, weekly sessions can  be a bit expensive for my budget.  So, I am adding some key equipment to my personal home gym.  

image

 

 Equipment Favorites: Core and Strength Training 

Stability Ball stability ball

  • 8 Stability Ball Exercises– The stability ball is a great addition to planks and push -ups.  I have found these challenging, but know that these are key exercises to strengthening my core! Be sure to check out the stability ball exercises link above!  There are so many ways to incorporate the stability ball into any core strength exercise routine!

 

Bosu Stability Ball

  • Check Out These Bosu Exercises for Runners–  The Bosu Ball is another versatile piece of exercise equipment.  Standing Leg workouts and bridges are just a few key strength exercises for the legs and glutes!  This piece of equipment is currently on my Wish List!!

bosu ball

 

Resistance Bands

  • Strength Training with Resistance Bands–  I love using resistance bands to complete exercises like the “Monster Walks” which help to strengthen the glutes!  Check out the above link for various exercises to do with resistance bands!  These resistance bands are also great for doing “Side Clam Shells” to increase hip/glute strength.

resistance bands

 

Neoprene Dumbell

  • Lifting weights has never really been my thing!  However, at my session last week with my fitness trainer, I worked on using dumbbells as part of the strength training routine.  Here is another great link for workouts to do with dumbbells– I typically use two ten pound dumbbells.

dumbells

Importance of Core and Strength Training- A strong core leads to better running performance.  When runners have a strong core-form and cadence improve.  Overall, spending time each week on core and strength will lead to stronger and faster running.  

  • Twice a week, after a shorter, easy run- I incorporate core and strength training.  I rotate between using the above pieces of equipment.  I don’t do everything each time.

What is your favorite piece of equipment that you have at home for core and strength training?  How often do you incorporate strength training into your weekly running schedule?  

Spring and Summer Running Essentials

Snow has finally melted and warm, sunny temps are springing up!
Snow has finally melted and warm, sunny temps are springing up!

After a long, cold winter;  spring and summer are just around the corner!  Today I am sharing a few of my essential items for spring and summer running!

Athleta Capris and the Lululemon Rise and Shine Rain Jacket
Athleta Capris and the Lululemon Rise and Shine Rain Jacket

Light Layers:

  • Early spring mornings or late evening runs can be a bit cool.  I still love to wear my Athleta Spliced Fire Be Free Knickers with two front pockets and one back zip pocket!  The light fabric keeps the chill away, but doesn’t make me overheat.  I also love the  ample pockets that are perfect for stashing an energy gel and my I-phone 4.
  • You never know when spring showers are going to pop up!  I love my Lululemon Lightweight Rain Jacket  This water resistant  jacket is light enough to wear over a light short/long sleeve running top or even a sport bra.  This jacket has two zip pockets and a hood with draw strings!
Hydration and sun protection are a must with spring and summer temps rising!
Hydration and sun protection are a must with spring and summer temps rising!

Hydrate, Protect your Feet, Keep the Sun off your Head!

  • A good brand of running socks is a must with warm and humid temps through the summer.  Feetures Brand Running Socks are high performance moisture wicking to keep blisters at bay and feet dry and cool.
  • I love my Amphipod Hand Held Water Bottle with a roomy zip pocket, large enough for my Iphone 5/6 and your room for a key phob, gel or chews!  Hydration during long runs with heat and humidity is a must!  This size is perfect for 10+ miles!  Nuun and Skratch Labs are my two favorite “go-to” hydration mixes!
  • A good hat or visor is important to keep the warm sun off your head and shield your eyes.  A hat during warm, humid summer runs can keep your body temperature cool!
  • Stridebox  included this awesome Wrist Wallet last month in their box!  Spring and summer running mean less layers and at times fewer pockets!  This roomy stretch fit wallet is super for stashing essentials on a long run or in a race!
  • Run Goo for Blister and Chafing Prevention  during hot, humid or wet conditions in the spring and summer months or running is another essential item!  We all know the painful effects of chafing!  Ouch!

What are your spring and summer running essentials?  Please share your ‘must-haves”!

Stride Box: A Peek Inside and a Review

The opinions expressed in this post are completely mine.  I have no affiliation with Stride Box, nor did I receive any free product or monetary compensation.

image

Last fall I decided to try out the Stride Box monthly subscription.  I had eyed several runner themed subscription boxes, but ended up choosing this subscription.  It felt fun and exciting to know that each month I would receive a box full of “surprises” geared towards runners!

How It Works:  Each month I receive a sturdy cardboard box etched in blue with a fun running inspired design. I pay $15.00 a month for the subscription.  I love that it is a simple, flat fee each moth, with no hidden cost.  Stride Box also sends out an email at the beginning of each month to let you that your box full of monthly goodies is on its way!

What’s In the Box:  image

  • a detailed guide comes in each monthly box.  I love that informative guide that provides information on the products included in the box.  Notice too, on the guide, that it lets you know which products might be best for before, during or after a run or hard workout.  Another great thing about the guide insert that comes with each box, is the opportunity to order those products that you love from the companies!

 

  • Every Month offers a variety of products geared towards Nutrition, Hydration, and running gear!  There are 7-8 items in each monthly box.  The items range from sample size to full size!

 

Why I love this Subscription:  Each month I have the chance to try out “new to me” companies and products.  Some products I had already heard about through other social media, but others were completely new to me!  It’s a great opportunity to try out products for fueling and hydration at an extremely minimal cost!  At Stride Box, you can order some products directly from their website, receive discounts or be directed to the company websites for the products!

A Few of My Favorites: Receiving hydration mixes, snacks, including protein powders for refueling, and some fun running gear items, are what I love most and look forward to with each box!  Over the last several months I have enjoyed samples from the following companies, through Stride Box: Here are just a Few!

TIP:  Be sure to save each Stride Guide that comes with each monthly box so that you can refer to it for items and products that you may want to order more of in the future!  The Stride Guide can also be used to check off items you loved!!

Also, be sure to check out the Stride Box Shop Online!  There you’ll find a small, but growing selection of items and products for purchase!

Do you subscribe to any running themed subscription boxes or any other subscription boxes? Have you tried out StrideBox? Share your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running Those Dark, Quiet Miles

  
 Those dark, quiet miles. Morning or night, we’ve all run those miles at some point. Whether the sun has set or hasn’t yet risen. The lights on our reflective vest flashing, the blaring light of the headlamp wrapped securely around our heads and learning to adjust our sight to the darkness. We’ve all run those dark, quiet miles. Those are the miles that bring us more attune with ourselves, no music, just our quiet breaths amidst the sounds of early morning or late evening. { It’s much harder to see the paces on my Garmin watch at night and I don’t try to fiddle with the watch light.} Instead, I just focus on effort and mileage. Those quiet, dark miles that push us to focus on each step, lest we stumble in the darkness, our eyes keen to approaching car lights. 

 

    Wrapped in the darkness, questioning our insane desire to run well past sunset or way too early in the morning. It’s those dark, quiet miles that let us focus and reflect on our purpose for running. An appreciation for the rising sunlight or silvery light of the moon. Every dark mile leads to a goal we have set for ourselves. Lack of sunlight does not fade our desire and commitment to run the miles needed to accomplish big things. At the end of those dark, quiet miles is our light, the light of goals achieved. 

My favorite reflective running gear- Petzl Headlamp and Xinglet Flash Led Vest

Are you a morning or night runner? What’s your favorite reflective gear? 

8 Stylish, Unique Gifts: Mother’s Day-Runners!

So, for this Mother’s Day, I’ve rounded up some stylish, unique and functional gifts for moms and runners.  These gifts are hand picked from some amazing, thoughtful and evironmentally friendly companies. These gifts allow the ‘giver’ to think inside the box, as well as, outside the box! Enjoy the photos, information behind each gift and a peek inside my own ‘Wishlist’!

 

Photo from website https://seabags.com

 

This Tote! Made in Portland, Maine- from recycled sails! Perfect for stashing anything from beach gear to running wear! Learn more about this company and order Here There are many patterns to choose!

 

photo taken from www.runfarshop.com

 

All the way from Sarah at Run Far Girl in New Hampshire. Pamper the Mother Runner with a long sleeve hoodie or vintage style t-shirt! Even better- 10% of proceeds support this Children’s Hospital- CHaD Order your gift Here and Give a Gift while Making a Difference!

 

photo taken from www.scottjamesjewelry.com

 

Every Mother Runner loves Jewelry! Let the runner in your life celebrate and shine with beautiful, running inspired Sterling Silver Jewelry! Order Here I love the beauty and durability of this gorgeous jewelry!

 

photo from www.zoomarun.com

 

Six Beautiful Race Locations -Treat the Mother Runner to a girls’ running weekend at one of these six locations! Purchase a race entry, which includes free training plans from Training Peaks and Another Mother Runner a Gorgeous race location- post race lunch, yoga, massage, wine and music! Beautiful Finishers Medal for the half marathon!  Receive 10% off Zooma Annapolis with Code KARA15. Register Here

 

photo taken from www.nuu-muu.com

 

Style and Function with these Dresses! I love the colorful patterns and athletic fabric of these dresses! These dresses are made in the USA and perfect for running, walking, hiking and cycling! I love wearing these to teach in during the day and then run in at night! Bonus- Matching mommy/daughter option with Mini-Muu kids! Order Here

 

photo taken from www.purelyelizabeth.com

 

A perfect gift for the Healthy Mother Runner! Natural and wholesome food paired with a beautiful scarf and lovely pink nail polish! Show the woman in your life that women’s lives matter! This gift will Make a Difference for Breast Cancer Research! Order  Here and learn more about this health conscious company!

 

photo taken from www.uncommongoods.com

 

Coffee!! This company gathers unique, handmade gifts from all over the USA and World! I first stumbled upon this company when ordering some fun Arts and Crafts kits for my daughter!  I’ve always wanted a Pour-Over Coffee system! I love that this gift is completely made in the USA! Visit Here for more information and to order!

 

photo taken from www.garmin.com

 

Okay! Splurge! Give the Mother Runner this running watch with all the Bells and Whistles!! This is the Forerunner 620! So many amazing features with this watch! I would love to upgrade from my current Garmin 220 to this watch! Read about all the features of this watch made to assist and help any runner train HERE!

Any gifts catch your eye?! What are your Mother’s Day plans? 

5 Favorite Brands for a Healthy, Active, Lifestyle

TGIF  

Design by Canva.com
 Happy Friday everyone! This week has been busy and exhausting.  Between finishing up with RRCA coaching certification Sunday evening and an English language arts workshop midweek, I’m ready for the weekend! I’m excited to link with up the Friday Five bloggers- MarCynthia, and Courtney to share my 5 favorite brands!  The following five brands/companies are high on my list of favorites for helping me achieve a healthy, active lifestyle! 

Five Favorite Brands/Companies: 

  1. This Bar Saves Lives–    The bars, ThisBarSavesLives, Wild Blueberry Pistachio, are a naturally sweet, slightly chewy/crunchy blend of fruit and nuts.  The bars are glutenfree, NonGMO and ingredients are organically sourced in the United States. These bars will be great for breakfast or a much needed snack in the afternoon after teaching, but before a run! I loved purchasing this wristband too! Each wristband purchased, provides a meal to a child in need and contributes to the Water Project.  The Water Project brings water to countries in Africa! Love this company is “Making a Difference! 
  2. Charmed Bar – Yup! Another granola bar brand! A company founded by two women!  The company is local to Maryland!  One of the women is a former elementary school kindergarten teacher!  Here on the CharmedBarwebsite there is a link to the “Autism Hope Alliance” organization.  As a teacher, it’s important to support Charmed Bar because they are “Autism Approved”!   
    I order online and shipping and delivery is quick and easy! The combination of fruit, nuts and almond butter helped fuel my Maine Marathon run at mile 18! I ran with the Charmed Bar in my running shirt pocket! When I’m not fueling, mid run with a Charmed Bar, I’m eating one at breakfast with my coffee!
     
  3. Nuu_Muu Athletic Dresses– Absolutely love the style and versatility of these athletic dresses! The Made in the U. S. A dresses are a flattering fit on my petite frame! I can wear the dresses to work with a pair of legging capris! At the end of a long day of teaching, this dress does double duty out on a run, walk or hike! This is a Women powered company that gives back to communities!  So many styles and colors are available on the website! 
    Checkout the Nuu_Muu company website to read about their philosophy on Girl Power, Green Living and Contributions!
     
  4. Feetures Running Socks – My feet seem to love the snug, yet soft, Feetures socks.  These socks fit perfectly with a bit of a snug, yet supportive feel from heel to toe! Since I’ve been recovering from a sore heel and arch, these socks have been a perfect fit!  
    Feetures Running sent Zooma Run Ambassadors several l pairs of socks!
     
  5.  Sizzle Fish – Growing up along the coast of Maine made me a bit of a seafood snob! I had a hard time finding fresh caught wild fish once I moved to southern Maryland.  As a runner, who eats very limited chicken and no red meat, I found myself craving and searching for a great selection of seafood- mainly fish!  Sizzle Fish is an amazing company that allows you to order online and have sustainable, wild caught fish delivered right to your home! All fish and seafood come preportioned and individually packaged- frozen on dry ice! I love that this company helped me to fit healthy, protein and omega-3 rich fish back into my diet!  
    A variety of sustainable, wild caught fish and seafood packages are available on the Sizzle Fish website! check them out online!
     

My favorite 5 brands/companies promote a healthy, active lifestyle! These are companies committed to quality, health, style and Making a Difference! 

Share your favorite brand/company! 

A Foam Rolling Clinic

This past weekend I had the chance to attend a ‘Foam Rolling Clinic’ at the Charm City Runstore in Annapolis, Maryland! I own two types of foam rollers and have used them for quite some time now.

Trigger Point Grid Roller and Pro-Tec Athletic Foam Roller
Trigger Point Grid Roller and Pro-Tec Athletic Foam Roller
My favorite blue, textured massage ball! It really gets deep into my calf muscles!
My favorite blue, textured massage ball! It really gets deep into my calf muscles!

However, I was curious to see how I could use the foam roller to achieve better benefits!  I try my best to foam roll my calves before and after running! I alternate between my solid blue foam roller and the Trigger Point Grid foam roller. My blue foam roller is really hard and dense.  For the clinic, I actually chose to bring my slightly shorter grid foam roller.  Although, I honestly prefer my blue solid foam roller.

Annapolis Charm City Run Store
Annapolis Charm City Run Store

I arrived at the store in Annapolis just before 9:00am.  There were already a few runners setting up their foam rollers for the clinic inside the store. Charm City Run had opened up space right inside the store for the foam rolling session!

Foam Rolling Area at Charm City Run!
Foam Rolling Area at Charm City Run

The foam rolling instructor was great!  He took his time explaining the terms -Myofascial release and trigger points.  Essentially, the foam roller is used to break up adhesions in muscle tissue and get the oxygen and blood flowing again in those areas! The goal is to prevent tissue build up and promote healthy muscle recovery.  I really should have taken “pencil and paper” notes, but I was so focused on getting the right foam roller techniques!

Awesome Charm City Run Instructor!
Awesome Charm City Run Instructor!

The instructor explained and modeled how to foam roll- calves, quads, ITBand, hamstrings, glutes and hip Flexors.  I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of each area to foam roll!  The instructor talked to us about some key things to consider when foam rolling:

  • foam rolling breaks up tight knots in muscles
  • foam roll across the muscle first to break apart adhesions- muscles run vertical, so create that ‘cross friction’ across the muscle
  • linger on tender spots and apply pressure- Trigger points
  • Do not foam roll on bone or tendon
  • foam rolling benefits increase with daily and weekly routines { Morning and Evening}

Take Aways from The Foam Rolling Clinic:

  • Foam Roll Daily! Especially at night, to help relax and ease tension in muscles!
  • Foam rolling is also a great core workout! Balancing the roller on all those different muscles!
  • Drink plenty of water after foam rolling- hydrate those muscles and increase oxygen and blood flow!
  • I felt more confident in foam rolling after attending this clinic! If only I could attend a foam rolling class once a week!

There was so much information during the 45 minute session! Later on, I googled some more information on foam rolling.  THISwebsite was a great ‘follow-up’ to what the instructor focused on in class!

After class, I hung out for a while at Whole Foods! I tasted all the free, yummy samples of soups and smoothies at the Vitamix ‘Road Show’!! I own the Vitamix Pro 750 and love it! Always learning new ways to use it! The smoothies definitely helped to hydrate and replenish fluids after the ‘Foam Rolling Clinic’ 

Vitamix-Soups and Smoothies!
Vitamix-Soups and Smoothies!

Do you ‘Foam Roll’ daily, weekly? How do you assist your muscles in recovery? What clinics have you attended at your local running store? 

Winter Running: My Favorite Layers and Gear

Last Wednesday, southern Maryland temperatures were hovering around 28 degrees. Schools were closed due to icy conditions and an inch or two of snow in the ground.

So, . . . what’s a teacher doing on a snow day? Running of course! I happily pulled on my new winter running gear! 4.5 beautiful miles and I was toasty warm!

2015/01/img_2736.jpg

Winter Running is my favorite season! I love the cold temperatures and snowy backdrops! Wearing the right layers and material can make winter running really enjoyable!

Favorite Winter Running Gear
Favorite Winter Running Gear

Having the layers to keep me warm and comfortable keeps me Motivated to Run during the Cold Winter Months! 

  • Blue Under Armour Cold Gear Long Sleeve
  • Lucy Active Wear “Run Your Heart Out” Long Sleeve
  • Lucy Active WearWinter Warrior Tight
  • Balega Wool Crew Socks or Swift Wick Wool Crew Socks
  • {The SwiftWick Pursuit Two socks are compression and made with merino wool}
  • Lucy Active Wear Gloves
  • Under Armour Purple Beanie

I purchase moisture wicking layers that have a mix of material conducive to keeping in the warmth during cold winter runs.  A base layer with merino wool is ideal! Look for a mix of synthetic material, including polyester and Lycra. Cotton material will not wick away moisture and keep you warm.

**Stand By Winter Running Layers for When It’s Really Cold**

  • Lululemon long sleeve “Run For Gold” 
  • Brooks Purple Thermal Zip Up Hoodie
  • Lululemon Black Wide Hooded Jacket
Brooks Purple Thermal Hoodie and Lululemon Zip Up Jacket
Brooks Purple Thermal Hoodie and Lululemon Zip Up Jacket

How Do You Layer and Keep Warm During Winter Running Season? What keeps you motivated to run outside during cold winter months?