Back to shuffling, and my favorite running beats that will make you faster

IMG_20170807_115454_374

I’m trying to figure out what an easy run feels like. 🤔My last plan did everything at intensity. 😬 This morning was another easy at 6 miles. My shins started to feel a little sore again yesterday. 😖 So between figuring out easy and injury prevention, I’m glad that I have the option to cross train! 🚴‍♀️How do you guys decide what to run through and when to scale back? 😳

Yay! My wonderful husband found my shuffle wedged between my driver seat and the console. I swear I had looked all over my car. He’s my hero!

I mentioned yesterday that I like to listen to podcasts during strength work and other down time, but I really love to listen to fast music when I run. I started listening to a program called MotionTraxx a few years ago, and now that’s pretty much all I listen to. You can choose the beats per minute to download, and I always choose 180+.  They have several different playlists to choose on itunes to make it really easy.  For easy runs, I’ll mix in easy pop music for fun, but if I need to hit a hard workout or race, I always listen to MotionTraxx. The music is mostly instrumental fast beat, and you don’t have to think about anything (do I like this song? etc).

Check them out for free here and let me know what you think! I promise you will run faster if you listen to this music!

Do you listen to music when you run? Lately we’ve been playing children’s music in the basement.

Bringing in the New Year: How to build a home gym

Our basement is my favorite room in our whole house.  It all started with a treadmill, wp-1472224822536.jpgwhich also happens to be my favorite piece of “furniture”.  🙂  Then, over time, my husband and I started adding other favorite items. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty convenient to roll out of bed and head to the basement for my workouts in the morning, especially since Cadence was born.  It really doesn’t take too much investment for some basic pieces that will help build a great strength training circuit though. (I still posit that a good ol’ push-up is one of the best strength workouts that you can do, which does not involve any equipment at all!)

Here are some of the items in our gym.  Whether you work out at the foot of your bed or in your own basement, there is something for everyone.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the list.  Any one of these items will give you many options for a variety of workouts.

  1. Basic dumbbells: I use 5, 10, and 15 pounds for just about everything.
  2. Bosu Ball: I bought mine at Target, and I love it for stability training.  There are specific workouts that you can do on a Bosu ball, but you can also stand on it doing basic moves like a dumbbell curl.  Just the act of standing on the Bosu ball will help increase stability.  For an extra challenge, stand on one leg while doing your strength work.
  3. Medicine ball: I bought this 10 pound medicine ball, and it adds variety to strength work by activating more of the core when holding it.  Even just holding it while doing squats or lunges makes the exercise more of a core workout.
  4. Kettle Bells: my husband bought me kettle bells for mother’s day (he’s a romantic :), and I love to sling them around!  A great workout that forces you to stabilize and utilize your core!
  5. Two frisbies: this is one of my favorites for its simplicity and difficulty.  I learned this move in my Oh Baby fitness classes as a newly postpartum mom.  Get in push up position with one foot on each slider or frisby.  Then use your arms to “walk” yourself forward while feet slide along the ground with the sliders.  It’s a really tough workout for the core and arms and it only takes a room and two sliders to slide up and down for a great workout!
  6. A stair step: I inherited my step from my mom, but any type of step will do.  This is great for stair lunges, calf raises, and any other stair exercise.
  7. Yoga ball: other than giving birth (no, I did not bring my ball to the hospital-ha!), this ball is great for ab work, and it serves as a replacement for a bench if you want to do arm work while sitting on it.
  8. Resistant Bands: tie off the band so that it is a loop, step in, and try to do side lunges.  Then you’ll understand the beauty of these little bands.  Also good for clamshells and a variety of other exercises.
  9. Barbell: I don’t really use the barbell very much, but my husband does.  It’s a great piece of equipment, but my coach doesn’t incorporate it. I like to do squats and deadlifts when I’m not following my coach’s plan.
  10. Pull up bar: I was so excited to get a pull-up bar, but I do not use ours anymore because I had hernia surgery in May, and the force is more than I want to risk.  But, if you did not recently have hernia surgery, this little bar will humble you and make you tremble!  🙂
  11. Treadmill: this is pretty obvious, but I love my treadmill. I run at least half of my weekly runs on the treadmill, and I have found that I especially like it for “hillwork” and for some of my standard weekly runs to see how I’m responding when the variables are all kept constant.  You can read more about treadmill selection here.
  12. Spin bike: My husband bought our spin bike, but I’ve gotten more use of it for my cross training than he has.  It was great to complement running through pregnancy, and I love to use it for recovery.  It’s not just for easy riding though.  You can get a mean workout in with the spin bike if you crank up resistance, increase cadence, or incorporate standing while riding.  Read more about the spin bike for cross training here.
  13. Stair stepper: This is another piece of equipment that I love for cross training.  I used it a lot during pregnancy because I could get a great cardio workout without all of the pounding.  It was also the first machine that I used during my postpartum recovery.

A lot of items can be purchased on Craigslist or some other consignment/second-hand store.  We bought my treadmill, bike, stair stepper, and barbell set secondhand.

My training plan involves a lot of strength training, and this actually turns out to fit our lifestyle really well because Cadence enjoys playing in the basement while we strength train. I trained for my first 100 mile race this past summer with Cadence playing beside me while I trained for most of it.  We “baby-proofed” the basement as much as a gym can be baby-proofed, and it has made all of the difference to allow my husband and me to have the freedom to work out and spend time together.  I also attribute not getting any injuries despite a high intensity running schedule to the amount of strength work in my plan.

What is your favorite piece of exercise equipment? (Shoes don’t count! 😉

Treadmills, really going the distance

Contrary to a lot of runners, I love the treadmill. It always bothers me when I see people refer to treadmills as “dreadmills” because the treadmill is my favorite material thing in our house.  It has really gone the distance with me. Ha! I started out using the treadmill as a means to walk at an incline and read for my exercise.  This was before I became a runner, and it served as a great foundation for me.  I ran my first marathon in 2013, and that is when my treadmill finally realized its full potential and helped me fulfill my training.

tmilllove

Here are a few reasons that I love the treadmill:

  1. I can control the incline (I run at 3% or > for all of my runs)
  2. I can control the speed (actually really good for intervals)
  3. The surface is shock absorbing so impact is minimized
  4. I read and run, so I consume books at a rate of about 1/week
  5. A bathroom is always near (very helpful when running through pregnancy)
  6. It is light in my basement when it is dark outside
  7. Bad weather doesn’t keep me from a run
  8. I can run without coordinating childcare for my baby

I currently have the Landice L8, and I love this machine!  We bought it off of Craigslist in 2014, and it has been my staple almost every weekday morning.  A good treadmill for serious running needs to be really solid, and will probably be an investment. I bought my treadmill used, but there is always a risk with used exercise equipment that you might not get as many miles out of it.  Used gym equipment has probably been well maintained, but it also probably has A LOT of miles on it.  On the other hand, used gym equipment is generally bigger and sturdier, which is a great benefit.

Here are the specifications that you should look for in a good home treadmill for serious running:

Motor power: My treadmill has a 4HP continuous duty drive motor, which is ideal for running.  If you only plan to walk, you can get away with less horsepower.

Running area: It is recommended that the running area be at least 20″x60″.  My treadmill has a  22” x 63” running area, and it is perfect for both my husband and me.

Incline: My last treadmill only went up to 10%, and I was happy with that.  Now that I have a treadmill that goes to 15%, I don’t think I’d want to go back.  I like to “hike” at the 15% level for cross training.

Speed: My treadmill goes from 0 to 12 MPH, and that has always been sufficient for me.  If you are looking to break 5 minute miles, you may want to invest in something speedier.

Shock absorption: Landice claims to use commercial grade materials for high quality construction.  With that, they have a special shock absorption system that they say is 5x softer than grass.  I would think that any treadmill that focuses on meeting running needs will also have a pretty robust shock absorption system.

Programs: this is not anything that I have ever used, and my Landice has very basic programming.  I have always thought that the more complex the computer, the more chance that it might malfunction.  On the other hand, it would be pretty cool to be able to simulate a race day scenario in a treadmill program!

Book Prop: this might sound silly, but it is really important to me that I can see my book on the console of the treadmill. The same should be true for you if you are wanting to watch Netflix on your tablet. Also note where the rails are located to make sure that you feel comfortable with your arm swing.

Warranty: my treadmill has a lifetime warranty on all parts as long as I have a bill of lading.  If you invest a lot of money in your treadmill, it is worth it to look into this aspect as well.  If you buy used, make sure to ask for proof of purchase!

I always recommend keeping your equipment well maintained.  We have our treadmill serviced once a year, and we add lubrication to the belt about every eight months if we’ve been using it for a heavy training period.  It is very important to make sure that the belt is aligned and fixed at the right tightness because it can wear out the motor if not.  A shot motor is a very expensive thing to fix, and it makes for a very ineffective treadmill.

wp-1472224698788.jpg

This is still one of my favorite pictures. ❤

Do you use the treadmill regularly in your training?