What your gym bag says about you?

I’ve often marveled at the oversized purses I see friends carrying…do they have a full days worth of food, clothes and a small dog crammed in there? More importantly, doesn’t their shoulder hurt?!

Which also leads me to wonder what folks have in their gym bag? My yogi friends seem to never be without a water bottle, my running friends happily offering up an extra pair of socks and my barbell loving buddies a solid set of lifting gloves.

So what makes the cut for my gym bag?? Well it depends on the workout! You’ve seen my must have gear for marathon training, but regardless of the plan to run, lift, swim, bike or yoga these essentials keep all workout excuses at bay:

Yoga towel: Say what you will about enjoying a good sweat, I mostly want to get it off my face post workout and if I have to get in the car I need to protect the seats. Side note for super long runs I actually pack trash bags to cover the seats…what can I say after a FL run it looks like I went swimming.

Water bottle: While I’m not one to drink a ton during a workout, prior to and post workout I am slugging the water. I know it’s going to keep my body going, so with a bottle handy there is no excuse to skip it. I also have my electrolytes ready to roll without hunting for a bottle.

Body Glide: It really only takes one horrible chaffing incident to ensure you never, ever forget this handy dandy little tool again. In fact, I usually go in to red alert when I even think it’s getting low.

Deodorant: Always good for after a shower, but honestly sometimes I feel like I just need a little swipe before I start working out. I have no idea why as BO hasn’t ever really been an issue for me…better safe than sorry mama always said!

Hair band: I have baby hairs that line my adorable little oval face and until the headband became a fashionable statement I generally looked like a crazy woman a few minutes in to every workout. 

Extra socks: Though many of you find my blog from the search term “running without socks”, I don’t and I don’t recommend it. I also don’t go barefoot at the gym in anyway shape or form.

Tampons: A hold over from the days where I was coaching a girls volleyball team is Tampax® Pearl® Active™. Lots of reasons for this from “no excuse” to miss the workout, to knowing that it’s actually designed with active females in mind. The Pearl® Active™ has FormFit technology, an extra absorbent braid and it’s super slim making it a little less awkward for younger users.

I love that nothing stops us now as women from being active. Connect more with Tampax® on this great campaign on Facebook or Twitter 

Food: Let’s be honest I rarely leave home without food…I like to eat and I’m kinda picky. Usually a protein bar is tucked away for crazy days and an apple finds its way as I zoom out the door.

If what’s in your purse speaks to your job, family and life situations…what does your gym bag say about you? Is it more about the bag than what’s inside?
what your gym bag says about youYoga Tote: Don’t pretend you aren’t trying to show off to the world how zen and mature you are.

Sport Sack: Free wins the day! You just need a place to store your stuff and you don’t care where.

Backpack: You have A LOT of stuff that needs to go with you everywhere. You also tend to spend more time on the go and need a bag that is comfortable to carry.

Designer bag: Sometimes a girl wants what a girl wants….sometimes a girl has a shopping problem and is more interested in her workout gear than the actual workout.

The No bag: You look rushed, harried and frazzled as you whirl in to the gym minutes late for a class, but everyone loves you because you have the energy of 10 people. OR you’re a total minimalist and all it took was your wallet and car keys to leave the house.

Or…maybe…you’re like me and have them all!! I guess that means multiple personality disorder!

What’s always in your gym bag?

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Disclosure: This #AwesomelyActive post was sponsored by Tampax® Pearl® Active™ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR, all opinions are my own.

9 Comical and Peculiar Running Mistakes, Plus How to Avoid Them

Why is it that we often choose to learn things the hard way?

We hear friends stories of hitting the wall, massive blisters, lost toenails and ohhh the chafing, but something deep inside tells us “that won’t happen to me”.

Until it does!

In retrospect many of our blunders are highly comical and a great tool for helping others to avoid pain, injury and embarrassment.  Beyond the 6 biggest race day mistakes the list of lessons to learn is never ending, it’s part of what keeps us coming back week after week.
9 funny mistakes to learn fromNo new shoes on long runs
Lora of Crazy Running Girl
When I was training for a marathon a few years ago, I decided to buy new shoes and break them in with a 17 mile run. About halfway into the run, I started to realize that it was probably not the smartest idea in the world. But I kept running. And since I was training, I ran for a week or two after that... figuring that I could run through the pain. 

By time I finally listened to my husband (who is a physical therapist) and stopped running, my shin pain was so bad that it throbbed even when I wasn't on my feet. I ended up having to drop the marathon and took 2+ months off from running!

Don’t text and run
Ashley Byron of Running Bun
Baltimore Half Marathon 2011--> I was ahead of my younger sister and miserable on the hills. I took my phone out of my pocket to text her to let her know the hills only got worse. I looked up mid-text and saw a GIANT cone which I proceeded to try and hurdle. It whacked me directly in the crotch and I fell.

Running lessons we learn the hard wayWhen in doubt wear the headlamp
Dani Holmes of Weight Off My Shoulders
I set out determined to keep my running streak going though it was getting dark. I was running sans head lamp. But I've been running this path for years, I knew where all the bumps were….well one bump in the path must've moved because as I puttered along BAM! I was on the ground quickly trying to pause my Garmin as blood gushed from my knees and hands. {Don't worry I was able to pause my Garmin in enough time.}

What’s running down your leg?? Test all gear
Marica K of Marcias Healthy Slice
For my first marathon (Chicago, 2007) I was unsure of how many gels to bring. Instead, I bought a flask that hung upside down in my fuel belt. After taking some gel around mile 5 I felt the tongue of my shoe pulling on the top on my foot. I looked down to see gel (brown of course) had leaked out of the bottle, run down my leg, onto my sock and pooled inside the top of my shoe. I don't have to tell you what that looked like. oopsFound on ebaumsworld.

Don’t Upchuck your Water
Abby of BackatSquareZero
I ran to a restaurant to meet a friend for lunch thinking I didn’t need to carry water, even though it was a hot day. When I got to lunch I was so thirsty that I CHUGGED a few glasses of water. My body couldn't handle taking that much at once and it instantly made me sick. I couldn't make it to the bathroom in time so I got ill in my cup right at the table. Lesson learned stay hydrated and don’t overdo it post run.

Chafing Happens EVERYWHERE
Rebecca of Mediocre Athlete
I’ve gotten chafing everywhere. And by “everywhere,” I mean everywhere. My ankles, my armpits, my sternum, the small of my back, my inner thighs, my ribcage, the back of my neck, and yes, the demoralizing “are you freakin’ kidding me” spot known as the asscrack. This diagram fully illustrates which parts of my body have been rubbed raw from friction, clothing, or some other random bullshit while training or racing. Lesson learned use body glide from head to toe.

Chafing Diagram - Running humorStudy the Course Map
Amanda Hsiung of Eat Hard Work Hard 
I got lost in the woods during my second 5K ever. There were signs and volunteers on most of the trail turns, but there wasn't anyone on my side of the trail where I made my disastrous wrong turn. 3.1 miles passed with no one around and I began to get worried that I was seriously lost in the woods. I started to walk, then miraculously I could see racers nearby on the correct path. I felt super sketchy and frustrated re-joining the race, but went ahead and ran through the finish line to get my chip time.

Have a Post Race meet up Plan
Beth of Shut UP and Run
If you tell your family you will just “see them at the finish line” of a race that has more than five people in it, you will not find them for 29 hours. I crossed the finish line of my first marathon (Rock and Roll Phoenix) ready to fall into the arms of my adoring family while I cried tears of joy. Instead I spent the next hour trying to find them. By then all I wanted was a stretcher and a beer.

Sports Bras are not storage spaces
Many many women
You may not feel like wearing a fuel belt or something with pockets, but beware of storing things in your sports bra. You’d be surprised how quickly a gel can become a deadly weapon cutting you up and of course there are the race photos where you look like you are smuggling a small dog. Lesson learned: keep testing till you find a better option (I finally fell in love with the Flip Belt). {photo from YoMammaRuns.Com}YoMammaSpeak up..share the misery:
Do you have a funny running lesson?

What did you learn the hard way?

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A Collector of Experiences - Minimalist gift giving

“The things you own in life end up owning you.” —Tyler Durden

I don’t know when it happened.

That moment where I went from craving gifts to seeking out experiences.

It’s changed everything. Quite literally it’s transformed my closet, my goals and my relationships…I might be minimalist in my wants, but I’m a maximizer when it comes to LIVING!Creative ideas for giving experiences instead of giftsI’d say it started when we downsized from a house in Kansas City to a condo in Miami, but really we’d been going minimal for a few years before that happened. So maybe it was the aggravating yearly discussion of what to get everyone for Christmas because let’s be honest…no one really needed anything! Yet, I wanted to give something that showed them how I felt, how much I cared…

DING!!! Experiences, not gifts!

And I don’t mean handmade redeemable tickets for a night of dish washing or mowing the lawn {those can be fabulous too}. I mean breaking out of the norm, thinking outside the box life experiences. Like my birthday this year which was tickets to Cirque de Solei and kayaking with friends!

Psychological research suggests that, in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions. -- Ryan Howell study

First it started with buying my Dad tickets for us to see a Mizzou game {which we’d never done together}, then the Harlem Globe Trotters, then airfare for him to visit Florida…for Mom it was a day of getting our make up done or a massage and of course trips to re-connect.Then David and I stopped buying gifts, instead setting aside money for big vacations like Costa Rica or Alaska and short weekends in Key Largo or Naples…and yes when I did buy things it was something silly like his little Hawaiian shirt {love that man for wearing it!}
At first people weren’t sure what to make of our new gift giving.

D and I no longer wrapped things up for each other we just decided on a trip to take…that was weird, it broke the norm! It also meant they began to realize we didn’t want little trinkets each year, so they had to start rethinking gift giving. YIKES.

What can I say, I’ve loved our experiences far longer than just about any gift I’ve ever received.Why?

  • Anticipation - Don’t they say that’s often the best part of many trips
  • Memories - Few gifts stay with you longer than adrenaline of flying through trees on a zip line
  • Bonding - Time away from every day life gives you time to really talk
  • Laughter - Ahh don’t we all need more of this every single day
  • Unique - I don’t have to worry that it’s something they’ll already have!
  • Excuse busting - “Don’t have the money” is the biggest reason for not doing a lot of things…
  • No lines - No time battling the holiday crowds for a deal or a return

This isn’t to say I don’t jump up and down when I get a box in the mail filled with nut butter or running shoes…I mean a girl still has priorities. I just have a very small list of things that I feel I actually “need” and it’s become apparent to me that many of my “wants” won’t improve my life.

Once you’ve satisfied those long time wants {um hello 30th birthday diamond earrings} here are some creative ideas to get your experience giving started!

Tickets: Theater, concert, movie, comedy night, local events, art shows, zoo, museum, sporting event

Learn together: Cooking class, pottery painting, art walk, wine tasting, dance lessons

Sweat session: Pick a new class or new location to go kayaking, SUP, yoga, cycling, ice skating

Adrenaline day: Hot air balloon, sky dive, helicopter ride, horse back riding

Get blissed: Massage, full spa day,

Vacation: A night at a B&B, camping, spin the globe and pick!

All of this made me realize it’s been far too long since we have taken a long vacation together. I’ve been off on many crazy explorations and our family visits to the Mid-West, but it’s time again for quality, non-busy, no daily to do list time.

Which is why I am so looking forward to Hawaii in December…sure there’s that whole run 26.2 miles thing, but plenty of time for exploring, biking, hiking and simply being.

Join up with Thinking Out Loud Thursdays to share your own random thoughts this week!

Do you enjoy gifts or experiences more? A mix of both?

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8 Tips to Implement Speed Workouts and Beginner Workout Ideas

One of the first tips many new runners receive is to include speed work.

While it absolutely benefits everyone from the 5K speedster to the marathoner

Speed workouts should not be added until the runner has a strong injury free base of running. This is a fundamental tenant from coach Arthur Lydiard and while he might not have had the science 50 years ago to back it up, now there is plenty to support this idea.

Plus, let’s be honest a little common sense let’s us know that when we are pushing our muscles to gain endurance we might want to give them a moment to adapt before also pushing for speed.   A beginners guide to speed workoutsIMPLEMENTING SPEED WITHOUT INJURY
After a strong base has been established here are 8 tips to get comfortable with adding speed to your training plan without injury.

Ease in to it - As with anything, you can not start speedwork and just expect to rock each workout. Start out with just a few repeats of your chosen distance, once per week, and work up from there.

Most speed sessions are not done at 100%, in fact very few are and none should be done this way when starting to include speed. It’s an easy way to get injured.

Adequate Warm Up - Jumping in to any run without a warm up is just asking for an injury, but prior to speed work it’s a guarantee. Even just a short mile run will loosen the muscles and increase heart rate to ensure that your body is primed for the effort to follow.

Set realistic expectations - It’s going to be hard. Accept that before you ever begin and don’t judge the workout by comparing your time to anyone else’s. The goal is to increase speed over time, not turn a Jeep in to a Ferrari with one workout. 

Set distances based on goal race - 1K repeats are a fantastic tool for 5K training, but can be overkill for marathon runners who need to increase endurance pace rather than a quick kick.

Steady pace - The goal is to hit each repeat at the same speed, which is not how most beginners start out. When you are trying to determine what pace to run aim for a 7-8 RPE (rate of perceived exertion) on a scale of 1-10. Start with short sets and once you can hit the same pace for those reps, begin to add more.

Group workouts - Many runners find that doing speed sessions with a group helps them to push through the final reps or hit a faster pace by letting their competitive nature kick in. Enjoy celebrating the hard work with friends, but make sure you’re running your own pace. It’s great to ask people about where they started to remind yourself you will get faster with time.

Frequency - During base training as noted, speed workouts should be reserved for once every few weeks. During the final peak weeks of training they may be used up to 1-2 times per week.

Enjoy it - If you love the feeling of a hard effort, this one is a no brain. But for others like myself, the intensity of a speed workout can feel overwhelming which is when it’s time to find a new focus. Once you can mentally begin to embrace discomfort as good part of training, speed sessions become far more enjoyable.

You’ll notice none of these require heading to the track or running full out. That’s intentional! Spend at least 2-3 months becoming comfortable with adding speed before jumping in to any consistent track workouts.

With my athletes, I always recommend starting with hill workouts as the first form of any speed training. It builds additional leg strength which can help prevent injury and improve running form {while going uphill runners are forced to pick up their knees}.
Speed workouts for beginning runneresHill Sprints - Start with 5 x 10 seconds of running hard uphill at the end of a workout. Over the following weeks increase the reps to 10, then drop back to 5 and increase the total time spent running uphill.

Fartleks - Fartleks are simply unstructured speed bursts throughout the workout. A great way to start is I’ll sprint to the next light pole or at the beginning of each new mile I’ll speed up for a minute. The best thing about these is you can simply play with them…hence the origin of the name means “speed play”.

Intervals - A great way to introduce intervals is to work in to the faster speed by doing a workout like the following: 3 minute walk, 5 minute jog, 1 minute fast pace X 3-5. As you get used to the pick ups you can decrease the walk breaks and jog breaks until your workout is 1 minute jog , 1 minute run x 5-10 reps.

Tempo - A basic tempo run includes a 15 minute warm-up, 20 minutes at a challenging {but sustainable} pace and a 15 minute cool-down. This workout alone helps your body begin using oxygen more efficiently on race day. Your pace should be roughly 30-40 seconds faster than 5K or an 7 on the RPE. As you progress you’ll work towards an 8 RPE

Checkout the complete guide to selecting a marathon training plan to find which plans use more or less speed training.

How often do you do speed workouts?

Do you have a favorite workout?

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Sports Nutrition - Who to work with and why

Calories in - calories out = weight loss

Right? That’s the standard formula we’ve all be using for years and a large part of what gets many people out the door for that very first run.

After a time, maybe we lose the weight or simply start to focus on other aspects of running. That’s when the real fun begins…what to eat before a run? How to prevent hitting the wall? What foods will help speed recovery? Can certain foods be causing your runners trots?

Sports nutrition is the study and practice of nutrition and diet as it relates to athletic performance. It is concerned with the type and quantity of fluid and food taken by an athlete, and deals with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, supplements and organic substances such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats. - Wikipedia

Without a doubt the most frequent questions in my Inbox surround nutrition (and which shoes to buy!). Since I am absolutely not certified to answer these questions and am really only a study of one when it comes to learning what works, it’s time to bring in the big guns.

Over the next few months I’ll be sharing update and information from two Orlando based Sports Nutritionists. Let’s start with the basics today!
Understanding who is certified to provide sports nutrition guidanceWHAT DO ALL THOSE LETTERS MEAN?
Since there are many different certifications floating around, I thought it might be helpful to start from the beginning…how do you know who you are working with and what kind of training they have?

Let’s break down all those letters you might see after names to find out what they mean and how they can help you choose the right person for you. Following is the most important point:

Some RD’s may call themselves “nutritionists,” but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The “RD” credential is a legal title that requires authorization by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Registered Dietitian (RD): Attended college to receive at minimum a bachelors degree in Nutrition & Dietetics. Has completed an accredited 900+ hour internship, and has taken the national exam to be credentialed as a dietitian.

LDN: An indicator that the RD has taken the appropriate exams to be licensed to practice in a given state.

Certified Sports Specialist Dietitian (CSSD): RD has at least 2 years experience working with athletes and has passed the board exam for certification.

Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS): This is what I have…which is to say I did a very short online course which provides the basics biology, digestion, metabolism and nutrients. You’ll see a variety of certifications out there, but none require the in depth knowledge, years of working with patients or government oversight that a certified RD does.
Note: Remember your personal trainer should not be giving you nutrition advice, other than how to read nutrition labels and general guidance on avoiding processed foods.

Whew are you feeling cross eyed yet?!

As far as athletes go you’ll get the most bang for your buck and results from working with a CSSD.

For this series,  I’ll be connecting in person with the Diet Diva team. Let me introduce you to the busy, experienced ladies:

Tara Gidus better be taking her own advice with a schedule that includes hosting the national tv show Emotional Mojo, serving as Dietitian to the Orlando Magic, Nutritionist for UCF Athletic Department and runDisney, plus speaking engagements around the country!

Kristina LaRue is Tara’s partner in making all the above activities happen, along with seeing many one-on-one clients for sports nutrition, eating disorders and food intolerances. Not only is she passionate about getting clients on track, but she’s an avid triathlete and runner herself, so she fully understands the complexities of training, time management and finding a personalized plan. 

A sports dietitian provides athletes with customized advice for their body type, training cycle, lifestyle, performance and body goals.

  • Improved energy levels
  • Optimizing overall wellness
  • Decreasing body fat
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Enhance workout recovery
  • Pre and post workout eating recommendations
  • Competition eating plans
  • Managing the mental side of food
  • Identifying food intolerances/allergies
  • Recommend appropriate supplements for your training {vitamins, minerals, etc}

Existing Sports Nutrition Articles:
Should we stop talking calories?
Fuel long runs with whole foods
Is your workout causing you to gain weight
10 ways to manage marathon training hunger 

Talk to us in the comments below!!
What questions do you have about sports nutrition?

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