Do you Metronome? Should you?

Comments 50 Standard

I recently had a run gait analysis done (complete review coming soon) and it wasn’t pretty! I have had some lower leg injuries and pain throughout the last year and wanted to find out if there was something I could change to avoid this in the future. For starters, my cadence is too slow and my stride is too long. What does this mean exactly? What can one do about it?

Cadence is defined as the number of times your foot strikes the ground per minute. It is largely accepted in the “running community” that a number to aim for is 180 spm (steps per min). My cadence was measured at 160 spm. Hmmm.. What does this tell me? I am creating more vertical power than forward movement and wasting a lot of energy. I have a fairly inefficient cadence which leads to the next issue, Stride length.

Not only is running with a slow cadence inefficient, but can lead to a stride length that is too long. It also often leads to “heel striking” which leads to lower leg injuries! Aha! Makes sense but what to do about it?

The easiest way to work on your cadence is to run with a metronome. You may recall them from piano lessons as a child, yep same thing. A metronome will keep time for you and assist to you run at a certain cadence. The easiest way to use one is to download an app onto your phone. There are many free versions available.

I got this one which allows me to set the timer for 1,2, 3 or 5 minutes.

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My PT recommended that I start out with a 3 minute interval. Hearing the ticking in your ear for anymore time that that can probably drive someone insane! It certainly takes some getting used to for sure. I’ve been playing around with the number and have set it between 170-175. I am doing intervals of 3 minutes on and about 5 minutes off.  Even when the beeping stopped, I could almost still hear it in my head. I am not expecting to be able to change this in just a few runs. I know this could take months or years to really change. I do hope that even a small change might help me run more efficiently, land underneath my body more and shorten my stride. All of this should, in theory, help with my lower leg injuries.

How to check your cadence:

-On a treadmill warm up for a few minutes and find your comfortable speed. Count your steps for 30 second and x 2. That will give you your average cadence.

How to increase your cadence:

-Start by running with a metronome to demonstrate what running at a quicker cadence feels like

-It is recommended to add about 5%  to the rate at a time. For example, if my stride is 160 spm I would start with 168 on the metronome until feeling comfortable.

-There are also a number of apps that will find songs or speed up your songs to the cadence that you are looking to achieve. Jog tunes and Rock my run are two of many that may help.

Why is this important?

For newer runners or those who have frequent injuries, working on stride and cadence can help decrease the stress you put on your body while running.

For more seasoned runners, working on stride and cadence can help to increase your speed.

Stride length X cadence = speed

For more info on running with a metronome check out this page from Chi Running http://www.chirunning.com/blog/entry/learn-to-love-your-metronome

It’s too soon for me to tell yet whether I’ve made any improvements in my cadence. It is a very different feeling for me to run this way and it takes a lot of concentration. So far, I am feeling that my shins are not as sore post run. More to come on what else I learned from my run analysis.

Have you ever run with a metronome? Any advice for me?

Tuesdays on the Run-Hydration & Fueling

Comments 40 Standard

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I’m linking up with April, Erika and Patty for the Weekly Tuesdays on the Run. This week’s theme Hydration and Fueling for a run.

So everyone has different needs and desires when it come to hydration. I found this great chart done by Camelback with some straight forward info. It is rather large but you should be able to click on it and magnify as well as “Pin it”.

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I usually run mid morning which gives me some time to hydrate and fuel a few hours before my run. I always need my morning coffee and have at least 2 glasses of water before heading out. I carry some sort of hydration with me on any runs over 4 miles.

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I have 2 of these Fuel Belts with the 10 oz. bottles as well as a pouch. I find it really comfortable and since it is adjustable it does not bother me or ride up at all while I am running. I prefer a combo of water and Gatorade on run. I’ve tried some of the lower calorie or calorie free drinks and I’ve found 2 things. One, I really do need some calories and sugar on a longer run. Two, some of the sugar substitutes upset my stomach. Therefore, these are my go to items to fill up my Fuel Belt.

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I love the pocket on the belt and I usually stock it with a combo of Cliff Shot Bloks and Sport Beans.  Sometimes, during a run I just need a little burst of sugar and electrolytes to keep me going. I’ve never met a jelly bean I didn’t like! I always carry them during a race because you know what is available and when you might want it.

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Post run:

I’m a big fan of Chocolate Milk post run and tend to make my own so I can control how much chocolate syrup goes in. I know you are “supposed to eat within 30 min of running” but sometimes I don’t feel like it so having some chocolate milk gives me some recovery calories. I usually eat about an hour after running.

I drink lots of water throughout the day and this summer I have been obsessed with the fruit infused water

I added lemon but you can add any fruit

I added lemon but you can add any fruit

By the time lunch comes around, I’m pretty hungry and eat some sort of veggie based protein and carbs. Often my post run lunch is the bigger of my meals. I’m not afraid of carbs and always have some sort of grain or whole wheat bread with lunch. When I don’t, I am ready to eat my own hand!

Later in the day, I’m usually craving some more protein and carbs and usually have one of my homemade Chocolate protein muffins along with a yogurt. Check out the recipe here

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Any fueling or hydration tips for me? What works for you?

Grilled Eggplant Parmesean

Comments 17 Standard

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This is a quick, healthy alternative to the heavy, breaded Eggplant Parmesean usually found on Italian restaurant menus. It’s vegetarian, Gluten Free and low in fat and calories. Even better, requires very little prep and minimal ingredients.

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Serve atop quinoa as shown here or with rice or pasta. Also a great side dish to any meal. Mangia!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grilled Eggplant Parmesean
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Meatless, healthy alternative to traditional eggplant parm
Author:
Recipe type: Meatless Dinner or side
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggplants or 4 baby eggplants
  • 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 cup low fat mozzarella
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, basil
Instructions
  1. Prepare grill and pre heat
  2. Wash eggplant and discard tops
  3. slice vertically and generously coat both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  4. Grill each side of the eggplant for approx 10 min or until soft
  5. carefully spoon on marinara sauce
  6. sprinkle on cheese
  7. close grill and cook approx 5 min until cheese is melted
  8. garnish with basil & orgegano
  9. serve atop quinoa, pasta or rice

 

Stay tuned for a new Meatless Monday link up beginning in September co-hosted by Tina Muir

 

Friday 5 Cool things from Runnerbox

Comments 62 Standard

It’s Friday! Time to link up again with the fab DC Trifecta- Courtney, Mar and Cynthia

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1. Honey Stinger Peanut Butta Pro- Why have I never tried this before? It tasted like a Reese’s peanut butter cup and I may have just eaten it for dessert while I wrote this. But hey it has 10 grams of protein so there’s that right? But seriously yum!

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2. Sunscreen bands- This pack comes with 2 bands that activate when go out and remind you when to reapply your sunscreen and when to get out of the sun. These are great for kids. Love the idea! Haven’t tested them out yet.

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3. Sweat X Sport-High performance laundry cleaning product. Sometimes you just have a shirt that really needs some extra sweat removal wouldn’t you agree?  This intrigues me.

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4. Primal Sport mud-body recovery mud. Yup mud! Tested this baby out and it felt cool and relaxing. I have a couple of little sore spots these days and this might just do the trick. I’ve been experimenting with a few rubs and gels perhaps this is the one. You apply it and leave on for 20 min or apply and sit in a “hot tub” for 20 minutes. Now that sounds relaxing already. It is certainly different and worth a try.

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5. Choopko- Strange name but tasty little snack. Think of these as a Pirate Booty for adults. The only ingredients are corn, peanut and vegetable oil. They are surprisingly good and I may have just eaten those too while writing this. For 120 calories-yes!

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I really  think this may be one of the best shipments of the Runnerbox I’ve received!

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Anybody else get the Runnerbox? What did you think of this month’s haul?

Spreading the SwirlGear love-Review & Giveaway

Comments 143 Standard

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Swirlgear is a small Chicago based women’s clothing company started by Lacie Whyte in 2006. As a mom and avid exerciser herself, Lacie saw the need for clothes that real moms could both exercise in and live their lives in. Aiming to be both fashionable and functional for every woman. Swirlgear wants to be the piece you reach for to rock a long road race or to chill while grabbng coffee with friends.  “Every woman runner deals with that delicate balance of work, family, and fitness, Whyte says. “We’re all trying to do it all, and do it well, and that’s what I’m trying to do with Swirlgear.” Swirlgear is operated a run by a small group of passionate women who aim to encourage and inspire the women who wear their clothes.

These are some of my favorite Swirlgear pieces:

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Their new 2014 Fall line (click to see all pieces) pops with Raspberry, Emerald, Ruby and Tie Dye inspired color. Tanks with and without built in bras, capped sleeve and long sleeved styles in vibrant color pair with any basic bottom to create fun, fashionable outfits. Basic black capris or the statement “Allover spray dye” pant are functional and well made. Their clothes are generously cut to appeal to and flatter”every woman”. The shirts are a little longer cut and the fit is on the looser side. If you prefer a tighter fit, order one size smaller. In my opinion, the cap sleeves run true to size (I am wearing a medium above) and the tanks (I take a small) and pants/Capri run larger.(I wear an XS) Hope that helps and allows you to order accordingly.

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Some of the features of Swirlgear clothing:

-Moisture wicking, fast drying material

-Reflective design on back for safety

-Flat-stitching to avoid chafing

-longer cut to prevent riding up/chafing

-zipper pocket closure on many styles

-thumb holes on long sleeve tops

-sizes in xs through xl

Let’s spread the Love! Swirlgear is offering a piece from their new line to one of you. Enter below to win 1 piece of your choice from their new line. That’s right! Any piece you choose!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve been Swirlgear ambassador for about 2 years now and I have to say that these ladies genuinely love to interact with all of the ambassadors by recognizing their accomplishments big and small. They are constantly cheering us all on and comforting us when we’re down. Unlike some of the bigger companies, the owners want to interact with their customers and hear what women are looking for.

Wait there’s more…if you don’t win the raffle you can use code: BEYOU for 10% off and Free shipping for any item.

Still more…Swirlgear has launched a #strenghtstylespirit campaign so post pics of you in your Swirlgear old and new on Facebook, twitter or instagram with the hashtag #StrengthStyleSpirit and you could win more Swirlgear or even be chosen to be in one of their campaigns.

(I was not compensated in any way for this review. I am permitted to purchase my own Swirlgear at a discounted price as part of my Ambassadorship. All opinions are my own.)

So tell me-Which piece would you like to win?

Tempeh & veggie summer rolls w spicy peanut sauce

Comments 34 Standard

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This is one of my favorite summertime recipes. It’s light and versatile and very satisfying for a lunch or dinner. I’ve used tempeh as my protein source but you can easily sub that out with shrimp or chicken or tofu. It’s vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free. Hope you enjoy!

Some helpful hints:

It does take some playing around with the rice paper wraps to achieve success. Similar to preparing a burrito, it is important not to try to cram too much into each wrap. They are delicate so you need to take it slow and careful the first few times. You can use any brand of rice paper wraps.

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I saute the whole package of Tempeh then use it throughout the week in salads and stir fry dishes.

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I find it easiest to line up all of the veggies together so that it is easier to fill them.

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Using jarred garlic and ginger saves tons of time

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Tempeh & veggie summer rolls w spicy peanut sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Tempeh and veggie stuffed rice papers with a spicy peanut sauce
Author:
Recipe type: lunch or dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For the rolls:
  • 1 package of Asian rice papers (summer roll wrappers) any brand
  • 1 package tempeh (sliced into thin strips)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2-3 mini cucumbers-sliced into small strips
  • 2-4 small red, yellow or orange peppers-sliced into small strips
  • 1 Cup of chopped red/white cabbage (can buy already washed & bagged)
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • For Peanut sauce:
  • 2 tbl smooth peanut butter
  • 3 tbl rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp siracha (use less for milder sauce)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 tbl water
Instructions
  1. Saute the tempeh in large skillet w a touch of olive oil about 5 min on each side until brown
  2. While waiting, prepare and slice the veggies into thin small strips-set aside
  3. To soften the rice papers: Fill a saute pan with 1 inch of very hot water and soak the paper 1 at a time for about 20 seconds
  4. CAREFULLY remove the paper and set onto a cutting board
  5. Fill each wrapper with an assortment of veggies, avocado, protein and cilantro
  6. Fold the bottom half up, fold each side in then roll up as you would a burrito.
  7. Slice in half and place on a plate.
  8. Repeat for each roll
  9. For Spicy Peanut sauce:
  10. Wisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Add water to reach desired consistency
  11. serve alongside for dipping

I’m adding my recipe to my friend Tina’s Meatless Monday linkup so please check out her blog for awesome posts as well http://www.tinamuir.com/

What’s your favorite protein to put into a summer roll?

Friday Five-Favorite Race Memories

Comments 55 Standard

It’s Friday! Time to link up with the fabulous ladies of the DC Trifecta: Cynthia, Mar and Courtney

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Today’s theme:

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1. Iron Girl 2006- My first triathlon. I decided to train for this 12 weeks before, on a whim, after reading about tri races in Shape magazine.  I was just a year over my ACL surgery and never been a runner or a biker. It was an amazing experience and definitely ignited my passion for fitness and running. I went on to do the race 5 years in a row. It was also the first race I did with my friend, Lori. We met a few weeks before the race and she is now one of my best friends.

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2. Zooma Annapolis 2011- My first half marathon. Never in a million years would I have thought that I could have done a half marathon. Only crazy people did those right? Flash forward a few years and I have now done numerous half races and love them! My friend, Lori, from above her first half marathon too!

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3. Foam Fest July 2014-This was more of a mud fest than a foam fest. I am not really a getting dirty while running girl-surprise huh? This was a little out of my comfort zone but to do it with 3 of my MRTT friends and my son was a blast. We were laughing, falling, getting dirty, and falling some more the whole time. Great memories with great friends.

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4. Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon November 2013- Why? It was Vegas! It was both my husband’s and my birthday weekend and it was a great way to celebrate it. Running at night on the Las Vegas strip is quite the experience. The crowd support was great and the music was energizing. Having 2 MRTT friends (Cam & Laura) running along side me made it all the better. Our famous photo has now been spotted in their marketing materials and we consider ourselves the official babes of Las Vegas half-LOL!

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That's me in the pink shirt with by friends right behind me. First photo shoot!

That’s me in the pink shirt with by friends right behind me. First photo shoot!

 

5. Rock n Roll USA DC March 2014- I actually didn’t run this race because I was injured with a stress fracture. I was working the race as part of my ambassadorship with RnR. Tons of my MRTT group (over 150 mamas) were running it. I was devastated as I had worked so hard to market this race and all of my friends were running it. My close friend, Alex (Lexie Loves to Run) was running her first full marathon. I had watched her train and was so proud of her for attaining her goal. I was working at the finish line waiting for her to cross. I knew she was having a tough time at the end based on the updates I had gotten. When I saw her turn the corner for the final chute, it was one of the most emotional moments. I almost felt like I had run with her. I was so proud of her and honored to be the one that put the finisher’s medal around her neck. Both of us in tears. This is one of my most favorite race memories ever. Can’t wait to see her cross again next year!

The MRTT group getting ready to go

The MRTT group getting ready to go

 

Notice a theme here? My most precious race memories have nothing to do with finish times or PR’s. All of my favorite races were one’s that I did with my friends. I’m so lucky to have such a great group of running buddies whom I consider my true friends. Looking forward to many more.

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What’s your favorite race memory?

Surfing in DC?!

Comments 59 Standard

 

IMG_2548I was so excited to see that Surf Set was finally here in the DC suburbs! We usually don’t get the cool stuff for months or years after the hip New Yorkers or Californians. You may have seen Surf Set presented on Shark Tank in September of last year. So what is it? How does it work?

” SURFSET® is all about getting away from the traditional static workout and challenging your body in new ways. Every exercise on the board is designed to engage your core & stabilizer muscles and shock the system to create real change inside & out.”

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I would describe it as a surf board on top of 3 bosu type balls, that create an unstable platform that requires tons of core stability to balance on. The class is done barefoot so your feet can grip the rubber surface. Modeled after the moves that surfers do, SurfSet is a 45 min class comprised of 20 second intervals of cardio, strength and balance exercises. The class I attended also used body bars to simulate oars as well as provide a greater challenge while balancing on the board. The class we attended was at Crunch Gym (check your local Crunch-we also found free 10 day passes on their site).

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My daughter is always willing to come along with me and check out new classes. She had just spent the summer taking actual surfing lessons in Spain and was eager to test this out. Although it was not the same without the water, we both really enjoyed the class and found it quite challenging. This class required lots of balance and core strength which I loved.

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Plank moves on the board-I had to consciously engage my core to keep from swaying from side to side. We then moved onto mountain climbers on the board. This was hard but fun and I decided to post my first video on the blog:

The verdict:

This class was a blast! I love trying new fitness classes that challenge me and force me to recruit different muscles than I use while running or cycling. I especially like the low impact, high intensity format which allowed me to work up a sweat without beating up my body with more impact. I think it is a great addition to any fitness regimen. I’d love to go again.

 

Have you done SurfSet? What other new fitness trends are you doing?

 

 

7 Tips to stay safer while on the run

Comments 41 Standard

It’s Tuesday and time to the link up with Erika, April and Patty for

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1. Run with a group-This is by far the easiest and most fun way to run safer. While with a group you are more apt to be seen by cars and least likely to be vulnerable by an attacker. There are so many groups out there and if there isn’t one in your town-start your own-I did! Best thing I’ve ever done. Most local running stores have fun runs or adventure runs during the week that are free of charge. Not only safer but a great way to meet new friends. Check out Moms Run This Town.

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2. Wear reflective clothing-if you run early morning or evening, you must wear reflective gear. Many shoes and clothes already have it built in. You can’t assume that cars will see you because you see them. Yes pedestrians have the right of way at intersections, but don’t count on cars to always give it to you. I like to wait until they wave to me or give me a flash of lights before crossing.

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3.  Run facing traffic & know your route-If you must run on the street to get to a path or trail, run facing traffic. You can see cars coming way before they might see you. If you have to jump out the way you can. Be aware of changes in traffic patterns or construction on your route. My good friend tripped over some construction items on an early morning run this week and really cut up her legs.

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4. Listen up-We all love to run to the beat of our favorite song so if you must run with headphones, leave one ear out. It’s so important to be able to hear bikers and cars approaching.

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5. Road ID’s and Apps- I never leave home without my road ID.  Now that they come in so many styles and even an interactive version, there is no reason not to have one. They allow medical personnel to have all of your contact & medical info on hand to treat you in case of an emergency. I use the interactive version to update my info while traveling. Recently they added an app to allow you to leave “digital breadcrumbs” to who ever you choose so they can track you and even alert them if you remain stationary for too long. A great choice for someone who does go out alone.

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6. Carry a phone-Not only is is great to have for all those running selfies but you never know when you may need to call for help for yourself or someone else.

7. Trust your gut- If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

What are some of your Safety Tips? Anything to add to my list?

Spicy Summer Gazpacho

Comments 24 Standard

Bowl-of-Tomatoes

 

I’ve been loving all of the the summer fruits and veggies and just can’t get enough of them. This is a super easy, spicy gazpacho perfect for hot summer days. I whipped it up for a dinner party a few weeks ago “shooter style” and it was a big hit. My secret ingredient is “Spicy Hot V-8 juice”. It adds a lot of zing and provides a ton of extra veggies and vitamins.

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Spicy Summer Gazpacho
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Easy, spicy summer gazpacho
Author:
Recipe type: soup, lunch
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 46 oz Spicy Hot V-8 juice
  • 3 large cucumbers (peeled and seeded), chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes-chopped
  • 1 Vidalia onion-chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper-halved & seeded
  • 2 Green Peppers-halved & seeded
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a blender of Cuisinart, work in small batches to puree each item with a small amount of V-8 juice
  2. Transfer all ingredients to large container, stir and season with salt & pepper
  3. Chill for 2-3 hours
  4. Garnish with cucumber, croutons or avocado

 Hope you enjoy it!