4 Steps to Good Running Form

I saw this infographic the other day and thought it was a good, quick reminder of some things to do and think about while running to achieve good form. GFR BROCHURE_Daren_FINAL-2(source: http://www.goodformrunning.com/)

See that runner in blue under “Common Running Form”…yup, that’s me in almost every race photo. I’m a chronic heel striker. I slouch. I over-stride. Check, check, and check. The funny thing is with the pregnancy extra weight and odd weight placement I’m having to adjust my running to accommodate. I’ve really noticed I’m taking shorter, quicker strides. Increasing my cadence and shortening my stride has really helped keep my running in check. I also noticed my speed doesn’t suffer as much when I do this. Now to focus on midfoot striking and good posture.

Have a great Wednesday!

Running While Pregnant – 21 weeks

We hit 21 weeks!! Over the halfway mark now! Here’s a quick update.

Running and exercise:

It was a tough running week. The pregnancy insomnia kicked my butt last week. Three nights of waking up at 3:00 a.m. and not getting back to sleep until 5:00ish completely zapped my energy. I only managed to get two runs in but I’m OK with that. The heat is getting rough too. I really prefer to run outside, but it’s already 80 degrees first thing in the morning. If I don’t get it done early, I just have to take it to the gym and do what I can. I’m still loving the Old Navy flowy tops I bought. I’m pretty much living in those right now. Soooo comfy! I don’t need the support belt for my belly yet, but I might in a few more weeks. I can definitely feel the baby weight pulling down on me as I run.

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Memorial Day run, sno-ball and splash park fun!

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Early morning 6 miler. The radar made me giggle…and no, I wasn’t speeding. 😉

How I’m feeling:

I’m still feeling really good. The insomnia has been the worst of it. I’m so fortunate that I get to work from home several days a week. It has been a god-send to sneak in a quick 30 minute power nap over lunch. I’m having to eat a bunch of small meals. He is pressing on my stomach which means I fill up fast. And then 2 hours later, I’m starving again. Baby Z Part Deaux has been a wiggly, wiggly little dude! I can feel him swimming all around in there!

Weight gain:

Depending on when and what scale = 8 pounds. I can still fit into my regular pants but have to use a belly band to hold them up now. Buh-bye buttoning for a while. 🙂 But I seriously feel like my rear end has gotten HUGE!!

Cravings:

Again… WATERMELON!! I’m stocking the refrigerator with fruit as that seems to be my go-to snack. But pretty much I want anything cold right now. We’ve been making a few sno-ball and frozen custard runs lately. Heee.

Have a great week everyone!

Apera Bag Giveaway!!!

Yesterday I posted a product review for the Apera Bags Active Pack. Well, I’m super excited to announce that Apera has agreed to sponsor a giveaway of one their Sprint Pack bags plus a 25% off certificate to one lucky winner! (CLICK on the link below to take you to the giveaway site.)

APERA SPRINT PACK GIVEAWAY LINK!

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The Sprint Pack is a great, lightweight backpack style bag with a cinch top and a zippered pocket in the front. It’s vented to add breathability with a loop at the top of the bag for easy hanging. There is a panel in the main compartment that helps keep your things organized.

sp_slider2_052813This is the same bag that they donate to the Special Olympics athletes!

In addition, the lucky winner will get a 25% OFF certificate included toward their next purchase. Check out all of their great bags here:

http://aperabags.com/puresport

I should also mention that Apera Bags holds a monthly drawing to win a free bag from their email subscribers! They pick a different bag every month. This month it’s the Apera Duffle Pack.  Simply sign up for their email newsletter to be entered to win here:

http://aperabags.com/win

Good luck to everyone!! (CLICK on the link below to take you to the Rafflecopter site.)

APERA SPRINT PACK GIVEAWAY LINK!

Product Review – Apera bags – the workhorse of fitness bags!

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Recently I was contacted by Apera Bags to see if I’d like to try out one of their sport bags. Funny thing is, I had just taken Baby Z to the zoo and was struggling to find a good bag with enough compartments that didn’t kill my back. I ended up using a swag bag from one of my recent races. It was OK, but not what I wanted. I needed a good backpack. And lo and behold, in my email inbox they had contacted me! (Thank you Universe!) They told me to pick out any bag I wanted. So of course I gravitated to the backpack and OF COURSE I had to have the one in hot pink.The bag arrived shortly after. I pulled it out of the box and immediately fell in love with the color! I know, it’s not for everyone but it’s bright and fun and it makes me smile. They do have more subdued colors for those who don’t want to scream “LOOK at my cool bag!”

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Let me tell you, this bag is FULL of compartments! There are zippered pockets everywhere! I kept opening and finding more and more pockets. I loaded it with gym necessities and have taken it to the gym with me the last couple of weeks to try it out. I also used it recently on a 2-hour nature walk excursion with Baby Z.  Here are some of the features about all the Apera bags that I really like:

  • The bags are treated with antimicrobial protection inside and out. This helps keep all those funky odors from your sweaty bod at bay. See ya later bacteria! Clean, clean, clean.
  • It has vented compartments allowing for air-flow and quicker drying for wet materials. This is especially big down here in the southern swamp where the humidity level stays at a lovely 86%.
  • The interior linings are wipeable and easy to clean. As a Mom, this was a biggie for me. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a sippy cup leak or fruit snacks break out of their captive bag and cause a mess inside a bag.
  • There is a zippered washable insert included with the bag. I haven’t used this yet, but it’s going to be really useful come swim lesson time (in a couple of weeks!)
  • Easy access pockets both inside and out. It’s nice to have pockets to hold both your small and large stuff. The special tech pocket at the top of the bag is extra padded to protect your phone, iphone, ipod, whatever.
  • Wipeable, easy-clean bottom. Again, a biggie for me since I’m always having to set my bag down in places that I’m not so sure of the cleanliness.
  • So. Much. Room. I think I could pack for a 3 day weekend in this thing!
  • It’s surprisingly lightweight considering the size and amount of room.
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Special extra padded tech pocket at the top of the bag for your electronic gear.

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More font pockets!

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Large interior compartment with wipeable lining and washable insert.

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Wipeable bottom in case you have to set it down in something icky.

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Yet ANOTHER rear pocket at the back of the bag!

They have several different style of bags: the Performance Duffel, Tech Pack, Yoga Tote, Duffel Pack, Sling Tote and the Active Pack (which is what I got). There is pretty much a bag to fit any lifestyle and any activity.

The Apera website says that their bags were designed for the Social Athlete which I think is pretty cool. Social media plays such a big part in how we connect and train and encourage each other and share. It’s great that a company recognizes that niche. Another nice thing about the company is that they’re big supporters of the Special Olympics. In fact, they donate one bag for every three bags they sell. logo_transparentspecialolympicsbag_448x290

All in all, I’ve been really, really happy with this bag so far. And I love, love, the color I chose. It’s perfect since I’m now a Sweat Pink Ambassador too! I expect to get a lot of use out of it on future adventures and workouts.

UPDATE: Check out the great Apera Sprint Pack giveaway I have going on now! https://jenzenator.com/2014/05/22/apera-bag-giveaway/

 

Disclosure: Apera Bags provided me with this bag for use without any promise of review or payment for review. All opinions are strictly my own.

Running while pregnant – 19 weeks

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. It’s been a busy week. I had to take Baby Z to a new dentist this week. I’m so happy to report he did GREAT! The only tears were when he had to sit by himself for a quick x-ray on his front teeth. He fell down a few weeks ago and chipped his front teeth. They sadly saw some root deterioration on one tooth. We’re just going to wait and watch and see what happens. If it keeps getting worse they may have to extract that tooth. 😦 But he was such a trooper for the rest of the exam. He opened wide and just smiled and waved at everyone and NO cavities or other issues. Yay!

We also had our anatomy ultrasound scan this week. Also a bit nerve wracking. But we received a great report! Everything is right where it needs to be and the doctor has no concerns. We also confirmed that we are indeed having another boy. We saw the boy parts. Ha!

19 weeks

We are now between 19 and 20 weeks along. I cannot believe we’re already half way! Eep! I thought I’d do a pregnancy update and discuss my running while pregnant.

Running and exercise:

The doctor said my uterus is sitting pretty low with this baby. Not a medical concern, but it would explain the bladder discomfort. I have to empty by bladder right before walking out the door and even after about 2 miles I feel like I have to pee again. I’ve been running near the house, at the gym, or close to a public bathroom in case I need to dart in for a quick pit stop. Some other things I’m noticing:

  • My heart rate shoots up quickly during my runs. I have to take more walk breaks because of this. I’ve adopted the 80/20 philosophy right now. I run 80% of a mile and walk 20% of the mile. It’s working really well for me so far.
  • That first mile is TOUGH. The first mile always sucks while my body and joints are warming up, but it seems to REALLY be tough now. It’s taking a lot longer for my joints and breathing and heart-rate to stabilize after that first mile. So, I’m just taking it really, really slow and easy to allow my body to warm up adequately.
  • I’m slowing down…a lot. But I’m ok with that. I’m trying to not even be concerned with pace right now. I just want to get out there and keep moving.
  • I don’t tolerate the rising heat well…at all. As the summer gets hotter and hotter I know I’ll have to take my workout to the gym more and re-embrace the “dread”mill. I’m not a fan of the treadmill at all but a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. Right now, running early is working for my outside runs.
  • Splitting my runs up is working for days I want more mileage. I may do 3 outside in the morning and then take it to the gym at lunch for 3 more. I only do this one day a week because it really wears me out, but the big sweat session feels really good.
  • I had to buy some new running clothes to accommodate my expanding belly. Right now I’m LOVING the bubble mesh tops from Old Navy! They are so thin and comfy and I think they will be a good fit through my entire pregnancy since the bottom is very loose. You can adjust the tie at the bottom to allow for more or less room. I bought it in five different colors!

ON bubble topHow I’m feeling:

I’m actually feeling pretty great right now. I have that second trimester energy burst and feel really good. I do get tired quickly though. It hits me like a brick. BAM! All of a sudden I am exhausted, usually in late afternoon. I try and take a quick power nap when I can. Usually 30 minutes to an hour and I’m recharged. I feel best in the mornings so I try and get my workouts done before noon.

Weight gain:

I’ve gained 6 pounds so far. I started this pregnancy 5 lbs over where I like to be, so I’m feeling a little heavy and bloated but I’m not obsessing over the scale. I’m just trying to eat healthy and keep moving. I know the weight will come on and the weight will come off.

Cravings:

This baby is really similar to Baby Z in that respect. I’m actually craving healthy foods! I cannot get enough watermelon and cantaloupe and peaches and grapes and…I want ALL the fruit! Ha! I’m also loving raw veggies with hummus or guacamole or ranch dressing (I know, not super healthy). I’m using the little individual ranch dressing packs to keep my serving size in check. I’m tearing through bags of mini carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and cucumber. On the bad side, I’m craving salt a lot too. Salted mixed nuts and Lays potato chips are my vices right now.

Stayed tuned for further updates as this pregnancy progresses!

Monday Motivation – Be Awesome!

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It’s another Monday! I saw this on Fit Girl. Happy Girl’s blog and really liked it.  Just short and sweet. Go out there and be awesome this week! Be awesome in whatever it is you’re pursuing be it running, getting in a good workout, eating healthy, playing with your kids or just living life to the fullest!

We had a great weekend. It was rainy, rainy all weekend and I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get our 5k in for the #BeatCancer We Will Find a Cure virtual race. But Saturday morning, the clouds parted enough that we could get our run in. It was a muggy, nasty run but I was so glad to be a part of such a wonderful cause and effort.

Beat Cancer

They extended the virtual sign-up for people that still want to get in on the action. You can still sign up here: #BeatCancer Bottomless 5K Fun Run & Virtual Run  and you get this great medal for your running or walking effort!

Beat CAncer medal

Go out and make it a great week and BE AWESOME!

Recovering after vacation indulgence

We are back from 4 fun filled days at the beach! Our vacation included sleeping in, frolicking on the beach, a daily afternoon nap and lots and lots and lots of eating. I ate with abandon on this trip: ribs, pancakes, ice cream, eggplant Parmesan, hash browns, grits…I did not hold back. I was on vacation! I also laid off the working out. I wanted to just relax and enjoy this time with my family without stressing about when I could fit my workout in.

Now that we are back home, I feel like a big ole bloated mess. It is time to get it back in gear! I thought I would share with you guys how I like to kick-start the vacation recovery.

1. I LOAD up on fruits and veggies. I LOVE my Nutribullet. I usually start the morning off with one of these bad boys. I fill it with spinach and every kind of fruit I can find. I’ll even throw in an avocado on occasion. This one had spinach, strawberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, ground flax and almond milk. I’ll munch of raw veggies like carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cucumber, and cauliflower as snacks. I may do another shake in the afternoon and I make a huge salad for dinner. I do add in protein powder to the shakes or eat lean protein like chicken breast or fish at meals to get my protein intake. My focus is vegetables and fruits though. All that fiber loading gets everything, ehm, “moving” and cleans me out. I feel so much better after a couple of days of this.

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2. I drink lots and lots and lots of water. I try to drink at least 80 oz of water a day and aim more for a gallon. All that water also helps flush out my system and get the bloating back under control. I am not a plain water fan. I just won’t drink it. Some things I’ve learned to help me drink water are:

  • Find a large cup I like. I love the 20 oz Tervis tumblers. The insulation keeps the water cold longer, they don’t sweat, and the fitted lid makes them very portable (and toddler friendly).  Plus I love all the fun designs. I usually get mine at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% off coupon. Gotta save that money!
  • Drink with a straw. I will drink three times as much water if I have a straw in the cup. I think about it less. I just work, drink, work, sip. Before I know it, the cup is empty. Maybe because there’s less effort than having to pick the cup up and tilt it to my mouth?? I don’t know. It just works!
  • Find an added water flavor I like. I went through several favor add ins. Most of them were too strong and too sweet for me. I got turned on to Nuun Optimal Hydration through the running community. I was using it on long runs to replace electrolytes in addition to hydrating. I loved it. I now use it in my regular water intake. I like using one tab for 20 oz. It’s the right combo for me – not too sweet and not too strong.

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3. I get in a good, tough sweat session. Kind of self-explanatory here, but I hit the gym or the road hard. Nothing gets me back on track better that sweating it out! It starts the week out right and gets me back into the right mindset.

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What do you do to get back on track?

Liebster Award!

We are back from vacation and now in full recovery mode. We had a fantastic time at the beach, but now I’m playing catch up with all things “life”. As I get things back in order I’m happy to announce that Mindy from RoadRunnerGirl nominated me for a Liebster Award!

liebster_awardHere’s how the award works:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you,
  • Answer the 10 questions the nominee has asked of you,
  • Choose 10 bloggers to nominate,
  • Ask your nominees 10 questions of their own,
  • Notify your nominees of the nominations on their blog.

So, here we go!

1. When did you start blogging? I started blogging many, many years ago actually, probably around 2004 or 2005. I was a Xanga gal for a long time (I know, dating myself) and then moved my blog to Blogger. I got away from it a bit after my first child was born and I just didn’t have the time or desire to commit to it anymore. I’m back at it now with a fresh new WordPress blog and enjoying it again.

2. What was your first post? Oh goodness, back then it was probably something inane like what I ate for lunch that day. I used to blog about every aspect of my life. For this new blog it’s more of a running focus. My first post was a race recap for the Zydeco half marathon.

3. What is your favorite time of year and why? Fall. Most definitely. I LOVE the weather changing from the miserable heat of summer to the cool, crisp fall mornings. I love college football season (Gig ’em Aggies!!). I love all the back-to-back holidays. I love all things pumpkin spice! And I love that it’s the beginning of race season down here. Fall is FULL of great local races.

4. Why and how did you start running? I started running in 2006 as a way to drop a few pounds and deal with the stress of my upcoming wedding. I got talked into training for the Chicago half marathon by some of my blogging friends. We cheered and coached each other online and then physically met up for the first time in Chicago to run the race. Once I crossed that finish line I was hooked!

5. What is your biggest accomplishment? I’d say my biggest accomplishment is my wonderful son and my marriage to my great husband. They are what fulfill my life. My biggest running accomplishment would have to be running two marathons within 2 months of each other a little over a year after Baby Z was born. Little Rock was one of them. It was a hilly, hilly course, but I loved it and got a nice little PR there!

6. What is your favorite book? My favorite book is actually one from my childhood. It’s called The Ghosts by Antonia Barber. I’ve read it several times. It just takes me back to a special place in my life and fills me full of nostalgia when I re-read it.

7. If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? I would change my habit of self-defeating, negative thoughts. I constantly second guess my actions and self-sabotage my goals. I need to focus more on the now and all the little goals and strides I’ve made.

8. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Probably Rome would be high up there for me followed closely by London and Paris.

9. What do you do when you are stressed? Unfortunately I don’t handle stress as well as I should. I reach for the sweets and comfort foods. I know I’m doing it and try and check myself but that’s my bad vice. Thank goodness I run. Running helps with stress and makes up for some of the calorie loading.

10. Do you prefer warm or cold weather when running? Warm and cold weather are relative terms depending on where you live. I prefer running in the cold weather we have here in the south as opposed to our “warm” weather. But I think I would die running in the cold weather they have up north.

My 10 nominees are:

The 10 questions I have for them:

  1. What is your blog about?
  2. When did you start your running/fitness journey and why?
  3. What’s been your favorite race so far?
  4. What is the fitness gear you can’t live without right now?
  5. What advice would you have for someone just starting out on their fitness journey?
  6. What do you eat before a long run/race or hard workout?
  7. How do you find time to exercise in your busy life schedule?
  8. Where do you find motivation to keep going?
  9. What do you do to splurge or indulge?
  10. Name a random thing about you that most people don’t know.