Feel the Burn: 4th of July Firecracker Plyo Workout

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This past Monday we did a themed workout at Team LUNA Chix Portland Run practice in honor of the upcoming holiday. And there’s no way to pay better tribute to the explosive power of all those 4th of July fireworks shows than with plyometrics, of course!

Plyometric workouts are great for runners because this type of training helps produce greater power and efficiency through the recruitment of more muscle fibers. In layman’s terms: When you train your muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully, you can really amp up your strength and speed.

Hint: If you’re not familiar with some of the moves listed, simply Google the term, and you’ll be able to find a description or video of it in action.

And, as always, remember to go at your own pace and use proper form. Think quality over quantity when it comes to this workout!

Do you utilize plyometrics in your training?

So You Wanna Snowshoe? 5 Must-Haves for Your First Trek

Source: SnowshoeMag.co

Source: SnowshoeMag.co

Looking to venture off the beaten path and explore uncharted territory this winter? Snowshoeing can offer maximum benefits for minimal investment — not only is the sport easy to learn and inexpensive, but it’s also a great activity for staying in shape during the cold months.

According to a study from the University of Vermont, runners who traded their sneakers for snowshoes actually gained fitness and escaped impact-related foot injuries in the off-season. The fluffy white stuff provides excellent resistance when training, plus it absorbs heel strike for a lower-impact workout that’s beginner-friendly for all ages.

But even though the sport is an accessible one, it’s smart to prepare in advance when planning on tramping through the woods for a day. Here are my five must-haves to make the trip fun, safe and memorable:

Sustenance

When you’re burning up to 600 calories an hour, it’s important to fuel your body well. Pack nutrient-dense, portable snacks that can be eaten intermittently throughout the day to keep your energy up and blood sugar levels steady.

Need ideas? Check out 15 of my favorites here (and, nope, they’re not just for preggos!).

Survival

Occasionally there’s an element of surprise when it comes to outdoor activities, whether it’s broken gear, an injury or just Mother Nature messing around with you. And the last thing you want to do is tempt fate as the temperature drops, so take the proper precautions and you’ll be ready to address any issues that may arise.

If your trek includes mountainous terrain, for example, consider toting some avalanche-preparedness gear (portable shovel, collapsible probe, avalanche beacons), along with snowshoe repair tools (duct tape, spare grommets, wire, zip ties) and a basic first aid kit.

Spares

No, not tires – we’re talking clothing here. Remember that as you work out, more than 70 percent of the energy that powers your muscles is converted to heat, causing core body temperature to rise. In an effort to keep from overheating, warm blood gets diverted from organs to skin, causing you to sweat, which evaporates to cool things off.

It’s a fine line to walk between being sweat-soaked or shivering, though, so pack lots of layers and plan on adjusting based on your level of exertion and the ambient air temperature. The American College of Sports Medicine outlines some general guidelines here if you’re interested in more info.

Snowshoes

I did a spring snowshoe review a few years back with tips on selecting the proper pair based on your desired type of activity (packed trails, deep powder, etc.). One of my personal favorites is still the Atlas Elektra 10 Series because it’s a smaller, more efficient female-friendly model that provides a great mix of comfort and stability on winter trails.

But the best way, by far, to get started is to “try before you buy” in order to A) see if you like the sport before investing in it and B) get a feel for the types of snowshoes available for the terrain you prefer. Many ski resorts, Nordic centers and retailers (such as REI) now offer rentals, so do a little research and try a few options before you commit.

Snapshots

Finally, what’s the fun in reaching the summit if you can’t document the view, for social media’s posterity’s sake? Invest in a good waterproof digital camera, waterproof phone case or a GoPro, and you won’t have to worry about dropping it while fumbling around with frozen fingers.

Know that it can get a little lonely out there on the trails, too, so if you’re flying solo or want a group picture but don’t have access to a cameraman, consider bringing along a selfie stick for your phone or camera to document the day. Two of my favorites are the Mpow iSnap Y for my phone, which I got as a Christmas gift, and the Xshot Pro Camera Extender, which I’m currently testing with my GoPro (stay tuned for a review, coming soon…).

Have you added snowshoeing to your repertoire of winter sports? 

Valentine’s Day Partner Workout

Partner Workout

Instead of (or, let’s be honest, before) hitting the couch and starting that next Netflix marathon this Valentine’s Day, grab a partner and get your hearts pumping with this bodyweight circuit workout.

How it works: Assign one move in each circuit to yourself and the other to your partner. Repeat as many repetitions of that exercise as you can in 30 seconds before swapping exercises. Once you’ve completed four rounds of alternating moves per circuit (4 minutes), take a minute to rest before moving on to the next circuit.

Flying solo? Don’t sweat it. You can still do this workout on your own, utilizing the same format, before you hit the town!

Valentine's Partner Workout

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day or are you planning on boycotting this year?

January Jump-Start: Full-Body Stability Ball Workout

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It’s January, so there’s a good chance you A) made some kind of resolution to lose weight or get in better shape, and B) are already sick of fighting the crowds at the gym this month.

We’ll I’ve got some good news, and it comes in the form of an at-home workout that’s effective, adaptable for all levels and — dare I say — fun?!

That’s right; it’s tough to keep a smile off your face when you’re playing around on a giant bouncing ball. Yes, even if you’re drenched in sweat and feeling the burn.

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All you need is a stability ball and access to your favorite piece of cardio equipment, which could also be a set of stairs or the great outdoors if you’re determined to steer clear of resolution-goers this month.

At home, feel free to try this in front of the TV or break it up into chunks throughout the day. If you don’t happen to have a ball, no problem — just grab one at the gym, find yourself an uncrowded corner and get to work.

And if you really want a treat, finish off your workout with a few of these stretches. Not only do they feel great, but they’re also a good way to support your body so it can really settle into the positions and properly relax. Ahhh…

Are you doubling down on gym time this month or avoiding that place like the plague?

Happy New Year from KineticFix!

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey

Happy 2016! Guess what? It happens to be a leap year, so we’ve got almost a whole extra day on our hands to turn resolutions into reality.

Therefore, I’m posing a challenge to all of us today: Let’s set the tone for the 365 days to follow and take one small step towards our goals.

Because doing something significant over the next 12 months doesn’t necessarily require massive action. Incremental investments, over time, can lead to big payoffs.

So what small step can you take today to bring you closer to those 2016 goals?

December Goal Check-In

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It’s almost time to say “sayonara” to 2015! But before we go, I’ve got one final monthly check-in for this calendar year.

I’ll be doing a more thorough review of the year’s goals in an upcoming post. In the meantime, however, this one’s more about progress made during this last 31-day push.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest:

1. Seeking Balance

After November’s turkey trot, the racing bug bit me hard (if you can call it that…because I’m not able to actually ‘race’). I wanted nothing more than to get a holiday run on the calendar, but cooler heads prevailed in the end when I realized that we had too much going on with baby stuff, holiday prep and travel.

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Instead, Ben and I opted to keep December low-key when it came to pre-planned fitness events. We had enough to keep us busy between work, doctor’s appointments and parties, so workouts ended up becoming more social as a result.

Here’s a tip: If you’re feeling over-scheduled, kill two birds with one stone and make a fitness date with friends. Not only will you get to re-connect, but you’ll also work off some of those extra cocktails or cookies in the process!

2. Training Smarter

Dear Running,

As much as it pains me to say this, we’re going to have to take some time apart. It’s not you — it’s me — and I hate to do this to you because you’ve always been there, but I hope we can try again when the time is right.

Love, Me

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After a decent five-miler earlier this month, I had a no good, horrible, very bad treadmill run mid-month that made me 99.9% sure running is off the table for the foreseeable future. Despite my best efforts — support belt, cushy shoes, hydration, slower pace, etc. — it was uncomfortable bordering on painful, so I cut my planned four-miler in half and ended up making up the difference with walking.

I’m thankful to have made it this far with intermittent jogs, and I’ve been keeping consistent over the holidays with lots of walking and at-home body weight workouts, all of which were much easier when on the road without regular access to a gym. It was all about being flexible, cross-training and modifying when needed!

3. Facing Fears

Aside from this week, I’m giving myself a pat on the back for continuing to make it to the pool regularly. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s quickly becoming a favorite activity because it feels so lovely to give my joints a break from all the extra weight.

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The toughest part remains just getting there, but once I hit the water it’s all good. And I’m pretty sure Baby H is happy, too, because is feels like s/he just chills out once I find my zone while bobbing back and forth down the lane.

And, yes, believe it or not — I’m looking forward to continuing this little tradition into the New Year, too.

4. Pushing Myself

It took a combination of objective and subjective feedback this month to realize that as I enter the 3rd trimester, “pushing” is a relative term — as in, balls-to-the-wall workouts are now a no-no, if not an impossibility. Rather, it’s all about consistency and keeping myself in check…which sometimes proves to be a challenge in and of itself.

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Thankfully, though, I’ve been utilizing a great book from one of my Team LUNA Chix Portland Run teammates and fellow preggo, Sharlene Murphy: The Pregnant Athlete. It debunks the myth that you can’t have a safe, healthy pregnancy and maintain a high level of fitness — and it’s been a great source of motivation and inspiration when I catch myself occasionally getting bummed out about what I can’t do right now.

Another tip: Focus on the positive. Just as every pregnancy is different, so is everyone’s range of activity while pregnant; even if you can’t push like you’re used to in one area, there’s a good chance you can still make progress in another.

5. Giving Back

Our lovely LUNA crew was out representing in full force despite of less-than-desirable weather for this year’s Holiday Half on December 13. Of note was the aforementioned Sharlene, who completed the 5k at nearly 39 weeks pregnant, and Katie Wilkes for successfully running her first half marathon. Way to go, ladies!

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And in other news, we’re hard at work assembling our 2016 team. As of December 15, we officially closed applications, so we’re now in the process of reviewing all of them and making some tough decisions (we got so many great applicants; thanks to everyone for your interest and enthusiasm!) before notifying our new team leaders.

We’ll be making the official announcement in January, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, please give us a follow via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram accounts so you can stay in the loop during our upcoming season.

How’d you do with your 2015 goals? 

Don’t Fall for These Six Holiday Diet & Exercise Myths

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‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry!

But indulging with abandon has a way of backfiring around this time of year — especially when we’re full of reasons for  getting back on track tomorrow.

Only the problem is that ‘tomorrow’ is almost a month from now. 

So to help separate fact from fiction, Marsha Hudnall, president and co-owner of Green Mountain weight management program, shared with me her top five myths about diet and exercise around the holidays.

Christmas Hips

Bottom line: It’s cool to partake in all of the festivities, just keep your wits about you!

Myth No. 1: Diet before and during the holiday season.

Reality: Learn to eat mindfully instead (i.e. listen to what your body is telling you and try to be aware of when you are full or satisfied). Make decisions that leave you feeling good about yourself and your choices, even if one of those choices is to have that delicious dessert. It’s not about ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ foods. It’s about eating in a way that makes you feel satisfied — both while eating and afterwards.

Myth No. 2: Double up on your workout to shed those extra calories.

Reality: Regular physical activities that you enjoy are as beneficial for optimal health as they are for weight management. It’s less about burning calories and more about moving to feel good, which sets you up for making better choices. Exercise in excess is usually not healthy — and even worse, an injury could keep you from feeling less than merry this season.

Myth No. 3: Weigh yourself daily to help control your eating.

Reality: Lets face it — we all fluctuate on a daily basis when it comes to the numbers on the scale. Weighing yourself often only has a negative impact on self-esteem and decreases motivation for self-care. Focusing on how your state of mind and your energy levels helps you make smarter, more sustainable eating choices.

Myth No. 4: With a little planning, you can successfully navigate six holiday parties in one evening.

Reality: Over-committing can cause stress, which often leads to emotional overeating. Try committing to fewer parties and hosting simpler celebrations. Being more relaxed will help you actually enjoy the holidays, which also helps set you up for success in the New Year and beyond.

Myth No. 5: It’s okay to overindulge during holiday celebrations; you can “get back on track” tomorrow.

Reality: Eat what you want to avoid the feelings of deprivation that drive overeating, but try being more of a foodie during the holidays (and year-round!). By being particular about what you eat, you’ll choose only those items that truly delight your taste buds and leave you feeling like you indulged without going overboard.

Myth No. 6: When it comes to leftovers, it’s ‘the more, the merrier!’

Reality: If having extra food or leftovers lying around drives you to eat more than you need, considering donating it to local shelters or giving it away to family members, neighbors, etc. It’s a great way to share the love during the holiday season without packing on those unnecessary pounds.

How do you keep holiday weight gain at bay?

Tabata HIIT Holiday Workout

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yes. But it’s also the time of year that can start to undo all the hard work you’ve put in over the past 11 months.

Think the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s aren’t taking a toll on your waistline? Despite media exaggerations, the average person only puts on a measly pound or two.

So what’s the problem? Well, it’s not so much the weight gain, but the fact that most people won’t ever lose that weight…so the scale slowly starts to creep up over the years.

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But the good news is that you can do something about it. A lot, actually.

Don’t wait until January 1st to commit to a healthy eating and regular exercise regimen. And being strapped for time over the next few months is no excuse, which is why I put together this quick Tabata High-Intensity-Interval-Training Holiday workout — not only can you do it anywhere, but it also doesn’t require any equipment.

In just 30 minutes, you can get your heart rate up, burn some calories and build muscle — all of which will help you hit those New Year’s goals early. Now that’s something you can toast to on December 31st!

What’s your game plan for avoiding unnecessary holiday weight gain?

November Goal Check-In

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It’s hard to believe that just a little over a month from now we’ll be talking 2016. But for the time being, I’m focused on closing out the current year on a high note with respect to the goals I’ve been tracking the past 11 months.

Of course, things have been evolving with Baby H on board, but I wanted to use this post to check back in on my original plans for 2015. It’s never too late to shift course — even with 30 days left in this final push — and there’s no time like the present to figure out how to make the most of the upcoming month.

Read more about the five goals toward which I’m working this year.

Here’s the latest on my progress:

1. Seeking Balance

My original goal here was “quality over quantity” for the year, and I put it into practice this month while doing another round of travel. Long flights, time zone changes and family obligations meant that “training” had to be modified, which I used to view as a setback but now see as an opportunity to rest, recover and challenge by body in new ways (like keeping up with my toddler nephew in the snow!).

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Literally speaking, however, the “balance” theme has also been evolving to include learning how to use my new, ever-changing body. From knocking things off store shelves thanks to new dimensions to resorting to trial and error when it comes to which workouts work, it’s continuing to be a learning experience.

2. Training Smarter

My hope here was to experiment with my training repertoire to build on last season’s lessons rather than run myself into the ground doing things the same old way. I’ve been keeping up my functional fitness and cross training, but oddly enough it took getting pregnant to get me to finally slow my roll when it comes to doing one of my favorite activities: running.

All the massages, foam rolling, stretching, eating healthy and whatever other add-ons I’ve tried in the past weren’t helping to rid me of some lingering issues — namely plantar fasciitis and SI joint pain. So I’m trying to view these next few months of forced rest as something that will help me come back stronger next season.

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But just because regular runs are now off the table doesn’t mean that I can’t keep moving. On the contrary, I’ve been just as active as ever, delving into more baby-body-friendly classes, such as my MYMA Mama prenatal movement class, as well as the Mod-Mama class at Mod Physique, to help build those “mommy muscles” in anticipation of what’s to come this March.

3. Facing Fears

I declared 2014 as the year of #bikelove, but I wasn’t going to go so far as to use that same strong language for 2015 when it came to swimming. However, I’m happy to report that pregnancy has also been helping me out here; after months of talking about it, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and have been consistent with weekly swim workouts since week 20 of pregnancy!

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Of course, the purchase of a brand spankin’ new Coeur swimsuit to cover my growing curves helped. As did reading about all the benefits of swimming while pregnant.

Something that temporarily relieves me of the extra weight I’m carrying and can help keep side effects such as swelling and excess weight gain at bay? Sign me up.

4. Pushing Myself

Since I wasn’t in peak training mode going in, I knew that this pregnancy wouldn’t be a time to pursue that duathlon, next ultramarathon or century ride that I’d hoped this year would bring. But it hasn’t completely kept me from being competitive — even if my race-day game plans have gone from “Can I get a new personal record?” to “Can I run the whole way without walking?”

Case in point: Last weeks’ Corvallis Turkey Trot in which I opted to drop down to a 5k from my original 10k. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but I’m happy to report that I was able to jog the whole 3.1 miles, despite having to pull over several times to adjust that darn pregnancy support belt!

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And, yes, although I said I was done with races for the year…I am still toying with the idea of a holiday 5k. Just for fun, of course, and schedule permitting! But we shall see where December takes us; right now, I’m approaching things one day at a time.

5. Giving Back

Technically, this goal was met and exceeded for the year back in October — BOOM! — but since there was a lot of interest, we’ve been holding biweekly LUNA off-season workouts. The lovely Vanessa has graciously offered to lead them in my absence, but I hope to get out there soon to join the ladies and head up a hiking group while they hit the trails for a run.

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We’re also taking applications for next season’s team leaders (just a few spots remain!), so email me at tlcportlandrun (at) gmail (dot) com if you’re interested. All levels are welcome (walkers, runners), and if you want to see what we’re all about you can check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

How are your 2015 goals coming along? 

Race Report: Corvallis Turkey Trot

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Although my pregnant running days are quickly waning thanks to a cranky ligament on my left side, I can never seem to resist a good pre-Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. So by the time our holiday plans were solidified this year, I was online searching for a local event for Ben and I to do before the traditional festivities (family, food and football watching) commenced.

Enter the Corvallis Turkey Trot, a family-friendly event in Ben’s hometown. A short race-morning commute, plentiful parking and a flat and fast course through surrounding neighborhoods made this one a no-brainer.

As race day drew nearer, however, my gut told me that my original pick of the 10k over the 5k was a bit overly ambitious considering my current condition. It’s never fun going into a race worrying about whether or not complete the distance, so at packet pickup I opted to drop down to the 5k distance instead.

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Ben stuck with the 10k group, which started at 8:05 am, so I stood on the sidelines to cheer them on as they took off. Then it was back to the car (ample race-day parking FTW!) for 10 minutes to stay warm until the 5k’ers took off.

The temperature was a “balmy” 27 degrees, so I spent my final moments trying to figure out what to wear because I still hadn’t decided whether I’d be jogging or walking the 3.1 miles. In the end, I figured I’d at least give jogging a shot, so I ditched my coat and gloves before I locked up and headed over to the start line.

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Here’s how the next half hour or so played out in my head after the gun went off:

  • Mile .1: Wheee! I’m running again! 
  • Mile .2: This feels AWESOME. Why did I ever stop running?! I should go FASTER! 
  • Mile .3: Hm, I think I might have to pee. 
  • Mile .4: Why am I so out of breath?
  • Mile .5: I definitely have to pee.
  • Mile .6: Pregnancy support belt has migrated from below belly to above waist and is now crushing my bladder. Pull over to re-adjust.
  • Mile .9: Strava crashes, my music dies, and now I can’t take any mid-race pictures. Bummer. 
  • Mile 1.1: Pull over to adjust pregnancy support belt for second time.
  • Mile 1.3: Why are my shins tight? Oh, that’s right; I haven’t been running in a few weeks, and now I’m trying to “race.”
  • Mile 1.4: I’ve really gotta pee.
  • Mile 1.5: Pull over to adjust pregnancy support belt for third time.
  • Mile 1.7: Yep, still have to pee.
  • Mile 1.9: Screw the support belt. Note to self: Never again wearing it over slippery spandex tights. Resort to tugging it down while running.
  • Mile 2: Only one more mile to go! 
  • Mile 2.2: Curse support belt while tugging it down. Again. Debate letting it just ride up and letting the belly fly for the rest of the race.
  • Mile 2.3: Seriously, is this baby using my bladder as a trampoline?
  • Mile 2.5: Slightly loosen support belt while shimmying it down around my hips. Stay put! Only a half mile more to go. 
  • Mile 2.7: Support belt, you are now the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. Tug, shimmy, grimace. Repeat every 100 meters.
  • Mile 3: This feels AWESOME. What have I been complaining about?! I LOVE running! 
  • Mile 3.1: Where’s the bathroom? And the food?

Final time: 30:38 at a 9:51 pace, which was good enough for 12th in my age group.

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And that, my friends, is why I think this may officially be my last race — not only of 2015, but also this pregnancy. Of course “famous last words,” and I’ll never say never (especially when those holiday events come calling…), but as you can see it’s starting to be more trouble than it’s worth.

Luckily, though, I was done in time to get some water, grab Ben’s phone from the car and watch him cross the finish. His final time was 57:19 at a 9:13 pace, which placed him 10th in his age group (not bad, considering he had a porta-potty pullover that cost him a few minutes).

Racing and running aside, we’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year. I hope you and yours had a happy, healthy holiday, as well!

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Did you trot or not this year? Either way, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!