Monday, December 31, 2018

Making Speed Workouts More Fun

Speed workouts are a necessity to get faster, but sometimes they aren't always fun and most people dread them.  So how do you start to like them, or at least dread them less? Here are a few ways I've started liking speed workouts.

First, recognizing that speed workouts are the way to get to be a better, faster runner.  The way we reach our race day goals and PR is through those speed workouts. Keep that in mind when you start dreading speed days.

Mix things up with different kinds of speed. It's not always fun to run around a track or to run on the treadmill for speed. Thankfully there are so many different ways to do speed work so we can keep things interesting!

When I'm in the middle of a speed workout and start thinking of how much I'm hating it, I start playing games with myself. I make little goals and hold a pace for just a little longer than last time. I try to see if I can hit an even faster pace each interval. I try to match my cadence with the beat of a song.

Do speed work with a friend. Everything is more fun with someone else. Try racing each other, or taking turns keeping up with each other. One of my favorite speed workouts is what we used to call Indian runs (I'm sure there's a more politically correct name for it but that's how I grew up knowing it so deal with it) where you run in a line, and the person in the back sprints to the front and sets a pace. Everyone in line does that over and over.

Make your breaks, during speed workouts, breaks. Let yourself walk a little and take some deep breaths so you're able to do it again. 

There are a lot of reasons I started liking speed workouts and you can too! Don't let speed work scare you or bore you anymore!

What is your favorite way to do speed?

What is your least favorite thing about speed work?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Fast Friday Catch Up

Hello again, It's been forever since we've caught up. I took some time off for Christmas and enjoyed a lot of family time and it was fantastic! Here are some of the things we've been up to.

Christmas break started out with the kids pushing each other around in the box for a few hours.

Then we went out for one of our traditions. We go to see the Festival of Lights! This is something I've done since I was a kid and it's way cheaper than some of the other light shows. 

Then we did some Christmas partying later that week.  We made Christmas crafts,

Had some great food, and each kid got to sit on Santa's lap

I finished the girl's Christmas dresses. They turned out so cute and I added the suspenders with safety pins so they can wear it as just a skirt if they want.

While looking for safety pins I was reminded that being a runner has more benefits than health benefits. As a runner, I've always had a surplus of safety pins in random places whenever I need them. 

We had some really warm weather and it was warm enough to play outside. So the kid's road bikes and played duck duck goose. They even took their coats off after running around for a while. 

The kids did a nativity with their cousins. M was Mary, V was a wise man and J was the star.  

Then they all got to open one gift from my parents -- they were matching jammies that my mom made! 

We spent the month of December focusing on service. Every time someone did an act of service, big or small, got to put a paper in the jar. This has been one of our favorite things we've done this season. 

One of the gifts that all three kids got were scooters this year. It was much colder by then, but we still let them ride it. V doesn't quite get it yet. 

J got Uno in her stocking so we've played a few rounds of that game.

V graduated from his crib and he's now in a toddler bed. We thought he was going to be pretty hard with this, but it turns out he did awesome. He stayed in bed and went right to sleep, and he only fell out once or twice the first night. 

One of the requests for Christmas break was to go swimming. So we invited cousins and went to the clubhouse for a little while. The kids had a lot of fun and I got to visit with my sister for a while. 

I didn't run as much over Christmas. I really wanted to be able to focus and spend time with family. I also wanted to give my body some extra rest days. But now I'm back at it! 

How did your Christmas go?

Is it cold in your area?

What is one of your favorite Christmas traditions?

Friday, December 21, 2018

Fast Friday

4 more days until Christmas, I'm not sure how that happened!! Here are some of the things we've been up to.

This week seemed like a pretty busy week although we didn't have too much going on. Most of it was things to get ready for other things.

Last weekend was really nice weather. So after some errands that we ran, we took the kids to the park to play for a while. Utah weather has been really weird lately. It snowed really good a couple of weeks ago, and then last week was all in the 50's!

We had a family game of battleship. It was a close game, it came down to one move. Trevon's last call was going to end the game either way. Unfortunately, he picked the right move and sunk my last ship.

Our neighbors brought us over some mint chocolate chip cookies that were amazing.

We did a lot of baking this week. Usually, I'll give cookies for our neighbor gifts, but I give cookies a lot so I decided to try something new (plus I had a ton of cranberries to use) So we made bread instead!

I had J's Christmas party this week that I volunteered for.  I was in charge of the craft. I'm not very crafty so I found this cute snowman craft on Pinterest and decided to do that. The problem was that I painted all of the clothespins ahead of time so they would be dry enough to do the rest, and I should have used spray paint. This took the majority of my time this week. But they turned out cute and the kids had a good time decorating them.

We did lots of family things this week, like taking the kids to see lights a couple of different times. The mall near us has a fun (and small), and free light area that the kids can run around in. The kids loved that the lights went with the music.

I will be taking a little break for Christmas and I won't be writing a post for Monday (Christmas Eve) I will probably still be around on Instagram, so you can find me there :).  I hope you all have the best Christmas and I'll talk to you soon!

Do you volunteer for your kid's classrooms?

What fun activities have you done for the holidays?

What is your favorite holiday treat?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

10 Things to Remember During Your Interval Run

One of the most popular types of runs that runners do is intervals. It's a great way to work on your speed and to mix things up a bit (especially on the treadmill) so you don't get bored. There are some things to remember while you're doing intervals though, here are some of them.

- Don't let go of your form when you're going slower. Just because it's your "active recovery" doesn't mean you can lean back, slouch, or drag your feet. You should be able to keep your form the whole time no matter what pace you're going at-- this is something I struggle with often.

- When you get tired, move your arms. This is the one tip that gets me through so many of my speed workouts. When you move your arms faster, your legs tend to follow.  So get your arms moving, front to back, faster when your legs start to feel slow.

- Let your breaks be breaks. The way you take your breaks will depend on a lot of things, but one of the biggest ones will be the level of fitness you're at. It's ok for you to stop and walk a little during your breaks instead of jogging. But, if you are jogging for your breaks, don't pace yourself too high. Even your active recovery needs to be recovery.

- Remember that when you're in the middle of a hard interval that it won't last forever. Mind over matter, one step at a time, hold on a little longer and you'll get that break.

- Running intervals is how you get to be a better, faster runner. The burning in your legs and in your lungs is worth it.

- Plan a good route. If you're doing intervals outside, you don't want to plan for a really hilly route. Try to find a flat place to run so that you can hit your paces consistently.

-  Intervals are a great way to break up your workout. If you feel like you are struggling to get past a certain mileage, try to break it up into two intervals with a slow active recovery in between. These aren't speed intervals, but they still count as intervals and they work. They would look something like this: 2 miles at your easy run pace (faster than a jog but you're still comfortable) 2-5 minutes of active recovery (jogging), 2 miles at your easy run pace.

-Pay attention to your cadence. The slower you go the more small steps you should take. When you speed up, lengthen your stride a little bit. But try to get your cadence to around 160-180 steps per minute.

- Leaning forward from your ankles will help you save energy. It will also help you run faster and stay uninjured.

- Make it fun! Like everything else in life, it'll be way more enjoyable if you make it fun.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Dealing With Seasonal Depression

Depression. It's not the usual upbeat and happy things I like to talk about, but it's important, and this time of year people struggle more than other times.

I've struggled since I was a kid with depression. I don't remember exactly when it started but it's something that I've dealt with forever. As a teen, it got worse and worse. Then after I recognized it as what it was and learned how to deal with it, it started to become less and less frequent that I'd be so low.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I started feeling really good most of the time. Winter would come around and I'd feel myself drop again, but I was determined to work with it and not let it get bad again. I never took medication for it, though I believe it is incredibly helpful for some to use medication. I didn't want to have to rely on something like that, though I was willing to if I got that low again.  I wanted to feel like I could fight it on my own.  I still deal with it once in a while, though not nearly as bad and not as frequent. I know that even though most people don't like talking about depression, people do look for ways to deal with it, how to help themselves out of it and what to do when you or someone you love is in the thick of depression. So I wanted to help as much as I can by sharing how I deal with my seasonal depression without medication.

First of all, there are different kinds of depression. Some are a chemical imbalance, some come from tragic events such as a death, sometimes depression comes from an experience that hasn't been dealt with, like abuse. The best first step is to figure out what is causing your depression. Go to a doctor and talk about what's been going on. Have your hormone levels tested, or go talk to a licensed therapist to start understanding your depression. You can't fix something if you don't know where to start fixing.

Seriously, some therapy visits may be all you need. Or maybe some adjustments in your hormones or some medication. But if you want more than that, here are some things that have helped me.

Calling someone who knows what I'm going through or knows, at very least, that I struggle with this can be a huge help! This is something my therapist encouraged me to do and it has helped more than I thought it ever would. Write a list of 3 people who you can call. People you feel very comfortable talking to about anything. People who will listen and be there and people you know you can rely on. I'm so lucky to have so many people in my life that fit into that description.  My sister, My cousins, Trevon, My list has grown over the years but it's ok if it's not big. Pick 3 people you know you can call anytime.  Call them and schedule a time to meet up for a bite to eat. Or just call to chat. I think this is one of the things that has helped me the very most in my adult years of depression.  The days that I feel myself slipping, I feel cold and tired and down and dark, I call someone on my list and even just that few minutes of adult conversation can lift me enough to get me through the rest of the day feeling a little better.

Treat yourself to something that you don't normally do. Let yourself sit and watch your favorite movie even if you have other things to do. Let yourself take a nap. Take a bath. Do something extra for yourself.

Exercise. You guys, I can't even begin to talk about how much running has helped me with depression. The endorphins you get are a huge help, but running also gave me a sense of accomplishment. Meeting goals, feeling good about myself, having something I can do to process the jumble in my mind. It's amazing how much this one thing, a very simple thing of working out, (which everyone should do at least on a simple level with or without depression), has done for my life. Find your favorite type of exercise and do it consistently.

Take a social media break. As much as I love social media and the connections and friendships I've made there, there are several articles that show that social media is to blame for a lot of mental health issues.  Taking a break from social media for a week or more can really help you to see things differently. It can help you to socialize with people face to face instead of through a screen.  I've taken social media breaks before, and while I truly did miss the relationships I've made there, I enjoyed the clarity of my mind while on the break. And my friends that I've made through there were still there when I was ready to be back. 

Write down your feelings. Have a notebook or a journal that you can write in just for days like this. Write down all the things in your head, when you read them back, they won't seem as bad. You'll notice that some of them may even seem silly.  Things aren't usually as bad as they seem, our minds just tend to make a bigger deal of some things than they are. Along with this, I used to write letters to people who I was feeling frustrated with, including myself. I'd write a big letter of why I was mad at them, or how they disappointed me. Then, when the letter was done, I'd burn it (obviously in a safe place).  It was extremely therapeutic.

Go outside. Even if it's cold out. Bundle up and go for a walk. The fresh air and the movement help your brain function better.  Plus, even if it's a cloudy day, the sun's vitamin D will help some. Even if it's just a little bit of sun.

Remember that "this too shall pass." Problems don't normally last a lifetime.  The things you are feeling won't be forever, you can get past it, and it's worth the work to do so. Decide right now that you're going to be stronger than this, and then be determined to prove it.  Remember that you are not the only person to feel this way. There are so many people who struggle with many different forms of depression, and there are places and people you can go to that understand. Find those people and work through things together. 

 If there is someone in your life who is struggling with depression, share your happy with them.  Invite them for a fun day out, call just to tell them a joke, send them a treat or a small gift so they know someone cares and is thinking about them. Be there to listen to them. 

Also if you or someone you know is dealing with this, HERE is the crisis hotline. It's a free call with a counselor and it can help save a life.

Have you had to deal with any kind of depression?

How did you (or how are you working to) overcome it?

Friday, December 14, 2018

Fast Friday

In case you missed any, here are this weeks posts:

Why Taking a Break is Important and How to Stay Sane During a Break

Getting Your Workout in Even If You're Traveling

22 Ways to Get Your Workout In With Kids

This is going to be a really fast Fast Friday because I feel like most of this week consisted of laundry and not much else haha. 

Friday night we had a date night. We had Trevon's work party. It's always nice to be able to get to know the people he works with every day.

Saturday was spent mostly inside because it was cold. I worked on the girl's skirts, we went to my parent's house to use my dad's power tools, then we made pizza for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.

The other day while I was walking back from my run, it was snowing a tiny bit and this perfect snowflake landed on me. 

We did some more laundry. V learned how to get into Trevon's toolbox so the next few weeks could be interesting. We probably should have gotten him his own set of tools for Christmas instead.

We spent a lot of time playing with cars. One day I noticed that someone had put this cop car hiding by the end of a hill.  I thought it was funny and can't decide if my kids have caught on to speed traps quickly or it just happened to land there by chance. 

While I was working out the other day Aaptiv let me know that I've used their app every day for 41 weeks now. I think that deserves some kind of reward...right?

I made it 3.5 miles on Thursday and I was pretty happy about that. I also remembered to stretch after, so that was a pretty successful workout.  I'm not training for anything right now but I'm building my mileage up a little bit is nice for when spring comes and I start training again I'll already have a decent foundation. 

How many times do you do laundry a week?

Is it snowing where you are?

How many Christmas parties have you attended so far this year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Why Taking a Break is Important and How to Stay Sane During a Break

One of the hardest things for me during my rest periods is patience and self-control. Rest days and "off seasons" are good for our bodies but it's not the easiest thing to commit to. I have struggled with this for the last little while as I'm going into my offseason. Especially since I took so long off after my half thanks to injury. But taking things easy and focusing on strength instead of so much running is still important for me right now.

Taking some time off or, at least, taking some time to cross train or taper down for a while is necessary for our bodies to be able to recover and heal from all the stuff we've put our muscles through during race season. Even if it's hard because we don't want to lose what we've worked for, and we want all those endorphins to keep coming, and we really loved to run. Whether you're taking time off after a race, due to injury, or just because you're like me and take the winter months easier, the time we take to rest up a little bit does awesome things for our bodies.

It's been hard for me lately to keep my runs easy and not start looking for something else to train for yet. My body isn't ready for it. My IT band still feels tight and sometimes even hurts a little once in a while. So I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be offseason. Running doesn't have to happen every day or even every workout. And when I do run I shouldn't be pushing myself as hard as I do when I'm race training. As much as I'd love to race and train for races year around, my body doesn't respond well to that. I need some time for other things. And I'd be willing to bet that there are many of you that need that offseason too.

Because being patient with yourself during your breaks, and not jumping right back into your training race after race, is hard to do, I wanted to share some ways that you can stay sane during your offseason.

Taking a break from training doesn't mean that you have to stop running altogether (unless, of course, you're injured and your dr told you to stop running. Then that's exactly what it means). Taking a break from training means that you take a break from training for races and a break from racing. Running is still an option in this case. Just don't run as hard or as much as you do while you're race training.

A huge part of getting to be a better runner is strength training. Having a strong core and upper body helps with running more than most people know. While I'm on my offseason for running, I still run once in a while, but I focus more on strength training than running.

Cross training is a fun way to keep you active and moving. It helps you keep those endorphins going. It uses those muscles in a different way, and it helps strengthen your muscles because you're using them in a different way. Run when you feel like running, but cross-train more than you normally do to replace some of your runs. I love to do strength training, pump classes, Tabata, HIIT workouts... There are so many options you can choose from when it comes to cross-training.

Make a new goal. A lot of running and training is making and accomplishing goals. When it comes to winter and my training slows down, I try to give myself another fitness goal that isn't solely focused on running. It's usually something to do with gaining muscle in my upper body since that's where it's lacking.  I make a goal and work towards it until I'm ready to start running more seriously again.

If you can't run at all, turn to a different hobby. Winter is a hard time to run anyway because either I run when it's cold and slick outside or I run on the treadmill neither of which I really enjoy quite as much as running in the warm-ish weather.  So while I still try to workout during these months, I also turn to some of my other hobbies like quilting, sewing, photography, baking....again, there's a lot you can choose from.

Just remember that this isn't going to last forever. When I am running and I start to feel the urge to start into some kind of training or when I've been told to take time off from running altogether, I try to remind myself that there will be a time when I get to run hard again. There will be a time when I get to train for and run a race. And if I take the breaks now, I can come back better and stronger and faster than I was before.

When was the last time you took a break from training?

What's your favorite way to cross train?

When you take a break, how long does it normally last?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Getting Your Workout in Even If You're Traveling

Working out isn't always easy during the holidays. Especially if you travel during the holiday season. We are sticking around for the holidays but for those of you who aren't and need a few ideas for how to get your workout in while you're away.

First, plan ahead. You likely have lots of fun things going on during your time away, make sure to look at your schedule ahead of time to see when you will have time to get something in between your activities.

Plan workouts that you know you'll have room for. Depending on if you're staying with relatives or in a hotel, the amount of space that you have can be a big difference.  Where ever you are, make sure you know beforehand what kind of space you're going to be dealing with.

Ask any of the people you're staying with if they want to join you. Working out with someone is always more fun. If you have people who want to join you, put a little fitness class together and show each other some of your favorite workouts. Take turns teaching.

Do themed workouts. It's always fun to mix things up with a holiday-themed workout. You can involve others with you or do them on your own.

If you have access to a gym, use it. Whether that means waking up a little early or sneaking a workout in before bed. Take advantage of your hotels or local gyms.

Count other activities as your workout. If ice skating, sledding, hiking, bike rides or basically any other kind of active movement is part of your vacation, take a day off from your regular workout, and count your activity as all the exercise you need for the day. It's amazing how much of a workout you get playing, especially once you're all bundled up.

Use workout apps, like Aaptiv (affiliate link) to help you plan out your workouts and get them done. I love Aaptiv for so many reasons! One of those reasons is that you can schedule workouts for certain days and even set reminders for them. There are also so many different workouts to choose from.

Are you traveling for the holidays?

Do you workout while on vacation?