Sunday, August 31, 2014

Santa Veronica

I'm back! Once again camping in Santa Veronica was great. The commute there always takes a long time since we live quite a few hours north of San Diego. Then crossing the border to get to the location can be a hassle. Luckily we broke the trip into two days since my husband had to work once we got to San Diego. 

The usual family members came, along with a few family friends that showed up for one night. It was great to see my family and relax. There was food galore.  Of course I was not able to really eat clean while I was away. I did eat as much fruit as I possibly could. Somehow in my head eating a ton of fruit justified eating all the home made tortillas, processed food snacks, and large portions of food. So hello four pounds I had lost...

I was also able to get in a few miles while out on the trails. Both my dogs ran with my husband and I; they just had a great time. I was actually kind of surprised my Guinness did so well considering he has elbow dysplasia.  Goes to show you that running on softer surfaces is better on the body.  We started early since it can get hot here during the summer. My husband joined me for safety reasons. Last thing I would want is to be abducted and held for ransom in Mexico. He has a race coming up in December and he has yet to start any training. So we ran at a slow pace and enjoyed the views. Unfortunately I failed as a new blogger and forgot my phone and didn't take any pictures during the trail. Even though it was a lot slower than my average pace, I woke up sore the next day. 

The beginning of my trail run
Celebrating September was my father's turn to blow the candles
Oh you know just cooking two pigs
Some had a little too much fun...His next facebook profile pic right here!
Running trail
Me and one of my running partners
Views from our spot
Home made tortillas
Views from our spot
The driveway to our spot
The rides
The pigs we ate...BOMB!
My Kona after our run
My Guinness after the run...a bit tired.

Can't wait until the next camping trip. My husband and I are even thinking of getting a quad now. We are back home, unpacked, and enjoying the rest of the evening. We still have tomorrow to rest (it also happens to be my birthday). Hope everyone continues to stay safe and enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

How are you spending your Labor Day weekend?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Dreaded Back Fat

So I am pretty honest about my unexpected weight gain this year. It's not like I haven't been trying to loose it, it's just harder this time around. They weren't kidding when they said once you hit 30 your metabolism takes a nose dive.  Well I was pretty surprised when I looked in the mirror the other day and saw I had new wrinkles...this time on my back. Oh the lovely back fat has arrived and seems to want to stay.  

The dreaded back fat is what creates the bra bulge we all hate. Needless to say I will not be wearing tight shirts until this problem is rectified. Good thing the bohemian look is in right? Hello loose clothes! 

Now in reality there is no exercise that can reduce fat in one particular spot on your body. Exercises can either target one muscle or muscle group and make them stronger or it can promote overall fat loss on your body by burning calories. Only real way to beat the fat is by watching your caloric intake and exercise to burn off calories. Genetics again plays a big factor in this. For example if your sisters or mother carry their fat in the legs, hips, stomach, etc, chances are you will too.  And since you can’t rewrite your genetic code, the best thing to do is either burn more calories than you take in and workout out. Oh yeah there is that other easier option...get liposuction for your back fat. But I for one don't have the money for that so I guess I will have to work at it. Here’s how to remedy the problem with diet and exercise…

  • Start by really watching what you eat. I for one hate to count calories. I suck at math so I just try to average out how much I eat a day. I limit my amount of processed foods and eat a lot of lean protein. It's all about clean eating!
  • Back exercises are essential for overall core, but just doing these exercises won't get rid of your back fat. Basically what you are doing is strengthening your back but not getting rid of the fat on top of the muscle. You get rid of the fat by consistently burning calories through exercise. This little fact still doesn't deter me from doing back exercises though. My favorite are:

      1. The Lat Pull-Down Machine
      2. Back Extensions or "Supermans"
      3. Pull-ups (okay this one I am still working on. Right now I use the assisted pull-up machines.)
      4. Bent Over Barbell Row
      5. Deadlifts
      6. Bent Over One Arm Dumbbell Rows
      7. Narrow Grip Seated Cable Rows
      8. Weighted Back Extensions

Unfortunately I don't have pictures or video for each of these but you can always find them on YouTube or check this link out for videos and pictures of back exercises

If you want more info or tips on back exercises, email me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Running on the Trails

It's no surprise that trail running has increased in numbers recently. Many runners are taking the great outdoors to a new level.  I am partaking in some trail running this weekend as well. So what's the big deal? Well for starters it is still a great way to exercise but so much better on your legs and feet as compared to regular road running. Sure it is hard, but everything is hard when you first start off. Plus being hard makes for a better workout. 

Why should you spice up your running routine with trail running?

  • Fewer Injuries. There is nothing more depressing for runners than to be injured.  The surfaces on trails are much softer than concrete. The force impact from running is much less which equates to less injuries. The soft surface absorbs the shock sent from each step. 
  • Breathe Easier.  Enjoy the fresh air from the great outdoors.  Running in the city you get that wonderful smell of smog. Don't get me wrong who doesn't love smog right?...but if I had to choose, I choose fresh air.  All you would be breathing is the fresh oxygen provided from the plants and trees. 
  • Protect your Skin. Most trails contain a lot of covered trees for added shade. Along with sunscreen, the shade helps prevent skin cancer. Not only does the shade help protect your skin but it also cools the temperature, decreasing your chance of heat exhaustion or stroke.
  • Hills. I know many people hate running hills, but it is a well known fact that implementing hills to your workout regime will make you faster. Out on the trails, hills come in many shapes and forms.  They make you work harder and end up toning your legs, butt, core, as well as your arms. Stronger muscles means new speed and greater endurance.
  • Reduces Stress.  Just picture a great run with no noise, no distractions, no smog. Trail running offers unmatched reprieve for runners seeking asylum from those everyday sounds.
If you are new to running start off with 20-30 minutes alternating from walking and running. This will allow your feet to adjust to the new terrain. If you are recovering from an injury, test out the waters by doing the same duration but if you feel fine, continue on for a longer period of time. If you are devoted to running on treadmills, go for time instead of pace. Trail running is slower so don't be discouraged if you aren't going at your normal pace. This will be more challenging. Try to sprint uphills and walking downhills. You will still get a great workout, so don't be discouraged. For those that already run trails challenge yourself by finding a route that is 20% longer than what you are used to and build up to that. The more hills, the better.

The following are great sites that show trail races all over the US. They will also provide more helpful information on trail running:

Of course there will be some pre-cautions you will have to take. Always let people know where you are going and the expected time of your return. If in worst case scenario people need to come look for you, they know where to start looking. Carry a cell phone with you to call someone in case of an emergency. Some areas will have better reception than others. This of course depends on your cell phone provider. Remember to also wear bright colors to stand out. So lace up those shoes and head out and hit some trails!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Random Tuesday Rants

Happy National Dog Day! Love my pups so much. My Kona was the first running partner I ever had. The plan was always to run both of them, but my Guinness unfortunately has elbow dysplasia. They are the most loving and loyal dogs I have every had. I don't have children, so these doggies are my world. I am a dog mom and proud of it. 

This morning I had a great morning run. I decided to run in my neighborhood instead of hitting the park. It felt wonderful to run five miles. I had a pretty good pace for the first few and then picked up and broke 9:00 for the last mile.  It really helped that it was nice and cool in the morning. Once weather gets above 75 degrees my body shuts down. My optimal running weather is 60 degrees F. I can't wait until fall/winter. Did you go out running today? 


After the run I found it rather ironic that my shins started to ache considering just yesterday I blogged about shin splints. So I grabbed my ice pack from the freezer and iced them for 20 minutes. They are fine now but funny how that happened. I wasn't doing anything different, so I am going to have to keep a close eye on this.

During my run I kept thinking of my upcoming camping trip with my family. I leave Thursday and will have no internet access. It will be kinda refreshing to log off from the internet world for a few days. There are a few books that I am happy to get back to.  I am also looking forward to doing some trail running while I am there. Trail running is something I don't do often, but when I do I enjoy every second of it! The land that we camp at is my parents. They have worked really hard to build a home away from home there. It is located in Santa Veronica in Mexico. I know people think it's weird that I drive so far to go camping, but it is so relaxing there. I have been going there since I was little and have so many fond memories of this place. The following are pictures from last year's Labor Day weekend camping trip: 

Can't wait!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Got Shin Splints?

So along with knee injuries, shin splints are also a common injury for runners. It is a throbbing, aching pain right on the tibia, the large bone in front of your lower leg. Technically the medical term for shin splits is medial tibial stress syndrome. At first, the pain may stop after running or exercise. If not treated appropriately, the pain becomes continuous with every step you make.  

These shin splints are caused by constant repetitive stress on the shins and tissue attached to the tibia bone.  Also if you overpronate or have fleet feet, you are more prone to getting them.  Beginner runners usually get them if they train too fast. So if you are a beginner, listen up. This could help you in beating the dreaded shin splints.  Even the most experienced runners get these too.

So here are some tips on how to home remedy this injury:

1. Rest or limit exercise activity. Listen to your body. If it needs rest then take the day off to heal. If you are an exercise junkie...guilty...then cut down on the duration of your workout. Decrease the intensity and try low impact sports such and swimming or cycling.

2. Reduce the swelling and pain. Ice your shins for 15-20 minutes following your workout.  Continue to do this for 4-8 times throughout the day for 2-3 days. Make sure to place a towel in between your skin and the ice pack. Elevating your leg can also help with reducing the swelling. 

3.  Take over the counter meds. Start taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, or Naproxen. These will help with the pain and inflammation. 

4.  Stretch. I think this one goes without saying. Shin splits are often found in runners who have a tendency to pronate the foot, have tight Achilles tendons or calf muscles, or weak ankle muscles. Strengthening and stretching exercises for ankles and calf muscles can help prevent them from occurring.

So how do you prevent shin splints?
  • Change your shoes.  Remember I said it is important to get fitted for your perfect shoe? Well this is why! If you wear the wrong shoes you are more prone to injuries.
  • Add arch support. This can help some but not all. In theory adding an arch support helps relieve pressure placed on the tibia.
  • Change your running course.  Running on asphalt is hard on the feet. Try running on softer surfaces. Go out on a dirt trail and run your heart out. Your shins will thank you!
  • Correct your form.  Runners who are heavy heel strikers get shin splints more often. Also try decreasing your stride length. This helps by reducing the pull of the muscle on the tibia.
  • Warm-up. Be sure to warm-up and stretch before a workout. 
  • Compression Sleeve. These sleeves are good for recovery but no real evidence that they help shin splints. I have some and can honestly say that they have worked for me. Every runner is different, so purchase with caution. They range anywhere from $19 to as high as $50.

Shin splints hurt but they are preventable. Try not to overtrain...I know easier said than done when you are sticking to a running schedule.  If you try the home remedies and see no improvement, I highly recommend consulting your doctor. Sometimes shin splints can mimic stress fractures.  

Have you experienced shin splints? How did you treat them?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Reflections

Good Morning! Yesterday I got the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful rest day. I did absolutely nothing and it felt wonderful. I put my legs up and just watched television with my husband. We hardly see each other on the weekends so I treasure these moments. I really wanted to squeeze in a long run yesterday morning but my body had other plans. Sometimes you have to listen to your body and enjoy some rest and relaxation. 

Quick review on this past week...

1. I have definitely been enjoying blogging. Really appreciate the great feedback from people. I have great topics I am currently researching to blog about. So stay tuned.
2. I did Zumba this week and loved every minute of it! Yes I may not be as coordinated as the others in class, but who cares when you get a great workout. If you ever have the chance to try a class out, I highly recommend it. Most gyms over them, so venture out of your comfort zone and take a class. If you don't know the moves just do what I do...jump up and down. It's still some type of cardio right?

3. I had a great run at Woodward Park. It was refreshing to run a different course. Definitely going to try this course more often.
4. Love my new workout clothes! Great bargains always make for a better workout right?

Things to look forward to this coming week...

1. My goal is to run at least 15 miles this week. I get new shoes for my birthday so I am excited to break them in. I'll even get to do some trail running next weekend when I go camping. 
2. I get to see my family in San Diego. We like to go camping in Mexico for Labor Day Weekend. This time we are celebrating my father's birthday. Expect some good pictures of the cabin.
3. All last week I kept waking up really dehydrated so I need to increase my water consumption throughout the day. 
4. We get a leather couch delivered tomorrow! Time to go shopping for home goods. 

What were the highlights of your week? 
Did you have a favorite blog post?

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Number One Supporter

People don't realize how much effort it takes to train for races. We are pretty hard core at what we do. It is draining, time consuming, and exhausting.  It entails waking up at the butt crack of dawn for long runs, minimal to no drinking of alcoholic beverages, enduring countless blisters, and possibly loosing a few toe nails. Yes this all doesn't sound appealing to many, but for us twisted souls, we love this.

When training season starts, I am glad that I have my number one supporter by my side, my husband. Rain or shine, sober or hungover, he is there at my races cheering me on. Here are some tips on how to keep the runner in your life motivated during training season, at the race, and post race.. 

  • Remember that this is going to be tough for them, be there when they need to vent.
  • If they don't drink during training, try to limit your alcohol consumption as well. That way they feel you two are in it together. I will say my husband forgets this one...A LOT.
  • If they are currently on a strict diet, don't tempt them by bringing out the delicious processed food our body shouldn't have.
  • There will be times when they'll want to quit, remind them what their goals were at the beginning. 
  • Go on short runs with them. Remember you two are a team through thick and thin. It also wouldn't hurt to get a little bit of exercise as well. My husband has even signed up for short 5k races with me.

  • Surprise them with small gifts, nice dinner, massage, pedicure, etc. for reaching significant milestones during training.  Runners need recognition for their hard work and what better way than by pampering them!
  • On race day, meet them during different spots throughout the course. This obviously requires knowing the course quite well. You will run into road closures so beware. It makes a huge difference hearing someone cheer you on when you are starting to hit the wall. So make bright and big posters so you are easy to find.
  • Have gels, pretzels, snacks, water, etc at the different spots you meet them.  Before I met my husband my mother was actually my main supporter. She always had a banana waiting for me half way through the race.
  • I think it goes without saying that you MUST BE AT THE FINISH LINE.  I like to have my husband bring extra clothes post race. I get really cold afterwards since I am covered in my own cold sweat. So make sure you bring any shoes, clothes, or accessories your fellow runner will need.
  • Have an alcoholic beverage...okay this one just pertains to me but I swear that first sip is so magical! I try to keep it know by brown paper bagging it.
  • Immediately take them to get good food! They have burned off numerous calories and last thing you want is for them to get "hangry" once that runner's high fades. 

So these are my words of wisdom...any others you would like to share?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Every runner has that one race that started it all. That one race that challenged them in ways they never knew was possible. For me, that race was the Nike Women's Marathon in October of 2006. This race catapulted my love for racing. 

When I was in college, I volunteered with Tri-California, a racing events company based from the Central Coast in California. They are an amazing company who hosts different races in the state. I happened to volunteer for them at the Nike Women's Marathon and was placed at the finish line. Seeing all those women cross with so much emotion, tears, sweat, and sometimes blood, made me change my outlook. I was probably at my highest weight and unhappy with my overall health when I decided to start training.  I was fortunate to have the support and motivation from two of my college friends that decided to sign up with me. It also helped knowing I was getting a Tiffany's necklace handed to me in a silver platter by a gorgeous fireman in a tuxedo at the finish line. Definitely a perk for this race!

The training took over my life for 4 months. I had no idea how out of shape I was. It had been years since I had raced or really trained for anything. And carrying all that extra weight really made it hard at first. One of my friend's was running the race with Team and Training so she forwarded me their training schedule as a model.  My weekdays were taken over with short runs and cross-training while my weekends were taken over with long runs. Basically I had no life for four months. But when I crossed that finish line after running 13.1 miles of San Francisco hills, I couldn't help but be proud of myself for accomplishing what many will never do.  Since then I have ran that same race two other times and I can't help but look back at how much I have accomplished since then. 

The Pro's of the Nike Women's Marathon:
  • They offer two races, the full and half marathon. 
  • Beautiful course throughout San Francisco.
  • Tiffany's necklace instead of a medal...given by a gorgeous fireman in a tuxedo!!
  • Free shirt given at the end of the race
  • Race geared for women
  • Amazing support staff
  • Great crowds and cheering stations
  • Offers shuttles for spectators and runners
  • Sufficient water stations
The Con's of the Nike Women's Marathon:
  • This race is now a lottery system. There are no guarantees for entry.
  • Hotel prices hike up during race weekend in San Francisco
  • They have more than doubled the amount of entries they allow making the race feel quite claustrophobic for the first few miles.
  • It is expensive
  • If you don't love hills this is not the race for you.


This race holds a special place in my heart. I continue to place myself in the lottery every year in hopes of getting in. Anytime someone asks me which race I recommend, I always say this race. You can't beat getting a personalized Tiffany's necklace for running.

Do you have a favorite race? Which one?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's All About the Shoes: Finding The Right Pair

I was recently asked where I get my running shoes. I like to support the local businesses so I try to purchase my shoes at Sole 2 Soul, a running store in the Central Valley. Don't want to brag but they continuously get voted as one the 50 best running stores in America. 

Why go to a specialty store vs a major retail store? Well for starters these stores know their products. Typically all employees are runners themselves and able to provide great input. These stores are able to find exactly what you are training for wether you are a beginner or running your 50th marathon.  

There is nothing worse than getting shoes, run with them a few weeks and not like them. Maybe they didn't support your high arch well enough...did you even know you had a high arch? Maybe you started getting knee pains or shin splints? One shoe won't fit everyone the same. Most local stores offer a 30 day return policy. I have yet to return a pair of shoes because Sole 2 Soul finds out exactly what my feet need. I pronate due to a high arch. I benefit from a neutral shoe. On top of that I also require a shoe with good ankle support. 

How do they know your shoe type? Well they use some fancy foot technology. They use i-Step and video analysis.  The i-Step pin points your pressure points and your specific foot type. The video analysis observes your running form and analyzes your own personal biomechanics and potential for future injuries.  Combining these two allows the employees to find the best shoe for you. Oh and did I mention it's free? You will not find this at a major retail store.  Luckily there are running stores all around the world who over this.

Now I understand that purchasing shoes can be pricey. I run often so I am constantly getting new shoes. They recommend trading in your shoes around 300-500 miles. Why the big range? Well how you wear and tear your shoes varies from person to person. If I am in a budget I try to find them online. I already know the shoe and style I want so buying is easy.  One of my favorite websites for purchasing online running shoes is Holabird.  Of course there are other online stores you can look up, but I stick with what I know. I can usually get much cheaper prices here than the others.  

You can prevent injuries from purchasing the right shoes

Where do you purchase your running shoes?