Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Deck of Cards Workout

I am constantly on the look-out for new workouts to spice up my routine, whether it be new cardio, strength, etc.  Now that I am coaching cross country, I've been looking even harder to find new things to give the girls some variety but to also make the workout fun for them.  A few weeks ago, I came across the Deck of Cards Workout in my Experience Life magazine put out by my gym Lifetime.  The concept is pretty easy but the execution can be very difficult!

    What you need: A deck of playing cards, including the Jokers
    How long it takes: Approximately 45mins if you use the entire deck
   There are a few things you need to remember:
       1. Number cards represent the number that you do of that particular exercise, so if you pick a 5 - you do 5 reps
       2. Face Cards are valued as follows: Ace = 10, Jack = 11, Queen = 12, King = 13 and Joker = Wild

  Now, each suit in the deck of cards represents a different exercise:

Diamonds: Hand to Elbow Planks
     1. You start in a plank position with your forearms flat on the ground.
     2. While staying balanced you place the palm of your right hand flat on the floor under your shoulder,  then do your left arm
     3. Reverse the movement and end up back in the forearm plank position.

Clubs: Jump Squats
     1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
     2. Squat down low reaching with your hands towards the floor while keeping your back straight
     3. Jump up with your hands reaching towards the ceiling, jumping as high as possible
     4. Land softly back into a squat position

Hearts: Burpies
     1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
     2. Squat down with your hands touching the floor
     3. Jump your feet back, so that you are now in push-up position
     4. Complete a push-up
     5. Jump your feet back to your arms, so that you are back into a low squat position
     6. Jump into the air with your hands reaching towards the ceiling, jumping as high as possible
     7. Land softly back into squat position

** Make it Harder** - Complete the Burpies with weights in your hands

Spades: Push-Ups
      1.  Assume push-up position with your palms under your shoulders
      2.  Go down as close to the floor as possible and push back up.

   **Make it Harder** - Do a Single Leg push-up instead

Jokers: Combination of side planks and regular planks with an overhead reach
     1. Lie on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other, with your forearm on the ground
     2. Lift your hips off the ground so that only your forearm and feet are touching the ground
     3. Switch sides
     4. Regular planks with an overhead reach - get into regular plank position and lift your right arm, so only your left arm and feet are touching the ground.  Switch after a few seconds

Let me know what you think of this workout! It's a great way to switch up your routine!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Running Shoes - Friend or Foe?

     People ask me all the time for shoe advice, where to go, what brand is the best, etc.  It is different for each person but there is no denying that for a runner, the absolute most important piece of equipment (unless you are a barefoot runner) are your shoes.  They can make or break a run... in some ways I didn't realize how important it was to be 100% properly fitted to your running shoe.  My first marathon I went into the Nike store and pretty blindly picked out a pair of shoes, they worked like a charm and so comfortable! Never blistered, never lost a toenail, both of which are pretty unheard of for marathon runners. 
      I finally found this amazing running store, Runner's High 'N Tri, a few years ago and have been going to them for all my running shoe and triathlon needs!  They watch how you run, do gait assessments, look at the wear patterns on your previous gym shoes and then set you up with an amazing pair of shoes.  They introduced me to the Newton brand a few years ago with the most amazing pair of bright pink shoes! I absolutely LOVED them!! I literally ran them into the ground and wore them as long as I possibly could but I finally decided that I needed a new pair for Chicago Marathon training.  I got Newtons again... this time an awesome blue...

   Shoes don't get much cooler than these!  What I didn't realize at the time was that these shoes were slightly modified... They felt great when I tried them on and jogged around the store but disaster struck when I really started running in them.  I went out for a 3 mile run, which is really nothing in the world of marathons, and my heels started to bother me, when I looked down I realized that they were bleeding.  I thought maybe it was because I was doing a speed workout.  I'll spare you those pictures...  I cut my run short and then re-laced my shoes when I got home, thinking maybe that had something to do with it.  After that I seemed to be fine in 3-4mile run.  However... a few weeks ago I needed to do a longer run and decided that 10 was a good distance.  I wasn't even 5 miles into my run when I was in some major heel pain again and discovered yet again that I was bleeding!  I stopped running and thought maybe I needed more room in my shoes, so I took my socks off and ran without them, it helped for a little while but I realized that my entire stride was thrown off because I was trying not to make it worse!  Naturally I had decided to do a big loop that day, so I was at the furthest point in my run, so I couldn't even cut it short!  I stopped again and took my shoes off and ran barefoot for a while, which certainly helped the heel problem but it was on asphalt on a 90+ degree day and I was slowly burning the bottoms of my feet.  I eventually finished my 10 mile run but my pace was at about an 11minute mile, which is NOT typical for me. I was so frustrated! 

    I finally decided I would go back into the store and talk to them, maybe they had a suggestion on how I could fix the situation.  They were incredible!   They told me that I should never bleed with shoes, maybe blister but never bleed!  For a while I thought I just needed to break in the shoes.  After talking with them we discovered that the shoe was slightly modified from my previous pair.  I apparently over pronate, which means my foot rolls in more than the ideal 15% when I hit the ground.  So in order to accommodate this I need a shoe that has a little more stability... I had NO idea!  Newton changed the heel support in the blue shoes, which resulted in my heel rubbing on the back of the shoe until I started to bleed... not fun!  They were so great and since they didn't have the old shoe in stock, they ordered it for me! 

    I got the new ones about a week later...
     It doesn't get much better than Pink!!! Aren't these awesome?!  It was amazing, I didn't realize how just putting them on I could feel such a drastic difference.  But really... the test is in the run!  So I decided to crank out another 10 mile run... I felt great!  I was running down the street when I suddenly saw a car on a side road stop and just watch me... always a weird feeling... Then the woman in the car got out and came over to me.  She said that she saw me running down the street and loved my shoes so she made the driver turn around so she could ask me about them!  That was a first!  I ended up running 10 miles at a 7:40 pace! I've never run that fast!!! These are like "magic shoes"!  They are such a better fit, no blisters, no blood! Just a happy runner!

   So a few things I want to leave you all with...
       1.  Don't assume that all shoes from the same brand will fit the same!
       2.  Go to a shoe specialty store like my favorite - Runner's High 'N Tri - had I gone to a department store or a Sports Authority type of place, I probably would have been screwed and not been able to get the right shoes!
       3. Figure out what you specifically need... I now know that I over pronate so I need shoes with a little more stability.  Knowing how you land on the ground makes all the difference in the world!
       4.  Your running shoes should make you want to go for a run, not dread a run just by looking at the shoes!

A HUGE thank you to Runner's High 'N Tri for helping me to get the right pair of shoes!  I'm gonna dominate the Chicago marathon with these magic shoes! :)

Alright... I'm out to go do a long run!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Emerald Isle

   Need a good summer book??  Look no further than.... The Emerald Isle

   I may be a little biased in my review of this book, since my sister wrote it... but nonetheless I think it is important to talk about this amazing read!  If you havent had a chance to download and read this book, please do so ASAP...
   You can get it here from Amazon... or from Barnes and Noble... or here on Goodreads...

   This book is an excellent mix of romance and suspense with incredible twists and turns that keep you from being able to put this book down!  The main character Audyn is a confident young girl who needs to get away from her life in New York.  Far away from her cheating ex-boyfriend, her fighting parents and her deliquent brother who is constantly getting into serious trouble every time he turns around.  Audyn decides to call in a favor with their family friend Mr. Riche and work as a lifeguard on his resort island.  All of her rules for the summer fly out the window with the introduction of Tristan and Levi - two intriguing boys whose mysterious lives draw Audyn away from her desire to have a "boy-free" summer.  She can't help but be drawn to these mysterious boys who are each others enemies.  Audyn breaks almost every rule that Mr. Riche has for his resort island which could cost her everything.  Suddenly Audyn realizes that she is in the middle of a family feud between Tristan and Levi's powerful families.  What's she to do once she realizes she needs to pick a side and her life will be changed forever?  Read the book to find out!

   There are great characters throughout the entire book.  Audyn's boy-crazed, gossipy, hotel receptionist roommate Molly.  Tristan's adorable and precocious little sister Linley.  Tristan's brother Flacon who thinks he is Mr. Rico Sauve.  Mr. Riche the resort owner who is also a father figure to Audyn while she is on his island and many other characters!

   This book is so great because it isn't obviously predictable.  I wondered what was going to happen next and was always surprised by what actually ended up happening.  The character development, plot and scene descriptions are truly incredible, you feel as though you are a part of the story, like you are right there with them as the story unfolds.  It is the perfect summer read!!!

     If you would like to read Kate Hinderer's first book called Aurora Undefined, you can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Goodreads as well.  This is another great book of Kate's, but it is definitely a tearjerker.  If you would like to follow Kate and be updated on her next book, follow her blog: Kate Hinderer Writes

Congratulations Kate on your second book, I couldn't be more proud of you!!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My 4th Marathon = Winning

   As many of you know, I am training once again for the Chicago Marathon!! It will be my 4th Chicago Marathon and I can't be more excited!!  Each marathon came with it's own set of trials and difficulties and this marathon is no different... Let me rewind for a second...
    1st marathon:  Training was amazing! I was beyond surprised by my determination and my own abilities. I knew I wanted to run a marathon but who knew if it was really possible!  I was on pace to have a marathon under 4hrs! DAMN!  But at mile 16/17 (not quite sure which) my knee decided it was done... I was in so much pain and had no idea what was wrong with me - I'd never had knee pain before.  I hadn't seen my family since mile 12 and I didn't see them until mile 23, by this point my time had dropped off drastically.  When I finally saw them I started bawling and hyperventilating.  My Mom being ever supportive told me that I had come WAY TOO far not to finish and she made my sister jump in and encourage me across the finish line.  She then called my Dad and told him that I was on my way.  The turn up a slight hill and towards the finish line never looked so good!  Suddenly I heard my Dad's voice and I ran over to receive a kiss and a rose and I finished the race!! Most incredible experience in my life so far...

    2nd Marathon:  I still hadn't figured out the knee issue but was determined to redeem myself on the Chicago Marathon course.  Little did I know at the end of my first marathon I had inspired my Dad and my sister Katie at ModlyChic, to get into running.  We ran my second marathon together.  We did the first few miles or so together and then I found my rhythm and left them behind.  But of course my knee decided not to cooperate and I ended up finishing in almost the same exact time as my first marathon with my Dad and Katie finishing before me... Despite being disappointed in my time, it was the most incredible experience to be able to share the training runs, the excitement and joy of race day, that I wouldn't trade it for the world!

3rd Marathon:  This marathon wasn't about a time for me at all.  It was about running the race with one of my best friends!  Whatever pace she was at, I was going to be there right with her.  It was a great experience and so much fun to do together... we still reminisce! Thankfully my knee held up for this race...

Marathon 4: Is this year... I took a year off between marathons to work with my trainer Jose and get my knee super strong so that it won't be an issue in this race!  But of course I have had other issues with my training this year... Shoes that make my feet bleed... An insanely busy summer... Figuring out how to reduce gluten and be gluten free to overcome an ongoing exhaustion... Pushing past my fear of having my knee flare up and be in horrible pain.  But the thing that keeps me going is the fact that this year, the race isn't about me.  It's not about how fast I can be or how I need to redeem myself on the course.  This year it's all about the charity I am running it for... Team Salute!  I couldn't be more excited about raising money for such a worthy cause.  My brother became a Marine in January and I couldn't be more proud of him... I had been looking for a while to find a charity that really hit home for me and it wasn't until I was at my brother's Marine Corps graduation from boot camp that I realized that these men and women give so much to protect our wonderful country.  No matter what their role is in the Military, they have made incredible sacrifices from giving their lives to just giving a few years to our country.  What better way to say thank you than to run for Team Salute to Honor the service and Remember the Sacrifice!  So no matter what happens in this year's marathon, it will be a win and probably the most emotional and rewarding marathon I have ever experienced!    If you'd like to help me reach my fundraising goal, you may go here: