Month: February 2011

4 Easy Ways to Fit in Exercise

Just like everyone else, I struggle to get all of my regular workouts in. Between keeping up with schedules, work, extra curricular activities and trying to find a space or two in there to actually relax, every day is a juggling act.

And that was before my son came into the picture.

When my son was a year old, I started training for my second marathon and was nearly delirious doing it.

Up several times a night, still nursing, working my full-time job and just keeping up with running three times a week was a challenge. I mostly stuck with getting in the bare minimum with a long run and a medium run during the week. And I’m lucky I didn’t get injured.

The problem? No cross training to challenge my body. While you might be getting in the miles, frequently running on flat surfaces works the same muscles, often causing an imbalance and ultimately, possibly injury. You have to focus on countering that by working your hips, your glutes, your hamstrings and your quads to ensure a balanced movement.

Training for the Boston Marathon in a shortened time frame has forced me to adopt a more rigorous training schedule, but I’m doing everything I can to do it with balance.

So, how do you fit the extra training in? Here are some ways I’m doing it:

  1. Take Your Kids to the Playground…and Use It! One fitness bootcamp instructor I worked with met us at a park and had us do assisted pull-ups, step ups and more using the equipment. While my son whirls himself down the big twirly slide, I do step-ups using the playground’s raised stairs. While my son runs around, I do walking lunges and lift my back leg to complete the move (Quads and hamstrings? Check!).
  2. Work Out With the Personal Trainer on TV. There are tons of DVD workouts available at affordable costs. I love Jackie Warner’s Power Circuit Training DVD. Next, I want to get ahold of the IsaKinetix DVD featuring Holly D. and Shane F. from Isagenix. Shane regularly trains professional football players and definitely knows his stuff! All you need are some 5 and 10-pound dumbells and you’re set.
  3. Play Video Games. Um, really? Yes! If you have a Wii, the Wii Fit is worth it! If you have a fun show that you like to watch every night, you can still get your workout in. Set up the Step game to “free step” and turn the controller to making a sound. You can change the channel and keep up with your steps while you watch a show. Brilliant!!!
  4. Fit in Exercise at Work. Whether it’s doing a walk around a nearby park during my lunch hour, toe raises while shooting the breeze with a colleague (yes, I probably look like a dork) or taking a quick break from the computer to do a few squats or reps with a dynaband, fitting in a little exercise here and there really adds up. I also find that I have more energy and can focus better.

Good luck fitting in fitness and if it’s on your heart, please support me by donating to Childhelp for the Boston Marathon by visiting my “Donate” page.

Thanks again and happy exercising!

My 10 Key Running Safety Tips

This morning I made a rookie mistake on my run.

And it almost made me road kill.

Okay, so that’s a tad dramatic, but it’s very possible. My head wasn’t in the game and I wasn’t paying attention the way I normally do.

Let me back up.

So right at 5:15 a.m., my alarm went off and I got ready for a quick run before work. Winter is always tough to kick your bum out of bed and out the door, mostly because of the chill in the air and the pitch black darkness. Most of the time I can overcome all of that and this morning was one of those times.

I laced up my Asic Kayano’s, stretched and headed out for my short run on the main street near my house. As I approached the intersection, my mind was elsewhere. “Should I wait here and go across, or go the opposite way and loop around the park…”

In a quick second, I noticed the cross walk sign turn to the white man and I began jogging across, eyes focused on the curb.

Suddenly, just two steps away from the curb, I heard a small screech to my right and turned just in time to come face to face with the large, grill of a diesel, dualie Dodge Ram whose driver had decided to make a left to head south on the street I was crossing. I could literally feel the steam coming off of the front of the truck.

The event rattled me and when I safely got to the curb, I looked back at the driver who slowly began heading south.

As I continued on my run, I reflected back on what I should have done. I’ve been running on the suburban (but busy) streets of the East Valley for more than 16 years and knew better than to trust drivers. Why hadn’t I paid better attention?

Here’s what I’ve learned from my countless years on the road and how you can be a defensive runner:

  1. Don’t Trust Drivers. Sounds harsh, but even though you have the right of way and are in the “safe” cross walk or crossing the street with plenty of room, freak things happen and people don’t pay attention. Always be on the defense.
  2. Be a Fashion “Don’t.” Ever wonder why that runner is wearing that neon jacket that looks like it was held over from the 80’s? It might not just be because they’re color blind or ignorant to the latest fashion trends. Neon colors and white help you stand out, especially when  you’re running at dawn, dusk or in the dark. So dare to be a tennis ball and don “Safety Green” if you want to be seen.
  3. Lights! Reflectors! Action! Blinking lights, head lamps, extra silver reflector tape−they’re all good to have if you’re running at dusk, dawn or in the dark. You can purchase all of these affordable pieces at a local running store, sporting goods store or even Wal-Mart in some cases. (I’ll be investing in a few of these soon).
  4. Run Against Traffic. So this might sound counter-intuitive, but really it works. Should you find yourself in a situation where sidewalks are scarce or you want to keep a closer eye on the road, do not run with traffic, run against it. If I have to run in the bike lane, I never run with traffic for fear that you could be hit from behind without even realizing it’s coming.
  5. Keep Your Music to a Minimum. You need to stay completely aware of your surroundings at all times. Loud music in your ears will not only inhibit you from hearing cars or approaching vehicles, but it could also prevent you from avoiding unsafe situations and people. Sometimes I actually run with only one ear bud in my ear so I can hear what’s going on around me.
  6. Wear Road Identification. Keep your photo ID on you in your pocket, running belt or in your sock. Better yet, you can purchase an engraved road ID.
  7. Always Tell Someone Where You’re Going. Basic safety reminder here. It’s important to make sure that people know where to look in case something happens to you. Either let someone know or leave a note at home. Do not rely on your cell phone as a safety measure!
  8. Avoid the Dog’s Side. It’s pretty normal when you’re running in your community to come across an owner and their dog out for a walk. Give the dog space and pass on the owner’s side, not the dog’s side. Dogs can often feel threatened when placed between their owner and a stranger. Better to play it safe.
  9. Stick to Main Roads & Well-Lit Areas. If you run by yourself, it’s best to stick to the well lit pathways just in case. If you feel isolated, avoid the area completely when it’s dark out.
  10. Safety Bottom Line: Go with your gut and stick with what makes  you feel safest.

Run strong and run safe! Hope you find my tried-and-true tips helpful!

The Children in Cookie Cutter Houses

Her mother abandoned her with her four brothers and sisters and took off to Mexico.

She was fragile without a whole lot to give anyway. So, she ushered the children from one house to another; to this child’s father, then to that child’s father. Living on the streets at times, the dark-haired gem had no one truly to lean on except the Christians who held church nearby in an old seed and feed building.

She’s not a story of Childhelp, but she certainly could be.

In the heart of central Phoenix resides full blown poverty. Children of undocumented immigrants, children of drug addicts, children of the working poor who help out as much as their maturity can allow as their parents struggle to survive. These are children who all too often collide with tumultuous relationships, survive fits of rage from drug- and depression-induced stupors, and somehow, by some grace, go on to graduate and make something of their lives.

These kinds of stories make me reflect back on the few years that I spent as an education reporter in the East Valley suburbs just outside of metropolitan Phoenix. In the neighborhoods lined with cookie cutter houses with three-car garages, you would never think that anything’s amiss. Children make it to school. They’re clothed and bathed. They have backpacks and seemingly, the things they need.

But they’re still poor. Their parents just hide it well.

These are the kids of the free and reduced federal lunch program. Educators used to tell me how only meals these children would likely receive would be the ones they ate at school. It’s the reason for the before-school breakfast program and the summertime lunch program. No child should go without a meal. No child should feel unsafe.

No child should, but it happens every day.

So I reflect on the stories of poverty I hear and I think “what can be done?”

  • I can keep my eyes open and offer to bring a meal to a family I know.
  • I can donate items to local food, clothing and back-to-school drives.
  • I can donate to Childhelp to assist kids who are being neglected.
  • I can voice my thoughts and beliefs when I vote.

All too often it’s easy to get caught up in our daily lives and simply forget. So what can we do? I don’t have the answers, but all of this undulates in my head and makes me uncomfortable. In a good way.

What will you do?

Beat the Rain, Didn’t Beat the Train

It’s a drizzly, cold Arizona day, a rare sight to say the least.

When I saw the weather report earlier in the week forecasting a 90% chance of rain on Saturday, my first thought was “what in the world do you wear for a rainy run?” (And what will it be like in Boston this April?! I have a lot of researching to do…lol)

Thankfully, my friend who works for the National Weather Service assured me that if I got out the door soon enough, I would beat the rain.

He was right.

My run began at 6:30 a.m. and things didn’t look good initially. My iPod died, had to go to the bathroom partway through the run and then I encountered this beauty:

I guess it’s all part of the adventure when you run on canals in Arizona. This train in particular has a regular schedule where I run, but often I’m up and out early enough to beat it. Not so this morning. It was quite the train…

Notice the clouds? They held out right until I got back to my car, once my 8-mile distance run was complete. Pretty happy with the run as I held steady at about a 10-minute mile pace through the run and still made it to all of my appointments for the day.

I’m doing some serious brainstorming now on what I can do to amp up the donations for this run to support Childhelp. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

If you want to donate, all amounts are accepted! Just go to my “Donate” page to get started.

Thanks for your support!!!!

Me, “E” and BOB

Another one bites the dust.

Now my husband is down with a cold, but it has hit him much worse. Fever and exhaustion; sinuses, the whole nine yards.

So, when I came home from work and it was time to go for a run, my son was going to go along for the ride. At 2, he’s already super interested in running and nearly refused to go in the jogging stroller tonight.

“No Mom, E run with you,” he told me with his signature furrowed brow.

I made a deal with him and asked him to ride in the stroller in the neighborhood and then maybe we’d run together somewhere. It seemed to appease him and he hopped into what has truly been the best investment I’ve ever made: my BOB Revolution Stroller.

For months, I stalked BOB.

I visited the Buy Buy Baby store nearby pining over it, wheeling it around the showroom floor and dreaming of never leaving my son behind while I went out for a jog. My four-wheeled, plastic-covered stroller just wasn’t made for long runs, nor was it stable for my kiddo. Plus, it didn’t provide the same domed protection as BOB, and considering the blazing sun here in Arizona, it’s one feature that was worth its weight in gold.

Finally, a Christmas bonus at work funded my big splurge and I immediately bought BOB.

BOB goes with us to the zoo and BOB has saved me COUNTLESS times when I needed to get a run in, but didn’t have someone to watch the kiddo. It’s limited my excuses and given my son safety and security. It even makes me take in the scenery a little bit more when he’s with me and points out “Look, a cow!” or “Look, airplane!”

So BOB saved me once again tonight. I was still able to get home from work and take E on an out and back 5-mile run on the streets. Sure, pushing a 30+ pound 2-year-old along with the weight of the stroller isn’t ideal, but I’ll take it.

It’s almost like I added a resistance workout. :)

Don’t let ANYTHING or any excuses stand in the way of your goals and your dreams. Take it one step at a time and figure out a way. Sometimes it takes getting creative, but I can tell you it’s 100% worth it.

Now I can have my protein shake and start contemplating my next one.

A World Where Fish Never Die

I had the brilliant idea to get my son a goldfish for his Valentine’s Day present since he’s a big “Finding Nemo” fan now.

What I thought was the quintessential, tried and true, “first fish” turned out to be sort of a disaster that has nearly culminated in explaining the circle of life a little too early.

Here’s the timeline:

Take son to pick out first fish at pet store on Saturday (check!)

Snap photo of happy child with first fish (check!)

Prep new fish aquarium with cleanest water on planet, get fish acclimated and transition to bowl (check!)

Four hours later I’m Facebooking my worries about the clearly ailing goldfish that’s spending far too much time in the bottom corner of the aquarium.

Next morning: dead fish.

Sunday

Send hubby to pet store to purchase the replacement fish for another 13 cents (check)
Go through previous steps (check)
Fish not looking so hot by 10 p.m….oh boy.
Dead in the morning.

:sigh:

Two goldfish later, my son is still none the wiser, but we’ll see what his reaction is when he sees that his itty-bitty, 13-cent golfish has morphed overnight into a mammoth (but golden!) beta fish (I hear they’re tougher). Just another day being “supermom” and saving the day.

Okay, so we’ve all probably experienced this at one point or another; as a child or perhaps as a parent. Our innate desire is to protect our children and shelter them from a world that’s far too dark and disappointing for as long as we can. At 2, my little guy’s world is still open and full of possibilities. Not sure I’m ready to explain death to him. Or pain. Or suffering.

You see, my son is growing up in an ideal situation. He’s loved and cared for 24/7 by his mommy, his daddy or another nurturing family member. He has no abuse in his immediate surroundings. He’s innocent.

Not every child has that, in fact, far too many don’t have that. And it completely breaks my heart.

Isagenix & Childhelp

I’m fortunate to work for a company that cares about freeing people physically and financially from pain, it’s part of our mission. Isagenix partners with Childhelp because the organization is at the forefront of preventing abuse and helping children across the U.S. receive the assistance they need to grow up safe and secure.

Early on, one of the company’s owners, Jim Pierce, was instrumental in bringing this partnership together. A victim of childhood abuse himself, the subject is close to his heart and one that he vowed to impact in a positive way in adulthood.

He’s doing that and we were privileged to have an article in the Arizona Republic recently dedicated to his story and connection with Childhelp.

Read the full story.

I’m so proud to work for a company with this kind of commitment to humanity. Not only are we helping people live healthier, revitalized, rejuvenated lives, but we’re spreading it to our future generations.

Please learn more about Childhelp by visiting Childhelp.org and visit my “Donate” page if you find it to be a cause you could support. Every dollar donated to supporting me in the Boston Marathon goes directly to Childhelp. The $5,000 goal is a large one, but I know we can do it together!

Every child deserves to have someone in their life that cares about protecting their innocence; even if it’s helping them to believe for a little while longer that fish never die.

Thanks for your support! :)

Buh-Bye Sniffles: Hello Valentine’s Day/Birthday Trail Run

Okay, so I gave it another day.

After heeding the advice of the Runner’s World article I mentioned and listening to my body, I’m back to training!

It’s Valentine’s Day and my birthday today. Every year I love going for a run to celebrate another year of being healthy. Last year at this time I was running my second full marathon called the Lost Dutchman Marathon out in Eastern Arizona’s gorgeous Superstition Mountains.

An Arizona native (aside from living the first 2 years of my life in South Carolina, but that’s another story), I’ve always loved running on desert trails and using Arizona’s native canal system for my long runs. Running on dirt not only eases the pressure on my joints, but it also helps me get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Today my escape was to South Mountain Park, “the largest municipal park in the world,” according to its Website. Dozens of dirt trails snake through this 17,000-acre preserve and its favored among mountain bikers and trail runners in Arizona’s East Valley suburban area.

I ran along my initial flat dirt road from the park entrance and then connected to the Mormon Loop (see left). As I ran along the trail, I definitely noticed my pace was slower than on the streets (go figure), but that’s pretty normal when you’re scaling a mountain, right? My Garmin watch showed me running around an 11-minute mile pace (yikes!) and quite a ways behind my “pace partner” who was running a 10-minute mile pace. I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t about how fast I was running, it was about getting the training in without injuring myself.

As I hit the 2-mile mark, I nearly turned around to make it an even 4 miles when I noticed a summit just up the hill.

I had to get there.

…and I’m so glad I did! Check out the view:

…then, I did the touristy thing and snapped one of me with the gorgeous vista…

The run on the way back was lovely, especially since it was down hill most of the way ;).

All in all, I really can’t complain. I’m doing what I love and I’m doing it for a super worthy cause. If you have a minute and would like to support me (and give me a special birthday present ;)), please visit the “Donate” page and submit anything to Childhelp; even a dollar will help a child in need of assistance in the U.S.

I’m aiming to raise $5,000 before April 18, 2011 for Childhelp and would love your support! Ninety percent of all donations help children in abusive and neglectful situations. Please help.