Ready to Run.

I’ve never actually considered myself to be a “long distance runner.” Ever since middle school track, I’ve been more concerned with speed rather than endurance. I typically comepted in events such as the 200, 400 or the 4×400 relay. I still remember the day during my freshman year of high school when Coach K bribed me (with a Dairy Queen blizzard) to run the 4×800. He said, “If you run it this ONE TIME, I’ll never make you run it again. And I’ll get you a Blizzard after the meet.” I reluctantly said yes. Turns out that I was pretty good at that two lap little race and I then ran it in EVERY SINGLE TRACK MEET FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. Ugh. I was so mad. And I never got my blizzard! The 800 was the extent of my “long distance” running days in high school sports. Sure, I could bust out a mile when I needed to, but my focus was on quick, short races. Races that always required spiked shoes, not cushioned New Balances.

Well, obviously once I got to college I wasn’t going to sprint around the track for a good workout. Come on, now.  I had to shift gears a little bit so I started running around campus every once in awhile. I also took a lot of classes at the Rec and was a slave to the elliptical. The treadmill? No way, jose. I had a BAD encounter with the treadmill at a young age and steered very clear. But, I eventually faced my fears about 5 or 6 years ago when my parents got a treadmill in our basement. And ever since then, we’ve been BEST FRIENDS.

Hopping on a treadmill for a 3-4 mile run is a breeze! I set the incline at 0.5 to avoid shin splints, crank up the speed to about 7.4 and start running. Now, I always try to clock a 5k around 24-25 minutes because I know I can do it. That’s my problem though. I get tired after 3 miles on the treadmill because I’m running pretty quickly. Running outside is a totally different story. Wind, hills, rough terrain are all factors that make runnning in the outdoors more difficult than on a treadmill in a climate controlled gym.

But don’t get me wrong. I really love running outside. It’s the perfect time to relax and unwind and just run. I typically don’t run quite as fast, nor do I think about how fast I’m going because I’m not able to gauge my speed myself. (That’s not entirely true, I have the iPod shoe sensor thing that tells you exactly how fast you’re going, but that’s neither here nor there.) Anyway, here’s the deal. I want to run a half marathon. But the most I’ve ever run so far is 7 miles. EEK!

I am bound and determined to conquer this beast. I KNOW I can do it. I just need to buck up and do it, dangit! For the last couple of years I have looked at several half marathons and have gotten super hyped up about the thought of running one. But then I decide that it’s not worth it and I’m doing just fine running 3 or 4 miles at a time. Well, I need to set challenges for myself and this is one of them! Also, I know that I cannot train for this race soley on a treadmill, so that means I need to find some cold weather running gear and hit the pavement this winter.

Here are some of my cold weather running essentials:

winter running

So here’s the scoop ladies. I’m going to run the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita on May 5th, 2013. Cindo de Mayo. Perfect time to do it! And, since it’s nearly 6 months away, I have plenty of time to train. I think I’m going to use the Hal Higdon half marathon guide. And don’t worry. I’m not going to be one of those people who posts on Facebook after ever single damn run bragging about what they’ve just accomplished. However, I might do it every now and then on here. : ) Hehe so be warned. The name of the blog is “The Little Victories” for a reason! Also, if anybody wants to join me in this half marathon traning endeavor, please tell me!!! The more the merrier.

Fashionably Fit

Back in February I wrote this post about wanting to upgrade my workout wardrobe.  I wanted to ditch the dingy T-shirts for some body hugging tanks and pants in hopes that I would feel more confident while working out, thus gaining more motivation to actually go to the gym.

Several months have passed since I first wished for cuter workout clothes and I am pleased to announce that I have indeed made an effort to look a little better while working out. Let me start off by saying this: while some of my new ensembles are more flattering, they are also more functional.  Remember my rant about how crew necked t-shirts are too restricting and hot while I’m running on the treadmill? Or what about my gym shorts riding up while I’m doing weight machines, lunges or sit ups? With my new dri-fit tops and capris, I have rid myself of these problems (on most days) and feel more comfortable about lifting my legs up to do reverse crunches.

Without further adieu, I present to you: My Workout Essentials. (Sorry for the lack of high-quality photos.  I do what I can)

One of the most important aspects of fitness and safety is finding the right type of shoe for the activity you are performing.  I have quickly learned that wearing a structured running shoe is not the best idea while taking a Zumba class. Running shoes are not meant to move from side to side, whereas a light weight training shoe with a flexible sole is designed for just that.

1. Nike Flex Trainer, $60 from Zappos  I actually just got these in the mail today and am eager to try them out at the gum tomorrow for Zumba class!

2. Nike Air Pegasus + 27, $81 from Zappos These are my second pair of Nike Air Pegasus and I absolutely love them. They are light weight, the perfect width for my foot and have just the right amount of cushion.

3. Champion Sports Bras, $15-$17 from Target  Having a supportive sports bra is crucial to a good workout!

4. Danskin NowTank, $7 from WalMart  I have a couple of these “dri-more” tanks and I really like them. They have a shelf bra and are made of a thick, stretchy fabric that kind of sucks you in!

5. Nike Race Day Shorts, $21 from Nike Both the Nike Tempo shorts and the Nike Race Day shorts can be found in my dresser drawer! I love the breathable fabric and the built in briefs for days I want to run or do the elliptical. They aren’t too short either.

6. Nike Running Capris, $45 from Nike although these are a bit on the pricey side, they are great for spinning classes, running, weight training, etc…pretty much everything! I highly recommend them. However, I found a replica pair at Target for half the price…might be worth checking out!

7. Adidas Kids Socks, $10 for three pairs from Famous Footwear I wear a size 6.5 shoe, so a lot of times adults socks are too big for my feet. Instead, I buy kids socks! These Adidas ones are my favorite because they are thick enough that they don’t bunch up in my shoe. I HATE thin socks that slide around.

Other items I like to keep in my gym bag: Apple iPod Shuffle–love it! I feel helpless when it dies on me while on the elliptical.  Water is an absolute must while at the gym. Luna Bar, just in case my stomach is growling uncontrollably. Pad Lock, the gym I belong to has a locker room, so I like to take advantage of locking up my personal belongings. Hair Accessories such as bobby pins, pony tail holders and elastic headbands to keep my hair off my face. Some type of fitness Magazine, just in case I need some inspiration or to reference weight training exercises.

Blast Belly Bloat

All of last week/weekend I felt extremely bloated and horribly pudgy. I can attribute this to my binge of fast food including Wendy’s, Salsaritas and Chipotle, but that’s neither here nor there. The important thing to remember is belly bloat sucks, BUT there is a way to overcome it!

Step 1: Stop eating salty, cheesy, fatty foods (my favorite) three times in the span of 2 days. Also, lay off soda and alcohol!

Step 2: Pump up the cardio! Fat-burning exercises like running, biking, the elliptical, etc will help burn off some of that flub.

Step 3: Focus on your tummy. Do planks! They are one of the best core exercises out there and will help isolate the muscles underneath the layer of pudge that always lingers…

Step 4: Try some of these foods to help with the bloat factor

Papaya, Oatmeal, Yogurt, Asparagus & Quinoa!

So, if you’re wanting to get into swim suit shape like I am, try some of these tips!

Fashionable Fitness

Lately I have felt a little frumpy while working out at the gym. I am always envious of the girls I see at the wearing cute little outfits ie. stretchy capris, fitted tops, headbands. My usual uniform consists of a crew neck t-shirt (nothing special) and Nike Tempo running shorts….you know, the same ones that every other college girl has. While these shorts are very comfortable and practical, built in briefs and all, sometimes I feel like I need a little more coverage. Especially while doing crunches, squats, etc. Those little shorts ride up! Also, my crew neck t-shirts are often restritcing around the neck and as disgusting as this sounds, get WAY too sweaty on the chest. The WORST part of these cotton tees is that several times after wearing them my skin near my underarms has been rubbed raw from the itchy, stiff seams! Looking for a fitness wardrobe update? Me too. Not only would it solve some of my wardrobe malfunction problems, but perhaps having some new clothes would also motivate me to workout more?! : )

Gap  gFast capri leggings. $44.50

These seam like the perfect capris to wear during a strength training class, spinning or even yoga! They are compression pants so they won’t be moving around while working out, plus they are made of a breathable, moisture wicking fabric to keep you dry! They also come in other lengths and styles.

Having a supportive sports bra is an essential piece to a workout wardrobe! I know it’s time for a new one for me. My cheap target sports bras are getting a little bit stretched out. This Nike Pro Core sports bra from Lady Foot Locker comes in 20 different colors and is only $29.50 ! I have read great things about this sports bra and several of my friends have it and love it.

How cute is this bra top?! I love it! While it might not be appropriate to wear while hovered over a spinning bike (cleavage patrol),  wearing it during an elliptical session or while jogging would be perfect! I like how it is slim fitting, has slight ruching detail and features the strappy back. You can find this Nike top at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This Reebok tee features looped elastic bands along the sides and back are designed to create resistance along the torso. That’s a workout in itself! It also comes in three other colors at Lady Foot Locker.

Have a problem with your hair constantly falling in your face during your workout?? Try one of these Lululemon slipless headbands!

This stylish gym bag will store all of your workout gear with tons of interior pockets and a removable pouch to keep your sweaty clothes or wet swimsuit isolated. It even has a neoprene pouch that hold a 15″ laptop! The perfect bag for traveling to and from the office/gym.  Available at Lululemon

Pump Up the Jams

For the most part, I have had the same music on my iPod shuffle (my workout iPod)  for the past two years. I hear the same songs over and over and over again. Some of the artists on my pod  include: Head Automatica, Vampire Weekend, the soundtrack from “Slumdog Millionaire”,  Iron & Wine, Radiohead and miscellaneous artists who I don’t know the name of because my iPod doesn’t have a screen.

I am in desperate need of some new tunes to get my heart racing and my body moving! I think that upbeat, music is essential for having a good cardio workout and mine is just not cutting it lately. One of my issues is separating the types of artists I would normally listen to while at home or in my car, from the artists who provide music that is more conducive to working out. I need some more fast-paced songs with a firmer beat, if you will. For instance, I borrowed my brother’s iPod over Christmas break and it was full of Lil’ Wayne, Tech N9ne and artists of the like.  I had one of THE BEST runs I have had in a long time, and I give some credit to Lil Wayne’s musical styling.

What is even worse than not having the perfect play list, is when my iPod flat-out dies mid elliptical session…I lose ALL motivation to keep going when all I can hear is myself breathing.

I would love to hear suggestions for some new songs or artists that you all like to listen to while hitting the gym!

Here is a list of the Top 10 Workout Songs of 2010 from Shape Magazine

1. Club Can’t Handle Me, Flo Rida & David Guetta

2. Bad Romance (Starsmith Remix), Lady GaGa

3. We R Who We R, Kesha

4. After The Love, R.I.O.

5. Break Your Heart (Mixin Marc & Tony Svejda Radio Edit), Taio Cruz & Ludacris

6. Rock That Body (Chris Lake Remix), Black Eyed Peas

7. We No Speak Americano, Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup

8. Not Myself Tonight (Jody Den Broeder Radio Remix), Christina Aguilera

9. Major Tom, Shiny Toy Guns

10. Stereo Love, Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina

If you are also in a workout song rut like myself, check out Run Hundred which is the web’s heaviest trafficked workout music site!