Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hot Tips for Cold Weather Running $50 Giveaway

Disclosure: Sports Authority provided me a gift card to shop for Under Armour apparel; however, all opinions are my own. If I hated it, I'd tell you. 

If you are a runner you have no doubt heard the runners' motto: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor cold of night...." Wait. I think that one belongs to the US post office, but the runners' creed should be the same.

If you want to keep up your endurance training during the winter months you either have to make peace with the dreadmill or suck it up and run in the cold. The good news is that if you follow a few simple tips you can remain relatively comfortable while running in the cold.

Texas winters can start off pretty mild, but mother nature never fails to let us forget she can drop snow at any given minute. We've been known to have a 70 degree week followed immediately by a snow and ice storm. I was growing quite complacent with the mild weather when I saw the forecast for the next week and realized I was completely unprepared for the inevitable cold. Cold or not, my training must go on.

I teamed up with Sports Authority and Under Armour to get decked out for my cold weather runs. Under Amour has their Cold Gear line of technical workout apparel that is perfect for cold weather running. I am also giving away a $50 Sports Authority gift card to get you started with your own cold weather running wardrobe.


1. Dress in synthetic layers

The rule of thumb is to dress as it is 10-20 degrees warmer than the current temperature. You may be a little cold at the start, but should be warmed up by the end of your first mile. A big mistake that people make is that they over dress and end up too warm and uncomfortable. If you wear a pullover or zip-up over a synthetic blend base you can shed layers as you warm up. Look for wicking fabrics that pull moisture away from the body to keep you warm and dry.

Tip: I like to run loops past my house so I can drop off layers as I pass my front porch.

2. Cover your head, fingers (knees) and toes

It may sound like a children's song but it is important to cover exposed skin. We can lose a lot of heat through our extremities so a hat and mittens go a long way in keeping us warm in cold temperatures.

Tip: I like to wear tops with a neck gaiter so I can pull it up over my mouth and nose during those extremely cold temperatures.

cold weather running checklist

3. Wear fitted bottoms

Wear clothing that fits close to the body for the perfect combination of insulation and breathability. In extremely cold weather you can wear a loose fit layer over your tights. 

4. Avoid cotton socks

Cotton absorbs water which makes for a poor environment for your feet when you sweat. In order to keep your feet warm, dry and blister free, wear synthetic blend socks that wick moisture away from the skin. Just say no to cotton. Friends don't let friends wear cotton socks. This is your brain on cotton (Ok, that last one didn't work).

5. Warm up indoors

Take five to ten minute and warm up indoors before heading out for a cold weather run. You want to get blood flowing to your muscles in preparation for your workout. Some jumping jacks, high knees and butt kicks (dynamic stretches) should do the trick. If you like Yoga, a few sun salutations will help get those muscles warmed up before your run. It may take a little longer in extremely cold weather so it is important to warm up indoors to prevent injury.

Tip: Dynamic stretching can be more effective for a pre-run warm up than static stretching. Save the stretch and hold (static) stretches for after your run. 

6. Stay hydrated

It is easy to forget to hydrate in cold weather, but it is just as important as in warm weather.  Hydrate early and often during cold weather runs.

Please use common sense. If it is dangerously cold, extremely snowy or icy then it probably is best to take your workout indoors or take a rest day. Stay safe, my friends!

thumbs up for thumb holes!
Who wants to win a $50 Sports Authority Gift card so you can buy your own Under Armour cold weather gear? Enter below!

Sports Authority Fort Worth

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs 2/3/16-2/10/2016
No purchase necessary
Open to US residents 18 years of age or older
Must have a shipping address in the US
Winner will notified via email and will have three business days to claim prize
If original winner does not claim prize within three business days an alternate winner will be selected
Winner will be drawn randomly from all registered contestants in the US
Prize will ship within 30 days on contest end from Fort Worth, TX

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day with a Giveaway

Hi, friends. Did you know January 31 is national hot chocolate day? You wouldn't want to let a day like this pass without celebration.

I am a Premier Protein ambassador and they shared this delicious protein-packed recipe so you can sip on hot chocolate and celebrate with no guilt!

What's even better? You can enter to win a giveaway of an assortment of Premier Protein bars and shakes.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
• 1 Premier Protein 11oz. Chocolate Shake
• ¼ cup of half and half
• 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
• Heat shake, cocoa powder and cream at 140 degrees. Add peanut butter and stir until melted. Let cool and enjoy! 

Want to win Premier Protein to try for yourself? Enter for a chance to win a variety of Premier protein shakes and bars (prize flavors may vary from what is shown below).

Enter to win an assortment of Premier Protein shakes and bars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest runs until 2/5/16
No purchase necessary
Open to US residents 18 years of age or older
Must have a shipping address in the US
Winner will notified via email and will have three business days to claim prize
If original winner does not claim prize within three business days an alternate winner will be selected
Winner will be drawn randomly from all registered contestants in the US
Prize will be shipped directly from Premier Protein

Will you be enjoying some hot chocolate today?

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Orange is the New Workout: How to Have Fun and Burn Major Calories in 60 Minutes

I am a Premier Protein trainer ambassador and a member of Dallas Fitness ambassadors. I attended an Orangetheory Fitness class for free as part of DFA event with Premier Protein. All opinions are my own. If I hated it, I'd tell you. Photos by Dallas Fitness Ambassadors. Warning: Cheesy orange jokes ahead. 

I experienced a hot new fitness trend this weekend. It involved rowing machines, the weight room and running intervals. Orange you glad I didn't say CrossFit? Move over CrossFit, Orangetheory is the newest fitness trend. 

Orange is the new workout

Orange is the New Workout

High Intensity Interval Training is not exactly a new concept, but Orangetheory is putting their own twist on HIIT. The fitness world has been buzzing about this studio and I was thrilled (and sort of terrified) for the opportunity to give it a try.

Orangetheory has more than 225 franchise locations including 33 studios right here in Texas. It seems like overnight they started popping up everywhere! You can't throw an orange around here without hitting a new Orangetheory location.

I attended a Dallas Fitness Ambassadors event at the Preston Hollow, Dallas location last Sunday. ShamiraFit and I showed up a couple of hours early as Premier Protein trainer ambassadors to hand out tasty protein bars and shakes to the classes all afternoon. As I watched the sweaty participants finish up their classes looking happy and exhausted, I started to get really excited about trying this class!

The Prep

I filled out a form before the workout, but it wasn't your typical "I promise not to sue you if I die" form.  I answered all sorts of questions about my height, weight, birthday and fitness level. While filling out the form, I thought some of the questions were oddly specific until I realized they were asking most of the questions to get an estimate of my maximum heart rate. The classes are heart rate based and are designed so that your HR gets up to 84% of your maximum heart rate (the orange zone) for 12 to 20 minutes of the 60 minute session. Ahh. The orange zone. It all makes sense now. 

They issue you a heart rate monitor (that you can rent or buy) for the class. I strapped it on and my name and heart rate zone appeared on the TV screens around the studio. 

The Workout

The class split into groups and I started on the treadmill because, you know, comfort zone. During the class we toggled between treadmills, rowing machines and the weight room. We started out with a warm up on the treadmill and followed the trainer's cues to change up our pace. There was a base phase, a push phase and an all-out phase that varied from 30 seconds to three minutes each. I love that you worked at your own level. One person's base pace may be another's push pace. You use your heart rate monitor as a guide.

I sometimes had a little trouble hearing the instructor over the music and deciphering which of her cues were intended for my group and which ones for the other groups. I found myself (more than once) pushing when I was supposed to be in my base zone. 

Orange is the new workout running with ollie
the treadmill block at Orangetheory Fitness

Orange is the new workout running with ollie blog
base, push, all out!

The treadmill block seemed like it was over in a flash. We hit the rowing machines for 200 meters and then onto the weight room for a TRX strap and weight circuit. It all flew by so fast! We repeated the blocks in the second half of the class; back to the treadmills and rowing machine for round two before hitting the weight room for a BOSU ball circuit.

Orange is the new workout running with ollie blog
TRX resistance circuit

orange is the new workout running with ollie blog
Mai Lyn "Hey look, Lea. Your heart is exploding."

Orange is the new workout running with ollie blog
BOSU ball circuit

When it is all over they recap your workout on the screen and send you an email with all the details from your session, including your estimated calorie burn and how many minutes you spent in the orange zone.

Orange is the New Workout Running with Ollie Blog
the final stats

My Thoughts

My Orangetheory Fitness class was really fun and I highly recommend it for a fast-paced interval style workout! I will be back and now that I know what to expect, I think I'll be able to follow the cues a little better next time.

I love that it is a cardiovascular and a full body strength training workout in one fun hour. The group dynamic helped me push to my limits. It can be a perfect workout for someone with a busy schedule who wants to get the most bang for their workout buck.

As a trainer I can tell you that high intensity interval training is a very effective workout as long as you allow time for your body to properly recover between sessions. I would recommend this type of workout two or three times a week with less-intense workouts or rest days between these effort sessions.

After our class, my fellow ambassador Shamira and I gave the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors Premier Protein shakes and bars for a tasty post workout recovery snack and they were literally eating it up.

Orangetheory fitness running with ollie blog
Dallas Fitness Ambassadors enjoying Premier Protein

Have you heard of Orangetheory? Have you ever tried it? Orange you glad I wrote this review? Leave your thoughts or your favorite cheesy orange joke in the comments!

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Furry Friday Feature: Running Buddies Cooper and Riley

Happy Friday, friends! Join us the second Friday of every month for Furry Friday Feature and I'll introduce you to the most adorable four-legged runners on the web (and their favorite humans). This has always been a popular series and I am thrilled to bring it back for 2016! This month I am excited to introduce you to my Instagram friend Brea and her running partners.

Hi, Brea! Tell us a little bit about your favorite running partners.
I ​have two running partners​: Cooper (age 3) and Riley (age 7)​. Both of my ​boys are chocolate labrador retrievers and we lovingly refer to them as our 'chocodiles'. When I put my running shoes on, Riley will always sit beside me and beg to come. Cooper loves to come, too - but he's really​ headstrong and will balk at letting me put on​ his harness. I think he just wants to be the boss!

I didn't run with my browns​ at first because ​it was very difficult to control​ two strong dogs with​ a combined weight of 190 ​lbs. ​I ​realized the situation would never improve unless I was consistent.​ After a few chaotic minutes at the beginning of our run, they settle into their places. They overheat quickly in the summer, so I limit them to two miles when it's really hot. 

Cooper and Riley
Where is your favorite place to run with your pooch?
The off-leash dog park is my first choice, but it's not as convenient as heading out the door. ​It has​ pretty trails on a bluff overlooking the ocean with the added bonus of​ ​meeting​ doggie friends and socializing. In the summer, the vegetation is very dry and there are​ tons of foxtails -- ​a burr common to our area that can get ​in the​ ear canal​ or inhaled,​ and usually ​​requires​ an expensive trip to the vet and ​sedation to remove them​-- so we stick to the streets closer to home.

Have you ever raced with your dog?
I haven't raced with my dogs before, ​but I have been meaning to participate in a local event called ​the State Street Dog Mile in June​. It's on our to-do list next summer!​

Tell us about a running moment that made you proud! (does not have to be dog related)
After achieving a half marathon PR, a woman approached me and told me that I was her 'rabbit' during the race. She said that pacing off of me helped her to ​keep her head up and stay focused during the last three miles of the race. Getting a PR was an incredible feeling​, but realizing I'd help someone achieve theirs was even ​better​! 

What important running (or life) lesson can we learn from our dogs?
Live in the moment. There are a thousand little things that can ​trip me up during the day, ​and much of it is either dwelling on the past or worrying about something that hasn't happened. My dogs help keep me in the present.​

Do you want to tell us anything else about you or running with your dog?
​Our first dog was a wedding present.​ She was also a chocolate Labrador retriever. Since I had ​never owned a dog before, I was always looking for fun ​things to do with her​. I ended up hitting the dog show circuit and we ​eventually competed​ in fly ball and agility trials. Now that I'm a parent of​ two
​busy ​teenagers, my time is more ​limited. Fitness and running is something that makes me feel great and helps clear my head. Bringing my dogs along for the fun​ was a no-brainer.

Aren't they adorable? You can follow Brea, Cooper and Riley on Instagram @babydoll_brea or on her blog Babydoll's Bloggie.

Do you have a dog who runs? Would you like to be featured with your favorite furry four-legged running partner? Just fill out this form to be considered for a future Furry Friday feature.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Lea and Ollie Action Figures!

Oh my gosh friends. Have I ever told you how sweet and thoughtful my husband can be? Understand that he tries real hard to hide it under his tough-guy tattooed exterior, but I know the truth and now I am telling you. The secret is out. (Conveniently leaving out the part where he yelled at me for leaving my hair in the bathtub drain and crumbs on the counter. Ha)

He is a really great gift-giver. I thought the best gift I ever received was a few years ago when he hired a guy in Ireland to create a White Stripes (my perfectly-normal-healthy-obsession) painting for me. The artist filmed a time lapse video of the painting being created and posted it on YouTube. Hubby casually posted the YouTube clip on my Facebook page and after I watched it, walked in room carrying that painting. After I was done crying, I wrote about it over on my Jack White blog if you want to read more about it.

I told you all of that to to tell you this. I really think he outdid himself this time. The truth is that he was excited about this project so he ended up telling me about it before they arrived, so it wasn't exactly a surprise.

Hubby is an avid collector and a Star Wars nerd buff. I have the ShredShed and he has the ManCave (never referred to as a garage). The place is chock full of action figures (never referred to as dolls)...and never ever to be taken out of the package.

Just a small sampling of the "collection."
He found this guy online who makes custom action figures and hired him to make Ollie and me into action figures. He worked with the guy to make custom backing cards and seriously, I think my action figure almost looks like me. I mean as much as the Han Solo action figure looks like Harrison Ford. Am I right? I look a little endowed...than in real life, but i'll take it! The details are done really well, right down to my pink bracelet and my shoes.

Hitting store shelves summer 2016 (Just kidding)!
What you can't see very well in the picture is that my bib has my name on it and the race number 82705 is our wedding anniversary. It came with a race medal and a tiny personal training certificate.

But it wouldn't be enough to make me into an action figure, if anyone deserves his own action figure, it is Ollie!

Here are the front and backs of the cards.

And since everyone has been asking since I posted these on Instagram, I got the contact info for the artist who created these. This is his Etsy account and there is a "request a custom order" button on the left side of the screen. If you end up contacting him it would be nice if you mentioned how you heard about him. I think he'd like to know people appreciated his work!

They are so cute I want to take them out of the package to play with them. Lea and Ollie can play with Princess Leia and an Ewok in a friendly lightsaber battle. Amazing, right?

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Shake it Up Smoothies: Lean and Green Protein Shake

Happy New Year, friends! 2015 was a great year and I am excited to see what 2016 has in store. I am working towards a lot of new personal goals and one of them includes growing this blog to new levels! 

One of the ways I am working towards that goal is to plan a more consistent blogging schedule. While my 'fly by the seat of my pants' blogging calendar has served me well for many years, I am going to make an effort to be a little more consistent. One of the ways I plan to stay on schedule is to work in a few monthly or weekly themed posts. I already have Furry Friday Feature and Throwback Thursday that I'll bring back to regular life, now I am going to add a new feature (drum roll)...Shake it up smoothies!

green smoothie
I found these adorable mason jar lids and straws at Kroger.
Now that I am working with Premier Protein as a Trainer Ambassador, it will give me a chance to experiment with new smoothie recipes while trying Premier Protein in new ways. I've gotten in a smoothie rut, always making my shakes using the same ingredients, so I am excited to try some new ingredients and flavors.

I figured for my first post in my shake it up smoothie series, I would start with a basic leafy green protein shake. A smoothie using spinach, fruit and protein powder is an easy and delicious way to sneak in some healthy nutrients!

green protein shake
Lean and green protein shake ingredients

I used a NutriBullet and filled half the large cup with fresh spinach (about 2 cups packed tight). I used frozen bananas and mangos and added 1/4 cup of canned pineapples. I like to use some frozen fruits because it makes the smoothie thicker. I topped it off with a scoop of Vanilla flavored Premier Protein powder (30 grams of protein) and added water to make blending easier. You could also use milk, almond milk or protein milk instead of water.

Delicious lean and green protein shake

My lean and green protein shake was so delicious. It makes the perfect quick healthy breakfast or post-workout refuel meal.

Do you love green smoothies as much as I do? What are some of your favorite smoothie ingredients? I'd love to hear your ideas. I am looking forward to experimenting with new flavors.

Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

10 Training Tips from a Running Coach

I recently completed the RRCA coaching course and passed my certification exam. After ten years of running and racing, many years of working with coaches, reading books, magazines and learning from my own personal experiences the RRCA course wrapped it all up for me with a dose of science and expertise from the instructors.

While there is not one single training method, magic-bullet workout or training plan that will make you a better runner (because there are many ways to success) there are certain training truths that every runner needs to know to be successful and injury free!

1. Always train to your current fitness levels, not your desired fitness levels. Your goals should progress you forward slowly over time. Dream big, start small, then connect the dots. Decide on your goal. Is it a pace goal or a milage goal? Plan training to achieve your goal over time, then put in the work. Need guidance? I'm here to help!

2. Break training into phases. Start with a base phase of at least three weeks of building milage. These should be conversational pace miles that get your body accustomed to time on your feet. Even experienced runners will benefit from a period of building base milage. Then move to a strength phase that includes hills, tempo runs and Fartleks. Finally move into a final phase of speed and interval work. Each phase should last 3-6 weeks depending on your personal goals and race goal date.

3. Follow the 10% rule. Increase your milage by about 10% a week. Any more than 10% and you could risk injury.

4. Within a week increase milage or increase intensity (speed, hills, etc.) but increasing both in the same week could lead to injury.

5. Limit 'effort' sessions (speed work, hills, intense cross training) to 2-4 days a week. You don't need to kill yourself at every workout. Your body needs recovery time. Allow yourself a conversation pace recovery run after a difficult effort season. More is not always better. 

6. Consistency is more important than heroic effort. It's the work that you put in day in and day out that will pay off on race day. 

7. Your body adapts to the stresses placed upon it. To improve you must add additional stresses over time. Change the variables: distance, duration, speed or recovery time every 3-6 weeks to progress.

8. Every workout should consist of a warm up, the workout session and a cool down (stretching). 

9. Your long run should be 25% of your total weekly miles. If you run 25 miles a week your long run should be about 6 miles. If you run 40 miles a week your long run should be around 10 miles. 

10. Remember, this is fun! Never lose the joy of running. Take rest days or weeks as need to stay happy and healthy. 

Any questions? I'm happy to help!

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