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running

best workout gear

Posted in Work Out by

I recently got a treadmill desk! For about a year I’d been heavily considering it, trying to determine which model would be the best option, deciding if such a major purchase was even feasible (I do move around a lot, after all.) The Nordictrac Treadmill Desk was my pick, for reasons including reputation and speed (it goes to 6mph, meaning I can use it for running as well as work,) but there are plenty of other more portable and space-saving options out there. When I moved to Chicago, my workout gear took a severe hit – since I wasn’t running much in Nashville, I had gotten rid of a lot of my gear. An in-home treadmill begs for a wardrobe of sweat-wicking saviors, though, so I did a stockpile splurge to re-up. Here are some of my new faves and what I love so much about them!

icyZone Racerback Workout Tanks: I have a long torso, so it’s often hard for me to find shirts that are long enough to be comfortable – let alone workout tops that are comfortable. When these came up on an Amazon search, I liked the colors a lot, so I nabbed them. They’re the perfect length and look really great. After years of wearing lululemon, I can also attest that the quality of these rival many of my Swiftlys.

EMY Strappy Sports Bras: A lot of my shirts have open backs, catering to bras with cute back styles. They’re expensive, though, so these are another thing I’ve let my drawer skimp on. This pack of five for $30 is not only comfortable and true-to-size, but the removable padding also helps my poor undersized girls feel a little more confident. (Okay, so maybe it’s me that they help. Either way.)

Saucony Sport Socks: Along with my long torso and undersized breasts, I have gigantic Dutch feet. It can often be hard to find affordable socks that fit my size 12’s – most women’s athletic socks are only sized to 10, so they come up only midway on my heels. These are thick and comfy, and almost oversized – I’m sure they’d be great for people with normal sized feet, but if you feel like yours are bigger than average, these are the socks for you.

c9 High Waisted Capri Leggings: All high-waisted everything, all c9 everything. My daily pants for the last three years or so have been c9’s high-waist full-length leggings, but since I prefer to work out in capris, I have quite a few of the junior versions in my drawer as well. The high waist is comfortable and makes me feel a little skinny, and c9 always has stylish options for their gear, like the lattice details on this pair.

Contigo Autoseal Water Bottle: My ADIDAS water bottle is finally starting to give up the ghost, but it’s fine, because bf got me the best and fanciest replacement a few months ago. This water bottle is insulated so it keeps things super cold for a long time – even overnight – and it doesn’t leak at all. The handle is really handy too, so when I’m carrying my mobile office (you know, my computer, charger, phone, Kindle, bullet journal, etc. etc.) from the treadmill to the outdoor office, it’s easy to hook it onto my pinky and tote it around.

What are your workout/fitness must-haves?

May 18, 2018
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run rock ‘n roll chicago: the WORST race I’ve ever run.

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I was provided a sample from Coolcore and promotional credit from Spothero, but all opinions are my own!

A few months ago when I started spending more time with my grandparents, my grandpa asked if I was still running. I wasn’t, but I thought about it often. On a whim, I signed up for the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll 10K – it was National Running Day and that seems to be an annual tradition of mine. My first half-marathon was the Run Rock ‘n Roll Cleveland half a few years ago, so I know the series and had had a great time. I thought I’d certainly have time to train up and get into shape to knock out some consistent 12:00 miles, never mind that my training has ranged from non-existent to inconsistent at best for the last few years. Nevertheless, I was excited to take on a race length I’d never done before!

Leading up to the race, I would hit the elliptical about five days a week for 30-60 minutes… starting about two weeks before race day. (At least I was trying!) The expo was at McCormick Place, which is officially my least favorite place in Chicago. Pro tip: if you’re ever headed there for a packet pickup, enter the Hyatt Regency as the destination, or else your GPS will bring you under the convention center where there’s no way to get in. Dani and I trotted around the expo quickly – the KT Tape line was mercifully short, and the free loot was pretty good. Rock Tape was there as well, but I resisted the urge to cover my entire body in kineseo tape. I’m excited to try the Muscle Mac we got. I also splurged on a race shirt – it’s almost like Brooks heard I was coming.

The night before the race I definitely had some nerves that I didn’t expect. My race day plan had turned into “finish, and don’t fall,” so I wasn’t anxious about hitting a goal time by that point. I did have a vague stretch goal in mind, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid and get hurt. I did the requisite pre-race preparation by getting my gear bag ready, putting the bib on my Fitletic belt, setting out my outfit, and plugging in the headphones to charge. I had received a tank from Coolcore to test out, so I paired that with my much beloved Superfit Hero capris. I bagged up three Olly Endless Energy vitamins to use as chews halfway through the race, then settled into bed to make plans to get downtown for the race. Arranging early morning transportation is one of my least favorite things – will there be Lyft drivers online before 6am? What time does my bus start running? I opted to bypass that and instead pre-book a parking spot by using SpotHero. I parked three blocks from the start/finish line, and it made it super easy to get downtown and save me some grief. If you’re running a downtown Chicago race, I highly suggest opting for that!

Like the last Run Rock ‘n Roll race I did, corrals were well-signed, and gear check was easy to find and navigate. They even had pre-race bananas and water, which was great since I had managed to walk out of the house without water.

I also want to give a big ‘ol shoutout to the lady I stood next to in the corral who was on the phone getting a pep talk from a friend. She said “I’m learning not to compare myself to the runner I once was and to instead embrace the runner I now am.” I’ve thought about that a lot since I heard it, and I was so thankful to be hearing it.

The race started at 6:30am with corral 1, and I crossed the start line around 7:00. It’s a similar start to the Hot Chocolate 5k, and I had forgotten that it starts with a bridge uphill. Woooof. I’d been having some trouble finding new running shoes to replace my long-blown out Asics, so I was running in shoes that I’d only had for two days. Probably not the smartest move, but YOLO, right? By the time I got up that first bridge my shins were SCREAMING, and I had shin splints for the first time in my life in mile one. I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the race then.

I kept on, enjoying the gorgeous lake view, listening to my music to keep my pacing… until my headphones turned off before the second mile marker hit. It was really not a great start. I got EXTREMELY down on myself for awhile, thinking about how slow I was, how embarrassing it was that I was even trying, things like that. As we rounded a corner to get a really great view of the city skyline against Lake Michigan and came upon the first band, I realized how lucky I am to even be able to go run even if it is slow. I pulled over to snap a selfie, then trotted to catch back up to the ladies I’d been playing leapfrog with as a pacing trick.

run rock n roll course view

The race, my leg pain, and my splits got better after that. It’s so funny how things can be very self-fulfilling – if I would have let myself stay in the negative, I have no doubt that every step would have been painful. I tried resetting my headphones and they came back on as well. We hit the halfway mark water station, I ate my energy chews, and we merged with the half marathoners. The last band we passed featured a 90’s cover band, complete with a bassist in Zubaz – my soulmate, possibly? As we finally approached the timing clock, I could see that I was very very very close to my goal time… which I then missed by 1:02. I’m blaming that selfie! I’m pretty proud of being able to pull myself out of thinking negative, and for finishing a new distance. 10k is the perfect amount of running to not get bored, like I occasionally did in halfs.

Finish line gear was amazing. Bananas, bagels, chocolate milk (my fave,) Gatorade – they were well equipped with refueling options. Finisher’s village was great – they even had wine this time for those who don’t like beer.

Coolcore tank in Run Rock 'n Roll 10k Chicago

Shoutout to Dani for braiding my hair!

Coolcore‘s tank did an amazing job of pulling the sweat and moisture away from my body. I had actually worn it to a Flywheel class as well, and it did the same there, too. I was skeptical of the sizing, but I was so happy with it – the women’s XL fits loose, so it doesn’t feel like it’s clinging to you and lets you breathe. The only thing that I noticed early on in the race was that it did chafe a bit against my arms because the arm holes are a bit larger than I normally wear, but I’m very happy with it and look forward to trying out some of their shorts or leggings!

run rock n roll

If you’re considering doing any Rock ‘n Roll race, keep an eye on Groupon. A few weeks after I signed up, I saw that they were available there too.

July 24, 2017
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what’s the best time of day to work out?

Posted in Work Out by
This post is sponsored by Health I.Q.!

When I first started getting really into fitness in 2012, I would roll out of bed every morning at 5:30am to hit the elliptical for 45 minutes before going to work. I kept that up for awhile until I started to explore group exercise classes – almost always taking place at 5:30pm after work, completely reversing my regular routine. It showed me that there might not be a “correct” time of day to get up and get working out, but I did always wonder if it made me a bit lazier by not getting up early and joining the hardcore in the dark, early mornings.

If you’ve ever wondered what the best time of day to work out is, here are some things to consider!

  • The best time of day to work out is the time you can dedicate to it. It sounds obvious or silly, but it’s true! This is something I struggle with. Sometimes I feel like if I don’t work out in the morning or on my lunch break that there’s no point or that all my “free” time for the day is up. This is the most important thing to consider when trying to plan out your workouts.
  • If you need consistency and accountability, make a schedule and find a buddy to work out with. This was a big part of why group exercise was so effective for me. It was at the same time every day, and though I didn’t have “friends” in the classes, there were definitely people I was friendly with and came to enjoy seeing every day. Whether it’s a gym exercise class, a standing date with a friend, or a personal trainer, it can be a worthy investment as you get your fitness in gear.
  • Working out in the afternoon might be the best time of day to prevent injury or sleep interruption. Working out in the morning might be difficult because of sore muscles from sleeping in a strange position, and fatigue can put you more at risk for injury. Being active too close to bedtime can throw your circadian rhythm off. The afternoon might be the perfect time to protect your body and avoid feeling too “awake” to sleep!
  • Consider your safety and comfort when deciding when to work out. Maybe you go to the gym but it’s packed after work. Start becoming an early bird! Live by a really gorgeous park, but feel nervous about a pre-dawn run alone? Watch the weather, hydrate, and go for a spin after it’s a bit busier.

Take the quiz below to learn more about the best time of day to work out and start saving today. Your results on Health I.Q. can even help you qualify for lower life insurance rates!

About Health IQ:

HealthIQ’s mission is to improve the health of the world. In pursuit of this mission, they’ve created over 1,000 health-related quizzes and worked with innovative insurance companies to create financial rewards for health conscious people. To date, Health IQ has helped over ten thousand triathletes, vegans, runners, and other health conscious people secure billions in life insurance coverage, and they hope to expand to other financial rewards in the near future.

About Health IQ’s Learn About Life Campaign:

Learn About Life is a health-education campaign, with the goal of driving more people to learn something new about their health. To accomplish this goal, Health IQ has partnered with a select group of nonprofits and bloggers to produce and promote thousands of health related quizzes. If you’re a non-profit or blogger and want to learn about how you can support this campaign, email cleo.kirkland@healthiq.com with subject line “Learn About Life…I’m In”

July 22, 2017
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go cubs go / race to wrigley 5k recap

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race to wrigley

It’s been quite awhile since I sat down to write a race recap! Last weekend I headed out to do the Race to Wrigley 5k, sponsored by the 2016 World Champion Cubs.

I didn’t go to packet pickup so I can’t speak to that experience, but my partner in crime seemed to be in and out very quickly.

Saturday morning we rolled out of bed at 6am and grabbed a coffee and a Lyft by 6:45. Next year I would leave a bit later – it was a little on the chilly side, but the Cubs team store and Sports World were both open for pre-race shopping. Getting there was very easy – they hadn’t shut the streets down yet so our Lyft dropped us off right at the start line, and everything was well-signed so it wasn’t hard to navigate. For the first time I thought I might have an issue with runner’s trots, but it ended up holding off (thank goodness.) Around 7:40 they started corralling everyone to the start line, and after a few stretches and the national anthem, we were off. Thank goodness the rain held off – I’m writing this in a thunderstorm and it would have been a cold (but fun) race through this weather.

I thought the course was great – flat, easy, and not too many turns. There was a ton of course support in the form of security and police officers, and it was one of the best and safest road races I’ve ever done. The two water stops on the course both seemed like they could have benefitted from a longer head start or more tables to line up cups on because when we went through, they were already getting backed up and running out, and we were toward the front of the pack.

When the course looped back around and we saw Harry Caray standing on the corner signaling our arrival back to the Field, it was such a relief, but also super exciting. Running through the concourse was fun, and a great way to finish the race. Hitting the mile 3 marker and with the finish line in sight, we both took off to cross the finish line… so we thought.

The finish line was the only part of the day I would have changed. Not too long after we took off at the mile marker, it started backing up terribly because the finisher chute was far too small to sustain the number of runners finishing. Add in the fact that many of the fun runners were finishing at the same time as us and there was really not enough room. From the time we stopped until we actually crossed the timing mat, it was almost six minutes. I’m still really proud of my time (especially for having not trained at all) and proud of Brendan for doing so well even when it got hard!

This race also helped me remember how much I love running. The camaraderie, the good ache after going hard, the joy of the finish line banana and happy volunteers giving out medals. Despite the finish line backup, it was a really great race, and I’m excited to Race to Wrigley again next year!

May 1, 2017
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2017 goals: welcome to the new year

Posted in Living by

For the first time in quite awhile, I feel like there’s some stability in my life. I’m (hopefully) not travelling as much this year, I don’t have any massive moves planned in the near (or far) future, and I finally feel like I’m having more down time to focus on myself again. I’m setting some big goals this year and using my Passion Planner to help me achieve them. (This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just delighted to have one!) It’s helping me make things into actionable items and keeping them more concrete instead of non-specific ideas like “be more positive.” I have eight goals that I want to really focus on achieving this year – here they are, in no particular order!

  • Meditate: I’ve had the Stop. Breathe. Think. app on my phone for a few months, but I rarely use it. The times I have found myself making a conscious decision to not give in to the anxiety and panic and instead focus on this and really give it a try, it has helped a ton. I really want to focus on making use of it to relieve some of those feelings I get throughout the day.
  • Grow blog: When I lived in Nashville, I found myself always saying I wanted to really focus on my blog again, but never actually following through with many actionable steps (or even updates.) The last few months I’ve focused on maintenance and regular updates, and I found a community I want to join. There’s some other great stuff on the way as well!
  • Run two halfs: I miss running desperately. My plan was always to do the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll half in July, and I’d love to do Grand Rapids in the fall since my schedule is accommodating more races now.
  • Make $5000 beyond my regular job: Honestly, compared to what I used to bring in across various side hustles, this number seems small. But there are a lot of other things I want to do (like focus on running again,) so I’m just shooting for a small, attainable number.
  • Pay off credit cards: I was always The Girl With No (Consumer) Debt. That changed over the last few months due to some impulse buys and really feeling too lenient in feeling entitled to treat myself, so this is a pretty big priority. (I also have to work on shifting the entitlement mindset I’ve developed but… baby steps.)
  • Volunteer: In college, I volunteered regularly, and even went on many service learning trips. It made me feel great to give back, and I’d like to focus on getting back into that practice this year.
  • Read 15 books: I love to read, but I haven’t been doing it as much lately – even my beloved audiobooks aren’t holding my attention. I only read 12 books last year (and came in right under the wire with that number, at that) so increasing slightly feels attainable.
  • Start lifting again: I miss lifting weights desperately. The high of picking up heavy things and putting them down, rinse, repeat: it was the best shape I’d ever been in. I felt unstoppable, like I could do anything or defend anyone, and that’s something I miss terribly. I’ve started doing some preliminary research on gyms in the area to join, but it’s going to be so hard to start over and not be able to pick up where I left off years ago.

What are your focuses for 2017?

January 1, 2017
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