Friday, April 5, 2013

April snow brings....????

So yesterday afternoon we had a freak snowstorm. I mean seriously, this thing came out of nowhere! The weather forecasters were predicting occasional rain, but instead we got about 6 inches of snow!

I took the opportunity to take a nice long walk in the snow with my husband and my dog, which turned out to be quite the cardio workout.

It looks like there's snow up to Nick's knees, but he's actually kneeling down about to tackle the dog...

 Today, Blacksburg is back to its normal springtime self, and the snow is melting everywhere! I wasn’t willing to let a little melting snow get in the way of my typical Friday lunchtime stadium workout, which in hindsight may not have been my smartest choice ever, but oh well, what’s done is done.

I decided to meet my friend Megan to run stadiums at lunch, despite the fact that we knew the stairs would be wet and treacherous. We decided to just take our time doing them instead of pushing our pace like we normally do. Megan even snapped some great photos so I’ll share them here!
Beautiful stadium and what's left of the's 60 degrees today. Blacksburg weather is bipolar!

sloshing through the half melted snow as we ran up the stairs

Enjoying the sun and the view!

We ended up with soaking wet shoes and shaking legs, but I’m definitely glad we decided to stick with our routine because I get to share my story with all of you!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

No Turning Back Now....

Well, April is here and if you all remember, the day of the race is April 28th! Yikes, it's coming sooooo fast! 26 days left! I'm starting to get a little nervous. Not nervous, like I'm going to bobble and fall off the beam, miss my dismount on bars, or step out of bounds on floor and let my team down. Nervous like, can I do this?

Can I run the whole 13.1 miles?

Will I be the lame one that has to stop?

Will I be the one who slows the group down or is running alone because I'm the "slow" one?

I ran 8 miles on this past Saturday. That is the furthest distance I have ever run consecutively!!! The first 4 miles were great. I was running around 9 mins 30 secs per mile, then my hips started to get sore and really tired from miles 4-6. My speed slowed down quite a bit, but then picked back up a bit for the last two miles. There are A LOT of hills around where I live and I think that's what starts to get to me after awhile. It's tough going up another hill at mile 6. My hip flexors and hamstrings have never been so tight in my life! I have definitely been stretching more. My adductors are even tight!! It's funny because in the past running used to loosen me up, but not so much now. I guess that's what happens when you have been running lots of miles. I think I'm just hoping that all this adrenaline and hype that people talk about sets in. I need a little boost every now and again when I'm running. Some songs definitely help that, but I'm not sure what will help at Mile 11!

I'm definitely a slow and steady runner and I'm ok with that. I've decided that my goal is to just run for my first half marathon. I'm not worried about my time or my speed, I just want to run the whole time and complete the race. By looking at the race course, it looks like pretty flat considering most of it is along the river. Nike has not posted a map that shows the elevation, however I'm figuring it's got to be easier than what I have been running!!

Have you run a Half Marathon?

What was your goal for your first one?

Did you find the adrenaline helped you make it through?

Were you able to run the whole time?

Monday, April 1, 2013

To Run or Not to Run?

Have you ever signed up for a race you know might not be “good”?

I’m currently having a really hard time deciding whether or not to sign up for a 5k that sounds really fun but has gotten quite a lot of iffy reviews. Here’s my dilemma…I really like the idea of this 5k foam fest that is going to be held in Richmond, but I have some reservations about it after reading quite a few reviews online…

The first race I ever ran was a disaster. It was called “Dirty Hog” and it was a 9 mile “mud race” held in North Carolina. The website was well designed and well run, giving us high hopes for the race. I trained HARD with a large group of women (about 25 of us!) for three months, expecting that the race would be what was advertised - a difficult mud run with lots of obstacles. 

The group from the Dirty Hog run, excuse the mud on the camera lens :-P

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The day of the race it was in the upper 80’s (unseasonably hot, and felt even hotter, as we had been training in 60’s-70s). The course was almost all hot sand with very few obstacles and even less mud. Additionally, there weren’t anywhere near enough water stations on the course, and I watched two of my very strong friends (one was a college athlete) suffer from heat exhaustion. To top it off, the course wasn’t well marked, and several of us got LOST for a few miles. This race was dangerous, poorly planned (many of my teammates didn’t even get the T-shirt they paid for!), and a bad experience in general. Luckily, I didn’t let it deter me from trying another “adventure” type race, and I completed a FANTASTIC and much more professionally run Tough Mudder later that year.

my lovely Tough Mudder team!

But back to my original point… Foam Fest 5k…

  • Website looks good (but I’ve been fooled before…anyone can make a professional looking website, but running an actual race is much more difficult)
  • They’ve had over a year to perfect their management, so things SHOULD run smoothly (this may be putting too much faith in people I don’t know…)
  • The obstacles look more fun than difficult, and it will be a great “starter” mud run for my mom and close friend, who are interested in getting into adventure type races
  • It’s close enough to do a day trip, and if it is well run it will be a blast!!


  • It’s expensive; $60 for the 5k, $5 for insurance and $5 for processing. Do I want to spend $70 for an experience that I feel has a 50/50 chance of being awful?
  • I know a 5k of this type won't be a challenge for me, as I've already run one Tough Mudder and will have completed my second by the time this race comes. However, difficulty isn't my goal with this race - I really just want to go out and have a great experience with my mom and my friend.
  • I've seen A LOT of negative reviews online
  • It’s my mom and friend’s first race of this type, and I don’t want to steer them wrong. Will this race turn them off from continuing to participate in races of this type? Is it a risk I’m willing to take?

I’m feeling really torn and nervous to sign up for something this expensive without having confidence that my money will be well spent - my last half marathon cost the same as this race! (I know it’s more expensive to put on because of the obstacles, but still!) Do the pros outweigh the cons? Will the risk be worth the potential reward? I’m just not sure!!

PLEASE help me decide!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I've been having a hard time running lately, especially the longer distances. Once I get over about 3 miles, the insides of my feet and ankles start hurting like crazy. It's weird because I've never had ankle problems before (in gymnastics my knees were always the troublesome body part). I do have extremely flat feet and pronate a ton, so I think all the repetitive motion makes my feet sad. I wear these Brooks running shoes because I've heard they were best for pronators and that's what they suggested at the running store, but they don't seem to be doing the job anymore-

I got to spend the day with Autumn yesterday and we went ice skating. I could barely hold my feet up straight, which makes ice skating very difficult! I don't remember it being that bad the last time I ice skated, but that was way back in high school. I'm guessing either my ankle muscles have gotten weaker  or I've gotten heavier, making it hard for my pronated ankles to hold me up when I'm up high on something like skates. FYI, this is pronation vs supination-

Anyways, it's become an annoying problem when I run and I haven't been able to run more than 5 miles because of it. I'm planning to go to Fleet Feet this week and ask them what their suggestions are. Besides getting inserts/ankle braces and strengthening the muscles, does anyone have any suggestions? Anyone have a similar problem?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Proper Earphones-A Running Essential

By guest blogger Robin Quay

My life has changed a lot in the last 3 months. I lost a gall bladder, started running, and have been leading (and therefore following) The Daniel Plan at work. If you don’t know about The Daniel Plan, it’s a bible study that focuses on health as stewardship, and on taking good care of the body God has loaned us, so that we are healthy and able to do what He wants us to. If you want more info, go to I've lost some weight and inches, I’m ready to run a 5K, and I feel really good.

Since this is a running blog, my contribution, of course, will focus on the running part of my recent life. I've been running with colleagues at work, and on my own. I quickly found out that a run is much more enjoyable, and I can run longer and farther, if I run to music. I made a sweet running playlist, and took to the route with my iPod.

There was just one problem. The earphones, especially the right one, fell out. Often. Wrapping the cord around my ears didn't seem to help. It was super annoying, especially since I felt like I spent a lot of my time during my run thinking about and managing my earphones.

I realize that my body is partly (mostly?) to blame for this annoyance. First, I have a very small head, so most likely the earphones were too big. I usually have to buy kid-size hats. Perhaps I needed kid-size earphones. Second, I’m overweight, carrying a lot of the extra poundage in my midsection, and I’m pretty straight up-and-down. This means that pants don’t really stay up well. I’m sure some of this is due to my size, but it’s been like this all my life. Even when I was a skinny little kid, my pants did not stay up. Then my mom found stretchy pants with elastic waists made by Danskin that worked for me… but I digress. The point of all this is that, with the movement of running, and the added weight of my iPod pulling them downward, my running pants start to slip down. The headphone cord is stretched to its limit, and the right earphone pops out. If I keep pulling up on the cord so there is some slack in it, the earphone stays in better, but again, I am focusing a lot of energy on the earphone.

I had heard that Yurbuds were great earphones that stayed in your ear when exercising, so I decided to try a pair. I got the Yurbuds for Women because, well, I’m a woman. And so far, I love them.

They come with 2 different sizes of enhancers (covers that go over the earphone), so of course I tried the small ones. They have a tube, or point, or perhaps a sound tunnel, that sticks out and has to be properly positioned-the left at 3 o’clock and the right at 9 o’clock. You insert these little tubes into the ear canal and then twist them into place. They felt a little funny at first, but I quickly got used to them. And, once they’re in, they stay there. I've walked the dogs, gone running, yanked on them, and hopped around on one foot like I was trying to get water out of my ear, and still they've stayed in. My iPod’s been in the pocket of my running pants, pulling them down and stretching the extra-long headphone cord to the limit, and still they've stayed in. the only time one fell out, it hadn't been put in properly. They sound great, too, and they don’t block out the ambient sound around you, so you can hear cars, or your running buddy talking to you.

My only complaint about them is that the letters that label them (L)eft and (R)ight are very small and light. I cannot see them. I had to take the earphones into bright light and put my glasses on to figure out which was the left and right. I've now marked the left one with a sharpie.
They come in a selection of colors (I got pink), and if neither of the sizes of enhancers that comes with them works for you, you can get additional sizes. I got mine from Amazon Marketplace for $29. I no longer have to think about my earphones while I’m running. And that makes them worth every penny.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring Weather

I am the slacker blogger of the group apparently - sorry girls. I have been trying to keep up with the training schedule that we decided to use to train for this 1/2 marathon but I haven't been doing the best job keeping up with all the runs. I have been able to do all the long runs however usually only get 2 runs in during the week and the cross training has been kind of non-existent. I really think that the cross training is beneficial, unfortunately, I haven't been making the time to do it. So ... my goal for the remaining weeks is to increase my cross training (by actually leaving work close to on time)- Jackie and I have a hike planned for next Saturday so that may help :) for this week at least. 

I never minded running in the cold, the wind is a different story, but I realized with the nice spring weather this weekend that I prefer running in the 50-60 degree weather. Yesterday I was able to run 7 miles with 1 short walking break after 4 miles to take the photo below ... 

This was the view from the side of the trail that I prefer to run and I just couldn't help stopping to pet the horses. I never thought I would be able to run 7 miles because I usually get my runners block in the first mile, but have realized that once I get past the first mile point the run is actually enjoyable - shocking - finally starting to realize why people actually run long distances. 

I use MapMyRun for all my runs and find that I do a lot better if I can keep track of my progress and am better able to pace myself. I like that I can look at other trails and routes that people have used to mix it up when I get bored of running my usual route. 

The trail that I use is mostly gravel and I haven't found somewhere to run that is mostly asphalt where I don't have to worry about too many cars. Since the 1/2 marathon is in DC, I am anticipating a lot of asphalt but dislike training where I have to worry about cars - that would require turning my blaring music down to listen for cars - and I really don't want to do that. Where do you run to prepare for 13 miles of running on asphalt? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 Miles This Week, Can I Make It??

So far I think I'm doing pretty well. I've made all my runs thus far without walking. I think that is pretty darn good! My speed does seem to decrease a bit with the long runs, but that's to be expected. I'm definitely a slow and steady wins the race kinda girl! I have also learned in the past that if I stop and walk, I continue to do that the rest of the way. It kinda ruins my flow. I also tend to have this block from 1.5 miles to 2.5 miles. I just have to push through and get past it and if I stop and walk, I never get past that point and I continue the walk/run the rest of the way. I do live around a lot of hills so I have found that after running up some hills, running in place for a few seconds helps to control my breathing and allows me to continue. Do you have a running block and when does it happen?? How do you push through it??

I have missed a few short runs due to weather, working late, and random life things that have been getting in the way. I have been faithful to all my long runs though. It is definitely hard to juggle life and the weather. I have been looking at the weather on Sunday each week and our calendar to plan out when to do my runs. It is tough!! The weather has been terrible!! I was able to do my short runs at the gym if the weather was bad, but now we are getting into the 4 mile mark and I just can't handle that on a treadmill. It's just wayyyy too boring. I'm thinking after this weekend life will get a little easier. The 10 day forecast shows all 50's and with daylight savings times, life should be good! 

Since I don't have a running buddy, I run with my phone for safety, music, and to use the Nike + Running App to log my miles. It's amazing! I'm sure most of you remember these from a few years ago, where you had the foot censor and the USB port for your iPod. Well, the app now uses the GPS on the phone so it is much more accurate! It logs your miles, routes, shoes, longest rungs, fastest runs, calories, average pace, and more! It also allows you to state whether your run is inside or outside and on what terrain. It has an awesome feature of adding a power song to pump you up when your losing steam and feedback that let's you know how far, fast, and long you have been running. At the end of each run you select the terrain you ran on, shoes you ran with, and you rate how you felt during your run. I love the shoe logging feature! Big surprise right!!??!?!? This is amazing to keep track of your miles to ensure you constantly have good running shoes. :) It also gives you the ability to post your runs via social media. As I stated before, I'm sorta behind the times with social media. I'd never blogged before, I don't do twitter, and I mostly just have facebook to look at pictures and keep up with everyone, so I'm not a fan of posting every workout I accomplish. I do LOVE the audio feedback since I don't have a running buddy to keep me motivated. You can set it to give you feedback every so many minutes to miles. I have played around with the minutes and miles and found that every half mile really keeps my head in the game. It gives you some encouragement and keeps you updated on your pace so you know if you need to kick it up a notch or slow it down, depending on what you are going for during your run. I use Spotify as my music app and it works perfect with the voice over. I have no problems with it at all. The only issues I have had since I switched from the iPhone, back to an Android,  is the app hasn't been accurately logging treadmill runs. It says I'm running 1 mile in like 3 minutes! That is totally wrong! I haven't been able to fix it, so I haven't been using the app at the gym lately. All in all I'd say the Nike+ app is amazing and I'd recommend it to anyone! It's great motivation and I hope it continues to help me through the longer runs to come! What do you use to keep you motivated during your runs? What type of device do you run with to log miles? Do you listen to music? If so, what type of music do you listen to? 

I hope everyone else's runs are going well!! Good luck this week on mile 6!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Making progress!

Just wanted to give a quick update on how training's been going. Apologies for the lack of posts-once I get done with the day, study, and work out, I have a hard time convincing myself to write!

For the past few weeks, I wasn't sure I was actually making any improvement. The furthest I could run at a time was 2 miles and on my longer runs, I'd have to take a bunch of mini walk breaks in order to finish. I'm pretty sure I looked like the bottom part of this photo:

Today I ran 3.5 miles without stopping though! I think just the persistence of running ~3 times a week finally paid off and for the first 2 miles it actually didn't feel hard at all. The last mile and a half was more difficult, but do-able. It was the first time I thought 13.1 miles might actually be possible after all. I was red, out of breath, and probably still looked like the spazzy little girl in the picture, but I also felt really good. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Preventative Therapy Thursday - First Post!

Hey everyone! Here is the first week of "Preventative Therapy Thursday"!

I thought I would back-track a bit to my rant about having the proper shoes and how it can affect your feet, all the way up to your back! You all probably think I'm crazy thinking your feet can affect your back!!!

Do you remember the song from when you were a kid: the foot bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the back bone?? You probably didn't think anything of this song and thought it was fun and just silly right?? Well....... it's true!! Everything is connected and if you have ever played a game of dominos or mouse trap, then you know what happens when that marble starts to go or that first domino drops, right?? 

We are all born with a specific bone structure that we will carry throughout our lives We have NO control over this, but we do have ways to stop any problems that can occur because of it. Honestly, some of us just aren't made for running, just like some of us aren't made for dancing, gymnastics, soccer, football, etc. However, that doesn't mean we still don't try and continue the sports we love right? You just have to know how to protect yourself, know your limits, and know the consequences of going over your limits. 

In physical therapy, we like to call the little song above, the kinetic chain.  Here is a quick and dirty version. Let's start at the foot and work our way up. There are two main scenarios that can occur. Keep in mind these are extreme versions and these are principles. I guess this is a little physics, Heather. :) 

Kinetic Chain 1:
-Flat feet (no arch or flat arch)
-Knock Knees (kissing knees) 
-Internal Rotation of your hips  
-Strain on your sacro-iliac joint (often the "dimples" of the back or right at your pants line on your back) and low back

How does this affect me? Well, if your feet are flat and your knees turn in, it causes strain and tension on the inside of your ankles and knees and compression on the outside. This causes all the structures on the inside to get stretched out such as; ligaments, muscles, the joint capsule, etc. Then all the muscles outside muscles begin to tighten, like your IT Band. This band runs from your hip, down past you knee. This alignment also causes uneven wearing of the joints. Your knees will get a lot of excess compression on the outside of the joint and your hips will get a lot of compression into the pelvis. This can cause the joint to wear down faster, which may lead to a joint replacement later in life. You can develop a number of problems with this sort of presentation such as: IT band syndrome, hip bursitis, Patello-femoral syndrome, ligamentous/joint capsule laxity, meniscus problems, tendonitis, etc. Women are often prone to this sort of presentation because we often have wider hips, so are legs often "V" inward. 

Kinetic Chain 2:  (Yepp it's the exact opposite)
-High arch (more weight on the outside of your foot)
-Bow legged (your knees are far apart) - usually goes along with over extension or straightening of the knees
-External Rotation of your hips
-Compression on your sacro-iliac joint (often the "dimples" of the back or right at your pants line on your back) and low back

How does this affect me? If your feet aren't flat, you may be running or walking on the outside of our feet causing the compression on the inside and tension on the outside of your ankles and knees. Also, with being bow legged, people often over straighten their knees, causing compression at the front of their knee and tension on the back. This again causes uneven wearing of the joints and the laxities as stated above. Again, this can lead to a lot of the same problems as listed above.

Here is a few photos to help you visualize a little more easily:
                                                 Normal           Bow Legged     Knock Kneed
 , February 13, 2013.

                                                           Over extension of the knees., February 13, 2013. 

So what does this mean? Should I not run? Could I hurt myself? Remember these are the principles. Just because you have flat feet, doesn't mean you have knock knees, but it does mean you are still putting strain on your body from your ankles to your back.  It still means that the inside of your knees are straining and the outside are being compressed, as well as your ankles, etc. These pictures are the extreme cases, however some individuals do present this way. 

I cannot preach enough about being aware of your feet and wearing the proper shoes. Stand up and look at your feet. Are your arches high? Are they low? Is one different than the other? Take a walk around. Do you walk on the outside of your feet? Or on the inside? Pick up your oldest pair of shoes. Look at the bottom. Are they worn on the outside of the foot? Back of the heel, more towards the outside or inside? Is the front of your shoe worn down?  All of these things can tell you what your feet are like and what shoes you may need.

Being aware can help prevent injuries. Did you know that when you run, the impact on your leg, when you strike the ground is 1.5-3 times your body weight??!? Think about that. If you have a high arch or a flat arch, you are putting 1.5-3 times more weight on a joint that is not in proper alignment! This will lead to faster injuries. 

Make sure your shoes control your feet and have the proper cushioning for the amount of miles you plan to put in. Also, the barefoot running shoes and barefoot running has become extremely popular. Walking/running barefoot does help strengthen your foot to a point. However, if you would like to go in this direction, I strongly encourage you to consult someone at a reputable running store and make sure you have the proper feet. Also, if you are just starting to run, this may not be the best way to start. You may also want to consider how many miles you plan to run. If you are considering these barefoot shoes, starting with your short run days maybe be a safer way to go. 

I hope this gives you all a little more information and helps clarify any questions you may have had!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lazy Days in the Sun!

I was lucky enough to spend most of last week in Naples, Fl with my parents and husband. It was so nice to relax on the beach, catch some sun, and do as we pleased! We tend to be so busy and I was completely content sitting, reading, and getting my tan on!! :)  While we were there, I read 2 books and started a 3rd!! I got hooked on the "50 Shades of Grey" trilogy along with a million other women last summer and was told to read a few more that were along the same lines.

Here are the books I read in case any of you are looking for a good read!! I read "Collide" by Gail McHugh - SO good! It wasn't as graphic as "50 Shades...", if you know what I mean. It was more about the story line, which made me keep reading the "50 Shades..." Trilogy. The second book is due out in the summer and I'm dying to find out what happens! I also read "Bared to You" and just finished "Reflected in You", both by Sylvia Day. Again, sooooo good! This was really similar to "50 Shades..."; the main guy and girl both had troubled pasts, which made it very interesting how they interacted. This book had a little more detail than "Collide". The third book is due out June 4th, perfect timing for our trip to Myrtle Beach!

So between all the reading and tanning, I did so some running, of course! I lived in Florida for a bit while I was in PT school and I learned to LOVE running on the beach. I was soo excited to get a chance to do it again, however this time it didn't go as well as it had in the past. Let's just say Naples beach was not so good for running. St. Augustine beach is very wide and has a large portion of hard sand; Naples beach was very short and had A LOT of soft sand. It was an AWFUL run, I ended up running down the beach further than planned. Naples has a lot of hotels, private clubs, and homes along the beach and finding a public access ramp was harder than I expected! I ended up running only about 2.5 miles and walking the rest of the 1.5 miles back to the condo. I was sliding everywhere, got sand in my shoes, a blister on my heel from the sand, and my ankles and knees were killing me from sliding and running on a slant! I was a mess!!! I would recommend sticking to the road if you come across a short beach with soft sand if you want to get a good run in! I kept the beach for my bikini and the road for my shoes the rest of the week! :)

One thing I am getting annoyed with is my laces. It seems like no matter what shoes I have, the laces never stay tied, or they flip around and bug my ankles. Any suggestions to keep them tied and off my leg?? 

Also, with running in the warmer weather, I definitely needed some water. It was quite the change from the 30-40 degree weather I have been use to. I figure Spring will be coming soon and as my miles start to stack up, I'm going to need to invest in some sort of running water bottle. I found this one on I liked how it was Neoprene so it wouldn't be cold on my hand or sweat onto my hand. It also has an expandable pouch you can put keys, nutrition, etc in. What do you use to stay hydrated? 

Here are a few pictures I took in Naples!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wednesday's Workout - Round Two!

It’s time for another installment of Wednesday’s Workout!!

Here's a little recap of a bootcamp I attended earlier this week:

We started off with a warm up, some dynamic stretches, and headed to the court to knock out a few sets of wind sprints. Then we headed back into the gym to do our first circuit, which consisted of four stations:

  • Down 1-2-3 pushups –starting at the top of the pushup, lower yourself slowly for three counts until you reach the bottom of the pushup, then press back to the top, repeat 10x
  • Sumo squat hold – hold a wide leg squat as close to 90o as possible, with toes turned out at a 45 degree angle, for the duration of time it takes the other stations to finish their 10 reps (approx. 1 minute)
  • V-sit hold – hold a V-sit for the duration of time it takes for the other stations to finish their 10 reps (approx. 1 minute)
  • Down 1-2-3 pull ups - starting at the top of the pull up (flex hang position), lower yourself slowly for three counts until you reach the bottom of the pull up, and then pull back to the top, repeat 10x

These stations were repeated in this order 3x

After this strength circuit, we then did a conditioning circuit, consisting of 8 stations, which we did in pairs for 30 seconds with 10 seconds of rest in between stations

1.       Bosu ball squats with curls (I used 20 lb dumbells)
2.       Tire flips
3.       Wall sit with scapula slides
4.       Flex hang
5.       Half push up
6.       Spilt jumps
7.       Rope slams
8.       Plate push

These stations were repeated in this order 2x

After completing the circuit, we did a lower body burnout doing body weight squats for 1 minute 3x
I actually did this workout on Monday and I’m still feeling a little bit sore today! Especially in my lats!

Do you like to circuit train? How do you incorporate conditioning into your workouts?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What was I thinking?

Hi, I'm Autumn, and like Elise, I have never written a blog before, so this is going to take some work and is definitely a learning experience.
Tomorrow begins the 12 week training regimen that we have decided to base our training on (as previously posted by Jackie and Elise) and I am really wondering what I was thinking signing up for this! I grew up as a gymnast, which is not truly an aerobic sport, the longest routine was 90 seconds and this half marathon is entirely the opposite! I have never been much of a runner so I am going to need all sorts of help, advice and encouragement to make it through this, hence the rationale for this blog.
I have never been a fan of running on a treadmill or doing the same workouts over and over. I think I was spoiled by gymnastics - 4 hours of practice flew by and it was always something different. I have tried all sorts of workouts over the years and never found anything that truly holds my attention, so I am always trying new and different things to try to find something that works for me. A lot of people recommend classes at the gym but I have never found one that I like enough to stick with. If anyone has suggestions of new workouts let me know! 
I have always preferred running outside to running on a treadmill. I don't mind running in the cold, however with my work schedule, it is dark when I leave for work and getting dark when I get off so that eliminates running outside during the week for the time being. Treadmill running is going to have to suffice for now which means I am going to need new, upbeat music to keep me from getting overly bored! 
Elise and I are going to try to do weekly Thursday blogs about Preventative Physical Therapy so if there are any topics of interest let us know. I work as an acute care PT, so my orthopedics may be a little rusty but this will be a good reason to review and use all that knowledge we learned in school! 
Good luck with the first true week of training girls!

Avocado Smoothies!

So the other day I was browsing some other running blogs and I came across a post about avocado smoothies on Organic Runner Mom's blog. For those of you who don't know me, I am obsessed with avocados. I guess growing up in California will do that to a girl =)

I had never thought about making an avocado smoothie, so I thought "why not give it a go"? Plus, avocados are 2 for $1 right now, and I may have gone a little overboard and bought a few too many avocados (wait, is there such a thing as too many avocados?!)...

I used Organic Runner Mom's recipe as a starting point, but I made a few changes to prevent my having to run to the grocery store for additional supplies. Here is my recipe:

(makes two servings)

1 avocado
1 banana
8 strawberries, cut off the tops and cut in half
2 scoops vanilla protein powder (can sub vanilla Greek yogurt if you aren't a fan of protein powder)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 cups skim milk (can sub rice, soy, or almond milk if you prefer)

1) put everything but the protein powder into your blender and blend it up until it's nice and smooth
2) add the protein powder and mix it in
3) pour into two cups and enjoy it with a friend!

This smoothie is delicious and kind of tastes like a chocolate milkshake. It's got lots of protein and healthy fats and carbs to help you recover post run!

What's your go-to post workout snack? Would you ever try an avocado smoothie?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Preventative Therapy Thursdays!

As a group, we would love to make this Blog interactive, as well as informative!!! It seems that most people read Blogs for a few reasons, but the top two that come to mind are entertainment and to gain some sort of knowledge on a topic they are interested in.

With our Blog just getting it's "Running Start" (Like my pun?? lol), we are trying to come up with posts that will keep our current audience's attention, as well as draw in new viewers! We would like to start some weekly posts on Wednesdays and Thursdays that are informative and can keep you coming back each week!

Heather started a Wednesday Workouts post! She will be posting about workouts and all about exercise. She will offer great exercises to help shake up your routines, as well as talk about what seems to work for her. Again, we want this to be interactive, so please feel free to give her topics or leave comments about future ideas!

Since Autumn and I are physical therapists, we will be doing a Preventative Therapy Thursday post! Despite working in an Inpatient Rehab setting, I really love Outpatient Orthopedics and I'm kind of excited about doing this, so thanks to Heather for coming up with this idea!! Yes I might be a bit of nerd, but hey, I didn't go to 7 years of school for nothing!!

We want to present some information on typical running and sports injuries, as well as injuries that the "Average Joe" or "Weekend Warrior" may come across. We would love for you to leave us comments on things you are interested in learning about or maybe even comment on an injury you would like to know more about. Just remember, if you do have an injury, we have limited information about you and your ailment. We can offer help with the information that you give us. We will not be doing a full evaluation, so if your injury is serious or persists, we encourage you to make a visit to your doctor to determine what is the best plan to aide in your recovery.

Look for our first Preventative Therapy Thursday post in the next week or two!! Remember we'd love some suggestions! We want to know what you are interested in!
Elise, PT, DPT, MTC and Autumn, PT, DPT

Wednesday's Workout!

Wednesday’s Workout!

When it comes to a workout schedule, I’m a very regimented type of person. I like to have a set schedule of what workouts I will do each day. This doesn’t mean I do the same exercises in each workout, but it does mean I’m able to plan my days out better than if I didn’t have a set schedule, which is critical for me as I’m working and taking classes while trying to train for a Tough Mudder and my second half marathon (while maintaining my relationship and a semblance of a social life)

Here’s what a typical week of training looks like for me:
1 hour boot camp
3-5 mile run

45 minute boot camp & 45 minute spin
3-5 mile run & body barre
Long run (anywhere from 5-10 miles)

Sometimes I’ll throw an extra workout in on Friday, or I’ll do my long run on Sunday instead of Saturday, but generally I stick to this formula and it seems to work for me.

A few weeks from now, I’ll be adding in an extra training session on Sunday to better prepare for my second Tough Mudder. The gym I go to is doing special training sessions geared towards prepping for TM – a pretty big group of people from the gym are planning to run it together. I also plan to switch one of my weekly runs to a trail run, in order to better prepare for TM. However, I have to remember that our half marathon is my priority – and that is what I want to be strong and fit for. This will mean taking it a little bit easier while running the TM, as there's only one week between the two races.

Which reminds me, none of us has specifically said which race we are training for, so I’ll go ahead and share that with you all now! We are training for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC on April 28th! It will be my second half marathon and Autumn, Elise, and Jackie’s first!

But, back to Wednesday’s workout…the gym I go to is fantastic. It’s kind of a mix between crossfit and circuit training and no two workouts are the same. Here is a snapshot of what we did at boot camp today:

The KB circuit was repeated 2x and the ISO circuit was repeated 3x

Before the KB circuit, we did a quick TRX/plank circuit 3x.

After that, I did a 45 minute spin class (and I ended up having to ride the instructor's bike because the class was full!)

What do you do to mix up your workouts? Are you a "creature of habit" like me?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Out With the Old, In With the New??

Since I am training for this Half Marathon, I decided it was really time to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I have been an Asics fan since I was fitted for my first GOOD pair of running shoes about four years ago. Prior to a fitting and attending PT school, I hadn't thought much about my running shoes. I was picking whatever shoe I thought looked cute, had a fun color, and was comfortable at the store. Well I apparently had A LOT to learn....

Heather has been raving about her Brooks running shoes since she purchased them back in the summer. She says it feels like she is running on a cloud. To me that sounded amazing and I was all for it, but I needed to make sure the shoes were right for me. I went to Fleet Feet, which was awesome. The sales associate was really helpful, sized my feet, watched me walk and run without shoes, listened to my concerns, diagnosed me, and  came up with some great shoes. She stated that I was a "midfoot runner" and that I over-pronate (my arch collapses) when I run. She hit it all! She picked a few shoes from lightweight to more support in various bands to see what I liked. We tried about six pairs on and it came down to the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13.

They seemed to fit fine in the store. I did notice the arch seemed a little pokey, but thought it was fine. I was a little uneasy, because they didn't have any Asics in my size to try on, but I felt good and thought it was time for a change! I was so excited and couldn't wait to go for a run! Within the next day or so, I hit the treadmill for my first run...   My shins were killing me, my feet hurt, and the arch support was jabbing me!! I could barely do 15 mins! These were not the "Perfect Ride for My Stride!"I was so upset!

I don't want to knock Brooks or Fleet Feet at all. I'm sure they are great/amazing shoes for some runners, but not for this one.

This brings me to my point; PLEASE try on shoes, go for a run, really make sure they are the shoes for you

You don't want to be logging tons of miles, regardless if you're training for a race or not, in the wrong shoes. As a Physical Therapist, we see tons of runners who have developed foot, shin, knee, hip, and back problems from the wrong shoes and even from switching brands. We see a lot of new runners who just pick a shoe off the rack and hit the streets and next thing you know they have knee, hip, and back problems that they had never felt before! I encourage all new and old runners to make sure you are running in the proper shoe.  Also, pay attention to the shoe and your feet and if something doesn't feel quite right, then don't buy them. I should have listened to the pokey feeling in my arch, but you live and learn right!!?!?

So I went back to the drawing board and purchased two pairs of Asics. I went to Dick's Sporting Goods after researching all the shoes that would be best for me. Dick's has a great selection of Asics. Now, I didn't buy from Dick's because I am a bargain shopper and I found them cheaper on I ended up getting a 20% off coupon and getting two pairs of Asics for $150!!! Now that's a steal!! I ended up purchasing the Women's GT 2170 running shoe in Storm/Electric Violet and the Women's GT 1000 running shoe in Electric Punch/White/Highlighter Yellow.  One thing you may learn about me over time, I'm EXTREMELY indecisive! I could not make a decision between the two! They both felt amazing!

The Women's GT 2170  shoes feel amazing! They have the Impact Guidance System (IGS) that allows for a more natural gait when running, as well as a great arch support and shock absorption. It is a heavy shoe and a lot more shoe, but all my older Asics have been in this category.

The Women's GT 1000 is a lighter shoe. It does not have the IGS, but still has the Gel cushion and midfoot/arch support. These really hugged my feet and felt great! I love these shoes! Plus the color was an added bonus!! Remember, it's not about the color, it's about the fit! I know this is a difficult concept I had to learn to over come. My first pair of Asics were not the cutest...

I really love both of these shoes! I'm excited to alternate between them during the next few months of training! To sum everything up, it's great to try out new things, but if you know something works then why change it? I'm glad I gave Brooks a try, but I guess I'm just an Asics girl and I'm ok with that! :)

PS. In my free time, I am learning to become a better photographer with my new DSLR that my amazing husband surprised me with this Christmas!! My husband is a pretty amazing photographer and if anyone lives in the MD/VA area, you should check out his website: He does just about anything! His new challenge for 2013 is breaking into the wedding business so give him a follow if you are interested or want to see how the wedding business goes for him this year at!!!!

As you follow our blog, you may get to watch us become amazing runners and hopefully I'll blossom into a semi-decent photographer.  Well....I hope!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Training for a half a medical student.

Hi! I'm Jackie. I'm a 3rd year med student and might be a little crazy for trying to train for a half marathon and do my clinical rotations at the same time. I've gotten some of my tougher rotations out of the way (surgery and ob/gyn), so at least the next few months should be semi-close to normal working hours.

When I first signed up for the half marathon, I hadn't really run for a few years. I've been slowly building back up since November and can now do 2-3 miles without dying...always a plus. My plan is to do a few more 2-3 mile runs this week, then begin this 12-week training plan starting February 4th:

I liked the plan because it only requires running 3 days a week. It's also the same plan miss Heather used to successfully complete her first half marathon this Fall, so clearly it works! I figure I should be able to convince myself to do 2 runs during the week with a longer one on the weekend. I haven't really started incorporating strength training into my workout routine yet, but I'd definitely like to follow the schedule and begin 2 days of strength a week. 

I'm glad the weather's looking up for this week. I was a big wimp and didn't run at all during the week last week due to the cold weather. The high was in the 20's and by the time I got home from work I just couldn't convince myself to go back outside! I'm on my family medicine rotation until Friday, which means I'm at a site pretty far away from Georgetown and not able to get to the student gym to use the treadmill. This is the last week of that rotation before I'm back at school for a couple months. I won't have an excuse anymore not to run in bad weather, since the gym is literally a 2 minute walk from the hospital. So, plan for this week:

-Run 2 miles on Tuesday or Wednesday when it's going to be 60 degrees outside.
-Do a 3 mile run on Saturday or Sunday.
-Start the training plan next Monday.

Yay running! :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pinterest Fanatic!

So I thought I would write my first official Blog post, ever! I am usually not a big blogger and I often tease my husband for doing these types of things, but I think Heather and Jackie came up with a really good idea! I'm excited to see how our training goes for the next few months and to keep up with my friends during the process. I hope whoever follows this finds it just as entertaining and maybe even a little motivating!

Now to get to the REAL point of this post....  After taking some time off from the gym during the holidays, I needed some good workouts to get me back on my feet and ready to start training for this half marathon. First things first, you all should know I am OBSESSED with Pinterest!! It may be unhealthy and I may need a 12 step program. I will Pin anything and everything from crafts, home decor, home remodeling, cooking, baking, home tips, photography ideas, fashion, and obviously anything to do with exercise.

I think the biggest obstacle I am going to have to overcome with this upcoming race is learning how to run in the cold. I am probably the coldest person you will ever meet. If it is 90 degrees, I will find a way to be cold. I even have a hard time running when it's 50 degrees! I feel like I can't breathe and my lungs freeze up. It's a terrible feeling and I am open to any suggestions anyone may have. Since the 1/2 Marathon is in April, the 12 week training officially begins February 4th, so this is something I need to learn fast!

So in the mean time, I have found some different Treadmill workouts to do via Pinterest. When I started running a few years ago, I used to love the treadmill because it was a great way to learn how to pace myself, but now, I hate it. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Even with the best playlist and something entertaining on TV, I still get bored after 15 minutes.

Here are a few Treadmill workouts I have found to improve my endurance, while still keeping me entertained long enough to at least stay on the treadmill for 30 minutes or longer. These are based upon interval training, which is actually very good for your endurance and cardiovascular system.

1. Warm-up 5 minutes on 2.0-3.0 mph:
          Now for the workout:
                   - 1 minute at 5.0mph
                   - 1 minute at 5.5mph
                   - 1 minute at 6.0mph
                   - 1 minute at 6.5mph
                   - 1 minute at 7.0mph
                   - 1 minute at 7.5mph
                 - 2-3 minutes at 3.5-4mph
Repeat the whole thing 3-5 times depending on how long of a work out you want.

2. This website has a ton of different interval workouts on the treadmill. I have done the 500 calorie workout and the Pyramid Interval workout.

Between running days, Heather had suggested making strength training a priority when training for a long race like a 1/2 marathon or a marathon. She did a 1/2 marathon back in November and if anyone is familiar with the Hal Higdon training programs, he has you only running up to 10 miles. This FREAKED me out! I was thinking, wow you still have a WHOLE 5k to run on the day of the 1/2 marathon Mr. Higdon! Heather kindly reminded me that after 12 weeks of training, I will be running 5k's multiple times a week and it will be a piece of cake by then, or so we hope! She also felt that besides the excitement of the race, her strength really helped her in the last 3.2 miles to make it to the finish. So I decided to look through Pinterest and my exercise board for some good ideas. I am a big fan of circuits. I usually try and do 5-6 exercises with little to no rest breaks and then take a rest and water break before I repeat it 2 more times. This is a great way to get a little extra cardio in to burn a few extra calories and not waste your valuable time. All the meatheads at the gym drive me nuts when they knock out 10-20 reps of an enormous chest weight that is stressing their joints to the max and then proceed to check themselves out in the mirror for the next 5+ minutes for their rest break. (Yes, that's the PT in me talking, sorry.) Next thing you know, it's been 20 minutes and they have only done one exercise! Anyways, I will get off my soap box and post a few circuits I have found that I really like. These circuits are dedicated to one body part, which is a good way to increase muscle strength. I tend to put a combo of arm, leg, and ab exercises into my circuits and I get a good full body work out, but I don't dedicate enough time to one area to really build my strength.

Ab Workouts:
1. Planks:
2. Itty Bitty Tummy:
3. The Core Challenge:

Legs/Butt Workout:
     - I will say this is a KILLER. My legs and butt were sore for a good 3 days!

I have been doing an ab circuit, rest break, leg circuit, rest break, and repeating 2-3 times depending on my time contraints and how long I spend doing cardio. I haven't found an arm circuit I want to stick with yet, but don't worry I am adding that in as well and when I find one or a few I really like I'll post it for you all to see! I do like to take the Body Pump class at the gym and I have integrated some exercises and principles from the class into my workouts. Body Pump is a class that is more geared towards toning vs. building muscle. However, I think I am ok with that, because I spent a lot of my younger years being bulkier from competitive gymnastics. To this day, I still can't get rid of some bulkier areas of my body and I am certainly not getting any younger, so toning works for me!

I think that's it for my first post! It definitely turned out to be longer than I expected! I hope you all enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let's Introduce Ourselves...

Welcome to Laps and Line Photos – a blog where four friends document their workouts, friendships, and life experiences.

A history:

Meet Autumn, Elise, Heather, and Jackie. Autumn, Elise, and Heather have been friends since the first day of school freshman year (which was 7 years ago, but who’s counting?). The three of us met Jackie during her first week of  college one year later. All four of us met through our college club gymnastics team and we've been friends ever since.


Autumn is an acute care physical therapist who graduated with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from VCU. She lives in Northern Virginia.


Elise is an inpatient rehab therapist who works with spine/spinal cord patients. She graduated with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from University of St. Augustine. She lives outside of Baltimore.


Heather is a laboratory manager at Virginia Tech. She performs antibiotic resistance gene excretion research on dairy cattle. She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.


Jackie is a third year med student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Jackie plans to become a child psychiatrist.

Where’d the name come from?:

The name “Laps and Line Photos” combines the main focus of our blog with an inside joke that we’ve held on to for years. “Laps” because this blog will focus mainly on training for races we plan to run together and “Line Photos” because whenever we’re together we always take tons of photos of us standing in a line.

Don’t believe me? Here are a few examples.

And these only took me about 5 minutes on Facebook to find…according to Autumn it’s a chronic issue (she really hates line photos) but to the rest of us it’s a great way to document our friendship over the years. Now that we’ve decided to run races together, we have even more reasons to take some line photos! And – bonus – now Autumn has to let us take them!!

Why’d we decide to start a blog?:

We decided to start this blog for a few reasons:

  •          To document our training process
  •          To act as a pseudo “running buddy”, since we’re all so far apart
  •          To motivate each of us to continue training towards our common goals
  •          To help us to keep in touch and maintain our friendships
  •          To share our experiences with other friends, family, and runners

What kind of posts will you see here?:

Plan on seeing lots of running/exercise updates as well as some “throwback” posts about events that defined our friendships. You will also get to read posts about the fun times we have when we get together – whether it’s all four of us or just two or three of us. In addition, you’ll get to read our celebratory posts each time we reach a goal, both together and separately. Finally, you’ll read guest posts from other friends of ours, like our friend Ashley, who is a fourth year med student and doesn't have the time right now to devote to blogging or training.

A group photo with future guest blogger, Ashley