Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cross Training and HIIT Training with FOCUS T25

**OK, no. I am not a rep or coach for Beach Body. No affiliation whatsoever.**

If you follow me on Twitter or you know me in real life, it is no secret that I love (LOVE!) Beach Body's Insanity program. Let's be honest here: Shaun T is a babe and he is extremely motivating. But I actually do believe Insanity does what it claims to do (tighten your sloppy ass up) if you are willing to follow the plan as it is designed - and that you are healthy enough to do Insanity in the first place. (There is a legit reason why it is called "Insanity." No, not everyone should do it.)
See what I mean? Babe.
I initially bought Insanity, because I wanted to replace my gym membership - so while the price for the Beach Body programs can seem expensive, it was a steal in comparison to my crappy and over-priced $$$ gym membership. I did the whole first cycle when I got it and I was hooked. My life revolved around those workouts. My favorite of all the workouts is Pure Cardio - which most people hate - but I'm an endurance runner, so cardio is a cake walk. All of the workouts were challenging, but doable - gradually building in intensity and length. By the time I finished, I felt strong, fit and energized. I didn't lose a ton of weight, but that doesn't mean that my body didn't change a lot. I leaned out in a flattering way and my muscle definition was much more noticeable. I felt lighter and faster.

After completing that first cycle, I got back to high mileage running. Ever since, I use Insanity as part of my cross-training regimen. I build it into my plan once or twice a week for a little bit of resistance training, HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) and muscle confusion. Cross-training is absolutely imperative if you're going to be a successful runner or if you are working towards specific speed goals...which brings me to my most recent purchase: FOCUS T25. I just bought it today and I am SO EXCITED. 

FOCUS T25 is also a high-intensity interval training program. What does that mean? It means that you are going to kick your own ass without breaks for 25 minutes a day. People see that number and think, "Oooh, I can get in shape in just 25 minutes a day! Sign me up!" Sadly, that is only partially true. Those will be 25 extremely intense minutes of the day and they must go hand-in-hand with a focused diet and lifestyle. There are never short-cuts, people.

The reason I purchased T25 is that I wanted something short to fit into my day without having to give up my runs. I can easily do a run and T25 in the same day (although I might be tired!) I think this program is perfect for an already fit person that is busy and still wants to get in a quality workout. I plan to use FOCUS T25 the way it was intended for the first round and then I will likely use it the way I use Insanity - to mix things up or to guarantee a workout on a busy day.

My package should come in the mail this week! I will track my progress here so you guys can judge for yourselves. :) Have a nice Monday!


1. What sort of cross-training do you like to incorporate into your training?
2. Have you ever had success with a "boxed" fitness plan like Insanity or FOCUS T25?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bearded Brothers Kickstarter & A Giveaway

I am very happy to share news from one of my favorite snack food companies, Bearded Brothers - they are expanding their line of products! As a huge fan of their wonderful real-food energy bars, this is wonderful news in my book. (If you haven't had the pleasure of trying their bars yet, OMG - go here now ----> SHOP.)

They are going to be adding vegan/paleo friendly snacks to their repertoire - including organic sprouted nuts and seeds. Their products are delicious, but more importantly, the Bros are committed to conscientious values that support the highest quality of life. I really respect them as a company because of the high standards and levels of commitment they have set for themselves. 

I have gushed about Bearded Brothers on my blog before. They even helped out with my "blogiversary" giveaway. I am trying to return the favor by spreading the word about their new Kickstarter project.  


What I am asking of you (pretty please) is to help spread the word about their Kickstarter project. Of course, you can also contribute if it is something you can get behind! They have really generous incentives for backers of the project. The link to their Kickstarter page is HERE.

To sweeten the pot, I will also be giving away Lace & Race coffee mugs to 2 readers that help spread the word. Retweet! Share on Facebook! Mention in a blog post! Follow the Bearded Bros! All of these ways will help this stand-up company reach their goal - which will ultimately benefit me because I love their stuff (see, totally selfishly motivated here.) Please share the love and enter below. No, you don't have to donate any money to enter, but it doesn't hurt either! Scroll down and enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Recap - Lakefront Marathan and a PR

Anyone that follows me on Twitter has probably seen one or two of my training complaints and concerns over the last month. To say that things didn't go as I planned during training would be a gross understatement - but I still felt mostly prepared for a solid run on Sunday at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee. My adjusted goal was to PR.

We could not have asked for better marathon conditions. There was very light rain when I got to the start area, but that cleared up by the time we lined up. The temperature was cool, but not cold. I was really glad that I didn't need my gloves this time around. I watched the runners filter into the starting area, separating themselves by their ability and confidence levels at that particular moment in time. I studied the women that lined up near the front, because I decided they would be my competition that day. I wasn't going to "start off easy and see how I feel." No. Balls to the wall. So I found some muscle-bound gals and made plans to use them as rabbits.

The clock ticked down for the last few minutes until the gun. Time always goes slowly in those last few moments. One of the final minutes was dedicated to Boston - we held a moment of silence and the announcer asked if any of the runners were looking to BQ. A roar came up from the crowd  - and I remembered that one year ago, I was running my first marathon and I was also looking to BQ. I felt like a member of a special club as I got to see the hope and optimism in the people all looking to achieve very specific and personal goals within the next few hours. It is a beautifully emotional thing to be among a sea of hopeful people.

The gun went off and thousands of watches beeped as we lurched forward. I put my plan into motion immediately: find and follow fast girls. From the first few steps, my legs felt light and fast - some of which could be attributed to adrenaline. The first mile was a blur, because the crowd is so thick at the beginning of the race. First mile pace: 6:47. I knew that was too fast, but I was also unwilling to let the elite women slip out of sight. I could adjust once the crowd thinned out and I settled into a pace.

The miles ticked by. The man with the accordion was playing in his front lawn as always. The spectators shook cow bells and shouted commands like "Keep going!" By the time I reached the 10K mark, I realized that I was on pace to run a 3:00. I started to have a mental freak out, because the goal I set at the beginning of the year was not entirely out of the question - despite injuries and an imperfect training cycle. I crossed Mile 7 in 47:50 (6:50 pace.) Someone shouted, "You're the 5th place girl." 5th? What?! Oh. My. God. 
Representing Oiselle. Feeling calm and fast.

A group of five guys came up behind me around Mile 8. Their pace was very close to mine, so I let them pass and then I matched them step for step. I overheard their discussion and quickly realized their goal time was 3:02. I wasn't tired and my pace had been consistent, so I decided to just shadow them for as long as I could. I ran a mental checklist to see if was bothering me physically at that point in the race and the only thing I even noticed was a little numbness in the bottom of my right foot - the same Plantar Fasciitis symptoms I had been experiencing throughout the end of my training.

I stayed with that group of men until we turned a corner near Mile 12 and ran up a slight incline. Nothing major at all. But simultaneously, both of my calves began to lock up. I could feel tightness over-taking them both. OH NO! Cramps?! I've only had minor cramps in my previous two marathons and both times, it occurred in the last two miles. Almost immediately, my legs could not maintain the previous pace. I forced them - one locked up step after the other - and I crossed the half mark in 1:30:51 (6:56 pace.) 

I wish I could fully explain the frustration I experienced during the second half of the race. Mentally and physically (aside from my calves) I was not tired and I wanted to go faster. The cramps made it impossible. I wanted to scream every time a female passed me and as I watched the minutes tick by. My pace dropped. 7:15. 7:30. 8:00. I had to do something I have never done in a race before: I stopped. I walked through all water stops for the last six miles of the race trying desperately to replace electrolytes and water. AND I stopped about five times to massage/stretch my calves. They were like two baseballs below my skin and whenever I stopped running, I could see them twitching below the surface of my skin. It looked like I had two aliens trapped inside my legs. I have never stopped before and I was so mad at myself for it.

Once again, my goal had to be revised. Running a 3:00 had long been out of the question, but a PR was still attainable. I did the mental math to determine what I would have to run to come in under last year's time - 3:18:45. Those last few miles were long and tedious and painful. It made me crazy to not feel tired but to be stuck in the drudgery of a ridiculously slow and arduous pace. The silver lining was that it was an absolutely beautiful morning to be running along Lake Michigan. Perfection.

Once I reached the last half mile, I stopped one final time. I rubbed out my calves on the grass and gave myself a pep talk. Finish strong. I headed for the finish with a smile on my face. My family and friends were waiting there as I crossed the finish line in 3:15:58 - 13th Female - 3rd in Age Group - and a shiny, new PR. A hard-earned PR.

We only have a certain amount of control on race day. We have put the in the miles. We can be prepared. We can be confident. We can't predict the outcome.

I'm going to have to keep doing this until it all goes my way. ;)

- 3:15:58 (PR)
- 13th Female / 1,499 Females
- 138th Finisher / 3,144 Total Finishers
- 3rd in Division