Running Shape

I guess I took for granted how easy it is to maintain endurance when you’re fit. I could run just fine in the heat. I could run after taking two weeks off, come back to running, and my lungs still felt good.

They do not feel good right now.

I’ve been jogging more and more now that I’m cleared from PT and have proven that my knee could literally take a pounding again (9 mile run in June – even if it was quite a slow pace…). But man is it HARD.

As a teenagerimg_0215 in high school, I can remember grueling track meets where I got PR’s in the mile… And that’s how difficult my run felt yesterday.

Except I definitely didn’t PR in the mile. I barely kept a 10 minute pace and I was hurting.

Just two years ago I was running sub-7 mile repeats for 5+ miles like it was no problem. Just last year I was doing sprinting workouts and my lungs could handle it like a champ while I Aqua-ran or did bike workouts.

But I fell out of my routine when my appendix came out, and by the time I was well enough to exercise I had knee surgery. And let’s just say it was really easy to follow the whole “rest and recover” instructionsI got complacent with my easy PT exercises after surgery and now my lungs and my muscles are out of shape.

It sucks to train from ground 0. I’m still doing my PT exercises to keep my VMO, hamstrings, hip flexors and quads strong. I’ve finally felt comfortable enough to include more intense exercises to my routine like reverse lunges on a physio ball, wallsits and short sprints in my routine again.

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I’m feeling a little sore today – but in a good way! It’s going to be an uphill battle but I know if I can push through the next couple of weeks my body will adapt and I will be SO happy when it does!



Working Out With a Hectic Schedule

It’s been a month since my last post. I have all these blog topics I want to delve into and yet, I can’t seem to find the time.

Schools back in session, which means I’m busy from 7-5 most nights, sometimes later, as I’m still figuring out this lesson prep deal. Each week my time is split between work, coaching, family, relationships, friendships, caring for my dog, fellowship group, church, gym, etc, etc, etc.

Where do we find the time!?

I’m a routine person. I do best when I am in the groove of a routine. It’s so much easier to stick with all my commitments and keep my priorities in line. Transitioning from summer vacation to work again has left me completely outside my orderly routine.

That being said, I haven’t been blogging as much, I haven’t seen my friends as much, and worst of all, I haven’t been gymming hardly at all in the past month. There I said it. I’ve worked out twice in 5 weeks. I’m ashamed! But if you’re anything like me, when the going get busy, the busy don’t get to the gym. (Does that make sense?)

The gym or our workout time probably the worst thing we can cut from our routine. It starts an evil cycle that’s really hard to break and really easy to embrace.

You miss the gym.
You get more “stuff” done.
You feel tired.
You sleep more.
You still feel tired.
You eat more (bad) stuff.
You feel bad.
Your clothes feel bad.
You feel worse.
You feel too tired to get to the gym
And on and on and on…. It doesn’t end!

Once you’re out of your workout routine it’s SO HARD to get back in it because the cycle of bad eating and bad sleep habits keeps you “too tired” to go. (Read my article on sleep and see what this happens on a chemical level.)

So, I encourage you (and myself!) to get to the gym this week. It might only happen once, or maybe you’ll only get there for half of your normal gym session. That’s okay! Just get there.

Pack a bag ahead of time and go straight from work so you don’t have time to change your mind. Or make plans to meet a friend there so you’ll feel more obligated to go and not let them down. Sign up for a spot in an exercise class to make the commitment feel more real and less like you can make up an excuse to skip. Whatever you need to do to get there, do it!

Once you do, your mind will feel renewed and your body will thank you – even after just ONE session! Before you know it, you’ll remember why you value your time at the gym more than the time you spend in some other places, and you’ll be back in a good routine in no time, feeling more energized, healthier, and happier 🙂

Home Workout 4

Here’s another home workout you can do sans equipment! Just you and the comfort of your own home. No excuses! If you have questions on the exercises, leave a comment!

Perform each exercise for 12 reps or 40s where indicated*, straight through the set.
Rest as needed, or 2 min at end.
Repeat for 3 sets.

  • Single leg step ups (12 on each side) – use a chair or sturdy chest.
  • Inchworm – keep feet planted, walk hands out to straight arm plank, hold, walk feet back in towards hands and repeat.
  • Jumping jacks*
  • Forward lunges w arms up (12 on each side)
  • Push ups
  • Forearm plank

Good luck!

Dear Coach: Losing Weight

Clients: You’re lucky you’re so skinny/toned/small/etc/etc/etc……..
Me: It’s not luck!!!

As a personal trainer, I think it’s really important to be able to relate to my clients when it comes to fitness goals. Most of my clients assume I’m just one of those special, lucky people who are naturally thin and fit without even trying – one of those extremely blessed people who can eat literally anything they want, as much of it as they want, and not gain a pound. But that isn’t me. While my weight loss total wasn’t over the top or as significant as most, it still counts and it certainly gave me insight on how difficult it is to lose weight!

When I was a senior in high school, I gained about ten pounds. Part of this was travelling abroad and experiencing Spain’s diverse foods to the fullest and part of it was not continuing to exercise when my team sports seasons ended. A big part of this was being social all summer with my friends, going out for ice cream every chance we got before jetting off to college.

My freshman year of college at UMass Amherst, I gained even more weight. The “Freshman Fifteen” is real people – especially at a school like UMass where the dining is delicious and all you can eat. Not to mention that if you want it to be, the drinking scene can be heavy.

By the time I was heading into sophomore year of college (I transferred to Gordon at this time), I was over 135 pounds. I had never weighed more than 120 in my life. I’m not extremely tall, about 5’6″, so 135 is on the upper end of an average weight. But I was clearly not muscular, not toned, and definitely not fitting into my old jeans.

That spring, I really took to the gym and started eating healthier. I lost about 5 pounds over break and came back feeling awesome about it. So that summer, I decided to forego all ice cream excursions and dedicate myself to getting my cardio in every week. It wasn’t just one thing I changed, but my whole lifestyle. I slowly cut out junk food to the point where I didn’t even crave it anymore. The gym became a haven where I could de-stress and love the work my body could do. The roads of my town became my treadmill and I revelled in making it farther and farther on each run.

By the time I went back for my junior year, I lost all the weight I had put on and then some. I fluctuated between 115-120, but continued my healthy eating habits and exercise routines. Maybe losing 15-20 pounds doesn’t sound like much. But it was a lot to me! I could see the difference and feel the difference physically, emotionally, and mentally. I had more energy, was happier and more focused, and I felt more confident and motivated in other aspects of my life.

Photo Jun 20, 6 52 52 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 53 52 AM

[After freshman year of college (2011) I was at my heaviest (left photos). Most notable is the weight in my face (chubby cheeks!) and arms. Right photos are 2014 and 2012 respectively.]

Photo Jun 20, 6 55 34 AM Photo Jun 20, 6 57 34 AM

[Again, left photos are all 2010-2011. Right photos are 2012 and 2014. Again, the weight in my cheeks and arms is most notable, but I also lost quite a few inches around my waist and stomach.]

No matter what your fitness goal is, it’s important to do it for YOU and only you. Be determined and love yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve when you get closer to your goal. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen over night. Surround yourself with people who understand what it’s like – what it’s like to strive toward your goal, what it’s like to slip up and fall off track, what it’s like to lose motivation and get down on yourself, what it’s like to crave dessert, what it’s like to feel your body burn during your workout, what it’s like to achieve that goal.

I always tell my clients that I certainly did NOT always look the way I do now. And I still have fitness goals I want to achieve. There is a reason I always refer to your fitness journey as a journey, and it’s because you’ll never be “done”. Even when you achieve your goal, there’s always another one to strive for, or at least maintain.

I was really discouraged when I finally realized I had put on 20 pounds and could barely do a push up or run a decent mile. But I’m glad I went through that journey because it’s allowed me to relate to all my clients who have weight loss goals and struggles. I can get personal and honestly say, “I’ve been there, I GET IT.” It’s hard, and it takes time and dedication, but it’s a day to day process. We’ll get there.


 [Present. 2015]

-Coach A

Running on the Beach

Let’s be honest, the only place we really want to be in the summer is on a beach. For you fitness freaks out there, that doesn’t mean you have to just lounge lazily in the sun and snack all day long. You can get a great workout by running in the sand, and it can be as relaxing or challenging as you want!

Running on the beach provides a couple of options for your workout. Running closer to the water’s edge, especially during low tide, offers wetter and more compact sand to run on. This makes it easier to navigate along your run and offers an enjoyable, smooth ride for you to enjoy on the ocean’s edge.

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, running in the softer, looser sand provides more resistance. In fact, it takes more energy and work to navigate through looser sand as your tendons and muscles adjust to the unnevennes of the terrain. Running in looser sand is a bit like running hills, requiring you to generate more force and work harder overall.

Running in sneakers versus running barefoot also allows you to control the intensity of your run. Running in shoes on the beach is perfectly fine, especially if you’ve had injuries like plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis. The sneakers will continue to provide your feet the support they need on the unpredictable terrain sand offers.

While running barefoot allows your feet to follow through their full range of motion, it can irritate the chronic conditions mentioned above, since the muscles are stretched more and are not being supported by the proper shoes. If you choose to go the no shoes route, beware of doing too much mileage, too soon. The harder surface could result in injury if you aren’t used to it. Additionally, beaches are typically littered with sharp shells and often times, glass or other litter. Beware of this risk if you decide to run barefoot.

Harder sand or softer sand, in sneakers or not – either way, if you’ve never run on a beach before, start slow. Begin with a short 15 minute jog and slowly increase your time as the weeks progress. Your legs and feet will need to adjust to the work they’ll be doing in the sand, and your body as a whole will have to adjust to the higher energy demands running on sand requires.

For me, running on the beach is the most relaxing workout there is. Waking up early before the crowd arrives while it’s still silent but for the sound of wind and waves is one of the most peaceful times to appreciate what your body can do. So give it a try! Go for a quick little jog on the coast and see how renewed you feel after running behind such a glorious canvas!


Dr. Izumi Tabata is a Japanese scientist who came up with the method of training called tabata. Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training. This specific style of training consists of choosing four exercises that target large muscle groups or involve the entire body. You begin with one exercise and perform it for 20 seconds at your maximum ability, then rest for 10 seconds. The same exercise and times are repeated for a total of 8 sets. Then, you move on to the next exercise and perform it for 8 rounds of 20 seconds, with 10 seconds of rest in between, and so on for the other exercises you selected.

In total, tabata style workouts take only 4 minutes for each exercise, so you can complete an intense workout in just 16 minutes! Most exercises that are done in tabata target large muscle groups for maximum effect. Some exercises may include burpees, squat jumps, lunge jumps, kettle bell swings, medicine ball slams, mountain climbers, sprints, pushups, tricep dips, and various core exercises.

The benefits of this type of training are that it improves both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. So the cardiovascular system, which requires oxygen to function, improves, AND the anaerobic energy systems are targeted too. Therefore, muscles are trained and strengthened as well. Most types of exercise don’t hit both systems as hard as tabata.

These benefits are what lead to fat burning and muscle building. Additionally, this type of training leads to an increased metabolism, so even after you finish your tabata training, your body continues to burn higher levels of calories for a longer period of time. That’s an added bonus to the improvements and calorie burning you’re already working for!

The only drawbacks to tabata are if you have certain heart issues or very high blood pressure. Because tabata elevates your heart rate, and keeps it elevated for so long with minimal rest between the full body exertions you are performing, your heart cannot recover entirely.

Additionally, if you have problems with your joints this type of workout might not be the best. These high bursts of intense full body exercises might put a little too much stress on your joints and cause irritation if done for so many repetitions.

There is one more important thing to note about tabata. Tabata is HARD. It is not for the weak of heart. It will feel like the longest, most uncomfortable four (up to sixteen if you do the whole workout ;)…) minutes of your life. Your muscles will fatigue. You will be out of breath. But don’t let that deter you from trying this awesome, effective training method because it WILL get you results!

Here is a sample Home Workout Tabata program to try:


Oh, Cardio

The journey toward your fitness goals is an intricate path. Various components contribute or detract from your success in achieving the goals you set for yourself. Diet and nutrition is a large part of the story, as is strength training and exercising. The third leg of this journey is cardio.

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with cardio. If you’re working hard and doing it right, it can stink! But boy, do you feel great after it’s over… The benefits of doing cardio are undeniable. Your muscles get stronger, your heart rate improves, you burn calories and lose weight… It’s a key contributor to achieving just about any fitness goal!

But why do most people skip it? Most likely, you haven’t found the cardio that’s right for you. Getting your cardio in doesn’t have to mean running for 30 minutes on a treadmill, or using an elliptical for 45 minutes… There are many ways to get your cardio in AND enjoy it! Below are just a few suggestions, now that the weather is warm and sunny and the outdoors isn’t totally off limits!

  • Walking – Walk outside around the park, or around a scenic lake or beach boardwalk for 30-45 minutes to get your cardio in. You’ll be able to people-watch, enjoy the view and the sounds, and get some sunshine.
  • Hiking – Take some friends or family and hike a mountain! There are local trails nearby that will get the heart pumping. You won’t even feel like you’re doing cardio and walking for miles, but you are. Plus, you totally get to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Rock Climbing – Work your arms and back and get some cardio in by rock climbing. It doesn’t have to be up high! You can traverse sideways, a foot or two off the ground, and get just as much of a workout. There are various local areas to do this in and outside.
  • Dancing – Sign up for a dance class, go out to a dance event in a local bar, or just go nuts at home! Really moving and grooving for 30-45 minutes gets your heart rate going and works your legs and arms.
  • Zumba – Similar to dancing but incorporating more strength exercises, Zumba is a great way to get your cardio in.
  • Bike Ride – With this gorgeous weather, I’m sure you’ve seen tons of bikers out in there bright gear taking up the roadways. Well, join them! Dust off your bike and get on the road this weekend. If you’re feeling confident, bike to work with your lunch and a change of clothes in a backpack. Biking outside is a great way to get your cardio in without feeling claustrophobic in a gym. You’re outside – you can enjoy the wind and sun, see so many different things on your route, and change up your ride with hills and turns.
  • Community Rec-League/Pick-Up – Many towns and cities have local sports clubs for people looking to engage in a fun sport activity with low intensity on the rules. Playing kickball, baseball, or basketball on a local recreational team, or even just getting in on some pick-up basketball at the public courts down the street, is a great way to change up your cardio routine.
  • Play a Childhood Game – Do you have kids, nieces and nephews, grandkids?! Then you have an excuse to run a game of tag, flag football, kickball, or any other game you may have enjoyed as a child. Even if you don’t have little ones for an excuse, get some friends together on the weekend to enjoy a fun game, socialize, and get your cardio in!

I hope you enjoy some of these fresh, new ideas for cardio and take advantage of them! Cardio doesn’t have to be boring! You can still get your 30-45 minutes of cardio in, be fit, have fun, and socialize all at once 🙂