New Fitness Adventures!

With training being my real main focus the past few weeks, I haven’t had time to tell you guys I have begun two new fitness adventures! These are both things that I have wanted to try and be a part of for a long time and the time has finally come for me to pursue them.

First up, the Cleveland Fusion. Never heard of them? The Cleveland Fusion is Cleveland’s women’s tackle football team. Real Women. Real Football. They are a part of the Women’s Football Alliance,  a league that crosses over the entire country and has 40 teams in it. Cleveland iscleveland-fusion-logo-225 currently ranked fifth in the nation, having 10 All-American players last season. Our home stadium is in Maple Heights and the season begin in April. I’m pretty pumped about it.

There are probably some of you who are aware that I have zero football playing experience but experience is not a requirement for making the team. We have not yet begun to have legitimate practices but we have started conditioning (which I love) and I’ve gotten a chance to meet some of the players. They have all told me that I’m going to have a good time this season and they seem really supportive and want to help me figure all this out. Go Fusion!

My second fitness adventure is a bit of a piggy-back on the football team. Currently for conditioning, we meet at a Crossfit gym in Bedford Heights. That’s a bit of a haul for me to do three times a week so I only trek out there on Monday’s. I still want to be working out and lifting weights, something I have never had much interest in, but I didn’t know where to do that. I usually just lifted by myself at the Y but I didn’t feel challenged necessarily and I didn’t have the motivation to do it myself. After telling my assistant principal about making the team, he told me I should look into going to the Crossfit gym he goes to  (not a new topic of conversation for us). I finally gave in and checked it out, thinking that it would be easier for me to get to it than Bedford.TheBarCrossFitLogoFNLblack.png

I’ve only been to one class really, along with one 1 on 1 Athlete Development session but I already love it. The people there are super cool and very nice. They just want to help you and teach you how to do things correctly. It’s been great. Everything can be modified to your needs and your strength so even with my shoulder being iffy sometimes, I can still feel like I’m working hard and making progress.

I’m super excited about both of these fitness adventures. Just another way I can continue being an athlete in my own eyes.

Sunday RunDay: 11/22/15

Sunday RunDay has come once again! Week three of training is officially in the books and I have created some new goals for myself already.

When I woke up today, there was snow on the ground. Not a significant amount of snow that would normally force me to go to the gym for my run, but still snow. There was a lot of debate with myself about where to run IMG_2472today due to the fact that it was 34 degrees and the wind was a little out of control. Do I really want to fight the wind for 5 miles and probably be discouraged and maybe not run as well today? The answer is always no. I headed to the gym to get on a treadmill.

I had a little bit of bad luck when I got there. Most of the treadmills at Anytime Fitness face out the window but I wound up on on of the treadmills that was in front of a wall. No big deal really. The treadmills at Anytime are really nice and I was able to watch Teen Titans on my TV as I ran.

My pace was much slower today than normal and I felt super slow. It has been an incredibly long time since I have run a significant amount of miles on a treadmill and I am coming to find that I struggle during those runs, even though the terrain is flat and I am able to monitor my pace much easier. It’s just so boring! To me, at least. I’m not trying to knock anyone who is an avid treadmill runner. I used to be able to handle it, but apparently not any more.

This is where my new goals come into place. I don’t think training on a treadmill is that beneficial for me. Thinking about it, my first ever half I spent a majority of my training on a treadmill and didn’t do so great in the race. My second half, I trained 99% outside instead of on a treadmill and I felt better and ran faster. I felt much better prepared and I didn’t have to walk-jog any of it. I know that the weather isn’t going to cooperate all the time during training, especially since the snow and cold temperatures will be coming. Getting up at 5am to run in the snow might not be my safest option. Afternoon runs after school is going to be part of my new plan. November through January isn’t the best time to be training for such a big race in Ohio but I’m going to make the most of it.

Tips for Your First 5k

With the announcement of Runkeeper’s Global 5k taking place around the world on December 6th, 2015, some users will be embarking on their first ever 5k race. How do you go about running a 5k, or any race? If you have ever been into running before, you might not know where to start or what to do. One great thing about the running community is that everyone is a part of everyone else’s cheering section. We share in the excitement of people’s first races and we love hearing other people’s stories, adventures, and accomplishments. If you are looking for help, you won’t have to go far to find it.

Getting Started

Where do you begin when it comes to embarking on a running adventure? The best thing to do is to set goals for yourself. These goals can be a number of things and can cover a whole spectrum of topics and measurements. Perhaps your goal is to simply run a 5k. The next question you should answer is what 5k do you want to run specifically? In my own experience, signing up for a race is one of the biggest motivators I have when it comes to training. You need that race in the back of your mind with that very real deadline to help push you to keep running through the weeks. Goals for running might even be more specific in terms of saying you would like to run a 5k in under 28 minutes, or that you want to train 3 times a week.

Follow a Training Plan

Want to help yourself prevent injury, burnout, and just pure frustration? You need to follow a training plan. There are a plethora of options and helpful websites and apps that inexperienced and even experienced runners can use to help guide their training. Runkeeper Go offers training schedules, help, and advice through it’s many training plans available through the app. There are also options that are aimed at helping you lose weight or even learn to run if you are a beginner. Other apps that seem to have grown in popularity are Couch to 5k which is another training plan that gives you daily workouts that help you progress from being sedentary to being on the course. Other runners may follow a particular trainer and his plan, such as Hal Higdon (www.halhigdon.com). He has varied training plans from novice to advanced runners who are looking to improve. The main thing to keep in mind as you begin a training program is to make sure that it is progressive. You cannot expect to be walk/jogging a mile one week to being able to run multiple miles the next. Just like any other sport or activity, running takes practice in order to get better at it.

Find Your Motivation

It’s true when people say that it is important to know why you are running in a race. Is it for the cool shirt? Is it because all of your friends are doing it with you? Is it to prove to yourself that you can be a runner? Everyone’s motivation is different. Some people use races as a motivator to enter into a healthier lifestyle. All reasons are valid reasons, you just need to know why it is important for YOU. So ask yourself (and be honest), why are you running?

Pump Yourself Up

As part of motivation, I would say that most runners would tell you that they have a particular piece of clothing that they prefer to run in. Maybe it’s a favorite shirt, a pair of shorts, or even a pair of socks. In order to pump yourself up about a race, sometimes you need to invest in some new gear. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you look good, you’ll feel good”? That saying is still relevant in the running community. Get a new pair of shoes, a cool t-shirt, some nice socks. It may not seem like a big deal but sometimes it is the little things that can get you excited for a race.

Rock it Out

From my own personal experience, I know that sometimes a music playlist you have been listening to for the past 8 weeks while training can get repetitive and has an effect on your morale during a race. Sometimes listening to a particular song reminds you of another run where you were listening to it and didn’t have such a great day. Help yourself out and keep your playlist new and inspiring by either purchasing some new songs especially for race day or go the route of a music system like Pandora, Spotify, or Songza. By selecting a playlist set to your pace and songs that aren’t necessarily on your music device, you may be surprised to find some new songs that get your legs moving faster and help you get through some of the miles. Runkeeper has also come out with it’s own “DJ” (Runkeeper DJ) where you select the pace and genre you would like to run to and it plays songs that are on your music device that fit your selection.

Research the Race

If you have never done a 5k before, it might seem a little daunting and intimidating. There are a lot of questions you may ask yourself:

  • When/where do I get my race bib?
  • How early should I show up for a race?
  • Where does the race go?

Some of these questions can be answered just by looking up the race online. Generally, it will say on the race page when and where you can pick up your packet (“packet” being the term for your race info including but not limited to your race bib, t-shirt, and sometimes some freebies). This usually takes place the day prior to the race although you can also pick up your packet the day of the race. It is recommended that you pick up your packet the day before if it is a large race. I promise it will cut down on your race day anxiety and you will have a smoother morning.

Through a consensus by the runners in my local community, they recommend getting to a race anywhere from 30 minutes before the start to 45 minutes before the start. Keep in mind, for a bigger race you may want to arrive earlier so you can make sure you can park and get warmed up without feeling too rushed. It’s also important to utilize the bathroom before starting your race so allow time for that too.

On your drive into the race, you may see where some of the course is marked and that can give you an idea of where you are going to be running. Many races also post a course map on their website or just may give written directions for you to read, assuming you know the area. This is also a good thing to do at the beginning of training so you know about any hills that you could encounter or any “off road” portions of the race. By knowing about these areas of the race, it will help you train for those “hazards”. Training on mostly flat ground will not help you in a race that is one continuous hill.

Runkeeper’s Global 5k

Whether it is your first ever 5k or if you are a seasoned veteran in the running community, this race is perfect for everyone. Runkeeper wants you to be a part of their largest event of the year. The reward for completing this challenge is the availability to purchase  limited edition Runkeeper Global 5k gear in the Runkeeper store. Runkeeper will also be sharing a ton of stats, like which country was the fastest and which country had the most participants! The race can be run anywhere at anytime as long as it is on December 6th, 2015. Just like any race, prizes will be awarded to the top 25 fastest runners. Both GPS and Stopwatch activities are acceptable. Run outside on the trails, in your neighborhood, on a treadmill in the gym, it doesn’t matter, you just have to track 3.1 miles by walking or running. Just get out and run!

 

Sunday RunDay: 11/15/15

Week two of training is officially in the books!

I’ve been having some trouble this week with pain in my legs. Even on my other run days, my right leg starts to feel like I have shin splints. I can tell that my form is suffering when I start to feel it. My foot thumps into the ground, which I’m pretty sure isn’t helping the painful situation. Needless to say, I have been running pretty slow this week. At this point, I’m disappointed with how training has begun but I can find some positives in this as well; at least it isn’t the week before the race. I’m trying to figure out how to help myself. Stretching more before, during, and after a run hasn’t proven to be IMG_2440beneficial. The only other thing that I can think of is my shoes. I’ve run into this problem before where the new shoes I pick out feel good for the first couple of runs and then I find that they aren’t the right fit for my feet. I may give these shoes another week before I make the decision about whether or not I need to try out a new pair.

Anyway, back to today’s run. Seeing as how I was struggling with some pain, I had a pretty rough run. I ran from my house to the library down the street. There was a lot of walking involved. My right calf just felt tight and my ankle was bothering me. The weather was great though, around 55 degrees. Great day to be out. I got to the library which is about 2 miles from my house. I decided to walk a little bit to try to loosen up my leg a little bit before I started to run it out again. On the way back to my house, I was finally feeling in the groove and the pain was subsiding a little bit when a big reddish dog came charging off the front step of it’s house. It was barking and was following me. I did what I do anytime a dog comes after me, I just start walking. Walking seems less threatening than running. He (or she) wandered out into the street behind me. That’s another reason I walk. If the dog follows me, I don’t want it  to get hit by anything. Eventually, by the time I got to the edge of it’s yard he (or she) retreated back to the porch and I continued on my way.

I finished my run in just under 43 minutes. Definitely s a slow day but not the worse I have ever had. Whenever I have a day like this, I find that it’s important to remember that some days running is going to come really easy and feel really great and other days there is going to be a struggle (and some pain). You need the bad days to really enjoy the good days of running. Running isn’t a easy thing but the daily challenge is what makes it worth it.

Athlete Profile: Jakob Pezar

Your Name:

Jakob Pezar

About Jakob:

I am originally from Perry, Ohio but I currently live outside of Washington D.C. I work at George Mason University as an Office Manager for their International Programs Office and am also a student in the MBA program.

How do you know Brittany?

I went to school with Brittany from elementary school through high school.

When did your running/fitness adventure begin and why (who or what convinced you you should run)?

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 6.50.35 PMI ran track and cross country in middle school and continued with track in high school. I really started running as something to do with my time when I wasn’t too busy with other sports and music programs. I would occasionally keep running in college because I found it to be a good way to clear my head and prepare for tests and assignments in my classes. I never really ran for exercise, so I was not always consistently running, but I always felt I was in shape enough where I could go out for a run keep up with whoever was running with me.

What is something you absolutely need to have for every run or workout?

I definitely need to have my wireless headphones when I run. I enjoy the fresh air and the surrounding as I run, but I need my music to keep me going. It could be all of the years of band/choir/musicals in me, but being able to have a constant beat going help me to keep moving along. They do need to be my pair of wireless headphones, because the wires annoy me when I run and I don’t need those distractions. I also need to have my compression knee braces when I run. My knees got a little torn up after an incident with a racecar, and If I do not have these I feel my knees falling apart a mile into the run, but this doesn’t stop me from going out and running!

What is one of your biggest running pet peeves?

One of my biggest pet peeves when I run is coming across walkers. If I am running on a sidewalk or a path in the woods, the last thing I want to come across is a group of 4 or 5 people walking and talking while taking up the entire width of the sidewalk. If a sidewalk is supposed to be a shared area, then I feel it should be treated that way when it is being used by everyone; walkers, runners and bicyclists alike. This is the one thing that drives me crazy when I am out running, especially after running 5, 6 or even 7 miles.

What is your biggest motivation for running?

My biggest motivations are simply that I am competitive and I like getting cool medals. I am fortunate enough to not really need to run and exercise to lose weight or for health reasons, I am pretty lucky in that area. I like being able to do things where there are winners and losers after an activity. I like to be fast, whether it be faster than my competitors or even faster than my last time out, but
I like to feel that I can win. I also really don’t like looking like I am performing poorly in front of a crowd, so if I see people watching a race and cheering us all on, I always want to look good, fast and like I am doing a great job. Another major reason I run is because I like getting medals and free running shirts for completing races. I find that to be something fun, and I figure if it gets me out there to run and be healthy then that is even better.

What is the longest race you have done to date? What was your time?

My longest race is a half marathon I ran in Williamsburg. I once ran this as a weekend race with an 8K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. This was called the Patriot’s Challenge, and obviously I was going to be crazy enough to run both races. Doing this challenge allowed me to win a bonus medal, so that was all the motivation I needed to run those races. My best time for the half marathon so far is 2 hours and 11 minutes.

What goals or aspirations do you have for your fitness or running adventure?

I would like to be able to run a few more half marathons and throw in some shorter ones for fun. I think I will eventually try to run one full marathon at some point, but that point is not here yet. Maybe if I see one in a cool destination with a neat medal that I really want that will be the time to run a full marathon.

What advice would you give to someone who says, “I’m not good at running” or “Running is boring/awful/hard/[insert negative connotation here]”?

I do say that I’m not good at running, and running does get boring, but do as Phil Knight’s company says and “just do it”. Running is sometimes hard but I still do it because there are so many benefits to running. You have to find some outside motivation or reason to get out and run. As I said I like to feel like I have won and getting cool medals, so that gets me to run. It has plenty of other health benefits, maybe it helps you relax, maybe it helps you think through a situation, but I think everyone can find a good reason to go out and run. You don’t have to come across the finish line first, have the fastest time or run and lose 100 pounds. Find what motivates you and get out there, it’s fun when you cross the finish line!

Favorite race you have run to date?

My favorite race so far has been the Hard Cider 5K that I ran in Charlottesville, VA. The race took place through the woods and an apple orchard and when you finished you got a t-shirt, a unique medal and a free glass of hard cider. Once I saw that I could get the medal and shirt PLUS some hard cider I knew I was in! It was a surprisingly difficult race because of a huge deadly hill for the entire duration of the 2nd mile, but I finished near the front of my heat group and felt pretty good after the race. And as I said, the free cider didn’t hurt!

Athlete Profile: Ashley Stearns

Name: Ashley Stearns

About Ashley:

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Went to The Ohio State University for undergrad, got my B.S. in Industrial Engineering with a minor in psychology. Currently pursuing my MBA through UT Dallas. Hired by Eaton Corp. right out of college into their Leadership Development Program where I got to spend time working in Athens, Georgia and Newbern, IMG_2432Tennessee. Now back in Cleveland working for Eaton at an Aerospace plant that makes jet engine fuel pumps where I’m a production supervisor. I’m a huge foodie- there are very few foods I don’t like, but I’m a sucker for good Mexican, good Chinese and amazing pizza. My favorite overall food though would have to be a really really good salad, no joke! I’m a TV buff and love crime shows- Criminal Minds, SVU, CSI (which I miss terribly!) I’m also a sap for Nashville and Grey’s!

How does Ashley know Brittany?

I met Brittany back in 2003 through the Lake County Captains. Our dads both were involved with the organization.

When did Ashley’s running/fitness adventure begin and why?

I’ve always been active- was a competitive dancer most of my life. I actually didn’t enjoy running at all prior to this year. Last Oct, on a whim, I signed up for a half marathon from the encouragement of my cousin Amy who ran the Chicago marathon around that time. I was in a workout slump and needed a goal to work towards.

What is something Ashley absolutely needs to have for every run or workout?

Pre-long run I always ate the SAME breakfast- I mix like, 10 different cereals that are a combo of Kashi, Special K, Trader Joe’s, random granolas, etc. with unsweetened vanilla almond milk about an hour before I start. Also, for every long run or race, I had to wear my pink Ohio State hat- I got it from my mom’s house at some point (I think I stole it :-/) but it’s my good luck charm.

What is one of Ashley’s biggest running pet peeves?

When you are running towards a group of people or a person walking their dog and they are taking up the entire side walk who doesn’t move over at all and you are forced to run in the grass to get past them. I also hate when my socks or clothes ride up/down- cue the socks and the shirt.

What is Ashley’s biggest motivation for running?

A few things- how accomplished I feel when I finish a long run. Also, knowing how it’s transforming my muscle and my body in the process.

What is the longest race Ashley has done to date?

Ran two half marathons- PR is 1:47:51.

What goals or aspirations does Ashley have for her fitness or running adventure?

To run a sub-1:45 half marathon, possibly a full (if I can find time to fully commit to training, especially during the week), to run a Tough Mudder and to complete a duathlon (forget the swimming part for sure!)

What advice would Ashley give to someone who says, “I’m not good at running” or “Running is boring/awful/hard/[insert negative connotation here]”?

No one is ever good at running when they first start. I couldn’t run more than 2 miles when I first started back in January. I used to think it was monotonous and boring. I made a great playlist that keeps me going. Also, I love to listen to podcasts while I run- I’m a big fan of The Chalene Show and Marathon Training Academy. Podcasts help me not focus on a certain beat and help me to keep lose track of time- when I run with music, I count songs which translates to minutes which translates to how much longer I have to go. For those who say they aren’t good at it, don’t focus on pace or distance. Just set a goal to run for a certain amount of time and try, and don’t be afraid to alternate walk/run when you first get going. Just think- you are still steps ahead of the people sitting on the couch!

Favorite race Ashley has run to date?

Definitely the Spartan Sprint about a year and a half ago outside of Atlanta. I did it with a group of co-workers and we got muddy and tired but had an absolute blast!

Sunday Runday: 11/1/15

It’s back! I know that I haven’t posted a Sunday Runday in approximately three weeks, but I’ve had good reasons. I haven’t been running on Sundays. Or Saturdays. Or much at all.

I have thoroughly been enjoying my time off from training. I get to sleep in an extra hour and a half and I’ve been able to catch up on some work for school. I even started some new projects both in writing and at school. It may seem like I have been lazy because I haven’t been running, but actually I have been quite productive.

Today is Sunday but I would like to talk about yesterday because it was Halloween and I had IMG_2431a race. But not just any race. My favorite race of the whole year; Hallodash. I’m not going to lie, the reason that this race is my favorite is slightly shallow. It isn’t because the course is great or because it is big or because people dress up for the race. It’s because the shirts they give out every year are super cool and always my favorite (Don’t believe me? Check out the shirts from the last 3 years). This race is also important to me because it is one that I have done the most times so far.

The first time I ran this race I completed it in 33:17. Last year, 29:37. This year I finished in 27:24. Not only did I beat my previous times, I also did something I never did before. I didn’t have to walk up the giant hill at mile 2.5 this time. That hill usually always gets me and I don’t have the drive or strength to run up it but yesterday I was determined to do it. And I did. I may not have placed, like I did last year, but I made progress.

Tomorrow I begin training for the Griffith Park Half Marathon in Los Angeles which is in January. I was definitely feeling a lack of motivation prior to to the race yesterday but I told Kait on the way home that I think running Hallodash got me pumped to start training again. Twelve weeks of dedication. Let’s do it!

Athlete Profile: Becca Levine

Name: Becca Levine

About Becca:

  • Becca Levine
  • Chardon, OH
  • Instructional Coach/Mentor Public Schools
  • Interests- Running/Exercise classes/Reading/Family-Friend time/My Dog

How does Becca know Brittany? We work together at Ridge Middle School!

When did Becca’s running/fitness adventure begin and why? I have always been athletic, but I began running in college with my roommates. It was a joint effort to stay healthy and encourage one and other.

What is something Becca absolutely need to have for every run or workout? MUSIC!!! I cannot run without it!

What is one of Becca’s biggest running pet peeves? One of my biggest running pet peeves is running next to someone wearing a lotBecca Picture of perfume! I hate having to breathe it in!

What is Becca’s biggest motivation for running? Running has always been about staying healthy and active.

What is the longest race Becca has done to date? The longest I ran was a 10K and I finished in 54 minutes!

What goals or aspirations does Becca have for her fitness or running adventure? I really want to continue making running a habit. Sometimes it becomes hard to keep going when work, family, ad other commitments take up my time.

What advice would you give to someone who says, “I’m not good at running” or “Running is boring/awful/hard/[insert negative connotation here]”? I would venture a guess that they are not choosing the correct running venture to fit their personality. I would suggest themed races, running with groups, or taking a class at your local gym.

Favorite race you have run to date? I really enjoyed the South River Winery 10K through the grapevines!

Athlete Profile: Samantha Quinn

Name: Samantha Quinn

About Samantha: I grew up in Bowling Green, OH but currently live in Cincinnati. I work as a Health Fitness Specialist for EXOS Medifit, a Corporate Wellness company, at Humana. I help Humana’s associates stay active and healthy by helping run an onsite employee fitness center.

I played basketball, participated in track and field, and ran cross country in high school. After high school, I lost my focus on long distance running and picked up a new sport; rugby. One helluva sport filled with sprinting up and down a field, tackling, and rucking. Quite possibly one of the best decisions I made in college.

How Samantha knows Brittany: Brittany and I had a few classes together during undergrad. I also played rugby with her sister, Carolyn (or as the ruggers call her, Crash).

When did Samantha’s running/fitness adventure begin and why: I had a few friends and my track coaches coax me into running CC my junior year of high school. I did it to get my butt back in shape between basketball seasons and to hang out with some of my track teammates. Little did I know that I’d quit basketball my first year on the Varsity team to focus my time on running. Coaches Richard Morgan, Stephanie Schneider-Sims, and Cindy Stanfield were the three that really convinced me to give it a try and were also my biggest supportglass city half 2015ers and role models in high school.

What is something Samantha absolutely needs to have for every run or workout? My Brooks running shoes and my watch are definitely up there. But, I also NEED a pair of bottoms that are long enough to prevent chub rub. That is absolutely essential! Chafing for runners is the worst. Nike has some awesome shorts with built in compressions that help with that, by the way!

What is one of Samantha’s biggest running pet peeves? I really really don’t like it when cars are not cautious of runners. Example: cars who pull out of driveways too quickly before looking for pedestrians. I also have a strong dislike for those who turn right on red without looking when a runner or walker has the clear to cross the street.

What is Samantha’s biggest motivation for running? My mental and physical health. I’m a pizza and beer fanatic so I need some sort of activity to balance my sometimes poor eating choices. I love the feeling I get during and after a run. I have a better focus and mental clarity because my stress has significantly decreased. Running is also a time for me to pray and reflect on all of that God has done for me.

What is the longest race Samantha has done to date? A half marathon (3, soon to be 4) is my furthest and my best time was 2:11 in this year’s Queen Bee Half Marathon

What goals or aspirations does Samantha have for her fitness or running adventure? I plan on running my first marathon in April 2016. I told myself a couple years ago I’d do 26 miles before I turn 26. Well, it’s very “Sam like” to wait until the last minute to do it. The Glass City Marathon is on my 26th birthday this year.

What advice would Samantha give to someone who says, “I’m not good at running” or “Running is boring/awful/hard/[insert negative connotation here]”? Start small. You don’t have to be able to run 3 miles at once to be a runner. Throw on your favorite tunes and work on run/walk intervals to build yourself up. Those same intervals could also cure boredom for those who get bored with running easily.

Favorite race you have run to date? Queen bee Half marathon. Extremely organized and fun! It’s hard to feel like giving up when you have spectators and all sorts of treats along the course. And I mean real treats…Krispy Kreme donut holes, Swedish Fish, jelly beans, and even Jell-O shots!