Monday, June 15, 2015

5 Things of Interest Lately: Beach Edition

Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.” - Charlotte Brontë

Beaches. Sunshine. Food. Running. Sweat. Books. Sleep.

These are just a few of my favorite things when summer rolls around and since I know you’ll be hearing a bit more kvetching about the humidity, I thought I’d take today to share with you some things that I’m loving right now.

I call this a beach essentials a little extra fun.Beach EssentialsBlue Diamond Almonds | Oakley Swimsuit | Coola Sunscreen | Run or Die

You know I’m a nut fiend, but these are a staple for any beach day. Did you know new research shows that you are likely to eat less with a spicy food?? Plus that spice speeds up your metabolism, so it’s a double punch with the Siracha Blue Diamond Almonds. Keeps me from just downing them by the handful because I do love ‘em.

Reason to include almonds in your beach snacks:

  • 6g protein
  • 4g fiber
  • Vitamin E (35% DV) – important antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage & promote healthy skin and hair
  • Riboflavin (20% DV) – important for red blood cell production
  • Magnesium (20% DV) – helps regulate muscle & nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure
  • Phosphorus (15% DV) – helps build strong bones & teeth
  • Plus calcium, potassium, niacin and iron

I know a lot of runners have started to master taking photos on the run {yup guilty as well}. But sometimes you just can’t get a great photo with your phone and when I’m running in great places like the beach or brand new trails, I really want to fully capture the moment…uh but no one runs with a BIG DSLR camera… enter the Samsung's 16.3 Megapixel Smart Camera. samsungI have a little case with a handle which you can put the small camera in and then easily pull out to capture the trail, the mountains, the water, the beach – well wherever you are running because of the 21X zoom!! And yes indeed it has a built in WiFi so that you can actually share that photo {or you can use the AutoShare feature to send every photo to your phone, boom!}.

If a photo is taken and not shared was it ever really taken? Social media strategist humor.Summer

Coola was my first introduction to spray sunscreen and now is my go to because let’s be honest I kind of hate the feeling of being greasy and used to use that as an excuse to skip sunscreen. OR it would make my face breakout, so again I’d skip. But the organic seems to work for me!

I could happily leave the TV off and spend my summer reading. Recently I had the chance to dig in to Kilian Jornet’s book Run Or Die. I’ve got a full write up coming for you, so I won’t spoil it..but lets be honest there is rarely a running book I’ve met and not loved.

As a kid summer meant pool toys…as a runner, it basically means time for more fun running gear. HHGregg reached out to tell me about this new watch from Samsung and have I mentioned that my birthday is in August…just sayin’!

Samsung Gear™ Fit Watch has my needed HR function, it’s cute and um I could wear it all the time because it is indeed waterproof, so no issues with the quick ocean dip and I could finally prove to David that I totally take more steps than him during the day. {Hopefully I can test it out and give you lots more details}.HHG_Samsung_GearFitWatch

In other exciting news, after many many years I’m finally making a couple big updates on the site like switching to Wordpress…yeah long overdue. So have some patience with me in the coming weeks as I get things sorted out and hopefully get a new exciting design in place too. Updates

What’s on your BEACH must have list?

Any summer TOYS on your list?

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This was a sponsored post, but all happiness and opinions are my own.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

DailyBurn Black Fire Review–AKA I want to die

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of DailyBurn. All painful burpees are my own.

After committing to #SpringTraining I was thrilled to find myself actually hitting a weekly goal of multiple strength workouts. So when Fitfluential reached with an opportunity to test out the DailyBurn Black Fire workout program with Bob Harper, I thought “All right time to get serious”.

I didn’t realize just how serious.

Apparently it’s called Black Fire because you will walk around with a burning sensation in every muscle of your body for days on end, while your heart turns to stone so you can keep going.

Turns out no amount of dirty looks or crying will get Bob to go easy on you.DailyBurn Black Fire Review - At home body weight strength exercises and cardio workout programRemember I don’t like HIIT workouts or tabatas…it’s why LHR training and I go together like rama lama ding dong. The very first workout left me with arms trembling and an immediate fear of doing the same thing again the next day.

With that in mind, you might be surprised by what I have to say…so after all my Instagram comments about Black Fire, let’s break this down!

The truth is 90% of what is being called a Tabata is not, it’s a HIIT…and most HIIT’s are…just a fancy way of saying intervals.

20 seconds maximum intensity
10 seconds recovery
Total duration no longer than 8 minutes

30-90 seconds of near maximal effort
Equal recovery
Total duration can be up to 30 minutes

It doesn’t really matter what you call it at the end of the day, these are both workouts designed to maximize your intensity and calorie burn within a short time frame. They can be done with bodyweight or weights and are an increasing favorite of people who feel short on time.


Black Fire is a 60-day total-body workout program that combines strength and power movements with high-intensity metabolic conditioning exercises. During your 20-minute training sessions, you’ll burn hundreds of calories by moving rapidly through a variety of exercise sequences, while working to build muscle tone and definition.

Day 1
”This sucks…why am I still going? Not much time left now, might as well finish. Huh…that was kinda cool, it went really fast and I feel really strong now.”

Day 2
After finishing the second day workout, I realized I would likely be unable to move my arms the following day. I haven’t done burpees two days in a row in years.

Gahh maybe this is good for me.DailyBurn Black Fire Workout ReviewDay 3
Thank goodness it’s just a mobility workout…wait a second why are we moving so much, my arms are on fire, my arms, my arms.  Admittedly I think this is an extremely awesome thing for them to add in the training because it really worked on loosening up joints and breaking down scar tissue…still I thought it was going to be more Zen.

Day 4
I’ve lost my damn mind, why am I doing this?

Oh…David just mentioned that my arms are looking really great from my recent commitment to strength workouts…damn him, now I have to finish this. Here we go diamond push ups, jumping, something like a burpee with a different name to trick me.

Yeah it takes very little to convince me to flex what I think are my new muscles.
What to expect from doing body weight workoutsDay 5
I should really consider not doing these workouts right after a run, but thus far every one has been after a run because that’s the only time mentally I will do it.

I don’t have the cool looking crossfit box they do for jumps, so I pull out my good old aerobics step {hello 80’s workout} and guess what it works just fine.Think we will ever laugh at our current workouts like we do the old one’s??
New crossfit box vs old step - funny but they both workDay 6
Hallelujah yoga. And I love that it’s available through the app, so I can do this on my phone or iPad in the gym after my run.

Day 7
Have I mentioned I have NEVER, no not ever, bothered to actually follow an online workout plan for 7 days straight…maybe there is some kind of subliminal message in this workout program. And in other news I was actually way worse at doing the video by itself without a run first.

Day 8
Well there goes the streak! After we travelled all day to the beach to do my long run, I didn’t have a tabata left in me, but I did switch over to another DailyBurn program for Pilates. I am hand down in love with that program and you’ll be seeing more of it.DialyBurn Mobile App ReviewDay 9
Nope didn’t get my HIIT workout in today either instead I used the DailyBurn full lower body mobility video which was phenomenal after my run and followed it up with the TRX.

Day 10
All righty, back on track, look at that! Having finished up today, I can now say I am actually enjoying these workouts in a very weird painful way, but they aren’t a good fit with a high volume running plan for me personally.

I think we all want to believe we are going to stick to a program exactly as designed and want to push our boundaries, which his why these keep being created. But I also believe we have to find what best works for our personality and life.

Would I recommend it for runners?
Yes. I just wouldn’t recommend it during the middle of a training cycle. I think if you are doing some easy runs, you can still do these workouts without overtaxing the body…doing speed workouts and long runs on this schedule is a little harder.

Who should do it?
While I bemoaned how hard it is, the truth is it will be hard for everyone from a beginner to an advanced athlete, which is exactly the beauty of body weight and HIIT workouts. The intensity level is driven by you and for whatever reason a burpee is just always F**king hard.

What does it involve?
Burpees, lunges, squats, push ups, plyometrics <<< these in a wide variety of variations to keep your brain and body in a complete state of meltdown. HA! Bob does a great job of keeping you motivated throughout the entire workout, whether it is a HIIT or tabata style.

Will I be doing it?
Yes, I’m going to throw some of these workouts in as cross training. BUT I’m going to use the Pilates program that DailyBurn has after my runs now instead of Blackfire. I mean I hated it and loved it, which I still have yet to figure out…it’s actually a little reminiscent of how I felt when I first started running!

Find out more about the Black Fire program or other available workouts for just $12.95/month. Plus get all kinds of good info on nutrition and fitness following DailyBurn; TwitterFacebook | Instagram

Burpees – love or hate??

How well do you stick to online programs?

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ulitmate foam rolling guide for runners

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain." --Joseph Campbell!

I'm fairly certain foam rollers weren't around in his time...but it applies. You gotta focus on the outcome to get through a little time on the roller.

That is if you should be foam rolling at all!

A lot of us have been using them all wrong and instead of making things better, we are perpetuating injuries and stressing out our bodies. In particular, I want to ensure we stop beating up our IT Bands as that is the biggest injury which I am asked about.
Stop making these foam roller mistakes - you could be making your IT Band worse

Let’s start by talking about what the foam roller does and what we are trying to accomplish.

As explained by the American Council on Exercise (ACE):

“Foam rolling is also called myofascial release and is designed to work out the “knots” in your muscles. You could compare the practice to self-massage. The technical terms for ‘knots’ are trigger points or myofascial adhesions.

What is fascia?
Fascia is a form of connective tissue that wraps and bundles muscles (myo) together. Myofascial adhesions can develop through stress, training, overuse, underuse, movement imbalances and injuries.

The muscle adhesions can cause weakness due to an inability to fully function, which leads to muscle imbalances and the body trying to correct for these.

Should it hurt?
As with running, discomfort is ok, but pain is bad. As with physical therapy, you may feel discomfort at the time which is designed for long term healing. More pain is not better though!

The more consistently you roll {a few times a week} the less knots you will have and the less painful in general it will be over time.

All right so if you commit to doing this slightly painful thing everyday what should you expect to come from it:

  • Range of Motion: One study showed that foam rolling increased range of motion by 4.3%, which of course leads to better stride and flexibility as runners!
  • Pre-exercise: It’s a fantastic way to wake up the muscles and increase blood flow before your workout which ensures your muscles react better.
  • Oxygen flow: Increased oxygen flow is important for performance and muscle recovery.

Can’t I just stretch?
While I am a big fan of a a good yoga class, it doesn’t break up muscle adhesions the way that a deep tissue massage or solid foam rolling session does.

Your IT Band is not evil and does not need to be beaten in to submission. In fact, you really shouldn’t be using the roller right along your IT Band when it’s inflamed at all.

You can’t relax the IT Band, that’s a fallacy. It’s tightness is caused by other muscles from the glutes to misaligned hips.

What to do instead?

While you often hear videos tell you to find the sore spot and then stay on it for 30-45 seconds for the knot to release, that’s not always the best plan. If something hurts stop pounding it in to the ground! You won’t see a bruise and keep pushing on it hoping to speed recovery.

If the spot is tender, but not a spot that is causing pain during your run it’s ok to spend 30 seconds or so holding your body weight on it with the roller to try and release a knot. Do NOT spend more time and don’t do this repeatedly all day long. Your goal is not to irritate the area.

“if the pressure is on the right point, 20-30 seconds max should hydrate that tissue and encourage the trigger point to disappear.  More time won’t help; more accuracy of placement will.” Tom Myers

We have to remember that all the muscles are connected and sometimes the location of the pain is just the result of imbalances up the chain. I.e. almost all women with knee pain end up learning they have weak hips or misfiring glutes!

A quick roll over your legs isn’t getting you results. This in fact is one of the biggest things I’ve found from all the studies, practitioners and articles out there. You need to slow down and really spend some time on your rolling, which ensures that you are using good posture {a strong core} and actually working on tight spots rather than just quickly rubbing over the muscles.

Are you making these foam rolling mistakes? How to pick a roller from @runtothefinish

There are a few key areas that can help runners to prevent knee and IT Band pain by spending a little quality time each day with the roller.
Key areas to foam roll as a runner and how to do itGlutes/Pirformis
Sit on the foam roller with knees bent and feet on the floor,slowly rock back and forth to start, you might immediately feel muscles rolling over as your glutes release. You can then put your right ankle on your left knee and start to slowly roll on the glute to begin getting in to the Pirformis. With both moves take a minute to move a little more forward and back, to get all sides of the muscle and discover your trigger points.

IT Band
As noted above don’t roll the actual IT band when it’s inflamed. Other times you can slowly roll this area, but keep it moderate as this muscle is always tight due to other areas. To roll it sit on the roller then lean to the right side with legs straight on the ground and roll from hip to knee, place your hands on the floor for balance.

This is my most sensitive area and the one I love hate to do. Tight calve muscles can also pull on your knee causing misalignment, so don’t skip them! With the mid-point of your calves on the foam roller hold your self up with both arms and slowly move from knee to ankle. It may be easier to do one leg at a time, remember to turn your leg in and out to get all sides of those calves!

Resting your shins on the roller, lean forward in a table top position and roll from knee to ankle.

Inner Thigh
Lie on your stomach and put the roller vertically next to you with right leg bent at 90 degrees. You may find the most sensitive spot is near the knee, this is a good place to hold for up to 30 seconds as that tightness will eventually pull the knee in causing poor gait.

Hamstrings and Quads
These two can be rolled in roughly the same way, one by facing the floor and the other by facing the ceiling. With legs straight you will slowly roll from hip to knee first with feet flexed, then feet turned out, then feet turned inwards. Again this will help to hit all sides of the muscle.

The foam roller is actually just one of many options for doing at home myofascial release (aka self massage). It’s a great tool, but there are others which can also be beneficial depending on how long you have been at rolling, what areas you are trying to hit and if you need something for travel.

How to pick a foam roller - different types of tools for at home massage for runners and fitness fiendsFoam Rollers
The basic foam roller comes in a variety of sizes and densities, so here is what you need to know!

Size: The longer foam rollers make it possible for you to lay your full back vertically on the roller to do massage for the shoulders and even some great core work. A smaller roller may be more agile for trying to work on areas like your inner thigh.

Density: The denser the roller the more intense the massage. As your body weight leans in to what ever area you are rolling, a roller with less give will create more pressure on the area. Many people find they can handle a dense roller on some areas, but need a softer roller on others. I recommend getting the denser roller and the controlling the pressure by reducing the amount of weight you put on the area.

Trigger Point Massage Ball
I mention Trigger Point by brand because it is one of the most commonly carried in running stores. While they do also have a dense foam roller with a grid pattern to work more in to the muscles, my focus here is on the ball which allows you to truly get in to the deep muscles of the glutes or to consistently roll out your feet.

Releasing tension in the feet can actually resolve issues all the way up to your hips!

The Massage Stick
The Massage Stick was actually one of the first tools I was introduced to during my marathon training in 2005…yikes it’s been so long! No one was foam rolling back then, but we were carrying around sticks even when the airports started asking if they were weapons.  I LOVE the stick for working on my calves and inner thighs. However, it doesn’t let me get my shoulders, sides and back the way I can with the foam roller…yup just another reason we have so many “tools” in our house to keep me running straight.

Rumble Roller
The Rumble Roller has spikey nodes all over…ok spike is the wrong word, but new rollers beware this is going to go deep! The design of these nodes are to help create a more massage like experience, it is an aggressive roller but most become accustomed to it within a few weeks.

Roll Recovery R8
While David loved the Roll Recovery R8, I couldn’t wait to get it out of our house because it inflamed my IT Band like nothing else.  He disagreed saying it was one of the deepest and best massagers. At a price point over $100 though, I admit I would still be hesitant to truly recommend it.

How often do you foam roll?

Do you have a preferred type of roller?

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