Tag Archives: running

Putting All of the Pieces Together

I have loved hearing the feedback from my Spartan Race Recap.  I have to say, the purpose of the details was to drive people to challenge themselves (in a physical and mental way).  I know the aspects of the course seem overwhelming, but these races are truly something that anyone can do, as long as they are willing to work hard.  I have had so many great conversations with people post race that I myself am ready to help build teams to develop the necessary strengths to help each other complete a race.  There is no better feeling than finishing something that you have to ask your self over and over why you are doing it.  It is empowering.  There are so many aspects that went into my training.  I have talked about it a lot, but let me take a second to go over the key things that helped get me in the shape that I needed to be in.

Strength Based Obstacle Training Workouts 

I did ALOT of stuff at home by myself.  This was a challenge.  I didn’t have a choice.  With time constraints, babies and my husband needing to get his own workout in, I had to be creative with what we had.  I studied ways to train obstacles at home, I looked at the Spartan website for inspiration and I had my husband put together heavy carry weight loads.  We made our own sandbags and bought rocks to resemble the “bucket brigade”.

IMG_5905I bought a pull up band and vowed to be able to do several pull ups (on my own and with the band).  You don’t necessarily need to be able to do a pull up to be able to complete this race.  Using a band to train the muscle group is a great place to start.  You can take these anywhere.  They are light weight.

IMG_6539I loved getting strength back into my routine.  I mean heavy strength.  Our world is engrossed with all different forms of expensive exercise now.  We didn’t have that 10 years ago.  I took it back to the basics.  Squats, Deadlifts, Curls, Etc.  I wanted to look strong, and actually be strong.

SmartCore Fitness

As a spin off to my at home strength workouts, I completed high intensity core conditioning circuits that I trained people with at SmartCore Fitness.  That is right.  The same workouts that I was running people through, I was doing myself as an integral part of my training.  This is SO important.  The modifications that we do at SmartCore truly hit little muscle groups that you just don’t hit doing the basic squat, deadlifts, curl, etc.  that I mentioned above.  We even put a twist on the traditional burpee, so individuals can get more out of the exercise.

IMG_6738What exactly do I mean?  I watched several people fail the obstacle above.  I thought about SmartCore the entire time.  Something like this is easy, after you have done exercises at SmartCore like the one pictured below.

10676288_1017457828268109_4380843576956392308_nThe exercise that Denise is doing above requires intense balance  as you lunge forward with each step while properly holding the dumbbell overhead.  We throw you off even more by making you walk in a straight line on a raised beam.  There is a set path with a lot less room for error, requiring intense focus.  Sometimes building a strong foundation, also requires building mental focus.  We do that at SmartCore too – there are truly exercises that you can do that require you to ultimately focus rather than rep through heavy weight lifting.

11866247_1227514800595743_5851964667333063989_nTry doing a traditional burpee with the added instability of a Bosu and the additional weight for the overhead press up.   Once you have done several of these, you feel like an old pro when doing the old fashioned burpee.  SmartCore is forming it’s own team for the Spartan Race in April.  I plan to run with the team.  Commit to the team and you will commit to finishing.  I guarantee it.  Bootcamps every Saturday or Tuesday can help you hit the high intensity transition from exercise to exercise while still getting the benefit of the non-traditional SmartCore training session.  It’s worth a try!


I can’t say enough about how important cross training is.  I strength trained several days a week.  Even in an 8-10 mile race, I didn’t need to run that much if I was riding a decent amount.  Yes, you heard me right.  Gone are the days that people assume that you need to run every day to be able to do a running race.  In fact, strength training and cross training are such an integral part of avoiding overuse injuries.  Believe me, I have had many of them.

IMG_6658Being on the bike takes out the impact of a long road run.  Your body needs this.  The best part is that on the bike you can do any workout that you would do on the road (and probably burn more calories!).  So, say you want to do a hill workout.  You can do that on the bike.  Crank up the torq (resistance) on your hill climbs.  This is an interval based ride.  You WILL build leg strength necessary for the intense climbs that you will encounter in a Spartan Race.  I was surprised at how steep were.  Flywheel has such an amazing variety of instructors (see picture above).  See what its all about.



You can’t get by without doing some running prior this race – well, maybe with a sprint you could, but that is not a good idea.  Training high intensity intervals, hills and strategically placing long recovery runs is important.  I did end up doing a lot of runs by myself.  This was simply because I would typically do “track”esque runs or runs where I would stop do a bunch of hard exercises then start again.  It wasn’t your typical idea of just going out for a run.


I would love to set up a team that I could train that could do this part together.  It’s so hard to push yourself on your own.  That said, on days that I didn’t want to run by myself, I most likely ended up at a FiA running workout. #BetterTogether is so true.


In summary, I found motivation through variety and a great group of people around me.  It’s easy to stay on track when you are doing the right things and you are around positive people.  Even with the stress of staying on track, the experience was incredible.  I will do it again.  I will take it seriously.  I will try to compete with some of the best.  I don’t plan on changing much about the way I train, and I would love nothing more than to help train others to reach the point that they start and complete a challenge.  It doesn’t have to be a race but it could be a goal that seemed far way.  If you initiate the discussion, we can make it work!


Enjoying a Bachelorette Weekend While Pregnant

It has been way too many days since my last post. Give me a chance to explain – I was working on my first month end close at my new company (if you didn’t know I’m an accountant), my daughter was transitioning to a new daycare and I was preparing for an out of town bachelorette getaway. Yes, you heard that right. I was getting all packed up for my sister-in-law, Colleen’s, bachelorette party.

IMG_3910 While it might not seem like the first thing that a pregnant person might want to get involved with, I have to admit there are ways to have a great time while staying sober and getting some much needed rest. I actually went on a bachelorette trip during the first trimester of my first pregnancy as well (try keeping that a secret). Even harder, try leaving my adorable baby girl all weekend (see above).


I was lucky enough to marry into a family of four kids – my husband the only boy. His three sisters welcomed me into their life. I feel so lucky to have them. That’s what made this trip so special. With everything going on in our lives, we all found the time (and money) to coordinate a date that we could meet in Key West, FL for a celebration. I learned a lot from the last bachelorette that I went on pregnant.

IMG_3919 Biggest thing – finding my space. Let’s face it, I want to go to bed earlier than everyone. I want to get up earlier than everyone. I need to get up several times in the night to use the bathroom. I eat a lot. I booked the trip prior to me finding out that I was pregnant. While I had every intention of staying with the girls, I made a last minute reservation at a hotel within walking distance to where the girls were. I needed a place to rest (if I needed to). That I did.

IMG_3935 The first day of the trip was spent entirely getting everyone off of airplanes, into cars and checked into their designated rooms. While the girls decided to go out upon our arrival, I stayed in. After a long day of travel, I was ready to go to bed. How often do I get to sleep free from a baby monitor? I slept for almost nine hours. HUGE. I woke up and went for a run/walk to get my bearings. I can’t reiterate enough how much you can learn about a city after a short walk. Get out and explore.

IMG_3925 When the girls woke up, I immediately headed over to their room. I knew if I wasn’t going to be out late night, I needed to make a point to spend as much time as possible with them during the day and early evening. We spent a lot of time at the amazing pool. I have never appreciated relaxation like I did on this trip. I had no problem sitting around. It didn’t hurt that Colleen has the most incredible group of girlfriends to chat with. I felt like I had been reunited with my best friends from college. Who are these people that I feel like I have known my whole life?

IMG_3941The second night in town was the stereotypical bachelorette night. Matching shirts, lingerie shower and lots of attention. I joined the ladies at the bar until about eleven o’clock (right when things start getting amped up). I like to think I put in a valiant effort.


Again, as soon as the ladies were up the next day, I headed over to their place. We walked the area, again, exploring the town and checking out shops along the way. As lunch approached, we quickly found a juice bar and healthy living deli. Y’all nothing can relieve that beach bloat like a little juice, some water and a good healthy breakfast/lunch (see lunch above). I was incredibly happy to find this place. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the pool, followed by a quick walk down the beach.

IMG_3946How good does this group look?  Last night out, everyone dressed to impress.  We took pictures like tourists, watched the sunset and enjoyed our last night together.

IMG_3953I may not have drank, but I took out all of the extra calories that I would have had in alcohol on a double scoop waffle cone.  Excuse the expression, blurriness and frizziness (of my hair).   There was a lot going on in big mama’s life that night.

IMG_3951So what are my takeaways for being a part of a successful pregnant bachelorette trip?

  • Find your space – Don’t try to pretend like when people have a few drinks they don’t get loud.  Make sure you have a place that you can rest (when you need to).
  • Pack snacks.  Since you are not filling your stomach with booze, you need to get calories somehow.  I packed enough snacks every day that in the event that we did not eat (or skipped a meal), I was covered.
  • Don’t be afraid to go home.  These ladies were so understanding of the fact that I was not going to be out all night (that helped).
  • Go in with an open mind.  This is a bachelorette.  Things happen.  Make the most out of seeing everything with a clear mind.
  • Stick to a schedule (kind of).  I continued to walk/run and eat relatively healthy on this trip (outside of my HUGE cone).  Nothing makes you feel worse than falling completely off your routine.

IMG_3944I hated being away from my family, but this weekend I developed some incredible memories and relationships that will last a lifetime.  Had I used being pregnant as an excuse not to go, I wouldn’t have gotten to spend quality time with these fantastic ladies.  While I might not have known what I missed out on, looking back I now realize how important it was that I was there.  Pregnant bachelorette number two is in the books.  Hands down, best one yet!

Cold Weather Running + Halloween Fun

Could it be?  Is the cold weather finally here to stay for the fall/winter?  It sure is dark in the morning on my runs now.  The days are getting shorter.  The clocks change this weekend.  If I get a morning weekday workout at a location outside of the house, it is typically because my husband has decided to sleep in.   That was the case Friday.  Thing is, I had no idea he was going to sleep in until he actually did.  That said, I was not prepared to be anywhere at a specific time. Road run it is!

photo 2-155I checked the temperature before I headed out and quickly realized that winter gear would be necessary.  At 5:30 AM it was also pitch black out.  Grab the head lamp.  If you are not used to running with a head lamp it doesn’t take long to get adjusted.  It is amazing the difference that this little light makes.  Your whole perspective of outdoor running in the dark changes (in a great way).

photo 1-151I ran an out and back loop before circling around my street until my mileage hit right at 4.00 miles.  Who wants to finish at 3.93?  The cold weather was actually refreshing on my lungs and very comfortable.  It was also great knowing that my workout was over in anticipation for a big day of Halloween festivities.

photo 4-100The festivities started at my daughter’s daycare.  The center held a Halloween parade.  The kids were asked to put on their costumes for the parade before walking around with their class outside.  My husband and I both took a few minutes out of our workday to check it out.

photo 3-133Our little pumpkin.  I will admit that this was my costume on my first birthday.  My mom kept this for me to share with my child.  Thanks mom!  She loved it.  The simplicity of the costume made it pretty easy for her to get around in.

photo 5-50Can you see her in the back with the sun shining on her and my husband?  How hard is it to get all of those kids to pay attention for a photo with all of those costumes on?

IMG_1592After what seemed like a quick workday, we headed home for our neighborhood block party.  I LOVE this.  With just a few signatures, our street block was able to get approval to close the street for several hours while the kids played, ate and finally trick or treated.

IMG_1610This is totally one of the reasons that we decided to move to this neighborhood.  Almost all of these kids live on our block! How lucky is my daughter to have so many friends to grow up with?  I couldn’t imagine a better picture.  Proud parents lined the sidewalk to snap what seemed like hundreds of pictures at one time.  These kids were celebrities.

IMG_1612After pictures it was a mad dash to trick or treat.  My daughter is too young to go to a lot of houses (but we had to take her to a few).  My husband geared up with her and yet again another one of my accessories from growing up:  my treat bag.  Hopefully, we can reuse this in subsequent years.

IMG_1614Baby’s first Halloween was a success.  She stopped at two houses and came home with at least ten pieces of candy.  She was beat.  Before she even had a chance to open her first piece of candy, she was asleep.

Weekend Workouts + Smartcore Health Fair

We got back from our weekday football game excursion late Friday night.  It felt good to sleep in our own bed.  The expectation of great weather in Charlotte motivated both my husband and I to sneak in workouts before lunch (his was much longer the mine).  While my daughter napped, I squeezed in a twenty minute weight circuit in my family room (while I caught up on mindless reality television).

photo 4-11

Grab a pair of dumbbells and a kettlebell.  Complete the following exercises sequentially as one circuit three times.  For your first round complete 20 reps, second round 15 reps and final round 10 reps.

  • Goblet Squats
  • Kettlebell Shoulder Press (total reps each arm)
  • Kettlebell Side Bends (total reps each side)
  • Kettlebell One Legged Deadlift (total reps each leg)
  • Dumbbell Bicep Curls
  • Tricep Extension with Dumbbells
  • Dumbbell Kickbacks/Fire Hydrants (total reps each leg/each exercise)
  • Knee to Elbow plank

photo 1-148When my husband got home from his workout, I went for a short run/walk outside.  There will only be a few more weeks of this kind of weather in Charlotte, so I need to take advantage of it.  I am also getting to the point where I think riding on the bike might just be more comfortable than trying to run.

1380467_638039679646434_2369739541380449960_nWe grabbed a quick lunch before heading to the Smartcore Fitness Health Fair.  I was there representing Flywheel Charlotte, but my husband and daughter also came to check out the festivities.  It was great seeing several of my regular riders outside of the studio with my family.  It is rare that they get to meet my husband and daughter.

10710702_855483041163077_9170105258112787083_nI enjoyed catching up with the nutritionist on site, Chef Thomas (a healthy home delivery meal service) and Performance Rehab Associates.  All offered great options for my family when we experience different scenarios over the next several years.  I look forward to being in touch.  Let me know if you want more information!

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.09.56 AMSunday playlist above.  Lots of new stuff.  Thank you riders for turning an early morning workout into a great start to my day.  I rarely find myself on the bike teaching these days, but when I do, it is great to be welcomed in such a great environment.  There were several riders in my class this morning getting geared up for the big Flywheel Challenge.  Good luck!