7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

I have shocking news, you guys. Are you sitting down?

Well, stand up.

My husband has been running…and he is training for a 5K…race.

For those of you who might not know, my husband has lost more than 60 pounds since this time last year by walking and by eating well. But he got to a point this winter where he wanted to challenge himself and he started running using the Couch to 5K program.

And then he asked me to sign him up for a race. After I picked myself up off of the floor, I registered us for the Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K on March 11. (Psst: You can use my code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on this race.)

All this 5K talk has inspired me and now I want to train for a fast 5K again. Running a fast 5K is like magic. When it’s over, you’re not sure what happened, but you enjoyed the hell out of it.

Last time I did that was in 2014 at the See Jane Run 5K with my friend Kim. We both killed it and came in 2nd in our age groups. It wasn’t a PR, though. I think my PR is still 23:45 from the St. Paddy’s Day 5K in Tacoma in 2012. I’m not entirely sure because I don’t care enough to look it up.

See Jane Run 5K Race Recap 2014
Me and Kim at See Jane Run in 2014.

I can beat that, though, right? That course had a huge hill at the end that was like a half a mile long. I mean, I’ll be 40 in September, so maybe I should try to crush it in my 35-39 age group one more time.

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For this, I will have to call on my old “tricks,” to help me slay in a fast 5K either later this spring or this summer.

What are my tricks, you ask? Or maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m sharing them anyway.

Give myself time. If I really want to dominate in the 5K, I need to pick one that is far enough away that will allow me to get it right. I have to give myself adequate time to get lean and strong (see below), and then start my run training. In my experience, doing one thing at a time works best for me.

Get lean and strong. I am already doing this, as some of you may know. I work on strength 3-4 times/week. My favorite workouts are from Metabolic Effect and JillFit. The No. 1 factor in my ability to get stronger and stay on the leaner side is consistency. It’s my experience that one will not see resulst by working on strength one day a week. Ya need at least 3 days and ya need a plan or workouts that progress. I also recommend using heavy weights. The other part of the equation is eating well for leanness. That means lots of protein and fiber (fiber is vegetables, guys), and the right amount of carbs/starch for your body.

Run. This is crucial. I need to start doing this.

Find a training plan. Who has time to run every damn day? Not me. I have learned over the years to be realistic when I choose a training plan. Also, I’ve never had luck with free plans on the Internet (with the exception of Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk marathon training). The plan I’ve used twice to get/go after 5K PRs is from Run Less Run Faster by Bill Piece, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. I love this book because it is tailored to my current running fitness. It forces me to be realistic. It focuses on speed. And I only have to run 3 days a week. I like to run, but not as much as I used to. I’ve read and tried MAAAAAANNNNNY running books, and this is my favorite for the 5K and half marathon distances.

Warm up on the day of the race. I think Kim was hating me in 2014 when I made her warm up, but I have to. I cannot run fast on cold legs even if it’s hot out. You’ve all done long training runs, right? Isn’t it like Mile 3 where you finally start to feel good? Well, a 5K isn’t long enough for that. I don’t have time! I have to do some running and stretching before the race. Allow time for that. Leg swings, squats and lunges, and light jogging with fartleks thrown in is how I do it.

Stay focused during the race. I use an old tactic I learned on the cross country team in high school. I focus on a back and then I aim to pass it. Then I pick another back. If there are not backs, I pick a landmark and try to get by it as fast as possible. I know music is controversial, but I use it. There are certain songs that make me feel like I can fly. If music helps you, use it. This isn’t the Olympics, people.

Think of a 5K as a sprint. If you don’t want to puke at the end, you’re not doing it right.

Go forth and slay.

6 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Buying Dumbbells

 

6 Things to Consider Before Buying Dumbbells

I used dumbbells for most of my strength workouts. I squat with them, I lunge with them, I lift with them. But I hate doing pushups with them.

I have adjustable dumbbells (these ones right here), and the plates are round and held on with a screw washer thingie (technical term). I was thinking…I wish I’d known more about types of dumbbells and the pros and cons of each one before I got mine, so I am sharing my thoughts.

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1. Round Plates & Planking Problems

Round dumbbell plates make it difficult to do pushups, squat thrusts, planks, pushup-rows, burpees, or anything you need to be in a plank position for. They want to roll away, which okay, is good for stabilizer muscles, but it causes the screws to come loose and it drives me crazy. Sometimes I go down to my 12-pound non-adjustable cast iron dumbbells simply because they are hexagonal shaped on the ends.

2. Adjusting Dumbbells Mid-Workout

Adjustable-plate dumbbells make it difficult to change weights during a workout. You have to unscrew both sides on each bar—four screws—and take the plates on or off, or add plates. It’s not fast enough for me. I do a lot of HIIT-style workouts with my dumbbells and there’ s no time for this. It would be okay for traditional lifting with long rest breaks in between sets, but that’s not my style.

3. Bar Material Consideration

The bars on my adjustable dumbbells have an engraved criss-cross pattern that kills the palms of my hands. It’s not too bad for regular presses or pulls, but if I’m trying to do pushups or something…ouch. I have to wear gloves.

What I Wish I'd Known About Dumbbells
Ouchie.

The other thing about my adjustable pair is that the bar is smaller and so it presses into my hand more when planking or doing pushups. Imagine someone digging into your side with their elbow versus their palm. The non-adjustable pair has a wider bar that seems to distribute my weight more evenly and hurts my hands less.

4. The Storage Solution Situation

There’s no way to get around it, dumbbells take up a lot of space—but not more than a barbell (which is why I’m a dumbbell girl since I don’t have a dedicated workout room). I try to fit all mine in a corner of my master bedroom. The hubs bought me this dumbbell rack for Christmas:

What I Wish I'd Known About Dumbbells

I thought that the adjustable plated dumbbells would take up less space, there are still the plates to consider. So, I don’t know that using adjustable plates takes up less space than just regular ‘bells like my 12-pounders, which you can see on the bottom row in the picture above.

5. Weight Problems

I am in between weights right now. In most cases, 15 pounds is getting to be not quite heavy enough, but 20 is too heavy. I need 17-pounders, but even with adjustable dumbbells, I can’t get that since you need to distribute the weight evenly all over. Finding half-pound plates is kind of difficult. Besides, I can’t change plates mid-workout (see point number 2).

6. Just Say No to Neoprene

As you can see from my picture, I have a couple of pairs of these. I find them difficult to hold—the bar is too thick for my delicate lady hands, which is ironic since these “colorful” ‘bells are usually marketed toward women. I also don’t like them becuase they look to girly. I’m a badass. I want badass dumbbells. Ha!

What I Do Like & What I’d Do Different

I like my 12-pound cast iron dumbbells with hexagonal ends that I bought at Play It Again Sports—a consignment store for sporting goods. They still aren’t that cheap, though, so maybe just buy as needed. I admit they are a little clunky, though. They also make rubber-ended dumbbells in a hexagonal shape, but the bar always has that criss-cross engraving! I think if I could do it all over again (or if I suddenly get rich and get to build and outfit my own workout room), I would suck up the engraved bar bit and buy a whole set of hexagonal dumbbells like these (plus find a pair of 17s) and a rack like this.

Okay, there’s my two cents. Hope it helps!

New Metabolic Prime Before Pictures and Some Helpful Fat-Loss Books

Hey guys! Happy Monday!

So, I re-started Metabolic Prime again today! I think this is my fourth time, yet I forgot how hard the Phase 1 burnout is (the optional 5-minute workout at the end). Definitely got me!

Here is my new “before” pic that I took this afternoon:

Metabolic Prime before
My hair was so dirty, I needed a hat.

This was my Prime before pic I took in March for their 12-week challenge:

Metabolic Prime Challenge Week 1 | Mom vs. Marathon
My Before Photos

So thankful I took photos. I can see the difference, for sure. I don’t notice it as much in the mirror. Highly recommend taking pics!

If you signed up for Metabolic Prime and are doing it, let me know if you want to join our little closed Facebook group and I’ll add you. 🙂

If you didn’t sign up, but are curious about Metabolic Effect programs, there are a couple of books that I recommend.

Note: The following paragraphs include affiliate links.
I would never recommend something unless I believe in it. 

Their book Lose Weight Here is the closest to what Metabolic Prime is. Click here to read a review last year.

The New Metabolic Effect Diet was their first book. Some of the nutiriton advice has changed slightly, but it’s not that different, and I just loved the way they explained everything in this book. I wrote a long post (that went viral) about how my body responds to ME workouts vs running in this post here.

Either one of these books will get you started or help you get over a plateau in your fat loss journey. And, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me. I’ve read them both multiple times!

Metabolic Prime Changed My Body…and My Mind

How Metabolic Prime Changed My Body
August 2016

You guys know I love Metabolic Effect, and if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’ve been doing ME’s program Metabolic Prime since February. Click here for all my Prime posts.

I went from this:

Metabolic Effect | Mom vs. Marathon
February 2016

To this:

Here's What I'm Doing to Get Fit
August 2016

The second picture is after my second round of Prime, but that’s how much I love it and how much it helped me.

I’m about to start another round of Prime on Monday. Want to do it with me? It is open for enrollment again (BUT JUST UNTIL SUNDAY, OCT. 9 so sign up now!) and if you use my link here – http://momvsmarathon.metabolicprime.com/wsl/momvsmarathon – I get a little kickback (so thank you in advance).

Here’s a little bit about Metabolic Prime:

It was created, and is led by, Dr. Jade Teta from Metabolic Effect. The workouts have four phases, each are three weeks and there are three workouts each week: Awaken, Energize, Overload and Max. (Overload and Max are my favorite phases, naturally.) Within the workouts, there is instruction on personalizing your workout. You can use dumbbells, no weights or stretchy bands–whatever you already have! I like dumbbells.

THE WORKOUTS ARE 15-20 MINUTES LONG! They are 15 minutes and then there is a 5-minute bonus workout you can do if you want, but is not required. I always do it because I like to get even more sweaty. LOL

I have transformed my body through nutrition (see below) and these full-body workouts. I love that they are fast, but they are tough. I don’t feel like I need more after doing a Metabolic Prime workout. It helped me go from a “more exercise is better” mindset to a “smarter is better” mindset.

Prime also comes with a lot of really important information about nutrition and metabolism. For me, the nutrition was a total game changer. I learned that I need a lot of protein, lots of vegetables, and a moderate amount of fat and starch.

The program comes with the four 3-week-long exercises, a workout calendar, a body transformation tracker, a “rapid results” quick-start guide, 12-weeks of meal plans and ideas, and more information that will help you on your fat-loss journey.

I don’t know what else to say! I love Metabolic Prime and I wish everyone could experience the same success that I have enjoyed.

And, you guys, it’s super affordable. It’s only $37! Order here by Oct. 9: http://momvsmarathon.metabolicprime.com/wsl/momvsmarathon

And let me know if you have any questions. I have been following ME for a long time. 🙂

Dear Friends, Here’s What I’m Doing to Get Fit

I am participating in a challenge on Instagram this month, so I’ve been sharing workout photos (read: photos of me flexing). Here are a couple of them:

Here's What I'm Doing to Get Fit

Here's What I'm Doing to Get Fit
I call this one “baby abs.”

Because of this, several people have asked me what I’ve been doing.

Below is an email I wrote to one of those people. It is a basic overview, but please feel free to ask me more and I can go into more detail.

Dear Friend,

It’s taken me a while to figure out what type of diet and exercise works BEST for me, but what really helped me were the people of Metabolic Effect (metaboliceffect.com). The founder (Jade Teta) is a naturopathic doctor and a trainer.

They have a couple of books: Lose Weight Here is the most recent and is basically what I am doing. The authors had an online program called Metabolic Prime, and that’s what I’m on my second round of. That is here: http://www.metabolicprime.com/ (I don’t know how much it costs now; I got it at an introductory price.)

But…Jade Teta is the guy you want to listen to. (Note: His wife Jill Coleman of JillFit.com is also very helpful. It is her challenge I am participating in this month.)

Couple questions to answer:

  1. Why are you looking to get fit? For me, answering this question was super important. At one time, my “why” was getting fit enough to run a marathon. Now it’s changed to getting leaner and stronger, so I can be all-around fit.
  2. Is there a type of exercise you like to do? This was important to me because at one time I loved running long distances. But after several years of that, I realized I didn’t like it as much anymore, and I had to find something else I liked, which ended up being lifting weights and walking. If you like what you’re doing, you’ll be more successful.

Eating

I eat high protein and veggies, and moderate to lower fat and carb. I am on a gluten-free diet right now because of a thyroid thing. I do keep track of what I eat on the My Fitness Pal app (you can find me @momvsmarathon), but I’m less concerned with calories, and more interested in my ratios: 40% protein, 30% fat, 30% carb.

Basically, I just try to have more protein than carbs or fats on a good day. For carbs, I try to eat whole food carbs, such as sweet potatoes or rice, and not as much starchy white carbs (like hamburger buns). I eat a lot of egg white omelettes and protein smoothies.

Eating is like 80% of the equation! People always get so focused on exercise, but diet is the thing that will make the biggest difference.

Exercise

I try to get 10,000 steps per day total and that usually means I need one or two longish walks. The My Fitness Pal app tracks it for me.

I usually do a 20-minute metabolic workout with dumbbells 3x/week and on the other days I sprint 2-3x/week (I sprint for 20-30 seconds and then walk to recover and then sprint and then walk and then sprint and then walk for a total of 20 minutes).

I typically take 1-2 rest days where the only “workout” I do is trying to get my 10,000 steps (usually just a couple longish walks).

For example, my week might look like this: Metabolic Workout with Weights M, W, F; Sprinting T, Th, Sat. Walking every day. No hard workouts on Sunday.

The key here is that the “tough” workout is only 20 minutes. It’s so do-able.

HOWEVER, my husband has been able to drop a lot of weight through simply getting 10,000 steps every day and paying attention to what and how much he eats with the My Fitness Pal app. He’s not interested in building a ton of muscle like I am. He simply needed to move more. He also eats high protein and veggies, and moderate to lower fats and carbs.

I hope this helps! I feel like I could write so much more, but this is the basics.

I think it’s important to pick one thing to start with. Pick walking 10,000 steps a day and start with that, for example. Do it for a couple of weeks, then work on diet.

When you do a bunch of changes all at once, it’s super hard to stick with anything because it’s so overwhelming. But if you change one thing every couple of weeks, eventually you’ll have changed a bunch of things and made a bunch of healthy habits. Does this make sense?

Send me your questions! I love this crap!

How to Get Spartan Fit

How to Get Spartan Fit
My son, 8, learning the army crawl.

I have a mild obsession with the Spartan Race. I’ve never done one. I want to. But I’m also a chicken. Plus, I like to train for races and I never knew how to train for a Spartan Race.

When Joe De Sena wrote his first book, Spartan Up, I got to read a copy of it. I liked it enough. It was more about how he came up with the race and about the Spartan lifestyle. It was a little hard core for me at the time. I was hoping for some training ideas.

Guess what? Joe De Sena’s second book, Spartan Fit!, is exactly what I was looking for.

I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy to read for free, but as always, I will be totally honest in this book review.

The new book, Spartan Fit! which you can pre-order and get free shipping with this link, will be released on August 30.

The book starts off again sharing De Sena’s Spartan lifestyle and how others live the Spartan lifestyle. The book also includes a history lesson on what Spartans were really like. It’s all interesting, but JUST GET ME TO THAT TRAINING INFO. (He does give permission to skip ahead right at the beginning, though. It’s like he can read my mind!)

The training section is just what I wanted: a plan of attack. Spartan Fit! gives you a 30-day training plan that is pretty intense from the get-go. That being said, you control your level of intensity. You can easily decrease (or increase) the intensity based on your fitness level. In fact, me and my son did the first day of training together this week.

Day 1 of the plan called for certain exercises to be done at certain distances, but I cut the distance back a little since I was going to be training with an 8-year-old.

WE HAD A BLAST doing the workout. We did army crawls and bear crawls and sprinting and skipping and pushups right out in public at the local park. We got grassy and muddy, too.

How to Get Spartan Fit
Army crawl!

The nice thing about the book is that there is a section that explains how to do the exercises…you know, if you’ve never army crawled before. (It does take a little practice.)

Today, we’re supposed to carry buckets of dirt around the yard. Totally looking forward to it!

There is a more advanced training plan for more experienced Spartans, as well, that looks super hard core. Some Spartan Elites, such as Amelia Boone, talk about their experiences and Spartan lifestyles in the book, too, which is fun. Finally, the book has some real-food recipes in the back.

The real meat of this book, though, is the 30-day training plan for your average peeps like me. If you’re interested in training for a Spartan Race or if you’re looking to add some non-traditional strength training to your running routine, I would definitely recommend Spartan Fit!

How to Get Spartan Fit
Me and my son after our first Spartan workout from the Spartan Fit book being released August 30.

PS: Don’t forget to catch a new episode of Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge on NBC tonight!

I Know How to Get Lean, but Why?

Do you know why you want to get lean?
Not me, but…someday.

The most annoying thing in the world is when your husband is right.

Am I right?! (Let me answer that: Yes.)

Ugh. What’s even worse is when my husband is right about something that has to do with ME. I mean, who does he think he is talking sense and stuff? The nerve!

Last night, we were talking about our health and fitness goals. He’s been kicking some butt being more mindful about his nutrition and moving more, and he’s making steady progress. I’m super proud of him, but…I still don’t want him to be right.

So we were chatting and I was whining about figuring out my nutrition: Why is it so hard? Why can’t my HEC (Hunger, Energy and Cravings) just be in check all the time?

(By the way, I just want to say a special thanks to my period for throwing everything off and totally messing with me. So great! I love being a girl!)

Anyway, my husband asked me why I wanted to get lean anyway. I gave him my standard answer: to get lighter and faster for running.

You know how sometimes you say something out loud and it doesn’t quite sound right? In your head, it’s totally fine. Makes total sense. But out loud…it sounds a little…off?

That’s what happened when I gave my answer. And, because my husband, annoyingly pays attention to stuff (and reads this blog–hi, hon), he then said: But you aren’t really running anymore.

Um, yeah. Okay. Good point. Touché.

I then stumbled through a few explanations about why I wanted to get lean and gain muscle, and none of them sounded super great. In fact, I’m too embarrassed to even write them down here because most of them had to do with aesthetics and my own insecurities and vanity.

The point is, he was freaking right! See? So annoying!

My “why” for getting healthy and fit is that I want to age well. I want to be healthy and strong as I get older. I want to be in good health so I can enjoy life for a long time.

But my “why” for getting lean isn’t clear. So, I will be working on figuring that out in some future posts.

I gotta get this right.

PS: Thank you to everyone who entered the drawing to win a free entry in the Snoqualmie Valley Run. The winner is: Kim! If you didn’t win, remember you can use the code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on your entry fee. Orca Running is also having a deal right now where you can save $20 if you sign up for the SVR and the Iron Horse Half by 5/26/16, so check that out here.