March 17, 2017

Baltimore Fitness Biathlon to Support ASA

If you haven't heard of Athletes Serving Athletes (ASA), you have probably seen them at races in Baltimore across the mid-Atlantic region. ASA is a non-profit organization which helps empower athletes of all ages with disabilities "to train and compete in over 60 running and triathlon events per year" with the help of donors, volunteers, and the awesome WingMen. I have a couple friends who are WingMen and partner with athletes in completing races and events as well as help push racing wheelchairs for some athletes with disabilities. I would love to become a part of the organization, but right now my busy schedule doesn't allow me to. 

athletes-serving-athletes-logo

ASA is having this awesome fundraising event called the Baltimore Fitness Biathlon in which 100% of the proceeds will go the organization from 2-4 PM on Saturday, March 25, 2017, just over a week away. It also happens to be right in my neighborhood-it's such a shame I'll be out of town! 

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By purchasing a $25 ticket to the event you can choose which type of double-header fitness event you want to complete at local Baltimore gyms including Rev Cycle Studio, Knockout Fitness, Fort Ave Fitness, Reflex Functional Fitness, and a run with Charm City Run

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You could run with Charm City Run after a 45-minute spin class right across the street at Rev Cycle Studio!

You can choose your own biathlon of classes including the classic (bike and run), the calorie torcher (bike-kickboxing) or live music (HIIT and yoga).  

All of these sound like such fun options, I don't even know what biathlon I would choose! The classic is my stand-by fitness favorites, but it might be fun to throw in some kickboxing or HIIT. It's the perfect chance to try something new and challenge yourself!

The first class will go from 2:00-2:45 PM with 15 minutes of travel time in between (all the gyms are located in South Baltimore and Federal Hill so it's convenient!). The second class starts at 3:00 PM and ends at 3:45 PM. Afterwards there is a celebration with the sponsors including the awesome Gundalow Juice,B'more Organic, Mobtown Fermentation and more. What a fun way to spend your Saturday afternoon in Baltimore!  

More information can be found on the event website and the Facebook event. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.

baltimore-fitness-biathlon-logo

If like me you can't make it, there is the option to make a virtual athlete donation to still support ASA! You can always learn more about ASA and how to become a WingMan on their website

Have you ever heard of Athletes Serving Athletes? What doubleheader biathlon of classes would you choose? 

March 8, 2017

5 Spring Race Day Tips

Even though the weather can’t make up its mind, it will soon officially be spring. In the Mid-Atlantic region, that means ALL the races as the weather warms up.  I know many people are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon and 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I have the past three years (2015 race recap here), but am holding off a couple weeks before racing long distance because I haven’t quite built my mileage up enough.

I will be, however, be running the KELLY Shamrock 5K with most of Baltimore on Sunday, and can’t wait (2015 race recap here). It’s not going to be fast, but that race is pretty easy-going. I've run it 4 years, and it's always a fun, city-wide event. Spring may mean the first race of a new racing season for many runners. Here are some of my tips for the first race of the spring racing season.


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5 Spring Race Day Tips

1. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. 
I do this before every race, but it’s especially important if it’s been a few months since you’ve raced. Make sure all your gear is together and that you aren’t forgetting anything. Charge your phone, running watch, or iPod if need be too! You don’t want to be scrambling around in the AM looking for your fuel belt, headphones, gloves, or clean running clothes.
rock-n-roll-dc-2015-half-marathon-gear

2. Run with friends. 
I love running with friends in general but especially for the first race of the season it can help keep the pressure off yourself and keep things fun. The first race of the season is usually not a goal race for me. I look at it as more of a warm-up for the copious other spring races. Keeping pace with a friend can keep you motivated and help you pace yourself in the beginning of the race.

3. Start slowly. 
The first race of the season can be super exciting, especially once you are the start line and have the energy of the crowd and fellow runners. It’s super easy to get caught up in starting too fast at the beginning instead of pacing yourself. You don’t want to use up all your energy at the start or it could be a longgggg race. Trust me.

4. Dress in Layers. 
At least in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, spring race weather is very unpredictable. I’ve run races in March and April where it was freezing cold or unseasonably warm. I always grab some throwaway clothes from Goodwill. I also have few pairs of arm warmers that I love to race in when it’s cool at the race start, but not cold enough for long sleeves because I can pull them down during the race. Dress in layers you can easily take off and toss as well as have layers like a pullover available at the finish line for when you cool down after the race.
rock-n-roll-dc-2014-half-marathon-start

5. Have fun. 
The first race of the spring season I am usually a bit under trained after taking some time off and adding more cross-training into my routine. That is even more true this season as I’m rebuilding after an injury. This first race of the season is a benchmark for where you are at so learn from it. Reflect on where you are right now and what your goals for the rest of the year are, but don’t get discouraged. Think about the positives, decide what you want to work on after the race, and stay motivated through the season. Have fun and enjoy the race! 

shamrock-5k-run-for-beer
Yet again, this will be me after the Shamrock 5K!
I linked this post up with the Half Marathon Race Tips link-up below. Check out all the awesome posts!




Do you usually run your first of the season for fun or to target a goal? What's your first competition or race this season? 

March 3, 2017

Core Cycle Studios in Timonium Now Open

This past weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to a sneak peak of the new Core Cycle Studios premier fitness studio in Timonium, MD. As you know, I love supporting fabulous local businesses. I enjoyed my experience at the complimentary preview so I really want to help spread the word. 

The family-owned and operated studio is tucked away on the second level of a shopping center right on York Road in Timonium Crossing. Once you step inside the studio you realize you found a slice of fitness heaven in Baltimore County. 

core-cycle-studios-sign

Despite being a city gal, it's nice to have a new option that is not too hard to pop by after or before school right off I-83. The studio offers all the nice amenities you could want like complimentary towels, lockers, and private bathrooms and showers. The 2250-square foot studio has a beautiful spin room with awesome brand new spin bikes, lighting, and speaker system. 

core-cycle-studios-spin-bike1

After trying some juice samples from Pure Raw Juice, looking at the lovely Devon Maryn gear (resisting the urge to buy), and getting a little braid in my hair from Haute Blow Dry Bar, it was time to get a little sweaty. I took a 25 minute preview spin class when I was there and left super sweaty and energized.  It had been a while since I've spun so my bum was also a little bit sore!

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Besides spin classes, Core Cycle also offers yoga and barre classes as well as some Beachfit Insanity classes. I also tried out 20 minute previews of Insanity and yoga in Core Cycle's other studio room. I loved how this room was bright and filled with lots of natural light from the windows. 

core-cycle-studios-yoga1

The vinyasa yoga flow was lovely-I love all the yoga I can get lately. I loved all of the little touches in the studio like the quotes on the wall (because I'm #mantraobsessed), oil diffusers, statues, and succulents. The attention to all the details is one of my favorite things about the studio. 


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Core Cycle opened this past Monday. On their grand opening day, all proceeds benefited the One Love Foundation, a foundation created in 2010 to honor a Baltimorean woman who was a victim of dating violence. I thought this was such a wonderful idea! 

. Core Cycle Studios is a beautiful space with a boutique city studio feel right in the county. I can't wait to stop by for a class. Check out Core Cycle Studios on Facebook or their website for details about their classes. 

What's your favorite type of group fitness class?

February 20, 2017

4 Reasons Why I'm Using Collagen Peptides {Vital Proteins Review & Giveaway}

Disclosure: I was 2 complimentary tubs of Vital Proteins for review. The giveaway is fulfilled by Vital Proteins. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 

Like me, you may have read or heard of people (particularly in the paleo crowd) taking gelatin for health benefits such as a drinking bone broth. However, you may be wondering what do gelatin or collagen peptides actually do? Gelatin, like that JELL-O stuff?  

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and collagen peptides have the same amino acids as gelatin, however they are just processed differently.
Collagen peptides are hydrolyzed a.k.a. broken down into smaller amino acid chains so they are more easily digestible (I will forever be a chemistry nerd so I LOVE learning about food science). 

I had heard of Vital Proteins from reading about them on various blogs, and then had the chance to talk to the lovely people at the Vital Proteins booth and snag some samples at Natural Products Expo East 2016. Vital Proteins was nice enough to send me a tub of their collagen peptides and collagen beauty greens to try out. 

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The Collagen Peptides powder in the blue container come from grass-fed, pasture-raised bovine hides so they are not vegetarian. At first I thought it was a little weird that it was powder from cows, but after that initial moment of weirdness now I love how they are a natural and sustainable source of protein.

The green container of Collagen Beauty Greens contains marine collagen peptides along with greens, probiotics and skin healthy helpers like hyaluronic acid, all in a yummy coconut vanilla flavored powder. 

vital-proteins-collagen-peptides-1

Because collagen is a protein in our own hair, skin, nails, bones, cartilage, and joints, the powder will help all of these parts of our body. Besides containing protein, studies show that collagen peptides can improve gut health, skin health, bone and joint health, and hormonal balance. There is a lot of research out there on the use of collagen for hair and skin health, which I found from just doing a quick search of a research database.

I've been taking the collagen peptides about 4x a week (mostly because there are always a few crazy days where I am rushing out the door), and the collagen beauty greens more sporadically. It's hard to tell from only a month, but I think my hair and nails look healthier and less brittle. 

So now that you know a little bit about collagen peptides, why have I been using them? 

4-reasons-why-im-using-collagen-peptides

1. They are easy to take every day.

The collagen peptides are dissolvable and unflavored (no, they do not at all taste beefy). I most often easily mix a scoop in with my coffee or tea in the morning-I can’t even taste that it was added. I have also mixed collage peptides into smoothies, juices, yogurt, and oatmeal. I’m not a huge protein powder person lately so I love that these can dissolve in both hot and cold beverages easily and add a nice protein boost to whatever I'm drinking. 

vital-proteins-collagen-3-coffee

2. Collagen peptides are great for my bone health.

After my stress fracture I was interested in focusing on my bone and joint health. While the DEXA scan I had showed normal bone density, I figured supplementing and ensuring strong bones and joints couldn’t hurt. Basically bones are made up of minerals and collagen fibers. Collagen makes up 90% of our bones so ingesting collagen peptides may help bone metabolism and help increase bone density. You can read more and find links to specific research studies here. This is one of the bigger reasons why I started using collagen peptides. 

3. Vital Protein products are natural and not full of junk. 

Literally the only ingredient in Vital Proteins collagen peptides is collagen peptides, so I know exactly what I am ingesting. You can read on their website about how they exclusively produce their collagen peptides in Brazil because their cows don’t have hormones too. 


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4. Skin health is important to me.

No matter how young I look or feel, I am getting older every year (and quickly approaching 30, eek). My body will continue to change and dreaded wrinkles (or what I will call my happy lines) will one day in the future start to appear. I have always been conscious of my skin health after having to go to a dermatologist and have some suspect moles removed starting at a young age, but making sure my skin looks great as I age is important too. If I can supplement with collagen and get the added bonus of helping out my skin, that is a win-win for me. 



So if you are interested in adding collagen or collagen peptides to your diet check out Vital Proteins. They offer all different sizes of products including travel-sized pouches and free shipping in the U.S. 


Vital Proteins was nice enough to offer (1) 10 oz. tub of their Collagen Peptides to giveaway to one reader. Enter the Rafflecopter below (U.S. residents only, sorry!) before the giveaway ends on March 6 at 12 AM EST.


Have you ever taken a collagen supplement? Have you read about gelatin or collagen supplements before? 

February 14, 2017

10 Ways to Show Yourself Self-Love

So today is Valentine's Day, and while many people are haters on the idea of the holiday with all its commercialization. I have always been a fan of the holiday as a day to tell the people you love how much you care about them, in case you haven't always been finding the time to do so lately.  That means my friends, my mom, my siblings, and my boyfriend. I am spending my Valentine's Day in school, doing homework, and maybe treating myself to a run and some dessert.  

It is also a nice reminder to practice self-love and show yourself that you care.  Here are 10 ideas of how to show yourself self-love today and any day!

10-ways-to-show-self-love


1. Take a bubble bath. Maybe you're like me and have a few Lush bath bombs sitting in a drawer, waiting to be used so break them out and treat yourself to a bath and some quiet time. If you don't like baths, maybe it is as simple as taking a nice, long, and relaxing shower.  

2. Have a 30-second (or longer) dance party. Turn up your favorite song or put on a Spotify playlist playlist and sing or dance. Music has been shown to boost your mood and dancing makes me really happy. 

3. Unwind with a hot beverage. Seems obvious, but it can do wonders for how I feel if I just spend 20 minutes in quiet room with a hot cup of tea or coffee reading one of my magazines, especially in a world where much of my day is spent with a computer or phone in my face. 

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4. Take Yourself on a Date. Spend an afternoon alone doing something you've been wanting to do. Go check out that exhibit at the art museum you have been wanting to see. Take yourself to the movies. I find sometimes it's less stressful to not have to make plans with anyone else and allowing myself to have an afternoon that is on my own time, at my pace.  

5. Unplug for an hour. Particularly at the end of a long day of work or school, turn your phone off (or at least the notifications). Allow yourself to spend an hour tech-free except possibly for playing some music.  I like to read magazines, do some adult coloring, or get into some arts and crafts. 

6. Move Your Body. If you have been meaning to find time for a solo run, to take a yoga class, or finally try out a new fitness class, schedule it and put it on your planner. Find time to make let yourself workout by doing something you enjoy with all the added benefits of exercise. 

7. Buy yourself flowers. I did this just yesterday when I grabbed an inexpensive bouquet at Trader Joe's. Having the smell and view of fresh flowers in my kitchen is a really nice pick-me-up, so I love grabbing some flowers for myself every so often. 

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I love getting flowers
8. Put on Red Lipstick. Or wear and do whatever makes you feel beautiful. Maybe that is a favorite dress, piece of jewelry, or pair of shoes. Maybe it is going makeup-free and letting your freckles show. I know sometime it is nice to actually blow-dry my hair and put on some makeup for me to feel pretty when during the week I am spending as little time as possible getting ready in the mornings.  

9. Spend some time outside. It can be going for a hike, afternoon walk, or even eating my lunch outside on a sunny day. Sometimes the simple act of spending some time outside because it makes me happy is all I need to brighten my day. 

10. Nourish Your Body. Some days the best thing I can do to show myself self-love is just to make myself go go to bed to ensure I get enough rest. That also may mean treating myself to a big salad out for lunch because I know my body wants a big bowl of vegetables. Maybe it is your morning or evening meditation session. Whatever nourishes your body that you may have been neglecting, spend time doing that today. 

What is your favorite way to show yourself self-love? Are you doing anything special for Valentine's Day? 

February 10, 2017

{5 Friday Favorites} Otters, Micellar Water, and Tea

Disclosure: I received complimentary samples of Yogi Tea through my partnership as a Women's Health Action Hero. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Happy Friday! My graduate school spring semester has started, and my schedule is the craziest yet because apparently that was possible. I'm slowly building up my running to hopefully 4 or 5 miles this weekend which is great. I've also been eating a lot of Trader Joe's mini frozen pizzas for dinner, which isn't the healthiest but is quite delicious. It's all about taking life one day at a time. Anyways, here are my 5 Friday favorites this week-have a fabulous weekend! 

Favorite Animal Video: Otter pup in the snow at Yellowstone Park


So it was really tough to pick just one video. I watch so many cute animal videos during the week because they make me happy (and give me hope that is world is wonderful). I loved this video of a little otter enjoying the snow in Yellowstone Park. I am dying to get out to some of the National Parks out west. 

Favorite Beauty Find: Trader Joe's Micellar Cleanser wipes

trader-joes-micellar-cleanser-towelettes

So I was introduced to micellar water after first trying the Garnier micellar water because it had good reviews for cleaning skin and removing makeup. Micelles are pretty much surfactants or tiny clusters of micelle molecules that are suspended in water and actually in many other makeup removers and toners (I'm a science nerd so I researched it!). The micelles attract dirt, grime,and oil and remove them from your skin without drying out your skin so you can just wipe your face off with micellar water on a cotton ball. 

 I have been using it to remove my makeup at night, and like that it doesn't dry out my face or leave an oily residue. ANYWAYS, I impulsively picked these up at Trader Joe's this week and like the towelette form which would be a nice form for travel. So far I think they are great, however it's probably cheaper to just use the micellar water and cotton balls than the 20 packs of towelettes because I use it every day. 

Favorite Weather This Week: Short Sleeves Weather

February 2, 2017

ZOOMA Annapolis 2017 Is Coming!

Disclosure: As a 2017 ZOOMA Women's Race Series ambassador, I received complimentary registration for the events and a unique discount code. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I am back as a ZOOMA Women's Race Series Ambassador in 2017 for the third year in a row and am more excited than ever. I first got involved with ZOOMA because I was attracted to a female-centric race series that was really catered towards womens running. Now I also love all the people I've met behind ZOOMA including Brae who started the series. ZOOMA has taken lots of feedback from last year and is always trying to improve their race experiences. 

I have run the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon race in 2015 and 2016 so I'll definitely be back this year.  This year is actually the 10th anniversary of ZOOMA Annapolis so it's going to be an extra special event.  

The half marathon and 10K start at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and then takes you through lovely downtown Annapolis then up and over the challenging Naval Academy Bridge before ending back at Navy Stadium. The race course is open for 3.5 hours for both races. 

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Same courses in 2017 as last year!
I always loved the open and relaxed After-Party Expo at the race with live music, wine, and recovery yoga. The weather and humidity in June always make this race a little challenging, but it's a great weekend with awesome perks such as a great swag and FREE race photos. It is a women's race series, but men are welcome to run! 

zooma-annapolis-half-marathon-2015
My free race photo as I crossed the finish line at the half marathon in 2015 
This year for the 10th Anniversary celebration there will be a Virtual Half Marathon or 10K option which lets your participate virtually and still receive swag including a shirt and medal in the mail.

This year ZOOMA Annapolis falls on the June 3, 2017, the same day as the Baltimore 10 Miler again so I wanted to get the word out there to peeps in the area. I am just starting to feel more comfortable in my injury recovery with making future race plans so I marked it on my calendar officially. I'll also be coaching the ZOOMA 10K training group out of the Charm City Run Baltimore location in a few months which will be super fun as a race ambassador and someone familiar with the course too. 

Registration is open for the Annapolis race and prices increase May 21. 
Use my code LAUREN2017 to save 10% off your registration. 

ZOOMA also has a great podcast about all things health and fitness that you can access through their website here

I'm excited to have a fun summer race already on the books! 

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Do you have any big summer races planned yet?

January 30, 2017

What Will Make Me a Better, Faster Stronger Athlete in 2017

Hello! I'm still moving along on my return to running plan and am up to running TWO WHOLE MILES. Yes, sarcastically because I have had a couple runs this week where I just want to keep going, but then my mind is like BUT THE PLAN and then I think about how I don't want to be injured or in a boot again so I stop. Being able to run 2 miles is way better than 0 miles. I am still trying to work on changing my running form which is proving to be hard and might not happen, but at least there are things I think of like squeezing my booty to engage my glutes every so often and lean forward a bit to prevent over striding.  

I have been really wary of registering for races even though I have 2 half marathons on the books in the spring because coming back from the injury and getting my mileage up is a slow process. Therefore I am still thinking about 2017 goals (besides not getting injured) as well as what I want to accomplish outside of fitness. So that post will be later. 

There are things I have been doing that I want to continue with as my mileage slowly but surely increases to make me a [harder] better, faster, stronger athlete.  

Yoga

I was always on this blog talking about how I need to do more yoga and how yoga is so great for runners. Finally completing Yoga Sculpt teacher training at CorePower Yoga and then starting to teach at the Harbor Point studio has been a little blessing. It gave me a nice outlet when I was in the boot and couldn't run. Also teaching has made me do yoga more besides the obvious reason. It helps that as an instructor I get free classes at CorePower (which is AMAZING), but it is also easier to practice on my own before or after I teach as well as take other classes when I am already at the studio. Besides the physical benefits, the mental and spiritual benefits for me have been missed and are much needed when I am busy with school and work. It's always good to be reminded to slow down, breathe, and stay present.  I am finally getting back into yoga and am loving it. 

corepoweryoga-federal-hill-whyiyoga

Stretching/ PT Exercises 

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I need to carve out time at least 3x a week to continue with some of my theraband exercises from PT for my glutes and hips once I am no longer going on a regular basis. I also have been valuing a warm up and cooldown to my runs. For me that is walking a bit before and after a run. Stretching during the week is important to. I mostly stretched well after long runs during this past marathon training cycle, but taking the time multiple times during the week is so important. I like this quick stretching sequence from Runner's World. 

January 17, 2017

Injury Update #2: Stress Fracture Recovery Begins

In case you missed it, I was diagnosed with a 4th metatarsal stress fracture at the very end of October/beginning of November and survived almost 4 weeks in an Aircast boot doing pretty much zero exercise of any type. Yup, I did pretty much nothing besides a few workouts during my time recovering. 


injury-update-stress-fracture-recovery

What I'm Doing

Physical Therapy
Das boot came off in December after an X-Ray and getting the okay from my orthopedist. I wore an ortho sandal for 2 weeks after the boot to still offer some protection, but could at least get around better. Luckily I was not having any pain in my foot. 

The second week of December I began to see a physical therapist once a week as recommended by my orthopedist. A gait analysis was completed and the body mechanics of muscles involved in running were analyzed.  Not so shocking, but I found out I have weak hips (main problem) and weak glutes. ::whomp::whomp::


happy-gilmore-hips
But really though. Happy Gilmore, anyone?


Exercises
To help strengthen these muscles I was prescribed weekly exercises to do at therapy and at home daily during with a Theraband. Lots of variations on clamshells, squats, step-ups, lunges, and fire hydrants. This article from Runner's Connect has a nice set of exercises which includes some that I have been doing. These will continue to be a staple in my life to help prevent any injuries in the future. 

Theraband exercises are why PT is short for Pure Torture, right? Just hitting you with some rehabilitation professional jokes. 

Working on My Running Form
I'm always sweating and doing hard work when I'm at physical therapy. As a future occupational therapist and science nerd, getting my gait analyzed has been really awesome. It's also been a little depressing because I want to have this great running form and then look at the recording all slowed down of me on the treadmill and am like GEEZ, THAT LOOKS TERRIBLE.

I have been working on transitioning from a heel striker to a midfoot striker as well as trying to keep my feet underneath me during my stride instead of reaching out with my legs and overstriding. Overstriding increases the force put through my foot and increases injury potential so that's not good. 


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This graphic I found makes it easier to visualize. {Source}

January 3, 2017

2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

Welcome to my 2016 year in review blog post. I know it's a bit cliche, but this is a really fun way for me to reflect on the year. I always forget all of the amazing adventures I went on, the races I ran, and fun I had this year.  It's nice to scroll through the photos on my computer and really spend time thinking about the past year before jumping into the next. I'm sharing a couple fun things that happened each month in 2016 running, fitness, and beyond!


2016: A Year in Running & Beyond

January
Snowzilla hit Baltimore in January bringing the best snow on record for the city. It was crazy.  I also started coaching at Charm City Run which was definitely challenging with lots of snow and ice on the ground!

baltimore-snowzilla-2016-blizzard

I also spent plenty of cold mornings running and working out with November Project Baltimore, which celebrated it's second birthday. 

november-project-baltimore-2birthday

February
Besides a lovely Valentine's Day dinner in with my boyfriend and some more running, I ran the Nuun Year Dash with a group of fellow Team Nuun runners and some cool people from Harlem Run. It was great to spread the Nuun love and run the FitFam virtual race in person! 

fitfam-underarmour-nuun-year-dash

March
March is always when lots of spring races start popping off despite the weather still being a crapshoot. I visited Asheville for the first time and ran the Asheville Half Marathon at the Biltmore Estate-a BEAUTIFUL race! 

biltmore-asheville-half-marathon-2016

Baltimore also held it's first Light City which was a lights festival with light art installations, performances, and events. 
 
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