Monday, January 30, 2012

But what about my @*#%&! *# purse?

There's even room for more, but here's two phones your keys
and an energy "shot" ready to go into my 5 year old SPIbelt

All packed in, and remarkably still easy to wear around the waist!
If you're new to fitness, there are all these, "'but, what do you do with your purse?"  We know; we've been there!

Last week, we encouraged y'all to find a new place for your workout--a botanical garden, a historic site, a park.  But we know you're less likely to get in the car and take a chance on a new place if you don't know what to do with all the "stuff" you normally carry about--phone, keys, incidentals.

Are we right?

Here's a solution:  there are some neat products out there that hold an AMAZING amount of "stuff" comfortably snug and secure about your waist while you run or walk.  Our SPIbelt is made of soft, stretchy fabric with a fully adjustable belt, and it is very comfortable to wear.  It "breathes" as you sweat, so it doesn't feel hot.  It also doesn't bounce as you move.  That's a big plus.

I've had the same SPIbelt for five years now, and it has never failed me.  I use it at least 3-4 times a week and it manages to fit in everything I need during my run.  (I usually just put one phone in there, and my keys, but as you can see, it can hold MUCH MUCH more than that!)  You can see more testimonials here, on their website.  I got mine at a marathon expo, but you can find them in some stores, or you can order it online.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What if you're starting at the VERY beginning? (Two tips to keep it interesting)

Stroll down the Hummingbird and
Butterfly Trail, Chihuahuan
Desert Nature Center.
Fort Davis, Texas

Some days there's nothing harder than peeling yourself off the couch, deciding to move, then putting on shoes and lacing them up, right?  So the challenge is to make it interesting.

If you're at the very beginning of a fitness practice, and even a stroll is an effort, one part of the equation is really easy.   There are LOTS of wonderful places that are very, very interesting near your home, so plan to build them into your exercise plan. 

Tip 1:  Invite a friend, your kids, your spouse to take a stroll with you.  The company will keep you going, the conversation will distract you from your effort.  Suddenly, you're not exercising, you're socializing.  (Same thing goes with running; see our recent entry about Sarah's #3MomsRunning group!)

Tip 2:  Pick a really pretty place for your walking workout...if you're just getting started, try for an outing once a week. Botanical gardens, historic sites,short trails in urban or rural parks are great places. And many are FREE. They aren't "fitness" places per se, so if you're a little bashful about getting out among more seasoned athletes or getting lapped by youngsters wearing spandex, then a local garden or historic site may be a perfect fit for you. The places pictured here have outdoor grounds (in the case of the David Davis Mansion, there's just a large yard and a small garden) or trails of less than a mile. Sure, you can walk around your neighborhood and that's GREAT, but sometimes the distraction of nature, beauty, or history is just what you need.

So, you may not yet be up to a run or even  a jog.  But the fresh air of an outdoor stroll will invigorate, and getting out in a new place (away from your daily routine) will keep it interesting.  Schedule it on your calendar so you can look forward to it.  And pat yourself on the back for taking your new fitness practice seriously! 

Keystone Heritage Park
El Paso Desert Botanical Garden
El Paso, Texas
David Davis Mansion, Bloomington, Illinois
(yes, even a good place for a stroll in winter!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012


You know the books you keep around, ones that end up scuffed and battered, the pages falling out or dog-eared because you use them ALL the time?  Meet Bob Anderson's Stretching. I must have picked it up shortly after the first printing in 1980, and finally replaced my beat up copy when the 30th anniversary edition was available.

There are routines for stretching while watching TV, for sitting at a desk, for the usual sports (running, hiking, swimming, cycling, etc.) but also for unusual ones, like RODEO!

And even if you can't quite achieve the leg-splitting stretch on the cover (yeah, me neither!), well, I think it is worth a look.  There's something here for folks of all ages and fitness levels, from very basic beginners to multi-sport athletes.

Why I like it?  The routines are simple, drawings are easy to understand, it doesn't take long (you're even given a time estimate!) and you do feel SO much better after a few minutes.

Why stretch?  Take a look at this article by the Mayo Clinic...which cites stretching as a benefit for improving athletic performance and reducing the risk of injury.  There's good information here about getting started with a stretching routine.

Want to take a peek at a routine from Anderson's book?  Here's one for travelers (approximately 2 minutes), and another for gardeners (approximately 4 minutes).  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Started Again: Our friend Sarah on running groups, being "40 something and fabulous" and "after the initial 'I think I'm going to die' feeling, it actually feels great."

#3MomsRunning Group
Pamela Anderson, Lisa Salas, Sarah Page, Keiawnna Pitts, and Wendy Faherty. Also pictured is Chaps the Border Collie, our official mascot. Photo credit goes to Josh Faherty, Wendy's son and journalism student.
Sarah Page of
Round Rock, Texas
From time to time, we want to profile friends who are working to get into shape or working to get back into shape.  Today, we visit with Sarah Page, 44, of Round Rock, Texas.  We LOVED her idea for a #3MomsRunning group to keep her motivated.  (More on Sarah at the end of the post!)

When did you start running?
I've always run - but in short bursts rather than anything consistent.  I ran track in high school, ran for fitness with my roommate in college, and ran some 5Ks and 10Ks in my 20s and 30s as a way to stay in shape. 

I blew a tendon in my knee in the mid-90s, and after that I've done more couch-surfing than running.  Add to that another blown tendon - this time in my ankle - a few years ago, and I just haven't done very much at all since then.

Why did you decide to get serious about running ? What prompted that decision?
Everything changed last summer.  I was tired of being "fat" and 40 something.  I always wanted to be 40 something and fabulous.  I got back into running, and after a few stops and starts, I'm finally ready to stick with it.

Why do you enjoy it?
It's a great way to clear my mind.  After the initial "I think I'm going to die" feeling, it actually feels great. Also it's a challenge.  Can I go just a little bit farther or faster this time?

What's your favorite run? (distance, location, time of day,other?)
I'm more of a short- to mid-distance runner.  I prefer to stay in the 5K and under range.  In a perfect world, I would run in the evenings before the sun goes down.  But with kids, work, and stupid daylight savings time, I have to get it in at 5am.  

There are tons of great places to run in the Austin area.  My favorite of them is the trail around Town Lake (now called Lady Bird Lake).  It's beautiful and there are always excellent people-watching opportunities.

My running group mainly runs in our neighborhood.  But on the weekends when we do our long runs, we go to a nearby trail in Round Rock called the Brushy Creek Trail East.  It's a beautiful paved trail with canopied trees, and is a great place for running, walking, cycling, or scootering (as my son calls it).

What are your fitness goals for 2012?
Overall conditioning is a definite goal, but in reality, it is to lose weight.  I would love to lose 40-50 pounds. I know I'll feel better, possibly ditch a prescription or two, and I'll hopefully look better too.

What keeps you on track with your goals?
I weigh in weekly to track my progress ... or sometimes lack thereof.  I'm trying to do a better job with my diet and portion size too.  But mostly there's the tried and true method of how my clothes fit.

I've also signed myself up for some 5Ks in a couple months time.  It always helps to have something to train for.  I'm also being coerced ... er, persuaded ... to do the Capitol 10K in April.  We'll see about that one.

I also have an amazing and supportive network of friends.  I've got some friends that I converse with over Twitter and Facebook who inspire me on a daily basis and keep my feet to the fire.  I probably wouldn't be as motivated if it weren't for you, @theresaoverby, @beaumartian, @RunBimma, and @decillis.

But probably the coolest thing that keeps me on track is my new running group.  Some PTA/neighborhood  friends of mine and I decided to get serious about a running program, but needed the additional encouragement.  So we banded together and formed a group we call #3MomsRunning (our Twitter hashtag).  We started with 3 moms, but are ranks are growing daily.  We hit the road in our neighborhood at 5am 3 to 4 times a week. This way, we get our run in and can still get out the door in time for work.  We've found that it makes getting out of bed a little easier when you know that someone is waiting for you out in the cold and dark.  A little peer pressure never hurts, right?

You use RunKeeper, right? What do you like about it?
I LOVE RunKeeper!  It's a great tool that's so easy to use.  I'm very much into social media, and RunKeeper has a social aspect to it in addition to tracking your runs.  You can post your run results to Facebook and/or Twitter, but you also have a "Street Team" (like your Facebook friends) to help motivate and encourage you.

RunKeeper tracks distance, route, calories burned, average minutes per mile, speed, and elevation all from your iPhone or Android phone.  You can pipe in your own music to keep you going.  There are also coaching programs you can purchase in addition to the regular app.  They provide daily programs with audio cues to help you train for specific races.  It also tracks other activities like walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, or even machines like treadmills and ellipticals. Love, love, love it.

How do you balance fitness with job, husband, kids, friends and the other important parts of your life?
That's just it.  I haven't been.  I'm making ME a priority this year.  It's so easy - for women especially - to feel like we have to take care of things.  Everything and everyone but yourself.  I've been happily married for 13 years and we have two awesome kids.  But I've been putting them first.  I need to learn that I'm important too.

It's a constant challenge to balance a full-time job (that often includes travel) and a family with the things I need to do for me.  I know there will be times when other things will be more important than running.  But I will make it up and get it done somehow.  I'm turning 45 in October.  I plan to be fabulous by then.

What's your favorite fitness tip?
Shoes, shoes, shoes.  I've had a hell of a time finding the right shoes.  But once I did, it made all the difference.

In addition to being an all-around nice person and great friend, Sarah is also one of Texas' leading tourism professionals and a social media guru.  She's the Senior Economic Development Specialist at Lower Colorado River Authority. Check out her blogs, Tourism Tech and Traveling on the Colorado River Trail.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Praise of Thick Ankles

Good thing I'm not a stiletto heel kind of gal, because I don't have the ankles for them.  They're stubby rather than slender or slight.  And they're attached to wide pancake-flipper feet.  They're not delicate nor particularly feminine...nothing below my knees is.  Dainty?  Definitely no.

What I've come to appreciate about them is that they're sturdy.  Even when I was out of shape (and there have been MANY years like that) the feet were strong.  Turn those ankles on the trail and they keep right on going.  Twist those puppies and they still work. They're resilient, powerful, and up to just about any challenge.

For that reason, they're my favorite feature.  They remind me it isn't how we look that matters, or how thin we are.  Those are the wrong goals.  Better to embrace strength, build flexibility, preserve balance and grow stamina than fret about size.  What you can DO is more important that how you look.  How you feel and your ability to spring back from adversity is more important than measurements.

That's one of the things that bears repeating, because we tend to forget it and society just doesn't reinforce it...getting strong, staying strong is what's important.  Strong ankles are an asset...they take you to wonderful places.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Quote to keep you going

"It is because the vast majority of people do not have the courage to venture off the beaten path that they fail to find [adventure], and live lop-sided lives....A good healthy curiosity is better equipment to venture forth than any amount of learning or education....The beaten paths of conformity are literally a prison."

-Aldo Leopold

What are your happy workout tunes? (and how do you feel about going back to 1983?)

I like to load up my ipod for runs with a variety of tunes.  Some current, some classic, some esoteric.  And yet, I'm a little embarrassed to even suggest this one, as hopelessly out of date this is...but it meets my criteria for a good workout song for the ipod.

Irrepressible beat?  Yes.
Cheery lyrics?  Yes.
And cheesy as it seems now, it inspired an early, early Jack Black appearance ....(search for "High Fidelity Monday Morning tape" on YouTube)

For this is the only tune to singlehandedly inspire me to add an extra lap to a workout...that's how much it keeps me going especially on these cold winter days.  (The boys in the band are colder than you are, because you're running!)

Here's the point:  load up your ipod with music that makes YOU happy, music that keeps you going.  That's all that counts.  Your workout ipod selections can't be any more embarrassing than this one...which songs boost your workout?

This is the start!

Snuggled underneath a pile of blankets, I listened for the sounds of the morning.  Where were the trains, the roosters, the dogs? Silence. I saw stars through the window, but all I heard was the sound of breathing.  Was everyone waiting for the new year to begin too?

Popped my feet out from under the covers, fished toes around for my fuzzy slippers.  So what will this year bring?  I'm not one to make resolutions, but I do like to set goals. 

For New Years resolutions to take hold, according to this article, they say resolutions should be realistic, you should form a specific plan, acknowledge your building confidence as you move forward (as well as the inevitability of future "slips"), and publicly declare your resolution.  I LOVE this last part:  letting others know you're working on a goal will keep you from straying.  In fact, there's a great deal of power in telling people what you want in life.  A wise woman once told me, once you know what you want, you should tell at least THREE people.  Why three?  I'm not sure, but maybe it has to do with solidifying your resolve....talking about it three times internalizes the goal, brings it inside, helps you invest in it.

So here are my goals for 2012:
Franklin Mountains State Park, location
for the Jack Rabbit Classic trail run, one of my goals for 2012~
El Capitan at Guadalupe Mountains National Park--Guadalupe Peak is right behind it!
  • I want to do at least one competitive trail run this year, and I think I'll accomplish this one early, as I've got the 12th Annual Jack Rabbit Classic in the Franklin Mountains (February 26) on my calendar.  (And I want to focus on speeding up my 5K times, so I'll try as many of those as I can fit in!)
  • I want to this to be a cross-training year, including hiking, road and trail running, and road and mountain biking.  I'm going to be traveling quite a bit for work, so I'm going "light" on mileage goals for running and sticking to shorter race distances...1000K sounds like quite a bit...actually it is just under 12 miles a week. 
  • 2012 will be the "Year of the Ab, the Tricep and Bicep."   Actually that's just shorthand for the Year of "Getting Back to Weight Training," since I've slacked off that important work for a couple of years now.  And it shows.
  • I'm definitely climbing Guadalupe Peak again, the highest point in Texas.  As a matter of fact, our Texas Mountain Trail is teaming up with Guadalupe Mountains National Park and on a hiking challenge in honor of the national park's 40th anniversary.  Stay tuned! 
  • I've also been slacking on stretching out those adding regular stretching sessions back into my workout routine will be on the docket for this year.
  • And in general, keeping an eye on nutrition, including adequate hydration and vitamin-taking! 
And now that I've said it, I'm accountable.  Bring it on, 2012.

Note:  the year had a chilly start..just back from a chilly (frigid, actually) three mile run on rugged ranch road...oooooh eeeh!

What better reason?

I LOVE this video!  It says it all....just a little bit of exercise every day makes a huge difference!