Category Archives: Fitness

Return to the Blog World

Hello loves!

I know, I know, it’s been FOREVER! And no, I haven’t forgot about you all. *How could I? You are my LIFE!!!* I’ve really really missed you.

Oh I missed you so

So why did I disappear from the blog world?

First of all, it was summer. The weather was beautiful and it would be a shame to stay inside. Also, I embarked on a 30-day EMPOWER yoga challenge. After doing it for a few days I realized that if I kept on blogging, I wouldn’t have any time for my hubby *go to work, get home, eat, walk the dog, workout, you get the point…*.

At around the same time I received a couple of requests from a few of my blogger-friends to participate in ‘Why I Write’ *or something along those lines* challenge. The more I thought about it the more I started to realize that at some point blogging started feeling more like a full-time job instead of a hobby. That’s when I decided to take a break. I want this blog to inspire you and I want to enjoy writing it as well.

Obviously, this break took longer than expected. However, I feel good about it. I was able to focus more on me and my family. I’m full of ideas. AND I AM FINALLY BACK!

Here is a quick overview of what has happened in my life since my ‘disappearance’.

Empower Challenge

yoga

Trip to Varadero, Cuba

Varadero, Cuba

5K Electrodash Run

Electrodash

Our 1st Anniversary

Celebrating our 1st anniversary

My birthday

Big 28

 JDRF (Juvenille Diabetes Research Foundation) fundraiser

JDRF

CIBC Run For the Cure Gala

Gala

Weekend at a cottage

weekend at a cottage

I’ll write more on each of these events in the near future. However, there is something else that I’d like to do. I will make some changes to my blogging habits. I’ll be posting twice a week or so instead of 5 days a week. I have yet to decide which days would work the best for me and for you. This way I will be able to provide you with more fun and informative posts without burning myself out. Sounds like a plan, right?!

Now it’s your time to take a pedestal.

How have you been? *I have sooooo much catching up to do, even though I was really trying to keep track of all major events in your lives!!!!*

What are your thoughts on blogging less vs. more? Also do you have any preferences for days to read my blog? What would you like to read more about?

I’m all ears!

 

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Holidays

Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 2)

I KNOWWWWW! How could I leave you hanging like that?! Well, I just did! *It was done with love lol!*

If you missed the first part, here it is: Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 1)

at the start line

That’s me at the start line. Worried, ecstatic and everything in between. Understandably so! The furthest distance I’d ever run before was 16.8 km and there were NO mountains! This being said, I had my water and gels, AND a friend to run with. Joe ran with me the previous two races too *read more on Spartan Sprint – here, and on Spartan Super – here*; however, we ran at our own pace. This time around, we decided to stick together: Running such a long race is more of a mental game than anything, and we knew that we would need to be there for each other emotionally.

I didn’t have much time to stretch, even though the start was pushed to 10.40 am, but at least I was able to calm down after a whirlwind of an adventure of us getting to the race. I was calm and composed. The plan was to go at a steady pace up hill and speed up on trails as well as while going downhill. I had 6 Gu’s with me, but I was shooting to take one every 5-6 kilometers or so.

The race started out with a gentle hill, but that didn’t last for too long. I considerably slowed my pace, and I was glad I did. The hill was getting really steep. At times, I even had to grab on to trees and their roots to climb huge rocks. It was FUN! Unfortunately, I started getting cramps in my glutes, so I would stop every now and then to massage them a bit.

butt cramps

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I am really grateful that my friend was really understanding. I knew, however, that once I got to the flat or downhill path I’d be able to fly, and that thought definitely kept me going. In addition, the weather  was overcast, so I didn’t have to worry about the heat.

This race was definitely the most challenging at 24 kilometers long. This time around there was much more mud on slopes, more heavy weight lifting, lots of crawling under the barbed wire be it on a flat surface, incline or in water.There was a fair share of people who were feeling sick, throwing up and unable to walk anymore, which was a good reminder that it’s good to have ambitious goals, but it’s important that they are manageable too. That being said, there was a lot of inspiration all over the place! People constantly making sure that everyone is okay, offering their help to those in need, a lot of cheering and smiles. However, I never imagined I would see anything like this.

comradery

I actually saw these guys while running down a very slippery and muddy hill. I was barely able to keep balance on my own when I noticed one of the guys bringing down the wheelchair and another carrying his friend on his back. I even teared up a bit for how great witnessing something like this was!

wheelchair under barbed wire

I forgot about any pain I was experiencing right that moment!

Some of the obstacles I enjoy the most are the rope climb…

climbing rope

Monkey barrel roll *I really have no clue how to call those! It was the first time I ever did it, and I LOVED the challenge!!!*…

barrel

*That’s me sweating there on the far right with a red Camelbak! Haha!*

Oh, and monkey bars, of course!

monkey bars

*As you can see it on my face, it’s a piece of cake haha!*

I would be lying if I said I was able to avoid all burpees!

I slipped on the traverse wall…

traverse wall

And I didn’t even attempt completing this challenge and went straight for burpees. *The finish line was about 100 meters away and I had sever lower back pain.*

the iron ring burpees

*Can you see through those rings how excited I was? NOT! Haha!*

As I mentioned before, there were a lot of obstacles that included lifting heavy objects. I was really surprised that most of the times girls had to lift the same weight as guys. Even though I completed all of them, I was really struggling, especially when the weight was distributed unevenly. Definitely something I have to work on!

The second half of the race was mostly run on trails which felt AH-mazing!!! There was also a lot of walking, crawling, swimming in water which was very refreshing and welcome.

And guess what? I actually have a decent jumping over the fire picture this time around!!! The fire was so high that I totally thought that it was gonna be one of those pictures again.

jumping over the fire

 *Aren’t you proud of me?! I, personally, can’t believe I was even able to jump so high after the longest race of my life so far, forget about the face and shape! LOL!*

Want to know another fun fact? I almost broke down crying when the girl was putting the medal around my neck. I was happy, I was overwhelmed, I was tired! To make things even better, my hubby decided to take his coat and turn away as I was running the final stretch, so it took me probably 15-20 minutes to find him. *Mind you, I could barely walk, and and my brain was fried and I couldn’t recall what he was wearing.* And he, poor thing, was still waiting for me at the slippery wall! *I actually was able to see him when I zoomed in on the picture above, looking away, waiting for me to arrive. Haha!*

Anyhow, once I found him, I was a happy trooper again!

at the finish line

Do I have any regrets? Of course! I am definitely saddened *and ecstatic at the same time* that the Spartan Trifecta is complete. Now I need to find another worthy and exciting challenge to complete and train for. Also… Ummm… I regret not taking a granola bar with me, my stomach was definitely unhappy from not eating anything but gels from 7 am till about 5 pm!!! Haha!

Have you ever been upset about completing your goal? What are your favorite obstacles? Any near missed big races?

xoxo
Olena

16 Comments

Filed under Cardio, Fitness, Health, Motivation, Race Reviews, Running

Spartan Beast & Trifecta That Almost Didn’t Happen (Part 1)

Hi loves!

I’ve missed you! I am sure many of you would like to have an explanation as to why I haven’t posted in a while. I won’t go too much in detail, but let’s put it this way: It’s summer and sometimes I feel like I start seeing my blog as a job *which is not*, so I pull back a bit. I like to be excited about my posts and chose not to write instead of posting just to post. That being said, I love you all and you mean more to me than you’ll ever know!

Those who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve been keeping myself very busy lately. I have A LOT to talk about! However, today, I’d like to tell you all about my Spartan Beast *and Trifecta* that almost didn’t happen a week ago… I am sure you’re dying to hear all about it! And, yes, you read it right… IT ALMOST DIDN’T HAPPEN! And no, I am NOT being a drama queen here. *Pinky swear!*

no drama

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So let’s all go back to Saturday, July 26. My husband and I went over to my brother-in-law for a BBQ. All I was talking about was how nervous I was and if my hubby thinks I should have another piece of bread to load up on carbs. Needless to say, nobody wanted to hear anything about it. *That’s the bitter truth, people! Haha!*

stop-talking

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My heat was scheduled to start at 10 am on Sunday. It took us about 2.5 hours to get to the venue the previous time, so we decided to leave at 6 am. I woke up around 5.15 am to get dressed and walk Bella for as long as possible. *She had to stay in her crate all day long, and I felt horrible about it.* 

It was around 6.15 am when Justin decided to double check the address of the location. *Please, don’t ask! I guess I was too nervous to even think about it!* That’s when I had a mini heart attack… It WAS at a different location and, according to a GPS, it was about a 3-hour drive!!! What also was weird is that it gave us a different name of the town: Gracefield, QC instead of Lac-Sainte-Marie, Qc.

We headed out the doors and went to Tim Horton’s to pick up a bagel cream cheese as a pre-race snack. The trouble started when we got onto the highway: It started raining cats and dogs! At some point, Justin wasn’t able to control the car for how much water was on the road; nevertheless, I tried to keep my composure. It wasn’t long lived… All I can say is CONSTRUCTION all over Montreal. It seemed to appear out of nowhere. We drove there just a day ago. Nothing made sense. We were driving in circles for at least 30 minutes!!! By that time I was freaking out all the way.

this is too much

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Since it was early Sunday morning and the highways were empty, Justin was able to catch up a bit. We were going to be there just-just…

You think this was the worst?! Imagine my horror the moment we saw our friends driving in the opposite direction as we were about 5 minutes away from the location!!! There was a ‘slight’ error on the Spartan Race website. They put ‘rue’ (street) instead of ‘chemin’ (way) in the address. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!!! There are pretty much 2 identical addresses in 2 different towns within 20 minutes from each other with the same first three letters/digits of the postal code!!! And the GPS didn’t give us options!!!!

are you f-ing kidding me

At that point, we realized that there was no way we’d make it for the 10 o’clock heat, but we’d be okay for the last one departing at 10.30 am. I tried to keep my nerves under control… It’s definitely heart breaking to even consider that something you’ve been working hard for so long may not happen after all!

When we got to the correct address, there was no signs or a mountain. Thankfully, we saw some random people passing by who were able to guide us as to how to get to our destination. We got to the venue at 10.27 am. I was literally shaking. It was so bad that I had to ask a friend of mine to attach a chip to my shoe, I couldn’t pass a tie wrap through a hole. At least, I was there!!!! 24 kilometers later, I’d be a Trifecta Finisher! It was now all up to me to make it happen…

at the start line

TO BE CONTINUED…

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Race Reviews, Running

Trip Recap: Granada, Spain – The City Of Hidden Gardens

Today is a very special day because I’m inviting you to  see and somewhat ‘experience’ Granada, a truly magical place I visited in April.

If you’d like to catch up on my previous adventures in Europe, don’t be shy to check out these posts:

So many things had gone wrong *Note: not necessarily bad either! HA!*, and yet despite it all, my brother and I had grown closer than ever before!

Be prepared to laugh because we got lost soooooo many times. Actually, it all started the moment we got off the bus! *Or… wait! No… It started in the morning because that’s when a strange man started following me in Seville!* Our hotel was supposed to be about 20-30 minute walk away from the terminal, but about 15-20 minutes into it, we realized we were walking in the opposite direction. *You see, I couldn’t think straight! LOL!* But as they say, good things happen to good people. When we reached our accommodation, I was surprised to find out that what I thought was a hostel ended up being a 4-star hotel. *That’s what happens when all you pay attention is getting a good deal. Haha!*  It was pretty late and we were tired, so we called it a night and went to sleep.

Imagine my big surprise when I looked out of the window and saw this beauty!

look from the hotel room

Our plan for the day was to grab something quick to eat, make sure we knEw how to get to the train station since our train to Barcelona was departing late in the evening, and take in as much of Grenada as possible. *Dah!*

We found our way to the train station very easily, but that’s where our adventures started. We got lost! I was trying to understand the map, but it was super confusing. So my brother decided to follow his intuition and that’s how we ended up here.

rooftops in Granada

 

The view was indeed spectacular, but my legs were super sore from walking around Seville the day before: I wasn’t a happy trooper by any means, and all I wanted was to see PLACES. You know what I mean, right? *Haha!* What did I do? I planted my butt down and told my brother I wouldn’t move until I knew where I was. When I was able to finally locate us on the map and emotions cooled down, we admitted to each other that we both were wrong. *True story! I’ve got a great brother, but we all know that I’m my parents’ favorite. Haha! JUST KIDDING!*

When we came across the tea stand, I knew that all the exciting stuff was just around the corner!

assortment of tea

Pretty much around the corner was the Cathedral of Incarnation. It was intended to be a mausoleum for but Phillip II of Spain changed the location to El Escorial outside Madrid.

Catedral de la Anunciacion

There was an artist playing in front of the cathedral. We could tell he was really gifted, so my brother and I spent there some time and listened to music.

Artist in front of Catedral de la Anunciacion

 

I guess I was overcome by the beauty of location and music and decided to spread some love to. My hubby wasn’t there, and showing affection to my brother would be… ummm… wrong! That’s where this shiny knight came in to the picture. *People thought I was crazy!!!*

Flirting with a knight

 

After, we headed to the Alhambra, a palace and fortress complex built in the first millennium. On our way there, we came across a lovely shop.

work shop

I wanted to buy absolutely everything in there. I loooove little original things; especially, if I can see someone making them in front of me!!!

Not far from there was the entrance to the Alhambra.

Entrance to El Alhambra

I wish I could tell you that it was a nice walk in the park *well… it was!*, but it was almost a full blown workout walking up all those hills *which I enjoyed nonetheless*!

not a walk in a park

Not only that the place was extremely beautiful, the views from there were breathtaking.

beautiful square in Alhambra

It’s kind of strange because out of all abundance of art in the Alhambra, I was totally mesmerized by a ceiling in the mosque baths.

the mosque baths

I guess, when I looked into the sky through those ‘stars’, I imagined how countless people looked up there throughout the ages. I’d love to know what they thought about, if it brought them some peace and tranquility… Do you ever wonder about that kind of things?

Another special place on the territory of the Alhambra is what it used to be the Monastery of San Francisco. The Queen of Castille ans Leon, Isabella the Catholic, was buried there before her grandson, Emperor Charles, ordered that her and her husband’s remains to be moved to the Royal Chapel in 1521.

Isabella the Catholic

After that, my brother and I wanted to explore the park some more but somehow got confused and exited the castle instead.

In the shade

In all honesty, I wasn’t too upset about  it either, I just wanted to sit in some nice square and sip on Sangria. *Wouldn’t you?!* My brother, on the other hand, was ready to do some exercises… And he did when he saw these bars!

bars

Good for him! *No, really!!! Haha!* 

We finished off our evening sitting in a beautiful square and looking at the kids having a blast. Oh, simple life pleasures!

Fun in the evening

Do you like getting lost in new places? What was your most memorable accident?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Travel

Spur Of The Moment Decisions: Small Changes, Big Rewards

Who loves spur of the moment decisions? I DO! Actually, that’s how our weekend started…

On Friday, Justin and I were on our way home from work. I was quite distraught with the news of the Malaysian plane that was shot down in the Eastern Ukraine the day before, and my hubby was trying his absolute best to take my mind off it. Not even 5 minutes later, we received a message from on of our friends inviting us to go up north for the weekend to her parents’ chalet. We looked at each other and smiled. That was a big YES! Within the next two hours, we were packed and on our way.

sunset

It was a fantastic getaway! Not only we were able to spend some quality time with our friends, Bella had a blast too. As soon as I woke up on Saturday, I took her for a long walk. She had so much fun; it was pure joy to watch her running around and swimming in this lake.

at the lake

When we came back, I was super excited to do yoga on a patio with a friend of mine. Breathing fresh air makes a huge difference! Plus a workout buddy is ALWAYS good news!

yoga outside

After having late breakfast, our friends and us unanimously decided to go for a 12 km hike up Montagne Noire. Some of you may remember that I already went there at the beginning of May. However, there was still a lot of snow and we weren’t able to reach the top of the mountain because it was too dangerous for our dogs. This time around, snow was not an issue.

Montagne Noire

When we arrived to  the crash sight of Liberator Harry B-24 bomber plane, it was quite emotional. It is crazy to imagine that 20 military men lost their lives in such a beautiful and otherwise perfect place…

crash sight

We spent there some time to honor lives of all Canadian soldiers who fought for our freedom, and headed back home. Now we could really enjoy the walk because there where no more hills to climb. That being said, me being me, I found the biggest rock out there and climbed it to strike a yoga pose. ‘Hey! Why not?!’

yoga in the woods

We left the chalet on Sunday morning to attend a picnic, where Justin and I, once again, had a wonderful time with our family!

picnic

 

I’m sure that I don’t need to convince you that spur of the moment decisions can be awesome, right?! So how about applying this thinking to our daily workouts? I found the following 10 great suggestions in the most recent issue of Runner’s World of how small changes can bring about big rewards:

  1. Add one mile to long or tempo runs – endurance.
  2. Take one step up the race-distance ladder – motivation.
  3. Add one repeat – speed.
  4. Buy one new running item – inspiration.
  5. Add one strength-training exercise – injury prevention.
  6. Add one daily fruit or vegetable serving – nutrients.
  7. Add one dynamic stretch – range of motion.
  8. Add one nightly half hour of sleep – be healthier and happier and more prepared for your next run.
  9. Take a running vacation – excitement.
  10. Add one non-running cardio session – variety.

get stronger each day

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How was your weekend? What was your most recent spur of the moment decision you are proud of?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Travel

Everybody Wants To Be A Winner, But What Does It Mean ‘To Win’?

Guys, you won’t believe it! *Well.. actually… you BETTER believe it!* Yesterday I succeeded to wake up at 5.50 am and at 6 am I was already on my yoga mat for another EMPOWER session. And it’s a big one for me considering that only last week I was able to somewhat manage to open my eyes by 6.50-7 am!

Morning yoga

Yup… That’s me rocking a headstand in the morning after not having done one in over 11 years! *And, nope, I have no clue why my hubby decided to cut off my feet. He was still sleepy, I guess. Haha!*

Waking up early to squeeze in a 40-minute workout session before heading off to work was THE BEST thing I’ve done for myself in a VERY long while. I felt and still feel like a WINNER! *Damn right!*

winner

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It’s quite funny because when I was reading Run or Die by Kilian Jornet later on, something clicked and made me really think. Well read and judge it for yourself:

Winning isn’t about finishing in the first place. It isn’t about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations, and your fears. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality. There have been many races in which I have finished first but haven’t felt that I was the winner. I haven’t cried when I crossed the line, haven’t jumped for joy, and haven’t been swept up in a whirlwind of emotions. I merely had to win the race, had to finish in front of the others, and before and and during the race, I knew and was sure that I would finish first. I knew it was no dream and didn’t think for one moment at any point what would it be like not to win. It was too easy, like a chef who opens his restaurant each day and knows exactly how all of his steaks will turn out. There’s no challenge, no dream to wake up from. And as far as I am concerned, that isn’t winning. On the contrary, I have seen big winners, individuals who have overcome themselves and crossed the finish line in tears, their strength gone, but not from physical exhaustion – though that is also there – but because they have achieved what they thought was only the fruit of dreams. I have seen people sit on the ground after crossing the finish line of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, and sit there for hours with blank looks, smiling broadly to themselves, still not believing that what they have achieved isn’t a hallucination. Fully aware that when they wake up, they will be able to say that they did it, that they succeeded, that they vanquished their fears and transformed their dreams into something real. I have seen individuals who, though they have come in after the leaders had time to shower, eat lunch, and even take a good siesta, feel that they are the winners. They wouldn’t change that feeling for anything in the world. And I envy them, because, in essence, isn’t this a part of why we run? To find out whether we can overcome our fears, that the tape we smash when we cross the line isn’t only the one the volunteers are holding, but also the one we have set in our minds? Isn’t victory being able to push our bodies and minds to their limits and, in doing so, discovering that they have led us to find ourselves anew and to create new dreams?

It’s written so beautifully. He hit the hammer on the nail! SPOT ON!

make it happen

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To win can mean many different things to different people. In my opinion, I am a winner because:

– I have an amazing husband, family and friends, and Bella, of course!
– I have a stable job where I can grow, and a great team who supports me.
– I am healthy.
– I am privileged to be able to exercise and get stronger day by day.
– I have a roof over my head and food on table.
– I live in a beautiful country where everything is possible.
– I am able to travel and learn more about the world I live in and other cultures.

i am the luckies girl in the world

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What does it mean to you to be a winner?

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Motivation

Cross-Training & Running: Get Faster, Leaner, And More Flexible

Hi there, beauties!

It’s a HUMP day! And isn’t it a good enough reason to be all happy and excited? Well… It is for ME, despite a super charged day that lays ahead of me at work! Life is too short to complain anyway, so as well I can smile instead. *Hehe!*

life is too short

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As you know, I’ve been trying to switch up my routine lately to bring in more newness and excitement. Yesterday was the first day of the 30-day EMPOWER challenge from Yoga by Adriene. I’m loving it! She is sooo good and fun. I also love her simplicity: Adriene’s moto is “Find What Feels Good”. I couldn’t agree more!

find what feels good

*As you can see, Bella is on the same page too! LOL!*

Additionally, I started reading Run or Die by Kilian Jornet, a book gifted to me by my lovely fellow Canadian blogger-friend Ursula. If you still haven’t had a chance to ‘meet’ her, you should definitely stop what you’re doing right and head over to her super adorable blog called Northern Ambitions.

Run or Die

Anyhow, back to the book… It’s written so beautifully, I am really impressed. Don’t take it in any wrong way, but sometimes it sounds like an addict speaking about his greatest addiction *which, after all, IS true*. That being said, Jornet’s excitement and ambition is extremely contageous: All I want to do is to get changed and go for a super long hardcore run until I can’t feel my legs anymore. Yes, the book is THAT powerful! *Haha!*

Bring-it-On

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Do you see how all these things seem to happen when I needed the the most? You’d be surprised but I’ve got more.
I was reading the most recent issue of Runner’s World magazine and came across a very interesting article in MIND + BODY section. The writer, Ted Spiker, suggests that by switching up your running routine with some proper cross-training, you can get faster, leaner and more flexible. Care to know more? Here are some highlights:

To train hard: Try pool running.

pool running

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HOW: ‘Wear a pool belt to help you keep afloat and vertical in the deep end of the pool. Simply run using the same motion you do on the road, maintaining a good posture while pumping your arms, and keeping a high cadence. Trying to take slow strides in the water could cause you to overextend your legs, which could irritate your hamstrings. Aim to do once a week from 45 minutes to an hour. You can pool-run at a steady pace, or try short sprints (go fast for 15 to 30 seconds, recover, repeat) and long sprints (go at moderate intensity for 5 to 10 minutes, recover, repeat).’

To Nail a PR: Try weights.

weight training

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HOW: ‘If you are new to resistance training, start with a light weight, one that allows you to do about 12 reps of your chosen exercise comfortably. Gradually increase the weight and reduce reps over time (while always maintaining good form). Your ultimate goal is to pick a weight that makes it a challenge to eke out six reps. For a runner-friendly routine, see runnersworld.com/lifting.’

To finish strong: Try rowing.

rowing

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HOW: ‘Will Kirousis, the codirector of Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching and a USA Triathlon-certified coach and strength specialist in Leominster, Massachusetts, recommends the following workout for runners. Rowing intervals: 5-minute warm-up, going from easy to moderate effort; 8 minutes of alternating 20 seconds at very intense effort and then 10 seconds at easy effort; 2 minutes easy effort. Do that 8-minute set two more times; finish with a 5-minute cool-down.’

To prep for a hilly race: Try cycling.

spinning

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HOW: ‘To get the most out of an outdoor cycling workout, try to find rolling terrain where you can power up incline, pedal fast when it flattens, and then charge up another incline. Colavecchio says that a Spin class or stationary bike is also a good option, since it allows you to better control your workout – and not coast downhills too much. Create your own ride: After a warm-up, do 6 sets of 3 minutes at hard resistance with 1 minute of light resistance in between. Finish with 2 minutes of a fast pace at medium resistance to simulate the end of a race, when your legs are fried but you need to finish strong.’

To get flexible: Try yoga.

yoga

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HOW: ‘Find a style that’s appropriate for your level of experience and works well with your training schedule. During a period of demanding running, opt for a more relaxing yoga practice, like hatha, Rountree says. But in an off-season when your mileage is less intense, you could do a more challenging session, like Ashtanga. You can also find yoga-for-runners routines at runnersworld.com/beginners-yoga-for-runners.’

why you started

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What are your thoughts? How do you include cross-training in your routine?

xoxo
Olena

14 Comments

Filed under Cardio, Cross-training, Fitness, Health

Trip Recap: Picturesque Seville & How To Travel On Your Own Safely

Hi guys!

Thank you so much for showing your outpouring support yesterday. You are the best!… AS ALWAYS!

Today, I’d like to tell you more about yet another city in Spain I traveled to in April: Seville. If you have missed my previous posts, here is your chance to catch up:

Seville is definitely one of those cities that just take your breath away. Due to time constraints, my brother and I had only one day to spend there. When we woke up, I was ready to go and explore. Unfortunately, my brother told me that he had to finish some work and had to stay at the hotel all day. I hesitated for about a second, took the map and headed out the door. It was daytime and the hostel we stayed at was not that far from all major attractions. I had nothing to worry about.

It was definitely strange to be all by myself, but it was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk by the river which cut through the city.

canal

I reached the nearest bridge and took some pictures of colorful buildings all around. They were so cute that I got cheered up almost instantaneously and all worries went away.

That feeling didn’t last too long… As I turned around, I noticed a man was looking at me. I didn’t think much of it and continued on walking along the river. Suddenly I got a strange feeling. What caught my attention was bizarre. Somebody was walking behind me, and it seemed like that person was trying to match my pace. I tried to keep my calm. After all, it was a busy street. I blamed myself for being paranoid.

When I turned to check out who it was, I saw the same man following me. I knew it was him because I remembered the red folder he carried. It stood out against his otherwise bland outfit. Once again, I tried to stay calm and simply pretended to stop and take a picture of a random monument and let him pass me.

A few minutes later, I lost a sight of the man and headed to the Plaza De Toros which was nearby. It is the oldest bullring in the world and I was really excited to see it.

Since I wanted to cover as much of Seville as possible, I decided to forgo getting a ticket and simply walked around it to enjoy its beauty. Then I had this wonderful idea. I figured maybe if I went into a souvenir store inside, I could peak through and see more stuff. *Hey! No judgement here! I was a tourist… poor tourist! Haha!*

Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla

Sadly, I wasn’t able to see much through the inside, so I looked over cute things they had there. I didn’t find anything special, or at least not something I wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere in the city. As I turned around to leave… I saw him again standing next to the exit, pretending to read a book about Seville… He was facing me…

I am kidding you not, I freaked out all the way! I knew that something was definitely wrong. I was NOT being paranoid. That man was indeed following me. I felt helpless because there was not a single person who spoke English in there. I also knew that the man wasn’t a tourist either because he wasn’t dressed like one. He didn’t have a camera or map on him, and just the very first vibe I got from him rang danger.

I was certain that he wasn’t there to rob me since he had multiple occasions to grab my purse and run before, when there was no people around and yet he didn’t do it. I WAS SCARED for my life. Literally!

My first instinct was to head outside and mix in with people. Mixing in didn’t work because as you can see from the picture above there weren’t THAT many people. I considered approaching police, but I didn’t see any. So instead of wandering off in a smaller street, I decided to stop. Yes, stop! I turned around and saw him approaching. I sat down on a flowerbed next to some people and stared him in the eyes. I wanted him to know I knew he was after me. For a second I even considered confronting him, but then I am NOT that courageous. So I just sat and stared. Thankfully, he walked passed me again.

You can’t imagine the fear that was running through me. For the first time in my life I was scared to death. I was in a different country, I didn’t speak the language and there was literally no one to help me. So I listened to my instincts. I looked around and didn’t see him anywhere *which meant absolutely nothing, because the same thing had already happened before*. What did I do? I sprinted in the opposite direction from where I was headed first. I ran for good 10 minutes on a busy street, my heart was racing, I was about to collapse and cry.

The timing was good because as I was about to fall apart, I came across yet another big street. I made a decision to avoid smaller streets completely and be extra vigilant as to what was happening around me. I also made sure to stick around families. And I am glad I did so. The city won back my love and affection as I continued to explore it.

One of the most beautiful landmarks was the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. It is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus!

Seville Cathedral

Right next to the cathedral, there is a bell tower called La Giralda. You should definitely look up its history, it’s quite fascinating!

La Giralda

In addition, the cathedral shared the same square with one of the sides of Reales Alcázares de Sevilla, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. It was incredible to see these two completely different styles somehow working together.

The Alcázar of Seville

Around that time, I somewhat calmed down my nerves and headed to the Torre del Oro by the river. It was constructed in the thirteenth century. What’s strange about its history is that during the Middle Ages the tower served as a prison. How crazy is that?!

Torre del Oro

After that I headed back to the main street, I aimlessly walked and enjoyed the atmosphere. I tried to soak in the beauty of nature and fountains…

fountain

As well as minor details such as this bike path sign *so different and cute!!!*

bike path

When I looked at the map, I realized that I still had time to visit one of the places I really wanted to see: The Plaza de España. It is a gigantic half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge with numerous bridges stretched over ponds and beautiful fountains.

Plaza de España

I fell in love with it and its railings… Aren’t they absolutely beautiful?!

Plaza de España details

This whole experience totally made up for the stress earlier that day. I was again a happy and relaxed person. To make things even better, I saw this dove. To me, it was a sign of forgiveness. So I decided not to keep a grudge at this beautiful city and instead left a piece of my heart there because that’s where it belongs.

dove in Seville

Have you ever been followed by someone? What did you do?

xoxo
Olena

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Back To Basics: Working Out For The FUN Of It

Hi loves!

First of all, congratulations to Germany for winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup!

germany

What a beautiful goal it was!

Also, I apologize for disappearing on you for the second half of last week. The truth is, I’ve been having somewhat of a workout mental block that started right after the Spartan Sprint. Not that I didn’t want or feel like working out, I was too exhausted to do anything. To make things worse, my knee felt weird. I couldn’t help but feel discouraged: the Spartan Beast is only 2 weeks away and I pretty much haven’t run over the past 2 weeks.

you don't workout

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It is easy to get overwhelmed by a demanding training schedule. Oftentimes, routine becomes too routine, and the novelty of it goes away. At some point I even got scared that I was losing my love for running… And believe me, I don’t want this to happen… EVER! So  I dug deeper to find the real root of the problem. Over the past week, instead of centering my mind on the upcoming race and being harsh on myself, I decided to focus on the following basics:

1. Getting enough sleep: In my opinion, this was the biggest issue. It seems like 6-7 hours is not enough for me. I feel best when I get closer to 8 hours of sleep. So I made a conscious effort to get to bed earlier. After all, it’s all about prioritizing, and my top priority is TO FEEL GOOD. *Read more on how to sleep better here.*

getting enough sleep

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2. Eating clean: Nobody likes to feel heavy. I’m no exception. This being said, I couldn’t help myself but feel bloated all the time. The fix was quite simple: I cut down on the amount of meat and alcohol, increased the intake of fruits and vegetables, and started controlling my portions more. The result was almost instantaneous: I FEEL AWESOME!

Here is a picture of some cherries and gooseberries from my parents backyard. They’ve got pretty much everything in there: white, red and black gooseberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, grapes, not to mention a wide variety vegetables and plants! *Can’t wait to have my own little garden too!*

berries

In addition, I recently discovered Freekeh. This grain is packed with fiber, vitamins and nutrients. And it tastes delicious. I added it to my salad instead of quinoa, and it was a nice change!

Freekeh

3. Staying hydrated: This one is pretty much self explanatory. I make it a point to drink more water throughout the day by having a water bottle next to me at all times. *Read more here to learn about dangers of dehydration, and here – to find 4 delicious favored water recipes.*

4. Relaxing: I needed it  more than I realized. So I treated myself to a nice bubble bath with candles…

bath time

Learning more about running…

reading

And, of course, treating myself to a dessert!

cupcake

5. Doing exercises that make me feel good: Yoga has been one of those things that made me feel exceptionally energized and alive recently. I won’t lie, I am sore after my yoga workouts. They make me feel strong and determined. It is an energy and confidence boost I needed.

I took it even a step further and registered myself for the EMPOWER challenge from Yoga With Adriene. *If you are interested in subscribing, you’ll have to hurry and reserve your spot by July 15, watch the video below for more information.* Can you tell I’m hooked?! *Haha!*

6. Thinking of workouts as ME-time not Jeez-I’ve-Got-To-Do-This-Again: This point is the MOST important. At least to me. Somehow we get so caught up in training for a race, competition, achieving a new PR, that we forget the initial reason why we started this fitness journey all together. Go ahead, and I ask yourself this question, ‘WHY?!’

Unfortunately, I can’t answer for you, but I can for myself. I love how being active makes me feel strong, unstoppable and healthy. It makes me feel alive. So why not go back to these basics and focus on them? It helped me!

So forget about timing yourself, tracking the distance, and just run… FOR THE FUN OF IT!

change the way you look at things

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What do you do to bring excitement back into your workouts?

xoxo
Olena

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Trip Recap: The City Picasso Was Born In – Malaga, Spain

When my brother and I flew from Paris to Malaga, we didn’t have any expectations. We had about 6-8 hours to spare before taking a bus to Seville, Spain. I mean, even in our guidebook, there was barely anything written about this city.

The moment we landed at the airport, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of surrounding mountains and the endless Mediterranean sea. I knew that the day ahead was promising!

Our commute to the bus station was super easy and fast: All we had to do was to take a train from the airport. Not even 15 minutes later, we were there. I got changed into lighter clothes *it was +31 Celsius compared to +8 in Paris* and checked in my luggage into a locker. Conveniently, all major attractions were within a walking distance from the bus terminal. Without any hesitation, my brother and I picked up a map and headed to the nearby port.

port

*It was soooo refreshing to wear a dress for the first time this year!!!*

There was quite a bit of people trying to get us to sign up for a boat ride, but they weren’t too pushy. I definitely appreciated it. Right next to the port, we discovered Playa de la Malagueta.

Malagueta

The water was very cold, but this didn’t stand in my brother’s way to jump in for a short swim *a very bad choice in retrospective*. As he was showing off/taking videos of himself swimming on his GoPro *I love you nevertheless!!! Haha!* , I took in beautiful surroundings while sitting on the warm sand.

beach

I must assure you that it didn’t take too long for me to feel the burn. Thankfully, my brother was pretty cooperative, and we went into the city in search of a sunscreen. *Silly, silly me for not bringing it with me. A long Canadian winter definitely messed with my head! Haha!*

flowers

By the time we found it and walked around some more, we were REALLY hungry! Without giving it too much thought, we turned into the first street. It turns out, it one of the best decisions we made that day. The entrance to the Alcazaba of Malaga was right there! We rested a bit while consuming a big amount of food which was very welcome and went to explore the citadel that was built in the early eleventh  century by the Hammudid dynasty.

architecture

The Moorish architecture is very different from what I’d ever seen. That being said, the Alcazaba is very well preserved, and it was super interesting to explore because it was almost like a labyrinth. All we wanted to do was to reach the top, but kept on getting lost. *Which was lots of FUN too!*

bath at Alcazaba

I also appreciated the amount of detail. Look at the floors! I can’t even imagine the amount of time and number of people it took to finish this project. *They were like this EVERYWHERE!*

kids

 

The fortification overlooks the port and I consider myself lucky to have witnessed this view.

view from Alcazaba

We were short on time and had to go back to the bus station but wouldn’t give up on this adventure. So it took some sprinting up hill to make it to the top. Needless to say, I was super happy to see this canon. *It was super comfy too! Haha!*

canon

When I looked around, I was in love.

view from the top of Alcazaba

Let me tell you this. When later on I found out that Picasso was born in Malaga, I wasn’t a bit surprised that he grew to be a genius. There is so much beauty around, it’s unbelievable!

– Trip Recap: Paris Is Always A Good Idea (Part 1)
– Trip Recap: Paris Is Always A Good Idea (Part 2)

Have you ever stopped by a city you didn’t plan on loving just to be completely smitten by its charm?

xoxo
Olena

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