Tag Archives: cardio

#FBF: Barcelona, Spain – The City Of Dreams (Part 2)

Happy Friday!

This is the last flash back to my trip to Europe some 2 years ago.

If you missed the previous posts, you can catch up here:

This was the last full day in Barcelona for me and my brother. Both of us were pretty sick, so we didn’t take many pictures of each other. And the ones we did, well, I won’t post them because I look sick. Ha!

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That day we went to Park Guell, which was built between 1900 and 1915 . It was commissioned by Eusebi Guell and designed by Antoni Gaudi.

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Since we took a metro to get there, we needed to walk for about 20 minutes to enter the park. But it was definitely worth it. There were great views over the city and plenty of architecture to see.

The house below was actually the place where Gaudi lived there until his death in 1926.

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An interesting fact: The park was originally supposed to be a commercial housing development, which turned out to be an unsuccessful venture.

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Afterwards we went to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf. It was built in 1888 as the main access gate for the 1888 World Fair.

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I must admit that people there, at least the ones we met, were extremely nice and helpful, including this police officer.

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We walked A LOT that day! To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what majority of the pictures we took are. *Haha!* However, I had to share this one.

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This was a street show in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Spanish people definitely know how to capture tourist attention!

Have you ever been sick while traveling? How did you make the most out of your trip?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

9 Comments

Filed under Travel

One Run At A Time, Or How To Avoid Toxic Thoughts

Good morning loves,

I am happy to report that I’ve learned yet another invaluable lesson during my 7 km run yesterday. But before I jump to that, here is my Week 6 training schedule of half-marathon training:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: HIIT
Wednesday – 4 miles + kettlebell toning
Thursday – 40-50 minutes of cross training: booty + cardio
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 8 miles
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5*

The more I runSource

So a very interesting thing happened to me yesterday. You may or may not have read my previous post on how running makes us happy, but happiness makes us better runners. I tried my very best to be positive about the run, but it was such a struggle. Nothing hurt, but I had a full blown mental battle with myself, despite trying to keep my chin up and think happy thoughts. So what happened, you say?

I think the best way to put it is: I got caught in a web of self-doubt.

A little progress each day adds up to be resultsSource

You see, it’s been a very long time since I ran a distance of 10 km and more (apart from Week 3 and 4 of my training). My runs got much shorter since I got pregnant in fall 2014. Something happened to my bladder throughout my pregnancy and I could barely stay on a treadmill for 15-20 minutes before dashing to a ladies room. *Pregger problems! Haha!*

For some strange reason, something snapped when I saw that this week’s long run is a grand total of 8 miles. Toxic thoughts invaded my mind. I mean, I’m training for a half, so this distance is definitely not a surprise. I ran much longer distances in the past. But all of a sudden I got intimidated and mental games began. As I was running, all I kept thinking about was how am I gonna do that long run. And as many of you know, it is not a good place for any runner or any fitness enthusiast for that matter to question their own abilities.

Good news, it is reversible! *Haha!*

one day at a time, enjoy the journeySource

It is so sooooo important to focus on one workout at a time and not to get too much ahead of ourselves. Just like in our daily lives, in order to be efficient and not to get overwhelmed, we must prioritize our to-do list. First things first. The same goes for running. Not only our ‘present’ workout will be more effective, but also there is absolutely no reason why we should psych ourselves out of the challenge that lies ahead. Tackle it one day, one workout at a time.

Has ever self-doubt affected your workouts? How do you avoid psyching yourself out before a long run?

Keep moving forwardSource

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

23 Comments

Filed under Half-Marathon Training, Motivation

How Running Makes Us Happy, But Happiness Makes Us Better Runners

You subscribe to a magazine. At first, you read it diligently from cover to cover, can’t wait for the next issue to come out. And then… something comes up and you promise yourself that you’ll read it on your lunch break or while taking a bath. A few months go by and you sadly look at the pile of unread magazines unsure of where even to begin. Has this ever happened to you? Well, that’s the #StoryOfMyLife…

magazine pileSource

This is exactly what happened to me during later stages of pregnancy: My beloved Runners World issues were sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust, feeling all forgotten. That is until a couple of days ago, when I decided to look through them in hopes of finding some invaluable advice for half-marathon training.

Speaking of which, this is what Week 5 of my training looks like:

Monday – 4 miles + arms
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 4 miles + total body
Thursday – 30-40 minutes of cross training: arms, abs & cardio
Friday – 4 miles + HIIT & booty
Saturday – 30- 40 minutes of cross training: arms + yoga
Sunday – rest

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4*

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As I was looking through the May 2015 issue, I came across the following article: Happy Hour, Approach a run with a positive outlook to improve your performance and your health by Diane Stopyra. It caught my attention right away because I am fascinated by how our brains/minds work. So when I read that ‘Exercise doesn’t just improve happiness, happiness can improve exercise performance,’ as Alfred Bove says, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicine at Temple University and a 26-time marathoner, I was sold.

You see, many times we run/exercise to release the stress of a bad day, when we need a little pick-me-up. Endorphines can easily lift our mode and get rid off insecurities. But from what it looks like, ‘We tend to think of being joyful as a personality trait, but it’s actually a skill you can acquire,’ according to a sociologist Christine Carter, Ph.D.

runhappySource

There are quite a few benefits to be a Happy Runner:

  1. Suffers few injuries: Since ‘happiness reverses the body’s muscle-tensing stress response’, we are less prone to injuries;
  2. Performs better: When distractions created by negative emotions are removed, we are more focused on our performance.
  3. Feels less pain:  ‘Happier people have more of the neurotransmitter dopamine coursing through their brains’, which makes it easier to tolerate discomfort, according to Jim Afremow, Ph.D.;
  4. Is healthier: It’s actually very interesting because ‘Ongoing negative emotions can provoke cellular activity that leads to illness, including cancer. Feeling joy, researchers say, reverses this process.’

If you think this got my undivided attention, YOU BET!

I came across a great presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at TED Talk on how your body language shapes who you are.

https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

If you have time, definitely watch it. But if you don’t, what she shows in her presentation is how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. She was curious whether ‘we can fake it till we make it’ and found some evidence that our non-verbals govern not only how others see us, but also how we see and feel about ourselves. So, for example, we smile when we feel happy, but also, when we’re forced to smile by holding a pen in our teeth like this, it makes us feel happy.

Tiny tweaks can indeed lead to big changes. According to Jim Afremow, Ph.D., ‘Our expressions aren’t just an indication of how we’re feeling; they help dictate those feelings. In other words, if you look happy, you’ll run happy.’

So what can we do to our face to feel happier?

  • Smile;
  • Relax your forehead, so your brows aren’t furrowed;
  • Lift your chin for an instant confidence boost.

I choose to be happySource

Runners World provides even more suggestions on how to set yourself up for a good run:

  1. Eat well, make sure that you are not low on nutrients that feed your brain like magnesium, omega-3, fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D.
  2. Sleep at least 6-8 hours.
  3. Belly-breathe: Try doing yoga to learn how to breathe properly.
  4. Listen to music to distract yourself from pain and fatigue. *Read this post to see pros and cons of running with and without music.*
  5. Mantra Up: I actually like to ponder on a quote as I run, but mantras are great, especially when doing yoga!
  6. Be social and buddy up for your run!
  7. Buy a good time: sign up for a fun race or even treat yourself to a massage!
  8. Explore nature!

You make your life happySource

Do you ever fake it till you make it? What are your tricks to get yourself in a better place before your workout?

Missed some of my most recent posts that created great discussions among my fellow bloggers? Here is your chance to catch up:

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

37 Comments

Filed under Motivation, Running, The Happiness Project

5 Running Must Haves & Armpocket Review and Giveaway

Happy Hump Day y’all!

How fun was this Monday’s guest post, where coach Suz shared her 5 tips on  how to train for your first half?! A big THANK YOU to all of you who chirped in the conversation! There’s so much to learn.

First half-marathon training tips

The best part about running is that you don’t really need a gym membership or any fancy gear to get started. However, when you are new to the running world everything looks helpful. Sometimes it may get overwhelming and difficult to know what you actually need and what is superfluous. I would like to share some of my favorite running necessities that I can’t live without.

  1. Well-fitted running shoesI found some great tips on how to find perfect running shoes at Run Addicts, here are some of them:
    • Go to the store in the evening: ‘studies have shown feet tend to expand few millimeters up to 2 centimeters by the end of the day’.
    • Make sure to wear socks you normally run in.
    • There must be a finger-width space between your great toe and the shoe box and  a thumb width at the end of the shoe. ‘You will end up buying shoes that are bigger in size than what you normally wear but that’s perfectly OK.’ However, don’t exceed a finger-width span!
    • ‘NEVER wear a brand new running shoe for a race; make sure you already used them for 100 miles runs at minimum’.

    Here is some more.

    Running shoes infographic

    Source

    *Read more on this here.*

     

  2. Foam RollerI have a love-hate relationship with my foam roller. It hurts so much at first, but then feels soooooo good. If you have never foam rolled before, head over to one of my previous posts to find out how to do it as a pro!Benefits of Foam Rolling
  3. Proper Hydration

    I can’t stress enough the importance of staying hydrated not only when you go out for a run but also throughout the day. Why? Because it affects your performance and overall health!I personally like to use a water pack on longer runs *It was my life savior during the Spartan Beast race!*. I will also be soon trying out a Hydro Belt that I recently got as a gift from my parents.Regardless of what your preference is, take your water with you or simply stop at water fountains if it’s an option!
    Why dehydration is making you fat and sick

    Source

    For more hydration tips check out:
    Hydration 101 – 8 hydration myths busted & tips on how to stay hydrated this summer.
    4 Flavoured Water Recipes that will make you excited about drinking water.

  4. Hat & Sunscreen 

    Sunstroke is a real thing, so apply your sunscreen diligently and don’t forget your hat before you get outside.running away from the sun
    Source 

  5. Armpocket!

I was recently contacted by a representative from Armpocket to review their product. I was super excited about this opportunity because I use an app on my phone that tracks my runs, so I absolutely have to have it on me.

Armpocket 1

Previously I used a Flip Belt, which I still like very much. However, I always had to remove the case from my phone to be able to fit it in. *Our phones are getting bigger and bigger by the day! What’s up with that?* It worked, but it was challenging for me to take out my phone mid run. *Oh please, don’t you have to ABSOLUTELY take a picture of something? ‘Ahhh, that’s such a beautiful sunset!’, ‘Check out that beaver!’ LOL!* Also, when I run, I sweat… I won’t go too much in detail, but I think it’s a common knowledge that our phones are home to all kinds of bacteria as is.

So what is an Armpocket?

It is an armband that was engineered with many unique features that provides a comfortable and secure way of carrying their smart phones, keys, IDs and other ‘necessities’ for active people. It is weather and sweat proof. It has a touch-though screen, so you can freely use your apps. It’s moisture-wicking, anti-bacterial, natural bamboo rayon back and vented strap keep you cool and dry.

I was recommended to get Ultra i-35 based on the type and size of my phone. I picked it in Arctic Blue with a medium strap which is good for arm size 10″ to 15″.*It is available in 3 strap length.*

Ultra i-35 armpocket

Of course, I was a bit apprehensive since I’m not used to have anything bulky on my arms as I run. I also wasn’t sure if it would be comfortable and whether it would slip.

I was very pleasantly surprised! To be honest, I completely forgot that I even had it on my arm. I didn’t experience any discomfort: My Armpocket didn’t slip nor did it bounce. I also looooove that it has 3 little pockets inside, so my phone won’t get scratched!

I can assure you that you will be seeing it a lot in my pictures. It’s perfect for any workout or an afternoon hike!

Armpocket 2

My friends at Armpocket were super generous and let me do a giveaway for you guys! One lucky pal or gal will win an Armpocket of their choice. The giveaway is available only to the residents of the U.S. and Canada. All you’ve got to do to enter the draw is to participate in the Rafflecopter giveaway in the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will be closed at 12am on April 26th (Eastern Time). I will contact the winner via email, so please make sure that you provide me with one.

Be sure to check out Armpocket Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too!

What are your must haves when you run?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

32 Comments

Filed under Giveaway, Half-Marathon Training, Reviews, Running, Uncategorized

How Yoga Has Helped My Running Game

Hi friends!

Before I get into today’s topic, here is how Week 2 of my half-marathon training looks like:

Monday – rest day
Tuesday – 3 miles
Wednesday – cross train for 30-40 minutes
Thursday – 3 miles
Friday – cross train for 30-40 minutes
Saturday – 5 miles
Sunday – rest day

*You can see Week 1 plan here.*

A few days ago I got a question on Instagram: How has yoga helped my running game?

To be honest with you, I never really thought about it. I love yoga and enjoy running very much, so I simply have been doing the two things that bring a smile to my face and make me feel good. However, the question prompted me to think. There is definitely an undeniable complimentary relationship between the two.

Yoga 1

Injury prevention

There is a reason why we need to do warm-up and cool down stretches before going for a run. Yoga stretches ultimately lengthen the muscles that get tight during running. It is especially useful for those with very tight hips and hamstrings. Yoga can also help with soreness after the run.

yoga 2

Proper Breathing

It is detrimental to breathe properly when you do yoga in order to reap all of the benefits of any given pose. Better breathing during running allows a larger delivery of oxygen to the muscles, consequently increasing performance.

I find that I learned various breathing techniques while practicing yoga. A lot of people underestimate savasana, or a corpse pose, because you’re ‘simply’ lying on the floor. However, it is one of the best way to learn how to breathe properly:

  • Lie down comfortably on your back on a yoga mat,
  • Become aware of your natural breath and its rhythm,
  • Focus on raising your belly as you inhale through your nose,
  • Lower your belly as you exhale though your mouth.

yoga 3

I paid closer attention to my breathing over my last few runs. And you know what? I definitely noticed a big difference compared to how I was breathing only a couple of years ago. My breath control has improved drastically and I don’t find myself panting all the time, unless I’m giving it my all as I sprint.

Core Strength

The poses held in yoga strengthen the core, hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. Strong core translates into a good running posture which helps with your speed and endurance. It is easier to run.

yoga 5

Mindfulness

Yoga teaches us of how to stay inthe present moment, how to be mindful. In my opinion, mindfulness is extremely important when you run. It is so much easier to run when you focus on your breathing and stop thinking about how much more you’ve got to go!

On a separate note, I feel like a lot of runners don’t do yoga because they are intimidated by elaborate poses they see on the Internet…

But you should definitely give it a go. Try this awesome yoga for runners routine!

Or if you don’t have 30 minutes, give a try to this sequence.

be3a267c403f4129_yoga-for-runners-pinterest-poster-350

Source

Recently, I came across the following quote and fell in love with it.

admire someone else's beauty

In my opinion, it refers to much more than outward beauty.

It’s in our nature to compare ourselves to others. Unfortunately, instead of being inspired by their success, we, often times, get discouraged by thinking that we aren’t good enough.
The reality is, there will always be someone who is stronger, faster, more flexible, more successful, you name it, than us, but you can’t let this hinder your personal progress and growth.

To avoid this, accept your status as novice, if that’s the case. Accept where you are today, be proud of your accomplishments so far. Celebrate success of others and let it motivate you to reach for new heights. Never underestimate yourself and what you are capable of. Self-doubt is your biggest enemy. Always aim to be the best version of yourself. You are unique and you deserve to love yourself.

handstand with Sofia - large.jpg

Do you practice yoga? How has it helped you?

Want to read more on yoga?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

17 Comments

Filed under Cardio, Cross-training, Half-Marathon Training, Running

Running With a Dog: Turn Your Pooch Into An Endurance Animal

Heyoooo!

Guys, I can’t believe it’s already Week 2 of my half marathon training! Week 1 was fabulous. It feels sooo good to be running on a regular basis again. I love how running makes me feel inside and out. I can’t help but smile as I run. I feel happy, light and free!

Last week was a week of firsts too! It may be a bit shocking to some of you, but I started running with Bella just now. She is 2 years and 5 months old.

the best running accessory.jpg

I was dying to take her for my jogs back in 2014 when I was training for Spartan Trifecta. However, she was too little.  Yes, there’s such a thing for dogs. Puppies shouldn’t run with you until their bones stop developing, which can take up to 16 months in large breeds.

Technically, I could have started running with Bella last summer, but I was too pregnant and then recovering from a c-section.

It’s only appropriate to involve her now in the early stage of my training for a half marathon. Dogs may be born to run fast, yet it’s important to start gradually.

Runner’s World provides some great tips on ‘How to turn your pooch into an endurance animal’.  You may be surprised, but there is even such a thing as ‘The perfect running program for your dog’. It was created by veterinary neurosurgeon Laruen Talarico.

weekend walk

Here is a quick summary of it.

Week 1: Plan a 2- to 3-mile route at a mild to moderate pace 3 to 4 days this week. Make sure to pay attention that your dog is not winded and stays by your side at a comfortable pace.

Week 2: Add 0.5 mile or 10 minutes to your original distance during each of this week’s three runs. If your dog tolerates it well, try increasing your pace a bit. By the end of the week, you should be able to finish a 3- to 4-mile run.

Week 3: ‘Repeat week 2 and try to increase your average mile pace by 5 percent. The goal of this week is to consistently run 3 to 4 miles at a pace that is moderate for you and your pooch. This is a good week to solidify your dog’s running foundation and prep for adding more mileage.’

Week 4: ‘We are going to build distance again this week. Regardless of where you and your dog are with pace, I recommend increasing your distance by 0.5 to 1 mile 4 to 6 days this week. This will put most runners at a 4 to 5 mile/day regime. I strongly recommend at least one–if not two–days of rest for both you and your pooch.’

Hiking with Bella

Week 5: ‘If you both are tolerating a 4- to 5-mile run well at this point, try increasing your speed to a moderate tempo style run. Both you and your dog should feel tired afterward. I recommend repeating this 4 to 6 days a week with 1 to 2 days of rest. If your dog is still acclimating to the 4- to 5-mile distance, please do not add speed. In this scenario, repeat week 4 above.’

Week 6: ‘Add an additional 0.5 to 1 mile to your distance again this week. Most running teams should be at the 5 to 6 miles a day/5 to 6 days a week point. If you are not quite there yet, no problem! Repeat weeks 4 and 5 until you can achieve this goal.’

It is critical that you do a full warm up and cool down in order to prevent injury. It is no different for your four-legged buddy. Begin all her exercise sessions with a gentle warm-up, between 5 and 10 minutes long. It’s the best way to protect your dog from muscle strains and other pains by stretching the tendons and ligaments, and getting the blood to the muscles and nerves.

The same goes for a cool down. A leisurely saunter, followed by a couple of stretches, is the great way to finish your training session, according to Dr. Julie.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to push themselves too hard, just because they think you want them to. Therefore, it is important to use common sense, practice moderation, and watch for signs of fatigue or for difficulty in breathing. Avoid exercising your dog too vigorously in the heat of the day and keep her/him hydrated to prevent heatstroke.

It is easy for us to forget about our dogs’ paws. Unlike our feet, her paws are not protected. Take precautions against frostbite by not staying outside for too long when there is a big wind-chill. Also check for cracked pads.

Finally, be careful not to feed your dog right before or immediately after a strenuous workout. And don’t let her gulp lots of water either. Once she cooled down, you can give her a moderate amount of water.

my first 10 mile run

Do you run with your dog? Do you have any other tips?

PS. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

xoxo
Olena

 

10 Comments

Filed under Cardio, Half-Marathon Training, Running

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

May your day be filled with happiness and laughter!

Happy Easter

xoxo
Olena

6 Comments

Filed under Family