Tag Archives: Cross training

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

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

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Cardio, Cross-training, Fitness, Health

Beast Mode is ON: Happy Canada Day + Tough Double Workout To Celebrate It

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!

Happy Canada Day

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Words can’t express enough how much I love this country and how proud I am to call myself Canadian! I embrace its diversity and beauty. And I hope all of you can take some time today to celebrate Canadian awesomeness! *Hehe!*

Before I get any further, I’d like to thank you all for your unbelievable support throughout my training for the Spartan Trifecta! I honestly think that you’ve played a crucial role in my success so far. I am so humbled and honored to have you all in my life!!! (here & here)

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As you know, the Spartan Beast (20+ km and 25+ obstacles) is less than 4 weeks away and I am totally shaking in my boots. The BEAST MODE is officially on!!! And what could be better than celebrating Canada Day by logging a super intense and sweaty workout?!

Actually, when I saw this workout in the Spartan Guide, it made me laugh. Why? Because just yesterday I was telling to one of my fellow bloggers that  I’ve never done double runs. Little that I knew! I could probably complete the following workout in one setting, but, the truth is, I am still a bit sore after the race on Sunday.

beast mode is on

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Part 1

Strength: Diamonds are Forever!

Rest 30 seconds between sets and exercises.

  • Squats: Begin with feet closer together than shoulder width apart and hold both hands to your sides. Slowly squat down to 90 degrees and return to the start position. Repeat as desired. Hold dumbbells in your hands. Select a weight that you can only lift within the suggested range.
    Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo
    Step 2: repeat
  • Barbell overhead squat: Begin with feet wider than shoulder width apart and arms fully extended overhead, barbell in hands. Select a weight that you can only lift within the suggested range. Start by using a wooden dowel if necessary.
    Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo
    Step 2: repeat
  • Box alternating leg shuffle: Begin with one foot on the box and the other on the ground. Explode off the foot on the box and switch legs in air, landing with the opposite foot on the box.
    Step 1: 15 reps per leg
    Step 2: repeat
  • Kettlebell or dumbbell suitcase dead lift: Begin with feet shoulder width apart with the kettlebell in the right hand. Slowly squat down to 90 degrees, until the kettelbell is close to or touching the ground. Repeat reps as desired. Do for both sides, using a weight you can only lift within the suggested range.
    Step 1: 10-12 reps. Focus on form first, before increasing weight.
    Step 2: repeat
  • Barbell standing rows: Begin with feet shoulder width apart with a slight bend in the knees. Grasp the barbell with both hands with your hands facing out. Pull the barbell to your body. Repeat as desired. Select a weight you can only lift within the suggested range.
    Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity, steady tempo.
    Step 2: repeat
  • Box dips: Begin in a sitting position with hands facing forward on the box or bench and feet on the ground. Slowly extend your arms as far as they will go. Gently lower yourself and repeat as desired.
    Step 1: 10-12 reps, high intensity. Can be made easier by flexing your knees. Can be made more difficult by elevating extended legs. Can add resistance by placing a weight on your thighs.
    Step 2: repeat
  • Planks: Begin by lying face down on the ground with elbows flexed. Lift your chest and hips off of the floor so that your body is supported by your elbows and feet. Brace yourself and hold as long as possible.
    Step 1: hold for 30-120 seconds
    Step 2: repeat

Run 3 miles

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Part 2

Cross-train: Bingham 2

45-minute trail run; every 10 minutes find a rock or a log and lift it for 10 reps, performing arm curls, shoulder presses, and squats. Add 5 reps each time so that you finish your last set with 25 reps for each exercise.

Source: A Spartan Guide To The Sport Of Obstacle Racing by Joe De Sena

enthusiasm

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How are you celebrating Canada Day?

xoxo
Olena

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Having Fun Working Out At Magical Locations

You know what? You are the most amazing bunch of people I’ve ever met. I am totally smitten by your outpouring love, support and continuous encouragement. I am truly blessed to have you all in my life. I wish I had words to express how loved I feel. Thank you!

you are the best

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Maybe you remember, last weekend I wanted to go hiking with my family. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen because it was raining quite a bit on Friday and my hubby’s heel didn’t feel up to par. Being a creative lady I am *right?!*, I convinced him to at least go check out a park nearby: to spend some time outside and treat Bella to a nice long walk. I accidentally came across it last year when I was planning a running route. It is only about 5 km away from our home. However, back then, 10 km run wasn’t realistic, so I forgot all about it… well… until now that is!

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I am so so soooo glad we went there! Not only it was a fun, relaxing and refreshing outing with my two loves, we were blown away by the natural beauty of the park.

parc de la cité

Look who else we saw there!

geese at parc de la cité

Aren’t those little things ADORABLE?! *I’m pretty sure it’s a proud papa-goose on a lookout there haha!*

What I found pretty awesome is a great variety of training stations such as pull-up bars, benches of various sizes for jumping, and even a climbing rope evenly spaced out in the park. It’s a PERFECT place to train for the Spartan Race! *It was meant to be! It also happens to be a magical location where my first 15 km run took place last Sunday.*

pull up bars at parc de la cité

Speaking of fun workouts suitable for this location! That’s what is awaiting for me later on today.

Dynamic Warm-Up

Cross-train

Run 2 miles to warm up

25 push-ups
25 squats
20 mountain climbers

Run 1/2 mile at high intensity, but pace yourself so you don’t have to walk

10 squat jumps
50-yard lunge walk
10 lunge jumps
20 flutter kicks
10 side-to-side hops

Run 1 mile at high intensity

25 push-ups
25 squats
20 mountain climbers

Run 1/2 mile at high intensity

10 squat jumps
50-yard lunge walk
10 lunge jumps
20 flutter kicks
10 side-to-side hops

Run 1 mile to cool down.

AB 500 as a part of the Spartan 30-day sit-up challenge

have fun working out

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What is your ‘magical’ location for the most fun workouts?

xoxo
Olena

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Filed under Cross-training, Fitness, Health

Moving Past Mountains: Your Attitude Is The Key

It’s HUMP day, mi amores, and I couldn’t be happier!

hump day

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I’d like to share some Spartan wisdom with you today. Truth is, I’ve been letting a work stress get over my life lately a tad too much. Not only I became grumpy, my ‘complaining levels’ have also gone up… And I’m not liking that too much… Why would I? Wasting my life in a bad mood is definitely not what I envision for myself.

grumpy cat

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*Yah, thanks, but no thanks! Haha!*

I know I’ve been bringing up Spartan Up! quite often lately, but it’s just too good not to want to apply it to your life *and I promise, nobody paid me for this!*. 

In one of the chapters, Joe de Sena was trying to explain why the Spartan Race involves so much running in the mountains, and I couldn’t agree any more with him: “Life is much the same way. Poor genetics is a mountain. School is a mountain. Heartbreak is a mountain. Divorce is a mountain. Obesity is a mountain. Layoffs are a mountain. A blown disc in your spine is a mountain. The death of parents is a mountain. Chemotherapy is a mountain. Multiple sclerosis is a mountain. They come at us one after the other. Some seduce us slowly, some scare the shit of us immediately, but they never stop coming. That’s why every Spartan race demands that you climb hills and overcome obstacles – because life does this to each of us.”

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His suggestion on how to overcome obstacles is to change attitude: “The way to improve your attitude is to push through adversity. Once you have seen the dark side, you push through until the dark phase comes to an end, and everything after that appears brighter, more hopeful. I have a saying I use whenever I’m uncomfortable: ‘It could be worse. I could be freezing in Alaska or surrounded by sharks.’ whatever is bothering you in that moment suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. This too shall pass.” Genius, simply GENIUS!

think like a proton always positive

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My solution to this tiny hiccup?

Here it goes!

Cross-train: Dynamic Warm-Up

5-minute general warm up

25 yards each:

High-knee walk
High-knee jog
Butt-kickers
Lateral shuffle
Straight leg march
Skip
Straight leg skip
Cross-over step
Carioca
Duck walk

Cross: Mr. Clean

Repeat 3 times:

Swiss ball knee-tucks for 45 seconds
Push-ups for 30 seconds
Swiss ball triceps-dips for 45 seconds
Plank for 45 seconds

Run: Super Spartan Tempo Run

Warm up 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2;
Run 4 miles with heart rate in zone 4;
Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

Ab 500/ as a part of 30 sit-ups for 30 days challenge

I was obviously tired, but FELT ABSOLUTELY AH-MAZING!!!!!!

i feel good

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How do you deal with work-related stress in the after work hours?

xoxo
Olena

 

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Filed under Fitness, Health, Motivation

Fitness & Happiness: Bringing The Kid Back Out Found Within

Good morning beauties… and beautifuls *LOL!*

As you can see, I am in a great mood, and my trip to the spa yesterday is largely responsible for that!

Spa Diva

I got a 50-minute Swedish massage and it felt great! The masseuse had strong hands *just the way I like it!* and really worked on my shoulders and legs. I was in heaven!

Plus what could be better than a date with a friend that you haven’t seen in a WHILE at the spa?! Girl’s time at its finest!

Everyone deserves a treat every now and then. Even Bella!

Bella's addiction to carrots

Guys!!! She is crazyyyyy about carrots! She’ll do anything for them!

There is something I’d like to discuss with you today. I’ve got a question: What happens to us when we grow up?

Last summer, as I was sitting outside in a square during my lunch break. I saw these two kids. They where having the time of their lives!

be a kid from within

Do you remember being a worry-free kid running and jumping around all day long, climbing trees, falling down, scraping knees and yet getting up laughing and continuing to run? Somehow throughout the years, we tend to lose this ability. Running and jumping becomes a chore or a to-do thing on our daily list. When we ‘fall’, we fall hard. When we get hurt, we tend to shut ourselves off as a defense mechanism.

How about going back to basics and being a kid within again? Not only will this bring in happiness  and enjoyment back into our lives, but also health and success.

i'm too blessed to be stressed

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My workout today, as per the Spartan guide, is as follows.

Cross-train: Do this outside.

Jump rope for 10 minutes.
15 walking lunges on each leg
15 push-ups
15 stone deadlifts
Belly-crawl 10 yards
10 stone squat chest-pass (hold the at chest height, squat the stone, then chest pass it as far as possible. Pick up the stone and repeat 10 times)

Repeat the cycle twice.

Super Spartan Run: 4-mile trail tempo run

Warm up 2 miles with a heart rate in zone 2;
Run 4 miles with heart rate in zone 4;
Cool down 2 miles with heart rate in zone 2.

30 sit-ups for 30 days Spartan challenge

fitness happy drug

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How do you bring your kid out from within?

xoxo
Olena

 

24 Comments

Filed under Fashion, Fitness, Motivation

Fitness & Massage: Your Body Deserves It

I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! And you can call me a spoiled brat, but that’s what I am going to be doing tonight…

relaxation massage

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Okay, let the truth be told… I don’t look that glamorous when I’m getting a massage… Most of the time I’m on the verge of falling asleep… It’s important to highlight… On the verge… Why? Because most of the times I come back to reality from realization that I am about to drool… Yah… You got it right… But hey, no judgement here! *Haha!*

Also most of the times I feel like this.

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I’m exaggerating here, of course. I actually like when a masseuse has strong hands. But you know that moment when they are trying to work your shoulder blades? Well, every single time, I think that something is about to crack. And yet, when they ask me if everything is okay, I say.

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Am I normal? *Haha!*

In all seriousness though, I love Swedish massage. It appears that this kind of massage not only helps relaxation, but is also “exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension”, according to Massage Envy Spa.

However, to reap all benefits of a massage, you have to do a bit of ‘homework’ too. Remember to:

  • Drink lots of water, especially for the next 24-48 hours: This will help toxins to leave your body. *Check out these tips to stay hydrated.*
  • Take a warm shower or a nice bath with salts. Doing this will improve your blood circulation and bring relaxation to a whole new level.
  • Do some static stretching: hold your favorite yoga pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.Stretches will reducce post-massage soreness.I actually came across a cool image on one of my favorite blogs, Peanut Butter Fingers, today. You can use it for inspiration if you’d like.

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  • Have a small snack to boost electrolytes in your body. Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention you about my favorite post-massage treat!

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At the spa I go to, they serve chocolate covered strawberries in their relaxation area. Let me tell you, after I have 2 of them, I’m in heaven. *True story!*

Back to planet Earth… *Hehe!*

This is how my cross-train workout yesterday looked like.

Repeat 5 times:

10 push-ups
10 burpees
5 pull-ups
30-second sprint
1 minute rest

Then, with something heavy, repeat 4 times:

15 squats
Lunge walk 50 meters
10 chest-passes
10 underhand toss
1 minute rest

Strength: Ab 500 *This surely covers the 30 sit ups for 30 days challenge! See previous post.*

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What is your favorite type of massage? How often do you treat yourself to one?

xoxo
Olena

 

15 Comments

Filed under Fitness, Health