Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get NTC FIT With Me In 2014!


Today is the final day of 2013. This year has been a great one for training and in 2014 I plan to take it to the next level. I hope you will all join me! I have an exciting announcement for all of my fellow Nike Training Club fans. First, the app has been updated and can be even more personalized to you with individual training plans and integration with the Nike Running App. Second, there are now community forums for you to interact with other Nike Training Club users around the world. 

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Nike Women to be a Captain of the #NTCFIT community group and would love for you to all join me on the site. You can login by clicking this link: #NTCFIT Community. I will be on the site often to help answer your questions, share my training tips and help motivate you to keep training strong! 


As a special bonus, during the month of January I am running another NTC challenge! For this challenge I want you to set up a training program on the new NTC App. Commit to following the personalized program you have set for yourself in January and share your progress on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the Hashtags: #NTCFIT and #NTCJANUARY14. Be sure to let me know that you are joining the challenge in the comments below. I'd love to hear what program you are doing as well and what you think of the App. 

As a special bonus I am going to give away a prize pack or two at the end of the challenge! The prize pack with include some tasty fitness snacks, Feetures! socks and some other items I will be collecting throughout the month of January. Stay on track and work hard and you will be entered to win! 


2014 will be a year for taking chances, pushing past your limits and becoming a better version of you. I have big goals in the fitness world as well as my career and together we can motivate and inspire each other to reach our dreams. 

~Karen

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Goals for Making 2014 a Fantastic Year!

This past year has been one of many amazing experiences for me. Looking back I had multiple priceless opportunities to advance my fitness career and learn more about sports and social media. Each opportunity came to me because of my hard work and dedication. Many people told me that I would not be where I am today, and that I wouldn't make it, while many more supported and encouraged me. As much as I would like to hear positivity from everyone - both have motivated me. The doubters to prove them wrong and the supporters to prove them right. 

I can't thank these people and companies enough for making 2013 a great year:



I want to keep dreaming bigger every year. In 2014, I have a few goals and I know that writing them down makes it more likely that I will achieve them. Here are my top 10 goals for 2014:

  • Become a Certified Running Coach (class schedule for April with Road Runners Club of America)
  • Become an NASM personal trainer
  • Become a Nike Training Club (NTC) personal trainer
  • Beat my half marathon PR time of 1:53 - goal of 1:45
  • Rebrand my blog and have a fitness workout page
  • Work as a fitness model
  • Work with Nike Running
  • Expand my social media influence and knowledge
  • Become a founder of a Run Crew
  • Never miss an opportunity
Setting goals is so important for me every year. Last year I was able to achieve many of my goals because I had written them down and created a clear path to achieving them. This coming year I plan to work harder to achieve my goals and to help you achieve yours along the way. 

What are your goals for 2014? Let me know and we can keep each other accountable! 


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, from our family to yours! I hope it is filled with love, laughter, family and friends!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top Five Vacation Workout Tips

The holidays are here and that means it gets a lot harder for me to get in regular workouts. Luckily, I have been able to fit them in at least every other day so far. It helps to have a membership to a gym, like Anytime Fitness, that allows you to use any gym they have anywhere in the country with just your one membership. I can also workout in the house using apps on my phone, such as the Nike Training Club app. 

Getting a workout in outside

Here are my top five tips for sticking with your workout and fitness goals during the holidays:
  1. Plan ahead - pack workout clothes in your suitcase and research places to workout before you leave for a vacation. Check the weather so you know whether it will be hot or cold weather. 
  2. Make sure you plan time in your day for a workout. For me, this means getting up and working out early - before family festivities begin, it I don't do this, I know I won't be able to workout. 
  3. Plan holiday activities that involve exercise that the whole family can do together. Hiking, skiing, snowball fights or biking are all great ideas and burn calories without taking time away from family.
  4. Spending hours in an airport? Time yourself to see how fast you can walk from one end of the airport to the other.
  5. Don't stress it if you miss a workout. Just remember to keep up your normal eating routine, don't binge out on sweets and reschedule your workout for the next day. 

Holidays can wreak havoc on a tight workout schedule, but a few days or even a few weeks off may not be that detrimental to your fitness. It might even allow your body to rest and you may come back stronger after the holidays are over.

For some extra motivation sign up for a race or fitness event in January or February to help keep you on track after the holidays are over and help you have a goal to motivate you to stay active.

Do you have any tips to share with me? Send them my way. Happy Training and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The #NTC November 30 Challenge Winners!

I'm happy to say that we had eighteen challengers in my #NTCNOVEMBER30 challenge on Twitter and Instagram. These ladies all committed to doing 30 minutes of Nike Training Club live or with the app during the month of November and submitted their workouts with the hashtag. Congrats to all who participated and committed to making themselves stronger. The following girls all deserve a huge shoutout:

@Lil_roni
@Ajayiabby
@Maclucille
@Tay_toned_fit
@Missfitriss
@Beccafit4life
@Pattitutu
@Danibeanz
@Turtlegirl00
@Cityfitgirls
@Runningdivasf
@Iamarlynn
@Tikibar87
@Thisfitlife365
@Kierasmalls
@ShayMLawson
@Itsallaboutme00
@TheJanelleKay

As promised - it's prize time! Since everyone did so well on their challenge I decided to do a random draw for prizes. The following two participants both won a prize package! The winners are:

Kiera Smalls - @KieraSmalls, who won an autographed copy of Apolo Ohno's book Zero Regrets, Pocketfuel and Natures Bakery Fig Bars! Kiera did great in the challenge and recruited many of her friends to join. Great job!


The second prize winner is Patti Tu - @Pattitutu, she won The Little Book of Yoga, a pair of funky knee socks, a Natures Bakery Fig Bar and Gatorade Prime Energy Chews to power her through her training!


Congratulations ladies. Your prizes will be coming your way to help you keep up the great work. Be sure to stay posted on my blog for an upcoming challenge to ring in the new year. You don't want to miss it! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Am I An Athlete? You Decide.

I recently had someone I care about tell me that I am not an athlete. Since I don't win races on a regular basis and haven't signed a contract as a professional, I can't consider myself an athlete. In an effort to protect this person, who I really do care about, I will not say their name. I admit that this really hurt me. I train every day for life. I work hard to keep myself fit and continue challenging myself to beat my own personal best's at races. No - I may not run a 2:30 marathon, but I am in a battle with my own times to become a better version of myself. 

I have always loved Nike's mission statement - "If you have a body, you're an athlete." As a company, if they chose only to market their products to elite athletes they wouldn't be the global powerhouse they are today. They know that everyone has the power to make themselves better than yesterday. Perhaps this is why I have connected with them as a brand. They seem to get athletes of all types - both the professional and amateur.


I will admit that I have struggled my whole life because I have wanted to be a better athlete than I am. I would give anything to become an Olympian, to be the best at something. I have come to realize that I won't have that opportunity, but that doesn't mean that I am not an athlete. 

In high school I was cut from the varsity basketball team during tryouts my sophomore year. I wanted to be on the team so badly that I was in the gym everyday for 2-3 hours working on my shot and playing intramurals with the guys. Before the season was up I had been moved up as a swing player from the JV team to play on the varsity team. The following two years I was starting center and captain of the team. I wasn't naturally gifted at basketball, but I worked my tail off to become the best I could be and it paid off. 

I went on to play on the team for Walla Walla University and was named captain and MVP my junior and senior years. It wasn't a Division 1 school - but basketball at any college is not an easy game. I had a goal to play in college sports and I did. I'm not sure about you - but I would call anyone who played a college sport an athlete.  


After college I took up tennis and took lessons so I could better my game. I joined a Tae Kwon Do studio at the age of 23 and two years later I became a Black Belt. I was chosen by Nike Women in 2012 to be an ambassador for the Nike Women's Marathon and have run a total of three marathons to date. I also applied and was chosen as the sponsored athlete (yes-athlete is in the title) of the Roseville, CA Athleta store. I lead a weekly run club that met at the Athleta store until I moved to Ukiah this past year. I have devoted my blog and social media accounts to advancing women in sports and I am always willing to try new things. I still play on an intramural basketball league in town and am one of two women who play and I have the respect of those on my team. I am an ambassador for the San Francisco Marathon, the See Jane Run Half-Marathon, the Esprit de She race series, a FitFluential and Sweat Pink ambassador and a Pretty Muddy Women's Mud Run race ambassador. I'm not listing my achievements to say "look at me, look what I've done," instead I am listing them to prove a point. Would you consider me to be an athlete? 

I have gotten most of the ambassadorships I have because I am seen as an athlete and as someone who is an inspiring and motivating force in the community. I consider myself an athlete but I have to admit that it hurts when someone close to me doesn't believe in me or have faith in my athleticism. Criticism hurts and I don't believe anyone deserves to be told they aren't an athlete because they haven't won a Gold Medal. 

I am a pretty self confident person and I don't let a lot get me down. Their comment hurt me, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I am simply sharing mine here. I'm not sure if any of you have gone through a similar situation or have someone who doesn't believe in you, but if you do, just know that I believe in you. Don't let anyone ever bring you down or change who you are and what you want to become. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Music to My Ears - Koss Headphones Review

This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Koss.

This last week I received not one but two pairs of headphones from Koss. These headphones are different from other headphones because they are made specifically for active women! In fact, they were designed by Olympic Gold Medalist, Dara Torres. I was sent both the FitClips - ear clip headphones and the smaller FitBuds - that fit in your ear. I have been on the hunt for new headphones and these showed up at just the right time! 

Gifts from Koss

The first pair that I tried on my run was the FitClips. The first thing I noticed about the clips was how light they were. They fit over my ear and didn't weigh it down at all. A lot of times the over the ear headphones will start to put pressure on the outside of my ears because of the weight, but not these, I hardly noticed that they were there. I also love the color. For anyone who has run the Nike Women's Marathon, these come in a great Tiffany blue teal color! They are also sweat resistant and come with three ear cushions, small, medium and large, to help you create a custom fit. 

I wore the FitClips for the California International Marathon Relay race on Sunday and they were a great fit and kept the music flowing during my six mile leg of the race. The also kept my ears a bit warmer than they would have been if they were exposed to the cold - in the low 30's on race day - brrr!

CIM Race Day Outfit - FitClips in the top right corner!

The second pair of headphones were the FitBuds. These came in a fun, bright coral color. I liked the fit of these headphones. I had to put on the smaller ear cover to keep the earbuds in my ears, but once I adjusted the size properly, they stayed put. I will be wearing these for training runs and when I'm listening to music around the house. Personally, when I am running long distances I will be wearing the FitClips because I don't want to take chance that I have to worry about my FitBuds moving. This is just a personal preference. I feel the most secure in the FitClips and they will be my racing and marathon headphones. 

FitBuds - sweat resistant and they do not fall out!

Both of these headphones have a lot to offer for a female athlete. They were designed for women, by women. They feature a 33% smaller fit than traditional headphones, fit more women's ears, are sweat resistant and come in stylish and bright colors. These will make great stocking stuffers or gifts for your fellow runners this Christmas season. Generally, these retail for $29.99, but during the holiday season they will be offered for a discounted price of $19.99. You can find the earbuds at many local retailers:
  • Best Buy
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens
  • Kmart
  • Sears
What are you waiting for? Grab a pair for yourself and one to give to a friend. At this great price, you don't want to miss out. When you snag a pair be sure to let me know what you think. Follow Koss on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more holiday ideas!

Happy Running!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Wish List

The Christmas season is upon us and that means it is time to do some gift giving and receiving. I have put together a list of some of my favorite items to give to the runners and fitness guru's in your life. Most of these are on my wish list, or already in my closet, so they are top performers! 

2013 Holiday Wish List

Petzl Tikka R+ Headlamp $59.96 at Amazon.com

Let's face it, in winter it gets dark, early! A lot of time we can't get a run in before the sun goes down, or perhaps we want to run before work. Either way, it is dark outside. The Petzl Tikka R+ Headlamp will make those dark runs safer for you. The bright light will illuminate your path and keep you visible to oncoming motorists, while the rechargeable battery will keep your light going charge after charge. The light auto adjusts to give you brighter light when you need it and to conserve battery power when you don't.  It gets an A+ from me! 

Nike Luxe Running Tights $120 at Nike.com

These running tights have a stretch, dry-FIT fabric with perforations for breathability, without sacrificing warmth. The contain reflective details that provide 360-degree visibility for dark, winter runs. They also feature a back zip pocket to stash necessities and have a drawstring waist for a personalized and snug fit. 

Nike Shield Flash Jacket $350 at Nike.com

I have wanted a flash jacket since they came out a few years ago. I absolutely love the idea and how visible these jackets make you on the road. This updated version is breathable, water resistant and has hand warmers! I love anything with thumbholes and hand warmers and these are amazing! The fabric pulls down over your hands like a glove. Love the idea and if I could have one thing for Christmas, this would be it. Hint, hint! 

Cashmere Teton Tunic $198 at Athleta

If you are looking for post workout warmth this sweater is for you! It is buttery soft and the long length is great with leggings and for us taller ladies. Out of my wish list this is the one item I have and I wish I could wear it everyday. It is my absolute favorite sweater. It's a bit more expensive than your average sweater, but totally worth it! 


These socks are excellent for winter training. I just wore a pair at the California International Marathon Relay in 20 degree weather and my feet stayed warm and dry. The Merino Wool in these socks keeps your feet dry in even the harshest conditions and the padded footbed provides top of the line comfort. They come in three different sizes so they can properly fit everyone's feet. 

Nike Lunarglide+ 5 Shield $125 at Nike.com

I love the Lunarglide line from Nike. I have run three marathons in them and the new, updated version is even better. The shield provides protection from the elements and keeps wind and rain at bay to keep your feet warm, dry and pounding the pavement. It's springy cushioning provides protection while running and gives you a smooth ride. It also features a reflective technology that lights up when automobile lights hit it. 

These are just a few of my favorite things. I'd love to hear what your gift list is! Share with me in the comments below. Happy Gifting!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pre CIM Race Report

Tomorrow is the California International Marathon. I am participating in the relay race with the work team I put together. This year we began focusing more on fitness and running at work and what a surprise - I took it upon myself to put together not one, but two teams for the race! In the beginning I wasn't even sure if we would have one team so I was really happy with the fact that non-runners signed up and trained for the race. It really was a great office bonding experience and tomorrow it all comes together. 

I made training plans, sent out emails and coordinated the teams. Tomorrow will be the true test of how well we work together. Hopefully we can find each other at the exchange points! I have faith that this is going to be a great race. This year, my third time running the relay, I will be running through the finish and I am excited about that! Look for me on course! We'll be in the fun shirts pictured below so cheer for us as we run by - or virtually on Twitter and Instagram!


Yesterday - at the packet pick-up and runner expo I had some fun checking out the booths and finding this giant shoe! How many people could sleep in this? It's huge! Is Bigfoot racing tomorrow? In all seriousness, it was great marketing and the shoe definitely drew traffic to their booth. I also saw my Nuun Hood to Coast van driver! Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the CIM Tweet-Up at the San Francisco Marathon booth today, but I am looking forward to meeting my fellow ambassadors soon. 


Are you running or racing this weekend? Perhaps your racing the CIM? If you are give me a shoutout and I'll look for you on course. Good luck and happy running! Remember to layer up - it's going to be a cold one tomorrow, 25 degrees, yikes! 

~Karen

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Taking Time to Enjoy the Forest

I love the city and running on paved sidewalks. I like the hustle and bustle and this time of year I love running past holiday decorations. I don't get to hike or run in the forest very often, but I did have the chance last weekend. My family and I piled into my Jeep and headed out on a twisting, single lane road full of potholes. I wish that I was closer to the Redwoods, I would go there more often, but instead I cherish the times I get to go. I love the smell of crisp, fresh air and the sound of the path beneath my feet. This particular Redwood grove can feel like your personal forest. When you stop to listen it is peacefully quiet. Dare I say it is where I imagine some scenes from The Hunger Games taking place. Katniss would do well here with her bow and arrow.

Imagining I Have Super Human Strength

There are so many good places to run and to pose for photos. I could imagine an awesome running photo shoot happening here. It's the perfect place to capture brilliant green hues and have trails all to yourself. There is beauty here and signs of a fire that ripped through the forest years ago. What is amazing is that the trees survived. In fact, some of these Redwoods have been here for thousands of years and their trunks are huge! It's a humbling and inspiring place to visit. 

The Family Photo

It doesn't look cold in the photo, but it was! Which brings me to my Athleta shout-out. I was so glad I thought to bring my Athleta Downalicious Jacket! This jacket is so lightweight and yet has such good insulation against the cold. Also, did you notice the fun side zip to give it some extra style? It's the perfect jacket for winter. If you're looking for a great jacket for heading out in the cold or an afternoon hike in the woods, this is it. It would also make a great Christmas gift!

Athleta Downalicious Jacket

The Redwoods are just one of the places I like to visit in Northern California. Since I get to go so infrequently, they will always have a special place in my heart. On May 4th, 2014 the Avenue of the Giants Marathon and Half Marathon are taking place. Listed by Runner's World magazine as one of the most scenic courses, I plan on adding this race to my must do events! Anyone want to join me? You can't ask for a better view than running through towering trees and the temperature is always great! The registration fee right now is only $60 for the full marathon and $50 for the half marathon. Register early before these rates go up! 

It may be the Oregon girl in me, but I love running through trees and exploring new forests. I can't wait to go back soon.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Your Feet Have a New Best Friend in the Mizuno Wave Rider 17

The following post is sponsored by Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. 

The day before Thanksgiving a special package showed up at my door from Mizuno Running. As a member of the FitFluential community I get the opportunity to try new products from time to time and share my opinion with my readers! On Wednesday morning, as Thanksgiving preparations were in full swing, a shoebox containing the new Mizuno Running Wave Rider 17 arrived. I am always ready to try new shoes and I was ready to run. I wore tested them around the house on Wednesday and Thursday morning took them to the lake for their first run! 


Thursday morning was a gorgeous day. I dressed for a cold morning run but quickly warmed up. The Wave Rider 17's performed really well on their first three miler. According to Mizuno, the shoes are created for a neutral runner with just enough cushioning to perform well at high mileage training. I felt great during this run and barely even noticed the shoes on my feet. If they weren't so fun and bright to look at I might not even notice them on my runs. I would definitely consider using these for my next half marathon training program - I just have to find a race to sign up for!

The shoe weigh's in at 7.4 oz (varies by size) and has a midsole with incredibly lightweight and resilient cushioning. I noticed that it was very responsive both on the cement path and on the packed dirt trail around the lake. The sole has deep flex grooves that offer optimal flexibility and cushioning and seemed to work well on multiple surfaces.


They also seem to have caught the eye of the male population as I was asked on a running date by a complete stranger. So ladies, if you're looking to find a man perhaps these shoes could also play matchmaker? You could turn shoe love into true love. Too much? Honestly, the shoes look great and everyone wants to look good while they run. I know that it makes me faster when I feel like I look the part. These shoes definitely gave me confidence and they can do the same for you, especially in a bright fun color like I received. Don't be afraid to make yourself visible on the road. Bright colors are fashionable and keep you out of harm's way. Mizuno also did great with color combinations on the Wave Rider 17 so you are sure to find one to fit your style and personality. 

 

If you are looking for a shoe that will stand up to the pressure of running hard miles while offering you a smooth ride the Wave Rider 17 may be for you. They release on December 5th, so you can pick up your very own pair in just a few short days. These would also be a great shoe to put on your Christmas list or gift to your favorite runner! You can never have too many running shoes so go ahead and tell Santa you've been a good girl (or boy) this year and add them to your list. 


When you snag a pair be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below or share a picture on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WaveRider17 and spread the word. Keep the #mezamashii running spirit of Mizuno alive with the Wave Rider 17 this holiday season.

video

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Five Tips for Staying on Track During Winter Running

Fall has arrived and that means that it is time to bring out the winter running clothes. As an Oregon native I am prepared for anything the weather throws at me. Boots, hats, scarves and a winter running wardrobe for any condition is something that keeps me lacing up my shoes and heading out the door through the cold winter months. I actually find that I run faster in the winter. I wish summer running had the same effect, but I tend to melt in the sun. Winter just suits me better! I love layering up for fall and today was no exception. 

This afternoon, I went for a short three mile training run and layered up in Hyperwarm tights, running vest, long sleeve top, Nike Free's and my GPS watch. This outfit kept me toasty warm and not too hot so I could focus on speed instead of my core temperature. When looking for winter running gear be sure to get something that is breathable, fits well, wicks sweat and also keeps you warm. Athleta and Nike are my go-to brands for winter running gear. 


Every year sportswear companies like Athleta, Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas come out with new products to protect us from the elements. I really have no excuse not to exercise during the cold winter months. Plus, I have a reason to do a little shopping for myself as the seasons change. If a new pair of running shoes or tights will get you out on the street then they are a great investment. 

Here are my top five tips to keep you on track with your fitness goals during winter training:
  1. Buy the right gear. Get a pair of lined running pants or rain proof shoes so you can't use weather as an excuse.
  2. Find a workout buddy to keep you on track! If someone is counting on you then you are much less likely to skip a workout, even if it is cold outside.
  3. Sign up for a race or a class at the local gym. If you have something you are training for you will be more motivated to put work in. 
  4. Plan your workouts the week ahead so that you know how to budget your time. This one is important, especially with the holidays coming up. Make a schedule of your workouts and stick to it!
  5. Reward yourself after a certain amount of successful workouts or when you reach a goal. Maybe you get a massage when you stick to your workouts for three weeks, or perhaps you get that new sweater your were eying at the store. Whatever your reward - treat yourself to it when you reach a goal.
Staying on track with training in the winter and during the holidays is hard. Chances are you will miss a workout, but if you follow my five tips for success, you should be able to keep up your fitness strong during the winter months.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It's Turkey Trot Season!

Happy Thanksgiving week! I started the week off with a trail race this morning. I ran the Ukiah Turkey Trot. It was a 3.5 mile out and back course that ran along Lake Mendocino. It was a chilly morning and I had to bundle up more than usual to stay warm. You can see my warm race gear below.  

My Athleta and Nike race gear

I haven't been running too many trails lately so I wasn't sure what to predict as far as time goes. The 
course itself was challenging with a lot of rolling hills. It was an out and back loop and I kept a pretty good pace in relation to my training. I finished to cheering locals and enjoyed hot beverages and scones at the finish. One of the girls from the running group invited me to yoga after the race and I decided to try my first hot yoga class.

I have always been terrified to try hot yoga. I sweat enough in yoga class without extra heat added. I braved it today, partly because I needed to stretch my tight muscles and partly because I didn't want to let my friend down. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bas as I thought it would be. I do still prefer regular flow yoga and if given a choice, I'll stick with yoga in a cooler room. I am proud of myself for giving it a try though. 

What do you think? Are you a fan of hot yoga? Do you have any Thanksgiving races coming up? Let me know!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pretty Muddy is Returning to Sacramento

Usually I don't plan my races too far in advance. This coming year I plan on really sticking to a race schedule and planning my training around it. Not only will this keep me on track and motivated, it will also save me money on race fees. Yes - signing up early for local races can save you a lot of money. One race that I plan on doing this year is the Pretty Muddy Women's Mud Run in Sacramento on May 3, 2014. 

What is the best part about signing up for this race (other than the fact that it's a super fun race just for women) is the fact that it is 50% off! For a limited time, the first 200 participants to sign up can register for a huge discount. You can sign up for only $34.75, which is a great price for a mud run.


Mud runs are great events to let yourself loose to just enjoy a run. You don't have to worry about time or pace. You just have to worry about having fun and getting pretty muddy! This event is specifically focused on women, so grab your girls and take a day to enjoy yourself in a fun exciting mud and obstacle course. 

I hope I see you in Sacramento. Come get muddy with me!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Reebok Spartan Race World Championship is Coming!


Coming up on December 7th is the Spartan World Championship! It will be broadcast live on NBC Sports from 4-5pm. The Spartan Race series has always appealed to me because of what it represents. The Spartan series provides a way for anyone to challenge themselves to push past obstacles and fears. I am all about someone taking fear, looking it in the face, and accepting the challenge it represents. Reebok Spartan Races are more than just events - they are life changing moments where you can become the person you always wanted to be. They provide a platform for ordinary people to become extraordinary.

Why am I excited about this race? I was signed up for my first Spartan Beast Race in October, but due to injury after running a marathon the week before, was unable to participate. I fully plan on taking on the Spartan Beast challenge this coming year. Until then, I am going to learn everything I can about becoming a Spartan and cheer on those who are at Spartan Races around the world. The Spartan World Championship race will be inspiring, motivating and riveting to watch. Who knows, maybe someday I'll even participate!


We all have the chance to become more than we are and to constantly challenge and better ourselves. The Spartan Race series has taken the best of endurance races and created a culture that defies odds, pushes barriers and creates champions. Don't believe me? Check out the video below on the journey someone goes through to become a Spartan. 



Do you want to challenge yourself? Do you want to get your office together for a challenge that will bring out the best in them and increase camaraderie and self-esteem? Is your running group ready to take a step in a new direction? Then sign up for a Spartan Race today! And if you want a free race entry it's your lucky day! I've teamed up with Spartan Race to give one lucky reader a free entry to ANY Spartan Race in the continental US! Just enter in the rafflecopter giveaway below! Can't wait to see if you have won? Sign up with this link and get 15% off registration! Good luck and Warrior On!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Treat Your Feet

My feet take a lot of pounding. Day in and day out they are one of the hardest working parts of my body. I run miles at a time without allowing them to rest and then I continue to walk, hike, kick, lunge and jump with them. I treat them with massage and try to change out my shoes on a daily basis. Admittedly, switching out which shoes I run with isn't hard for me. As a runner, I have a lot of shoes to rotate through that give my feet varying workouts. Recently I have been rotating through the minimalist Nike Free Flyknit, Nike Lunarglide 5, and a recent addition of the Nike Trail Zoom Terra Kiger. I want to make my feet stronger and less injury prone and mixing up my workouts is one way to do this. Since my marathon, my feet have needed some rest, but it's time to get back on the road and start logging long miles. 

Me and my Lunarglide 5 - NWM 2013 Edition

I have only done one trail race. It was a 10k race just the day after my 20 mile long and run and my body was tired. I had a blast doing it though. Most of my races and distance events have been on the road, which is admittedly harder on the body. I am planning on doing a local Turkey Trot race this next weekend and it is on the trails just outside of town. Trail running is challenging and mixes up the way the body moves. Dodging tree roots, rocks and shrubs on trails is always fun and trains the body to adapt to constantly changing terrain. I'm excited to see where this path takes me in my running journey.

Nike Zoom Terra Kigers

I just recently purchased new trail shoes to help me continue to run in good form while on new terrain. I have never owned specific trail shoes, so I am excited to see how they improve my running. The traction on the sole is excellent and I can really feel it gripping the ground as I run. It's important to have the correct shoes for each different activity that you do so that your feet are properly supported. If you run on the road be sure to buy shoes that are correct for your running gait. If you run on trails, make sure your shoes are built to handle that terrain.

My feet are a part of my body that cannot be replaced. I only get one pair and I want to treat them with the utmost care so that I can continue running for years to come. I encourage you to make sure you always have the proper footwear for your running terrain as well. If you don't know what gear to buy just head to your local running specialty store and talk to an expert. Feel free to ask questions on my blog as well!

~Happy Running! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NWM Recap and Shoutout to my Sponsor!

It has been three weeks since I ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. I don't always buy my race photos, but this years photos were awesome! Especially the ones from the start line with my friend Tiara! I just had to share some of the fun times on course with you all. 

At the start line! I'm pretty awake for 5:30am.

First, I want to give a shoutout for my sponsor this year, Athleta! I am the sponsored athlete of the Roseville store and I absolutely loved my race outfit. Shoutout to Gabbie for recommending this awesome tank. My top picks for this race were the Turbocharge Tank and Relay Capri. I wore the tank in the color Coralade and the Relay Capri in Cobalt Blue. I love wearing bright colors at races because they make it easier for friends and family to spot me. Athleta did it right with this outfit. Loved it! If you're in need of a new racing or training outfit check them out. They focus on women and they know what they are doing. My racing shoes were the Nike Lunareclipse.

Strong at the start!

I started out this race a little too fast. I was running 7-minute miles - which is not what I would recommend for someone going for a 9-minute mile average. I definitely felt the speed too soon later on in the race. Live and learn.

Coming up the first major hill.

I was strong through the first half of the race and the first hill wasn't too bad. I ran hard and was able to keep a steady pace. As the race went on my pace began to slow. The back half of the course was cold and I started to feel my muscles tightening. At this point it was a mental battle to just keep pushing to the finish. 

The final miles to the finish.

I am definitely not feeling as good as I look here. It's a good thing I saw the photographer on course, otherwise my true feelings of exhaustion would be showing! 

Final strides!

This is my final push to the finish line. It was hard to keep going, but even harder to stop. I've never been so excited to see the finish line before. I was just telling myself to keep going and push through.

Made it to the finish!

I was so happy to make it to the finish and bundle up in a warm sweatshirt. I found my parents right away, then found Tiara and saw Sabrina. I had some snacks, visited the finisher tents and vendor booths and waited in a long line for a finisher towel. It was worth it though. Let's not forget the awesome Tiffany's finisher necklace I received too! For some reason I didn't take a picture in the finisher booths - not sure why - but if I had to guess I would say after running 26.2 miles, I wasn't quite thinking clearly.

This race was a blast and I am already looking forward to next year. I'm hoping to do the half marathon and really enjoy the course and atmosphere without the full marathon pressure. And there is always NWM DC! I hope to be able to do that race again this coming year - but I'm not sure I can afford it. I definitely need a sponsor for that race. Did I mention it's on my birthday weekend again? I think it's meant to be. Hey Santa - I'll take a DC trip for Christmas. 

Did you run NWM or another marathon? How did the race go for you? Share your photos and comments with me!

~Karen

Friday, November 1, 2013

NTC November Challenge

Halloween is over and November has arrived. You know what that means. Treats, baked goods and cozy sweaters. In an effort to keep myself on track I am creating a November Nike Training Club (NTC) challenge.


To join, all you have to do is commit to doing a 30 minute workout every day using the NTC app on your phone. The app is available for both iPhone and Android. If you live in an area that hosts live NTC classes those count as well! Remember to vary your workouts between cardio, strength and the stretching/yoga workouts so you don't overtrain any one muscle group.

Simply let me know you are joining in the comments below and tweet your progress on Twitter and share on Instagram using the hashtag #NTCNOVEMBER30 and #NTC. Let @nikewomen and your friends know you're participating in the challenge too! The more the merrier!

Be sure to keep track of your progress and send out those tweets. At the end of the challenge I plan to have at least one prize pack for a lucky winner!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Marathon #3 is in the Books!

On October 20th I lined up with 30,000 like minded women to run the 10th Anniversary of the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco. I have been looking forward to this race since the 2012 race ended last year. One of the best parts of the Nike Women's Marathon is the camaraderie of all the women involved and all the friends I get to see while I am there. I loved meeting up with Tiara and Elizabeth from last year's Sisters In Nike Crew and meeting new friends I have been talking with on Instagram and Twitter. 


The expo was amazing as always and had a lot going on. With previews of the new Nike winter collection, photo opportunities, a social media wall showcasing photos and tweets from women running the race, Nike+ member benefits booth and various fun booths from sponsors like Paul Mitchell, Nuun Hydration, Team in Training, and Whole Foods, the expo was the place to be. One of my favorite parts were the live #NTC workouts - free commemorative towel ladies! - and meeting Olympic athletes and celebrities. 


I also had an amazing time meeting some awesome girls I have been interacting with on social media! We got together for lunch on Friday and hung out at different times throughout the weekend. Fun times!


As always, I found my name on the wall at NikeTown San Francisco listing all the names of the participants in the Nike Women's Marathon. And of course, I did some shopping! Everything was so fun in the store and the Tiffany Blue gear was definitely a hot item! 


I finally got to meet Asheton, aka - Smasheton! She was super fun to hang out with and I know she has big things in her future with running and triathlon. She was kind enough to show me the wonders of KT Tape and help keep my IT Band flare ups at bay. Wish this girl was closer so we could train together and pursue our dreams of working with Nike and in events together. Big things...that's all I'm saying!


Met more awesome friends each day at the expo. Samantha was working the expo for some fun new kicks and Becca and Sabrina hung out with me Saturday at the expo. They helped keep my pre race jitters at bay! Thanks ladies!


Saturday I had the privilege of meeting Joan Benoit Samuelson at Panera Bread. Guess we like the same foods. Yum! Pre race fueling with an Olympic champ, can't argue with that!


At the expo it was fun to hear from celebrities and professional surfer Lakey Peterson on their journey to running the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Inspiration came from all these athletes and stars throughout the weekend. 


I also got to see Marie Purvis, the mastermind behind the #NTC workouts, at the expo and my trainer for last year's Nike Women's Marathon. She coached me to a personal best. She has the best training plan for running 26.2 and gives great advice. Always a pleasure to see her at Nike events. 


The highlight of the weekend was meeting Kara Goucher! She is my favorite long distance runner and my motivation for running 26.2. miles. She was so sweet to have her photo taken with me and wish me luck on the race! 


Tiara and I got a photo near the WE RUN sign at the expo the day before the race. Yes, we do run! She and I had an awesome time chilling the day before the race and keeping each others nerves in check.


We also snuck a photo with Jay Blahnik, international trainer and the host of the expo. He kept the event running smoothly and interviewed athletes during the expo. 


Sunday morning race time came early and Tiara and I were at the start line at 5:45am! I haven't purchased my race photos yet, but I'll do another post as soon as they come! We were ready to rock the race in style! 

My race didn't go as planned, as I had to pace myself slower because of my IT Band flare-up and the final 13 miles were freezing cold. However, even though I ran my slowest race in my third attempt (5:04 in comparison to a 4:29 last year, I had a great time and met a lot of great friends who I hope to see again soon. 

I'm looking forward to some time away from training for 26.2 miles and focusing on speed. I can't wait for next year in SF and hopefully I can find a way to get to Washington, DC in April for the second straight year. I need to find a way to JUST DO IT!