Friday, January 31, 2014

Taking 2014 By Storm

January is coming to an end. It's hard to believe that the first month of the new year is almost over! This year I am trying to reevaluate my goals at the end of each month, look back at what I have accomplished and make a plan to achieve a new goal in the coming month.

This month I have been able to research out my options for personal trainer programs and plan on finalizing and registering for my program in February. I am leaning towards the ACE CPT certification. I have also been able to stick to my goal of stretching more this past month and plan on continuing this throughout the year.

My overall goal for 2014 is to break into the fitness world as a certified trainer and motivate others everyday to be better and stronger. It is my true passion and I have to stop worrying about whether or not I can make it in the fitness world and just jump right in and start working! Get ready to hear a lot more from me in 2014! 

I have also become an ambassador for the Zooma Women's Race Series in Napa Valley and couldn't be more excited to help promote this women's only event! I have a passion for helping women learn how fitness and running can help them build confidence and stronger lives and this is the perfect platform for me to share that love. Stay tuned for more information this coming month and a special discount race code from me to you! 

Remember to dream big, set attainable goals and make your vision a reality. What are your goals for 2014? How are you working on achieving them? Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How Brand Loyal Are You?

Brand loyalty has always been a fascinating subject for me. What makes someone make a connection with a brand and become a devoted follower has always been an interesting topic. My degree is in Business Administration with a focus on Marketing so this side of business, relating to the consumer and creating a relationship, is a key part of my job and is integral to the success of any business. 

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but I have been brand loyal to Nike since I was a child. My parents even found an old paper of mine from grade school where I wrote my goal of what I wanted to do when I grew up and I had written "work for Nike." I've often tried to pinpoint the exact moment when Nike became the brand I focused on for my workout gear and shoes, but there are actually quite a few. 

For one, I'm a tall girl and I have larger feet. When I was in grade school I couldn't find any stylish women's running shoes unless they were Nike. Most companies have now expanded their sizes and 11 - 12 are common women's sizes, but I still contribute my stylish grade school kick's years to Nike. They were the first to cater to me and make me feel like I fit in. 

In high school they were the brand that made my basketball shoes. Basketball was who I was and shaped my future goals and opportunities. It wasn't the shoes that defined me, or that very recognizable swoosh, but it was the self esteem, pride and accomplishment I felt when I laced them up. Nike understands athletes and they understood what I wanted. 

In college I continued to wear Nike's for the college team and by then I just wouldn't have any other shoe on the court. I wouldn't say I made a mistake in college, but if I could go back and do it over I would have focused on researching what Nike looked for in an intern and pouring my heart and sole into getting the experience I needed to be hired on after college. I had one internship interview and my lack of experience in a few areas is what I feel like was lacking on my resume. I placed too much faith in the brand I love simply seeing my devotion and wanting to hire a kid excited about the brand. 

I don't blame them. They are a great company because they hire only the best and often that comes with experience. However, what I don't have in experience I make up for in heart. I have been relentless in pursuing different angles at Nike and working with members of their team when I get a chance. 

I was lucky enough to be featured on their Nike Women blog, make it to the top 10 of a Nike Women Field Reporter Competition, become a Nike Women's Marathon Training Ambassador in 2012, participate in the Nike Running Epic Run Competition last year with my #RUNIRISHLUCK run  (I came in third) and now be a Captain of their new online Community Forum. 

My interactions with Nike have all been positive and I know they care about runners, dreamers and athletes everywhere. Sure, they are in it to make a profit, but the bottom line is that making athletes better products and offering them amazing free services such as the Nike Running app and NTC app, is one of their top goals. 

So, I would have to say that my brand loyalty comes from a combination of my Oregon roots, dedication to sports, positive interactions and opportunities within the brand and my burning desire to work for the Swoosh. 

Nike's expansion of their live NTC classes are making more brand enthusiasts like myself around the world. Bottom line: Nike is doing everything right. They are offering free training, product trials and a community to keep you coming back for more. They are giving the consumer an experience - not just selling them a shoe or new running shorts. You want to come back because of the value you place on the experience. 

When I'm not near a Nike store I can do NTC at home with the app and interact with Nike on Twitter and Facebook. They always respond with motivational words and keep me motivated to continue training even at a distance. The community they have built is strong and keeps getting stronger. 

Fitness is a part of my life and Nike just seems to fit in. My car even has a four-foot swoosh sticker on the rear window. It's been there for six years. In essence - I am already branded. It seems to me that brand loyalty is a result of continuous relationships and creating value to a customer. If Nike ever stops creating value for me then my brand loyalty will end. 

I don't have complete exclusivity with Nike, I still enjoy wearing other brands. I have a love for Athleta's girly fitness style and Under Armour Women impresses me with their I WILL campaign and commitment to women in sports. Nike just has my heart. It was my first love and I do not have a negative thing to say about them. I have become brand loyal due to nearly two decades of interaction with them and positive memories and experiences from sporting the Swoosh. 

Nike is just one example of my brand loyalty, just ask my hubby! He's a bit baffled by my commitment to the brands I love. Pocketfuel, Nuun Hydration and Feetures! socks to name a few. But what these companies all have in common is a commitment to quality, interaction with customers no matter who they are and amazing customer service. I stay committed to those companies that create value for me. Companies earn my loyalty. They earn it and maintain it with their actions. 

Am I brand loyal? Absolutely. I am also loyal in every other aspect of my life and that is who I am. If you have my back, I will have yours every time. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Feel Like I'm 26 going on 80!

Do you ever feel like your body is just out of sync? This week I have been feeling a bit off. At first I thought it was from not working out as often as I wanted, then I thought it was from the weights I lifted, but I am beginning to realize it is a combination of many things I haven't been doing right lately. I have been exercising and I even tried a new gym this week with a new trainer. My workouts have been great! It's before and after them that my body just feels dead. I finally decided that enough was enough and have been looking for the problem so that I can set about solving it. 

So, what's out of place in my life? First off, I have been working a lot from home at my very desk centric job. I spend hours sitting which is not good! I most likely look like the very hunched over model in the photo below. To see the dangers of sitting like this click here. My shoulders have been extremely tight and my neck has been hurting. Bottom line - it's my fault. I keep meaning to purchase a standing desk, or any desk at all for that matter, and set it up in the office but I have neglected to make it a priority and now I am paying a price. 

Moral of the story. Make time for ensuring that you are sitting at a properly sized desk and take breaks every hour. They don't have to be long breaks, but at least get up once and move around. Do 30 jumping jacks, walk around your building or do some yoga poses. Your body, health and employer will be thankful that you cared enough for yourself to make time to stay healthy! For an even better burn, get the whole office involved. An office that is fit together, stays together!

The second thing that is out of sync is my lack of carving out time for myself to relax and stretch! I am so inflexible it's not even funny, but that will only get worse the more I run and older I get, so stretching needs to be a part of my every day routine. I have actually committed to it and have done it the past few days. You know what? I feel so much better! If you can't get to a gym or studio just do some simple poses in your living room or out on your lawn. I like to do Leah Kim's yoga workout that is free on the Nike Training Club app. I feel much more relaxed and rejuvenated after only a 15 minute yoga session. Here are some at home poses you can do when you just have a short time frame or before bed to relax your muscles. 
  • Forward Fold for 1-minute
  • Downward dog for 1-minute
  • Sun Salutations for 2-minutes
  • Warrior I and Warrior II for 2 minutes
  • Child's pose for 2-minutes
Trust me. Do these poses for just a few days and you'll notice a huge difference in your flexibility and relaxation. 

Finally, I have not been drinking nearly enough water! I have noticed a very obvious let down in my runs and have been more tired and irritable. Yes - water is to blame! We may be in a drought in California, but that is not a reason for me to quit drinking water. My lawn may get a little dried up - but I can't do that to myself. 

What am I doing to solve this problem? A water timer! Yes, my phone will alert me every hour to drink more water. My goal is to down four water bottles a day and I believe this is a fool proof plan! I will also be adding Nuun to my water pre and post run for added electrolytes. Dehydration has met it's match!

I'm taking steps to correct some imbalances in my life and these are just a few that I have noticed. Maybe you are experiencing the same thing or perhaps another part of your life is out of sync. I encourage you to evaluate what you need to do to get back on track and start enjoying your days! Sometimes it's the little things that we neglect on a daily basis that make a huge difference. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

More Color = More Fun!

The Color Run is coming back to Sacramento in a big way in 2014! In fact, their whole tour is upgraded with more color, more swag and more fun! This race really is a magical time. I have been able to do the last two races in Sacramento and they have been better each year. I bring new friends and new runners to the sport with The Color Run. It's a fast course and a very easy beginner race.

The Color Run is also known as The Happiest 5k on the Planet! Do you know why? Your only requirement to run the race is to have fun. You can bring your friends, your parents, your kids, your neighbors. There are no restrictions based on time and your one goal is to have a good time. Don't get me wrong, I love competing in races, but sometimes it is nice to just get out there and enjoy my friends company and run through blasts of color together! 

This year The Color Run has branded its tour "The Kaleidoscope Tour." It has amazing new participant gear but still retains it color magic. Want to know what you get with your registration? New t-shirt, headband, wrist band and sling bag! That's a pretty sweet deal! 

Arm candy is big this year and The Color Run has jumped on board. Right now I am wearing my Road ID bracelet, Nike Fuelband and Seahawks bracelet on my wrist. I can't wait to add this bracelet to the mix! Get ready world! 

I'm especially excited about the sling bag because where I live you have to shop with reusable bags and this will be perfect for grocery shopping and spreading my Color Run love after the race. I'm going to get a lot of use out of this bag. Love yoga and gym workouts? It also makes a great bag for carrying your towel and water bottle to class. Plus, you can't lose it because it is such a bright rainbow of color. 

Let's take a look at the t-shirt. The all new design this year is pretty sweet. It is made of super soft fabric and has a tailored fit! Ladies, you know that a tailored fit is important. Even if it's just a t-shirt we still want it to flatter. I've heard it said that it feels like a unicorn hug. Having never hugged a unicorn myself I can't really argue that point now can I. Bring on those unicorn hugs. They sound pretty nice to me. 

2014 is a big year for racing for me and I am making The Color Run a crucial part of it. It will be the fun race I do in between my hunt for PR's and race victories. A perfect race to relax and enjoy the moment. 

Have I convinced you of the fun yet? Or maybe you're coming back for your third or fourth year too? As a special deal for my readers I partnered with The Color Run to offer you a $5 off discount on your race registration. It's not just for the Sacramento race, though I would love for you to come race it with me. This code is good for any race in any city! Score! Register for the race of your choice using this link. The code for $5 off is: COLOR5OFF. Be sure to enter the code at registration as it can't be retro-applied.  

Get ready to make 2014 epic with The Color Run! Cover your phone with a plastic baggie, grab a bandana and get ready to get a little wild! Run, walk, skip or dive your way to the finish. Share the color love with your friends and family and remember to take some sweet photos to commemorate your race day bliss. See you at the race!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Tips for Staying Motivated

We are halfway through the month of January and halfway through my Nike Training Club January Challenge. I hope you are all staying strong with your goals and pushing through the tough times. (It's not too late to join my challenge either, for more information, see my previous blog post here). Often I lose focus halfway through a training cycle or plan and have to work hard to motivate myself to continue. When I need to find my motivation I have a few tips and tricks that work for me. 

Top Five Motivational Tips:
  • Make a schedule. Write down your workout plan for the week. Schedule it into your day. I set reminders in my phone if I am having a hard time making it to the gym. Treat it like a business meeting and don't allow yourself to skip out. 
  • Recruit a workout buddy. I am always recruiting friends to come to the gym with me or come on a run. Often it's the start of a fitness program for them too. It's a win-win for both of us. You'll be more likely to show up for a workout if you know someone is waiting for you.
  • Don't be afraid to fail. I often don't want to try a new class or workout because I don't want to look bad. Let's face it - everyone starts somewhere and no one is perfect when they start out. So  don't be afraid to take a chance. 
  • Set a goal and make a plan to achieve it. Set check points and reward yourself when you reach each mini-goal. Get a massage when you lose five pounds, treat yourself to new workout clothes after you complete your goal race. Make sure your rewards are positive and keep you on track. A three scoop ice-cream cone is probably not a good reward. 
  • Create a social support group. Declare your goal on Twitter or Instagram and follow people with like-minded goals that motivate and inspire you. Post progress photos and do weekly check-ins. 

My progress photo I posted to Instagram to keep me accountable for January.

Bottom line - find what works for you. You might need to test out different tricks to keep you motivated but find what works and stick with it! This month I have been focusing on stretching and yoga sessions. Instagram and Twitter have really helped me stay motivated and the support group I have built is phenomenal. Stay motivated, stick with your goals and if you need an extra push, I'm here to help. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My Love/Hate Relationship with Running

I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love the health benefit, the community and how I feel during and after a run. I hate the fact that I always seem to have a nagging injury. This year it seems to be my hamstring. In reality, I have no one to blame but myself. I have been neglecting doing stretching, yoga and physical therapy exercises on a regular basis. Sometimes it is just so hard to fit it all in! Before we moved I was taking taekwondo classes, going to a regular kickboxing class, playing tennis and running. I had a crazy full schedule, but I was fit! I also did not get injured. I was cross training more than I ever have before and it felt good. 

Since the move, I have found a running group, but have yet to find the same community I had when I was in Roseville, CA and training at The Studio. If by chance you live in the Roseville or Sacramento area, you should really check them out. The instructors are amazing and you can really find a sense of community there. I haven't had the same experience in Ukiah and that's ok. I just need to focus more on fitting in cross training on my own. 

This week has been all about cross training. I went to a spin class, did Nike Training Club strength and yoga workouts and lifted weights at the gym. Today I focused on Kettle Bell training and doing planks. If you want to do one of my favorite ab and shoulder burners do the workout pictured below. Hold a plank for two minutes and every 30 seconds alternate between mountain climbers and leg lifts. Work up to being able to repeat the drill three times in a workout. 

Plank to Mountain Climber and Leg Lift

This weekend, along with cheering on the Seattle SeaHawks (Go Hawks!), I plan on going for another run. I'm testing the waters on my hamstring. I thought I was better a week ago, but after pushing myself a little too hard on my first three runs back and running back to back days, I have been feeling a tight muscle again. I have to officially start training for my first half marathon the first of February so I have two weeks to build a base. 

Being an athlete is never easy but I am enjoying the benefits and path my journey is taking. In April, I will be a Road Runners Club of America certified running coach and hope to add personal trainer and Nike trainer to my resume soon. For now I am focusing on making myself a better athlete and a better runner through cross training. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Strutting My Runner Style!

I love running and dressing the part. I feel better about my running when I dress in the correct gear. For some reason - feeling like I look good while running boosts my mood and helps me run faster and harder. Recently, bright colors have been in and for good reason. Bright colors make you more visible on the road. Drivers can spot someone in bright colors much better than someone blending in with the scenery. One of my favorite bright running accessories is my compression socks. They come in every color of the rainbow and more patterns than you can imagine. Some of my favorites are Nike, Feetures!, CEP and Pro Compression. I can pair them with any outfit and immediately add a pop of color. 

Often when I'm finished with my run I still like to dress sporty. One of my new favorite outfits is a pair of leggings or printed tights with a cute pair of sneakers. Some fun shoes to dress up any casual outfit are the Nike Dunk Ski Hi's! They come in all different colors, prints and styles. My favorite pair is from the Liberty of London collection and is pictured below. 

Whether you are going out on the town, to a movie or out to dinner, these kicks can be paired with tights, jeans or even with a dress for a fun sports, chic look. Want to turn some heads? Grab a pair of Sky Hi's. If you are feeling a little more low-key just put on your favorite pair of sneakers and lace up.

I'm a runner and that manifests itself in all areas of my life. I happen to love living in workout clothes and casual sneakers, but not everyone is like me. Don't be afraid to try a new look every once in a while and strut your runner style, whatever that may be. Have a race coming up? Wear a fun, spunky outfit to the expo. Have fun with your sport!

What is your favorite casual, post workout outfit?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Those Awkward Family Vacations...

I apologize for being off the radar for the last week, but between returning from vacation, fighting one of the worst cold's ever and catching up on two weeks of missed work, my blog had to wait a week. Vacation did give me one thing. It gave me a bit of fuel for the following post. It's a little different than my usual fitness topics, but it is something I needed to share. 

Holidays are about family. The good, the bad and the awkward always seem to show up during those brief periods where multiple family generations come together for the holidays. This last vacation had its fair share of exciting and awkward moments. Without giving you too much background information I will just dive right in.

I am 26 years old. I am still extremely young and have huge goals for the next few years. I have always loved working and find my passion and spirit comes alive when I have a task set before me and set a plan to get there. Bottom line - at this point in my life I am career driven. In all honestly, most men and a majority of women are at this stage of their life, many are still in college or master's programs and have yet to begin their career journey. I am telling you this for a bit of perspective. 

Over the period of a two week vacation I was asked when I was having children more times than I can count, often by the same person, once even by a five year old. In her defense, the family seems to have baby fever and it only seemed like a natural question to ask. However, I do not appreciate people inserting their desires on my life and constantly pushing me to do something that virtually changes my ENTIRE life, while barely effecting them other than their few visits during the holidays and gift buying. 

I love my extended family, but there are some questions that do not need to be repeatedly asked. I am 26 years old and very into fitness and running. I travel bi-weekly for work and still have some countries I want to visit before I have children - if I even want to. I want a career that I can be proud of, in control of and I have big goals over the next three years that do not account for children. 

Don't get me wrong - I think that having children is a blessing and I admire those who have children and couldn't dream of having another way of life. I, however, know myself and I know that having a child right now, especially just because someone else thinks it's time, is not fair to me and especially not fair to the child. I know myself. I know where I want my life to lead and if and when I decide to have a child I will let them know. But I do not appreciate outside pressure. 

Most of all, I feel like such a question is rude. It's asking about a private moment that should be shared when I choose to. What if I couldn't have children? And even if I can, having a child isn't really something that needs to be asked, you'll know when it happens. It's hard for a women to hide that whole pregnancy thing. So whether it happens now, in three years or five, is it really necessary to push on a couple? Marriage doesn't immediately need children, in my opinion, it's good to take time to be with each other before adding children to the mix. 

I am smart enough to know that I am not ready for a child. I don't want to give up the life I want for myself yet. Having a child is a blessing and one of the best gifts that can be given. But it should not be done for the wrong reasons. I have dreams that I want to pursue and I know that they get exponentially harder to reach when you add an extra person to a family. 

Some people may call me selfish - but I ask you - how many women have children and are not ready for the commitment? Too many. It is never a good thing for a child to grow up in that environment. Having a child is the biggest commitment I know - more than running, training or a career. A child cannot be given back when you decide you are done - they are yours for life. More people should take this into account before they involve children in their lives. It's a permanent thing with no turing back. What is the harm in waiting until I'm 30 before having a child? 

I have my goals and plans and they are MINE alone. I don't tell others when to start a career, quit a job or have a child. I believe everyone needs to make their own decisions and the ones that are right for them. It is not my place to make them uncomfortable by inserting my opposing beliefs. I would never push someone into a life altering decision unless they explicitly asked my opinion. 

Do I want children? Maybe - I'd love to have a little runner or tennis player someday - but when I do it will be a decision between my husband and myself alone. All I ask is that my right to decide is not put into question. I have one life to live and I will live it on my terms. 

Have you ever experienced this or a similar situation with family or friends? How did you handle it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, January 3, 2014

What Would You Do if Fear Was Not an Option?

What would you do if you knew you would not fail or if fear wasn't an option? I know that at least for me, I would be taking a lot more chances! Fear definitely stops me from doing many things that I would otherwise jump into full board.

It's not that I feel I can't do certain things either, many times it's more the fear of what other people will think. There is often a pattern and expectation put on you by your family, friends or even co-workers of what is expected and stepping outside of that box is not easily done without receiving negative judgements. Taking chances isn't the "safe" method.

Being safe is not living. I'm not saying you should go jumping off buildings or driving carelessly, but in our life, careers and goals, playing it safe is rarely how you achieve your dreams or even the big office at work. The people who take chances, step out of their comfort zone and use their talents to change the ordinary are the ones who find their way to the top.

I am not content being safe anymore and this year I plan on taking chances. I'm restless in a good way. I know what I want and now I just need to go about setting a plan to achieve my goals one at a time. I don't have any false belief that it will be an easy road. Nothing worth having usually is. However, last year taught me that even when I stepped out of my comfort zone with the tiniest step - big things began to happen.

Small steps, as long as they are moving forward are often how champions are made. I am fully aware that I can't learn everything I need to know in one night and I will be looking to others that have gone before me and mentors in my life to help me stay on track. 2014 will be all about stepping out into the unknown and making it my own. I will be greater than my fears and doubts and stronger because of it.

If someone questions what I am doing than I will know that I am headed on the right path. I want to disrupt the normal and everyday expectations and create something extraordinary. I plan to work hard in my community and career to become indispensable.  

What would you do if you could not fail?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Planning to Stay Injury Free

I was asked over Christmas when my next marathon would be. As of this moment I do not have one planned. The past few years I have had good intentions when it comes to marathons and training and I either get injured or am unable to complete my training because of a past injury. I have learned more about my body and what it is feeling and right now what it needs is some rest from long distance racing. 

This year my plan is to focus on running shorter distance races. I have scheduled a half marathon on April 27 and July 27. My goals for these races are to train without injury and achieve a sub 1:50 PR. I am also planning on running a few 5k races and really pushing myself to run fast at these events. 

A new race for me this year is the San Francisco Half Marathon (and Marathon) on July 27th. I had the privilege of becoming an ambassador for this race and am looking forward to running across the Golden Gate Bridge! If you want to join me - sign up for the event here and enter my ambassador code: DSC10TSFM2014A41 for $10 off registration. I'd love to see you at the race running the bridge with me. 

Training for races can be time consuming and often quite challenging. This year I will be focusing on not skipping planned workouts and seeing how far my training can take me. I am committed to making 2014 my best year for racing yet and staying injury free. 

How are you planning your 2014 race season? What distances and goals are you tackling?