Saturday, April 5, 2014

Reason To Play Has Moved!

Great news! Reason To Play has a new home at! Come visit me and follow my blog at my new site for continued fitness and health motivation! 

See you soon!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Just Do It Nike Running Style

This past Sunday I had an amazing opportunity to go on a challenging run with Nike in San Francisco. The plan – run five miles along the Berkeley Marina, hop on the Nike bus and travel to the heart of San Francisco for a seven mile city run to the Palace of Fine Arts. Stop for a short break to refuel and grab water and continue on a six mile run across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. Refuel and relax with friends both new and old at Barrel House Tavern along the waterfront. Total mileage for the day – 18 miles.
I was looking forward to this run all week. Can you blame me? I was a little concerned about the heavy mileage since I have been training for shorter distances, but I am always up for a challenge. I have run marathons and the Hood to Coast relay in the past so I knew what to expect as far as mileage. After a restless night on Saturday due to my excitement, I woke up a 6am on Sunday morning, got together my Nike gear and headed over to Berkeley.
I arrived at the Berkeley Marina at 7am and spotted the Nike Bus right away. After some brief introductions to other runners we boarded the bus to find a personalized Nike tank and the NewFlyknit Lunar 2‘s to try out for the run! The excitement on the bus was electric. Nike sure knows how to treat their runners right. I have loved running in my Flyknit Lunar 1′s, so I was excited to lace up the new version and I loved the updated design. The sole felt a bit more supportive to me and they updated the tongue of the shoe so it slides around less. Two thumbs up from this runner.
I laced up for run number one and we headed out along the Berkeley Marina. With magnificent views of the water, the run was the perfect way to start the day. I settled in with the slower pace group and we chatted along the water. I didn’t want to start out too fast and burn out on the final miles of the run. This run was an out and back five miler and when we arrived back at the bus we hopped on for some snacks, water and recovery with a massage roller. I love my carbs and the blueberry bagel with cream cheese tasted so good. I was fueled and ready for run number two!
On our way to San Francisco we were treated to some history of Nike and the Just Do It campaign that launched 25 years ago. This run was created in part to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of a campaign that has had an incredible impact on athletes around the world. We were invited to take part in a run to challenge us and show us how to live the Just Do It motto. We were pushed out of our comfort zones and into a place where we accepted the challenge and surprised ourselves. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when someone believes in you and stays with you through the challenge!
We headed into the city and started our second run in the heart of San Francisco. I love running through the city and exploring new places and we could not have asked for better weather. It was sunny, clear and warm. A perfect day for running a dream run. We stopped for a few photo opportunities and conquered some hills before ending at the Palace of Fine Arts.
From here I felt the excitement from everyone running brewing. A few runners were starting to feel the distance in their legs, me included, but no one was going to miss the final epic run across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito! Now was the time to put that Just Do It motto to work!
We left from the Palace of Fine Arts and ran past Chrissie Field and up to the Golden Gate Bridge. The day was picturesque and gorgeous. There was a brutal hill climb up to the Golden Gate, but once you arrived at the top those first few steps across the Golden Gate made it all worth it! Photos could not do the view justice. You could see all the way across the Bay. From here we entered the last four miles of our run. The bridge was crowded so we had to weave in and out of tourists, but that just added to the fun and challenging day.
After we crossed the bridge we went down into Sausalito and finished the final few miles on a downhill and then short run along the water to the Barrel House Tavern, our restaurant for the post run chow down! Nike went all out and I could not be more grateful. The meal was three courses of runner fuel and we even had custom Just Do It menu’s!
The meal provided us with a way to reflect on what we had achieved and learn more about the runners we shared this journey with. We laughed and shared many moments from the day and hopes for the future of running in San Francisco and the growth of an incredible community that is willing to take on challenges head on.
I learned so much at this event and have a better understanding of the meaning of Just Do It. I may not have been the fastest runner, but we all had the heart and the drive to achieve what many people would say is impossible. Together we can do so much. This is only the beginning of great things to come and I personally am rejuvenated in my running life. I am looking forward to taking my running to the next level and learning and challenging myself on a continual basis. I am even more excited to become a running coach in April!
As a college basketball player, I was always used to challenging myself in short sprint distances and my transition to long distance running over the last three years has taught me that I can face any challenge head on and learn and grow. Surrounding myself with positive and supportive people has made this transition one I am beginning to feel is what I was meant to do. I can’t wait to run with the Just Do It crew again and meet and challenge many new runners in San Francisco and beyond.
Doubt can be a struggle for me and I was doubting my running this last month. Sunday changed my view of my running and reenergized my desire to challenge myself. My goal this year is to become a faster, more efficient runner and this weekend helped to jump start my belief in my resilience as an athlete and runner.
Thank you Nike, the crew of the Just Do It run in SF and everyone who has supported me along my journey. Here is to many more inspirational and challenging runs in the futures. Never stop believing in yourself and don’t forget to challenge yourself on a regular basis. You’ll learn about yourself and become a stronger person with every challenge you conquer.
If you’re looking for a huge challenge – check out the Nike NTC Tour in LA this March 14-16! I’ll be there and can’t wait to take my training to a whole new level! You can see more details and register here.
Just Do It!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lunge and Squat - A Runner's Best Friend

Ladies and gentlemen, today I am going to talk to you about squats and weights. For most people these are dreaded words, especially if you are a cardio queen or die hard runner. Take it from me, to become a better and faster runner you must incorporate squats and various other weight bearing exercises. I have noticed changes in my race times when I am focusing on cross training and when I am strictly running. I see a huge difference when I do functional exercises to strengthen my leg muscles and upper body. Squats, weighted lunges, planks, push-ups and any body weight exercise will greatly improve your running form, speed and agility. It will also help to prevent injury. 
Today I did a squat routine outside and loved it. You don’t always have to go to the gym to get in a good workout. Mix up the location of your workout and the drills you do for optimal results and to keep your body guessing. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in a rut! A few things to remember when doing squats are to keep your chest up and your back flat. You also want to make sure you sit deep into your squat and keep your booty low to the ground. As a runner, my hamstrings are always tight and getting low in a squat can be hard. Start out slow and work on the moves each day, trying to go lower and hold the exercise longer than the previous day. 
There are many alternate squat positions you can take. The wide-leg squat, regular squat, weighted squat, pulse squat and more. With lunges you can do jumping lunges, regular lunges, side lunges, weighted lunges, cross-back lunges, and many other variations. Make sure you keep mixing up your workouts by trying out different variations and working different muscle groups. Change is your friend and makes your body stronger. 
Here is a quick and simple at-home routine you can do to strengthen your muscles and become a stronger runner. It includes five moves that you repeat 3-5 times depending on athletic ability. Start slow and work your way up as you get stronger. 
  • Wide Leg Squat – 20 Reps
  • Lunge with Rotation – 20 reps alternating legs (10 on each leg)
  • Jump Squats – 20 reps
  • Forward Lunge – 20 reps alternating legs (10 on each leg)
  • Push-ups – 1 minute
You should feel the burn in your thighs and glutes. You should also feel your heart rate go up during the exercises. Be intense during the workout and only take a one minute break between sets. The push-up will change up your movements and help you build a stronger core and upper body. 
Cross training is the backbone of any good run program and should be done at least two to three times a week. Try out these drills and let me know what you think! Do you notice a difference in your running when you cross train? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Week One of Half Marathon Training Has Begun

This week marked the first week of half marathon training. I successfully completed every workout on my schedule and am extremely proud. If you know me, that never happens! I workout and run a lot but I can rarely stick to a strict schedule. This time around I am really trying to see how I do with a stricter training regimen. I want to try to beat my personal best of a 1:53 and am aiming for a sub 1:50 time. I know I can do this if my training goes right and all the stars align on race day. Finger's crossed my training pays off!

I am training for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington DC for the second straight year. I had one of the best races of my life there last year and can't wait to go back. The city, the atmosphere and the good friends are all what set this race apart. Last year the race was on my actual birthday which made it extra special. This year it is the day before my birthday, so it will still be a great moment. I also get to tour around DC after the race with my family. I'm excited for the journey and for the race. It may be my last year going considering the cost of travel there, so I will savor the moment. 

As for training, I am using the Nike Women's Marathon DC Training App and am happy with it so far. Later on in training I may have to substitute some of the running days for cross training days to keep my body healthy, but all in all, it's a good plan. My training is a mixture of easy running, tempo runs, track workouts and long runs. I am also doing yoga once or twice a week and mixing in some strength and agility training days at the gym and with the Nike Training Club App. I find that I run my best when I mix up my training and that I stay away from injury this way. 

I have to give a shout-out to the Running Diva's SF Crew that sent me one of their tanks this week. It definitely gave me some extra motivation to push through those miles and stick with my plan. The ladies of this crew are an inspiration and I am proud to be repping the crew! A few of them are running DC! I will wear this proudly during training!

Are you training for any upcoming races or maybe even DC? I'd love to hear how your training is going!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Your Feet are Important Runner Feetures!

Runner's feet are so important! When my feet hurt or have blisters my whole run will suffer. I have always been one to love new socks. I try to keep a new pair around in case the need arises. New socks make my feet feel good and that transfers to a great day and an even better run. Maybe you agree, maybe you don't, but my feet love to be pampered, especially when they have to run so many miles on concrete roads. That being said, I am always looking for socks that make my feet feel great both before, during and after a run. 

Yes - my socks do match my shoes!

Last year I discovered Feetures! brand socks. They are pretty awesome and great quality. They have different types for different activities and I have really enjoyed trying them all out. So what makes Feetures! so great? For one, the company is constantly innovating and focused on great fit. Their socks feature power bands of Lycra designed to contour to the shape of your foot and give you support and compression where you need it most. They also feel amazing - my favorite socks are the Elite Merino+ Light Cushion No Show Tab sock. I love how warm they keep my feet during winter running and they insulate my feet even when wet because of the merino wool. No blisters! They also have a lifetime guarantee and truly care about their customers. They are a company I can get behind.

Feetures! socks feature a "Perfect Toe" fit. This is their trademarked seam-free toe closure. The toe closure is hand-linked so that the inside and outside surface of the sock is completely smooth. This commitment to detail eliminates the irritation of traditional toe seams and makes running more enjoyable. Feetures! brand has really looked into the details of sock manufacturing and makes a great product.

Raspberry Reflector Elite Merino+ {My Favorite}

My obsession with socks paid off and I have the privilege of representing Feetures! brand as an ambassador this year. I got an amazing allotment of socks for myself and to share with friends and blog readers - so it's your lucky year! Check out their fun assortment of colors below and check out their website to see their brand new spring colors! Trust me, you are going to want to snag a pair or two. Feetures! makes low-cut socks, tab back socks, crew socks and even compression socks for recovery and performance. They've got you covered for whatever type of running or activity you prefer. 

New socks - a runner's dream!

I'd like to give a big shout out to the two winners of my January Nike Training Club fitness challenge. They will be the first recipients of brand new Feetures! brand socks for their achievements during January. Congratulations to Emily and Ashley on reaching your January goals. Stay tuned for more challenges and contests throughout the year! I'd also like to mention that Feetures! is a sponsor of the Zooma Run Napa Valley race series and when you run their race you get a free pair of socks in your swag bag! Score! If you want to run this race be sure to sign up with my ambassador code to receive 10% off registration: NAMB3. I hope to see you there!

NTC January Challenge Winners Announcement

I hope you will give Feetures! socks a try and let me know what you think! Take care of your feet and treat them right during training for races. Runners feet are precious and making sure you have the right gear to protect them is very important. Have you tried Feetures! socks before? What did you think? Let me know!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Do You Have Running Buddies Or Do You Go Solo?

I will be the first one to admit that I often run solo. Usually my schedule doesn't mesh well with others, so I am forced to forge my own path, but in a perfect world I would love to have a permanent running buddy or two to share the dream with. I was always a team sport girl. In high school I played varsity volleyball and basketball and in college I was on the women's basketball team. I thrive off the challenge of competition and working together. I love how teammates push you to be better. There is no better feeling. 

Photo of me before a solo run {solo run selfie}

In the beginning I loved running solo, but now, I think I would prefer to run with others more frequently. In 2013 I lead the Athleta Run Club in Roseville and loved it. After my husband and I moved I lost that connection with the girls I ran with. It has also become much harder to race in our new location. The city is so small that to attend any races I usually have to drive 2-3 hours. Always traveling for races can be a strain on the racing budget. As much as I love racing and the people that I meet at races, if I could choose, I would pick running buddies that push me living in the same area any day. Our living situation isn't permanent and we will most likely have the opportunity to move in the next two years, but the interim is hard for me. 

Enough about my running journey. What this post is suppose to do is help you realize the importance of varying your training by adding a great team and what to look for in that team. A great team will motivate and inspire you in even the coldest, dreariest weather and push you to your best running. 

So, what do I look for when I want to get a running partner or team? 

  • Chemistry - I have to be able to mesh with that person. We have to be able to talk while running or just run in silence, but it all has to be comfortable. 
  • Faster runner - not everyone I run with needs to be faster, but in order to get better I need to have at least one runner that will push me and my intensity. I need someone I can chase and that will help me chase my time goals. 
  • Schedule - Yes, you have to be able to run with me at least a few times a week. I have had a few running partners that continually say no and eventually I will just quit asking. I can't make someone show up to run with me. 
  • Respect - We both need to respect each other and each other's goals. If you are training for a PR in a half marathon I am going to be your number one fan and supporter. I hope you'll do the same for me. 
  • Someone who loves to take running photos - Seriously, I want to be able to document my running journey and the friends I've made along the way. So get ready to take some selfie's with me!
  • Goal Setter - We all need to train for something. Even if your goal is simply to maintain fitness. I want to know about it so I can support you and we can both have a reason to show up to train. I'm all about goals. 
These are the things I look for and want to see in my running partners. They may not be your top priorities. We all have our own things we are looking for, but you have to have certain characteristics Whatever you do, when picking a running group make sure it is right for you! If you love going solo - more power to you! Do you have any great characteristics I should add to my list? Let me know!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Can Olympic Athletes Help You Live a Better Life?

The winter Olympics are almost here and I cannot wait! I am one of those people who tries to watch every single event. I just can't get enough. I wish they happened every year - though that would probably take something away from the achievements of the athletes. They are more special when they only happen every four years. The triumphs and upsets mean so much more when participants have to wait four more years to defend their titles or make a comeback.

This year I am really looking forward to watching snowboarding, especially women's snowboarding. I met pro snowboarder, Elena Hight, at the espnW Women and Sports Summit last fall and was really inspired by her. We did the Surfset Fitness class together and she was incredible. Her core is so strong! One word describes her, INSPIRING! Want to learn more about her and snag a sneak peak of her awesome workout? Pick up the latest issue of Oxygen magazine. She is the cover model for the February issue and she rocks it! 

Olympic athletes are the most dedicated individuals. They train for years, and in most cases the majority of their life, for one chance to show the world that they are the best. They train for themselves, for family members, and for their country. The Olympic legacy spreads across centuries and with each new games, new stories of triumph and belief in what the human body and spirit are capable of is born. 

We can't all be Olympic athletes, but we can all have the heart of an Olympic athlete. Olympians are strong, fierce, dedicated, devoted, focused and confident. I have listed the top seven things I have learned from watching the Olympics and meeting Olympic athletes. If we could all apply these things to our lives the world would be a better place.

  • Never settle for ordinary or for second best. Keep your hunger to constantly strive for improvement. 
  • Failure is never final. Get up and try again. Everyone fails, but it's the ones who get back up that become champions.
  • Get a team around you that supports you. They will be your biggest ally in victory and in defeat.
  • Watch what you eat. When your body feels good you will perform better. Just because you aren't an Olympic athlete doesn't give you a reason to treat your body poorly. 
  • Working out is a daily activity. It is a year round commitment. Olympians don't only train during the season, they train to maintain all year round. If you want to feel better about your body, feel stronger and get sick less, EXERCISE daily!
  • No matter what your dreams are, no matter who tells you that you won't make it, you make your own destiny. Practice makes perfect. Follow your dreams. 
  • Fame is temporary. A gold medal only provides temporary joy. It's what you do with your ability after the glory is over that makes it all worthwhile. Make sure you give back to your community. We all have the power to make a change and make the world a better place. 
The Olympics offer a platform for inspiration. In the coming weeks I will laugh, cry and cheer on athletes to victory. I believe in what they are working towards and the goals they are trying to accomplish. They are pushing the boundaries of what has been done and what can be done. What if we all strived to achieve more than we did yesterday?