Friday, May 31, 2013

The Seven-Minute New York Times Magazine Workout

I'm sure many of you have heard of a recent New York Times Magazine article about a seven-minute workout that claims to "prolong endurance."

From the article: " fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort."

You'll need a mat and a sturdy chair for this workout.  I had a wall and staircase near me, which I used instead of a chair.  The seven minutes consists of 12 moves, each done for 30 seconds with a 10-second break.  The break is just long enough to prepare for the next movement.  Along with proper form, you should be aiming for 80% intensity/discomfort.

To make things easier, Lifehacker actually made a neat iPhone app for it (here's a web version).

So I tried this workout, six times.  In a row (that's about 42 minutes, maybe a touch more).  I wanted to do one more, but as I may have mentioned on here, I don't have a lot of time to work out these days, so I couldn't fit in another second.  And frankly, I was getting a little bored of repeating 12 moves over and over.

The workout overall is not too strenuous on the joints yet kept my heart rate steadily up and made me sweat.  It's definitely challenging, particularly for beginners -- consider how difficult it can be to do "rotating push-ups."  By about the third go-around, doing push-ups for 30 seconds was an effort for sure.

I definitely feel like most of my major muscle groups were hit in this workout.  The distribution of upper body, lower body, and core was pretty even.  There is a little cardio thrown in, as well.

Do I think this will improve my endurance?  No... but maybe because I'm an Insanity gal.  I was never winded, though it did get difficult in the "holding" moves (wall sit, plank, side plank, etc.) after a while.  Also, if I had to guess (because my heart rate monitor is currently out of batteries), I think I may have burned about 300 (most likely fewer) calories doing this workout -- again, pushing to 80% effort.  So while this is a good thing to do to target muscles and make yourself more "even," I don't see this as a miracle weight-loss workout or anything.  This isn't what it's claiming to be, though.

But seven minutes is definitely accessible to most people, and because you don't really need equipment, it's do-able in most places.  You could easily add this to your current routine and feel good that you've trained muscles that you may normally overlook.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

PROBAR CORE Protein, FUEL Bar, and BOLT Energy Chews

I recently received a generous amount of samples from PROBAR, featuring some of their newest products.

The first were these chews, a USDA Organic energy chew called "BOLT." BOLT comes with 10 easy-to-digest organic gummies for quick energy; they are high in Vitamin B, caffeinated with organic yerba mate, use all-natural sugars (agave & tapioca), and are flavored with organic acai, pomegranate, and blueberry powders.  They come in at around 90 calories/serving.  I was eating these during the marathon this past weekend (the orange one), and they were very tasty (and portable)!

Up next are these FUEL bars, which are fruity and contain chia seeds for hydration.  These contain around 140 calories each and are good for healthy snacking!

Finally, the protein bars: CORE, which is their gluten-free, Non-GMO, vegan protein bar, packs 20g of protein, a chia & flax seed blend, 100% plant-based ingredients.  It comes in four flavors (cookie dough, mint chocolate, brownie crisp, and peanut butter chocolate). CORE has a dairy-free chocolate coating.  It's a bit high in calories (~290), but it's similar to the Clif Builder's bars that I like in terms of protein content.  I think PROBAR's actually tastes a lot better, though...

So the kicker is, I gave my Powerbar-eating boss a sample of each, and she gobbled them up astonishingly quickly.  Given that these are much more natural, I feel like I've done a good deed!

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided samples of these products but was not otherwise compensated to provide a positive opinion.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mountains 2 Beach Marathon

EVENT: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon
DATE: Sunday, May 26, 2013
LOCATION: Ojai/Ventura, CA
RACE BEGAN: 6:10 am
FINISH TIME: 04:42:30

The short version:
I came in pretty much exactly 20 minutes slower than last year (the race used to be called "Ojai 2 Ocean" but was renamed this year.

The long version:

I signed up for this race because "The Ukrainian" wanted to, and I did fairly well last year.  However, after LA Marathon two months ago, I've run a handful of times, maybe five.  One was a 5-miler -- I was tired but consistent.  Then, a 12-miler, which was tough due to heat, and I spent the last two miles feeling like I was needlessly torturing myself.  A week later, I attempted to repeat this 12-miler, but halfway into it, I decided that I was suddenly "done" with running and that there is no reason for me to keep wasting my time and money on something I no longer enjoyed.  "The Ukrainian" and I walked the rest of the way home.

Race day kind of crept up on us.  My stomach was still kind of iffy from some food I had the Friday before.  I only ate a third of this stuff, and although it was delicious, I remembered the reason I don't eat heavy curries.

I spent most of Saturday resting.  By the time we headed to Ventura to pick up our bibs, traffic became horrendous, so by the time we settled, it was nearing dinnertime -- at least, the ideal time to dine for people who need to wake up at 3:00 AM the next morning.

The expo was small but bigger than last year's.  Clif was the title sponsor of the race, which is pretty unheard of, and they even had a sample booth (albeit a truncated version) at the expo.

For dinner, we went to The Habit grill, which is pretty much a fast-food joint.  The veggie burger that I got was pretty huge, but down the hatch it went, along with about a third of those fries.

In the morning, we walked to our shuttle, which was supposed to depart at 4:00 AM, but the buses were actually quite bustling by 3:45, so we were on our way even sooner.  We waited nearly two hours at the high school, and I crouched on a curb after using the port-a-potty while the crowds were still thin. My lower back was quite unhappy with that.  See, my lower back is starting to feel the effects of me no longer being 21, so lately, any deviation from normal posture sets it off.

#BostonStrong headband from my sister.
About five minutes before the race began, my stomach suddenly rebelled, but it was too late.  We started about ten minutes late to accommodate those still waiting in line for the restrooms.  A few minutes in, my Garmin reset itself due to being "full," so I had to delete and restart it while running.  I was using my Garmin to utilize my "run 8/walk 1" Galloway-esque strategy, the same one I used the year before and in two other marathons was decent results (i.e., lack of pulling muscles).

The course is a gradual downhill, so up until Mile 14 or so, I wasn't even feeling tired nor ache-y.  I kept thinking to myself that if I could just keep this up, this marathon that I did not train for wouldn't be so bad after all.  Somewhere between Mile 15-16 or so, it felt like a whole different race -- suddenly, I felt tired and ache-y, even though I was fueling -- and about a mile past a course restroom, my stomach decided to, um, feel a terrible sense of urgency.  It was so bad that I started walking and was trying to scope an area... and by that, I mean a bush.  But being without toilet paper deterred me from the idea, and maybe 6 minutes later, I was able to shuffle around again.

Meanwhile, there had pretty much been no cloud cover that morning, so the heat was starting to become a real issue, which is why I was being careful with my hydration and electrolytes.  But frankly, the lack of training was kicking me in the butt.  I was being very conservative, backing off each time my legs got tight so I wouldn't cramp/twitch, which would inevitably result in pulling a muscle.

Those last few miles were as long as I remember from last year.  I had no idea how much time had elapsed, assuming I was close to 5 hours, even.  Once I reached the final turn-around, I started running, passing people who had passed me maybe 6 miles ago.  I saw the 4:40 pacer and was surprised, so I kept going until I saw "The Ukrainian" cheering from the side during that last quarter of a mile.  I kept going, passed the 4:40 pacer, and at the very least, had a satisfying finish because I wasn't limping or walking.

My final time was 4:42 (the 4:40 pacer had started in a wave behind me, apparently), which is sadly better than my LA Marathon time when I had actually trained.

As for the aftermath, I don't think I've ever been as hurt/sore after a marathon before, and if you're keeping track, this was my 14th one.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a toenail or two, and I definitely worry about running around between train stops tomorrow.

I'm not really signed up for anything else this year, besides a 5K that was supposed to take place in February but was postponed until July.  Part of the reason is that we're going on a big trip at the end of the year, hoping to buy a home, etc., so race fees and miscellaneous travel expenses need to be cut.  Also, I am kind of having this "been there, done that" feeling when it comes to local races.  I'm hoping to do #15 early next year -- just so that if I do end up taking a break from marathoning (I will still sign up for shorter distances), I will be able to say I've done 15 instead of 14.  Maybe if I take a break, I will start missing it and will come back stronger than ever.

One can hope.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lucy Pack N Dash Ultimate Tank and Capris

Hi, everyone!  Apologies to anyone who is offended by my lack of posting. ;) 

I will admit that my schedule has limited my social media and blogging presence, though I think the deeper cause was that I just didn't have anything interesting to share.

I recently was able to review a couple of items from Lucy's activewear, particularly their "pack n dash" line.  I have heard of the Lucy brand and seen a couple of stores in some malls, but this is my first time seeing their items up close.

The "pack n dash" line is for runners and comes with all sorts of interesting features for them -- holes in the front of the tank for easy bib-pinning.  In addition, the tank is adjustable (see the draw-strings) and comes with three pockets in the back (for gels and the like).

The capris have three pockets -- one on each thigh (sort of like jeans), and a zippered one in the back.  It also has these sort of belt-like loops that will help keep a belt pack (like an iFitness belt!).  The calf part is kind of tight on my calves, though, due to the material.  Maybe it's my naturally large calves or the stiff material, but it was a little uncomfortable there, and also in the crotch area (haha).  Stretchier, softer materials are usually my preference.  Plus, I found the article itself to be a bit heavy, though I imagine that makes it really sturdy!

Overall, these are stylish and quality pieces of clothing that are probably great for most runners.  I find the fabric a little thick for my liking (I tend to overheat easily), but I'd definitely wear them for less intense workouts, shorter runs, or even for fashion, lol.

And with that... I'm running a marathon this weekend -- raw, unmotivated, and rather undertrained.  Expect to see me back here pretty soon!

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent these items for review but was not otherwise compensated to provide any particular type of review.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Aftershokz Sports Headphones

Ever feel like you're doing yourself a disservice by running with earphones on?  With all the dangers of running outdoors, I don't turn up my headphones too loudly, but I still worry about plugging sound out from my ear(s).  If not for safety, then for the sake of the cilia in my ears...

I was sent these headphones to review, which are different in that they don't actually go inside your ear.

From their representative: "Instead of traditional headphones that cover the ears and earbuds that nest inside ear canals, AfterShokz’s ultra lightweight and durable wraparound headband stays securely in place during rigorous sweat sessions and is equipped with transducers that rest outside the ears to send sound via little vibrations that travel from the cheekbones to the inner ears (bypassing the eardrums completely). An in-line control box offers complete functionality so users can keep mobile devices safely tucked away during activity—power the unit on/off, adjust volume levels, play/pause/advance music and make/take phone calls seamlessly."

Here's what they look like, nestled under my unkempt hair.

The unit stays on because it wraps around the back of your head and hooks atop your ears.  I haven't had any problems with this, and it even has a mic!

The packaging... it comes with a case!

This is definitely not for train commutes, though... I like plugging my ears up from any and all sounds on there (although I probably shouldn't!).

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent a review unit of Aftershokz and was not otherwise compensated for providing any particular type of opinion.