Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Spartaniversary

Facebook reminded me today that 5 years ago on April 23, 2011, I completed my first Spartan Race. I can't help but feel a little warm fuzzies muddies. 
Miami Super 2011
Miami Super 2011
It was my husband who convinced me to join his team and race with a group of tactical law enforcement guys from the Coast Guard. This was the beginning of my venture into the world of functional fitness. It was in preparation for my first Spartan when he first began programming workouts that took me outside the YMCA and into the outdoors. I left the leg press and biceps curls for lunges, kettlebells and battle ropes. 

Miami Super 2012
 After that first race, I was hooked. By that point, I had discovered a love of running. Road races allowed me to track new PRs and stay motivated to train. Spartan races taught me I could marry my passion for lifting and running. High intensity interval training meant that my workouts weren't about resting between sets, but keeping my heart rate up while I trained for strength.
Miami Super 2013
 What I've loved about Spartan Races in particular is the challenge of pushing each person's limits. Obstacles vary in difficulty and complexity-- heavy carries, distance and hills run, mud, water, walls, spear throws. If your training isn't quite where it needs to be, you don't get a free pass. Just as in life, if you fail, there's a price. In Spartan? 30 burpees.
Miami Super 2014
Training and racing Spartan and other OCR's has taught me much about myself. Probably the biggest lesson:
Miami Sprint 2015
When I think I couldn't possibly go any further, I can. 

(Unfortunately, this post isn't sponsored by Spartan Race.)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Defining Fitness... and a Spartan Race Giveaway!

As I was finishing Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, I phrase stood out to me and really made me think:
For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods.
He's speaking about his journey along the Appalachian Trail. It's his definition of "fit" that stands out to me. Throughout the book, he's made a point of letting us know that he's of average fitness. From his description, I would guess he is more couch potato than gym rat. He talks often of his tendency to eat Snickers during his time on the trail. Not a person I would characterize as fit. But I probably have a very narrow definition for whom I would consider to be fit.

The question is: What makes a person fit?

Bill Bryson seems to define it as being able to carry a loaded pack over 10-15 miles over a period of 8 hours or so a day.

A cyclist might define being fit as being able to ride at a certain pace for a number of miles.

A runner might say a BQ (Boston Qualifying time for a marathon = extremely fast) or maybe the ability to run a certain pace per mile or distance.

A weightlifter might say it's the ability to lift an astounding number of pounds.

But put the runner on the bike or the weightlifter in running shoes... and we might have a problem with their fitness.

And this would be a reason I love CrossFit and obstacle racing so much. Other sports are pretty narrow in scope in their requirements to achieve success. Historically, the triathlon or the decathlon would be the best test of all-round fitness. But could those athletes bench press their body weight? CrossFit and OCR tests us across a variety of challenges-- speed, strength and endurance. Are those sports the best determiners of fitness?

Spartan Race Giveaway!
And speaking of OCR, if you haven't yet tried one, let me help! I promise it will be the biggest challenge and the most fun you've had in a long time.

To celebrate the release of Joe DeSena's new book, Spartan Fit!, Spartan Race is giving away a free Spartan Race. "BOOK?!" you say. YES, BOOK! Spartan Fit! promises to help prepare you to do a Spartan Race by providing you with a 31 day workout and diet plan. Start where you are and learn how to use your own body to become more fit.
Click to pre-order
Enter to win a free race for any open heat (non-confirmed start time) in any Spartan Race in the continental US:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
For 10% off of any race, use the code SPARTANBLOGGER.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Just Move a Little

Well, it's April.

How's your Resolution going? Just checking. I know, you had really great intentions this year. You were completely committed this time. You were off to a great start in January-- lost a few pounds, began exercising... and then somehow... well, life just gets busy.

It's ok. Really. You are ok.

You don't have to wait until next year or even Monday. Start right now. You don't have to go join a CrossFit gym or register for an obstacle course race or begin spending 2 hours a day training.

Just move a little. Do a little more today than you did yesterday. I promise, you'll feel better. It defies logic a little-- when you exercise, you have more energy. Then you feel better mentally and emotionally. Do you realize that it doesn't take much to burn 100 calories? Check this out:
You'll notice-- the more intense the activity, the more calories burned. But look, I can spend an hour at Target and burn almost 200 calories. Brilliant! I really wouldn't count my love for Target as exercise, but I'm making a point here-- stop beating yourself up for falling off the exercise bandwagon. And stop making excuses for why you can't lose weight/get in shape. You can move a little and begin making healthy food choices.

Once you start moving more, you're going to start burning more calories, and you may start to feel hungry. The key is to then make wise snack choices. Grabbing the processed 100 calorie snack packs is NOT a great option-- many provide little nutrition and won't really fill you up because they're mostly simple carbs. However, there are healthier 100 calorie pack options-- like nuts or Chobani's new Simply 100. Choose snacks that contain protein and fat-- these are more filling and are slower digesting, which means you'll feel full longer.

Some great options: almonds (or other nuts), beef jerky, a small apple with almond butter, a cheese stick or Greek yogurt. Just be sure to check the ingredients-- not just the nutrition facts! Stay away from anything with added sugar or corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that you can't pronounce.

So, tell me-- what's your favorite way to move and your favorite snack?