How to Trail Run

Trail running is something I’ve been wanting to take up and do more of. For the last several years, I’ve lived a thirty to forty-five minute drive to the good trails in my nook of Colorado. It was a lot of effort that took way too much time; get up super early, dress, eat, drive forever, get at least an hour run in, drive home. That’s half the morning gone! I should have tried harder.

But now that I’m moving to a rural area of the mountains and will be doing all my training runs in my new neighborhood of hilly (understatement) dirt roads and U.S. Forest Service trails, I knew I needed to learn how run safely in the high country. It just so happened that my favorite local running store/brew pub (yes, you read that right), Shoes & Brews, was hosting a trail running clinic with Salomon Running. PERFECT. It was providence for sure!

My new neighbor, Mt. Meeker the Fourteener!

I’m so glad I went. It was helpful and informative, and it took some of the fear out of trail running for me. Here are some of the things I learned. Thanks, Salomon!

  1. Stay Upright Leaning forward constricts your airflow, so keep your torso upright and your head up despite the urge to lean into the hill.
  2. Stay on Your Toes Forget the heel strike. Staying on your toes makes you more agile through the rocks and other trail obstacles.
  3. Run on the Rocks If the trail is dry, go for solid surfaces over loose gravel when possible
  4. Run In The Water Don’t be afraid to run in the rivulets because there’s more loose sediment in wet conditions for your shoes to grip. In wet conditions, rocks can be slippery.
  5. Look Ahead Look 2-4 steps ahead of you to see where to step safely. Your brain can remember up to about 4 steps so stay safe by staying focused of your footfalls.
  6. Hip to Nip Move your arms like you normally would making sure they arc from your hip to your nip.
  7. Power Hike I didn’t know what this was until the clinic. It’s hard to explain, so go check out this great explanation from The Long Run
  8. Flail Like a Fool Flailing arms downhill is totally acceptable. No one will judge you for keeping your balance and not falling!
  9. Slow it Down Walking during trail running is a-okay! Even the pro who was with us, Courtney Dauwalter (who just broke a record for running 155 miles on a track in 24 hours) said so! It’s okay, really!
  10. What Goes Up On the downhill, lean forward a little to let gravity help you, but no so much you fall forward easily.
  11. Baby Steps Take smaller steps if you feel like you’re going too fast

Here’s Ester from Salomon with more tips

 

The trail we did was not for beginners, but it was a fun time and I met another Skirt Sports Ambassador, Becky! Making new friends is always fun, too.

Skirt Sisters!

The group at the top

It’s safe to say that I’m hooked. I’ve been posting gorgeous shots of my recent trail escapades on our Instagram all week. I cannot wait to get out there again this weekend and run where I play!

 

Do you run trails? Where do you run? What’s your biggest piece of advice for beginners? Share it all with me, I’m in desperate need of wisdom!

Why a 60 Minute Yoga Class?

Recently, I made some folks angry on Facebook which isn’t hard to do these days. It started when, silly me, I commented on this story from the Atlantic where the author laments that anything more than thirty minutes of yoga class is just too hard to fit into her busy schedule. My comment on Facebook was something to the effect of, “if you’re complaining about the class being too long, I suggest you’re missing the point. Yoga is a spiritual practice, not a newly invented fitness crazy to get you a six-pack in 8 weeks”. Because really, if that’s all you’re getting out of it, then there’s a plethora of other fitness classes you can take in thirty minutes. Seriously. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

Holy wow, did I strike a chord with folks. Many people were offended that I was telling them how to be spiritual and/or how to be fit, when I wasn’t doing any such thing. I was simply trying to point out that the original purpose of Yoga isn’t about fitness. Increased flexibly and strength are aspects of yoga that enable you to find focus, concentration, meditation, and liberation (to name a few benefits). It’s all connected. Yoga helps you join your body and mind into a harmonious unison through focus, breath and movement. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Of course you don’t have to subscribe to the ancient traditions of yoga in order to enjoy or receive benefits from yoga. Of course I don’t think everyone who walks into a western yoga studio needs to have read the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita. I don’t expect everyone to set intentions for their practice that include opening the Chakras and/or rooting oneself to the Earth’s energies. These aspects of yoga are not for everyone, I get that.

But I ask you, as a member of our shared human culture, to please respect the ancient origin and traditions of yoga as a spiritual practice first and foremost. Know that there are some folks in your class who may be there to connect with their bodies in a way that is very spiritual for them. For people like me, going to yoga class is more akin to going to church than going to the gym. Those of us who are there for these benefits ask that those of you who aren’t be respectful of the history, the religion, the quiet, the peace, and most of all, the sacred savasana.  (Hint, stop talking during savasana.)

With a little digging, you’ll soon see that yoga has been misappropriated by western culture. You don’t have to look far to see what I mean, after all, baby goat yoga is all the rage. I saw bunny yoga classes on my morning news today, complete with cute bunnies hopping around leaving little round brown presents for all the yogis in class. Gross. I honestly can’t imagine any physical benefit to allowing baby goats to climb on your vertebrae while you’re in child’s pose. I really cannot.

I want to state here and now that I’m not a Yoga teacher (#futuregoals), nor am I a spiritual authority, guide, teacher, prophet, or anything at all. I’m still learning about the history of yoga and all its forms, so in no way am I an expert. But if you’re going to yoga and don’t like that the classes are an hour or more, please consider why they are this length. Do some research. Understand the meaning behind what you’re participating in. If all that new age sounding stuff isn’t for you, that’s totally okay. Just be aware and be respectful. Namaste!

It’s the Final Countdown

 

The countdown is on folks. We are officially less than a month away from our wedding and the lists are many. Fortunately, a lot of the things on the lists are getting crossed off.

Because I’m such a list fiend, I’m actually feeling pretty good about where we are in terms of being ready for the big day. I mean, there are still a lot of little details to take care of, but the beauty of having a small wedding is that there are fewer moving parts and consequently there is less to worry about.

(I’m also a pretty chill person, so getting worked up about a big party just isn’t my style.)

One of the things left on my list is my dress alterations. I actually go in today for my last fitting and I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you I wasn’t a little nervous about how it’s going to fit. I probably shouldn’t be, but I am, because that’s how I roll.

In order to allay my concerns about my dress fitting today (and in another month), Clay and I have been doing Whole30 – and really it’ll end up being a Whole48 – and I’ve committed to run at least one mile every day until the wedding. I know that I need cardio in my life to feel my best, and I’ve been away from running regularly for a while.

Inspired by one of my good friends who is in the middle of her own run streak (something like 100 days, now!), I figured that in addition to my normal gym routine, if I can get myself moving for even just one mile everyday, I will feel good. And I’ll have more peace of mind. And I’ll be running again. FINALLY.

Posting about this streak here will help keep me accountable – so feel free to bug me on social media and make sure I’m getting out and getting my miles in. Every. Damn. Day. Find me on insta and twitter @kylepjennings.

Here we go!

A Case of the Mondays

I don’t know about you all, but March has felt like a million years long and I’m pretty sure I just need a nap.

Between winter finally deciding to show its face and my man being gone for the first half of the month, March has felt really dreary and blah and basically made me want to escape. Which I did last week – my mom, my sisters, and my sister’s friend met up in Arizona for spring break. It was fantastic. 80-degree temperatures, laying by the pool, reading, shopping, visiting with friends… I would like to go back now please and thank you.

I was supposed to write about vacation workouts today. But you know what? I just didn’t work out on vacation. I was gone for a week and maybe truly exercised one day: we went for a short hike/walk and I did an ab circuit. But other than that? I just relaxed. Because it was vacation.

I struggle with this mindset though, I’ll admit. I get it in my head that I need to make time to work out, no matter what I’m doing. I need to stay on top of my workout regimen and my diet so that when I get home I’m not playing catch-up.

All that thinking does, more often than not, is ruin my vacation, because I get a little obsessed with what I’m eating and how much I’m moving, and I forget to relax and just enjoy myself.  I had one morning while in Arizona that I focused on exercise… and then realized that I was there to chill out. And all I really wanted to do was be in the sun, read my book, work on wedding-related things with my mom and sisters, eat good food and drink margaritas. So I did. And you know what? I got home, and felt a little unfit, but a lot more relaxed and even though I’m super tired and not ready for Monday, I do feel a lot more prepared for what we’ve got coming down the pike. A new workout schedule, the Whole30, a wedding.

So, no, I don’t have a post about “Six Super Easy Vacation Workouts!”, but I do have some words of affirmation: You are enough – so enough that you deserve a break. Enjoy it.

Happy Monday.

Traveling? Modify Your Workouts!

Anyone who has traveled literally ever knows how challenging it can be to try to find time to exercise on a trip. Especially if that trip is one for work and your days are almost entirely consumed with work-related activities.

Between days full of meetings and education sessions, and evenings that have multiple events requiring your presence or attention, finding time to get even a 20 minute workout in can feel impossible.

That’s the situation I’m faced with this week. I’m on the road for the annual conference that the association I work for puts on. Fortunately, the hotel we’re taking over has a fitness facility and I’ve committed to working out at least three times during the five days I’m working there. Ideally, I’ll be able to make it happen all five days, but you know as well as I do that sometimes, you’re just too wiped by the end of the day.

Now, what might seem like a challenge is figuring out whether or not I’l be able to continue with my current workout routine. Currently, I’m doing a lot of barbell work – front and back squats, cleans, push jerks, thrusters, bench press, deadlifts… Without a barbell, these things seemingly become more difficult.

But that’s just how it seems. What’s cool is that al of these moves can be scaled or adjusted to be performed with Dumbbells or kettle bells. And some can even be done with body weight alone (I’m looking at you squats).

So, this week, depending on the equipment available to me, I’ve been doing my normal workouts or body weight workouts, based on the following:

Monday – bi tri/cardio
Row – 50 cal warm up – The likelihood that the hotel has a rower is slim, so I’ll probably just jog for five minutes or so
Standing curl – 4×8 (20)
Hammer curl – 4×8 (17.5)
Ez bar curl – 4×8 (35) – All of these cable-related lifts will be dependent on equipment. No cables? Tricep push-ups and kickbacks instead!
Tricep pushdown – 4×10 (55)
Rope pull down – 4×10 (38.5)

4 rounds
10 KBS (20)
10 burpees

Tuesday – legs
Back squat – 4×8 (185)
Box jump/air squat superset – 3 rounds, 10/15
Sled push – 1,2,3,2,1

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Wednesday – back
3:00 AMRAP (3 rounds)
Deadlift/push-up super set 185/135 – Deadlifts can be done with Dumbbells or kettle bells easily enough. I won’t be able to get up to my normal working weight, so I’ll probably up my AMRAP time to 5:00.

Barbell row 4×8 (135) – Dumbbells, lower weight, higher reps.

Cable row/lat pull down superset
4×10 (121) – If there’s no cable machine, I’ll add to my pull-up reps in the next movement.

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Thursday – chest
Straight bench – 4×8 (135-7,6,6,5) – Will sub with Dumbbells if necessary. Or push-ups if no Dumbbells are available.
Seated Fly – 4×8 (30×4)

15 min EMOM
18/12 cal row – If no rower, I’ll run!
18/12 air squat
18/12 dips

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Friday – shoulders
Thrusters – 4×8 (85) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary
Push press – 4×8 (75) – Modify this with Dumbbells if necessary

6 min EMOM
Wall ball thrusters max
Jump squats max

Pull-up/box jump/push-up superset.
6/10/6

Saturday – rest
Saturday is a travel day, so working out is a maybe. If I have time to do a short workout in the morning, I will, but I’m not going to scramble to make it happen.

Having a workout plan and schedule for the week should make my goal of working out while at Conference easier to achieve, but as well all know, things happen. In the event I can’t stick to my schedule, I’ll improvise, and that will be good enough. Because as long as I get to move my body and zone out for a little bit, I’ll be in a good spot.

A Few of My Favorite Things

With the beginning of the new year, I’ve got yet another new fitness regimen. We’ve worked up some new strength programming and have put a new focus on some HIIT-inspired movements.

Sweating for the wedding is real right now.

In an effort to stay inspired in the gym and feel good about the work we’re putting in, in conjunction with Clay’s new role at work being very focused on helping lead PT for his unit, our workouts have started to look very different.

It’s awesome.

What’s even more awesome though, is that Christmas meant new fitness accessories – and consequently better workouts. Its always interesting to me how having the right equipment can make such a big difference in how efficient your movements and lifts are. I feel so much better in the gym now that I’ve solved a couple of workout woes.

So what am I loving right now?

Nike Metcon 2

These shooooesssss you guys. If you’re doing weightlifting and cross-training workouts, these shoes are going to be your jam. I’ve read about them for a long time (I read a lot of fitness blogs, okay) and many athletes have shared how much they love this shoe. It’s an ideal cross-trainer, because while it’s the tiniest bit weighted and flat-soled for lifting stability, it also have a flexible forefoot, which means running and agility drills are comfortable. (I was going to say no sweat, but that is not the case at all. There is a lot of sweat.)

I’ve been using these bad boys for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed a significant difference. Squats, thrusters, push presses, and deadlifts all feel better – the flat sole of shoe connects me with the ground, and the solid heel helps keep my form correct. Workouts have gotten harder, but my feet are happier.

Nordic Lifting Wrist Wraps 

Originally, I bought wrist wraps and straps for Clay for Christmas. He was about them and has used them pretty much every day he could since then. Of course, his raving made me want to try them… and I borrowed his wrist wraps on days when we were bench pressing and immediately I noticed the difference. I’d never really thought I needed or wanted more wrist support, but the added stability has really helped me to continue to move heavier weight at higher reps. My wrists feel safer all around.

Qalo Ring

I’ve written about my Qalo rings before, but I can’t stress enough how much I love them. Qalo offers silicone rings to wear in place of your wedding or engagement rings while you workout, work or play outside. Throwing around weights and barbells can do gnarly damage to your jewelry AND your fingers if something gets caught wrong. Not to mention all that sweat. No good can come from that. I have a couple of these rings and I wear them a lot – always when I’m at the gym, sometimes when I go to Kazaxe and on days when I’m doing a lot of cleaning or hiking or playing outside. They have a ton of fun colors and styles, and even some rings whose proceeds go to charitable organizations.

It’s important to remember, thought, that at the end of the day, fitness equipment is just that – equipment. It doesn’t work unless you do. It’s not meant to turn you into a super athlete, its meant to help you be more efficient, more effective and safer in your workouts so that you can get the most out of them. So, lace up, strap in and get going!

 

Weekend Hangover and #WeddingWednesday

I’m writing this post to you on Tuesday, for Wednesday, but it was originally supposed to be up Monday.

That should give you some idea of how this week has started for me.

I had a three-day weekend, which you think would mean that I got lots done or rested or got my ish together. Unfortunately, none of that was the case. The things I took off to do on Friday? Not done. Lunch with friends? Spoiled by a parking ticket (that I didn’t even deserve!). No time for the gym for three days between running errands, and rehearsals and choir concerts. Football Sunday was shaping up to be a good day, and then the Packers lost.

And then it was Monday and I forgot to write a post. So, here we are.

I think I’ve managed to move past that nonsense though, finally getting back in the gym yesterday with Clay (he’d been traveling for two weeks for work). Brilliant us decided that leg day was the best way to get back at it and though these deadlifts look easy, they were just the beginning of a “let’s just slay ourselves” evening under the barbell.

Picking up heavy things really helped me shake off the weekend and the general bummer that it was. I remembered that my guy was finally home and how much more I like working out when he’s with me. I remembered that even though the Packers lost, I still got to spend Football Sunday with good friends and enjoyed good food. I remembered that despite a parking ticket, I got to see some of my favorite people, even if it was just for a couple of hours. And at the end of the day, all the weekend lameness was just that. Lameness. It goes away.

There are so many more things to be grateful for – I really don’t need to complain about anything at all.

My mission for the rest of this week?

  1. Sleep more. I’ll feel a lot more together with more than 5 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Meal Plan.  Now that Clay is home, I can’t just skate by with half a grilled chicken breast for dinner anymore. Back to the list making!
  3. Gym. Our schedules are pretty normal for the next couple of weeks – time to find our routine again.
  4. Work on Wedding Playlists. We’re doing our own DJ-ing, so I’ve been collecting song ideas for the ceremony, cocktail hour and dance portions of the evening. Time to sit down and spend some quality time with my iTunes library and a spreadsheet.

Happy Hump Day!

What are some of your must-hear wedding jams? What gets you on the dancefloor? I’m taking suggestions!