I've been thinking a lot about tools that help or motivate people get healthy and stay that way. I have a list of stuff I would LOVE to try, but today I'm going to focus on items and apps that I have tried and that I use on a regular basis to help me achieve my goals of being fit for life.
My husband likes to remind me how hesitant I was to get a smart phone because I didn't want to think about learning out to use it. Ha! I opted for the iPhone because he was starting to get concerned when I was pregnant and running that I would never take my phone with me, but yet I always had my iPod. The iPhone was our compromise--I could have my music and call if I happened to be on some back trail when I went into labor. My phone in itself is a necessity for my health and fitness endeavors also because of the apps you can download. Now I'm a pretty cheap person, so these are apps that are either free or under $3.
Okay, I know I've been talking about this one a lot but it really is so cool to get money donated to the charity of your choice for free just by walking, running, or biking. For more information on this one, check out my post "Charity Miles."
This free app comes in handy when I'm doing any kind of interval exercise. You can save several different routines to the memory so you don't have to set it each time. I have my 50/10 routine that beeps after 50 seconds, then again at 10 seconds, and continues for as many rounds as I want. An example would be to do 50 seconds of as many squats as possible, followed by 10 seconds of rest, and then move on to as many push ups as possible and so on. I also have an interval routine that beeps at 3 minutes for slower running and then gives me 30 seconds of a much faster pace before going back to my slower run. I think this app alone has helped in my half marathon training because I work until I hear the beeps. I don't have to keep glancing at a watch or try to figure out times. I also have a yoga routine that has the beep go off after each minute so it forces me to hold poses for the same amount of time on each side and to ensure that I don't cheat myself when I start to feel a little uncomfortable.
Map My Run
If you are a runner, walker, biker, hiker--this app is for you! I've tried other apps that are similar to this one but this one takes the cake in my opinion! It calculates pace per mile, average pace, distance, elevation gain or loss, calories burned, etc., etc., etc. If you go onto the website on your computer, you can get even more details for each activity that you did. You can save routes and do them again to see if you beat your last time. You can have other friends where you share your workouts. I've even gone on to plan my running routes for long runs that I don't want to see the same scenery on. It is really awesome and the basic version, which I use, is free!!! The one bad thing about this as well as all gps tracking apps is it can mess up your time/distance if you go into an area with bad reception. I learned this the hard way in my last Missoula half when it said my first mile took me 15 minutes and I realized that all the trees interfered.
It's no secret that I'm a competitive person and this app allows me to be uber-competitive with myself. For instance, if I'm consistently running 9 minute miles, I can use this app to see how long it would take me to run a 5k, 5 miles, 10k, 10 miles, half marathon, 100 miles--all at that pace. It's also nice because I can enter in the time I had in a run and the distance and it will tell me how fast my average was per mile. My ultimate goal would be to run a half marathon in an hour and forty-five minutes and by the picture below you can see that I would need to average 8 minute miles. I'm not quite there yet, but someday!!!
This app was instrumental in helping me get back to my pre-pregnancy weight just 7 weeks after having baby E. This app helps you track your calorie intake and expenditure and even offers a host of foods already programmed in. You also can use your phone to scan bar codes so you don't have to take the time to enter in calories, fat grams, and so on. This app really opened my eyes about portion size. I had never been one to measure out my food before and when I started using this, I could see why I was never as lean as I wanted to be. You can enter in your goal weight and date to achieve this weight and it lays out a plan as far as calories per day and how many pounds to lose per week. **Note** It recommended to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Don't be going crazy now and hurting your body and metabolism more than helping it.
These shoes are my absolute favorite kind of running shoes I have ever ran in! They are so light and minimalistic with just enough support in all the right places to not kill my feet or Achilles. When I used to teach preschool, the kids would always show me how fast their shoes were. It wasn't how fast they went, it was the shoes. That's kind of how I feel when I run in these. They are so light that I don't feel bogged down. If you have some foot structural issues, these may not be for you without some build up to the more minimalistic approach to running. Below are my old pair and my newish pair. Unfortunately, this particular style has had its day but I'm excited to try the update version soon! You can find these as sporting goods stores such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Finish Line, Foot Locker as well as many online stores. Always look online for coupon codes when buying shoes. You never know when you will find a fantastic deal! My husband found my yellow ones online for $60 with a coupon code and that was including shipping! Unheard of!
Nathan's Hydration Belt
I admit, I don't usually take water on runs that are under an hour and a half unless it is really hot or humid out. And if it is cooler outside, I might even push it to a couple of hours. I don't like the extra bulk or the sloshing sound. BUT when I do take water on the days that I know I cannot get away without it, I take my Nathan's Hydration Belt. It carries two small bottles (there are some that hold more) and it has a nice little pouch to put gels, ID and what not in. I'm always annoyed with it at first but I soon forget about it. One time I was on a long run when I realized I didn't feel the belt at my waist anymore. I freaked out and started looking back the way I came because I was sure I had lost it somewhere. Apparently logic didn't take over and tell me that I surely would have felt it if it had fallen. I then felt at my waist and it was there. I probably looked entertaining to the people getting on and off the the interstate that I was crossing. Ha! In my earlier half marathon days, I even used it in the races (yes, I was one of THOSE girls) because I really sucked at drinking the provided cup of water/Gatorade while running. I usually ended up spewing it out of my nose which would then burn for the remainder of the race. I have gotten better at this so I no longer use the belt in races, but for long runs in the hot and humid south, it is a MUST HAVE!
Lululemon run:speed short
If you've "liked" the Goal:Fit4Life FB page, you've already heard about this purchase. I don't normally spend a lot of money on workout clothes because I'm totally content with the quality (and price!!!) that Old Navy and Target's workout gear has. However, I recently learned that Lululemon supports charities and don't as for any recognition for it because they want to be a word-of-mouth company. I thought that was really cool and since they sponsored one of my favorite charities, Ellie's Run For Africa, I decided to take one of my hard-earned, not-nearly-enough substitute teaching paychecks to support them. I love all the items I purchased but the run:speed short is the take home winner!!! I have never had a pair of running shorts that I loved so much I would sleep in them and wear them everyday if it wasn't a hygiene problem! I love everything about them--the cut, the length, the material. They are short but I've come to appreciate the almost naked feeling of running in short shorts. I have more mobility in them and these shorts totally beat my C9 compression shorts that I wore in my last half marathon which thought it would be cool to ride up to take almost a thong form. **If you ran in that half marathon, I apologize for the view!** I saw photos later and it was so embarrassing! Side note: Just because shorts are the same style, cut and every visible thing except color, does NOT mean they will sit on your legs the same way during runs. Always try out your clothing before game day! But back to these amazing Lululemon shorts...They really are awesome and totally worth the $54 or whatever I spent on them.
I love these socks for running because they help my toes from blistering up so bad. They feel funny to have on at first, but where them for a run (especially the ones with the arch support) and you'll be hooked! You can also wear these with Vibrams for less rubbing.
Supplements are tricky things. Just beware that supplement means "in addition to" and not "instead of".
This is a vitamin based energy drink that I love. You can buy it at REI, WalMart, and in bulk at Costco. It has a crazy amount of Vitamin B12 for energy needs. This is good before a workout. There is some caffeine in it, so know that.
This is very similar to Zip Fizz in that it is a vitamin based energy drink. This has more caffeine in it, so again, be aware of that if you can't have caffeine for some reason. You can buy this at www.advocare.com
This is also from AdvoCare. I just started using these with this half marathon training and I love them for long runs! So much better than the Sport Beans I used to use for running. It really gives me a little jolt to finish the run strong.
Well, I hear E waking up from a nap so that is my cue to go and hopefully the hubby will be home to let me use some of these items on my 11 miler planned for today! I have no time to edit this, so bear with me! :) Until next time...
***All of this is MY OPINION. I am only letting you know the things I love and am in now way recommending this for better performances!***