Guest Post: Strength Training for a Runner

Today’s Guest Posters are twins Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams. I had the great opportunity to meet Alexandra during our Fitfluential dinner when I was in San Francisco for the Nike Women’s Marathon. Their guest post today is strength training for the marathoner. However, whether you are running a marathon, a 5k, or a few miles for fun, I can’t stress how important it is to strength train. Read their post for ideas and tips on how to incorporate strength into your training, and of course leave these lovely ladies some love.


Twins and fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams-Evans, MA have been tagged as the witty Dear Abby and Ann Landers of the exercise advice world. WIth nearly 60 years’ combined fitness professional experience on land, sea, and airwaves they offer accurate, accessible, and entertaining advice with a twist. Alexandra is an editor and writer for IDEA: The Association for Health and Fitness Professionals; Kymberly is former faculty for the Dept of Exercise and Sports Studies at UCSB. You can catch them in person, on the radio, at events and on their website

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When strength training for a marathon (and you should), have you considered either kettlebell or medicine ball workouts? Kettlebells offer both cardio AND strength benefits, while the medicine balls address strength. We suggest trying out the medicine ball first unless you have access to a certified kettlebell instructor to teach you. Kettlebells are deceptively difficult to do right. You have to hold and swing them properly to avoid getting hurt. Our post “Kettlebell Workouts: Yes or No” will give you something to think about.

For either of the two types of equipment, you want to start light: 5 – 7 pounds for the kettlebells, and 8 – 12 pounds for the medicine ball.

Before you try and figure out how to use either of these all by yourself, we actually suggest you attend a group fitness strength training classes instead. Most runners eschew group fitness because they love the time alone and the outdoors, but whether you use free weights, resistance bands or resistance tubing, barbells, body weight, actual kettlebells or medicine balls, you will have a lower chance of injury in a class taught by a fitness pro. You’ll increase your fundamental strength, which will allow you to progress further with your marathon training. And you will get guidance, a range of options, and feedback within a class, all of which minimize injury risk. Tackle kettlebells only with a qualified, well-trained leader (trainer or group instructor) as risk with the kettlebells is higher than with other resistance equipment. You can then take what you learn in the strength training class out onto the floor and apply it to your solo resistance training program.

And of course, after that you can take your show on the road! Or more like the hills and dales of your next marathon, where your powerful legs and core will have you leaping tall buildings…or something!

What is your favorite way to strength train?

Guest Post: That Certain Breed Known as Runners

Today’s Guest Post comes from one of my IRL friends, we started running more seriously around the same time and she is gearing up for her first half-marathon! I am so excited to see her accomplish this goal. Please give some love to Liz and visit her blog!

(And because we are in the process of moving & the drive my photos are on is packed you get only the photo I steal from her website muahaha)

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I’ll state it right up front. I’m newish to this whole running thing. I’ve run some races. I’ve attended the post-race beer tent parties. I’ve slogged out runs in the snow, rain, humidity, crisp air and anything else New England can throw at me. It’s mostly short races or just jogging around the neighborhood for the last 18 months. And in that short time, I’ve had some ups and downs. I’ve started training plans and bailed on them. And I’ve started training plans and stuck to them. All on the quest to become a runner.

I’m still figuring out pacing and am still run/walking at various intervals so I mostly run solo. I’m a little afraid of holding back a fellow runner or trying to keep up and falling flat on my face. But I will say. No matter if I’m running alone or with a buddy, when my shoes are laced up and I’m out putting in the miles I’m surrounded by friends. They’re just…stranger friends. It’s cool. They’re nice. Sometimes they even have cookies.
Every week I do a run or two on the treadmill and always do my cross training (the dreaded elliptical) in the fitness center in my office park. And every week on the same nights I see the same people. We exchange a brief head nod or smile and then go about our respective workouts, never really connecting other than knowing we’re both there to a) lose weight b) stay fit c) burn off stress or d) all of the above. It’s become routine. And expected. And encouraging. Because all I can ever think is that we are all there week in and week out while our co-workers are home. On their couches. BAM. We win.

Out running in my neighborhood on the weekends I’ll run by two or three people. If I run down around the pond that number turns into 20 or 30. And in the summer it’s too many to count. And to everyone there is a quick acknowledgement; a smile, a wave, a nod, or (my favorite) a high five. Especially when I’m fading and probably look like a passerby should call an ambulance instead of waving, these quick exchanges give me a little boost.

This part of running wasn’t something I expected. I knew that running, like most hobbies, was a great way to connect with people. Find out someone else runs for fun and watch how quickly you’re swapping bad race stories and your favorite training tips (mine are limited, but what I lack in quantity I try to make up for in quality). But I didn’t know runners were open to that connection while they’re out training or at a race. As it turns out, runners are a special breed and anyone who chooses to spend precious free time pounding pavement or gravel can claim the distinction of “runner”. For a while I didn’t believe that. I thought “well, I want to be a runner. But really I’m just a run/walker for now.” I’ve now learned that type of thinking is LIES. Runners are very welcoming. It’s sunny, raining, snowing, sleeting, doing all of them at once, it’s 95 degrees, it’s 11 degrees, your legs feel like lead, your legs are springs upon which your body is floating through the air (I’ve only experienced this for about 5 minutes. Total. In all my running. But I hear it happens a lot more as I start running more), you can’t focus, or your mind is like a steel trap, no matter what you’re feeling, if you are putting one foot in front of the other, you are a runner. And no one can take that away from you. And, as I’ve learned, no one actually wants to.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: When someone asks why I run, it’s not really to be fit or because I want to run a marathon someday (both true). It’s because runners are BOMB. And why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time around that zany, nerdy, disciplined, fun, and exhilarating energy as I possibly could??

Runner’s Preferences and a Sparkly Soul Discount

Remember when I gave you my list of items to buy for the new runner that are under $100?

Guess what? One of my mentors for Team In Training, now currently training for the Boston Marathon is holding a fundraiser with my favorite headbands, Sparkly Soul, from Sunday, December 2nd until Sunday, December 9 2012 you can get 10% off your order and 15% of the total order will go to Jess’ fundraising. All you need to do is use the code JESS as the promo code.

If you want to see some colors check out my collection, so far:

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From L to R: Maroon, Orange, Green, Teal, Purple (Lavender), Kaleidoscope Pink, White, Black, Silver, Red White and Blue.

Now for the fun runners survey. I saw this on Madeline’s blog last week and I thought it would be great to share my thoughts too!

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

Shot Bloks are my favorite by far and they don’t bother my stomach. Sports beans are a close second.

2. Race Length: 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

A 10K is my ideal race, in terms of distance and time it takes me to complete. My favorite race is a half marathon.

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants, or Other?

Capris. You will never not find me wearing them. Although I will throw a Team Sparkle skirt on fora little flair.

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

When I am running I alternate between water and nuun, if it is hot. Usually I drink water while running then hydrate with a nuun cocktail after my run.

5. Running temperatures: HOT or COLD?

Neither? I prefer 40’s or 50’s, which I guess is cold for some. I like that its not too cold, but that when I warm up I am not too hot.

6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics, or Other?

I used to live in my Brooks, but since my feet have changed since I had B, I haven’t found a shoe I love. I currently have Asics, but I am dying to get my hands on a pair of Nike’s that the gait analysis folks at the Nike Expotique fitted me for. They were great for my foot and super lightweight.

7. Pre-Race Meal: Oatmeal. Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?

I usually eat a plain bagel thin with plain peanut butter and a drizzle of honey or the Peanut Butter & Co. Bee’s Knees peanut butter.

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?

Usually 1 – 2 times a week, it really depends on my mileage, what I am training for and life. As much as I would love to, I can’t plain my training to a T, life just sometimes gets in the way.

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it?

I can go either way, if I am on the treadmill or running in a race alone I usually have it, although I ran without it for the entire Nike Half. I guess let’s just say I won’t be heartbroken if I am required to run without it.

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?

I run because I love it. I didn’t used to love it. I started running because it was a convenient and “easy” way to workout. I love the alone time, I love the feeling of accomplishment with each new race distance completed and every new PR. I love the high, endorphins make me happy (and happy people don’t shoot their husbands ;))

Why do you run?

Gifts under $100 for a New Runner

I won’t claim to be an expert runner, or an expert to what works for everyone, because we are all different, but I thought I would put together a little list of items for a new runner.


I think its great to be supportive of the runner in your life, but running can be an expensive sport. Every item on this list is under $100. I will forewarn you now, I am not including any types of shoes, because the right shoe is so personal. I would give the runner a gift certificate to a local running store, one where they check gait and stride, not just a local store that sells sneakers. My favorite running store is Marathon Sports.

So here are a few of my favorites!

Lululemon Cool Racerback – $42


I actually prefer the extra long length, although they no longer exist on the website… I hope that doesn’t mean they are getting rid of them. This is my favorite tank, hands down. It comes in a bunch of different colors and also is a flattering fit and cut. It is lightweight so you can use it as a base layer and not once have I had chafing issues.

Reebok Skinny Capri – $39.99


I have these pants in black, black/pink and the gravel/teal. These are my favorite capris, especially for long distance runs. They fit on my hips and don’t ride up or down while I am running. They are also comfortable for every day wear. I love to wear dark bottoms, but love the pops of color. Although, unfortunately it looks like they aren’t making more of these. Check out the Play Dry Skinny Capri ($35), I have these also, and I do love them, I just prefer the above pair.

Pro Compression Marathon Sock – $50


I’ve said it before and I will say it again, compression is KEY when recovering from running. Just because the name of the sock is marathon sock doesn’t mean they are only for marathoners. I have worn them after a tough 5 mile run, after a half-marathon and to bed before a race. The swelling and soreness is seriously reduced if not gone because of this. Just know that sizes aren’t based on shoe size, but the customer service is top notch and can help you out.

The Stick – Travel Size $27.50

Another key part to recovery is stretching and making sure your muscles are nice and loose. Again, this is personal preference, some prefer a foam roller others prefer The Stick. I have the travel size because I used to drive to my running group, I travel for a fair amount of race and I run at my in-laws. It’s easier for me to throw the travel size stick in a bag.

Sparkly Soul Headbands – $15 or $17


I don’t think its any secret that I love these headbands. The colors are bright and the glitter doesn’t fall off, you know what I am talking about. They also work for thick hair, a blessing and a curse, no headbands would ever stay, except these! I love them so much that I sometimes accessorize non-running outfits with them. I prefer the thicker width, but that’s my personal preference.

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Kona Kase – $15 a month

You can read my review here, but this is a great way for new runners to test out new types of fuel and find what really works for them.

Yurbuds – Inspire $29.99

I have reviewed these also, but I have used them every single day since I got them. I have small ears and these never fall out and they don’t give me a headache. Bonus, you can hear noise around you.

ShowerPill Athletic Wipe – $16.50

Once more, I have reviewed this product, but it is great for those who are on the go, the hardest part of being busy is fitting in time for a workout and shower, with this you can delay your shower without offending those all around you.

What would you recommend for a new runner?

Disclaimer: No one has compensated me for this post all product reviews are my own.

El Potro Mexican Bar & Grill!

About a month ago one of our good friends came to visit us. We had tickets for the Patriots vs. Broncos game that Sunday, so we decided to start the weekend early with a nice dinner out.

Our friend, Tom, wanted a mexican restaurant and I had recently been to El Potro with my friend Casey for a weeknight dinner. The food was delicious and authentic and the drinks were strong, so I thought it would be a great place for our dinner.

When we got there the tiny dining room was PACKED, it was a bit surprising since the last time I was there, there was only one other table with guests. We took the last table and as soon as I sat down I noticed that there was a mariachi band playing, it was awesome. They took requests, and of course Nick (always the musician) asks about the different instruments and then requests something upbeat. It was pretty awesome, albeit a bit loud.

We started with a round of house margaritas, and they were strong, I was driving and could barely drink a 1/3 of it.

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We also had chips and salsa, the salsa came in these cute little carafes so that you could refill the ramekin on your table.

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note: the salsa was also delicious and tasted extremely fresh

We decided to get an appetizer, one to balance out the extremely strong margarita and two because I wanted to try a variety of things.

We started with the Nachos with shredded beef ($9.00)
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The also had lettuce, tomato, beans, shredded cheese and sour cream drizzle. Now I am not one to usually pass up nachos, but these were beyond your average nachos.

Whenever I usually get nachos the meat is usually dry and I will add salsa to make it taste better. The beef on these nachos was shredded and perfectly succulent and juicy. How you think nachos should be. I also really loved the sour cream drizzle, I hate when the sour cream (and salsa for that matter) are in a huge lump on top ant its hard to dig the chip in.

For my meal I decided to give the grilled chicken fajitas a try.


Um, holy cow, look at all that food. For $14.95 I got grilled chicken in the secret marinade over a huge bed of sautéed peppers and onions (I am pretty sure they were still cooking when they brought my plate to me). I also received, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, rice, beans and guacamole on the side and obviously tortillas.

I made two fajitas while there, and had the leftovers for lunches for 2 more days.

Nick had the Tacos Chipotle with peppers & onions, I had that the first time I visited and it was so delicious but so spicy, and I can’t handle spicy that well, but I would get this 1000x over.

Tom had the Carne Asada and also raved about it.

Sorry for the no pictures, the boys dug in before I could get photos