Friday Five: Grab and Go Food Options

Life can be busy even when you’re not training for a marathon. And getting meals at restaurants can get really expensive. I’m often known as the person who always has a snack on hand!


I’m awful at meal prepping, but I have learned a few tricks to make sure I’m getting my meals in on time.

1. Spelt Banana Bread Muffins. I turned the Spelt Banana Bread from Run Fast Eat Slow into Muffins for an easy grab-and-go snack before or after any workout. I add some walnuts and occasionally some dark chocolate bits.

2. Frittata-style Muffins. My favorite are Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins from 21DSD. I use Frank’s Red Hot for the hot sauce. I’ll reheat one or two in the morning, add some spinach and avocado, and have myself some breakfast.

3. Nuts (and Fruit). What’s simpler than a bag of nuts and a piece of fruit when you’re hungry? This is a super easy snack that requires almost no prep. Simply measure out a serving of your preferred nuts into a snack bag or reusable food storage container, and your favorite piece of fruit. My personal go-to is almonds and a green apple.

4. Mason Jar Salads. There is a science behind building the perfect Mason Jar Salad. But once you have that down, prep is super easy. I tend to follow these directions for building mine. I lean towards using an apple cider vinaigrette, beets, sunflower seeds, and kale. I add either chicken or tuna when I’m ready to eat. The best part about this grab and go meal is that the mason jars preserve your veggies for up to a week, meaning you can make all of your meals for the week in one prep session.

5. Avocado (and Veggies). I love healthy fats! A fresh avocado (or a packet of clean ingredient guacamole) and some veggies are an easy snack or meal side. I typically grab some carrots or peppers to pair with my avocado.

What do you grab when you’re on the go?

Friday Five: Running Songs

A little over one week out from my next race, and while I don’t listen to music when I train, I love racing to music! So for this week’s Friday Five, I’m sharing my 5 Favorite Songs to Listen to while I Run! These songs have me head bobbing, singing, dancing, and just all-around happy during any race.

1. Thunderstruck (AC/DC). If you’ve never run Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon, then you may not understand how motivating this song can be. When I’m approaching the finish line or anytime I need a little extra pick me up, I play this (sometimes on repeat).

2. Hells Bells (AC/DC).  This takes me back to the adrenaline-pumping during a college football game.

3. Something I Need (OneRepublic). If you ever see me on a race course and I’m singing, it’s most likely to this pub song because it begs you to sing along to it.

4. Juice (Mekka Don). This song has come on during shuffle a few times as I approached a finish line, and there I am running and head bobbing along. It gets you moving and motivates me like is game day.

5. Shattered (O.A.R.). As a graduate of The Ohio State University, I have a soft spot in my heart for O.A.R. This is definitely not as heart racing as my previous song selections, but this song makes me smile and is like my love song to running because no matter how I feel I always turn around and come back to it.

What songs are on your race playlist?

Friday Five: Gym Bag

In today’s Friday Five, I dive into my gym bag to share with you what I carry. Even though the winter months are over, and I (hopefully) have little need for a treadmill, I still keep a gym bag packed and ready to go just in case.

1. Lock and Key. It’s against gym etiquette, and down right inconvenient, to carry your bag with you from each piece of equipment as you workout. But Locker Rooms are prime target areas for thieves. To keep my belongings safe, I use a lock on my locker and make sure I keep one packed so I don’t forget it!

2. Headphones. I don’t often run with headphones, but to drown out the gym noise, headphones are a must. Regardless of whether I’m on the treadmill or if I’m lifting, I like to focus and avoid distractions and headphones are the universal gym sign for “leave me alone.”

3. Extra Socks and a Headband. While I don’t keep a whole outfit in my gym bag, I have (on more than one occasion) grabbed a shirt/tank, shorts and bra, but forgotten socks. For this reason I keep a pair (or two) of socks in my gym bag for that very reason. I also keep a few headbands because gyms tend to be obnoxiously hot and it helps keep the sweaty hair out of my face.

4. Deodorant. Nothing is more unpleasant than stinking up a storm while you sweat it out in a hot gym. I like keeping a spare stick of deodorant in my gym bag to apply before (and after) my workout.

5. Plastic Bag. I don’t like stinking up my gym bag with my workout gear, so in the event I need to change clothes, I keep an old race gear check bag in my gym back to use for my dirty laundry.

What do you keep packed in your gym bag?

Friday Five: Favorite Races

Today’s Friday Five are my favorite races. You can find my race history here.

1. Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon and Half Marathon. Hands down my absolute favorite marathon (and half marathon). I can’t always define why I keep coming back to this race year after year. It was the race that started it all, but also the expo is fantastic, the course is beautiful, the medals and t-shirts are always amazing. I can keep going, but I think what makes this race so perfect is that DB the race director is a runner (and his wife too) who actively runs various races throughout the year so he’s always coming up with new ideas or ways to improve this spectacular event.

2. Disneyland Half Marathon. #2&3 are tied for the most amazing spectators. But almost all of runDisney events are fun for the entire family (and fun by yourself). I prefer Disneyland over WDW because the course is more spectator friendly.

3. Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This rivals Columbus in my opinion because all of the details are looked into every year. Plus the neighborhoods compete for best spectator, and that draws a crowd regardless of the weather.

4. Akron Half Marathon. The Expo was okay, but the draw to Akron is the finish line (and finishers gift). The course is scenic through Akron with a decent amount of spectators.

5. Dave’s Turkey Chase 5K. There are so many local races I had trouble picking one. Not every race has to be long distances. I enjoy this Thanksgiving tradition because it draws out the families and finishers get a pretty cool coffee mug.

Bonus: Sketchers Performance Los Angeles Marathon. I’ve run Akron, Flying Pig (Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh, but LA was by far the most challenging course when it comes to elevation. Despite that, the course gives you such a great tour of LA.

What are your favorite 5 races?

Friday Five: Days Before LA

In preparation for my Race Recap of the LA Marathon, I thought I was share my 5 days leading up to race day. Mostly boring and travel stuff, but there was some fun sprinkled in!

Tuesday (5 Days Outs): I began my last day in Ohio with a run in the snow and a 6 degree wind chill. I purposefully overdressed to mentally prep for the warmer LA temperatures, also because it’s absolutely cool to sweat through your entire running outfit a mile into your run. Later that afternoon, we flew into LAX before driving 2.5 hours in LA traffic to Bakersfield. It was a very very long day, and my head hitting a pillow couldn’t come soon enough.

Wednesday (4 Days Out): We enjoyed playing tourists in Bakersfield at the Kern County Museum before we headed out of town. I was in flip flops and it was sunny out. On our way to Sequoia National Park, we stopped in Lindsay to try out Chito’s Asadero. I don’t speak Spanish and I’ve given up on my DuoLingo lessons, so I made him order for me. Our final destination was the Wuksachi Lodge around 7,000 feet above sea level, but our first stop after entering the National Park was the Foothills Visitor Center. We also made a stop at the Giant Forest Museum before checking-in; there’s nothing like walking in flip flops through the snow and snowmelt! Later we enjoyed a beautiful dinner at the Peaks Restaurant; the view was probably the best.

Thursday (3 Days Out): My second to last run before the marathon had me up at sunrise for a gorgeous morning on the hill. I spent the 4 miles jogging up and down the road leading to the lodge and was thankful that there weren’t too many vehicles out on the mountain roads this early. Afterwards I enjoyed breakfast with a view of Mount Silliman. Later we visited the Lodgepole Visitor Center before seeing General Sherman, the world’s largest tree. Because of the snow (and the fact that the trail is closed in the winter), we had to follow the footprints ahead of us at the Congress Trail; I wasn’t wearing flip flops this time! After having so much fun in the snow, we enjoyed another meal at the Peaks Restaurant.

Friday (2 Days Out): It took about an hour to drive from the 26ish miles (seeing that on the sign made me giddy) from the lodge to the visitor center, and not many places to stop as most of the park was closed for winter. We also knew that the longer we delayed the more traffic would pick up in LA. We did enjoy a lunch at El Tapatio in Porterville. When we finally arrived in Santa Monica, we decided to hop the Metro and head down to the Convention Center for the Expo. We arrived at the Expo aroudn 6:30ish and it ended at 7pm, so we quickly browsed the booths after picking up my bib and shirt. I stopped at the Nuun Booth and decided I needed a water bottle; I also stopped at the Clif Bar booth, sampled the new Blok flavors, and stopped to see the pace team. I didn’t buy any fuels from Clif because I packed enough; I found out that they had free Bloks (including the new flavors) Sunday at the start line.

Saturday (1 Day Out): I wanted to get in 3.18 miles for my birthday, but instead I settled on 2 miles before cleaning up and heading to Dry Bar for a birthday blowout. It was humid, but only 55 for my run. And it was dark out. I was in a new area so I spent most of those 2 miles texting with my mom so she knew I was okay; also so I had 911 at the ready in case anything happened. Thankfully there were plenty of city workers out setting up for Sunday, but when I ventured to the beach I was surprised not to see anyone running. Afterwards I headed back to the Expo for the Oiselle Volée Meet-up. I wanted to wait around for Kara Goucher at noon, but I was hungry so instead we headed to the Santa Monica Pier to enjoy some Bubba Gump’s for my birthday lunch. I wanted to minimize the time on my feet, because I always have too much energy before race day, so I opted to head back to the hotel and not move for the remainder of the evening. He ordered us Sushi for dinner, and soon it was bed time!

Stay Tuned for my LA Marathon Race Recap!

Your turn! Tell me how you spend your five days before race day in the comments below (or in your own blog and leave the link here).

Friday Five: Dog-(wo)man’s best running buddy

Last week, I missed a Friday Five. Life happens and no matter how much you plan ahead, some times there’s not much you can do. So this week I offer two Friday Fives. If you read my earlier post you know my 5th thing on my wishlist is a puppy and to celebrate that today’s second Friday Five is about running with woman’s best friend!

Often people get puppies during the winter as holiday gifts, and as winter turn into spring, it becomes a “fantastic” idea to introduce your new companion to your favorite past-time. But as a dog-lover I would like to advise you to stop and read my Five Tips On Running With Your Best Friend before you proceed.

  1. Commands. Having your dog understand, respond to, and OBEY basic commands before taking your dog from a run seems to be common sense, but often I have found never to assume that dog ownership comes with common sense. Commands such as sit, stay, and leave it are all beneficial on a run. Eventually as you leash train your pup, sitting at road crossings may be taught, but it begins with a command to sit. Leave it comes in handy when you come across trash or another dog’s morning present. Heel will come in handy when as you begin to run with your best friend if they have a tendency to venture ahead of you.
  2. Walk Before You Run. Your dog should behave while on a leash during daily walks before you attempt to take your dog for a run. Keep in mind that a shorter leash (6 feet or less) will give you better control of your pooch. Gentle Leaders can prevent dogs from panting during running, which is a doggie’s version of sweating; Connecting leashes for dogs who have the tendency to pull directly to the collar can cause neck damage and harnesses are recommended instead. Learning to walk with your dog is also a chance to practice those basic commands while on a leash. Also, daily walks will help you bond with your new pal, and is just as important for the hooman to learn to walk with the leash as it is the pupperoo.
  3. Sports Physical. Human children are required to have a sports physical prior to participation, and so should your dog! A visit to your family veterinarian is a great opportunity to make sure your dog is healthy enough to begin running. Your vet will most likely focus on orthopedic health as well as hereditary concerns most associated with your dog’s breed, and age. Most vets recommend holding off on running with your dog until your dog has skeletally matured which depending on breed can take one to two years. Keep in mind that not all breeds are great for running, while a pointer may have enough energy to run 10 miles daily with you, a greyhound is more suited for sprinting than distance.
  4. Know Your Pup. Training, Daily Walks, and Vet Visits will help you learn more about your dog. Overtime you will notice your dog’s behavior. Some dogs are not scared of traffic, while others take off sprinting at loud noises (ie diesel engines); knowing your dogs triggers and responses will help you plan a route that will be enjoyable for both you and your dog.
  5. Take It Easy. During your first few runs, keep it slow and short, allowing for breaks similar to when you first started running. Avoid hot (and humid) weather. Most dogs will run with you until they collapse so keep an eye on your pup and play it safe; pay attention to panting as it is how dogs cool themselves down (they don’t sweat like you do!).

BONUS: While my Dachshund is more of a sprinter like a greyhound, there is an ultramarathon running Dachshund named TruMan. You can find him on Facebook and him via his momma on Twitter and Instagram. PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY TRUMAN!

QUESTION: Do you run with your best friend? Any tips that I missed? Comment below!

Friday Five: Pure Barre

From March 2016 until now, I’ve been a dedicated(ish) Pure Barre student. Pure Barre markets itself as “the fastest, most effective way to change your body.” (Source: Pure Barre Website)

I began PB attending as many days a week as I could. I noticed that while classes would be hard, I wouldn’t be sore later in the day or even the next day. Then due to my schedule I wasn’t able to take back-to-back-to-back classes and that is when I noticed that I could be sore from class if I allowed my body the sufficient time to recover. But as my time away from the Barre increased, my love for PB decreased. And as I approached the end of my contract I had to make the decision about whether or not to renew or cancel; I chose to cancel my contract with Pure Barre. With this decision being made, I wanted to share with my readers 5 Reasons I love PB and 5 Reasons Why I don’t.

But first, what is Pure Barre? “Each Pure Barre class is 55 minutes and begins with a warm-up in the center of the room, on the floor, and then standing with light weights to work those arm muscles. We’ll then move to the barre to work your thighs and your seat. After the seat work, you’ll do a series of ab exercises, followed by a cool down. While the flow of class is always the same, we are always changing the music and exercises, so you never experience the same class twice!” Their website also claims “Attending a Pure Barre class 3-4 times per week will boost your metabolism and burn calories even while you are resting.” (Source: Pure Barre Website)

5 Reasons to Love PB

  1. Effective Core Workout. The first thing that made me fall in love with Pure Barre was how it made my core feel. I have a weak core, and I’m not the type who will perform ab exercises during commercials.
  2. Community. As with most of the customer-service industry, employees (instructors and barre-tenders) are encouraged to know your name. The downtime before and after classes allows you to get to know your fellow classmates. The owner is a well-known runner in the community, so frequently I saw runners from the Marathon in Training program in classes.
  3. Improvement. Classes don’t get harder, you get stronger. As you get stronger, you are able to do more and thus still have a very challenging workout.
  4. Schedule. Not everyone is an independent snowflake. I, for example, get easily distracted when left to my own devices, so I appreciate having to commit to go to a class. Class sizes are limited, so if I want to go at a specific time I need to make a commitment to avoid being wait-listed.
  5. Platform. If you’re a cardio-junkie, this class will be your jam. I loved coming to classes for the high energy and the music, but platform took it to another level!

5 Reasons PB isn’t for Everyone

  1. Disappointment. I took photos my first day of PB. I had quit CrossFit and wasn’t in the physical shape I used to be. After 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months, I took pictures. I saw zero change. I believed the hype that it would change my body, but it didn’t. And looking at some of my fellow classmates, including some who have hit the 250+ club, they haven’t changed either.
  2. Technique. Improper technique is rampant. Every time I see someone do an improper squat (without weight), it hurts my eyes. It usually is the worst when weights are involved. Many of the instructors aren’t certified trainers, so do not have the background to properly correct the students who have the potential to get injured from improperly lifting their 2 or 3-pound weights.
  3. Sugar. I am not a fan of celebrating a workout with a doughnut or cupcake. To encourage an effective change in your body, that PB claims to do, then I think instead they should promote a healthy lifestyle away from the Barre, not promote junk food.
  4. Constructive Criticism. Most studios request feedback after each class. If I’m going to say something I want it to be constructive, either something I enjoyed and want to see again or something that I think may need to be improved. But I always try to be constructive. Unfortunately, some instructors/managers don’t respond to recommendations well, and it can leave a customer with a sour taste.
  5. Cost. It’s expensive. And out of many peoples budget (and this is coming from a CrossFitter). Before I canceled I looked into the class pass packages and realized with the expiration dates, it would end up being more expensive to pay for 20 classes/3 months than it would be to pay for the monthly unlimited membership; however, the 12-month contract price doesn’t agree with my pocketbook.

Please remember that what you just read is my opinion based on my personal experience with Pure Barre, and everyone’s experience will be unique to them.

What do you love (and sometimes dislike) about your go-to workout?