I finished my first triathlon and signed up for another an hour after finishing

I finished my first triathlon and signed up for another an hour after finishing

My mom & I after completing the Esprit de She triathlon in Naperville, Illinois.
My mom & I after completing the Esprit de She triathlon in Naperville, Illinois.

A few months ago I signed up for my first triathlon with my mom, Marina Kucera, not really knowing what to expect from this race.

After completing two marathons, I didn’t think it would get any better than that, but this triathlon proved me wrong.

We did the Esprit de She race in Naperville, Illinois. It was an all-women race with around 2,000 participants. It was a .5 mile swim, 14 mile bike and 3.2 mile run. Read more

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The journey to my first triathlon

The journey to my first triathlon

To date I’ve run two full marathons, three half marathons, a 10k, and a good handful of 5k’s. You’d think training for a triathlon might be a no-brainer, right? Well, not so much.

I made it a point after my last marathon to do a triathlon. I’m following through with my goal and doing my first triathlon June 8 in Naperville, IL.

I thought it’d be a breeze. Half a mile swim, 14 mile bike, 5k run — Simple? Well, eh… Read more

Why my Gluten-Free Attempt Failed… Miserably

Why my Gluten-Free Attempt Failed… Miserably

I recently attempted to go gluten-free. And well, it pretty much failed after about three days.

Why I Tried Gluten Free

I attempted to go gluten-free because I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). There has been research that link PCOS with gluten and weight gain. It’s common that women with PCOS gain weight around their belly and mid-section. Furthermore, eliminating gluten will help a woman quickly lose weight, especially around that area. So, why not try it?

Why It’s (Seriously) So Hard

It’s no surprise gluten is EVERYWHERE. We all know this, but you don’t actually seriously realize it until you give it up. Out of an entire grocery store, did you know the gluten-free eaters get a sliver of an aisle? Instead of saying that’s unfair, it’s actually ridiculous. Oh, here, choose from these 10 items and be happy about it… Right.

Not only is grocery shopping hard for gluten-free eaters, but try going out to eat. Not only do you have to ask for a gluten-free menu, and then your waiter/waitress will look at you like an alien, but the options you’re given are usually terrible. Sure, Chilis, I’d love to eat a sirloin steak with nothing on the side (hard eye-roll).

Should I even touch on the topic of family dinners? For the whole three days I went gluten-free I felt like I made myself eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because no one else wanted to accept or support my decision. Not to mention, I really didn’t have any good recipes for gluten-free meals that weren’t overly complicated.

Tips if you Want to Try Going Gluten-Free

  1. Prepare yourself: Before eliminating wheat in your diet, have recipes and necessities to prepare meals beforehand. If you don’t really know what to eat or make to keep yourself satisfied, you’re going to drown in this attempt, just like I did.
  2. Don’t just buy things because they’re gluten free: Just because the macaroni & cheese box says it’s “gluten free” doesn’t make it healthy. Giving up wheat doesn’t mean fat is going to disappear off your body. Like everyone else, gluten-free eaters still need to be conscious of the calories they’re consuming.
  3. DO get support: If you go gluten free “just because,” people are probably going to think you’re a weirdo (like my family and friends did). DO be confident in your choice and able to explain people what you’re doing. Otherwise, everyone will think this is another yo-yo diet attempt.

Have you tried going gluten free or are gluten free? I’d love to hear comments and suggestions! I want to try going gluten-free again, but I need help! Ahhhh! 

Why Boxing is the Best Thing That’s Happened to Me

Why Boxing is the Best Thing That’s Happened to Me

In the middle of the chaos of a busy lifestyle, any person can admit they need some kind of outlet to relieve stress. Even though I put on a smile 24/7, it’s not unusual I’m also one of those people who needs something to clear my mind once in awhile (blogging doesn’t always cut it – ha!).

Enter: Boxing.

CAM01864I love running, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. Boxing is perfect. And, it’s one of those “what you put in is what you get out” classes. If I put in 100 percent the whole hour, I’ll be on the floor (which has happened), but it’s great to go and let off steam through punching and kicking combinations. And, let me tell you, nothing is better than kicking the shi*t out of a punching bag when you’re in a bad mood.

Not only has boxing been great for relieving stress, it gives me a sense of empowerment like nothing else out there. I could run for miles and feel so untouchable, but boxing makes me feel strong , and I know I’m actually getting stronger, too, which is the best part.

From a personal training stance, boxing is one of the best workouts you can commit to if you want to see serious results. Boxing and kickboxing classes work all the main muscle parts: Legs, arms, and abs (Trust me, they all get an equal beating).

I’ve been going to for a couple months now and I can honestly say I still wake up sore the next day (which is a good thing because that means my muscles and growing bigger!).

No, it’s not for everyone, but I truly believe if you want to stay involved in a fit life you have to switch it up a bit. Challenge yourself and go outside the box. I take boxing classes at the UFC Gym (formerly LA Boxing), and they offer one free class. There – You have no excuse not to try!

If you try one, let me know how  it goes! I promise, if you’re looking to be pushed and are motivated to fight for your health (literally), you won’t be disappointed!

Fitness-y Things to do in the Fall

Fitness-y Things to do in the Fall

5k with my mom
5k with my mom

I will put up a fight with anybody who tells me fall is not the best time of year. I will call out several reasons:

  • It’s not humid, nor over 100 degrees (don’t tell me you enjoy basking in your own sweat)
  • There are pumpkins: Pumpkin carving, pumpkin patches, and pumpkin seeds
  • Cool, crisp air is much more breathable to run in than humidity you can cut with a knife (you hate it too)
  • Bundling up attire is much more cuter than a tank top and shorts (completed with cheap flip flops and a bun on your head. That’s not stylish)

That’s all I’m saying. Anyways, I cannot STAND it when people use fall and winter weather as an excuse to blow off exercising. There are no excuses that justify being lazy when it gets cooler. If anything, you should be more active because there’s so much more to do outside this season. Here are fun ideas for staying active this fall!

  • Sign up for small races, such as 5k’s. If you want to start running, 5k’s are a perfect place to begin. Training schedules are manageable and attainable for people of all shapes, ages, and sizes. And, as I mentioned above, cool, crisp air makes  it easier to breathe than the humidity. Since breathing is a big set back for beginning runners, the cooler weather is encouraging! Sites like active.com or runnersoworld.com are a good place to start looking.
  • Go hiking! No one actually enjoys hiking in warm weather. Other than getting a decent tan, you’re a hot, sweaty mess and pretty much hating your life. Hiking in the fall is perfect because the leaves are changing colors, water is freezing over, and it’s easier to bundle up than feel like you want to melt in your own skin. There is always SOMEWHERE you can go hiking, even if you don’t live in the mountains.
  • Go to a corn maze. People underestimate the power of walking. Walking  is just as beneficial to your health as the next best thing. You’d be surprised with the distance you’re covering, not to mention the calories you’re burning, while you’re venturing through a corn maze.
  • Rake leaves… Then jump in them like a kid. Need I say more? Raking leaves allows you to engage almost all the muscles in your body. Clearly, you’re squatting up and down to rake in and gather the leaves, using your core and moving your arms… Enough said.

There’s no room for being lazy when the weather turns. Get up and do something fun! We can all agree cuddling up on the couch to a movie is wonderful, but who doesn’t enjoy exploring and experiencing new things?! You won’t be disappointed with your new endeavors. Have fun!

Post Marathon Thoughts…. What’s Next?

Post Marathon Thoughts…. What’s Next?

After finishing my second Chicago marathon
After finishing my second Chicago marathon

I completed my second marathon this past sunday, Oct.13, and I think I’m still in shock that really happened.

Marathon’s aren’t something you just out-of-nowhere decide to do, you have to want to do it, you have to be starving for accomplishment, and aiming for that overwhelming sense of pride and relief. To be able to wake up and say, “I ran a marathon,” is enough for me to feel like I’m doing something right.

I think that the feeling of accomplishing a marathon is unique on so many levels. To some it might be about beating your time and to others it’s simply pushing yourself to a limit you thought you’d never reach. To others, maybe you’re proving someone wrong and to some you might be proving yourself right. Whatever it is, don’t sell yourself short and know you always have potential to do whatever you set your mind to.

I’m not a runner, and clearly that shows after finishing a marathon in 5 hours 38 minutes. That pace is slow enough for advanced athletes to power walk. When I tell people I ran a marathon and they ask, “How did you do?” I wish I could respond, “I finished, how about you?”

They’d have no response, why?

Because less than 1% of the population runs at least one marathon in their life.

My mom, dad, and aunt after the marathon.
My mom, dad, and aunt after the marathon.

Why does it matter how I did? I finished, is that enough? For some, no, for me, yes.

The point of my story isn’t about my race results. It’s about accomplishing something bigger than I ever thought I could. There once was a day I said I could NEVER run a marathon. But, I was one of those people who proved myself wrong and everyone else who never thought I could either. And, in the process, I fell in love with something perfectly healthy for me: running.

I’m not cut out to be a marathon runner, but hey, I can say I did it and move on to the next challenge. My next goal is to do a triathlon. Since 26.2 miles is very hard for my body to endure, I believe the combination of running, biking, and swimming will be much more manageable.

So with that said… I challenge you. I challenge you to go and sign up for SOMETHING you never thought you could do. I don’t care if it’s a 5k race, boxing, or a pottery class… Do SOMETHING!

What’s life without a little bit of excitement?! Go out there and do something remarkable!

Change can happen in seconds. It’s about waking up. That’s all it is… Waking up to your true potential and strength. -Jillian Michaels

Running for Beginners: You Can Do It!

Running for Beginners: You Can Do It!

Hey there!

Between graduation, traveling to Europe for two weeks and adjusting to “the work life,” I seriously neglected this blog! However, I’m back and aim to commit to 1 new post per week!

Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last post:

  • I graduated from DePaul University with a proud degree in journalism!
  • Traveled to Europe for two weeks
  • Started training for the Chicago Marathon (AGAIN) which is in two weeks
  • Started and left a personal training job at XSport (err, life happens?)
  • Work downtown Chicago at Womensforum.com as an editorial assistant (and love it!)
  • Moved home (no fun)
  • Ran a half marathon (my second)
  • Finished a 5k in 29 minutes (yay! my best!)

I guess that’s it? Well, I know there’s no excuse for not blogging, but I’m back into it!

After finishing my second half marathon in 2 hours 18 minutes!
After finishing my second half marathon in 2 hours 18 minutes!

Since I’m about to run my second full marathon, I finally convinced myself I’m officially a runner. A real-life-runner-who-runs-26-miles-for-fun. Yes, that’s me. And you’re probably asking, “Compared to what? A non-runner?”

Well, yes. When I tell people I’m about to run my second marathon they’re usually like, “Wow, that’s incredible, I can’t run.” Really? You physically can’t run? No, that’s not true, actually, you CAN run, you just choose not to.

I used to be one of those people. I dreaded running. I cheated running “endurance” in junior high, which was a half a mile, and usually walked the timed mile in high school. I HATED RUNNING (emphasis on hated).

So, at what point did I decide to run the marathon? Well, I can’t sit still. And when I stopped cheerleading I decided I need a new “hobby” per say. That’s when I sighed up for my first 10k.

No one ever said running a marathon was easy. You have to start SOMEWHERE. Here are my tips for beginning runners:

  • Start slow. Don’t shoot for a marathon as your first race. Sign up for a 5k and see how you like it.
  • Run at YOUR OWN PACE. No pace is too slow. I run at a 10:30-11 minute mile, which some seasoned runners can power walk. Do I care? No. Here’s what I have to say about that. It doesn’t matter how slow you go. You’re still lapping all the people sitting on the couch.

  • Do your research about running. My biggest struggle was learning how to breathe and it’s still something I’m working on. Different things work for different people, but read up on how to run the right way. Personally, I like to try to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth, but some will say otherwise.
  • Get good running shoes. When I trained for the marathon last year I developed horrible knee issues. I tried running through it until I could barely walk. I ended up getting fitted for proper running shoes and the pain almost immediately went away. I swear by proper running shoes. YES, THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. For frugal shoppers out there like me, I’m telling you, the better shoes are worth every penny.
  • Stretch, foam roll, and take cake of your body. Running is very, very, very hard on your body. Many very in-shape athletes don’t dare run marathons because they know how bad it is. It’s crucial you get in the habit of stretching and foam rolling after running. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I challenge you to sign up for your first race. Good luck!