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!

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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

Chicago Marathon Articles

Chicago Marathon Articles

Hey everyone!

I’m working on a recap video of my experience running the Chicago Marathon, but for now, check out my articles on the Red Line Project and take a look at a few pics! Can’t wait to show ya’ll the video!

My Reason For Running

Marathon Worth Every Step

Aunt Joanne (left) and Mom, my biggest fans
I may not be the strongest – I may not be the fastest – But I’ll be damned if I’m not trying my hardest
Showing off our medals proudly!

 

 

Musical Motivation

Musical Motivation

I’ve written a post before about music that motivates me when I run, but I got a lot of new music before running the half marathon and I want to share with you the beats that keep me going! Enjoy!

  1. Alicia Keys Ft. Nicki Minaj – Girl On Fire
  2. Bassnectar – Va Va Voom 
  3. Major Lazer – Original Don, Flosstradamus Remix
  4. Kanye West – Power
  5. Maroon 5 – One More Night Remix
  6. Maroon 5 – Payphone Remix
  7. Nelly – Here Comes The Boom
  8. Nicki Minaj – Pound the Alarm Remix

    (from pinterest)
  9. Youngbloodz – Imma Shine
  10. Gym Class Heroes – The Fighter
  11. B.O.B.- Ray Bands
  12. Datsik – Nuke Em
  13. Icona Pop – I Love It
  14. Pitbull – Shake Senora Remix
  15. Porter Robinson – Say My Name
  16. Rihanna – You Da One Remix

Have suggestions for good running music?? Email me @monica.kucera@gmail.com or tweet me @goalsforgals!

 

Mysterious Knee Pain? Possibly Why’s

Mysterious Knee Pain? Possibly Why’s

By Monica Kucera

Since I started training for the Chicago Marathon I have experienced pain in my left knee. Like most people, I’ve been ignoring it assuming it will just go away. However– Unlike some other bumps and bruises, this one seemed to get a little worse.

I started icing it after running and occasionally wore a knee brace, but that didn’t seem to do the trick. Since running is a subject a bit out of my league, I decided to go to Fleet Feet in Old Town to see if they could help. Something I learned about my feet was that I have high arches and this could lead to imbalance and alignment problems causing muscle weakness. Furthermore, I had the nice gentleman at Fleet Feet fit me for the proper shoes for my feet, hoping this might help cure my knee issues.

In the short-term, this helped my knee. But, after about a week or so, the pain came returned. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad this time! A family friend told me to use a foam roller on my knee to literally “roll out” the muscles. I’ve been doing that for a couple weeks now and it has been a great help! It has been so much of a help, I successfully completed the Chicago Half Marathon without any trouble!

If new shoes and the foam roller still don’t help your knee pain, Runner’s World has a few reasons as to what is causing the pain.

  • Patellofemoral Pain – “Caused by alignment problems, damage to kneecap cartilage, overpronation, or muscle/tendon weakness or tightness.” This pain is usually tolerable but you might need to cut back on intensity a bit. Read more here
  • Iliotibal Band Syndrome (ITBS) – “Occurs when the IT band, which runs from the buttocks down and across the knee becomes tight and inflamed.” Read more here
  • Patellar Tendinitis – “Inflammation of one of the knee-joint tendons. Tendinitis occurs when tissue breakdown outpaces regrowth, and is caused by increased mileage, hills, and pace. Read more here

Definitely consult a physician if the pain worsens. The last thing you want during running is an uncomfortable pain making your workout a lousy experience!

 

 

 

It Takes Half to Make a Full

It Takes Half to Make a Full

By Monica Kucera

It’s nothing short of relieving looking back to June 11th when I started my marathon training and give myself a pat on the back because I’ve come so far. Tomorrow will be the stepping stone to completing the Chicago full marathon — The half marathon.

I can’t help but laugh, and twiddle my thumbs at the thought of me running this race just for the satisfaction of wearing my medal and

Run to Buckingham Fountain -- 14 miles total
Run to Buckingham Fountain — 14 miles total

telling everyone, “I told you I could do it.” Running has never exactly been “my thing” and when I have people thinking I’ll never follow through with this, it adds up to be more motivation on my part.

I can’t thank my running partner enough for being my backbone throughout training. I’m so proud with how far we’ve come, and the improvement we’ve yet to

My running buddy & I -- Lauren Kurash
My running buddy & I — Lauren Kurash

make from now until the full marathon on October 7th. It makes me laugh to look back when we started training and think we struggled making it to the lake and back, which is 3 miles. Now, 3 miles is merely a warm up, 6 miles is natural and anything more than 10 is just an exciting challenge.

Even though waking up at 5 AM tomorrow is going to be an even bigger struggle than running the race itself, the feeling I’ll get when I cross the finish line will make any setback worth it.  Only a runner would understand me when I say — The feeling you get when you cross that finish line is like none other.

The best prizes you receive in life are nothing you can touch — But the ones you can feel through pride and courage.