2018 in review

Hello friends! Long time, no post and Happy New Year’s Eve! How is it only one day away from 2019?! 😱

Life got a little crazy since my last post in October: I ran my 1st marathon in a BQ, got injured during said marathon, finished my 1st semester of nutrition classes, and focused on injury recovery! All those recent events reminded me that it’s been a crazy fun, tear-inducing, challenging, awesome, amazing, and unpredictable year. 😜

So why not recap/reflect on the highlights from each month of 2018, so I can start 2019 on a high-note? Without further ado, here are my top moments for each month of 2018, running and otherwise:

January:  The top moment of January was running the F^3 Lake 5k and meeting a few of my new BibRave teammates. It was my favorite moment because I spent a lot of the fall injured, so it was exciting to be able to lace up and race a 5k, even though I only had a few weeks of training under my belt and no workouts. I treated the race as a tempo, somehow won, and had an overall great time. My husband ran the half marathon and earned a personal best time of 1:15! We were fortunate to have weather in the high 30s and the post race party was fun. If you want to read more about this race check out my recap 🙂 I am recovering from injury (again) now, so I likely won’t run the race in 2019, but I highly recommend the 5k or half marathon on 1/26/19!IMG_5111

February: The top moment of February was a tie between the unexpected snow day (and day off work) on Friday February 9, 2018 and being chosen by BibRave to test out the Aftershokz wireless headphones. And yes, I’m sure you’re wondering how one single day could be my top moment of 2018…but if you are a regular follower/reader here you may remember that I used to be a high school chemistry teacher. In January- March 2018 I was working as a temporary chemistry teacher for a teacher on maternity leave. The teacher had been on leave since September, and the school had trouble finding a teacher to take the maternity leave, so the students had been without a permanent teacher until I took the position in January. Without divulging every detail, it was tough situation that really tested me, especially when I was already fairly certain (not yet publicly at this point) that I did not want to teach, but rather go back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, but more on that later 😉

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Anyway, after a particularly tough Thursday with some unruly students and a mountain of grading, we got an unexpected snow day on Friday, February 9th. For those of you who aren’t in Chicago, it is incredibly rare for the Chicago Public Schools to declare a snow day. It happens maybe once every 5 years. 😛 It was much needed! I was able to fit in a snowy run with my new trail shoes, my new Aftershokz, and in the daylight hours on a week day. Friday, Feb. 9th was AWESOME! It’s still funny to me in December 2018 that a simple snow day was my top moment of February 2018.

March:  Hands down the best moment of March 2018 was winning an Instagram contest for of three months of coaching with Heather McKirdy of McKirdy Trained. She had been a runner and coach I looked up too since I made an instagram page for this blog. 🙂 She’s positive, hard-working, a dreamer, speedy, and extremely knowledgable about running. In my short three months with her as my coach, I grew so much as a runner! I set a half PR, integrated more workouts and recovery, and took my running more seriously for the first time since running for my college in 2010-2013. I also watched many of my other Instagram friends become her athletes around when I did and make awesome running gains (I’m especially looking at you Teagan, Meghan, Laura, and Nicole :P). I was very sad after my three months ended because I decided to exit the work world and go back to school to study nutrition, so unfortunately I could not and still cannot afford a coach and I loved working with Heather 🙁 It would have definitely been helpful to have one when I trained for the Chicago Marathon because my training was kind of a mess 😂 ANYWAY, if you are looking for a coach and it’s in your budget I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Heather or any of the other McKirdy Trained coaches. 🙂 A majority of their athletes BQed or set PRs at their races this year and those are results you cannot ignore! 😱

Honorable mention/a close second was finishing off that maternity leave teaching position and figuring out my now public next steps. More on that below 😉

April: Okay, okay! I can’t pick just one moment because this month was freakin’ awesome. Hands down the BEST moment was deciding to change my path and go back to school to study to become a Registered Dietitian. I also ran a personal best in my second ever half marathon (1:34), while sick, under the guidance of my new coach Heather. My husband ran the full marathon that same day in a stunning 2:42, cutting 26 minutes off his previous best time and securing a ticket to Boston 2019. You can read much more about my experience at the Illinois Half Marathon here.

Last, but not least I was able to meet and become real-life friends with two of my Instagram friends: Katie of 2fabfitchicks and Danielle of Feed Me Happy. Danielle and I are also now real-life classmates and future RDs, so that’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Meeting and running with Scott Jurek during his North book release tour also deserves an honorable mention! April was truly an amazing month!

May: May’s top moments are a tie between being interviewed for my first ever magazine article in Voyage Chicago and my birthday BibRave run meet-up at Millennium Park. It was nearly 95 degrees, but I still had a blast running with Steph, Ben, and Frank on my 26th birthday! 🙂 Joining such an awesome team of supportive and fun runners/ambassadors may have been my greatest decision all year, besides deciding to go back to school 😛

June: It was a hot day and not my best race time, but I still pick my first ever 10k at the Run for the Zoo as my top moment of June 2018. I even managed third female overall somehow 😛 It was a fun race to rep BibRave and somewhat kick off my Chicago Marathon training!

July: My husband got a new teaching job and we moved to a new apartment. I absolustely love my new loft apartment and it’s proximity to awesome places to run along the Chicago LakeShore path.  I  was honestly hoping that the Rock ‘N Roll Chicago half marathon would be my top July moment,  but I just did not have a good race and you can read more about it on my Instagram 🙁 I’m still glad I ran it even if my time of 1:36 was very far off of the 1:30 I was hoping for at that point. 

August: A hot month full of marathon training and long run PRs (mileage wise) every single week. I even made it through my through my longest run ever (20 miles) and nailed my fueling strategy with Spring Energy (ElectroRide in my hand held and Canaberry gels ).

Running the Nike unsanctioned 6k race deserves an honorable mention, as well. It was a fun race and a great way to fit in a mid-week workout.

September: Oh man September was a tough month! I was struggling to balance my classes, work, my extremely long commute to/from school, and training for the marathon. I had a few 0-10 mile weeks and I even contemplated not running the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, after turning around my training a bit, some reflection on how far I had come (despite a less than ideal training situation). and the kind words of so many of you I decided to still run. That is definitely my top moment of September 2018. It was not an easy decision!

October: Completing my first marathon in a BQ, enough said! 😛  Although, having to stop multiple times to stretch due to hip and IT band pain and then becoming so injured I just started running again a little over a week ago also serves as a bit of a low point. :/ You can read more about my race on Instagram.

I am extremely grateful that Dale of Marathoner Dale ran part of the marathon with me. She had a fantastic race (earning a 3:22 PR) and helped me at my lowest, most painful points. I am also grateful that Jess (the cofounder of BibRave) and I were able to run together for some of the race! 🙂 I am positive with better training (and honestly a coach ), I would have a had a much better and injury free race, but hey- a 3:28:01 is not bad for my first one!

I am proud, but am also dreaming bigger (and training MUCH smarter) for my next marathon! 😛 I had a blast meeting a lot more of my BibRave teammates at the Chicago Marathon summit and the race and would not change the race or this weekend for anything, though. I can only hope to perform at what I am actually capable of next time I run a marathon 😉

November: No running at all for me in November, as I focused on cross training, resting, and gaining hip/glute strength. BUT the best moment was watching my husband cut two more minutes off his personal best marathon time at Indy Monumental in a blazing fast 2:40! 🔥 I am also grateful for Ashlyn, who is the kindest human and an amazing friend, who put together a strength training plan and will make a running plan once I am able to run more. I am not sure what I did to deserve her help, but I am grateful because this injury has been a struggle and an uncertain time for me. :/

December: After not being able to run post-Chicago marathon, hands down the top moment of this month was the pain-free mile (even if it was on the dreadmill) I ran three days ago! I am cautiously optimistic about my return to running as enter 2019! I am not sure anything I will do in the remaining hours of 2018 can top that, unless I am able to run 10 miles 😉 But don’t worry, I’m won’t try such a foolish thing!

Finishing my first semester nutrition school finals and earning good grades also earn an honorable mention, but clearly being able to run again is more exciting to me 😛 I also got accepted to be a BibRave Pro for another year, so I am grateful that they want to keep me! 🙂

So now, I want to hear from all of YOU! What were your top moments of 2018, running or otherwise?! 👇🏻

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Happy feet between runs: OOFOS review

Disclaimer: I received a pair of OOFOS orange OOlala sandals to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

I just started training for my first marathon (Chicago in October), so my new OOFOS could not have come at a better time! We all know how important long runs, speed works, and easy days are to our training plans, but what about recovery? Post-run recovery is more than just eating a snack and doing some stretches after your run. What you do in between your runs matters more than you might have realized.

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One thing you may have not thought about: how the shoes you wear in between your runs set you up for recovery or pain during the next run. That is where OOFOS come in! You will never catch me in high heels (even for my wedding I wore flat/more comfortable shoes :P).

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(I could not resist adding in some wedding photos from last summer!)

As someone who spends a significant part of the day on her feet, the shoes I wear between runs matter even more. I noticed that once I started a job that had me on my feet for long periods of time I had an increase in foot/arch pain. I almost always roll out my arches post run, but that was not giving me a lot of relief. It wasn’t until I realized the connection between my post-run shoes and foot pain that I found relief.  So, what gave me relief? You guessed it-OOFOS! I now wear them almost everywhere between my runs. I’ve worn them grocery shopping, after running or a race and even on a date 😉

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So, what are OOFOS? They are shoes made with a special material that absorbs 37% of the impact that normal footwear. That special material is made with OOfoam technology This technology leads to less stress on your joints, feet, hips, back and your overall body.  OOFOS are designed to cradle your arches and encourage your foot to move more naturally. They honestly feel like pillows for your feet! Other pros include: easy to wash (can go in the washing machine, but not dryer), long lasting, many color options, and 3% of all OOFOS sales go to Project Pink, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer.

I have two pairs of OOFOS: orange OOlala sandals and black Luxe Slides. I love them both equally! I switch off my pairs depending on my outfit because the benefits are the same for both. OOFOS have become a permanent member of my post-run and between run recovery routine along with stretching, compression, and massage. They will be key in helping me toe the line for Chicago healthy in October! I have happy feet between runs because of OOFOS 🙂

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Have you worn OOFOS before? What are you post-run and between run recovery essentials?

Also, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about OOFOS:

Ali

Andrea

Brad

Brenda

Christine

Dane

Deanne

Janelle

Jeremy

Meridith

Mike

Renee

 

Why I’m not running the Cinco de Miler tomorrow

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Cinco de Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

As someone who lives for running, the running community, and racing it saddens me to write the following words: I am not running Cinco de Miler tomorrow 🙁 I am sad because as I discussed in my  “top 5 reasons to run” post, it is a really cool race with a fun atmosphere, sweet swag, and an awesome post-race party.  I’m having some serious FOMO right now 🙁

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So why am I sitting on the sidelines?!

Well…I ran a half marathon last weekend and my body still has not recovered on multiple accounts :/ I ran with a cold and it has lingered a bit, but that certainly is not stopping me from running tomorrow 😛 For those of you that know me IRL I tend to be a bit stubborn… The real reason is that my right IT band and both hips are very tight and generally unhappy. Welp!😭 My coach Heather and I decided that with my extensive injury history I need to take a little time off of running to recover from the half, cross train, and work on strengthening the ‘ol hips, glutes, and core. Plus some yoga…you all know how much I love yoga 🙄 I know that being able to touch my toes, having looser muscles, and a stronger body/core will make me a better runner in the long run. Regardless, this was not an easy decision and I am sad.😔

Cinco de Miler is such a cool race! This just means I will have to run it next year 😉 I am looking forward to rooting for all of you running tomorrow and will be following the race. I can’t wait to see all of you crush it! And please, drink a few post-race beers with your sweet bottle opener medal for me!🍻

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Are you running the Cinco de Miler tomorrow or have you run it before? If you are, make sure to write a race review on Bibrave. It is a great place to go when you are looking for races to run because you can read about the experiences that other runners had at that race in the past! 🙂 

 

Product Review: CTM Band

Disclaimer: I received the CTM Band to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I am not exaggerating when I say that the CTM band has been a life saver and welcome addition to both my and my husband’s training/recovery tool box. 🙂

 

No other tool that I have at home has brought me as much relief from tightness and soreness (especially with my quads and IT band) as the CTM band. And trust me, as a former collegiate runner with a storied injury history I have tried many, many tools. The stick, the trigger point foam roller, a regular foam roller, a tennis ball, you name it…I’ve likely tried it. The CTM band is the closest at home tool to providing me the relief I would get when I’d go to a Physical Therapist and get the Graston Technique done. The upside of the CTM band: less painful, less expensive, and similar results (sweet, sweet relief, looser tissue, improved range of motion). Check out their website to learn how to use the CTM Band for different injuries, sore spots, and areas of your body.

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And I’m not the only one in my household that loves the CTM band! During this marathon training cycle my husband was experiencing the worst quad soreness he has ever had and after two days of suggesting he tried my CTM band he finally caved (he’s running the Illinois Marathon). It was life changing for him! The next day his soreness was a lot better and felt like he had better range of motion during his run. Now he regularly uses the CTM band before and after running. I often have to fight him to use it first if we run at the same time! 😛 I’m even packing the CTM band for our race next weekend (marathon for him and half marathon for me). I think he just needs his own 😉

I also think you should try out the CTM band! Especially because I have a sweet deal for you: the code “CTMBIBRAVE” gets you 20% off your order! So try it out and let me know what you think! 🙂

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Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about the CTM Band:

Christine

Connie

Danielle

Janelle

Jessica

Karen

Lindsey

Mary Jo

Michael

Mike

Workout Wednesday #1: IT band strength & balance routine for runners

Good afternoon friends and fellow runners! 🙂

If you have been following me here for a while (or even if you haven’t) it is no secret that I’ve struggled with IT band issues on and off for years. IT band injuries are tricky because they are often a result of weak hips, glutes, and hamstrings and they are not something you can detect on a scan. Occasionally, weakness in other areas can cause pain in the IT band (i.e. your back or calves). Furthermore, tightness in those muscles, running on uneven surfaces, poor running form, or running the same route (i.e. the same direction on a track) may also contribute to IT band pain.  If you are interested, you can read more about my IT band injuries here and here.

After successfully kicking IT band injuries on both sides (at different times) and also having recurrences years later, I’ve figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and strong. I’ve undergone physical therapy, spent many hours with the weight room/foam roller/resistance band, and missed countless college track seasons and post college races to figure out that I need to do WEEKLY strength, balance, and flexibility work to stay strong. When I get busy and/or lazy on those workouts, that’s when I have IT band flare ups.

Here is an example of the type of strength and balance routine I do to get stronger during AND after IT band troubles. Be sure to modify the weights, reps, etc. to match your goals and fitness level- I shared mine just as a starting point. This is about a 40 minute workout for me, but may take you longer/shorter depending on reps, weights used, and rest between sets. I typically do strength training 2 times per week and more often (up to 4 times per week) when my IT band is bugging me. For flexibility, I do yoga (usually on YouTube, but occasionally at a local yoga studio) 1-2 times per week. If there is interest, I can continue to share my  strength workouts! Down the road I may even share some of my running workouts…

Disclaimer: I AM NOT a medical professional and you should see one if you have any pain in your IT band or anywhere else. Furthermore, you should also check with a medical professional before beginning any exercise program.

40-minute-IT-band-strength-balance-workout-3663502467-1513800011493.jpgWhat do you do for IT band rehabilitation? Did you find this workout helpful? Comment👇🏻 Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or workout requests!  I have also added this workout to the new Black Bean Queen Pinterest

 

 

Where I’ve been and why I’m not running the half marathon tomorrow

As I sit here munching on some dry cereal before yoga class, I feel a flood of emotions feelings that I cannot pinpoint…but I will do my best to try:

Uncertainty. Hope. Sadness. Frustration. Anger. Jealously. Happiness. Exhaustion. Fear. Ambition.

These last 6 weeks since I updated the blog have been a surprise and an adventure to say this least. I’ll take this quick minute to give a shameless plug for my Instagram (@blackbeanqueen), which I update much more often than here, so some of you may know a little more about what’s been going on. So, check there if you want more frequent running updates and random pictures of my food (like the one below) 😉

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(Santa Fe Scramble: tofu, black bean cakes, salsa and hash browns from Tweet)

Anyway, before I dive into why I’m not running the half marathon, I’d like to give a dual life update and recap of the last several (subpar) weeks of training.  So in addition to my wedding in July, i underwent another major life change in October: I got a new job! I was pretty happy with my old job and wasn’t actively looking for new positions, but when an awesome biotechnology company found me it was too great an opportunity to pass up. I’ve been working there for about a month now. 🙂

It was a bit of struggle with my old job and now with my new job, to figure out training since the hours (at least initially) are not very regular and I have a pretty long commute. Regardless, I did the best I could and tried all kinds of methods to fit in training: morning runs in the dark, super late runs after work in the dark (sometimes with my husband), treadmill runs, and doing most of my runs on the weekend (I do not recommend), but it was still a struggle when my hours were not regular. On the days I had to report to work at 8 am, a morning run was not feasible as I woke up at 5 am as it was just to run before 9 am start days.  I couldn’t draw myself out of bed at 4 am when I was going to bed at 11 pm-midnight, could you? Then, on the flip side if I don’t leave work by 5:45 pm I don’t even get home until 7 pm and that is really late and dark to run. I did it anyway many times, but it was not ideal from a safety standpoint and did not help me go to bed at an early hour. So, why am I sharing all of this? Does anyone care? haha, maybe not! The point is we are all human and life can be hard and get in the way, especially during a transition phase (i.e. starting a new job).

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(starting the work day with an early run: above & ending the work day with a night run: below)IMG_4294

In the last six weeks I’ve taken way too many rest days. I’ve stayed at work for long hours that making fitting in a  run tough. I  have not made sleep or training a priority and quite frankly did not put in the training needed to run a half marathon successfully tomorrow. Plus, sitting at a desk all day makes my muscles really tight and I was not counteracting that by doing yoga or increasing my time spent stretching after a run. Furthermore, I was not setting my myself for success by running low mileage all week and then doing a long run that is more than 50% of my weekly mileage or running a local 5k over the weekend. I will admit that the 5k was pretty fun, though! My husband and I won our races randomly. 😛

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(long run before my first day at the new job)

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(fun long run and relay race with Becca of the Rabbit Food Runner and the November project)

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(5K that my husband and I won)

I made a lot of training mistakes leading up to this half marathon and I should have known better because I ran in college (and trained smart then) and I’ve had some injuries in the past. I am paying for it now with some left knee/IT band pain. Nothing too serious and not a full blown injury, but I am taking it seriously and not running tomorrow.  As of this week, I have upped my cross training and started doing hot yoga. I am also starting to find my groove with the new job and figuring out how running/training fit into the equation. I actually talked with my supervisors about changing my hours to 8 am-4 pm/5pm,  which puts me on a similar schedule to my husband and it allows me to attend evening yoga classes, evening group runs, and decreases my commute time. They seem open to the idea and it will do wonders for my husband and I in terms of establishing a routine. I went in at 8 am multiple times this week and I loved it, but I’m also a morning person. 🙂

Right now, I am going to put all my energy into developing my strength and preventing injury (through yoga, more strength sessions at the gym, and cross training) and then slowly build my mileage again. My husband is going to help coach me and hold me accountable.  I am scared and excited about what my future  of running will bring. As for this weekend, it is going to be hard and I am a little sad (since I’m not running), but I will be in Madison, WI to watch the half-marathon and cheer for my husband and friend! Well, I’m about ready to head to yoga class and then my husband and I are going to pack up and head to the race expo. It should be a fun weekend!

I’ve been wanting to do more running related posts on the blog (product reviews, race reviews, training recaps, etc.) for a while. So, I’m going for it! 🙂 I plan on writing my first ever race recap for the Madison Marathon/half marathon with a special guest: my husband (who is actually running)! Be on the look out for it in the near future! 🙂 Are any of you racing this weekend? If so comment below. 

 

 

Weekly Workouts #1: July 6th-July 12th, 2015

Good morning! I have the day off of work and should be working on my finals for my summer class…So naturally, I decided to procrastinate and blog instead. 😛

Anyway, now that I am FINALLY healthy and running again, I thought I would do my first ever weekly workouts post. Even though I am running slower and much less than in the past, I am just happy to be running. Period. I am not training for anything particular since I am just finishing up my injury rehabilitation. I’ve only been running for a couple weeks, after a five month injury and I still have to take several rest/non-running days a week. I know I need to be patient. I thought weekly workout posts would be a fun way to document my progress and connect with other runners, though!

I think documenting your workouts is a great practice. You can see where you may have gone wrong in your training and also relive your favorite races and moments. I bought the Believe training journal by pro runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettingan-Dumas back in January for the purpose of documenting my runs. Now that I am running three+ days per week, I can finally use it.

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(I was one of the lucky few who got a journal autographed by Lauren Fleshman. 🙂 )

I love this training journal because you can set weekly goals (THIS WEEK’S FOCUS) and each week has a new aspect of your training to comment and focus on. I also like that it does Monday-Sunday as a running “week”. That’s what we did in college too.  I aim to document my workouts/runs both in the training journal and here. 🙂

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(I have TERRIBLE handwriting. I feel bad for my future students…Thankfully, there are SMART boards and PowerPoints for those of us who are blessed wonderful handwriting. 😉 )

Without further ado, here are last week’s workouts and runs for Weekly Workouts #1!

Weekly Workouts #1: July 6-July 12, 2015

Monday July 6th: Rest day.

Tuesday July 7th: Warm up: PT exercises (band walks and clams) and five minutes of walking. 3.65 miles. Felt some tightness in my glutes and not the best run. Cool down: walking, stretches with the Stretch out Strap, and foam rolling.

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Wednesday July 8th: Rest day.

Thursday July 9th: Warm: up with PT exercises (band walks and clams) and five minutes of walking. 3 miles. I felt much better on this run than Tuesday. Cool down: walking, stretches, and foam rolling.

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Friday July 10th: Physical Therapy appointment. MY PT said next week should be my last appointment. I will probably be doing glute and core exercises for life though, haha.

Saturday July 11th: 14 mile bike ride at an easy pace. My boyfriend is training for the Chicago marathon, so I biked to pace him and keep him company. 🙂

Sunday July 12th: Warm up: PT exercises and walking. It was hot out, but I felt pretty good on this run. 3 miles. I’m slowly feeling like my old self again. Cool down: walking, stretches, and foam rolling.

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Totals: 9.65 miles + 14 miles of biking

I have a lovely 3-4 miler planned for today. First, I should probably work on my summer class finals, since they are due Friday. 😛 Have a wonderful morning everyone! 🙂

Do any of you use a running journal or app to track your workouts? If so, what do you use? What kind of workouts do you have planned for today?