Knockaround Polarized Premiums Sunglasses Review: A Deal You Can’t Beat

Disclaimer: I received two pairs of Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. I received the black sunset Premiums and the white monochrome Premiums. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check outBibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I want to start my review by saying running with sunglasses is not optional for me (unless it’a really cloudy or I want to be in pain). I had a corneal abrasion in 2013 (super fun with contacts let me tell ya 🙄) and since then my eyes have been very sensitive to sunlight. Even before the corneal abrasion, I noticed my eyes feel better the rest of the day if I wear sunglasses when I run. Plus, it’s just a good practice to protect your eyes when you run. 😛

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My only issue is that I tend to misplace my sunglasses (usually they are found months later in a random bag, drawer, or the car glovebox). This means I do not like to spend a lot on sunglasses, because there is a chance I’m going to loose them. 🤦🏼‍♀️ I get way too attached to my sunglasses, though, so it’s always sad when I do. 🙁  Another thing that is important to me is quality- I need sunglasses that actually protect my eyes from the sun and stay put on my tiny face. So basically I need high quality sunglasses, that are also reasonably priced. I’m not high maintenance or anything… 😛

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My demands seemed impossible to meet until I met the Knockaround Polarized Premiums sunglasses!😱 Here’s why:

-Knockarounds are super easy on the wallet: only $15 for non-polarized and $20 for polarized. So, if you end of losing a pair it is not the end of the world…but still sad nonetheless. 🙁

-They are designed for use (and can take a beating). I’ve dropped my sunglasses on the ground, the Lakeshore Path, sweated all over them, stashed them in random bags, etc. and they have come out unscathed.

-The polarized lenses really protect my eyes! As mentioned previously, I wear contacts and I had a corneal abrasion a few years ago, so this is especially important to me.

-They fit my tiny face. They are still a little big, but that’s what happens when your noggin is the size of a child’s.  😂 Yet, they stay on when I run. So I consider them a win! It’s nearly impossible for me to find perfect fitting lenses anyway (in sunglasses and eyeglasses), so good enough works for me. If you have a larger head there are still pairs that will fit you!

-Last, but not least they come in fun colors/styles! You can even design your own! 🙂

Bonus: They were super fun to wear to a SNL trivia night that I attended. Can anyone guess who my husband and I were?!

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So what do you say? Have I convinced you to get your own pair? You can receive 20% off of a SINGLE order by using the code BIBRAVEKNOCKS at checkout. Please let me know if you try them out below! 🙂 Also, tonight only, head over to the BibRave Twitter at 8 pm central to participate in #BibChat and try your hand at winning 2 pairs of Knockarounds! I hope to chat with all of you there!

Finally, don’t just take my word, see what other BibRave Pros have to say about Knockarounds below:

Amanda (not me, a different one! :P)

Bradley

Corey

Jeannine

Karin

Kevin

Ralph

Stephanie

Tedrick

 

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Top 5 reasons to run the Cinco de Miler on 5/5/18

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!

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As is tradition this year, this will be my first time running Cinco de Miler and I’m super pumped! Even though I have lived in Chicago for nearly 4 years, I have not run many races because of injury and running burnout. I’m happy to be back to running healthy!💪🏻 Cinco de Miler is a 5 mile race that starts and finishes at Montrose Harbor at 8:30 am sharp on May 5, 2018. Event though it’s a week after my half marathon and my legs are going to be tired, I’m excited to run Cinco de Miler because it is such a fun race. YOU SHOULD RUN CINCO DE MILER TOO!!!😉 Need more convincing?! Check out the top 5 reasons why you should run Cinco de Miler below. And by the time you reach the bottom I can (almost) guarantee you will want to sign up! There will even be a discount waiting for you at the bottom. So, what are you waiting for?! 😜

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Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run Cinco de Miler:

1. The race is a unique race distance. How many other 5 mile races do you know of in and around the Chicagoland area? Plus the course is USATF certified, so you know that the 5 mile course is in fact 5 miles and not 4.98. 😜 A unique race distance= a likely PR! And we all want to earn that elusive PR, am I right?! 😉

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2. To cater to the competitive, seasoned runner there is chip timing, elite coral assignments for those that qualify, and cash prizes for those in the elite corral. So, if you want to run with some of Chicago’s best and earn a PR and/or bragging rights, there is a spot for you at Cinco de Miler!

The cash prizes are as follows for the top 3 overall men and women in the Elite Corral:

1st Place = $400
2nd Place = $250
3rd Place = $100

Additionally, if you break the existing event record will receive an additional $100!

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3. Speaking of PRs…even if you don’t earn one, you can still get this super sweet finishing medal just for crossing the finish line! And the medal even doubles as bottle opener so you can easily open post-race beers!  😜🍻

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4. Not a competitive runner? No worries, there is plenty of fun at the post race fiesta! There will be a mechanical bull, human fooseball, mariachi bands, and live Lucha Libre matches, Not to mention there will be plenty of beer breakfast tacos, Horchata, and Mexican sweets!🍻🌮

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5. Last, but not least you will get this sweet technical tee for running, plus other awesome swag in your race goodie bag! You will get the goodie bag and tee at packet pick-up.

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So, what are you waiting for?! Sign up today! 🙂

Have you run Cinco de Miler before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! Sign up by using the code “BRCinco” for some extra swag on race weekend – a pair of super awesome sunglasses!

Plants are cool #1: “Squacos” recipe

Good afternoon! 🙂 As promised many, many months ago, I am finally sharing my butternut squash taco recipe, AKA “squacos”!🌮 I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am a vegetarian…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes this month, and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Of course, today’s recipe has black beans, because I have not been living up to my namesake!😱 This is a very basic recipe that lends itself to dressing up with different toppings and serving options, because that is half the fun with taco recipes! So, without further ado let’s make some “squacos”! 😋

“Squacos”

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen butternut squash or 1 whole butternut squash

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

Cumin (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Cinnamon

Himalayan sea salt (to taste)

Optional: avocado, tomato, cilantro, shredded lettuce, red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese (regular or non-dairy), and/or sour cream (if you aren’t vegan)

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the butternut squash if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan and add the chopped fresh or the chopped frozen butternut squash.

5. Sauté the butternut squash on medium high for about 5 minutes or until warmed.

6. Add the cinnamon and cumin to the butternut squash and make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed.

7. Add the drained and rinsed black beans to the butternut squash mixture.

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

9. Sauté the black bean and butternut squash mixture for another couple of minutes.

10. Serve on tortillas or make a taco bowl. Be sure to add in any of the fun extras listed above! The optional mix-ins add flavor and depth if you eat these on a weekly basis like my husband and I do! My personal favorite is making a taco bowl with salsa and other veggies and then using tortilla chips as scoops. 🙂

If you make “squacos”, I’d love to see your creations! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of “squacos” on my social media channels!

Illinois half marathon training weeks 1 & 2

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon 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 can’t believe I’ve made it through the first two weeks of Illinois half marathon training! It has been tough to balance training with my (relatively) new teaching job…Things are going well training wise, though, and I really hope it stays that way! I’m nervous because of my injury history, but I am optimistic, especially after I wrapped up week 2 yesterday! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my last two weeks of training! 🙌🏻

Week 1: Monday February 5th -Sunday February 11th

-Monday February 5th: REST

-Tuesday February 6th:  3 miles @ 7:42 on the treadmill followed by strength work

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-Wednesday February 7th: REST/XT

-Thursday February 8th: REST

-Friday February 9th: Unexpected day off work (snow day) resulted in a fun, but snowy/slippery 5 miles @ 7:59 pace

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-Saturday February 10th: 4 miles @ 7:31 pace

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-Sunday February 11th: REST

WEEKLY TOTAL: 14 miles

Week 2: Monday February 12th -Sunday February 18th:

-Monday February 12th: 3 miles after school at 7:18 pace followed by stretching

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-Tuesday February 13th: REST

-Wednesday February 14th: 3 miles @ 7:07 pace. I ran by feel, but ended up with a run that was almost at tempo pace…

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-Thursday February 15th: Late and dark 4 miler at 7:49 pace. This run didn’t feel great…

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-Friday February 16th: REST

-Saturday February 17th: 1 mile w/u, 3 miles @ goal half marathon pace (6:49, 6:54, 6:48), and 3 mile c/d

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-Sunday February 18th: 5 mile recovery run @ 7:39 pace followed by yoga

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WEEKLY TOTAL:  21 miles 

Tonight’s question: What races are you training for this spring? Will any of you be joining me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Top 5 reasons why you should run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k 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’ve lived in Chicago for 4 years now and this is the first year I’m running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k!😱 If it weren’t for all injuries over the last few years, I would have run it sooner because it’s a really awesome race! Don’t be like me-run it this year too! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code!😜

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

1. You can’t beat the amazing city views on the race course! 😍 I may be biased because I live in Chicago, but dang the views are gorgeous! You get to run through scenic downtown Chicago where you get the best of both worlds: city AND lake views! And if you’re not up for the full 8k, the 2 mile walk course still boasts some stellar views! 😊

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2. Beer! 🍻 Need I say more? You get one free Michelob ULTRA beer at the finish line (if you are of age of course)! There is live music, great city/lake views for that post race insta 📸, and then you can head over to the post race party. This year the post race party is at the Scout Waterhouse & Kitchen (1301 S. Wabash Ave.). If you bring your race bib to  the Scout between 2 pm and 1 am they will give you another free Michelob ULTRA!

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3. The race is such a big deal that NBC 5 Chicago covers it! So, if you’ve ever wanted to be on TV, now might be your chance 😉 The cooler your outfit, the better your chance of being featured on TV (ok I made this up…but dressing up is part of the fun 😝)!

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4. The race is competitive. There’s even an elite corral! So you just may be able to admire one of your favorite runners from afar!  Each year over 30,000 runners run the Shamrock Shuffle! So, regardless of your pace,  there is bound to be someone to race against and push you toward an ever elusive PR! And if you are extra competitive you can form a team and race in the team competition division. Plus, the finisher’s medal is pretty if I do say so myself!🥇

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5. You just might PR! An 8k is a unique race distance (4.97 miles) that you may have not done before. And anytime you run a new race it’s a PR, right?

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BONUS REASON: I’ll be there! I’m running it for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜

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Have you run the Shamrock Shuffle before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! If use the code “SHUFFLE” at the following link: http://haku.ly/dd2567 you can save $10 on your race entry!

 

Join me at the Illinois Half Marathon on 04/28/2018!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon 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’m excited to announce that I am running the Illinois Half Marathon on Saturday April 28, 2018 and I’d love for you to join me! 🙂 I even convinced my husband to run the full marathon, so hopefully I can convince YOU to run something!🤞🏻If you don’t want to run a full or half marathon they also have a 5k, 10k, and  marathon relay!

This is a really awesome race because it is FLAT (i.e. fast and perfect for PRing) and you get to finish in the historic Memorial stadium!  Plus, it is a USATF-certified marathon course and serves qualifying race for those of you looking to Boston-Qualify!😉 Another perk, are the free pacers for the half-marathon and full marathon! I know I will personally utilize the pacers during my half marathon race, so I can reach my goals. Finally, this race boasts some sweet amenities from free digital photos (how else can you immortalize your ugly race pain face?! haha, but seriously…see below for one of my college running gems 😂) to a pre-race bagel bar to a post race Muscle Milk.

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(Me circa 2012 as a college runner with the classic race pain face)

So, what are my goals for this race?! Well, I’ve only done one other half-marathon in  and I did not train for it. For that race, I didn’t do speed work, my longest run was 8 miles, and my weekly mileage was maybe around 20 miles. I was feeling burned out from college and college running… I shouldn’t have signed up for one the summer after graduation. :/ During the race,  I ALMOST dropped out because my IT band tightened up around mile ten and I was in a lot of pain…but I’m stubborn and wanted to finish, so i did! I ended up taking a month off after the race and spent almost 8 months barely running without pain before I admitted I was injured…I went to Physical Therapy for 4 months in 2015 to get fixed up.  Considering all those factors I’m fine with my time 1:40, but I know I am capable of more this time around!

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(My now husband & I at my last half marathon in 2014)

My goal is to at least get a PR and ideally run a sub 1:30! I’m going to train smarter and am already building my base. I just got over another injury, so I’m taking things real slow. I’m doing the F^3 5k in a few weeks to see where I’m at and then I plan on doing another half marathon in March to gauge my fitness. It will either be a trail half marathon in San Francisco or the Carmel half marathon in Indiana over my spring break (March 30th weekend)….stay tuned!

I’m going to loosely follow the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 training plan and it peaks around 35-40 miles per week. It is a 12 week program, so I will switch from base building to the training plan the first week of February. I picked the Intermediate 2 plan because I am keeping my mileage modest the first half of this year to make sure I stay injury free. Then, I will ramp my mileage up once I starting training for the Chicago Marathon later this summer! 😱

So, what do you say?! Want to join me at the Illinois Marathon? If so, use the code 2018bibravebonus for $5 off race entry for any of the race distances! 🙂

2018-BibRave-discount-code-usage-instructions.jpgTonight’s question: Are you running the Illinois Marathon (or Marathon relay, half, 10k, or 5k)? What other races are you running this spring?! 🙂

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year

Happy New Year friends!🎉 I hope you all had an amazing night…whether that involved drinking and dancing until dawn or snuggling up on the couch with loved ones and wine or a warm beverage.🥂 I fell into the latter category, but no complaints there! 😛

2017 was definitely a rough year for me, but it had some awesome moments too, especially my wedding!💍I reflected briefly on my run yesterday, so I am not going to reflect here. Rather, I want to leave 2017 behind and run straight into 2018 with a fresh perspective and clean slate.

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Who’s with me?!🙋🏼

I strongly believe that you should set goals year round and not wait until a holiday to start working toward them…BUT, with that being said, New Year’s Day is a perfect time to sit down, write out your new or ongoing goals, and come up with an action plan for accomplishing them!

So where to begin?!

Well, people do not meet their goals without a system of accountability or a way to track their progress toward their goals. Another reason that people do not meet their goals is because they make ones that are TOO ambitious for the given time frame. Although, I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing to set SOME lofty goals. I think it’s good to dream big, but to also have some smaller more attainable goals. 🙂 I have a good mix of both for 2018 and some of them have been a goals of mine for a while, as indicated on my goals page!

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To hold myself accountable this year, I am going to do a minimum of 4 check-ins on the blog. I will check-in during the spring (March), summer (June), fall (October), and winter (December) and more times if needed. Some of the goals below are specific to certain events in my life (i.e. my first marathon in October), so I will only check in with them when it makes sense. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals! 🤗

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals💃

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

6. Run my first 10k race

7. Run a trail race of any distance

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

10. Join a running group or racing team

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

14. Take my vitamin everyday

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

What are YOUR top 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

 

 

F^3 training weeks 1 & 2 (12/11-12/24/17): my return to running after injury

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a running/training update…but until Saturday December 16th this gal was confined to cross training and rest due to  left IT band injury. :/

The good news is all my rest/cross training/strength work paid off and I’m back at it! 🙂 My comeback race will be the F^3 5K on 01/20/2018! I’m sad that I’m not running the half marathon like I planned, but that would not be a smart training move…Sudden mileage increases and laziness toward strength work is what got me injured in the first place.  I’m just happy to be running again! I have all year to reach my time goals- this 5k is just to get back out there! Although, at some point this year I’d like to run a sub 18 5k…not sure how realistic that is.🤔

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So, without further ado let’s recap my last two weeks of training/ my return to running. I won’t lie- it’s not very exciting 😂 My return to running involves cross training, strength work, and only a few days of running per week. Each pain free mile and increase in my strength and balance is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it!💪🏻

Week 1: Monday December 11th-Sunday December 17th:

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

-Tuesday December 12th: 20 min on the stair stepper, lower body weights, foam rolling, & resistance band exercises

-Wednesday December 13th: 30 minutes of yoga & foam rolling

-Thursday December 14th: REST DAY

-Friday December 15th: 20 minutes stationary bike, resistance band exercises, upper body exercises, and core

-Saturday December 16th: 1st run back in nearly 6 weeks! 2.2 miles at 7:30 pace followed by lower body strength exercises & foam rolling

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-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

Week 2: Monday, December 18th- Sunday December 25th:

-Monday December 18th: 2nd run back was 2 dark miles at 7:24 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling

2 miles in the dark

-Tuesday December 19th: 40 minute upper body, core, & IT band strength routine

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-Wednesday December 20th: 3 miles at 7:15 pace followed by 15 minutes of yoga and foam rolling

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-Thursday December 21st: Lower body strength routine similar to Tuesday’s workout

-Friday December 22nd: REST DAY. Went to zoo lights and out for pizza/beers with my husband to celebrate the end of final exams with his students (he gave a little over 100 final exams Monday-Thursday, so was A LOT of grading due today ).

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-Saturday December 23rd: REST DAY, but did some stretching & foam rolling

-Sunday December 24th: Christmas Eve fun run of 3 miles at 7:47 pace with my husband and the running club in our hometown. We kept the pace easy because it was icy and it started to snow toward the end of the run.

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Today’s question: Are any of you running any races this winter? If so, are they in a warm or cold destination? ALSO, if you aren’t running any winter races and are interested in the F^3 5k or half marathon in Chicago, check out my race discounts page! Plus, then you can join me at Chicago’s coolest winter race! See what I did there?! 😂

I’m an Ambassador?! Take 2!

I know it’s super late…but I have an exciting announcement!!!

Just when I thought the end of 2017 couldn’t get any better, I received the news that I got another ambassadorship! 😱 I’m just as surprised as you are! I guess more than my family members and the friends that I beg to read this blog are interested in Black Bean Queen. 😂  I’m thrilled! 🙂  So…drumroll please! In addition to my ambassadorship with Bibrave, I am going to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador!

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If you don’t already know: sweat pink is a community of thousands of fun, fitness minded people that was started by two awesome, fitness loving women: Jamie King and Alyse Mason Brill.💪🏻 They founded Fit Approach seven years ago and it has since formed several different communities for people, brands, and companies that love fitness and fun, including Sweat Pink!

As a sweat pink ambassador, I cannot wait to connect with and learn from awesome fitness fanatics, fellow runners, influencers, bloggers, and brands! 🙂 I have a feeling 2018 is going to be an awesome year here at Black Bean Queen and I am thrilled to have you all along for the ride! 😊

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