Tuesday, July 28, 2015

RockNBlog: Rock 'n' Roll St Louis 5K

RockNBlog: Rock 'n' Roll St Louis 5K

Yup, you read that right. After not running Nashville and Chicago due to injury and lack of preparedness, respectively, I finally wised up and decided to change my race in St Louis to the 5K. This is beneficial in several ways. One, I'll probably be ready for a 5K in October, but unlikely to be ready for a half-mart, so there's that. Running a 5K might actually be fun, whereas the half-marathon would probably be a grind. It's supposed to be fun, right? The last thing is that the 5K, which is on the Saturday of race weekend, works better for me than the half-marathon, which is Sunday. I'm just hoping that this change doesn't mean I won't get to meet up with Kate and Mike, especially since Mike was going to grill up some onion and bacon wrapped meat balls. That would be tough to miss.

RockNBlog: Rock 'n' Roll St Louis 5K
Tell me those don't look amazing -
follow Mike on Instagram for more deliciousness.

Have you registered for a Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series race yet? It's not too late! Hopefully I'll see you in St Louis, but you can save 15% off any race (pretty much) by using the promo code RUNWITHKOVAS when registering.

RockNBlog: Rock 'n' Roll St Louis 5K

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

RockNBlog: Cross Training Apps

If there is one thing I could tell my younger, fitter self, it would be to not lose fitness, because it is hell getting it back. A lot easier to put pounds off than to put them on and, if you don't continue pushing yourself, you get bored or injured, and the spiral down begins.

Probably the simplest way to keep things interesting is to add cross training to your primary sport. Joining a CrossFit gym is a quick and easy way, but it can also be done easily at home. Now if you're like me, you might have a hard time getting motivated and/or don't know what exercise you should be doing. Relax, there's an app for that.

RockNBlog: Cross Training Apps

As a member of the TNFLocals, I was turned on to the Mountain Athletics App by the group. This app lets you choose what sport you are training for, gives you a roughly 6 week program, and has videos and descriptions to help you along. You can also find, if you're near a large city, opportunities to work out with a group. This is kind of the complete package. The only negative I can find is that the exercises are not all bodyweight, so some fitness gear is required - of course you can always skip those exercises, as you'll still get a great workout without them.

RockNBlog: Cross Training Apps

The Wahoo 7 Minutes app is 12 high intensity bodyweight exercises, 30 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds of rest between exercises. All these exercises are pretty well known, but a description and video help you out if needed. No excuses with this one - anyone can find 7 minutes in even the busiest day to get these done. Negatives? This app comes only with the basic 7 minute workout, an alternate workout, and a 7 minute Pilates workout, so you have to purchase the full version if you want more. 

RockNBlog: Cross Training Apps

Take ANY exercise, do it according to the Tabata protocol, and you'll be dying in no time at all. Studies have shown that incorporating Tabata, or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), into your fitness regime gives great results in little time. 8 rounds of 20 seconds of activity and 10 seconds of rest equal 4 minutes of torture, though stopping is sweet indeed. The app directs you to a YouTube collection of Tabata videos if you need inspiration.

The best thing about all 3 of these videos is that they get you moving and are free. Using the Mountain Athletics app for 6 weeks or alternating amongst the 3 will give you plenty of variety in your cross training and make you fitter for your primary sport, even if that's just living your life.

Do you use a cross training app?
Suggestions for others than these 3?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hell Hike and Raft: Rain Gear

It seems like this has been an especially wet Spring and Summer, which has given me ample opportunity to test out rain gear to bring along on Hell Hike And Raft, though I hope it's not necessary there. The final gear I've collected has been gathered over many years and will definitely get the job done. I do have one final decision to make, though.

Hell Hike and Raft: Rain Gear

The REI E1 Elements baseball style cap has been my go-to for many years. The moldable brim, adjustable band, and complete invincibility to rain has kept this in my closet for along while now. Really well made, it shows no signs of slowing down its high performance. Unfortunately, I don't think they sell this anymore, so you're out of luck if you want one.

I actually purchased the Torrent Shell pants from Patagonia as a possibility to bring along, but after wearing them a few times, I didn't feel like I needed to buy anything else. While they are not comfortable with short pants (lower legs get too sweaty), they have not failed me yet, from deluges while working downtown to long hikes in unrelenting rain. A zipper and hook and loop closure at the ankles means you can get them on and off over most footwear. I wish they would add a locker loop, though, some kind of ring to hang these pants to dry - really the only negative I found.

It's almost 4 years since I got the Columbia  Peak 2 Peak Jacket to test out and review and it's stayed in my quiver ever since. Lightweight and form-fitting, the Peak 2 Peak hard shell jacket promises completely waterproof, windproof, and ultrabreathable performance. The only drawback is that, in the time since I got this jacket, I've added many pounds, so the form-fitting is now rather snug. Besides that, though, it is an amazing jacket, and its enormous pit-zips dump heat like nobody's business.

I bought the Patagonia Piolet Jacket this winter to replace my Pro Patrol jacket, which I'd had for many years and was my hands-down fave. Unfortunately, the seams became unglued and I had to return it - the Piolet was its replacement. After using it for nearly a year now, I have to say this is probably the most versatile jacket I've ever owned. From -35 degrees in the winter to a hot, humid 80+ degree thunderstorm in summer, this jacket has worked like a charm. Its only negative is the oversized hood, which of course is a positive when wearing a helmet.

The only decision left is which jacket to take. The Peak 2 Peak might pack a little smaller, but it's also a lot more tight on me. And while the Piolet is a bit better suited for cold weather, it's comfort and fit might be the winner this trip. While I'm hoping to lose bit of weight these last few weeks before the trip, it's unlikely enough to bring the Columbia jacket to the fore. Not a bad choice to have, for sure.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hiking: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

During last week's #HikerChat, I was complaining (sort of) about the fact that my nearest National Forests are more than six hours away. The National Forests Foundation suggested I visit the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. I had thought about it before, when I was looking for dispersed camping opportunities near Chicago (there are none) and also when I read that they were planning on reintroducing bison at the Prairie, much like the Nature Conservancy is doing at the Nachusa Grasslands. In a stunning display of serendipity, we literally had NO plans on the calendar for this past weekend (that NEVER happens), so we headed over Saturday.

Hiking: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the first national tallgrass prairie and, at 19,000 acres, the largest piece of contiguous open space in northeastern Illinois. Midewin (mi-DAY-win) is a Potowatomi Native American word referring to the tribe's healers. Established in 1996 on the site of the former Joliet Arsenal, this is a prairie restoration project that also helps preserve the history of the location by leaving existing bunkers, leading tours of remaining buildings, and utilizing existing roads as trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. It's a really neat place and, while we walked about 5 miles of trails, we just barely scratched the surface of the available experience.

Hiking: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

It's a shame that no camping is available at this time, though it might be in the future. The concern is not so much about human's impact on the environment, but rather the environment's impact on humans. Because it was an area that munitions were manufactured and stored, the existing water is not potable as it is polluted. Ongoing water monitoring will allow them to determine if it would be safe to allow camping/

Hiking: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

This Fall, it is expected that 15 – 30 bison will arrive at Midewin, with access to 1200 acres of non-native prairie pastures. Since cattle currently graze on parts of Midewin, this experiment will help determine how the bison grazing will affect the area and if it helps the native tall grass prairie. The bison are also expected to provide a higher quality habitat for grassland birds and other animals, when compared to prairie habitat maintained by cattle grazing.

At 45 minutes or so from home (about an hour from Chicago), this is a national treasure that we are sure to return to and explore more.

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