Category Archives: Training

The Perfect Running ‘Do for Short Hair or Bothersome Bangs

I’m still in the process of growing out the dreaded pixie cut, but my hair is too long in the back for my typical long run ‘do of just pinning the bangs back.  Hair hanging on my neck = unhappy, neck-sweaty Lauren after several miles in the summer sun.

So what’s a girl to do?  I like headbands, but the little whispy pieces that fall out of them in the back drive me insane.  My bangs just need to grow out already!  In the meantime, I did what any social media addict would do.  I Googled like crazy, in search of a solution.  And lucky me… I found it!

Braided bangs!

They stayed in place for 4 miles, and let me tell you, they are not going anywhere.

The shocking part?  Before yesterday, I didn’t know how to french braid or attempt this style.  I turned to the lovely ladies of YouTube for help.  There are many, many hair tutorials that show the process, but I found these two videos to be the most helpful.

To get an idea of how to create the style:

To learn to French braid:

I did not braid the way the girl in the first video does, but used her other tips and suggestions.  I braided as is shown in the second video.  Best of all, it took less than 5 minutes and kept my hair from driving me crazy.  Success!

Spill it. Do you have a favorite running hairstyle?  Do you just throw it back in a ponytail?  Is there a hair accessory you can’t live without on your training days?



Filed under Run, Training

Group Fitness: Yay or Nay?

Lately, I’ve really been getting into a group fitness groove at the gym.  Taking classes is a nice change of pace from my usual constantly-training-for-a-race routine.  (And some of the classes absolutely kill me.  The Thursday night special was Death by Spin Class.  Seriously.)

There are times when a solo workout fits the bill and times when the a class really hits the spot.  When I’m in my peak weeks training for a race, I pound the pavement alone so I can follow my plan and get ready to accomplish my goals.  If I have a huge (or small) dilemma that I want to think about, I set time and training goals aside and just run and think.

This is NOT one of those times.

Right now, when I’m just getting back into my workout groove, it’s the perfect time to try out classes.  I’m not being a super stickler about my schedule, so I am free to experiment.  If I don’t like a class, I just won’t go again.  It’s that simple.

One of the things I love most about attending classes is getting in a good workout without having to think about it.  I just  pick something that sounds close to what I want to do, show up, and do what the instructor says.  Most of the time, I end up leaving completely wiped out.  I think I push myself harder when an instructor is cheerily yelling, “Come on!” and there are lots of other people around.  It inspires me to put it all out there and do my best in a way that I am sometimes not able to do alone.

Best of all, I’ve been meeting my BFF for classes!  It is so much easier to drag myself to class after a long workday when I know I will get to see her smiling face.

Tell me you would not haul your booty to a workout to see this beautiful face. (Please note that this is not exactly what we look like when we workout. But it's close.)

So what about you?  Do you work it out solo or at classes?  With buddies or on your own?  What is your favorite class?

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This is what happens when you pack your workout bag in the dark.

Gosh, look at that face. Tyra would be so proud. I should be a model.

Oh yes that is a light pink Active Band; a red, white, and blue race t-shirt; and black and hot pink bike shorts.  Good thing my cycling shoes are maroon and gray.  I looked super fly in spin class last night.  Good thing I’ve known BFF for 14 years and she’s seen me look worse.  Otherwise she might have pretended not to know me instead of saving me a bike.  But she did save me a bike (kind of, there were like 7 total people in the class) and sit next to me.

I mean, I realize all I was going to do was workout and I didn’t need to look all fancy, but usually I try to at least match my headband to my shirt.

Despite looking like a fool, I managed to get in a 45 minute run and an hour-long spin class.  I abso-freaking-lutely loved the spin instructor.  She was perky and fun without being annoying.  I got a lot sweaty.  I felt happy.  And best of all, no one made fun of my clothes.

What about you?  Do you wear matchy-matchy workout clothes?  Or are you a total mess like me?

(I’ll have the Ulcerative Colitis Q&A post up in the next few days.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you think of questions!)


Filed under Bike, Training

Jogging with

Week one of Half Marathon training is in the books!

Check out my snazzy new headband I won on Susan's blog! (

Our long run today was 3 miles.  Because I’m still building back up, 3 miles actually did feel long-ish.  Goose and I headed out at the same time, but the plan was that I’d stick with him as long as possible and then just run my own pace.

Yeah.  Goose is speedier than I thought.  I kept up with him for all of a half mile.

When I made it back to the house, he was waiting there with something special for me!  (Please note that he wasn’t that much faster than me.  He bought it last night.)

A little iPod shuffle!  Last night I was talking about using a running playlist for the first time in a long time.  I found, and I think it’s about the best website that has ever existed.  It sorts songs by beats per minute, which it aligns with a running pace.  For an 11:15 pace, it suggests 137 beats per minute.  Although those are pretty difficult to find, there are some really fun songs at the 11:12 pace!

I am so excited to pick a workout playlist and get running.  I’m hoping it will make me  better at pacing and distract me from the speedy clip I’m hoping my legs will maintain.  (Hush, all you speedy friends, you.  11:12 is a speedy clip for me for 13.1 miles!)

So, tell me. Do you run with music? What do you use to listen to it? What are your favorite workout songs?


Filed under Run, Team Challenge, Training

That Saturday Where I Slept All Day

Oh, right.  That was today.

I woke up early to meet with some fabulous Girls on the Run coaches.  I love meeting with other women who are involved with GOTR — they’re always the same: vibrant, happy, and full of life.  You can spot a Girls on the Run coach a mile a way.  It was great to meet with everyone before the start of the fall season!

Anyway, once I made it home I had big plans for my Saturday.  A little lunch, a short nap, and then to conquer the to-do list.

So I ate lunch, took a little nap… and then Goose woke me up at 8:00 pm.

WHAT?!  Why is it dark outside?

I would be more upset about this if it hadn’t been a super productive Friday night.

Nearly 100 fundraising letters signed, stuffed, and sealed.  (If I have your address, be excited.  A letter will be coming your way shortly.  Want to beat the letter to the punch?  Don’t think I have your address? Head to our fundraising page.)

So Saturday’s plan is adjusted.  Dinner, a little work, and off to bed to wake up at a reasonable hour.  Goose and I have three miles (that we didn’t do today) to bang out tomorrow and then I have a to-do list to conquer.

Bring it, Sunday.

How are you spending your weekend?  Have you ever taken an unexpectedly long nap?  (This is not the first time I have!)


Filed under Life, Training

Everything You Need to Know About Nutrition & Fitness

I am pretty awful when it comes to fitness and nutrition.  I’m learning, but I still miss the recovery window and I can’t take a Gu without choking.  Today I was playing around on StumbleUpon (which could be the end of productivity as I know it) and found this awesome infographic.  The site was even kind enough to provide code to embed and share it with you.  So here it is.  Tips from people smarter than me.

More Health and Fitness News & Tips at Greatist.

What are your favorite pre-workout foods?  What do you eat after a long run?

Leave a comment

Filed under Training

Aches, Pains, Strength, and Stretching

As I get back into the swing of things with my training, I’m realizing just how easy I’ve been taking it for the past six weeks or so.

Oh my gosh.  My calves are sore.  Not “I’m injured” sore, just “I’ve been running” sore.  It’s just that I’m not really used to it anymore.  So I may or may not be wearing some compression sleeves underneath my jeans today.


I took this awesome photo so you can decide if I am or not.

Okay, yeah, I am.  I also wore long pants for the sole reason of being able to wear compression sleeves everywhere I go today without looking like a fool.  You can’t wear them for too long, can you?

I’m notoriously bad at the stretching and strengthening part of endurance sports.  It was painfully obvious at Barbell Strength last night, as some muscle groups (those used primarily in running, swimming, and biking) were pretty strong, and the others, well, notsomuch.  The little grandma in class with us dominated me on tricep exercises.  Seriously.

I’m trying to be better, but there are only so many hours in a day, and the thought of filling them with stretches makes me kind of cranky.

A compulsive list-maker, I decided to write down some ways I can sneak these things into my routine and make them fun.

  • Keep going to Barbell Strength on Tuesday nights and drag BFF with me.  Workout date!
  • Do a little warm up jog to loosen my muscles, and then turn on episodes of Friends or Dawson’s Creek while I stretch.
  • Go to yoga with Coach Amy once a week.
And that’s as far as I got.  I wasn’t lying — I really don’t like stretching.  This is the part where you come in.
Tell me, please.  How do you fit stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine?  How do you make them fun?


Filed under Training

Strength & Awards

I finally did it.

Barbell Strength class!  This is the third week I’ve had it on my list of fitness goals, but I finally made it there last night.  (I enlisted BFF to come with me.  That way I couldn’t back out.)

I am not embarrassed to admit that I used really light weights and I was still sore by the end of class.  It’s the amount of reps that will kill you.  Ouch.  I’m so glad I finally went!  It’s a tough class, but I’m sure I’ll go again.  Bonus points for the fancy techno mixes of Enrique Iglesias and Britney Spears.

Okay, this is not the actual piece of equipment I used. But the weight is accurate.

I really enjoyed the group setting for lifting weights.  When I lift alone, (okay, the half dozen or so times I’ve attempted to lift alone) I get worried that I look funny, my form is wrong, or people are laughing at me.  In the class, it was easy to compare my form to the instructor and other participants.  I could ask questions if I needed.  And best of all, someone else was in charge of making sure the workout was appropriate and we worked all our muscle groups!  I love following someone else’s lead when it comes to workouts.


In other news… Forward is a Pace is up for an award from CBS Local!  I was nominated as one of the Most Valuable Bloggers in Chicago in the Health/Fitness/Medical category.  And now it’s all up to the votes.

If you feel so inclined, click the photo above to vote.  You’ll also see it in the sidebar of the blog until voting closes on September 9.  You can vote for one blog in each category every day.  (While you’re at it, head on over to the Sports category and vote for Pace of Chicago, my friend David’s incredible endurance sports blog.)  Thank you in advance!

Do you like to take classes at the gym, or do you prefer to workout alone?


Filed under Life, Training

Tiny Update: Back in the Game

Last week, I set some little fitness goals.

  • Run/walk 2 miles at Run Club
  • Check out Barbell Strength class at the gym
  • Go swimming twice for about 45 minutes each
Well, Run Club was cancelled because of a weather advisory, but I did manage to run/walk two miles another day.  I opted for a relaxing night at home over the Barbell Strength class, and I managed to get in one swim.  So, not that great.  50% of my goals met.  (That’s a failing grade on any teacher’s grading scale.)
Both workouts felt good.  And I got another one in tonight!  A little 20 minute run on the treadmill (with a tiny bathroom break in the middle… thanks colon!) my legs and lungs felt like they could keep clipping along, but my stomach decided that 20 minutes was just plenty tonight.

The plus side to the treadmill? One of these is always nearby.

Little victories.
Let’s try for closer to 100% for this week, shall we?
  • Two 20 – 30 minute runs
  • Two 45 minute swims
  • Barbell Strength class
Yep.  Upping the goals and shooting for 100% completion.  I’m all kinds of crazy.  One down, four to go.
Fill me in.  What are your fitness goals this week?  How did you do meeting last week’s goals?


Filed under Training

Little Goals

Since my doctor and I agree that I’m finally on the mend, I figure it’s time to start setting a few fitness goals for myself each week.  I’m not ready to tie myself down to a strict training schedule. I want the flexibility to take rest days as needed and skip a workout in favor of more sleep if I need it.  Still, it’s time to get some blood flowing and some endorphins going again!

Here are my goals for this week:

  • Run/walk 2 miles at Run Club
  • Check out Barbell Strength class at the gym
  • Go swimming twice for about 45 minutes each
That’s it.  Four things.  It is doable, not crazy, and will allow me some time with these babies:

Running shoes, oh how I've missed you.

If all goes well, I’ll make the goals a little more challenging next week.  I don’t want to go out too crazy and cause a setback.  There’s no hurry.  I am so excited to be back in the game.
What are your fitness goals this week?


Filed under Training