Falling back into a routine of fitness and health

After the laid-back demeanor of summer, most of us are ready to get back into a end-of-year routine. Kids have been back at school for a month or two and Summer Fridays are long over. The weather in our area is still a little wishy-washy, but we know Halloween is around the corner, making the grand entrance for the other fall and winter holidays that follow suit.

selective focus photography of vegetable shake on brown wood board

Photo by Alisha Mishra on Pexels.com

For many of us, fall relates to detoxing. It’s almost  like we want to do a quick cleanse before we start the overindulging once again in a few weeks. Cleansing can be a great way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle, but they’re not healthy for more than a week or two and people are left wondering what else to do. My advise is that if you choose to do a short program like a juice cleanse, have a plan for what you will do once it’s over.

Find some healthy crock pot recipes, experiment with new in-season veggies, or find some healthy local take-out options for the inevitable busy days. These are much better alternatives than trying to constantly restrict yourself and risk falling short on your health and fitness goals.

I just sent an email out to my newsletter subscribers talking about some of the things I would like to focus on this fall. Some are simple, like investing in a few new pieces for my wardrobe, others are a bit more complicated (for me), like updating my home décor (I’m so indecisive with that stuff!) and working on my online services.

The truth is that it’s a great time of year to reestablish your goals and look at your progress. There’s no need to wait until the New Year to start doing this. Take a look at what you accomplished up until now, see where you’re falling short, and work towards what you can still improve.

A few other tips I’d love to share with you are:

  1. Walk more! Explore your neighborhood or local park.
  2. Try a new workout class.
  3. Meal prep for healthier lunches.
  4. Replace one of your glasses of wine with seltzer.
two woman lifting dumbbells

Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

So, what will you choose as the leaves and temperatures drop? Will you look for opportunities to take care of yourself, mind, body and spirit? Or will you sleep in every day and skip your workouts, eat all the foods and hibernate until January?

Comment and let me know if you use any of my tips!

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Marathons: I don’t always love them but I keep going back for more

Running for 26.2 miles is not for the faint of heart. It takes consistency, dedication and determination, and a small amount of crazy, to put in the work week after week, anywhere from 12 to sometimes 20 weeks. I’m counting down the days to my 5th marathon which had me thinking about a few things…

Why I keep coming back for more marathons...

First of all, I have a runfession to make. I don’t love training for marathons. Whaaat?!!

I don’t. I really like running but I don’t love it all the time. Some runs are awesome, while other runs I need to really force myself to finish. It’s the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing a tough (physically or mentally) training run and the pride from getting my finisher’s medal after crossing the finish line that keep me going back for more.

Us marathoners know we can’t just show up and fake it. We have to put in the work to have the best performance possible. Setting a new personal record and feeling good throughout the entire run is an amazing feeling that makes all the hard work worth it.

Many people turn to long distance running because it makes them a better person, a better wife, a better mom, a better friend, by allowing them to clear their mind of stress and “head noise.”

It gives us mamas some “Me Time” to daydream. Some people may choose to binge watch Netflix; others, we choose to lace up our sneakers and run.

I don’t do it to be “skinny.” I have actually gained a few pounds training for this marathon. Sure, running helps keep me in shape, but if my goal was to just be fit I could simply do 20-minute workouts every day and be fine. Long distance running digs into other areas of my wellness I just can’t get from a lifting session.

My 4th marathon, the NJ Marathon. April 2018.

Let’s discuss my training a bit.

Avoid injury and crosstrain.

My first goal is always to show up healthy to the start line of the marathon. I want to avoid injury as much as possible and it’s my main goal with any clients I train as well. I build up mileage progressively and cross-train by doing strength training about 2 days a week. It’s really important to not give up strength training, but to modify it so you are doing movements that are the most beneficial to running. Examples are single-leg squats and side planks. I’m such a strong believer in the philosophy that in order to be a better runner, you need to be a stronger and more mobile runner, that I have made it my duty to help runners, and any type of endurance athlete, get fitter to run better.

Run a short race to test your speed and to “practice” racing.

It doesn’t have to be a half marathon; even a 5K can help you gauge how fit you are and give you a better idea of what your goal time should be. It gives you a chance to practice controlling the nerves and also you can practice some of your nutrition.

Run twice a day.

I don’t mean multiple crazy longs run that you’re breaking up into two. Doing 2 runs a day is an option if you only have time for 4 miles in the morning and then maybe you can do 4 more on your lunch break. I wouldn’t break up a speed session, but if it’s a day that calls for 8 easy miles, I believe it’s fine to do this. If the long runs are also fatiguing you or you’re injury prone, I would recommend breaking those up too. Perhaps you do 10 miles in the morning and the rest of the long run in the afternoon. The most important factor of the long run is time spent on your feet, so the accumulated fatigue will still present itself if you do it this way.

Work on your mental fitness.

I have completed long runs in 90+ degree weather. I have completed long runs by myself. I have done many boring runs on the treadmill. I occasionally get comments such as, “I can’t believe you do that!” Well, my response is always, “I have to do what I have to do!”. The reality is that by doing things that are not so exciting, you build your mental toughness and it will pay off tremendously come race day.

Follow along on Instagram to see how I make out at the Steamtown Marathon this Sunday. I missed the Boston cut-off by a couple of minutes even though I broke my qualifying time of 3:35. I’m ready for a no-long distance winter and hope to work on half marathons (funny I don’t consider 13 miles long distance anymore!) until I decide to go for another 26.2 next year.

In the meantime, I’ll be participating in a virtual stroller race- so check that out on Instagram too.

What is the one thing that you struggle with most when training for a race?

If you enjoyed this blog post and feel that it might help someone, I would appreciate if you shared it.

xo,

Julia

5 mistakes I see small business owners make on social media

As an entrepreneur a previous data analytics and marketing maven, I tend to pay close attention to social media posts from other small business owners I follow online.

This post is by no means meant to criticize! My intent is to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from my education and experience and hope that it helps someone else.

These are the 5 most common mistakes I see entrepreneurs make with their online marketing:

social media mistakes photo

5 mistakes small business owners make on social media

  1. You constantly post about your products and services.  While this is definitely okay to do, it’s important to look back and see where you also added value or entertained your followers. For example, people usually go on Facebook to be entertained and don’t necessarily like being sold to. I know, I am in network marketing (even though I still am involved, I’m not as active in that business anymore because I chose to focus on other areas of my brand) and was taught to post several times a day about my business. Eek! I look back now and I cringe a little bit. Although I was successful for the first 6 months or so, that technique was draining and it eventually led to me feeling burned out. My advise is that even if you have a page or group that is exclusively for your business, it’s important to deliver value. Have a few posts where you educate or entertain and then have one with a call to action.
  2. You are not on social media. Almost everyone can benefit from a social media account, whether you sell a product or you provide a service. Your potential customers will try to search for you online and it makes it harder to stay ahead of your competition if you are nowhere to be found. You need to be where your people hang out so make sure that you are on the pages that are most relevant to your business and niche.
  3. You don’t engage with your followers. Perhaps you have a social media page but you never comment or like on your followers pages, or you never reply back to  comments people leave on your posts. Not only is it important to interact with people who interact with you so that they can trust you and want to do business with you, but the more interaction your posts get, the better the Facebook algorithm will like what you share and it will show it to more people. And make sure you’re not just responding with one-word answers!
  4. Your visual content is not very attractive. I’m not saying you need to use filters for everything, although depending on your type of business and what you share, that may help. On a platform such as Instagram where people go to see pretty pictures, it’s important to make sure you’re sharing good looking, high resolution images. You can also occasionally use stock photos from sites such as Unsplash or Ivory Mix.
  5. You have no clear marketing plan and don’t understand the analytics. It’s important to have a content calendar, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to be perfect. Sometimes it’s about trying different things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It’s also important to understand your metrics and know who is following you on which platforms so that you can use that information to better target your advertising.

Which mistakes do you find yourself making with your business? Pick one and try to improve on it over the next month.

Understanding the analytics and metrics is time consuming, but it can be time well-spent or you can always delegate that work to someone else so that you can focus on running your business.

Feel free to reach out if you have any qestions on the items listed above!

Have a great day!

Julia

How to set up a simple, functional home gym

Whether you are a busy mom or a college athlete who needs to train at home, having your own equipment can make getting your exercise in very convenient. With a little bit of creativity and planning, you can design an exercise area in your home that doesn’t get in the way of your life and that doesn’t cost a fortune.

The first thing is to decide where to set up your workout area, especially if you don’t have a specific room assigned for it or a large space in your basement or garage. Perhaps you’ll be dedicating a corner in your family room to your Sweat Space. If you are in the market for new couches for a room, think in favor of something that slides easily across the floor when you need to clear the area for exercise.

You can store your equipment in a trunk so that everything is out of sight and out of everyone’s way when not in use.  You can also put up shelves on a wall to store light stuff on, like mats, light dumbbells or jump ropes.

If you have a garage or basement, you may have more options for what to get for your space. You may even want to invest in a couple of machines depending on what you prefer. Runners may want to get a treadmill and cyclists a stationary bike.

Home gym tips

A yoga or Pilates mat is a must in your home workout area.

My top 4 simple, affordable, must -have exercise equipment/tools are:

Mat – yoga ones tend to be very thin so I’d recommend a Pilates one which will be more comfortable.

Weights – 2 pairs are ideal- one that you are able to do many reps with, one that is more of a struggle.

Resistance bands – they barely take up room and help give you a great workout.

Music – whether you have a TV nearby that you could turn on, or a portable speaker to play music, the atmosphere will help motivate you.

A few other great tools to have are a jump rope (which is great for travel), a kettlebell, core sliders and a balance board.

A motivational sign or two hanging on a wall that you can glance at when you’re feeling less than motivated doesn’t hurt either.

magic is in you quote

Don’t forget a motivational sign to keep you focused.

If you would like to take your training above and beyond, you can contact me for my 6-week Fastinista Fit Program to get leaner and stronger from the comfort of your home. Use the form below or email me at juliamorel@yahoo.com.

Best Things To Do In Seattle

Just a week ago, Frank and I headed to the Emerald City with Frankie. We were going to a cousin’s wedding but also had enough time to explore and enjoy a nice family vacation there.

We rented a condo on Airbnb in Capitol Hill, which ended up being the perfect location for getting around the city. If you haven’t used Airbnb yet to book a trip, use my code to get $40 off: www.airbnb.com/c/jhickman71.

These are the places we checked out.

Alki Beach

It’s a very small beach and it was very quiet when we were there on a Friday morning. It reminded me a bit of California. Although it was a bit too chilly for me (and probably for most people), there were a few kids on floaters out on the water. Right across the street from the small boardwalk, you can find a few restaurants where you can grab a burger, smoothie or ice cream. A few fire spits are available, first come first serve, offering beautiful views of the city.

Golden Gardens

We didn’t actually get to hang out on the beach, although we had lunch right next to it and got to see a boat being put on the water right next to it. It’s the beachiest beach you can find in Seattle. The locals say it’s a great place to BBQ. You can see stunning views of the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

Ballard Locks

Boats use the locks to get lifted or lowered into either Lake Washington or Puget Sound. If you’re lucky enough you’ll actually get to see a boat pass through. Make sure you walk down to see the Fish Ladder where the salmon make their own journey from or to Lake and Sound.

Space Needle

Frankie was actually the first one to point out to me that if we walked up the street from our condo, we could see the “Space Noodle” in the distance. I had to swallow my fear of heights and ride up the 520-foot elevator (without looking down) where you’ll definitely want to take panoramic photos galore.

Green Lake

This lake is located in north central Seattle. Its 3 mile-long walking and cycling path is one of Seattle’s most popular outdoor recreation areas. It has baseball fields and a large playground, perfect for Daddy to play with the kid while Mommy gets a run in! Across the street from the baseball fields, you’ll see several little shops and cafes, making it easy to grab a quick snack.

Pike Place Market

Walk across the Waterfront and go up the stairs to find a busy, busy part of town with various vendors (and lots of homeless people). You get to see what you would see at other markets but it’s still a must see, in my opinion. We had a delicious lunch at Etta’s.

Pacific Science Center

Founded during the World’s Fair, this museum was the first science and technology museum in the country. Kids young and old are sure to find something that will fascinate them here. You can spend a few hours here, but don’t forget to check out the dinosaur exhibit and the  Tropical Butterfly House.

Artists At Play Playground

Located between the Museum of Pop Culture and the Seattle Center Armory, you’ll find the big playground where you can stop for a quick jaunt.  Although it’s recommended for kids ages 5 and up, our 2 1/2 year old had a blast exploring the climbing tower (with parental supervision) and running around the play area. It’s a fun and free activity to do!

Seattle Aquarium

This was one of our favorite activities. Located on Pier 59 on the Waterfront, this aquarium has a touch section where you can touch anemone, sea urchins and sea cucumbers (if you dare!). You can see all sorts of fish, as well as squids, sea lions, sea

The Great Wheel

Although we didn’t ride the Wheel, we did walk past it many times. I didn’t know that it’s actually not your typical carnival ride type of wheel, but more of a sightseeing option that lasts 15 minutes.

Woodland Park Zoo

This is another fun activity to do with kids, but of course grown-ups will appreciate the animals too. My son has been loving penguins lately so that exhibit was one of his favorites!

Fremont Troll

Frankie had fallen asleep in the car while we made a little detour to go see the troll. A bit of an unusual “sight”…I did not know what to expect when I was told we were going to visit the troll! Situated under the Aurora Bridge, a great place for a quick selfie, is a large statue of the creature clutching a Volkswagen.  I probably would not recommend for young kids who frighten easily.

Puget Sound Cruise

This 60- minute cruise around the Sound is a great way to take in the views of the city from the water. They have longer cruises but the hour-long option was perfect for us to do right before dinner.

I hope these ideas help you out on your own trip to The Emerald City! There are more things I hope to do and look forward to taking another trip out there with my family in the future.

xo,

Julia

How I planned my wedding 4 years ago

Since today marks my 4th wedding anniversary, I thought I’d write about my experience planning my wedding.

Rachel Miranda Photography

Photo by my friend Rachel of Rachel Miranda Photography

Frank and I were on the same page from the start about having either an early summer or early fall wedding, to avoid extreme hot or cold temperatures while enjoying beautifully bloomed flowers. We luckily got a date for June 21, 2014- 9 days before my 30th birthday and on the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice.

One of the first things I did was buy my wedding dress and shoes. My shoes were gold Christian Louboutin sandals that I bought on sale online before I got engaged. After the engagement, I decided to save them for my big day.

I had been looking at wedding dresses (and engagement rings) pretty much ever since I met Frank 😆 I saved photos of dresses I loved on my laptop and knew I wanted either a Vera Wang or Monique Lhuiller trumpet style dress. When I decided to start shopping for my dress, I did a lot of research on where to go to try and find a sample sale, as I did not want to spend $6000 -$8000 (which is the price range of the dresses I loved). I considered going to Kleinfeld’s sale but I don’t like the large, crazy crowd that it would probably attract and I also knew that I would probably not find a small size.

That’s when I stumbled upon the website Preowned Wedding Dresses. I loved the fact that they sell brand new dresses as well. I searched for a few months and saved a few dresses on my account. Then one day I logged back in and noticed that one of the Monique dresses I loved was for sale in my exact size, brand new, and in Hoboken, where I was working at the time. I exchanged a few messages with the girl selling it and then decided to meet her to try it on. To my luck, the bride had had buyers remorse and found another dress (so it wasn’t an “unlucky” divorce dress or anything). I took my mom and my cousin Patricia to go try it on. No fancy salon could’ve topped all the feelings I had when I put it on. It was my dress. Even though my mom was paying for my dress and told me not to worry about price, I felt great saving her thousands of dollars!

My mom added a custom belt to the dress which gave it a little bit of bling.

Having a ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the church my family attends, was a priority, so that helped us narrow down a possible reception location.

Rachel Miranda Photography
Photo by Rachel of Rachel Miranda Photography

I wanted something glam but with some antique touches like big chandeliers and gold-lacquered mirrors. I also wanted a little rustic feel like big barn doors. I envisioned a tent decorated with lights where people could dress up as much as they wanted or keep it simple if they chose to.

After touring a few locations, we chose The Park Avenue Club in Florham Park. A former dairy barn built by the Saint Elizabeth School Sisters across the street, I was charmed by the history and the small details, like a private small silo in an upstairs part of the building, where I could have some privacy as the bride.

The cocktail hour was held in the main area which featured beautiful antique chandeliers, fireplaces and a brick walls. The reception was held in an attached tent which was more like a stunning, large glass room, offering views of the beautiful gardens and a little bridge over a small koi pond. I got the location I had always dreamed of.

Our reception package included a 12-month membership to their members-only dining club. They’re now just finishing up a big renovation, and from photos on their website, my wedding tent looks very different- more luxurious than the rustic-glam feel I went for. I’m sure weddings they host going forward will be as beautiful and special as mine was for me four years ago.

My wedding coordinator recommended a local florist who designed my bouquet, the wedding party flowers and other floral arrangements. I wanted peach colored flowers and ended up selecting Juliet roses and peonies among other flowers. I also wanted a lot of green leaves in the bouquet to go with the rustic feel.

For music, we chose The Bachelor Boys after hearing them play at another wedding. We also hired a Paraguayan harpist who played during the cocktail hour as well as during dinner. My cousin, Nicole, also played a few songs on her harp.

My hair was done by my long-time hairstylist, Laura Gray of Bellizima Blowout Bar. She did a beautiful job of bringing my vision to life. I wanted a glamorous updo that could easily be brought down right before the reception to portray another look.

My makeup artist was Jenny from Illustrated Beauty in Somerville. She gave me a natural look with pale pink lips and some eyeliner and lashes. I put on a reddish-fuschia Chanel lip color right before the reception, again, to change up my look a bit.

My photographer was Andres Calle who captured beautiful moments of me getting ready at The Westin Governor Morris Hotel, the ceremony and the party.

I chose to also have a video of the ceremony and reception. Husband and wife, Of Ditty Photography. I wanted to be able to send my family in Paraguay a copy of the video so they could see my wedding.

My tips for brides currently planning their wedding is to give yourselves plenty of time. Don’t worry about the small stuff. Notice will notice it but you. If someone offers to help, accept it or give them a specific job (like doing the seating chart…that was one I disliked!).

At the end of the day, your wedding is going just a big party to celebrate the union of you and your new husband. Enjoy the whole process of getting there and enjoy the party even more!

Cheers,

Julia

How Kate Spade Inspired My Style

This blog contains the word “fastinista” for a reason. I love love love fashion and brands and designers and even though this blog focuses a lot on running and working out, I want to make sure I still talk about my other passion. With recent events in the news, I feel called upon again to write more.

“Fastinista” is supposed to be a play on the words “fast” and “fashionista.” I may not always feel so fashionable in my “mom uniform” leggings and tank tops, but I still try to keep up with fashion as much as I can.

Let’s rewind back to my high school years when I would flip through magazines and learn about the latest fads. I collected magazine after magazine that I refused to throw away. Allure, Elle and Glamour were always at arm’s reach.

I first learned about Kate Spade bags from a good high school friend. It was a right of passage; it seemed like all the fashionable girls carried a Kate Spade bag to school. I borrowed my friend’s plain, black bag for a party to “test it out” and eventually saved up enough to purchase my own ivory and brown plaid “Sam” purse.

Photo from Tradesy

Shortly after, my mom gifted me the same black one that my friend had and I was beyond thrilled. Although they were certainly not cheap, at around $200 or just under, they were much more affordable than European brands that at the time I simply couldn’t afford.

Years later, while living in Atlanta, I began working as assistant manager at one of her stores. I remember telling the hiring manager the story of my first Kate Spade bag. It was a job I really, really enjoyed. Working in retail management in the South where customers were usually sweet and gracious was a far cry from my retail experience in north Jersey.

I unknowingly became a Kate loyalist. Always classic, with fun color combinations, her accessories have always been just girly enough to complete an outfit.

As my budget increased, my shoe and purse collection grew larger with other designers and brands. But a few things were still simply Kate: my agenda and my diaper bag, a summer clutch, shoes, and more handbags.

Kate built a brand that inspired so many. She was an amazing businesswoman. Such a tragedy that her life had to end the way it did. I truly hope her husband, daughter and the rest of her family and close friend find peace in their hearts to carry on.

Before I had the chance to publish this post, I found out about the tragic death of another icon: Anthony Bourdain.

With the outpouring of grief I saw on social media, I can tell I’m not alone in feeling like I knew him. When Frank and I traveled to San Francisco together for the first time in 2012, we followed some of his recommendations and visited some of the bars he had featured on one of his shows. He was an excellent writer and true adventurer. He even visited Paraguay where his great, great, great grandfather was rumored to have lived and been buried.

Anthony was mostly known for his food and travel, but his cool, laid-back style and silver fox appeal made him a very stylish guy in my opinion.

I leave you with a quote by him:

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch. Move.”

Kate and Anthony may have been different in a lot of ways, but I would say they both inspired their fans to have adventures and live life colorfully…May they Rest In Peace.

Julia

How I Trained To Qualify For The Boston Marathon

After being extremely pleased with my performance at the Lehigh Valley Marathon last fall, I decided to set the bar higher and chase a Boston qualifying time this year. When the idea first came into my mind last fall, I thought, “Maybe I’ll do a spring marathon to keep building up my speed and endurance and hopefully BQ in a fall race.” Then with the passing weeks and months and growing determination, my thoughts changed to, “What if I just try to BQ in the spring?…” And so I decided to pursue the latter, because the competitor in me simply could not wait until later in the year.

That’s when I started diligently reading as much as I could about how to qualify. I researched different training plans and read articles upon articles related to my goal. I knew training throught the winter would be very tough for me. I am a South American girl after all. I knew a lot of my miles would have to be done on my treadmill, but I decided to be a Treadmill Warrior not a Treadmill Worrier. If I wanted to succeed with my goal, that is what I had to do.

After finishing my 4th marathon, the N.J. Marathon

Although I continued running after Lehigh, it wasn’t until late January that I decided I would really go for it and signed up for the New Jersey Marathon. I was all in. I invested in a training plan that gave me detailed workouts and paces to shoot for. Being a coach myself, I decided to use it as a guide and changed things up as needed. For example, I did not do the total mileage that the plan asked me to do. There was just no way I could run 60 miles a week. I just don’t have the time for it. My mileage peaked at close to 50, but for the most part it was in the mid 40s. If a goal pace run felt too hard, I eased back. I allowed myself to take it easy and I didn’t push more than I had to. I think that’s a mistake I see a lot of runners do, they run fast and hard all the time. In order to reach the physiological changes that your body needs for maximum performance, it’s not necessary to empty your tank all the time.

All smiles after seeing my family at mile 15!

I ran 6 days a week which seemed like a lot at first until it became part of my routine. During the week it was usually 4-6 mile runs, 2 days of easy runs, 1 tempo run or goal pace run or Vo2 max run, a few hill repeats, and 1 long run. I did four 20 milers, which I believe gave me the mental toughness on race day of, “Hey, you did this a few times already. You got this.” Would I recommend it to everyone? Absolutely not. It was an experiment for me. It worked for this training period but it may not always be the case.

I cross-trained and lifted weights at least 2 days a week, right after a run, with core work about 3 days a week. Since figuring out that my right side is definitely my weaker side, I made sure to strength it to become more balanced. Movements such as single-leg squats, single-leg deadlifts and side planks became part of my routine. I also worked on balance by incorporating my Strongboard into my workouts.

I got treated at Santiago Chiropractic towards the end of my training. I do admit that I started after feeling some tightness on my right vastus lateralis. The issue quickly went away, but then my left gastrocnemius started aching. I was fortunate to be able to make it through the marathon with no aches at all.

Getting treated at Santiago Chiropractic Associates.

I suffer from gastrointestinal issues, so I knew I would also need to do some research and experimenting in that area. I had a tough experience during Lehigh and I definitely did not want to sideline my goals with something I could control. I had been using Honey Stingers for a couple of years but the gummies were not very convenient during races. I decided to switch to gels and opted for the Acai Pomegranate flavor. I consumed a gel packet every 3 miles during the race and that worked out perfectly. I stayed well hydrated by drinking water at almost every water station.

With all the biomechanics studying and research I’ve done over the past 7 months, I switched from my Nike Pegasus to minimalist shoes. These type of shoes encourage natural foot splay, foot flexes and lessen ground contact for improved running performance. Minimalist shoes can help improve proprioception by activating the small muscles in the ankle, heel and feet. I don’t recommend anyone just jump in and start running long in these type of shoes, but if you start out with shorter runs and slowly increase them, you can learn to appreciate what they can do for your running.

These are the main tips I can give someone and they were some of the major changes I made in my training. If you have specific questions about anything, feel free to leave a comment or to email me and I’d be happy to help you!

I did not stay at a hotel the night before, mostly because I wanted to eat dinner at home and sleep in my own bed. My mom drove with me early that Sunday morning and even thought there was a slight back up entering the parking lot to the racetrack, we were able to get a spot easily.

The marathon itself was a really great experience. I actually did not study the course map too well because I thought there was going to be more boardwalk running, but most of the course was actually on the streets. It started at the Monmouth Racetrack, went north to Monmouth Park, then right through Long Branch and down to Asbury Park where we turned around and headed back up to finish in Long Branch.

There was a bit of a bottleneck after crossing the start line but after that first half mile, it got better. My favorite parts of the course were Monmouth Park, where some local residents pumped music from their loudspeakers and hung out on their front lawns with motivational signs, early on that Sunday morning to cheer us on. The energy in Long Branch was also infectious. Again, lots of signs, and cheerful faces either waiting to see their loved ones run by or perhaps just being out there to support strangers. There were lots of miles were there were no spectators, but since I was so focused on just running my race, it didn’t affect me too much. I do recall a young male spectator who held up a sign around mile 16 that said, “Touch here for power!” and I made sure to give it a tap!

The last mile will always be memorable because it was when I kicked into second gear somehow, hoping to leave everything on that course, on that boardwalk. I was so sure that I did not get into Boston at that point, but I decided to finish as strong and as fast as I could. And I sure did. I was warned about the headwinds that can plague the coast, but I was so focused on getting to the Finish Line that the winds never bothered me.

I would definitely recommend this race and since it is mostly flat, it would be a good one for either a new marathoner or someone chasing a Boston Qualifier. I did not make it to the expo and had a fellow running club member pick up my bib, so I cannot comment on how that was. The long sleeve t-shirt was nice although I would have preferred a tech material to cotton.

Having the support of my husband, my son and my mom out on the course was the cherry on top to a wonderful race. I do wish I had dialed back my pace a bit in the first few miles (and around miles 15-19), so that is definitely something I will keep in mind for my next marathon!

I’m so proud of the hard work I put in to accomplish my first Boston Qualifier marathon. Most importantly, I’m proud I got it in my home state!

Some of my cheerleaders.My Why!

Have you run the NJ Half or Full Marathon and if so, what did you think of it? Would you run it again?

I got my BQ in my home state! I got my BQ in my home state!

~Julia

Tapering for my first Spring Marathon

Here I am, three days away from my 4th marathon, the very first spring marathon I’ll be doing. This training period was so different from the past three, but that’s not surprising. Each of the past three were all different in their own way as well.

The first two, Philadelphia and New York were done before I became a mom and while I was doing CrossFit hardcore. My mileage probably peaked at the mid to high 30s. I was in great shape, but mixing the two was tough and I was always exhausted.

My third marathon was the Lehigh Valley Marathon and it was the first one I trained for as a mom. Many of my runs were done while pushing Frankie on the stroller, which became (for the most part) a fun thing for us to do together. My mileage went up to the low 40s and I got a sub 4-hour (3:44) marathon. Up until then, I was only thinking of trying after I turned 35 where I’d gain an extra five minutes to my qualifying time. Running friends started to put the bug in my ear about trying for Boston…and so I decided to embark on my mission to qualify.  This is what crazy runner friends do their friends!

My qualifying time at this time is 3:35 but in order to be able to actually have entry I would need to run a sub 3:30 marathon. Ideally I would like to do this before expanding my family. And so this marathon will be my first attempt!

This marathon is different because it was my first time training during the winter. And you all know what a winter we’ve had! I became a Treadmill Warrior and learned to embrace the fact that most of my runs would be done on the hamster wheel. If I was serious about completing a spring race, it’s what I had to do…unless of course I wanted to get up at 5am to run and that was not happening. Mama needs her sleep.

For this marathon, I used a more advanced training plan, which I of course modified to my Mom Life. I did four long runs of 20 miles, and diligently did speed work, VO2 max workouts (which I learned all about in my ReVo2lution Running certification) and tempo runs. I even did some hill repeats, although where I live you simply can’t avoid hills so they probably weren’t necessary. But variety is important so overall I’m happy with all the runs I got in. I kept my easy runs easy and tried to push the pace during intervals. My mileage went up to the upper 40s.

I remained ache free until the last couple weeks. I’m currently suffering with an achy left gastrocnemius which I’ve been icing and treating at Santiago Chiropractic. It feels fine once I warm up so I’m confident that it will hold up during the race. I will focus on giving it lots of TLC after Sunday.

This last taper week started with a sports massage and reflexology on Sunday at the Short Hills Hilton Hotel spa, eforea. It was actually a Mother’s Day gift I had from Frank from last year (oops) and took my mom with me to spend some quality Mother-Daughter time.  The services we had were ok, but the overall customer service was very disappointing. From no one being around to lead us to the upstairs lounge area, to terrible coffee, no snacks and a 45-minute wait to have your food delivered, I would be very unlikely to ever go back there.

Monday was a rest day, Tuesday was an easy three miler with four 30-second accelerations at half marathon pace. Yesterday was another three miles mostly at half marathon pace and today and Friday will be rest days. I was supposed to do another easy run but I’d rather get the rest for my calf. Saturday I’ll do a 2-3 mile easy shakeout run.

Since I decided not to run today, I’ll just be focusing on mobility, some light core work (on my Strongboard, of course) and stretching.

I did go out for a short little walk with my handsome best buddy. Last fall, during my taper, he had croup, and this time around he has an ear infection. Should it blame it on the taper crazies?? He’s luckily doing much better and was back to being his energetic, silly self again today.

I’m also drafting up ideas for another Running Workshop will which take place next month. If you’re local (and even if you’re not), send me your email so I can keep you posted on all the details.

Frankie is down for his nap as I write this and my babysitter will be here shortly so that I can go get a much needed pedicure. I’m sipping on a green matcha latte, compliments of Vital Proteins. I love their collagen powders and was so happy they sent me the matcha, as I’ve been meaning to try it. I love that it is packed with antioxidants, helps the metabolism and calms your mind and body…just what I need right now!

So the plan for the weekend is to drive down early on Sunday. Another member of my Amazing Feet Club will be picking up my bib for me (if all goes well), which will give both the hubby and I a chance to make it to Frankie’s little multi-sports camp.

Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see more about the weekend! I’ll be sure to do post-race recap with more details on my training once I give my body and mind some rest!

Have a great day,

Julia

How I came to appreciate biomechanical assessments

Muscle and joint pain is an increasingly common problem experienced by athletes, both novice and professionals. I’ve had my share of injuries in the past decade, although luckily nothing too serious. I had some foot pain a few years ago when I was training for a half marathon and had to take about 2 weeks off from running and pretty much “self-healed.”

Then, I suffered from iliotiobial band syndrome (ITB) while training for the New York marathon in 2014 and took several days off and went to see a physical therapist for some relief. Looking back, bad shoes and a weak right ankle led to these issues and I’ve since learned so much more to help me in the long run…
When I met Dr Santiago last Fall, I learned that he was one of the first chiropractors to be chosen as a member of the US Olympic Team Medical Staff for the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona, Spain, and he was an All American collegiate and professional soccer player, so I knew that helping athletes would be of high importance to me when joining his practice.

Biomechanics Evaluation

Performing an assessment on Santiago Chiropractic Associates’ patient, Valerie Goldberg.

That being said, I wanted to set myself apart from other fitness professionals so that we could offer the best care to the patients at his office.
I’ve always been the type of person who likes to focus on the fundamentals. When I was a CrossFit trainer, I would always tell my athletes that I cared more about their form than how fast they finished a workout or how heavy they lifted. I would make sure they spent enough time working on their mobility and that they understood why we were doing certain movements. Similary, now that I’m a biomechanist with a focus on functional and corrective exercise, I remind my clients that mobility and simple exercises are essential to helping them move better and remain as pain free as possible.
Gait analysis is a data-driven way of assessing performance and physical condition of athletes.

The proper system should be able to identify any muscular deficiencies and measure tolerance to various workloads, help in developing customized training and rehabilitation based on the test results, and create a database so that re-assessments can be done to periodically check the athlete’s progress.

What we use at Santiago Chiropractic is OptoGait and OptoJump, both systems by Microgate, an Italian company.
I love being able to help local athletes  (especially runners) detect mechanical inefficiencies and asymmetries between both legs, therefore helping them prevent injuries or assisting them in an injury recovery plan.
You may wonder what the benefits of these assessments are.
Biomechanical evaluations help understand how we move and identify any imbalances in the body like leg length discrepancies, muscle imbalances, joint dysfunctions, pelvic asymmetries, core dysfunctions etc that may be causing or contributing to symptoms.

We are all unique and asymmetrical and that is ok to an extent.

However, we may have learned postural bad habits and thus developed compensations that can be injuries waiting to happen!
Combining science with experience I’m able to help my clients understand their whole kinetic chain and assist them on a journey towards  pain free movement and better enjoyment of their sport.


In the past few months, I’ve dedicated myself more to my own balance and mobility and that has greatly shown up in my running. I was able to get an awesome marathon PR last September (3:44), a half marathon PR in October (1:41), and just this past Saturday, I got a PR in my local St Paddy’s 5K as well (21:39).

I have better awareness that my right side is my weaker side and I take the time to work more on strengthening it.
As you can see, it’s very important to be aware of potential issues before you get sidelined by an injury. Perhaps you’re an athlete yourself or have a child who is.

If you are local to the Lake Hiawatha are, I’d love to have a brief chat with you to answer any questions and see if my services could be beneficial to you.