Category Archives: how to friday

How to Friday – how to workout at home…..


with three little kids…who always want to work out with you…and need water and a snack as soon as you lift a weight…and then need to be taken to school…which is totally overrated, all that schooling and reading and academia.  I’m kidding.  School is super important.  So is reading.  And all things academic.  

Workout – today is a rest day, so I took it easy.  25 minutes on the stairmaster and a little P90X yoga that I’ve had an intense craving for this week.  Or my hamstrings had an intense craving for.  I am doing 19-20 miles tomorrow, and didn’t feel the need to kill it today.  Not like I have been killing it all week, but whatev.  Just not my week.  It happens.  At least I’m trying.  Next week will be my week.  I have big plans to make big plans on Sunday for the coming week, including workouts and meals so that I don’t go to the grocery store and wander the aisles aimlessly trying to figure out what healthy meal to prepare for that evening’s feast.  It’s all about getting into a groove.  When I’m in the groove of planning, I plan.  When I fall out of the groove, I’m a mess.  Time to get back into the groove.  It’s fun to have it all planned out.  What a stellar revelation.

I joined my gym when I was 14 years old.  I worked out at the gym in between the field hockey and lacrosse seasons.  I worked in the daycare there through high school, and I kept my membership when they changed franchises.  My husband and I had romantic morning workouts together when we were just dating.  I went back to the gym after I had each of my girls.  I give the gym daycare credit for getting me through those first couple years when my girls were really little and we had lots of time and no activities.  It kept my sanity as they safely played for an hour while I ellipticaled away.  That is a word. 

The gym and I go way back.  The downward spiral started when they cut the time limit in the daycare to 1 hour.  It was not nice.  And then they put a limit on 20 kids at a time in the daycare.  If you didn’t get there 5 minutes before they opened, you were turned away with an 21 month old and a seven month old and dashed hopes of an endorphin lifting workout.  Then, if you can imagine, they cut the childcare program all together.  Tragedy.  Truly a sad day.  But everything happens for a reason.  I wasn’t willing to pay $135 a month for the other gym in town.  So I cancelled my membership.  After more than 10 years there.  For more than 2 years I did not set foot into a gym.  I worked out at home and started running.  I rejoined this past fall.  I love the gym, but now I have a much easier time working out at home and have no anxiety about not getting to the gym.  Now, the gym gives me a good balance to the home workouts.  I daresay I got into the best shape I had ever been in NOT working out in the gym. 

Some people need the gym, trainers, equipment and the motivation of going somewhere to workout.  But, it is completely possible to get a great workout at home as well.  The workout is only part of it – remember, physical exercise is only 20% of the fitness picture.  Nutrition makes up the majority.  Whether you work out hardcore at the gym, or at home – none of it will matter if your diet, or I should say nutrition, sucks.  

The following is How To Workout at Home – Katie Style.  which means minimal equipment.  minimal investment.  minimal fuss.  maximal fun, excitement and sweat.  You can totally go crazy with all sorts of different paraphanalia, but right now I’m just talking about baisc, old fashioned, standard fitness equiptment.  Nothing new and trendy.  No bands, bosu’s or other things of the sort – although I like all of those things.  I just don’t have time to talk about every single different option out there.  This is what you will need to make your home workout environment a success.     

1. Weights

Have some basic weights on hand.  You don’t need a fancy shmancy weight set to get toned and buff.  Or not buff, just toned.  A five, eight and ten pound set should be good.  Maybe a 15.  Another good thing to have on hand is a kettlebell or two.  This will lend to some variety in the home workout.  Last thing – a medicine ball is always fun.  If not to just let the kids play with while you try to get the real work done.     

2. Videos

I love working out with videos.  Like I said above, there are a lot of new fangled fancy internet workouts that I just can’t and don’t have the desire to get into.  If I tried to copy a workout from my computer, we would end up on watching and playing The Cat in the Hat games (by the way, happy bday to Dr. Suess!).  Not gonna happen.  I’m sticking with the DVD’s and the TV.

Have a handful of videos to rotate so that you don’t get bored and you don’t plateau on them.  All different types.  A couple of my favorites ladies to workout with are: Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30.  

I don’t actually follow this from start to finish.  I just pick one that I want to do.  I like this because it incorporates some exercises that get your heart rate up.  It’s a 3-2-1 method of strength, cardio, abs.  And I like the random Jackie Warner one that I bought. 

Pretty basic.  She’s not very high energy or anything like JM, but it is a good workout.  Another one I love is the P90X, which I also don’t follow in any order or the way it should be.  I don’t like following directions.  I like to do things my way.  A couple of my favorite P90X ones are the yoga, and the plyometrics. 

You can get individual P90X dvd’s on ebay.  You can buy anything on ebay.  True story.

When I was doing one of my long runs on the gym treadmill with no headphones, I was stuck watching and reading closed captioning for this workout series….

I almost bought it.  If I had my credit card.  It was that convincing.  And I never had a single thought about needing to lift my rear before being subjected to this informercial.  And I would have ordered one for my sister, my mom, my friend, my friends mom and anyone else who has a rear.  I refrained.  Those Saturday morning treadmill long runs are dangerous.  Too many infomercials. 

Point being, have a variety of different workout dvd’s on hand.  Keep it fresh.              

3. Magazines

We all know how I feel about SHAPE magazine.  I rip out the workouts and put them in pretty little sheet protectors and stick them in a binder for a rainy day.  I like to do my own fun circuits at home, and these help ignite the workout with some ideas, if I need them.  The fun thing is that SHAPE always has different types of circuit workouts.  So, I  have quite the selection of exercises to choose from to give me ideas of what to do.  Some of them are really good.  Some, not so much.  I don’t rip those ones out.

iphone pics 193


I even labeled the binder.  That way I don’t forget that I’m not in highschool anymore and that flashy pink binder is not my chemistry homework, but my spectacular collection of exercises.  Magazines are a great source for at home workouts. 

iphone pics 194

4. Yoga mat

This is just a good thing to have on hand.  You can find them anywhere, for pretty cheap.   

5. Water bottle

Hydrate.  done.  no explanation except get it ready before you begin your workout so you aren’t stopping mid session to gulp down a glass.  leaving you with a horrible cramp and the excuse that you can’t finish because you feel like your stomach is ripping apart.  or you have bubbles sloshing around while you are doing jumping jacks.  

6. Snacks

This would be for the kids, if you have them, and are trying to keep them occupied while you are toning and buffing.  Set the kids up before you start with snacks, games, books, activities to keep them busy while you are doing your thing.  Think ahead of anything they could possibly want or need and take care of it first.  minimize interruptions.    

7. Convenience

Store your at home workout accessories in a place that is convenient to use and easy to get to, yet out of the way.  The last thing you need to be doing is gathering weights from the recesses of  your home, trying to find that 2lb dumbell and yoga mat.  Keep them all in a place that you can easily get to them to get going.   

8. Back to the basics and multi-task

Don’t underestimate the basic exercises; pushups, pullups, planks, tricep dips on a chair, etc.  You can use a lot of household items to assist in getting in shape.  Babies work pretty well too.  Strap that little person in a front carrier and start working.  Sit him on your belly and crunch time!  You think I’m kidding.  I’m totally serious.  These all work wonders for the muscles.  You can do a lot with your own body weight as resistance training and no weights at all.  I am all about multi-tasking my workout as well.  I don’t like to work just one body part.  I like to use different balance positions to challenge different muscle groups at the same time.  It’s like getting the most bang for your buck in terms of time spent exercising.  Why workout just your biceps when you can be doing quads at the same time.  No brainer to me.  In this recent issue of SHAPE, they had one of my favorite ways to do this – plie squats.  I will do plie squats with any and every upper body exercise.  Those, and lunges.  Fantastic.       


iphone pics 381

 9. Timer

If you do like to do your own circuits at home, or out of a magazine or from a website – a timer is a must. 


This is a gymboss timer.  I don’t have one of these.  I just use an app on my phone that is a timer and it’s a pain in the butt because I have to physically stop, reset and pay attention to it.  I tried a bootcamp class, and this is what the instructor used.  It seemed like it worked pretty well.  You set the intervals – the workout and rest period that you want to do and it beeps when you are supposed to change.  No stopping, checking and resetting a stop watch.  nice.  and it’s pink.  even better.     

10. Cardio

If you are like me, and you like to get a GOOD cardio workout in, too – take it to the streets.  Put on the sneaks and get outside.  I have put many many miles in walking and running with two kids in a double jogger.  That’s pushing minimum 75 lbs.  That’s a workout.  Brisk walking is a great workout as well.  You could also think about investing in a piece of cardio equipment for your home.  My stairmaster has a very special place in my heart.  I’ve had it as long as I’ve had my oldest daughter.  Yes, she has a more special place in my heart.  Do not worry.  But, it was a good investment, and we bought it used.  It was a top of the line used, though.  So it’s not breaking down weekly.  Something to think about.   

Some other fun tidbits from SHAPE mag today.  This is one reason I love the stairmaster – I can read while I’m stepping.  Thank God I picked it up in the grocery store yesterday, otherwise I never would have known this useless but necessary information.

iphone pics 376

  I guess I’m happy to be below average on that one.  At least for another 5 years!

iphone pics 377

 43% less likely to catch a cold if you exerciseAnother reason to keep it moving.  150 minutes a week.  minimum.  you won’t get sick.   


 iphone pics 375

More proof that I MUST get some good earphones that like my ears and a good playlist going.  This might have confirmed that I should run the end of the marathon with music.  I better start training with it. 



iphone pics 378


This ties in with the How to Friday post about being Happy.  Some of the things listed there are avocados, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, peppers and walnuts.  I have all of those things in my home right now.  I should be beaming with joy.  eat up! 

That’s all the fun I have for this Friday.  I was very excited about my long run tomorrow until I saw the weather forecast is 80% chance of rain.  I really love New England.  But I really want warmer weather.  Without rain.  blah.  It will not keep me down, it just might send me to the gym for 20.  can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning. 

Talk to me!

What are some of your fun workout at home tips and tricks?  Favorite workout DVD’s?  I’m always looking for good new ones!

How many of those ‘happy foods’ are in your home right now?

Who has races coming up?  Long runs this weekend?  Totally relaxing and enjoying life?


How To Friday – how to race prep


Workout – ever loving rest day.  thank you very much.  It worked well that Fridays are usually a “rest from running” day.  I usually do something else.  but today I took a complete and utter rest day.  which included sleeping until 7 am.  yahoo, thanks to the hubs.  I guess that means it’s my morning to get up with boy wonder tomorrow.  blah.  I had actually toying with the idea of doing a nice and easy few miles, but wasn’t clued in to the weather we were having today….

iphone pics 313

That would be snow.  50’s yesterday.  snow today.  I opted out of that run.  and am ever so thankful that this snow happened today and not tomorrow.  back into the 40’s and sunny tomorrow.  prayers are answered. 

iphone pics 322

or maybe I should have prayed more specifically – do you see that wind forecast?!?!  that is for tomorrow.  it’s only 27 mph.  shouldn’t be a big deal going up these hills…


That is just fantastic.  looking forward to it.  every single part of it.

I thought it only fitting to do a “how to” about race preparation, seeing as I have a race tomorrow.  If you have been reading for a little bit, you are well aware that I am slightly neurotic all the time before a race.  doesn’t matter what the race is.  I could be racing into a pile of poop, but if it’s a race and people are competing, you can bet I’ll get crazy about it. 

One funny and annoying thing I do – you can ask my husband – is walk around the house the week before a race with a calculator practically attached to my hip figuring out what different paces put me at different finish times.  told you.  I’m crazy.  I like numbers.  and it gives me something to do.  because I get pretty bored around here with my three young children, my husband, “keeping house”, cooking, cleaning and keeping fit as a fiddle.  all in a days work, you know.  and I still couldn’t tell you what pace puts me at what finish time.  I guess I’ll just leave the pace to my garmin. 

let’s begin.  and this is all subjective info that pops off the top of my head.  most of which I have done none of today, in preparation for my race tomorrow.  because I was too busy figuring out my pace and finish time.  😉

How To Prepare for a Race

1 – sleep.  this is very important.  Sleep is not so important the night before a race, but two nights before a race.  I generally never sleep well before a race.  So I try to make it happen the night before the night before race day. 

2- rest.  take it easy the day before.  I don’t think going for a run is bad, but don’t get anxious and do some crazy new exercise or speed work.  that would be silly. 

3- hydrate

iphone pics 320

as if my pace calculating didn’t seal the ‘katie is crazy’ deal for you, that is a water bottle with a filter in it.  and that is conversation for another post coming up.  I like it.  will explain later. 

Don’t hydrate so much that you will float away, but keep a water bottle with you.  full of water.  not juice.  and sip it all day.  I’m thinking the two cups of iced coffee I had today probably should have been water.  Can’t get enough of that stuff. 

4- eat.  my take on the carbo loading thing…I don’t find it totally necessary to “carb load” before half marathons or under.  If you are eating a healthy diet, especially leading up to the days before this distance, I think our bodies have enough reserve to get through the 13.1 miles, especially if you are like me and plan on taking 1 or 2 energy supplements during the race.  I feel like people can overdo the whole carb loading and use the race as an excuse to eat a ton of pasta and carbohydrates.  this usually only serves to weigh you down on race day.  I try to just replace some of my protein meals the day before with complex, whole grain carbohydrates.  donuts, cake, cookies – these don’t count.  not a good idea.  Some people like to cut out fiber and fatty foods for the days leading up to a race to prevent the humiliation that might ensue if a porta potty is nowhere to be found.  I don’t generally cut out fiber.  I eat pretty clean and my race morning anxiety tends to do a good job of emptying the bowels before a run.  This is something where you just need to know your body and what works.  Likewise, don’t try any new foods the day before.  And I try to eat on the earlier side.  we always eat on the earlier side, but don’t make 8pm dinner reservations.  Give your body time to digest.  So, your calories don’t need to be through the roof the day before a race.  they just need to be in the form of energy you can use to run – think oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread, veggies, fruit.  My dinner is always this –

iphone pics 319

I told you this was my new favorite sweatshirt.  it’s important to stay comfortable, at all times. 

Pasta with a little olive oil and I usually throw in some ground beef.  I don’t eat a lot of red meat, and it’s good for the iron.  I love the Barilla Plus pasta.  It has a good amount of protein, and carbs.  I do like my protein.  and you don’t need to eat the whole box.  a normal serving will do.  and have a snack later if it’s not enough.  

5- lay it all out.  This has been my motto regarding running, working out, exercising – if you feel good in what you are wearing, you will have a better workout.  You will work harder.  Run in an old ratty college shirt, and you will probably feel old and ratty and not like you can conquer the world.  Run in a cute, matching, fitting outfit and you will feel like you can do anything.  this is a fact. This may also justify my pre-race lululemon purchases 😉  that’s also for another post.  I may or may not have gone to lululemon.  two times.  in one day.  it is a strong possibility.  Anyway, get the outfit out, put together, ready to go.  Get your race fuel out, ready to go.  Get your breakfast ready, if you can.  I drink iced coffee, not hot – I usually make that the night before so I can get up and start drinking early.  coffee that is.  Get everything – iPod, if you run with music, sneakers, socks, race bib, race information – have it all ready and set so that you are not running around on the way out the door trying to find a sock. 

6- take a breath.  have fun.  I am totally that person that obviously makes a bigger deal out of everything than is necessary on any level, ie: pace/finish time calculations, tracking weather patterns, looking up past years results, normal things like that.  I remind myself constantly to Keep it Fun.  I do this for fun and because it makes me happy.  I do want to keep it that way.  let the craziness and any anxiousness roll away. 


What are some of your pre-race preparation tips and tricks? 

What kind of miles is everyone putting in this weekend? 

Is there a specific food you like to eat before every race you do?