My Favorite (Free!) Fitness Apps

Smartphones do it all. From mobile banking to shopping, it makes sense that there are now tons of apps available to help you reach your fitness goals and improve your physique. Here are a few of my favorites

1. Nike Training Club 

Only got 30 minutes to work out? This app will kick your you-know-what in 30 seconds flat. The app offers four types of workouts: Get Lean, Get Toned, Get Strong, and Get Focused, and these are available in both beginner mode, intermediate mode, and advanced mode. Word to the wise, these are tough workouts (the highest I do is intermediate, and even those workouts can leave me sore for days) so don’t feel discouraged if these workouts can be difficult to get through. Workouts are available in both 30 minute and 45 minute sessions. It’s available free on the Google App Store and Apple’s App Store.

2. PumpUp 

PumpUp is by far my favorite strength training app. It builds a workout for you based on the equipment you have available and the areas of your body you’d like to work. It offers interactive pictures and instructions for each workout move, and you can plan your workouts in advance. I use the free version of PumpUp, but there is a paid version available with vocal coaching (the free version is quiet). Currently PumpUp is only available on the Apple App Store, but it’s supposed to be coming soon for Android.

For paid apps I also enjoy Nike Plus ($2.99 available for both Apple and Android) which I use to track and pace my runs and CruiseControl ($4.99, only for Apple) which finds songs in your music library to match the pace you’re currently running, or want to run.

What fitness apps or techniques do you like to use?


There’s No Place Like Home & Favorite Links this Week

After 12 hours of driving, 3 Subway stops, and far too many cups of coffee to count, I have finally moved! I will be staying with my parents (doing the mid 20something rite of passage!) will looking for an apartment in downtown ATL. I could not be more thrilled to be back home, but my blogging has definitely taken a hit while being gone. Here’s a few of the links, recipes, and looks I’ve been digging this week.

1, Chobani Greek Protein Cheesecake


This is one of my absolute favorite healthy and affordable desserts to make.  I have made this many times, and I do sometimes make this without nutmeg, as it can be a bit  overpowering.


For filling:
6oz 0% Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
1/2 Tbsp Jell-O sugar-free instant pudding mix – cheesecake

For crust:
1/2 cup fiber bran cereal
4 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp unsalted almond butter
1/4 tsp stevia
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg


Add the cheesecake flavored pudding mix into the yogurt and stir until well combined. Set yogurt mixture aside. In a food processor or blender, grind the bran to a fine texture. In a small mixing bowl, add the ground bran with all dry ingredients, (stevia, cinnamon, and nutmeg) and mix evenly. Then add the almond butter and water and stir until it becomes moist and sticky. If the batter is still crumbly, add additional water in 1 tsp increments until desired consistency is achieved. Pour the crust mixture into a small 4 inch circular pan. Pack the crust along the bottom and sides of the dish to create a pie shape. Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth evenly along the top. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and enjoy cold.

2. Blog: Colorful Corporate 

This is a great blog for outfit inspiration for both work and home. Jeannie shares her outfits with pieces from J Crew, Lilly Pulitzer, etc. and puts together pieces in unique ways. A great blog to follow when you need outfit pairing motivation and inspiration.

3. Detoxinista’s Avocado Pesto Sauce Recipe 

Have I mentioned how much I adore this blog and Megan’s yummy and healthy recipes? This is a fantastic healthy pasta sauce recipe that is light and refreshing. Click here to go directly to the recipe.

4. Greatist Article: 71 Resources to Run Better Today 

Greatist is a fantastic resource for health and fitness recipes that cater to young adults. This article offers lots of links for runners new and old to celebrate National Running Day (which was yesterday, Happy Belated Running Day!). Some of the links include training plans, the best theme races, and so much more.

What recipes are you cooking this week? Did you celebrate National Running Day?

Running in Fast Forward

Ah running anxiety. I’ve felt lately that I am obsessing over running certain mile splits, putting on the absolute perfect song while running, and completing the perfect run pace each and every time. While it’s rewarding and satisfying to reach certain milestones, it can really take the fun out of running. I’m trying to use the following three techniques over the next few weeks to lessen this anxiety.

1. Locking my phone while running.Image

There’s two options for doing this. Personally, I love using the Nikeplus app for running, and it offers an option to lock your screen. By putting my iphone on an armband (at an angle I can’t see), I will only be able to hear my mile splits after they are completed, and take in the scenery and enjoy my run. As another option,  you can lock your phone itself (under settings)

2. Running without any gadgets.

This one is particularly hard for many of us to do (myself included), but can really help you fall in love with running without expectations or stringent mile splits/paces/etc. It’s so simple to do, just go out and run without any music, phones, Garmin watches, etc. I did this last week, and while freaking out out for the first mile (what’s my pace? Am I running too slow? Is  it always this loud on this street?) I found it really freeing and noticed more details about the scenery around me.

3. Have a mantra

The word mantra can bring to mind new age-y folk singers and herbal teas, but this technique totally works. Especially during a race, it really helps to have a phrase or word that you can say to yourself (whether out loud or in your head is up to you) to keep going and ignore the doubts in your head. For my last 25K I went with this phrase: “I am strong, I am capable, and I will finish strong”.

What techniques do you use to overcome anxiety or doubts while running?

An Easy and Free Way to Give Back on Memorial Day

ImageHappy Memorial Day! I hope your weather is better than ours here in Central Illinois. It’s a cool 55 degrees with lots of rain! On the bright side there’s no chance of pool time distracting me from finishing packing 🙂

I wanted to share one of my favorite running app’s that offers a way to give back through working out. Charity Miles is a free app available in the iTunes app store and the Android platform that gives 25 cents for every mile you walk or run, or 10 cents for every mile you bike to 1 of the 21 charities you select yourself. There are a wide variety of charities available (My go-to’s are the World Food Programme, ASPCA, and GirlUp), and you can choose a different charity each time you work out.  The app doesn’t take up a lot of your phone’s battery life, and I like to run it concurrently with Nikeplus. CharityMiles does ask that you share your results with your Facebook friends and/or Twitter followers, but this is  a very small price to pay for the use of the app.

The Wounded Warrior Project is another one of the charities available to select on CharityMiles; its mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors through programs such as combat stress recovery programs, economic empowerment programs, and more. Why not give back to those who give so much for our country this Memorial Day by walking, biking, or running a few miles today through the CharityMiles app and selecting The Wounded Warrior Project? It’s a free easy way to give back and exercise at the same time. 


What are your plans for Memorial Day?




The Farewell Tour- Saying Goodbye to My Favorite Running Trails Before Moving

In less than two weeks I’ll be moving back to my hometown of Atlanta, GA to be start a new marketing communications position that’s closer to friends and family. Though I could not be more thrilled about this awesome opportunity, it’s a bit bittersweet to say goodbye to friends and to the trails and sidewalks where I fell in love with longer distance running. I’m spending the next few days running these favorite spots and trying to de-stress from the lunacy of packing through this endeavor:

1. Grandview Drive


Previously mentioned in my Run River City Recap, this is my go-to spot for scenic and shady hill training in the Peoria Heights area. It’s also home to some stunning homes


I typically run 4-6miles here, as it basically runs into a busy highway around the 6 mile mark. It’s also super close to Running Central, the best running store in the area.

2. Rock Island Trail


By far my favorite trail in the area, this 26 mile trail is built on old railroad tracks and is one of the best places to run no matter the season. I’ve used it extensively for long training runs but would advise caution in running in later in the evening hours, as after the 2 mile mark it can get a little isolated. You’re also likely to run into all sorts of critters


This possum was the only other soul on the trail one snowy afternoon in February.

This trail is perfect for what I like to call a thinking run. If something is bothering me, or I’m stuck on a decision, Rock Island is the perfect flat course where I don’t have to worry about cars or being lost.


It also constantly reminds me of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, as it splits at a few places.

Other spots in the Peoria area that I have enjoyed running:

Farmdale Recreation Area: I ran a ten mile trail race here last October, and these are not  your high school cross country course trails. This is a great trail for intense hill/trail training, but you do have to watch out for some of the overly aggressive bikers. There is great nature watching and since the deer are protected in this recreation area, they run rampant!

Do you have a favorite running trail in your area?

May Running Playlist- Top Ten Favorites from the Run River City 25K


This Nike Plus ad says it all – with the right music playlist you can exceed your running goals, and take your finishing times to a new level.

Last week before my 25K I found myself obsessively fretting over the optimal playlist. This is a typical experience before a long race (google half marathon or marathon playlists) as the optimal song choice can help you get through a bad hill or fight through a side stitch. I also often debate over shuffling a playlist versus making a set playlist to coincide with certain points in a race that I will need motivation (aka the last two miles). The jury’s still our on shuffle vs. set playlist as I’m still experimenting from race to race. Here’s my top 10 running playlist songs from the 25K (in no order whatsoever)

1. Bruce Springsteen- Dancing in the Dark

There’s a reason you hear songs by The Boss at almost every major race. Dancing in the Dark  in particular makes me want to dance/run (ala Courtney Cox in the infamous video for this song). There’s also nothing more American than a track by Mr. Springsteen, so put this on your next playlist and jam out.

2. Kelly Clarkson- I Do Not Hook Up 

Kelly Clarkson is on almost every playlist I own. Her songs have the right blend of kick butt, girl powerness that help me power through a tough run. This is one of her more underrated songs that’s fast and is just all around fun.

3.  Kenny Loggins- I’m Alright

Besides reminding me of the hilarity that is Caddyshack, this track is great for 3/4ths of the way through a grueling race when I’m starting to feel a bit tired.

4. Chiddy Bang- Opposite of Adults (Does contain curse words)

A fun song (set to Kids by MGMT) this is one of my favorite hip-hop jamz to listen to mid-way through a race.

5. Selena Gomez- Hit the Lights

There’s got to be a few cheesy teeny bopper hits on any of my running playlists, simply because they’re catchy, distracting, and easy to listen to.  This song is no exception

6. Rihanna- S&M

Dance-y and with a beat that’s perfect for one of your faster miles during a race.

7. Paulo Nutini- New Shoes

I have been borderline obsessed with this song since I first heard it in the movie Something Borrowed. This is a good slightly slower song on my playlist that balances out some of my faster tracks

8. Gnarls Barkley- Run

It’s cheesy as can be but there’s gotta be at least one song with run, running, or runner in the title in my playlist. This is a way underrated track that is fast and ferociously listenable.

9. Michael Jackson – P.Y.T. 

Michael Jackson is another constant on most of my running playlists. This song in particular is one of my favorites for how catchy it is, and it’s a good one for keeping me on 9:00/9:15 mile pace.

10. Black Kids- I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend ( The Twelves Remix)

Mentally prepare yourself, as this song will definitely be stuck in your head for the next few weeks (and that’s a good thing!) This by far was my favorite track during my 25K last weekend, for its beat and catchiness

What are your favorite songs to listen to while running?


Run River City- 25K Recap

Last weekend I had the pleasure of running in the first ever Run River City  in my current city of Peoria, IL. The race consisted of a Marathon, Marathon Relay, 25K, and a 5K.  After completing my first half marathon in Indianapolis( The Indy Mini Marathon 500, which I highly recommend) I wanted to step it up this spring, and signed up for the 25K.


I started training at end of February using  Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 Half Marathon Training Program  with a few added miles to the long runs to make up for the extra mileage (Half Marathon= 13.1 Miles, 25K= 15.53).  For anyone debating the training involved with a half marathon, you can’t beat Hal’s plans for their simplicity and flexibility.  I was going for 9:15-9:20 per mile with a finishing time around 2:24.

Knowing this 25K course went through a horrible hill I tried to do quite a few training runs up Grandview Drive, one of the most iconic and ritziest sections of Peoria

photo (1)

I got to the course (starting in front of Caterpillar headquarters) nice and early to warm up and stretch and ended up getting interviewed by the local news about my thoughts about the race and why I like to run. Here’s some stills as the original video seems to be hit or miss for working

photo (2) photo (3)

Miles 1- 6 went great, though a bit fast. I ran into my friends Sarah and Laura at mile 2 who got a great action shot of me seeming to enjoy the run (my typical post race photos normally resemble Lurch from the Adams Family, downtrodden and tired!)  Can you spot me?


Mile Splits

Mile 1 8:58

Mile 2 8:55

Mile 3 9:00

Mile 4 9:12 (Finally finding my pace!)

Mile 5 9:17

Mile 6 9:05

Right at mile 7 I got the side stitch to end all side stitches..I may have been hitting the Gatorade a little hard at Miles 5/6

Mile 7 9:33

Mile 8 9:14 (Getting back to business)

Mile 9 9:005

Mile 10  8:33 (My running playlist really helped me kick it up a notch here, kudos to One Direction and Tupac!)

Mile 11 9:17

Mile 12 9:21

Mile 13 9:15 (Oh how I wish this was a half marathon, I would have blown this race out of the water!)

Mile 14 9:35 (This is where I hit a wall. The last 2 miles of the race were directly in the sun and it was hot and steamy.  No aid stations till mile 15 either 😦  )

Mile 15 10:39  (Just Yuck. So disappointed by this mile. )

Last .5 of a mile- 8:42

Total Time: 2:29:30, 9:38 Pace

run river city Can you tell I’m mad about my mile 15 pace?!

It was clear to me that I should have done a longer run the week before the race (I did 12, 14 might have made a difference) and stepped up my heat training. I’ve also realized that the half marathon distance might be my sweet spot.

All in all, a great first  race from the folks at Running Central and I know for my next big race, I’ll really pick up my pace in the last few miles of my distance training runs (looking at the Allstate Half Marathon in October in Atlanta)

My running playlist this time worked out very while pace wise. I’ll share it later this week 🙂