Tubing Down Rainbow River

June 3, 2013

This is actually the opposite end of the spectrum that I usually focus on here, but with all the running comes some relaxation too. 😉

Florida is known our white sandy beaches, hot temperatures, and crazy amounts of sunshine, but there is another part of Florida people aren’t too familiar with – the spring fed rivers. A small group of friends and I headed north to have a lazy day on the river. It is a bit further than just going to the beach, but it is well worth it. The water is always 72 degrees, which is the most refreshing place to be on a hot day. We rented our tubes, hopped on the shuttle, and had a nice float down the river. The trip took us a little over two hours, which tends to be the perfect amount of time to be stuck on a raft.

Rainbow River actually has a couple of locations to visit – one more for swimming, and the other for the tube launch. The great thing is when you pay for entrance into the tube launch, you also get entry into the swimming part of the river, called the Headsprings. After we tubed and ate some lunch, we went to enjoy a little more time on the river.

Rainbow River

Going to Rainbow River is such a different feeling of Florida than any sandy beach. It is so relaxing to be in such a nature filled spot. Not to mention, the people watching is pretty fantastic too! We ended up seeing someone with a tattoo of the entire Harry Potter cast tattooed on her leg, from hip to knee. It was quite the canvas!

If you don’t feel like swimming, there is a nice grassy field to lay down and just sunbathe on, along with picnic tables, a public restroom, gift shop, and snack stand. There isn’t alcohol allowed since it is a state park, so be sure not to bring it. Coolers are allowed with anything else you may need, so you can make a day out of it pretty easily!

Rainbow River 5

As for the headsprings, they actually will not allow any rafts or tubes, so be sure to bring a pool noodle with you! We ended up going to buy them at the gift shop since the water is so deep, and it really is pretty exhausting to tread water for that long! They were only $3, so nothing too crazy, but it would have been nice to think ahead and already had them in tow.

Rainbow River 3

Rainbow River 2

With no real running schedule right now, my weekends are for more open and relaxing than they have been in years, so I am taking full advantage! I highly recommend going to Rainbow River for the day if you are looking for ways to catch some rays without the sand and saltwater!

Rainbow River

Do you stick to the beach when you are in Florida, or do you like to enjoy spots like these? Ever been to Rainbow River?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for the Spartan Race! It closes Wednesday!

Spartan Race Giveaway

May 31, 2013

In the past year or so, I have had the opportunity to participate in some pretty awesome races and runs. Two that really stick out are Pretty Muddy and the Dirty Girl Mud Run. These are great events, centered around empowering women, and gave me the opportunity to do something I hadn’t done before. There are a lot of other events out now similar to these runs, but one in particular caught my attention – Reebok’s Spartan Race!

Spartan Race header

Unlike the races I have done in the past, these races are open to anyone, both men and women alike. This definitely adds a little bit more challenge to the obstacles, as we as competition between the teams. The Spartan Race has multiple distances they offer, which is unique to the race series. Depending on your location, you could end up running a Sprint (3+ miles, 10 obstacles), a Super (8+ miles, and 15 obstacles), or a Beast (10+ miles, 18 obstacles). As for your race location, just check it out! There are quite a few to choose from!

Spartan Races

The Spartan Race is new to Tampa and will end up being the sprint distance in February of next year. Seems like far away now, but I know it will creep up on me before I know it! This race definitely isn’t going to be tutu’s, bubbles, and smiles like my last couple of obstacle races – just check out the intensity!

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Spartan Race Joust

Spartan Race Wires

The Spartan Race Series was nice enough to give me a race registration to give away to one of you, with a value of up to $205! Not too shabby, right? All you need to do is leave a comment below stating why you want to do a fun and challenging obstacle race and which course you would choose. To be eligible, you must use the race discount on an open heat on a race in the continental US.

Complete the following for bonus entries, and let me know with additional comments:

  • Like my page on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter, and tweet about the giveaway – “I want to win a @spartanrace entry from @marybaum20! #aroo”

I will pick the winner on Wednesday, June 5th!

If you would like a discount code for the race, just use this link. It will save you 15%!! Good Luck!

 

Running and Relaxation

May 29, 2013

Who else is still having a hard time of getting back into the swing of things after the long weekend?! I was completely dragging yesterday. There is just something about low-key holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day that I just love. There are never any family obligations to tend to or anywhere you really have to be. It’s all about paying respect to those that serve our country day after day, and of course, the kick off to summer! I woke up before the sun to head over to the beach and get in a run before the crowds got to crazy with my friend Meg. The cool temperatures, minimal crowds, and beautiful scenery were well worth the early alarm!Fort DesotoWe even planned ahead and brought quite the breakfast feast to refuel after our 6 mile jaunt around the island. I grabbed a stove we have for camping trips and brought it along. It was seriously so awesome to have a legitimate breakfast, in our bathing suits, at the beach. I think we may have started a new tradition!

Breakfast

Soon after breakfast, the rest of our crew started to trickle in to the park, so we all headed down to catch some waves and rays! We always have so much fun together, whether we are training or just relaxing. It was truly the perfect beach day, and I think everyone else knew it as well – the beach was jam-packed with people enjoying the holiday.

Fort Desoto

I ended up working all day on Saturday and Sunday at the gym, so Monday was a much needed day of relaxation. I’m so glad I have a great group of friends I was able to spend it with!

Fort Desoto

I hope you all enjoyed your long weekend as well. Hopefully today will be a bit more productive than yesterday!

Do you like to exercise before a day of relaxation? How was your Memorial Day?

Modifications for Everyday Exercises

May 24, 2013

There are some exercises out there that seem to be in every workout plan , fitness class, or group workout. Of course, they are absolutely effective, but why not take it a step further? Here are a few modifications that I have been putting on my exercises lately in various bootcamps and training sessions with clients.

Mountain Climbers

I remember doing these in grade school during PE. They were always part of the warm up. This is an exercise (one of many, really) that I definitely did not respect back then. Now, when I add it to workouts, I am always surprised how high my heart rate gets, and how my arms start to burn from holding myself up. To take it that extra step, try putting felt squares underneath your feet. Instead of picking them up each time, just slide your feet back and forth. This will cause you to really use your core to keep yourself stable (and still moving!) The only caveat to this is you need to be on a smooth surface, like wood or tile. You really can’t do it outside on the concrete. If you are doing it on carpet, substitute ziploc bags for the felt. You should feel the same effects.

climber mountains

 

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Pushups

Pushups are not easy for me. I can do about 10, but then I am spent. Lately, I have been adding a simple pulse at the end to help increase my endurance. When I do them, I start on my hands and knees, then lower down. Once my chest is as low to the ground as possible, I push out two tiny pulses, then raise myself back up to the starting position. It is amazing the amount my body burns my adding those two little pulses!

Pushup

 

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Wallsits

These are another blast from the past for me. The key to wall sits is really dropping low, and keeping your legs as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. To make this a little more difficult, grab a 10+ pound weight, and hold it over your head for the duration of the wall sit, keeping your arms as straight as possible. Your arms, legs, and core will all have to be engaged to make this exercise effective. If you want to take it a step further, raise one of your legs for a few seconds at a time, and then switch sides. Both are great modifications to an exercise that can be done just about anywhere.

Wall Sit

 

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Side Plank

Planks are one of the exercises that everyone should add to their routine – they are so great for stability and achieving a very strong core. To spice it up a bit, add in a little wrap-around to your plank. Envision you are planking on your right side, so you right arm is on the ground stabilizing you. Raise you left arm up, and then wrap it around your stomach, almost as if you are trying to scratch a place on your back that you just can’t reach. Simultaneously twist your core, and then untwist. This is tough, but, wow, it works!

Side Planks

 

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Slow it down

Many exercises that are popular right now all ask that workouts are completed for time, so doing them as fast as possible is advised. Every once in a while, do completely the opposite – slow down the rate at which you complete each repetition. For example, when doing a squat, lower down super slow, hold it, and then raise back up at the same pace. Continue on in this manner for the entire set. This can be done with nearly every exercise – lunges, pushups, triceps dips, etc. If you are looking for that long, slow burn, slowing down your pace is an easy way to achieve it!

On the opposite side, if you are ever in a situation where the exercise is too difficult with one of these modifications, take it back to the basics so you can complete the exercise with good form, rather than suffering through it.

What modifications do you like to do to make an exercise more or less difficult?

 

All The Taste Without the Calories

May 22, 2013

I believe one of the secrets to healthy eating is simply finding good food that you love to eat. It’s pretty straight forward really, but we tend to over think it. There are more gimmicks out now than ever before – which shake should you drink, which vitamins should you take, is gluten really bad for you, and the list goes on and on. I do my best to really stay away from any type of fads, and just eat whole foods with a balanced diet. In the past year, I have been able to eliminate all forms of artificial sweeteners from my diet, which for me, has been huge in the way I feel. I used to use it like crazy in my coffee, and wouldn’t bat an eye if I grabbed a Coke Zero or other no-calorie beverage. There are so many ways to use natural sweeteners to give you a sweet, great tasting treat, without the nasty chemicals. Here are a few ways I keep my food a little more fun!

Cinnamon!

If you have ever gone for coffee with me, then this is pretty obvious. Cinnamon is my absolute favorite spice. I don’t go a day without putting it in my coffee. It gives it the extra flavor in the morning that really hits the spot. I also love to put it in my peanut butter coffee protein smoothie. There is just something about it that just warms me to the core! Another great place for cinnamon is in oatmeal. Throw in some peanut butter and a banana, and you have one heck of a power breakfast!

Coffee Cinnamon

Cucumbers

With summer temperatures in full swing in Tampa, refreshing drinks are a must. Sometimes, water just doesn’t cut it, so I have to have something different. Rather than having a drink loaded with empty calories, I have been adding cucumbers to my water. You really only need a handful of slices for a fairly decent amount of water, and the taste is so light and crisp! This can done with any type of fruit really – strawberries, pineapple, lemons, limes, oranges – you name it, and it is great for infused water.

Cucumber water

Ginger

This, my friends, is my new secret cooking weapon. I love the taste of fresh ginger in my food. It tastes amazing, and is fantastic for digestion. If you buy a piece of ginger root, peel the skin, and just grate it into your dish. I have been putting ginger, coconut oil, and a little bit of garlic powder in brown rice, and then I top it with a lean meat and some veggies. It gives the meal that little something extra, and keeps the blandness away.

Vanilla Extract

I know, I know – vanilla extract isn’t a spice or anything, but it is so yummy when you are looking for the creamy vanilla flavor. Putting just a little bit in coffee, oatmeal, or a smoothie can really liven it up a bit. Just watch out when you are pouring – you really don’t need much to benefit from the flavor!

Vanilla Extract

What secret weapons do you use in the kitchen to have all the taste without the heavy calories?