Showing posts with label yoga. Show all posts
Showing posts with label yoga. Show all posts

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2016!

It is time to announce...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2016!

As I always disclaim with this list: you may be surprised by some of my choices...and some of my non-choices.  There are books on here that, in my initial review, I enjoyed but maybe wasn't completely gushing over.  And there are books not on the list that I mentioned as potential favorites when I wrote my reviews.  But at the end of the year, when I make this list, I go by what's really stuck with me--after months have passed, what are the books that are still leaving an impression?  Still giving me something to think about?


I am fully aware that I have not been the best blogger lately, but I just love making my end-of-the-year best-books list, so I had to throw in my two cents before 2017 rolls around!

As in past years, this list is in no particular order:


1. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley


I lied, this part of the list is definitely in a particular order, because this was absolutely the best book I read all year.

2. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty


Many would write this off as "chick lit", but I found it very thought-provoking.

3. Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich


Villians and intrigue and spectacular writing.

4. Alice & Oliver by Charles Bock


ALL THE SADNESS.  But I loved it anyway.

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


More sadness!  Like seriously, so much sadness.  But SO SO GOOD.  Can't wait to see the movie and cry my eyes out.

6. Run the World by Becky Wade


I read a lot of running books this year, but this is the one that stuck with me the most.  I love Wade's fresh perspective and diverse discussion of the world of running.

7. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave


In a literary world full of WWII stories (not to be trite, but that's true), this one is a stand out.  The dialogue alone is reason to pick it up.

8. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


What would my best-of list be without the latest Picoult release?  Pointless, that's what.  But seriously, this has to be the most immediately socially relevant book she has ever written.

9. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


This book reminded me why I really, really need to read more Ann Patchett.

10. Do Your Om Thing by Rebecca Pacheco


As an amateur yogi, my perspective of the practice was completely changed by this book (for the better!).  I learned so much from it, and I know I will refer to it for years to come.

That's a wrap!  What made YOUR best-read list for 2016?

Monday, September 12, 2016

It's time to Do Your Om Thing with Rebecca Pacheco


Title: Do Your Om Thing
Author: Rebecca Pacheco
Publisher: Harper Wave
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

In Do Your Om Thing, master yoga teacher and creator of the popular blog OmGal.com Rebecca Pacheco shows us that the true practice of yoga is about much more than achieving the perfect headstand or withstanding an hour-long class in a room heated to 100 degrees. "Yoga is not about performance," she tells us, "it's about practice, on your mat and in your life. If you want to get better at anything what should you do? Practice. Confidence, compassion, awareness, joy—if you want more of these—and who doesn't?—yoga offers the skills to practice them."

In her warm, personal, and often hilarious prose, Rebecca translates yogic philosophy for its twenty-first-century devotees, making ancient principles and philosophy feel accessible, relatable, and genuinely rooted in the world in which we live today. And by illuminating how the guiding principles of yoga apply to our modern lives, Rebecca shows us that the true power of a yoga practice is not physical transformation, but mental and spiritual liberation.


My Review:

Yogis, take note!  I loved this book, and I bet many other amateur yogis out there will too.  I read it at the perfect point in my yoga journey.  I've been practicing the physical aspect of yoga (asana) for almost a year now, and while that started as a way for me to cross-train with running and gain flexibility, I've now gotten to the point where I am interested in yoga in and of itself.  You hear bits and pieces about the background and philosophy of yoga in classes, but I have not yet had an instructor who really goes in-depth with any of it.  Plus, I'll be honest--some of it just sounded way too crunchy-granola for me, so I wasn't sure where to begin.

If you find you're in a similar spot with yoga, Do Your Om Thing is for you.  Pacheco leads you through all the ins and outs of yoga philosophy, with a down-to-earth voice that is totally NOT too crunchy-granola. :) The book is easy to follow, and she writes with such wisdom and clarity that I found myself wanting to head right to the mat and put my new knowledge to work.  I never thought I'd say this, but after reading the book, I'm even dying to try meditation (one part of yoga that I've always felt is beyond the abilities of my million-thoughts-at-once brain).  Honestly, there were parts of this book that felt meditative while reading them--I found Pacheco's writing to be thoughtful and calming, a perfect fit for this subject matter.

Do Your Om Thing is not strictly a yoga manual--Pacheco will make you think deeply about how you approach your self, your work, and your relationships within the framework of yoga tradition.  If you're a beginner yogi, I can't say enough good things about it!  If you're ready to learn more about yoga than how to get into Crow Pose, pick up this book ASAP.

As always, much thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Want to find out more?  Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Rebecca Pacheco on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Reading and Running (& more) in the OBX

Hello, reader/runner friends!  Yes, a long absence around here, but for good reason.  If you saw my Instagram post the other day, you know that the Well-Read Redhead family recently returned from a 10ish day long summer vacation.  Woohoo!  Add in the time required to recover from said vacation (because all vacations with children require substantial recovery periods), and wait a minute, when did August get here...?

Let me fill you in on the trip, especially the reading and running highlights!

(I'll warn you that this "brief" update post turned into a rather long vacation review, reading discussion, and race report, so...just read the highlights that interest you most, I guess?  BEAR WITH ME PEOPLE, I'M STILL IN VACATION MODE.)

Our first stop was at Sesame Place down in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  We added Sesame on to the front of our summer vacation last year as well, because our kids are at PERFECT ages for it (2.5 and 5), and it's a fun way to kick off a big trip.  This year, we broke family records by staying at the park for NINE HOURS.  My kids are serious troopers for hanging in there that long!!  We had a great day, then hopped in the car and let the kids sleep while we drove to a hotel in Maryland.
The Happiest Place on Earth (for kids who have not yet been introduced to the actual Happiest Place on Earth)
The next day, I impressed myself by getting up at 6:30am to work out in the small, but well-equipped, hotel gym.  I had the place to myself, and ended up doing 30 minutes of cycling, plus a bunch of core/strength work with the free weights and BOSU.  I thought about trying a treadmill run, but one running step told me my right leg was still not okay (more on that later).  Boooo.  Still, this was good for spending 9 hours running around a theme park the day before!
Up in the gym just workin' on my fitness. Pretty sure someone famous said that.
After checking out, we headed to our final destination: the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  We vacationed here in 2012 as well, and fell in love with it.  A return trip was most certainly in order.  We shared a beach house with our 2 good friends and their 2 kids in Corolla, and had an absolutely AWESOME week.  We managed a beach trip (or 2 or 3) every day, as well as a side excursion to the aquarium on Roanoke Island.  It was fun, relaxing, exhausting, and rejuvenating all at the same time.  :)
More of this please.
Reading highlights...well, there aren't too many.  You do a beach trip with two young kids, and you don't end up with much reading time (see: Reading with a Toddler, an old guest post on the blog from 2013...very appropriate here! Sorry for all the broken pic links though. Too lazy to fix right now...).  I packed my book into my beach bag on day 1, and promptly removed it that evening, knowing that the oceanside reading of my 20's was just never gonna happen.  However, after the kids went to bed and during their afternoon downtime, I did often get some pages in on the deck.  My book of choice was Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  Full review to come, but WOWZA, this was an enthralling mystery, albeit an extremely, horrifically graphic one.
View while reading. Not sad about it.
Running highlights...again, not many, this time because of my injury!  (I still don't have a name for said injury, but I'm finally seeing an orthopedist tomorrow, so stay tuned.)  Other than my hotel biking/strength session, I also got in some sunrise yoga on our deck (AMAZING!!) and on a whim I decided to run a local 5K on the 27th.  I knew it would stir up my injury, but how could I resist a local race along the ocean?  I mean, just one little 5K, right...
My sunrise view during yoga on the deck. Seriously? Stop it.
The Brindley Beach Lighthouse 5K is run every Wednesday during the summer months in Corolla.  I was afraid that a race that is put on every single week would be kind of shoddily done (like, are they going to go all out for something they do over and over?), but holy moly--OBX Running Company has a pretty amazing thing going on!!  Every race employee I talked to was super friendly and helpful, the entire race was smoothly executed, all the little details were taken care of...it was great.  Very nice finisher medals and race tshirts for all participants, plus an email later that day with your official race results, finisher video, and pictures.  Seriously awesome.  They also do a 5K every Thursday in Nags Head, so I highly recommend checking one out if you are ever vacationing down there!

I got to the race site near Currituck lighthouse early to register, then spent some time stretching, warming up, and exploring the area.  The race started a little after 8am, which in Corolla means HOT HOT HOT.  It was 81 degrees with 96% humidity, to be exact.  YEAH.  For an upstate New Yorker, that is literally trial by fire, because I can't remember the last time I ran in those conditions.  Between the heat and my leg, I decided to keep myself going no faster than 8:30 pace, and just push as comfortably as I could.

The race started, and a minute or so in, I looked at my watch to see 7:45 pace.  Nope nope nope.  I dialed it back and fell pretty comfortably into the 8:30 range.  I finished mile 1 at 8:35 and felt surprisingly good.  Mile 2, I encountered the one water station and decided to walk through it.  I knew I NEEDED the water, and the thought of choking down 1-2 mouthfuls while I ran was not appealing.  I still managed to complete the second mile in 8:55.

As expected, the heat was getting to me badly by the third mile, but I still finished it out at 9:03 pace, for a final result of 27:27, good enough for 2nd in my age group.  Not bad!!  Only about 1 minute off a PR in fact, and that's damn good for those conditions.  I attribute much of it to the fact that my legs were very (very very?) well rested from no running lately, and that I put zero pressure on myself, since I did this race at the last minute anyway.
Sweaty me + medal + Currituck Lighthouse
So glad I participated in this race--the whole experience was so fun, and it ended early enough that I still had enough time for a long, fun day with the family on the beach afterwards.  :)

(I did pay for it with my leg afterwards though.  OW OW OW.  Le sigh.  Damn injured leg.)

Anywho, after that 5K, all my other working out for the week went out the window.  I will admit that I had MORE than my fair share of wine last week, participated in a lot of late nights laughing with our friends and playing ridiculous rounds of Cards Against Humanity, and ate a lot of not-workout-friendly foods like Duck Donuts and cookies and ice cream sandwiches.
In case you've never met Duck Donuts. LET ME INTRODUCE YOU.
But hey--no regrets!  Honestly, I'm starting to feel like this injury was "meant to be", as cheesy as that sounds, because it would have been hella hard for me to continue marathon training last week and still have the fun, carefree vacation that I enjoyed.  Plus, it's saving me from heavy training in the hottest months, and I gotta tell ya, all you runners with the hot-weather-running Instagram photos are NOT making me miss it.  ;)

Does taking a running break suck?  OH YEAH.  Watch my face turn green with envy every time a runner goes past my house.  I find it mentally painful to open my newest edition of Runner's World right now.  If it's possible for a Garmin to rust, I'm sure mine is currently doing it.  But if I have to find the bright side, then I will, because I can't let a speed bump get me down.  (More on this in a later post...)

Oh man, are you loving my rambling today, or what???  I have lots of upcoming posts for you though, and I promise they will be better organized!  I owe you a Shoreline Half race recap, I have a bunch of mini-book-reviews to publish, and I have some deep thoughts about running to share in the wake of this injury.  STAY TUNED!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Well-Read Runner: Flower City Prep

Hi, running friends!  It's been a bit since my last running update, and I'll admit why: after Winter Warrior, I got lazy.  This is what happens when I don't have a race to train for!  I still ran (and ended up hitting 50 miles for the month of January--significant for me), but my frequency fell way off the rails and the junk food consumption went sky-high.
TRUE STORY.
One thing I did do post-race is start the Yoga Fix 90 program from Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube.  I'm still working through it (I usually only do yoga on days that I don't run, so my 90 days are not consecutive), but this has been SUCH a fun way to keep me pumped about yoga, and I can feel my strength and flexibility increasing!  Lesley Fightmaster (who I am now a total groupie of, LOVE HER) also has a 30 day yoga program for beginners, if you're looking for a lighter intro to the practice.
Scissor leg side crow!  So proud of myself for that one!
Despite my bit of laziness in January, February 1 turned things around as it marked the beginning of training for my next half--the Flower City Half Marathon on April 24.  My original goal was to just have fun with this one, because marathon training will start less than a month after this race and I didn't want to push too hard beforehand.  However, my friend Mandy is also planning to run it (her first half since giving birth to her second daughter last summer), and she said she thinks she can run it at about a 9:00/mile pace, which just HAPPENS to be fast enough to get just under 2 hours, and it might be fun to run with a friend, soooooo...

Yeah, I'm training for a PR again.

I TOLD myself I wouldn't do it this time!  I swore up and down!  Do this race for fun, I said!  Don't push so hard this time, I said!  But do I listen?  No I do not.

I put together a training plan for myself that draws from the lessons I've learned in past races about my limits as far as available time, and mileage.  Mondays are yoga days (though I also usually add yoga in at least 1-2 other days of the week as well).  Tuesday is speed work--I'm using Hal Higdon's intermediate plan for speed work, alternating 400m intervals one week and a tempo run the next.  Speed days are happening on the treadmill because I'm better at regulating my speed on the machine vs. out in the wild.
Post-speed work at the gym with Tater Tot.  It was his first time going to the gym's child care without crying!  Yeah!
Wednesday is hill work.  I've never done dedicated hill days, but Flower City has some nasty ones right around the midway point, and hills have been one of my worst downfalls (see: Mystic Half).  Unfortunately, I live in a super flat area, but the park near my house has one hill in particular that kicks my butt.  It's not super long, but steep enough that it's certainly a challenge for me.  I've been doing a 1 mile warmup (running to the park), followed by a series of hill sprints on that hill (walking down the hill serves as recovery in between), then 1 mile cooldown as I run home.  I started the first week with 4 sprints, thinking 4 sounded like not a lot...HAHA.  Was totally dying by the fourth one.  But at my fastest pace, I got up to 5:23/mile mid-sprint, which I felt pretty darn good about.  Hill sprints suck but I'm hoping they will pay off!
First hill work day was done in SHORTS!  Gotta love El Nino February!
Thursdays are a rest day, then Fridays I do a race pace run.  I'm glad I'm doing these because I am not great at holding a 9:00/mile pace yet during these runs.  The first week my average was 8:42...yup, too fast.  I need to get a better feel for this pace so that it's easier for me to dial in on race day.

Saturday is a rest day, then Sunday long run.  I'm making a conscious effort to throw in hills on the long run (not sprints, just at long run pace).  I often avoided the hills during long runs for Winter Warrior, but I knew the course was flat so I didn't feel bad about it.  Now I know I need to be able to handle a good hill when my legs are already fatigued--so long run hills will help with that.

Honestly, I still have some doubts about my ability to go sub-2 on such a hilly course, but as with Winter Warrior--there ain't no harm in trying.  At the very least, I'm challenging myself by adding in some hill work (new for me), and switching up my training routine is always fun!

I'll keep you posted as training goes on...I'm just happy to be back in a routine again!

What are you training for these days?  Do you have any good recommendations for hill training?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Well-Read Runner: 2016 Running Goals

Much like my 2016 reading goals, I am not calling my 2016 running goals "resolutions", because I don't feel like they are plans to "fix" anything.  With a VERY busy year of racing ahead of me, I'm more focused on remembering the lessons I've learned in past races, and keeping up with the positive habits I've picked up in training, racing, and recovery (while also, hopefully, picking up some more along the way!).

Just as a reminder for newbie readers, my racing plans in 2016 include the Rochester 4 Seasons Challenge, which has me running 3 half marathons (in January, April, and July) as well as my very first full marathon (in September).  I've also recently signed up for the Right to Run 19K in May, an inaugural race in Seneca Falls that is benefiting the National Women's Hall of Fame (the 19K, or 11.8 miles, is a nod to the 19th amendment).  Kathrine Switzer is going to be there!  I'm psyched!
Don't worry, I'MMA TELL ERRBODY
With that in mind, my 2016 running goals:

1. Avoid injury!  I know this is not always something that is easy to control, but there are positive steps I can continue to take to make this my reality.  In 2015, I was introduced to the magic of foam rolling--OMG, why didn't I start doing this sooner??  Foam rolling after long runs and races has reduced my post-workout soreness and knee twinges like you wouldn't believe.  I also started doing some strength training via BodyPump classes (though I do want to be more consistent with it) and yoga, which have served as helpful cross-training for my muscles when I'm not running.  With so many races to tackle in 2016, avoiding injury is my #1 goal (after finishing, of course!).

2. Eat smart.  I am a junk food junkie at heart, but in 2015 I tried to start making some changes to that sugary diet.  I cut out all sugary breakfast foods, which was a HUGE step for me.  I've switched over to more healthy carb-and-protein based breakfasts (featuring whole grains, eggs, fruits, etc), which has made a huge difference in my mornings (especially because I have also been more of a morning runner these days).  Now my new challenge is to become wiser about my carb/protein/fat ratio, especially during marathon training, when my carb intake is going to have to be HIGH (and not just full of unhealthy, processed carb sources...though you can pry my Oreos out of my cold, dead hands).
Basically me after every long run
3. Have fun!  While I am shooting for a half marathon PR at Winter Warrior this month, I don't have a lot of PR dreams in sight for the rest of the year.  (Well, other than the easy ones: I will get one at the Right to Run 19K (most random distance ever!), and at the Rochester Marathon, because FIRST MARATHON!)  Don't get me wrong, I want to race to my best potential, but I also don't want to get so bogged down in training, speedwork, etc that I lose the joy of the run.  I want to complete that marathon with a smile on my face, waving to the spectators, cheering on other runners...not with a sense of disappointment that I didn't hit my splits.

2016 is definitely the Year of Distance for me.  I am excited for the challenges that are in store, though it's already got me wondering what 2017 will be the year of.  The Year of Trail Running?  The Year of Speed?  The Year of Triathlons?  SO MANY POSSIBILITIES!  But let's do this year first.  :)

What are your 2016 running goals?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Where dey at, doe?

(In case you are unaware, this post title comes from the title of a T.I. song, which I love because of this amazing video that went viral several months back...really, it is worth watching over and over again.)
But seriously...where The Well-Read Redhead at, doe?

Apologies for the blog silence.  What a crazy month!  Small Fry started up preschool again, as well as soccer classes, so the transition there has kept us quite busy.  Tater Tot and I have started attending a music class for toddlers during Small Fry's school hours, which is fun.  My husband and I celebrated our 8 year anniversary last week, and actually got to go on a REAL DATE for the first time in a year!
Plus, we recently joined our local YMCA, which means we've been trying to figure out a new workout routine.  My husband is back in the weight room after a lengthy, PhD-writing-induced hiatus, and I'm having a boatload of fun trying out the classes.  Yoga and spin are my current faves.  Yoga makes me feel amazing post-long run!  And spin is a great cross-training workout when I don't want the high impact of running.  (Plus, the hill work is going to come in handy for sure.)

All of this schedule juggling has left little time for reading, and even less time for blogging.  I'm currently reading 2 books, but both are rather slow going.  The first is The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (reading it as part of Katie's Nonfiction Book Club for this month).  I was DYING to read this beforehand, but it is proving to be a slower journey than I originally hoped.  The material is interesting, but the organization of the chapters makes much of the information feel disjointed.  I'm hoping the last third of the book brings all of her concepts together a bit more clearly.

The other is Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, my book club's current pick.  Our meeting is Sunday and I'm getting worried that I won't finish in time!  I think the concept of the novel is intriguing, but the pace and writing style are getting to me.  Hoping for an explosive ending to save the day.  Review forthcoming!

Here's hoping for more reading time in the coming weeks, especially because I have a few blog tour books to complete in October!  In the meantime, hopefully things will settle down here, and these two books will get a bit more enjoyable for me.

How is your reading life these days, friends?  Any other parents still adjusting to school schedules?
 
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