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Triathlon Training: 4 Running Mistakes To Avoid

Written on September 18, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Before competing in triathlons and Ironman races, our expert and Zoot Sports sponsored athlete, Jennifer Vogel was a runner—an ultra endurance runner, to be exact. Having set records in ultra marathon distances of 35 to 100 miles, this pavement pounder knows how to succeed on her own two feet. And to succeed at that level means you’ve got to make some mistakes along the way. Since she points out that many tri-newbies are runners first, we put our heads together to help you avoid some common missteps on the final leg of your race.

Not taking in enough fuel. If you have a half-marathon or marathon background, you might have a good grasp on fueling, but in a triathlon you have to remember that you’ve already pre-exhausted your stores during the first two legs. The best time to figure out the right nutrition plan? During all those training sessions. Try different formulas—gels, chews, liquids—to find out which sit well when you’re on the go. What works on the bike might not work as well on the run, so practice makes perfect. And remember the golden rule: Never try something new on race day.

Skimping on the bricks. Brick workouts are when you practice transitioning from one sport to the next, essentially doing two workouts back-to-back. Translation: your legs usually feel like bricks when you do this. The most common brick is the bike-to-run since it’s the easiest to practice with less gear changes required. If you feel exhausted at the beginning of your second workout, don’t fret—it takes most people about one mile to get their muscles used to the new movement. Runners are used to feeling fresh-legged at the beginning of their races, so practicing bricks will help retrain your muscles and give you a good opportunity to test out your nutrition plan.

Clocking positive splits. One of the keys to triathlon is allocating enough energy to perform well in each sport while still leaving some gas in the tank to finish all three legs. When you finally get past the swim and bike, it’s easy to excitedly speed out of the second transition. But remember to reserve energy for the second half of the run. You want to aim for negative splits on the back end; start opening up your stride in the final miles and finish strong.

Wasting time with laces. It’s not totally necessary to ditch your laces if you’re a beginner triathlete, but it’s worth shaving a few seconds off your transition time for the more experienced competitors. Think about replacing your running shoes with triathlon sneakers, like the Zoot Sports Women’s Ultra Tempo 6.0 . Not only do these feature Quick-Lace, which allows you to lace up with one swift pull, but they also have internally seamless features to help prevent blisters and TriDry technology that keep your feet dry during the run. Love the shoes your in? Try swapping out the laces for Speed Laces ($6, speedlaces.com).

Photo provided by Jennifer Vogel 

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Triathlon Training: 9 Things Triathletes Can Learn From Cyclists
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Triathlon Training: Meet Zoot Sports Athlete Jennifer Vogel 


Kerry Washington Uses Fashion to Fight Domestic Abuse

Written on September 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm , by

Ever since Scandal began its run in 2012, Kerry Washington has risen to the top of every best-dressed list in the world. Whether she’s rocking the red carpet, fabulously dressing her baby bump (ahem, back when she was pregnant) or collaborating on a line based off her Gladiator character, Olivia Pope, the woman knows how to accessorize. Now she’s taking that knowledge to the next level by teaming up with Allstate for the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse program that aims to stop domestic abuse.

Washington worked to design a purple purse—the color for domestic violence awareness—that shines a light on an often forgotten part of domestic violence: financial abuse. And the timing behind its debut couldn’t have been more perfect, thanks to the spotlight the NFL is already shining on the issue due to Ray Rice’s recent actions. But we had to know: Why a purse?

“The purse is a symbol of a woman taking her purse strings back,” explains Washington. ”[It is] just such a perfect symbol of where a woman’s financial well-being lives, where her worth resides. That’s where you keep your phone and your wallet, and your keys to your apartment and your car and whatever else matters to you.”

In 98 percent of cases, financial and physical abuse go hand in hand, explains Victoria Dinges, senior vice-president of the Allstate Foundation. It’s one of the biggest reasons behind why women stay in an abusive relationship—credit scores could be ruined or a tremendous amount of debt may rest on their shoulders. And when she leaves, financial security is the biggest indicator of whether or not she’ll be able to stay away.

Dinges also knew that tying fashion into the cause would help women be more open about a private issue that can hit very close to home. “It’s easier to talk about a purse than it is to talk about a black eye or destroyed credit, so the purse is a good entry point [of conversation],” says Washington.

But she didn’t stop with the symbolic meaning of the purse—it was heavily integrated into the actual design, too. “I wanted it to be a clutch because I wanted it to be something that you really hold onto; you can hold it close to you,” says Washington. “I wanted it to be a day bag…a bag you can use to hold the things that matter to you on a regular basis. It’s able to fit your little tablet and your wallet and keys and phone and all the things we travel with.”

The only downside to the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse: You can’t get one yourself. Only 500 are being made, so keep an eye out for them with your favorite female celebs. But Washington says that any purse can be a purple purse. The tassel is detachable, and anyone can get one, along with a story of inspiration from a survivor of domestic abuse. “This tassel, for us, is like the yellow Livestrong bracelet or the Breast Cancer ribbon,” she says. So if you want one, stop by your local Allstate or find one at a local organization that works to stop domestic abuse.

And for all you Scandal fans, you may just see the cause close to Washington’s heart explored a bit more in the upcoming season. Fans of the show know that Olivia Pope rescued her fellow gladiator, Abby Whelan, from an abusive relationship. Will we get to see more of that storyline, similar to when we learned more about Huck and Quinn? “We’ve been told that this season we’re going to get more backstory in her world,” says Washington. “I have no idea what the writers have planned, but it would be interesting if we were able to see more of that. But even just the fact that we’ve talked about it is such a testament to Shonda Rhimes and how fearless she is about bringing up stuff that’s difficult to talk about.”

What else can we expect from season 4, which premieres September 25th? “You will definitely know where the plane was going [at the season 3 finale]…and crazy things happen there,” confesses Washington. “”You’ll definitely see a version of Olivia Pope we’ve never seen before.”

Oh, and because we had to know: Is Washington Team Fitz or Team Jake? “I am Team Shonda,” she says. “So whatever Shonda writes, I’m game.”

Well played, Olivia Pope. Well played.

Want to get more involved? Join the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse challenge through October 3rd and help raise 2 million dollars for the 140 organizations across the country that help fight domestic abuse.

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Why You Should Try to Be More Like Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross

Written on September 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm , by

Volleyball babes Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross are making some seriously sharp spikes during this year’s AVP Beach Volleyball Tour. They’ve won every single tournament and only have one left: the season-ending championship Friday in California that runs through the weekend.

Before we continue, can we pause for a minute and stare at those abs?

So when the Olympic medalists decided to pop by the office to talk all things fitness, food and life, we came to the conclusion that they’re our ultimate spirit animals and should be yours, too. Here’s why:

They have insane sweat schedules. They begin training in January, hit the sand in March and play until October. For pre-season and in-season training, they practice five days a week for two hours each day, and then hit the gym five days a week. They’re big on diversifying their workouts, so Olympic lifting, sprint intervals, Pilates, beach workouts and more all make the roster. ”It’s hard for us to rest,” says Ross. “For me, I want to go and get better and train longer and train harder.”

They love food. There’s no surprise here that they have really clean diets (turkey, chicken, salmon, veggies, oatmeal, almond butter, salads, and eggs were all mentioned at the drop of a hat.), but splurging isn’t off limits. “I’m not afraid of a good hamburger,” says Jennings. “I don’t eat perfectly, absolutely, but I feel like every time I splurge—if I have Mexican or French fries with my burger—I definitely try to fix it with a green drink later or a salad to finish my meal.”

They know what they want, and they’re determined to get it. They’re going for the gold at the next Olympic Games in Rio, and they’re already training for it. We’re already setting reminders to mark our 2016 calendars.

They appreciate traveling. And they’ve done their fair share of it. “Paris and Barcelona are my two favorite places I’ve ever gone,” says Ross. “They just have so much character and so much history and so much culture. You could walk around and do nothing, and still be amazed by what you see.” While Jennings seconds that notion, she’s also a fan of Lake Tahoe and loves playing in Gstaad, Switzerland.

They love their families. Jennings and Ross are both married to volleyball players [Casey Jennings and Bradley Keenan, respectively], so you won’t find much of the “leave work at work” philosophy happening in these homes. But to boost their bond, Jennings and her husband work out together twice a week, and she hides her phone when she’s with her kids. “I want to get as much quality time as possible since they go to bed at 7:30,” she explains. Ross is also a fan of the hide-the-phone maneuver (writing this down now). “I usually stop responding to emails and working by dinnertime,” she says. “Dinner time is for relaxation and bonding. If I’m going super late in the gym, Brad will cook a healthy dinner and have it ready when I get home.” Now that’s what we find attractive in a guy.

Stay updated with the ladies’ progress in the tournament this weekend by visiting AVP’s website.

Photos courtesy of AVP

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What Jennifer Aniston’s Yoga Instructor Wants You to Practice Daily

Written on September 16, 2014 at 10:14 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

It’s been over a year since yogis everywhere went crazy over Mandy Ingber’s book, Yogalosophy. After all, she’s the guru celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Kate Beckinsale turn to for fit-and-fierce advice, so naturally, we all wanted the tips she dishes to the stars. Now, Ingber has taken it a step farther and released a fitness app, so we can have access wherever, whenever.

While Yogalosophy isn’t the cheapest app you’ll find on iTunes, the $6.99 investment mirrors the book by providing a 28-day, step-by-step exercise routine, and you can move at your own pace by customizing which aspects of the app you want to use. Whether it’s developing your own workout routines, creating a photographic journal or whipping up the recipe of the day, the app provides tons of fitspo and a timeline to track your progress.

If there’s one tip Ingber wants you to take away, it’s this: While you’re tracking, journaling and posing, weave meditation into your schedule, even if it’s for just five minutes a day. “I think that it’s so important for all of us to remember that it’s just a day-to-day process and to just do our best each day. We don’t have to be perfect,” she says.

So when those imperfect urges do creep up (oh hey, sweet tooth), settle for a healthier version of sweet, like a smoothie, (Ingber loves to use tropical fruit and kale in her blends), or check out some of the other plant-based protein recipes she created with Silk. Happy posing!

Image courtesy of Seal Press

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Hera Sport: A Community for Sports-Loving Fashionistas

Written on September 15, 2014 at 11:14 am , by

Written by Jacklyn Kouefati, editorial intern

We’re all about crushing those double standards. But when it comes to athletics, specifically the NFL, women are losing the fight for dominance, which is why we’re so excited Hera Sport is now a thing.

Launched just a couple of weeks ago, founder Elizabeth Vagianos created the online community specifically for female sports fanatics looking for a place to get their fashion fixes. Because let’s be honest: The whole sports-crazed fashionista thing is pretty badass.

“I grew up watching sports with my mother and my three sisters,” she says. “My father would cook Sunday afternoon lunch for us while we watched football.”

Role reversal for the padres, much? We’re into it. “I saw that I wanted to have this community my mother had built for us in our home,” she says, “I wanted to have that with my peers, but I really couldn’t find anything out there that was a community of women who enjoyed sports but were still feminine and enjoyed fashion and stylish things.”

The website features an array of topics, including fashion and beauty—outfits to wear and fun nail art, aka “fanicures”; food and health; travel; playbook—lots of fantasy football and baseball coverage; and Words of Lizdom, where Vagianos gives her own bits of advice.

“I’m Greek American and I’ve always loved Greek mythology. Hera to me symbolized the ‘it’ girl,” the Patriots fan says. “She was Zeus’s wife and she was powerful. It wasn’t about her beauty, like maybe Aphrodite or other goddesses. It was her strength and her power as a female. I really wanted my brand to be driven by a strong female name.”

Mission accomplished? “A lot of women are telling me that they finally found their home—a place that they can be feminine but be fans in an unintimidating community. It’s been really nice to hear.”

Vagianos envisions Hera partnering with the NFL to bring about an even bigger community of women who can “enjoy sports with style.” We’ll be rooting for her—and Hera—but in the meantime, join us as we make our own fanicures.

“Hands down, the biggest misconception is if you’re feminine and stylish that means that your knowledge base is nil,” Vagianos says. “So basically being a woman means really not knowing about the game, and that’s something I really want to address with this site.”

Photo courtesy of Hera Sport

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Low-Carb Diet or Low-Fat Diet: Which Is Better?

Written on September 12, 2014 at 9:52 am , by

We all know by now that maintaining a healthy weight promotes heart health. But finding the golden path to get you there can be an everlasting challenge, which is why there’s been so much buzz around a recent study that found low-carb diets to be more effective in aiding with weight loss and cardiovascular health than low-fat diets.

But before you run to the grocery store and stock your cart with strictly carb-free foods, there are some important facts about the study to keep in mind. We spoke with cardiologist James Beckerman, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member, to get the deets.

1. While participants on the low-carb diet lost an average of 8 more pounds than those on the low-fat diet, the study only followed each participant for one year. “We don’t know beyond a year what happened to these people,” Beckerman says.

2. Close to 90 percent of the weight loss among the low-carb group occurred within the first three months of the diet. “I think at the end of the day, every diet has a honeymoon period,” he says. “It’s showing the benefits of each diet were more significant just in the first three months as compared to over the whole year.”

3. Within the first three months of the study, the low-carb group ate fewer calories than the low-fat group. However, by the end of the study, the low-carb group had upped their calorie intake by 15 percent, while the low-fat group only upped theirs by 7.5 percent. “That kind of speaks to the fact that perhaps the low-fat dieters were able to stick with their diet a little bit longer term than the low-carb people,” Beckerman points out.

While we still can’t say a golden one-size-fits-all diet exists (everything in moderation, people!), keep in mind that making small changes to the kinds of nom-noms you’re placing in your mouth can reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Avoiding as many processed foods as possible—especially processed meats— and trans fats is key. And make sure to pack in extra fiber to keep your cholesterol low.

Photo by Sarah Kehoe

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Triathlon Training: 9 Things Triathletes Can Learn From Cyclists

Written on September 11, 2014 at 11:00 am , by

You don’t need to be a pro cyclist to do well in the second leg of your triathlon. That being said, you do need to know the basics and feel comfortable on your bike. Zoot Sports sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I didn’t get into triathlon from a biking background, but before long, cycling quickly became our favorite sport. We teamed up to offer you the tips we wish we knew when we got started on two wheels.

When Buying A Bike…

Know what your max budget is. It’s best to get the most out of the bike that your money can buy because it’s going to have better components, so don’t be afraid to splurge a little up front. You can always upgrade your components later, but buying a good bike to begin with will be a better deal than buying better pieces down the road.

Decide what kind of cyclist you want to be. It’s important to know what you want to do with your bike. You can do a basic noncompetitive triathlon on a road bike, but if you want to be a competitive age grouper, you definitely need a professional triathlon bike. If you want to ride with cyclists on a group or club ride, you cannot use a triathlon bike in a pace line—it’s very dangerous. If you’re not sure where you stand, opt for a road bike, which is much more practical and likely to fulfill a variety of your needs.

Find a good bike shop and make it yours. If you can get a recommendation from a friend, that’ll help a lot. You want a place that will really take a look at your size, the length of your arms and legs, and how flexible you are. Make sure the bike fits you, and not just your budget. It doesn’t matter how cheap or expensive it is, if it doesn’t fit you, you’re going to end up having serious alignment problems, which can lead to injury. Then build a relationship with the staff at the shop. You’ll make plenty of visits for repairs, tune-ups, supplies and gear, and you’ll have a better experience if you’re cool with the people there.

If You Have a Bike…

Graduate to clipping in. This is always the scariest part for beginners, but it’s incredibly important for efficiency and power. If you’ve taken spin classes with clip-in shoes, then you have an idea of what it’s like. Only it’s totally different because the bike is not stationary. For the most part, everyone falls on their first try, so don’t feel bad if it happens to you. To ease yourself in, think about getting an indoor trainer—it’s great for at-home workouts, and you can practice clipping in, grabbing your water bottle and getting in and out of aero position if you have aerobars while the bike is stationary.

Learn how to change a flat. Check in with your local bike shop to see if they offer basic bike maintenance classes. Many have them for free or charge a small fee. This will give you an opportunity for hands-on experience without the panic of sitting on the side of the road with a flat. If that’s not an option, YouTube has a wealth of information. Check out this video on how to fix a flat by Trek Bicycle.

Work on your core. Core strength is incredibly important in cycling and triathlons overall. When you’re in aero position there are no brakes, so you need to be able to get in and out of them quickly without losing control. Walking planks or clapping push ups are great exercises that simulate the same type of movement.

When You’re on the Bike…

Make sure your seat is comfortable. Let’s face it: when riding a bike, your bum is bound to get sore. Of course there’s an initial adjustment period when your sit bones adapt to the saddle, but after that you should never be in pain. Most of the pressure should be on those bones since they can handle it, not on the delicate soft tissues down the center of your lady parts. If you are experiencing pain, the solution could be as simple as adjusting the angle of your saddle or swapping it out for a different option. I personally have a cut-away saddle and find it to be extremely comfortable.

Remember to fuel. Vogel suggests taking in 50-75 calories, in the form of liquids or gel, every 15 minutes during a race. She also finds it easier to have an aero bottle in between your aerobars so it’s right in front of your face and easier to remember to drink. But whether its race day or another training ride, you want to make sure you’re eating and drinking at regular intervals and not waiting until it’s too late. You can do a sprint without taking in anything for a bit, but as you go longer, you don’t want to go an hour without eating anything.

Don’t forget to relax. On race day, it’s easy to feel pressure and get uptight. But one of the best pieces of advice a more experienced cyclist gave me was to just relax.Trust the bike and trust yourself on the bike. When you do, you’re awesome!

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Vogel 

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What You Can Expect From The Biggest Loser This Season

Written on September 11, 2014 at 8:05 am , by

Following up a controversial end to the last season, weight isn’t the only thing shifting on The Biggest Loser.

Season 16 “Glory Days” premiers tonight on NBC, and you can expect to see some all-around major changes, like the fact that there will be four trainers—two of them are brand new and replacing Jillian Michaels—and all of the contestants are former athletes.

Jessie Pavelka and Jennifer Widerstrom—along with return trainers Dolvett Quince and Bob Harper—will work their magic with 20 different contestants, including former NFL stars Damien Woody and Scott Mitchell.

“These guys have been kind of challenged to the max. So they can take heavy loads of exercises. They can take big moves, and as a trainer it makes it exciting,” Pavelka says. “Obviously they’ve been pushed. Yeah, they have a big issue with weight and a big issue with food, but they can still move well.”

Some of the moves you can expect to see: core exercises, balance and stability training, boxing, weight-training, plyometrics and running. If there’s a particular exercise someone hates, expect to see that contestant doing lots of it. “There’s a lot of empowerment that comes with facing things that are a struggle for you, and that’s what I like to do,” Widerstrom says. There will be lots of dynamic movements, which help to get the brain behind the muscle—super important for anyone physically working their bodies in new ways. “I connect them to the movement. I connect them to the joy of why that inertia in their body is important,” she says.

But the most exciting change with this season? The passionate energy.

“The weight-loss part of this is great, but listen to the words that the contestants using,” Pavelka says. “Listen to the way that they carry themselves—their confidence. Those are the things that I think will stand out even more than the weight loss this season.”

Still not convinced?

“It’s like not even the same TV show,” Widerstrom says. “I really get to connect with people and help share their stories and hopefully inspire people that are at home struggling with similar things.”

Follow the contestants’ journeys every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. And in the meantime, check out the changes host Alison Sweeney is making in her personal and professional life.

Photos courtesy of NBC

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5 Things You Need to Know About the Apple Watch

Written on September 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm , by

Clearly, wearable tech is having a major moment. So much so that tech giant Apple is throwing their hat in the game, and we’re pretty stoked to get our hands on their latest product.

The Apple Watch, set to release early next year, will include three collections—the regular Watch collection, the Edition collection (sleeker, sexier and fancier), and what we’re most excited about—the Sport collection. (We’re already designating this as a late holiday gift to ourselves. No shame.)

Here’s what you need to know about the Apple Watch Sport:

It’s a phone and health tracker in one. Each watch starts at a hefty $349, but it provides an extra fitness punch than your average phone or independent tracker. So in addition to monitoring your activity levels, you can still send and receive texts, answer calls, use Siri, stay on top of events, access boarding passes, etc. It syncs with your iPhone, too, so you can start a message on your watch and finish it later on your phone.

It’s durable and light. Because it’s made out of a really flexible material, you won’t have to worry about it feeling chunky or clunky while you’re exercising. It shouldn’t feel any different than having a Garmin or Timex strapped onto your wrist.

It adjusts easily. You pick the fit!

There will be some really cool new apps. Specifically, there’s the Activity app, which tracks your daily activity. It shows you how many calories you’ve burned, how many minutes of exercise you’ve done, and how often you’ve stood throughout the day. The Workout app motivates you to rev your sweat with mid-workout reminders that you’re almost done and gives you summaries of each specific sweat session. The watch even uses the Fitness app on your iPhone to help you set goals based on your workout history. Oh, and with the new WatchKit program, developers can create new apps that adapt with the watch. No word yet on existing apps, but we’re hoping to see some of our favorites (we’re looking at you, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal) on our wrists.

Match it to your outfit. Fashion is officially an important component for designers to think about when developing new gear—which is why we’re seeing new lines like this one pop up on the reg. The Apple Watch Sport will have two different sizes and five different colors: blue, pink, green, white and black, so you can coordinate to your fave shade.

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Take Free Spin Classes at Revolve!

Written on September 9, 2014 at 9:24 am , by

New to New York City and trying to get fit on a budget? We’ve been there, girl (slash we’re still there…sigh). Gym membership costs are sky-high, and if you’re anything like us (which we know you are!), you’re probably dying to try every new fitness craze that’s out there.

Now the good news: Our spinning pals at Revolve Fitness are helping us out with an awesome program. You can volunteer to work a shift at the gym for an hour and 45 minutes, and they’ll pay you with a free class. You can expect to greet riders at the door, give tours, adjust bikes, do laundry and restock amenities. Whether you’re a student or a working professional, this sounds like a seriously sweet exchange.

The shifts the Revolve team needs help with are early weekday mornings, evenings and weekends, but you can email unionsquare@revolvefitness.com to see what time slots they’re looking to fill.

Happy (free) spinning!

Photo courtesy of Revolve Fitness

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