Playlist Thursday: Who Is On My Playlist The Most?

For a bit of a change I would like to take part in the Playlist Thursday. This weeks theme is to post three songs that fit the categories below and the description:

Who is on your running playlist the most? We are creatures of habit and when we find an artist that we like, chances are they make a repeat appearance on the playlist. Let’s take a look.

The Categories

Something Old: Songs that are at least 5 years old. (I know that isn’t too long to be considered old, but music turnover happens quickly.)
Something Current: Songs that have been released within the past year.
Something to Consider: This is the wild card category. Feel free to list any song: old, current, guilty pleasure, underground, whatever.

Something Old

Artist: Michael Jackson

Title: Smooth Criminal

Sidenote: I just recently downloaded the This Is It Album from iTunes but it has been a part of my playlist ever since. Some of his songs now appear in most of my runs.

Quotable: “Sounding Heartbeats – Intimidations”

Something Current

Artist: Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa

Title: Payphone

Sidenote: Not a particular favorite but most of the songs of my playlist are a little older than 2011. But I just heard this on the radio so I thought I`d add it. 

Quotable: “You say it`s too late to make it // But is it too late to try?”

Something to Consider

Artist: Dionne Amaral

Title: Toda la Noche en la Calle

Sidenote: A friend of mine once forgot her Amaral CD at my home so I listened to some of the songs and this one just stuck.

Thoughts Before the Paralympics

I am so excited for the London Paralympics starting today. I`m looking forward to another wave of the olympic spirit after the amazing Olympics a few weeks ago and the continuation of the “party” that has been going on in London according to the news. I wish I had a chance to go. Yesterday I came across these two quotes that I had to share:

“Thanks for the warm up. Here we come!” -Robin Barnett

“You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” -Oscar Pistorius

Personally I can not wait for the opening ceremony tonight and my favorite events will probably include the athletics but just as I was browsing the London 2012 website I discovered sports I didn`t even know were part of the Paralympics (I hope this is not ridiculous, but as an excuse there were also Olympic sports that I had not thought about before) and now I am even more excited to see them.

At age 18 I do remember the Games four years ago clearly but even before that, not being into sports in general I can still recall all the excitement during these incredible events. It really is a spirit that goes around the world. My earliest memory is probably the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics though I was not allowed to watch it to the end because I was still to young. But my family always gathered together and spent hours watching sports. Such happy times!

What are you looking forward to most? Your earliest memory of the Olympics is…?

Travel Impressions: The Sagrada Família

While in Barcelona we of course visited Gaudi`s famous Sagrada Família. It was unlike anything I have ever seen before. The outside is amazing but the inside really blows you away too! I could not stop staring at the ceiling and all the elements around. It`s definitely worth to enter but you should skip the lines and book a ticket online instead. After Metz and Reims this will become another one of my favorite churches. Though I think that maybe, when it is all finished, it will not be as interesting anymore. But that`s just my opinion. As with all my travel posts I will just let the pictures speak and hope you like them!

9 Tips for Running on Vacation

After my recent trips through West-Europe I thought I would give you my tips on how to keep on schedule with your running while abroad.

Tip # 1: Pack Light

When I traveled to Barcelona I packed the smallest amount of workout gear I could. Chances are, you are only travelling with a carry-on so you do not want to take all of your cute tops and pants and skirts and shoes for working out. I brought one pair of sneakers, two pairs of shorts, two sports bras, two tops, workout socks and comfortable underwear. Generally speaking: I had two sets of clothes that would serve multiple sports. The sneakers were really what took up the greatest amount of space but you could definitely stuff them with socks or other small things in your luggage.

Tip # 2 : Basics Only

Basic colored sports-bra and double sided shorts by Nike.
This does not only apply to your everyday clothing. Since you are packing light, you will want to choose basics and not bright clothes that only match one of the sets of clothes you bring. I brought a pair of black tight shorts and a pair of Nike Tempo shorts because both work great for running but also lifting or whatever else you might want to do. Not only is it easier to mix and match the sets you bring but you will also avoid being recognised as the person that always wears the same clothes to the gym.
If you find any there are also workout clothes that are double sided. Some of them even have two different colors (Nike has some, for example).
Tip # 3: Bring Detergent
Since you are only bringing a limited amount of clothing you might want to wash them every night (or as often as needed). As I said above, I traveled to Barcelona for two weeks with two sets of workout gear. Whenever I finished my workouts, I washed the clothes.
You can often find small bottles or tubes of detergent specially made for hand-washing and travels. The one I found was ox-gall soap with a brush applicator – perfect for rubbing it into any spots. A simple hotel soap will do too, if you don`t want to pack liquids. Just throw the sweaty clothes into the sink filled with warm water and soap. Meanwhile, you can jump under the shower. When you are done, wash anything that needs extra care, rinse under clear water and wring it out. Then hang everything to dry over night. Towel bars work great, so do faucets for smaller items if space allows. Some people even bring a clothesline.
I didn`t only wash my workout gear, by the way, a stain in your favourite shirt? Throw it into the sink as well and it will be as good as new!
Brush applicator detergent
Tip # 4: Do Your Research Beforehand
There are sites such as Run The Planet or Dailymile that offer you many routes all around the world. You can also do a keyword search in Google (e.g.: Running in Barcelona/Paris/…). If you are lucky, you will come across a blog or newspaper entry that can provide you with routes. If nothing helps, look for your accommodation on Google Maps and search for any green spots or parks around the place. If you find a name, you could do another keyword search.
Some cities also have organised running groups that you could join for free or running tours of the city.

Continue reading

Banana Berry Smoothie

Today I made my first homemade smoothie! It was absolutely delicious, great as a snack or small meal, easy to pack, healthy and absolutely customisable depending on your taste.

What you need for one big glass:

  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of frozen blackberries
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup of oat bran
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Sweeten with honey or agave syrup if you want (I left it like this)

Blend everything until it`s thin enough for you. Enjoy in a fun glass and add a colourful straw (thicker ones work better because of the berry seeds).

You can of course use yogurt, different berries, greens (spinach, for example), and much more. This is just a very easy starter.

I had this smoothie after my 8.25 mile long run today, because it was not lunch time yet. Definitely something I will repeat. Besides the run itself being very uneventful, I discovered something awesome: a free track! I have been looking for a track for so long now and all the close ones I went to before were privately owned ones or had crazy registration fees. The one I found today is right in between my two usual running spots.

In Hungary we have the island, with a track of 5.35 km which is very soft in some areas and has holes in others. The view is nice but after a while it is quite boring and besides it can be crowded and there are barely any measurements for speed-workouts.  The other spot I frequent is a hill with many trails of different levels – easy flat ones, harder steep ones. Both of these locations are 20-30 minutes from my house by car and require a detour on my daily way to uni. I do however think it is worth to go there.

So the new track is literally in the middle of these two spots. Today I only ran one quick round – imagine it like a happy dance over 400 meters! I`m planning to do my next speed session which is scheduled for the middle of next week there and will report back to you. I will also make sure to take some proper pictures because not only is the track in awesome condition but it is on a plateau overlooking the houses around! I`m so excited to go back!

Do you have any great smoothie recipes for me to try out?

Say Hello to My New iPod Nano

I used to be a proud owner of a first generation iPod Nano (the black one, with the silver back, 2GB). In the beginning I took it to school and everywhere else I want but then I ignored it. I got a phone that could store music and was more than happy with that. But now (actually a while ago), Apple started calling back the first generation iPods because of battery issues and exchanged them for the newest, sixth generation Nano.

I finally took advantage of this option which was quite a hassle for me still. First I had to send my iPod to Germany, to my grandmother`s house. Then the whole exchanging started and when after weeks I still had not heard from Apple, I called and got the response that they had shipped the exchange box to the States – to the house where we used to live almost three years ago. Why? I have no idea. Anyways, long story short, Apple send another box, my grandmother sent the iPod to Hungary and yesterday I could go and pick it up at the post. So, drumroll please, say hello to my new iPod Nano (I could not decide on the color by the way) which was just upgraded from two to eight gigabytes!

I`m really excited to take this out for a run soon. Only when it is safe of course, I wouldn`t listen to music when I run on the trails or around the neighbourhood but rather when I am on the track or in a race.

I love the touchscreen and that I can even listen to the Radio now. I`m still angry that Pandora is not supported here in Europe.

You can use it to record your runs or walks through I don`t really believe in the whole Nike+ concept, at least not without GPS.

You could also track your intervals using the stopwatch function.

And, the best thing, you can clip it onto your clothing and are ready to go!

(Nail polish: Essie`s Tart Deco, Shorts: H&M, Tanktop: Esprit)

 

The Awesome & the Awful

Do you have those weeks when your workouts feel super easy and fun and then suddenly everything turns around 180 degrees and you don`t even want to take the next step? I did take that next step and I did finish my run today but it was no fun. The reason was the heat, Budapest is suffering from yet another heat wave. I`m still debating my Half Marathon in three weeks – I will be prepared but the race is going to start at 10 am and if the heat is as insane as it is now I don`t know if I can handle it.

Sunday`s Awesome Long Run:

My other new best friend as of late.

Sunday I ran 10 miles on the treadmill. The one at the Hilton in Milan – with a TV, iPod dock and all that jazz. That was fun. I ran it in roughly 1.50 – a new PR, including negative splitting! I had the time to catch up on the news, watch some really bad soaps and listen to music. Afterwards, I got to meet my beloved foam-roller again. I need one!

Tuesday`s Awesome Strength Session:

Since I picked up a pair of dumbbells (2 kg each as a start) yesterday, I was excited to try them out right away. My workout of choice? The Core by Lauren (Health on the Run), once again! Last time I did one set of the main part, yesterday I upped it to 1.5 sweaty sets.

Today`s Not So Awesome Tempo Run: 

 

Post-run. Proud that I didn`t give up!

I had 45 minutes on my plan. Shouldn`t be too hard, I thought, even with the temperatures rising by the minute. Everything started off nice and slow but when I slowly increased the speed I felt the need to slow back down again. The breathing got harder and my heart rate went up. I pushed it through for about a minute and slowed. About ten minutes later I reached my least favorite part of that course – extremely soft track. My form was bad and my Achilles started to hurt. I stretched and continued on the road instead. At the end I didn`t feel very successful but I was proud because I finished the run!

Tomorrow will be an easy five miler and I am really looking forward to that – hoping for a better run after this not so fun one. The positive thing is that hard workouts really pay you back. Rant end.

New In: Running Essentials

I love running gear. Gadgets, clothes, food.. whatever it is, I crave it. Treating myself to a new pair of shorts or a tee or perhaps a fun looking snack makes me happy. Today I went out on the hunt for a new sports bra and top and either a pair of shades or a hat.

I did not find a top but got this grey compression bra by Nike which is Dri Fit, it is a racerback style. It does not have any mesh panels that I usually look for but it is very comfortable and made from mostly recycled fabrics.

Instead of choosing a pair of glasses I went for a hat for now. This one is by Asics. My favorite part is the back adjusting part because it is an elastic strap instead of velcro. This makes it easy to pull your pony-tail through for the girls.

I did pick up a pair of 2kg dumbbells and some regular running gels but then I cam across these little bite sized fruit jellies by Optonia. I have yet to try them on a run but I think the small, individual packages could come in really handy.

Travel Instragram Impressions

 

Last weekend was busy, we ended our 4,500 km long trip. We traveled from Barcelona, Spain to Milan, Italy via Monaco and finally back home to Budapest, Hungary via Lake Balaton.

ImageWe left the view out of our Hotel room window behind. Can you spot the Sagrada Familia in the background?ImageOn our trip we drove along the coast line with all the small villages in the mountains. I almost couldn`t believe it but if you drive from Monaco to Genoa you pass through 138 tunnels! I counted them. ImageBefore we left the ocean behind…Image…we took a walk through Monaco. We saw the marina and the casino.ImageWhen I was not driving, I was reading from the first two Spanish language books I bought while in Barcelona. It is a challenge but I am excited to read an actual book in a language other than German or English. ImageAnd then we made it to Milan. We stayed for two nights to go window shopping and stock up on a few basics. When we left the Metro, we stood right in front of the breathtaking Duomo – the dome. ImageFrom there we walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II where you can find a Gucci café for example. ImageI opted for something different instead: Macaroons by Ladurée. I didn`t have any while in Paris but I agree even though the salted caramel (pictured) and chocolate are among my favourites, the Pierre Hermé ones are better. Image

But then, finally, we left Milan behind too and stopped by at our little house near Lake Balaton. The grapes are ripening and I ate fresh apples from our tree.

But then, after a last day in the car – 12.5 hours of traveling today! – we made it back home and that`s where I am now. Budapest.

If you want to see more of my Instagram snapshots, you can follow me @With_Anna.

My New Friend: The Foam Roller

For the next two nights we are staying in Milan mainly to do a little bit of shopping.We arrived quite light as we drove here all the way from Barcelona, all crammed into my little car but I did take the chance to try something I never had the chance to try before: the foam roller!

Almost all in black for this stretching session.

After my first fro-yo, this was another “love at first use”. I was feeling sore and tight from the last days of running on the dreadmill and the sitting around in the car for hours. First I rolled out my calves, then my hamstrings and glutes, lower back and upper back and finally just a few more spots that were bothering me.

 

My new best friend.

The result? Well, of course I do still feel my muscles but the tightness has completely gone! I am so amazed! I used to “foam” roll using a 2 litre water bottle. Now I am really determined to find a store that sells foam rollers in Hungary, I just haven`t seen any yet and I hate ordering when the postal service is not the most reliable. Or perhaps a little DIY? It would be about time.

Post-stretching, ready for dinner.