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July 26, 2015
by Shalama Jackson

Finally! Running the elusive sub-30 minute 5K

Sub-30 minute 5K achievedI have finally achieved a personal goal of mine – running the elusive sub-30 5K. It’s not the only goal I have, but one that I have been chasing for the past two years, the last time I ran a 5K. I’ve gotten close before with in the Palmetto Half Marathon’s 5K in April 2013 .

Last night, I did it fair and square.

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it because I took the first mile way too fast. I know the time I wanted to achieve but MapMyFitness wasn’t working, so I was trying to run by feel. I ran the stopwatch on my phone and when I reached mile 2, I was at a little more than 18 minutes. That glance gave me 11 minutes to go uphill and I was not sure if I was going to make it. I know I probably walked about a minute to slow down my breathing.

BGR! Columbia runs 5KIt was great to see and run with the ladies for The Guardians of Night K-9 5K that benefited the Richland County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit.

I haven’t been running a lot lately. I’ve just been living in the gym. It’s helped me get stronger which in turn has gotten me faster. I have been able to sneak in a mile here and a mile there. Nothing substantial.

The last race I ran was as a member of the Palmetto 200. I knew then that I was faster and stronger. I hadn’t seen times like that come up on my watch ever. Running relays have become one of my favorite ways to run. You get to do more than run with other crazy running enthusiasts. It’s actually kind of crazy to spend more than 30 hours going from Point Y to Z, but I’d do it again.

I am actually looking to do another Ragnar Relay in 2016. I’d love So Cal, Del Sol, Nappa Valley or even Reach the Beach. We’ll see what happens in 2016 with this and my other running fun.

What personal running goals have you achieved?

July 25, 2015
by Shalama Jackson

Vacation hair

vacation hair readyIt’s nearly August. Can you believe it? Anyhow, in just a few days I will be leaving for a Caribbean vacation.

I cannot wait to get to the sun, sand and water.

As I began preparing my checklist for the trip, I began to think about how much time I wanted to spend on my hair during vacation. As many naturals know, a Caribbean summer vacation can be so much hassle because while you want to just chill and have fun, your hair can determine so much.

My hair in Mexico.

vacation hair

And my hair in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico vacation hairI do love the sun, sand and water. All can spell disaster or at least for my Chia Pet hair, a frizzy mess.

When I went to Puerto Rico and Mexico, the hair had its own personality. This time around I went for something different.

Wah lah, no need for the conditioner, spray bottle for water, sealant, pomade, wide tooth comb and brush and other styling aids.

July 21, 2015
by Shalama Jackson

5 tips to improve your sleep

5 tips to improve your sleepI’m getting more sleep than ever. My body seems to be requiring more and more of it.  I’m actually going to bed earlier than I have in a long time. I do my best to either be in bed around 10 p.m. or be on my way shortly thereafter.

I’m finally able to get in a few 5 a.m. workouts again. Previously, I was going to the gym at 5 a.m. like clockwork. But when I began staying up late that fell to the wayside.

I’m slowly on my way back to a consistent routine that gets me to the gym early in the morning about three days a week. I really need to build up, so that when it’s time to train for my winter marathon, I can get up and get that mileage in.

I’ve found a few things have helped me get on track.

Tips to help you get more sleep every night.

Examine your sleep patterns with an app or wearable. Fitness wearables including Polar Loop and Fitbit help track your sleep patterns through the night. Looking at the information afterwards can help you see visually see exactly how youa re sleeping at night.

Use the “Do Not Disturb” mode on your phone. We all have friends and family members that text you at all hours of the night. Instead of turning your phone off completely, you can use the do not disturb mode on your phone. By turning the do not disturb on, you’ll receive texts and calls, but your phone won’t make a sound or vibrate.

Drink your caffeine in the morning only. I’m not a coffee or soda drinker but I know plenty of people who are. However, for those of you that do drink it, limiting it to one cup or at least the morning is the best.

Aromatherapy. It has been found that lavender has been found to help aid in better sleep quality.

Make sure your bedroom is dark at night. Seriously. The amount of light in your room at night can affect your sleep. Your body naturally follows the light of day. It’s awake when the sun is up and tired when it’s dark. This also means turning off the TV or at least setting the sleep mode, so that it does turn off to create a dark room.

Sometimes we wonder why we can’t get enough sleep at night when many times it is very simple. Make sleep a priority much like going to the gym.

Have any of these tips worked for you? What tips I am missing? Share in the comments.

July 19, 2015
by Shalama Jackson

5 tips to use the treadmill most effectively

5 tips to use treadmill effectivelyThe treadmill is one of the most used cardio machines at the gym and one of the most common for at-home equipment.

Not only is it great for weight loss, running on a treadmill can also help you tone-up and keep your heart and joints healthy.

The next time you jump on the treadmill at the gym, keep these tips in mind for the most effective workout:

Crank up the incline. You don’t walk on a flat Earth, so why do it in the gym? Use at least an incline set at 1 for walking or running. But turn it up higher to work that body.

Manual programming. The key to burning calories and effective weight-loss is high intensity intervals. So keep that in mind as you workout and gradually up the speed/incline, then lower back down for a brisk walk, then quicken again. Vary the speed and intervals so your body will be pushed to work harder.

Maintain good form. Good posture and shoulders back with your head looking forward, not down at the floor. Relax your hands or keep a loose fist and let your arms swing naturally.

Create a playlist. Make sure it’s upbeat and fast so you can keep your pace along with the rhythm of the music. You can also throw in a few less heart-pumping songs in between if you’re doing interval training for the slower paced walks.

It takes consistency. Even though we don’t like to hear this, “Change takes time.” Keep in mind that consistency is vital to any fitness routine. I have to remind myself of that every single day.

Cardio is just one component of achieving a healthier lifestyle. I’m not the biggest fan of the treadmill, but it has come in handy during lunch since the YMCA is less than two blocks away from the office. I haven’t wanted to run in the winter and now that the temps are blazing by 8 a.m., the treadmill with incline intervals has been my friend.

What cardio machines do you use at the gym?