We Have a Choice

We have a choice to make our workouts count wherever they take place, and for however long they may be. I often emphasize intensity to my clients over duration.

When I’m not putting in miles for half marathon training, I’m doing a HIIT workout or a CrossFit inspired WOD. Often at home, during nap time. I’m making a choice to workout (even if it’s short) before doing laundry or the like. Duh, right?!


Some of my home workout go-to moves include:

  • push-ups
  • sit-ups
  • squats
  • burpees
  • planks
  • kettlebell swings

Usually, I set-up a 20 mins AMRAP or tabatas of an assortment of the exercises above.

I also like dead lifts with a kettlebell (50 lbs show below) or dead lift high pulls to get those lungs burning! Dead lifts are fabulous for strengthening the glutes…ahem, runners.

Kettlebell dead lift

Push-ups are outstanding for developing upper body and core strength. Your legs even get a workout when you do them properly (isometric contraction).

Mastering a full push-up takes time and repetition. Rather than doing push-ups from your knees, you can perform hand-release push-ups (shown below) to develop strength while keeping your shoulders-hips-knees-ankles in one line.

Hand Release Push-ups

But not all workouts need to include standard exercises, right? We can choose to enjoy activity in all forms like embracing a +60 degree day in Omaha in January!

BOB weather shield

You bet I took advantage and had the kids out for a walk. Someone was pretty happy about it.

BOB revolution stroller walk

By the way, I have been strapping Jada in the BOB Revolution without the infant car seat adapter for walks. Soon, she’ll be able to go on runs with me (when it warms up).  Today, the weather is back in the teens. That’s Nebraska for ya!

While it’s important to be active, incorporating rest into your routine is essential as well. Luckily, I have a great partner in crime for this one.


She is protesting afternoon naps lately UNLESS she is sleeping on someone. Most days, that means me.

Your turn:
Do you think about intensity or duration first for your workouts? Or, does it depend on the day?
Any nap time strategies you parents would like to share?!


  1. I find you so inspiring. I have the hardest time pushing myself to work out on my own. I have to either have a race I’m training for our go to my work out classes (which are a similar format as your works outs – HIIT…lots of tabatas, AMRAP etc.) I need someone to push me along and give me a set workout to do. Question: where did you find information or guidelines on when it is okay to run with your baby in the BOB? I was visiting my brand new niece this weekend and we enjoyed a number of walks in her BOB with the adapter and it got me thinking about when she would be ready for running (obviously not for awhile but I didn’t know when). Thanks!

    • Thank you so much Lia! I can’t remember wear I saw the information on the BOB…I believe it stated at 8 months you can run with stroller and without the infant car seat adapter. It’s too cold for her (and me) right now, so she’ll be ready when it warms up! 😉

  2. I’ve been focusing on intensity lately too. I’ve been finding it much more effective than my regular, longer workouts. And that’s actually how I found your site- through your kettlebell workout 🙂 which I love by the way!

    Nina recently posted..Getting Rid of the Negativity OnlineMy Profile

  3. Of course I absolutely agree with you when it comes to intensity. I would rather train someone for 30 minutes and keep them moving the entire time, then an hour with several breaks. Even if I only have 30 minutes, I make them count!
    Stroller runs in the B.O.B. with the twins were some of the hardest EVER and I loved them!! I hope you enjoy your runs with Jada as much as I did. They are some of my fondest memories b/c the boys loved being whooshed around outside and I got my run on. Win/win. 🙂
    Allie recently posted..Reverse Bucket ListMy Profile

  4. Unless it’s a long run, most of my workouts focus on intensity over duration. I’ve been loving working out with my kettlebell lately.
    Abi@AbsofSteel recently posted..How I Spend My Off Day and Taking an Easier WeekMy Profile

  5. As a fairly competitive marathoner, you are right to stress the glute strengthening. I have suffered from IT band issues and piriformis syndrome over the years, and I cannot stress enough HOW MUCH glute strengthening alleviates these problems and really builds great leg stability 🙂 Good luck in the half marathon training

    • Gabrielle from Austria says:

      I agree.
      Strengthening my glutes also has helped me a lot. I used to have problems with high hamstring tendinopathy. I couldn’t sit for long in the car. Now I’m fine!

      Thank you so much, Jess, for your fresh ideas to work out. Now it’s easier for me to stay motivated with strength moves, in the privacy of my home – I love it.
      Great, the hand-release push ups!

    • Go glutes! So important! And, glad you like the HR push-ups Gabrielle!

  6. Hey Jess! I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I’ve even tried a few of your treadmill workouts and recipes! In 2013 I trained for and ran my first full marathon. During that training, I was very focused on getting my miles in, regardless of intensity. The race went well and I finished after maintaining a consistent pace for most of the course, which is all anyone could ask for their first race, in my opinion. I’ve now signed up for my 2nd full marathon, in May, and my focus this time around is much more on the intensity and speed workouts. I’ve already noticed a difference in my running pace and I am very confident that I will beat my previous time! I definitely agree that intensity trumps duration!

  7. Home workouts are great, because they take that travel time, and messing around time right out of it! Especially when you have a little one, that can be critical time……and you cant leave them! Sounds like you get it in perfectly! When I am in my training, I do a lot of strength and conditioning, and I find it is SO important for injury prevention! Will also help you for carrying a toddler around all day i am sure 🙂
    Tina Muir recently posted..Slow Cooker ChilliMy Profile

  8. Great post today! Could have not came at a better time.
    Before the marathon I was focusing on duration. After the marathon I told myself I was going to start being more intensity. I think if you are training for something both are key but for some reason I put duration ahead of the intensity (for myself personally) because I know that I need to get a certain workout in and once I get that workout in I am fine. But sense the marathon I have been finding that I love cranking up the intensity of my workouts and seeing how much I can push myself!
    Elizabeth @ Positive Change recently posted..Running, Family and Work!My Profile

  9. Some nap time thoughts…

    How is your life impacted by Jada’s sleeping on you?

    How are her sleep and life impacted by her sleeping on you?

    How long are her sleep-on-Mom naps? … How long are her sleep-on-own naps (if at all)?

    Do you enjoy her sleeping on you?

    … Susanna slept on me for about the first five months of her life. She was in my arms, on my chest, etc. If I moved her, she’d wake up. It was a challenge as I thought she should be able to sleep on her own, but she was content on Mom. A sleeping baby was better and healthier than an exhausted, cranky baby. Fortunately, working from home allowed me that gift of being able to live like that.

    It took some adjustment (water, snacks on hand, computer nearby, learning to go to the bathroom with a sleeping baby in my arms, completing some activities before she napped, etc.) but it was worth it.

    Every now and then she still has an “I need to sleep on Mom” time and I embrace it. She’s 13.5 months, but if she wants her Moms arms and I’m there, so be it. It happens maybe once a month now, sometimes twice.

    If this doesn’t work for you, I’ve also started her off sleeping on me and then gently rolling her off into a pile of warm blankets. (We’ll generally be in bed or on the couch.) Sometimes I turn to the white music on the iDevice (it’s a CD that Scott downloaded for a few bucks…better than a sound machine!).

    Hope this helps you both.
    Wendy @ New Moms Talk recently posted..Raising an Independent Baby/Toddler (aka Accepting Our Child)My Profile

    • Great thoughts as always Wendy. You made me realize that it’s not that big of a deal to have her nap on me–so I let it happen today and she slept on me for 2.5 hours!

  10. If I’m up for it, I much prefer higher intensity workouts that are short and “sweet.” 😉 But if I have the time or if I’m not in the mood for a really intense workout session, I’ll go for a longer, but less intense workout (or more strength). I’ve been doing your 100 challenge very often still, and I’ve been practicing HR pushups— they’re no joke! Burpees and KB swings are also some of my favorites!
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves recently posted..WIAW: Something Old, Something NewMy Profile

  11. Love this! Right now I have more time on my hands but I am soon starting a couple part time jobs and I know I am going to have to make the quality of my workouts count! Thats kind of hard when you are slowly starting to get back into marathon training, but I will make it work 🙂
    Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Timing Breakfast and WorkoutsMy Profile

  12. My normal length is usually 1+ hour but when I travel or time is short I’m all about the HIIT or Tabata style workouts!!
    And, I love the moves that you said are part of your go-to ones!!
    Kim recently posted..A Sherpa Wife I’m NotMy Profile

  13. I’m bad I like high intensity for a long time or I don’t work out at all. I need to work on that! My twins were my worst sleepers. It was hard not to throw my hands up in the air and not give them a nap. However I would put them down at the same time every day and leave them in their crib for however long their nap should be. Sometimes they would play, sometimes they would cry. Of course I would go in every 15 minutes or so and check and tell them to go to sleep, but the consistency help them to get on a schedule and they eventually became good nappers. I guess it’s very similar to night training.
    Tiffany Dutson recently posted..26 weeks, and a discount codeMy Profile

  14. I typically focus on duration but as I start training for my duathlon and tri, I’m hoping to shift that focus to speed and intensity. Great post, love the at home workout ideas!
    Sarah recently posted..Mexican Sunshine For DaysMy Profile

  15. Thank you for this today! I was doing Julie @ PB Fingers 6×6 workout today and on my 3rd round, I didnt feel I was doing pushups correctly, so I did the rest on my knees. I was really frustrated, I thought, I am strong enough to be able to do this correctly. I cannot wait to practice the HR pushups.

    I have been working out at lunch, and doing weights, so I really like to mix it up and add HIIT/tabatas atleast 1x a week to mix it up and keep it interesting.

  16. I try to really push myself on workouts but sometimes it’s so hard! Those days (if I have the time) I try to up the quantity of my workouts since the quality is lacking.
    Kelly recently posted..tupelo honeyMy Profile

  17. I definitely go for intensity over time. It’s so hard to find time to squeeze in a good workout sometimes, so I try to make every second count.
    Lex @ Flecks of Lex recently posted..What I Did (or Didn’t Do) This WeekMy Profile

  18. When it comes to strength training, I definitley focus on intensity over duration. I love HIIT workouts and most of mine take place at home too. As someone who works at a gym, it’s so nice to workout in the comfort of your own home without being “on call” for anyone to ask questions. There is something relaxing about working out at home!
    Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! recently posted..Sweat Is Beautiful Ball WorkoutMy Profile

  19. Very timely for me.
    I don’t have time to go to the gym. That part is true.
    It’s complete CRAP, though, that I use it as an excuse not to WORKOUT.
    Two totally separate things.
    Gym. Workout.
    I CAN workout, even on days I can’t get to the gym.
    Thanks for the reminder. 🙂
    Erin recently posted..It’s Not Me!My Profile

  20. Glad to hear that I can still gain strength by doing a hand release push up …. I can barely do ONE proper push up. Upper body strength is definitely a new focus of mine!
    beka recently posted..What happens when you get serious about running a marathon?My Profile

  21. I enjoy longer work outs but there are days when it is just not possible. These are great suggestions. I am a big fan of doing deadlifts with kettlebells too.

  22. I love a good intense work out!
    Napping…..ahh…so difficult for some babies. My 3 kids were on a schedule of eat, play, sleep during the day. Morning nap happened around 10 or 10:30 am and the afternoon nap was 1 or 1:30 and bedtime by 7 or 7:30. Heck, my 9 yo goes to bed at 7:30! If you watch for sleepy cues after play time you can put her down and she should be able to fall asleep on her own. It’s one of those things that you’ll want her to learn by the time she’s one. 🙂 It will help with healthy sleep habits as she gets older. Best of luck!

  23. well said friend! so well balanced too. Focus on what you can do! squeeze it in, it counts
    lindsay recently posted..SUPER EASY (GF) SUPER BOWL RECIPESMy Profile

  24. Now that I have a baby, it’s tough to find more than 30 minutes in the day to squeeze a workout in, so I’m all about intensity. I’m finding that because I’m forced to work within a shorter duration of time, I’m increasing my intensity to get the job done…the biggest area I’ve seen improvement is my runs – I try to run faster to cover more miles in less time!
    Ashley@CupcakesnCrunches recently posted..10 Things for Your ThursdayMy Profile

  25. We do have a choice. Great post! I tend to think about intensity first- especially when it comes to cardio. I figure if I go hard I’ll be done sooner.
    Annie Brees recently posted..GYMBOSS Interval Timer Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  26. You are amazing. Great post! <3
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  27. My kids are 19 and 21 now, but I can still feel their warm skin on my neck from when they fell asleep on me. It is a memory and a feeling that I hope to never forget. You are truly blessed!

  28. Intensity for sure! Although, if I’m running long I focus on keeping it relatively easy (unless I’m racing).

    I’m such a sucker for Evan napping on me. Maybe it’s because it’s my last baby — but it’s hard for me to just put him in his crib. Of course, this doesn’t necessary lead to a great nap, so lately I’ve had to suck it up, put him down, and let him fuss a little (he usually passes out within 5-10 minutes). He is an eye rubber, so I know when it’s time for his nap. It doesn’t make it any easier though!
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  29. I think about intensity a lot – especially lately. If I am going to take time to do strength, it should be really meaningful. I’m only letting my body down by not going all out.
    Kayla recently posted..The Time I Juiced My Breakfasts for a Week.My Profile

  30. Love this post, so true! And so precious, enjoy those extra snuggles before she won’t do that anymore!

  31. Hi Jess! I have to say you are the one who introduced me to tabatas, and I’m hooked! I also work out during my son’s nap, and especially since he’s down to one, I have to maximize my time. It’s made my running easier, and gives me plenty of energy to play with my son the rest of the day. I owe it to you! Thanks for the workout inspiration and all the great tips. Im a follower for life.


  32. For runs, I determine the intensity first and then the duration. For strength, I mainly do CrossFit-like circuits at home and focus on intensity (and keeping them relatively short while baby sleeps).

    As for getting a baby to nap… I have zero tips 🙂 My son has been boycotting naps on and off this week, so I set up the Pack N’ Play next to the treadmill and fit in a run while he plays. I can’t let him run around free because he goes straight for any cords or the treadmill itself. Babies are crazy, yet so awesome 🙂

    Your little girl is so adorable!
    Amy @ {Life to the Full} recently posted..Motivation Monday – Healthy Valentine’s DinnersMy Profile


  1. […] the way, I appreciated all your comments and encouragement regarding Jada’s nap time preferences of late. Is it really that bad to let her nap on me […]

  2. […] Surfing Pinterest in between sorting and photographing clothes & playground time with my kiddo I came across a pretty inspiring exercise blog. Exercise has become a four letter word to me, but I felt compelled to actually follow the link, not just pin it to a board. I am happy I did.  The blog is called Blonde Ponytail composed by Jenn a mom, wife and athlete. After reading a few of her posts I felt that I could do some of the workouts she is posting, she even has a play ground workout I could manage the next time we go to the local playground. Until then check out her blog and hopefully I can report back positive results from one of her workouts http://blondeponytail.com/2014/01/we-have-a-choice-with-workouts/ […]

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