Selecting your First 5K

You’ve seen all the pictures on Facebook of your friends running races these past few weeks, and you think “I want to do that.” Except you’re not quite sure how to get started or what exactly is involved.

When I ran in my first 5K, I was just beginning on the path to a healthier lifestyle. I was eating better and exercising regularly.

I heard about a road race through some co-workers and decided it would be a great opportunity to see just what racing with other people was all about.

Selecting your first 5KNot only was it a great chance to get introduced to the sport of running, but it was a springboard for me to leap into larger races like my first marathon and eventually into my first ultra-marathon. And it all started with a 5K.

Here’s my 5 steps for selecting your first 5K:

1. Pick a date & location

It is vital to specify when you will be participating. Training levels will vary depending on your overall fitness level, but give yourself more time that you think if you can. That way you can track how you feel as you get closer to race day.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a race that’s 5-8 weeks out in order to have plenty of training time.

There are no shortage of different training schedules by doing a quick online image search. I suggest picking a schedule you feel confident you can stick with so that you’re not changing your plan halfway through.

The best places to start looking for a specific race might be:

  • a running store’s event calendar
  • a local restaurant’s flyer & advertising board
  • A running site like

2. Find a Charity

Many races are sponsored by some kind of charity, and a portion of your registration fees go to that charity as a donation. If you’re passionate about a cause, see if they are sponsoring any upcoming races in your area. This way, you can feel good knowing you are helping others as well as yourself.

3. Check the Cost

If pricing is a roadblock for you, be happy knowing that running can be one of the cheapest sports to get into. There’s no need to go crazy with all of the gear that’s available. If you have a decent pair of shoes (my first pair were $30), most of the rest of the gear is optional.

Race registrations range in price, usually between $10-30 based on several factors:

  • Food and water support during and after the race
  • Participant or finisher freebies (like shirts and medals)
  • Civil work (road closures, police & EMS on site, etc.)
  • Charity donations
  • The amount of sponsors to help defray costs

4. Pick a race you’ll enjoy

Does the idea of running for over 3 miles bore you? Are you looking for something more exciting?

There are plenty of exciting and new races available now that go beyond the simple 5K course.

Maybe a 5K with a twist is more up your alley.

The Color Run is an exciting new race that is not timed, and it is meant to serve as a way to promote happiness and health. You start out in all white and finish the race in streaks of wild color!

There are also Dog Jog races which promote running with your pooch. This gives you both a chance to get some exercise and meet new friends.

There are even several Zombie runs in which you are running away from the undead in order to stay alive!

5K’s have become a lot more accommodating to all different personalities, and as a result, it’s much easier to find one you’ll enjoy.

5. Register early…like RIGHT NOW!

Once you’ve picked a race that aligns with your timeframe and needs, it’s time to get Serious. Stop reading this, and go get signed up.

I know you’ve wanted to because you’re reading this article!

Do this before you think you should. Most races make the process very easy to register with online forms and race day packet pickup. All you’ll need to do is sign up & show up!

Remember – It is much easier to stay with your training plan if you know you’ve already paid for the race.

You can train and plan and prepare until the cows come home, but registration is where the rubber hits the pavement.


Running in your first 5K is definitely a great accomplishment. It may be a springboard to a new healthy way of living or an exciting way to meet new and like-minded people.

There’s some criticism that anyone and everyone can run a 5K. I disagree. According to, about 1 in 5 Americans register for a 5K every year. If anyone and everyone could do it, that percentage would be closer to 100%, not 20%

Embrace where you are as a beginner, and get out there and do something good for yourself and others!

Do you have some essential advice for 5K beginners? I look forward to hearing your feedback!



Simple Tricks To Get Your Diet Back On Track

When you’re on a diet, you’re going to hit a plateau. It’s inevitable.  You’re going to find yourself unintentionally slipping into old habits. It’s quite easy to slip up, but the good news is, it’s also easy to get back on track!

By following a few simple tips, you can get right back to watching that scale drop instead of staying the same or even going up. They aren’t gimmicks, they aren’t “get skinny quick” tips. They are just helpful tips to get you back on track.


1. Water. Have you been sneaking in a diet soda once a day? Or skimping on your daily intake of water? Beef up your water intake, and you’ll help keep your digestive system running smoothly, plus you’ll stay fuller longer. The Mayo Clinic recommends 13 cups a day for men and 9 cups a day for women.

2. Back To Basics. Do you use a food tracker? Or keep a food journal? Go back to a week where you were successful and stayed on track, and replicate that week.

3. Add veggies to every meal. It’ll keep your calories in check, add some extra fiber to your diet, and help you have one less poor option to choose from.

4. Have a “no cheat” week. If you feel like you may be slipping away from your routine, or sneaking in a treat here and there, try having a no cheat week to whip yourself back into shape!

5. Make a lunch pact. Grab a co-worker, spouse, or friend, and support each other in a “no lunch out” week. Packing your lunch will save you calories AND money!

6. Take a Walk! Getting some exercise, even if it’s just a walk at night, will help boost your weight loss. A daily walk will help you increase your energy levels and your metabolism.

We hope these tips and tricks will help you get over the hump and back on track! Do you have any additional tips for us? Leave them in the comments!

Easter 2014

I have a hard time getting Ethan to agree to any sort of “girly” posts. I’ve been trying to get him to let me do a Manicure Monday post here on Hello, Flecks! for a while. He wants nothing to do with it. Men!

But yesterday for Easter, we both got a little fancy, and, I must say, we looked pretty cute! Our sweet neighbor offered to take some pictures for us, AND we matched, AND I had fancy nails. I mean, if this isn’t all the makings of an outfit post, I don’t know what is.

As a lifestyle blog, I feel it is our duty to appeal to our lady readers as well as our dude readers. So, LADIES and gents, I give you, The Flecks’ Easter Fashions!







The details:

Kristin: dress-Elle at Kohls. Shoes-Target. Nail decals-Made by Muchies Mama

Ethan: shirt-Club Room at Macy’s. Tie: Calvin Klein. Jeans-Alfani at Macy’s.

Hello, Apps #2

Welcome to the second installment of Hello, Apps!


This post contains affiliate links.

Today’s title is Speed & Beauty, and we’ve chosen a collection of Apps that represent those ideas perfectly.

We’ll still be following the format from Gary Vaynerchuck and we’ll be featuring 3 categories per post. Check the first installment of Hello, Apps! for more information.

As always, the apps range in price, yet we stand behind your satisfaction of every one of them 100%.

1. Escapism & Entertainment

Recommended by Ethan

When I first got an iPad, I never thought that a AAA game experience (like on Xbox or Playstation) could be had on such a small touchscreen device. I thought iOS was relegated to touch-based games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope.

Bastion was one of the first few games to shatter that mindset. Bastion is far and away an unreal experience from the very beginning. SuperGiantGames, the developers behind Bastion, leave no detail untouched in this masterpiece experience. It brings a wonderfully realized and polished world with an engaging story and a spectacular soundtrack.

20140418-205419.jpg20140418-205410.jpgscreenshots from Bastion

2. Information & Utility

Recommended by Ethan & Kristin

We both love tracking our workout activities, and Runkeeper offers us the versatility to track both Ethan’s extremely active running as well as Kristin’s changing needs.

Runkeeper allows you to track running, walking, biking, rowing and other activities, and you can even enter workouts manually. It also has a great social aspect that helps keep us motivated. They even offer coaching and extended analysis for a monthly or yearly fee. Come find Ethan here and Kristin here. Let’s be friends!

20140418-205346.jpg20140418-205354.jpg20140418-205402.jpgscreenshots from Runkeeper

3. Social (People)

Recommended by Kristin

Instagram has turned novice and pro photography into one of the largest online communities. You’ll see everything from beautiful landscapes to pictures of someone’s breakfast cereal, and you can explore other photos using hashtags. It’s a beautiful world out there. Be sure to check out Hello, Flecks!, Ethan, and Kristin on Instagram. Even Chase has one :)

Instagram20140418-205330.jpg20140418-212041.jpgscreenshots from Instagram

Do you enjoy these apps as much as we do? Let us know in the comments!

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How the Fleck to Buy a Home

How the Fleck to buy a Home

You’ve heard it is one of the most important, most emotional, and biggest decisions you can face, but how exactly do you buy your first home?

We are not claiming to be experts, but we successfully purchased our first home even though the experience scared the crap out of us. We learned a lot, and we’d like to share some personal advice with you.

There is no shortage of information on buying your first home, but we wanted to put a list together that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. This is advice that the experts don’t talk about, advice you would get from a friend. 


Message from the Realtor about our Home

Message from the Realtor about our Home

1. Study

As a first-time homebuyer, this is a BIG decision. Pre. Pare. Don’t let the situation take you for a ride. Be in control by doing your own homework. Read the advice of professionals.

Don’t walk into house-hunting blind, you will get hit by a firing squad of advice, information & marketing.

As long as there is a loan & money securely in place, it is shocking how easily you can purchase a multi hundred-thousand dollar asset without really letting it register emotionally.

We recommend Buying a Home: The Missing Manual. It provided a good broad set of information about the entire process. Being prepared makes the it go so much smoother on everyone’s end, especially yours.

2. Build your team

Realtor, Broker, Home Inspector. Insurance Agent. These are just a few of the people that you want with you along the way.

Some people like to shop all on their own, do all the legwork themselves, access the MLS and save the commission for themselves, and that is great for them. They’ve probably done all of this before.

The vast majority of first-timers have no experience  & want people on their side who can help guide them through this process. Good people that will be on your side can be hard to find. If you want a good team, be willing to pay the 3% in commissions for them. They are usually worth so much more than money, they are worth peace of mind.

Build a team of people you trust and you’ll relieve a lot of stress and worry.

3. DON’T fall in love!

The reason most people get house fever is that they fall in love with one property and then get dead-set on it. There’s a tunnel that separates them from the rest of the homes and they can’t imagine living anywhere else.

There were a few houses slightly above our price range that we thought we loved. By staying firm on price, we were able to find a house that had everything we wanted along with the right price tag.

4. DO make some snap decisions

We had started looking for houses with 3 whole months to find something. Then, even if we didn’t find anything, we were prepared to keep looking and stay put.

In actuality, it really only took 3-4 weeks to find something we really loved. We busted our house-hunting butts for weeks and we were both exhausted by the time it was over.

In this hectic pace, we had to make quick decisions. There are so many options and choices to make that some must be made quickly in order to succeed.

Good houses can move lightning-fast, and sitting on the fence with small decisions can cost you a lot in the long-run.

(Side Note: Don’t waste the realtor’s time on wild goose chases for properties you only half-like, either. There were many times we would check out a house that looked good in pictures, and within seconds of entering the home, we knew it wasn’t going to work. You don’t have to be nice and cordial with your realtor by wasting their time walking through an entire house you won’t buy.)

5. Stay firm on budget

Plan your family’s budget and expenses. Houses are expensive, and you must be financially prepared when buying.

General rules are to allocate no more than 25%-30% of your take-home pay to PITI (or Principal, Interest, Taxes & Insurance for the home), and know that if you go over this, you are potentially cheating your family out of the ability to build up savings in other areas of life for other expenses and emergencies.

If the home you like is on the high side of your price range, step back and think if that’s something you really can handle in the future.

6. Stay organized

If you’re really looking for a house, chances are you’ll be looking at more than a half-dozen homes in a Saturday or more. All of the little nuances of a home can quickly get lost in the shuffle.

Many recommend taking pictures of each home, which is great if that helps you. We found that we didn’t end up needing a ton of pictures and we spent more time inspecting the details of each home while we were there.

  • We only took pictures if we really liked a home.
  • We reviewed the houses at the end of our trips and wrote down comments on the printouts from our realtor.
  • When we got down to 2 or 3 properties, we made a Pros & Cons list so it was easy to see the differences in properties
  • We kept our communication consistent with our realtor & broker. We CC’ed each other in email chains and made sure we all knew what each other were doing.

7. Go to the home inspection & pay attention!

We were shocked when we realized that not everyone attends a home inspection. We were expecting someone from both parties and likely both realtors to be attending the home inspection.

It turns out we were the only ones who actually attended! It was an invaluable opportunity for us to learn about:

  • The internal structure of our new home purchase
  • Potential problem areas
  • Basic home maintenance
  • Items to prioritize for future replacement
  • Good working knowledge of the home and its basic functions.

We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention our wonderful realtor Barb Carroll. She was professional, punctual, and had a great sense of knowing what we wanted before we did. If you are in the Cincinnati area, check her out when you are ready to buy.


We hope that some real-world advice from actual first-time buyers will ease your mind about the whole home-buying process.

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