Motivation

Some people assume that I never hit the snooze button or that I don’t want to (most days!). That couldn’t be further from the truth but I have a few tricks that help me stay committed even when (though) I’m not motivated.

  • Set out or wear your workout clothes to bed. That may sound crazy, but I wear my workout clothes about 95% of the time to bed. They’re clean. They’re comfortable. Then all I have to do is throw on socks, shoes, and a ponytail.
  • Just do it. Don’t think about it. The less thinking involved, the better. I can be out of my bed and hitting the pavement in 7 minutes. If I think about it longer than that, it makes me want to back out.
  • Run with friends. It’s hard to not show up when someone is relying on you. If you don’t have runner friends, look up an RRCA run group near you or check out a local shoe company or Lululemon. Many of them have run groups and will have people of all abilities there!
  • Commit to a race. Pay for it. Train for it.
  • Think about how you will feel for the rest of the day. This one almost always gets me. I know that if I don’t get up and work out I will be more tired and less motivated throughout the day. I’m not saying to never sleep in or take a rest day, but seriously consider how you’re going to feel.
  • Follow runners on social media. You will be able to relate to what they post and it will make you want to get up and go. http://www.hungryrunnergirl.com
  • Read a book about running.
  • Get some new gear/music/podcasts/audio books. Sometimes having something new to look forward to will help motivate you.
  • Commit to 10 minutes. If you want to quit after 10 minutes, then quit. I’ve never actually quit after 10 minutes, but if you do, then maybe you simply need a rest day!
  • Remember that it’s all worth it! Remember how you will feel once you’re done. Remember how you’ll feel for the rest of the day.

How to Cross Train with an Injury

I am currently in a boot for the 3rd time within a 10 month period. The first injury was a stress fracture in my 3rd metatarsal. I am 90% sure this happened while running fast down a long hill (mountain) and my doctor is sure that it’s because for some reason my 3rd metatarsal is extremely skinny, like the size of a pinky metatarsal and he also thinks that I will eventually have a stress fracture in my right foot for the exact same reason. I was just starting to train for an October marathon… However, I did complete the marathon with a decent time, more on that later.

Then in February, when I was finally feeling almost all the way normal and ready for a good training season (marathon in May!) I turned to look back for a friend and my feet flung out from beneath me. I didn’t trip on anything, I just stepped wrong. After going to work that Friday and making it through the weekend, I saw a foot and ankle specialist that Monday and back in a boot I went. This time with a grade 2(ish) sprain. I spent 3 weeks in a boot, 3 more in a brace and then started to run again.

This was 3 days after the first sprain
The worst part of my fall may have actually been my hand…

I was released from the specialist after 3 weeks in the boot and then I saw a physical therapist 2-3 times a week for about 4 weeks and we slowly started to add in some running and I felt great, anytime I felt pain, I backed off and I was able to do a 10 (10.8) mile train race at the end of April. I missed a few appointments because we traveled out of state over spring break but I continued to take it fairly easy and to listen to my body.

Just as I was cruising back to feeling pretty normal, and after dropping from a full marathon in May to a ½ marathon, I fell again while running. It wasn’t a normal fall though. I should not have fallen, my ankle didn’t try and catch me at all. So, here I am once again in a boot for 3 weeks with a grade 3 sprain and some bone trauma.

My foot is a rainbow of color here.
This was about 5-6 days after the second sprain.

Which brings me back to how to cross train while injured.

  1. Find things to be grateful for. While I know this has nothing to do with cross training, it is so easy to fall into the victim trap and so hard to get out of it. There are so many things to be grateful for. For example, I can still walk with a boot. I am otherwise healthy and safe. My kids and family are healthy and safe. I have a job I love, etc. The more grateful you are, the more you can focus on the positive.
  2. Cycling – I mentioned that I ran a marathon in October after a stress fracture in July and after only running up to 6 miles beforehand. Honestly, a lot of it was purely strong will and determination but I swear that cycling helped me so much. Not to mention it helped me move my body and stay active. I recently got a Peloton after using the app for almost 3 months and as much as I would love to say I hate it because of the price, it is seriously my favorite thing. It’s challenging but totally doable with an injury.
  3. Pool running. Yup, it’s about as awful as it sounds but it is a great cross training exercise that replicates running without the stress and injury. I used an Aquajogger. https://www.amazon.com/AquaJogger-Aquatics-Exercise-Suspends-Vertically/dp/B000Q6N262/ref=sr_1_9?keywords=aquajogger&qid=1558552199&s=sporting-goods&sr=1-9&th=1&psc=1
  4. Elliptical. When I first injured myself, this was a no-go. It didn’t feel good. After a few weeks, I noticed it no longer hurt to move my ankle in this fashion so I jumped on and moved.
  5. Rowing.
  6. Yoga/Stretching. You can definitely do this at home but joining a few classes at the gym may stimulate more than just your body and you can enjoy the social aspect that you may miss from not being able to run
  7. Mix it up. Use all of the above and most importantly love your body and listen to it.

And again, remember all that you have to be grateful for!

Packing for a Race

What To Pack For a Half Marathon

What do you really need for a half marathon? There are so many things that you can bring? Will you need it all?

It can be so overwhelming! It definitely depends on where you’re racing (in or out of town) but there are some things that should be on your mandatory list!

First, the basics. You must have running shoes, socks, a sports bra, a shirt, shorts/pants/capris, and fuel. Depending on weather, you may want to pack a couple of different options because weather can change quickly. Take the 2019 Boston Marathon for example. 10 days out it was supposed to be a high of 49 that day and it ended up being warm and humid.

Some things that aren’t necessarily mandatory but are pretty darn close are anti-chafe spray or bar, watch/gps, a hat, sunglasses, a fuel belt, extra hair ties, and headphones.

Some other considerations, especially if you are concerned about weather are a light jacket, a throw away sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt, gloves, throw away gloves, hand warmers, throw away trash bag, and sunscreen.

Optional items that are especially helpful when traveling are comfy shoes (I love my Spenco ones!), dry clothes, your wallet, food and hydration, a foam roller, and compression socks.

Other considerations to think about are your race morning breakfast and dinner beforehand, a map of the race, your bib and gear check info, extra safety pins, and a plan about where you will meet up with people at the end of the race.

Runner’s Stomach

Some people don’t have this issue, and if you are one of those amazingly lucky people, you can just keep on scrolling.

But for those of us who are plagued with stomachaches and having to plan running around restrooms, etc. then maybe something here can help you!

What causes our stomachs to hurt while running?

Well, there’s not a totally clear answer The Mayo Clinic states,

“The cause of runner’s diarrhea isn’t clear. Contributing factors likely include the physical jostling of the organs, decreased blood flow to the intestines, changes in intestinal hormone secretion, increased amount or introduction of a new food, and pre-race anxiety and stress. What is clear is that food moves more quickly through the bowels of athletes in training.”


https://www.mayoclinic.org/runners-diarrhea/expert-answers/faq-20058107

Some common foods that can cause stomach issues while running: fake sugars, fatty foods, caffeine, overeating, and lack of hydration (this may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration can actually lead to diarrhea).

What can you do to help avoid stomach issues during and after running?

The answer to this question can definitely be different for different people but here are a few things that can help.

  1. Avoid foods that commonly cause stomach issues (see above).
  2. Drink plenty of water. Remember, dehydration can cause diarrhea.
  3. Keep a food diary that includes every single thing you eat and drink. You should also include a stress level on each day, because both emotional and physical stress can cause stomach pain. And then each day, rate how you feel and stick to the foods that make you feel well.
  4. You have to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. My husband will never again eat Chinese food before a race or a long run, and I won’t ever eat popcorn before a race. On the flip side of that, a stuffed sweet potato typically sits well on my stomach.

A few things to keep in mind are that a lot of runners deal with this, we just don’t necessarily talk about it, so don’t be embarrassed! Don’t not stop if you have the urge to go. Chances are, it isn’t going to go away, and you could end up feeling worse if you don’t stop. Do your best to find routes that have restrooms and don’t be afraid to pop into a fast food restaurant, gas station, or grocery store. If running near restrooms isn’t an option, you can always carry a wipe with you. Always makes single wrapped wipes that are made to take with you on the go. https://always.com/en-us/shop-products/always-wipes

Moves That All Runners Should Do

1.) Wall Sits

A wall sit consists of holding yourself in a seated position for a certain amount of time. You can do this while brushing your teeth! You can start with a 30 second wall sit and with practice can work up from there. There are many benefits of a wall seat, but some include: it works your entire lower body, it can basically be done anywhere, and it helps build up your endurance.

http://blog.anytimefitness.com/how-to-do-a-perfect-wall-sit-boost-it/

2.) Balancing On One Leg

Running requires power in our legs, feet, tendons, and muscles. Balance helps to strengthen the tendons and muscles in our feet and legs and most importantly helps runners to stay injury free. Start by balancing for 15 seconds on each leg and work up from there. If you can’t balance on one leg, it’s okay to touch the opposite toe on the ground or a single finger on a counter or chair in front of you. Remember that we all have to start somewhere, and you will eventually work up to balancing for up to a minute at a time! This is another super easy exercise that can be done anywhere, including while brushing your teeth!

http://www.fleetfeethartford.com/sports-medicine/single-leg-balance

3.) Donkey Kicks & Fire Hydrants

These moves will help to activate your glutes, hamstrings, and IT bands. For donkey kicks, you are use your glute to push your foot up towards the ceiling. You can start with 20 reps on each leg, and eventually work up to doing 3-4 sets of 20 reps on each leg. For fire hydrants, you are going to lift your knee out to the side (like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant, hence the name). You will also start with 20 reps on each leg and work up to doing 3-4 sets of 20 reps.

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a27115760/donkey-kicks/

4. Calf Stretches

These can help prevent plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and other injuries. Stand facing the wall and place one foot forward, toes pointing up the wall and one foot facing forward but behind the opposite foot. Lean forward placing your hands on the wall in front of you. You can also use a curb to stretch your calf as well as just putting yourself into a lunge (or running position) and making sure that your back heal is down. This has been recommended to me by a physical therapist because it replicates the motion that runners use while running.

Working Out While Traveling

Traveling doesn’t mean that you have to give up on all of your hard work! Depending on where you are traveling to, and how you’re traveling, you may have access to a gym, but if not, no problem!

Find A Park or a Shopping Mall

Shopping malls are typically fairly empty and the parking lots are well lit early in the morning. If you are unfamiliar with where you are, a shopping mall parking lot can be a relatively safe place to run around. Parks are also a great option, but preferably in daylight and some parks even offer some strength equipment, but even if there isn’t any, you can use body weight workouts. All you need is your body! If you have a phone, you can use YouTube to look up body weight workouts. I really like Fitness Blender and it’s free and available on YouTube. You can also screenshot or print out body weight exercises using something like this:

bodyweight exercises

There are lots of great options at https://darebee.com/

Use Your Hotel Room

Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, you can still use your room to do the above workouts. Fitness Blender also has good options that can add in some aerobic workouts that you can do inside of your room. You can also use water bottles as weights!

Find a Gym!

If you find yourself becoming bored, you can probably find a local gym that allows you to buy a daily or weekly gym pass.

If you can, walk to your destinations, rather than drive. It allows you to explore the city, but also helps to get your exercise in. Remember that anything is better than nothing and you’re not going to lose your fitness in a week! Enjoy your trip.

Treadmill Pyramid Workout

There are so many ways to do a pyramid workout on the treadmill. You can include speed, you can include walking, you can include incline. Once you figure out what you like, play with it and make it more fun/challenging! This workout is 4 miles and should take roughly 38 minutes to do and once you have that down, you can change it up by adding in incline and/or walking. You can also do an increasing speed workout or a decreasing speed workout.

DistanceSpeed
0-.096 mph
.1-.96.1 mph
1-1.096.2 mph
1.1-1.196.3 mph
1.2-1.296.4 mph
1.3-1.396.5 mph
1.4-1.496.6 mph
1.5-1.596.7 mph
1.6-1.696.8 mph
1.7-1.796.9 mph
1.8-1.97.0 mph
2-2.197.1 mph
2.2-2.397.0 mph
2.4-2.596.9 mph
2.6-2.796.8 mph
2.8-2.996.7 mph
3-3.196.6 mph
3.2-3.396.5 mph
3.4-3.596.4 mph
3.6-3.796.3 mph
3.8-46.2 mph

Tips For Your First Race

The night before the race:

  • Don’t stress! It’s completely normal to feel anxious and excited but remember that you are going to PR tomorrow! Everyone out there is running a race, you’re no different!
  • Eat normal food. Don’t try anything brand new. Eat what works for you and makes you feel good.
  • That said, graze! Don’t feel like you need to super carb load and scarf down food all day.
  • Drink lots of water! This will help to hydrate you for your race.
  • Lay out your clothes and bib. This will help to calm your nerves! Check the weather for the next day and don’t overdress! Remember that you will be hotter racing than you are during a typical run because your body is working harder.
  • Get a good night’s rest, but don’t stress if you don’t get a ton of sleep. Eating well and resting days before (not necessarily just the night before) will help you a ton on race day!

The morning of the race:

  • Do what you normally do when you get up and run in the morning. If this means a cup of coffee and a small breakfast, go for it. If you tend to run on empty in the mornings, stick as closely as you can to what is normal for you.
  • Don’t overdrink or overeat the morning of you race or you may pay for it during the race.
  • Get there early so you can get the lay of the land, do a warmup, and hit the restroom if you need to. Typically the shorter the race, the more of a warmup you actually need.
  • Don’t go out too fast! Once you find a good rhythm, you can always pick up the pace.

After the race:

  • Do a cool down! Even if it’s a brisk walk, keep moving for a bit to calm your body and get your heart rate down.
  • Refuel. Most races have post race food, take advantage if you can! Try to consume food and water or a sports drink within 30 minutes of your race. This will help to replace your energy and repair microdamage caused by strenuous exercise.
  • Put on dry clothes! Nothing feels better than getting out of wet, sweaty clothes after a race.

The next day:

  • Move your body. This doesn’t mean to go out and run miles on miles, but perhaps take a walk or go on an easy bike ride. This will help to increase your circulation to fix those sore muscles.
  • Reflect! What went well with your race? What can you work on? How can you make your next race even better?
  • Be proud of yourself! Not everyone can do what you just did, take a moment (or two) to appreciate what your body did!

Recovering Well

Chances are if you are an athlete, you have had to allow your body to recover at some point. This could be recovery after a difficult workout or it could be recovery after an injury.

A few tips on recovering after a long/hard workout:

Image result for meme hydration
  1. Rehydrate. Your body can lose around 17 oz per hour or 8.5 oz per 30 minutes of running, so you want to make sure to replenish that.
  2. Eat: refuel your body. It’s best if you can eat within 30 minutes of completing your workout. Make sure to eat something with carbs/protein to replace your lost glycogen as well as to help repair your muscles. It doesn’t have to be a full on meal, a snack will work just fine. Some easy ideas are an apple, string cheese, nuts, a banana.
  3. Roll/stretch. It can be tough to build in the time for a rolling session. You don’t have to spend 20 minutes rolling unless you want to though. I like to spend about 5 minutes rolling out my legs after a tough workout; but you can always shower first and while you’re relaxing before bed, go ahead and roll out those legs! My chiropractor explained that once you roll onto a tight or painful spot, to go ahead and just lay there for a moment, until the muscle releases. Youtube is a great starting point if you’re not entirely sure how to roll out.

This roller from Target is great! https://www.target.com/p/gaiam-restore-muscle-therapy-18-foam-roller/-/A-13561631

A few tips on recovering after an injury:

  1. Listen to your doctor!
  2. Listen to your body! I’ve been cleared by a doctor before and my body still hurt, so I took more time off. No one knows your body better than you do.
  3. Take it slow and easy! A good rule of thumb is if you’ve been off for x amount of weeks, it’s going to take you about x amount of time to be on your way back to normal. For example, if a foot injury takes you out for 4 weeks, expect it to take an additional 4 weeks to build back your fitness.
  4. Don’t stop working out if you can help it. A stress fracture will obviously take you out of running but it doesn’t have to stop you from riding a bike or lifting weights. This will not only help keep your body from losing some of its fitness and endurance, but it will also keep your mind in shape as well. Recently, I had a bad fall and did some major damage to my ankle, which meant absolutely no running so I bought a spin bike from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D528W98/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and downloaded the Peloton app https://www.onepeloton.com/digital and it has been so much fun staying active and changing up my workout!

5. Listen to your body. This is worth repeating! If it doesn’t feel right or if it registers as pain, stop immediately!

Favorite Foods For a Runner

Did you know that sweet potatoes have more potassium than bananas?

Image result for sweet potato

Healthy individuals need about 4700mg of potassium in a day and bananas pack about 422mg of potassium. Sweet potatoes have about 540mg and if you add a ½ avocado to it, you can add about 487mg. Also, adding a cup of white or black beans can add another 600-800mg.

Image result for sweet potato with avocado and beans

A quick, easy lunch or dinner can easily be a stuffed sweet potato. It doesn’t even have to be baked. All you need is a microwave! And depending on what you like, you can easily change it up.

My absolute favorite sweet potato is stuffed with smoked chicken, a bit of bbq sauce, cheddar cheese, plain Greek yogurt, black beans, and topped with avocado.

If you’re baking it, stab it with a fork a few times and rub a light layer of coconut water on it and bake it at 400 for about 40 min, turning it over about half way through.

If you’re microwaving it, stab it with a fork, and wrap it in a lightly wet paper towel. Cook it on high for 2-3 min, then take it out, turn it and re-wrap it in a wet paper towel. Cook it again for 2-3 minutes and check to see if it’s done by poking it with a fork. If it doesn’t go in easily, then repeat the wet paper towel and cooking it on high for 2-3 minutes.

The absolute potassium topper would be to drink coconut water with you delicious lunch or dinner! One cup has about 600mg and its natural sugars and electrolytes will not only rehydrate you but can also replace lost glycogen after a hard workout.

I would love to hear what else you put on your sweet potatoes!