Keeping Our Youth Active And Healthy

As part of my ACE Health Coach certification, I am responsible for taking continuing education classes.  Since I work a lot with youth in various programs, I have focused a large part of my studies on youth fitness.  September happens to be National Childhood Obesity Awareness month and this gives us the perfect opportunity to discuss keeping our youth active and healthy.

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Our lives have become incredibly convenient in recent years.  Technology allows us to work from home, enjoy fun games on computers and the television, and we can even purchase basic essentials from the touch of a screen.  Very few children or adults walk or ride their bikes to work or school.

At the same time, budget cuts in schools have eliminated recess sessions and physical education classes.  Large amounts of homework and busy schedules have children doing fewer and fewer extracurricular activities.  This means both children and adults are spending far more time sitting down.

Type 2 diabetes was once considered “adult onset” diabetes.  However, youth and adolescents are being diagnosed with this metabolic disease.  Unfortunately, children and youth who struggle with weight and obesity issues, tend to continue to struggle with these same issues throughout adulthood.

Research has shown that children need about 60 minutes of activity per day.  However, this amount can be accumulated over the course of 24 hours, making it an easily attainable number.  Quick walks, bike rides, playing catch with friends, or jumping rope are just a few simple ways to get in a few minutes of activity at times.

It is important to keep in mind that children generally don’t like doing sustained bouts of exercise like adults.  It can feel difficult and boring; both of which will deter youth from continuing.  Instead, we should focus on finding activities that children enjoy and allow frequent rests and hydration breaks.  Keep in mind that children have much shorter attention spans and prefer quick bouts of activity followed by rest.  Therefore, if you do want to introduce running to your little ones, you might have more success aiming for an initial run/walk plan.

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Jump ropes, hula hoops, and balls are excellent items to introduce to children for activity time.

When children find activities that they enjoy and feel good about, they are much more likely to continue.  Even better, if children learn to enjoy physical activities, odds are in their favor that they will continue to be active adults.

Aim for variety.  Avoid focusing on specializing on one specific sport at an early age.  Allow children to try many different sports and activities and give them the chance to excel at each.  Unlike adults who tend to specialize in one general area, children are capable of being great at several different types of activities.  Where we might be great long distance runners, children are able to excel in both long distance and strength training, etc.

Adults are great role models.   When we make active lifestyles a priority, it teaches our children a lesson.  If we act like exercise or eating well are punishment, children will perceive this the same way.  Instead, when we find activities that we enjoy and make them a part of our lives, our children see that this is as normal.  Family support and leading by example are great ways to show our youth that being active and healthy can be fun.

How do you like to lead by example?  What kinds of activities do you like to do on your own or with children?

Boston Bound and Thanks Team!

Friday morning I was standing in line at the bank and happened to peek at my phone and began unconsciously fist pumping.  I stopped myself as soon as I noticed, but I got the e-mail I had been waiting for.  I’m in in for the 2017 Boston Marathon!

I qualified back in May and was somewhat certain that my time would most likely be a guaranteed spot, but it was so nice to see that confirmation e-mail right there in my inbox.  I of course took a screen shot.

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The room is booked and plans have tentatively been made.  I spent a lot of Friday thinking about the process of getting this far, 13 months after having our little girl.

It takes a village to be a runner.  It takes a small city to be a mother runner.  It amazes me that for a solo sport, just how much support we require.  I hesitate to even type out this list of thank you’s, because I will most definitely miss someone very important.  If I miss you, please know you weren’t forgotten.  I am so incredibly grateful for every single person who helped me in the past year and at any point during my running.

Before I even get started, I have to say thank you to my husband.  Strike that, I need to shout THANK YOU! to my husband.  There aren’t enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man.  He’s an incredible father and partner.  He will go out of his way to help out with our daughter and to make room for me to get in a run.  Sometimes he amazes me with how well thought out in advance his plans are, so that I can train around our schedules.

Our entire family has also been an awesome support.  I cannot imagine doing all of these crazy things and not having their backing and help.  My mother-in-law  and father-in-law are always so gracious to let us set up shop at their house.  My mother-in-law took care of Mary during a busy Thanksgiving morning so that we could get in a quick turkey trot.  We all know just how hectic holidays can be and carrying around an infant doesn’t make anything easier!

My mom and dad are always offering to watch our daughter during vacation,  training sessions, and even for an entire race weekend.  Whether it be for a 16 mile training run the morning of my brother’s wedding, 18 miles during our spring break in Florida, or for the entire weekend of a race, they never hesitate when we ask for some assistance.  And then they still call to offer and come over so that we can go for a rare run together, just because.

Our wonderful friend Tatiana not only watched Mary every Friday this spring so that I could get my long training runs in, but she also gave up a weekend to come watch our little girl during our race in the Poconos.  We had a blast and I am so glad she was with us.   Having her there with our friends Chantelle and Mike made the weekend even more special.

My awesome friends Amy and Kim in Chicago have always been in love with both our dog and daughter and have helped us out numerous times when we’ve need to fit in long runs, get a dog out for a walk, or watch a little girl when we were in a pinch. Thanks girls.  I miss you both!

Thanks to Stephanie for helping me with parenting questions and sending me delicious and healthy treats.  Just the other day I opened the front door and found a surprise package of That’s It bars.  This girl gets me and I adore her.  Let’s not forget the day she drove all over finding random boxes for our move and then driving out of her way to get them to me.  I had the best 1/2 hour sweating it out in the summer heat, catching up in a parking lot with her!

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Awesome girlfriends are so important in our lives.  These ladies are the best!

 

A huge shout out to Brian Hock of Simple Hydration for bringing me onto his Running Team.  I have had such a wonderful time being a part of this incredibly supportive group.  Having their help and following their progress as they run some of the most impressive races around has been so inspirational.  If you are still looking for a hydration system, I highly recommend checking these water bottles out!

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I could never forget the awesome support of my readers/followers.  Thanks for bearing with me, asking questions, and helping keep this blog going.  Your stories, comments, and questions fuel my runs and my drive to become a better runner and coach.  Thanks for sticking with me!  It truly takes an amazing team to keep running.

Who is on your running team?  Isn’t it awesome to sit back and think about just how many people make this sport a reality?

 

Dealing With Minor Foot Issues

We runners are notorious for having ugly feet.  The stereotype is real for a reason.  Sometimes even getting a basic pedicure can be quite the embarrassment.

There are a few things you can do to ward off minor issues like blisters and bruised/lost toe nails:

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Get yourself fitted for the appropriate shoe for you.  Everyone’s feet are different and our running styles are unique too.  From narrow to wide feet, flat or high arches, to supinating or pronating; each of these are factors that make a customized shoe choice very important.

You can go into almost any local running store and they will be happy to find the right fit for you.  Shoes not only vary in size, but also in how they help work through your gait, and assist with minor variances in how you run.  Your fitting will also take into consideration how many miles you typically put in, the terrain you will be running on, and other variables.

When we have a shoe that is too big or too wide, our feet can move ever so slightly and cause blisters or pound on our toe nails.  If you consider how much time you spend in your shoes, you will quickly see how important it is to have the appropriate pair.

You might recall that two years ago I switched to a neutral from a stabilizing shoe.  The end result was a rough case of Achilles tendinitis that lasted months.  It wasn’t pretty and I have since learned that cute shoes are not an important factor in the decision making process.

Skip the cotton socks.  100% cotton can be a recipe for disaster.  Cotton doesn’t wick, and when you sweat, the moisture gets locked in there.  The end results is an environment for blisters to pop up.

Keeping your feet dry is the first step to avoiding blisters in the first place.  Find a sock made with sweat wicking material.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on socks.  I get my favorites from Costco for about $10 for 6 pairs.

Keep your shoes dry in between workouts.  As mentioned above, a moist environment is grounds for major foot pain.  If you sweat a lot or run in the rain, make sure you air those shoes out before your next run.  Take the insert out and leave your shoes in a cool and dry area.  You can also ball up some old newspaper and stuff it inside.  This will help pull any excess moisture out.

Side note:  This will also help avoid getting majorly funky smelling shoes.  Although this is likely inevitable if you run hundreds of miles in your shoes, it can help keep them fresh as long as possible.

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Trim those toes!  A quick weekly trim of the nails will help avoid pounding your toes against the front of your shoes, which often causes bruised and blackened nails.  Take care of your feet and trim the nails as short as you possibly can.

Sometimes despite every best effort, blisters and ugly toes just happen.  There isn’t always anything you can do to avoid these minor pitfalls.  I’ve gone out for a run and come back to find the most random of blisters.  During my last marathon training session, I managed to lose 3 toe nails (although I blame the hot and humid course at Grandma’s Marathon for at least 2 of those!).

The good news is that you can continue to run through both of these issues.  It is up to you whether you hold onto that blister or not.  I am not a doctor or medical professional and I cannot give you advice on that matter.  But I will suggest that regardless of how you handle your blister, that you keep it clean and sterilized.  A little peroxide, a good air dry, followed by a bandaid will have you back out on the road.

As for missing toe nails.  They can certainly hurt during the bruising process.  The good news is that once the nail is ready to go, it looks far worse than it actually is.  At that point, you will find that it has healed up underneath and ready to go.

Bottom line is, take care of your feet.  Find proper gear and keep them clean and healthy.

How do you deal with these common issues?

Why I Am A Better Runner, Thanks To Pushing A Stroller

There was a time when I didn’t think this post would be a reality.  The first time I pushed Mary in a stroller I couldn’t quite get the hang of it.  I was out of breath and I felt slow.  The truth is that running with a stroller isn’t easy, but it does get better.  You get in a rhythm.  You slow your pace down and you appreciate running for different reasons.

Over the past few months my running has transitioned, thanks to the stroller.  I was afraid it would mean becoming a slower runner.  But the good news is, running with my baby (ahem, toddler) has been an awesome experience in many ways.

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It forces you to slow down.  Sounds like a bad thing, doesn’t it?  Here’s the thing.  Most of us think we need to run fast all of the time to become a faster runner.  Yes, you do need to do some faster runs to get speedy.  That’s what speed work is for.  Ever notice that speed work is usually only on your plan one time per week?  That’s because you only need about 10% of your training to be done at a high intensity/interval pace to reap the benefits of speed work.

Many of us can also benefit from some slower runs.  Pushing a stroller can definitely help with this!

You learn to roll with the punches.  Sun bonnets fall on the ground.  Pacifiers get thrown.  Blankets get tossed.

I used to hate having to stop during my run.  I wasn’t the best running partner.  But having a child requires a completely different kind of patience.  Some runs are stop and go.  You just have to deal with it.  There’s the run where you struggle to keep that sun bonnet.  There’s the run where you realize the pacifier disappeared.  You stop your GPS and desperately search around the stroller.  You contemplate back tracking.  You panic.  And then you just head home, hoping in desperation that you make it there in one piece!

You realize, stopping doesn’t mean that you will be slower.

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With resistance, you become stronger.  Pushing a stroller adds a touch of resistance. Sure it slows you down. But when you get that chance to go for a slower run.  You find that everything is much easier.  You are much stronger.  You appreciate that easy run.

Pushing a stroller up hills is hard.  But when I hit those hills solo, they feel so much easier.  My legs actually feel stronger from that training.

You enjoy running for different reasons.  When I run with Mary, my workouts take a different tone.  She’s on the verge of sharing a bunch of new words.  She babbles in sentences that I can’t quite understand.  But I love listening to her.  I respond by pointing out the sights.

On our new running route there is a dairy farm.  She loves to wave to the cows.  I never thought I would shout “Moo!” on my run.  But I do it almost daily now.  We wave at dogs, and I point out trees.  We chat about which one might become our Christmas tree this winter.

This probably comes as no surprise, but we have a very active little toddler.  If she sits down in your lap for a minute, you savor every second before she takes off running again (sounds like her parents, doesn’t it?!).  The time we share together on a run is very special.  I get to have her nice and close and chat and listen to her sweet little sounds and giggles.

You enjoy your time together and then your time running alone.  Sometimes one of the hardest things about running is avoiding boredom.  Let’s be honest, it isn’t the most exciting sport.  We all tend to fall into a rut and that doesn’t help matters any.

When I run with the stroller, I pick a fun route and I forget about technology.  No headphones, no worrying about my splits.  My goal is to get a workout in and do it with my daughter.  It’s a great way for me to do a little something for myself while still spending time with my little one.

When I switch to a run on my own, I get to throw the headphones on and enjoy some music.  I  can add in some different routes that aren’t as doable with the stroller.  I can pay a little bit more attention to my pace and push myself a bit if I want.  If I am feeling good, I can add on a few extra miles without worrying that I might be stepping into temper tantrum territory.  I can get into my head and problem solve, or think about things going on in my life.  It is a little bit of time for me to just spend with myself and then come home refreshed and ready for whatever the day might throw at me next.

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Both ways of running are special.  I enjoy having the opportunity to run with my family and on my own.  They each have their benefits and it is a great way to mix your training up.  I have learned that doing new things like pushing a stroller might temporarily slow me down, but in the long run I can actually be a stronger runner and still find success in my training.

What do you do to try and fit runs in around your schedule?

A Race Doesn’t Always Have To Be A Race

With all of the upcoming large marathons this fall, we tend to talk a lot about racing.  You see  so many posts about marathon training plans, nutrition, fueling, and hydration strategies.  These are all important topics.  But for the vast majority of us, running isn’t just about racing.  In fact, racing doesn’t have to be about racing.

When I first came back to running as an adult, I had no intentions of racing.  I had absolutely no plan on running a marathon.  Things certainly have changed!

I started running again as an adult because as a former figure skater, I needed a new outlet for exercise.  As much as I loved figure skating, I wasn’t going to hop on the ice and start doing double axels and triple salchows again (Sound like gibberish to you?  That’s how I feel these days!).  As I mentioned in my post last week, running is a wonderful sport for many of us to come to as adults, or in my case, come back to.  I ran track in my younger years and while I loved it, I put too much pressure on myself and lost the enjoyment.

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The key to my comeback as an adult was to make it fun.  I know, that isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you start running.  I eased in, took my time by slowly gaining mileage, and then after a year or so, contemplated trying a race.

My first race was a local event that I had spectated at for many years.  I knew what it was like and thought it would be a fun.  I also knew that I certainly wasn’t going to win this race and was purely doing it for something to look forward to.

The truth is, most of us aren’t going to win a race.  We will likely never win a race.  But there are other ways a race can be wonderful.

Motivation:  Running isn’t always the most exciting thing to do.  But having a goal on the horizon can really help motivate you.  If you find the thought of lacing up your shoes each morning to be a bit of a drag, a goal race can be the encouragement you need to get out there most days.

An extra push:  Sometimes we get stuck in a rut.  Many of us go out and run 1-3 miles each day and call it good.  While this is great, sometimes we want to bump the game up a little bit.  Perhaps your first goal is to make it all the way to a 5K.  That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment and there are wonderful plans created specifically to help beginners complete this goal.

Once you have completed a 5K, it can be exciting to think about that next step.  Perhaps you’d love to reach the 10K mark.  Having an upcoming race can help lift you over that next hurdle.  It can feel so amazing to see yourself accomplish a new distance.

Measuring your own progress:  I read many blogs where runners complete the same event year after year.  Some races are just more exciting than others.  I run that same local event almost every summer and am bummed if I have to miss it.  It is also a great way to see how my running has progressed.  I can determine this by my finish time, but also by how my body responds, as well as by how I feel mentally on the course.  You certainly cannot PR every race and weather conditions as well as many other variables can get in the way of a perfect run.  But races can help us to assess how we are doing.

A way to push ourselves or see something new:  A race can force us to step outside of our comfort zone.  When we ran the North Face Endurance Challenge up Bear Mountain, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Trail running up a mountain was definitely new to us, and extremely difficult.  We had a great time and were so proud of our accomplishment when we finished.

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We also love checking out Running In The USA whenever we head out of town.  Finding a local race when you are on vacation is a perfect way to get a workout in and check out some new sights.  It forces you to get out of bed, get your run in, and then you have the rest of the day to tourist it up.

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Our impromptu spring break race in Florida.

Races are most often less about the race, and more so about you and your goals.  What do you like to get out of races?

Accidentally Delicious Asparagus

I love asparagus.  It’s delicious when prepared properly and so incredibly good for you.  Needless to say, we eat it at many meals.  I am so glad my husband and daughter like it too.

This past Saturday we were getting ready to head out to the lake and Mary and I took off for a quick trip to the grocery store.  The plan was to keep it simple.  The idea was to do easy dinners on the grill and not buy a ton of ingredients or spend a lot of money.

I came across beautiful pork chops that were pre-seasoned and quickly gave my mom a call to see if my parents would like to join us.  The chops were on sale, seven for around $7.00.  All we needed to do was add a few quick sides.  I grabbed a salad kit (I love the chopped kale and brussels sprouts with pepitas and dried cranberries), and some asparagus.  Perfectly simple dinner.

While Rock was grilling the pork chops, I pulled out the asparagus, washed, and then chopped it.  You need to cut the stems off because they are hard and inedible.  Miss that step and you have a huge asparagus fail on your hands!

I looked in the cupboard and realized we didn’t have any spices at the house.  I typically love to throw a few spices with garlic and finish with some shaved parmesan.  But we were out of luck.  I once tried a recipe that called for maple syrup, but we both agreed that we didn’t like the finish of the flavors.

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So I threw something new in the pan and gave it a go.  My mom later told me that when she saw me making this, she was afraid she wouldn’t like it.  But everyone agreed that this was a winner.  This is such a simple and easy side that you can add to any meal.  The best part is that we had a little bit left over to throw on top of salads the next day for lunch.  The combination of vinegar and honey gives a tart and sweet finish all at once and the honey gives a nice caramelized finish to the veggies.

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus (rinsed and stems cut off)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tablespoon Honey

Salt (to taste)

Directions:

In a pan, add the asparagus and a small amount of olive oil.  Begin to cook on medium high.  After 2-3 minutes, add in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of honey.  Toss to coat and allow to simmer.  The vinegar and honey will begin to caramelize, creating a beautifully sticky coating on the veggies.  Simmer until done (3-5 minutes).  Don’t let it go too long or it will go quickly from caramelized to charred.  Add a touch of salt to taste if you prefer.

Do you like asparagus?  What is your favorite way to prepare it?

You Can Be Like Fine Wine & Stinky Cheese

Who else is dealing with bipolar weather that is messing with your head?  Last week we had some really hot days that were followed up with cooler and drier weather.  Then this week has been hot, rainy, and ridiculously humid.  Those hot days earlier in the week were making me feel pretty down about my running.  I was slow, sluggish, and not very motivated.

Then the cooler and drier weather came along and I found myself running fast and happy in the middle of a long run.  It felt great.  I felt like my old self again.  And when I saw my splits in the middle of my run, I was shocked.  Earlier in the week I had felt slow and discouraged.  Then I started seeing some pretty speedy paces with that cooler weather.

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It was a great reminder that we need to be aware of our weather conditions and cut ourselves a little slack at times.

However, I also began reflecting on my running over the years.  I realized that at 36 years old, I am running stronger and better than I was in my 20’s.  As a mother of a 13 month old, I am continuing to run hard and improve.  Not many other sports would let your body do this.

I was a competitive figure skater for many years.  If I tried to do anything near what I used to be capable of, I would risk serious injury (and be out of my mind).  My body just isn’t cut out for that anymore.  Yet, with running, I can do more now than I did a decade ago.

I thought to myself, “Huh, I’m kind of like a fine wine.”  But after assessing my sweaty self, I opted for “Stinky Cheese” instead.  “I’m like a stinky cheese.”  You know what? I’ll take it.

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Perhaps with a beer on the side….

Earlier this year as I was in the midst of training for my first marathon after having a baby, I had a moment where I really second guessed myself.  Being a new mom, I hadn’t put in the prep time leading up to training.  I didn’t get as many double digit long runs in.  I had a baby 5 months earlier.  All of this made me wonder if I silly for attempting to qualify for Boston so soon, or even attempt a marathon at all.  I posted about how I came to understand that I am not the runner I once was.  But I wasn’t the runner I am now.

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I ran that marathon.  I PR’ed and I got that Boston Qualification.  I pushed myself hard that day because I felt like I was running like the wind.  My legs burned but my heart soared through the Poconos.  It was the most amazing experience and comeback.  Lesson learned, we need to be patient with our bodies and also know when to push them.

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Nothing like coming in to the finish and having your little girl there to give you that final push!

Sure, there will come a time when we will reach our peak.  But in the sport of running, it happens at a much later point in our lives.  The only way to find that peak, is to keep pushing to the top.  We are capable of so much more than what we realize.  Stop letting your mind question your ability and let those legs show you just how strong you are.

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And remember, you can always be that stinky cheese😉

Well, That Was Fun

Some weekends are better than others. Not all holiday weekends are perfect and some are rather low key for us these days. Labor Day is never one where we make big plans. We had very little on our agenda this weekend and we couldn’t have asked for a greater holiday.

The weekend started with a laugh as I came home from my run. Due to the mass amounts of yard sales, traffic was far busier than normal. I was nervous about this. But everyone slowed way down and most people eagerly waved as they passed. I couldn’t believe how courteous and friendly everyone was. And then I came home and saw just how ridiculous I looked in the mirror. So embarrassing and so funny!

So embarrassing.  I hesitate to share, but apparently I already did with plenty of others!


Saturday we stuck around our house to take care of a few things. Rock went out for a run and I so wish I had a picture of his return. Mary likes to sit in a rocking chair on our front porch and clap for him. But this time I heard several voices chatting as he returned. He came across three girls out doing a training run and did the last bit of his workout with them. This might not be too unusual, but our new spot is in the country and you don’t just come across other runners, let alone a group of ladies.   They all joked that I wouldn’t let him go for a Saturday morning run again.  But I thought it was pretty funny.


I took Mary for a run in the jogging stroller in town. I wasn’t feeling it at first, but when I realized there were yard sales everywhere, our run became a shopping adventure!  I threw some cash in the stroller and we roamed the sales for six miles!

Sunday, we packed our bags and headed out to the lake. The weather was warm and breezy and Mary immediately went for the water. It was our usual day off from running, so we enjoyed splashing in the lake and grilling with the family.

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Monday, we stuck around the lake and didn’t leave except to go grab some lunch snacks for a picnic. Mary and the dog played in the water and on the grass. And I managed to get a quick 7 mile run in during her epic two hour nap. I got to finish the run my favorite way, by jumping straight into the lake. It was 73 degrees and the best way to close out our holiday weekend.

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We watched everyone pull their docks and boats in and leave the lake. It was very quiet out there last night!

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Today we head back home and prepare for our fall sports programs and the last few weeks of training for many of our marathoners. It’s always sad to see summer come to a close. But fall has so many exciting things to offer.

How was your weekend?  Are you training for a fall race?

A Perfectly Light Margarita

Last week I left you with a burrito bowl for the weekend.  This time I am leaving you with a perfect cocktail to round out that meal.  This drink has been requested by my husband, myself, and a few family members lately.  It is so easy, simple, and about as light as you can get with a margarita.  I just know you are going to love it!

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Ingredients:

2 ounces Tequila

1 ounce Triple Sec

Minute Maid 15 calorie lemonade

Lemon or Lime LaCroix (or other sparkling water)

Directions:

I’m a lazy bartender and that makes things easier for me.  I usually just fill a stemless wineglass with 4-5 cubes of ice.  Then count to four as you pour tequila in (I am a fan of a heavy pour when it comes to any drink).  Add two counts of triple sec.  Or you can simply do 2 parts tequila to 1 part triple sec.  Fill most of the remainder of your glass with lemonade and then add a splash of sparkling water.

The thing I like about this is that you can be your own bartender.  Do you like your margarita with a bit more kick in it?  Add a touch more tequila and go easy on the lemonade.  Prefer a lighter drink?  Go easy on the tequila and add more lemonade and sparkling water.

The sparkling water gives this a crisp and fresh finish.  And the best part is that you are skipping the margarita mix and tossing out all of those extra and unnecessary sugary additives.  You’ll never even notice!

Make it a mock-tail!  I loved this when I was pregnant because I still felt like I was joining in the summer cocktail fun.  In a stemless wine glass add 4-5 ice cubes.  Pour 2/3 lemon or lime sparkling water and then 1/3 lemonade.  It is almost as good as the real thing!

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Cheers!

Make it a Michigan Margarita!  Up here in Northwest Michigan we are known for cherries.  You may recall that we ran a race at the National Cherry Festival earlier this summer.  A few years ago we went to the most incredible food and wine pairing at the local culinary school.  Local vineyards brought their wines to be paired with various cuisines with cherry products (our favorite ended up being brats topped with cherry sauerkraut).  One vendor did a Michigan Margarita by adding a splash of Cherry liquer.  It was fantastic and a perfect twist.

What is your favorite drink to play bartender with?

Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day holiday in the U.S. and a great weekend wherever you are!

Running Through The Training Blues

Summer running is coming to a close but many runners are right in the midst of training for a fall race.  Runners are preparing for Chicago, Marine Corps, New York City, Steamtown and several other large races.  Right around this time of the summer I start getting desperate calls, e-mails, and text messages.   So many athletes are concerned because their legs feel heavy, their miles seem to be slowing down, and they’ve lost the motivation to get out of the door.

The good news is that this is absolutely normal.  I know it can feel quite frustrating to get this far into your training and suddenly find yourself running slower than several weeks before.  Those heavy legs seem to be a cause for alarm.  But don’t hit the panic button yet.

Training cycles for races are created in a way to build you up, break you down, and then put you back together just in time for your big day.

Your long runs are meant to exhaust your body, teach your muscles how to use glycogen more efficiently, and prepare your legs for several hours of pounding on the road.  The truth is that the only real way to truly prepare for that is to bring your body to the brink of exhaustion.  Your race will certainly require that of you!

It can feel extremely frustrating to start to lose your love for the game along the way.  But this is totally normal. Don’t worry, it won’t last forever.  When you start your training cycle you are excited.  The idea of your big race is motivating and you hold that plan in your hands ready to take on the world.  But as the weeks go on, the mileage piles up, and your body becomes exhausted, it can be mentally draining to head out the door each morning.  The love will come back, I promise!

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So what can you do to pull through those running blues?  First of all, take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel this way.  Don’t get down on yourself for feeling tired or bored with your training.  Acknowledge why you are feeling the blues.

Then reassess.  What do you need?  While it is best to stick to your plan, a few strategically chosen days off can be very helpful.  Perhaps you find yourself with a bit more of a pep in your step after a day off.  Consider taking two days in a row off for a week or two.  Certain runs in your training are more important than others.  I recommend sticking to your weekend long run, any speed work session you have , and also your midweek long run.  Most plans have a few shorter runs that are easier to miss.

Consider mixing your training up a bit.  Cross training can make everything feel a bit more exciting.  A session in the pool, a long bike ride, or even a group class can be helpful.  I have many runners who swear by their weekly session at Orangetheory.  I myself am a huge fan and love that these sessions can help keep the spark alive in your training.

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In the end, nothing is set in stone.  Being flexible and accommodating with your training can make everything feel a bit more exciting and motivating.  Never beat yourself up for feeling unmotivated or tired.  Instead, take a moment to reassess and see if there is something you can do to make the process more enjoyable.

Happy Running!