Incorporating Running Into Vacations & Work Trips

One of the biggest hurdles many of the runners I work with, is getting training runs in during vacations and travel.  Whether you are away on a trip, out of town for work, or at a wedding, there are usually ways to get your runs in.  Research is almost always your best bet to make this process easier.

Plan ahead:  The internet is your friend.  Get on Google and Google Maps and take a look at what the area will be like.  Is it safe to run?  Are there sidewalks or running paths?  Many area websites offer advice on great places to run.  I research hotels and resorts based on their gyms.  When we took a trip to Punta Cana, I made sure there was a good indoor space to run, knowing that outside wouldn’t be a safe option.

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Super pregnant me, made sure our hotel at Grandma’s Marathon had room for me to run!

Get on the phone:  Call your hotel concierge and ask about their gym and recommendations for places to run.  Make sure you tell them how far you are looking to go!  Did you know that some Westin’s offer Running Concierges?

Contact the local running stores.  Many offer weekly and weekend group runs.  Fleet Feet in Chicago has a fantastic Chick’s Night and a variety of group runs throughout the week.  These are great ways to meet people and learn about other fun places to run, eat, or drink in the city you are visiting.

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This was recommended by the concierge during my visit to Cleveland for a wedding.

Find a local gym:  If you know that the place you are visiting won’t be great for outdoor running or the weather is looking questionable, call local gyms and find out what type of day passes they offer.  Some will give you one day for free.  I recently got a day pass at a beautiful new L.A. Fitness for $15.  When I went to pay, they reminded me to keep my receipt because it was valid for 24 hours!

Try something different:  When we took a weekend trip to Boston, I had read about a local running tour that visitors often use.  We booked our tour and added on the Harpoon Brewery tour option.  City Running tours made our visit to Boston one of the best memories of our vacation.  Our guide was fun and knowledgeable.  We were able to visit far more places than most tourists get to do on foot in one day, let alone in two hours.  Plus, we got to visit a brewery and enjoy unlimited sips for awhile.

Find an event:  Whenever we visit a place for more than a few days, I go on Running In The USA to see if the area we are staying in has any events going on.  It doesn’t always work, but we’ve been lucky enough to find a few races during our stays.  We once found a really fun 10k at a golf resort near where we were staying in Florida.  It was such a great way to start a Saturday morning of vacation.

If you are staying somewhere safe, go explore:  When we went on our honeymoon to Aruba, we chose our vacation because the island is incredibly safe.  It is also conveniently small and basically experiences the same weather every day, year round.  Knowing that it was okay to run around the island, allowed us to log 70 miles over the course of a week.  We took time to stop in shops and wandered through neighborhoods and touristy areas.  We left feeling like we really got a great understanding of what Aruba was like.

It might take a little research to find a place to run.  But if you take some time to plan ahead, running during a vacation or other events, can really be a great way to enjoy your time in a new place.

How do you like to get a run in when you are out of town?

Warm Weather Running After A Cold Winter

Happy Monday!  Please excuse my absence.  We were hit with a nasty stomach bug. We are healthy now and took a 20 hour drive down to Florida to escape the ridiculous amounts of snow that we have been getting in Northern Michigan.  Quite honestly, our family is fed up with winter.

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Hopefully the last time I shovel the driveway this winter.

Last week we had a blizzard (literally) and another snow storm.  Large amounts of snow make running outside difficult.  The snowplows do a great job, but don’t always reach our neighborhood in time for a workout.  Running in heavy snow can be very difficult and can also change your gait, increasing your risk of injury.

On top of this, I have a toddler who still takes naps.  The combination of weather and young children means that I often have to schedule my runs during nap-time.

To be quite honest, I don’t mind the treadmill.  After years spent working outside in Central Park during the winter, I don’t particularly care for cold weather.  I’d much rather spend my time being warm and on a beach.

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That brings us to Florida!  I’ve spring vacationed in this state pretty much my entire life.  We enjoy the St. Augustine area for its history, cultural experiences, and long flat runs on the beach.

Our first few days here were chilly, and running was easy and breezy.  However, when we got our first hot day, I hit the struggle bus.  Every year this happens to me and this was the first year that I gave myself the grace to take walk breaks when necessary.  Because I had done some outside running in the days before, I knew that it was the weather and not me.  My body just needed to get acclimated.

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So what do you do when you visit a warm place after running in the cold for several months?  And what happens if you have been running inside on the treadmill all winter and find yourself on a hot and humid run?

With either scenario, you are going to experience some changes that might present some difficulty.  Both scenarios also present some advantages.

For the cold weather outdoor runner- you are going to be pleasantly pleased to see that your outdoor running has you somewhat acclimated.  Hills, wind, and other obstacles will be familiar territory.  You might also find that running feels easier with fewer layers and unobstructed ground.

On the flip-side, you are definitely going to notice the warm weather quite quickly.  Remember how awful it felt to run in the cold at first?  Then your body adjusted and 20 or 30 degrees suddenly “didn’t feel so bad.”  You will need to acclimate to the warmer temps and that is going to take a little patience.

For the inside treadmill runner- you might be pleasantly surprised to see that running in a warm and humid gym setting might give you an advantage with the weather changes.  While you will still need to adjust, it might not take you quite as long.

You may find that hills, wind, and other terrain changes will present other obstacles for you.  My quads were singing after a few days of running outside.  Muscles that were used less or in different ways were being asked to work again.

Most runners will need to make a few changes at first.  Whether you ran inside or outside during the winter, if you are going to be running somewhere warm and humid soon, you will need to make a few adjustments.

You definitely need to stay on top of hydration.  Warm weather means more sweat.  Excess sweating leads to dehydration.  Keep drinking water and consider adding some electrolytes to your hydration plan.  Nuun and Vitamin Water Zero are great examples that can help keep you hydrated and even retain some of that water when you get started.

Slow everything down!  Don’t worry about your pace.  Just because your body asks you to slow down as you adjust to the weather, doesn’t mean you are losing progress in your training.  Remember that slow running actually has great benefits and your body is just asking for a little help getting used to your new environment.

It’s okay to walk when you need to.  I will admit that this is the hardest rule for me, but when I remember that it’s okay to take walk breaks as my body is adjusting, everything gets a little easier.  Forcing myself to be miserable isn’t making me a better runner and it certainly doesn’t make the run enjoyable.  When you find the need to walk, turn it into a game and use landmarks to help get you through.

Just enjoy the sunshine and your ability to run and remember that in a few days, everything will feel easier.

How do you handle changes in weather and environments when you run?

Post Race Recovery-Avoid Injury And Sedentary Craziness

Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend.  Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year.  What do you do after the race?  When do you come back?  How do you properly recover?  Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran?  That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news.  Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!

While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event.  There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:

How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:

Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon?  Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan?  You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K.  The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.

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How About a 5K to Couch Plan!

How Do You Feel?

This is a two part question.  While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally.  If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love.  What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable?  This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event.  All runners go through this.  We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.

Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps.  We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.

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Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:

One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries.  They are almost inevitable.  Most often, we train through these injuries.  Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race.  It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal.  Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training.  But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach.  Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.

There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs.  Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping.  Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques.  When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.

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Take Some Time To Reflect:

How do you feel your training went?  Are there things you would change?  What about the race?  Was it enjoyable?  Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else?  Do you feel like this was a negative experience?

All of these questions are important to consider for your future.  Maybe you need a revenge race.  If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward.  Perhaps something went wrong in training.  The actual race might not have been the right one for you.

If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better.  Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?

Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun?  That is okay.  Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content.  Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.

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Races and endurance events can be a great experience.  It can also take a mental and physical toll.  Your first goal should be to take care of you.  Rest and recovery are important.  This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato.  Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy.  Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family.  Keep moving and take care of you!

Did you race this past weekend?  How was your experience?

The Plan Is, There Doesn’t Always Have To Be A Plan

Many people often mention to me that they are interested in getting started with running but don’t know where to start and aren’t quite ready to hire a coach.  This is totally understandable.  There is an abundance of information available on the internet about how to get started, such as Couch to 5k Plans.  While these can be very useful, it is often difficult to read through everything and know what is actually helpful and what might not be such great advice.

The truth is, running doesn’t always have to be a science.  Sure, if you are looking to improve your speed or increase your distance for a longer endurance race, having a set plan or a coach to guide you can make the process much easier.  However, if you are simply looking to begin running, you can make it just that: running simple.

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As I have mentioned in other posts, running isn’t always easy.  It gets easier, but there will always be an element of challenge in nearly every run.  This is what makes you feel so invigorated and accomplished when you finish!

To make the process easier, it is often helpful to start with shorter distances and use run/walk intervals.  Set a goal of doing 10 minutes your first time.  Try running for a minute and walking for two.  You can gradually increase the duration over time, as your body begins to adjust.  If you prefer, the run/walk intervals can also lengthen out.  However, I have many clients and friends who use the run/walk method exclusively for all distances from 5k’s through the marathon.

A helpful tool to decrease your risk of injury is to follow the 10% rule.  When you feel that you have comfortably accomplished a certain amount of time or distance, increase that amount by 10%.  You should also start your run intervals at a shorter amount than your walking intervals.  Follow a 1:3 or 1:2 run/walk at first and lengthen or decrease as necessary.

Remember any amount of running is running.  There is no rule that states how fast, how far, or how often you need to run to be a runner.  If you run, you are a runner!

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Running is your own personal journey.  This is about you feeling good about you and the experience.  Remember that it will be challenging.  It will take time for your body to adjust and become more comfortable.  Give yourself the freedom to make it work for you.

With some time and patience, you might find that you are ready to start looking for an appropriate plan for you or to hire a coach.  Until then, just run as you wish.

How do you like to approach your running?

Holiday Gift Guide: Running Products For Stockings

Keeping with my trend of reviewing running sunglasses, I thought I would share some of my favorite running products to stuff stockings .  Pick up a few of these for yourself or your favorite runner.  I believe these won’t disappoint.

Simple Hydration Bottles: ($19.99)

It’s no secret that I am a fan of this water bottle.  It sits perfectly  in the back of your shorts or sports bra.  No need to wear a hydration belt. There’s no bouncing around or chafing.  The name of this product says it all, simple!  You don’t have to worry about carrying hydration around.  It holds just enough fluid to get through almost any run.  Now the lids also come in a variety of colors and an improved lid.

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Yurbuds: (Starting at $14.99 on Amazon)

I have weird ears, because earbuds don’t stay in for me.  It is so frustrating and up until a few years ago, I had to wear old school over the noggin headphones.  Yep, I was that dork on the run!  I was at a North Face race and saw a Yurbuds booth and their promise that these won’t fall out.  I didn’t try them, but eventually decided to spring for a pair.  Do yourself a favor and get these if you have the same problem as me.  The sound quality is fantastic.  The fit is great and they will replace them if there are issues within the first year.

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Flipbelt: (Starting at $28.99)

I used to use a different type of belt, and while I loved it, we had some major chafing issues and had to break up.  Unlike other belts, this one stays in place and doesn’t bounce around, eliminating any potential rubbing.  It also has multiple pockets so you can carry your phone, fuel, ID, cash, and anything else you might need.  Even when I was pregnant, this remained comfortable on the run thanks to a nice amount of stretch.

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Body Glide: ($7.99 in stores)

Speaking of comfort, chafing is a given in the sport of running.  It happens and it hurts.  Nobody likes to hit the showers after their thighs have rubbed together for several miles.  Ouch!  Lather this on problem areas before your long run and spare yourself that painful singe after a run.

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Nuun Tablets: ($5.99 in stores)

I tore my calf at 20 weeks during my pregnancy in May.  A lack of electrolytes can lead to severe cramping and even muscle tears.  These delicious tablets are a wonderful way to recover after your run.  Hydrating never tasted so delicious and your muscles will thank you later.  I love the variety of flavors that are offered, including energy options, because sometimes long runs start at early o’clock.

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What are your favorite products that you would like to see in your stocking or recommend for others to share the love?

 

Holiday Guide: Running Sunglasses Review

This is an unsolicited review of a few different running sunglasses I have worn over the years.  Rock and I were recently discussing the variety of glasses we have tried and which ones have become our surprise favorites.  I’m going to list these on the high to low price point along with some notes on my likes and dislikes.  Any of these are great picks for yourself or to gift to a runner.

Oakley Custom Running Sunglasses:  (Starts around $133 and up)  Several years ago I went ahead and splurged on a customized pair of Oakley sunglasses.  I can’t recall what caused me to take the plunge, but it was a really fun process to build my ideal sunglasses.

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Pros:  Oakley allows you to choose glasses based on your preferred activity.  First you choose the type of frames you like, then start changing the color of the frames, lenses, Oakley icon, and wrap around the frame.  You can go with standard lenses or make them polarized.

I initially didn’t want to spend the money for polarized lenses but when my first pair of standardized ones got scratched up, I called  Oakley and was offered the option to upgrade to polarized for $40.  Major bonus is that the lenses are replaceable!  Upgrading from standardized to polarized was only $20 more and it made a huge difference.

Cons:  Not all of the color options are great.  The particular frame that I really liked only came in standard colors (black, white, blue, red, etc.).  While I am not much of a girly girl, running has taught me to really embrace all colors.  My favorite running shoes are the brightest.  So I was a little bummed that I couldn’t go with fun shades of pink, purple, or even silver or gold.

Overall:  These shades are super durable and feel great to wear.  I absolutely love them and the sturdy case they come in.  If I can find where I tucked them when we moved, I might give them another go.

Tifosi Optics(Starts around $35)  The first pair of running glasses that I ever purchased were from Tifosi.  Most running stores carry this brand and there is a lot to like about these products.

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Pros:  Tifosi comes in at a moderate price point but offers a lot for what you pay.  There are different frame styles to suit your preferences.  I like to run without frames on the bottom of lenses.  Rock prefers his frame to go all the way around the lens.  Tifosi has you covered either way.

For around $45, my first pair came with three different lens types.  I had the standard dark lenses, an amber color for darker or foggy days, and clear.  Having the option to switch out your frames for different types of weather was really nice.

Cons:  Of all of my running shades, I felt these were the least durable.  The lenses scratched up easier than other pairs.  The nose pieces fell off, as did the ear wraps.  Both had to be replaced and are not done directly through the company.  You must order replacements through other dealers.

Overall:  Perhaps it is because these were my first running sunglasses, but I honestly really love these shades.  You get a great product at a pretty decent price point.

Knockaround Sunglasses:  (Starting at $10)  Last year I forgot to bring a pair of running sunglasses with me on our annual trip to Florida.  Running on the shiny sandy beach with the sun reflecting on the ocean is not a good combo for your eyes.  Rock came to my aid by loaning me his Knockarounds.  My apologies to him, but I never game them back! He discovered these by a friend on Facebook who posted his multiple orders and love for this product.

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Pros:  First of all, at this price point, you simply cannot go wrong.  The one thing that will make me toss a pair of sunglasses out is if they bounce around on your face or won’t stay up on the top of your head if you need to rest them there.  In fact, on our honeymoon in Aruba, I lost a super sweet pair of Ray-Bans, because during lunch they kept falling off and I set them on the table and forgot them.

These shades fit really well and although they aren’t meant to be for running, they are the lightest and most comfortable pair of sunglasses I have used.  They don’t fog up when I sweat and they withstand all types of weather.  For $20 you can have a great pair of sturdy polarized shades and for $25 you can fully customize them to your liking.

Cons:  The only thing that we have both noticed is that these lenses tend to scratch up a bit easier than other sunglasses.  However, for the price of this product, the quality far exceeds what you would expect.

Overall:  These are my new go-to running sunglasses.  They are so light and so easy to wear.  I am still wearing the pair I “borrowed from Rock last March.  I wear them to work, to run, and everything in between.  They look great on me and I now have them in several different colors and styles.

Goodr:  ($25)

Rumor has it that Fleet Feet in Chicago cannot keep these glasses in stock.  People are battling to get their hands on this product.  I have not tried them yet, but Rock ordered himself a pair this past summer when he kept seeing Facebook posts from runners.

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Pros:  For just a touch more than the Knockarounds you get another solid frame with polarized lenses.  Rock feels that these lenses tend to be a bit sturdier than the Knockarounds.

Cons:  At this point he hasn’t found any cons.  They aren’t of the same quality as higher-end brands, but they are plenty solid for both running and daily activities.

Overall:  These are now Rock’s go-to shades for running and any other time.  I might just have to “borrow” his pair for a bit and see for myself.

In the end, you can’t go wrong with any of these products.  I love that you can now find a quality product at all price points.  I still love my Tifosi and Oakley shades, but for now, I think I am going to stick with my Knockarounds and see how they do during a full marathon training session.

What brand do you prefer most?

 

 

Ditch The Focus-Run Easier

I’ve mentioned recently that I have taken to the treadmill more often as my pregnancy has progressed.  The flat, even terrain is easier for me and having a bathroom right next door is very helpful too.  Last time as my pregnancy progressed and we lived in the city, I got fed up with trying to deal with drivers who ran through so many stop signs.  It just gets to be too much.

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So you can imagine my disappointment the other night when my husband told me that a belt had broken on the treadmill and it would take a week for a new part to arrive.  I went into semi-panic mode.  Where was I going to run in our small town where I could find a bathroom?  I also insist that all runners carry their phones with them for safety reasons, which meant putting on my FlipBelt, only adding to the pressure on my belly/bladder.

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After a lot contemplation, I decided my best bet was to drive over to my parent’s house and run around their mostly flat and quiet neighborhood.  It is my place of choice for runs and I can easily get 5-10 miles in from there.  I figured that I could stick close to their house for an emergency stop and worst case scenario, I would duck into the woods.

As I headed out I did a nice easy mile and felt great.  But the fear of having to go was constantly on my mind.  So I looped back and ran into the house.  I realized that I had pushed the panic button a little early and I was actually fine so I took off and decided to head out a little further.  I got two miles out and that was when I needed to decide if I would turn back home or take a trail to another area for an extra mile before heading back.  I decided to go for it and then started doing the math in my head of how long I would have to make it.

That was when I realized that I was far too focused on the potential of having to go to the bathroom and how many miles I had yet to do.  Many of us runners tend to have a Type A personality, and even if you don’t one thing that running quickly impresses upon you is a focus.  We start focusing on goals, on distance, on paces, on everything.  Sometimes that can be just too much!  What I needed to do was lose my focus and just run.  So I turned up my music and just cruised.

Do you know what happened?  It felt great!  I sweated hard.  I enjoyed the sun.  And I got six really nice miles of outdoor running in.

Lesson learned is that for all of the great reasons to focus during training or as we progress, it is just as important sometimes to drop the intentions and just get out and enjoy running for the sake of running.

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Here are a few ways you can silence all of the noise in your head and get back to basics:

Ditch the technology.  Leave the GPS at home and run a route that is familiar to you if you need to know the distance.  Not worrying about your pace, the current distance, or what you have left to do is a great release for your mind.

Turn up the volume.  Put on some music or a podcast.  Don’t literally turn the volume up too much.  It is important to still hear what is going on around you such as cars, people, and animals.  But having something to listen to makes it pretty hard to pay too much attention to the details of your run.

Switch things up.  Change your route.  Do some research and then get in the car and try a new place out.  If you have the luxury, take a day trip and go explore.

Run with someone else.  Join a running group or enlist a friend to run with you.  Perhaps you don’t all go at the same pace.  That is okay!  Run at the pace that is best for the slowest runner.  Enjoy the conversation and remember that there are huge benefits to slow runs.

How do you like to lose your focus?

What To Do/Not To Do At The Gym

I love working at a fitness facility.  As you may have gathered from my blog over the years, I love just about anything to do with physical fitness.  As a trainer, health coach, and running coach I spend a lot of time at the gym and over the past few weeks I have been taking note of a few things you should and shouldn’t be doing when you are there.

I know that for many people, going to a gym can be intimidating.  I am often asked what the best rules are to follow.  Some are written and some are just assumed.  Let’s go over a few of the recent ones that I have come across.

Do wear athletic shoes.  If I had a dollar for every time I saw a person walking around in just socks or flip flops, I would make a decent allowance.  First of all, we do try to keep the fitness floor as clean as possible.  But I recommend taking a moment to look around at how many sweaty people drip all over those floors.  Second, take a moment to notice how many heavy things are carried around and how unobservant other members are.  It only takes one small accident for a large weight or piece of equipment to land on your bare foot.  Wear athletic shoes.  They are made just for this type of facility and come in some rather fashionable styles too!

Do wear fitness clothes/Don’t wear swimwear.  Fitness clothes serve a purpose as well.  They protect certain areas of your body (hello chafing) and also keep certain areas of your body from showing.  Swimsuits are meant for the pool or other bodies of water and are not meant to be used for exercise.  They don’t necessarily keep you covered up and don’t guarantee that parts of your body will stay where they should be.

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This is definitely an attention getter!

Don’t take on the world the moment you walk in the gym.  There is no rule that says you must go 100% when you are at the gym.  It is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in, three times per week.  It is much better for you and your body to do 30 minutes of moderate activity than to run yourself ragged for 5 minutes.  Whether you are trying to get into shape or lose weight, 30 minutes of moderate activity will reap far more benefits than a short burst of tough activity.  You will likely enjoy yourself much more and find it easier to return to your workouts.

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Do wear deodorant/wash your clothes.  Maybe it is just my over active pregnant sense of smell but there’s a lot of funk going on in the gym these days.  Sure we all sweat, and yes it can stink.  But slap on some deodorant before you hit the elliptical.  And for the love of Jane Fonda, please please please swap out your clothes between workouts.  I have an acquaintance who comes in a few times each week and only makes the switch for laundry day.  To say it is cringe worthy, is putting it very lightly.

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Don’t compare yourself or avoid mirrors.  I have so many clients who refuse to workout in front of mirrors.  As an athlete who has spent far too many years criticizing my own body, I beg of you to please use mirrors to help make sure you are doing exercises properly.  I can assure you that you are your toughest critic.  Just as you are consumed with worry about your own appearance, so is 99% of the rest of the gym. No one is worrying about you because they are just as worried about themselves.  Take a look in the mirror.  Appreciate your body.  By seeing yourself now, you will be able to truly notice the changes as you continue to exercise.

It’s your gym.  Try everything and learn what you enjoy the most.  I always encourage members to truly take advantage of their membership.  Try everything.  Ask if you aren’t sure how to use something.  Try equipment that interests you.  Take a class that sounds fun.  Make the most of what you pay for.

What are your gym do’s and don’ts?  

Running Through Pregnancy

It is hard to believe that we are almost 2/3 of the way through this pregnancy.  People aren’t lying when they say that the second time goes much faster.  I guess when you already have one little one to chase around, there isn’t much time to spend thinking about much else!

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I have been very fortunate to run through both of my pregnancies.  One thing I think is very important for everyone is to have a doctor that you feel you can trust and has your best interests at heart.  If you enjoy running, find a doctor that respects and understands the sport.  Not everyone can run through pregnancy and each case is different, but having a doctor who is on the same page with you is key.

Here are a few tips that have helped me.  Please note that I am a RRCA Certified Running Coach and ACE Certified Health Coach.  These tips are from both my experiences and training.  However, you should always consult with your physician first.

Don’t start anything new.  If you ran before getting pregnant, it shouldn’t be a problem to continue if you have a healthy pregnancy, with your doctor’s consent.  However, it is not recommended that you pick up a new activity during these months.  If you are new to running and want to give it a try, wait until after the baby has arrived.

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Keep moving.  One of the best things for mom and baby is staying active.  A minimum of 30 minutes, 3 days a week is a great start.  However, getting some sort of activity in each day is ideal during this time.  Some days can and should be lighter than others.  But some activity can lead to a healthier pregnancy for both of you.

Hydrate!  I made the mistake of not taking my hydration seriously enough early on.  It lead to a calf tear and some very uncomfortable weeks.  Hydration is more important than ever during pregnancy.  Dehydration is one of the leading causes of early labor.  Drinking plenty of fluids and electrolytes can also help ward off calf cramping, which likes to show up in the middle of the night!

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Know when to kick up your feet.  While being active is important right now, so is rest.  Make sure you take time each day to kick your feet up and elevate.  Proper rest will help you recover between workouts which will hopefully make everything more enjoyable and long lasting.

Take it slow.  Running during pregnancy is all about enjoying yourself.  You need to keep your exertion and heart rate down.  You don’t ever want to overheat you or the baby.  If you find that you worry too much about your pace, leave the GPS at home and run a route you feel comfortable with.  You will have to slow down and your body will also force you to slow down.  Enjoy your time on the road (or treadmill) with you and your little one to be.

Did you run through pregnancy?  Do you have any tips?

Winter Running Safety

The other day I was driving down a busy four lane road with Rock and he shouted, “Look out!”  I was carefully watching the cars in front of me and for the life of me couldn’t tell what he was talking about.  “Runner,” he shouted.  Right there in the road was a guy running against traffic in a white jacket.  I couldn’t see him and I am the first to slow down and move over for any runner.

I am always happy to see other people out enjoying the activity I love the most.  But there were several offenses being committed and I felt this was a perfect time to discuss running safely for the winter.

Pick a safe spot.  The area where this gentleman was running is a local favorite.  There are sidewalks galore heading into the downtown area.  But we have received an unprecedented amount of snow very early into this winter (as in 30 inches and counting).  The sidewalks have not been plowed yet in this particular area.  While this is the main drag, there are SO many side streets that are far less traveled and much safer to run on.  It might mean making a bit of a detour, but when the safety of your life is involved, changing up your route is a must.

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Had this gentleman just moved over one street, he could have reached the same destination and run in the road without putting his life in jeopardy.

Make light a Christmas tree and go bright.  Wear the brightest colors you have.  Throw on a vibrant running vest.  Deck yourself with lights.  Fa la la la!

When you wear neutral colors in the winter, you blend into the snow.  Even worse, the sun reflecting on the snow is blinding for drivers.  Don’t assume that people will see you.  Make it your business to be seen.  Wear a bright jacket.  Pick out a running vest that has reflectors.  Running stores have all sorts of great lights that clip to shoes, jackets, gloves and hats.

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Bright and lights!

Stay warm.  When the temps get frigid we can put ourselves in very dangerous situations.  My best rule to run by is to ensure that your head, hands, and feet are nice and toasty.  Find a nice comfortable hat that covers your ears.  Pick out a pair of cozy running mittens.  While gloves are great, having your fingers together helps keep your hands much warmer.  Find a pair of winter sweat wicking socks.  I am a huge fan of Smart Wool.  They make great socks for all sorts of winter athletes.

Keep in mind that running tights actually keep you warmer than running pants.  The material is meant to make your cold runs more comfortable and streamlined.  I know, I know, most of us don’t love wearing tights.  But once you get past that first awkward feeling, you will wonder why you didn’t convert sooner.  That goes for you too, gentlemen!

Stay hydrated.  Just because it is cold out, doesn’t mean that you no longer need hydration.  Make sure you drink plenty before you leave.  If you are training for long distances, have a game plan for how you will hydrate.  Many parks turn off their water fountains in the winter, making it difficult to get water along the way.

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What I would give to be running with this on the beach right now!

This is the time of year that I love using my Simple Hydration bottle.  Because it sits up against my body and under my jacket, my body keeps the bottle warm enough to avoid freezing the water!

How do you like to stay safe in the winter when you run?