Social Distancing-The Benefits

Hello from Northern Michigan!  Almost two weeks ago we decided it was best to get out of Florida and back to our home to hunker down.  I was certainly sad to leave sunny weather, but I have never been so happy to be home!

While I was in Florida, I was training for the Traverse City Bayshore Marathon.  I had some good runs and some pretty awful ones too.  The weather in Florida was the best I can recall in years.  Fun for the beach, but rough for adjusting to the heat.  I made it through my 18 mile run, but the following week’s 15 miles was miserable.  I stopped at mile 11 and bought two water bottles and quickly downed the first.  I hate carrying anything in my hands when I run but decided to ration the last bottle for my final 4 miles.  I made it a half a mile before I finished that bottle and then ran/walked the rest.

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I made it!

During those final miles, I decided my heart was no longer into training for a marathon.  I was worried about the uncertainty of everything that is going on right now and my fears for my family.  I wanted to get us home to Michigan and just throw in the towel.  I’m a perfectionist and never want to quit, but I just didn’t feel now was the time to be training for an endurance race.  You can imagine my relief when I received my e-mail that the race has been cancelled.  Even better, I could choose to defer my bib to next year.  Kudos to the race director for allowing this generous option!

Now that I am home and we have been inside for the majority of the past week, I’m trying to sort out my feelings about our current situation.  I have moments where I enjoy the quite times and moments where I feel anxious and scared with all of the uncertainty.  I’m happy to be with my family, but sad to see what is going on.  I decided on my run yesterday to compile a list of all of the benefits to social distancing.

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Benefits Of Social Distancing:

Sleep-ish:  When you have two young children and school/work schedules, sleep is never certain.  Our schedules are now wide open and somedays, the kids allow a little extra rest.

Extra Family Time:  I read that most families only get 30-60 minutes of one-on-one family time each day.  Right now, we are able to spend unlimited moments together.  Sure, it isn’t always perfect.  When we try to make the most of it, there are fun experiences to be had.

The Road To Yourself:  We live in a rural area, but we definitely have neighbors.  Now that non-essential Michigan residents have been asked to stay home, I basically have the road to myself.  I’m enjoying my cooler runs, now that I am home.

Creative cooking:  We are trying to avoid going to the store as much as we possibly can.  We’ve been working to be creative and resourceful with meals.  Last night we even made this super easy chocolate cake that requires no butter or eggs!

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Time To Relax:  I rarely give myself a chance to just sit down and do nothing.  Now I have nothing but time.  I still get my daily run in and try to spend some time focusing on work, but I also have time to watch TV, read magazines and books, and just be present.

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Try New Workouts: I usually focus my workout time on running with a bit of time set aside for free weights.  Now that I am not training for a marathon and my schedule has opened up a bit, I have shortened my runs and added kettle bell workouts.  It’s so fun to change things up.

Family Workouts:  We are taking advantage of our smart TV and adding in kid’s yoga workouts.  The girls love Cosmic Yoga on YouTube.  We especially like the Trolls, Frozen, and Moana sessions.  Namaste!

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Things are definitely up in the air and very different.  It can be easy to let these changes get to you.  But, I encourage you to look for the positive changes when you can.

Challenging Long Runs And A New Favorite Smoothie

Hello from Sunny Florida!  It feels so great to be here after a few months of gloomy winter.  I absolutely love that feeling of being in the car for hours and stepping out into warmer air.  It reminds me of childhood Spring Breaks.

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It’s so nice seeing the sunset again!

This year, I am even more excited to be here right now because I’m currently in week 6 of marathon training.  Michigan has had a relatively mild winter, but that still hasn’t helped my long run game.  It has either been too cold or too snowy to get long workouts in outside.  We live in a rural area, and the roads don’t always get plowed in the timeliest manner.  To be quite honest, I don’t love winter running and I find that snowy conditions mess with my gait, putting me at risk for injury.

The treadmill has been my friend this winter.  So far I have done my weekly 8 mile speed workouts, 10 mile moderate pace runs and long, slow distances ranging from 12-16 miles on the treadmill.  I was really looking forward to taking these outside in Florida.

That isn’t to say that I don’t realize the challenges of running in warm weather immediately after leaving Northern Michigan.  My body always takes awhile to adjust to the warmer weather and that often messes with my head.  This time around, I was mentally prepared to slow the paces down and just fit in whatever I can.

First, I needed a trip to the Asics store to get some new shoes because I’ve logged upwards of 500 miles in my last pair.  On Wednesday, I was so excited to lace up my new Kayano 25’s and do a slow 10 miles to St. Augustine Beach.  Things didn’t go quite as I had planned.  Around mile 4, the ball of my foot began to feel like it was chafing.  I soon had to stop every mile and let me foot stop stinging.  I was so frustrated and in a lot of pain.

To say that I was nervous about Friday’s 18 mile run, would be a major understatement.  My stomach was sick with fear.  How should I approach the run?  Do I run 4 out and 4 back with the option of switching into my old shoes?   The idea of 18 miles suddenly seemed enormous with this fear about my shoes.  I headed out into the wind and just kept going.  I took deep breaths and reminded myself that every mile is different.  First you have to calm your mind or you will never make it through the entire run.

It wasn’t until I stopped for water at mile 14 that my feet started to ache again.   At that point I was pretty sweaty and a bit dehydrated.  I gave myself the option to stop every mile or so for the last 4 miles, and to be honest, I was totally okay with that.  I made it through a big mental and physical challenge and that is a huge takeaway in endurance training.

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Then I headed back home for a shower and some recovery time, which includes both rest and fuel.  I have a new favorite dairy-free smoothie that my girls and I can’t get enough of.  Every time I make one after a run, the girls insist that they get one too.  Some evenings at snack time, they even request this.  It is super easy and full of antioxidants.

We generally limit our dairy, so we usually get our calcium from orange juice and almond milk,  We always have Tropicana Trop 50 No Pulp on hand,  along with Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade to mix with sparkling water or even dilute with water.  Both of these are the key to a really great smoothie!

Dairy Free Cherry Mango Recovery Smoothie!

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup Tropicana Trop 50 Orange Juice (or any citrus juice)

1/2 cup Minute Maid Sugar Free Lemonade

I cup frozen cherries

1 cup frozen mango

Directions:

Pour everything into a blender and blend well.  Serve and enjoy.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

What do you like putting in your smoothies?

Spring Race Training=Delicious Recovery Smoothie

Happy New Year!  I hope this year brings you plenty of happy mileage and health.

Despite the fact that we are just now getting deep into winter, we are also entering Spring Race Training Season.  I’ve been keeping quiet, but I definitely caught the spring racing bug and signed up for a race.  I will be running the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, MI on May 23, 2020

To be quite honest, I am pretty nervous.  This will be my sixth marathon, and up until my last one, I had nothing but great experiences with the 26.2 mile distance.  I qualified twice for the Boston Marathon and spent two other times running well over 26 miles as a running coach for a charity at the Chicago Marathon.  Nine months after I had our first daughter, I ran a marathon PR at the Run for the Red Poconos Marathon.  Four weeks later, I ran Grandma’s Marathon and had the worst experience of my life.  I went from an absolute high to an absolute low.  That left me completely deflated.

To be honest, I was so relieved to be 15 weeks pregnant the following spring and have an excuse not to run Boston.  I just wasn’t mentally ready to do another and that was okay!

I’ve definitely had some time to clear my head.   I would also like to think that I have grown as a runner and know that not every race has to be a PR.  This race for me, is a way to look 26.2 miles in the eye, and go back after it.  It also helps that it is basically in my backyard.

As an ACE Certified Health Coach, I also have a new approach to my training.  I still love all food and any dessert.  But I also know the power food has to work as both fuel and a recovery system.  I’m using this tool to take me into training and keep me healthy.

I recently added a delicious new smoothie to my post workout regimen.  I am loving it and so are my kids!  It can also work as a great breakfast to take to work or school as you run out the door in the morning (hint, you can also blend some oatmeal or granola into this!).

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Mary Approved!

The key is blueberries.  Rich in fiber, Vitamins K and C, and antioxidants, it is the perfect potion to refuel your muscles and help repair damage done during a workout.  Your muscles are only as good as you treat them.  Long runs require plenty of repair and antioxidants are key to this recovery.

Blueberries also contain 85% water.  Hydration is essential to sustaining a training session, and is also vital for getting your muscles back into working order.  If you don’t rehydrate after a workout, your body isn’t going to function at it’s best.

This smoothie only requires 4 simple ingredients and can be whipped up in a flash before or after a workout.

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup Greek or vanilla Light and Fit yogurt

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tbsp honey

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Directions:

Simply place all ingredients in a blender and pulse on smoothie mode.  Pour into a glass and enjoy.

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The great thing about frozen blueberries is that you can get them year round at an affordable price.  The freezing process also maintains the fruit at it’s freshest point so you don’t miss out on any of the vital nutrients.

Happy Running!

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?

Stop Questioning, You Are A Runner

A few weeks ago I had a chance to run with a client I have worked with for several years.  She started from scratch with me and has completed several marathons, half marathons, and other distances.  She’s worked hard and the improvements I have watched her make are nothing short of impressive.

She took a hiatus for awhile and is making a fierce comeback.  We all know how hard this can be.  When we discussed how to approach getting back into running, she said something that I totally understood but also had me shaking my head.  She said, “I feel like a fraud.”

I asked how she could possibly feel like a fraud and she said that she didn’t grow up a runner, or even an athlete.  There’s been obstacles in life that should have sidelined her.  Everything in life, leading up to adulthood said she shouldn’t be a runner.

Let me be the first to say,  she is a runner.  She ran not one but two full marathons.  She started from the very beginning and pushed herself through every difficult moment along the way.  Running is hard!  She didn’t let that stop her.

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Here’s the deal:  Sure you look at your television and see tiny and toned elite runners sprinting to the finish of the Boston Marathon.  You come across any running path and see people cruising by, breathing effortlessly.  They are no more a runner than anyone who chooses to step outside and log any number of miles.

Every “real” runner, anyone who truly works to get through miles, appreciates anyone  who attempts to run.  There’s no rulebook about how to become a runner, how far you must run, or what you must weigh.  There is no start date, or expiration for becoming a runner.  You could be 90 and choose to lace up your shoes!  Being a runner isn’t about a certain pace, age, or look.  Running is about putting one foot in front of the other and pushing yourself to new limits.

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Let me emphasize that we celebrate all kinds of runners for their accomplishments.  How can she be a fraud if we cry tears as we watch an injured athlete cross the finish line, or the 80 year old who completed their first endurance event?  Is her ability to overcome obstacles and push her body any less admirable?  These examples are certainly remarkable for many reasons.  However, they also show that a real runner isn’t always someone who is born with the gift of natural athletic ability.  Real running is tying up your shoes, pushing on, and moving forward when your mind and body tell you to stop.

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If you choose to run, you are a runner.  Don’t apologize for your pace or the number of miles you run.  This is your journey.  You own this experience.  Be proud of your accomplishments.  Know that what you are doing is nothing short of remarkable.

You are a runner and you are real.  No doubt about it!

Learning To Go Long-Tackling Your Long Runs

Years ago, I traveled from NYC to Chicago to cheer on a friend in the marathon.  I had been getting back into running and everything about that day and the event had me so inspired.  My husband and I later discussed how it gave us all of the feels, but that we would never be so crazy as to run a full marathon.  You either had to be insane to endure 26.2 miles, a super athlete, or both!

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Carrying balloons so I could be spotted on the sidelines!

I tracked their training over the summer.  My husband rode his bike on a 20 mile run, handing over water bottles and making an emergency run for Vaseline (side note: who wants to voluntarily chafe?!).

Let’s be honest, while the 26.2 miles seems daunting, the entire concept of marathon training and those long training runs sounds downright frightening.  So how is it that I went from scared of the distance to becoming a marathon coach and Boston Qualifier myself?  The answer: I learned to get inside my head.

It started slowly.  Seriously.  I started out running 3 mile several days a week one summer.  As I got more comfortable, I started testing the waters with 5 miles.  Then one day that turned into 7, and then 10 miles.  One day I set out to do 10 miles, but at some point I started to wonder if I could complete a half marathon.  And so it began.

As my mileage started to increase, I began noticing a few things:

You’ve must be incredibly kind to yourself.  In order to complete long training runs, you have to be your best friend.  Long runs are hard.  If you start the negative self-talk, your mind is going to give up way before your body does.  On the flip-side, if you coach yourself and begin saying all of the incredible things you see yourself doing, you will notice an amazing change.  You are going to see these changes, and you are going to like yourself….a lot.  When things get tough, it’s essential that you guide yourself through those difficult times.

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Before our first marathon

You need to know that every mile is different.  Long runs are a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions.  There are ups and downs.  Some miles will feel fantastic, while others are going to be very difficult.  It is during those difficult miles that you must remind yourself that if you keep going, the good miles are yet to come.  Just as in life, when times get hard, you can’t give up.  You have to find a way to move forward.

You need to slow it all down.  Long runs are not about pace.  They are not a dress rehearsal for race day.  Your splits are not indicative of race day performance.  Long runs are about time on your feet, preparing your body for a long event.  It is about learning to fuel properly and mentally endure hours of running.  When you slow down and stop worrying about pace, it is much easier to complete these longer runs.

Find motivation in a variety of places.  Never underestimate the power of a good playlist.  Look everywhere for musical inspiration.  My playlist is a plethora of random songs that have a great beat.

The power of thirst and hunger are also excellent motivators.  Near the end of a long run, my husband starts dreaming up what feast he will enjoy for dinner.  We once even planned a 22 mile run to finish at a brewery, because a nice IPA is a great way to quench your thirst!

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Mix it up.  When we lived in NYC, we tried doing long runs all over Manhattan.  Although you will find millions of people on that busy island, you will also notice that it really isn’t that large.  Routes were quickly getting boring and we were tired of weaving in and out of crowds.  We researched rail trails in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  We then spent an awesome spring trying out different trails and finding new places we grew to love.  I will never forget a sweaty run along the Saddle Brook River in New Jersey where we saw fly fishing, camping, and the worst allergy attack I’ve ever had.  It was a blast!

The long run can be mentally challenging, but it can also be a wonderful time exploring and learning how strong you are.  Slow it down, mix it up, and always be kind to yourself.  When you learn to incorporate these techniques, you will find that it might possibly be the most enjoyable portion of your training!

How do you survive long distances?

The 5 Minute Rule

We all know the 5 second rule, but in our house well follow the 5 minute rule.  As a mom of two, this even goes for food on the floor!

Do you love running but have those guilty days where you just dread your workout?  Then the cycle begins where you feel even more guilty because you love running or feel like you should love running.  The fact is, you’re just not feeling your run that day or at that moment.

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This happens to me a lot on the weekends.   During the week, most of us are bound to a schedule.  If you are like me, your alarm goes off and the coffee pot immediately turns on.  The rest of the day is played out like every other day during the week.  Whether you have kids or not, being an adult is busy times and that means you have to plan everything out.  You probably have to schedule in time to work out.  If you don’t go during your lunch break, first thing in the morning, or right after work, you don’t get the opportunity to get in your run.  Like clockwork, your workouts and everything else during the week, gets a slot in your schedule.

Weekends often play out a little differently.  If you are lucky, you get to sleep in a bit later.  You can linger over that cup of coffee and the news or a good book.  The day unfolds slowly and your sense of urgency to get a run in is lessened.  While this feels nice, it can also make the idea of running, feel a little less enjoyable.

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My idea of a weekend!

We all have those days where we just don’t want to run.  At the same time, we do want to go for a run and we feel that guilt.  This is a frustrating predicament.

On these days, I encourage myself and other runners to use the 5 minute rule.  When you find yourself making excuses or questioning your workout, throw on some running clothes and tell yourself to just go for 5 minutes. Go nice and slow and don’t think about anything past those 5 minutes.

If you hit that 5 minute mark and you are still feeling miserable, stop.  Throw in the towel and acknowledge that today was just not meant to be.

However, after 5 minutes, you will most likely find that endorphins are pumping through you and that great sweaty feel of a run is starting to feel like it’s old self.  If this is the case, just roll with it.  Let yourself keep going and enjoy the run.

I have found that some of my best running has occurred on the days when I least felt like running.  It is a magical surprise.  Sometimes we just need to give ourselves a kick in the pants to get up and get moving.

What do you do on the days when you just can’t get yourself going?

Stop Lights & Running- It’s A Love/Hate Relationship

Last week I did one last final long(ish) run in Florida before we headed back north.  I started out feeling great.  I thought this was going to be the one where I took on the world.  Four miles into my 10 planned miles, I knew it was going to be another  struggle.

I spent the past few weeks really looking forward to my time in warm weather.  However, like clockwork, anytime my husband has to go away for work in the winter, we get hit with illness and a storm.  We got nailed with two of each!  With two sick kids and a driveway full of snow, I opted to shovel while they napped.  Unfortunately, the snow banks got so high that I had to kick the shovel up over the drifts to make any progress.  All of this culminated in a doozy of a tight glute/hamstring.

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Repeat picture.  I will continue to whine about it until it is gone!

My first few runs in Florida were frustratingly slow, not only due to the heat, but also because my right leg literally dragged on the ground with each stride.  My shoe was even worn down on the heel!  By the end of the trip I had stretched and worked the muscles out enough that most of my runs were endurable, but they still tightened up as my miles progressed.

On that last run, I was nearing the end when I saw a stop light up ahead.  In the past, I would normally plead with the light to stay green so I could keep going and maintain my pace.  This one was a little different.  I actually spent a quarter of a mile watching the light change, trying to figure out if I would be lucky enough to get the red light.

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I laughed at my whiney, miserable self.  Look at me here, begging my muscles to pound out a few more miles, pleading my sweaty self to go just a little further.  At the same time, I was hoping fate would force me into a break.

This made me think of marathons where courses run across train tracks.  There have been instances where runners have been forced to stop to allow a train to cross.  We have all heard of the runners who were on par for a PR or a BQ who were forced to stop and were furious with the race and their results.   But I had to question, how many runners secretly thought, “Thank goodness.  I’ve been dying for an excuse to stop!”  Then they can also later say they ran a X:XX marathon, but that would have been much faster had they not been forced to stop for a train crossing.

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This may have been more accurate.

Those stop lights can be a funny thing.  You can use them to your advantage, regardless of whether you want to keep going or you need an excuse to stop.  I have a new appreciation for those annoying red lights.  At least for now.

Red lights- nay or yay?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Colds & Flu- To Run Or Not To Run

Many runners ask me if they should continue running when they have a cold.  The answer isn’t always easy, but it certainly is if you have the flu.

I’ve touched upon this subject in the past, but I wanted to take a look at this topic again, because we were visited by both in the past few weeks.  Firsthand knowledge is always helpful.  Or at least, that is the positive spin I am trying to put on this situation.

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The whole family got hit with a bug!

Several years ago I attended a fantastic presentation given by Matt Fitzgerald, one of the leading experts in the sport of running.  One of the attendees asked Mr. Fitzgerald his opinion on running with a cold.  He firmly replied that if you have a cold and are not running a fever, it is fine to run.  In fact, some research shows that running might help shorten your cold and ease some of the symptoms.

Running releases adrenaline, which not only boosts your mood after a workout, but it can also work as a decongestant.  This can help break up some of that stuffiness you might be feeling.

Many runners ask me what they should do when they have a cold and are training for races and I always recommend that you listen to your body.  If you are feeling achy or really under the weather, skip a workout and enjoy the rest.  However, if you are experiencing a runny nose and nagging cough, a slow and easy run might give you that boost to feel better for the rest of the day and get rid of some of that stuffiness that is making you feel so miserable.  Just plan on bringing along tissues or turning into a snotty mess.

A few weeks ago, I started the weekend out with some annoying stuffiness and chest congestion.  I used my runs as a way to get things moving along and generally felt better.  By Monday morning, I woke up feeling like my stomach was on fire.  I chalked it up to eating a lot of crappy food that I normally don’t consume over the weekend.

Two days later, my stomach was still feeling awful.  I was lethargic and my muscles felt wiped out.  I tried going for a run, hoping a good sweat would help, but ended up doing run/walk intervals to get me through.  It was then that I realized, I wasn’t just dealing with a cold.  Something had hit me and I needed to graciously bow out of the running game.

Later in the week, we got a call from school.  Our 3 year old came home with a sick tummy.  After several days of fevers, she was on the mend.  Her good friend Daniel Tiger gave the best advice she needed, “When you are sick, rest is best.  Rest is best.”  Thank you tiger friend for giving our wild 3 year old the understanding that sometimes we just need to slow down.

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Rest really is best. Two days later!

When it comes to the flu, or times when you have a fever, muscle aches, or lethargy, it is time to rest.  Skip the run and spend some time on the couch or back in bed.  We runners know all about recovery when it comes to our training plans.  Sometimes our health has other plans.  If you have the flu or other symptoms that sideline you, push the training plan aside and opt for rest.

Don’t fret that it will hurt your training.  In fact, if you try to push through with a plan while you are truly sick, you are going to delay your recovery.  A few days or even a week off, if carefully planned, will not sideline you.  Take a look at your plan or chat with your coach and find a way to adjust.  You can almost always find a way to make things work.

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Listen to the expert.

If you have a cold, ease up on your runs.  It might be a good idea to skip speed work.  Slow your runs down and focus on quality aerobic workouts.  These are your base, the foundation, of your training.  In the long run, you aren’t going to get faster by pushing the pace when you are run down.  Instead, focus on building that base of your training by slowing down and just getting in some miles.

Never underestimate the power of a healthy eating plan and hydration.  Drink plenty of fluids when you are feeling under the weather and avoid dairy, which might worsen your congestion.

What do you prefer to do when you aren’t feeling well?  Do you find that you feel better after a run when you have a cold?

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?