5 Mistakes New (and Old) Runners Make

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Feb 27

starting running

Throughout my years of running I have seen so many little mistakes new runners make, that unfortunately derail them from moving forward in their training plan. It can be very deflating to have all of the right intentions and then lose steam. So I thought I would share with you the mistakes I see, and some that I have made myself.

1. Wearing the wrong shoes. There is no question that shoes matter. Wearing the wrong fit or even size of a shoe can cause pain and injury. It is worth the investment to find the right shoe for you.

2. Comparing Yourself to Others. One of the things I love about running is the fact that you can set individual goals and compete with yourself. Every person has the opportunity to set and accomplish goals of all sizes, it is unfair to compare your running to someone else. It is a quick way to lose confidence.

3. Not taking a rest day. Often times runners think they have to run every single day in order to get better. In fact rest days are important as well, they help give your muscles a break to strengthen and repair.

4. Not Cross Training and Strength Training. Cross training is important because it gives other muscles a chance to work. It will also vary your workouts up and help prevent burnout. I love to go to the gym and stair step. Some people swim or do the bike. I also love to lift weights. Strengthening your body will make you a stronger runner.

5. Running a race they have not properly trained for. The better you train for a race, the more enjoyable the race will be. If you don’t put in the training miles for any race, a 5K or a half marathon… you will be hurting and that will give you the impression that races are miserable. The better you train, the better you will feel.

Running is a great way to burn a lot of calories and the great thing is that you can do it anywhere. You are never ever too old to take up running or any other activity. Just train right and have a little confidence in yourself.

I am including some links to some of my favorite training plans for different lengths of races. You can choose your level you want to train at. Having a specific plan will help your accountability.

http://www.halhigdon.com/training/51130/Half-Marathon-Training-Guidefeeling of running
http://www.mapmyrun.com/training-plans/event/half-marathon/
http://www.halhigdon.com/training/50932/5K-Training-The-Most-Popular-Racing-Distance

I also love my Nike Running App. Some other good apps are MapMyRun and RunKeeper. They are great ways to track your progress in both distance and speed.

Remember, the better you train…..the better you will feel!

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

 

The Hot Chocolate 15k – Running and Chocolate? Yes please!

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Feb 19

Hot Chocolate 15K

This past Saturday I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K for the second year in a row. I was prepared for the cold because last year was painfully cold. We parked too far away and got out of the car too early, two mistakes I didn’t make again. This year I also came prepared in my Feetures! merino wool socks so my feet wouldn’t feel like little pads of ice like they did last year. This is a fairly hilly 9.3 miles and I knew it would be a good training run for me in the midst of my training for the Nashville Full Marathon.

First I have to say that I LOVE the jacket we got instead of a race shirt. It was a full zip hoodie, gray with pink trim for the girls. Last year was a Hot chocolate hoodiehalf zip and it was a very non stretchy and kind of poor fitting fabric so I didn’t love it. This one I love, so even before the race I was already satisfied! The blow ups and the photo-ops they had set up near the start were really fun. There was huge blow up marshmallows and cups of hot cocoa. It was a very festive and fun feel down at the start. I got down there early enough to park close and meet Emily, and that worked out great. The race started on time and as I remembered it was very hilly, especially in the first half. I tried to pace myself because I knew that I would be facing multiple hills. I ended up running a 1:07, actually a minute slower than last year, but still a nice pace. I ended up in 4th place in my division out of 403 women. There were 2255 women that ran the 15K and I was 14th out of them. I believe that running is a great way to compete with yourself and challenge yourself to improve. However, it is fun to see where you stack up with other women in your age group. It helps to keep me in the competitive spirit.

Now for the most important thing, post race snacks. Runners get a cute fondue finishers mug with some chocolate fondue, a banana, pretzels, and a few other treats. There is a nice little cup of hot chocolate right in the center of the mug. It is a cute and different snack than at any other race.

 Hot chocolate snacks  Brooks Glycerin

I ran in one of my two favorite shoes, my Brooks Glycerin. And the truth is that I love them and my Saucony Triumphs. I used the fact that these Glycerin matched my new Nike Thermal pullover as the deciding factor. Fashion may not be the most important factor, but it is a nice added bonus! I think this race was fun and very organized. It seemed way more crowded this year. There was a 5K too which is great because it gives people another option.

Steph and EmilySteph and Emily 2

Next I plan to run the Tom King Half Marathon on March 7th, to help with my training for the Nashville Full. The Tom King is flatter so I hope to keep a good pace. I definitely would recommend this race to anyone, just be sure you are prepared to run in the cold. But remember, it is only cold when you’re standing still!

 

Brooks PureFlow 4: Shoe Review

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Feb 13

Brooks-PureFlow-4-Review

Just in, the Brooks PureFlow 4, both in Men’s and Women’s, are a great update that offers a lightweight yet cushioned ride in a really comfortable sleek shoe.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • PRONATION:  None/Normal
  • ARCH:  Medium, High
  • BODY BUILD:  Small, Medium, Large
  • PLATFORM:  Anatomical Platform
  • DNA LAYOUT:  Biomogo DNA Layout
  • SURFACE:  Road/Track
  • WEIGHT:  8.6 oz

 

This version seems to be a bit more cushioned feeling than the last ones, the Biomogo DNA midsole really delivers the most cushion for the amount of midsole placed underfoot. Biomogo is Brooks’ midsole material that will actually breakdown in a landfill in minimal time compared with other types of molded EVA. And the DNA infused into the EVA makes the shoe adapt to the cushion and responsiveness that is need for each individual runner.

The fit is more forgiving than the last PureFlow with a bit more room and the flexible ‘Nav’ band over the instep to keep the shoe fitting snug enough.

This shoe accommodates a medium to high arch and has nice flexibility due to the segmented outsole and modified toe split. This, along with the moderate heel drop and rounded heel give a more natural feel, and accommodate a midfoot strike if so desired. Remember that these are a great choice in a non-conventional, lighter weight running shoe, as opposed to a minimalist shoe that usually offers much less impact protection.

These Brooks PureFlow really feel great and have a good sleek look even for casual wear.

Barry

 

Top 5 Strength Training Exercises for Runners

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Feb 07

Getting Stronger Will Make You Better : 5 of the Top Strength Training Exercises for Runners

Gym

“A sore body today is a strong body tomorrow!”

I have been running for a really long time, two decades or so to be exact. I love it for a million reasons. However, I often times do find myself in a rut. Sometimes it is an emotional rut where I am just not motivated. Other times it is a physical rut where I feel like I am staying stagnant and I am not happy with my pace on a daily run. So this year I decided to put a bigger focus on strength training. I hoped it would not only give me some variety and prevent boredom, but that it would improve my running performance. I reached out to a friend of mine, Katie Feyes, a personal trainer at the SET in Maryland Farms. I figured she stays up on the latest and greatest and I wanted some outside advice.

The SET is a private, personal training studio, located in Maryland Farms. They work with runners every day to help them raise the bar on their fitness goals. Katie said my questions were common ones from runners and that she consistently hears questions like “To get better at running, should I just run more, or more often? and “How can I run further, or faster…how can those hills become easier…what can I do to eliminate the pain in my knees?” A short and very true answer to those questions is this:

Runner specific strength exercises can and absolutely will change where you are with your running. You will be able to jump higher, sprint faster, and run through distance better than ever before with only using running alone. With the progress you will make, as well as the addition of the reduced injury risk, its complete negligence to not have strength training be a huge part of your overall fitness plan. Even if you are “just a runner”. You can become a much better, smarter runner than you think.

Don’t simply train harder, train better.

Over the last month I have put more of a focus on my strength training. I have added an extra day at the gym (often with my husband who loves to push me when it comes to weight training)! I have also been doing more of the 5 exercises Katie recommended to me that are listed below. In just 4 weeks I have drastically reduced my average pace per mile on my daily runs and I feel a million times better. Even after 20 years of running it amazes me how quickly you can improve when you have the right tools in place. I hope these exercises are helpful, I know they have helped me tremendously!

Squats

If only one exercise had to be chosen to become a better runner, the squat would be king. Squats will help improve the strength, stability, and power in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, while also increasing cardiovascular endurance with high volume sets. Your knees and joints will dearly thank you. Every year many runners are sidelined from knee injuries or ligament related issues. Once you start squatting correctly with great form, you will build up the muscle around the knee and provide the ultimate protection. You can vary the exact motion of the squat by simply changing your footing to target the inner (adductors) or outer (abductors) muscles of the legs. Additionally, once you are ready, you can choose to add weight in the form of medicine balls, bars, or dumbbells.

Lunges

Much like the squat, the lunge also targets the legs and strongly improves your overall balance and stability. Lunges can be done stationary or walking, and each have their benefits. Regardless of the style you choose, lunges will greatly help increase your lower body strength and power, which is completely necessary for any great runner. Additionally, a strong, balanced lower body will keep you running longer, and help keep you off the injured list. Strengthening your lower body is clearly an all around win and if your goal is to become a better runner, it’s necessary to incorporate some type of lower body strength exercises. For that, lunges and squats would be most ideal.

 

Plank dumbbell

Plank Dumbbell Rows with Push-Up

If you’ve read this far, you now know that a strong, powerful, and balanced lower body is vastly important for runners for so many reasons. You want to be able to climb up the hills faster, and with more ease. You also want to save yourself from injury by creating more flexibility, stability, and strength in your legs. As a runner, you will want to have a strong core and upper body as well. Your legs are not the only pieces that get you moving and keep you going. Your core and upper body continuously pump and work hard during your run as well. A runners cadence should be in sync and match up with their arm and upper body during the run. This is especially true up those long, dreaded hills. This hills are coming..they always do. A plank dumbbell row with a pushup is going to target these areas just mentioned. This exercise will focus on the core, triceps, front / rear delts, and chest. Its a fantastic, complex and compound exercise that will strengthen the upper body in a fun way using functional movements.

 

Hamstring Curl with Stability BallHamstring Curl

This lower body exercise is more isolating and absolutely targets the hamstring while making them stronger and also increasing flexibility. Remember that a strong, flexible muscle is much less injury prone than a weak, tight muscle. As we build up the endurance, and strength in our legs to perform better during our run, we also want to complete the circle by staying flexible. This exercise can be done with both legs on the ball, or you can isolate one leg at a time which is terrific for finding and eliminating muscle imbalances.

 

Single leg squatSingle Leg Squat

Finally, moving into the last single leg exercise and there we see that word again. Squats. Similar to our first exercise, however, interestingly different in that we want to use only one leg at a time for this one. Again, as mentioned with the single leg isolated hamstring curl, the single leg squat is going to allow for each leg to progress and get stronger without the possibility of one leg over-compensating. This exercise should first be done using TRX straps, until you have the balance and strength needed to complete the movement without help from the upper body.

 

Once you’re able to complete all exercises listed here, mixed into a fast paced workout, your running game will be on another level. Challenge yourself to consistently work on these for 4 weeks and I feel confident you will see improvements!!!

 strong is the new beuatiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Million Reasons to Love the Super Bowl!

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Jan 31

Super Bowl

The Commercials, The Snacks, The Halftime Show, and Oh Yeah….The Game!

In honor of the Super Bowl this Sunday, my kids and I have been listening to the Super Bowl Shuffle. I introduced it to them last year and it was an instant hit. What I love about the Super Bowl is that there are so many things to love about it. You don’t even have to be a sports fan or have any knowledge at all about sports and you can still be excited about Sunday. There are the snacks, the commercials, the halftime show, the friends and family, and of course there’s the game too!

So speaking of snacks, I came across this crazy article with facts about Super Bowl food, including the number of calories we eat and the amount of money we spend at the grocery store. Itfamily friends football is insane! People actually buy the highest calorie foods around the Super Bowl, (the most calories per serving) even more than Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think 11 million slices of Domino’s pizza, 1.2 billion chicken wings, and 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips is unthinkable!

The Super Bowl may be the only thing I watch that I don’t fast forward through commercials. Truthfully often times I get so excited and the majority of them aren’t as good as I had hoped, but they are still fun to watch. I think what is the most fun about Super Bowl is that it is a great reason to get together with friends and family. I still think that kids should be out of school the Monday after the game! This year I am not a fan of either team, but I am hoping for a close game with lots of excitement.

Here are a few fun facts about the Super Bowl that can make you seem in the know at your football party!

1. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967 and the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
2. The Pittsburgh Steelers hold the most Super Bowl titles with 6.. sorry Jerry!
3. Spending on Super Bowl food and fan gear has reached over $14 billion dollars.
4. The game will be broadcast in more than 170 different countries and will be broadcast in 25 different languages or more.
5. Americans will consume over 325 million gallons of beer.
6. Last year’s Super Bowl was the single most watched television program ever in the U.S.
7. The trophy is made by Tiffany and Co and is estimated to be worth $25,000!

So I say eat, drink, and enjoy the company. Although I am not a huge fan of either team, I am cheering for the Seahawks simply because I don’t want the Patriots to win! That is just my opinion though – there are some diehard Seahawks and Patriot fans at Sport Seasons that I’m sure I just picked a fight with. Sorry guys!

Enjoy the game, have a blast, and head into Sport Seasons for some must have championship gear! We’ll have the locker room tees, caps and some accessories coming in within a few days after the game.