Race Week Mantras

This weekend, I’ll be running in my third half marathon. Should be like clockwork by now, right? Nope. You sir, are so wrong. It’s only Tuesday, and my mind has already been to the Grand Canyon and back (You know, like that time Sheldon Cooper channels The Flash). In case you’re wondering, here’s what goes through a runner’s mind just days before a big race.

  • Get OUT of your head.
  • Don’t forget to pack your Glide. Nobody wants to walk around Disneyland for two days with chafed thighs.
  • Drink lots of water… who cares how many times you get up from your desk. Co-workers are NOT, I repeat, NOT judging you, nor keeping track.
  • When can I have a burrito?
  • Put DOWN the wine glass.
  • Be sure to print out your race waiver for packet pick-up.
  • Don’t miss your plane.
  • What time is my flight again?
  • Charge your fitbit.
  • It’s only 13 miles… which at your pace is about two hours. It’s only two hours. Then… churros.
  • Don’t you dare wear high heels this week.
  • Charge ALL THE THINGS.
  • You’ve done it before.
  • Just think… in two weeks, you’ll have to run FOURTEEN miles.
  • In four weeks, SIXTEEN!
  • Do I have enough GU? Maybe I should buy one more.
  • What if my new socks are the wrong socks? Should I bring two back-ups?
  • Do I need a brand new sparkly headband, too? No, Darth Vader would not approve of sparkly things.
  • Maybe I should add this song to my playlist JUST IN CASE it gets stuck in my head. Who wants to run 13 miles with the same song stuck in their head?
  • Ooooh… my foam roller is calling my name. So is an Epsom bath. And spaghetti.
  • May the Force Be With You. Then… churros.

Is this list final? Probably not. Like I said, it’s only Tuesday. But there’s so much to think about for something that I know I can do, something I’ve done before and something I’m excited about. RELAX!

 

 

Why Shakira and I are Soul Sisters

After a few months of painful strides, it took a trip to my primary care doctor and a physical therapist to discover that like Shakira, my Hips Don’t Lie. Hilarity aside, they then proceeded to tell me the worst thing you could ever tell a person like me: “You have to take a break from running.”

Oh baby when you talk like that, you make a runner go mad.

Greetings, this blog comes to you from my bathtub where I’m currently indulging in a hot bath with Dr. Teal’s Pre and Post Workout Epsom Salt. Sorry, no basic white girl pictures of my legs will be included in this post.

The pain was a mixture of Bursitis (inflammation in my hips) and having run my body out of sync. While pounding your feet on the pavement is very rough on the body, my injuries could have been avoided had I been paying better attention to my recovery. IE, I wasn’t stretching enough and quite possibly, wasn’t hydrating right, nourishing properly or rewarding my body with the right things. After a few months of physical therapy, trips to the chiropractor and solely upper body workouts, I was ready to get back on the streets and rack up my mileage, but not without a few extra precautionary recovery practices. My favorite? A twenty minute Epsom Salt bath three to four times a week.

As noted above, Dr. Teal’s is my favorite brand as it’s easy to find and often comes with some extras, like great smells or added ingredients for more relaxation. The Pre and Post Workout mix is my favorite, followed by Lavender and Mint. Epsom Salt is high in magnesium which wards off heart disease, stroke, stress-related illness and more (editor’s note: unless ‘love’ is a specialty, I am not a doctor). For athletes, epsom salt baths are great for reducing inflammation, increasing joint mobility, easing muscle pain,  and mood elevating. Better mood = better workout. Plus, it will remove toxins from your muscles which could cause a delay in recovery.

Personally, I think Epsom baths are overlooked all too often, so when someone tells me they are struggling from sore muscles, I give them this simple remedy.

Extra pro-tip: Evoke Fitness once shared with us that drinking a 4oz glass of red wine was equivalent to a one hour workout. So, pour yourself a glass, workout and wind down all at the same time! If it weren’t for the fact that it’s Race Week, I would definitely be sipping a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon right now.

So next time you’re doing the waddle from a brutal training session, dive in! Well… not head first and you can go suit-less, but… you get the point.

Sock it to me

Before every big race, I have pre-big-day traditions that, like carb-loading and hydrating, I wouldn’t feel ready to run without. In anticipation of running the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland in ten days, I thought I’d share one tradition that has turned out to be one of the most important, albeit, life changing.

Buying new socks.

12088345_10100805221621448_2303560925920131562_nI instantly feel fifty years older after typing that, but it’s true. One of my favorite race day preparations is heading to the Reno Running Company and scoping out the two synthetic foot coverings that will take me anywhere from ten to soon twenty-six-point-two miles. What color should I get? Should I stray from my favorite brand? Would it be weird if I sniffed them gleefully in the middle of the store because I never thought I could know such happiness?

Sorry, that got weird.

Truthfully, socks are often overlooked by runners (including myself for a long time) and like a great pair of running shoes, they can, and do, make all the difference. From protecting your ankles to warding off blisters and cuts to helping with blood flow — here are four tips for picking the perfect running socks:

  1. Avoid cotton at all costs. Since our feet happen to be one of the parts of our body where we sweat the most, you need a fabric that will control moisture. Otherwise, you risk a soggy foot and bigger chance at a few nasty blisters. Instead, look for socks with synthetic fiber that will wick the moisture off of your feet.
  2. Get the right fit. Since I’m a long lost cousin of Big Foot (size 11s represent…), I tend to buy mens socks because they provide full coverage and better ankle support. And because no part of your body is safe from chafing, a good fitting pair of running socks will protect you from the aforementioned worst feeling in the world. If you’re purchasing at a running store, they’ll most likely have some samples you can try on, or at the least, a good exchange policy.
  3. For faster recovery, try compression socks. Lots of runners wear them on long runs to support blood flow, while others will wear them post-run to reduce lactic acid build-up.
  4. Get funky! Pick your favorite color, pick a bold pattern, pick something that’s you because when your feet hit the pavement, nothing is more important than feeling confident that you’ll have a rockstar performance.

And there you have it! My favorite brand is Feetures, but I’ve also purchased from Brooks and Nike. What’s your favorite brand?

The Word “No” and its Lavish Journey

I don’t make resolutions. Mostly because that word itself sets me up for immediate failure. And when I make lists that involve the word “no” (i.e. No chocolate, no crappy television, no letting the dog sleep in my bed), the stubborn brat in me wants all of these things to the point of over-indulgence. So, this year, I’m goal setting and I’m saying no to “no.” Instead of “no ice cream,” maybe it’s “ice cream only after a Saturday 5 miler” or “no spending money on clothes” will become “spend money only when your credit card is paid.” No to no.

I do, however, make goals and so, everything I set out to do this year, will not be thought of as an “I can’t have” but rather a measurable, attainable if and when goal.

Now the obvious – my biggest goal for 2016 is to run a full marathon. I’m signed up. I’m training. I’ve got the shoes, the gels, the tunes, the sparkly headbands and the chiropractic appointments scheduled. Now it’s time to cross that finish line, baby. But here’s some other things I’m hoping to achieve in 2016:

  • Read more, Candy Crush less
  • Blog more, Candy Crush less
  • More trips to the dog park for Pawko
  • Get better at media pitching
  • Be more attentive and compassionate towards others
  • Lift heavier, Candy Crush less
  • Travel more for New Found Glory
  • Travel somewhere new
  • Cook more, dine out less
  • Satisfy sweet tooth ONLY if a 30 minute workout or 10,000 steps have been achieved for the day

I’m sure there’s more and I bet you as I thought about writing this blog, I had a million I could put down. But, of course, I should’ve done it then because they’re far from the mind now.

Happy 2016 to you all. And remember: Candy Crush less.

Self Doubt and the Finish Line

Content strategy is one of the many skills I’ve picked up along the way and thanks to many long runs, admittedly nights of heavy wine pours, silence during an epsom bath or simply just passing the time, I’ve created some pretty great, executable ideas.

When I started this blog, I wanted it to be a place where I could seek support, both from myself and from others, where I could offer my novice running advice, and where I could put career skill (which I so enjoy) to personal use. With each run and each workout, I focus on this blog. I’ve come up with posts focused on training advice, funny tips to make running seem less intimidating, social media posts that would make for great race week motivators. Yeah, those social media posts…

On mile 8 of my 9 miler this weekend, I started thinking about Transformation Tuesday. How I can’t wait to post a picture of my former self and say, “This girl is about to run her first full marathon.” All of a sudden I was a ball of emotion. I probably cried myself through that last mile – which was seemingly more like my eyes became an ice cube dispenser because it was so cold outside. I was overwhelmed and on the verge of an anxiety attack. But I had to finish.  What helped me power through? Thoughts of my size 24 jeans. Thoughts of not being able to fit into my desk in high school. Thoughts of bullies making sumo sound effects when I would walk by. All these things that haunted me for most of my life because of how much I weighed.

You see, the pounds may be gone, but those moments are engraved in my head forever. Those moments made me, yet they’ll also always haunt me. There are still days where I hear my estranged mother calling me fat, random strangers telling my dad that I’d be really pretty if I lost some weight, boys in high school refusing to acknowledge my existence because of a silly number on a scale. To all those people, all those moments in my life: thank you. You made me. You broke Me. You encouraged me to lace up my sneakers and experience a world I was never privy to.

The intent of this post is not to seek pity nor words of fortitude, rather to inspire and say this: just like a slice of toast with peanut butter before your next training run, use those moments of self doubt and rather-not-remembers as fuel. Fuel your desire. Fuel your journey. Fuel your life. And fuel a better you.

As I rounded the corner, a quarter mile to the end, I said to myself, “Hell yeah. That girl IS about to run 26.2 miles.”

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Flashback: Here’s me in 2008 on a tour of Harry Potter filming locations in London. 

Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell…

Over the weekend, I took a break from training and instead participated in a 5K fun run ahead of a night of holiday debauchery – the Santa Dash. Unintentionally, I ran my fastest 5K in three years: 29:48. As I rounded the corner of the last half mile, my pace was such that I wanted to ‘kill’ everyone in my path and see how strong I could finish. (PS; ‘kill’ in the running world simply means you passed another runner and I slayed.)

I felt awesome. I ended up finishing #36 overall and walked back to my car reflecting on my running journey and how I never thought ‘just a 5k’ would be like ‘just brushing my teeth.’ Seamless, easy, routine, but not twice daily.

I should note for those that don’t know, I used to be really, really overweight. Running was one of the many life changes I’ve made that helped me shed 75 pounds (depending on the day). I played soccer for eight years as a kid, but perfected my position at Goalie so I wouldn’t have to run. When I got to high school, I quit during the first day of tryouts because they wanted me to run a mile as my warm up. 

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Couch to 5k. Every other day, I’d spend my lunch break at the gym (and the rest of the afternoon smelly… note to self, future blog post: tricks to working out on a lunch break and not return looking like a hot mess.) The app does just as it pretty much says – helps you go from not running at all, to completing 3.1 miles (or 30 minutes) without stopping. The first few weeks went by pretty quickly and soon enough I was consecutively running 10 minutes, 20 minutes, one mile, two miles, three miles… I was unstoppable. And, I was hooked – as noted by all the different 5K Fun Runs I was signing up for.

How it works:

  • 3 times a week
  • 30 minutes to include: warm-up, walk/run combo, cool down
  • Each week, total running-to-walking ratio increases until you can run 30 minutes straight
  • The app will queue you when to run and when to walk
  • Voila! You can even create your own playlist to go along.

So, to all those who cringe at a mile, or to just running from your car to the front door during a rainstorm, my advice to you – there’s an app for that.

8 Ways to Get Through an 8 Mile Run

Training runs greater than a 10K are what start to get my nerves going. Can I do it? Ugh, it’s so far. Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. Nonetheless, it needs to be done to get closer to that end goal. Today’s mileage: 8 miles. Course: Double Diamond to Double R, to South Meadows, to Veterans, to Steamboat Pkwy and finally back to Double Diamond. A perfect 8 miles.  Here’s how I often survive the trek:

  1. Listen to a Podcast. Today was actually the first time I chose chatter over tunes. Thanks to The Nerdist, Chris Hardwick, Daniel Radcliffe, Allison Tolman and Kelly Carlin, I found myself laughing through 90 minutes of frigid cold pavement pounding.
  2. Brush up on your boy band dance moves. My playlists are known to have a few Nsync and BSB tunes so if you ever see me out on a run, don’t take it personal if I’m motioning and mouthing “Bye, Bye, Bye.”
  3. Plan an errand mid-course. Something quick like making a deposit at the bank. Jog up to the ATM, do what you need, and keep on going. Long runs take time – gearing up, stretching, recovery and of course the actual run — so take advantage of where your feet are taking you and double dip.
  4. Stare at something pretty and zone out.
  5. Count how many times you almost get hit by a car because the driver is texting. Spend a quarter of a mile cursing them.
  6. Use a gel for an energy boost half way through. In the past, I’ve used Cliff Blocks, but might have gotten too used to them as they no longer have an effect on me. Right now, I’m testing out a GU variety pack I ordered off of Amazon and find that I prefer the fruity ones over desserty ones.
  7. Channel your inner B. Rabbit and have a rap battle with yourself. If your trail is secluded enough, don’t hesitate to belt that ish out. (Side tip: if you can’t rap/talk aloud without huffing and puffing, you’re running too fast.)
  8. Run with a friend. It never hurts to have someone along the way to motivate you. Even if you both have your headphones in, their presence alone keeps you on pace, focused and finished in no time.

These Mizunos Were Made for Running

Advice is everywhere. Blogs, trainers, magazines, friends, stores… some consistent, some tailored, some perhaps the worst you’ll ever hear. The one thing I constantly hear that I couldn’t agree with more is that your shoes are the most important part of your success. I learned the hard way.

DSC_0717Three years ago, my bestie Adam and I decided to run the first ever Reno 10 Miler. And when I say “decided,” what I really mean is that three days before the event, we probably had too many glasses of wine and said “Hey, it’s only 10 miles!” Only…

Being the -frugal- person that I can sometimes be, I was currently training in a pair of black and pink Nikes that came from the running section at the Nike Outlet Store. Those count, right? By mile five, I could feel blisters at every curve of my foot and the mad desire to just give up. What the hell did I get myself into? I did make it to the finish line but not without putting out my hands and saying, “I’ll take that advice now.”

I made the trek to Reno Running Company and instantly made a connection with the team. After being fitted for some sweet Saucony’s, I was in heaven. It was like running on pillows. It was almost instantaneous that I realized running didn’t have to be painful. Running on hypothetical pillows was worth the three digit expense. By the way, I don’t think I’ve spent more than $50 on a pair of heels or other girly foot covering in my life.

Those Saucony’s took me through my first half marathon with power and stride. On my next trip to Reno Running Company, I graduated to a lesser-known brand in Mizuno and have bought nothing else since. Protecting your feet – and in turn, the rest of your body – has to be one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned as a runner. I’m no preacher, but praisith those who made protective feathers for my feet.

Getting fitted is actually pretty fun, too. I try to support local as much as possible, so RRC is definitely my store of choice. The process is simple – what will your shoes be for? Compare your feet to Godzilla’s (at least in my size 11 case). Let’s test your running style. Here’s a few options. Run around the block. Will that be cash or Visa?

To note, I ran the Reno 10 Miler again this year, and because I didn’t have to limp-run-walk-die-limp-run-walk for over half the course, I beat that first year time by 15 minutes.

 

No rest for the gluttonous

Forgive me Gym Gods, for I have sinned… it’s been three days since my last real workout.

No big deal, right? Pair that with four days of cookies and casseroles and DSC_0670you’ve got yourself a real problem at that next workout. Thanks, Thanksgiving.

Today was like day one all over again – only in more ways than one. I started working with a personal trainer at Evoke Fitness. I’ve done their infamous 30 Day Body Challenge a few times now, and always like what I see at the end. In fact, Evoke is the place where I’ve felt my strongest and weakest. I’ve jumped higher, lifted heavier and ran faster under the 30 Day Challenge. But I’ve also beaten myself up over the weight I didn’t lose during my second challenge and landed myself in the ER after a catastrophic game of Burpee Tag… no really. Try explaining that one to the doctor as he’s X-raying your ankle. I digress – today was day one all over again.

Strength training is the one thing I’ve never put much focus on, despite knowing that it would help me run faster, prevent injury, lose more weight, tone up and just be an all around stronger athlete. So when I signed up for the Marathon, I made a deal with myself that I would focus on more than just cardio. Strength training is important for runners for many reasons. The biggest thing for me is that I’m building muscle on the parts of my body that help me run further and faster, but with less impact. Pavement can be so hard on your body – it’s nice to slow things down a bit. Plus, running works your muscles the same way every time to the point where it’s clockwork and you’re no longer building, just maintaining. The other plus of strength training? It boosts your metabolism and wakes up those hormones that burn fat.

Additional reading: Ten Reasons Why Runners Should Include Weight Training

My body felt weak today from the Thanksgiving destruction. I couldn’t believe how badly I was shaking. I certainly am going to feel it all tomorrow. But the important thing is that it’s done.

Personal Training Session #1:

  • Half-mile treadmill run, moderate pace
  • Round 1 (Repeat 3 times)
    • 90lb leg presses, 15 reps
    • 40lb leg lifts, 20 reps
    • 20 weighted, alternating lunges into bicep curls
    • 15 tricep dips
  • Round 2 (Repeat 3 times)
    • 75lb sled push 10 yards
    • 15lb shoulder presses, 10 reps
    • 15lb shoulder flies, 10 reps
    • Full sit-ups, 10 reps
    • 10lb skull crushers, 10 reps
  • Round 3 (Repeat 3 times)
    • 60lb lateral press, 15 reps
    • 10lb elevated front raises, 12 reps
    • Elevated leg lifts, 15 reps
  • Round 4 (Repeat 2 times)
    • 15lb, single leg rows, 15 reps each side
    • Balanced V-ups on bench, 15 reps