6 Things the Happiest Runners Don’t Do

6 Things the Happiest Runners Don’t Do

Are you a happy runner?

Lately, I haven’t been. And I’ve been trying to figure out how to get my love for the run back.

I’ve read a lot of running books, thousands of blog posts about running, training books, and I’ve listened to hours of podcasts and I’ve seen all the running movies. After all of that, I’ve picked up on a few things that I do that runners who seem the happiest don’t do. Here they are:

1. Think Too Much

Happy runners just go on their run. They don’t think about what time it is in the morning. They don’t worry if they’ve created the right playlist. They don’t care if they match their outfit. They just go running.

 

2. Schedule Runs

The happiest runners go when they have the time. Running is their hobby. And who schedules hobbies? Sure, they may have a habit of running early in the morning or late at night, but it’s not written down on their calendar. They throw on their shoes and go when they feel like they just gotta go for a run. Have you ever noticed how when you schedule something, it becomes just another item on a to-do list? Should running be more like homework or a hobby?

 

3. Use Social Media Mileage Apps

The happiest runners don’t upload their milea

ge because they don’t need feedback on their run. They don’t need other people to tell them how badass they are because they got up at 4:30 a.m. and ran 20 miles on a Tuesday. Just doing it is enough.

 

4. Stare at their Watch

Happy runners don’t wear GPS watches.

 

Me (red skirt) and a group of running buddies during 2012's Virtual Run for Sherry.

Me (red skirt) and a group of running buddies

5. Race All the Time

A lot of runners race (even happy ones). And they have a ton of fun racing (myself included), but the happiest runners don’t need to race. They run for the love of running. They just run because it clears their mind. Or they want to be out in nature. Or it helps them think better.

 

 

 

6. Run for Fitness

This was the reason I started running and now that I’ve achieved my goal, I’m left feeling a little empty. For me, the point of running was to burn more calories. But that’s not the point. The happiest runners get out there because they love the feeling they get from running.

What do you think? What else don’t happy runners do?


A Workout Tip Coffee-Drinkers Will Love

A Workout Tip Coffee-Drinkers Will Love

Jillian Michaels said on her podcast recently that caffeine can help boost your athletic performance. Although, I should note that she doesn’t like the idea of getting your caffeine from coffee, but rather a supplement that also contains antioxidants and that helps slow the absorption of the caffeine in your system.

In the book, The Metabolic Effect Diet, the authors suggest that, for some people, a cup of coffee a half an hour before a workout can help improve workouts.

"Coffee" (c) 2005 by Timothy Boyd, under a CC Attributions: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

“Coffee” (c) 2005 by Timothy Boyd, under a CC Attributions: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

I will find any reason to have a cup of coffee during the day, so I wanted to know more.

But wait. Isn’t coffee dehydrating? That is a myth, according to Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., who wrote an article, “The Facts About Caffeine and Athletic Performance,” for Active.com. So that’s good. But how does it help improve a workout?

In her article, she says there have been a lot of good studies on this topic, and that most of them conclude that caffeine helps improve athletic performance, and even makes the effort seem easier.

“The average improvement in performance is about 12 percent,” she writes, “with more benefits noticed during endurance exercise than with shorter exercise (eight to 20 minutes) and a negligible amount for sprinters.”

She also said more benefits have been noticed in athletes that rarely drink coffee. Darn.

By the way, coffee and caffeine react differently for everyone. Definitely experiment with caffeine in training, not on race morning. And use common sense when it comes to caffeine consumption, advises Clark. More caffeine is not better. Remember: If you choose to get your caffeine from coffee, steer clear of specialty coffees (i.e. lattes).

So, how much caffeine should you take if you want to enhance your workout?

“A moderate caffeine intake is considered to be 250 mg/day. In research studies, the amount of caffeine that enhances performance ranges from 1.5 to 4 mg/pound body weight (3 to 9 mg/kg) taken one hour before exercise. For a 150-pound person, this comes to about 225 to 600 mg.” (There’s about 200 mg of caffeine in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee, for reference.)

Let me know if you use caffeine in your workout? How has it helped you?


Doing a Tough Mudder or Spartan? Put BlisterShield on your Gear List

Running through mud, climbing up and over obstacles, and crawling through swampy water are par for the course for any obstacle course race. Back in February, I signed up to do the Spartan Sprint, a 5K muddy obstacle race. The race wasn’t until August, so I had plenty of time to prepare myself physically and mentally. Last year I completed the Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile mud obstacle race. I remembered how wet and uncomfortable my feet were during the Mudder and how many blisters I had once the race was over, that I really needed to find a solution.

If you’re not an avid runner, like me, the gear you choose for these types of races is super important. Since I already did the Tough Mudder, I knew I needed trail running shoes that would drain water and socks that would wick moisture away. Those two things I had.

What I wasn’t prepared for last year, however, was the amount of dirt and debris that found its way into my shoes and rubbed between my toes and under my foot. That problem I did not have a solution for, until BlisterShield.

During my research for blister prevention products, I found 2Toms. I really wanted to know if BlisterShield would help prevent those awful tiny blisters between my toes that I experienced during my last obstacle race, so I contacted them.

Katie at 2Toms was very helpful. She explained that BlisterShield keeps your feet dry and creates a frictionless surface which prevents blisters from forming. She also suggested I put BlisterShield between my toes, since that was where my problem arose during the Mudder.

Katie sent me a bunch of samples of BlisterShield. I used the product during my training and my feet always remained dry and blister free. But, the real test was going to be on race day.

Mud Racing; Spartan; Mudder; Blisters

Getting ready for the Spartan Sprint! [image: self taken]

Before I left the house, I took out my sample of BlisterShield and applied it all over my foot! I applied it to the top of my feet, in between my toes, on the bottom of my feet and even in my socks. My feet were completely covered in BlisterShield – granted, I may have gone a little overboard.

blisters; mud races

BlisterShield comes in a convenient powder form. [image: self taken]

blisters prevention

Applying BlisterShield all over my foot. [image: self taken]

applying_blistershield_3a

Applied BlisterShield to the soles of my feet and in between my toes. My dog was very curious as to what I was doing. [image: self taken]

applying_blistershield_3

Even put BlisterShield inside my sock! [image: self-taken]

 

We arrive at the race ready to go! There were a lot of people there. And most of them in costume! I kept wondering, ‘Will their costumes help them prevent blisters?’

 

mud races, prevent blisters with BlisterShield

Ready for the race. Bring on the mud! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

And, we’re off! We ran up hills, down hills, in mud, over rocks in mud. We were submersed in mud and even crawled through a rocky, swampy, muddy obstacle to get to the finish.

Oh… I forgot to mention. Katie also gave me a sample of SportShield for chafing. I applied SportShield to my ankles and calves to help prevent rope burn when climbing the rope – it worked!

At the end of the race, my feet actually felt really good! I had mud in my eyes, my shoulder hurt, but my feet were perfectly fine. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos of my blister-free feet – my phone was in my bag and I was in a rush to get all the mud off.

 

That's a lot of mud! We finished! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

That’s a lot of mud! We finished! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

The next time you sign up for a muddy obstacle race, add BlisterShield to your gear list. Your feet with thank you.

Disclaimer: 2Toms did not pay for our race or pay me to write this review. 2Toms did send me samples of their product for free and “sponsored” my husband and me for the Spartan Race by providing the free samples. 


4 Reasons to Walk

This morning, I got up before most of my neighbors and went for a walk. It was early and it’s summer, so the air was cool, but sunshine was warm on my shoulders. Birds chirped. Other walkers waved, “Hello.” It was a great way to start the day.

We all know walking is good for you. Walking often gets overlooked as a fitness tool since it doesn’t blast calories at the same rate as other cardio exercises–like running or cycling. But living a healthy life isn’t all about creating a calorie deficit. If you are looking to live an overall healthy life, here are just some of the reasons to walk why you should incorporate walking into your daily routine:

Reasons to Walk

Walking Boosts Mental Health

According to an article in Arthritis Today, walking greatly benefits mental health in addition to physical health. How? It slows mental decline, lowers your Alzheimer’s risk, improves sleep, lightens your mood and can even be used as a form of meditation.

Walking Aids Weight loss

A regular walking routine can help you get fit and lose fat. Check out this article on how to turn your walk into a workout on WebMD. Not only can you lose some weight, you can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and improve circulation with a regular walking routine. Remember: If you want to lose weight by walking, you’ll need to make sure your walks are more intense and you will need to have a regular walking routine. A leisurely stroll, while great for your mood and bodily functions (see below), won’t do much for weight loss.

Walking Strengthens Bones

Bone is living tissue that responds similar to muscles to exercise by becoming stronger. According to an article National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “Women and men older than age 20 can help prevent bone loss with regular exercise.” Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that will help make bones stronger. And walking doesn’t impact joints as much as running does.

Walking Aids Digestion

Indulge a little too much at meal time? A walk can help the digestion process and just help you feel better. “Heading for a brief walk, instead of the couch, about 15 minutes after a meal may improve digestion and blood sugar control,” writes Anahad O’Connor in an article in the Well Blog at The New York Times. And a WebMD article says a regular walking regimen of 10-15 minutes several times a day will help digestions, as well as help things…uh…run smoothly through your body.

Have you walked today?


Side Cramps when Running: How to Avoid and Get Rid of Them

Side cramps. Side stitch. Side ache. No matter what you call it, getting a cramp in your side while running is just plain annoying. It hurts, too, and can affect how you run.

What Causes Side Cramps when Running?

In an article on WebMD, Olympic runner and running expert Jeff Galloway says that side cramps when running happen due to shallow breathing, “not breathing deeply from the lower lung.” This would explain why I got a side ache during the first three miles of the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll half marathon the last two years in a row. There is so much excitement. I’m high-fiving spectators, cheering for bands and not paying attention to my running or breathing. Galloway says the side pain is a “little alarm” letting you know that you aren’t breathing right.

Exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise Pete McCall says in the WebMD article that a side stitch can also be from “an imbalance of blood electrolytes (such as calcium, potassium and sodium) in your body.”

How to Get Rid of a Side Stitch

Here are a few ways to get rid of and avoid side cramps when running from Galloway:Galloway Training Program

Practice breathing deep: “Put your hand on your stomach and breathe deeply. If you’re breathing from your lower lungs, your stomach should rise and fall.”

Don’t start too fast: This is a good rule to follow anyway. Running too fast out of the gates is a good way to get a side stitch. “It’s always better during the first 10 minutes to be more gentle,” Galloway says in the article. He also says that nervousness can cause runners to breathe faster and “revert to shallow breathing.”

Slow down, breathe deep: If you get cramping in your side during your run or race, slow down to a walk, says Galloway. “Do the lower lung breathing while walking, maybe [for 2-4] minutes.”

Eat or drink: If your side ache is from an imbalance of electrolytes, taking an energy gel and some electrolyte-infused fluids, such as Nuun. That worked for me both times.

Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Please share in the comments!


6 Tips to Becoming a Morning Runner

There are so many advantages to getting up early in the morning to exercise. Unfortunately, there is one big disadvantage that outweighs everything else: getting out of bed early in the morning.two-female-running-beach

I used to be a pro at getting my run done before the rest of the world was moving, but these days I’m better at hitting the snooze button. I try to remind myself of the advantages of an a.m. runnning routine:

  • Getting my work out done. If I try to squeeze it in during the day, I may not even get to exercise at all!
  • I have more energy throughout my day. I’m more productive.
  • I’m happier during the day.
  • I eat healthier throughout the day.

Those are just my reasons. There are real health benefits, too. Working out in the morning can jump start your metabolism and even help improve sleep (sure doesn’t feel like it when you drag yourself out of bed at 5 a.m., though, am I right?).

Becoming a morning runner requires a bit of a lifestyle change. For one thing, you can’t be up watching TV or checking your work e-mail on your laptop till midnight every night and then expect to be able to get up 5-6 hours later and exercise. That’s not even healthy. Your body needs sleep. So what are some other things that could help sleepyheads get out of bed and get moving?

Here are some of my tips, and some helpful advice from an article on Competitor, “Rise and Run: How to Become a Morning Runner,” by Linzay Logan:

6 Tips to Becoming a Morning Runner

  1. Start small. Start setting your alarm clock for 20-30 minutes earlier than you have been waking up. Keep setting it earlier and earlier until you’ve reached your desired wake-up time.
  2. Natural light. If it is light out, open your curtains right away to help your body wake up. If it’s winter or doesn’t get light out when you need to get up, try a light box.
  3. Go to bed earlier. (Try the same “start small” exercise for getting up earlier to help you go to bed earlier.)
  4. Plan ahead. Get out your workout clothes the night ahead and lay them out so that all you have to do is get dressed in the morning. Untie your shoes and set them next to your clothes. Also, put out any accessories you might need (your running watch, your exercise DVD, your keys, etc.).
  5. Don’t think. Don’t let your brain think about your workout when you get up. Just rise and get dressed.
  6. Redirect. If you do start to think about it, think about how fantastic you feel after a work out (energized, happy, hungry, etc.).

Think you can do it? Try getting up early just 1 or 2 days a week at first. If you’re successful, add more days! Are you a morning runner or exerciser? Share your tips in the comments below!