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?


How to Get that Stinky Smell Out of Shoes and Sports Gear

How to Get that Stinky Smell Out of Shoes and Sports Gear

Well, it’s fall and back-to-school time! And, if you are a parent (or if you are reading this and are in school, yourself), then you know it’s also back-to-sports time.

You also know that means it is back to washing some seriously stinky socks and uniforms, and dealing with smelly shoes and sports gear.  Ugh!

You don’t have to have a child in sports, though. My kindergartner comes home with some pretty stinky feet after wearing his shoes all day, playing on the playground and riding on the hot bus.

You don’t want your house smelling like a locker room. And you don’t want to send your child to his or her game with stinky gear. Washing uniforms and socks is easier, of course, since you can throw them in the wash.

(Click here to learn more about Stink Free Sports Detergent.)

But what to do about the stuff you can’t throw in the washing machine? Getting the odor out of running shoes, or off of soccer shin guards or hockey pads seems more difficult.

That’s exactly why 2Toms created Stink Free Spray.

Stink Free is a shoe deodorizer that also works on sports gear and even in gym bags and lockers. You can spray it on anything that is hard to wash.

It’s safe to use on leather, canvas, satin and denim shoes, in work or riding boots, on hockey and football pads, in helmets, and on motorcycle gear—anything that smells, really.

Stink Free Spray uses a formula that doesn’t just mask the odors caused by sweat, it completely eliminates it.  And Stink Free does not use perfume in its formula. Once the spray dries, there is no smell at all.

If you’ve ever thrown something out, or thought about throwing something out, because it smelled and you didn’t know how to wash it, then you definitely need to try this.

For example, let’s say your husband wore his expensive fur-lined Crocs on a hot day in the summer…with no socks on. Just a hypothetical. But you’ll be glad you have some of 2Toms’s Stink Free Spray.

Go here to learn more and read more about Stink Free Spray.


Training for Hikers – Where to Start

Fall is just around the corner and is a beautiful time for hiking!

But remember, just like training for a marathon or a triathlon, or any physical endeavor really, new hikers–like me–need to start slow and build.

Training for a hike, whether it’s 5 miles or 50, involves increasing both cardio and strength endurance over time. Proper training will ensure you have more fun on your hike! Plus, training for a hike will help reduce soreness and decrease your chances of getting injured!

Read more about common hiking injuries and prevention at the 2Toms Knowledge Base.

Cardiovascular Training for Hikers

In the article, “Make Hiking More Fun,” at Prevention.com, the authors suggest at least 3-4 weeks to train for a 5-mile hike, and longer (6-8 weeks) if you don’t already exercise regularly.

Prevention.com’s fitness advisor Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, suggests walking 30-45 minutes at least 3 days per week (to train for a 5-mile hike). “On a fourth day, do a longer walk, preferably outside on hilly terrain,” advises Westcott. “Each week, increase the long walk until you’re doing at least two-thirds of the distance of your first hike (about 31/2 miles if you’ll be hiking 5 miles).

But it’s okay to train on a treadmill, if that’s all you can do. Click the link for Arizona personal trainer James Fisher’s 4-week treadmill training plan to get you ready for a long hike on Shape.com.

Strength Training for Hikers

Strength training will help you avoid injury and decrease post-hike soreness.

Work on strengthening muscles around the core (back, abs, glutes), and the muscles that surround your ankles and knees. Try to make strength a priority 2-3 days per week.

Prevention.com’s Westcott offers a detailed strength routine that includes one-legged squats, step-ups/step-downs, shrugs and back extensions. Click this link for descriptions of each exercise.

Check out another sample strength training routine from the Washington Trails Association.

Rest & Recovery

Like any exercise routine, make sure you get a day or two of complete rest. Muscles need time to recover and build so you can get stronger!

Stretch after training walks or hikes, and after strength training. Remember: Use dynamic stretches (active stretching, such as walking, lunges, squats, etc.) to warm up, and cool down with some slow walking and a static stretching (stretching each body part and holding it for a given period of time).

Learn more about how to ease sore muscles or DOMS.

Hiking with Dogs

Want to bring your dog on your hike? Include the dog in your training. Just like humans, dogs need to start slow and build their strength and endurance. Check out this link for some tips from a long-distance hiker and Ruffwear ambassador Whitney “ALLGOOD” LaRuffa.


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. 


What is a Recovery Run?

Have you ever heard a runner say they went for a recovery run? What does that mean? How can you “recover” on a run? Should you incorporate recovery runs in your training?

Trail Runner445x270Many everyday runners think recovery runs are used to aid muscle recovery in the legs, and that these runs will increase blood flow and clear away lactic acid. But experts say that there is no evidence to support any of this.

“In short, recovery runs do not enhance recovery,” writes running author and expert Matt Fitzgerald in the Active.com article “A Fresh Perspective on Recovery Runs.”

“The real benefit of recovery runs is that they allow you to find the optimal balance between the two factors that have the greatest effect on your fitness and performance: training stress and running volume.”

Recovery workouts, he says, are performed in a fatigued state, which boosts runners’ fitness. The benefit of pre-fatigued, or recovery, runs occurs when your brain is forced out of its “normal recruitment patterns,” it has to find “neuromuscular ‘shortcuts’” in order to run more efficiently.

“Pre-fatigued running is sort of like a flash flood that forces you to alter your normal morning commute route,” writes Fitzgerald. “The detour seems a setback at first, but in searching for an alternative way to reach the office, you might find a faster way–or at least a way that’s faster under conditions that negatively affect your normal route.”

Basically, a recovery run is one where you are running on tired legs in order to “train” your brain and body to become a more efficient runner. Many elite coaches use recovery runs. In fact, if you read the “Hansons Marathon Method” book, you’ll see that their training plans are built on a very similar concept. Click the link to read more about the Hansons’ way of training in Runner’s World.

Fitzgerald’s tips for using recovery runs in training:

• You only need to do recovery runs if you run four times per week or more. (Runners who run three times a week should follow every key workout with a rest day.)

• If you run five times per week, one run should be a recovery run, and if you run six times every week, two of those runs should be recovery runs.

• Recovery runs are usually not needed during base training/moderate workouts.

• “A recovery run can be as long and fast as you want,” says Fitzgerald, “provided it does not affect your performance in your next scheduled key workout.”

• Experiment to find the best recovery run formula for you, he advises. And, he says, “Don’t be too proud to run very slowly in your recovery runs, as Kenya’s runners are famous for doing.”

• Click the link to read all of his tips in the full Recovery Run article at Active.com.