Gear Reviews

Reflective Running Gear

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Today I wanted to talk about a running gear trend that I first noticed during the winter: reflective running gear. During winter there is noticeably less daylight, which forces many of us to run while it’s dark outside. My schedule is still pretty flexible so I didn’t have to deal with that. However, as the weather warms I take up night running more often. I am not a heat runner! On days where the temperatures reach 90 and above, I either skip my run or wait until the sun goes down.

Running night can be dangerous if you aren’t wearing gear that will get you noticed by oncoming cars. I know I’m not the only person who hides from the sun during summer! So I’ve decided to share some great reflective gear with all of you: 

Sneakers:

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Women’s Nike Free 4.0 V3 Reflective Running Shoe

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Men’s Brooks Glycerin 11 Running Shoe

Tops:

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Women’s Nike Legend Reflective

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Men’s Nike Legend Reflective

Bands:

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Brooks Women’s Reflective Running Headband

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Duravision Pro Reflective Armband with 4 LED Lights 

If you are a night runner, make sure to incorporate some type of reflective gear. Something as simple as a headband can ensure drivers notice you. Safe running!

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My New Next Run!

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Hello all!

My next race was supposed to be The Zombie Run on May 10, however, it has been pushed back to October 25, which happens to fall a few days before my birthday and Halloween. Seems fitting to me.
That means I need to find a new race, because races are my motivation to train. I’ll be extra lazy otherwise! Ever since I received the email notification of the date change I have been thinking about what type of race I want to sign up for next. I’ve decided that since I am already signed up for one fun run and will likely sign up for The Color Run again (SO much fun), I should look for an actual no-frills race.
I’m thinking about a 10k or something a little longer, but shorter than a half marathon. Here are my top picks:
  • A 5k or 10k walk/run that raises money for the American Cancer Society
  • A 10k in NYC for women
So, I have a decision to make. I’ll let you all know what I decide after I sign up for one.
A great resource for finding upcoming runs: runningintheusa.com
I’ve been browsing it to find potential runs.
Do any of you have upcoming races or know of any? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Dynamic Stretching

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Happy Monday Runners! 

A few weeks ago I covered when to stretch and gave you all my favorite static stretches. I didn’t comment much on dynamic stretching, but I know many runners prefer it. So I decided to do some research and share what I’ve learned with all of you!

Dynamic stretching differs from static stretching in that you are moving. Livestrong defines it as “stretching comprises controlled movements, such as leg and arm swings, that slowly bring the muscles close to their range of motion limit without exceeding it.” They are useful before activity that requires a lot of mobility. Cough, cough- like running!

Some examples also given by Livestrong are:

  • Torso twists (gently please!)
  • Arm circles (try large and small circles)
  • Knee-highs while jogging
  • Stretching lunges while walking
  • Standing leg lifts 

After reading up on dynamic stretching I realized my team used to do some of them in practice as part of our warm-up.

  • Leg swings- stand with your hands on a wall or fence for support and swing your right leg up to the right. Then swing it back down in front of your left leg. Go back and forth a few times and then switch.
  • Butt-kicks while jogging
  • Karaokes- the strangest movements, but we thought they were so fun! I can’t really explain this one in words so here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEbVqwLX8xY

Dynamic stretches are good to incorporate into your warm-up if you have the time. If you don’t think you have time, it would take less than five minutes to do each one listed above for 20-30 seconds each! Now, power off your computer/phone so you can get outside and enjoy this lovely weather with a nice run.

Rainy Days

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What a rainy weekend it’s been! The rain has been pretty relentless- at least in the Tristate area. That is why I decided to make this week’s post about running in the rain!
 
I know a lot of people avoid running in rainy weather. But unless it’s a torrential downpour, I think it’s really just another excuse to skip a day of training. I, on the other hand, love to run in the rain! And I’ll explain why, but first lets go through some of the reasons I’ve been given for why people don’t run in the rain:
 
1. You’ll get sick.
2. You could slip. 
3. You’re sneakers will get ruined.
 
Now, I’ll make my case for why you should try it:
 
1. Rain does not make you sick. I repeat, rain does NOT make you sick. Germs make you sick. 
2. Your running shoes most likely have soles made of rubber. That will give you good traction, even in the rain, so slipping is unlikely. 
3. Avoid mud and your sneakers will be perfectly fine. 
4. You won’t feel as hot while running in rain.
5. You’ll probably sweat less.
6. I always manage to run faster in the rain- especially in races. Rainy race days are my favorite! 
 
Tips:
 
  • Take your wet clothes off as soon as your run ends so that you don’t start to feel cold.
  • If you happen to get mud on your sneakers, just wipe them off with a cloth. The washing machine could ruin them.
  • Dress appropriately. Water resistant clothing will help keep you from getting soaked during your run. Note that I said resistant, not waterproof. The latter can retain too much body heat. 
  • Avoid running when there is lightning.
  • If you chafe easily, Vaseline can help prevent that from happening. 

My Next Run!

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My next upcoming run is a “fun run” on May 10, 2014 in NYC. In less than two months I’ll be getting chased by zombies during The Zombie Run. It’s a 5k race where zombies chase you (I’m actually pretty excited about this) and try to grab one of your three flags. Once all of your flags are taken, you’re out! That means a whole lot of sprinting as my friend, who convinced me to sign up, keeps reminding me. Sprinting is not exactly my thing, but I keep telling myself it’s only a 5k. However, on top of running away from zombies for 3.1 miles, the course will consist of 10-12 obstacles. I have done runs with obstacles before like Tough Mudder and Merrell Down and Dirty Obstacle Race, but I was able to run those at my pace. So this will definitely be an experience.

I’ve still been having trouble with my foot and I’m starting to believe I might have a stress fracture. I had one back in high school in my fibula- not fun. I had to stand around for a month or so watching everyone else practice and race. I haven’t tried running in about a month, but I know my foot isn’t ready. Which means it’s time to increase my cross-training so that I’m in decent shape by May.

My plan will look something like this:

Swimming- I already swim 3-4 times a week. My time in the pool consists of kicking laps, treading water, and a little bit of running.

Yoga- 1-2 days a week. Two words- flexibility and strength.

Biking- I’ll be adding 2-3 days of biking starting on Tuesday. It is low impact, but will give my legs and good workout. Biking is also a great cardiovascular exercise and can help with my speed.

Strength Training- This is partly for the obstacles since my upper body strength tends to suffer. It is to help my running- strong muscles support bones, making you less prone to injury. I NEED this. YOU also need this. Please don’t skimp on strength training because you think it will make you bulky. Strong does not have to mean jacked. I will most be using my gym’s cross-fit room where there is a TRX setup. I prefer using my own body weight over weights.

I plan on giving myself two weeks to figure out a regimen and then I’ll share the detail with you! 

Stretching, Part 2

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Happy Sunday! And bittersweet Daylight Savings. Losing an hour of sleep on a Sunday is anything but pleasant, BUT it was still sunny at 6pm on the East coast. Which almost made me forget that totaled less than five hours of sleep last night. Almost.

Anyway, I wanted to continue last week’s discussion about stretching. I really can’t stress how important it is to take care of your body, especially for runners. So, tonight I wanted to share a few of my favorite stretches with all of you. These are the basic static stretches I during about a mile into my runs (static stretches are not recommended for cold muscles as it can lead to injury) and afterwards if I’m not being lazy or rushing. If you are the type of runner who prefers to be stretched out before you begin running I would recommend researching some dynamic stretches- they will warm up your muscles and allow them to stretch out a bit.

My top 7 stretches:

I do them in this order and hold each for 15-20 seconds. 

1. Arms and Obliques- stretches your triceps and when you lean to the opposite side of the arm being stretched you get a good side stretch. Ever have sore obliques after a long run? This stretch will make you feel so much better!

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2. “Tejada” Stretch- This one was introduced by my first track coach in high school, which is why it bears his name (for me and my teammates at least). It is a deep calve stretch and even stretches below the calves. It can be done on any slightly elevated surface, like stairs or bleachers, or with the ball of your foot against a wall. Stretch both calves.

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3. Quadriceps Stretch- When doing this stretch take care to not strain your knees by pulling your leg back farther than what is comfortable to you. Stretch both sides.

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4. Calve Stretch- Place your hands on a wall and lunge back with one leg far enough to get a good stretch. Then switch legs.

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5. Hamstring Stretch- Place your toes together and reach down towards them. If you cannot touch your toes right away, don’t worry! Your flexibility will increase over time if you stretch regularly. Doing this can also alleviate lower back pain if it is caused by tight hamstrings.

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6. Inner Thigh Stretch- Begin this one standing straight. Then step to the side with your right leg and lower yourself to the ground. I you feel a good stretch midway you can also stay there. Switch legs.

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7. Hip stretch- Place one foot over the opposite knee and lower your self into a chair position. Then switch. I didn’t start doing this one until my senior year of high school. I had been having problem with hip pain and the new cross-country coach showed it to me. Now, I make sure to always hold it for a full 20 seconds and I have not experienced the pain I felt that year again. Seriously, this one saved me!

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That’s all! I hope you guys like the stretches. Comment below and tell me some of your favorites!

Stretching, Part 1

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This week I wanted to discuss a question I believe a lot runners debate about. Stretching. And more specifically:

When should you stretch?

Before? After? Mid-run? Never? (Not good!)

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By Ed Yourdon (Flickr: Summer’s end in NYC, Sep 2009 – 02) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Back when I ran track in high school, each time my team got a new coach, he or she had a different idea of at what point in practice we should stretch. One favored stretching before our run. Another preferred stretching during our run. The last coach I ran for preferred having us run a half mile to a mile, stretch, and then begin our actual run. One thing they all believed in was stretching afterwards. Very important! It helps prevent soreness, speeds muscle recovery, and may help prevent injury. Although, I am guilty of skipping that part sometimes.

Today, I prefer to stretch after I’ve ran about a mile. Then, I just continue my run. It gives my muscles a chance to warm up. Ever since I switched to this method, I have felt stronger during my runs.

Now, since I am not a professional, I cannot tell you definitively when is the perfect time to run. I actually don’t think anyone can. Research on this matter is constantly changing. What I will say, is to try to figure out what works for you. Experiment a bit with the timing of your stretching- see what feels right and commit!

What do you all think, when is the next time to stretch? Comment below and let me know.