running

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!

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.

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! 

The Right Shoe, and the Left

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When you make the decision to start running, one of the most important steps is choosing the right sneakers to train in. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a sneaker because it’s popular or because your friend swears by it. They are not one size fits all. Running in sneakers that don’t meet your needs can make you more prone to injuries, like shin splints. Ouch!

There are many things you should consider before purchasing running shoes, including:

  • Body frame and weight
  • Terrain
    • Road, trail, or both
  • Arch height
    • If you are unsure of your arch height, wet your feet and step on a newspaper.
  • Pronation-
    • Over- feet roll inward excessively
    • Under- feet roll outward
    • Straight- roll inward slightly
  • Injuries
    • Plantar Fasciitis, bunions, etc.

You might be feeling overwhelmed by all of the factors. To help, there are a number of websites that provide shoe finder quizzes. I have used the shoe finders on both Road Runner Sports and Runner’s World. After taking the quizzes, your results will tell you what type of shoe fits your needs. Types include neutral, stability and motion control, which can further be broken down into performance sneakers. If you prefer more guidance, you can visit your local running store- many stores have someone who can watch you run and provide a few sneaker options that would suit you.

Hope this helps!

That Little Voice..

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“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

When I ran track in high school, beating other runners was the motivation. That isn’t the case anymore and I like that. I participate in events because I want to run, not because I want to win. Obviously I still want to do well; the dynamic is just different now. I’m my own competition.

It has been that little voice inside me that’s kept me from sticking to running after high school. However, since starting this blog I find myself itching to run most days. Most days. I still have days where my couch looks comfier than my sneakers. 😉

How do you guys stay motivated? 

Training Tips

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Doing the same type of run everyday can become pretty mundane and could kill your already low motivation. You might find that after a while you aren’t getting any faster. Work some of these into your routine to keep your training fresh, and increase your speed and endurance!

Long-distance Run (LDR)- Naturally, when training for a race the LDR is a staple in your training routine. The actual distance of you LDR will probably vary depending on the length of your race. It is also likely increase gradually as your race nears. But it should be longer than your usual runs. Do this once a week. 

Tempo Run– The tempo run was one of my favorite practices in high school. Basically, you run on increments with two different speeds. The longer increment is at a comfortable/moderate pace. The shorter one is a sprint. My coach used to have us run our usual pace for five minutes and then sprint for one minute.  

Hills– Most races don’t have a completely flat route. There’s no fun in that. 😛 Hills are always going to challenge you, but you don’t need to feel like you’re going to pass out every time you finish one. I suggest incorporating hill repeats into your runs. Build your route around a pretty tough hill and place the hill in the middle. Run to it as your warm up, do 5-8 hill repeats (run up, jog down), and then jog back to your start to cool down.

Speed Workout– Take it to the track! Logging miles is important, but that will only help your speed so much. Try to do this once a week and mix it up. One week do 200m repeats. Try 400m repeats the next. Tempo runs can also count as your speed workout. I would just suggest lowering the time on the slower increment and jogging slowly in between sprints. 

Garmin Forerunner 10

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A few weeks ago, I ordered the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch from Road Runner Sports. I had been looking for one that was small enough for my wrist (Most GPS watches are men’s watches) and received good reviews. What I found was that these watches were expensive! The watches with the consistently good ratings were around $200.

Then, in September I received a catalog from Road Runner Sports. While I was flipping through it, I came across a page full of watches and there it was! A bright green (LOVE) GPS watch from Garmin. Now, let me say that I am not very tech savvy, but I’d asked other runners and all of them told me to go for either Garmin or Polar. So when I saw this watch I immediately looked it up to read the reviews. And they were good! Aside from a view people saying that the GPS was buggy in the woods (I live in a city; I rarely even see trees outside of parks), customers were happy. What made it even better was that most of the reviews were from women, or husbands who had bought the watch for their wives. The watch came in two sizes and my lime green was the smaller size. 😀  

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After signing up for the half marathon, I decided to order the watch from Road Runner because I’m a VIP member and get 10% off of every purchase. The watch was reasonably priced at $129.99 and with my discount it was about $116.

Now, about the watch..

Features (via RRS):

  • Large color options: Orange and Red: size: 4.55 cm x 5.72 cm x 1.57 cm; weight: 1.5 ounces (43 g)
  • Small color options: Black/Silver, Green, Pink and Purple: size: 4.01 cm x 5.22 cm x 1.57 cm; weight: 1.3 ounces (36 g)
  • Free software updates at Garmin Connect
  • High sensitivity GPS receiver
  • Records position, speed/pace, distance and calories
  • Lap pace: average pace in the current lap
  • Average pace: average pace for the duration of your current activity
  • Lap speed: average speed in the current lap
  • Average speed: average speed for the activity
  • Easy-to-use, button operated
  • Identifies personal records
  • Virtual Pacer compares current pace to target
  • Run/walk feature Auto Lap and Auto Pause
  • Store and share workouts at GarminConnect.com
  • Water resistant up to 50m Automatic time zone
  • Built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery: up to 5 hours battery life in training mode, up to 5 weeks in power save mode
  • Display: 55 x 31 pixels
  • Temp range: -4F to 140F (-20C to 60C)
  • Package includes: Forerunner 10 GPS, charging/data clip and manuals

***This watch does not monitor your heart rate. 

What I think:

I’m really pleased with this watch. I’ve tested it out on runs that I had previously mapped out on Google and it is accurate. I like that it tells me my mile splits- I’ve always hating doing the math. The auto-pause is great for city runners, since we often get stopped by red lights or cars. It’s easy to upload everything to Garmin Connect and I find it very convenient for keeping track of what I do. Or what I don’t do, haha. My only gripe is that sometimes it takes the watch a minute to pick up my location. This happens mostly outside my job (I work near the Hudson River and I’m surrounded by tall buildings), but I’ve found that it works much faster if I walk up the block. I should have known; service at my job is pretty awful to begin with. Other than that, I think it’s exactly what I was looking for! 🙂 

Mix It Up!

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As you know, I’ve been some foot pain recently and it has been keeping me from running as much as I want to. Over the last week I’ve only ran one mile. I don’t know when my foot will feel better, but I know I have to do something in the meantime. So, I thought this would be a good time to talk about cross training.

Cross training means incorporating other types of workouts into your routine. For runners, cross training could be a means to strengthen the upper half of their bodies. Or it could be a way to avoid injuries. Cross training could even help improve speed and endurance.

Here are my suggestions:

Cycling: Cycling can help increase speed while giving your legs good workout. It’s not a weight bearing exercise, making it ideal for runners. Road cycling allows to you incorporate speed work, distance, and hills.

Yoga: I firmly believe that all athletes (and probably all people) should try yoga. However, runners in particular put a lot of strain on their bodies due to the high impact nature of running. Yoga is known for increases flexibility and range of motion. Yoga also increases blood circulation, which can help with recovery.

Weight/resistance training: Strong muscles help protect your bones. The right workout can help strengthen your entire body. Definitely my least favorite option, but that’s just me.

Swimming: Gives you a total body workout while giving your bones and joints a break. Swimming also does wonders for your endurance! It’s what I’ve been doing since my foot has been bothering me.

I’ve Been Lazy..

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My first week back at running went pretty well. I ran three times and logged about 6 miles (I’m starting off SLOW guys). The last time I ran was on Saturday and while I felt good, the ball of my right foot did not. In high school, I would have ignored the pain and gone to practice everyday until I started limping. I’ve finally learned my lesson from that stress fracture sophomore year. 😀 

The pain most likely isn’t from running; my guess is that it’s from wearing very high heels last week to attend a few birthday outings. (Including my own 23 birthday surprise!) 

Anyway. I’ve been resting it as much as possible and I finally felt no pain yesterday. Which means I will be going for a run the second I post this update! My goal for today is 2.5 miles. And I’ll finally be trying out my Saucony Powergrid Cortana 2s from Road Runner Sports. I had to exchange the last pair for a half size bigger. Another lesson learned- size up when the website itself advises it. >.< 

Have any of you started running? If not, tell me what’s keeping you from it! 

Tough Mudder Tristate 2012

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Last year I participated in the Tough Mudder Tri-state 2012 area event, which raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project- an organization that helps soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Haven’t heard of it? Well, in a nutshell, it is a 10-12 mile obstacle course, designed by British Special Forces, that is built to test you- test your mental toughness, endurance, strength and your ability to use teamwork. You have to run, crawl, climb, swim and most likely endure a few electric shocks that can reach up to 10,000 volts. Tough Mudder describes itself as “probably the toughest event on the planet.” And to back that up, they expect roughly 30% of participants to not finish the course, due to severe injury, hypothermia, or dehydration.
So, who in their right mind voluntarily does an event like this? Thousands of people all over the world have participated in TM. Remember those four things I said TM tests? Add a little bit of reckless to that mix and you’ve got yourself a Tough Mudder. If you’re thinking that you can’t physically do something like this, I am telling you that you can. I did it. Yes, I finished! And I am a petite female- 5’4, 112 lbs.
Now let’s get to the fun stuff- the obstacles. I’m sure you’re wondering exactly what I had to do, right? Well, my TM event was 12 miles long, consisted of 22 obstacles and had more mud than I could have dreamed of. Below are the most memorable obstacles:

1. Arctic Enema- A dumpster full of dyed water and tons of ice. The temperature is kept around 35 degrees. Brrr!

2. Mud Mile- You basically climb up an endless stretch (probably a quarter mile) of slippery mud hills set about 8 ft apart. After each hill you slide down into knee-deep watery mud and trudge to the next hill.

3. Pirate’s Booty- Swim through a murky lake (about 40-50 yards long) and then climb a high cargo net to get out. I am a swimmer, so this was one of my favorites.

4. Electric Eel- The only obstacle I was a little wary of going into TM. You have to crawl through a few inches of water while electrical wires hang down. My size was an advantage in this one- I weaved through avoiding any shocks! My teammates weren’t so lucky.

5. Hangin’ Tough- Four rings spread so far apart that you had to swing to the next one. I fell off the first ring and had to swim across.

6. Peg Legs- Different size tree trunks stuck in mud and water. They were covered in slippery mud and spaced a few feet apart. Dangerous! Saw some bad falls.

7. Funky Monkey- Monkey bars over water that have been greased with butter that start on an incline and go to a decline halfway. I swam.

8. Walk the Plank- 15 ft jump into 12 ft of murky water. Fun!

9. Trench Warfare- A pitch black tunnel that I had to crawl through. You have to feel around because you cannot see a thing. It is a small space so if you are bigger than me, you would have to drag your lower body.

10. The Berlin Walls #2- Yes, there were two sets of high walls that had to be climbed. But round two were near the end and had 12 ft walls that were caked in mud. Teamwork is a must. Easily my least favorite obstacle!

11. Everest- A half pipe covered in cooking spray and mud. Sprint up and hope someone grabs your arms to help you up- you need help with this one. This was another favorite and not because it was fun. While at the top I saw a wounded warrior, who did TM in a wheelchair, make it up Everest with the help of his amazing team. It was the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed. That is what TM is all about.

12. Electroshock Therapy- Because one electrically charged obstacle isn’t enough, as your last obstacle you go through a field of wires dangling above mud. You can’t run through. Once again, I maneuvered through shock free, and again my teammates were not so lucky.

At the end I was cold, exhausted, and incredibly excited. I had 28 bruises and scraped up legs and forearms. My sneakers never made it home with me. And yet, my first TM will remain one of my favorite memories. I loved the aspect of teamwork and the camaraderie among strangers. I love the cause. There was a team whose t-shirts read “fighting for those who fight for us.” That really is what it’s all about, serving the brave men and women who fight for our country in any way we can.