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!

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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! 🙂