Ekiden Coaching – Training Recap, Review and Discount!

Disclosure: I received complimentary coaching from Ekiden Coaching as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

In over 2 years of running now, I have had many ups and downs training for different races. I’m actually quite proud of all I have accomplished just through research on the internet. However, “going it alone” has its drawbacks, like a lack of motivation sometimes. I have been so curious to try a coaching program just to see if it helped me to become a more consistent runner. Through BibRave, I had the opportunity to partner with Ekiden Coaching and try working with a coach for the very first time in my running career.

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What is Ekiden, exactly?

Ekiden is a new coaching platform that harnesses the power of the World Wide Web to connect runners with a coach that is right for them. According to the Ekiden website, “from the beginning, our mission and vision has been to bring a great human coaching experience to every athlete, not just a training plan.” So, after years of using template plans and making slight tweaks, I said “sign me up” to an approach that would actually tailor my running schedule to me!

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Images above are from the Ekiden website.

For the past several weeks to a month, I’ve been on the Personal Coaching plan. It has been super convenient to have a coach (Jenny, who is awesome) tell me what to work out, and when to do it. Actually, she’s done a lot more than just that. We had an initial call to hash out what I wanted, my goals, the type of runner I am, etc. It was definitely helpful to have a time to chat normally!

Additionally, week to week you’ll use the Ekiden website or text message notifications, if you choose, to get your workouts. Within reason, coaches can make accommodations for your schedule as well. There is also a messaging capability, so you can give and receive feedback. Overall, it’s pretty simple and seamless.

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How I’ve Benefitted from Having a Running Coach

Now that I’ve been training with Jenny and Ekiden a little over a month, I can say that having a running coach has helped my training consistency. Hopefully, this will translate to an overall more enjoyable second marathon (not that one runs marathons to enjoy themselves). Basically, I’m hoping to not feel quite so beat up by it!

One thing that Jenny has done that I’ve really liked, is that she’s listened to me overall about my desire to incorporate a lot of cross training into my routine. While she recommended to run 3-4 days per week, I have still been able to get in a bit of cross training each week. For me, that’s important to keeps things fresh!

I also feel more confident, having a resource that I can ask directly for advice and guidance. Someone who has been in my shoes and knows where I am coming from. Friends and family are normally great for that sort of thing, but their advice doesn’t always translate to the running world.

img_4071Aspects that Haven’t Been my Preference

One of the best things about Ekiden – connecting through technology – has actually been one of the things that I haven’t liked as much. Though it makes the coaching much more affordable, I do wish I was able to chat more with my coach. She’s been super responsive, but I am not the type of person to check an individual website to deliver feedback. I wish there was a way to just have a weekly, 5-15 minute check in call, where I could chat about my workouts for the week and deliver feedback right there. It’s more of a preference though, and I still plan to use Ekiden after my trial has ended.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re thinking of venturing into the coaching foray, but the cost of such programs gives you a fright, I recommend Ekiden! Compared to many other personal training and/or coaching options out there, this is a much better way to get exactly what you need, without sacrificing your firstborn child.

What’s even better is that you can try Ekiden with this unique discount code, BibRave16, which gets you one month free when you purchase a 3 month plan. And, if you sign up for a longer plan, like a six month plan, you’ll only pay $53/month. Go to ekiden.com to sign up (scroll all the way down to view more pricing details).

Also, hope you’ve enjoyed some of the scenery from my recent Ekiden runs!

What’s the biggest change in routine that’s helped you become a better runner?

Cheers to deciding not to go it alone with my training any more!

Body Glide Review – Protect Your Skin this Summer

Disclosure: I received a sample of Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Let’s be real here: not only are most people slightly embarrassed by chafing, but it is also physically uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve never seen a community to talk so openly about chafing as the running community. Through the openness of other runners, I found out about Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm, and it’s one of the products I’ve been using almost as long as I’ve been running, especially because I live in a climate that is so warm year-round.

I first realized how much I needed an anti-chafing product when I was in the thick of training for my first marathon. I came home from a long run and jumped in the shower, and that’s when I realized that unbeknownst to me, I had succumbed to chafing (ow!). So that’s when I purchased my first tube of Body Glide.

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So what is Body Glide exactly?

Well, it is an anti-chafing and anti-blister balm, and it’s really as simple as that. Rather than gels, Vasoline, or powders that can be messy and stain your clothes, it creates a dry, transparent barrier to protect your skin from the constant rubbing that can be so painful. Since using Body Glide, I believe I have been saved from not just many instances of chafing, but also blisters as well.

Body Glide is easy to apply – their unique formula goes on just like deodorant (picture that scene in Juno where Paulie Bleeker looks like he is putting deodorant on his legs).

I find it’s easiest to apply Body Glide before you put on your running clothes, hence the bathroom photos.

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See? It’s all over my leg and you can’t see it.

Even though it’s easy to apply, the balm is also long-lasting. As it took almost 6 hours for me to finish my first marathon, it’s safe to say that I am by no means a fast runner. However, even though it took a long time for me to finish, Body Glide lasted the entire time and my skin was left unscathed.

In addition to how well it works, how it’s made is also an aspect that sets Body Glide apart from the rest of anti-chafe products. Body Glide is free of a lot of ingredients that can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

And it has a pretty clean label… see for yourself:

  • Made with plant-derived ingredients
  • Petroleum-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Allergen-free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Never tested on animals
  • Child-safe

Really, in addition to Body Glide being a great product, the thoughtfulness that has gone into how its made is something I value as well. I appreciate that they have thought of active people with diverse needs with their manufacturing processes. I also like that the formula is non-drying (my skin tends to dry out easily), while still remaining breathable.

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If there is anything I would change about Body Glide, it’s that I have a hard time making sure I have covered an area thoroughly. Of course, this a small price to pay for something that is so easy to apply, transparent and does not stain your clothes. To make sure I am covered, I try to be generous during application. I run over the area with the palm of my hand to ensure I did not miss a spot.

To purchase Body Glide for yourself, visit BodyGlide.com. Different sizes are available ranging from reasonable prices of $5.49 – $14.99. If you have sensitive skin/want to test it before purchasing a larger tube, I’d recommend buying one of the smaller sizes to make sure it works best for you.

To wrap this up, I’ll ask a silly question for today. What’s your funniest chafing story? Let me know in the comments. 😉

Cheers to being chafe-free!

Statesman Cap 10K Race Recap & Review

Hope you’ve all had a great week so far! I’m coming back off of an awesome race at the Statesman Cap 10K, the largest 10K in Texas.

Similar to the Austin Half Marathon, this race had a little bit of everything I love about ATX… but it was shorter, which made it much easier to run. I was grateful for this, as I’ve been slacking on my training for the last month or so.

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Pre-Race:

Signups were easy-peasy, and there was actually a small expo with convenient times to pick up your packet! This would have been an accurate taste of the half marathon experience for someone who thinks they might want to run a longer distance someday. As far as swag goes, the tech shirt they gave us was nice, though it was a unisex shirt. That was pretty much it for swag, but the race only costs $45 tops if you sign up at the last minute, so I didn’t have super high expectations.

The Cap 10K also has a blog, which isn’t totally unique to this race, but I noticed they were updating it pretty regularly. Maybe this has to do with the Austin-American Statesman being the sponsor; whatever the reason, I liked it!

Race Day!:

With 20,000 runners trying to get to the start line, I highly recommend finding a method of public transportation to take. Traffic to public parking areas was awful! Luckily, though, the parking area at the Palmer Event Center was close to the Cap 10K starting line.

Once I got to the start line, it was easy to find my corral. I was in corral B, which was supposed to start at 8:10. Oh! That’s another thing that I loved about this race… it didn’t start until 8. I am not a morning person, so when races don’t start at the crack of dawn, that’s a huge bonus.

Anyway, the gun went off with much fanfare and excitement, and my corral entered the course at about 8:05. I’m not sure if 8:10 was an estimated start time, but whatever. I was fine with starting early – sooner to brunch, right?

IMG_3186The course itself was lively, and there was TONS of live music (more than at the Half). The first half was very hilly, and the latter half I felt pretty tired. Overall, the course was scenic with a nice view of the capital, 6th, and the skyline near the end. If you ever run this race, make sure you look back at some point; there is a SEA of people, and it is an incredible sight.

There was also great course support – lots of volunteers handing out water (no Gatorade though). The aid stations were spaced out fairly frequently, just under 1.5 miles from each other.

I came in at 1:06:47 (10:45 average pace). I’m sure training more consistently would have shaved a few minutes off my time, but I will take the improvement! It was great to get a benchmark time down for the 10K, and it is a time that I am proud of. Somehow, I was near the top 3rd percentile overall… maybe there are a lot of walkers, because I usually am lucky to get into the top half (not that it matters, I just like to look at the metrics).

Post-Race Party:

After crossing the finish line, there was a fab Cap 10K post-race party waiting! I met my husband and in-laws and we walked around a bit. There was food, water, live bands and many vendors. I didn’t stay too long, because brunch, but it was a great party. If you run the race with a friend, you would have a good time if you just stayed after to hang out!

IMG_3188And that was that for my first 10K! Definitely check it out if you are ever wanting to visit Austin and run a fun, not too intense race. Not sure if 10K is my favorite distance, but I would run this race again.

What’s your favorite race distance and why?

Cheers to trying shorter distances! 😉

Product Review: 2Toms SportShield (& a Discount)

Disclosure: I received a sample of 2Toms SportShield for Her as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Summer is impending in my neck of the woods, which brings up a sore subject in my running world: chafing. It’s something most people don’t like to discuss (or admit happens to them), but it happens to almost everyone. I don’t know of a single runner who’s escaped the discomfort. Luckily for all of us, there are many products out there to help prevent this sort of thing from occurring. There are clothes with flat seams, and there are balms you can put on your skin, like 2Toms SportShield.

While I tend to have these issues during the summer due to sweat, there are a couple of parts of my body where chafing is inevitable year-round, like near my armpit. When I found out I’d have the opportunity to test out their line of anti-chafe products for women, I was curious to see how it would compare to other balms I have used in the past.

Sport Shield

2Toms SportShield for Her is a silicone-based anti-chafe solution that is waterproof, sweatproof and easy to use. It can be used anywhere, and can even help protect against blisters. It doesn’t melt in intense heat, and it stays on all day! The “for Her” formulation contains aloe and shea butter for smoother skin in addition to anti-microbial ingredients to accommodate sensitive skin, and it is fragrance and dye free.

My experience with 2Toms SportShield has been absolutely wonderful. I’d go so far as to say it’s my new preferred brand of anti-chafe product. It is just that good. The formula is rich and silky, and a little goes a long way.

sportshieldapplication To apply, I roll on a little bit and spread SportShield out where I need it to go. Then, I wash my hands. 2Toms doesn’t necessarily recommend touching the product because it will stay on your fingers, but this turned out to be my favorite way to apply it, because I can get even coverage with a small amount. I usually put my SportShield on at home before dressing anyway, because it’s easier to apply, so I have easy access to a place to wash my hands. In general, it’s easier to apply than other products, and I can get a nice even coat everywhere that I need to be conscious of because it’s a liquid formula.

If you’re on the go, the wipes are a perfect alternative, because you can open the corner of the package to use a small part of the wipe without touching the product. The wipes fit easily inside your pocket or fuel belt of choice, so you can carry it with you for long races, just in case.

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It also lasts a long time on the body (up to 24 hours). Since I have been using it, I have encountered NO chafing, and no need to reapply. One way I should have used SportShield was when I went to a trade show earlier this month. I forgot that my bottle of SportShield is small enough to pass through security, and I was really missing it when I was walking 6-8 miles a day/getting big ole blisters on my toes. Moral of the story: don’t hesitate to bring it when you’re traveling/walking a lot.

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All awesome aspects aside, there were a couple of aspects that I wasn’t too crazy about. While it is a rich formula, it’s also little runny, so it can be easy to use more than you intend to. However, all that means is that you’ll be extra protected; I simply recommend spreading it out if you apply too much. $13 for one package also seems a bit high initially, but I can confidently tell you it will last you a looong time. I’ve been using it consistently for about 3 months now, and I’m not even halfway through the package. You also get more product (1.5 oz) for that price than several other similar products.

2Toms is offering a discount code through the end of April, so head over to their website, www.2Toms.com, to try it out for yourself. Use the code 2Toms20 to receive 20% off your order.

Have you tried 2Toms SportShield or any of their other products? What did you think?

Cheers to being chafe-free!

 

Becoming a Runner Step 2: Finding a Schedule that Works

Want to tackle a half marathon, 10K, or even a full marathon in 2016? You’ve probably spent some time trying to find a method to help you accomplish that goal. Or perhaps you haven’t! Either way, I’m here to try to help take some of the guesswork out of that process, so you can get to running!

The longer I have been running consistently, the more I realize that running works for me because I’ve found a schedule that fits my lifestyle. When I was training for a marathon, I was running at least four days a week, and I did not have much time for anything else at a certain point. It was worth the commitment to accomplish my goal, but that rigorous workout schedule was one that I knew I couldn’t sustain for years and years.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the right distance and schedule for you.

What are my goals? Are they realistic?

If your goal is to go from 0 miles to a marathon runner in 3 months, that’s probably not realistic. However, maybe 0 to 6 miles is possible! Basically, the longer the distance you want to run, the more time you need. If you are starting from zero and want to run a marathon, give yourself a year (or two!). If you want to run a 10k, then that might be possible in 2 months. Just set your goal, and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish it. When I started running, one practical way I figured out how much time I needed was by finding the longest training schedule I could find, and giving myself an extra month in case I end up facing injury (I did this for the half and full marathon).

How often do I want to run?

There are many variations of training schedules for just about any distance. Are you super busy, like me? 5 days a week of running is probably not going to work for you! You’ll run a little longer/more miles each day if you run 3 days a week, but you won’t have to go to the gym nearly as often. If you work out every morning before work, then 5 days a week might work a lot better for you. Just find a balance that fits your current schedule.

Do I want to incorporate other activities?

If you do, it might be wise to pick a 4 day a week plan and incorporate 1 day of cross training, like a class, in place of a shorter run (3 days running, 1 day CT). Regardless of whether you want to incorporate a cross training option, or not, I would definitely make sure you are lifting weights some time during your training, so that all of your muscle groups stay strong.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the a schedule that works for you:

Runner’s World

Hal Higdon

Competitor.com

Cool Running

Jeff Galloway

Women’s Running

Most of these resources should have free options available. I have used Hal Higdon’s several times and really like his plans. Keep in mind that all of these websites (and individual plan authors) will have different philosophies on what works best. Jeff Galloway, for example, is built around the idea that taking walk breaks can help prevent injury and burnout. With any plan that sounds like a fit for you, try to steer clear of plans that have mileage increases of more than 10% each week. 10% is not a scientific number, but for most people, this number strikes the balance of  increasing mileage while building cardio endurance, without causing too much stress on the body too soon.

What kind of running regimen works for you?

Cheers to another year of great running!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

Becoming a Runner Step 1: It’s in the Shoes

In case you live under a rock missed it, it’s 2016, folks! For many people (myself included), the New Year is a reminder to get serious about accomplishing goals. My visit to the gym today reminded me how many people promise to themselves to get fit each year; however, many resolutions go unaccomplished by December. I think the reason why is that people lack practical advice on how to achieve these goals. Whether you’ve decided to get fit this year, or you want to accomplish a goal like a half marathon, I wanted to share some of my experiences to help you become a successful runner beyond the month of January.
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I’ve learned that the first thing you should do before doing any kind of running is finding the right shoes. Here’s how:

Don’t just search the internet for shoe reviews… Go to a store that has a specific section for running (like Luke’s Locker, Road Runner Sports, or any locally-owned running store) and get fitted.

Set a reasonable budget for yourself. Especially the first time you get fitted, this isn’t the place to cheap out. For me personally, I try to stay under $120, and if you have neverdone this before, $100 budget is about the lowest budget I would set. That’s a lot of money, but when you factor in the advice you are paying for and the ability to try a range of styles and price points to find out what works, it is worth it. It is waste of money to purchase a pair that doesn’t work for you, and you could potentially injure yourself.

Set aside an hour or so for this endeavor, and wear athletic clothes. The first time I got fitted, I went on my lunch break in business casual attire. This was not the best decision, because you will likely have to run/walk around the store. The associate needs to be able to see your gait and the way your feet move when you run.

Bring in your current running or athletic shoes. Being able to review the wear patterns on your soles also helps the associate to see how you walk or run.

Here are some great examples of the wisdom I have acquired during my shoe fittings over the past 2 years:

  • My foot pattern and arch height: I underpronate. Underpronation is a typical pattern for people with high arches, so I assumed I had high arches; however, I have low to normal arches.
  • Correct shoe size: Running shoes should be 1-2 sizes larger than your normal shoe size and have about an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I normally wear a 6.5-7, and I wear an 8-8.5.
  • Fit/feel: The shoes you wear should “feel like you’re running on a slipper;” they should feel comfortable to you!
  • Correct shoe type: There are different foot patterns, and different types of shoes. For example, I wear a neutral shoe because I underpronate. Having a neutral foot pattern is different, and it doesn’t mean you should wear neutral shoes.
  • Looks (they don’t matter): Color shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but if you really like a shoe and they don’t carry your favorite color in the store, it may be possible for the associate to order it online.
  • Price: If you have a strict budget, local stores can sometimes offer discounts to meet your budget. They have a vested interest in making sure you pick a shoe you are happy with.

Finally, enjoy the experience. You’ll rarely find a sales person at a department store invested in which shoes you pick, for running or otherwise. These associates care and can offer great encouragement and advice.

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Your new shoes should last anywhere from 200 – 500 miles. If you want a long-lasting shoe, be sure to tell the person who gives you a fitting. My shoes above are still going strong, from treadmill to trail, at almost 400 miles (can you believe they’ve seen a marathon and half marathon?). Keep a log of your miles to determine when it’s time to replace. If you start having random injuries, then it’s definitely time.

Once I find a shoe I LOVE, I stick with it for as long as I can. I found my Brooks Ghost 7’s and I have been able to purchase discounted pairs online. Expensive initially, but they work for me and now I’m able to save some money. That’s why the fitting was so important!

Any advice I missed? Please feel free to leave it in the comments below! This will be the first in a series of blog posts this month, so please check back for more tips.

Cheers to the New Year!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

 

Now Playing – Funky and Fun Running Playlist

FTR Funky Run
When I’ve had a long day at work and I still have to log a few miles, I need a solid list of pump up songs that just make me feel like smiling.

That’s why I made this playlist. Super fun, super catchy, with a hint of bubble gum pop, funk, classics and nothing too crazy. I’m not a really big popular music fan, but some songs just stick with you, and I’m totally okay with that. Good for the treadmill or the track.

Watch out though, you might catch yourself cheesin’ big time mid-run (not that that’s EVER happened to me or anything).

What are your favorite songs to jam out to?

Now Playing: My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground

Now Playing Running Playlist

I’ve been wanting to share some of my favorite tunes for a while now, so I’m super excited about this post!

Music is something that has always inspired me and been there through it all – from my passionate dancing days to my angsty teenage years; from loathed hours of studying in the university library to the best memories I have of undergrad. Now, it continues to keep me going, especially with running. Kudos to all of you who can run without listening to anything – I am not one of those people and, quite frankly, I don’t know how the running community lived before the Walkman.

Anyway, I feel like it’s pretty common to either listen to rap or death metal when working out, and that’s great if that’s what you like. However, I’ve never really been big on either persuasion; I like a lot of alternative music (and for some reason, I find the Foo Fighters to be perfect for running), so I put together some playlists that I could fall into pace with.

This is an upbeat list that I use on a shorter, quicker pace run (5 miles or less), or if I’m playing around with the speed settings on the treadmill.

By the way, the Spotify app is free on your phone, if you’d like to try this playlist for yourself.

What can I say? I like what I like! For me, music that has a nice melody and variety, but also a somewhat-consistent beat helps me concentrate.

What songs or artists are among your favorites for running or working out? I would love to give a listen to something new.

On Fighting Burnout…

Those moments where you want to give up? Yes, they do happen (and sometimes very often).

This past month, I ran over 100 miles – more miles than I’ve ever run before. I’ve been trying not to let it get to me, but, to be honest, it has. Not only has this been taking a bit of a physical toll on me, but it has been mentally tiresome. Though I love to run and I look forward to accomplishing my goal, I feel like running has consumed my life as of late.

Given that the task of running a marathon still seems like a large feat at this point, I thought it would be helpful to share with you some of the things I’ve been doing when I feel like quitting.

Fighting Burnout

Set Aside Time for Rest
There is an appropriate time for everything. Set aside a clear time to work and then rest. For example, I want to rest now, but I can’t because it’s not the right time yet. I told myself I would do this and now I have to keep going until I finish. It’s okay to sit on the couch for a weekend and watch House of Cards, but get the hard work done first so you can savor it. Side note: see the beach up there? Well, I found it all-too-fitting for this post, since it’s my idea of rest. I’ll at the beach soon, actually, and it’s the carrot in front of me for the next two weeks of intense training.

Focus on Small Landmarks
Set little goals for yourself and celebrate a small victory when you achieve them. It keeps you mentally engaged.

Mix Things Up
I’ve been running a different variation of the same route almost every time I visit the park, which has surprisingly made the miles fly by a little quicker. It keeps things fresh and I stay alert in order to track my mileage.

Find Your Person
Remember accountability? It’s vital. Find a friend, coworker, redditor, spouse, whatever works for you. Just find someone who knows you well enough to discern when you need a break, but isn’t afraid to call you on the carpet if you truly are not working to your full potential (like Meredith and Cristina from Grey’s).

Think Positive
I saved the most important for last! Personally, I am struggling with thinking negatively about running, and worry that I’m constantly injuring myself, which gives me an excuse to procrastinate and put off runs. I have been voicing these negative thoughts with an unfortunate frequency, so much that my husband has noticed and had to call me out on it in an encouraging, supportive way. While expressing your honest emotions isn’t a bad thing, it’s all too easy to cross the line between expressing honesty and bathing in negativity. The practical way to handle it? Yoga teachers are always preaching it – acknowledge the thoughts, then let go of them, reframing them in a positive light. This mental practice serves us well in so many aspects of life. Prayer helps, too.

My point is that we all have doubts. We all have moments where we are our own worst enemy. I want to encourage you all and remind myself – don’t ever give up!

These times teach us perseverance, and perhaps that is why they are so important in the training process.

How do you fight burnout? I’m genuinely curious.

Cheers to persevering another week!

(Photo Credit: Kimberly Richards)

7 Simple Ways to Prepare for a Race

With the new year in full swing, I’ve seen a lot of friends sign up for half marathons, commit to cycling races and set new fitness goals. If you’re one of them, go you!

I hope you’ll all stay on track and fulfill your aspirations. Based on what it took for me to fulfill my aspiration to run a half marathon in 2014, I put together a list of things you should know if you’re planning to do the same in 2015.

These nuggets of wisdom are not mutually exclusive to running a half marathon, either. Whether your goal is working up to running a mile, racing the MS150, mastering a crazy yoga pose, or simply trying a new activity, there are takeaways here, too.

Free To Run 7 simple ways to prepare for a half marathon

7. Have a plan/make a running calendar…
And stick to it (or try to). It’s okay to move things around a bit as life happens, but this helped me plan ahead and kept me from making excuses. Using this schedule as a guide, I made appointments on my computer calendar, which I printed out and put on the fridge at home. That way, it was everywhere and I couldn’t forget! I also used Nike+ to track my progress; the app is free for your phone. It felt super-satisfying to check workouts off of the list and see the miles add up. The caveat: you should not run more than 2 days in a row, so organize accordingly.

6. Know that it’s okay to look awkward.
Let it be known that I feel like I look awkward when I run. For a long time, this was one of many excuses I used to avoid running altogether – I was actually afraid of embarrassing myself. Eventually, I learned that most runners don’t look like someone in a Nike ad and that my embarrassment was all mental. Doing something positive for your mind and body is no easy task, and you shouldn’t worry about what other people think about it. Besides, if someone judges you for the way you look during any activity, then they’re not someone you want to impress anyway. Plus, they can try it and see how awesome they look.

5. Pick up the essentials.
The essentials means shoes (!) and a couple of good, moisture-wicking staples for each season. You don’t have to buy everything (or the best of everything), but your shoes are VERY important, so don’t skimp on those. For example, I spent about $110 on shoes, $25 on socks, $40 on tanks/shirts, and $30 on running capris. All in all, you can probably find most of what you need for under $200 total if you shop sales/discount. You can also get by for a while by just buying shoes and using what you already have to work out in. That’s a fairly low cost to enter (compared to cycling, yoga, etc.).

4. Remember: rewards are helpful, but intrinsic motivation is key.
External rewards (like a new outfit or yummy bowl of ice cream) are good for temporary motivation, but training for a long distance race is all about endurance. You need some kind of intrinsic motivational mantra to keep you going for the long-haul. For me, this looks like mentally reminding myself about how I’m accomplishing a goal or how I actually enjoy running to clear my head (a concept I never understood before running regularly). Figure out what you enjoy about running and remind yourself of it as much as you can.

3. Take breaks, if necessary.
You might think that to really be “running” you have to be running full-out the whole time. This mentality doesn’t really work for long distance running, because you have to pace yourself. Taking a short walking break when you’re getting water helps you rejuvenate, even if your mile times end up being a bit slower. You can take a couple of days off, too, if you feel like your legs are tired or you’re barely making it through your run. These breaks don’t make you a weaker runner; they help you get stronger.

2. Happen to your doubts.
This is where the idea of running becoming a mental sport comes in. Many times on my journey, doubt has come creeping in. I can’t let it take root, so I proactively work against it. Learn to recognize when you’re doubting yourself and tell yourself why the doubts are false. If it’s really tough to get over your doubts, tell a friend who can help reaffirm that the doubts are lies. Accountability always helps.

1. To achieve, commit.
The hardest part of running a long race is the training. There are a lot of sacrifices involved – sleeping in Saturday mornings, lazy evenings, sitting down painlessly, money for shoes and race fees and sometimes even time with “bae”. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to skip one run, and let it turn into several. We millennials like instant gratification and results; you won’t get that from running, so you need commitment to keep you going when you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. The truth is, you won’t get anywhere without commitment.

Do you have any pieces of sage wisdom to offer? I would love to hear about your experiences.

Whatever race you’re running in 2015, stay committed. Cheers!