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.
FTR_Shoes360

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.

FTR_Shoes_TracktoTrail

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.

 

Training Update: Ho, Ho, Hustling!

Howdy Folks! Since I’m training for two races right now (those of you who follow me on social media saw that I’m racing the Hot Chocolate 15K in Dallas on Feb. 6), I thought it would be effective just to do a week by week (ish) update on my workouts. I am hoping to run more frequent races in 2016 and I think it will be easier to keep an ongoing log of my workouts on the blog, rather than a log for each specific race.

If you’ll recall my training schedule for earlier this summer, that’s what I’m working my way through right now. I plan to switch the 15k race in Week 12 for the 12 miler in Week 14, since that week is the week of the Hot Chocolate 15K (and a week before the Austin Half). By the way, if you register for the Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K with the code BibRaveDAL, you’ll receive a complimentary head warmer! There is actual chocolate on the course, so it’s my kind of race.

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This past week was none other than Christmas, so I actually only ran one of my scheduled runs due to a hectic travel schedule and poor weather when I wasn’t traveling. That’s why this recaps the past two weeks of my training. I was 4 for 8 on making my training runs, and I really was trying to get them all in. Why are the holidays so dang busy?!

So, here’s the recap:

Week of December 14 (Week 7 on the old calendar):

3.5 mi. | 35 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 7.0 mi.

All workouts got done except my tempo run… Felt like a good week, and I ran my 7 miler in under an hour and 20 minutes, which I felt good about since I started very slow. Part of my motivation was getting all my gift wrapping finished (who else has been there?). I even ran a 9’41” mile – I think that is one of my fastest to date!

Total mileage: 13.5 mi.

Week of December 21 (Week 8):

4.0 mi. | 7 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. pace | 8.0 mi.

Well, at least I finished the 8 miler (slowly, but surely). I got it out of the way first, knowing that I would be traveling a lot, but I was kinda disappointed in how it went due to some knee soreness I was having. For some reason, whenever I switch back from leggings to shorts, I have issues. The leggings I have aren’t compression grade, but I do think that running tights make me alter my gait in some form or fashion and offer slight stabilization for my knees. Other than that, quite frankly, I think this blog is already doing its job! After the knee issues, I was planning to take an extra rest day, but not 3. It adds up and I feel pretty convicted.

Total mileage: 8.0 mi.

Where were we traveling, you ask? Well, we visited San Antonio for Christmas with my Grandparents, and we also went to my parents’ house near Houston on Christmas Day. We even got to walk down the Riverwalk and see some of the sights around town, including the Menger Hotel, where we took this picture in front of their tree.

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All in all, the holidays were fantastic, but the ho-ho-ho’s and hustle and bustle have left me like this:

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Christmas is my favorite holiday, but this year was just crazy! I’m looking forward to having a few more travel-free days to rest up for the new year. It’s going to be a great one!

How do you stay on track during the holidays, and how did you celebrate this year?

Cheers!

2015 Holiday Gift Guide – For Him (+ a Giveaway!)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small amount of monetary compensation if you end up purchasing something from one of the links. I also received a pair of XX2i Sunglasses to review 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.

Don’t forget: I’m giving away a pair of Feetures Elite Socks and Camelbak eddy Water Bottle to celebrate the holidays. Enter at the link below… then check out the rest of the guide!

ENTER HERE!

2015_HGG for Him Men_Final

Why is it that guys are always SO tough to shop for? I just ordered a bunch of Chris’ gifts… who knew shopping on the same Amazon account could be so confusing. Keeping things in your shopping cart is a giveaway when you share a computer!

I’m hoping to help solve part of that problem for you with my top picks for him. Good luck! 😉

  1. Yeti Rambler Tumbler ($64)
    My dad loves his Yeti tumbler. He uses it all the time to keep his Dr. Pepper cold on the way to work. Apparently, you can leave ice in it overnight and it will stay cold… but it also works well for a morning cup of Jo and fits in most car cup holders!
  2. XX2i Optics USA1 Sunglasses (Originally $59.99, 50% off with code: XX2iRocks)
    Your guy will thank you for these, let me tell you! They are very high quality, come in a variety of colors, have interchangeable lenses and (most importantly) do not fog up, so he can wear them for running or pretty much anything else.
  3. Under Armour Men’s Short Sleeve Tech Shirt ($24.99)
    If there is one thing I’ve learned about guys, it’s that they like simplicity. This tech shirt is a good ole standby, and it comes in almost every color, so you can find one that suits him perfectly.
  4. Asics Performance Everyday Shorts ($46)
    Perfect for running, basketball, or lounging around on a Saturday, these shorts are a fashionable length and lightweight. I like that they are tailored well, but still loose and athletic looking. They may show up under our tree this year, but my husband will just have to wait and see!
  5. Bose SoundSport In Ear Headphones ($129)
    Do you know a guy who is picky about sound? I do! In all seriousness, he IS a musician, and these are his headphones of choice. They stay in well when working out, cancel noise, and have great sound quality.
  6. Kelty Acadia Six Person Tent ($289.95)
    Give him the gift of an outdoor trip, together! The six person tent is actually plenty of space for two people (and a dog) with an air mattress. If you or your guy doesn’t want to rough it too much, this is a reasonably priced way to have a fun, but active weekend in the wilderness.
  7. Leatherman Wave Multitool ($93)
    You can’t go wrong with tools. This one will give him everything he needs in one handy place.
  8. Head Digital Sport Running Gloves ($12.99)
    One thing that guys often forget they need is gloves! These will go with his winter coat, and his running apparel. They are compatible with smart phone screens, so he won’t have to take them off to type. They aren’t too pricy, either, so if he loses them, you’re not out an arm and a leg.
  9. Stanley Classic Insulated Growler ($50)
    For the beer drinker (or the iced tea drinker), this growler offers a convenient method of keeping drinks sealed and cold for up to 24 hours. It’s a simple way for him to take some of the beer with him when he visits his favorite brewery, for enjoyment at home later in the day.
  10. Patagonia Men’s Synchilla Snap T Fleece Pullover ($119)
    This versatile wardrobe piece can be worn with casual clothes, work clothes (for some offices), and even athletic clothes. It is available in several classic colors (and prints for the more daring), and is super warm and soft – it might even take the place of his favorite hoodie!

Anything else that’s under your tree?

Cheers to this wonderful season of giving.

 

2015 Holiday Gift Guide – For Her (Plus a Giveaway)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small amount of monetary compensation if you end up purchasing something from one of the links. All opinions are my own.

Hey there! The holidays are (finally) here and I’m giving away a pair of Feetures Elite Socks and Camelbak eddy Water Bottle to celebrate. Enter and find contest details below… then read on for some awesome gift ideas for the special someone in your life!

ENTER HERE!

 

2015 HGG For Her Women_Final

Looking for a gift for your active lady? Here are my top picks for 2015.

  1. Asics Fit-Sana Zip Hoody
    Here in Texas, though it’s not often, when you need a running jacket, you need it! However, because I don’t need to run in a jacket often, it has to look good when I’m not running for me to actually get enough use out of it. This jacket is both stylish and warm, and who doesn’t love a good hoodie? ($90)
  2. Athleta Crunch and Punch Tank
    Kill two birds with one stone wit this built-in bra top from Athleta. Love all of the colors (and Athleta quality). It would also be perfect for yoga, or the gym, so you really can’t go wrong! ($69)
  3. Lucy Zenergy Bra
    I’m a big fan of bright colors and fun details on sports bras. I also love the double straps for the summer, which means no thick tan lines! ($49)
  4. Adidas Adizero II Cap
    This is the only hat I’ve tried on that is both flattering and affordable. Seriously though, no one likes a hat that makes them feel derpy; this one makes me feel the opposite – like a seasoned running pro. ($20)
  5. Nike Exhale Running Sunglasses
    I have a hard time finding sunglasses that are both pretty IRL and functional for running, but these fit the bill perfectly! ($146)
  6. Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf
    Up your athleisure game with this scarf from Lululemon. I would totally pair this with an oversized sweatshirt, running pants, and a pair of boots, if I was meeting up with someone for coffee or lunch post-workout. ($46)
  7. Running Bib and Medal Display from Strut Your Stuff Sign Co.
    What I love about this medal holder is that it is super-stylish, with customization options available to tie in with most décor styles. This company offers styles for triathletes and other sports as well. ($29.99+)
  8. Run Janji Printed Running Tights
    I like that these tights have an understated print – no loud colors, but still something different. What’s even better is that your purchase of these tights provides water to a person in Tanzania for three years, so you can gift responsibly. Love this company and their passion. ($68)
  9. Adidas Squad II Duffel Bag
    Adds a whole new meaning to the term “squad goals,” right? This bag is the updated version of my current adidas duffel bag that I LOVE. It has special pockets for tennis shoes, jewelry, your cell phone, and swimsuit, making it super convenient for the girl on the go. Great buy! ($45)
  10. Oiselle Women’s Wazelle Long Sleeve Top
    Apparently there is a debate in the running community about thumb holes. Well, if I cared to debate such issues, I’d be pro-thumb holes, which is part of why I like this shirt. The other part is that Oiselle does a great job of making great running products. ($66)

Have anything to add to this list? Be sure to mention it in the comments below.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and check back later this week for the next section of the gift guide!

What are you most excited about giving this year?

Cheers!

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?

A Thief Named Comparison

Reflecting on the my recent half marathon has brought out my competitive spirit.

As I mentioned, I didn’t meet my time goal. I was initially bummed when I finished, and I quickly got over it. However, even though they’ve been surrounded by positive thoughts, I’ve had moments of doubt over the course of the last couple weeks, and moments where I’ve been frustratedly wishing I was at the fitness level that other people are at. Thankfully, I’ve been reminded by my dear husband that there has been so much to be positive about. I finished, first of all, and I finished without injury. My asthma barely flared up this training cycle. The same thing could not be said for the first half marathon I trained for last year, which is a sign of improvement. Combined with the fact that I genuinely didn’t have time to train like I wanted to, I’ve resolved that it’s okay for life to get in the way sometimes – I’m only human. Plus, there are lots of other races coming up.

Again, for the most part, I’ve felt pretty good about how everything shook out. I am writing this because I find it fascinating how, even when we aren’t competing with anyone else, we find ways to compete with ourselves. This isn’t intrinsically negative, but when we let this rule our lives, it can be destructive. We are our own worst enemies.

FTR Theo Roosevelt Quote Smaller

Since I needed to be reminded of these truths, I wanted to share them with you, in case you need the encouragement as well.

First, comparison will steal your joy, if you let it (so don’t!). There is always going to be someone faster in running that you can compare yourself to. With the endless parallels running brings to life, there is always going to be someone smarter, cooler, or whatever than you, so comparison is futile and will only cause you to focus on the negative. Comparison is not healthy! Regardless, if you’re giving your best effort (and even on the off days when you aren’t), your life matters, and there is always something to be thankful for.

Second, accountability can remind you of the truth when you aren’t able to see it. We all fall prey to negativity, which is why accountability is a healthy alternative to comparison. My husband and friends who don’t run remind me that everything in life is relative, and they build me up when I struggle to remember how far I have come. Most of my friends don’t run, and when I tell them my running struggles, I’m also reminded how trivial they can be. The lessons I’ve learned from running are greater and far more important than a time on a piece of paper.

Finally, whatever fitness struggle you are encountering, I implore you to remember that you are more than just a number on a scale, clock, etc. Comparing your success now to any success in different circumstances (someone else’s success, past progress, or something else), is fruitless. Yes, great things happen when you push yourself, but today is new, which means the present challenges are also different, and comparing other experiences under different circumstances is like comparing apples and oranges. Revel in the successes each day brings and cling to those.

So, onward we go. Cheers to seeing the beauty in each day!

Another 13.1 in the Books

Yesterday I got out on the trail and put 13.1 miles away.

A year ago yesterday I ran my first half marathon, and yesterday, I ran my second. No crowds, medals, cameras, starting lines, or finish lines. Just me, my music and nature.With the Houston Half Marathon cancelled, I still wanted to test myself. No reason to wait for the next opportunity since I’m off of work.

It was unofficial, but I believe that the act of getting out there was what counted. I didn’t meet my time goal, which was slightly disappointing, but I did get out there when I didn’t have to, and I did finish.

With the storms that had come through, several parts of the route were actually flooded and I got some interesting photos. The weather was wonderfully cool and crisp, just cloudy enough to stay cool with the sun out. It was a great reminder of one of the things I love most about running – the opportunity to be out in nature.

Once again I felt free, and have a renewed joy for running. I love that running can be so difficult at times but it is so satisfying in the end.Oh, and I can now wear my race shirt feeling like I at least earned it.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did you handle it?

Cheers to more chances to run and race!

After the Storm

As I mentioned a couple of days ago on social media, there was a 90% chance of rain on the day of my Half Marathon. Well, that chance became 100% because of a little hurricane named Patricia.

Yesterday (Saturday) was kind of a rough day. Due to the storm’s trajectory and high risk of flooding, traveling from Austin to Houston was not feasible, so I wasn’t able to make it. In the end, I was somewhat glad I didn’t risk my safety because the race ended up getting cancelled, with parts of the route underwater this morning. The rain continued all day, making it a dreary Saturday. Then, we watched the Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss game on TV, which was also a huge disappointment because the Aggies (my team) couldn’t even get a touch down. By the end of the day, I felt dejected.

However, today was a new day, and so is tomorrow. The Houston Half Marathon committee posted today that they are looking at “options” for how to move forward, so there is a chance they’ll still give us a way to earn our medal.  I got to sleep in, the cooler weather finally kicked in and it was even a bit chilly out today! And I made some delicious pot roast and had time to reflect on training this time around. Amazingly, it also appears that no one has died yet in the wake of this storm. Today offered perspective, and I have much to be thankful for.

Regardless of this weekend’s mishap, I’m planning to run 13.1 tomorrow, here in Austin. I had several great long runs over the last couple of weeks, despite being generally underprepared for the race. I want the opportunity to prove something to myself, and I have that opportunity every day.


I was reminded this weekend that even when things are tough, there is always a chance to start over, to start fresh. Your attitude dictates your opportunity and tomorrow is what you make of it.

I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps of my running journey with you, and hearing of your successes and struggles, too. And I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Cheers!

Gear Guide: Fun Fall Faves

It finally is cooling down a bit in the hot state of Texas and I couldn’t be happier. The longer the summer, the more welcome is the first breezy run of autumn. The flavors, the clothes, the crisp air outside, etc. – everything about fall warms my heart! In honor of the best season ever, I put together a guide of my favorite running gear and active living items to help you celebrate in style.

FTR Fun Fall Faves

Clockwise from top left corner.

The North Face Thermoball Vest

While I myself am relatively frugal, I feel investing in certain high-quality items you will wear for years is also a wise decision. That’s why this vest is on here. I recently purchased this vest and I love that it’s warm, lightweight and folds up into one of the pockets for storage. How cool is that? Wear it for running or running errands, as it looks great for both. And this print is so fun!

Under Armour Women’s Boho Headband

This headband strikes the delicate balance between having enough fabric on your forehead to keep the sweat out of your eyes and so much fabric that your head gets hot. Plus, it stylishly keeps your flyaways in check after you leave the gym or the track, so you can run post-workout errands without feeling self-conscious.

Brooks Distance Long Sleeve Tee and Fineform Sports Bra

Cute and versatile, these items will keep you warm (and reduce chafing due to the flat seams) on a cooler run, or lounging around at Thanksgiving. I love how the color is bright without seeming springy. The sports bra especially is versatile and can be worn year round, with two different ways to wear the straps (hello, summer racerbacks). The soft long sleeve has odor-fighting fabric, which is all-too necessary any time you sweat.

Gu Maple Bacon Energy Gel

I was looking to include the Espresso Love energy gel in this guide, but I had to include these when I saw them. Such a strange combination, but it sounds yummy! Like bacon dipped in pancake syrup… a sweet and salty flavor explosion.

adidas ar-10 Shoes

These are awesome for going to and from yoga class, or wearing out to a football game. I wanted to show support for my Aggies, because fall = football, but unfortunately this is the only technical item adidas offers for women (sigh), and they’re not for actual running. Still, I would wear them often with leggings, jeans and anything comfortable.

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Biscotti

Ah, the perfect pre-run snack. I’ve been on a biscotti kick lately because it is a quick, easy snack without making me feel super weighed down. The pumpkin flavor is present and slightly spicy, without overpowering my taste buds with saccharine syrupy-ness  (I’m looking at you, pumpkin spice lattes). It’s also a great way to add in some extra carbs during carbo-loading. Pick it up at your local TJ’s.

Burt’s Bees Medicated Lip Balm

I don’t wear lipstick or gloss very often; just the balm for me, please. Burt’s Bees lip balm is my favorite. When my lips get cracked by the drier air, I need a medicated version and this hits the spot. No one wants to be fighting cracked lips on the run, and this helps.

Nike Women’s Filament Capris

I ran my marathon in these capris – they are so comfy! The fabric feels more like cotton leggings than shiny thick tights and I like that they are matte, too. The panels are sewn in a way that’s really flattering, and the length is just right. There is a nice drawstring to keep them from riding up or down, and a decent-sized pocket in the back conveniently stores Gu’s, keys, or whatever else you want.

 

What would you add to this list?

Cheers and happy fall, y’all!

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

As I mentioned over a month ago, I was going to have some exciting updates. Little did I know how much those updates were going to rock my life.

We found out at the end of August that we had the opportunity to move to Austin, so we took it and ran with it.

Austin has a lot of great career opportunity, and my husband accepted a new job that he’s excited about. Combined with it being one of the best cities for runners, having a plethora of outdoor activities, constant live music, and delish food (!), making the move was a no-brainer.

Mid-September, we moved all of our stuff from our tiny Houston apartment to the 512/ATX. I’ve been tirelessly searching for a job, and barely able to fit in regular runs. It’s derailed my training a bit, but I’m proud to say I found a new job (yay paychecks!) and am refocusing now that we can plan ahead further than the next day. I’m currently staying with my parents in H-town to finish out a bit of work before I start my new job.

Living with your parents has its drawbacks, but it’s also been nice to spend time with them before the move, knowing this precious time is temporary.

After my last day on Friday, I have 3 weeks off before I start my new job… Woo hoo!

So, that’s the short recap of what’s been going on lately.

As for my training, I’m still planning to run my half marathon on October 25 (wow… I didn’t realize that was only 20 days away until just now).

Even though I wasn’t posting about it, I was pretty diligent with training until early September and finally starting to see results. When I found out we were moving, though, I had to job search in my spare time and lose sleep to find even more spare time to pack. I’ve been trying to put in as many runs in as I can in the weeks since.


Panic hasn’t overtaken me just yet, and I completed my 11 mile run tonight. On one hand, I feel good that I can miss as many runs as I have and still crank out 11 miles. However, they were slow, tough miles, and I think my speed goal is basically out the window at this point. Maybe I’ll surprise myself, but I’m not counting on it.

While I’m a fighter and don’t like to admit defeat, I’ve resolved that I will save my goal of 11 minute miles for the next race. I’m considering running the Austin half in February, which isn’t far off.

I can’t wait to share all of the posts I was working on before this interruption. Thanks for bearing with me and please keep the next couple of weeks in your thoughts and/or prayers as they are the last of my training.

Cheers to big changes and exploring a new city! It’s been real, Houston.