Category Archives: Runner Mom

Why I Will Continue to Chase Down a Boston Dream while Running into the Next Decade

Now I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I started running over a decade ago with hopes of losing weight. I didn’t know many runners at the time, but the ones from television and magazines all looked healthy and happy. So I started running and despite the fact that it hurt like hell and it took me about an hour to go a few miles, I kept with it. With each finish line, I started to learn to love the mental strength I gained through racing. I also started to love my own body more than ever, and tried to completely eliminate the negative self talk and body shaming.
Over the course of a few years, I wasn’t just setting goals to just finish races. I found myself setting goals to run sub two hour half marathons, and then sub 1:45 halfs, and am now about 10 seconds over a sub four hour marathon….with the goal of chasing down a 3:45 in this year’s Chicago marathon and then eventually, a 3:30-3:35 locally at the Philly marathon later this fall.  But as I work on my speed, I have also battled numerous injuries over the past 18 months, forcing me to trade my speed work for strength workouts and countless hours of physical therapy.  And although I will continue to chase my BQ (and I know my day is coming), I am also forced to make a tougher decision to slow down my paced runs and also cut back on my racing schedule. Running into the next decade is important for me not just physically, but even more so mentally and spiritually.

Running into the Next Decade

And since development is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am thrilled to link up with Deb (it’s been way too long) and share why I will continue to chase down a Boston dream while I age, while running into the next decade.  I am also linking this post up with Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

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Many athletes consider running a lifetime sport. Think about it… you can start running as early as preschool and keep going through grade school into middle and high school as long as you can put one foot in front of the other.  Whether you decide to run competitively at the collegiate level or run as your stress relief throughout your schooling, you grow, mature, set PRs (whether in a race setting or with yourself), and continue to maintain your health and fitness goals.

But there comes a time when the PR chase grows difficult, and that’s exactly where my run journey has taken me over the past 18 months.  Warm-ups, cool-downs, and mandatory rest days from running have been the ONLY way I have been able to train.  Gone are the days I can jump out of bed, lace up my sneaks, and hit a 7:30 pace without warming up or cooling down.  I run more these days using my mind as my guide and not my ego.  Some days I feel great and may add in some speed work and other days I seem to pay for going too fast while icing my knee or limping though wicked PF flare ups at work.

Aging.  It’s oh so humbling as a runner to not be able to easily hit the same paces I was running in college.

And sometimes the media makes it tough NOT to compare my race schedule to another mid 30 something year old’s race schedule who seems to defy all aspects of aging and runs 60 plus miles per week and BQ’s at every marathon. After all, Meb Keflezighi’s PR win at Boston came only weeks before his 39th birthday, and many runners continue to improve during their late 30s.

So why do many runners start to get injured MORE as they age?

I can only speak in terms of my own training, but my warmups and recovery times needed to be doubled, or even tripled after a hard tempo run or track session. Realizing that injuries can be more frequent and take longer to heal was also another eye opener for me during my last training cycle this past fall. Extra recovery time needs to be built in, no matter what type of endurance race you are training for.  You may wind up doing more cross-training, and that’s ok. And women, in particular, need to be aware of the risk of declining bone mass. I have added 2-3 mandatory lifting session per week into my marathon training cycle this summer to keep up bone density in the upper body and spine.

For me, running into the next decade also means cutting back on my race schedule.  No more ultras 2 weeks post marathons.  No more half marathons before a big marathon.  More strength training.  More yoga.  More stretching.  Ugh, and physical therapy to keep strengthening and rehabbing prior knee and foot injuries…fun fun!

And I am writing this to stay accountable, because I am not yet FULLY on board with my “new” modified race schedule for next year.  But as I continue to battle back from injury, I find a small glimmer of hope, that a BQ is on the horizon.  I feel it.  I have been dreaming about it.  It’s close.

Until then, I will continue to try to “embrace” cutting back on my race schedule.  More to come on that topic!

Running into the Next Decade

 

 

 


Organizing your Running Off-Season

It’s the holiday season here on the East coast, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is getting chillier!  As we transition into winter, this is my favorite season to unwind and take a break from running and training as intensely. With so much focus going into training for big races this past fall, it’s refreshing to have some downtime. That being said, it’s hard for us Type A runners to sit still for very long. After eight years spent training and racing at a fairly intense level, I’ve found that that organizing your running off-season is just as important as the in-season training.

And since organize is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am thrilled to share the details on how I am organizing my running off-season this winter.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

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When Do Runners Schedule their Off-Season?

Well- this is a loaded question and tends to be a common question for most distance runners.  And the quick answer is that each runners’ off-season will vary on how much mileage is being logged, the number of races in the season, and the intensity of the training.  The timing of my off-season depends on the timing of my last race of the year.  I usually try to run the Philadelphia Marathon each year, which tends to fall on the Sunday before Thanksgiving most years. So my off-season usually begins in late November-early December.  This year, my off-season officially started the week after Thanksgiving and looks something similar to this below:

2 Weeks of Complete Rest

Not a ton of running.  No real cardio.  I usually go on brisk walks, do yoga, and some strength training at home or in the gym. Although this year – I ran 10 miles for our Thanksgiving turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day, which was 4 days post-marathon.   While that 10 miler was not the best idea for my hip flexors, feet, and hamstrings, I did feel pretty refreshed after 2 weeks post-marathon with minimal running.

6 Weeks of Unstructured Runs

I enjoy some light running and doing some structured cardio with weights during the next 6 weeks or so after a big race, but the workouts are lighter, easier, and completely unplanned/unstructured. Easy runs are at a 10 or more average pace and I typically run without my garmin or watch these weeks.  There is no purpose or goal of the workouts – I go out when I want and I stop when I want. The purpose of this phase is to just keep my body moving and fitness level stable.

During this time I aim for about 4-5 hours of activity a week (about 30% of my normal training volume). It’s during this time that I’ll also plan out my races for next year.  I look over my racing schedule from the precious year to analyze what worked and what did not work.

Organizing your Running Off-Season

8 Weeks of Prep

The goal of my Prep  is to get back into the swing of my runs. I get back on the road and on the trails with my runs and try to just have fun.  These are the weeks where I aim to have a bit more structure to my run and strength workouts. I’ll start to throw in some speed work here and there.

I also add in some cross-training (spinning, yoga, circuit training) to help me aim for 6-8 hours a week of activity (about 50% of my normal training volume) without getting focused on marathon based workouts too early.

Full on spring marathon training starts towards the end of January for me!

Organizing Running Off-Season

Regardless of when your last significant race was, you can follow a similar schedule. If your last big race was a big distance event, such as a marathon or ultra, hopefully you took 2 – 3 weeks to just relax and chill. As you jump into your unstructured runs and prep time, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What races do I want to compete in for 2017?
  2. When do I want to accomplish these races?
  3. What do I need to do in my training to get there?

Take the answers to these questions and work backward to help build out your training plan. Spending time this last month of 2016 will not only help you reach your goals, it’ll more than likely help you stay motivated and focused during the winter months!  Happy training!


Compression Socks While Marathon Training

Disclaimer: I received Legend Compression Performance Socks as part of being a Legend Compression Ambassador. I received product for this sponsored post but all opinions are my own.

Have you ever worn compression socks while marathon training?  Do you run in them, or use compression mostly for recovery?

I have several pairs of compression socks because I find that they prevent my legs from throbbing and getting swollen during my longer marathon training runs.  And after a tough sprint workout at the track, there’s nothing better than slipping on a pair of compression socks under my dress pants to allow my legs to feel great all day long while at work.

That’s why I was thrilled when Legend Compression Wear provided the opportunity to try their Legend Compression Performance Socks, in aqua blue.  Keep scrolling to hear about why I use compression socks while marathon training,  and my own experience wearing these socks. You will also be able to score a pair of compression socks for 15% off–wow!  And I hear they also make great stocking stuffers for all the runners in your family this holiday season.

I’m linking up with Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner, Annmarie, Nicole, Jen, and Michelle for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Ilka and Angela for Sunday Fitness and Food linkup.  

The Benefits of Wearing Compression Socks While Marathon Training

Using compression has so many great benefits for distance runners both on the roads and the trails including:

  • Helping to protect your legs.  Compression socks and sleeves will protect your legs from small scratches, abrasions, tree branches, and other trail hazards.  They will also help protect your legs from harsh elements like sun, rain, sleet, and snow on the roads.  Plus if you happen to take a spill on the road, at least your legs are protected!
  • Helping to reduce limit leg swelling while running. Compression socks restrict all the tiny blood vessels in your legs to prevent blood from pooling and thus, your legs from swelling.  As a former ICU nurse, I swore by compression stockings to prevent my legs from swelling after a 12 hour shift.  That same concept applies to running.  Compression socks prevent lactic acid buildup, leg discomfort, and swelling for distance runners who are on their feet for an extended period of time.
  • Looking fab!  As a marathon runner, when I feel confident and look great in my running gear, I usually perform at my best.  For me, I love wearing compression stocking with a cute running skirt. I tested out my super cool aqua Legend Compression Wear Socks during a recent long run with our local Moms Run this Town Running group.  My legs still had enough kick to leap for joy in these super cute and function socks, even after 10 miles!

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Legend Compression Wear

Legend Compression has a wide range of compression products available, and not just for athletes but for everyday use.  The Performance Socks work great for runners, triathletes, cyclists, and all those Crossfit athletes out there!  All products are manufactured in the United States.

Cool Features and Benefits:

  • Increased oxygen levels and blood circulation
  • Compression Performance socks for all sports
  • Greater power output
  • Enhanced Endurance
  • Faster Muscle Warm Up Pre-exercise
  • Reduction of lactic acid
  • Improve muscle support and injury prevention
  • UV protection
  • Moisture wicking
  • Achilles and arch support 
  • Open ventilation and breathable design for comfort

My Experience

I’ve been wearing the Legend Compression Performance Socks for about 4 weeks now and I am a big fan. They’re easy to put on because they are a bit thicker than other compression socks, making them really comfortable.  I have been wearing them on my long runs and loving how my legs are feeling after some grueling marathon training runs.  I have also been slipping my compression socks on under my dress pants at work to aid in recovery and have noticed that I have not been getting leg cramps as frequently mid-day…bonus!  I also plan to wear my aqua blues during the Philly marathon, which is just 2 weeks away!

Compression Socks While Marathon Training
Compression Socks While Marathon Training

Get 15% Off Legend Compression Wear!

Legend Compression Performance Socks are both functional and comfortable, and have done a great job of preventing my legs from getting sore –  extremely important right now as I’m training for the Philly marathon!  If you are a distance runner, or think you could benefit from some consistent compression during or after your workouts, then I would highly recommend giving these socks a try!

If you’d like to buy Legend Compression Performance Socks, use code ambfriend2016  at checkout to score 15% off!  Let me know what you think!

Do you wear compression clothing during or after your workouts?  Have you noticed any benefits? 


A Coffee Date

Happy November friends! How is it November already– I am still tweaking my routine with back to school mode, and now the holidays are rights around the corner!  I was in the mood for a coffee date with my girlfriends, so I am linking up with Deb from Confessions of a Mother Runner and Coco from Running with Perseverance for the November Ultimate Coffee Date Link up. Since we can’t all have coffee together in real life, these posts are a great way to catch up with your virtual blogging friends.  So grab your favorite cup of coffee or tea and join in for a coffee date.  If we were having coffee, I would tell you…

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you...this is marathon month!! T minus 14 days until the Philadelphia marathon and I am loving my run taper.  The old me used to get bent out of shape that I was running less during marathon tapers. I thought I was losing an edge over those that trained hard up until the day before a big race.  Then I got injured from over-training.  The new me is grateful to own every mile and celebrate the little wins.

a coffee date

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…It’s Thanksgiving month, and it’s one of my favorite holidays. When I was a kid, my grandmother would make the entire family dress up like pilgrims and Indians.  It was a fun tradition, and one that I wish I passed on to my kids…I guess it’s never too late, right? We were dabbling with hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, but the jury is still out on that one!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you…how our Moms Run this Town running group has really made marathon training more tolerable these past few months.  Plus, I love seeing the ladies in our group hit their run goals.  It’s so nice having that extra accountability of showing up for 6:15 AM long runs on Saturday mornings.  I do love being done with 18 mile long runs by 9 AM, but I also am looking forward to sleeping in on Saturday mornings after the Philly marathon.

a coffee date

If we were having coffee, I would thank you for stopping by.  What or who are you grateful for this week or month?  We celebrate the little wins with our gratitude project each and every Friday on Instagram.  Be sure to tag me with your gratitude list!  Happy Weekend!


What Kind of Runner Are You?

Everyone runs for various reasons — maybe you are looking to lose weight and fit into those skinny jeans, lose belly fat, seek some stress relief, or set a PR at your next race.  Whether you are new to the sport of running, or have been running competitively for years, we all run with different intentions.  One of the greatest aspects of running is that it unites many different types of athletes together.   So I beg to ask you to think about this simple question today–what kind of runner are you?

What Kind of Runner Are You?

Happy Thursday runners!  If you are hopping on over to my site from the blog hop hosted by the lovely Kristy over at Runaway Bridal Planner, WELCOME, WELCOME!  I am so thrilled that you’re here! I actually participated in this blog about 2 years ago with my former blog, Holistic Fit Fam, and it is very rewarding to see everyone’s progression with blogging over the past 2 year span.  I love following many of you!

As a health and running coach, my blog tend to be geared towards most things paleo and running, so I tend to post a healthy recipe for Meatless Monday, (on Monday’s of course), and I usually reserve Wednesdays to dive deeper into a specific running topic. These topics are usually running topics that some of my clients have suggested, or ways that I can relate the topic of the day to my own run training.  Some of common topics I have covered include running with plantar fasciitis, how running has changed my life, running burnout, and half marathon run hacks.  I also run a local Moms Run This Town free running club for all my local mommas here in NJ.

Are You a Runner?

As a runner and a run coach, I am constantly amazed by the random value systems runners tend to utilize when comparing our running skills to others in the sport. I’m convinced we are all super hard and critical on ourselves and each other. Age, gender, pace, distance, and experience level don’t really matter. It’s like there is an unwritten rule that not, only, or just must be used when describing yourself as a runner:

“I only ran a 5K today, so I am not a serious runner”

“I’m not fast. I just want to finish.”

“I’ve done a marathon,but only one.”

And, of course, we’re all familiar with those runners who only run 10 Ks or half marathons.

It’s a super strange thing for me, but runners are constantly trying to convince others that they’re not actually runners. Or at least not good runners.  We all have this idea in our heads of what a runner’s build should be (usually tall and lean), and we are acutely aware of our own perceived shortcomings. Hence the insecurities.

But if all of us who are running around town and signing up for 5Ks and training for half marathons aren’t runners, who, may I ask, are?

Running is a mindset. Pace doesn’t matter all the time. Neither does distance. There are fast runners. There are slower runners. There are runners who “only” run 5Ks, and there are runners who run “just the half.” There are runners who are old, young, experienced at racing, and/or new to the sport. There are runners who sprint, runners who shuffle, and runners who take walk breaks.Are you a Runner?

It’s time we stopped criticizing ourselves and judging others. We’re runners. Let’s own it.  Keep me posted how YOU are NOT going to self-limit your run goals below!


Plantar Fasciitis: A Nuisance

In my experience, plantar fasciitis is a nuisance to treat and, to date, there has not been a ton of quality research out there about PF for runners. Today’s content represents my journey with PF and how I trained my body to run marathons while coping with plantar fasciitis, by backing off my weekly run mileage. And since nuisance is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am excited to talk about how plantar fasciitis can be quite the running nuisance.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or physical therapist. These suggestions are based on my own experience as a run coach, as well as my own personal rehab with plantar fasciitis.

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Most of us runners who have experienced plantar fasciitis know first hand how debilitating and frustrating it can be. Every morning resembles some type of sharp pain, like being forced to walk on broken glass.  Plantar fasciitis, or PF, can become quite debilitating and can side-line even the most elite runners out there.  The life time prevalence of PF may be as high as 10% which means that quite a big proportion of us runners will at some point be affected by plantar fasciitis.

Until I was struck down with plantar fasciitis 2 years ago while training for the Coastal Delaware Running Festival (my first marathon postpartum), I had always thought that PF was an injury that hit only beginner and overweight runners. Oh, how wrong I was!!  I would wake up in the middle of the night to nurse my daughter and literally fall out of bed from a sharp stabbing pain under the arch of my right foot.  The pain would come and go throughout the day, and always be at it’s worse first thing in the morning, or on the initial first mile of my runs.  It took me weeks of being stubborn and running through the pain before I went to a sports medicine doctor, who referred me to an excellent physical therapist named, Rebecca (my hero), who was also a runner. Rebecca was able to teach me specific stretches, and taping techniques that got me through 26.2 miles with minimal pain in my right foot.  Want o learn more about Rebecca? Check out our recent training on How to Use K-T tape to Prevent Common Running Injuries HERE.

Plantar fasciitis, also known as Runner’s Heel, is one of the most common injuries among runners and athletes, characterized by a sharp pain in the heel and arch of the foot. This pain seems to be the worst first thing in the morning, and can also come and go throughout the day.

Because plantar fasciitis can strike a wide range of runners — high-mileage runners and overweight non-athletes — and little is known for certain about its exact cause, the term can often be used very broadly when it comes to running injuries.

Most previous treatment studies on plantar fasciitis have used a combination of orthotics, plantar specific stretching, foam rolling and massage.  Check out a great resource and blog post by fellow blogger, Coach Debbie Runs, where she polled many runners on their techniques to combat Plantar Fasciitis.  These interventions have proven successful to many runners out there, and I truly believe that each runner will need to do some trial and error therapies to find a treatment that works for his or her specific run goals.

However a large proportion of runners, (myself included) still have symptoms several years after the initial PF diagnosis.  And as a marathon runner who was logging some heavy mileage weeks of 60-80 miles per week during previous marathon training cycles, I needed to start thinking about different ways to train my body to run marathons.

Along with doing specific stretches for PF, foam rolling my calves and feet, and taping my right arch, I decided to back off my weekly mileage during last year’s marathon training season.  I cut my weekly mileage almost in half, and started logging 30-40 miles per week max.  Instead of running 5-6 days per week, I ran only 3-4 days/ per week.  I also started getting in the gym and lifting heavy, or lifted at home while doing some HIIT intervals.

Many runners told me I was crazy.  That I was not going to have a solid cardio base to compete in a 26.2 mile marathon.  Many doctors told me to defer running marathons until they could figure out a more effective strategy to treat my PF.

And you know what happened?

I ran the Coastal Delaware Running Festival for the second year and PR’d by over 5 minutes.

Plantar Fasciitis- A Running Nuisance

And you know what else?

I remained injury free, with a tad twinge or flare up of PF during my training.  I wanted to share my story of coping with PF, because I realize that it is debilitating and frustrating for many runners out there.  I wanted to also share a typical week of my marathon training schedule, with the hope that it helps motivate just one single runner who is dealing with this frustrating diagnosis.

Here is a Glimpse of a Typical Week of my Marathon Training Now:

  1. Monday:  Lift back and bis or shoulders and tris with a 10 minute HIIT or Tabata cardio session
  2. Tuesday:  Sprint Intervals (400 -800 meter repeats at the track)
  3. Wednesday:  Tempo Run (no more than 6-7 miles), abs
  4. Thursday:  Lift chest (or alternate back/bis or shoulders/tris), and short HIIT or Tabata cardio session
  5. Friday:  Rest day with optional Yoga
  6. Saturday Long Run (anywhere from 9-18 miles)
  7. Sunday:  Rest Day or short total body workoutPlantar Fasciitis- A Running Nuisance

Is Plantar Fasciitis still a running nuisance for me every once and while?  Of course it is!

But for me, significantly decreasing my weekly mileage and strength training has kept my PF at bay (fingers crossed).

And now there is actually some new research out there that strength training may help in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. One explanation could be that strength training may stimulate collagen synthesis which helps the plantar fascia. Another explanation may be that strength training exercises help to improve the ankle range of motion and overall foot strength.

Adding a designated strength training regiment for treatment of plantar fasciitis is by no means a miracle treatment. However, for me, it has enabled me to still do what I love and compete in marathons and that is a reason to celebrate.  Cheers to marathon training!


My Favorite Running Races

Picking a “best” half or full marathon to race can be a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. You either invest financially in a big city race where you are guaranteed to find plenty of spectators and crowd support–or you rely on the advice of a trusted running friend who has competed in that particular race before. Below are some of my favorite running races to pencil in on your calendar.  Still looking to plan out your 2016/2017 race schedule? Or maybe you are looking to squeeze in one more race into your running lineup this fall?  Here are my all time favorite running races (half marathons),that I have either personally competed in, or are on my bucket list to run.  For some of my East coast readers, some of these races may be local, but you can easily turn any of these races below into a destination race.  Looking for a full marathon to race?  Details on my top 5 marathons will be up on my blog next week, so stay tuned!

Half Marathons

  1. Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon
    Location: Sonoma, CA
    Date: Summer, 2017 (registration opens mid-November)
    Like running? Love wine? Those are the only requirements for this point-to-point half-marathon through the rolling vineyards of California wine country.
  2. Queens Fall Leaves 10K and Half Marathon
    Location: Flushing, NY
    Date: Saturday, November 12, 2006
    This is a smaller sized race for NYC (about 1000 people), and takes place in Flushing Meadows Park. Come out to run a few windy loops around the park for a well organized NYC event.
  3. Sedona Half Marathon
    Location: Sedona, AZ
    Date: Saturday, February 4, 2017
    The 4,500 feet above sea level elevation may make it hard to catch your breath at this challenging half-marathon. While the scenic red rocks and gorgeous valleys along the 13.1 miles of paved and dirt roads make it worth the extra effort, they may also be to blame for kicking your butt.My Favorite Running Races
  4. Covered Bridges Half Marathon
    Location: Woodstock, VT
    Date: Sunday, June 4, 2017
    Cool Bonus: Age group winners take home Vermont maple syrup and cheese as prizes!  Come check out some of Vermont’s covered bridges on this hilly course.  My Favorite Running Races
  5. Philly Love Run
    Location: Philadelphia, PA
    Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017
    I left this one for last, as it is one of my favorite running races. Join over 10,000 runners at the Art Museum in Philadelphia for a fast paced run through Center City and along the river.  There is also plenty of cool swag at this half marathon, from a long sleeved tech shirt, to a fun Love mug, and don’t forget the really cute Love finishers medal.  Looking to split up the 13.1 mile distance next year?  Recruit a running buddy and join the relay team!

Do you have a favorite half marathon running race?  I would love to hear the details in the comments below!


How Running Changed my Life 

I went to high school and college on the East coast, where soccer season is not just a fall sport but a sport where many train and compete all year round.  Since cross-country was a fall sport, I, like many other soccer players I know, never ever tried running cross-country.  Though I ran in my youth, on my middle school and high school spring track teams, the opportunity to train for and run my first marathon wholeheartedly changed many aspects of my life in 2008. Of course, many positive changes were physical– things like my body composition, what types of food began making their way into my daily diet (and what foods no longer appealed to me) – but many of the changes were things that I would not have expected. Training for, running, coaching, and racing marathons has helped mold me into a better version of myself. And since opportunist is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am excited to talk about how running changed my life for the better.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub  for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

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Part of the reason that I gravitated toward running after my soccer career is because of the sport’s simplicity. Sure, you can easily get preoccupied with fancy gear if you really want to, but all you really need is a safe place to run, the will and motivation to run, and a decent pair of shoes.  Half of the battle is showing up and proving to yourself that you can be out there, pound the pavement, and call yourself a runner.

There’s something great about participating in a daily ritual, and for me, that’s running.  Even on my off days from running, the sport gives me a way to practice a deeper spiritual reflection and introspection, and I’d like to think that it’s in these moments when I’m making my way across the trail or path that I’m connecting with something bigger than myself.  The habit of setting my alarm at 4:30 AM and pounding pavement has forced me to go to bed earlier, and be more aware of how I fuel my body; another example how running has changed my life for the better.

Running is also one of those activities that unites runners from different backgrounds, and experience levels together, whether it’s to train for a race, or to network with other runners in the form of a running club.  Runners can feasibly train to run a race as short as 200-800 meters on a track, or as long as 100-plus miles out on the trails.  Consequently, while the activity that binds all of these races together is the same – running – how we all approach the training is drastically different.

How Running Changed My Life

So there lies another beautiful thing about this sport: namely, that you can set a realistic race to train for, train for a race virtually a dozen different ways, run the race, receive feedback, and then adjust your plan accordingly based on what worked and what didn’t work.

And it’s in that split second of those tough training sessions that I find myself learning over and over again how important it is, in my own life, to be open and willing to take on new challenges and serve others.  If I don’t, I can’t expect to receive different outcomes. Training your body, both physically and mentally to do tough things like run marathons helps you cope for those not so pleasant curve balls that life can throw at you. It’s how you respond to those curve balls that improves your character for the better.

How Running Changed My Life for the Better

The ability to receive different types of feedback is definitely rewarding, but for me, what’s more rewarding is the opportunity to learn how to act (or in this case, run, strength train, and stay humble) to affect those outcomes. You’d think that this would be simple – if you want things to turn out differently, then change how you do them in the first place – but it’s so easy to fall into routines, for better or worse, day in and day out. I find myself forcing myself to do something new or a little different every day, even when it scares me or makes me totally uncomfortable.  It’s those tiny, but consistent pushes outside of my comfort zone, like doing 30push-ups on a road run after each mile, that gets results.

How Running Changed my Life for the Better

When I say that running has allowed me to become the best version of myself, it kind of hints at some form of internal competition, which totally sounds weird.  Training for endurance events has given me multiple opportunities to become a better version of myself because I get to constantly negotiate the highs and lows of my own running goals, as they relate to my running abilities and performance, against my current reality.

For example, I know that in order to achieve a sub 4 hour marathon in my running, I need to add more sprint interval sessions – and I know that a lot of the time, my inability to perform them is rooted in some deeply-held insecurities I have about my abilities (that I am not a very fast runner). It takes a lot of work to shut-down the negative self-talk but it’s necessary to improve performance.  If I don’t believe in myself and my ability to put in the work day after day and ultimately achieve my dreams, who will?

I think many of us have the tendency to sell ourselves short, or wallop in our excuses, but continually challenging myself through running helps me push myself out of my comfort zone, time and again. That’s not to say that I fail more than I like to admit, but if I don’t give myself the chance to try, there’s no way that I’ll ever be successful.

Sometimes, showing up is the biggest victory.

Although training for and racing half and full marathon events is my preferred type of running, I recognize that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  But I would argue that getting into a regular running routine, whether you are formally training for a race or not, can still have a positive impact on your life and how you view yourself. If you’re interested in starting a running routine, I would recommend the following:

  • Research where you can run and plan a time to make it happen. It can be as simple find a route right outside your front door to run through your neighborhood, or it can involve heading over to a nearby park or trail, or even running on a treadmill indoors.  Are you going to run first thing in the morning, or after work?  Do you have your clothes laid out or a gym bag packed?  Having options is helpful, and knowing where and when you are going to run can just help you plan accordingly.
  • Recruit a buddy. Running is a fun sport to do solo, but it can also be very fun to do with a friend. Consider encouraging a buddy to come along for the ride, or check out a local running group in your area.  Can’t find a running group in your area?? Start one!  I have made so many lasting friendships and networked with so many amazing runners after starting a local Moms Run This Town chapter.  If you would like to open a local chapter, feel free to reach out to me to get started!
  • Hire a coach. Depending on your immediate- and long-term goals, hiring a coach might not be a bad idea, whether you are new to running or a running veteran. Coaches typically bring with them years of personal experience in the sport as well as many years of helping develop others’ abilities. Plus, the right coach will work with your busy schedule and your run goals, and will modify and adjust your training as needed.
  • Just show up! Running might be totally out of your comfort zone at first, but don’t write it off entirely if you don’t feel like you are an Olympic all-star right from the start. It doesn’t necessarily get easier, but you will definitely get stronger, both mentally and physically.
  • Take it one step at a time. Running literally involves putting one foot in front of the other, repeatedly, hundreds if not thousands of times, over and over again. Things might not come naturally at first and you definitely will have your good runs and not so good runs. Don’t worry about how others perceive you or your pace. Just focus on improving your runs.

Over the years, running has changed my life for the better. When I began serious endurance training, I never would have imagined that it would have such a positive impact in my life.  I never would have imagined that I would be in better shape now than I was in high school.  I never imagined that I would be coaching others to run marathons.  I am beyond grateful for all the fun running opportunities that I have sort of fell into these past few years, from coaching, to speaking events, to starting a running blog.

So, why not you?  Give running – and yourself – a chance, and enjoy the journey that it takes you on.  I dare you!


Are You Experiencing Running Burnout?

For many runners, the half and full marathons are the summit of the racing season, the ultimate goal worth putting in all those early morning and late night training miles in for.  But for many runners that training can start to feel like another full time job, that takes away precious time from family, work, and social obligations.  Are you experiencing running burnout?  Keep scrolling down to find out….

From four to six months out, the marathon seems simple enough:  build up your endurance for the long runs and slowly add weekly mileage, add in some training runs at half marathon or marathon goal pace, and then add some even quicker sprint intervals or tempo runs once you build your base, start your taper, and there you have it!

Seems simple enough right?

It works on paper, but there are so many other factors that play into training for a marathon– your kids may get sick, you have to work late and skip a run, or maybe you are jet-lagged from that big work meeting that took precious time from training (and sleep!).  For many runners, that feeling of running “burnout” might be as basic as feel completely worn out throughout your runs.

So I beg to ask you all to truly think about this concept today– Are you experiencing running burnout?

And since irritable is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am excited to talk about that irritable subject of running burnout when in full run training mode.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole at Fitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub  for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.

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Running burnout can be identified physically by fatigue, depression, or irritability as the result of overtraining, or can be manifested as being mentally checked out, or feeling not that excited or maybe just “bleh” about race day.

So…are you experiencing running burnout?  So here’s the deal:

Most endurance athletes tend to push the limits both mentally and physically, to the limits. Not wanting to under-perform, many long distance runners push their bodies right up to the point of injury or chronic fatigue from over-training.

So, how can runners train to their their minds and bodies to their peak performance level without pushing it too far and experiencing burnout? And how can we are runners identify those physical signs of running burnout?  Research has shown both the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and the Eades Athletic Burnout Inventory (EABI) as being fairly accurate at predicting physical signs of burnout.  Those signs and symptoms include:

  • Sleep loss
  • Weight loss
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Increased exercise heart rate
  • Higher incidence of colds and respiratory infections
  • Increased resting systolic blood pressure
  • Increased muscle soreness and chronic muscle fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Overtraining

Increasing mileage puts extra stress on your body.

Even if you are a running veteran and you have many races under your belt, every mile is still a stress on your body. For athletes who are training for a distance event such as a half or full marathon, especially athletes who are training to run their first marathon, the heavy mileage weeks and long runs can result in extra tension and stress on the body.  Overtraining can lead to constantly sore muscles, chronic fatigue, and slower run times.

If you find yourself unintentionally slowing down on easy runs, if you are unable to hit the paces in your tempo runs that you were able to hit recently, or if you are feeling sore on most of your runs, talk to your coach about overtraining and the possibility of dialing it down for a week or two to give your body a chance to heal and recover.

Are you Overtraining?

Just to be transparent, as a marathon runner, you will certainly be stiff and sore on some runs and have a disappointing runs here and there throughout your training cycle. In my current marathon training cycle, I just experienced a not so great 16 mile training run just last week, where my legs felt like lead.  But I was also dehydrated and sleep deprived more so than anything else. For me as a runner and coach, I look at overtraining as a trend, and not an isolated event. I do not get concerned with an isolated bad run but if I had 4-5 bad runs in a row, then I would start to get think about overtraining.

Mental burnout

Common symptoms of mental burnout in running include:

  • Lack of desire to get out the door and run
  • Increased perception of difficulty on runs, even easy runs
  • Depression
  • Increased irritability and quick temper
  • Decreased motivation
  • Anxiety about next workout/race

Is the hype from race day  keeping you from enjoying the day-to-day training? Have your runs and workouts started to all blend together?  Your body may be getting used to the same training week after week, especially toward the latter stages of your training cycle.

Don’t be afraid to change things up. Try a trail run.  Or maybe run in a new neighborhood or town.  Change up your music, or recruit a buddy.  Join a running group.  Run with your kids. There are countless ways to make your training more fun- I love tuning into a good podcast while I run.  I usually get so engrossed in the podcast subject that I sometimes forget that I am running.

As a big race looms in the future, it can absolutely consume your thoughts. As my first marathon approached, I had nightmares about not finishing it for the 2 weeks leading up to race day.Sometimes what you need is a mental break, just to give yourself permission to not think about running.  Take a day off from running, go shopping, see a movie, or anything and everything to take your mind away from running for a day or two.

So are you experiencing running burnout?  Take these steps below:

  • Rule out your physical symptoms.  Seek the care of a health care professional and discuss how you’ve been feeling.  He or she may order diagnostic testing and/or blood work to rule out a physical ailment.
  • Be honest with yourself and your coach and set realistic run goals. When you are feeling burnt out and irritable, give yourself permission to take off for a few days.  This does not make you any less of a runner; it actually helps your training.  Always communicate how you are feeling with your coach; if he or she doesn’t know how you are feeling, they cannot adjust your schedule accordingly.
  • Be sure to take those rest and recovery days.  To help your body recover, always hydrate and eat something with  protein and carbs within 30 minutes after you finish a run.
  •  Use a foam roller to work out lactic acid and kinks in muscles and if possible, or see a massage therapist once every week or two if you can.

So…are you experiencing running burnout?  Keep me posted in the comment below!


Those Ordinary Runners

While watching some of the top USA women’s runners, such as Allyson Felix in the 400 meter run, Dalilyah Muhammad in the 400 meter hurdles, and Shalane Flanagan in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics,  I was both motivated and inspired.  Whether it be on the track or the marathon course, there is no end to the aw and inspiration from watching the world’s best women runners do what they do best — run fast.  And while I love to compete and coach others to hit their run goals and Boston qualify, you will not see me going out of my way to BQ any time soon.  I am actually much more fulfilled helping and working with those ordinary runners, who both motivate and inspire me everyday to be a better version of myself.

And since fulfill is the Wednesday Word over at Deb Runs today, I am excited to share how I am motivated and inspired by those ordinary runners.  I am linking this post up with Annmarie at The Fit Foodie Mama, Nicole atFitful Focus, Michelle at Fruition Fitness, and Jen from Pretty Little Grub  for Wild Workout Wednesday, as well as Susie at Suzlyfe, Rachel of Running on Happy, Debbie of Coach Debbie Runs, and Lora of Crazy Running Girl for the Running Coaches Corner.  I hope you enjoy!

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I’ve realized over the years of coaching that the runners who really fulfill me as a runner aren’t the elite athletes, but those everyday ordinary runners who have chosen to run despite the curve balls that life throws at them.

Those Ordinary Runners

  • Are the runners who have found a positive outlet in the sport of running and choose to show up each day with a smile
  • Are the women with post-childbirth scars that run proudly in a sports bra.
  • Are the moms pushing jogging strollers that add 30+ pounds to their pace effort and make quick direction changes nearly impossible.
  • Are still crossing the finish line after a tough race because they were up all night with a teething baby.

So yes, the runners who truly inspire and fulfill my mission to coach are NOT the rockstar elites, but those ordinary runners I pass in my neighborhood during my runs that sometimes appear to be struggling, but never fail to keep moving forward. Not to say I don’t find Allyson, Dalilyah, and Shalane and all the rest incredible…but I’m not running to qualify for the next Olympic time trials anytime soon so the inspiration just isn’t as relatable to me.

Which is why today I want to share a few stories of runners that that have been ever changed by the miles.

Bragging on my Ladies:

Lisa Tucker
After running a half marathon 14 short months ago, Lisa is now training for her first ever marathon here in Philadelphia.  Lisa is no stranger to hard work and dedication, and consistently puts in the time and effort each week to her run training. I am so proud to say she completed her first ever 16 miler this past weekend and went straight to work attending to her local brewery immediately post run (and still in her running clothes).  With working full time, running a local business, and marathon training, Lisa is proof that a marathon mindset is 99% mental toughness.

Those Ordinary Runners

Sarah Cann
From running marathons to competing in four NPC bikini competitions, to running her own fitness and nutrition business, the sky is literally the limit for Sarah Cann.  Sarah is currently training for a marathon with her daughter and training partner by her side.  Sarah employs a no excuses attitude and continues to hit the weights hard while also getting her run training in.  I am so excited to see where her training takes her!

Those Ordinary Runners

Rachel Keashen
After taking a break from running when her daughter was born, Rachel got serious about run training last spring and trained a competed in the Philadelphia Broad Street Run.  By day, Rachel is a pediatric nurse practitioner, and by night she is a mom who loves to run.  This is what Rach had to say about her training, “Thanks to Lauren Boldizar Marissa Grossman and Megan Brown for keeping me focused and for being me virtual and in-person early morning running buddies. Running Broad Street today was an amazing experience and I truly appreciate your friendship and support.”

Those Ordinary Runners

Do you have a special runner in your life that deserves to get noticed? Email me to nominate the next ordinary runner who has inspired YOU in some way, shape, or form.  I will be featuring new women runners each month on my blog and on my Instagram handle, as a way to motivate and inspire other runners like myself who maybe are not the fastest runners or the next ultra runners….but who choose to show up every day and do something that’s not easy.

Who inspires your running?  I would love to hear about your running idol in the comments below!