Friday, February 10, 2017

What I Love Most About Running...While Running

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, we've all got love on the brain. Or maybe you always have love on the brain, Valentine's-related or not. I have love on the brain because it's the topic for this week's Friday Five blog link up. And while I could just talk about my top 5 reasons for loving to run, I thought I'd write about what I love about the actual act of running.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

Let's be honest, poll a group of runners and most of them will tell you that, while they love what running does for them (running friends, seeing new places, losing weight, etc.), they don't actually love running. They love the run when it's over but the act of running itself isn't always great. And I agree. This week especially, I've had a lot of stuff going on and I haven't felt my strongest and most motivated. The runs haven't been the best. Which is all the more reason why I wanted to talk about the 5 things I love the most about the act of running: not just what it does for me, but what I love while on the run. I try to focus on these things when I'm having a hard time. I try to bring it back to the moment I'm in and what about the actual act of running that makes me happy. It helps for those tough times when I'd rather be doing something else!

1. Hearing my feet hit the ground. I rarely run with music and, besides the safety issue, it's mostly to listen to my feet hit the ground. The coach in me is listening for changes in foot strike, cadence and stride but the runner in me loves that light tap, tap, tap as I run along the street or the crunch, crunch, crunch when on the trail. And when I'm with a group of runners, it's like music to my ears. All that tapping makes my heart sing.

2. Getting especially muddy or filthy. There is a certain satisfaction for me when I run through a muddy or dusty trail and come out absolutely disgusting. Mud and dirt streaked all over my legs and feet makes me smile. I love dirt lines on my ankles. That line when I take off my gaiters or socks? It makes me giggle. I actually can't wait to get home to show my family. It all just makes the run so much fun! And it kinda makes me feel a little badass.

3. Feeling the burn. Another reason why I don't run with music is so I can pay attention to all the feels. The literal physical feels. I want to feel my heart rate increase when I climb a mountain. I want to feel my legs burn after that climb. I want to feel the sweat drip off my hat and down my back. Sure, there are times when I get to a point where everything hurts and I want to die. But on a typical training run, I enjoy feeling my body work the way it's supposed to. I am such a geek and I picture my muscles contracting, my blood wooshing through my veins, my heart beating. This is what our bodies were made for - moving!

4. That feeling when it all clicks. When you're out on a run and things just start to work they way they're supposed to, it's pretty heavenly. Your pace feels awesome, you've got a tail wind, you feel light as air and everything else just melts away. It's just you and the run. Man, there isn't much that's better than that feeling.

5. That feeling when nothing is clicking but you get through it anyway. This is really what made me want to write this blog post. While out on my trail run today, I was struggling. I have been stressed and fatigued and I just wasn't into the run. But I kept telling myself that it's getting through moments like this that will help me the most. This is what will make me stronger. Sure, those great runs are nice too. But gutting it out and working through these tough times will help me get through other hard times. And getting past these moments feels pretty darn good too.

A bonus thing? When all of it comes together - I hear my heart beating, my legs are aching, I sing along to the crunch crunch crunch of my foot strike, I push through the pain and come out the other side when everything clicks. And I'm absolutely filthy when it's over. That is magic right there.

What do you love while running? What about the physical act of running makes your heart sing?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Strength Every Runner Should Do: The Bridge

We've talked about squats, lunges, planks, rotational exercises and now it's time to shine the strength spotlight on the bridge. Bridges are exercises I have every one of my clients do on a regular basis. They are the epitome of core work in that they not only work the abdominal muscles but there is also a special focus on the posterior: the back, hips, glutes, hamstrings and calves. This is really important for runners as it improves hip stability as well as glute and hamstring strength, which will help prevent hip, knee and lower leg injuries. As far as performance goes, your power as a runner comes from glute and hamstring strength. Wanna power up a hill? Building glute and hamstring strength will help tremendously. All-in-all, adding bridges to your routine will help you be a better runner.

Let's begin with the basic bridge. You'll lay down flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. You'll want your feet about a foot or so away from your booty. Lay your hands down along your sides. If bridging is difficult for you, you can reduce the challenge by placing the arms further away from your sides, even out like a T. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then lower your hips back to the floor as you inhale again. That is one repetition. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Once this seems fairly easy you can progress to the bridges below.

 


Once a client has mastered the basic bridge, I'll progress them to the bridge with heels down and toes up. This forces the body to engage the hamstrings and glutes more so than when the feet are flat on the ground. You'll perform the bridge as outlined above but have your toes pointing up.



From here, you can progress to the bridge with marching. This further improves hip stability as you must keep your hips level and even while doing the move. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. With the hips raised, you'll raise each leg up in a marching fashion. First raise the right leg up (you can keep the leg bent or straighten it) then lower it down. Then raise the left leg up and lower it down. That is one repetition. Continue to march the legs up and down as if you were marching, all while keeping the hips raised and even. Repeat for at least 10 reps per set. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps.

 


Once you're a pro at the bridge with marching, you can try a single leg bridge. Begin in basic bridge starting position with your arms at your sides. You can begin without the toes up and when that is mastered, you can do the move with toes up, heels down to further engage the hamstrings. Raise your right leg straight up in the air. Inhale, drive your weight through your heels and lift your hips off the ground as you exhale. Keep that right leg straight and hips even as you lower the hips back down to the floor with an inhale. That's one rep. Continue to raise and lower the hips for 10-12 reps, then switch legs. Aim for 10-12 reps with the left leg up. Aim for 2 sets of 10-12 reps on each side.



Those are the basic bridge moves every runner should be able to do. From here, you can always add further challenge first by changing the position of your hands from on the floor to across your chest or to holding them in the air. You can also try adding some weight across your hips. Just be mindful that you don't lose your form or quality of the movement. Once you lose quality, you need to regress the move. You can also try to create some instability by placing your feet on a BOSU, a stability ball or placing your feet in TRX straps. Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy the benefit of stronger hips, glutes and hamstrings!

What's your favorite bridge move?

I'm linking up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy for the Coaches' Corner blog link up. Check these awesome ladies when you're done here!



I'm also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole at Fitful Focus. Check these badass women out!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Five Tips for Running in the Rain

It's the rainy season here in San Diego and this year, it's actually raining! We've been dealing with rain on and off for most of January. With the Spring racing season on the horizon, it's pretty much a given that, if you don't have a way to run indoors, you'll be running outside in the rain. While it's not easy, there are things you can do that will help make it a little easier.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!

Before I get to the tips, always keep safety in mind. If there are thunderstorms, keep it inside. If the rain is heavy and visibility is reduced, keep it inside. But a light rain or even a moderate amount of rain could be fun! Without further ado, here are my 5 tips for running in the rain:

1. Avoid cotton clothing. One thing ever runner needs to remember is that cotton is rotten, in any circumstance. Cotton absorbs moisture and that moisture will remain next to your skin throughout your run, increasing the likelihood of chafing. That added moisture also adds weight and bulk to your clothing. And it feels hideous. Do yourself a favor and invest in good quality, moisture-wicking items for anything that touches your body while running. Always, not just when it's raining.

2. Wear layers. Even in the cold rain, you can still sweat and overheat. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to how you feel when you first leave for your run. If you feel a little on the cold side, you're in good shape and will most likely not overheat on your run. Another starting point is following the "20 degree" rule: dress as if it's 20 degrees warmer than it actually is when you get started. This is where wearing layers will help you the most. Be sure your outer layers are as water-resistant as possible and your base layers are non-cotton (everything should be non-cotton!). And don't forget to put some anti-chafe cream everywhere to help prevent chafing and blisters. Your feet will get wet, so be sure to lube them up!

3. Wear a water-resistant, lightweight shell. Water-resistant jackets will have sealed seams that will help keep water out when running during heavier rains. Be sure the jacket is breathable to prevent you from overheating. A hood is an added bonus. If you don't have a jacket with a hood, be sure to wear a hat (see below).

A lightweight shell I picked up for
$20 on clearance at Sports Authority!

4. Wear a moisture-wicking, lightweight hat. If I know I'm going to run in the rain, I need to leave my trucker hats at home and opt for a lightweight hat instead. Trucker hats will absorb more moisture than a moisture-wicking hat and will end up weighing 1000 pounds by the end of the run. A lighter-weight hat will feel more comfortable and the brim of the hat will help keep the rain off my face.

My trusty Nike hat I've had for 1000 years

5. Avoid especially muddy areas and puddles. While your feet are going to get wet simply from running in the rain, you'll want to avoid the urge to run through deep puddles and mud. Emerging your foot in water will guarantee your shoe to be soaked (adding extra weight each time you lift your foot) and blisters to form everywhere. Be sure to plan your route accordingly to avoid any low-lying areas that are prone to puddles and/or flooding. I know jumping in puddles is fun, so this may be the toughest rule to follow!

The best thing to do for running in the rain is to be prepared. Protect yourself with good quality items (don't forget your electronics - either leave them at home or put them in a plastic bag) and you're that much closer to actually enjoying your run through the rain. And when you're done, don't forget to get into warm, dry clothing as soon as possible! Hot cocoa, anyone?

Do you like running in the rain? How do you prepare? Or do you avoid it as much as possible?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Goals for 2017

It's 2017! I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and have enjoyed the time with friends and family, doing the things you love. As the first week of the new year comes to an end, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my goals for the new year. Last year was a big year for me, logging the most mileage ever and completing my longest race to date. I wanted 2017 to be bigger and better than ever! Because my big running goal is a really BIG goal, I am only going to focus on the first half of the year with regard to my running. I'll reassess things when that goal has been reached and I'm ready for something else. Could I be any more vague? Well, without further ado, here are my 2017 goals:

But wait! Before I spill the beans, I must tell you that I'm linking up with the ALL-NEW Friday Five 2.0 link up, hosted by Rachel at Running on Happy and Lacey and Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness. When you're done here, be sure to check these ladies out!



Ok, here we go:

1. Run a 100 mile race. Yes, 100 miles. This is the big goal of the year. I've registered for my first 100-mile race, the San Diego 100 Mile. I got my acceptance letter yesterday and I'm officially on the entrants list. You have to qualify for these big races by either having run a certain distance ultra in a certain time or by just completing another big ultra. So I've met all the qualifications, it's all set and this is what I'm gunning for in 2017. All other goals lead to this one (sort of). The race is June 9th, which is why I said I'd reassess things when this one is done. I'll have almost 6 months of the year left, so we'll have to see what I'll have the desire to do next. Probably sleep :) Until then, I'm running all the miles and many of the races too. For training, I'm running:

  • Griffith Park Trail 50K
  • San Diego Half Marathon
  • Encinitas Half Marathon
  • Ragnar Relay SoCal
  • Leona Divide 50K
  • PCT 50 Mile 


2. Complete the San Diego Ultra Slam. This is the culmination of completing the 4 big mountain ultras in San Diego within a 12-month period. You must complete the Noble Canyon 50K, the PCT 50 Mile, the Cuyamaca 100K and the San Diego 100 Mile. I started my quest for the Slam with the 2016 Noble Canyon, then completed the 2016 Cuyamaca 100K. I'll be doing the PCT 50 for a third time this year and then end my quest for the Slam with the San Diego 100.

3. Make more time for yoga. I reignited my love for yoga this past year by participating in several yoga challenges on Instagram. Typically, someone hosts the challenge and posts the pose to do for each day of the challenge. You do the pose and post it. Sometimes there are prizes by sponsors (I won a bracelet that I'll feature here soon). It's super fun and allows me stop, drop and yoga. I can tune out, practice a little yoga sequence to warm up and then do the daily pose. It also allows me to be creative with my pics and I've met a ton of new yogi friends. I've also been able to get to some classes at my local studio more often, which has been great fun. But yoga also helps build strength and balance. I want to place a special focus on balance work as I train for the 100. This is so important for climbing mountains and I want my body to be as strong as it can be, on every level. It also helps calm my mind, something I'll need as I know I'm going to freak out about this race from time to time!

4. Volunteer for at least 3 races. I really want to give back to my beloved running community and this is the year I'll volunteer more. I was only able to help out at one race last year, the Surfing Madonna Beach Fest and it was so fun! I plan to volunteer at the San Diego 50-miler next weekend and I'm so excited! I can't wait to be on the other side of the aid station table, so to speak :)

5. Have at least one adventure with my family every month. After my surgery back in October, I was not able to run much. I was able to go on an adventure with the kids every Sunday until the holiday season. We went for hikes or the zoo or some other fun place. Then over the holidays when my husband was able to join us, we did even more. It was so nice to just focus on each other for a while. I hate to admit it, but this past year was so busy that we didn't do nearly enough fun stuff as a family. I really want to change that this year. And I think once a month is attainable.

There are a few other things I'd like to work on, such as not letting mom guilt (or any guilt) eat away at me so much. But these are the main goals for 2017! What goals do you have in mind for 2017?

I'm also linking up with for the Coaches' Corner blog link up with Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy. Check these awesome ladies out!



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My 2016 In Races!

Last week, I had the pleasure of singing the praises of all my clients and their fantastic year. All of their hard work inspires me to keep going, to keep fighting the fight. I learn something from each and every client's experience. It just means the world to me to be a part of their goals and dreams. This week, I'm looking back at my own year. It was definitely a year of ups and downs, but one that I'll always think of fondly. I conquered a huge goal and finally took care of some lingering health issues, both of which will hopefully lead to bigger things in 2017. Without further ado, here's looking at the races of 2016:



The San Diego 50 Mile



I started the year off with a bang and ran the San Diego 50 Mile. This was my second 50-miler and the first for my partner in crime, Vanessa. It was a tough race, but it was a great way to start off 2016!


The Los Angeles Marathon



This was a dream race come true for me! I have always wanted to run the LA Marathon but since it's always around my twin girls' birthday, I figured I'd have to wait until they were a little older to either want to come with me or not care. But when the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials were set to run in LA, the marathon was moved to the same weekend: a month earlier on February 14th! That's all it took for me. Between the Trials, the marathon, seeing so many friends and time with my girl Smitha, and seeing Bob Harper on the course, it was a race weekend I'll never forget!




The San Diego Half Marathon



This is a race I've done every year of it's existence. In fact, it's the only race I've done every year and I'm hoping I can continue the streak for as many years as possible. This "legacy" status grants such perks as additional race shirts (years 2 and 3), a half-zip (year 4) and a jacket (this year for Year 5)! Can't wait to see what we get for running Year 6! 


Old West Trails 50K



This was my first year running this race. The Old West Trails 50K and 30K take place out in Borrego Springs Desert and it was quite hot and dry. It was a well-organized, fun race with a great post-race spread. It was also the first race I ran as an InkNBurn ambassador, so I was proud to represent my favorite gear. I'm so glad I had the chance to run it as they have since cancelled it. 


Ragnar SoCal



This was my second year participating in the Ragnar SoCal. Just 200-ish miles from Huntington Beach to San Diego. This year our team name was Hello...where's the finish line? and we had Adele shirts made. It was pretty cute. We were one member short in our van due to a last minute drop, so I ran the miles for my leg as well as the empty leg. I ran 31 miles over the course of the 24 hours. It was tiring but still so fun! Can't wait for next year! 


PCT 50 Miler



This was the second year running PCT 50 and it was so different from last year! It was quite a bit warmer and there wasn't snow on the ground this year! I also ran it with Vanessa, which was so fun! I did have some issues with dehydration and stuff towards the end of the race but overall, it was a good one. Looking forward to the three-peat in 2017!


The Strawberry Festival 5K



My family has participated in the Strawberry Festival over Memorial Day Weekend for the past 3 years. There is a 10K, a 5K, a kids' 1-mile and a kids' 1/4 mile. This year was super exciting because my son wanted to run the 5K with me. He has only done the kids 1-mile before and while this wasn't his first 5K, he hadn't run one in about 6 months. We had a blast and he did great! In fact, he then ran the kids' 1-mile with his friend. I'm so proud of the runner he's become!


Bulldog 50K



This was my first time running the Bulldog 50K in Malibu. We ran the Malibu Creek 50K last year, which has a similar course, but run in the opposite direction. I am not sure which one was more difficult! Bulldog had the heat to contend with, which wasn't as bad as it could have been, but wasn't fun either. All in all, it was a good training run and a fun time. 


Noble Canyon 50K



When I ran this race for the first time in 2014, I swore I'd never do it again. It is tough, hot and just brutal. But I ran it again in 2015 with my friend Jean because it's always fun to run with her. And then this year, it fit well with our training. Don't get me wrong, it's a well-organized, fun race with friends. But it's just brutal. Each year I've been able to shave some time off my time for this course, which is always a good thing. And when you run this race 5 times, you get a vest which I'm sure I'll try for some year. I'm so close now, I might as well go for it. Sheesh.


Cuyamaca 100K



This was the big one. The one I was gunning for all year. The Cuyamaca 100K. At this point, I was having some major health issues stemming from my pregnancy with the girls. Running was painful and I was scared I wouldn't get to the start line, let alone finish. But not only did I start, but I crossed that finish line and crossed this one off the list. Woo hoo!

And that's all for 2016. After Cuyamaca, I had surgery and I've taken the rest of the year really easily. I've gotten back into yoga, I've been cross training a lot more and have learned to love running again. I've slowly built my mileage back up and I'm looking forward to getting back into training. I have some big plans for 2017, so hopefully all that pain is behind me and it's full steam ahead. Stay tuned for some goal talk next week :) 

How did your 2016 shape up race-wise? What was your favorite memory? 

Now that you're done here, check out the Tuesday on the Run blog link up, hosted by Patty with My No-Guilt Life, Erika at MCM Mama Runs and Marcia at Marcia's Healthy Slice.



Also check out Susie from the Suzlyfe, Lora Marie from Crazy Running Girl, Debbie from Coach Debbie Runs and Rachel from Running on Happy, whom I'm linking up with for the Coaches' Corner blog link up.



I'm also linking up with Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up with Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Jen from Pretty Little Grub, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and Nicole at Fitful Focus. Check these badass women out!