Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Staying Healthy While Traveling

I am gearing up for some major traveling in the coming weeks and months. Starting Friday, I will be traveling 16 out of 18 days. WOW. I will be traveling for work and pleasure and am looking forward to most of the trips. But I am anxious about staying healthy, gluten free and not totally blow my half marathon training. But traveling does not have to mean you have to put aside health and fitness.

Here is what I do to try to stay healthy while traveling:

  • Come prepared: Don’t assume you will be able to find the healthy food you are looking for. I always come prepared with my go-to, travel friendly snacks. Some of my favorites are; KIND bars, almonds, brown rice cakes, Justin’s nut butters in individual packets, cut up vegetables, trail mix, dried fruit.
  • Stay hydrated: The whole no liquids thing has probably lead to the dehydration of countless passengers. I often find myself wanting to boycott the $4 bottles of water just to spit them. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Bring a reusable water bottle with you. All you have to do is empty it before going through security and then you can fill it up. My favorite is Water Bobble because the bottle has a built in filter so you can fill it up in your hotel room or a sink and not worry about the water tasting nasty. If you have it, drink some coconut water the day before and day of your trip. And grab some from a grocery or convenience store when you arrive.
  • Plan to exercise: If there is any chance you might be able to exercise on your trip, even if it is in your hotel room, pack your workout clothes. I will admit, there have been plenty of times where I have packed my workout clothes and not used them. But there are even more times when I have used them and so glad I had them. Look at your schedule and try to anticipate when you might have some time to workout. Running or walking is a great way to get to know a new city. Bring a workout DVD, or find workout videos online on sites like Body Rock.
  • Research: If you are traveling to a new destination, research your surroundings. Look up restaurants with healthy menus or options that meet your dietary needs, look up running trails close by, gyms that offer day passes, yoga studios, etc. If you are trying to find somewhere heathy to eat when you are already hungry, you will be more likely to settle on the fastest and easiest thing. Have a few options in your back pocket.
  • If you are staying in a hotel, ask for a mini fridge. I did this in Florida in January and it was a lifesaver. I stocked up at the grocery store for healthy snacks and things for breakfast, so I always knew I had something on hand.

See you on the other side! What are your healthy travel tips? 

Good Form Running Seminar

Saturday I took a Good Form Running seminar at my local Fleet Feet.

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Good Form Running focuses on 4 areas of running in order to prevent injury and run more efficiently.  I took a Chi Running clinic about 5 years ago and found it overwhelming, but GFR takes some of the concepts from Chi Running and simplifies it a bit to focus on the most important aspects – Posture, Midfoot, Cadence and Lean.

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Here you can see how most people run vs. what we should look like when we run

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I attended the seminar as a refresher and to take away some tips to run more efficiently.  After a full marathon and several half marathons, I’ve got the distance and endurance down. But now I was to get faster, more efficient and prevent injuries. The most important thing I took away from the session was cadence. By shortening my stride and running at 180 BPM (beats per minute), my stride will naturally look more like the one on the right above. The average/comfortable cadence for most people is 150 BPM. That slower cadence gives the stride time to lengthen and leads to heel striking.

We practiced running at 180 BPM and compared it to 150 BPM and the difference was quite noticeable.  Our instructor suggested adding just a few BPM each run and not jumping right into running at 180 BPM. What was surprising to me was that the studies people have done prove that 180 BPM is the ideal cadence whether you are a 12 minute miler or a 5 minute miler.

There are cadence apps you can download to check in with your cadence and also MP3s you can download to come up on your iPod during a run. Checking in at the beginning of a run and then again later on when you are tired.  You should still be at 180 BPM.

I am not going to go out and change anything tomorrow, but the class was great for a refresher and I will definitely keep the tips in mind and be more conscious of my posture, midfoot and cadence.

Have you ever taken a class on running or other sport?

Speedwork Wednesday

The past couple weeks I have been meeting up with some of my GOTR friends for Wednesday Speedwork.  I dread it beforehand every time, but it feels so good when we finish.

Today the weather was AMAZING.  Sunny and in the 60s!  So crazy that yesterday it was raining and tomorrow it is going to be almost 70s.  Picnic, anyone?

Today Kellie and I tackled 4 x 800s with 2 minute recovery between each interval and a warm up and cool down. It was fabulous!  We were tempted to do 400s because they are shorter, but both agreed it was nice to be half way done after only 2.  I stuck to about a 7:45-8:00 pace during the 800s and walked for 1 minute and jogged for 1 minute during the recovery.  All in all, we cover 3.56 miles.

Tip: Do you want to do speedwork with friends, but don’t run the same pace as your buddies?  If you all have Garmins, you can each program the same workout and start and finish together, but run the workout at your own pace.  Kellie is faster than me, so did her 800s at 7:30 pace while I gladly followed behind.  We were able to chat during our recovery and cheer each other one.  You shouldn’t be able to chit chat during speedwork, anyways!

I am looking forward to seeing improvement in my pace and hoping these speed session get a little easier each day.  Do you have any favorite speed workouts?  We need to mix it up a little.

Just for fun:

Half and Half

The theme for the day is half hard work, half fun. Okay – it might be more than half hard work, but I don’t feel like doing the math.

My 4.25 mile run this morning was half fun when I ran with Cash and half really hard work.  I ran the first two miles with Cash at about a 10:00/mile pace.  We like to stop and smell the roses (or fire hydrants), take pee and poop breaks (Cash, not me) and just enjoy being out and about together.

The second two miles I pushed to keep under a 9:00/mile pace. I fluctuated anywhere from 8:10 to 8:55.  It felt good to push myself on my run. I am not only working on build up my overall mileage per week, but I really want to focus on getting faster, too.

Here are some of my tips for picking up the pace on a run:

  • Use your arms and your feet will follow.  I remember a soccer or track coach telling me that once, and it really is true. If you pump your arms, your legs will follow.  Doing upper body strength work will help keep your upper body strong and help push you through tough runs. Bicep curls, push ups, shoulder raises, etc. all help keep your upper body stable and supportive.
  • Stay focused.  Focus when I am running out on the road is the hardest part for me. I tend to day dream and just chug along at whatever pace is comfortable and forget that it isn’t always just about getting the miles in.
  • Make a game out of it.  Whether it be trying to run faster than the previous mile, or doing fartleks, break up your speedwork into shorter segments and challenge yourself.
  • Repeat a speedy mantra. My favorite is “The faster you run, the faster you’re done!”
  • Learn to embrace discomfort. You have to push through the hard stuff to get stronger. This is true in so many areas of life and one reason why I love running.  If you only run the pace and distance that is comfortable for you and “easy” then you will never improve. When you are struggling and tired, it means you are improving.

Okay, clearly most of my “speed” strategies are mental.  That is probably why my “fast” runs top out at 8:10/mile pace.  As I continue to work on my speed, hopefully I will have some more tips!

When I got home from my run, I made the world’s easiest smoothie:

Just blueberries, Greek yogurt and milk in the blender. All I wanted was something quick, cold, refreshing and with protein.  This totally did the trick.

Today Aaron and I have a lunch date at the Farmer’s Market.  This week is the opening of the summer Wednesday market downtown.  Can’t wait to have lunch there and get some yummy summer produce. I am dying for cherries and strawberries and juicy summer tomatoes! Not sure if they will be ready yet, but my fingers are crossed.

The rest of the morning and afternoon and I cranking away on lots of work. I have a fresh to-do list up on the wall and I am checking things off like crazy!  I also have my Girls on the Run board meeting tonight. Our 5K is a week and a half away and we are all kind of freaking out.  I am looking forward to the race planning to be over and to see it all come together.

How to be Productive When Working from Home

I am once again working from home and I love it. Some people don’t do well working from home, and others thrive. I like to think that I thrive.  The freedom to set my own schedule works really well for me.  I am a list maker and a goal setter, so I if something needs to get done, I will get it done one way or another. Sometimes that means I trade off going for an hour walk at 9AM with Aaron and the dog for working a little later, but I am okay with that.

Here are some tips that work for me to be productive when working from home.

  1. Prioritize. Make a list of what needs to get done and prioritize according to urgency. I make lists for everything from work, Girls on the Run, exercise, and things to do around the house. Nothing feels better than checking things off the lists.
  2. Have a designated work space. It is way too tempting for me to work on the couch with Cash on my lap and Aaron next to me. Luckily I have a real office in the house and force myself in there to really get things done. I come out for lunch and snack breaks and also if there is anything I need to get done into the evening always is done on the couch with my boys.
  3. Get in a groove. Avoid distractions by focusing on one task for 25 minutes, taking a 5 minute break (hello, Facebook, Twitter and email).
  4. Use the OHIO method. The OHIO method stands for Only Handle It Once. This is for emails and voicemail and can really help so you don’t get overwhelmed by your inbox or forgetting about that email someone sent a few weeks ago. When you check an email, decide immediately what to do with it – move it to a folder, mark it important, or trash it if it is junk.
  5. Wake up 15 minutes early. Knowing I could sleep until 8 and still hop on the computer and get right to work is tempting. But it works better for me if I wake up a little earlier to ease into the morning with a cup of coffee and some Today show.
  6. Schedule in workouts. Having all day to get in a workout all too often means I don’t get in any workout.  At night, I plan with Aaron on when we will workout, and whether we are going to the gym or exercising outside. It makes it much easier to plan my day that way.
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