Keeping Your Motivation to Run

After yesterday’s fast 7-miler, I decided to slow it down today with an easy 4-mile run. Post-run breakfast was a bit of Kashi Go Lean and a full cup of a blackberry/blueberry mix – fantastic!

Scott is teaching class this week which means our schedule is totally crazy. In order to run before he leaves for work at 6:45 AM, I must be up by 5:30/5:45 AM and out the door for my run by 6 AM if not sooner! Although I am a morning person, getting up this early is not always easy. Sometimes, I have to psych myself up a bit before a run because I’m so groggy. But, on any given day, I rely on many different motivational strategies to keep me going. Here are some of my favorite ways to motivate myself to run:

Running Motivation

  • I set my alarm at least 20 minutes before I know I need to head out the door. This gives me time to wake up a bit.
  • I get all my running clothes ready the night before so as soon as I wake up, I see my clothes sitting there – almost beckoning me to put them on. I also try to have all of my work-related things ready the night before – clothes, lunch, bag, etc. – so that I have no excuse to skip a run.
  • If I really need motivation, I plan a new route to take. Planning it out and then having to actively think about where I’m running (not just zoning out) helps the time pass faster.
  • And, for those really bad days, I tell myself that if I run, I will reward myself with a treat during the day, whether it’s Starbucks or a muffin. I know it kind of defeats the purpose of the run, but it works every time!

How do you psych yourself up to run or exercise when you really don’t want to?

A Weekend of Y & R

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great weekend. While many people use their weekends to grab a little R&R (rest and relaxation), my weekends seem to be filled with Y&R:

  • Y = YOGA

Saturday morning, I made it to yoga 30 minutes before start time to find that there were still spots left – yes! Last week, I arrived 15 minutes prior to class and was out of luck. Because I arrived so early, I claimed my yoga spot in the studio, then jumped on a treadmill for 15-minutes of interval walking. Then, it was time for class…

(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Y is for YOGA

The yoga instructor on Saturday mornings is amazing. She’s just the right mix of cheerful, helpful, and very knowledgeable. Even though it is a basic yoga class, she definitely makes you work. Lots of hip openers, three-legged dogs, sun salutations, and even a shoulder stand! This week, the class was especially warm – almost like we were doing Bikram instead of Hatha!

Whenever I go to yoga, not only to I come home refreshed and very bendy, but I also feel the need to shop for more yoga clothes. That can be very dangerous for your budget, especially when Lucy is just a 5-minute drive away – he he!

R is for RUNNING

Fast-forward to Sunday morning…Sunday is typically my long-run days. This week, I had planned on running 8 miles (last week’s long run was 7) but I ended up running 9 miles! The temperature was cool – about 60 degrees with a slight breeze – perfect for running. So, somewhere around mile 6, the endorphins kicked in and I had that distinct euphoric feeling that runners brag about. This “runner’s high” is different for everyone, but for me, it makes me feel like I could run for miles and miles, with little to no effort. So at that point, I challenged myself to run 9 instead of 8. By the time I reached home, 72 minutes later (that’s 8-minute miles for those of you who are counting!) I realized that I could have probably run another mile or so. Hmm, maybe I’m more ready for that half-marathon than I thought!

Well, I’m off to pack for Austin – I’m there tomorrow and Tuesday. Have a great night!

Should you stretch before running?

Hey everyone! Today’s lunchtime yoga session at the office was awesome! It’s not the type yoga that gets you all sweaty. It’s gentle yoga, the kind that stretches your muscles, but at the same time relaxes you so that you are refreshed for the rest of the afternoon. Great news too – the yoga instructor is lowering her rates – only $10 a session now instead of $15 – woo hoo!

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Stretching Before Exercise

While we’re on the topic of stretching, there’s been quite a debate over the last few years about stretching before working out. But recent studies have shown that static stretching before playing a sport makes you weaker. In addition, the CDC reviewed over 100 studies related to static stretching and found that people who did not stretch prior to exercise were no more likely to suffer injuries than those who did stretch.

Running Superstitions

Although significant evidence is suggesting that pre-exercise stretching is not recommended, experts say it will be hard to change decades of ingrained stretching behavior, particularly for runners. Like most athletes, I think runners have their rituals and superstitions. Some have their favorite shirts, lucky socks, and some have a certain stretching routine. So, if you’ve always stretched before running, and it’s worked for you so far, than why break the routine and mess with superstition?

For the most part, I do not stretch before running and haven’t in years. The most I do are a few ankle and trunk rotations, just to wake up my ankles and back before I set off. This has worked for me for many years, without problems, and I’m not about to change now. Just superstitious, I guess. After all, I’m a runner.

Map My Run: 6 Miles in 50 Minutes!

Hey all! I had such an awesome run yesterday, mainly because I used Map My Run for the very first time. I know, I know, I’m way behind in the game when it comes to mapping my runs online. I’ve known about the Web site for a while but didn’t give it much thought. I finally broke down and decided to give it a try.

Runners racing with a closeup on their shoes

What is Map My Run?

If you haven’t tried it yet, Map My Run is a site where you can map out the exact route of your run based on your current location (your computer location) or you can give it an address and it will zero in on that location. You can map out point by point the streets you plan to run and it adds up the mileage as you go. Then, you have the option to do a “loop” or to go “out and back”, which just retraces your outbound steps. If you don’t feel like mapping out your new run, there are several pre-mapped runs for your given location that you can use. It is very cool, although I’m sure most of you have tried it or something like it.

Summer Road Racing

What prompted me to try it yesterday was this…I am running the Run for the Zoo 10K (Lincoln Park area of Chicago) with Scott in June and am contemplating running the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon this summer. So, I wanted to see exactly how far I had been going on each of my runs to get a sense of where I am in the training process. It turns out that when I run outside, I’ve been doing about 4.5 miles, which isn’t too bad. For yesterday’s run, I mapped out a 6 mile road route, turned on my ipod, and got going. I ended up running the 6 miles in 50 minutes! Yeah! That is really fast for me – an average of 8:20-minute miles! I guess I’m ready for the zoo run! But if I plan to run the Half I will definitely need to slow down. When I ran the Chicago Half a few years ago I went out way too fast the first 6-7 miles and then jogged the rest. I really learned my lesson – the hard way!

Ok peeps, time to start my day. Have a great Saturday 🙂

What Kind of Runner Are You?

A new acquaintance of mine recently asked me why I run as much as I do. I just like it – I replied. Probably not the answer she was looking for. After our conversation, I came across a running quiz on the Female Network that aims to find the essence of why runners run. I decided to take the quiz to see how accurate it was.

The 5-question quiz is very straight-forward and took less than 2 minutes to complete. Your answers will then determine what running personality most matches your own:

What kind of runner am I?

  • The Potential Runner: Running isn’t your first choice of exercise but you run on occasion.
  • The Socializer: For you, running isn’t really about running, it’s about who you’re running with and what you’re gossiping about when you do.
  • The Fitness Runner: Running for you is a stress reliever and a way to engage in a healthy lifestyle.
  • The Competitor: You run to win, or at least run with the intention of beating your personal best.
  • The Pure Runner: You run because running is your life. It’s not about the competition or bonding with friends, it’s the thrill of lacing up your shoes and having your feet pound on the free, open road.

I am a pure runner. The description was pretty accurate. There is no other exercise or physical activity that makes me feel as strong, as relaxed, as graceful, and as healthy as running. I don’t need an excuse to run – like to lose weight or to win a race – I run because I am a runner and that’s what runners do.

So, what kind of runner are you?

Toes Are Free To Run

Hi All! Glad to see you’re all intrigued by the concept of barefoot running. One reader, Neal, mentioned a very unique type of running shoe/sock that is supposed to allow the foot to move in a more natural way but still gives you protection from the road/trail and related elements. Neal wrote…

I’m a big proponent of the Vibram Five Fingers. You should give them a try if you are serious about exploring the barefoot running thing. 

I have to admit, when I saw this “shoe” it kind of creeped me out a bit. But then it also reminded me of the toesie socks that were so popular a few years back! It really makes sense though – having all of your toes “free” allows them to flex and grab the ground, hence making it easier to balance and putting less stress on the ankle and legs.

I’m sure we could talk for hours and hours about this, but let’s move on for now. My morning started off with a quick treadmill run. Wednesday is usually my day off, but after last weekend’s indulgences, I felt like I needed an extra day of calorie burning! Running was following by a little Cheerios for breakfast…

1.13.10 Cheerios and blueberries

Ahh…so healthy and colorful! On my way to work, I was really wanting a Starbucks but resisted the urge and temptation (after all, I am into Week #2 of the restaurant diet!). Instead, I tried out my office’s coffee/hot chocolate machine for a little frothy, chocolaty milk…

1.13.10 Hot Chocolate

Adequate, but not Starbucks quality. I had back-to-back meetings this morning (you haven’t heard me say that in a while!) so, on a break, I managed to snack on a lemon Luna bar…

1.13.10 Lemon Luna bar

I LOVE lemon cookies, cakes, etc, so I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of this bar. It’s also a nice change from chocolate and peanut butter – whoaa, did I just say that?

Lunch happened to be an unpictured bowl of Trader Joe’s shells and white cheddar followed by TJ’s vanilla Greek yogurt in the late afternoon…

1.13.10 Greek Yogur and Tazo Tea

I mixed in some homemade granola and blueberries for an tasty and protein-filled treat. Plus, a little Tazo Awake tea to keep me going. I’ve discovered another new feature of my office’s gourmet coffee maker. It has a frothed milk option! So, I fill up a mug about 1/4 way with frothy milk then fill up the rest with hot water. I add my Tazo and voila – instant Tazo Awake Latte – not bad for spending no cashola!

Dinner was quickie because I was not in the mood to cook…

1.13.10 Minestrone soup

I’m so thankful we had minestrone soup still left in the freezer, otherwise I would have probably resorted to peanuts.

We are nearly out of all things chocolate in our house, except for the chocolate/peanut butter Cliff bar that I put in Scott’s Christmas stocking. He was not very willing to share his treats, even though he ate most of the chocolate truffles from my stocking – blah! He needs to go back to kindergarten. 

Ok friends, I must be off to bed. I have a date with the treadmill in the AM as well as a yoga session at noon. Have a great night!

Barefoot Running Debate

Hey everyone!

I had server/host issues last night so I was MIA. I’d like to start this post with a question for all runners… 

Have you ever run barefoot or thought about running barefoot? And not just running barefoot across a pool deck or while playing on the beach – I mean, truly running barefoot? No? Me either…until now.

barefoot running:

The New Facts

A new study from PM&R: The Journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, shows that shoeless running may actually be better for you than running with shoes. The study showed that the force placed on the joints caused by running is greater than when walking in high heels.

The Big Debate

Although the study is new, the idea of barefoot running being good for you is far from novel. There has been a long-standing debate over the benefits of barefoot running, with advocates saying it encourages a more natural style of running, placing less stress on the joints. On the flip-side, running with shoes was shown to increase the torque (twisting force) at the hip, knee, and ankle, compared with barefoot running. Furthermore, the researched showed that the padding under the heel and arch may cause increased stress on the leg joints. 

But, just as there are runners claiming barefoot is best, there are equal numbers of runners who say barefoot running is not a wise option. I agree with the latter and whole-heartedly admit that I do NOT embrace this barefoot running. Who really wants to run on the road or trails with rocks, sticks, glass, and other potential hazards? I’d rather have a little more stress on my legs than a hundred tiny (and not so tiny) cuts on my feet. Besides, can you imagine what your feet would look like after years of barefoot running – like one huge callus! Eeeww!!! Not even a pedicure could help you with that!

How do all of you feel about barefoot running?

If you’re interested in learning more about the pros and cons of barefoot running, Runner’s World has a great article in the February 2010 issue. The magazine also published a very humorous opposing view of barefoot running last year. 

I can’t say whether barefoot running is good or bad, but I’m not ready to give up my shoes just yet.

Tea and Goodwill

Hello All! 

I had such a fantastic Sunday! I am actually sitting here sipping on some tea, thinking about how wonderful the day – and whole weekend was.

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Tea2

I’m drinking Celestial Seasonings Peppermint tea tonight. I’m still trying to follow Jenna’s challenge’s of drinking tea in place of coffee (haven’t been to Starbucks since Wednesday!!). So, after yesterday’s afternoon tea, I’ve been craving more peppermint tea. We usually have peppermint tea in our HUGE stash of tea but I just couldn’t find a quality peppermint tea in the mix, until I saw this….

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Sampler

We don’t usually buy Celestial Seasonings tea. I’m more of a Harney and Sons or Tazo kind of a girl. But Scott must have slipped this in when I wasn’t looking 😉 It’s not that I don’t like Celestial Seasons. I think it all comes down to the fact that their tea sachets do not have strings. There’s something a little uncouth about having to dip into your tea with your spoon or fingers to retrieve your tea bag. Anyway, this peppermint tea ended up being just the thing I needed to settle me down for the evening. Plus, it helps that I’m also having a little bedtime treat…

12.20 Raspberry swirl cake

More raspberry swirl cake! Hmmm…so goood! And, a perfect combination with the tea.

12.20 Celestial Seasonings Peppermint

So, back to my Sunday….

Believe it or not, in spite of the cold temps (32 degrees) I went out for a 40-minute run this morning and it was GREAT! Yes, it was cold, but I bundled up from head to toe and, for the most part, felt toasty the whole time. The biggest issue wasn’t the cold either, it was watching for black ice which means danger for runners in the winter. It was gorgeous outside too – very picturesque with all of the snow on the trees and houses. 

After my run, my sister and I hung out for a bit before she, my brother-in-law, and little nephew had to get on the road to head back to Michigan. Then I mailed Shauna’h’s giveaway followed by tackling a bunch of house projects (aka goals for my Christmas vacation). This included going through all of my clothes to find those to donate and then sorting through all of my items for Goodwill.

12.20 Goodwill clothes

As you can see, I had a trunkload of clothes to donate to Goodwill, plus a bunch of household items. When you donate items to Goodwill, or anywhere else, and intend for them to be a tax write off, you’re supposed to document each thing that you donate and what condition it’s in. Imagine doing that for SEVEN full bags of clothes! I hope to drop them off at GW tomorrow. It will be so nice to have all of those things out of the house. The less clutter the better, if ya know what I mean…

Can you believe it? I am only 3 days into my 10-day Christmas vacation and I’ve already crossed two of the five Christmas vacation goals off of my list! I love it when I’m productive on vacation! Now, I just have to:

  1. Wrap all of my Christmas gifts
  2. Get to a yoga session this week
  3. Study for my personal training certification test
  4. Sort through clothes to give away
  5. Sort through and document all Goodwill items

That’s enough for tonight – see you all tomorrow!

You Know You're a Runner When…

This morning, I woke up at 3 AM unable to sleep. When my alarm finally went off for my 5:45 run, I contemplated going back to bed due to lack of sleep. As I lay there, thoughts raced through my head. I anticipated my long day of being tired and in a foul mood because of my decision not to run. This thought, combined with the fact that I still could not go back to sleep, was enough for me to get up and running, literally.


This is not the first time I’ve experienced this runner’s anxiety. And, I’m sure I’m not the only runner that has felt this way. I truly think that runners are a special breed of people. Some people are born to be skaters, bikers, dancers, etc. While others are born to run – that is me. Runners share a special bond – we know what each other goes through, whether it’s the challenge of finding time to run or feeling depressed because you can’t run due to injury or some other obstacle. No matter what group or club you belong to, when you’re a runner, you automatically become part of a worldwide team – a family – of runners. But how do you truly know if you’re a part of this running family? Let’s find out…

You Know You’re a Runner When…

  1. You plan your whole week (and everyone else’s) around your runs.
  2. You wake up for your morning run after 5 hours of sleep, decide not to run, lay there thinking about why you’re not running, then get up and run anyway.
  3. The highlight of the year is either a big race  you’ve been waiting for or when the new running shoes are unveiled.
  4. On your “off” day, you feel like everyone is running but you.
  5. When going to a new city, the first thing you find out is the best place to run.
  6. At any given moment, you can recite all of the cities/countries you’ve run in and you remember those places based your running experience
  7. You are giddy when your favorite running magazine arrives in the mail.
  8. While attending a business function or party, you can easily spot the other runners in the room.
  9. You wave or nod at everyone when you’re running – it’s a runner thing.
  10. You can’t understand why people walk, when they can run.

How would you finish this sentence?You know you’re a runner when...

And so, to all my fellow runners out there – Happy Holidays and may the New Year take you back to all of your favorite running spots –  and introduce you to a few new ones too!

Running and the 10 Percent Rule

Ahh, the first snow of the season in Chicago! Although it barely stuck to the grass, the snow falling seemed to put everyone in the office, including yours truly, in a chatty and holiday mood. Guess it’s time to Get Jolly!

12.3 Linda and Harriett 5

Before I chit chat about my day, I wanted to fill you in on an exciting surprise! When I arrived home from work a few days ago, I was so excited to receive a small package from Linda & Harriett, maker of high-end stationary products. The wonderful team at Linda & Harriett had sent me a few samples of their new “Moose” line. I can’t tell you enough how much I like this new line of stationary! I am a stationary, particularly notecard, fanatic. Although, I have toned down my obsession a bit due to email, in my notecard heyday, I would buy new and interesting cards every few weeks, just because. Of course, I had way too many to actually use – even in a year, but I loved to take them out and look at them. 😉

12.3 Linda and Harriett 1

Linda & Harriett’s new line reminds me of the great outdoors, but with a holiday twist – a shiny red nose on the moose! This new line is perfect for anyone who wants to get a little wild with his or her holiday greetings. It’s also perfect for me since I’m going for a more woodsy theme this year for my holiday wrapping.

12.3 Linda and Harriett 3

Aside from the new moose line, they have MANY other designs that are very simple, tasteful, yet have a playful touch. I mean, who in the world would think of putting a hedgehog on a notecard? But, it works. Although they are a bit pricey as far as holiday cards go, sending a card of this quality can make someone feel extra special. Sorry – no giveaway :-(, I only received a few samples.

Running and the 10 Percent Rule

Anyway, onto my day! I had a pretty rough morning, waking up about 1 1/2 before my alarm went off. Despite being tired from waking up at 4:30 AM, I hopped on the treadmill for a 4 1/2 mile run. As I’m sure you know, I usually only do 4 miles a day during the week, but I’ve been wanting to build up my mileage over the winter. So, to do this, I’m following the 10% Rule – the idea that you can safely increase your running mileage or time spent running by 10 percent each week. I’ve been doing this on/off for about 3 weeks and so far so good 🙂

After my run, I enjoyed some of my awesome homemade granola on some Honeynut Cheerios…

12.3 Cereal with granola

For lunch today, our boss took us out to a local family diner. Although they served Diet Rite (What’s up with that? I didn’t even know it still existed!), the food was really good. I had a huge Greek salad with olives, feta, cucumbers, and grilled chicken. It was superb! Sorry, no picture – I have yet to master the art of taking food photos in front of my coworkers.

Dinner happened to be leftovers of the chicken and dumpling soup kind…

12.3 chicken and dumpling soup

This was so filling I couldn’t even finish my bowl!

Ok, off to study. I am almost finished with Chapter 3 of my personal training book. I want to get through chapter 6 by the end of Sunday – that’s a tall order because the chapters are very long! Wish me luck 😉