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I moved!

Ok, folks. Here’s your heads up. I have moved my blog to a permanent site over at CookieRunner.com

So, come check it out, check it often, and follow me on Twitter for more updates!

Keep running, my friends!

These things make for a rough spring.

These things definitely make for a rough, allergy-filled spring.

No one wants to miss a run. But we all will eventually come down with a cold that makes it questionable as to whether or not one should run. I have had a cold (or maybe allergies?) since Sunday. I ran 18 miles Sunday, 1.5 miles Monday when the cold was much worse, 4.2 miles Tuesday, and 4.75 miles Wednesday, where I nearly hacked up a lung in the process. Today, I took a rest day due to the fact that some of the congestion migrated to my chest, but by tomorrow I should be 95% recovered and 100% ready to run.

Running when you have a cold or allergies is fine. It may actually make you feel better, even if your performance is off. Sometimes taking a day off of running may mess with your motivation to run. I used to have a problem where if I would take one sick day for a minor cold, I would usually not run the next day, and quite often the running break would continue from there. A minor cold won’t kill you if you want to keep your schedule, so don’t be like I used to be.

Knowing when to not run is the key here. Do you have a minor cold or allergies? Run. It may help you physically and psychologically. Do you have severe chest congestion? You might want to take the day off to avoid making things worse (pneumonia or chronic fatigue problems). Anything worse–such as a fever or the flu–and you should keep yourself in bed for the day. A few days off will not hurt your training as bad as you think and you will recover faster from the more severe illnesses if you rest. Remember, recovery is an important part of training. Do consult a doctor if anything is questionable. If you end up taking any medications for your illness, do not run if they make you drowsy, or worst case run with a partner who can keep an eye on you.

Your running may be slower from being sick, but you must remember that your body is trying to recover. It is natural to feel exhausted when you are sick. To speed up the recovery you may have to reduce your mileage or the intensity of your runs. You can also speed up your recovery with diet. Eat whole, hearty foods and avoid the processed junk. Lots of fruits and veggies are my personal choice, avoiding overly processed meats, crackers, and items with a lot of preservatives. Make sure your diet is well-rounded and you may notice that you get sick less often or for shorter periods. And a good diet may lead to shorter recovery times, as well.

Running when you have a minor illness is fine. If it is just the sniffles or some minor head congestion, go ahead and go for that short run! It may help loosen some of the congestion you are feeling and it will keep you in the right mindset. Expect your body to be tired and your runs to be slower or of lower quality until you fully recover. If you have something worse than a minor head cold or allergies, take some time off to recover so as not to let the issue worsen or drag on. Consult your doctor for advice, if necessary. Make sure you get more rest than normal if possible and eat a good diet to accelerate the recovery. Remember, food is fuel and your body is at war, so fuel it!

Happy running, my friends!

Holiday Eating

Easter Baking Cookiesis here! It is another one of those holidays where you spend too much time with the family eating a ton of food (at least we do in my family). This is just a friendly reminder that eating all of the food in sight is all right! You can handle it, whether you’re a consistent runner or not. But, if you really are concerned about it, plan now.

Many people worry about their food intake, but if you’re like me, your family will be hounding you to eat more when you are over for Easter. Instead of letting it bother you, you can learn to handle the situation differently. You are a runner, therefore you know how to adapt to different conditions. Now you have an opportunity to apply those adaptable skills outside of running.

Here is my solution: Don’t worry about it! That may seem like a difficult idea to take in, but food is NOT the enemy. Food is fuel. With a little bit of planning, I purposely have my long run scheduled for Sunday morning, which happens to be 20 miles this week. After my run, I am going to need all of that food for recovering. So, why not do the same if you are concerned? I don’t advise you to go out and do 20 miles unless you already have it planned, but plan your week now so that you can do your long run Easter morning and gorge on all of the guilt-free food for the rest of the day.

So, plan now and plan to eat as much as you can handle on Sunday. Even if you eat 2 pounds of food, your body will not store all of that as fat. Food is fuel, not your enemy. Treat it as such and reap the benefits from feeding your body. Do not be afraid of eating! And enjoy your Easter with your family.

And don’t forget to eat a cookie for me!

Happy running, my friends!

More evidence in support of minimalist running!

I really did not intend this blog to discuss so much minimalist running, but I have fallen in love with it. I bought a pair of Saucony’s minimalist shoes a few weeks ago, and I have loved them since! It has taken me a lot of time to switch over to them, but I’m erring on the side of caution since I have a marathon in 49 days. My feet feel stronger, my running has improved, and I’m making great gains in the weight room. I love the minimalist shoes and minimalist running. I don’t think I would ever go completely barefoot since I have a tendency to whine if I get a rock in my shoe, but who knows? I hope you give minimalist running a chance someday and if you have any questions, let me know!

Barefoot Running Can Cause Injuries, Too

I still support barefoot running, but remember, you have been running in shoes for how long now? You are going to have to take the transition to barefoot really slow, possibly slower than minimalist websites say to take it. No worries! That doesn’t mean that you can’t become a barefoot or minimalist runner! Patience!

My apologies for my lack of posts. I had food poisoning this past weekend and haven’t been able to work out, I’ve barely been able to run, and I’m just getting back to my computer. But all is well again! Happy running, friends!

A bit of an update on me

As you may know, I am doing another full marathon in May (my 4th full). But, I’m going to also be doing a 12 week body transformation challenge to increase my muscle mass. I’ve always been a super scrawny (but strong, don’t get me wrong) person, but now I have the chance to transform myself into a stronger looking person and I have the time to devote to the extra work. I don’t know exactly how I am going to do this yet, but I do know that I’m going to increase my food intake and eat more whole, healthy foods. I’ll also be spending more time in the gym more consistently. I’ll try to update once a week with some detailed logs, and I’ll try to not overwhelm this blog with too much fitness stuff at the same time. But, I will show you that you don’t have to be the super skinny runner to run marathons and meet your goals, nor do women have to be super tiny to be sexy!

The secret to running well: Be happy!

Honestly, that’s the secret to getting through life. If you love your job, if you’re happy with your job, you work harder. If you’re happy in your relationships, you try to please others. If you are happy with running, you run better/farther/faster/more relaxed… The list goes on. The key to running well and achieving your goals is to be happy with running, to enjoy your running, to form a good relationship with your running. Now, that’s not saying that you are not going to have bad days or days that you just need a break. Every relationship has those days (I happen to have not run today because it was one of those days where everything just tries to bring you down… I needed a break).

So how to you achieve this happiness? This all depends on the person. Here’s a list:

  1. First, why are you running? Are you running to get in shape, de-stress, or just because you want to? Goals are a great way to keep motivated, and working towards those goals can keep you happy, so long as you keep those goals achievable. For example, setting a goal to run a marathon is a great goal, if you can put in the time to train. If you don’t have the time, maybe you should stick with a half marathon or 10k goal for the time being. No big deal, just don’t wear yourself out!
  2. Second, VARIETY! Variety is key. If you do the same loop day after day after day after day… Well, you’re going to get bored and you’re going to start skipping days. Create new loops, run after work around the area you work in, drive to a new park, or have someone drive you away from your house and run back!
  3. Partners! Even if you can meet up once a week, or every few weeks, partners help. A running club is great! And there are usually runners of all paces in most clubs, plus there are all of the experienced runners to help you with any questions you may have. Or, check out your local running store. They can point you in the direction of a good group to train with.
  4. Don’t put yourself down. No. Matter. What. Always think positively. Of course, you will have bad days, but do not let the negativity sink you!
  5. Read about running! Blogs, magazines, the news… Find ways to motivate yourself. Don’t look at stick-thin models and say “I want to look like that!” Use running for yourself, not to look like someone else. Read motivational running stories, read the ups and downs of other runners, or just read a good book about running.
  6. Smile! Laugh! Anything! Smiling makes everything feel better! Try it!

Once you start enjoying running, you will start to appreciate your runs and appreciate the little victories. And hey, reward yourself! You are a wonderful person and your victories should be rewarded. Go ahead and save up for that new pair of shoes for the day you set a new PR!

Happy running, my friends!

How to write your own training plan.

Writing your own training plan is likely not an easy task without a personal trainer or coach around. You have to think about the time you can set aside to run, how far in your training you are, your goals, your mileage, your risk of injury, blah, blah, blah… With all of these things to think about, you probably just go with a standard training plan from somewhere off of the interwebs. Well, you don’t have to. You can write your own plan to fit your needs easily, and only you know what your needs are. Answer the questions below for yourself to help you write your plan.

1. What are you training for? How much time do you have until the “event,” if you have one?

Are you training for a 5k? A marathon? Something in between? Running a 5k isn’t going to necessarily require you to do a 20 mile long run, and a 6 mile long run probably isn’t enough for a marathon (I have seen crazier things). With this in mind, you are going to want to set up any workouts to be suitable for your event. Marathons and 5ks alike will benefit from tempo runs, but 400m repeats probably will not be useful to the marathoner. Shorter distance races can benefit from workouts such as tempos, fartleks, track repeats, mile repeats, and hills. Marathoners can probably cut out the 400s, but will still find something beneficial from each. (For a description of each of these workouts, see #5).

The next important thing to note is how much time you have to train. Do you have 4 weeks? 6 weeks? Longer? Set your training plan so that you hopefully peak for the day of your race. Any training in the last couple of weeks leading up to the “big day” is going to just be maintenance miles. All of your big workouts must be done before that time. Depending on the distance of your race, you will probably taper in the last week or two (I can discuss a good taper in a later post; but note that everyone is different!).

2.    What is your goal weekly/monthly/whatever mileage?

Do you want to run 20 miles a week? 40 miles? 1000 miles this year? How many miles are you running per week now? The rule of thumb is to only add 20% to your mileage per week (but, rules are meant to be broken and not everyone is the same). Set your goals and work your way up to them, but if your body tells you that you need to back off, listen to it. Your body knows what it’s doing. And set reasonable goals. If you set goals that are a little out of reach, you’ll likely feel like a failure and end up discouraged. To run well, you have to enjoy it (at least most of the time).

3.    How much time each week do you have for running?

Are you only able to dedicate 1 hour per day to the act of running? Or can you dedicate more? Are you only able to dedicate some time on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Take all of these into consideration when planning for your runs. If you can’t dedicate the time to training on certain days, make sure that you don’t plan long runs or workouts on those days. I would suggest being flexible, as well. Life happens, and the more flexible you are, the easier it will be to not stress out and end up hating running.

4.    Do you want to cross train a lot? A little? At all?

Do you want to do some swimming or cycling? Maybe do some yoga or weightlifting? Cross training is recommended to work on those muscles that running doesn’t directly use, but are useful to stabilize your body. Things like cycling can take the stress off of your knees and other joints while still strengthening your body. Yoga is a great stress reliever and can help with flexibility and strength. If you can’t run, swimming is great for cross training, or you can aqua jog, with or without flotation devices. Cross training can also give you any breaks that you may need from the task of running.

5.    How many workouts do you want to do?

Right now, are you doing any speed work? There are many types, and each has its benefit for different types of runners. I would recommend 1-2 speed workouts per week.

Tempo: This is almost like a race simulation. You go out, do a mile or so warm up, then do 4 miles (or however long) at your goal race pace, and then cool down. These can vary greatly in how far or how fast you want to go. But it’s not an easy run.

Fartlek: “Speed play.” Fartleks are a variation on the tempo run. Instead of running 4 miles straight at goal race pace, you run a predetermined distance or time at goal pace, then drop back to an easy pace for a predetermined distance or time. Then, repeat for as long as the heart desires. For example, run a 2 mile warm up, followed by 8 minutes at goal pace, then 3 minutes easy, 8 minutes at goal pace, 3 minutes easy, and repeat however many times desired before cooling down.

Repeats/Intervals: These are best done on a track or predetermined neighborhood loop. The distance can vary (200s, 400s, 800s, miles, 2 miles, etc.) and the distances can be mixed up to work on different strengths. Again, a marathoner probably won’t need the 200s or 400s.

HILLS!: Holy hill! You probably don’t get a lot of experience running on hills, and you likely try to avoid them. You probably hate them. You know how you fix that? Hill repeats. It’s crazy, but the better you can run on hills, the better you can run a race on any terrain. Here’s what you do… Go out, find a decent sized hill, and then after a short warm-up, sprint up that hill. Once you’re at the top, turn around and jog down.  Now, repeat. You can vary the length and steepness, assuming you can find a big hill or a couple different hills to play on.

6.    Do any particular plans work well for you?

Have you been using any other plans that work for you, but just aren’t quite what you need? If so, you likely just need to modify those slightly. Use the above guidelines to modify what you have. Maybe you just need to adjust your mileage or add a different type of workout. Or, go join a fitness class and have some cross-training fun!

With all of these in mind, it will give you the right tools to figure out a good plan for yourself. Sit down and make a calendar or a spreadsheet and determine your goal weekly mileage, and then break the weeks down from there into different distances with different paces on different days. Keep one rest day (or a super light day) each week, as well as a long run, and 1-2 workouts.  For example, I want to run 40 miles per week and I’m training for a marathon. I know I’ll do a 10-12 mile long run and I’ll take one day off. That leaves me 28-30 miles to split between 5 days. I don’t mind two-a-days, but we’ll assume I won’t do them. So here’s an example plan for one week:

Monday: 5 miles easy

Tuesday: 1 mile warm up, 4 mile tempo (at marathon pace), 1 mile cool down = 6 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles easy

Thursday: 8 miles easy or 2 mile warm up, 4-1 mile repeats, 2 mile cool down

Friday: 6 miles easy

Saturday: 10 mile long run

Sunday: Rest

I set out my plan in a spreadsheet months in advance, but I change them often as needed. You may need to experiment to find the right routine, or maybe you don’t necessarily want a routine and you want to switch it up weekly. There is no scientifically proven way to train best. Do your research, try different things, and listen to your body. In no time, you’ll be running wonderfully.

Happy running, my friends!

Minimalist Running.

This past week, I finished reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I used to run in minimalist shoes all of the time, but they’ve become so expensive that I buy what I can afford. This book, though, has reignited my interest in minimalist running. I don’t think I could ever run miles barefoot on the pavement or gravel, but quite possibly I could in the grass or on dirt trails. Although, it is too cold for me to try now.

Minimalist running comes from the idea that the best way to run is the way that our ancestors did… barefoot. Which may be true. The more you protect your feet from impact, the harder you are likely to try to impact the ground. It’s the body’s way of finding a stable surface. Stabilizing shoes also do not allow for the foot to move as it is intended, weakening the muscles and leading to injuries. You should land on your forefoot, as it will move to help cushion your legs. Although, there is some recent research showing that a particular tribe called the Daasanach people are heel-strikers, proving that there is more than one “right” way to run.

Now, going out and running without your shoes ever again will likely lead to injury because your body is not used to it. Maybe minimalist running isn’t even for you. But if you would like to try it out, you need to learn how to run first. You should land lightly on your forefoot, never pounding the ground. Many people will start with short warmups or cooldowns around their runs on grass or other soft surfaces. From there, you can progress your barefoot/minimalist mileage while reducing your time in your shoes. It’s a slow process, but it is easy to injure yourself if you’re changing much about your form.

If you are truly interested in minimalist running, work on your form first and consult a doctor or an expert at minimalist running. I may be trying it more this summer, but I am no expert. I also suggest reading Born to Run, because it will definitely be motivational if nothing else.

Happy running!

I have to start somewhere, so here’s a quick little post. I’ve put up a rough About Me section to introduce myself. But what I would like to do here is help people out. Have you never gone on a run before? Do you need some motivation? Have questions? What do you wear when it is freezing? Whatever. Just ask.

I would also like to write my opinions on certain things. Books, gear, brands, runners, running companies, etc. But I am not here to advocate dieting in anyway. Eat healthy, and eat plenty. You must feed your body to be able to run. I can offer advice, but that’s all it is. I will talk about my training, my goals, my lifting routine, and cookies. I will probably also talk about my mom and boyfriend. My mom is starting a Couch to 5k program and my boyfriend is my lifting partner (he hates running and he hates the cold, but he always comes to support me… even if supporting me is just dropping me off at the start and picking me up 2 hours later after he’s been gambling in the casino).

And with that rough introduction, have a wonderful night!

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