5 Ways Strength Training Could Make You Faster

Spoiler alert: there does not really seem to be a consensus on whether or not strength training will actually improve your speed as a runner. That being said, there are possible benefits to strength training for runners. Read on to find out what they are!

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 reasons strength training might help you become speedier. Keep in mind I am not a researcher, doctor, or personal trainer.

1: It makes you powerful
Building the right muscles will help you to get explosive — aka fast. This can help you start strong — and stay strong — and ultimately run faster. If this is what you’re after, try plyometric exercises.

2: It can help prevent injuries
Think about what happens when you run: you are essentially hopping from one single legged squat to another. If you’re legs aren’t strong enough to perform these movements, or fatigue quickly, what do you suppose your chance of injury might be? 

If you dig online, you will of course find those that say strength training really won’t help you as a runner, but you will also find many, many reputable experts that insist that it does. I say try it for yourself and see what you think. IOW, don’t knock it til you try it!

3: It improves running economy
Running economy means you use less oxygen to maintain your pace. 

Can strength training improve my running form? | Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

4: It can improve your running form
Every notice how your shoulders creep up towards your ears by the end of a race? Yeah, that’s poor running form. When our running form falls apart, we’re usually tensing up somewhere — and that can use up the energy we want to use for running.

If form is important to you, make sure you do those core exercises — everything moves from our core. A weak core can mean your running form will fall apart sooner rather than later.

5: It may help you hold off fatigue
This comes back to point #4 — strong muscles will not fatigue as quickly as weak ones, allowing you to hold a better running form longer. This means your run will feel easier. You’ve run hard and easy runs — which feel better to you?

Final Thoughts
I personally do think that strength training is important for everyone, but in my research I also came across an interesting article (to read it click here) that claims strength training won’t improve your running, and may even hinder it. The author makes some interesting points, and hey, if you don’t want to strength train, you’re gonna love this article! 

The jury is still out on whether strength training will make you faster, but I believe that the benefits of strength training are important for everyone:

  • Helps you in your functional fitness in your day to day life
  • Helps improve bone strength
  • Maintain or build muscle, which we tend to lose as we age
  • May help increase your cognitive ability
  • May help you sleep better
  • Helps improve blood sugar control

This list is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of strength training. I don’t know about you, but these all sound like really good things to me!

You do not have to spend hours at home or at the gym,, either. Just 10 – 15 minutes a day could make a huge difference in your life. Check out these workouts from Confessions of a Mother Runner here, or from Coach Debbie Runs here.

Share with me a story about strength training & how it’s helped your runs

How do you find the time to fit in strength training?

What types of strength training do you enjoy?

5 Ways to Connect Body & Mind on the Run

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Why do you run?

Maybe it’s to get out of your head. I think a lot — so sometimes it’s nice to just not think so much. Not thinking as much while running can be a form of meditation — which is just one reason that running can leave us feeling so darn good.

Maybe you are chasing that runner’s high (again, trying to feel better than when you started). 

An even better goal is to get into the flow state. You know the flow state — when everything just seems to flow easily. It’s not just for athletes, either! Performers, crafters — anything you enjoy doing that makes you lose track of time is basically the flow state (sometimes referred to as in the zone).

Overthinking things keeps the flow state away. Concentrating only on how your body feels might also keep it away — you start thinking that this feels hard, or you distract yourself with thoughts of what you’re going to eat after your run. 

Connecting your body and mind allows you to stay present. Thinking about the future can feel pleasant, but in the end, you’re not there. You’re losing the pleasure you could get in this moment.

Right here, right now

Ruminating about the past — that fight you had with your friend or kids, the things you didn’t get done — that’s also going to rob your from the pleasure you could get, right here, right now.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 ways you can use running to connect your body and mind and hopefully find joy on the run.

1: Notice your breath
This is probably the easiest way to connect mind and body. When you bring your attention to your breath, your breathing will naturally slow down — although maybe not so much on the run! When your breathing is slower, your thoughts will also slow down. You can even try to take your attention to where you feel your breath in your body (nose, chest, belly?).

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2: Yoga Warmup
Taking the time to practice some Yoga before you start your run will not only help you warm up your body, it will also help connect your body to your mind.

3: Practice a Body Scan
Start at your feet and work your way all the way up to your head. Where can you relax, even just 10%? Muscle tension means you’re using up some of your precious energy that would be better spent propelling your run.

4: Sigh
I read an article about how sighing can help you to connect body and mind, and unfortunately I didn’t save it and haven’t been able to find it again. However I came across an interesting post (click here to read it) that talks about the mental and physical effects of sighing.

Sighing allows an extra burst of oxygen to enter our lungs, which leads to improved blood flow, feelings of relaxation, and lowered levels of stress.

Feeling stressed out by your run? Try a sigh and just let it all go!

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5: Run outside and look around!
It’s so easy to develop tunnel vision while running, especially if it’s a hard workout. When you spend some time noticing the sky, trees, flowers, other people out there, animals — you are taking some of the effort out of your run. While you’re at it, why not concentrate on the rest of your senses:

  • What do you smell?
  • What do you taste?
  • What do you feel touching your body?
  • What do you hear?

Final Thoughts
You probably do use running as a moving meditation sometimes, without ever calling it that. It’s okay to get lost in our thoughts, maybe even better sometimes to turn our mind off completely (well, maybe not completely so you get lost!), but I think you’ll reap even more benefits from your runs when your mind and body are connected.

Connecting body and mind is a skill, and like any skill, it becomes easier with practice. Remember, it’s not about how often you fail, it’s about how often you try again!

Do you use running to tune out or tune in?

Do you ever think about your mind body connection?

What makes a run great for you?

Always something to learn: Runfessions December 2021

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I may not be running a lot but that doesn’t mean I can’t come up with things to runfess.

I shoppingfess . . .
My Black Friday purchases were Nuun and running shoes. On Cyber Monday it was hiking poles. You know you’re a runner when . . . 

I runfess . . .
On one particularly brutally cold and windy run there was no dynamic warmup. There was barely a cooldown — because seriously, I was already cold! I definitely did not stick around to do any post run stretches, either. 

I runfess . . .
The day before Thanksgiving I chose to run in the neighborhood, rather than driving somewhere to run, because the leggings I chose to wear had no pockets. I didn’t have enough pockets to stow my keys. I do have plenty of leggings with pockets, but these very old leggings were just the right amount of warmth without being too hot. Cold weather dressing is a constant challenge!

I runfess . . .
A couple of weeks ago, the week I got my booster, I knew I probably had to get my runs in during the week. I had planned out T, W, and F. Then I saw that Thursday was supposed to be unseasonably warm, so I changed the plan to T, Tr, F.

I further runfess that I really wanted to get the booster on Friday so that by the next Monday I would feel good enough to run. I needed to go down to my mom for several days on Tuesday, leaving me little time to run at all the following week — but I just couldn’t get an appointment close to home on Friday. Instead I got to drive in a snowstorm on Saturday. Good thing I didn’t take the appointments that were further away.

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So that’s what they’re for!

I runfess . . .
I casually mentioned to Mr. Judy one day that I wondered what the metal thing in the middle of the bike paths were for. They were usually up, but sometimes down. Of course he knew. They can be put down to let the maintenance vehicles get through — I presume they are usually up so that no one actually tries to drive on the path. D’oh! I had no idea and always wondered about that.

What have you learned about running recently?

What do you have to runfess from December? Come join us

Runfessions

I am also linking up with:

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5 Reasons . . .

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. . . Compassion is my word for 2022

I’ve been picking a word to concentrate on for my year for many years. I like to use that word in my monthly wrap up — sometimes with a quote, sometimes with a song. It just keeps that word in my mind all year long.

I do think it’s great for runners to have a focus for the year — although my word this year (mostly) has nothing to do with running.

bfitfivefriday

I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 reasons Compassion is my word for 2022.

Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others

1: Compassion for my sister
My sister lives the closest to my mom, and much falls on her shoulders, It gets to her no matter how much I help out. Sometimes, too, I think she does things because she feels guilty, even when I try to make the burden easier for her. Let’s just say I also bear the brunt of a lot of venting. I try hard to be compassionate to her, even when the going gets tough.

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In happier times (her 90th birthday, my Dad was still alive)

2: Compassion for my mom
No matter how rough our lives are, there’s no doubt that my mom’s life is 100 times rougher. Yet dealing with her isn’t always easy, either. I struggle with keeping her spirits up, as she is understandably depressed and anxious at times.

I try to keep compassion front and center, and can only hope that when my time comes, there is someone in my life to do the same. Not having kids definitely makes you wonder how you will get through the aging years.

3: Compassion for Mr. Judy
I have been gone a lot in the last six months, and I only see it happening more as we move into 2022.  It’s not always easy having a stressed out, tired spouse who sometimes can’t think straight, I know. He has had to take over feeding and walking Bandit a lot while I am staying at my moms — although since I’m the one that has always done 90% of that, he’s got a long way to go to catch up!

4: Compassion for Bandit
Poor Bandit. Whenever I leave, he never has a clue how long I’ll be gone. All he wants is to see his pack together. Especially the leader of the pack (me). 

5: Last but not least, compassion for myself
I am fairly certain that this won’t be going on for years. When you go on Hospice, it usually means they think you have six months to live, although people sometimes live far longer than that. I know that I’m doing the best I can, but it’s hard when you feel like you’re constantly coming up short. 

Final Thoughts
I think that there’s a real chance that this chapter in my life will end not that long into 2022, although of course it could go on longer. I struggled a bit with this word, knowing that I might not “need” it that long. It just kept coming up for me over and over again. 

Because really is there ever a time you don’t need to be compassionate?

Do you pick a word to focus on for your year?

If you do what is your word for 2022?

Do you remember your word for 2021, if you picked one?

5 Running Memes to Make You Laugh

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I love the memes Kim @ Kookyrunner shares every week — there’s always at least one that makes me laugh that I share with Mr. Judy, too. I’m sharing some running memes that made me laugh. It’s a quickie this week that should make you smile — even if you’ve seen these memes, and I know you’ve seen at least a few of them.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m hoping to give you a laugh — or two.

bmeme1For someone who runs all the time, I still have the ability to make it look like the first time I’ve ever tried

bmeme2If you see me collapse, pause my Garmin

bmeme3Do I get a discount for a pedicure if I only have 9 toenails?

bmeme4It’s a proven scientific fact that you run faster around other people

bmeme5Please stop asking me what I’m doing this weekend. I’m running. This weekend. Next weekend. Every weekend. Forever.

Final Thoughts
It’s easy to get a little too serious about the things we love — definitely raising my hand on that one! It’s also good to laugh at ourselves. I know there are also many people who struggle in the holiday season, for a variety of reasons, and if you’re one of them, I hope that I’ve put a smile on your face today. Just paying it forward!

Got a favorite running meme to share??

 

My Top 5 Yogi Tea Flavors

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Several people expressed interest in Yogi Tea after I shared some of my favorite inspirational quotes from its teabags (read the post here). I figured I’d share my favorite flavors! Like anything we all have different tastes, so I obviously can’t guarantee you’ll love what I love but here are the five teas I’m loving lately.

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 Yogi teas that I drink almost daily.

1: Cold Season
We are officially in our cold season right now! I enjoy the taste of this tea, plus it’s filled with herbs and spices to help you ward off Winter illnesses. A good tasting dose of immunity building herbs. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

2: Green Tea Passion Fruit Matcha
Another yummy tasting tea; I like to drink this one in the mornings before a run. Matcha tea is great for sustained energy (plus more health benefits), but on its own can be quite bitter. I don’t really know how much matcha is in this tea, but again, I just like the flavor. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

3: Blueberry Slim Life
Will this tea help you lose weight? No, I really don’t think it will. This is my favorite Yogi Tea, though. I just love the flavor! Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

4: Elderberry Lemon Balm Immune & Stress Support
This seems to be one of their newer flavors, and I really love the taste. Not to mention I could definitely use immune and stress support — how about you? Buy it here. (Amazon Affiliate link).

5: Roasted Dandelion Detox Tea
Do I really think this tea will help you detox? Like the blueberry slim life, not really, but it tastes really good (to me) and dandelion has many health benefits, including: may help keep the liver and kidneys healthy, may work as a diuretic (good to drink when you feel bloated). If you’re planning a little detox after the holiday season, this is a great tea to use with that. Buy it here (Amazon Affiliate link).

Final Thoughts
Growing up my parents were always drinking tea. Regular black tea. It did not interest me, not at all. When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol quite a few years ago, I wanted to start drinking green tea — it has so many health benefits!

It took me quite a while to find a tea that I truly loved, and now I drink multiple cuppas every single day!

Coffee or tea — do you have favorite flavors?

Have you ever tried herbal teas?

Will Shop for Chocolate: Runfessions November 2021

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We are fast approaching December, so some shoppingfessions have crept into this runfession post. Mostly revolving around food & drink, but I could certainly share about all the clothes I have bought recently. All the sales in November and December always seem to get me. 

I shoppingfess . . .
I went to the grocery store one morning because I was out of my favorite chocolate. Do I have other chocolate? Of course! The  heart wants what the heart wants, right? It wasn’t the only thing on my list, but I probably would have put off the trip until another day if I’d still had my chocolate.

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I really need to go back & get a few more boxes so I don’t need to ration again this year!

I shoppingfess . . .
I have become a hoarder. Of my favorite decaf green tea from Trader Joes. I was haunting the store for weeks waiting for it to make its appearance. Then I snapped up nine boxes. I’m hoping they still have some left so I can make it an even twelve (you know, twelve months).

I runfess . . .
Between helping my mom and the hiking the last few months, I haven’t been hitting those four runs a week. There will be more time in Winter, when I’m not hiking — assuming we get that new treadmill.

gwy yin pre run warmup
Working on hamstrings & hip flexors

I runfess . . .
I had some great runs last week. I also did way more Yoga than normal because I was trying to take advantage of Mr. Judy being out of town and filmed a lot of Yoga videos.

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More leg strengthening

I even got to film early in the morning, when there’s almost no chance of the phone ringing (which had happened on a few other videos recently).

I runfess . . .
I have had to pull out my short sleeve Wonder Wool running top from the dirty clothes at least once. It may seem like I have lots of running clothes — and I do! — but there are some things I only have a few of. Good thing that wool really does wick away sweat, dry quickly, and usually not get smelly the way regular running clothes do.

Do you ever wear the same running top more than once? Not me usually, but with wool, I runfess occasionally

What one thing would get you to the grocery store if you ran out of it?

What do you have to runfess from November? Come join us

Runfessions

I am also linking up with:

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Reading the Tea Leaves

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Can you get inspiration from a teabag? I think you can — and I gathered up five (plus a bonus sixth) messages from my tea that are perfect little inspirational quotes for runners.

bfitfivefriday

I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 teabag quotes that will inspire runners.

1: Be guided: listen to the whispers of the universe
The universe does talk to us, but we often don’t want/like to listen. It often starts with a whisper, let’s say a little niggle. That niggle turns into more intense pain, but often we try to run through it. Finally that pain can turn into an injury. Much better to take a couple of days — even a week! — off of running than having to take months off or having to constantly run in pain.

2: Accept who you are in this moment, but acknowledge who you want to become
This is a great quote for the runner who is returning to running after an illness or injury. We want to pick up where we left off, but that may not be wise to do. Accept yourself, give yourself grace, and set goals that will drive you forward.

3: Your inner self is your inner guide
Deep inside all of us is a voice. Let’s call it your inner wisdom. Your inner wisdom knows when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to push. Spend more time listening for that little voice inside you, and you will become a stronger runner . . . and person.

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4: Be kind to others, but always be compassionate with yourself
Most of us are way harder on ourselves than we are on others. We will be quick to console the runner who didn’t snag that PR they worked so hard for, who didn’t run the race they wanted — didn’t even start or weren’t able to finish.

That inner voice? Sometimes it can be a real bi#*! Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. Notice how everything becomes easier when you work on this.

5: You are unlimited
We are all capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. Dream big. Go for the gold. Just remember the first four points!

Bonus quote: We can always start again
It’s a sign of greatness to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start over again. As the proverbial saying goes, it’s not about how many times we fall, it’s about starting over again after each fall.

Final Thoughts
I drink a lot of different teas, but one of the staples is Yogi Tea. I’ve been drinking that since long before I became a Yoga teacher. They just have flavors that I love!

Fun fact: Yogi Tea was started by Yogi Bhajan, who is credited with bringing Kundalini Yoga as we know it today to the West; read more about him here if you’re interested. As with many of the well known Indian “gurus”, there was eventually a lot of controversy surrounding him — but there is little doubt that as a businessman he was very successful.

Which of these quotes most resonate with you?

If your teabags have quotes, do you even read them?

The Trouble with Positive Splits + . . .

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. . . four other surprising things I learned in my Run Coach course! One of the things I love about running is there’s a lot to learn — in fact, there’s always something more to learn. 

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I’m linking up with My First 5K and MoreRunning With Attitude, Runs with PugsZenaida and Run Laugh Eat Pie for Fit Five Friday. Today I’m sharing 5 things I learned in my RRCA Run Coach course that surprised me — and might benefit you.

1: The problem with positive splits
Positive splits are running the first part of a race faster than the second half. Every one second you go out too fast in the beginning of the race may add three seconds to your pace at the end. Every runner is different, of course. Some runners do well with positive splits.

Put another way: do you want to be passing people at the end of the race, or do you want to do the passing? 

2: 2-4 hard efforts per week are enough
What is a hard effort, you ask? It depends (we got that advice a lot in this course!). One person’s hard effort is easy to another person. What I learned in this part is that the whole week (in addition to speed work, or other intense forms of exercise) counts as a hard effort.

Let me repeat that: Your whole week of running is one hard effort!

I never thought about it that way. So if you have speedwork and a tempo run in your training plan, and you’re feeling burned out by your training — you may already be at your three hard efforts because the entire week counts as one, too. Every runner is different, but it’s a good point to keep in mind.

3: Hills may make you faster . . . 
. . . but being faster won’t necessarily make you better on hills. I’m sure a lot of us have heard that hills are speedwork in disguise. It was interesting to me to learn that just because you run fast doesn’t necessarily mean you will run hills better.

Which brings us back to specificity of training: train on the terrain you’ll be racing on .

4: Try to give yourself a range for mileage/pace
Add some wiggle room to your training plan. Maybe you go a little shorter or a little longer, or maybe you have a range for the pace you want to hit. Notice any patterns that emerge — if you’re always choosing the slower or shorter runs, maybe you’re setting the bar too high for yourself. Conversely if you’re always adding mileage or running faster than the range you planned on, you may not be challenging yourself enough.

Only you know!

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5: Throw out some of the pyramid
Training plans have cycles, and in this course we’re taught to visualize the cycles as a pyramid. At the bottom is your base, and at the top are intervals (aka speedwork) right before you are at your peak performance (ready to race).

In between the base and intervals is the strength phase:

  • Tempos
  • Fartleks
  • Hills

None of that should come as a surprise. The thing that did surprise me is that we were taught as long as you continue to grow your long run during the strength phase you can run a great race without ever doing intervals. Food for thought, anyway.

Final Thoughts
We learned many things, of course. These are five things that surprised me; they may not surprise you — or matter to you. Maybe one of these tips will speak to you — or not.

Which of these was most surprising to you?

What have you learned about running recently that surprised you?

Getting in my hikes before Winter: Runfessions October 2021

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I know plenty of people hike year round, but I have enough trouble getting myself outside to run during Winter. Sure, those frozen waterfall photos are cool — but so are the temps. Well, they’re downright freezing! 

So I’ve been making a real effort to get in more hikes before the snow flies. Of course this is mostly a running blog, so there are plenty of runfessions to share from October too!

I runfess . . .
I liked the Saucony Endorphin Speeds so much, I went out and bought the Saucony Guide. They felt much heavier than the Endorphin Speed, but then I bought them for my easy runs.

Lured on by the waterfalls

I hikefess . . .
On a recent hike I told Mr. Judy I needed to move on (Bandit, too) while he was occupied taking photos. I did eventually text him which way I had gone. Apparently he was quite annoyed (and stressed) when I was “gone for half an hour while he walked up and down looking for me”.

No, I wasn’t lost, and no, it was nowhere near that long. I will apparently never live down getting lost (shared in my last Runfessions here). I also led the way on our anniversary hiking (which was thankfully quite clearly marked).

I runfess . . .
My Achilles has been behaving itself lately. Then the top of my foot started to hurt literally out of the blue one run. No, seriously, there wasn’t even a niggle there before it started hurting! I hate when that happens. I think it’s Extensor Tendonitis but luckily it mostly hasn’t bothered me since then (except that one time I wore rainboots at my mom’s).

Running for time

I runfess . . .
I have been playing around, just a little bit, with doing my long-er runs for time, rather than mileage. Adding on about 5 minutes to the previous week’s long-er run’s time, although not every single week. Perhaps at some point I’ll actually get up to 90 minutes and it can be a “real” long run. Or not — because Winter’s coming!

I runfess . . .
I have had to do a lot of research helping my mom: did she actually get the new meds? will Medicare cover the bill if she has to go to rehab again? Does Medicare pay for the oxygen equipment? I haven’t had much time to research treadmills yet, although I have started. Definitely hoping when I make my decision one is actually available!

I think I’ve narrowed it down to the Sole F65 or 80 or Nordictrack 1750 (I think that’s the model number). Leaning towards Sole. I want to see if I can find a few reviews from real runners, but I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles — I just need something that will last as long as my first treadmill, or nearly as long, anyway! Sole has a longer warranty which is part of why I lean that way.

Do you ever self diagnose? 

Are you winding down running for the year, or still training for something?

What do you have to runfess from October? Come join us

Runfessions

I am also linking up with:

bfitfivefriday