5 Ways to Rethink Fuel

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I am the person who gained weight training for my first half marathon, which is ironic, considering that part of why I started to run was that I though it would be helpful with those last few pounds — only to have it pile on even more pounds — in the beginning.

Of course I had to relearn my lesson training for my first race longer than a half, too. I’m not 100% sure why I gained a few pounds — I mean, I was running the most weekly mileage of my life! Surely I could maintain my weight. Right? Right?

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy and sharing five ways to look a little differently on how you fuel your runs.

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You don’t always need it
You’ve looked at the gels, right? Most of them say right on them “take one 15 minutes before exercise and every 45 minutes during”.

I’m one of those weirdos that actually like GUs. The taste, anyway, I don’t use GUs in my races (or on long runs) anymore. But I sure took that to heart.

Guess what? For runs under an hour you don’t need a GU. Not before, during, or after. I learned that the hard way. Some people eat nothing unless it’s double digits. I’ve done runs as long as 8 miles with no fuel during.

Like most things with running, you have to play around with it and find what works for you.

I like Honeystinger Chews partially because I can take one every mile

It doesn’t have to be gels 
I don’t use gels. Or sport beans. Or blocks.

I have played around with various real food options, but what I’ve found to work for me is Honeystinger Chews (I’m a Honeystinger Ambassador) + home made (very plain) chocolate chip cookies from the Feedzone Portables book (Amazon Affiliate link).

Other options:

  • Fig Newtons
  • Pretzels
  • According to my coach, Rachel @ Runningonhappy, Payday candy (I need to get some!)
  • Applesauce
  • Raisins

Not every run deserves a treat
I think this may have been what got me training for the 1812 Challenge. Of course I didn’t treat myself after every run, but I was running a lot more and I thought I could get away with more sugar than normal.

Some people can. Genetically gifted people. Younger people. If you find the scale going in the wrong direction or your clothes getting tighter, take a look at how often you’re treating yourself.

A fasted run can be a good run
I will admit it right here, right now: not a super fan of the fasted run (where you run early and don’t eat anything before the run). I always feel as though I run out of gas. And the supposed fat burning benefit? The juries still out on that one.

This summer forced me to get out there earlier than normal, and there were a few fasted runs here and there. I survived. Some people, especially people with stomach issues, really benefit from the fasted run.

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And who doesn’t want a cookie while running?

Think IV, not shot
Years ago I attended a talk by a sports nutritionist. She suggested that taking a gel every 45 minutes was much more likely to lead to stomach upset and also uneven energy on the run.

She said that it was better to take in a little bit more frequently, like an IV drip. I changed how I fueled on long runs and haven’t looked back. It’s part of why I ditched the gels altogether.

I take one Honeystinger Chew or a few bites of my cookie every mile.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Are you true to GU?

Do you actually like fasted runs?

Favorite real food running fuel?

What is this rolling out of bed . . .

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. . .  that you speak of?

I have to admit that sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just roll out of my bed and do a half marathon. Would you believe I never have? The longest race I’ve ever done at home is a 15k.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy with five reasons you should get out of your comfort zone and consider a racecation, too.

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Bust the boredom
Maybe you’re blessed to live in an area with miles of trails outside your door. While there are many lovely places to run where I live, most require a drive. Often I don’t have the time. So I run around the same neighborhood I walk the dogs around every day — a lot. And tend to stick to about two to four different paved paths to do long runs. It gets old — really, really old.

Enjoy new weather
NOLA at the end of an upstate New York winter? Yes, please! Utah or Idaho when we’re sweltering in the humidity and high dew points at home? Pretty please!

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We’re not in NY anymore, toto

Explore different views
I love the ocean, but it’s a long drive from here. We do have mountains, but they’re not quite the same as the Cascades or Rockies. We definitely don’t have a lot of cacti around here — you’ll only find that in someone’s house, not growing wild in our backyard like we did when we lived in TX.

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We didn’t see this during the race, but it wasn’t far away afterwards

Explore a new city
A long run through a new city is one of the best ways to explore it (maybe the best way is with a food tour — you know me, everything leads to food). Most of the time they close off the streets for you, feed you at the end, and provide beverages throughout. Plus the medal they hang around your neck when you finish.

Leave the stress at home
I won’t lie: prepping for a racecation, at least for me, is stressful. All the cleaning. Arranging for pet sitters. Prepping all the furkids’ stuff. Writing up a bunch of blogs in advance.

When I arrive in my new home away from home, though, I can breath a sigh of relief. I don’t have to walk dogs, scoop poop, scoop litter, constantly refill the water dish, clean, cook, do laundry, get out of bed early . . . I need that every once in a while to recharge my batteries!

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Racecation or local race? Why?

What was your best racecation ever?

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Running . . .

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. . . When You Start Running

Runners will tell you how great it feels. They’ll tell you the great people you’ll meet. They’ll tell you how wonderful it feels to train for and complete a race. Runners don’t usually give new runners the whole picture though!

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with a few things that might surprise a new runner.

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All those skirts add up (but Code 522CRJ gets you 15% off of full priced items)

Running ain’t cheap
Even if you don’t race, you still need decent shoes (more than one pair a year) and decent clothes. It adds up quickly.

And if you race, those race fees can add up quickly, too!

You could gain weight even if you want to lose weight
Yes, running can be a great way to lose weight. It’s also very easy to overestimate how much you really need to eat to recover or reward yourself with more food than you burned off.

Even if you don’t gain weight . . .
. . . your clothes might actually feel a little tighter after a run or a race. You need carbs to fuel your runs. Unfortunately those carbs will also cause some water retention.

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The more the merrier (even in horrible weather!)

It’s much easier in a group
Running always feels easier when you run with someone — even when that someone is faster than you. Don’t be afraid to try out some running groups!

It doesn’t get easier . . .
. . . but you do get better.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What do you wish someone had told you about running before you started?

Did you start out in a group or on your own?

Do you feel you’ve become a better runner over the years?

5 Ways to Rebound from a Bad Run

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It happens to all runners: one day you have the most incredible long run, and it seems like the next day an easy run half the distance is kicking your booty.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you ways to come back stronger from a bad run.

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Analyze
Did you get enough rest? Forget your allergy meds? Did you fuel properly? Did you fuel properly after your last run? Were you properly hydrated? When was your last rest day, anyway? Was it an unusually hot/cold/snowy/windy/humid day? Did you adjust your pace for those conditions?

Forget the training plan
Chances are if all you do is run for fun, then you won’t be bothered by a bad run. Probably you’ll even cut it short and live to run another day.

If you’re deep into training for something, though, it might be time to forget the plan and just go out and run. Maybe naked — without a watch, that is.

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This run was so hard — going from the cold Northeast to hot & humid New Orleans. Ok, it wasn’t really a bad run, but it was definitely tough! But you know what? I rocked the race!

Take a look through your running journal
Of course you keep a running journal, right? It could be written. It could be your blog. It could be Facebook posts.

Look back through it. What happened the last time you had a run that sucked? Did all your subsequent runs suck? Did you decide this running thing just isn’t for you, that clearly you suck at it?

I’ll bet you’ll find the good runs outweigh the bad runs. Just accept that some runs are gonna suck and have faith your next one won’t.

Think about all the greats . . .
. . . who failed.

  • Disney was fired for “lack of imagination”.
  • Edison’s teacher said he was “too stupid to learn anything”.
  • JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” was rejected by 12 publishers.
  • Babe Ruth, the home run king, struck out more than he hit homers.
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team sophomore year.

They didn’t let adversity — or rejection — deter them from coming back stronger. You will, too.

Dangle a carrot
When all else fails, decide on something that really, really, really motivates you. Food. A new playlist. Some new running clothes. New kicks. Whatever will get you out there even though you know this running thing just sucks.

Humans are animals — and the more you reward animals for doing something, the more they will do it to try to get that reward. So reward yourself.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What do you do when your run sucks?

What other famous people do you admire who failed?

What’s your favorite “carrot” to dangle?

5 Ways to Know You’re a Runner

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You might be a runner if . . .

This post was inspired by Laurie @ Meditations in Motion’s post on Are You Really a Runner? (read it here). Maybe you can even read this post in five minutes (or perhaps a bit more) — and get a few laughs along the way, too.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you some ways you can tell you’re a “real” runner.

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I actually staged this it a bit, but it’s all usually hanging around!

Things are hanging . . .
. . . everywhere: socks, wet running clothes, hats, jackets, sport bags . . . you name it, it’s probably hanging somewhere (or multiple places) in your home.

You come home completely exhausted
Totally spent. Your job, your SO, your kids, your furkids, you name it, and they’ve drained every last ounce of life out of you.

So of course the first thing you do is lace up and go for a run.

You hesitate to buy yourself new clothes . . . 
. . . but you don’t blink an eye at shelling out $13 for one pair of socks.

You know the location of all the bathrooms
In the stores, in the parks, along the bike paths. You know where the porty potties are, too. And which ones are the “good” ones. You also know when the bathrooms are closed and when they’re open.

I am generally not prone to GI issues but it’s not unusual for me to need a pee break before or after a run, so yes, for the most part, I know these things.

Inaccurate weaather: one of my weather apps

You have multiple weather apps
You consult them hourly. They all say something different. They all change hourly. They’re all almost always wrong.

Seriously, what would we talk about if we weren’t complaining about the weather?

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

How many weather apps are on your phone (and is there an accurate one)?

What sports-related items are hanging around your home?

What would you add to my list?

5 Ways to get your OM on

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And now you’ll just have to meditate to get rid of that nice little ear worm, right? I could go into all the ways meditation can benefit you, but then this wouldn’t be readable in five minutes. Who am I kidding, it still won’t be — but I’m trying!

I have been meditating almost daily for a couple of years now. I don’t spend a lot of time — anywhere from a minute to maybe 20 minutes tops, but usually it’s about 5-10 minutes. I definitely notice a difference with even that short a practice — calmer and more able to roll with the punches — at least more often.

I like guided meditations. Sometimes I do sit and just breath, which is definitely beneficial, but I find that I get more out of meditation when someone is guiding/talking to me.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share with you some of my favorite meditation apps.

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Calm
This is the app (find it here) that got me started with consistently meditating. I paid for unlimited access, but somewhere along the way, credit cards changed. I never did get around to re-subscribing, but I really enjoyed this app. There are several courses, and more than a hundred meditations

There are quite a few free meditations — you can choose to start a free trial (but will be billed the monthly subscription price automatically at the end of the trial) or just choose to explore the free content. There are no sports-specific mediations.

Insight Timer
Insight Timer (find the app here) has quickly become my favorite meditation app. Although you can pay for certain features, there’s so much that’s free, I’m not quite sure why people would pay. And there’s a lot more than just guided meditations, although that is what I usually use. I like to play some of the healing music sometimes, too. You can also just set a timer and meditate, and you set filters to only show you meditations of a certain length.

There are also talks, you can follow teachers you like, and see what’s popular and new. If you want to download your favorite meditations, that will cost you a small fee (I haven’t paid for that service). There are so many meditations, categories, and teachers that it can be a bit overwhelming choosing!

Primed Mind
Primed Mind (find the app here) has both guided meditations (they’re called Primers) and Courses — but I have not yet taken one of the courses. Some of the courses are definitely interesting, such as confidence, determination, and recovery.

There are both free and subscription Primers. There are fitness-specific Primers, but the vast majority of them require you to pay for the Pro version — which I did not. All the Primers I tried were about 10ish minutes long, with the same man, and really seemed to follow a pattern — starting out soft and slow, then revving up more and more until the end. They also seemed to be a cross between guided meditation and self hypnosis.

I do enjoy this app, but the pattern and having the same narrator for all the Primers can get old.

Alexa
Yes, you can meditate with Alexa, too. Yes, I actually still do use Alexa for many things. And she amuses us when she chimes in for no known reason, so there’s that, too. I haven’t used her much for meditation lately, because there’s so much to explore in Insight Timer, but a quick check shows a lot of meditation skills!

Here are two to try: “Alexa, open Mindful Meditation” and “Alexa, open Guided Meditation”. Google Alexa Meditation and try out a few on your own! The good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything. And I really should be trying it!

Danette May
I’m a huge Danette May fan, too. I enjoy the recipes, the workouts, and yes, the meditations. I think tying together mind, body, and spirit is important when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. You have to either join one of her challenges or join the community to have access to the meditations — but I definitely recommend it.

I’m sorry that I failed  miserably with the whole “read it in five minutes” thing. I do hope you found something interesting — maybe even try out one of the apps and meditating. Hey, elite athletes meditate — if it’s good enough for them, right?

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Have you ever thought about meditating?

Do you just sit in stillness or do you use guided meditations?

Do you use an app I haven’t listed?

How do you relax?

5 Ways Running is Like Crocheting

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Crocheting? Running? Has CRJ gone off the deep bend? Well, that may be debatable, but sometimes it’s good to have a little fun with your running — and your blog. My mind is a strange place that likes to come up with analogies.

Think crocheting and knitting have nothing to do with running? Despite the runners who knit while running (and just how do they do that?), there is a connection.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to show you just how crocheting is like running.

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You need equipment for any hobby


You need the equipment
People love to say that running is cheaper than therapy, and it’s true you don’t really need a lot — but if you want to remain pain and injury free, you do need to invest in a few critical things for running:

  • Good running shoes
  • Technical running clothes (cotton is not your friend for running)
  • Good socks

There’s lots more you can invest in when it comes to running — it isn’t really cheaper than therapy — but you absolutely need these basics. In fact, I’d also suggest:

  • Sunglasses
  • Sport Sunscreen
  • Hat/visor

You need the basics for crocheting, too, although I know there are people who knit and crochet using their fingers, but even they need some sort of fiber to knit or crochet. At the bare minimum you’ll need:

  • A basic set of crochet hooks
  • Yarn
  • Small scissors
  • Tape measure

Just like running, there is a lot more you can invest in, but those basics will get you up and crocheting your first scarf. You don’t even need a hot-to book — just google what you want to know! Wish I’d had Youtube decades ago when I taught myself to knit and crochet.

You need to build a good foundation
You start off your crochet project with a foundation chain. It’s the basis of your whole project and it can really make a difference: too tight and your project will pucker at the base; too loose and your project will end up much wider than you anticipated (and you just might run out of yarn).

Running requires a good foundation, too, only in runner-speak, it’s call base building. You need to get your body used to running when you start or when you’re coming back from injury/illness or an off season.

Hop in at the same pace/mileage you were used to when you were at the peak of your training and you are likely to find yourself with aches and pains — if not worse. Skip that base building altogether and you almost certainly invite injury — you may feel good while your running, but your joints won’t be ready for those harder workouts and you will suffer the consequences.

It takes time to learn
Both running and crocheting are simple hobbies. Or so it would appear on the surface. But there’s always something to learn.

Sometimes you need to start over
When it comes to crocheting, you will make mistakes. Of course you won’t notice them right away nine times out of ten. You’ll notice them 10 rows later — and then you have a choice: rip out those 10 rows and redo them or leave your mistake alone.

Life happens. You get too busy to run. You’re injured. Or you’re sick. Or a family member is sick. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a few weeks, sometimes it’s months at a time.

Starting over is frustrating but you can’t jump in at the same place you left off with. I repeat: you can’t jump in at the same place you left off with. Play it smart, take it slow, and your body will adapt to running much quicker than it did when you first started to run.

Starting in at the same mileage and pace as where you left off, if it’s been more than a week, is a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes you need a coach
Back in the day, for me, my coach for learning to knit and crochet were how-to books and co-workers. Today we have Youtube — which is a wonderful thing, because when I don’t crochet or knit for years and forget simple things like casting on, casting off, or even tying a slipknot, I don’t even need a book — I just google it.

You can google an awful lot about running. You can learn a lot from blogs. If you’re new to running — or even if you’ve been doing it a while — a coach can help you get to the next level, simply motivate you to do it, help you run injury free, and so much more. No doubt you’ve heard me sing the praises of Coach Rachel @ Runningonhappy — I totally recommend her, and have recommended her to friends (if only they’d listen!).

Can’t afford a coach? Look around your town for running and/or training groups. Our local running group has a coach that helps people with speedwork. There are quite a few local training groups — some to get you started running, some to get you to run longer, and some keyed to a specific race. They all have coaches and/or mentors. In fact, I’ll be one of the many mentors for the Freihofers Training Challenge  if you’re a local.

Most training groups are larger, and you won’t get that one-on-one attention of a personal coach, but you’ll still learn new things and most likely you’ll enjoy meeting new runners.

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

What analogies for running can you think of?

Anything you’d add to my list?

Have you ever tried to knit or crochet — or something equally as challenging — on the run?

5 Foods that fight inflammation

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Since I’ve been fighting a virus, my thoughts turned to foods that can worsen or help illnesses lately. Last week I talked about foods that tend to cause inflammation in the body (read about it here) and why you might want to avoid them when you’re under the weather.

This week I want to talk about the foods that actually help fight inflammation and can really help support you when you’re sick. This isn’t at all a definitive list — it is the Friday, 5, after all!

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share the foods I consider to be healing foods — and if you have whatever’s been going around, you might want to be including them in your diet, too.

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Berries
Berries are packed with antioxidants, Vitamin C, and potassium. They can lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. And yes, they can help fight inflammation in your body.

Frozen are just as good as fresh, which is good, because I’ve been trying to eat a little more seasonally this year (although I still eat bananas and apples year round — I just love them, so sue me!).

Top your yogurt, your oatmeal, or just eat them with a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Throw them in your smoothies. Dip them in some chocolate.

Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are high in vitamin e and antioxidants. They’re also a source of calcium (good for the vegheads!), and vitamins a and c.

A few to consider adding to your diet:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts

Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a complete plant protein (again, great for vegetarians and vegans). They actually have more omega 3s, by weight, than salmon. They’re full of fiber. They help keep blood sugar levels, well, level. They contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation.

One of the ways I get chia into my diet is to throw them into smoothies and overnight oats. Oh, and did I mention that they help keep you full? But be careful not to consume them unless they’ve been soaked and allowed to gel (see this post here and here). Although I have baked them without soaking them and for me, it’s been fine.

Now interestingly, doing some research for this post, there seems to be a lot of disagreement of whether or not anything other than red meat can be a complete protein. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find that post again, but basically it seemed to say chia is not chock full of omega 3s and not a complete protein — not being a nutritionist, I can’t really tell you which is the reality. I haven’t found chia to be a problem for me, but in general, I like everything in moderation and variety.

Yes, smoked salmon counts. Although that bagel is chock full of gluten and probably not the best choice if you’re sick


Salmon
Remember the Omega 3s I talked about in the foods to avoid? Well, Salmon is an excellent source of them (eat the skin – that’s where a lot of the good fat is).

Don’t like salmon? Other fatty fish, like sardines, tuna, herring, mackerel, and trout are also good sources for Omega 3s (I prefer wild caught to farmed).

Flaxseed and walnuts as well as those green leafy veggies are also good sources, although it’s far easier for your body to utilize the Omega 3s from fish.

If they don’t like garlic breath — too bad!


Garlic
Garlic has so many benefits. Did you know the ancient Greeks fed it their Olympic athletes? The things you can learn online! The British used it in WWI to prevent sepsis of wounds. It can help reduce joint swelling and inflammation.

I personally happen to love garlic. When a recipe calls for it, I will often double the amount. Chopping it and letting it sit about 10 minutes will also make its health benefits stronger.

Obviously, this is a very short list of anti inflammatory foods. Just google it and you’ll find tons more. As active people we tend to build up some inflammation in our bodies, so knowing which foods to incorporate into our diets to fight it is a good thing. Luckily, many of them are pretty yummy, too!

Talk to me. Leave a comment or answer a question:

Do you ever even think about inflammation?

What are your favorite anit inflammatory foods?

Chia seeds — love em or leave em?