I cheated a little: I’m sharing things I saw on a long run a couple of weeks ago.
Animals I saw the usual animals:
Nothing unusual in the list. Sometimes I do see something more exotic like a turtle or a groundhog or beaver, maybe even a bald eagle if I’m really lucky (actually, never at this section of the bike path, but I have on other sections), but I was running along and thinking this is kind of a boring run.
Humans and their companions It’s a popular trail so it’s rare that you don’t see someone, even in Winter. People walking their dogs, their kids. People riding their bikes. Other runners. Occasionally skateboarders, but not this day.
A guy fishing This isn’t unusual either, although most of the time I don’t see people fishing here. But once in a while I do. I always wonder what the heck they catch out of the algae choked canal. Is it edible? Or are they just fishing because it destresses them?
The grand finale Seriously, I was running and thinking this is a really boring run. Nothing to see here. Then it happened . . .
I did not see this on the way out. I can be pretty oblivious sometimes, listening to my own thoughts, but I don’t really think I could have run anywhere near the union jack jester’s hat above and missed it. Since this was almost at the end of the run, it did keep me occupied, wondering who would ever wear such a thing? More importantly, why? Finally, why would they leave it on the trail?
What is the weirdest thing you’ve seen on a run?
If you run by a water source, are there people out fishing?
Looking forward to see what you see on the run!
If you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into the Chakras (I mention them briefly in the Rainbow Challenge), you can learn more from the videos in my Yin Yoga Chakra Playlist; click here.
Sometimes you need a distraction I came up with both of the challenges above when I was running in my own neighborhood. A lot! It’s not that big, I’m not a huge fan of looping, and besides, I’m also walking Bandit here almost every day.
Both times these challenges served me well. They took my mind off of the monotony of running in the same place over and over again.
Why it’s better to be present on the run I think taking in nature on the run is important. One of the reasons running can be so great is because it gets us out of our houses and into the fresh air!
I would argue, though, that we can get more from running when we ditch the distractions. We actually look around us and take in the beauty of nature. The sky, the animals, the sounds around us, the breezes on our bodies. The changes we see as the seasons change.
Being truly present on our runs can help to build up that mental toughness we need if we’re racing. If you’re not racing (like I haven’t been for a long time) building mental toughness is still important! Running and racing aren’t the only places in life where we need mental toughness.
Ditching the music and the podcasts, even if only occasionally, can help us to connect our body and minds. Begin by noticing your breath — your breath will always give you a clue of how hard you’re running.
We can run through a body scan while we run. What are our feet doing? Turning in or out, on the inside or outside of our feet? Does something feel off? Can we change something to make it feel better? Where are we breathing from? Where are we breathing into?
Final Thoughts Sometimes distracting ourselves on the run is just what we need. You might be surprised at just how enjoyable a run without the music or the podcasts can be. Or you might find that when things get tough, you are actually tougher. That can be a really comforting thought.
Although I’m always wearing and using my Garmin, I almost never look at it. It’s there basically so I know how far I’ve run and when I’m done. It doesn’t distract me from my run.
Music can definitely be a nice distraction, but isn’t part of the reason you run to be outside enjoying nature? Why not really immerse yourself in it?
Do you find yourself struggling when the heat is on? Or is running in heat your jam? If so I admire you!
Love it or hate it, chances are at some point you’re going to have some hot runs. These tips might just help you conquer your hotter runs.
Forgettabout pace Especially as it first begins to heat up, it’s going to take a little time for most of us to find our hot legs, so to speak. You’re probably going to slow down. You should, in fact, slow down.
I was thinking about just this subject on a recent run, when temps had turned suddenly warmer. The run was good . . . the pace was slow. That’s okay.
When it’s hot, especially when it’s suddenly hot, run by effort
Do whatever it takes to get out there early Obviously if you have to run later in the day, it is what it is. If you are not a fan of hot running, though, your best bet is early morning.
Lay out everything you’ll need the night before
Have a snack ready if you just can’t run fasted
Charge up the gadgets the night before
Set an alarm so you don’t oversleep
This is something I’ve dealt with a few times recently. I wanted to run, and Bandit needed a walk. Sometimes I’ll walk him first, then run, but I chose to run first this day. I came home, I had a snack, I changed, and I was out the door with Bandit.
Some runners like to sleep in their running clothes. I have never tried it; it just doesn’t sound at all comfortable to me. You never know, though, you might like it!
Cold Stuff is Your Friend Use that cooling towel. Stuff some ice cubes down your bra and under your hat. Fill a water bottle with water the night before a hot run and stick it in the freezer. Top it off with cold water the morning of your run and you’ll have cold water a lot longer than if you just put cold water in that bottle.
When you’ve finished your run, set up the next half filled water bottle in your freezer. There will be another hot run and you’ll be ready to tackle it.
Final Thoughts The weather has been downright bipolar lately. It’s in the 70s a few days, then suddenly it shoots up to 90 one day. Then falls 20 degrees as a cold front comes through. And then the highs are actually in the 50s!
My point? It takes time to get used to heat, and you’re not going to get used to it with weather like that. Just remember the first tip — run by feel, forget about pace — and I promise you you’ll have more enjoyable runs than if you cling to a training plan.
Best heat busting tips?
Are you are cold or hot weather runner or somewhere in between? (in between for me)
Would you rather run in the morning or evening on a hot day?
Who doesn’t want to recover quickly so they can have a great next run? It should come as no surprise to people that read this blog for a while that I’m all about taking care of my body so that I can recover quickly. I have a secret weapon for that, too.
G is for Garmin I have a Garmin Vivoactive 3. Before that I had the original Garmin Vivoactive. I replaced the Vivoactive after about 4 years because a) it was acting a bit wonky and b) I really, really wanted the HR monitor function — which was not built into the original version.
I like that I am not switching back and forth between a regular watch and a Garmin. Because it tracks my sleep, my steps, my floors, my resting heart rate, my stress levels, and so much more — I wear my Garmin Vivoactive 3 24/7. I may have to remember to charge it before a run, but I pretty much always know where it is.
Some of those features are incredibly useful to me: they help me figure out whether or not I should push a run off to another day, or maybe just do an easier run rather than a planned harder workout. Here are the things I check frequently.
V02 MAX I know that the V02 MAX reported by my Garmin is not extremely accurate, but I’ve found over time it’s pretty consistent. Sure it moves around a point here, a point there, but it usually stays in the same relatively narrow range.
After my COVID vaccines I was struggling with my runs and my energy levels. Sure enough, my V02 MAX had fallen lower than my normal range. It took a while before it settled back into its normal range and my runs slowly started to get better.
Stress Garmin uses HRV (heart rate variability) to give you a number for how stressed your body is feeling. You may not feel stressed, by your heart doesn’t lie.
I actually find it kind of fascinating. In general my Stress metric is usually in the low range, but I could see it jump up after my COVID vaccines, for instance. I also know that if I see it jump up, it’s another good indicator it’s not time for a hard run (and maybe not any run at all).
RHR (resting heart rate) Very similar to the Stress metric. If you see this jump up more than 5 points, it’s a good indicator something’s brewing. Although I’m not quite sure of the algorithm Garmin uses, because they do adjust it down sometimes the next day, so I’ve learned to take this one with a grain of salt.
Yes, my RHR jumped up almost 10 points after both vaccines, too. If I see it move up more than 5 points, again, it’s time to either readjust my run or my schedule.
I actually don’t track my heart rate while I run anymore, mostly just running by feel, and for the most part, it’s pretty consistent.
Final Thoughts A lot of people could care less about these metrics, I know. I sync my Garmin with the app each morning (I believe that helps me to get a signal more quickly), so it’s just a matter of glancing at the info that’s already recorded. There are times I don’t have to look at that to know that it’s not a good idea for me to run hard, or run at all.
There are other times, though, that I don’t feel bad, yet the data says something is brewing. How many times have you felt fine until you didn’t? Tracking these three simple things (if that’s available to you) might help you clue in to fact that you’re not recovering well, for whatever reason, and you can adjust accordingly.
I am not a slave to the numbers, either, but I just find that it’s good information for me, and it’s readily available to me. I like not having to wear a fitness tracker and a GPS watch!
What’s a signal to you that you’ve recovered well?
Do you ever feel fine and then suddenly get sick?
Are you good about adjusting your running due to how you feel?
Some runners have been able to continue to race during the Pandemic, or at least in the last few months. Some haven’t, and some have chosen not to. I think a lot of us are/were rusty when it comes to training and racing.
Here’s a little reminder of some of the ABCs of running & racing
A is for Attitude A lot of runners have just been running — or maybe not running as much as they used to. Maybe you’ve let go of some of the things you did when you were “seriously” training to run/race.
Maybe you’ve lost a little running fitness, and maybe that’s frustrating to you.
Maybe you haven’t had to fuel for anything and you either forget to do it or the things that worked no longer work. It’s almost like you’re beginning over again!
Where ever you are, the most important thing you can bring on your run is your attitude. It can make or break your run/race!
B is for Balance If you’re looking to start training again, don’t forget that your runs shouldn’t all be hard. Or all the same pace. Or distance!
You want a balance of speed, or distance, and most importantly — truly easy runs.
A little balance work wouldn’t hurt, either.
C is for Cross Training All running all the time is the reason at least 70% of runners will experience an injury this year. Running is a very forward motion. It’s a repetitive motion.
Get on your bike, get in the pool, heck hula hoop if you enjoy it (it’ll work that all important Core, which could also be what C is all about).
D is for Distance One run a week — even if you’re only training for a 5k — should be longer than the others.
Don’t go from 3 miles to 6 all in one jump, though, unless you’re a really experienced runner. Keep in mind the 10% rule: don’t increase your runs by more than 10% per week.
D can also stand for Don’t go out too fast!
E is for Elevation Some runners embrace the hills and other runners do their best to avoid them at all costs. If you live in a flat area, you probably don’t have to worry about hills unless you’re going out of state to run/race. Hills will still make you stronger, though.
If you know your race will be hilly, it’s best to train on some hills maybe once a week. Otherwise your body could be angry with you during/after your race.
No matter what, hills will make you a stronger runner.
F is for Fun No matter what, running should be fun — at least the majority of the time. Some runs are gonna suck, let’s be honest, but they make you a stronger runner — physically and mentally.
The temptation might be to be very dedicated and serious about your training if you haven’t raced in a year (maybe longer). Nothing wrong with that! Unless it leads you to burn out and running becomes a chore.
If that happens, ditch the plan (if there is one) for a week. Heck, take a week off running completely! I promise you you’re not going to lose a lot of fitness in one week. You might just fall in love with running all over again after a break.
Final Thoughts It has been so long since I’ve raced in real life, I have no doubt when I do, I’ll make a lot of rookie running mistakes. Or maybe it’s like muscle memory? It’ll just all come back on its own?
No matter what, don’t forget what F stands for — and it’s not finishing (although that’s pretty awesome too).
Maybe you’re training for a real life race — or maybe you’ve run a few already. If you need to change up things a bit, I’ve got a fun challenge for you this week! Bonus points if you can snag photos.
I’ve been running around my neighborhood a lot lately, and this has helped me from being super bored with the scenery — even if the scenery in Spring is pretty!
What animals do you see on the run? Count em! Last year we were trying to find the colors of the rainbow (see this post here). Thanks to Kim @ kimrunsonthefly for this challenge. She happened to mention that she wasn’t seeing many Robins any more.
My guess is I’m seeing all the Robins because I’m out there much, much later than Kim. Apparently the Robins don’t get many worms because they are not early morning birds (just joking)!
After Kim made that comment, on the next walk with Mr. Judy and Bandit I started to count Robins. I didn’t even think of starting to do it until we’d already been walking a while. We don’t walk very far, either.
That first day I counted 11 Robins and 1 Rabbit.
The next day I ran and I counted 11 Robins, 1 Cardinal, 1 Rabbit and a Murder of Crows
Again I didn’t even think to start looking for them until I was halfway through my run.
The next week I started right away — and counted a record number of Robins: 47!
Next time you’re bored on your run, I’d love to hear how many and which kind of animals you see on the run — I know some of you see some really cool animals! Like I said at the beginning of the post, bonus points for photos. Although I rarely got good bird photos, they always fly away.
What I noticed Although you often see Robins in pairs, I saw a lot of bachelors too. There were Robin deserts in the neighborhood — I’d see a bunch and then none for quite a while. So far I’m not seeing as many rabbits as in years past, but that may be because I’m not running early yet — and also because I know Rabbits are cyclical (they wind down then they’re everywhere again).
Final Thoughts I can remember quite a few hot Summer runs in years past when I would count the Rabbits. It was a sign the run wasn’t going well. Better than counting steps though!
Properly fueling runs is an art, just like hydration, which I wrote about here.
What works for me absolutely may not work for you.
Last week I found myself a few hours after breakfast, having already walked Bandit, prepping for a run. It wasn’t a long or hard run, but I felt like I needed a little something-something before I ran.
A really good choice is actually a banana — but the only bananas we had were still green. I know that some people actually prefer them that way, but I’ll pass.
Honeystinger Short Stack Waffle I have used Honeystinger Waffles often as a pre-race snack when I find myself in the same sort of situation: breakfast was just a little bit too long ago and I needed a little something to fuel my run.
I’ve also used bites of a Waffle towards the end of a long race, when my energy is really low.
Much of the energy in Honeystinger Waffles comes from honey. Honey actually has some medicinal qualities. More information on the carbohydrate (aka sugar) sources from the Website:
Utilizing an ingredient engineered by nature as opposed to in a laboratory has its benefits, like higher quality and no additional flavoring or coloring. We use honey, a natural form of energy and antioxidants, combined with other natural sweeteners as the energy sources for all products. Research in endurance athletes has proven that a mixture of carbohydrates is better tolerated by the body, prevents fatigue and enhances performance more than a single carbohydrate form.
How the ingredients in Honeystinger Waffles can help your run according to the Honeystinger Website:
Honey Stinger Waffles are the perfect snack to help you prepare and perform for all activities. The energy in waffles is released immediately and absorbed at a steady rate, which delays muscle fatigue and gives your body the power to achieve your goals. With the right balance of delicious honey-powered carbs, you’ll be counting the minutes until it’s time for the next one.
That banana, by the way? It’s got 14 gm of sugar (depending on the size of the banana) vs the 10 gm in the Honeystinger Short Stack. I will grant you that you can’t get more natural than a banana though!
Final Thoughts It had been so long since I’d actually eaten a Honeystinger Waffle, I really thought that this was one of the mini waffles! Somehow it seemed smaller, but I guess it really wasn’t. I know a 3 mile run probably doesn’t need 10 gm of sugar. But sometimes you just need a somewhat-natural energy boost, and this fit the bill for me.
What do you snack on right before a run if you’re hungry?
Do you like sugar as fuel, or fat? The HS waffles are great with some nut butter, too, btw
How long has it been since you last raced? Racing is oh so slowly beginning to open up. Are you a bit rusty about what to do the night before a race? Or maybe you’re new to running and you need some tips to help you set yourself up for success before a long run.
I’ve got you covered with these six tips!
Know your go-to meal/s One of the main points of training is that you do nothing new on race day. That’s why we practice! Try out several pre-long run day meals. See which ones seem to agree most with your stomach — and your long run the next day.
If you’re racing from home, now you know exactly what to eat before the race. If you’ve traveled to race, make sure you’ve tried out a meal that will be easy to find at your destination.
Of course you can try something new — just be prepared for potential consequences
Any beverage mix you’ll be mixing up the next morning
Race belt or pins
Anti chafe product
Tape, arm or leg sleeves, braces
Ziploc bags for if it’s rainy and you need to put your electronics in it
Bag for pre/post race stuff
License/money (if I had a $ for every time I forget my license!)
Car keys (or every time I can’t find my car keys when I really need them)
Foam roller or balls
Anything you can leave out that you’ll have for breakfast
Shoes — make sure you have a left & right shoe (even if they don’t match)
You’ll sleep better knowing that you have everything is ready for the next day and there’s no reason to waste time.
During the day, make sure to hydrate well . . . . . . but know your cut off time. The time where if you continue to drink, you know you’re going to have to get up to use the bathroom. For me that’s usually around 5 pm!
Don’t overdo the hydration. You can’t make up for not hydrating well in the days leading up to your race by slamming liquids the day before your race — trust me, this will backfire on you.
So keep in mind that the time to really hydrate is in the three days or so leading up to your race.
Rest You don’t have to be a zombie, but now is not the time to go on that strenuous hike or do heavy lifting. Of course if you’re traveling and you want to hike the day before your race, go for it! Just now that it’s unlikely to be a PR, if that’s what you’re shooting for.
I highly recommend that if you’ve tried meditation and you actually enjoy it (or at the very least tolerate it), meditate before you go to sleep. This will help you to relax, both in your body and your mind, and may help you sleep better.
Normally meditation will absolutely help you sleep better, but we’ve all had that restless night before a race, right? It will still help to relax your body and calm your mind.
Charge up all your electronics A dead Garmin is a real buzzkill at a race — unless, of course, you love to race naked. By naked I mean without a GPS watch, although there are a few races you can actually do naked, if that’s your thing.
Set an alarm — or two I set my alarm on my Garmin Vivoactive, and since I wear that 24/7, there’s no worry that I’m going to forget to wear it or have it by me. I do need to remember to charge it up before I go to sleep — and usually to top it up a bit before I actually leave for my race.
I don’t normally sleep with my phone on, but before a race I do usually use it as a backup for my Garmin. I’ve never slept through my Garmin yet, but two is better than one. So I’ll have my phone charging, set to do not disturb (no middle of the night calls or texts), and have a second alarm go off a little after my Garmin is set to wake me. Just in case.
Final Thoughts If you’re new to running or racing, this may seem a little overwhelming. Plenty of people have a much smaller pre-race routine, too. You’ll find out what works for you.
If you want to get a great night’s sleep before your race, these tips will help. Over time you’re pre race routine will become just that: routine. A ritual. Your body loves routines and rituals!
Are you looking forward to some RL races soon?
How long has it been since you raced?
What do you do pre-race/LSD that I didn’t mention?
Could you be foam rolling all wrong — and for the wrong reasons? Maybe! I’ve taken several mobility and self myofascial release courses over the last year (and am eyeing yet another one!).
Today I’m sharing my biggest takeaway that I heard at pretty much all of these courses.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional or physical therapist. I can’t diagnose what may be wrong with you. Always check with a doctor first.
It’s not about ironing out our fascia Back in the day when I started foam rolling, I was taught that it basically takes our jumbled fascia (which creates pain and stiffness) and irons it out, so to speak, so that all those jumbled fibers are more organized.
Turns out that’s not really what foam rolling does.
It’s all in your head Maybe not all, but like most things running, the truth is it’s often not so much a body limitation, but a neuromuscular protection mechanism.
You know how when you’re doing a long run, and you feel tired towards the end? A lot of that is actually coming from your brain — it’s trying to protect you from injuring yourself, and slowing down is a great way to potentially protect from injury.
Your nervous system acts the same way to protect your connective tissue. It can send you pain to basically get you to stop whatever it is you are doing that it perceives as a threat.
Your nervous system basically says stop yourself! (by triggering pain) before you wreck yourself (injure yourself).
Foam rolling basically tells your brain that oh! it’s okay to feel that pressure. You can tolerate that pressure; it’s not a threat.
Do you really need to roll at all? I’ve shared my foot compression routine. The problem with rolling is you generally don’t get as deep pressure as you do by simply putting pressure on the foot (or wherever else you usually roll).
It also takes sustained pressure to get into your nervous system — without those longer holds, your nervous system doesn’t have time to calm down and realize that this sort of pressure isn’t a threat after all.
Can rolling hurt you? Well, yes, it can, but only if it’s done improperly (rolling on bones, over new scars, if you have a serious illness). In general you can foam roll to your hearts’ content — but you may not get the results you’re after.
If done properly foam rolling will not hurt you. It just may not actually heal you.
Should I just throw out my foam roller? Nooooo! Foam rolling is very beneficial at certain times. That’s another thing I learned — when and how to foam roll — but that’s a post for another day.
Let’s end with a little experiment. I want you to roll your left foot. Do it however you normally do it. Walk around. Notice the difference between your left and right feet.
Next try simply draping your foot over the same ball you used with your right foot. In front of the fat pad on your heel on the inside and the outside. Then just below the ball of the foot, on the inside and outside of your foot. Hold for at least 90 seconds in each location.
Walk around again.
Which foot feels better?
What else do you notice about your feet after doing this?
I love the in between seasons for running: Spring and Fall. If I had to pick one, I would pick Spring. Spring, with the returning birds, returning sunshine (sometimes), the flower and flowering trees — it’s just so hopeful. It’s entertaining stalking all those signs of Spring!
Shedding layers There comes a point when you’re just so over running in #allthelayers. You feel like a bundled up kid — it’s heavy, and it restricts movement. Like a caterpillar slowly making its way out of its cocoon, the warming temps of Spring allow us to ditch all the layers.
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, though, because the mornings in early Spring can be pretty darn Winter-like. It takes a while for those longer days to start warming the roads (especially if there’s still snow on the ground), so as I wrote about in Prepping for Spring here, it’s not quite time to put away all your warm running clothes.
New sights I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to find something to photograph on Winter runs. Often it’s really gray. There’s little wildlife and no pretty flowers.
As Spring begins to unfurl its leaves. there’s literally beauty everywhere around you. Even though we often seem to skip Spring and go straight into Summer, at some point the trees will have leaves, they’ll flower, and the Spring bulbs will bloom.
I have so much fun hunting down the signs of Spring, too!
Lightening the load You could take that almost literally, as in the days are getting longer and the sun is putting in an appearance more often — both things that just put a smile on my face.
As we move further into Spring, though, I no longer need leggings with skirt. Then I can move on to capris. And one day it’s time to run in a skirt again! There is such a sense of freedom running in a skirt — not to mention not having to be on the lookout for black ice.
Speaking of it’s not all rainbows . . . The pretty flowers and flowering trees come at a price: for some that’s allergies, and for most of us that’s rain. Spring is often very wet, and when I lived in VT, it was known as mud season — for good reason!
I enjoy a nice run in a warm rain, but cold rain is the worst.
Can we talk about that wind? Spring comes roaring through some days — literally!
Time to race, anyone? Spring is one of my favorite times to race. Races are sparse in Winter in these parts – but that oh so fickle weather can also get you in Spring races. Not to mention the Pandemic still chugging along.
Take stock of how you trained through the Winter. Are you really race ready, even if all you want to do is have fun? Consider building a base if you haven’t run as much during Winter. Have you kept up with strength training? Now is definitely the time to get back to it!
Consider hiring a coach to help you ease back into racing. We’ve got some great ones in these linkups!