Running in Summer: Surviving the Heat

Days are getting longer, the world is a lot greener and the temperatures are starting to rise: summer is just around the corner. I’ve heard a lot in my own community – new and old runners alike talking about how the heat is starting to affect their training schedules.

Instead of looking at the heat as a hindrance, it’s time to start looking for ways to push through and thrive. Check out a few of these tips and keep going!

1. Be Smart

Yes, summer is hot and these tips are meant to help you run in the heat. But, certain times of day are hotter than others. Look at rearranging your schedule for more early morning or evening runs – 5-10 degrees can make a huge difference!

2. Go Off-Roading

Sidewalks and streets are great. But, in the summer, they tend to radiate heat. If it’s a grueling day and the sun is shining, finding some shade can bring some big time relief. Look for a trail with some shade and mix up your training routine.

trees

3. Fuel Appropriately

The more you sweat, the more hydration you need. Note – this is not saying that hydration doesn’t matter when it’s cold out. But, when you’re exerting extra energy because of the heat, you need to hydrate appropriately. My choice? Cocogo. I’m an ambassador for this amazing product for a reason. This powdered coconut water sports drink provides electrolytes from natural sources that increase hydration and energy while decreasing fatigue, cramps and other negative effects associated with dehydration. If you haven’t tried it yet, contact me. I’d be more than happy to send you a sample! Interested in buying? Visit www.Cocogo.com and use discount code: TAKETWOBLOG for 40% off!

Cocogo Cocogo Grid

4. Lather Up

Sure, as a kid it was fun to spend hours outside soaking up the rays. As an adult runner? Sunburn is a serious side effect that should be avoided at all costs. Find a sunscreen that’s designed for sports, sprays on and lasts through sweat. I use Neutrogena’s Ultra Sheer Spray, but you find what works for you.

SPF

5. Know Your Body

Heat stroke can come on quickly, especially when running. Know the signs. If you start to cramp – you need to hydrate. If you start to feel dizzy, lightheaded or unusually winded, it’s time to call it. Know your body, know what’s normal, and be willing to call a workout when you need to.

6. Use Water

Water isn’t just for drinking. On especially hot days, consider using a wet towel around your neck or wetting your running tank and tossing it in the freezer for a few minutes before heading out. Cold at first, yes. However, the cooling properties it’ll provide during your workout are well worth the initial discomfort.

7. Adjust Your Workout

Think about the weather report when planning for a week – this doesn’t mean that it can happen all the time. But, when there’s a heatwave, look for ways to bring it inside, to shorten time outside and to lengthen your time spent cross training indoors. Crazy speed workouts and 10+ mile runs shouldn’t be happening in 105 degree weather unless your body is accustomed to it.

Options for indoor workouts:

  • Try out a new machine – rower, stair climber, elliptical, arch trainer and more.
  • Lift. It’s good to add strength to your routine anyway (this should be happening regularly 🙂 ) If it’s not, summer is a great time to start.
  • Circuits! Look for high intensity activities – pick 3-5 (rowing, crunches, planks, burpees, box jumps, etc), and do each for 30 seconds to one minute. Rest. Repeat (set a goal number). Check out my Instagram account for workout ideas – look up Under Armour’s #Sweataday program for daily activities to add to your back pocket…that’s where mine come from!

8. Get in the Water

Swimming is one of the best ways to mix up a summer workout routine. Just as effective (maybe even more so?) running in the water. The water adds a resistance that you can’t find on the street and the water gives your body a break from the heat. Check out details on pool running here.

9. Find a Buddy

Running with a partner is not only a great way to stay motivated, it’s also an effective way to stay safe during the heat. Watch out for each other, watch for negative signs – confusion, a lack of sweat, etc., and encourage each other to drink while running. Staying safe could depend on choosing to run with a partner.

10. Keep Someone On Alert

When you have to go at it solo, bring your phone and consider wearing a RoadID. Let someone know when you’re heading out, where you’re running and how long you’ll be.

road id

 

Running in the summer doesn’t have to be a downer or something seen as an impossible task. It can be enjoyable. It’s all about preparation. Follow the steps above and get out there!

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8 Ways to Improve Your Race Pace

Whether you’re a long time runner, or someone just getting started your race pace likely matters to you. While crossing the finish line or making an attempt is just as important, once you’ve been at it awhile, or once you’re sure you can meet those basic goals, the time that you’ll finish in probably ranks up there fairly high on your list of priorities when a race is approaching.

I get it. Every time I run a race there’s a little part of me that wants to do better than last time. While I understand that this has limits, and that a peak is a peak, I believe that for all of us, finishing faster is a priority at one time or another.

I want to take the time to tell you that, with a little training and forward focus, this is possible. In the past 1.5 years, I’ve shaved 30 minutes off of my half marathon finish time and have cut my 5k finish time almost in half. You can too – take a look at the 8 tips below that matter before and during your race, and consider mixing up your routine. You could be surprised at the results!

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Before Race Day

1. Find What Works for You

I’ve read a lot on this topic, and have practiced it myself. For some people, running spurts are the most effective way to get from point A to point B – that is, running for a pre-allotted amount of time or distance before backing off a bit for a specific amount of time, then repeating until you cross the finish. For me, that is not effective…if I slow down to much, I have a hard time picking my pace back up. My method is to go out fast (not too fast), maintain as long as I can and then to back off slowly while maintaining a run, using hills to my advantage – which varies overall pace a bit (check out the splits below from my last race to see what I mean). But, I only know this because I’ve practiced it and have tried different methods. This is not something to figure out on race day; if you’re looking to set a PR, you’ve got to have your method down in advance. Play around and find out what you’re comfortable with. When you find your groove, you’ll know.

splits

2. Practice Speed

You can’t run fast during a race unless speed work is a part of your training regimen. How fast, how far and how frequent depends upon your race distance and the pace you’re trying to achieve. In most cases, speed work should happen once a week during your race training. Check out one of my go-to treadmill speed workouts here, or check out Runner’s World’s “5 Key Speed Workouts.” By practicing your speed, you’re allowing your body to become familiar with going faster, making a better finish time more than possible.

3. Train Slow

This probably sounds counter-intuitive – number two is about practicing speed while number three is saying to train slow. But, it works. Here’s why: by limiting speed workouts, you’re allowing your body to go hard, but giving it time to recover. While doing this, training slow allows you to build up miles, to become familiar with how far you’ll be running or further, depending on your training plan, while allowing for recovery and increasing strength. By incorporating speed workouts into your routine, you’ll be prepared for the pace, make sure you incorporate long, slow training runs to prepare for the distance by increasing endurance.

4. Know Your Fuel

I’ve seen it happen way too many times. Runners train using one fuel – a specific drink, a snack, something else altogether, then rely on what’s available during the race at the refreshment stands. The effect? Nothing good. Side stitches, stomach issues or even worse. In fact, not trying out the fuel in advance can stop a race in its tracks. There are a few options to overcome this. The first is to use what works for you. For me, it’s Cocogo coconut water. For my husband its GU Gels. It all depends on your digestive system and what works. If you have something that works, why change it? Have someone along the course with what you need and use it. The second option is to find out what will be available on race day – most races lay out their hydration stations and a list of what will be available at each one. Train using whatever that may be and see how your body responds. Remember – either option could be a possibility, but you’ve got to prepare in advance. Your finish time could depend on it!

(Side note: along with fuel, you should know exactly what you’ll be wearing on race day and practice in it, a gear slip up can be just as terrible as a fueling error).

During

5. Listen to Your Body – Not Your Headphones

You’ve probably heard that music is the best way to get through a workout. I would agree. However, I would argue that it’s not an effective way for finishing with a PR. I read a great article awhile back on Runner’s World about listening to your body instead of music; the writer took down his pace significantly. I was intrigued; I usually depended on headphones when it came to race day. But, this go round, I decided to give it a try. I was amazed. Instead of focusing on music and drowning out my body’s signals, I was able to listen to what felt right and to go with it. I didn’t experience fatigue at the halfway point, in fact, I felt strong from start to finish. I could hear my own footsteps which pushed my on and I could pay attention to the crowd that provided a ridiculous level of support. Instead of drowning myself out, I used my own signals to push me faster than I’d gone before. Give it a try – listen to your body, not the music. This is also true of GPS tools – watching a clock is a surefire way to burn out, instead, trust your training and go from there.

6. Draw Them In

A race is a big deal. With the excitement and nerves at the starting line, coupled with the idea of how far you have to run, distractions are plentiful and can become problematic. The best strategy for cutting them out? Focus on the feet in front of you. After the initial craze of the starting line, fall into your pace, and look for runners around the same pace as yourself. From there, start to draw them in. Start with the person right in front of you, try to match their stride and pass when possible. Do it again. By taking this approach (slowly), you’ll be building your own pace without focusing on anything that will slow you down. When you get passed yourself, don’t stress; that’s what a race is all about. Just focus on what’s ahead and get there.

7. Set Small Goals

This is especially important during longer races. When running a half marathon, reaching mile 6 and starting to feel tired while realizing you still have 7 to go – that can be almost unbearable. But, it can be just as bad for a shorter race, especially for a new runner. The solution? Stop counting. Stop doing the math. Stop focusing on how far you have to go or how far you’ve come. Instead, set a small goal. Make it to the next mile marker, or the next telephone pole if a mile is too far! Set a small distance goal and conquer it, celebrate for a second when you reach it then do it all over again. A race is generally more mentally challenging than physically challenging, especially if you’ve done the work in advance. Set small goals and conquer every single one of them.

8. Think Big

Once again, this one may sound like it works against the tip before it. But, it doesn’t. Just because you’re setting small goals doesn’t mean you can’t think big on race day. Toward the end of the race, when you’re tired and you’re ready to settle for just finishing…step back. Think about the finish. Think about the pace goal you’ve set and remind yourself that you’re totally capable of it. Remember that you’ve put in some serious training and that you set your goal for a reason. Think about the pride you’ll feel when you hit it. I think about how I’ll feel at the end of the race when I need to dig deep. Will I regret not leaving it all on the course? How will I feel if I know that I could have pushed a little harder? If the answer is “full of regret” I push on. If I feel as though I’m doing all I can and that when I look back I’ll know that I’ve done my best, then I stay at the level I’m at. Once again, the power of thought can do a lot as far as hitting a goal finish time. Use it to your advantage.

Setting and achieving a pace goal or a personal record during a race can be a mountain top experience, but, it doesn’t happen on it’s own. It takes serious preparation and mental toughness to come out on top. That’s what makes running so fantastic; in most cases, your only competition is yourself – it’s one of the only sports where this is true. If you’re ready to take your training to the next level and to achieve your goal during your next race, take the tips above to heart and get started today. You’ve got this!

 

A New Approach to February

We all know how it goes. The resolutions that come with January seem to fade as the month passes…then we’re left with February…which isn’t even a whole month…so why gear up for that right? The dead of winter comes and it’s easier to slack off with some hot chocolate than to brave the cold. I get it!

That’s why I was really excited when Lorna Jane announced a “Move Nourish Believe Challenge” for the month of February. It focuses on more than just moving…it’s a total health approach to mixing things up when it comes to healthy living and fitness. I jumped on board! Today marks the end of week one, and I wanted to give a recap.

The challenges for the week were focused around the “Move” theme and included:

  • 2/3: Sweat-it-out! -Show us your favorite way to sweat!
  • 2/4: Change it up! – Sweat a new way! Select a workout from movenourishbelieve.com/category/move and show us your post-sweat session selfie.
  • 2/5: Let’s get planking! – Plank for at least five minutes today! You can split the planks up.
  • 2/6: Buddy up! – Workout with a friend today!
  • 2/7: Fave Friday! – Show us your five fitness favorites! Exercises, people, whatever gets you moving and motivated!

Fun!

Monday I had an interval workout, which happens to be my favorite way to sweat! So, I moved it inside to the treadmill and hit it hard. Felt wonderful. Tuesday I tried out the “Don’t Skip It” workout which focused on high intensity total body movements. Let me tell you, it did the job. This runner was SORE. Wednesday I did my favorite 16 minute plank series, which is a killer.Thursday was some lifting and today I started out the morning with some kickboxing…one of my fitness favorites!

kickboxing

The moral here? It was exciting to switch things up and to focus on more than just miles. Yes, I still ran, but I didn’t rely on it. The workouts were refreshing and it was fun to try something new. Definitely got me out of my winter rut!

The best news? There’s still 2 weeks left of the challenge…plenty of time for you to join in!

Visit this page to learn more. From there, check out the challenges for the rest of the month! (I’ve included them below to keep it simple!).

 

Week Two: Nourish 

  • 2/10: Go Meatless – Skip meat today! Try vegetarian/vegan meals.
  • 2/11: TYLTW! – Take Your Lunch to Work today! Choose a recipe from movenourishbelieve.com to inspire your packed lunch!
  • 2/12: Write it down! – Journal your food today and share your WIAW with us!
  • 2/13: Smoothie Day! – Happy Thirsty Thursday! Make a healthy smoothie today!
  • 2/14: Go Raw Friday! – Choose a recipe from movenourishbelieve.com and go raw!

Week Three: Believe

  • 2/17: Spoil Yourself! – Do something just for you today! Take a walk, go to yoga, spoil yourself!
  • 2/18: 5 Mindful Minutes – Do good to your body, meditate for 5 minutes and find your zen.
  • 2/19: Be Happy – Show us your happy place!
  • 2/20: Thankful Thursday – Let us know what you are thankful for!
  • 2/21: Share the love – S/O to your #1 supporter/motivator!

You game?! Share your stories!

 

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Guys, it’s Beautiful Out There!

Alright folks. You’ve heard me complain about the snow (my heart belongs somewhere south 🙂 ). But, today I decided to enjoy it, to appreciate it and to get out there. My conclusion? It’s gorgeous out there…take the time to enjoy it before round two hits tonight!

My run was pretty straightforward, 6 miles give or take a bit, some slow points to avoid losing to ice patches. Yes, it was cold, but with the right gear that was negligible.

During the run I took my time to enjoy the beauty that surrounded me and to be grateful that I’m able to run. It’s a gift that I take for granted far too often. Today was about getting back to the basics; it didn’t disappoint. Below are some of the views!

View 1View 2View 3

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Making it Count: Keeping Track

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2013 was a big year for me…a half marathon, lots of 5k’s, a Tough Mudder, 2 10k’s and even a mile sprint. But, it was a lot more than a rep sheet of races and mile-high experiences. In fact, it took a lot of work to get there; when I spout out the big moments, those smaller ones…the ones that matter…get overlooked. It’s the everyday that matters most sometimes.

I was reading over the posts of friends on New Year’s Eve (because that’s what happens when you’re sick and stuck inside for big holidays like that 🙂 ). One stood out, one friend documented the miles he put in to achieve the bigger goals. It’s simple, and to me, means more than a race count.

I’ve decided to do it for myself. For 2014, I’m keeping track of the miles I run, bike, swim and even elliptical, along with a rep sheet of every lift. I want to take the time to appreciate the everyday moments…the ones that make the big victories mean even more.

What will you be doing differently this year?

Intermediate Speed Medley Treadmill Workout

When the weather is rough sometimes things just need to happen inside. While the track is generally the best location for interval training, it can happen anywhere. Treadmills aren’t the end of the world, in fact, they offer great control options.

treadmill

Below is an intermediate – advanced treadmill speed workout. The concept is simple: it’s a reverse ladder (work distances get shorter) with increased speed.

A few important notes:

  • This workout is written according my own pace. Adjust to be sure you are able to do each phase comfortably and based on your own habits.
  • Just like any other workout, be sure a doctor approves your regimen. They can tell you what you’re body is ready for, jumping into something too soon, or at the wrong level can lead to injury.
  • Be sure to throw dynamic stretches into the mix before your workout, with static stretching after. This is a best practice for any running plan.

Having said that, here goes:

Intermediate Speed Medley Treadmill Workout

Lap Number

Speed (mph)

Notes

1-6

6.6

Easy distance pace

7-8

9.0

9-10

6

Resting pace

11-12

9.0

13-14

6

15

9.5

Faster than earlier intervals

16

6

17

9.5

18

6

19

10 – 6

Half lap all out, half lap at rest

20

10 – 6

Half lap all out, half lap at rest

21-22

6

Recover

23-24

4

Walk it out

Total: 6 Miles

The 16 Minute Plank…Series

I’ve seen a graphic going around Facebook and Pinterest for the 30 day plank challenge. I believe in planks, I think they’re an excellent way to boost core strength and stability. But, I’m not a big fan of doing a single movement each day for an increased duration. This is why I set out to do my own plank challenge, a ladder that combines the effects of not just front planks, but side and back planks as well.

Is it a challenge? To me it is! It’s also something to work for. Try it out, see how far you make it, when it becomes too much or you start to lose form, stop. Then, next time you try it, try to make it further through the challenge. I do this series twice a week if you’re looking for an idea on frequency.

Before I outline the series, I want to put up a few pictures (credit to Women’s Health Mag and Fit Sugar) of proper plank form. Form matters…if you are not properly aligned you could do more damage than good.

Front Plank:

front plank

Side Plank:

side plank

Reverse Plank:

back plank

Alright, so, here goes. Make sure you have a timer or stopwatch on hand.

For each round, you’ll start with a forward plank, move to a left plank, then to a reverse plank, and finally to a right plank before starting all over again. Do not drop, do not take a break between rounds. This is a continuous movement that builds to a 16 minute plank series. Again, it’s a challenge to see if you can improve each time you try, taking shortcuts will only hamper your own progress.

Round 1: 15 seconds for each position (front, left, back, right…no dropping, then move straight into round 2)

Round 2: 30 seconds each

Round 3: 45 seconds each

Round 4: 1 minute each

Round 5: 45 seconds each

Round 6: 30 seconds each

Round 7: 15 seconds each

This equals out t0 16 minutes. Give it a try! Not challenging enough? Turn it into a reverse ladder (1 minute, 45 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds then build back up).

Give it a try!