Fun Summer Running Gear

Fun Running GearI participate in various forms of movement and physical activity but I think I would have to say that running is definitely my physical activity of choice, or at least I am most stubborn about it.  There is something about just being outside with your thoughts, listening to your breathing or boom of super loud music in your ears, that just makes me so happy.

I have mentioned before that when I am not feeling super motivated I will purchase a new pair of running socks to get me excited about running.  Socks are my go to because out of all the running gear I could be buying to motivate myself socks are the cheapest.  But this got me thinking what are my favourite running things?  This is when I realized there are very few things besides my running watch (which I honestly feel could be any brand), orthotics and sun block there are only a handful of things I feel I couldn’t live without.

So here they are the items I feel like without them running would be that much more difficult.

Run Gear1. Lululemon Stuff Your Bra: This bra is nothing short of incredible! Not only does it offer amazing support, the bra itself has tiny little pockets for your keys, cell phone, tissue, lip gloss, tiny little sunblocks.  Sure it is a bra so you don’t want to be stuffing a water bottle in there, but for a house key or your iPod or cell phone this bra is perfect.  The addition of items to the bra’s pockets doesn’t compromise the support it offers, this bra is also awesome in the gym to carry around your music so you don’t have ear phone cables all over the place.

2. Lululemon Run Inspire Crop: another lulu gem.  I love these pants because the mesh on the back of the leg.  I am not much for running in shorts on longer runs however that can become challenging on hot days.  The mesh helps to cool down your leg while still giving you some good coverage.  Also as #1 didn’t give you enough options for storing things, these guys have a nice little pocket on your backside for keys, cards or whatever you would like to put in there.

3. Fuel Belt: The fuel belt above is from the Running Room, it isn’t necessarily my very favourite ever but it is one that has lasted me over 5 years and came in at under $25 so I really have no complaints. Regardless of the brand you choose if you are running more than 5k and it is warm out you should be bringing some water with you and for body balance reasons I find hands free is the best way to go.

4. WATER BOTTLES: as mentioned above water and hydrating is an absolute must during your day, and more importantly when you are outside in the sun being active.  Personally I have two of these little guys threaded onto my fuel belt, one is filled with straight up water and the second normally has some type of electrolyte concoction in it. I like these little bottles because they aren’t overly heavy, and to be honest running with water can be annoying but I am always thankful for it after a long run.

5. Running Hats: I am sure I have mentioned this in the past. I don’t do well with sunglasses, I get too sweaty behind them and become uncomfortable pretty quickly.  I prefer a hat, not only for the reduced sweatiness but also for the protection from the sun.  I am a ginger and therefore burn pretty easily, plus who doesn’t want to protect their face from the harmful rays of the sun?  Now there is a difference between a regular old baseball hat and a running hat.  Running hats are so much lighter and breathable than other hats out there.  To be honest I have no idea what brand my hat is, I went to a Sport Check and bought a hat for $20, the back is mesh and the rest of the hat is made of light weight material.

There you have it. These are my tired and true items, if you didn’t notice I am not much for spending huge amounts of cash on my running gear (I guess besides my slight Lululemon obsession). I find the key to good summer running gear is to make sure the materials used are light weight, breathable and whenever possible moisture wicking!   I understand that I didn’t list my running shoes here which are arguably a must have when running, however when it comes to shoes we all have very different needs and feet.  Personally I tend to buy the same brand year after year, but always try on various brands when purchasing a new pair because designs change, shoes fit differently from year to year and you never know when you might find something that is better suited to your needs.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Let me know what your favourite running gear is in the comments below, I am always on the look out for fun new running stuff.

 

It’s Running Season – Tips for Injury Prevention

Spring has official sprung and the residents of Ottawa have definitely emerged from their homes, packed up their winter clothing and are sporting flip flops and shorts. It is that time of the year where all of the extreme runners, fair weather runners, first timers and weekend warriors start heading outside in their brightly coloured tank tops, running shorts and their newest pair of light weight running shoes.   As running season approaches and people get excited about moving, being outside and shedding the “winter weight” it is good to take a second just to go over a couple reminders to keep us all healthy, happy and injury free as we start to increase our kilometers, speed and endurance.

Running HappyKeeping your Body Happy during Running Seasons:

  1. STRETCH! I lead a run club for women in the summer months and this is probably one of my top struggles as a run coach. I can tell you to stretch and I can be there to make sure you you have a quick post run stretch, but once you get home I can’t make sure my runners are grabbing their foam rollers and going to town as suggested. So I beg of you please for the love of your joints, muscles, range of motion and injury prevention stretch! Get on your foam roller, find some yoga tune up balls, or follow a running magazine stretching sequence, no matter what JUST STRETCH! Our joints and muscles take a serious beating when we run so it is important to show them some love.
  2. Drink more than you think you need. This might sound like a real silly reminder but we don’t always feel thirsty. Maybe it was cool out or maybe it was raining, sometimes the weather surrounding our runs makes us feel more hydrated and in less need of water than we really are. It is important to consume water before and after your runs and to bring some along when running anything over 5km, ESPECIALLY when it is super warm out.
  3. Running gear can be cool, but it is also useful. I said it, running gear is cool, it is fun and gets me motivated to lace-up my shoes and hit the pavement. You don’t need fancy running gear to get out there, but things like a good pair of light weight socks, a running hat, a fuel belt for your water (see #2), a supportive/comfortable pair of runners and some light weight clothing will go a long way when running outside in the summer.
  4. Strength training. Chances are you may have picked up running because you are more of the endurance type, than the “let’s pick up heavy things and move them” type. However life is about balance and so is running. Similar to stretching you are much less likely to suffer an injury if you strength train regularly. I am not suggesting you go out and buy yourself a fancy pants expensive gym membership, however I am recommending committing to at least 2 strength training (with weights or body weight) workouts a week in addition to your runs, heck they can be after your run, right there outside in the sun. Focusing on building and supporting the muscles (think glutes, hamstrings, quads, shins, calves and core) involved in supporting your body during your running sessions.
  5. Turn your runs into learning opportunities.  As runners (new or veteran) there is a tendency to push through, because let’s be honest if we didn’t “push through” on a regular bases we probably wouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It is in our nature to ignore pinches, pains, and aches and instead wear them like badges. Feel free to continue to be proud of those sore quads after a good run or those tight calves as you roll them out on your foam roller (see #1), but be sure to take a step back and listen. Our society has gotten away from listening to the tips and clues our body gives us, we numb the pain with Advil/ Tylenol, we rub on joint relief creams and slap a brace on it, but don’t take the time to understand what our bodies are telling us. So if that heel, hip, knee or whatever hurts after your runs take stock, take a step back and figure out what your body is telling you.  Maybe you need to get checked out by a sports doctor, perhaps more stretching or more strength training is in order.  Regardless of what the “fix” is support your body instead of telling it what to do.

Now that you are geared up, stretched out, strengthened and hydrated lace up those shoes and get a nice run in.

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Top 10 – Running Thoughts

Yesterday I went on a LSD run as a part of my half marathon training.  These runs average from an hour and a half to two and a half hours so I end up spending a lot of time with my thoughts.  While on my run yesterday there were several reoccurring thoughts that came to mind so I figured it would make for a fun light hearted post.   Perhaps you are a runner and you can relate.

20140415-091529.jpgTop 10 – Running Thoughts:

  1. I am so fast like the wind! I could keep the pace up forever!
  2. Why in the world didn’t I pace myself at the beginning I knew I had 22 km to run right?
  3. Look at that guy/gal running so fast! Whatever they are probably only out for 5k
  4. Finally someone waved back!
  5. This song is my JAM! wait I am singing out loud, how many people have I run by?
  6. Why am I doing this again?
  7. It doesn’t matter if you want to you already paid to.
  8. Everything hurts, if a cab comes by you better believe I am hailing it!
  9. You are half way just 12 more kilometers
  10. Thank god it’s over!

What are some thoughts that cross your mind when you are running?

Half Marathon Breakdown

Over the years of reading various runners blogs and health and fitness blogs there is one thing I have always wanted to do.  A breakdown of my race, so this past weekend when running my first half marathon I was sure to make a mental note of how I was feeling and what I was thinking at various points throughout the run.   Now this breakdown might not be as detailed as some out there, but it will give a pretty decent overview of the gambit of emotions I felt while running.

finishersFirstly, I would like to point out that prior to running this race I had been warned by a 1/2 marathon veteran that this particular course was full of hills. I took this information in but figured  “how many hills could there actually be?”  The answer to this was an infinite amount of hills, these hills are responsible for a lot of emotions I felt during this run.  But getting back to the point of this post, here is my race breakdown.

Pre-race: organization of the website and kit pick-up was a bit of a frustrating mess.  The types of organization mistakes that were made was something I have experienced before from races that were in their first year however it is definitely not something I expected from a company who’s business is literally running dozens of races every year. It was a little frustrating to say the least, but on the upside this frustration gave us runners something to bond over while waiting to start our run.

ankle braclet1-3km:  The first few kilometers of the race were through a bit of a residential area and were mostly flat if not slightly downhill which wasn’t a bad way to start off. However, I am not sure why but for any race I run, regardless of it’s length, these first few kilometers always feel like they will never end, although they do always seem to.

4-5km: This is where the hills started. I had prepared mentally (and physically although I often feel like the mental part is really the challenge) for hills but as they started coming I realized that I had mentally prepared for one hill, not the multiple hills I was about to be faced with.

starting6-8km:  This part of the race wasn’t so bad, nothing too exciting to look at around you and besides another couple hills and some cows nothing too exciting. However at about the 8km mark we ran through some rows of trees whose leaves had all turned yellow and were cascading down the race route.  My running buddy and I described it as “majestic” and both wished we had camera’s with us to capture the moment for everyone else to see.

9-11km: These kilometers really weren’t so bad either,  I was feeling pretty great and mostly strong.  I had to stop for a rest room break and was slowed down a bit by the fact that there was only one outhouse for all the runners, but after my mini break I was back on track and feeling pretty refreshed.

20131015-111254.jpg11-14km: Still feeling great, starting to feel the benefits of all those hills on the way out because now everything was downhill. My feet were starting to feel as though they had been trapped in 5inch heels for about 8 hours, but the downhill momentum was giving my legs a much needed break from climbing.   I became pretty thankful for my music and the sharkees I had purchased as fuel (candy) for the race.

15-16km: the anger was starting to set in. I kept telling myself “just a few more kilometers, just a few more kilometers” and reassuring myself that I had already run this distance and that “I had this”.  This is also when Can’t Believe It by Flo Rida featuring Pitbull came on my iPod and gave me the extra boost I needed to keep my stride consistent.

17km: I realized I had 5km left and felt hopeful. Besides tight hips and my knee starting to nag at me I was feeling alright, my energy was fair, the anger from running for forever had subsided for a bit and I was ready to finish up.

18km: My running buddy and I decided that we would stay committed to running our own races and this meant if one of us needed to pull ahead or respect our body and take an extra break we would commit to that.   My playlist also capped out at this point and I had to manage to get out my iPod to turn the music back on while not tripping, my efforts were successful!

19km: I am now running on my own and my Negative Nancy voice is starting to rear her ugly little head.  It was time to put in both of my ear buds and try and silence her dirty little mouth.

20km: I saw a hill and became extremely discouraged.  The wonderful marathon runners were full of smiles and positive words for all of us half marathoners that were finishing up which was extremely appreciated. I did my best to power through the last hill but ended up walking about half way up so that I could have some energy left to “finish strong”

21km: Came into the fair grounds and didn’t realize it wouldn’t be as simple as just crossing the line. The route had been set up to circle around the entire grounds to get our last couple hundred meters in.  This sucked! I likely looked like the grumpiest runner out there, luckily I had a mini cheering section of friends (one who had just finished his own half) and my husband taking photos.

20131015-111211.jpgAs I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with satisfaction, pride and the strong desire to get my shoes off my feet IMMEDIATELY. I had set a goal of just finishing the race, with the hopes of being around the 2:30 mark and I was happy to have finished in 2hours and 31minutes

20131015-111144.jpgJust a couple short minutes after I past the finish line Susan (my running buddy) came around the bend and finished with the biggest smile I have ever seen on someone’s face.

aftermathIn the end despite the poor organization and all the hills I was so happy that I did it and was able to see just what these legs are capable of.  I am not sure if I will make running half marathons a habit but it is definitely nice to know that I am capable of them.

I hope you all enjoyed my recap of the race and you all enjoyed great weekends this past weekend.  Happy Tuesday!

Weekend Round Up – Learning!

This past weekend was a busy one and it was super fun. My weekend started off Friday evening with the first installment of my Personal Training Specialist certification and it definitely wasn’t 100% what I expected (in a pleasant way)

I had expected for the course to be hands on and give us some practical experience when it comes actually training someone, but I was not prepared for the actual intense physical aspect of the course.   After doing some practice runs at training another classmate we had about an hour and a half of plyometrics Saturday afternoon. By the end of the day I was zonked from all the class learning and physical activity.

I was zonked and went straight to bed at 8:30pm, something about feeling like you have been working out for the past 5 hours will really take it out of a person.

20130923-080606.jpg
Seeing how the half marathon Susan and I sighed up for is in under a month we wanted to get in one last super long run before we started to tapper down to prepare for the race. So Sunday morning the two of us were up bright and early for a nice 17k run.

While running we saw volunteers setting up for Ottawa’s Army Run and we had the opportunity to watch the runners starting to head into their corals getting ready to start their race. Seeing everything being set up and the look of excitement on the faces of the runners, just revved Susan and I up for our half in October.

After our run we headed on over to the farmer’s market for some weekly groceries, then I quickly headed off for day three of my certification class and hoped there wouldn’t be any intense working out during the day. When I found out the focus would be on program design and stretching you better believe I was excited. After 17km my legs were loving any stretch they could get.

After three days of intense learning, exercising and stretching I was definitely ready to flop myself on my couch and just watch some movies with my husband and kittens. Although it wasa fast weekend it was still pretty great.

Now back to Monday and back to work. Happy Monday everyone.

Weekend Round Up – Hello Monday

Hello Monday! Although I would much rather be lazy snuggled up in my ridiculously comfortable bed I did have to get up and head on down to work. It seems that the longer the summer goes on the more challenging my 5 A.M. wake up call becomes.

This weekend started for me last Friday, I work a compressed schedule and I get every second Friday off, which normally ends up being reserved for running errands and getting things done around the house, but this Friday I decided to relax a bit. So after heading over to the gym for an early workout i started preparing lunch.

Last week it was a dear friend’s birthday and we hadn’t been able to celebrate so we schedule a lunch date and I went to visit her at her office with a little picnic.

20130819-053341.jpgI made us some salad with the organic baby kale I finally managed to find in the store and we sat outside and chatted for a bit.

After lunch I headed home and opened up some course books that arrived, my course (more on the course later) doesn’t start until the end of September but I am a nerd like that and like to get started early. Then I finished my afternoon off with a long chat with one of my sisters. It felt like a great Friday and I felt so rested by the end of it.

Saturday morning started pretty early for our house as we were having an old unsafe chimney removed. To get out the house and move around for a bit I went on a short bike ride and ran some errands. Once I got home I parked myself on the deck and was back in my books.

Sunday I woke up bright and early and got myself ready for the farmers market and a nice little 7k tempo run. This weekend had been so perfect temperature wise and I had the chance to run my favorite path on the south side of town.

After my run and grocery shopping my husband and I did a little quick gardening and running of errands before deciding that it was time to relax and enjoy the rest of our weekend. We decided to watch some classics like “the man in the iron mask” and “not without my daughter” before sitting down to a delicious meal of BBQ chicken and zuchinni with roasted potatoes. All in all a pretty great weekend and the best part is now it is less than a week before my sister comes to visit and before gingersneezes run club’s first 10k race!!!

Happy Monday!

Running a Race – Do’s and Don’ts

The Gingersneeze Run Club is gearing up for their first group race. Four months ago on April 1st the Run Club started hitting the pavement running simple 2:1s and now they are all gearing up for their first ever 10k race.

dontAs the running group is getting ready for their first 10k I wrote them up a little newsletter on tips for running your first race. After typing it up I figured it would be a great thing to share with all of you because maybe some of you are gearing up for your first race. So here they are:

Don’t:

dont1. Don’t change your routine. Stick with what you have done during your training. Don’t test out new foods and fuel packs the day of the race, testing is for training not for race day. You never know how your body is going to react to something so stick to what you know.

2. Don’t wear new gear race day. It is a common mistake ALL runners make. We all want to go out and buy ourselves something nice new and sporty for our big race but this isn’t the best idea. Like with food on race day you don’t want to test out a new pair of shoes or sports bra and get jammed with awful blisters and chafing. If you do need new shoes be sure to purchase them at least two weeks before the race, and any new clothing should at the very least be washed to soften the fabric.

3. Don’t carbo load. Unless you are heading out to run a 1/2 , full or ultra marathon carbo loading is not necessary. The night before prepare yourself a nice meal of something you know sits well in your stomach, that dish could be a plate of spaghetti, but it could also be a quinoa salad. Just make sure it is something you are familiar with, and don’t get stuck on the idea that you need to fill up on carbs the night before.

road-runner34. Don’t be a Road Runner. With all the excitement and cheering going on you may have the urge to take off as fast as you can. Do everything you can to resist this urge. You have been training; you have an idea of what your pace is, plan to stick to it.

5. Check the weather. It is important to check the weather before the race, heck even before leaving the house for the race. You don’t want to be over dressed and fussing over extra layers on race day. Look at the weather and pick an outfit that will best fit the day.

6. Don’t stop moving. Once you cross that finish line you might really want to sit down and take a break do your best to resist this urge. It is important for you to keep moving, active recovery is the best way to go. While doing high intensity exercise blood rushes to your larger muscles (your legs) if you just STOP after a race you increase your chances of feeling dizzy, nauseous and all around weird. Keep walking around for 5-10minutes after your race to cool down, and then stretch it out.

Do’s:
chuck-norris-thumbs-up

1. TRAIN! Getting ready for a race is integral to avoiding injury and being able to feel confident and comfortable when lacing up on race day. You have been training, you have tried various different lengths and you now have the physical stamina to start and end your race strong. So feel confident in knowing that you already take part in probably the most important race day prep.

2. Review your route. Look at the maps provided by the event organizers so you have an idea of what your race route is going to look like. If you are able to run the route do so, if not find terrain that is similar to train on. Knowing your route gives you the ability to plan for what you might encounter and will help to boost your confidence race day.

3. Do your last long run AT LEAST 1 week prior to the race. You want your body and legs to be in optimal condition for race day. You don’t want to burn your system out by over training the week before your race. Be sure to respect of the tapper by being a bit more lenient on your body.

4. Lay it out. Lay your race day equipment out the night before. Take your shorts/pants, top, watch, hat, shoes, race bib, fuel belt or anything else you may need on race day and lay it out the night before. Especially if your race is in the morning you don’t want to be panicking because you can’t find your favourite running socks or the pair of shorts you really wanted to wear. Eliminate some stress by laying out your race day gear the night before. Not only will this eliminate stress it will also get you pumped your race.
Race Collage5. Plan to get there early. All in the name of reducing stress plan to arrive early. The last thing you want is to throw off your game because you can’t find a parking space, your running buddy, or worse the race has already started by the time you get to the starting line. Arrive early to avoid any unwanted stress, and heck most of them time they have some speakers or something to pump you up for the race, and a little extra motivation never hurt anyone.

6. Multiple Goals. Set two goals, this might sound ridiculous but there are so many factors that might contribute to a good or bad race, pre-race food, weather, hydration, injuries…etc. It is good to have two goals one ideal and one backup. This way you always have something to aim for during your race no matter what is thrown at you.

7. Bring some Tissue. This one might sound ridiculous, but after standing in a port-a-potty line up for 20 minutes just to find out that there is no toilet paper can be a huge disappointment. So be prepared bring some tissue paper.

8. Have a buddy. Having a running partner can help to keep you motivated and moving when you hit a wall during your race. Do your best to be encouraging of each other and share a high five or pat on the back with your partner if either side is looking a little sluggish. Keep spirits high and discuss a motivation plan before race day.

9. HAVE FUN!! Yes this is a race, yes I am sure you all want to do well and will be pushing yourselves a bit harder than during a regular training run, however the goal of the race is to have fun. Keep calm, remember to breath, and remember to smile. Enjoy the energy and positivity radiating from the crowd and have fun with it.

I know race season for the summer months is almost over, but incase any of your out there are planning your first race I hope these tips help you find something that works to keep you excited and keep the stress at bay.

Happy Wednesday!