Category Archives: Running

The Best of The World Marathon Majors!

Thinking of running a World Marathon Major (WMM)? Have you ever wondered which of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago & NYC) has the best crowds, best finisher medal, crowd support, food, or the best course?

As someone who has completed all 6 of the World Marathon Majors, I’ve been asked questions like: “Which course was your favorite?” or “Which marathon was the hardest?” Well I have answered some of the popular questions below. This is strictly my opinion. When deciding on what Major you want to tackle, there is no right or wrong answer, but here some info. that may help you to decide!!

Enjoy!

Which WMM was the easiest to get into?

CHICAGO

For ways to gain entry into the Chicago Marathon you can either qualify, enter the lottery, or run for charity. I got in through the lottery, along with many others. There are lots of spots available.

Which WMM had the best Expo?

NEW YORK CITY &  BOSTON

These expos have the best set up, are well staffed and well organized, offer great presenters, lots of great vendors, knowledgeable and supportive staff, and limited wait time.

Which Marathon Major had the BEST race shirt?

BOSTON

Definitely Boston. The shirt is a long sleeved, v-neck and has the awesome logo on the entire back.  Plus at the expo you can also purchase the cool, one of a kind iconic jacket. Great for bragging rights.

It definitely couldn’t be Berlin- they don’t even give you a shirt.

Which WMM was the most organized?

TOKYO

Japan is known for its technology, organization and efficiency. The Japanese take promptness very seriously, which was nice because it meant everything started right on time. Their time management also meant that they strictly enforce a time cap that has checkpoints every 5 kilometers, the time cap is around 7 hours, so the average marathoners doesn’t need to be too concerned about this.

Which WMM had the best crowds?

BOSTON

All of the majors have great crowds, but to me, Boston just stands out. For me it was the Wellesley girls that I loved hearing the most. On Marathon Monday, it’s tradition for students to cheer on Boston Marathoners who race past campus near mile 13. Thousands of women line about a quarter mile of the course, motivating runners with hoots, hollers, high-fives … even kisses. This is referred to as the Wellesley Scream Tunnel because it is so loud, you can hear it from a mile away.

Which WMM had the best course (considering sights and scenery)?

NEW YORK CITY

This was tough- I have enjoyed every course. I loved running across the Tower Bridge during the London Marathon, near Wrigley Field in Chicago, and down Beacon Street in Boston. However, starting on the Verrazano Bridge in NYC and running through all the boroughs was pretty awesome, each is very unique and has its own charm.

Which WMM had the best finisher medal?

BOSTON and TOKYO

Boston because anything with a unicorn is super special, it’s also what it represent- being Boston Strong.

I really like Tokyo too, I love the GOLD!!

Which WMM had the best after party?

CHICAGO

The Chicago Marathon 27th Mile Post Race Party is a blast! This event takes place at the famous Grant Park and offers live entertainment, free massages, and free beer.

Which WMM had the best race swag?

NEW YORK CITY

In the pre-race packet I received lots of goodies in addition to my cool long sleeve race shirt. The finisher poncho is probably my favorite though. This fleece lined poncho keeps you super warm post race, way warmer than the metal heat blankets most races provide.


Which WMM had the best race beer?

BERLIN

Runners love their post race beer and Germans know beer!! Germany offers the widest selections. And since the marathon takes place during Oktoberfest, it just adds to the party.

Which WMM had the best travel experience?

BOSTON and LONDON

Boston just holds a special place in my heart. I love this city- I lived there and fell in love with my husband there, so going back is always a lot of fun. I love the food- visiting the North End and Beacon Hill, shopping down Newbury Street,  and walking along the Charles River. Boston is an awesome city and a place I call home.

London was a lot of fun to visit too- getting to see Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard,  visiting Kensington Palace, this list goes on and on… plus my mom and sister joined me for this trip which made it extra special. I truly appreciated their support!

Which WMM had the best pre/post race food?

CHICAGO

Chicago has deep dish pizza, Tokyo has sushi and ramen, NYC has NY style thin crust pizza, Berlin has bratwurst and pretzels.

I think my husband and my food tour around Chicago topped the charts.

Which WMM was the most emotional?

BOSTON & TOKYO

It’s incredibly emotional to cross the finish line at Boston. Boston was like a dream come true and having my dad right there at the finish line, cheering me on was very special. This was the last race he saw of mine. Tokyo was also emotional because it was when I received my 6th star and ended my 4 year pursuit to finish the world’s majors!

Which WMM would I recommend for first timers?

CHICAGO

The Chicago Marathon is the easiest of the Majors to get into. Plus this course is easy to navigate, it’s flat & fast, offers great crowd support and manageable logistics. The start and finish are close to each other and the race is well organized. It would be an ideal race for someone wanting to run their first marathon.

Which WMM would I recommend to someone who only wants to run 1?

NEW YORK CITY

New York City has it all. It’s also the largest marathon in the world. Running through all 5 boroughs is exciting. It’s fun to see how different each borough is and how the entertainment varies. Starting on the Verrazano Bridge is pretty awesome.

If I could do 1 WMM over what would it be?

BOSTON

Boston is the oldest, most historic and most popular marathon in the world. Plus, it’s so near and dear to my heart. If I could run it every year, I would.

Which WMM would I not want to run again?

NEW YORK CITY

Race logistics are a nightmare. Getting to start requires a car, train, and ferry! You need to get up super early to ensure you make it to on time. As a result, you end up waiting a long time before your race actually begins.  Each time I ran, I arrived by 8am & started around 11 am. The weather by the start is usually cold, so be prepared and dress warm.

In conclusion:

Each WMM is unique and has its own appeal. I have enjoyed my experience running each of these. I challenge you to consider running one if you haven’t already. Throw your name into the lottery and let fate decide. You never know what could happen.

Happy Running!

 

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Tokyo Marathon Recap

This past weekend I completed my 10 marathon and checked off my 6th and final World Marathon Major (Tokyo) off the list. This perhaps was the most life-changing experience of them all. But through training for and running each marathon, I’ve learned a lot about myself and have discovered what I am truly capable of.

Here’s a look back on the race, my trip and running over the years.

To start, I wanted to explain a little about the significance of the World Marathon Majors. This will help put into perspective why I set this as a goal and why I wanted to complete this series/challenge.

What is the World Marathon Majors (WMM)?

The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. The organizers of these events are united in their effort to advance the sport and increase the level of interest in racing among running enthusiasts.

What does it mean to complete the WMM?

Completing all 6 races makes you part of a special group of runners that have actually stepped up to the challenge, it’s a
significant accomplishment. To date, only 3,000 runners have completed all 6- how cool is that? I knew I needed to do this, not only to travel and for the cool medal, but for the bragging rights also.

Why run a marathon major?

The marathon majors are wonderful races and events.  They are a great addition to your race bucket list. Each major offers something unique and a little different. In my opinion, everyone should run at least one of the majors, especially if it’s the only 26.2 you ever run, the crowd support is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at any other races, and the race swag is usually pretty good.

Traveling with Marathon Tours:

The 6 majors are incredibly hard to get into, particularly the oversees races. I was unable to get in to Tokyo via the race lottery so I signed up with Marathon Tours to gain entry. Marathon Tours and Travel works closely with the Abbott World Marathon Majors team and the individual race teams to enhance a runners experience while pursuing their aspirational running goals. In this case completing the WMM and earning my 6th star. Marathon Tours provides guaranteed entry to each of the races (with the exception of Boston), convenient hotels and activities customized for each location including tours and logistical details surrounding the race.

This trip was my first experience with Marathon Tours and I couldn’t be happier. They helped plan and organize everything, which made travel stress free. Included with the trip was a city tour as well as a pre race dinner and post race celebration. It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up, but I am so happy that I did. The cost of travel may have been a little more than what I would have spent on my own, but it was money well spent. My favorite part was meeting new people, hearing their stories, and sharing this unique experience with them. I plan to keep in touch with my new friends and have already started to plan our next trip/race together!

Overall, visiting Japan has been an amazing vacation and tremendous adventure. This was truly the journey of a lifetime. It was fun to try the local cuisine, explore the city, see Mt. Fuji and visit various temples and shrines. Japan is a city filled with lots of culture.   There is lots to do and many places to visit.

The Tokyo Marathon:

Race day was a mix of emotions- both excitement and nerves. Leading up to the race I had gotten sick with bronchitis and then a stomach bug. On top of that, my running had been limited due to an injury- heel spur and plantar fasciitis. I hadn’t run over 18 miles (and it was on the treadmill) and I was only running 2-3 days per weeks, logging no more than 30 miles at the peak of my training. This was nowhere close to where I have been for previous races (running a few 20 milers, running 5-6 days per week, and logging 60+ miles a week- but probably over training- I am currently trying to find a healthy balance) so I was a little nervous to see what the race would bring. This was the first marathon that I have ever run without a goal in mind. I just wanted to finish feeling good and get my 6th star. I had decided right away that I was going to enjoy the race, take in the sites, take it easy & not beat myself up physically by pushing too hard.  

I was staying at the Tokyo Hilton which was just a short walk to the start line. This was very nice because it helped alleviate the stress of getting to the start on time. It also meant I could sleep in a little and hang at the hotel a little longer, not not having to wait outside in the cold for the race to begin. I had originally hoped and planned for the temps to be in the mid 40s to low 50s. However, on race day, the temperature was around 32.

The course takes in many sights including the Tokyo Government building, Tokyo Tower and Imperial Palace. The marathon incorporated some downhills, wide roads and flat surfaces, but also some nasty little inclines and bridges which kept it interesting. Along the course, there was also a few sections of out and backs where you crossover, getting to see many runners ahead of you and behind you. I even got to see the elites run by a few times which was cool to see. These crossovers also allowed for ample opportunities to see my husband cheering along the course, which was nice!

The locals are fantastic, providing many high fives and cheers which sure helped the morale. They also offered everything from menthol ice spray for sore muscles to bananas, tomatoes, oranges, cookies, candy and even chocolate on the course. While I don’t recommend trying new foods on a run it was still amusing to see it all! It was a very enthusiastic crowd that was estimated to be around 1.6 million.

The first half of the race went well and I felt pretty good. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the race started on a downhill which was nice. I had my fuel plan in place and was excited to start my 26.2 mile journey through the city and take in the sites that Japan had to offer.  

At around mile 6, I ran into a friend I met who was also a part of the Marathon Tours group, Michael. Michael and I decided to stick together during the race. I  don’t typically like to run with anyone during a race, but if I learned anything from past marathons, having a friend nearby comes in handy (i.e. NYC with Ann and Berlin w/ Calvin). I was very happy to have Michael by my side and really enjoyed his company. We checked in with each other frequently to ensure that we were each doing ok.

After the halfway point, we both started to feel a little tired and fatigued. Michael too had been dealing with injuries and hadn’t trained as he had hoped so we decided to not push the pace and back off a little. At around mile 16 we implemented a run/walk strategy- 8 min. running/2 min. walking. This was the first time I have ever done this in a race. Typically asking a runner to stop running is like asking a shark to stop swimming, it doesn’t happen. However,  as much as I didn’t want to at first, I knew that if I wanted to finish and feel good, it is probably the best thing for me. Run/walking is something I started to train recently as suggested by my Ironman coach to help prepare me for my upcoming Ironman. A lot of the time when a runner walks, they feel defeated and like their race is over, however when this strategy is implemented appropriately; run/walking is a great way to allow yourself to maintain a consistent running pace because you’re allowing short bouts of recovery between running efforts. In other words, it extends your energy stores. I probably should have done this from the very beginning, but was being a little stubborn.

Michael and I ran/walked up until the last mile and a half and then decided to run it in. We both crossed the finish line together with big smiles and a sense of accomplishment! The race took us well over 4 hours, but we didn’t care. We were in Tokyo and were feeling incredibly grateful to just be there. After the race, we made our way to the exit and to collect our medals. The Abbott tent was first. Michael waited while I got my special 6 Star medal and took pics before we carried on to get his medal, pick up his checked bag, and then head to the family meeting area. In all, it was a great race, a huge sense of accomplishment for me, and an overall incredible experience I will not soon forget.

Race Highlights:
  • The race was so clean and organized. For every 1 runner there were 4 volunteers.
  • Race started on time. Japanese are nothing if not punctual.
  • Tons of crowd support.
  • Tons of water and aide available at each water station.
  • Lots of volunteers holding garbage bags to ensure there wasn’t any trash in the streets.
  • Lots of lights, music, views, and entertainment along the way.
  • People were incredibly polite. If you got bumped they apologized several times.
  • The heated foot bath at the end of the race.
  • Cool finisher towel.
Draw backs:
  • Picking up the bib at the expo took a long time- by the time you got scanned, had your pic taken, got your wristband, race shirt etc. it took forever.
  • Everything at the expo was in Japanese. It was tough to figure out what a few items in your bag were. The selection of items for sale at the expo were different than you find at American races, I was disappointed they didn’t have as good a selection of compression socks, designer racing glasses, nutrition etc. The expo felt more like a gameshow then a running event (I did have a lot of fun at some of the booths though).
  • Using the porta pottie was a challenge, no western seats so squatting over a low hole in the ground made for an extra challenge.
  • The electrolyte beverage they had was Pocari Sweat- this is an acquired taste and took some time getting used to. Wouldn’t drink it if there was another option.
  • The race was marked in kilometers and not miles, thank god for my watch. I’m not too great at doing the kilometers to mile conversions while I run.
  • The last 1k was the longest ever. It didn’t help that there were multiple 1k signs so you really didn’t know what to believe. I had no clue as to how far I actually had left  to go. When you thought you were done, it kept going. I kept looking at my watch and Michael like “when will this end”.
  • No blue line to follow on the road to ensure you were running your targets well. I ran 26.78 miles according to my Garmin.
  • The walk after the finish to get your medal and to get the buses back to the start was about 2 miles long. It took over an hour to get out.
  • Took 30 min to even get your heat blankets. It was very windy and cold at the finish so that wasn’t fun.
Running over the years and why I do what I do:

I was someone who went from “I hate running” to “I can’t live without it”. If you asked me 6 years ago if I’d ever run a marathon, I would have thought you were crazy for even asking. I never thought I had a “runner’s body” and therefore could never truly run longer distances. When I first started running, it was miserable! I had blisters on my heels and toes from my shoes, I was tired and sore from run/walking barely 3 miles, I couldn’t run a mile without feeling like my lungs were on fire.  It was terrible. I wanted to give up and put myself out of my own misery, but I stuck with it and honestly, it got better. When my lungs stopped burning, when I became a little faster, and when I could run 3 miles without stopping, I actually started enjoying it. It started to feel good and I became proud of myself for what I was able to accomplish, so I kept going.

In 2012 when I moved to NJ from Boston, I joined a running group, Run Around Princeton. When I first started with the group on Saturday mornings, I couldn’t keep up with the group, felt embarrassed and wanted to quit.  However, I stuck with it & continued to run with the group every Saturday morning, trying my best to keep up. Then one day, I actually did and felt so thankful that I didn’t give up on myself. In 2013 I signed up for my very first marathon- The Philadelphia Marathon. When I crossed that finish line, I cried. I felt invincible and unstoppable and couldn’t believe what I was able to accomplish. I didn’t just want to do it again, I needed to do it again. I knew, in that moment, I would never say that I couldn’t do something. I started to believe that anything is truly possible, it’s just a question of how bad you want it and I wanted it bad. My next marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2014. From there, I had the running bug and knew I wanted to keep running and made it my goal to complete all of the World’s Major Marathons.

It had become my mission over the last 4 years to finish the majors. Training and preparing for the races wasn’t always easy. Battling several injuries (which left me unable to run for most of 2017) and saving money to be able to travel is a huge commitment that takes dedication, hard work, and lot of sacrifices.  So when I finally completed the Tokyo Marathon, it meant so much. Crossing that finish line and achieving this goal brought tears to my eyes. 

Traveling the world, exploring new cities, and getting to run is  a truly awesome privilege. I feel so blessed.  It’s been an amazing experience and something I couldn’t have done without the love, support, & encouragement from my husband, my family, and my close friends. It’s been a remarkable journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I hear there’s something called the Seven Continents Club and I think that’s right up my ally!!

Until next time 😉 Happy Running!

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WORKING OUT ON THE ROAD

Do you find it hard to workout when you travel? If you’re like me, you don’t do well with changes to your routine or schedule and when you don’t have the equipment you normally use to workout with.

So when I go away, I first try to be very proactive and planful, thinking about what my routine will look like while I am gone. I first try to figure out what I can bring with me and also what facilities will be available- i.e is there a gym where I’ll be staying, can I safely run outside, is there a Crossfit nearby that I can drop into, can I take a yoga class, etc…

If I think some of these aren’t available, fitting in my normal workouts may be a challenge, so I do my best to go into the trip with an open mind. I’ll do what I can & I try to look at it as a way to breathe some new life into my routine and do something different. Sometimes, being limited in the time you have and the equipment available can be a good thing because it forces you to be more creative with your workouts or spend more time on some much needed rest and relaxation.

GETTING READY TO GO:

THINK: What can I take with me?

Packing your dumbbells obviously isn’t the best idea, but if you don’t have a clue whether your hotel has a decent exercise room, there are some alternatives:

Resistance Bands:

Resistance bands can be a great traveling companion. You can use bands to target every muscle in the body and since you have tension throughout the entire movement, you’ll really feel the burn. They are also easy to stuff into your suitcase without taking up much space. Great for when you’re at home, at work, or away in your hotel room. You can find them a variety of bands and tubes on Amazon, other retailers, and even local sporting goods store. Most bands come with a list of exercises you can do with them.

For other ideas, you can visit:

https://greatist.com/fitness/resistance-band-exercises

or

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/total-body-sculpting-resistance-band-workout

Jump rope:

Jumping rope is a great exercise for your heart and body, and will really help you burn calories. Take the opportunity to practice your jump roping skills and maybe even double unders!

A yoga mat:

I have found some interesting and often beautiful spaces to practice in while on vacation. I have unrolled my mat at the airport and found a comfortable seat or lying position and meditated, or some light stretches in between flights to help with stiffness and circulation.  If you’re in a hotel, can you rearrange the furniture to create a little yoga nook? You can download music to your phone to help create the right ambiance for you. Find yourself in tight quarters? Take your mat outside onto the porch, grass or the beach. Complete some sun salutations, warrior I & II sequences, allowing your body to move, flow, and stretch.

What can you do without equipment?

Swimming:

Swimming is a great cardio exercise and it targets every muscle of your body. If you’re at a hotel with a pool, swim laps or try pool running.

If you’re at the beach, the ocean offers even more opportunities for exercising while having fun – surfing, paddle boarding, boogie boarding, riding the waves- all are great for burning calories and staying active.

Walking and/or Running:

Walking and running are great ways to explore a new location. You don’t need much more than a good pair of shoes to get a great cardio workout in for the day. Plus, if you’re at the beach, you’ll get even more out of your walks/runs by using the sand to your advantage. Walking or running in soft sand is much harder than walking on pavement. Note- if you’re going for a longer duration run/walk, wear shoes rather than being barefoot because it could cause shin or calf pain. Get up early and watch the sunrise over the horizon. I can’t think of a better way to start my day!

Want to run on pavement but aren’t comfortable in a new location? Try finding a few local running clubs you can link up with to run or who can suggest safe routes for you. I have found some local groups on FB and messaged them prior to traveling.  

Ways to workout out as your travel:

Airports:

Getting stuck in an airport with long layovers or plane delays is no fun, but you can take advantage by getting in a little exercise.

Your best bet is to walk the airport, avoid the escalators & take the stairs, and keep your arms going and your posture straight. If you have a ton of carry-on luggage, find a locker and stash it there or take it with you to add some weight to your walk. Or as I said before, unroll your yoga mat. Some airports even have quiet meditations rooms you can practice in or gyms you can take advantage of. Most charge anywhere from $10 to $20 for the day.

On the Plane:

Is there anything more uncomfortable than the seats on an airplane? You can combat a stiff neck and back by getting up every 30-60 minutes or so and walking the length of the plane. While you’re up, get the kinks out by lacing your fingers together and stretching from side to side or stretching them up over head (micro backbend) and then in front of you while gently rounding your spine (like a standing cat/cow pose). While seated, stretch your neck, arms and legs too. Anything you can do to keep the circulation going will help reduce some of the aches, pains, and bloating.

Hotels:

Many hotels have exercise rooms but, if they don’t, they might have an affiliation with a local gym for a small fee. Ask the hotel manager about local health clubs and about any parks or trails close by.

I like to google and find local gyms before I go. I’ll reach out about a drop in classes or ask about special rates, especially if I’ll be going for or a week. My favorite thing to do when I travel is find a cool new Crossfit affiliate or “Box” to go to!

Don’t want to go or pay for a gym? Google travel WOD (Workout Of the Day). You will find several full body, no equipment needed workouts you can do anywhere, any time.

For me to be most successful and able to workout when I travel, I think it helps to do a little research before you go, so you’re  prepared when you get there.

Other ways to stay healthy:

Eating:

Traveling can throw a wrench into your healthy eating. From the questionable airplane food to the quick food at the airport (pizza, burgers, fries, ice cream etc.) it’s easy to get off course. Then you have the temptation of new and exciting restaurants to try while you’re at your destination. Try to bring easy, packable snacks for the plane (fruit, granola bars, trail mix, etc.) and, when eating out, try to make at least one healthy choice each day.

Whatever your destination, a little advance planning can ensure that you stay on track with your exercise program. Be active, get out and explore, eat healthy, and most importantly have fun.

 

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Brooks Glycerin 15 Review

Looking for a new running shoe? I may have just the one for you!

Have you worn a pair of Brooks shoes yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Brooks has high quality products and as a company truly stands behind everything they make (from shoes to apparel). Brooks wants to make sure that everyone has what they need to Run Happy! Every design and engineering choice is specifically designed to incorporate  runners’ needs and the running experiences they crave. For whatever reason, if you don’t like your shoes or other items, you can return them, no problem. What could be better than that?

Brooks recently launched the Brooks Glycerin 15, which is an update to an already great shoe model. If you aren’t familiar with the Glycerin line, it is Brooks’ most cushioned shoe and it’s built to withstand high milage while providing a comfortable and soft ride. Glycerin offers a few new updates while maintaining the soft, plush ride users have come to love.

Here is some info. about the new design.

  • Runner Type: Neutral
  • Midsole: Super DNA and full-length cushioning with Omega Flex Grooves
  • Outsole: IDEAL Pressure Zones and blown rubber forefoots.
  • Upper: 3D Stretch print, air mesh with 4-way stretch
  • Heel: Comfort collar
  • Colors: Five new colors for both men and women
  • Weight: Men’s Brooks Glycerin is 10.6 ounces
  • Weight: Women’s Brooks Glycerin is 9.2 ounces
  • Drop: Men’s and Women’s: 10mm
  • Price: $150.00

PROS:

  • Lots of cushioning but still pretty light weight
  • Durable outsole
  • Very flexible
  • Breathable/ great ventilation
  • Great colors
  • Super DNA midsole & 3D technology
  • Offers good support for medium to high arches
  • Sleek looking

CONS:

  • Price
  • Ok on some light trails, but they do not recommend taking them on technical and rough terrain.
  • Narrow in midfoot- some people may want to consider going  up a ½ size.

In all, if you get a chance to try on these shoes, you may be hooked and find that the investment is worth it.

 

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5 Yoga Poses for Runners

Having tight hips and legs can be very painful for a runner, but yoga can help and be a game-changer. Runners, like myself, often suffer from chronically tight hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. This tightness/immobility can lead to pain up the body and along the spine. So being able to lengthen, open, and stretch these areas is important. Yoga will not only help a runner’s performance, but it will also help them prevent injuries and keep them healthy & safe so they can continue to enjoy being able to run!

I recommend that all runners attend a yoga class a few times a week, but if you can’t, try to carve out 10 minutes out of your day day, and practice a few of the poses below to help your running. Begin today and start to see and feel the effects that yoga has on your body.

Strengthen and lengthen your leg muscles, improve flexibility and prevent injury with these 5 yoga poses for runners.

Downward Dog- (Adho Mukha Svanasana):DD  The most common issues for runners are shin splints, knee and foot problems, hamstring, as well as IT-band discomfort. So completing poses that are going to lengthen, and  strengthen the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings are important. Downward Dog does a lot of that, in addition to opening the arms and upper back, down dog stretches the legs too. Lift your hip bones straight toward the ceiling and push your heels into the ground for the best overall stretch.

Low Lunge- (Anjaneyasana)ll hands:  Running can be tough on the hips. Low lunges can help strengthen the core while also stretching the thighs, groin, and opening tightened hips. Reach your arms to the ceiling and breathe.

Tree- (Vrksasana):  Balancing on one leg is great for athletes. The treemore you can strengthen your legs andimprove your balance, the less likely you are to twist an ankle or fall down when you’re on a trail or any type of uneven surface. Balancing on one leg, bring your other foot into your standing leg, try to be above or below the knee; avoiding pressing into the knee joint. Focus your gaze on an object in the distance and stand tall for 30 seconds to a minute.

bridgeBridge- (Setu Bandhasana):  Backbends help open the shoulders and the front of the body.  They also strengthens the core and activate the glutes. Bridge pose is a good counter pose to running, because the longer we run the more we tend to hunch forward. Lift your hips up toward the sky and try to keep your body in a straight line with your core engaged. To open your chest even further, clasp your hands together underneath your pelvis and try to roll your shoulder blades toward each other. Squeeze your glutes and breathe.

Reclined Pigeon- (Supta Kapotasana)reclined pigeon: Traditional Pigeon can put a lot of pressure on the knees if not done correctly, so reclined pigeon can be a nice alternative.  Lie on your back with your knees bent, and cross your left ankle over your right quad. Gently pull your legs toward you for a stretch in your left hip, glute, and hamstring, then repeat on the other side

Running + Yoga = LOVE

Happy Running!

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Returning to Running After An Injury

Over the past month, I was unable to run due to a quad and tendon injury in my left leg.  In January, I had started training for the NJ Marathon which will be held on 4/30/17, in an effort to try to qualify for Boston. I started speed workouts, tempo runs, etc… I hoped to get faster and PR on race day. Unfortunately, the Universe had other plans for me.  I am not sure how I got hurt or why. I was following a plan, running smart, doing warm ups, cool downs, stretching, eating well, but yet I still got injured. When I first got hurt, I tried running through the pain, but that only made it worse. I was forced to stop running. Out the window went my marathon and any hope of a BQ.

At first, I was devastated. I didn’t want to accept it, didn’t want to rest, and went to three doctors in an effort to find someone who would tell me what I wanted to hear… no such luck. My only option was to rest and give my leg some needed time to repair itself.  This was a wakeup call/reality check reminding me to slow down and not push so hard. I had to listen, whether I liked it or not. I needed to accept the fact that I needed to rest, because the more I tried to push through, the longer it would take my leg to heal. I immediately started various therapies to help get me back to running: stretching, foam rolling, massage, acupuncture, stim, ultrasound therapy, and rest.

During the time, I kept asking myself, what was I going to do if I didn’t run? The answer, swim and some strength training (obviously, I couldn’t use my legs so no squatting, jumping, etc…). I focused on core work and upper body. This made me feel good and somewhat productive, despite not not being able to run much.

After a month, I started to notice a difference. I had more mobility in my leg, I could walk without limping, didn’t have to use the railing going up and down the stairs, and with doctors approval I started to run a few miles. I was super excited, but I needed to still remind myself to take it easy and not push too hard because I certainly didn’t want to hurt myself again. Coming back from a running injury stinks. But, it stinks a lot less than the time spent actually dealing with the injury.

The last thing you want during a comeback is to re-injure yourself, or to get a new injury, so keep the following in mind as you return to running.

TIPS TO COME BACK AFTER AN INJURY:

BE GRATEFUL:

The first and perhaps most important thing to keep in mind when getting back to running after a long hiatus is to be grateful for every mile. Every mile is a gift. It’s more about being out on the road than anything else, the rest will come!

BUILD SLOW:

When you get the green light to begin running, do not jump full-force back into where you left off. It is important NOT to rush things, as patience pays off in the end. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend running and supplement the rest with cross-training.

TAKE BABY STEPS:

If you start to notice some injury symptoms creep up, reassess right away. It may mean you have to take a few steps back and not increase your running that week. This is not a sign of defeat; if you catch it early, you’ll avoid anything more serious. Coming back can take time, be patient.

DON’T EXPECT TO PICK UP WHERE YOU LEFT OFF:

You may have been able to run a sub 8 min. mile, but when you come back from an injury,  it’s not likely you’ll be at your previous fitness level. Don’t be discouraged if you’re running a minute or more slower. The speed/fitness will come back! You’ll need to drop pace and mileage, so try not to get hung up on what once was.

POSITIVITY & PERSPECTIVE:

The biggest deciding factor in how well you can come back from an injury is your perspective. Look forward to the runs and more miles as they come and don’t forget that each mile is NOT a given. Be grateful for them and, as you are able to run more and are back to full training mode, remind yourself not to take them for granted. This will help you remain patient and keep your eyes focused on your long term goals.

Enjoy the act of feeling like you’re a runner again, it’s one heck of a high. So smile and have faith that muscle memory will eventually kick back in!

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT:

Don’t expect your body to return in same time frame as someone else with the same injury. Just because your friend was running after a certain time period, doesn’t mean you will. Reassess the goals you had before your injury and take it one day at a time.

KEEP CROSSTRAINING AND DOING YOUR THERAPY:

I.e. swimming, lifting, rehab (especially the rehab exercises)- Keep doing it! This is all stuff that’ll make you a better runner, plus you’ve started a new routine, stick to it!

DON’T REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES:

Assess your training. What were you doing before the injury that could have lead to you becoming injured? Did you over train? Run too many races? Not enough rest?  Not stretching enough? No warmup/cooldown? Whatever the case may be, think about it, analyze it, and make a plan to not have history repeat itself.

Happy Running!
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Training for a Flat Marathon

When preparing for a flat marathon (like the NJ marathon), you may need to modify your training plan a little to better prepare for the unique demands of racing on a long, flat course. When most runners hear the word “flat” used to describe a marathon, we think “oh, that’ll be easy”. However, that may not be the case. Flat does not mean easy, especially if you’re not accustomed to training on flat terrain. Running on terrain you aren’t used to, can lead to muscle fatigue and cramping due to your body’s lack of muscle memory for the repetitive impact load on your muscles. Plus, it can be hard for the mind because of the monotony of the course. So one of the best ways to prepare for a flat marathon course is to shift more of your training to flat surfaces.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a flat race:

Hit the Track- There is no better place to run your speed and tempo workouts for a flat course than on a flat track. You can include shorter, 400m or 800m repeats or longer, 1-2 mile repeats to your training.

Hit the Treadmill- This certainly is not the most fun option, but it can be a good resource, especially if you can’t get to the track (i.e. it’s raining, snowing, too hot, etc…)  Treadmills are especially convenient for runners who travel and need to get their runs in.

Vary Your Long Runs- Try to find routes that offer flat stretches of road or path. The best way to prepare your body for a long, flat course is to simulate it with a long, flat training run. Once you have a flat course you like, you can begin to alternate it with your usual rolling hill routes.

Happy Running!

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Be Ready on Race Day!

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon/ Half Marathon is only 4 weeks away!!! With race day on the horizon, here are a few training tips and things you need to know in order to ensure you’re ready on race day!!

Four weeks out:

  • This is when we start to second guess ourselves. We ask ourselves “Have I trained enough?” “Should I squeeze in one more long run?” -These are some common worries we all have, but from what I learned, less is more. It’s not the time to do anything crazy. It’s the time to let the body start to recover and build its strength up for race day.
  • The training you do today takes 2-3 weeks to have a real long-term effect on your fitness. So keep everything the same for the next two weeks. Then once you’re two weeks out, you reach a point of diminishing returns if you are not careful. Run smart, follow and trust your training.
  • Focus on maintaining your fitness and not injuring yourself so that you can feel good  on race day.
  • Your longest run should take place either 3 or 4 weeks out from the race. After that, start to taper.
  • Two weeks before, begin to reduce your weekly miles.
  • One week before, make your runs EASY.

One week away:

  • The final week is a crucial time. All those tough weeks of training need to count, so look after yourself and your body.
  • Tapering is all about balance. You don’t want to run too hard where you’ve exhausted yourself, but you don’t want to completely rest either or or may feel sluggish on race day. Your body loves routine so stick with yours. However, instead of going hard, try for more easy and relaxed runs with friends.
  • Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who are going to make you feel good and excited about the race!
  • Be sure to get lots of sleep. Protect the immune system and take care of yourself.
  • Avoid heavy strength and conditioning or gym workouts this week. More time does not mean starting a new lifting routine. Wait until after the race.
  • Stay hydrated!

Nutrition:

  • Don’t ruin your hard work. Remember, you can’t out run poor nutrition. So just eat normally and gradually reduce the volume and intensity of your training,  this is a natural carb load.
  • Your body needs the quality calories to keep your glycogen (carbohydrate stores) topped off so you feel great in training and on race day.
  • Be sure you’re choosing to eat healthy snacks and well balanced meals.
  • Eat your normal pre-race or pre- long run breakfast. Don’t suddenly change your diet. This is not the time to experiment with something new. You don’t want to feel sluggish or sick.

The final 24 hours

  • Go for that 2-3 mile jog to loosen the legs and calm the nerves. Try to release any anxiety you may have.
  • Look at the weather and be sure to wear clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable. Do not wear new clothes that you have not run/trained in. Go for comfy pre-washed clothes you know will help you feel good.
  • Pack your bag with all that you will need on race day – safety pins for your race number, warm clothes for before and after, toilet paper, chapstick, glide, snacks, fluids, you’re running watch, and iPod.
  • Avoid spending lots of time on your feet walking with family or friends and sightseeing the day before. Put your feet up and rest. (I’ve made this mistake before and paid for it dearly during the race.)
  • Snack on small meals throughout the day and stay well hydrated. I can’t say that enough… hydration is critical!
  • Eat your last main meal between 6-7pm. Look for easily digested carbs.  Don’t go to bed stuffed.
  • Get to bed early. Try your best to rest and relax!

Race day

  • YAY!! It’s finally here. Now is the time to be excited. Trust your training and know that everything will be ok!!
  • Try to stay relaxed and calm.
  • Eat the race day breakfast you have practiced in training approximately 1.5 – 2 hours before the race start.
  • Make sure you have your bib, GU/gels/blocks, your bag for after, etc… all the essentials you need before you leave the house.
  • Know your pace and split times, don’t rely solely on your GPS. The arm bands they hand out at the expo are really helpful.
  • Some people like to jog or warm up before the race, while others use the first 1-2 miles as their warmup. Do what feels right for you.
  • Hand in your post race bag and head to the corral about 20-30 minutes before the start. Keep your warm clothes on before you go. When you get the go, enjoy the your 26.2 journey. You’ve trained, you’re ready, now is the reward for all your hard work. Enjoy it!!

Race strategy

  • Don’t start too fast, ease into your pace.
  • Run at the pace you have practiced. After building into your target marathon pace, pay attention to your splits to help ensure you’re on track.
  • Try not to bank too much time in the beginning. This can hurt you at the end and make you unable to maintain pace. If you’re feeling good after the first half of the race, then pick it up.
  • Slow down at water stops and sip your sports drinks and/or water.
  • Remember to smile, take time to relax and draw in the atmosphere! These memories are sure to last a lifetime. Enjoy every step!

Wishing everyone an awesome race! Enjoy your time and the shore. Take in the sights, breathe in the ocean air, and smile at all the spectators there to cheer you on along the way! Have fun, run happy & strong!

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The Need for Speed

I have never incorporated speed work into my marathon training before this year. I was always intimidated by track workouts and was too afraid to push myself beyond my comfort zone, where I had difficulty breathing. I am more of a slow and steady kind of gal.  I could go on forever, but hate short bursts of speed. However, I have set a goal for myself to qualify for the Boston Marathon and in order to do that, I need to get faster.  So for this training cycle, I’ve decided to give speed work a try.   Continue reading The Need for Speed

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