Category: Running

Boost your Immune System [Recipe]

Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete's Diet!
Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete's Diet!
Fruits and Vegetables Are an Essential Part of an Athlete’s Diet!

Hey all! It’s no surprise that what you eat can affect your performance and health. As an example, I was feeling unwell Sunday. It’s rare, but I was so tired and weak by the end of the day that I came home and went to bed at literally 7:20 PM. I woke up after about two hours, feeling hot and my throat was very raw.

As many of you know, I believe in whole food nutrition. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This is also evidenced through the methods I must use to help take care of my eighty-year old mother – who refuses to go to a doctor.

So as I got up to make my “remedy”. You can make this as a salad or, if you don’t think you can eat, as a blended smoothie. A Nutribullet or similar blender also has the advantage of  emulsifying the food, as raw vegetables can be harder to digest. My mother has said that if the illness wouldn’t kill her, that drink would – ha, but it works.

I also used this when I fell ill before Pike’s Peak Marathon and I had no issues during the race.

The ingredients are 2 oranges, 2 carrots, 1/2 a small onion, 1 inch fresh ginger root and 2 cloves garlic. The ingredients boost the immune system and are antibacterial in the body. I mixed this with fresh chopped romaine and spinach and made a vinaigrette dressing of raw honey (antibacterial and antiviral), Dijon mustard (anti-inflammatory), and apple cider vinaigrette (antiviral and anti-inflammatory).

The benefits to athletes of whole food eating are numerous!! If you want more they touch on this in one of my favorite podcasts, “The Science of Ultra”, episode 48, “Recovery and the Immune System”, with Oliver Neubauer, PhD.

The salad is not plated – I was feeling so unwell that I just used the mixing bowl and went back to bed!! The next day I can report that I was mostly better with a 17-mile long run…. 😉

If you want more information on how living a holistic, healthy lifestyle can benefit you as an athlete, feel free to contact me! As well, check out your options for private coaching and coached group training! Have a great day!

3 Easy Steps To Choosing The Right Coach!

Choose Wisdom

Hi all! Exclusive Run Coaching and Coach-Directed Training Groups may be new a concept to you. Here is what to look for to make an informed decision about where to invest your time!

1. Nationally Recognized Credentials

Nationally Recognized Certifications in your area of interest are more than just pieces of paper. This gives you evidence that this person is trained to keep your health in good hands. They have gone above and beyond just putting a sign outside their door. With this training, you know you get the best service and direction to reach your personal goals, as well as accurate answers to your questions.

Health Certifications take time, education and expense to obtain. A person must have prerequisites before even beginning the process. They require extensive study in such areas as biomechanics, physiology, sports psychology and nutritional guidance – including what is safe to recommend within their scope of practice. They are knowledgeable about physical training responses. With this you get a professional who knows how to develop and modify programs that keep you on target with your goals while simultaneously avoiding overtraining/burnout and injury.

Therefore, ask:

  • Can you depend on the fact that they’ve been trained to help you progress at a rate that both keeps you healthy as well as on target with your goals?
  • If something starts to hurt, are they trained to have the knowledge of what to recommend, potential exercises to strengthen muscular imbalances, or how to modify your program to keep you healthy?
  • Are they affiliated with a network of other professionals to help keep you on the road?

Additionally, Certifications in areas such as Wellness Coaching train the practitioner in areas such as overall health management and planning, motivational capacities, positive psychology, goal setting and behavior change. This benefits you by helping you develop strategies for success, and keeps you going even when life inevitably gets in the way. It enables a holistic, healthy view of you as an athlete that leads to greater progress in sport and life.

As an example, if you went to a gym and hired a personal trainer, would you want to have just anyone walk over and design your exercise program? Or would you demand a certified, experienced professional who specializes in your area of interest for your time and money? Training is a complex process involving the proper development of all system of the body working together as a whole. Taking a generic plan and applying it without understanding the fundamentals could lead to training errors and even be a dangerous process without the correct understanding.

If you are considering a group training program:

  • Is the director professionally trained and certified to facilitate this multi-person activity to assure the safety of all involved?
  • Are they aware of how to handle various health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease that may come up in a group setting involving you or others?
  • What about certifications such as CPR and First Aid if a you or another participant is hurt or has an incident in the session?

2. Experience:

Working with an experienced professional adds to learned principles and lends to the development of expert skills. You then get someone adept at handling your specific, personalized needs.

  • Does this person have proven experience in your area of interest with a record of success? If so, how much?
  • Are they a demonstrated expert in their field?
  • Do they have testimonials by satisfied clients explaining their work?
  • Is this person able to inspire and motivate you to bring out your best?
  • What is their coaching philosophy – and does that agree with what you personally believe?

3. Dedication:

You want someone as dedicated, focused and passionate about your targets and interests as you are!

  • How much time does your coach dedicate to their craft? Is this a full-time profession for them, or just some add-on gig that they do on the side?
  • Do they devote themselves to coaching your specific area of interest, or do they spread themselves across multiple sports, interests and areas?
  • Do they commit the time required to consistently stay tied in and updated in the science of your field?
  • Do they offer services that take you beyond just running to maximize your entire potential for overall performance and health?
  • What do they provide to help you continue and progress after your current goal or program is completed?

Sure, there may programs out there that cost less. However, I’ve never found that a business can have the best quality, service, and the lowest price. What is important to you?

Make the right choice – ask yourself if you really want to take shortcuts with your time, results and most importantly: YOUR HEALTH.

And, let’s face it, when someone chooses to make an investment in something, they’re more committed.  They do their planned workouts more consistently and hold themselves accountable. And they help build an incredible community of like-minded people ready to motivate and offer support for one another. All of this reflects back to get RESULTS. Choose to make that investment in YOURSELF.

More questions? Contact me, and I will be happy to assist you! Happy Training!

-Coach Amie

Get Inspired: My Before / After!

You can use running and health to become or come back to that person you KNOW you know you are as well!

Amie Dworecki Before/After

Some see the World Records, race wins etc and think that I couldn’t possibly get where they are coming from. Well, believe it or not, I can! I’ve mentioned before that I had to overcome many issues to get to where I am in health, but had just posted current photos. Although I believe in moving TOWARD your goals, I’m posting a before/after because many people find it inspiring. The “after” picture was taken at 2 AM before I ran the Black Canyon 100K in February. In the pic, I had just finished packing my drop boxes (haha) and in full disclosure am 6-7 lbs bloated from carb loading for the race!!

As for the “before” picture… I spent a number of years dealing with poor health. Prior to that, I had been very fit, even setting the world records for multi-continent marathon running. However, I started to feel like “I can’t lose the last several pounds no matter what I try”, and had other minor symptoms bothering me. So I began to go to many doctors to try to find a cure and I sincerely now believe that, “The mind leads, and the body follows,” as my Mom has always said. If you believe something is wrong with you, your body will follow and you will find others who will confirm your self-diagnosis. Then you focus more on the problem and often, as you get what you focus on, you just get more of the problem as a result.

Therefore, it got to the point that I had been what later turned out to be misdiagnosed with several ailments, some of which doctors said I would need to be on medications for the rest of my life. This included adrenal issues, thyroid problems, extreme allergies/asthma, food reactions, body aches and depression. I did run and exercise still, but I was on such high dosages of medications that my thyroid gland (which in large part controls your metabolism) was fully shut down and my heart rate would get so high that it was dangerous to run, so I had to stop. This was frustrating to me because for years I’d always loved being so active.

The left photo is not even of me at my heaviest. I was so tired of my symptoms still not being under control or getting worse that I just decided to STOP going from doctor to doctor to find a solution to what I thought was ‘wrong’ with me and to take my health into my own hands. So instead I started focusing on what could be “right”!! Despite it all, I maintained the belief that I could get off all medications and be well.

I decided to make changes in my lifestyle, and got off the medications. However, due to the sudden shift off medications, with my thyroid basically shut down, I then rapidly gained at least another twenty pounds (or so? I stopped weighing as I didn’t want to know). I found it even more depressing that jeans that had recently fit now didn’t, as I had already felt self-conscious about myself as well.

I remember around this time I had started a new job and we had a work event on a small boat. Everyone else was eating cake, pizza etc and I had a small plate with just some celery and carrots. Some guy came up and loudly asked me, “Aren’t you the one that ran the marathons on all continents?” Before I could answer he added, in front of everyone, “Boy, you must eat a WHOLE LOT, because marathon runners are normally THIN.” I felt so embarrassed I wanted to crawl into a hole. But on the small boat there was nowhere to go while everyone laughed hard at his joke. After I got off the boat I just sat in my car and cried.

Regardless I focused on remodeling my type-A lifestyle, getting better rest, and regularly mentally targeting my image of myself being healthy again. I also learned more about healthy eating with portion control (meaning not only not too much – but also not too little) alongside exercise. Even though I gained the weight mostly due to medications, I had to lose it just like anyone else. And it was very slow due to my thyroid gland having to come back to par on it’s own.

Due to the high heart rate issues that had not yet gone away, I had to start with walking. I started just going down to the end of the block and back, but regardless I made a schedule and added a little bit each day. My feet, ankles and joints would hurt as my frame was not used to the weight gain. I eventually started alternating running and walking a block each at a time. Then running, very slowly. I can remember how happy I was the day that I could run my first mile all over again.

I joined a running club at that point and so yes, believe it or not I know how it feels to always be the last one finishing a designated route after everyone else has finished, or even left and gone home. Some would even joke about it but I just kept going. I started running 5K races again after that, and though I finished in the lower half I was happy that I was able to do it at all.

Making lifestyle changes, focusing on positive thinking and the vision of the life I wanted, consistent healthy eating and exercise were the keys to me recovering my health. I lost 50+ pounds. I am now even fitter and healthier than I was before I became sick, and have accomplished more than I had ever thought possible. I never thought I would qualify for the Boston Marathon, for example, and now I have a qualifying time with every marathon I run, even just for training.

And I am off all medications!!! It can at times still be a rocky road to maintain total health as there is no such thing as perfection. However, I just keep on “Running with Life”. I still work on work-life balance and stress. However rather than always expecting a flawless life, Wellness is more about discovering your own path to health, staying on it for the long-term as well as finding strategies to get back to it when things come up. This is what sets you up for long term success.

I became a Wellness Coach because I can help people find their own individual journeys to their Visions of Wellness. I am a Running Coach because it is my longtime passion and joy and I’d like more people to experience that as well.

YOU can have the life YOU want. Visualize it and make it happen!

If you want more inspiration check out my friend Charles Ray Bell’s story of how he went from 300 lbs to a 3 hour marathon. He was one of the people who originally inspired me to start running over 100 miles a week many years ago.

Or check out fellow Indiana resident, and ultra runner Traci Falbo’s story of how she lost 80 lbs and currently holds the American Record and World Indoor Track Record in the 48 Hour event (242.093 miles).

Check out what Private Coaching can do for you or our Training Groups to start or get back into the healthy lifestyle you know you can achieve! And you can always contact me for more information on the services I can provide for you. And “Like” the Running With Life Coaching page for motivation, running and wellness articles and tips! Have a great day!!

Keep Running With Life – Amie

 

Have You “Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” for RUNNING?? Here’s How to Get It Back!!

Have you lost that Loving Feeling for Running?


I’m dedicating this post to someone who recently contacted me about this – however I frequently speak to people who have this issue. They rarely run anymore because what they once loved now feels like a chore. Perhaps you have the same feeling but it’s toward another type of exercise, a job… or even a relationship! Here are a five questions to ask yourself to rekindle your fire!

    1. What did I originally love about it?

      Think back to when you really loved to run. What got you to lace up your shoes and get out there? Perhaps it was the feeling of being outdoors in nature, but recently you’ve been rushed and have just been putting in treadmill miles. Or maybe it was the endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that rushed through your body and left you feeling exhilarated, but recently you’ve been stressed and so just push through your run to “get it over with”. Maybe it was the freedom, however now when you run, instead of letting things go, you just stare at your sports watch with demanding expectation each time.Picture yourself back when you used to run and loved it. What elements were different that you can recapture now?

    2. What caused me to stop enjoying it?

      Feelings of irritation or avoidance can happen if we push ourselves hard for a goal, sacrifice, and end up with results that are less than stellar in our eyes. Perhaps it was a race goal that didn’t pan out as expected, or even a bad string of workouts. This can leave us feeling dejected and not wanting to participate, or sometimes even think about, that activity anymore.If this is the case, can you reframe the result from something negative into a positive? If you didn’t get the race time you wanted, what other good things came out of the training you had put in? Maybe you lost a few pounds or got into great shape. Maybe you worked harder than you ever thought you could. What did you learn about yourself in the process?

      And if it was a bad race – sometimes we overgeneralize the situation. Just because one race at one time wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean that all future races will be the same. You’ve gone through it – you’re smarter now. You’ve learned what works for you – and what doesn’t. Now you can focus on improving your training, schedule and strategies for next time.If you’re going through a bad set of workouts, maybe you can look at something else that has been affecting you, such as poor sleep or compromised nutrition, that you can correct for the future. Again, learning from it, rather than staying down for the count.Pulling out the positives can help motivate you to move forward toward new goals and new heights, rather than dwelling on perceived disappointments.
How to rekindle your LOVE OF RUNNING!!
How to rekindle your LOVE OF RUNNING!!

 

    1. Am I overwhelming myself with expectations?

      Sometimes we set our goals so high that it feels overwhelming. We think it will take hours and hours of time, we must hit certain paces all the time, and if we don’t do that 100% then we’ve failed. It becomes demotivating to even think about.I’m all for setting high goals, however it’s best to be realistic and set them to a level that you can achieve or is just above what you think you can achieve. Maybe your first goal is to just go for a run without any focus on time or distance, but for the sole purpose of enjoying it. With small wins, you can have the confidence to move on to bigger things.

    2. Is my life in balance?


      Many times burnout can occur when we do one activity to the exclusion of other things we enjoy. Even things we love to do need balance. If running feels like a burden, it’s OK to stop for a while. Even elite athletes are known to take up to a month off in their off-season or after a tough race. Studies have shown that up to ten days off of workouts affect fitness very little.There are also health and mental benefits to cross-training or trying another type of workout. You may even find one you enjoy enough to incorporate from time to time on a regular basis.And, even workouts need balance. For all the hard workouts you do, remember to incorporate recovery into the mix. This helps become stronger both physically AND mentally.Also, what else is going on in your life? Are you extremely burdened at work or is a relationship or other issue taking it’s toll? Are you allowing someone else’s negative opinions toward your running influence the way you feel? Sometimes other issues can lead to an overall loss of motivation, so work on balancing things in your life as a whole.

    3. Have I been doing the same ol’ same ol’ a bit too long?


      Perhaps every day you go out and run the same route at the same time of day. Or, your pace and distance are always the same. If so, spice it up! Add interval training – if even on the same route, alternate fast/slow running. If the route is convenient, try running it in the other direction, or even changing up a block here or there. Add some cross training, such as push-ups or squats after every few blocks.Go trail running if you just run on roads. If you run alone, try running with other people, or volunteering to run with a shelter dog. If you always run from home, try a different route. Even driving a few miles away and just starting from a new location can open up a lot of new options. Run at a different time of day. Sign up for a race… or if you feel all you do is compete, don’t, and just run without your Garmin for a while, enjoying being mindful of the moment.


      Overall, don’t be afraid to change things up for a while. And make sure to give yourself permission to do so. Feel good about what you are trying versus feeling guilty because “I should be…” Do what you need to do to stay healthy and well!

I work with people every day to develop strategies to improve health and wellness – check out your options for private coaching, change it up with a new training programs or contact me to discuss!

Like/Follow the Running with Life Facebook page for more updates 🙂

Until then, keep Running with Life! – Coach Amie

How Meditation Can Help Your Running… And Your Life

Get Focused ;)
Can Meditation Help Your Running?
Can Meditation Help Your Running?

I was out in the middle of nowhere when I realized IT.

On a sunny morning, I was out for a run in the countryside. It had been happening for a while, yet it hadn’t dawned on me. Until just – that – moment. And that’s exactly what IT was. The complete clarity of that moment.

I saw the greenness of the trees and surrounding vegetable fields. The pale blue sky. The birds flying and chirping to my right. A breeze blowing across the dark asphalt road. I was in that frame of time, and nothing else.

But even more: I was fully in tune to my running. I felt, smoothly, how my body and muscles were functioning during the run, as a well-oiled machine. The tap tap tap of my feet hitting the ground in perfect rhythm with my breathing.

And that’s when I realized IT. The constant chattering of my thoughts were missing. The stream of things I had to do later that day, of what someone said yesterday, of how far I’d run or still needed to go, of my race, of this, that and the other thing – gone. I had total, clear focus on my surroundings, my body and my running.

A couple of weeks prior I had bought a meditation headband known as, “Muse,” to help me meditate. I’d studied meditation before, and said I was going to do it. Without “actually” doing it. I was skeptical. But the headband was a bit expensive, so now that I had some skin in the game – I was invested – I WAS going to meditate. Through sensors that communicated with an app, it detected if your thoughts started to move away, at which point, it would signal you to get back in the game.

I made a goal to use it every morning when I woke up. I started with three minutes. Clear your mind, and focus on your breath. That doesn’t sound that hard, until you try to do it, and then all of a sudden, you hear the ending tone of the app and realize that your mind has been elsewhere. The.Whole.Time.

Nevertheless, I stuck with it. I made it to five minutes, seven, and twelve. Around the two-week mark, I began to think it wasn’t doing anything for me.

Until that moment.

I then noticed the same effect on the trails. My mind wasn’t everywhere in the chaos of my daily thoughts. It was on the trail, totally centered, yet without effort. I wasn’t tripping over roots yet I also wasn’t forcing myself to pay attention. The focus was clear, yet natural.

In his book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” Sakyong Mipham, a marathon runner, Tibetan lama and leader of an international community of meditation centers, says that running and meditation complement each other. It is natural to train both the body and the mind. Without this, we can become imbalanced. This combination of body and mind training, according to Mipham, is needed to become fully engaged in what we are doing.

This concept is also similar to what other texts name as, “Flow.” Have you ever been so involved and interested in something that you’ve lost track of time? Then you’ve experienced Flow. If you’ve watched elite athletes competing in their sport, you can see the definition of total focus, the synchrony of their mind and body in a total state of  Flow.

The first step in meditation can simply be mindfulness. Just noticing what you are doing and staying focused on it. If you are talking to someone, clear your mind and let your full focus be in the other person’s voice. In running, concentrate on your form or even one aspect of your form.

When you’re ready to try meditation, it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply relax, breathe, and focus on the feeling of your breath entering and exiting your body. Many think you must close your eyes, but you can also focus on something with your eyes open, such as a candle. You can listen to a clock ticking, or you can envision a relaxing scene. If you can’t clear your thoughts, you can simply watch them go by, without judgment, as clouds in a clear sky. Set a timer for two to three minutes, so that you can focus without worrying about the time. There are also many types of meditation. The key is to find the one that resonates with you.

Yesterday I attended an advanced mindful meditation clinic and the instructor said meditation IS training. It’s directing your mind to be in this place, right now. She said she couldn’t tell us how meditation would affect our lives, because it affects everyone differently. For some it may be during exercise, for others it may be a calmness in the din of fighting children or a demanding work environment. It might be better productivity, improved sleep, lowered anxiety/stress/depression or increased resistance to pain. It might be all of these. You never know until you try…

I can provide the help you need to incorporate meditation and focus into your life and/or running. Check out your options for private coaching, training programs, or contact me for more information!

Keep Running with Life – Amie

Excellent Pre-run Snack – Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans [Recipe]

Ok class… who can tell me what this is???

Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans – Gone!

Yes, that’s right – it’s an EMPTY box of Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee beans. I’m going to blame this one on a friend I’ll call Heidi R.T. (and you know who you are…) One day, she had a post mentioning that she was choosing from a selection of chocolate/coffee delicacies, with a picture of the chocolate covered coffee beans being one.

Honestly, my first thought was – Oh, how unhealthy! Until… she reminded me of my own philosophy that small bits ARE ok. And, indeed they are! Every day, you have a small amount of “discretionary” calories to have as you choose!  There is need to be “a perfect eater” to lose weight, or to simply be healthy!

I coincidentally saw these at the store and purchased them. One serving has 180 calories with 12 grams of fat, however, if you only eat a few chocolate covered coffee beans at a time… the contribution to your total day can be small.

So, I chose to have 6-8 of the chocolate covered beans occasionally before my morning run. That’s around 50-60 calories and is a nice little caffeinated pick-me up equivalent to about a half cup of coffee. And, they are not totally unhealthy. Caffeine has been shown to increase athletic, exercise and running performance, the rate of carbohydrate uptake into the muscles, with some studies showing enhanced fat burn as well. Dark chocolate as well is a powerful source of antioxidants.

The real deal - Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
The real deal – Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

However… a couple days ago to my dismay, I had just an empty box!

I’ve missed it so I decided to play around with some recipes…. so here’s one you may want to try!! Making it at home also ensures your own natural ingredients  😉 And, I’m not personally into the Paleo diet, but if you are.. this qualifies!

The original recipe is from memienge.com. I like it because you can make just small bits at a time. This is handy if you are the type of person who’d rather not keep temptation in the house. If you don’t want caffeine, you can substitute use raisins, almonds or other nuts for the coffee beans as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened 100% dark cocoa powder
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup coffee beans

Directions:

Melt coconut oil and stir in maple syrup. Stir in cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt until completely combined.

Chocolate Mixture
Chocolate mixture – almost there!

Place coffee beans on a piece of parchment or wax paper on a plate. Drop small portions of the chocolate mixture on the coffee beans. Now… next time, I would use small candy molds, if you have them and you’re a stickler on having the rounded shape, otherwise they come out more like “drops”… but the flavor is the same 🙂

Put in the fridge or freezer about 15-30 minutes until hardened. Eat. Yum!

You can make variations by substituting raw honey or molasses for the maple syrup; as well you can add mix-ins such as dried coconut or a bit of cayenne pepper. As the coconut oil tends to melt at room temperature, I’d keep these in the fridge.

If the flavor is too “dark chocolate” for you (I love that, but it wasn’t ‘sweet’ enough for my taste-testing Mom), you can use regular cocoa powder instead of dark, and sweeten to taste. I will experiment using natural stevia powder from my garden, and update when I do!

Have a great day, and let me know what you think!!

And don’t forget to “Like” and “Follow” the Running with Life Coaching page on Facebook for more tips, giveaways and more!

How to start running if you haven’t run for a while (or at all…)

starttobegreat

Returning to running after a battle with injury or illness is tough. It may have been weeks, months, years… or perhaps you’ve never started! So, no matter what your level, here are 10 tips on how to begin!

1. Think Big

What are you goals, beyond just putting your running shoes on? What motivates you? How do you picture running influencing your overall health and life? Perhaps you want to run to get into shape – what does that look like to you? Maybe you were inspired by someone who ran the Boston Marathon. That could be you one day! Picture what that looks like – think BIG – inspire yourself. Then, write it down. When you run with a goal in mind, you will be running TO and FOR something. When obstacles inevitably occur, you can think of your BIG goal and be motivated!

2. Start Small

Paradoxically, it’s often best physiologically to start in small steps. Perhaps you used to run 10 miles a day. Or, others make running look so easy. However after a layoff or when just starting out, it’s good to be conservative. Just trust that you will get to where you want to go. You lessen your chance of injury and premature burnout if you start small and build gradually. Running is basically jumping from foot to foot and the body needs to get adjusted to the forces of impact that occur with each step.

In any case, starting small might mean jogging and walking down the block, or running one mile. A 10% increase in total mileage per week is often recommended, but everyone differs in what they can handle. Pay attention to how you feel, how fast you are recovering from the workouts you are doing, and build from there.

3. Get Social

Running with other people can be motivating and hold you accountable. Perhaps the weather isn’t ideal, but the thought of five people asking you, “Hey where were you last night,” can be enough to get most people out the door. When coming back to running or just beginning, most likely most of your runs will be at a pace that most coaches call, “Conversation Pace.” This is an easy pace at which you are able to hold a conversation while running. As part of a running group, these miles can go by faster if you actually have others with whom you can have a conversation. No running groups in your area? Think about starting one of your own, or just recruit some friends to get healthier informally. Some also rely on a personal trainer, wellness coach or social media for similar encouragement and support.

4. Stay Positive

I was running in the pouring rain  and thought that there are two ways a runner could look at the situation. One is to think negatively about the rain, and as a result, skip running altogether or feel miserable the entire time. The other is to view it in a positive light: “Just think how much of a bad-a** I’ll feel like when I get done!” Sometimes, non-runners look at me like I’m crazy for running in challenging conditions. I just say, “The Marathon won’t pause for me because it’s raining/cold/hot,” and you can think of all the others who didn’t go the extra mile and get the mental edge that you will have. No matter the situation, think of what good can come from it, and it will keep you moving!

5. Keep going

When obstacles inevitably occur and things get hard, think about your Vision from tip #1. One of the biggest assets any runner can have is consistency. Maybe you feel tired, you’re frustrated that you’re not where you were before or feel you should be progressing faster. Keep going anyway. If you have a 5-mile run planned but it feels overwhelming, tell yourself you’re just going to go run a half mile. At worst, you still got a short run in. At best, you’ll feel so good that you go on to finish your whole workout.

6. Vary Workouts

A key concept in running is to vary the “FIT” of your workouts – Frequency, Intensity, and Time. Try to avoid increasing too many of these variables at once. For example if you start out with 2 or 3 days a week, perhaps next week increase either the number of days you run, or run a similar number of days for more minutes (distance). Intensity increases tend to cause the most stress on the body, especially for new runners.

7. Change Surfaces

One thing many runners do not think about in their workouts is to run on a variety of surfaces. Surely, if you are training for a road race, you’d want a majority of your running to be on roads. However running on concrete can be hard on the body, especially when returning or starting out. A trail can be a softer option. I do most of my recovery runs on trails even just in general training, and this option is also favored by such athletes like Olympic runner Meb Keflezighi.

Other less impactful options include treadmills or a rubberized track. One advantage to these two options is that you can exclude steep inclines with them if you are just getting adjusted to that, or trying to avoid irritating one of the many injuries that can be worsened by hills.

If you are recovering from injury, many physical therapy clinics have a supported treadmill such as the Alter-G, in which runners run on a treadmill supported by a “bubble” that counteracts gravity to variably counter some of the weighted impact to the joints. Elite athletes such as Dathan Ritzenhein have used the anti-gravity treadmill a training tool.

Another option is to run in the deep end of a pool wearing a floatation belt, which utilizes the same muscles as running. Yet, water has up to 12 times the resistance of running through air. I also include this option to more safely handle adding more weekly mileage. A final option is to cross train using a lower impact exercise such as an elliptical or bike.

8. Allow Recovery

Skipping or not planning recovery days is a common mistake amongst newer and experienced runners alike. The more hard-core, the better, right? But recovery days are how the body actually gets stronger from hard workouts. As well, a workout on paper might not look that difficult compared to what you used to do, or you may not even mentally want to admit that it is. But you must realistically go from the level of conditioning you have today. And as you come back or start running, the individual workouts may not feel that hard. However it is often the accumulated stress and fatigue that can build up if proper recovery is not taken. Take days off, or easy days, along with the harder and/or longer days. You’ll get stronger and build endurance faster, and your body will thank you!

9. Watch Nutrition

Nutritional needs change when a person starts running. Increased calories are needed as miles increase. Continuing to eat the same amount can lead to poor performance, lowered recovery and healing, as well as nutritional deficiencies. For some, exercise surpasses appetite. However for others, it can increase hunger. Others mentally over-justify excess calories because they feel they ran hard, so “earned” another slice of pizza or pie. There’s even a term, “Rungry”, which refers to the cravings and resulting excess calories a runner can take in especially after long runs. A general rule of thumb is that runners burn 100 calories per mile on “average”, however this can vary significantly from person to person.

And remember, if you see the scale going up, this doesn’t always equal fat gain. Runners store extra carbohydrate and water in their muscles to power through workouts. Regular body composition checks can tell you more accurately what changes are occurring.

10. Other Changes

One you begin establishing your running routine, what other changes can you make to keep going and optimize your performance? Looking at factors outside of your running, such as getting quality sleep, improving nutritional intake, lowering external stress and adding in strength work can all be beneficial. As a wellness coach, I can combine this with my services and knowledge as a running coach to make the big picture work for you. Feel free to contact me for more information, and check our latest running programs or private coaching to see if it’s time to get your own run on 🙂

Run With Life…. -Amie

Moving Through Change

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. We had our pea-coats with us, and I took a bag. Of all my worldly possessions I took no more than the few necessaries that filled the bag. Where I might go, what I might do, or when I might return, were questions utterly unknown to me…

I love this passage from “Great Expectations”, by Charles Dickens. It depicts the transitional March personality as well as new beginnings. Leaving it all to venture forward into the unknown is an enthralling experience. What big changes have you made in your life? What changes do you want?

I was feeling a bit low in remembrance yesterday so I did what normally boosts my mood: I slipped on my running shoes and headed out the door. My breath and strides felt heavy as my runs have felt labored since the 100K, yet I didn’t care. I was outside, moving and alive.

The night prior I’d thought about some losses I’d experienced. I remembered dismissing them as if they didn’t matter and thought I was leaving things behind. However, while it’s necessary to let go of the past, we also need to realize and even grieve over what was lost. Sometimes, that’s the missing piece that stops us from really being able to start over with a clean slate. Acknowledging what hasn’t worked and what that meant is part of moving forward in a new career path, relationship – life itself.

I took a deep breath, and like a Phoenix flying from the embers, the crisp air set my soul alight.

What would you like to change? Have you started? Why or why not?

Give yourself a break!

The past few months I have been a partial “snowbird”, spending time in Florida for an American Council on Exercise fitness instructor certification as well as acting as a pace group leader for the Jacksonville Marathon. Then, Iowa to complete Wellcoaches Wellness Coach training, and on to Arizona for sunshine and planning next steps. I’ve also had a great experience studying and running 50-100K ultramarathons.

The final ultra was the Black Canyon 100K, a Western States 100 qualifier, on my birthday, Feb 13.  Although I beat the WS 100 qualification time by almost two hours, it was tough and I had come down with rhabdomyolysis. This is a condition caused by muscle breakdown, so I needed rest.

I take breaks from strict diet and training after a key race in any case. But I’ve noticed that many freak out at missing exercise or falling off their normal diet. Granted, a huge food bender may not be so healthy, but why make it worse by adding a huge dollop of guilt?  Even if it was not a planned diet or exercise break, realize that we all do the best we can in each moment. There are times the body needs to recharge, and perhaps you needed it at that particular moment. Evaluate honestly where you are, and move on from there.

And, schedule in some time to give your body and mind a break. You probably deserve it!

 

Running by Feel

Today, I ran the Twin Cities Marathon, which is also the USATF Master’s National Marathon Championships. This was a big goal for me this year. At the same time, I recently was attacked by a dog while out running and after that, I wasn’t sure where I stood as far as pace.

Due to the stitches from the bite on my leg, I had to take almost two weeks off right in the middle of my race prep phase of training. It was quite hard on my body to completely stop running after putting in 105-107 miles per week throughout the training cycle. After that, I had one week of training left, and then I was supposed to taper (cut down mileage as the race approaches to rest the body).

It was even harder to come back to running after a dog took a bit of my shin away. I had also lost around 5 lbs of lean mass. “Lean mass” doesn’t just mean muscle, according to a bodyfat scale, which actually gauges water content in the muscle. The body stores carbohydrate for longer runs, as well as associated water. This is something that builds up over weeks of marathon build training. You can see this gradual buildup in the graph of my lean mass below, as well as the steep decline after the dog bite. The time window was too short to be able to regain this upon my return.  And I definitely felt this in training.

Screenshot 2015-10-04 14.22.44

Before the race, I was able to meet awesome runner and 3:05 pace group leader Harvey Lewis, who is associated with, “Pain by Numbers,” a running club I used to regularly run with in Cincinnati. Upon talking to him, he suggested I run just to enjoy it. This thought stuck in my head.

A couple miles into the run, it was not feeling right. So I decided instead to run by feel and, as Harvey said, enjoy the run. Even with this strategy, the hills hit me in the late miles. I felt the missing training time, carbohydrate storage and lean mass. Honestly, I do not know if I could have finished the race, had I not run the earlier portion of the race “by feel.”

My original goal before I was bitten by the dog based on my training times was a 3:12 or faster. After being bitten, I was confounded by trying to come back as well as unsuccessfully having changed to a Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch. It was giving me inconsistent times. I guessed that I would run a 3:15-3:25 at this point.

Today after deciding I would just enjoy the run, I ignored my GPS buzzing at me and just ran a 3:29. My heart rate stayed low, around 144 average, just above a zone 2 long training run. After the race my Garmin said it would only take just over a day and a half to recover. Still, I felt that was what I had given the circumstances, and I refused to criticize myself. Sometimes, it’s best to be happy just to be able to run.

Later, I noticed a cough I developed during the day had become worse and I felt feverish. I knew something was off when I started the marathon. Had I not run by feel and slowed it down versus forcing myself to use a pre-prescribed pace, I do not know how much sicker I would be right now.

A book I’ve been listening to lately by Dr. David Burns speaks about perfectionism. How often do you push yourself to achieve and get angry if you don’t perfectly meet the goal no matter what? If this is repeated, it can lead to dissatisfaction in many areas in life. It is a choice to instead be flexible, and be happy with what is. Running by feel is similar to living by feel. Are there areas in your life in which you could be more flexible? Would this lead to increased happiness and satisfaction in your life?