running tips

7 Keys to Running on a Budget

Once upon a time, my parents were THRILLED when I came to them and told them I wanted to run cross country. 

No pricey knee pads. No expensive club prices. No cutting-edge bats or special gloves.

Just running shoes.

Done!

And then, I became an adult and running caught on….with everyone.

ImageYou can’t turn a corner without finding out about a new neon paint run, or a run that takes you through muddy obstacles with the threat of electrocution or a run that’s simply in the city with glorified “swag bags” that are filled with coupons, a cotton T-shirt and crap you’ll never actually use.

Then, there are the running ACCESSORIES.

The compression socks (or tights). The fancy watch that monitors your heart rate, your mile pace, your oxygen level, your thought level, whether you need to pee…(it’s fancy). The water dispenser that fits snugly on your back. The perfect running bra. The perfect tech shirt containing the perfect blend of sweat-wicking material, heat maintaining material and soft material.

Basically, running has gotten expensive. And bulky. And frustrating.

It’s no wonder some of us are feeling a *tad* cynical about the sport where even doping is becoming a norm among the elite.

So, how do you run on a budget? How do you get back to the running of “yesteryear” that many of us miss.

Well, you don’t give in, first of all. {wink}

Here are a few other ways to run dirt cheap:

1. Skip the Pricey “Fun Runs.” Okay, so you want to get splashed with paint while you run around in a tutu at night time while hopping on one foot and diving through foam. I get it. It’s fun. But, consider your budget. Most of these races are $30+…and for what? Be practical and give yourself a few “splurge” races a year, but make it count. Consider signing up for a race that’s happening while you’re on a family vacation somewhere. Think: destination. Doesn’t that sound like a better return on your investment?

2. {If All Else Fails}…Search for Coupon Codes. If you are a die-hard for the “fun runs,” then search for a coupon code for goodness sake! LivingSocial.com, Groupon.com and even Google are your friends here. Even pose it to social media–ask your friends if they’ve seen any codes floating around. There’s nothing worse than spending too much on a short race when you could’ve saved mucho dinero. Por favor.

3. Sign Up for Fringe Races. Look outside of the major city near you and find locally organized and run races. Odds are, the funds taken in will benefit a charity or something bigger than simply running the race and you can get to know other racers. Plus, did I mention they’re more AFFORDABLE? 

4. Grab Your Bib Early. Sounds simple, but you can save BIG if you just plan ahead and sign up for the race as soon as you’re interested. It can be a solid $50 savings in some cases. Check out the race and then COMMIT EARLY.

5. Keep Your Watch Basic. There are tons of fancy watches out there that measure all kinds of things. Personally, my thought is they can get too detailed and if you choose to run where GPS is limited, they might not even be accurate, not to mention the mediocre battery lives that often accompany them. GPS watches are still evolving significantly. Stick to a basic watch for your time and know the splits you want to hit for each mile if you’re trying to keep a certain pace. You’ll save a ton not only in money, but also in frustration.

6. Focus on What’s Comfortable..and Find the Best Price. This is the “grey” area of running. For some, it’s easy to just rely on the running course for water and nutrient replenishment while others would rather stick to bringing their own stuff. That’s ok! Find what is most comfortable for you and stick with it, especially right before a race. Try Camelbaks or other branded waterbelts at the local running store and see how they feel while you train. If the bounce bothers you, try something else. If stuff on your shoulders bugs you, try something else. As a runner in the southwest, I have to say I personally find this to be a worthwhile investment as you’ll have it for a very long time and use it a lot.

Next, check Amazon.com and use Google to your advantage to find the BEST price on the product. Note: if you have a locally owned and run running store in your area, try to support them. In this case, bending the budget might be a worthy compromise.

7. Sign Up for Emails. Whether it’s your local sporting goods store or a running store online, sign up for their emails to alert you when there’s a “buy 1, get 1 half-off” deal or when they advertise discounts on last season’s shoes. Often, it’s better to stick with the model you’re comfortable with anyway, so take note of your favorite make and model of Asics or preferred shoe brand and then shop around. You can save a boatload doing cost comparisons and keeping cost in the back of your mind.

I’m sure there are a million other ways to save money when you’re running on a budget, but those are my best? What do you think–any other tips for me?

Happy running (and saving!), friends!

 

 

5 Running Tips to Help You Get Back on Track

running tipsIt’s been a major season for change in my family’s life.

Put one house on the market. Started building another. Sold our starter home. Moved into my sister’s house. Still waiting for the house to be completed, but only a few more weeks.

You can imagine what all this change has done to my running routine!

So, if you’re like me and you’ve had a few curve balls slung your way, here are five running tips to help get you back on track:

1. Start Slow. And yes, that means your pace AND the amount you run. Nothing spells “overuse injury” better than too much, too fast and too soon. Take it easy on yourself and stick with the walk-run method to ease your muscles and joints back into running and prevent injuring yourself. After all, you don’t want yet another obstacle getting in the way of your running! And, if it’s really been a while since you’ve run, check your running shoes for too much wear and tear. Here are some basic guidelines from Runner’s World magazine to help determine if it’s time to retire your running shoes.

2. Listen to Your Body. That means if the side of your knee aches; your shins feel as if they’re going to split in two or your arches feel like they’re on  fire, you need to cool it. Give your body more time to recover and focus on cross-training exercises that are a little more gentle (cycling, swimming, yoga, etc.). Sometimes two or three days between your runs are necessary when you’re first getting back into it. If you’re experiencing soreness or tightness in your legs, grab The Stick or a foam roller and work your muscles out. Also grab a natural, topical pain relief cream with menthol, glucosamine, chondrotin and MSM. My favorite is Ageless Pain Relief Cream and I love the Joint Support tablets, too.

3. Hit the Weights. You don’t have to be Arnold about it, but your muscles need to be strengthened in all the right places to ensure your knees or other joints aren’t taking the brunt of the run. Strengthen the outside of your hips by laying on your side on the ground; prop yourself up a bit on your elbow and get some leg lifts going if you don’t have access to a gym. It’s amazing how tight your hip can get and how much it truly needs you. Work your abs with basic crunches and then flip over into a plank to challenge your core.

4. Refuel with Protein. When you deplete your muscles, you need to refuel them, especially if you hope to reduce your recovery time so you can go on another run the next day. Science points to undenatured whey protein as the ideal protein to reach for as it has the key branch chain amino acids your muscles crave. I tend to run in the mornings or work out at lunch, so I tend to follow my running or weight lifting with an IsaLean Pro Shake,which has 36 grams of undenatured whey protein and tastes amazing.

5. Get Sleep. Seems so simple and might seem silly, but sleep is your biggest ally when you’re starting a new routine. Rest helps rebuild your broken down muscles and fight off the pesky stress effects of exercise at even the cellular level. Additionally, if you’re hoping to lose a few pounds, research shows that it’s only going to happen if you get an adequate amount of zzz’s, so make sure you hit the hay for at least eight solid hours. (Yes, it’s possible!)

So, are you pumped to hit the pavement? You can do it! WE will do it!

Give Change your best smile, dust yourself off and start anew today. There’s no time like to present to lace up the sneaks and get your runner’s high on.

What else do you think is important to do when you’re getting back into running? Write up an appropriate comment to share!

2012 Boston Marathon Tips

Are You Mentally Prepared?

It’s been a year since I ran the 115th Boston Marathon and definitely a time for reflection. I think the biggest part of my preparation that could have been better was my mental preparation. As I’ve shared before on this blog, mental preparation is so key for success.

I was so drained from raising money for charity, getting my travel plans in order and training that when I found myself at the starting line, the event hit me like a ton of bricks.

Hopefully, this year’s round of Boston Marathon runners will take heed to Runner’s World’s recent spotlight article called “8 Mental Tricks for Boston Runners.” Boy, I wish I had been able to hear Harvard psychologist and Runner’s World advisor Dr. Jeff Brown prior to my race! Dr. Brown has been the psychologist assisting the Boston Marathon for more than a decade, so he knows all about the psychology of marathon running.

In the video, Dr. Brown shares his eight mental strategies for runners. Here’s a quick synopsis:

1. Trust Your Training. Set up a routine and follow the routine in advance. Going over your plan will help reduce anxiety, according to Brown.

2. Eliminate the Doubts. Keep positive self statements in your mind. Negative thoughts make your shoes heavy, says Brown.

3. Put Life’s Distractions Away Before and During the Race. Self explanatory.

4. If Something Unexpected Happens…accept it for what it is and don’t worry about it. Perfection isn’t required to finish the race, explains Brown.

5. Overcome HeartBreak Hill. Mental tricks like repeating “glide,” “up,” and using other positive word associations will take your mind off your body and performance.

6. Indulge Your Superstitions. Superstitions can help you feel positive and encouraged. And, if you lost lucky your socks, don’t worry. Embrace new types of luck.

7. Choose 2 or 3 Goals. Setting several goals for your race is helpful so you can feel successful at multiple times during the race and feel overall satisfied with your race performance even if you didn’t hit your PR (personal record) time, says Brown.

8. Remind Yourself “Why” You’re Doing It. Know why you’re there and focus on it. Whether it’s your kids waiting for you at the finish line, accomplishing your ultimate goal or gaining bragging rights, focus on your “why.”

Watch Dr. Brown’s video here.

Aspiring Runner? 10 Easy Tips to Get Started

So there’s this voice. It’s little, but kinda nagging. It bugs you from time to time (maybe around swimsuit season…) and you’re just not sure how to answer it.

It could go a little something like this:

Voice: “You should try to run.”

You: “Um, ya right. How?”

Voice: “Nike: Just do it.”

You: “Have you met my (insert one or all of following: body, knees, legs, ankles) lately?”

Voice: [Silence]

Excuses usually keep us from taking that next step. And it’s super common to shy away from the challenge when we first venture into running or take the next step because there’s a lack of confidence. Maybe you’ve never run a mile or it’s been a while. Maybe you love doing the occasional 5K, but fear doing a 10k or a half-marathon.

In any case, you can do it. Really!

So, here are a few of my tips if you’re a newbie just getting started with running (it’s how I got my start, too.)

  1. Set a Goal. It doesn’t have to be a race; just start with a simple, stated goal. Maybe it’s to run a mile without stopping, a 5K for the first time (5K = 3.1 miles btw) or something else. Pick your goal and set your mind to it. Post it in your bathroom to remind yourself; it’s where your scale is located and where you normally might get ready before you exercise. (NOTE: If your goal IS a race, register asap. This will help you avoid backing out and higher registration fees closer to race day.)
  2. Make the Time. You make time to go to the dentist or have lunch with friends, so set an appointment with yourself and don’t abandon it. This is a non-negotiable if you want to hit that goal.
  3. Get Ready. Pick up a new pair of running shoes (you can even find decent ones at discount stores like Ross and Nordstrom Rack). A good idea if you’re very new, but serious about adding mileage is to go to a local running store and ask if they can do a foot-strike evaluation on you. Basically they’ll stick you on a treadmill with thin shoes, video tape you and then tell you which shoes are the most appropriate for how your foot strikes the ground. It can really help prevent injuries.It’s also great to get a cheap running watch that has a timer on it in case you want to see how long you can run without stopping and document your progress.
  4. Map Your Run. Whether you want to run on the street or another pathway, get an idea of the distance. It helps you during the run to know how much further you have and also give you a better indication of your improvement along the way.
  5. On the Run. If you aren’t super active or don’t normally run, start off with small goals along the way (yes, more goals).Keep your head up and look forward, focusing your eyes on an object in front of you that you want to run to (a tree, lamp post, stoplight, etc.). Jog comfortably to that point and if you’re still feeling good, set another goal. If you need to take a break, walk for a minute or two, then start up again with another goal. This is called interval training and it’s great for building up endurance and preventing injuries.
  6. Keep it Soft. As you’re easing into running, avoid hard surfaces such as sidewalk and street if possible. Though they create a flat, easy pathway for you, those hard surfaces don’t absorb any impact, which means your shins, feet, ankles and knees will not like you after a while. Try running on dirt or grass to minimize the impact as much as possible.
  7. Write Stuff. Take a quick minute to write down your running progress in a notebook or running journal. Describe the course, the distance, how much time it took and how you felt. As you continue to work toward your goal, it’s super encouraging to view your progress.
  8. Stick to the 10% Rule. As you increase the amount you’re running, stick to a 10% increase. So, if you’re running say, 10 miles a week, you should only increase your mileage by 1 total mile that week. Again, this is another key to injury prevention.
  9. Variety is the Spice of Life. Make sure you’re still doing other activities besides running. It’s important to have balanced strength in your legs, hips and knees and one of the best ways to ensure this is to exercise in other ways on the days you’re not running. Rollerblade, swim, lift weights, do yoga; stay active and try something new.
  10. Overcome Body Issues. Okay, so we’ve all dealt with an injury from this or that. There is hope! If you have joint issues (I’ve had a bit of a twinged knee from a previous marathon), take a joint supplement. The best one I’ve found that has made a WORLD of difference is by Isagenix and it’s called Ageless Joint Support. It calls for three tablets daily, but its formulator Dr. Paul Anderson has recommended 6 daily if you’ve had issues. AMAZING results.

Really, anyone can be a runner and so can you!

If you found this helpful and feel led, please make a tax-deductible donation to Childhelp to support me as I raise money for the organization to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of the charity on April 18. My goal is $5,000 and I’m going after it!

Visit my “Donate” page to donate today. (Thank you!!!!)