Moves to Make You Faster

We all know speed work is the key to moving down the finish times. Doing at least one hard speed workout, even two, can help make you faster. To me, they are the hardest workouts of the week. Is there anything we can do to help give us more speed outside of running? Yes!

Here are some moves you can do to help:

Bridges: You see this more in yoga but they work for runners. Lie on the floor and put your feet flat on the ground and your hands over your head and then on the ground. Lift your body up. It’s the same as doing a backbend, without moving your legs over your head. This strengthens your glutes. Once you get more advanced, try lifting one of your legs up and holding it for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

One-legged squat jumps: Because running involves one leg on the ground all the time and basically jumping from one foot to the other, mirroring that movement can help build muscle. Stand on one leg, squat down and jump up. Do this for 20 times on each leg.

Foam rolling: After a run, lie on top of a foam roll–you can find these at any local sporting goods store. Slowly roll your leg over the foam roll and notice any pain. If you hit a hot spot –a spot where you notice extra pain–push extra hard on it for 30 seconds, no more. This helps remove the kinks that build up from running and keep your legs fresh. It’s basically like giving yourself a massage for free (although it’s a little more painful).

Side plank with leg lift. Lie on your side and then lift your body up so you are resting all your weight on your forearm. Lift one leg up, hold for five seconds, then move it back down. Repeat for 10 times and then switch sides. This strengthens your hips and posture for faster running.

Hydration for Runners

Marathon Hamburg 2006Did you hear what happened at the London Marathon this weekend? Someone passed away three miles from the finish line due to cardiac arrest, and another runner had difficulty with hyponatremia–a condition that occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is too low.

With the weather getting sunnier, it’s important to keep hydration top of mind. You don’t want to face all the challenges stemming from lack of H20 and electrolytes in the body from working out. Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Carry a water bottle with you at all times. You should aim for 60 ounces of water every day. I have friends that try to reach 70 ounces and noticed a big change in energy when they did this. It’s tough to do, but you can try.

I personally don’t like the taste of water. I find it bland and force myself to drink it. I’ve had better luck adding in fresh, cut up fruit and vegetables to water, such as sliced lemons, raspberries and cut up cucumbers. You can purchase water bottles in which you can infuse fruits and veggies for a more creative flavor profile.

2. For coffee and soda drinkers: For each cup of coffee and can of soda, drink eight ounces of water to even it out.

3. Try to drink a glass of water before each meal. This will help you feel full AND get you better hydrated.

4. Drink a glass of water with each meal to help with digestion. Try to stay away from ordering anything but water at restaurants–and this helps save money, too.

5. Watch your urine. You should strive for a light yellow color. This is especially important after you work out. You might notice a dark color and should immediately begin replenishing the liquid lost.

Staying hydrated will help you with energy, maintaining weight and your ability to run as hard as possible.

Boston Marathon

200px-BostonmarathonlogoToday is the biggest day for long-distance runners with the Boston Marathon. Ethiopian runners took the top places: Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Atsede Baysa won the men’s and women’s titles.

Here are some of the Boston Marathon tweets:


SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Honored to start wheelchair division of again. Best of luck to all the competitors!

Of the 30,000 runners in the today, nearly half are women. 💪🏾


When You Get Injured from Running

ankle sprain, painRunning is a demanding workout. It involves much demand on your joints and is a high-impact workout. You engage all muscles in your legs, use your core and swing your arms–all while running on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Running for long periods of time can also build up lactic acid and cause injuries. As a running enthusiast, it is often frustrating to deal with downtime. Yet, it’s necessary. How do you deal when you just want to lace up the shoes and get out of the house? Here are a few ways:

Get your sleep. Especially in the summer, many runners often arise before most to get in a good run before the heat hits. When you are injured, sleep through the alarm and get a good eight hours or more of sleep. Your body needs that recharge to heal itself and sleep is the best way to do it. You aren’t engaging any muscles and it won’t cause any further strain. It’s an excuse to get a little extra shut eye that you most likely need.

**It’s also a good idea to invest in black out coverings for your windows, especially in the summertime when the sun rises earlier. This keeps your body from naturally waking up when the sun rises.**

Take time off. You can do what’s called “active resting.” You don’t have to completely sit on a couch and watch television. You can do some stretching or yoga or light exercise. If the injury is severe, be sure to consult a physician.

Work on anti-inflammation. Use ice to combat the pain and even try alternating heat with ice to shock the body. Also, take anti-inflammatory medicine like Ibuprofen and eat anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables and fish.

Don’t push your body and don’t be the hero. Even type-A personalities must stop and take time off. If you just finished a marathon and are very sore, it’s not right to come immediately back. You may think you look cool and hard core, but you’re really just doing long-term damage.


Healthy Eating Habits

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

In 2012, I was diagnosed with prediabetes. I run, I try to stay healthy and I maintain a low BMI. I didn’t think I would be a candidate for prediabetes, let alone stand on the verge of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

But every year I get tested and every year for the past four years, I fall into the prediabetes category. Turns out, I am not alone. In fact, almost one out of three Americans have prediabetes and only 10 percent know about it. I did learn some healthy eating habits to share with you:

For every meal and snack, eat a variety of food groups. I used to eat an apple for a snack, but I should do more. A nutritionist suggested adding in two to three food groups each time you eat. For example, instead of only an apple, get a wheat cracker, smear peanut butter on it and add a slice of an apple. This gives you fiber, protein and a fruit.

Eat colorful vegetables. This nutritionist suggested concentrating on dark green and orange vegetables. I’ve never heard this before, but apparently orange vegetables offer contain beta-carotene, which is great for eyesight and eliminating free radicals–important for diabetics. I am now incorporating orange bell peppers and sweet potatoes into my meals. And sometimes eating pumpkin pie with no guilt.

Avoid fruit juice. You’ll find too many added preservatives.

Choose proteins labeled 92% lean/8% fat ground meat. Use leaner cuts of meat such as pork loin, tenderloin, top round and chuck roasts.

Try to avoid grains labeled multi-grain, stone ground and seven grain.

Use this method for oils:

Good oils: liquid at room temperature, i.e., olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil

Bad oils: Solid at room temperature, i.e., butter

Try one new grain per week to add variety to your diet. For me, I’ve found I like quinoa and add roasted veggies to it.


Why You Need More Sleep

dog sleepingGetting a decent night of shut eye often feels difficult. With long hours at work, school, and family obligations, it’s challenging to fit in a good night’s sleep. Yet, it’s so vital for your own well-being. We all know this, so why don’t we follow it? Especially as runners, we need the time to recover and recharge the body. Here’s why:

  • Sleep helps control your weight. You may believe that because you run, you are somewhat immune to weight gain–you burn off the calories. However, without enough sleep, it doesn’t matter. Sleep deprivation can change the way your body stores carbohydrates and digests foods, making you gain weight despite your exercise efforts. And…heavier weight can affect your running times.
  • A good night’s rest each night will aid in cardiovascular health. As runners, it’s easy to develop a faster heart beat from overexertion. But irregular heartbeats can also occur if you don’t get enough rest. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase stress hormone levels and cause hypertension.
  • People who are tired are irritable, emotional, and lack motivation, especially when it comes to any physical activity.
  • Sleep also aids in running recovery. During sleep, the body heals and repairs the heart and blood vessels and muscles. If you’ve had an especially tough workout, sleep will allow you to recovery quicker and put you back running sprints around the track sooner.
  • Ongoing sleep deficiency can affect your body’s immune system. It can’t fight off viruses and bacteria, leaving you more apt to sickness.

So how much do you need?

According to the National Institute of Health, most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. Just because you can get by on seven hours of sleep at night, doesn’t mean you should.


New Research in Fitness

Race DayHere is the lowdown of some new research in the fitness world:

In a study published in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, researchers used mice to find how exercise affected them. They found that mice who spent time running on a wheel were able to shrink tumors by 50 percent. High-intensity workouts helped to move cancer-killing cells toward lung, liver or skin tumors put into the mice.

Result: Running may help shrink cancer

A new study at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that you actually burn more calories by walking than originally thought. In fact, in 97 percent of the cases looked at by the researchers, walkers burned more calories than predicted.

Result: Walk and run more, burn even more calories

We’ve all heard that diet is more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight. Maybe not so anymore. Researchers at Loughborough University found exercising is more effective than food restriction in limiting daily calories.

Dr Stensel, a Reader in Exercise Metabolism in Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, said: “Our findings provide a valuable contribution to the diet and exercise debate. We’ve shown that exercise does not make you hungrier or encourage you to eat more — at least not in the hours immediately following it. Our next step is to see whether this benefit continues beyond the first day of exercise.”

Result: Run if you want to lose weight.

A popular term now is HIIT, standing for high-intensity interval training. It is worth doing. Researchers at Ohio State University found that walking at a varying pace burns up to 20 percent more calories than walking at a steady pace in a study published in Biology Letters. The study also “confirmed the researchers’ prediction that people walk slower when covering shorter distances and increase their pace as distance increases,” according to Science Daily.

Result: Do your speed work and vary between interval and tempo speeds.


Happy Pi Day

 Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/

Today is Pi Day: 3.14. Although everyone is posting scrumptious photos of pie all over social media, I want to juice. Why?

Juicing extracts vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruits. They rapidly enter the bloodstream and get transported to all vital organs, making for better digestion and absorption of the food you need.

Here are some considerations to take if you decide to add juices to your diet:

Extra fiber
When you use a juicer, you will lose the fiber from the fruit. For example, the pulp of oranges will be extracted. With a blender, you will retain all of fruit. In this way, you get more nutrition. The downside is the juice isn’t as smooth. Typical juicers make the liquid much smoother and easier to go down.

Try: If you decide to use a traditional juicer, save the pulp and use it as an ingredient in other dishes, such as muffins and cookies.

Careful with the caloric count
Although you may beef up your vitamin and minerals, you could easily add 800 calories to a drink. Be mindful of how many fruits and veggies you add to keep your caloric count in check.

Try: Follow recipes with servings for 1 rather than start dumping produce into a juicer or blender.

Juicing to try to get your weight down
Most runners (not all!) want to be as thin as possible to keep their speed and endurance up. It’s harder to run with excessive weight. Juicing, however, may not be the optimal option for weight loss for runners. You need protein and will get sick and weak without it.

Try: Complementing your protein with juicing on the side, not as a meal or add in protein powder to the drink to give it more power.

Spring Has Sprung

runWe get to spring forward our clocks this coming weekend and I cannot wait. I love having more daylight in the nighttime and get to hit the track before the sky falls into darkness. It feels like a new day this time of year.

Some of you may want to get into more speed work now with the new daylight–hitting the track instead of the treadmill. Here are workouts to take with you:

Workout 1
Speed + Endurance:

800 m warm up
5 minute stretching
400 m x 4 with each 400 m gaining in speed. The goal is to conserve energy. Make your last 400 m all out.
2 minute rest
400 m x 4 with each 400 m gaining in speed. You will be slower this time. That wasn’t much rest. You are building both speed and endurance.
1 minute rest
800 m cool down. You can walk if you need.

Total distance: 3 miles

Workout 2
Speed only:

800 m warm up
400 m tempo speed
100 m x 8 at interval speed. Take one side of the track and run this back and forth.
Rest 60 seconds between each
After last 100 m, rest two minutes
400 m all out, faster than interval. Run as fast as possible.
Rest 2 minutes
800 m cool down

Total distance: 2 miles

Workout 3
Speed + Endurance, no rest:

800 m warm up, start off slower than normal warm up pace
400 m x 4, on the turns, pick up the speed to interval pace, on the straightaways you can run at whatever speed you need. You’ll be recovering but do not stop.
800 m at tempo speed the entire time
400 m at interval speed
400 m tempo speed
800 m cool down

Total distance: 3 miles

If you find yourself looking to kick up your workouts, try out one of these at least once a week. If you want even greater speed work, I suggest two speed workouts a week. They’ll cut down your time quickly.

Leap Day Running Quotes

downloadWe have one extra day this year and this morning on Facebook, everyone was posting to make the most of today–make the most of this extra 24 hours we’ve been given. With that in mind, I decided to fill my day with inspirational quotes for running (quoted where I have the source). This post is a little different, but I hope it brightens up your day.

1. Don’t ask yourself why I run. Ask yourself why I don’t.

2. Running is more than a series of arguments between the part of the brain that wants to stop and the part of the brain that doesn’t.

3. Remember the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting the couch doing nothing.

4. Good things come slowly, especially with distance running.

5. I know every mile will be worth my effort.

6. Distance doesn’t matter. It’s the sport of running that does. -Katrina Ricci

7. Running never takes more than it gives back.

8. It never gets easier. It just gets harder.

9. The real purpose of running isn’t to win. It’s to test the human heart.

10. No one ever drowned in sweat.

11. Distance running makes the heart grow fonder.

12. Running will never make you more free. -Kenny Loggins

13. Be yourself. Unless you can be a runner. Then always be a runner.

14. When life throws you lemons, grab your running shoes.

15. A run begins the moment you forget you are running.

16. Just run. Pain is nothing compared to how you feel if you quit.

And my personal favorite:

I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those you can’t run, what they would give for this simple gift I take for granted. And then I run harder for them.