To Run (When Sick) or Not To Run

It seems to always be the question this time of year. You’ve been training, progressing steadily towards your pre-race goals and then, BOOM, it comes out of nowhere! You wake up with a sore throat; you’re in the middle of an afternoon meeting and feel a headache/stuffy nose combo building; you’re out on a date and keep adding layers or taking them off because the hot/cold flashes keep getting increasingly worse. And all you can seem to think about is how many miles you’re scheduled to run the next day. Ever happened to you?

Happened to me just last week. Being sick is never fun, period. When you’re training, it’s worse – a bazillion times worse. Being sick while training for a big race usually has us thinking that it’ll be a HUGE setback and we’ll lose any training we’ve already got under out belt. It would probably be best to take the day off of work, dating, life, whatever…and just nip it in the butt. Catch it before it flares up into something nasty. However, as athletes, we usually don’t. “Oh, my throat is scratchy but I can totally run those 6 miles today, not a problem.”

BEFORE you head out your door to get in your daily miles, take the “neck check test.” It’s super simple and great to use as a gauge of if you should work out when sick or not.

How does it work? Well, if your symptoms are above the neck (runny or stuffy nose, scratchy/sore throat and sneezing), then mild running will be ok to do. In fact, it might even aid in the healing process! Exercising releases adrenaline (aka epinephrin) into your system. Fun fact for the day-epinephrin is a natural decongestant. That’s always excellent news 🙂 Whether your run inside or outside, just be aware of your body and how it feels – if you start to get lightheaded or dizzy, you should probably STOP running and go rest at home for the day. Seriously, it’s for the best. If you do go, remember to bundle up! You’re still (slightly) sick.

Slightly-Bundled-Up

If your symptoms are below the neck (fatigue, muscle aches, fever, hacking cough, swollen glands, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.), chances are you have a virus. This, of course, means that the absolute BEST thing you can do for yourself is to NOT run. When you exercise with conditions like these, it increases your dehydration, only making your symptoms get worse. It’s not worth it!  Take a few days to a week off. It might seem to “kill” you, but it’s what’s absolutely best for your body.

Don’t worry – if you do need to take time off from training to heal, it won’t take too much time to get back to the condition you were before you got sick. Your muscle memory is AMAZING! Give it some credit and let it work its magic. As long as you pace yourself and don’t jump in feet first to the 20+ miles you were suppose to run the day before, your fabulous body will be back in great shape and good spirits before you know it. So, don’t get down on yourself because you can’t go running. Having a positive attitude will help your recovery! The hardest part about running after getting over an illness? Starting at a good distance and pace, slowly increasing so you DON’T overload your body (which, duh, can just make you get sick again).

flu-bed

So, since the colder months are here and quickly dropping in temperatures…keep your chin up, your box of Kleenex handy, hot fluids in your body and don’t be afraid to rest and recover! Your body will thank you and you’ll be a better runner for it 🙂

Positively Great Words To Live By

Life is amazing, isn’t it? The ability to breathe, move your body, eat delicious food and make choices every single second about what you want to do and how you’ll live-all things directly impacting your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Everyone knows that practicing good health is crucial for your well-being. Every day, we’ve got some kind of routine filled with walking, running, biking, taking the stairs, eating healthy snacks, get a good nights rest and drink the proper amount of water. There’s one thing that I believe we forget to use daily; something I think is necessary to truly living a healthy life physically, mentally and emotionally – positive affirmations and/or positive reinforcement.

Think about it – how often do you sit and blame yourself for little things that go wrong. Little things that eventually turn to big things because you’ve kept that kernel inside of you, festering and building shame towards yourself for what happened. Not cool. Incorporating positive affirmations and little mantras into each day can help keep you centered, strengthen your inner peace, build your self esteem and focus on the good that is all around you (as well as inside of you).

Affirmations and mantras encourage emotional health. Which, in turn, will directly affect your physical and mental health! Positive reminders of who we are and what we’re capable of are just as beneficial to wellness as a bright outlook on external circumstances. In other words, we NEED these! Several times a day! So, here’s a few of my favorites (some old, some new) that I’ll start out my day with and continue reading till my head hits the pillow:

5ab32fc7d48c5376223698c1cbc93bd7 slide_320597_2996707_free slide_320597_2996711_free        slide_320597_2996708_free        902b356e47298cbfb3f8ddd4b971eadc                    slide_320597_2996717_free 3d339a79319732aef7da2dff03b2e964          333f21051dcf50fab144b7f155cca184          slide_320597_2996719_free       8e690bc19b8b2f42332b36d506bc8d90       Possitive-Affirmation 66quotes4.blogspot 2af167adea7ef7b16ffd3ecddf57d1d8 644647_494121133940298_1585488396_n

Chasing Zzz’s

As I’m sitting at work, staring at my screen, feeling like I could literally fall asleep with my hands on the keyboard…I’m realizing it’s only 9:30am and I’ve still got 6 hours to go. Geez. In the past week, I’ve had a few late nights (late for me – hit the hay at 2:30am) combined with my usual wakeup time of 5:30am. And frankly, it’s been killing me. KILLING me! I’ve done stuff like this before, and I always know what it’ll be like and that I won’t love it, and for some reason I always forget just exactly how hard sleep deprivation is on my body. Especially when I’m training!

So, what better way to pep talk myself about going to bed earlier than write a post on the importance of sleep? Though I’ve had fun choosing to stay up with friends, boys and life in general, I know I need my sleep in order to function during the day.

We’ve all been told that we need to get X amount of hours of sleep per night to live a “healthy” lifestyle. Well, when you’re training, the same rings true. Your body NEEDS things – things like water, nutrition, proper amounts of good fats and sugars AND sleep. Think about it. Who doesn’t love sleep? Or a good nap?

2013-09-20 18.16.09 {napping during the Napa Valley Ragnar}

Sleep is a necessity. For example, when recovering from a long run or intense workout, sleep is just as important as rehydration and refueling. For real. Studies have shown that lack of sleep directly interferes with the metabolism of glucose, which is what muscles depend on for proper recovery, and even though it will vary for each individual, generally speaking, someone who’s training for a marathon or other race will need more sleep than someone who isn’t training to rebuild muscle tears and support muscle growth. All for the recovery process (and because you’re usually just tired after you run 25+ miles). Sleep, along with proper hydration, nutrition, stretching and strength conditioning, should be incorporated into your training schedule – regardless of what you’re training for.

Silhouetted Woman Running at Sunset

Sleep also directly affects your immune system. Get this – those who have 6 hours or less of sleep per night have 50% LESS immunity protection than those who get 8 hours of sleep. If you’re training and feel you may be getting a cold, make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep each night! One, for recovery and two, for immunity strength so you can continue in your training instead of holding off for healing.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain. There’s a hormone in your brain – Leptin – that regulates your appetite, and when you don’t get enough sleep, it isn’t secreted in accurate amounts, which can lead to more cravings during the day…more eating than normal…and weight gain. True story.

Now, the amount of sleep needed for top performance will be different for everyone. You may be able to function just fine on 4 hours while your friend needs at least 9 to perform well. Figuring out where you land on the sleep spectrum will totally help with your training!

If you can’t sleep the night before a race – don’t sweat it too much. Experts have found that just like nutrition, it’s the sleep you get 2 nights before a race that your body will be relying on for the majority of your race. I have lots of friends who carb load the night before a race. Though I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I don’t follow it religiously. The same is with sleep – I have one friend in particular who runs ultra marathons and two days before any race, he’ll take either some melatonin or Tylenol PM and knock himself out for a good 12 hour night of sleep. Says it helps him with the mental battle you deal with while running 50+ miles. That’s what works for him.

One thing is for sure – I know that when I stick to my sleep schedule and don’t vary on the weekends, my mind is more clear during a race and my muscles don’t fatigue quite as quickly. My recovery is also better and I’m able to get back to training right away instead of taking days to recoup and nurse my muscles back to health 🙂 This has been true during holidays, when I’m on vacation or just during a “regular” week of work and training. Plus, I’m always naturally happier when I get enough sleep! EVERYONE IS. And who doesn’t want to be happier?

All that being said…time to start chasing some zzz’s! Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream…

5725084590_b2b6c4eec7_o-1

How to Survive a Relay Race (And Live to Tell the Tale)

While sitting in the airport on my way to the Ragnar Napa Valley Relay, I was told several times how crazy I was for doing relay races. “You don’t really survive and I don’t know why anyone would put that stress on their bodies.” – random grumpy guy next to me. Well, good news, buddy…you totally can survive. There are definitely tricks of the trade and I’ve got a few up my sleeve 😉

Whether it’s a Ragnar or another relay race, there’s something hilariously fun about constantly driving around in a decorated van with a team of 12 people who are all decked out in costumes, munching on a smorgasboard of food and goodies, keeping the windows down for the smell, cheering on teammates and other runners, pulling to the side of the road to sleep for 2.4 hours and having energy to all cross the finish line at the same time. 2013-06-22 18.20.01

Sounds a bit tricky, eh? Well, it’s somewhat easier than you think. Trust me. It’s totally doable! And there are great things about relay races – meeting new people & making new friends, traveling to new places, seeing new things, discovering new tricks/treats for your next running adventure and, if you’re planning on more races, it can be good for training.

So how to survive the lack of sleep and running on and off for 24 hours and be able to walk the next day? I’ve done a few Ragnar in my day (5 total-my favorites are the trail relays! Try them out). Here’s my 10 all-emcompasing tips I always share about relay races:

  1. Before you go, do your research. Become familiar with which legs you’ll be running. Know the distance. Know the elevation changes. Know if you’re running on pavement or dirt trails. Mentally prepare yourself for however long, short or strenuous your legs will be. story-27-ragnar-2-205914
  2. Do a pre-run shake out & post-run stretching. Regardless of what time it is. It could be hot or cold, windy or rainy. You might be running 9 miles or 2. It doesn’t matter-warm your body up and cool it down (and don’t eat too close to when you run). stretch-me-out-skinnyrunner_thumb
  3. Get out of the car any time you can! Take the chance to stretch your legs and body. Move around when you wait at the runner exchange. Don’t be sedentary and stay crammed in the car until it’s your turn to run. No bueno. Picture-8
  4. Share your goodies. Letting others eat your frozen banana-peanut butter bites is, strangely enough, a great way to bond. They might love them and it could start a running recipe exchange. By trying things everyone brings (a pot-luck of goodies), you’ll find things that you bring that others like and things others bring that you like and you might be surprised if you find yourself sick of the food that you brought. images-2
  5. Sore? Tired? Hungry? SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. So please, don’t whine. Do something about it! There will be food in the car – eat it. There will be jackets/pillows – take a nap on one. There will be moments to stop – get out and stretch. Duh. 1 Ragnar Lupe Sleeping
  6. Cheer on your team (and other runners). You never know when all that one person needs is a little encouragement from a random car passing by. You might hit your own mental wall and need some motivation from others! image25
  7. Take care of your team! Be aware if runners need more hydration, pain killers, gu or other things to munch on. If the weather changes, ask if the want their visor, jacket or more water. One of the BEST things that my team did for me during a 4 mile 2,000ft elevation climb in 99 degree weather – toss a spray bottle filled with ice water out the window. I spent that 45 minutes constantly squirting myself and other runners with cold water. Couldn’t have survived without them! 2013-06-22 12.46.53 2013-06-22 14.21.09
  8. TAKE WIPES. 24 hours of stinky runners crammed into a car-they’re a portable shower. Just trust me on this one. Remember, even liquid awesome can smell bad. 9a87f0f828a4854245d193affb6718eb
  9. Take pictures. Take them of your car decorations, the entire team at the starting and finish lines, runners smiling (or not) during their legs, people sleeping, strange things that happen, the scenery that you drive past, team members making funny shapes…anything and everything. Beautiful scenery (there’s tons on the Ragnar-pretty sure they do that on purpose). It’ll be more fun 🙂 422052_10100879747066799_1810023603_n
  10. If you’re not having fun AT ALL, you’re doing it wrong. Though there is a competitive air that comes with any race-Ragnar included-one of the greatest things about the Ragnar though is that it can be an absolute party. Seriously. Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 9.36.23 AM

Wear clothes that won’t but (or chafe you). Sleep any chance you get (for real). Make new friends. Have a team splurge meal after the race. Have a team meal before the race. 478876_10100245036698224_601272120_o

Love the new scenery-there are some absolutely beautiful running paths on the Ragnar. Embrace the craziness. Have massive amounts of fun. Run your own race. Own that 24+ hour relay like a total boss.

So, good people of the running world – keep calm and Ragnar on #fistpump

images-2

Monday Motivation – Be Awesome

It’s Monday. Beginning of the week. Another chance to do all the things you fizzled out on last week. Time to wake up and be awesome. Let’s do this. 

Have this attitude EVERY SINGLE MORNING (and after naps). Trust it. Believe it. Live it.

349e6931e64f14d73832e9b467326a21

Don’t let fear dictate what you do. Accentuate the positive. After all, you’ll never know till you try…you could be totally awesome.

3d339a79319732aef7da2dff03b2e964

Fall is coming quick! Don’t let the wind, rain and chilly temps keep you inside! Wanna be hard-core awesome? Train in colder months.

e3b1173cddda6d4be7b35ef0671f033b

Remember the things you need in life…and the things you need to give your body. And that you need to love what you do. Giving love + receiving love = awesome.

2af167adea7ef7b16ffd3ecddf57d1d8

Try new things! Take chances! If you’re going to mess up trying something different, own it and make it the best failed attempt EVER. There’s power in that, yo (Amy never lies…and she’s pretty awesome).

1afcae3e3b4c428ae983a7d0954b4676

When it’s before your run or at mile 1, 7 or 22 – feel this awesome. Because you are. Boom.

56fe121a73a7ffef9d1d1b822c82ef72

Believe that you’re the best version of yourself. And you’ve caught a sweet case of awesomeness. Just don’t let it go too much to you’re head (remember, humility is also awesome…)

1334556897470_2610862

Now, go. Be awesome. Punch today in the face.

334e6d8ee222ce995abd2eefa262aaaa

Throwback Thursday-Running Lens

It’s Thursday…time to throw things back! To last September, at least.

I take my phone with me when I run. Mainly because I run by myself majority of the time, so it’s a precaution in case anything were to happen. I don’t always love carting it around. However, it has come in handy when I’ve come across some beautiful sunsets and sunrises, amazing views, unique experiences and other things I could only really see when I’m out running.

*If you follow my Instagram, some of these will be a repeat of what you’ve seen…sorry 🙂 Here’s some of my favorite photos I’ve captured while running in Utah, California and Washington (September 2012-September 2013):

2012-09-25 13.33.39

2012-09-27 11.19.51 2012-09-25 19.37.282013-01-28 17.16.27 2013-02-06 20.59.56 2013-02-04 08.13.09 2013-02-04 08.17.18 2013-01-28 17.28.25

5D4A310E-8E0A-43AD-9927-D3D35323133D

78792AB9-8804-44AB-BF22-E000D57F7B87 2013-04-28 12.08.49 2013-03-27 18.23.02 2013-05-26 19.23.27 2013-05-14 06.09.35 2013-06-13 11.44.212012-07-25 13.18.302013-05-06 18.16.14

2013-05-11 09.05.36 2013-05-14 06.09.35 2013-06-03 17.41.51 2013-06-16 22.32.07 2013-07-03 22.42.38 2013-07-10 21.01.21 2013-07-20 07.10.30 2013-08-01 21.48.45

2012-07-07 21.47.42

2011-08-02 09.55.58

photo[3] 2013-08-02 20.16.42 2013-08-03 08.47.45 2013-08-18 16.12.26 2013-08-31 06.30.50 2013-09-01 08.31.06

2013-09-02 06.49.30

558490_10100999436568079_506153695_n 2013-09-11 19.54.29

Good thing 2013 isn’t over yet! I’ve got a lot more runs, races and adventures to add to my folder and I can’t wait to see where my running shoes take me.

Lost Your Running Mojo? Time to Get it Back

Morning comes. You hit snooze three times before finally slinking out of bed to pull on your running shoes and hit the trail. You’d rather cut your exercise time down because of some tiny excuse that, at the time, seems like a totally legit reason to not go. You’re discouraged because you’re no longer loosing weight like you were months ago. You get tired, not physically…it’s more like you get sick of your workout routine and therefore just don’t want to do it.

Ever had this happen before? It happens to everyone – seriously. Losing your drive to exercise isn’t uncommon and the great news is that it’s not permanent! Only if you don’t allow it to be permanent, though. YOU have a whole lot of control over choosing to rekindle your love for pounding the pavement or leave it where it is and let things fizzle out.

486296_557994170883141_1814226315_n

One of the biggest reasons I think we can loose our fitness mojo is because we forget that exercise, though it’s physically demanding, can be and should be fun. That’s right – FUN. When we were younger, running and biking were our main modes of transportation. The games we played centered around physical activity (Red Rover, street hockey, water gun fights, kick the can, steal the flag, all forms of tag) and we’d all run till our sides were sore and then keep running because the happiness we felt from the fun we were having outweighed the side stitches. I’ll get back to this – promise.

So what do you do when your exercise drive is gone? And how do you get over it? Well, it’s different for everyone.

Just like how you needed to change things or shift them around when you first started your path to personal fitness, you’ve got to do some shifting again. Some things may feel weird at first, especially if you’re not use to them yet. You may not initially like these changes. Trust me, it’ll be TOTALLY worth it in the end.

Here are a few tips for getting your mojo back! Try one of them; try a few of them. It’ll take time and patience to find something that works well and really lights a fire under you. Basically, you’ve got to find a way to put the ‘fun’ back into your run 🙂

  1. Change where you run – if you’re always running the same trails or the same streets, it’s time to find a new path! Find a new river trail or lake path to run along. Take a new turn, explore the area around you. One great way to do this is to run while on vacation! You’ll see new places, smells, people and it’ll help take your mind off of your lack of mojo.
  2. Join a running group/club – being accountable to someone or something helps get you out the door. It’ll also help you meet new people, which can refuel your motivation to get yourself pumped and excited to get up and move!
  3. Give yourself a destination – I love this one though it can be a little tricky. Run to work. Run to a friend’s house. Run to a new park. Plan a place where you’ll go to and get there-don’t worry about the time it takes, just enjoy the journey! The tricky part is that with things like this, if you don’t want to run back, you need to either leave a car somewhere so you can drive home or have someone come and pick you up.
  4. Change when you go – if you’re always running in the mornings, try an afternoon run or a mid-day run. Some of my best runs have been between 11pm and 1am (granted, I don’t go by myself on those). Believe it or not, just changing the heat, lighting and amount of city life can help you keep going.
  5. Mix it up – don’t underestimate the power of variety! To break up your long runs, add in a day of speed, sprints or “hills of insanity” (find a good, long incline, whether it’s in the city or out in the country, sprint/run up the hill to the top, do a 1 min plank, jog back down–do 3xs).
  6. Run without a watch – if you know you’ve got a good chunk of time with no appointments to be to, don’t take your watch. Just run. Don’t be afraid to stop, stretch and look around you. Don’t worry about how fast you’re running or how many miles you’ve gone – just run.
  7. Quit your old playlist – running tunes slowing you down? Scrap the playlist you’ve got and start a fresh one! Ask friends for suggestions of their favorites for running. Pick songs that make you happy AND motivate you. If you need to, rock out on the trail mid-run. It helps.
  8. Healthy is happy – check out your food intake. Has anything changed? Maybe you’re a little more lenient with the sugar? Decide if you need to make some adjustments and then STICK TO THEM! It’s hard – totally doable though.
  9. Hit the trails – if you’re a city runner, time to head to the mountains. Fresh air, unsteady terrain, killer climbs and amazing views help to clear the demons from your head and keep you going.
  10. Race, race, race – sign up for races. Giving yourself a goal will help pump the motivation back into your muscles! If you want to go further, pick a marathon or half marathon to run in 6 months and add in 5k/10k races into your training.
  11. Too tired to run? – instead of not running, break up your run with walking breaks. That being said, I’m more of a fan of speed walking breaks. Run when you feel you can, if you need a break, take one! Just don’t STOP-keep moving! Something to keep your heart rate up, to keep your legs moving and to keep moving your forward!
  12. Pool running – might sound a little crazy, but it’s amazing. AND it’ll help you get in your “running” workout without overheating on the pavement.
  13. Have a daily goal – Scott Jurek says “Maybe it is a technique goal, maybe a pace goal, maybe a goal of running faster at the end…” Give yourself something specific to work on for each workout.
  14. New suede shoes – well, running shoes aren’t suede, but getting a new pair along with new shorts or tops will help you want to use them. If you feel you look good in your workout getup, you’ll want to wear them and show them off! Win-win.
  15. Reward yourself – for small things, like running 0.06 seconds faster than your last run or adding more miles to up your distance. Give yourself something to look forward to-your favorite iced drink, a new running top, chocolate milk (hey, it works). Anything. Little rewards for small accomplishments, big awards for big accomplishments. A favorite of mine is to schedule a massage after I finish a race and that’s my reward for my training and performance 🙂

Something important to keep in mind when getting your running mojo back is to listen to your body. Maybe you’ve just plateaued. On the other hand, maybe your body has been overworked and needs a break. One week, one month – listen to your body! Cross train. Stretch. Nourish your muscles with proper fuel and hydration.

It’ll take work. It’ll take time. It’ll take patience. It’ll take experimenting and figuring out what works for you.

Runner Resting with Hands on Knees --- Image by © Bernd Vogel/Corbis

Good news is – it’s ALWAYS worth it.