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.

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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).

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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…

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Finding Your Happy Will Bring You to Healthy

Lose weight while you sleep. Earn money while watching TV at home. Take this to become more attractive. Get great abs with one simple step. Tips for a better sex life.

Blah blah blah.

Do you ever get tired of reading headlines like these? I do. The worst part about them? Majority of society totally buy into them – all of a sudden, people read something telling them that their life isn’t complete without A or B, and they believe it. All of it. We keep looking for something that will make us happy. I’ve had great abs (for me) and I’ve tried many a product to “become more attractive.” And I’m still the same person I was before. I mean, neither one made my life complete or gave me some kind of huge fulfilling life experience.

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So why, as a society, do we keep chasing the idea of “I’ll be happy (or happier) once I…”

Why aren’t we happy now? What keeps us from being happy now?

Some say that happiness has nothing to do with healthy living. Well…they’re flat out wrong. Your attitude has a direct correlation with your health-mentally, emotionally and physically.

I’ve written about this before and I’ll stand by what I’ve said before – happiness, at any point in life, is a complete choice. Yes, things will happen that can flat out suck. You get a flat tire on your way to work; your significant other breaks things off just when you think things are great; you drop your new phone and crack the screen the first day you use it.

If we’re able to look at the tiny things that happen every day and learn to respond instead of react, chances are that you’ll realize life is not all that bad – you’ve got a roof over your head, you’re alive and breathing, and somewhere somebody loves you.

And because you are alive-because you can breathe-anything and everything is possible. I once heard that because there is possibility for success in every day that the first step towards failure is believing (consciously or subconsciously) that we don’t deserve it/success…every time I hear that I love it even more 🙂

So folks, to continue my little plug about personal happiness and believing that anything is possible, here are some steps to getting there –

Forget the meaning of “can’t” – stop listening to the voices in your head that tell you “can’t” do something or go somewhere or try something new. Let’s be honest, it usually comes  when there’s fear involved: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of having fun. Whatever it is, just say no to fear and forget all the reasons the world (and yourself) say you can’t. If you keep following them, it limits the amount of your life that you actually could be living to a fraction of what it should be. Don’t do that. Let it all go.

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Choose to be happy NOW – like I said before, life isn’t a walk in the park. One day you’ll be standing in the sun and the be crashed upon the rocks the next day. Find the good in every situation (because there is always good), no matter how small it is, and focus on that. Start small and accent the positive. Don’t let the things you don’t have spoil the things you do have. You’re breathing. You’ve got a body. You’ve got friends and family who love you. Choose to look at the good. Once you start, it will always be easier each time after that.

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Go outside – I do this every day, especially at work. There’s something cleansing about breathing in fresh air, looking at the mountains and stars, watching the waves roll in and out. Stepping outside helps us remember who we are and that our seemingly big problem really isn’t all that big. It also provides you with a renewed sense of determination, calmness and outlook for tackling any obstacles in our day.

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Be grateful – say, “thank you” and be sincere. If you’re like me, you might be stuck sometimes by habitual apologizing and thanking that’s lifeless and doesn’t mean anything. Think about how each person is serving you – taking time out of their day to pick you up from the airport, bringing you soup when you’re sick or walking your paper to your front door. Think about how it really helped, and then really thank them.

Pay it Forward – don’t just do this every now and then. See if you can find a way to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY. There is joy that comes with serving others, even in the tiniest of ways. Be aware of others around you and see if you can find ways to pay it forward – if you’re not in a rush, let someone go ahead of you in line at the coffee shop; if you see someone carrying a heavy load, offer to help. Little things every every day will increase your feeling of worth.

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Open Your Heart – let people in. Allow yourself to feel the spectrum of emotions that come with making connections and letting people in to your heart. It’s scary, for sure. Everyone deals with the fear of being hurt. It is one thing though that will make your life more rich, more adventurous and more beautiful. Allow others to touch your heart. Allow yourself to open up and love someone with zero inhibitions. After all, a life without love is no life at all.

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Laugh, Smile, Breathe and Carry On – Even with all of these tricks to surviving life, there will be times when all you can do is smile, throw you head back and laugh, take a deep breath and keep plugging along. There are a few steps for nailing this here. Believe that you’re strong. Believe you can make it through anything. Believe in random dance parties…and carry on 🙂

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When you’re happy, you’re more motivated to be conscious about what you’re eating and not shovel junk into your stomach. You’re also more willing (and wanting) to do some kind of physical exercise. So, yes. Happiness does equal health – it increases it. The healthier you are, the happier you’ll be. A TOTAL win-win that’s worth trying 🙂

Focus on the good you have in your life right now. Be strong and believe in yourself. Stop giving in to those nasty headlines, lift up your head, and carry on.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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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…)

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

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The Day I Became A #sweatpink Ambassador

For starters, I don’t believe in bad days. There are good days and great days – never ‘bad’ ones. That’s just my belief. Mainly because you choose whether or not it’ll be good or great. That also means that you choose if you’re going to let the things that happen during the day influence you to choose to have it be a bad day. There are bad things that can happen and we can decide if it’ll taint the entire day or just that piece of it. Confused? I’ll write more about it soon.

So. Now that that’s explained…it was a great Monday. Why was it so great?

  • Started the day off with yoga & TRX
  • Had a delicious breakfast (avocado & tomatoes on whole wheat toast)
  • Hit every green light on my way to work (ka-ching!)
  • Finished all my work projects early
  • Learned my sister and brother-in-law are moving back to Utah
  • My new Lululemon Bitty Bracer bra finally came in the mail (I’ll write a quick review on this later-all you need to know right now is that I love it. One of the best sports bras I’ve had)
  • Found $20 in my back pocket
  • New pair of Newton Running Shoes came – LOVE these guys
  • After work I was meeting up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years for a trail run

Sounds like an overall great day, right? Right! I got home and changed to go running. While heading out the door, I was skimming through emails on my phone and read, “Sweat Pink Ambassador – welcome to the team!” Honestly, when I first read it, I thought I had read it wrong. I had submitted the application form to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador about a month earlier and hadn’t heard anything, so I for sure did a double-take! Read through the email. Giggled with excitement. Started my car with a HUGE smile on my face. Turned the radio on and this song was playing:

Went and picked up my friend Jess, told her about my new Sweat Pink adventure and the rest of the car ride consisted of us brainstorming what gear/clothes I could buy that are hot pink. You know, to match the awesomeness of it all. We got to to trail, singing and dancing along to the radio, and began the 12 mile loop. With our dance backgrounds combined with a great day, great news, the excitement of seeing each other and the songs stuck in our heads, there were moments during the run that were kinda like this:

Yes, we may have skipped, grooved, body-rolled and cartwheeled numerous times. And yes, we’d stop, strike a pose, and sing to the valley from the side of the mountain. You know, keeping things fun on the trail. I just hope it was quality entertainment for the houses that backed the trail.

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So now I get a sweet badge on the side of my blog (see?) and I have mass connections to other fitness ladies in the exercise world. They’re all super supportive, willing to help, comfortable to ask any questions and love every level of exercise. It’s great 🙂 And I’m convinced that I actually do run faster in pink shoe laces. FAmantramailer01

Best day ever? This year…pretty much. It was amazing.

{and I recommend that you all try dance walking at some point-it’s actually very freeing}