12th November 2012 | Megan
He’s coming; Mother Nature allows her son Mr. Snow Miser to inch into our running space a few months every year. Whether he delivers snow, sleet, ice or just rain and drizzle, your clothing needs will need to change to keep you on the road and off the treadmill. There will be days when running outside is simply not safe; whether it is extreme temperature or treacherous conditions, that a treadmill is necessary. Suiting up properly on the “good” days will make a 20 degree day feel like spring.
When looking for winter running apparel follow these simple tips to ensure you are prepared for the elements.
- NO COTTON! This wonderful natural fabric is terrible for maintaining body warmth and is even worse when it is wet.
- Look for technical fabrics that say “moisture wicking”. As you heat up, you want to keep the sweat away from your body.
- Dress in light layers that you can shed as you get warm.
- Dress as it is 10 degrees warmer than the current temperature or 20 degrees if you are a heavy sweater or hot runner.
- Keep your head covered! Even a headband that covers your ears helps. Most sports apparel companies offer beanies that a pony tail can be pulled through so that hair isn’t an issue.
- Wear a moisture wicking base layer followed by a insulating mid-weight jacket if under 40 degrees.
- Wear shorts to 50 degrees, capri tights to 35 degrees and running specific tights below 35 degrees. Make sure the tights are fitted. Loose “sweatpants” are sloppy and can impede your running.
- Wind vests are great way to protect your core while keeping your arms cooler.
- Waterproof gear should only be used in heavy rain as it’s breath-ability factor is low and you will sweat, making you wet anyway.
- Hands! Knit gloves (the dollar store variety) are great until about 30 degrees, then a technical pair of gloves are recommended. Thermal mittens are best in extreme cold.
- A ski neck gator can protect your face if it is snowing or windy.
It is a problem to be overdressed just as it is a problem to be under-dressed. Experiment on the overdressed side taking care to peel as you start to sweat. Just take note where you ditched your clothes on your run and then remember to retrieve them. Running in the cold can be exhilarating and refreshing, and being prepared to endure the elements is paramount!
12th November 2012 | Megan
There is nothing better than coming home from a run on a cold, brisk day to the spice filled smell of simmering chili on your cooktop. I feel a little like a door to door salesman when I extol the virtues of this chili. Like my first born child, I could go on and on about how incredible this baby is but tis better to just give you a few quick facts and then send you off to the store to buy the ingredients.
Run Like a Mother Run To Veggie Chili
- belly warming,
- metabolism boosting
- magically delicious
- anti-oxidant bonanza
- low glycemic
- gluten free
- fiber full
- protein rich
- quality carbs
- spice it up, spice it down
- add what you like, remove what you don’t
- down right satisfying
As a passionate cook, I am a purest with my utensils. A few Christmases ago, my Mom gave me the “As Seen On TV” Vidalia Chop Wizard. It is a rudimentary plastic contraption that claims to dice almost anything. I love to chop and felt a little violated that my Mom thought this plastic piece of machinery belonged anywhere in my kitchen. Then I used it! It is quick, fun and the kids can safely make mounds of diced veggies in a flash. For this recipe, the Chop Wizard dices up chili ingredients into a harmonious blend of dice that makes each spoonful a rainbow of color. Not to mention, it is so simple to produce. I believe The Chop Wizard can be purchased online or at Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $20. The recipe can be made using traditional knives as well.
17th October 2012 | Megan
If you are a runner that has attended a yoga class then you likely have heard a similar statements as the instructor evaluates your Downward Dog; “you must be a runner”, “your hamstrings are like popsicle sticks”, or “your inflexibility will cause injury”. These statements can be a bit disheartening as your fluid running body is put through the Gumby-like movements of yoga practice. Is it OK that you are not flexible, that your joints don’t open the way your mat-mates do? For the most part the answer is yes; flexibility is not why a runner should be seeking a yoga class.
As we dip deeper into Fall, and daylight vanishes, the time is right to explore yoga as a way to strengthen and restore your body and mind. I know, taking your precious workout time to do something deemed “un-aerobic” (although certain asanas- yoga practices can be very intense aerobically) seems wasteful but the benefits of taking on yoga in the Fall can boost your running for the year ahead.
4 Reasons Why a Runner Should Practice Yoga:
- Developing a Better Mind-Body Connection- Yoga originated thousands of years ago in India to connect the mind with the body for health reasons. As a runner, the thought of committing to a weekly yoga class might be enough of a mindful exercise, but the real benefit will be learning to find the sweet spot in your brain as you work through poses. Yoga requires an athlete to remove themself from the external environment and work within themselves. This is a wonderful lesson if you train to race. Learning to control what you CAN control is a key learning from yoga that can be applied when the environment around you doesn’t cooperate on a long training day or race.
- Strength- If you have really enjoyed the summer months and run whenever possible it is likely that you have neglected strength training. I typically lay off the indoor workouts to be outside which means that strength takes a back seat to an aerobic outdoor workout. I also DETEST strength training as repetitive reps and barbells make me nauseous. Yoga is a study in strength and you will be amazed at how your own bodyweight can leave you trembling and sore. Yoga relies on eccentric contractions of the muscle, which means the muscle contracts as it stretches, giving the athlete a longer leaner muscle appearance and increased mobility in the tendons and joints. Power yoga and Hot Bikram Style yoga are known for their strength, power and more athletic moves. Yoga requires holding poses, many are excellent strength moves for your hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Balance- Ah, balance! Why do we need it to run? Every footfall a runner takes compresses 3 times their body weight on the foot while running. If your core and body are not balanced this weakness is a surefire way to injury EVERY time your foot lands. In yoga, many of the poses are one legged poses that require a sure foot and balance all the way through your fingertips. Balance poses engage your proprioceptors; nerve endings throughout muscles, tendons and joints that report back to the brain the body position, speed and load. Working on your balance will engage the proprioceptors and allow you to be more efficient and reactive as a runner.
- Core- The sum of reasons 1,2 and 3. EVERYTHING we do comes from the core. Hardly a movement at any given point, even for the most sedentary, starts in the core. Lungs only allow us to breathe with the help of muscles, albeit involuntary. The more strength we possess in our core, the more efficient our running becomes. Yoga is a practice that utilizes your core as a center of strength both spiritually and physically. Most of the practice is devoted to movement that starts at your core, engaging the “fire in your belly”. The core involves the entire body, from your clavicles to your pelvis, front and back, so working on strengthening will then help your balance. Yoga is not necessarily going to give you six-pack abs but it will make you run taller, stand straighter and react more quickly.
- Oops! There is not a number 5 for this list. I know, you thought somewhere I would be telling you that flexibility would be included in why a runner should do yoga. But I am not going there. Runners are naturally not the most flexible humans. There is a reason for that; running efficiently requires a sort of spring action, a load and unload as your foot strikes the ground and pushes away to propel the body forward. If you were too flexible, that spring becomes “softer”…imagine the difference between a fresh hair band and one that has been used for months. The older hair band will hold your hair but likely not as well; requiring an extra revolution around your ponytail while the new band is tight and elastic.
The reality is that when a yoga instructor comments on your flexibility or lack thereof, smile and nod knowing that perhaps that is your gift from running. Through yoga, you will gain balance, strength, build a great core and foundation for running AND you will gain a flexibility by practicing. Just know that in the end, bending into a pretzel has never won a race!
2nd October 2012 | Megan
This is that crazy “hump” time of year. Out of swimsuits and shorts and not quite into the holiday black strappy number; a time when school projects and sports keep Moms on their toes and mostly in their cars. Exercise? When? The end of the year and the beginning of craziness doesn’t always allow us to fit in exercise, especially with the days getting shorter. So we must be creative in our eating and keep the pounds from piling on when the exercise is in a lull.
Sure, you can hide behind the pumpkin applique sweater vest while bulking up on the fun-size Milky Ways but at some point that party dress beckons.
During Fall there are many positives that can keep your gut in check and on you on your game. Not only is the weather perfect for sneaking in a run or brisk walk, but healthy comfort foods can ease the overload. Here are a few tips to keep “The Great Pumpkin” as a favorite holiday show and not an indication of your belly size!
- Apples in Abundance! Keep a bushel in the car to stave off cravings and for quick harmless energy. This time of year, apples are not only abundant and affordable, the variety is also endless. Weight Watchers® has even caught on and allows apples to be free on their points plan. Try making this fat-free Apple Butter (Cooking Light, 2008) in the crock pot before you head out for the day, then keep it in the fridge to spread on sandwich thins with peanut butter. Delicious Fat Free Apple Butter
- Pumpkin Pancakes: Requested by my middle daughter this weekend, I added about ½ a cup of canned pure pumpkin to pancake mix. One serving of pure pumpkin adds about 20% of the recommended fiber, oodles (more than 100%) of Vitamin A and plenty of anti-oxidants. While my daughter likely got ½ a serving in the pancakes, she was off to a healthy start for the day. Pumpkin puree can be added to pasta sauce and chili usually without little ones or even the picky adult noticing. Fooling them all with goodness!
- Fall Spices: The colors of Fall, the brilliant hues of oranges, browns and golds in spices can add incredible flavor, powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to your meals. Look at the window and then into your spice drawer , is it any wonder that the spices of Fall are cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and paprika? The health benefits of these spices are incredible:
- cinnamon- anti-aging
- turmeric- anti-inflammatory
- ginger-a source of potassium and anti-nausea
- paprika-enhances metabolism and fat-burning
Let “Fun-Size” be how you feel, not what you eat. Happy October and Run on!
By the way, a friend once asked me, “How many fun size Milky Ways can one eat before getting sick?”, then responded sadly, “I know the number isn’t 12!).
18th September 2012 | Megan
The brisk Fall weather is the perfect time to begin a running program; conducive to quality exercise without overheating or too much sun exposure. The fall air is typically drier and lighter than summer which is helpful to new runners as the absence of extreme temperatures allows focus on the running and less on the climate. An added bonus of Fall running is being able to appreciate the changing of the seasons and also, the fabulous (or not) Fall decorations that adorn the yards of neighbors. As the season changes, runs can be focused on the blinking lights, haystacks, scarecrows and inflatables that seem to appear this time of year. It is always great to have eye-candy and your runs can be mapped to take advantage of what the season offers.
If you have never run before and are looking to start, Fall-ing into the habit now help guide you through the “thick” months with a healthy resource to draw upon. It has been said that “21 days makes a habit”…3 weeks of consistency is what it takes. By the end of 21 days; if you train smart, the benefits will start to reveal themselves and you will be motivated to continue through the holidays. How do you begin? You must set the tone, set out the clothes and provide all the tools and incentives; you must TRAIN TO TRAIN!
Train to Train Quick Bits:
Walk to Run- Begin a 3 day a week program with a walk/run workout. If you are really new to running, begin with running 2 minutes and walking 3. Keep in mind that your breathing should be comfortable and conversational. 5 Minute sets (3+2) are great because they are easy to keep track of on a watch. Strive for 30 minutes (6 intervals), then as your endurance builds the time can be increased and the intervals can be changed, i.e. run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute.
Build a Community- Adhering to a new exercise program is easier if you encourage friends to start with you. It can take a village to get things done. If you know someone is waiting, you are less likely to bail. Find a local running group or create your own.
Find a Plan- No longer must you buy a book or purchase a plan online. If you are just starting to run, websites like www.runlikeamother.com have programs for every level of runner. Finding a plan and putting it into your calendar will help your training.
Bait the Hook- Nothing helps training more than finding a goal race and registering. It may just be the worm you need! Deciding on a race, can be the lure that works and will put healthy pressure on your new habit.
Pimp Your Ride- A little bling never hurt a cause. Invest in fun fall workout clothes and make sure it has a reflective factor. If you are training outside, invest in a light weight running specific jacket that can be tied around your waist as you warm-up in your run.
Around the Water Cooler- Schedule in some hang out time, the rest days are crucial to adherence and running recovery. Too much, too fast= too hurt. If you plan times to rest and relax it will be easy to RETURN to the workout days.
Get in the habit now as the glutinous months final months of the year are heading our way. Parties, cookie-making, drinking, and holiday stress can add to too much input, not enough output. Coupling the comfort food with comfort clothes; big sweaters and leggings, is a sure recipe for hiding bulk without even realizing it.
If you are just beginning an exercise program, please consult a physician. An exercise stress test may be used to help plan an exercise program that is suitable for you.