Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why Every Runner Should Strength Train

Strength training is one of the most important non-running aspects of training that can help you become a better runner. Not every runner does it, but every runner should. And I don't mean just those runners that want to perform well. ALL runners, from those just starting out to those that have been around the block a few times, will benefit from adding strength training to their running routine.

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

There are so many reasons why strength training is important for runners, I could go on forever. So, in the interest of time, below are my top five reasons :) 

1. Injury Prevention. Strength training is a major way to protect your musco-skeletal system from injury. Think not only muscles but the tendons and ligaments as well. This improves joint stability and range of motion, both of which help with running form. It also helps improve your structural fitness - which is your body's ability to withstand the impact from running. Strength training can also improve muscle imbalances, which contribute primarily to injuries. For instance, many of us are tight in the hip flexors because we sit all day. This tightness in the hips contributes to a weakness in the glutes. When running, this causes us to run primarily with our front body (quads and hip flexors), overworking the muscles and eventually causing injuries there and elsewhere in the body (piriformis, knee, calves, etc). Focusing on increasing flexibility in the hips while building strength in the glutes can make a huge difference in not only preventing injury but overall performance. 

2. Increased Running Form Efficiency. Building total-body strength is important for improving your efficiency as a runner. Weaker muscles fatigue sooner than stronger muscles, which will cause you to change your running form and decrease how efficiently your body moves over time. Anyone that has had back pain after a run can attest to this: a weak core collapses over time and pulls the muscles of the back while running. A strong core (in addition to a strong upper body) will help keep your posture up, allowing for better breathing and better leg turnover. 

3. Improved Speed. Stronger muscles can run faster for longer periods of time. Research shows that the increase in muscle strength improves the muscles' ability to use energy and oxygen, allowing them to run faster for longer periods of time. The increased speed is also due to improved coordination (reason #1) and improved running form (reason #2). 

4. Improved Metabolism. It doesn't matter if you are trying to lose weight, adding strength training to your routine will help improve your metabolism. That improvement in the muscles' ability to use oxygen mentioned above increases overall metabolism and your ability to burn calories. Increasing your muscle mass, while reducing your overall body fat mass, is not only one way to get faster, but it's healthier for you. Carrying around a lot of fat, particularly belly fat (which is both visceral fat -fat around your organs in your abdomen, and subcutaneous fat - fat directly under your skin), increases your likelihood of developing chronic health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and even dementia. Runner or not, extra belly fat is not good for your overall health. Strength training can help reduce your overall body fat mass, which can do wonders for your overall health. 

5. Improved Recovery. Those same muscles that are more efficient at using energy for running are also more efficient for removing metabolic waste products produced while running. This helps reduce post-run muscle fatigue and soreness. The improved strength of the joints and connective tissues due to strength training also helps with better range of motion after hard workouts. 

The good thing about strength training is that adding just 2-3 sessions per week can make a huge difference. In all honesty, I became a personal trainer so I could help others overcome muscle imbalances, improve overall range of motion, stability and quality of life. It's why I work with people one-on-one and why I offer my group strength programs and I'm especially excited to be offering my strength training program for runners that starts in just over 2 weeks. It's a great intro to strength training for beginning and veteran runners alike. See my latest newsletter for answers to common questions about the program. And if you can't join the program and have questions on the types of exercises you should be doing, let me know!

Do you strength train? What's your favorite move? 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Friday Five: March Runfessions

It feels like I just posted my runfessions for February and here we are, already a month later. And, sadly, I don't feel like much has changed since last month. Before I continue, I'm linking up with Marcia's Runfessions link up over at Marcia's Healthy Slice. This is a chance for all us fitness enthusiasts to admit our fitness indiscretions, if you will. Because we're all human and stuff and it feels good to let it all go instead of mentally beating ourselves up. Head over there when you're done here!

And, since I'm releasing five runfessions, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Be sure to show them some love!

And away we go....

1. March kind of kicked me in the ass. I ran the San Diego Half Marathon back on 3/13 and tweaked my hamstring a little. There is quite a downhill finish and downhills aren't exactly friendly to hamstring issues. I was in a lot of pain after the race and was concerned since I have so many other races on my schedule and because I'm a running coach and trainer so getting hurt isn't something that is good for business. I have to be careful. But I got a Thai massage the day after the race which really helped. Thai massage is equivalent to a human foam roller. It's painful but effective. It helped loosen things up and I felt good for the Old West Trails 50K the following week. It wasn't perfect but all right. I only ran minimal miles in between races and stretched, used the portable muscle stim and kept things easy. Since the 50K I've felt ok too. I guess the runfession in here is that I just haven't been running as much as usual and feel guilty about it. But I know it's better to rest it and take it easy, only running what's necessary, than push it and make things worse.

2. The past few weeks have been so busy with work, family in town for my twins' birthday, racing, etc., that I'm just trying to stay afloat. I am not really enjoying my runs right now. Maybe it's because I'm afraid of the hamstring thing, maybe it's because I'm a little burned out. I know it has a lot to do with that. I'm tired and it's catching up to me. I want to blame the time change. With a race the morning of the time change and then another race the following weekend (plus early mornings during the week), I feel like I haven't gotten a good stretch of sleep and it's affecting my mental state and my running. Next weekend is Ragnar SoCal, so I'm hoping that spending time with my girls will help get me out of this funk.

3. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I've been running a lot on the treadmill lately and I've been getting a little obsessed with awful TV shows. Basically, if it's on Bravo, I've been watching it. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Real Housewives of Potomac, Tour Guide, Vanderpump Rules. DO NOT JUDGE ME! It passes the time on the dreadmill. These shows definitely remind me that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness. Or intelligence.

4. I've been eating like a freaking lunatic the past few weeks too. With the reduced running, this isn't really helping the situation but it is what it is. The worst was this past week with my girls' birthday and the many days of celebrating. We had their little party in school on 3/17 with cupcakes, we had their actual birthday on 3/18 with lots of yummy food and cake and then their party on 3/20 with the big cake. And since I was still hungry from the 50K the day before, I may have overindulged a bit. But now that their birthday festivities are over, maybe we can get back to normal and lay off the unhealthy foods. I just feel gross and sluggish. And when you're already exhausted, bad food doesn't help make you feel better.

5. Even though I'm tired and burned out, I'm still FOMO-ing hard. Social media is killing me! Seeing everyone's posts of races, beautiful trails and more is just making we want to do all the things and run all the places. But I can't. I need to get myself in order and after the PCT 50 in May, I need to take a little time off. I will still have races and will need to train, but I think the time after that race will be lighter in mileage until I need to ramp things up for the fall. I said it, so I need to stick to it. So, please stop posting such beautiful pictures of your trails and fun races!! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Old West Trails 50K Race Recap

This past weekend I ran the Old West Trails 50K out in the Anza Borrego Desert in east San Diego County. When I ran the Oriflamme 50K back in 2013, the course went into Anza Borrego Desert but it wasn't entirely in the desert. So this was my first desert race! And just as you may imagine, it was hot and dry, dusty and sandy, all of which made it a tough race. Temps were up toward 90 degrees by the time we finished and that heat is not something I love while running, especially when it's March. But I love running with great friends, through beautiful places and this race didn't disappoint in either area.

I ran the race with my partner in crime, Vanessa. We went into it feeling a little uncertain. I have been dealing with a hamstring issue since the San Diego Half Marathon on 3/13. I have high hamstring tendinopathy, which is a chronic tendinitis-like condition in the tendons connecting the top of the hamstrings to the pelvis underneath the glutes. Anyway, it was bothering me the whole week leading up to the 50K and I was nervous about the race. Vanessa had a bad case of bronchitis and was worried about how she would do as well. Thankfully, we both made it through.

We left super early, at 4:15am and got to the race at about 6:00am. We checked in and met up with various friends in the clubhouse of the Stagecoach Trails RV park, which hosts the start/finish of the race. The Shelter Valley Citizens' Corporation put on this race and they had a nice breakfast spread for us and an even better finish line lunch (more on that later). As the sun rose, we checked in, chatted with friends and geared up for the race. I got to meet fellow InknBurn ambassador Kristina. This was her first 50K and she was super excited! She did awesome! I also got to see Tam, another InknBurn ambassador that I met at the LA Marathon. This was her first 30K and she kicked some butt!

Tam, Kristina and me at the start!
We were planning on running with Jenny (aka @runnylegs) and thankfully, we caught her and her sweet husband Sean (aka @ultrarunnersd) right at the start of the race. We knew Sean would be in the front of the pack and we three girls were set on keeping an easy pace together somewhere in the middle of the pack. And promptly at 7:00am, Geezer Larry Pustinger (he calls himself this, I didn't give him this name!) called us all to the starting line, gave us instructions and told us to go! And off we went!

Jenny, Vanessa and me at the start!
The course was kind of like a T. We ran about a mile into the desert, turned left and ran about 7 miles into the desert basin. This section of the trail had the most climbing of the entire race. It was a little tough on my hamstrings but as we were finishing the climbing, they started to loosen, thankfully. I looked at my watch when they were feeling good and we had run 13 miles at that point. So, I basically have to run a half marathon before my legs feel warmed up. Sheesh! Anyway, after coming out of the desert basin, we ran up and back out to the main desert trail and then crossed over to the other side where we ran for another 7 miles or so out into the desert and then back to the main road. I will say, that even though this was a relatively flat section of the race, it was a desert road not closed to the public. We were constantly moving out of the way of cars and trucks all through the section. It was kind of annoying after a while because of all the dust the cars were kicking up. Not easy on the lungs, especially for poor Vanessa. In fact, this whole section of the race was kind of a pain in the butt (and I don't just mean my hamstring!). It was a varying assortment of sandy surfaces. It ranged from deep beach sand, dry desert sand and then packed sandy trail. It was hard on my feet after a while and it felt like I was working so much harder to run through the especially deep sandy areas. But we stuck together, walked when we needed to, drank a ton of fluids, iced ourselves at every aid station and made it through.

Climbing out of the desert basin! 

Still smiling! 

As we made it back out to the main desert road with just about a mile left, we were starting to pick up the pace. We knew Jenny would have a 50K PR so we were hauling as best we could after running 30+ miles. And then her hubby Sean came running up to run us into the finish. Can I just say, they're the cutest? Anyway, Sean ran with us to the finish, snapped a bunch of cute pics and then finally, we saw that sight for sore eyes (and lungs - dry desert air is no joke). Man, it felt good to finish.

This was horse country!

Rounding the corner to the finish. Jenny running down a PR!

Sean, Jenny, Vanessa, me and Geezer Larry at the finish! 

Once finished, we headed in for the finish line food! Man, what a spread. There was a nacho bar, some pasta, potato soup, chicken soup, salads and even cake! It was great. After stuffing our faces, we cleaned up a bit, changed into our race shirts and headed home. It was a nice drive through east San Diego County back home.

Red race shirt and awesome "medal"
A word on race shirts. This week's topic for Tuesdays on the Run is the controversy of the race shirt: wear the shirt before or after the race? I firmly believe you shouldn't wear the race shirt until you've finished the race. And not because you haven't earned it yet, but it's more a superstitious thing for me. I don't want to jynx myself by wearing the shirt of a race I haven't run yet. What if I trip and fall while wearing it? People often run the race in the race shirt and even that is tempting fate for me. I've even seen people running in the race shirt in the days before the race (for races with packet pick-up a few days before the race) and that just freaks me out! I usually bring the race shirt with me to the race and will often put it on after the race. And the race shirt for Old West is a good one: nicely fitted and a v-neck, which is my favorite.

Don't forget to check out the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Overall, I really enjoyed this race. It was well organized and easy to get to. The before and after spreads were great, the volunteers were nice and I love the race medal made of leather! What I didn't love was the sand and the heat. But, if you want to run through the desert, I guess you have to put up with a little heat and sand, right?

Happy trails!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How having twins is like running...

March 18th marks my sweet baby girls' 5th birthday. I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by. It seems like yesterday when we were bringing them home from the hospital. So much has happened since then, it's no wonder the time is flying. Having twins has been such an amazing experience for us (though, my oldest would say otherwise). While a wonderful experience, it's been one requiring amazing feats of strength and endless amounts of endurance! Kinda like being a runner! As it turns out, being a parent to multiples and being a runner are not really all that different. And since I've got this running thing (mostly) under control, maybe I'll be able to manage being a mom to twins + 1 too! Hey, we made it 5 years so it's not that out of the question, is it?

Before I continue, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Check them out when you're done here!

Here are my 5 ways having twins (or children in general) is like running:

1. There are good days and bad days. When it comes to parenting, there are some days that are just so wonderful, I wish they would never end. And then there are those days where I'm thankful just to get through the day without anyone losing an appendage. The same can be said for running. There are some days where everything just clicks and then there are those days where you wonder if you've made the biggest mistake of your life by signing up for a race (or parenthood?). I try to leave those bad days behind me as much as possible and take comfort that I can try again tomorrow. It may not be easy but it is always worth it, as a runner and a parent!

2. Schedules = keys to success. One of the best pieces of advice we received before our girls were born was to keep them on the same schedule. When one eats, feed the other, even if she's sleeping. When one is sleeping, try to get the other one to sleep too. And so on. It helped prevent mayhem many many times. And with an older child, we had to stay on schedule even more so. For example, I couldn't put the girls down to nap too close to school pick-up time, so I needed to plan my days around that too. It was overwhelming at times, but the schedule helped to keep us all on track and relatively happy. Well, we runners thrive on schedules too. We need schedules to train for races, ensuring we have enough miles in our legs to make it through the race. We also need schedules to keep on us track mentally. Without a plan, it is very easy to lose focus and motivation. Schedules allow us to prepare as parents (hey - nap time is nothing to mess around with!) and as runners.

3. Even with that schedule, you still need to be flexible. As soon as you get things under control, someone (or something) comes along and messes it all up. With twins, it's always trying to be faster than the other twin. And what I mean by this is that, when you're dealing with one twin, you have to be faster than the twin that's not being tended to. When they were little, it was about being physically faster and having great reflexes. You had to get the diaper on one before the other twin had the chance to take off her diaper and throw it across the room. Or pull all the wipes out and eat them. Now it's more emotional stuff like dealing with budding independence, temper tantrums and fights between them. You have to be able to sway off course a bit if the situation calls for it. Running requires the same flexibility. Just as you seem to get the hang of training, something always comes along to throw you for a loop: sickness, vacation, injury, job deadlines, etc. The one thing I've learned from running (and parenthood) is to be creative in how I go about doing things and roll with the punches.

4. Confidence will come with experience. I remember one of the first outings I took by myself with all three kids after the girls were born. It was to one of their early well-baby visits and my son didn't have school that day so I had all 3. Getting ready to leave, driving to the doctor and the appointment itself are all a blur (except for the screams after the shots - I remember those) but I clearly remember getting everyone into the car after the appointment. After getting Keller into his seat, the girls into their car seat adapter things and shutting the car door, I took a deep breath and said to myself, "I can do this." It was such an empowering moment that whenever other seemingly difficult situations came up, I reminded myself of that day. I'm not saying everything is easy; I still freak out and I still need to ask for advice and help. But in those moments where I'm beginning to freak out, I try to remind myself that I have conquered harder things before and I can handle this too. And I've done the same thing with my running. I have become more confident in my abilities with every training run, race completed and so on. I know my body can handle what I throw at it. It may not always be pretty, but I can do it.

5. You will be amazed at your strength. As a parent and as a runner. You will be amazed at what your body can do, and I don't just mean pregnancy. I was amazed at how my husband could walk and bounce the twins at the same time during the hideous colic-y days. He would have both of them in his arms and bounce and walk. Walk and bounce. For hours without food, water, bathroom break, killing someone, etc. I'd be doing bath and bed time with our son while he would be doing that. It was awe-inspiring, for sure. Well, we runners are a pretty powerful bunch too. We train for weeks and months at a time, we wake up early, we go to bed late, we eat lots of healthy things (and some not so healthy), we juggle life stuff. And so much more. We are superheroes in compression socks and singlets.

Being a parent to twins + 1 helps me be a better runner, that's for sure! Happy 5th Birthday to my Ellen and Brenna!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Hardest Thing About Running....

Last week, we talked about the best thing about running. It was pretty easy for me to narrow down my favorite thing about being a runner. This week, though, we're talking about the hardest parts of running. For me, this one is a little more difficult.

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

Because I can't narrow it down to just one thing, here are the three hardest things about being a runner for me.

Dealing with injury has to be one of the hardest things to deal with as a runner. I am grateful I haven't been injured many times but even the luckiest of runners will deal with something over the course of their career. While training for my first marathon, I was sidelined with awful IT Band issues. I had to defer my registration to the following year (when races still did that!) and even though I ran it, I was dealing with my unresolved IT Band issues for the entire race. I had to take 3 months off to deal with it. It was depressing and hideous and hopeless, for the injured runner has no idea how long they will remain injured. I couldn't even look at a runner running down the street without getting teary. Ugh. I've also been sidelined by plantar fasciitis, hamstring issues and pregnancy (I wasn't allowed to run while pregnant and ultimately was on months of bedrest with all my kids). Oh and I broke my foot and dislocated my baby toe (how this happened does not need to be disclosed). I was in a cast for 3 weeks and then one of those stupid ugly shoe things for another 4. Needless to say, these times were not good.

Second to injury is burnout and/or lack of motivation. For someone that races a lot, I am constantly on the verge of burnout. With high miles, early mornings to either train or race and lots of fatigue, sometimes it takes more strength to get ready to run than to actually run. Thankfully things like running partners, social media accountability, fun running clothes, great race experiences and a supportive family really really help.

The third hardest thing about running, for me, is time management. This one gets super tricky for most runners. As a coach and trainer, my schedule is pretty crazy. In between clients, I'm often doing kid-stuff, house-stuff or something else and there's not always time to get a run in. This leaves early mornings (if I don't have a client session) or later at night after the kids have gone to bed. It's hard. Some days I'm running 2 or 3 times just to get my miles in. It gets exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Most of the time, though, it's worth all the trouble to get out there and run. You'll never regret a run, even a bad one :)

What are the hardest things about running for you?

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Best Thing About Running

When I saw that the topic for this week's Tuesdays on the Run was "The best thing about running is _____," I knew what I'd write about right away. This is a no-brainer for me.

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

I could say the best thing is the endorphins. Without running, I am not a happy person. And I'm sure that many who know me would agree with that statement. But is it the best thing? Nope. I could say it's the weight management, the amazing experiences of races, or the awesome running gear. I don't think they're the BEST things about running though.

Honestly, for me, it's the people. The other runners I have met in the years I have been running are the BEST thing about running. There is no way I would be half the runner I am without the friends I've made along the way. The friends I've made in training groups, the clients that have become friends. I can't even put into words how important some of these people are to me. To me, having an enormous base of friends isn't the most important thing when it comes to friendships. To me, those soul-to-soul connections between a handful of people are worth so much. I couldn't possibly mention every single person that I've met through running that holds a special place in my heart, but here are the people that I just couldn't live without...

My sister from another mister, Lynne, whom I met training for my first marathon in 2003 and is now the godmother of my children.

Me and Lynne at the Surf City Marathon expo!

My brother from another mother, Steve and his equally-important-to-me wife, Tish. I just can't even say enough about these two and how important they are to me.

Me, Tish and Steve at the Rock n Roll Nashville HM

My dearest Smitha and Vanessa, who in just the short time we've known each other, have become such important parts of my life. More than running partners, for sure. We're sisters.

Smith, Vanessa and me on our last escapade
 in San Elijo Lagoon

The #goatbunnybear crew of me, Jamye, and Smitha is also on the list. These two got me through a lot of training runs leading up to and including the big dance, the PCT 50. I am forever grateful to them.

Jamye, me and Smitha about 10 miles from the PCT 50 finish!

My dearest Frances, who was a client that became another sister. Her strength and courage are immeasurable and the fact that she considers me a friend is humbling.

Christmas Eve run with my dearest Frances

My trail running friends, Jean, Vito, Mike, David and many others. Jean has become a great friend and those long runs together are more like therapy sessions for the two of us. We've gotten each other through some tough times!

Jean and me after an especially hot Noble Canyon!
Crazy trail running crew!

The ladies on my Ragnar team that are so much more than teammates. Sharing a van for 24 hours will add a new dimension to a relationship :)

My dearest Van 1: Launa, Joanna, Cindy, Jana, me and Stephanie

The entire Ragnar crew!

This blog post could easily be 400 pages long. There are so many Solemates out there, I can't possibly name every one! My friends in Maryland that I miss so much (Laura, Kelly, Tammy, Cheryl, Lisa, Kanayo and more). My friends here, that in such a short time have become life-long friends (Maria, Chris, Claudia, Cristina, Tere, Carrie and MORE). And thanks to social media, I've made many friendship through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, especially the #werunsocial crew. That's the best when we can plan meet ups at races and see each other IRL. I am so truly grateful for the opportunities running has given me in terms of my career, my lifestyle and my health. But, for me, the best thing about running is definitely the people that have been brought into my life.

Oh, and let's not forget making friends with Meb :)

Vanessa, Alexis, me, Meb and Smitha. Just out for a run together :)

What is your best thing about running?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why You May Want Try a Run Streak

As you may or may not know, I've been doing a run streak for the past 67 days. I have quite a number of friends doing run streaks and thought I'd throw my hat into the ring, so to speak. Many people think that doing a run streak will be too much miles, not enough rest and just plain bad for you. While I've been known to complain about it here on the blog, I'm actually enjoying it.

Before I get started, I'm linking up with the Friday Five link up hosted by Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Cynthia at You Signed Up for What and Mar at Mar on the Run. Check them out when you're done here!

Now, I wouldn't necessarily recommend a running streak to just anyone. If you deal with injuries a lot, have not been running for very long or have specific race and time goals, a run streak may not be for you. You may be better off with tried-and-true rest days in between your runs. Every body (and everybody) is different and how your body responds to daily activity may be different from others. With that said, if you aren't generally injury-prone, have been running for quite some time (and, in turn, are physically adapted to running on a regular basis) and don't have high performance goals, you may want to try a running streak. Here are my five reasons why you may want to try a running streak and how it can fit into your life:

1. You only have to run one mile for it to be considered a run streak. That's right. One mile. And I didn't make this up. According to the United States Running Streak Association, all you need to do is run at least one mile every calendar day to be considered "streaking." I figured one mile on my rest days wouldn't be enough to really disrupt my recovery. It still follows the progressive adaptation of my training plan and continues to allow for easy and hard days of training. I don't feel like it's affected me negatively at all, other than forgetting to get my mile in and having to do it in my pajamas at 9:00pm. But I always feel better for it (see below).

2. It actually helps with recovery. Within my streaking time, I've run a 50-miler and marathon, as well as some gnarly training runs. Having that mile on what used to be my rest day has helped flush my legs and helped my recovery. This is what is called active recovery - where you exercise at a low intensity but high enough to increase blood circulation, continuing to rid your muscles of residual lactic acid. This helps reduce soreness and muscle fatigue.

3. You can run at whatever pace you want. Now that you know you don't have to run far to be part of a run streak, you'll be happy to know you don't have to run fast either. Because I don't want to run too hard on what were my rest days, I run very slowly. Again, I'm running at a pace that's fast enough to be considered running, but it's slow enough that it doesn't disrupt my recovery. And this principle helped tremendously when I was sick with an awesome stomach bug back in January.

4. You can run wherever you want. Where you run your miles is completely up to you. There are no rules that your miles have to be run out on the roads or a track, etc. In fact, I have run my mile around my cul de sac when out with the kids. I'm running, it counts :)

5. You can run with your kids (and/or pets). Because I can run as slowly as I want to, I can get a lot of my miles done with my kids. Whether I'm running around the cul de sac, or out on the trail with the kids and the dog, I can get my miles in when the time is right. Granted, there are still days I don't remember to get my miles in until the evening and I hop on the treadmill in my non-running clothes. But a mile is still a mile!

Who knows how long I'll continue, but it's definitely been fun so far!

Have you ever done a running streak?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My Running Uniform

I have to say, it's a great time to be a runner. There are so many great things out there for us runners, from gadgets to shoes to clothes. In fact, that's what we're talking about this week's Tuesday on the Run: the running uniform. If you had to run in the same "uniform" for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Before I continue, I'm participating in the Tuesdays on the Run blog link up with My No-Guilt LifeMCM Mama Runs and Marcia's Healthy Slice. When you're done reading here, go check them out!

To be perfectly honest, I only really started to pay attention to what I wore while running after I had my twins. Yes, I always wore technical gear, etc. But my body changed so much with that twin pregnancy, all my pre-pregnancy running clothes didn't fit or feel all that well. I had a c-section with the girls and all my shorts had elastic bands and were really uncomfortable. That's when I discovered the wide waist band. I started wearing different running skirts and shorts that had wide waist bands and didn't annoy my surgery scar. But I was really self-conscious and just felt kind of lame in whatever I wore. It's hard to explain but I've always had body image issues and because my body was a lot different in places from my pregnancies, I just didn't feel comfortable in anything. It took me a long time to lose the baby weight and feel normal in this new body. My ribs and hips expanded with the twins, my joints felt weird and running was just strange for the first couple of years after they were born. So I just wore whatever felt good and just blended into the background.

After another couple of years of just wearing whatever, I started noticing all these new printed tops and fabulous patterned shorts and leggings. There was a lot of color everywhere. But I'd try on some here and there and just felt like a fraud. Loud colors were just not my thing because then I'd be standing out and all my self-consciousness would be front and center. Until I discovered Ink n Burn. I had noticed a couple of people here and there wearing these really interesting patterns and outfits. They intrigued me but I still felt that I wasn't worthy. I happened to be at my favorite local running (Running Center in Carlsbad) store, and saw that they carried some Ink n Burn stuff. Of course, I had to try some stuff on. And I was instantly in love. I felt really beautiful for the first time in a long time. I felt strong and I actually felt like I could pull it off and I wasn't a fraud. I bought the Paeon shorts, which are now my favorite shorts. All of their shorts have my must-have wide waist band but they are not mom shorts. They are cut so well, they flatter your figure. I kind of feel like a rock star when I wear them.

My uniform for the LA Marathon. Wildflowers everywhere!

Over time, I've made quite a number of purchases and their shorts and singlets are my running uniform now. They are well-made, right here in the US (in Orange County to be exact) and they are unique, exciting designs. Ink n Burn stuff makes me feel strong and beautiful. I feel invincible in their clothes and I don't feel embarrassed to stand out now. In fact, I want to show it off proudly, whenever I can. And I'm proud to say that I found out on Sunday that I was accepted as an Ink N Burn Ambassador!! So, I'm pretty excited, to say the least.

In addition to my Ink, I usually have a hat of some sort. I've been getting more into the trucker hat look, though I have a pin head and not all trucker hats suit me (they make me look like Elmer Fudd). I haven't made the complete switch to the trucker hat because of that.

My sports bra is the Moving Comfort Fiona. I always wanted to wear this particular bra but they didn't make them in, ahem, smaller sizes (if you catch my drift). I was stuck with the ridiculous bra that I had to somehow get on over my head and fight with to get in place. But when they started making the Fiona in smaller sizes, I jumped on it and have never looked back. The Fiona is so comfortable with the adjustable straps and regular hook-and-eye closure. It's like a regular bra. There's never a uni-boob and it's so freaking comfortable. Sorry, I'm not posting a pic of me in my bra.

I wear compression socks and sleeves every now and then, not every time I run so I'm not sure they are part of the uniform. When it's really hot out, the compression bothers me a little so I find it's better for after the run than during. I prefer Pro Compression socks and love all their crazy patterns and designs. But I do wear compression in colder temps, so they're part of the cold-weather uniform :) If I don't wear the compression socks, I typically run in Balega socks because they're yummy and fluffy. There's really no other way to describe them. They fit really well and feel really good.

Lastly, my uniform would not be complete without my Altra running shoes. The wide foot-shaped shoe suits me absolutely better than any other shoe I've ever run in before. I think my feet changed a lot with my twin pregnancy and every shoe I wore after they were born were too narrow. I really wanted to love Hokas but they just weren't wide enough. I tried the Altra Olympus and was instantly hooked. The Olympus are trail shoes and I just wore them for every run because they were so comfortable. But then I got the Paradigm (Altra's max cushioned road shoe) and now wear them for road and the Olympus for trail. And my feet are happy.

The Altra Paradigms (and Balega socks)

That's my uniform - a hat, Ink n Burn top and shorts, Fiona sports bra, Pro Compression or Balega socks and my Altras.

What would your running uniform be?