All Entries For running
As a runner, I often turn to music to keep me entertained and motivated during my training runs and races. I love discovering new running songs (even if "new" only means "new to me"), listening to them, and sharing them with others via my blog posts and Facebook page.
I recently asked people to share their favorite running songs, then created a list of 100 titles, new and old, that keep us on our feet and on pace. List in hand, I asked members of SparkPeople.com, America's #1 weight loss and fitness website, to vote on their favorites, too.
Find out which song took the tittle of best running song, whether your favorite made the list, and how you can download a brand new 60-minute running mix of the top 12 songs (as voted on by runners like you)! Read More ›
As a runner it's nice to have a partner to run with, regardless if that partner runs on two legs or four legs. A dog can make a great running partner, not only can they help keep us motivated to run, but they can also provide us with a sense of security and companionship especially for those of us who must run in remote areas.
But before you get too eager to put a leash on your four-legged friend, there are a few tips to consider prior to taking your first step out the door with your running buddy.
1. Get medical clearance from your dog's vet
Just like we need to get medical clearance for exercise, same is true for our pets. This is especially necessary if your pet has led a fairly sedentary lifestyle. While your dog may spend hours running around the backyard, it is not quite the same as running five, three or even one mile.
2. Know which breeds are best for running
Knowing which breeds are best suited for running can help determine if Fido is going to make a great running partner or best left hanging out in the backyard. There are certain breeds where running may actually be detrimental to your dog's well-being. Some breeds, such as the Border Collie are more prone to hip dysplasia issues which can be aggravated from running while other breeds, such as the Pug and Bulldog are more prone to respiratory and overheating issues. Runner's World has compiled a list of dog breeds and the distance each breed can safely run. But remember your dog's vet is the best source of advice as to whether your best friend can run or not. Read More ›
When I first started running, I thought for sure it would be a bad combination with yoga. Running is repetitive, it can be hard on the body, and it's fast.
After my first few runs, I felt sore and tight, despite my thorough stretching session afterwards. I spent all that time practicing yoga to loosen my muscles; it seemed silly to then tighten them up with one little run.
A few runs and a bit of research later, I changed my mind. Running and yoga complement each other quite well, and I don't need to end up sore and tight after my runs.
The breath control (pranayama) we practice in yoga actually helps me keep my breathing even when runs get tough, and it's especially helpful after a hard run. Plus, there is a certain peace that accompanies running (and walking). That repetitive motion allows your mind to clear, and the path that lies before allows your eyes to focus on the horizon. Add some motivating music, and you've got quite the relaxing and stress-relieving workout!
My friend Bob (BOBBYD31) SparkMailed me recently to ask about yoga. He's a runner and, like many of you, battles tight hips and hamstrings. He wanted to try yoga but wasn't sure where to start. I gave him some suggestions for DVDs and books--and did one better. I'm a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher, so I decided to create a routine for him and other runners to help them stretch out after a run and keep his muscles healthy and loose.
Here are a baker's dozen poses to help runners (and cyclists and walkers). Hold each pose for 5 breaths or longer if you'd like. You'll need a mat and a yoga block (or a chair) for these poses.
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Last summer, I surprised a few family members by asking if they wanted to form a team to do a mud run. I’m not known as adventurous—or as someone who likes to get dirty—but mud races were becoming so popular among runners (and non-runners alike) that I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. To my delight, the race was lots of fun and definitely something I’d do again in the future.
Mud runs have exploded in popularity over the past few years. One example is the Warrior Dash, which started as one run in 2009 with 2,000 participants. In 2012, 65 Warrior Dash events were held across the world, involving more than 1 million participants. Today, you have no shortage of mud-related "obstacle" races from which to choose. Each race is different, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign up. Read More ›
One of my favorite times of day to run is in the early morning before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s quiet and gives me time to think before the craziness of my day begins. I prefer to run when the sun is already up, but at certain times of the year, that becomes more difficult. When I do head out in the dark, my first priority is safety. Although I never assume that cars can see me, I try to make myself as visible as possible.
I hear of too many runners, walkers and bikers out with no lights, no identification, wearing dark colors and expecting that everything will be fine and that cars will gladly move out of their way. Accidents happen all the time, but you can reduce the chances they will happen to you. Here are some of the products I recommend to help you stay safe and visible when exercising in the dark. Read More ›
It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the treadmill. I love to run, hike and even walk with my pup, but I do it all outdoors all year round. Rain, snow, wind, heat—almost nothing can keep me from my outdoor workouts. For me, a treadmill is a "last resort" when I have no other option to get outside.
But I know that not everyone is as gung-ho about outdoor exercise as I am. Many people hate running in the cold or the heat. (Nothing wrong with that.) Others have no other option to work out, especially if they have to be at home with kids or don't live in a safe neighborhood for walking or running. And still some prefer the slightly cushioned surface of a treadmill, which takes away some of the impact of running, making it easier on the joints and even the spinal discs.
Whatever your reason, we've all turned to the treadmill from time to time. And the best way to prevent boredom and get great results from your treadmill workout is to incorporate intervals. Here's a simple workout I developed to help you torch calories with your trusty treadmill. Read More ›
Believe it or not, outdoor exercise can be enjoyable year round—yes, even in the winter months!
When there is a chill in the air, it's easy to assume you'd be better off to pop in a workout DVD or take your daily walk indoors at the local mall. But as long as you dress properly, there's no reason you can't venture outside for a workout that is both comfortable and enjoyable.
The tricky part is wearing enough that you're not shivering from the cold, but not so much that you're sweating because of all of the heavy layers. Here's a guide to knowing what—and how much— to wear so that you can be prepared all season long. Read More ›
Editor's Note (Nicole Nichols): When I learned my friend Susie was going to run a 50-mile ultramarathon, I was in shock and awe. Reading the recap of her race on her blog, which we're now sharing with you here, brought tears to my eyes. Her vivid, emotional and insightful journey from mile 1 to 50 is one that every person can learn from and relate to, even if you've never run a single mile.
After Saturday, September 15, 2012, I will never hear the words "50 miles" again and think about them in the same way. There are so many things, beyond the measure of mileage, that now describe 50 miles. Doubt, perseverance, deep friendship, dirt, overwhelming support, darkness, mental toughness, pain, family, hills, belief, tears, natural beauty, blisters, selflessness, labor, and VICTORY. Each one of these things played an important role in making my first official ultra-marathon a truly memorable, rewarding, yet unmistakably arduous day. Read More ›
Whenever friends or family see me running around our neighborhood, they know it’s me right away. I have a very distinct run, or as I like to joke, a distinct “shuffle”. Over the years I’ve tried to adjust the way I run, because I think it could help me get faster. So far, that has been totally unsuccessful. I blame my dad for the problem because he runs exactly the same way I do. It must be genetic.
My problem is that all of the movement in my legs comes from the knee down. My feet don’t come very far off the ground and I don’t have any lift in my knees. I know if I could get my knees up and my quads working a little more, I’d have additional power and potentially, additional speed. I’ve worked with a running coach to try and correct the issue, but at this point, it’s hard to change something I’ve been doing for so long. Perhaps if I would have tried much earlier in my running career, I would have had more success. A new study proposes that people naturally become better runners, just by running more. Although I can’t say the same applied in my case, the results are pretty interesting.
The study, published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, followed 10 women on a 10-week, self-paced program for new runners. Each woman visited a lab before started the program to have their aerobic capacity, running form and running economy assessed. “Running economy, also known as running efficiency, is a measure of how much oxygen a person uses to run at a particular pace — in essence, how hard it is to run at that speed. Efficiency is considered one of the determinants of running success. A more economical runner requires less energy than others and presumably should be able to run farther or faster.” It’s no surprise that the new runners were not very economical in the beginning, but that improved as the 10-week training program progressed.
Additional tests over the 10-weeks found that the women improved their speed and endurance, and also improved their running economy (their ability to use oxygen increased by about 8.5%.) There were also changes in running stride which ended up making running easier. For example, their legs became more flexed as they left the ground which allows for a quicker turnover and increased speed. They also increased stability in their feet as they struck the ground, which indicates becoming more comfortable with the movement of running.
This study was done on a very small, specific group of people. The results won’t necessarily translate to all runners, but the study’s author feels it can lead to some important takeaways: “You can optimize your gait naturally,” she says, “by becoming more conscious of your running movement and how it feels.” Your body, at least in the early stages of becoming a runner, can be a fine and knowledgeable coach.”
My advice is to stick with what feels comfortable. I know I’ll never have the long stride and leg lift of an Olympic sprinter. But as long as I can stay injury-free and enjoy what I’m doing, that’s what is most important to me.
Have you considered becoming a runner but don’t know where to begin? Check out SparkPeople’s Running Center, where you can find articles, training programs, virtual races to join and much more!
What do you think?
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While I don't consider myself a "gadgets" person (I don't even have a single fitness app on my iPhone), there are a few gadgets I've loved over the years, such as my Garmin Forerunner, which is still going strong after many, many miles and half marathons. But I'm also a big fan of the Fitbit, which I started using a couple of years ago.
The Fitbit tracks some basic daily activity: how many steps you take, how far you've walked (in miles), how many flights of stairs you've climbed, your estimated calorie burn based on these stats, and how restful your sleep was (if you wear it overnight).
Compared to the Fitbit, which seems like a glorified pedometer, my GPS-enabled Garmin, which also has a heart rate monitor, real-time (and very precise) speed and distance tracking, pacing features and more seems like a sure winner. What would a runner like me—someone who is already active and motivated to stay that way—really get out of a Fitbit anyway?
Plenty. Truth is, I adore my Fitbit. I wear it daily, clipping it to my waistband the second I get out of bed. I check my step stats dozens of times throughout the day. And I use it more often than my Garmin since I only run a few days per week for a few total hours. I actually use my Fitbit even while using my Garmin (and every hour that I'm not using it). Here's why. Read More ›
Fall is almost here, but Halloween candy and décor is already appearing. While everyone's favorite candy-and-costumes holiday can be a real deterrent for your diet, you can vow to stay on track—at least when it comes to your fitness—by doing something healthy that week: a 5K!
Running or walking a 5K is a great fitness goal for people of all fitness levels. It's an achievable distance, yet gives you a real feeling of accomplishment! While it does take a few weeks of training to complete that 3.1-mile distance, signing up for a race can keep you motivated and on track with your workout plan, whether you're a novice or seasoned runner.
That's where SparkPeople's official Trick-or-Treat Trot comes in! This virtual 5K race (you can walk or run) is open to anyone, anywhere. You could win some AWESOME prizes (new workout shoes and more) just by participating, and best of all, it's free! You select your route and simply run the distance the week of October 28. You could even run your race on Halloween if you dare! Here's how you can sign up and get access to your free training plan, too! Read More ›
Recently, I was asked if I wanted to try out a new pair of running shoes and blog about the experience. I usually hesitate with things like this (because I’m picky about my running shoes), but was very intrigued by this product. Maybe these shoes could give me the Olympic speed I’ve been dreaming of! Or, more realistically, perhaps they would feel good on my feet and give me a slightly different running experience. Read More ›
Whether you are a seasoned athlete, a stay-at-home mom, or a true weekend warrior, setting your sights on running a 5K is an achievable and rewarding goal. The second you sign up for a race you become an athlete. And once you start thinking like an athlete, your training plan and overall goal are easier to achieve.
So if you are asking the question, "How exactly does an athlete think?" let me share a little insider information with you. As a former Olympic sprinter who has been married to a professional baseball player for more than 10 years, trust me when I say "athletes think differently." We approach every training session, every meal time, and every activity with our end goal in our minds! By asking ourselves the question, “How will this help me be faster, stronger and more prepared for my competition?" it ensures that we make good choices.
Here are 4 questions that you should ask yourself to think like an athlete, improve your running speed and run your fastest 5K time ever. Read More ›
Recently, I shared my half-marathon music playlist with you, and it got me thinking. While some of the songs on the list are newer hits, most of the music I run to day in and day out are anything but new. However, they are some of my favorite running (or workout) songs of all time. While I occasionally swap out some tired tunes for new ones, most of what I listen to stays pretty much the same year after year.
It made me wonder whether YOUR favorite songs are those tried-and-true ones or newer hits.
In an effort to create a collection of the best running songs of all time, we want to know: What is your favorite running song? Read More ›
I'm happy to say that even though it took a couple days, I am walking like a normal person again! Why was I ever NOT walking normally, you might ask? Well, because last Sunday I ran the Flying Pig half marathon (13.1 miles) in Cincinnati. I trained hard for this race and during every race, I set a goal and try my very hardest to reach it—I actually race myself and my past times!
That takes a lot out of my body and leaves me sore for a few days…and sometimes even during the race itself. But one thing I do to keep my energy boosted and my motivation high is to play some of my all-time favorite kick-butt running songs.
I don't normally make a playlist specifically for a race. Generally, I just shuffle through a generic "running" playlist I created. But this time, I needed the energy surge that only my favorite songs could provide.
So if you're looking for some of the best running songs to refresh your own workout playlist, look no further. Read More ›