10 More Great Running Tips

unnamed-1So, last week we shared our 10 tips for beginning runners.  Between the two of us, we had more than just 10 tips, and this is the second half of our list.  We left off with not underestimating yourself, but we begin this list with a reminder to not do the opposite:

  1. Don’t overestimate yourself: this goes back to start slow and start small, pick a distance and try walking it first, then maybe jog small parts of it, gauge how you feel at the end and try a little more the next time.  If you do too much too fast you can hurt yourself, and you just might burn out
  2. Music, audiobook, silence:  Do you want background noise at all?  I love music or podcasts, I have two audiobooks on hold I’m waiting on but the list is long.  Right now I’m listening to the rehearsal CD for the cantata I’m singing in at church in Dec, after that I’ll go with Christmas music then we’ll see.  I’m thinking Cats or Phantom lol.  It works for me, find what works for you/
  3. Track your progress somehow: use paper and pencil, an app like Nike or Runkeeper or My Fitness Pal, use an online pedometer/run creator to track your route for distance. I’ve used google pedometer in the past but was recently introduced to Runkeeper that allows you to plot a path not on streets so gives you more freedom and I LOVE it!!!
  4. Take rest days: I’m not a big fan of rest days I want to run!  but I know my body needs them, that being said for me a rest day may still be few mile walk at 3-4 mph, or maybe a 1 mile run day.
  5. Breathe: yeah this seems like something you wouldn’t have to think about but I discovered I did.  I had to think about my breathing make sure I was alternating the foot that was on the ground when I inhaled, there are technical explanations out there for why this is how you should breathe when running I only know it kept the side cramps away or eased them when they hit. The benefit has been that as I practiced and focused on my breathing it became natural now I don’t have to think about it I just naturally breathe that way.
  6. Listen to your body: This goes along with taking rest days.  Running is not easy, and when you’re knee/foot/back is hurting, it’s okay to take a day off.  It’s better to take a day off when something starts hurting, than to run when you’re not at your best.  You could be at risk for a longer break due to an injury.
  7. Make a contingency plan: Maybe it’s raining, not just raining but RAINING!!!  and you don’t want to go out, maybe it’s so foggy you can’t see beyond your feet, maybe it’s icy or snowy.  Whatever the reason make a plan for how you’re going to deal with it, are you going to take a day off, can you get on a treadmill, is there a video you could do at home, maybe you could go to a gym, whatever you do make a plan.  Right now I can do walking videos in my basement.  I love Leslie Sansone.  Her Walk/Jog and 4 Fast Mile videos have walking and jogging intervals, great workouts.  I’m also looking into the punch card option at our city’s rec center, 20 punches would be a great way to fill those days and I could run on the track there or on the treadmill.
  8. Remember each day is different: you may run more one day and walk more another, again it’s a matter of listening to your body, don’t push yourself too hard, feel free to train for a race if that’s what you want but remember some days your body just may not be up to doing what you want it to.  You may have to do like I do and take a look back at what you ate the day before, how much water you drank, and how much sleep you had.  It’s all good just keep trying.
  9. Walking is not failing:  I’ll be honest this one is still a struggle for me.  Those days my knees are bothering me or I just don’t have the energy, or those pesky rest days lol I struggle with the fact that I’m walking not running.  I feel like a failure but I know I’m still moving, I’m still building up my endurance and stamina so it’s all good.
  10. Be consistent: Have we mentioned running is hard?  It is, but it’s also rewarding.  After running, I feel amazing, I feel strong!  If you are consistent (while also allowing yourself those rest days we mentioned), you build strength and stamina.  That could be the key to adding more miles, more distance, and improving times.

So tell us about your walking/running experiences.  We’re still rookies – neither of us have actually run a real “race”.  Hope these tips help, and feel free to share your own!!


New Fiction Friday: How to Be a Grownup

9781451643459_p0_v2_s192x300I love Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. When Nanny Diaries came out, I was actually working as a nanny and could relate to so much of the book, and I absolutely loved it. I’ve read every one of their books since then. Their latest book, How To Be a Grown-Up is now one of my favorites of theirs. Ms McLaughlin and Kraus aren’t as young as they used to be – and neither are their characters.

Rory McGovern met her husband Blake, a former child star whose poster once hung on millions of girls’ walls, while in college. The envy of all her college friends, they dated and eventually married, and she spent most of their life together following his career. Back and forth between New York and Los Angeles, between movies, plays, and TV pilots. She cared for their two children, and found occasional part time work, using her degree in design. She’s real and relatable. Though he was very well known for his famous childhood roles, as an adult wasn’t that successful. They struggled. Or rather, she struggled. He seemed to have no idea what sacrifices they all were making to allow him to continue to follow his dream.

During a particularly slow time in his career, Rory starts to panic. Making their mortgage payment and paying for preschool becomes a challenge. They’re also on the verge of losing their insurance. He takes a “break” from the family to focus on a role – seemingly unaware of Rory’s juggling act. She then is offered a full time position, the first full time job she’s had since her son was born years earlier. Now basically a single mother, she’s embarking on a new project (an online style start-up).

I’m almost as old as Rory is, and as much as I loved this book, it caused panic. I suppose sometimes divorce and/or separation is predictable. She didn’t see it coming. As Blake took a “break” to focus on his next project, they grew farther and farther apart. He was unapologetic in leaving to focus on his own dreams and career. She scrambles to figure out life on her own, and struggles in this new reality. I loved this story, and loved her courage in the face of starting over alone. But I couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes, which is completely terrifying. Rory is strong and resilient, and finds out what it really means to be a grown up.


I Regret Nothing

9781101897430_p0_v1_s192x300I love Jen Lancaster – she is honest, candid, and hilarious. I’ve read all of her books (and have loved them all), and they never fail to make me laugh. As a memoirist, her memoirs have evolved (as she has gotten older), and I’ve grown older with her, and still love her stories. Her first book Bitter is the New Black was an account of her corporate career, and her exit from the corporate world.  Each of her later memoirs chronicle her moves – from jobs and house, and ultimately becoming a writer.  She has also ventured into the world of fiction successfully, If You Were Here details the story of a writer and her husband buying the home of John Hughe’s, just outside of Chicago (which seemed somewhat autobiographical).

This new adventure of hers, I Regret Nothing, follows her into her 40s (yikes!!). And after turning 40, there are many things that she thought she might have done at that point in her life, and she decides to tackle the list. This includes a bucket list. One of the first things on her bucket list is what her husband calls adult Spring Break. A trip to South Carolina with some girlfriends isn’t quite the trip she remembers (barely) from her college days when she …

“Throughout the fun of the twenties it’s easy to feel invincible, like life will go on forever, while the thirties are one new beginning after another.

These two decades are chock-full of rites of passage – graduations, professional responsibilities, acquiring furniture that wasn’t Dumpster-dived, china patterns, weddings, babies, white picket fences in neighborhoods no longer stumbling – distance from a bar by design, and minivans.

But in the forties? There are new milestones, and most of them suck. This is when the majority of us begin to deal with aches and pains that won’t go away, with increased professional responsibilities, with the challenges that having elderly relatives bring, and with teenage children who absolutely understand how to work around every parental control on their iPhones. And, p.s., get ready to write a check with many zeroes for their college educations.”

Why wasn’t I invited??  I would have loved to be on that trip – or take a similar trip with my friends.  Also included on her bucket list is a trip to Italy, and her attempt at first learning Italian.

Another thing on her checklist: is learning really to ride a bike.  It sound surprising that she couldn’t ride a bike, and this is something her husband helps with – and there are a few hilarious tales about their biking adventures.

I love her because she’s funny. I love her because she’s bold. This wasn’t my favorite book of hers, but she never disappoints. Although she is a coupule of years older than I am, I feel that we’re aging together. I can relate to her jokes about getting older, and I love all of her jokes about growing up in the 80s.  This book is the perfect comic relief for the stress of the holidays.  We can all laugh at her mistakes, but honestly, we’ve probably made those same mistakes too!!

10 Tips for Beginning Runners

unnamedSo last time I shared about how I started my journey to become the runner I’ve wanted to be for years, this time I’m going to share with you some tips/things I’ve learned in my last few months.  Please keep in mind that I am not in any way shape or form a medical professional, I’m a teacher who just happens to have recently started running and fallen in love with it.  So here we go:

  1. Be prepared to be hungry:  As I started walking and running more, especially as I started increasing the time I spend running over walking my appetite went way up.  Makes sense I’m burning more calories so my body is asking for more.  I also needed to up my water intake, harder to do for me but I’m working on it.
  2. Start slow: don’t try to run a mile in your first day if you haven’t been active at all before. Maybe you’ve been walking a lot and you want to try but don’t push yourself to do more than you can which leads me to:
  3. Listen to your body: is your heart rate through the roof, you can feel it pounding, can you breathe easy or are you struggling to catch your breath?  The experts all say you should be able to talk in at least short phrases, well I’m not running with anyone so I stick with can I “sing” phrases from the music I’m listening to.  Honestly I do get self conscious sometimes about singing while I run but it works for me so whatever 🙂  If you feel you need to slow down do it and don’t let yourself feel guilty for even a second
  4. Start small: you want to start running, go out for a walk and say hey I’m going to run from here to that mailbox or lamppost.  Don’t sprint mind you, try a gentle jog.
  5. Jogging IS running: pretty self-explanatory but I’ve always been stuck in the mindset that running is about speed, however marathon runners aren’t super speedy not like a 100m dash racer, but they are in awesome shape and no one can deny they are running.  If at some point both of your feet are off the ground at the same time you’re running, well unless you’re skipping or galloping 😉
  6. Find a buddy: someone who can help encourage you, someone to check in with, doesn’t have to be someone close by it can be virtual.  Amy and I have been best friends for decades and live 1000 miles apart yet she’s been so helpful to me in my quest to be a runner.  I love having someone to cheer on and to cheer me on.  It’s probably good we don’t live close anymore bc I’d want to run with her and I could never keep up LOL
  7. Find the time of day that works for you: Both of us are morning runners for the most part but I know people who love to run in the afternoon, evening, I even knew someone who preferred to run after 10 at night.  Find the time you feel best, the time you enjoy most.
  8. Decide where you want to run: are you an inside runner, or an outside runner?  If outside do you like to run on sidewalks, the road, trails, a track?  I LOVE running outside, and I’ve surprised myself so far happily running in rain, fog, and 40 degree temps, we’ll see how it goes as it gets colder LOL  I also love to run a path on the road/sidewalks.  Even though I see the same scenery day after day to me it’s just not the same as running on a track which just bores me beyond belief.  I’ll save the track for when I want to work on speed running just a mile at a time
  9. Dress for the weather: and in cold temps dress in layers, you might just be shocked how quickly you heat up.  I ran a few days ago in mid 40 degree temps and ended up pulling my hoodie off halfway through the run and finishing in my short sleeve t-shirt, I was just that warm.
  10. Don’t underestimate yourself: you may just be surprised how far you and how fast you can move then again also

There’s never a bad time to run, or to start running.  It was super cold here this weekend, and it was hard to get motivated to get out and run.  I did it though, and don’t regret it!  I hope these tips help to motivate, encourage, and inspire!

New Fiction Friday: Fuzzy Mud

9780385743785_p0_v1_s192x300Fans of Holes and Louis Sachar will love his latest work, Fuzzy Mud. Deep in a secluded forest in Pennsylvania, near a small private school called Woodridge Academy.  There’s something strange going on in the woods, and no one seems to be aware – or even know that something has happened. Only when some of the school’s students get lost in the woods, does anyone know that something is going on. And at that point, it’s already too late. This is a thriller, centered around a biohazard that seems impossible to contain.

In between the chapters are excerpts fron secret Senate hearings. In these hearings, a scientist disccuses his experimentation and development of an alternative fuel. The experimentation phase had been kept secret from the government, and basically from anyone outside the top-secret project. The project began at SunRay Farm, which was a few miles away from Woodridge Academy. Most of the students and the residents of the area didn’t know about the farm. They would soon find out though.

The “fuzzy mud” is a byproduct of the experimentation taking place in the lab on that farm. The mud is discovered when friends Tamaya and Marshall decide to take a shortcut through the woods on their way home from school. Marshall wants to take this shortcut after being confronted and challenged by class bully Chad. Instead of avoiding him, Chad follows them into the woods. There they encounter each other, and the biohazardous material.

Called biolene, it was developed by scientists as an alternative energy source. It sounds promising, though no one seems to know it’s true potential.  One of the scientists who spoke at the Senate hearing warned against using the substance, predicting that it could be potentially dangerous. He actually called it “an abomination of nature”. Instead of a clean energy source, he describes it as a high-energy bacteria, a new form of life, a substance that continues to reproduce at a very rapid rate. This makes the substance almost impossible to control.

I love this story, once the kids encounter the mud in the woods, it was really hard to put down.  It’s a reminder to us, and kids, that there are consequences and potential side effects.  I’m sure there are many places like Sun Farm, which makes this story even more believable.  I know I’m staying out of the woods!!

Baking It Forward

unnamed-3We have been so busy lately!  It always feels like a complete blur between October and the end of December.  In the middle of all the madness lately, we’ve been busy in the kitchen!  During the month of November, Cooking Light has been promoting the #bakeitforward movement on Instagram.  In partnership with Food Network, they will donate $1 to No Kid Hungry, for every photo that’s tagged with #bakeitforward.  Cooking Light did it last unnamedyear, and it was a fun way to get busy baking, and to share the love.  This year we made some applesauce bread with a yummy apple glaze.  We also made some Halloween bark, something I had seen on the Pioneer Woman’s show.  It was a great way to use up some of our leftover Halloween candy!

We had such fun making it, and even more fun eating it, unnamed-2even though we still have a ton of Halloween candy.  It was fun to package it all up and deliver it to some special friends and family.  We ate quite a bit of the toppings for the bark in the process of making it.  This was her favorite part – sprinkling M&Ms, snickers pieces, and crushed pretzels.  It was also an attempt to teach her about sharing, being thankful, and doing nice things for others.  Though she was really just in it for the M&M’s!!

unnamed-1Between November and December I’ll be pretty busy baking in the kitchen.  I’ll love every minute of it, except the clean-up!  This is a great way to share the love – with friends, family, neighbors, and with this campaign that Cooking Light and the Food Network are doing.  Not only is it raising money for hungry kids and families, it’s encouraging everyone to share some of their favorite treats, and keep the love going!  If you’re on Instagram – share the love, and #bakeifforward!!

At the Water’s Edge

9780812988253_p0_v2_s192x300Sara Gruen seems to have a knack for creating compelling female characters. Water for Elephants was such a great book – and made a great movie too, I loved the love story that evolved between Marlena and Jacob.  She’s written a few books since then, and though I haven’t read them, I had heard good things about At the Water’s Edge, her most recent book.  After being on my TBR list for a while, and on my summer reading list, I’m finially finished!

Set in the years during World War II, the main character Maddie and her husband Ellis take a trip to Scotland.  With most men his age off fighting the war, Ellis and his best friend Hank had been left behind.  Somehow, they were both medically unqualified for military service.  Both wanting to prove themselves in some other way, and tired of answering questions about why they weren’t doing their part for the war effort, they decide to take up Ellis’s father’s mission to find the Loch Ness monster.  Ellis’s parents had never been supportive of his relationship with Maddie, she was from “new money”.  With his inheritance at risk, he hopes that if he finds the monster, he’ll get back in their good graces. .

Going to Scottland at the time was incredibly dangerous, and several times throughout the book I wonder why Maddie keeps following them.  I have to constantly remind myself – or even try to convince myself – that it was the time period. She didn’t have that many options.  As a society woman, she didn’t really have an education, and there certainly weren’t any job opportunities for her.  Even with that constant reassurance, I couldn’t understand why she blindly followed him across the war-ravaged Atlantic. When they get there, she is left at a small inn, while he and Hank go off in search of the monster. They have no idea what the war has done to the village, how to get ration booklets, and just how serious and desperate the situation was there.  There she is left alone, to her own devices, and in the process befriends some of the inn’s workers.

I want to root for her, but I just can’t.  I liked the story, and in a way it reminded me so much of Elephants, in that it seemed like a period drama. This village, and the inn and the people who work there, eventually accept her. And it’s there that the real story begins.  After hours – and even days – spent waiting for her husband to return, she finds herself.  She starts to help around the inn, she learns to cook, and survives air raids.  She becomes more real and relatable.

I really tried to like the story, and in some parts I did. I had so much hope that this would be good, as I had loved Elephants so much.  Even after her experiences at the inn, she begins to change, but my opinion of her didn’t.