May your Feet take you where your Heart wants to Go

It’s getting warmer outside and this is the perfect time to get out and go running, walking, and hiking. As you bring out the shorts and t-shirts, don’t forget to take care of your feet as well. As your most important running/walking/hiking tool, your feet need the right footwear to support you in comfort mile after mile. Every foot (or set of feet) is different, so there are no absolute rules about shoes. I highly recommend shopping in person at a specialized running or outdoor adventure store where the sales people are trained in fitting you for shoes. These trained professionals can help you find the best shoe for your particular feet and needs. However, there are a few generalized tips I would like to share:

MILEAGE


Most running, walking and hiking shoes are designed to last 300-500 miles. If during the pandemic you have been walking 3-5 miles a day (good for you!), that means you will need to replace your shoes after 100 days. That’s about every 3 months! Rather than buying a new pair every 3 months, I recommend buying two pairs at the time (or more!) and rotating which ones you wear. Your feet will thank you for rotating your shoes regularly. And not only will your feet feel more comfortable, you will also have an easier transition when it is time to break in new shoes. It is never advisable to wear out one pair completely and then start with a brand new pair. Not only do I rotate the shoes I run in regularly, I also rotate my shoes in and out of the “run rotation”. What do I mean by that? Obviously, I use my best (read: newest) shoes for running. But before they wear out, but when they are no longer the “best” (say when they get to 250 miles of wear), I stop running in them and wear them while doing errands or casual walking.  So the last 150-200 miles are less intense on my feet (and the shoe) than the first 250.

FIT


As I mentioned earlier, every foot is different, but you will want to have plenty of room for your feet to expand while running, walking, and hiking. You may have heard about runners’ getting black toe nails. This occurs when the toe bumps up against the shoe mile after mile. Make sure you have plenty of space for your toes to move inside the shoe. When shopping for shoes, try them on at the end of the day, preferably after you’ve done some walking or running already so that you get the truest fit possible. Do not try on running shoes first thing in the day. Also, especially if you have wide feet like I do, look for a shoe with a wide toe box. That will also help make sure your toes are not pushing against the front of the shoe. Remember that since you will want room for your feet to expand while running, walking, and hiking, these shoes will typically be a larger size than your dress shoes. I typically wear a size 6 dress shoe and a size 8 running shoe. A good rule of thumb (pun intended) is to have at least a thumb’s length from the end of your toe to the end of your shoe.

FEATURES

Aside from a good fit, there are a few additional features to look for when picking a shoe for running, walking, or hiking:

  • Breathability.  Sweat creates chaffing and blisters. If you have never experienced chaffing and blisters, trust me that you never want to! Good shoes are designed to make sure there is enough airflow around your feet to wick away sweat. Also, some trail running shoes and hiking shoes are specifically designed to let water drain out of them, which is a huge benefit if you run through puddles or across streams. This feature also helps a lot when running in rain.
  • Cushion.  How much cushion you should have is primarily a matter of preference. Personally, I am more comfortable with minimalist shoes that have very little cushion because I have found that literally “feeling the road” helps my running stride. But that is just my preference and yours may be different.  Many (ok, maybe “most”) people prefer more cushion than less, especially as they increase mileage. I recommend trying out the shoes in person to see which level of cushion feels best to you.
  • Support.  Shoes can offer support in the arch as well as minimize pronation (ankles rolling inward) and supination (ankles rolling outward). If you already know that you supinate (your shoes are more worn on the outside of the heel than the inside), you will want to buy a “neutral” shoe. If you tend to pronate, you will want to buy a “motion control” shoe. If you are not sure what type of support you need (if any), I recommend visiting a specialized running or outdoor adventure store as I mentioned before. There they will ask you to run around the store or on a treadmill so that they can analyze your stride first-hand and better advise you on what type of shoe is best for you.

And finally, a word about price. Running, walking, and hiking are relatively inexpensive sports, which is a great thing. Unlike cycling, snowboarding, and other sports, they do not require a lot of gear. Nevertheless, I highly recommend investing in good quality running, walking and shoes. These shoes will typically cost you $100 or more at full price, not taking into account sales or clearance discounts. While that may seem daunting at first, your feet will thank you for making the investment in their care and comfort.

How Strong is Too Strong?

How strong should you be and can you be “too strong”? I ask this question because if you’ve been joining our daily walks, you know that I have been suffering from some pain in my hip for about two months now.  Since I wasn’t able to get rid of the pain with massage or foam rolling, I mentioned it to my doctor during my wellness visit. He suggested an x-ray to rule out any bone degradation (fortunately, there was none) and then prescribed physical therapy. I was happy about the physical therapy referral because I felt the pain was caused by a muscle imbalance (since we had ruled out any bone issues). I met with the physical therapist, she pinpointed the pain, and was quite effective at lessening it through targeted massage. Then I asked her what exercises I could do to make sure the pain did not reoccur by strengthening whatever muscle imbalance had caused the pain in the first place. She said “you are strong enough”. While I could have taken that as a compliment, I was rather taken aback by her comment. Can you ever be “strong enough”? That is like applying to a college or post-graduate program and not being accepted because you are “smart enough”. Seriously? How is that possible? You can always learn more and become smarter. And likewise, you can always be stronger.

Research shows that only 20 percent of women engage in resistance training two or more times a week. That number could and should be higher. Why? For one, we need to maintain our power. Women generally have a lower proportion of fast power-producing muscle fibers than men (though we typically have a greater proportion of endurance fibers). Therefore, strength training to build and maintain as much strength, power, and force is important, especially with age. We start losing muscle around age 40, if not earlier. That loss, especially of those powerful fast power fibers, becomes more pronounced during menopause as hormonal changes accelerate the loss of lean muscle mass independent of aging. Without intervention, you can lose up to 50 percent of your lean skeletal muscle mass by your 80th birthday.

For some of us, that may seem like a long time from now, but those changes do not happen overnight. The more muscle you build now, the stronger, more resilient, and better you will be as you age. You will also be healthier. Research shows that resistance training is just as, if not more, effective than aerobic exercise at reducing the risk for chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, as well as general disability. And it is never too late to start.  A study of more than 12,500 women and men published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that those who did any amount of strength training on a weekly basis had a 40 to 70 percent reduced risk of developing heart attack, stroke, or death related to heart disease compared with individuals who did no strength training no matter how much aerobic exercise they did. 

Most importantly, strength training can help keep us independent throughout our life.

According to Dr. Stacy T. Sims, who specializes in sports nutrition for women, strength training keeps us independent by keeping our skeleton strong. Considering that nearly 20 percent of U.S. women 50 years and older have osteoporosis of the femur, neck, or lumbar spine, a strong skeleton is important. Weight training helps build and preserve that bone, no matter what your age. Research on premenopausal women aged 40-50 shows that even just six months of heavy resistance training improves bone mineral density of the femoral neck and lumbar vertebrae. Strength training also can help maintain bone mineral density in postmenopausal women and increase bone mineral density of the spine and hip in women with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis. A study where postmenopausal women did back strengthening exercises for two years showed that their risk for spinal compression fractures was 2.7 times lower than their peers who did no back strengthening exercise. And a study of high intensity resistance and impact (like plyometric) training improved markers of bone strength in postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass with no adverse effects, according to Dr. Sims. 

Resistance training is also good for your mental health. A meta-analysis that included more than 1,800 participants found that resistance training significantly reduced depression symptoms in women and men. In a Harvard study of older adults ages 60 to 84 with depression, 10 weeks of resistance training worked as an effective antidepressant. The more intensely they trained, the better they felt.

No matter your age or whether you are pre- peri- or postmenopausal, strength training should be a critical part of your training to stay strong for life.

Some Days Suck

I am writing this as I am getting ready to go out for this week’s long run. I am preparing for the Avenue of the Giants Marathon on May 1st and since the race is exactly one month away, I am at the peak of my training mileage. As much as I am looking forward to running among the redwoods and as much as I want to be as prepared as possible, some days I just don’t feel like going out there an “doing it” (no offense to Nike intended). Marathon training spans many months during which motivation can easily ebb and flow. Today is one of those days when my motivation seems to be non-existent. Of course, my first thought then was…this would make a great blog post. Because it happens to EVERYONE.

Even Olympians and legends like ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek have these days too. Scott Jurek is a seven-time winner of the 100-mile Western States race.  As luck would have it, I am currently reading his book North, which chronicles his attempt to break the speed record for completing the almost 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. When you set out to run 50 miles a day for almost 50 days straight, you are bound to suffer from a lack of motivation from time to time, and Scott talks about just that in his book. But back to me for a moment (LOL)…

How do I deal with days that I just don’t “feel” it? I am no legend. No title or prize money is ever on the line for me. I am just a regular person who runs for fun. What happens when it is not as fun as I had hoped?

First, let’s distinguish because a day that sucks and chronic “suckiness” (yes, I just made that word up). Like the difference between chronic depression and having a bad day, I differentiate between losing my overall motivation and losing motivation for a day, several days or even a few weeks. Even the cheeriest among us have bad days. Chronic suckiness–when day after day, week after week, and month after month you don’t feel like getting out there–may mean you are burnt out and need a change for either your mental or physical well-being, or both. I encourage you to heed the signals your body and your mind are giving you. But I also encourage you to not give up too easily. Just because you are having a bad day, does not mean you are clinically depressed. And just because you do not feel like going out for your long run today (I am talking to myself here…) does not mean you need to throw in the towel altogether.

I am not going to lie to you, getting fit takes discipline. Discipline is different than motivation.

Motivation is what you want to do at any given moment. Discipline is what you do do at any given moment. Yup, it is time to put on the Big Girl Pants here. We all do things that are not necessarily what we want to do. For example, I often get up to walk the dog when I really just want to sleep in. That is the difference between discipline and motivation; and my pup Lucy appreciates that I am disciplined about her potty walks. Why am I disciplined about her potty walks? Well, for one, I do not like what happens to the carpets when I am not disciplined (you get it…).  Thinking about your fitness WHY also helps when motivation ebbs.

Why do you want to get fit? If you have not already identified your WHY, that may affect your ability to stick with it.  Personally, I want to stay fit because doing so will allow me to age gracefully and continue to do the things I enjoy, despite the fact that my birthdays keep coming. Your reasons may be different. Whenever I start working with a new client, we always start with identifying her WHY. For some, it is an upcoming epic journey such as snorkeling in the Galapagos, swimming with the dolphins in Bimini, or hiking the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu. For others, it is a more daily experience, such as being able to keep up with grandkids, reduce the effects of asthma, or reverse the trend toward diabetes. In his book, Scott talks a lot about his WHY and what keeps him going.

On these sucky days like today, I remember that it is not just about motivation. It is also about maintaining the discipline to reach my goal and knowing why that goal is important to me. So, if you will excuse me now, I am heading out for my long run…

Join Me!

The Spring Equinox is almost here, but as I write this it is a relatively cold, rainy day here in Northern California. Last weekend 6 ladies (and a few guys too) joined me at the Zion Half Marathon in Springdale, UT where we experienced snow, hail, rain, and clear blue skies all in the same day! Despite having to bundle up, we had a wonderful time and you can see pictures here and here and here. We had so much fun that I am looking forward to doing it again next year. Interested in joining me? Reply to this email to get on the list as more info becomes available. The event is walker-friendly and the trip to the iconic sites of Zion National Park are breathtakingly memorable.
 


In the meantime, I have some teaching events coming up that I thought you might be interested in. Next Friday, March 25th, I will be speaking at the Healer’s Connection at 9am Pacific, 12pm Eastern, 6am Hawaii. Learn more about my talk and register for free here.
 


And starting April 27th, I will be teaching a six week course on body mechanics–how to move the way your body is meant to move. With proper body mechanics you will be able to increase your strength and endurance to move with less pain and more joy. Aches and pains are not an inevitable result of “old age”. With proper body mechanics you can learn how to turn back the clock and relieve those aches and pains. Come join me to learn how to optimize your movement. This course is part of the HEALTH TRACK in Women of the World Network’s EMPOWER program. 

  • EMPOWER is a year-long coaching and support program for women who are ready to grow
  • EMPOWER is a year’s worth of holistic, small group coaching — completely customized to help you step into this next chapter with ease, energy and clarity. 


Learn more about EMPOWER here.
Or, if you only want to participate in my part of the program, contact me directly for a special, private offer only for our community of Women in Motion. 

Register for EMPOWER here.  
Use SPECIAL CODE  Empower22 to get $1,200 off.  

 

The Truth About Carbs

Carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients found in our food. The other two are protein and fat.  According to Merriam-Webster, a macronutrient is “a chemical element or substance (such as potassium or protein) that is essential in relatively large amounts to the growth and health of a living organism”. So, if carbohydrates are a macronutrient—meaning our body needs “relatively large amounts” in order to be healthy—why has low-carb become such a popular diet trend? Recently, Dr. Stacy Sims addressed this very question on her blog and I thought you would be interested in what she had to say.

Stacy T. Sims, MSC, PHD, author of ROAR, is a forward-thinking international exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist who aims to revolutionize exercise nutrition and performance for women. She has directed research programs at Stanford, AUT University, and the University of Waikato, focusing on female athlete health and performance and advocates for improving research on all women.

According to Dr. Sims,

FEMALE ATHLETES NEED CARBOHYDRATES
Men do, too. Research shows another downside to low-carb training.

Women perform best in a fueled state. That means eating carbohydrates. That shouldn’t be a radical concept. Carbs are the preferred fuel source for our brain; they’re necessary to fuel high intensity efforts, and they improve exercise performance for any efforts lasting longer than 45 minutes.

Yet the fear and villainization of carbs will not stop.

I blame the low fat debacle when everyone decided it was fat that was making people gain weight and become metabolically unhealthy. So we were told to eat “fat free” and manufacturers just removed the fat and poured sugar into everything to make it taste okay without fat in it. The result: a public health disaster. People were eating rice cakes instead of avocados and sugary jelly instead of nut butter on their toast. The population gained more weight and metabolic health suffered.

So then the pendulum swung way too far in the other direction and everyone became carb-phobic, convinced that it’s the carbs that are causing all the problems, when it’s really this kind of extreme thinking that is problematic. Especially in active women, whose metabolism is more sensitive to dramatic restrictions because our hormones are designed for survival of the species.

That’s why intermittent fasting may help men get lean, but makes it harder for women to budge their body composition. It elevates the stress hormone cortisol, which signals for the body to hold onto body fat and to turn down the resting metabolic rate.

Women especially need carbohydrate. When our brain perceives that we’re not getting enough nutrition, especially carbohydrate, we have a marked reduction in the production of kisspeptin, a neuropeptide that’s responsible for sex hormones and endocrine and reproductive function, which also plays a significant role in maintaining healthy glucose levels, appetite regulation, and body composition. Less kisspeptin stimulation can increase our appetite and reduce our sensitivity to insulin. 

(CF Note: Low insulin sensitivity is known as insulin resistance. The cells do not absorb as much glucose, which might lead to excessively high blood sugar levels. Without management, this can progress to type 2 diabetes.)

If you need another reason to eat enough carbohydrates to fuel your exercise, training, and competition, here’s another: It helps maintain a healthy immune and stress response to exercise and may help you avoid slipping into iron deficiency and anemia.

To help illustrate that point, I’m going to do something I rarely, if ever, do: cite male-based research. A study published in the March issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that even short-term adherence to a low-carb diet had negative impacts on male athletes, eliciting small, but significant unfavorable iron, immune, and stress responses to exercise.

Specifically, the study included 28 elite male race walkers who were participating in a training camp. The study included two six-day phases. During the first phase, all of the athletes consumed a high carbohydrate energy diet, where they ate about 65 percent of their calories from carbs and 40 calories per kilogram of fat-free mass per day. The race walkers were then assigned to one of three dietary interventions for another 6 day period. One group continued to eat the high-carb training diet. The second consumed a low carb high fat (LCHF) or keto-style diet, which provided about 5 percent of calories from carbs and 40 calories per kilogram of fat-free mass a day. The third group ate a low energy availability diet, which consisted of 60 percent of energy from carbohydrates, 25 percent from protein and 15 percent from fat, and 15 calories per kilogram of fat-free mass per day.

The athletes trained as usual and completed a 25k laboratory race walking test on the six-day of each dietary phase, where the researchers examined their iron regulatory, immune, and inflammatory responses to the exercise. In the end, the athletes who started following the LCHF diet had a higher inflammatory and hepcidin (which is linked to inflammation) response after exercise than they did during the high carb diet phase. That’s important because hepcidin makes it harder to absorb iron after exercise. It already stays elevated between three and six hours post-exercise in pre-menopausal women and up to 24 hours in post-menopausal women. The higher it is and longer it remains elevated, the more problematic it is for iron absorption. 

The low-carb high-fat dieters also had higher levels of cortisol and lowered immune resistance and were significantly slower (7 minutes and 28 seconds slower!) on their 25K laboratory race-walk test than they had been on the original diet.

The LEA athletes didn’t see these changes, because they were at least fueled with adequate carbohydrates. That’s not to say that LEA is a “good” thing. We know it’s not. But it highlights the importance of carbohydrates—even for men. I’m putting this here, because I hear again and again how these diets work so great for men, so they should work for women. But in cases like this one, they aren’t working so well for them either.

The study did not include women (and I certainly wish it had), but it did note that “women should also be explored, since it may be that women show greater health and physiological perturbations to LEA than their male counterparts.” 

As mentioned above, we also have greater physiological disruption in response to low carbohydrate intake than men. So on top of all those metabolic disruptions, this research shows that cutting carbs can mess with your iron regulation—something I’ve been talking about for years and that female athletes who already struggle with low iron and anemia really do not need.

I feel like a broken record on this topic sometimes, but social media is filled with people selling extreme diets and quick fixes. Many women—even athletic women—are still afraid of carbohydrates today the way they were of fat 15 years ago. If you’re one of them, I’d invite you to ask yourself if cutting out carbs today makes any more sense than cutting out fat did then. When we stopped eating fat, we robbed ourselves of satiety and vital nutrients from whole foods like nuts, nut butter, avocado, and olive oil. When we cut out carbohydrates, we rob ourselves of prebiotic fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory nutrients and phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables, and the energy we need to exercise and recover.

Restricting and demonizing an entire food group doesn’t make any more sense now than it did then. If you’re still struggling with eating carbohydrates, a good place to start is eating them around your exercise and training. That is when your body is most primed to use them, so you’ll feel and perform better and it will help you avoid slipping into low energy availability even if you’re eating fewer of them other times of the day.

Love Quotes to Ponder

As I am thinking about this weekend…Galantine’s Day, pre-Valentine’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, I have a lot of thoughts going through my mind. The first thought is “What fool decided to plan a big football game the day before Valentine’s Day”? What a recipe for disaster! Super Bowl Sunday used to be the first Sunday in February until the NFL decided to add an extra game. Big mistake if you ask me. I hope all the ads remind men to not forget tomorrow’s ubiquitous Hallmark Holiday. And as much as I know it’s a Hallmark Holiday, it seems somehow important despite the fact that I have not been in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day for most of my adult life. It seems so important that the 2nd Generation Hallmark Holiday, Galantine’s Day, is becoming just as popular, even among women who are in a romantic relationship. I like the idea of Galantine’s Day. It is a way to celebrate my platonic girlfriends. My two marriages latest a total of 6 years combined, but some of my relationships with girlfriends have last 30 years or more and are still going strong. I am so grateful for my female friendships! Thank you to all of you ladies for being among my girlfriends! But this Galantine’s Day weekend, I’d like to focus on my very best friend in the whole world: my body.

My body and I have been together literally since the day I was born. Funny, eh? It’s true, and yet so often we don’t even think about this important relationship.  Without our bodies, we would have no way to exist in this world or to move about within it. This weekend, I would like to offer you some love quotes for your body:

I look at you and see the rest of my life in front of my eyes

Your body is the vessel that literally carries your through each day. Its health and well-being allow you to move throughout the world each and every day. It is no surprise then that your body’s health and well-being have a direct impact on what you will be able to accomplish with the rest of your life. Think about that for a moment whenever you are faced with a decision to take care of yourself.

The most powerful thing anyone can say to us is what we say to ourselves

Growing up, I believed that my body was not as strong as other people’s bodies. Looking back on that, it was, of course, a self-fulfilling prophecy. By not participating in physical activity, I kept my body from developing strength and stamina. One of the greatest lessons I learned later in life was that just like I could train my brain with school and books and learning from others, I could train my body as well. Walking, hiking, running, cycling, swimming and strength training all helped me develop the strength and stamina that I envied in other people. All I had to do was try. And yet, by convincing myself that that trying would be futile, I prevented myself from learning this lesson earlier in life.

Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love

According to author Heidi Priebe, “to love someone long-term is to attend a thousand funerals of the people they used to be. But it is not our job to hold anyone accountable to the people they used to be. It is our job to travel with them between each version and to honor what emerges along the way.” We all have good days and bad days. So do our bodies. Check in with your body just like you would with a dear friend. And if your body (your very best friend and life partner, after all) needs something, be sure to attend to that need. Because that is what good friends and partners do.

A Girl & Her Shoes

Congratulations on making it through the month of January! 2022 is in definitely in full swing. How are you doing with your fitness goals? Have you been reaching your daily step goal? How are your feet feeling? Are you wondering what type of shoes are best for running, walking, and hiking? Every foot (or set of feet) is different, so there are no absolute rules about shoes. Therefore, I highly recommend shopping in person at a specialized running or outdoor adventure store where the sales people are trained in fitting you for shoes. These trained professionals can help you find the best shoe for your particular feet and needs. However, there are a few tips I would like to share:

FIT


While every foot is different, you will want to have plenty of room for your feet to expand, regardless of what brand or type of shoes you buy. The #1 problem I see among walkers, hikers and runners is people wearing shoes that are too small! Remember Goldilocks? Your fitness shoes should be a full size to even one and a half sizes bigger than your regular shoes. Yup, your feet are going to swell as you engage in activity and you want to make sure you have enough room in your fitness shoes to account for that. You may have heard about runners’ getting black toe nails. This occurs when the toe bumps up against the shoe mile after mile. Make sure you have plenty of space for your toes to move inside the shoe. When shopping for shoes, try them on at the end of the day, preferably after you’ve done some walking already so that you get the truest fit possible. Do not try on running, walking or hiking shoes first thing in the day. Also, especially if you have wide feet like I do, look for a shoe with a wide toe box. That will also help make sure your toes are not pushing against the front of the shoe. A good rule of thumb (pun intended) is to have at least a thumb’s length from the end of your toe to the end of your shoe.

MILEAGE


Most running, walking and hiking shoes are designed to last 300-500 miles. If walk about 3 a day (good for you!), that means you will need to replace your shoes after 100 days. That’s about every 3 months! Rather than buying a new pair every 3 months, I recommend buying two pairs at the time (or more!) and rotating which ones you wear. Your feet will thank you for rotating your shoes regularly. And not only will your feet feel more comfortable, you will also have an easier transition when it is time to break in new shoes. It is never advisable to wear out one pair completely and then start with a brand new pair. Not only do I rotate the shoes I run in regularly, I also rotate my shoes in and out of the “run rotation”. What do I mean by that? Obviously, I use my best (read: newest) shoes for running. But before they wear out, but when they are no longer the “best” (say when they get to 250 miles of wear), I stop running in them and wear them while doing errands or casual walking.  As a result, the last 150-200 miles are less intense on my feet (and the shoe) than the first 250.

FEATURES


Aside from a good fit, there are a few additional features to look for when picking a shoe for running, walking, or hiking:

  • Breathability.  Sweat creates chaffing and blisters. If you have never experienced chaffing and blisters, trust me that you never want to! Good shoes are designed to make sure there is enough airflow around your feet to wick away sweat. Also, some trail running shoes and hiking shoes are specifically designed to let water drain out of them, which is a huge benefit if you run or hike through puddles or across streams. This feature also helps a lot when running in rain.
  • Cushion.  How much cushion you should have is primarily a matter of preference. Personally, I am more comfortable with minimalist shoes that have very little cushion because I have found that literally “feeling the road” helps my running stride. But that is just my preference and yours may be different.  Many (ok, maybe “most”) people prefer more cushion than less, especially as they increase mileage. I recommend trying out the shoes in person to see which level of cushion feels best to you.
  • Support.  Shoes can offer support in the arch as well as minimize pronation (ankles rolling inward) and supination (ankles rolling outward). If you already know that you supinate (your shoes are more worn on the outside of the heel than the inside), you will want to buy a “neutral” shoe. If you tend to pronate, you will want to buy a “motion control” shoe. If you are not sure what type of support you need (if any), I recommend visiting a specialized running or outdoor adventure store. There they will ask you to run around the store or on a treadmill so that they can analyze your stride first-hand and better advise you on what type of shoe is best for you.

And finally, a word about price. Running, walking, and hiking are relatively inexpensive sports, which is a great thing. Unlike cycling, snowboarding, and other sports, they do not require a lot of gear. Nevertheless, I highly recommend investing in good quality running, walking and hiking shoes. These shoes will typically cost you $100 or more at full price, not taking into account sales or clearance discounts. While that may seem daunting at first, your feet will thank you for making the investment in their care and comfort.

Learn to Love your Winter Workout

I lived in Seattle for six years and can tell you from personal experience that seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is REAL. Even here in California, many of us feel a little down on rainy days. Fortunately for our depression (but unfortunately for our water supply), the rain here does not usually last more than a handful of days, so we do not spend much time thinking about it.  Nevertheless, the effect the winter has on our psyche is real, and it affects us whether we realize it or not. And one of the best ways to combat this and perk yourself up during the winter months is to go outside and getting moving.

You may be thinking to yourself, but why would I go outside if it’s cold, rainy, snowy, etc? It can admittedly feel punishing, but training in winter can be extremely beneficial both physically and mentally. Studies show that exercising in cold weather can increase the body’s metabolism and fat-burning ability. Getting into nature at any time of year lowers your risk for depression and increases your intake of immune-boosting vitamin D.

But working out should not feel like drudgery. If you know me well, you know I always say “I GET to workout” rather than “I HAVE to workout”. So how do you make getting outdoors in the winter a positive experience? Here are a few tips:

START YOUR WORKOUT INDOORS

Do your warm up routine indoors, before you face the cold and rain. The warmer your body is before you get out the door, the more pleasant it will be. Need a warmup routine? Check out mine here.

LAYER UP

There is no bad weather, only bad clothing. There is actually a technique to dressing to stay warm and dry while working out: layering. Your clothing should include these 3 layers:

  • Base layer: the layer closest to your skin which wicks away sweat
  • Mid-layer: the insulating layer which retains your body heat to protect you from the cold
  • Outer layer: a shell which shields you from wind and rain

Learn more about layering here.

PROTECT YOURSELF

Do not forget about your extremities. Important as it is to layer for core warmth, covering extremities like ears, heads, and hands is vital, since blood flow is quickly reduced in cold air. Hats and gloves do not need to bulky to do their job. Check out Buff Beanies for some lightweight options that will keep you warm and toasty. If it’s raining, I like to add a moisture-wicking hat with a bill to keep the rain off my face. If your hat is a bright color, that will help you stay visible to traffic as well (two uses in one accessory!).  

BE SAFE

Always check the weather report and make sure you are not going to get stuck in a storm. And even though I usually prefer to run first thing in the morning, I leave the house a little later in the winter so that the sun has some time to warm up and thaw out the roads. Slipping on ice is a real concern, so during the winter I try to get out mid-day and run the when I can see the roads and when the temperature is a bit warmer. If there is ice in your area, consider microspikes to help with traction. Always wear bright colored clothing to make you visible (neon colors are my favorite!) and carry a headlamp if you may be out in the dark.

GO EASY

While winter is a great time to get moving, remember not every day (or every season) has to set a personal record. For most of us, winter runs, hikes and walks are maintenance miles that can set you up for more success when spring rolls around. The key is consistency. Keep moving during the winter and your fitness will continue to improve setting you up for more gains in the spring and summer.

Welcome 2022!

It’s a new year! A chance for a fresh start. I love it! Here’s hoping that this year brings you only the best. And here are some tips to help you stay healthy and motivated in the coming year:

  • Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. It will set you up to stay hydrated all day long. Try to drink at least the equivalent of half your body weight (in oz) throughout the day. Proper hydration will help your body function more effectively and it will also help you think more clearly.
  • Get moving. Walks are a great way to get you (and your pets) a few extra steps each day. It’s also a great way to plan scheduled breaks into you busy day.
  • Set a goal of trying one new thing a month. With so many how-to videos on the internet, we can virtually teach ourselves how to do anything. How about trying some different forms of staying active, like yoga, stretching, strength training? There are so many options that there is no reason to let your routine get boring.
  • Get outside and experience nature. Even if you only go out for only 5 minutes, a little fresh-air goes a LONG way. Being out in nature has been shown to improve your mood and your outlook on life.
  • Create a sleep routine. Unplug from electronics at least 1-2 hours before going to bed. Sleep helps our health in so many ways, so try to make sure you set yourself up for a restful night. Your daytime self with thank you!
  • Start a gratitude practice. Set the tone by writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day before you go to bed. Despite all the less-than-pleasant and crazy things going on these days, there really is a lot to be thankful for. I am especially grateful that you are part of our community!

If you need some accountability to get out for a walk, a run, a hike, or just to take a break in your day, you can join the WIM group Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for 30 minutes to get out, get some fresh and give yourself a mental and physical break during your day. I hope to see you there! You can register to receive the zoom link here.

And if you are looking for some activities you can do anywhere, anytime in just a few minutes each day, here is a recap of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Challenge to get you started:

Week 12
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1