Happy Memorial Day

I am always somewhat uncomfortable saying “Happy Memorial Day”. Memorial Day is dedicated to soldiers who left for battle and never came back, which is not something to be especially happy about. However, those brave men and women fought for the freedoms we have today, and of course, that is something to celebrate. As I am pondering this conundrum, I am also remembering my first and only visit to the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA. I wish I could tell you that I ran 26 miles from Washington DC, past the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument, to Arlington to pay my respects to fallen Marines, but that would not really be true. The finish line of the Marine of Corps Marathon is just steps from the memorial sculpture. But that fact does not diminish the awe I felt when I actually saw it.
 
According the National Park Service website, the story behind the sculpture is as follows:

The tiny island of Iwo Jima lies 660 miles south of Tokyo. Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that forms the narrow southern tip of the island, rises 550 feet to dominate the ocean around it. US troops had recaptured most of the other islands in the Pacific Ocean that the Japanese had taken in 1941 and 1942. In 1945 Iwo Jima became a primary objective in American plans to bring the Pacific campaign to a successful conclusion.

On the morning of February 19, 1945, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions invaded Iwo Jima after an ineffective 72-hour bombardment. The 28th Regiment of the 5th Division, was ordered to capture Mount Suribachi. They reached the base of the mountain on the afternoon of February 21 and, by nightfall the next day, had almost completely surrounded it. On the morning of February 23, Marines of Company E, 2nd Battalion, started the tortuous climb up the rough terrain to the top. At about 10:30 am men all over the island were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying from atop Mount Suribachi. That afternoon, when the slopes were clear of enemy resistance, a second, larger flag was raised in the same location.

The sculpture is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken on that day by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press. Thirty-two foot high figures are shown raising a 60-foot bronze flagpole. The flag flies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by presidential proclamation. The figures stand on a rock slope above a granite base. The entire memorial is about 78 feet tall. The entire cost of the statue ($850,000) was donated by US Marines, friends of the Marine Corps, and members of the Naval Service. No public funds were used for this memorial.

 
I find the part about the private funding of the memorial to be especially poignant. The lives we honor on Memorial Day were private lives. They were not public figures, but rather private individuals who paid the ultimate price for our ability to live in freedom. They were people with families: parents, spouses and children. Those families too paid an enormous price for our freedom.


The United States Marine Corps War Memorial represents our gratitude to Marines and those who have fought beside them. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated the memorial in a ceremony on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps, “in honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.”
 
I had the honor of having my picture taken in front of the memorial in 2013, as did all the approximately 24,000 Marine Corps Marathon finishers. I remember that race. I was not feeling well—I had a bad cold or some other seasonal respiratory ailment. The weather was frosty in Washington, DC at that time of year—much colder than I was used to training in Northern CA. And I had just run the Berlin Marathon 28 days earlier. I was planning to take it slowly—even slower than the 14-minute miles I usually ran. The race had a seven-hour time limit (an average of 16 minutes/mile) so I figured it would be OK to run/walk a 15 min/mile pace and still finish before the cutoff.

Early on race morning (around 5am Eastern time, which felt like 2am to my West-Coast body, despite what my watch said), in the cold and in the dark, I approached the starting corrals. As I found my place at the back of the crowd of runners together with the other expected 7-hour finishers, I overheard people talking nervously about “beating the bridge”. “Beat what bridge?”, I thought to myself.  I had not read anything about “beating a bridge” on the website when I registered for the race (or if I did, I had since forgotten about it). It turns out, that while you have seven hours to finish the whole race, you need to reach the bridge at mile 20 within five hours or they pull you off the course. This has to do with permitting and how long they can close the bridge to vehicle traffic. With only 1 hour to go before the race start, I realized my plan was in jeopardy. I quickly discovered that if I ran a comfortable 15 minute/mile, I might miss the cutoff and not have the opportunity to finish the race. And the race was starting…now…

So off I went, trying to maintain a sub-14 minute/mile pace, more than 30 seconds faster than my average pace of 14:31 in Berlin, when I was feeling healthy, not suffering from a respiratory ailment and had not run 26.2 miles less than 4 weeks prior. I do not recommend this methodology! In fact, this is an excellent example of very, very poor planning. To make a long, painful story short (actually, it was like a 4-hour, 59-minute story), I beat the bridge with just seconds to spare. The last 6.2 miles seemed to take an eternity as I walked slowly, feeling dejected and physically nauseous across the bridge to Arlington and the finish line.

This was no ordinary finish line. A Marine flag bearer in dress blues waited just before the final hill that would take runners to the finish line. When he crossed the finish line carrying the American flag, the race would be over. And anyone behind him would not be considered and official finisher and would DNF (“Did Not Finish”) the race. As I walked toward him with that sad-but-relieved-to-be finished face, he did what Marines do.  He told me to run!  I thought to myself, “Was that supposed to be encouragement, or was that an order?”  I told him that I had a few minutes left. And believe me, I was planning on making the most of them—I was completely spent! He then pretended to step onto the course in front of me, threatening me with a DNF, and encouraging me to give my best effort up the hill, which I did. And when I reached the top, I saw not one, but two rows of Marines (both men and women!), on either side of the approach to the finish line arch. As I ran toward the finish line, I ran between the two rows of Marines who were applauding, cheering, and giving high-fives to each of us as we finished the race, crossed the finish line arch, received our medals, and approached the Iwo Jima Memorial.
 
Races are not easy, and freedom is not free. And that is what is the Iwo Jima Memorial symbolizes. Thank you to all who have served, and may the memories of those who did not come back be blessed forever.

A Different Approach to Running

Ladies who ran track or cross country in high school and have participated in my programs have mentioned that my approach to running is completely different that what they learned from their high school coaches. For me, running is about wonder, gratitude, and self-acceptance.  

While I participate in many official races (or at least I did pre-COVID, and I’m hoping to get back to it soon!), for me participating in a race not at all about competing against the other runners. It is not about going “fast”.  I see racing as participating in a really fun, outdoor party. Races are social environments full of people enjoying themselves, making friends, and reaching for their own personal bests. For me, racing has nothing to do with winning the overall race or even winning my age group.

For me, running, walking and hiking are also about mindfulness, self-care, and creating a sense of calm in my very hectic life. According to Kriste Peoples, who is both an outdoor guide and women’s running coach as well as a meditation teacher, “Mindfulness invites us back to the experience in our bodies.” Peoples believes that mindfulness can help any runner get in tune with his or her body and stay immersed in the moment.

I recently read an article by Jenny McCoy in the online edition of Runners’ World magazine about Peoples’s approach to mindful running. The article really resonated with me, and I want to share with you some of the concepts she discusses:

Mindfulness Is… Curiosity

The first tenet of mindful running, walking, and hiking for Peoples is encouraging yourself to be inquisitive about what is happening when you run, walk and hike both around you and within you. This, in turn, can cultivate a broader sense of awareness, wonder, and appreciation for the world.  Sometimes it can seem that the whole world is falling apart. Every day we are exposed to disruptive politics, violence, and natural disasters. But mindful running, walking and hiking can help us put all that aside—even just temporarily—and focus on what is going on inside of us and around us.

Mindfulness Is… Presence

Another core tenet of mindful running, walking and hiking is simply accepting what is.

Peoples gives the example of running in cold weather, where a natural reaction might be to clench up, resist the inherent discomfort, and think, “This is terrible.” A mindful approach, by contrast, involves acknowledging that it is cold—and then relaxing into the experience. This small change in mindset can make a huge difference in your experience of running, walking and hiking. Instead of spending the whole time wishing it were 75 degrees and sunny, the mindful runner, walker and hiker notices how beautiful the trees look when they’re dusted in snow, or how strong his or her quads feel tackling a big hill. Learning to accept what is can also help you develop more self-confidence in your ability to roll with life’s “punches”.

Mindfulness Is… Freedom

Beyond helping you simply enjoy running, walking and hiking more, mindfulness can “help free us from self-imposed rigors that we don’t really need to be abiding by,” says Peoples. Despite what you might think when you scroll social media or observe other people in your community, there is no “right way” to run, walk or hike just as there are no rules on what an athlete “should be”.  For example, consider 250-pound ultramarathoner Mirna Valerio. Valerio is a very successful trail runner and all-around athlete that defies every traditional stereotype. In her own words, “[she is] good with [her] big body.”

Mindful running, walking and hiking can be an excellent form of self-care. Engaging in these activities can help you focus better, cultivate a sense of calm and well-being, and increase your self-confidence as well as your strength, stamina, and joy. I encourage you to give it a try!

Goldilocks’s Running Shoes

Remember Goldilocks? She broke into the Bear Family’s house, ate their breakfasts, sat in their chairs and then tried out their beds. The first bed was too hard, the second bed was too soft, and the third bed was….well…you know…

How are your shoes? Are they just right, or not really? Too hard? Too soft? Too small? Our feet change over time and the style of shoes you have been wearing for years may not feel as comfortable as they used to feel. Not all running shoes are the same, which is a great thing because, neither are we.

Two different trends in running (and walking) shoes are maximal and minimal shoe styles.

Maximal Running Shoes

Two longtime mountain runners from Salomon footwear, started HOKA One One in 2010 based on what they’d found spending time in the mountains –full suspension mountain bikes, oversized tennis rackets and oversized skis provide a better opportunity to find the “sweet spot” that would maximize performance through stability and comfort.

HOKA shoes have more than twice the amount of cushioning compared to a standard shoe, which is designed to provide a broader base of support for shock absorption. The foot can sink a bit into the shoe rather than just sitting on top of it; and the shoes are also designed with a bit of a curve, called the metarocker, to assist with proper foot landing and improve performance.

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Minimal Running Shoes

After the release of the book Born to Run, many runners became interested in barefoot running, which was suggested as a way to make our feet stronger and therefore, make runners less prone to injury. However, since most of us live the 21st Century-City-Life where broken glass and other dangerous obstacles are things we encounter regularly, minimalist shoes with a very thin, flat, foot-shaped sole offer a more practical take on barefoot running.

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Neither maximal nor minimal shoes have true long-term studies to back any claims they actually prevent injury. Nevertheless, both styles have tons of convinced and converted followers. Personally, I’m in Camp Minimalist. I love how they give me immediate feedback on the effectiveness of my gait, which allows me to improve my form regularly. That is my personal preference but, as with any trend, you need to figure out what works best for you.

When Should You Try a New Shoe Model?

According to Amanda Brooks, running coach and owner of Run to The Finish, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you suffering from repeat injuries that physical therapy isn’t resolving? It may be time to try a new shoe.
  • Have you been wearing the same model for years and years? Bodies change, be open to trying something new.
  • Are you running personal bests injury-free? Don’t change.
  • Have you lost weight? Gained weight? Changed your other workouts? Anything that might have caused a shift in your body could change your running gait and thus your trusty old shoe might not be your best choice now.

At the end of the day, no shoe alone (no matter how technologically advanced) is going to make you injury-free. To reduce your risk of injury, you should have a program that involves a well-developed, smart training plan, cross training, and strength training to keep you running and walking strong. But finding the right shoe that helps you feel good when you walk and run is definitely a step in the right direction!

How to Prevent Shin Splints

Do your shins throb and ache after your daily run, walk or hike?  

If you have shin splints (technically called medial tibial stress syndrome), you might notice tenderness, soreness or pain along the inner side of your shinbone and mild swelling in your lower leg. At first, the pain might stop when you stop exercising. Eventually, however, the pain can be continuous and might progress to a stress reaction or stress fracture. This a result of stress on your shinbone and the connective tissues that attach muscles to your bones that causes them to get inflamed and painful.

Shin splints are often the result of

  • Overpronation — when the impact of a step makes your foot’s arch collapse
  • Shoes that don’t fit well or provide good support
  • Skipping the dynamic warmup exercise or cooldown stretches
  • Weak ankles, hips, or core muscles

These are all common problems and, fortunately, they are easily solvable.

However, the most common cause on shin splints is an abrupt change in intensity or sudden increase in the distance of a workout schedule. Muscles are forced to work harder, which can lead to inflammation of the lower leg muscles and even those that are used in lifting the foot. A change in terrain or surface can also influence whether or not you experience shin splints. Soft terrain such as dirt trails is always the easiest on shin splints while hard concrete is undeniably the worst. If you do plan to run or walk on concrete, make sure to adjust the distance and frequency of your runs and walks to ensure you are not over-doing it.  If you can choose a different terrain, even better!

The best remedy for shin splints is rest. While you are healing, feel free to take up a no-impact activity that won’t aggravate your shin splints while they heal, for example swimming or cycling.  However, if your shin splints don’t get better, or if they come back, your doctor may suggest you see a physical therapist. They can treat issues in your legs or the way you move that could be the cause of the problem. A therapist can also help ease the pain and guide your return to more activity. Your doctor can also check to make sure you don’t have tiny cracks in your tibia, commonly called a stress fracture.

But of course, the very best solution to shin splints is prevention!

Stretching and practicing correct biomechanics are two of the most basic ways to prevent the development of shin splints. Calf strengthening and calf stretches are especially important. Tight calves pull on the tibia, which then causes pain in the shin. Remember, if you want to prevent having tight calves – you need to stretch, stretch, stretch!

And don’t forget about your shoes! It’s a great idea to have several pairs of good athletic shoes, and regularly rotate the pair you use. Having at least two pairs of shoes “in rotation” and any given time help you avoid stress on your shins and joints. Remember that running and walking shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles. And the harder the surfaces you run and walk on (i.e. concrete) the more likely you will need new shoes at 300 miles versus 500.  

5 Lessons to Learn from Fitness Failure

Fitness journeys are almost never linear.  Ups and downs in a fitness journey are as predictable as ups and downs in life. Instead of thinking of fitness backslides as failures, consider them building blocks for the healthy habits that will help you be even more successful in your lifelong fitness journey. Below are five lessons you can learn from making exercise a habit.

Learn to Embrace Failure (and Even Strive for It)

If you never fail, how will you know what your current limits are? And how will you know when you eventually break through them? So many of us (myself definitely included!) sandbag ourselves by not wanting to see how far we can actually go by reaching to the point of failure. Maybe it is because we were taught when we were young that failure was “bad” and something to be avoided. But that is not true. Failure just means that you tried as hard as you could and went as far as you could go FOR NOW. Setting goals and developing a plan to reach them is a way a to learn to eventually break through that failure in the future. Albert Einstein is quoted as having said “if you have never failed, you have never tried anything new”.

Learn to Adapt

Not all plans work. Just because you set a goal and have a plan, does not mean you will succeed. In her book, A Woman Makes a Plan, 71 year-old supermodel Maye Musk (mother of entrepreneur Elon and two other children) gives the following advice: “If your plan isn’t working, make a new plan”.  Learning to adapt is important not only in fitness, but in life. Learning to adapt makes us stronger and more successful individuals. If what you are currently doing is not working for you (in fitness or otherwise), it may be time to try something new.

Learn to Prioritize

Instead of getting overwhelmed, learn how to work on one thing at a time. There are so many things to learn when trying to acquire a new habits and skills. Take one step at the time. Have you ever tried to get to from the bottom to the top of a flight of stairs in one step? We all know it does not work that way. You have to step on each individual step to get to the top of the staircase. Trying to skip steps (both literally and figuratively) will dramatically increase your chances of injury.

Learn to Listen to Your Body

Our bodies talk to us all the time. Often, we interpret what they say as “I can’t do this” or “I’m too old” or “I’m too out of shape”. But what if our interpretation is wrong? What if what they really are saying is in fact tips to help us do better, feel younger, and get into better shape? Your body know what it needs. Maybe when it talks to you it is trying to communicate what it needs.  

My cat Jake has a habit of nipping at my calf when he wants something. It is a super annoying (and sometimes painful) habit, I hate it, and I am doing everything I can to teach him to abandon the habit. However, I must admit, that after he nips at me (and he only ever does it once at the time), I start paying more attention to him and trying to figure out what he needs. While getting nipped may be very unpleasant for me, it is very effective for him. He eventually gets what he wants!

So maybe that back pain you have been experiencing is your body’s way of telling you that you need to strengthen your core muscles. Maybe that pain in the bottom of your foot is your body’s way of encouraging you to stretch your calves more often. And maybe that tightness in your jaw is your body telling you to focus more on self-care.

Learn How to Be (and Stay) Consistent

There is a saying in the fitness world: the only bad workout is the one you did not do. Not every workout can be great, but every workout teaches you something and benefits you in some way. Even bad days have their place in life. Learn to see the good in everything you do (even if it feels like a failure) because staying consistent will eventually help you reach your goals. Quitting never does.

5 Tips for Better Sleep Quality

How have you been sleeping lately?

I have been feeling more tired than usual lately. So, I have been thinking a lot about how to get not only more hours of sleep, but how to get more quality sleep. My trusty Garmin watch not only tracks my workouts, it also tracks my sleep patterns. But what does it all mean?

Here’s what the typical sleep cycle looks like:

  • Light sleep (non-REM): During this phase, you fall asleep, but you can more easily wake up.
  • Deep sleep (non-REM): This is the type of sleep your body needs to feel rested in the morning. If you wake up during deep sleep, you are likely to feel groggy at first.
  • REM sleep: After deep sleep, rapid eye movement sleep begins, which is characterized by your eyes moving behind your eyelids. This is when you dream and, if you wake up during this cycle, you may remember your dream. This stage should occupy 20-25% of your total sleep time.

Studies conducted with healthy adults have shown that better sleep is associated with a multitude of improved cognitive functions, including better learning and memory. Although the exact mechanisms behind the relationship between sleep and memory are still unknown, the general understanding is that specific connections in your brain that were active during awake-periods are strengthened during sleep, allowing for the consolidation of memory.

Poor sleep has been shown to lead to a decline in cognitive functions. Interestingly, research has shown that the cognitive performance of a person who has been awake for 17 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05%. In other words, your ability to think clearly has been proven to be actually impaired when you are sleep-deprived.

We all have felt the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but getting good quality sleep is not as simple as just staying in bed longer. Here are 5 tips to actually help you improve your sleep quality:

GET ENOUGH EXERCISE

According to Max Kerr, DDS, a dental sleep expert at SleepBetterAustin.com, engaging in purposeful movement throughout the day is one of the best ways to ensure you sleep well at night.

TAKE TIME TO WIND DOWN BEFORE GOING TO BED

An hour before bedtime, develop a calming routine that you can look forward to throughout the day. Things like reading (something non-work related, of course!), meditating or simply writing down some things you are grateful for are all good options.

On the flip side, this is not a good time to check your social media or work on clearing out your email inbox as these can potentially increase stress, worry or strong emotions. “When we use social media or check the news, we don’t know what we will be exposed to and which emotions it will give rise to, and it’s easy to get stuck for too long,” says sleep expert Frida Rångtell, PhD.

Also, eating or drinking too close to bedtime causes our body to focus on digestion when it really should be shifting into a state of relaxation. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol or a nightly glass of wine, which may help you get to bed but disrupts your REM cycle, which will reduce your sleep quality. The more time between consuming alcohol and your bedtime, the better.

Take time before getting into bed to allow your body to get into a state of relaxation so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep easier.

TAKE A WARM BATH OR SHOWER

About an hour before bed is a great time to wash away the stress of the day, according to one research analysis published in Sleep Medicine ReviewsExperts found either a warm bath or shower pre-sleep can improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep. Just make sure that your body temperature has time to return to normal before your head hits the pillow.

PREPARE YOUR SLEEP SPACE

Make sure your bed is used only for sleep, and that it is ready for you when you decide to get into it. That may involve taking off a few pillows or swapping out a blanket that will make you most comfortable for the day’s temperature inside your home, depending on the season. “When you create a conditioned response that the bed is only used for sleep, it allows your brain to create an association between bed and sleep,” says Annie Miller, LCSW. “So, avoid reading in bed, watching TV in bed, and even snoozing your alarm in bed for too long in the morning.”

MAKE BEDTIME A “JUDGEMENT-FREE” ZONE

Be patient with yourself & give yourself grace. Instead of focusing on how little sleep you may get and worrying about the situation, think positive thoughts. “Soothe negative thoughts about sleep by understanding that you will be OK if you don’t sleep well that night,” says Miller. “Before bedtime, try to redirect your mind to other, more positive things.”

Relaxation does not always come automatically. Give yourself time to learn how to relax the mind and handle your emotions. “For instance, using mindfulness relaxation techniques and scheduling time for reflection can all be great,” says Rångtell. “Be gentle with your bedtime buffer zone, and allow yourself some time to get used to your new routine.”

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung! The weather is getting warmer…and you know what that means! Summer is just around the corner. Really. It is! It’s coming!  And that means it is time to start thinking about carrying a water bottle when you go out for even a short walk or run. But how much should you drink? In other words, how much hydration do you need?

You may have heard of the 8 x 8 rule: everyone should drink eight 8 oz glasses of water a day. It turns out that while that may be easy to remember, it is an over generalization. This guidance was developed with the intent of being easy to remember and being suitable for people of “average height and weight”. But, of course, “average” is not an absolute.

According the Mayo Clinic, the following factors influence the amount of hydration your body needs:

  • Exercise

If you do any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to cover the fluid loss. It’s important to drink water before, during and after a workout.

  • Environment

Hot or humid weather can make you sweat and requires additional fluid intake. Dehydration also can occur at high altitudes.

  • Overall health

Your body loses fluids when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Bladder infections and urinary tract infections may also require you to increase hydration.

  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding 

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding need additional fluids to stay hydrated.

In short, all of thing being equal, exercising in a hot or humid environment will increase your hydration needs.

Hydration, however, does not only refer to what you drink. Many foods also provide hydration. For example, fruits and vegetables such as watermelon and spinach, are almost 100 percent water by weight. In addition, beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are composed mostly of water.

Should I be drinking sports drinks instead of water while exercising?

Another common rule you may be familiar with is that sports drinks should be used when you’re exercising intensely for more than an hour. These drinks help replace electrolytes lost through perspiration and sugar needed for energy during longer workouts. However, if you want to avoid processed sugar, you can replenish electrolytes with other products, such as Nuun.  Nuun is one of many brands of electrolyte replacement tablets. I have not noticed significant differences among the different brands based on my personal experience. I tend to choose based on the flavors each brand has available. Each quickly dissolvable tablet can be added to a 16oz bottle of water and provides a flavored, sometimes fizzy taste. For those of you who do not like drinking plain water because of the way it tastes, flavored electrolyte replacement tablets like Nuun can make the water taste more interesting, which will help you to hydrate more than you would otherwise.

Each Nuun tablet contains the following active ingredients:

  • Sodium (carbonates): 360.0 milligrams.
  • Potassium (bicarbonate): 100.0 milligrams.
  • Calcium (carbonate): 12.5 milligrams.
  • Magnesium (sulfate): 25.0 milligrams.
  • Vitamin C: 37.5 milligrams.
  • Vitamin B2: 500 micrograms.
  • Calories: 10.
  • Sugar: 1 gram.

While the popular sports drink Gatorade does not provide the same level of detail on its label, compare the 10 calories and 1 gram of sugar per 16 oz serving of Nuun to 16 oz of Gatorade, which has 100 calories and 24 grams of sugar.

What about energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar?

Energy drinks are different from sports drinks. Energy drinks generally are not formulated to replace electrolytes. Energy drinks usually contain large amounts of caffeine or other stimulants, sugar, and other additives. Whether or not you choose to drink energy drinks in your daily life, they are not recommended for use during athletic activities including walking and running.

Is more of a good thing always a good thing, or can you drink too much water?

It is possible to drink too much water. While this is usually uncommon, it is more common in athletes (and yes, you are an athlete!) than in the general population since athletes are very concerned with replacing the fluids lost during exercise, especially in hot and humid environments. When your kidneys can’t excrete the excess water, the sodium content of your blood becomes diluted leading to a condition called hyponatremia, which can be life-threatening.

How do you know if you a hydrated, dehydrated (not enough fluids) or overhydrated (too much fluid)?

Your urine should be a pale, yellow color. Dark urine (like the color of apple juice) indicates that you may be dehydrated and should hydrate more. On the flip side, completely clear urine does not necessarily indicate they you have overhydrated.  However, a good way to avoid hyponatremia is to make sure you are consuming sodium in addition to water when exercising, rather than just water alone. By including some sodium, you can ensure the sodium content of your blood does not get diluted to the point of hyponatremia. You can accomplish this by including oranges or watermelon slices in your hydration plan, if possible. Or you can carry salty snacks such as nuts, pretzels, and potato chips to consume with water while you exercise. While these are all awesome options for hiking, you may find it difficult to carry them on your long runs.  The portability of sport drinks and electrolyte replacement tablets make them ideal for scenarios when you are not carrying a cooler or backpack.

The Surprising Appeal of Endurance Sports

I recently read an article by Brad Stulberg, author of the column Science of Performance in Outside Magazine and of the book Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success in which he discusses the popularity of endurance sports among knowledge workers. Running USA surveys conducted in 2015 and 2017 found that about 85 percent of runners work in white-collar, service, or educational settings. What is it about running and other endurance sports that attracts them?

Endurance sports are those activity that require you to keep physically moving over a relatively long period of time. Classic examples include running, swimming and cycling among summer sports, and cross-country skiing or speed skating among winter sports.  Knowledge workers, on the other hand, are those who (simply put) think for a living. Examples include programmers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, design thinkers, public accountants, lawyers, and business owners. It seems somewhat counter-intuitive that the very people who are so attracted to endurance sports are the same people who regularly use their minds more than their bodies.  But, is it really counter-intuitive?

The hypothesis is that endurance sports offer something that most modern-day knowledge economy professions do not: the chance to pursue a clear and measurable goal with a direct line back to the work people have put in. In his book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, philosopher Matthew Crawford writes that “despite the proliferation of contrived metrics,” most knowledge economy jobs suffer from “a lack of objective standards.” What does it mean to succeed in the knowledge economy?

If you are a business owner, for example, how do you measure your success?  Is success measured by how much money you make, how many people you serve, how happy your clients are, how happy you are, something else, a combination of things?   The answer, of course, is…it depends.  And even if you do know the answer to that question, it is still difficult to measure and is very subjective. Endurance sports, on the other hand, are quite straight forward. If you set out to walk one mile, you know at the end if you succeeded or not. If you set out to climb a hill or a mountain, you know whether or not you got to the top. And for people who deal with ambiguity day in and day out, that can be very satisfying.

If you follow me on social media, you know I am currently participating in the virtual Get to Sesame Street Challenge. The goal is to walk/run/hike/cycle/rollerblade/skip/any-other-similar-activity-you-enjoy for 500 miles. Each 50-100 miles, you reach a new milestone and earn a new pin depicting a different Sesame Street character. Objectively, this sounds pretty pointless for us grown-ups, and tracking the miles could be considered a pain in the … well, you know. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, I never would have considered participating in this type of event. However, after more than a year of not being able to participate in an in-person race, I reconsidered. In a world where everything is unpredictable, it can be really soothing to get out and walk and know that I have a goal to work towards. I can completely control whether or not I reach that goal. And I can measure my objective progress each and every day. The fact that having a goal like this encourages me to walk rather than drive to places like the supermarket is pretty good for my health and wellness too, which is icing on the cake.  As of today, I only have 24.5 miles left until I get to Grover, the 500-mile mark. And I’m really excited about it! What objective goal did you set for yourself (and achieve!) today?

Reaching Goals & Having Fun

On February 28th, the Finding Joy in Motion celebrated another graduation! Nine ladies finished the program and five of them were able to come to Healdsburg to celebrate. While public, in-person racing still has not returned to California, we were able to do our own, socially distanced walk through the vineyards of the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County. There is a reason that this program is called Finding Joy in Motion. The ladies all looked so happy and joyful at the start, the finish and (from the pictures they shared) during the walk as well. This is NOT the “no-pain-no-gain” program. As you probably know from my emails and posts, I am NOT into suffering while I run and walk. I am all about having FUN! And that is what this program is about too. It is about starting where you are and making progress from there. It is about helping you get to where you want to be.  It is about learning to listen to you body and understanding what it is telling you. It is about learning to trust that your body is capable of taking you where you want to go. It is about developing a partnership with your body so that you can live the life of your dreams. Whatever you dream of doing, you are going to need a strong body in order to do it.

You may have heard my personal story: I am the kid who failed gym class. I come from a family with absolutely no athletic “talent”. But you know what? You do not need “talent” to go out and have fun. Anyone can do it, and it is never too late to start! That is one of the reasons I originally chose walking as my sport of choice. We all know how to do it. And we can all learn to do it more efficiently, with more ease and with less potential pain or injury.  Running, hiking, and walking are all the same sport at different speeds on different terrain. If you can walk, you can choose to hike or run. Or you can choose not to. It’s all good and it’s all up to you! The important thing is that you keep moving. A body in motion stays in motion and gets to fill its bucket list. A body at rest stays at rest and eventually atrophies. Getting older does not have to mean getting frailer. My metabolic indicators are better today, at the age of 54, then they were when I was 34. Age is just a number. What matters is how you FEEL and what that enables you to do.

The Finding Joy in Motion program is about being part of a supportive, engaging, and motivating community that will help you reach your goals. It is about learning HOW to reach your goals. I have been studying the latest in training methodology, sports research, and sports psychology for the past 15 years. And it is about learning how to STICK with your goals, just like these ladies did. You can see some of their photos here.

The next session of Finding Joy in Motion starts next Tuesday, March 16 at 5:30pm Pacific/8:30pm Eastern. If you think this is something you may be interested in, I would love to chat with you one on one about YOUR personal goals.

Join Me!

I’m excited to be part of the  3rd Annual Legendary Women of Influence Virtual Event.
I attended this event last year and LOVED IT! I am super excited to have been invited to be part of it this year. I will be leading a session on movement that will help you make adjustments to your body mechanics that will help you walk, sit, and stand more comfortably. Perfect to help you build endurance for all those zoom calls!

Are you ready for some new motivation and exciting conversation? Are you craving some nurturing and uplifting Me Time with women business owners?

Come experience this awesome event with us on Saturday, March 20th from 10:00 – 4:00, doors open at 9:30 am PST. Music, Networking and FUN with the best female speakers in their industries.

Some of the things that we’ll talk about: 

  • Where do I start in taking my personal development to the next level?
  • How do I take my business to the next level?
  • What technology do I need to know?
  • What community or connections do I need to make?
  • How do I take my hobby or creative idea and turn it into a second revenue stream?
  • Is this truly realistic and possible for me?

This is the Legendary Women of Influence Forum!

At this forum, our entrepreneurial expert speakers will share life-changing tips and motivation for women seeking to start their own entrepreneurial journey or who want to embrace their soul mission by serving others.

Even if you don’t have experience or you’re not tech-savvy, this forum will allow you to overcome your obstacles and give you an expeditious roadmap to success. These experts have assisted over 25K women to start their own thriving businesses!

By attending this forum you will learn:

  • How to host your own “Live Virtual Events”
  • How to “Speak with Influence”
  • How to Power-up Your Publicity in 2021
  • Even how to Shine Your Light!! Learn to Be Comfortable and Confident STANDING OUT!!!
  • And SO much more!!!

GET YOUR DISCOUNT TICKET TODAY!!

I have a limited number of discount tickets for those who register before March 14th.

Here is how to register:

1. Click this link to register: http://bit.ly/LWOICarla

2. Click on tickets.

3. Enter the discount code right at the top of that page where it says “Enter Promo Code” (very tiny Blue print!!)

4. Use the code: Carla20 to get a $20 Discount. This sale ends Midnight March 14th. 

I hope to see you there!