5 Tips for Getting More Active

Well, here we are. We are still sheltering in place. Have you gotten into a routine? What does your “new normal” look like? I hope it includes daily activity.  Getting some exercise is so important now that we are not out running as many errands as we used to. Here are 5 tips to make getting active and staying active easier:

  1. Make a plan. Put going for a walk (or whatever activity you choose) on your calendar. Make it a regular meeting just like you would a work meeting.
  2. Find an accountability buddy. If you can walk with a member of your household or be socially distanced with a friend, awesome! If you do not have that option, you can walk with others virtually via Zoom or by having a good old-fashioned phone call while you walk. Sharing the time with others makes the time go much faster.  If you cannot get outside with someone else or you prefer to walk alone, check in with your accountability buddy before and after your activity so you are accountable to each other for getting up and moving.
  3. Start small. Any activity will do. I enjoy walking because not only is it relaxing, it’s easy! We all do it every day, so I know you can do it. However, if your schedule does not allow you to get outside, how about getting up and stretching for a few minutes a couple of times a day? Whatever you choose to do, start with a small amount of time. Do not try to accelerate your body from zero to 60 miles per hour overnight. Even 10 minutes is worthwhile and should be easy to fit into your schedule. Gradually increase the time or distance as you develop a habit, but give your body time to adapt before taking on any big increases.
  4. If something hurts, get help. The problem may be easily fixable, so do not just give up. Correcting your stride or stretching certain muscles may help.  But also, do not just ignore it and try to keep going either, because that is how people get injured. Being active should be enjoyable. This is not about suffering. If you are suffering, you are doing it wrong! If you do not know where to get help, you can always reach out to me and we can brainstorm together. 
  5. And finally, have a goal. I know a lovely lady is who working toward being able to walk for a whole hour without being tired. I know another wonderful woman whose goal is to be able to hike hills regularly.  And I have a fabulous friend who used to have difficulty walking 2 miles at the time, but after developing a habit of walking every day is now walking 6 miles at the time! And many ladies, including myself,  set daily step goals for themselves. Having a goal gives you something to work toward and makes being active even more fun!

Lean In

Did you know that leaning from your ankles into your walk or run can make it feel easier? Why? Because you are using gravity to help move you forward. Don’t believe me? Give it a try:

Stand with your posture aligned by making sure you head is directly over your shoulders, your shoulders are directly over your hips, and your hips are directly over your ankles. Next, make sure your knees and toes are parallel with each other and pointing forward. Visualize a rod from the top of your head to the bottom of your ankles keeping you straight. Now bend at the ankles. Don’t break at the waist, but rather keep your entire body straight (keep visualizing the rod) and lean forward from your ankles. You will almost immediately fall forward and need to use one of your feet to stop the forward propulsion. That is the work of gravity. When your foot hits the ground, that is the first step…literally, you just took a step!

You can practice this technique against a wall. Stand a few feet from the wall and make sure your body is aligned (visualize the rod again to help you with the alignment). Stretch out your arms and put your hands on the wall as you lean forward from your ankles. Remember to keep your waist and hips aligned—do not break at the waist.  Imagine what a rod would look like leaning against a wall. Your body will form a triangle against the wall. Keep this position when walking and running and you should find that gravity will work in your favor. Gravity will pull your body weight forward putting less strain on your muscles and joints and allowing you to walk and run with less effort!  

Interested in more tips like this? Join my transformative 24-week program, Finding Joy in Motion, starting September 15th. Please let me know if you would like to learn more by contacting me here.

Should you Go Far or Go Fast?

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for weight loss. However, many people believe that being more active can help you lose weight since burning more calories can help to shed pounds.  If you are walking or running in order to lose weight, how can maximize your calorie burn? Should you focus on distance or on speed?

The Case for DISTANCE:

Long runs and walks can build endurance and improve overall cardiovascular health. The longer your walk or run, the more calories you burn. But how far should you go? By gradually increasing your distance over time, you will help your body gain more endurance and burn more calories. Be sure not to increase your distance more than 10% from week to week in order to reduce the risk of injury. Ramping up too quickly can be damaging to your body.  If you take more than two weeks off (work, family and illness can easily derail your routine), back off on your distance and then build back up slowly while keeping the 10% rule in mind. The older we get, the easier it is to lose fitness gains when we take time off. That is one of the reasons that consistency is so important. But life happens, so we need to anticipate and adjust for it. And remember, long walks should be done at a pace that allows you to talk comfortably while walking on flat ground.

The Case for SPEED:

Speed runs and walks are done faster than the pace at which you feel comfortable talking, but not so fast that you cannot catch your breath. However, in order to speed up your pace, you will likely need to reduce the distance you walk or run. The good news is that the faster you go, the more calories you burn at a given distance.  You may burn as many calories on a faster shorter walk than on a slower longer walk. And fast shorter walks take less time! Obviously, that’s just math.  But when you are pressed for time, it is a good thing to remember.  Going faster does not necessarily mean running when you had been walking. You can increase the speed you walk by increasing your cadence (the number of times your feet hit the ground in a given time period) without having to break into a jog.

So, which should you choose, distance or speed? The answer is BOTH. Why? Because whichever you choose, your body will get used to the routine. And when your body adjusts to the routine and eventually no longer feels challenged by it, you will plateau. The more variety in your workout, the less likely you are to plateau. Changing it up on a regular basis will keep your body working to adapt.  As your body works to adapt, you will see increased fitness gains and you will burn more calories compared to the steady state plateau. This concept applies not only to speed, but also to terrain.  Therefore, should you incorporate hills in your walks and runs?

The Case for HILLS:

Walking and running up hills works the muscles in your legs differently than walking and running on flat ground. And going downhill works your muscles differently than both uphill and flat walks and runs. Variety is the key to progress, of course. The more variety in your terrain, the bigger gains you will see in your endurance and cardiovascular capacity. Hills may seem difficult, but you do not have to start with mountains. How about a small overpass? Or a street with a gradual incline? Or one flight of stairs? Consider giving hills a try.  If you are concerned that hills may be too challenging, try going uphill for 15 seconds, and then turn around and go downhill back to where you started. You can repeat this sequence as many times as you feel comfortable knowing that you are never far from a rest break. You can do this!!!

Streaking

Well, the shelter-in-place seems slowly becoming a new normal. In some ways, I am grateful for the shelter in place because it encouraged me to shift my focus from distance running to speed. Since I did not want to venture far from the house, I started running up and down our cul-de-sac, much to the amusement of my neighbors who prefer to sit on their porches drinking wine. And to make it interesting, I focused on getting faster. My latest 5K time is the closest I’ve been to a sub 30-minute 5K since I started running in 2006. I still have a long way to go, but I feel like I am making progress. As I start increasing distance again in the hope that the Chicago Marathon still takes place at the beginning of October, we will see how that affects my new pace.

Other people have come up with other ways to keep things interested during the shelter-in-place. “Streaking” is the last trend in the running community. Don’t worry! People are still keeping their clothes on–despite the onset of summer and the ever-increasing heat. Streaking involves running every single day—a “running streak”, so to speak. Typical training wisdom has always said that one should not run every day and that the body needs rest. Most people run 3-4 times a week and that is typically considered sufficient even to train for a full marathon. So, what about this streaking trend? Should you run every day?

My view on streaking is that there is “running” and there is “running”. What is the difference between the two, you ask? Just because you are “running” every day, not every day needs to be a  hard “run”. Just like you walk around the supermarket at a different pace when you go in “just to get milk and get outta there!” versus when you do not know exactly what you need and you slowly cruise all the aisles, you can run and you can run. If you choose to be a streaker (pun intended!), be sure to vary your distances and pace. Do not make every day a 10-mile run (or walk) as fast as you can go. Insert some one-mile (or less) days and some casual jogs within your streak. That may even be the healthiest option at all: where you keep moving, but still incorporate rest. This is commonly called “active recovery” and can be even better for you than complete rest, which allows your body to stiffen up due to inactivity. So by all means, streak! Just streak smartly. Happy running!

Compression Socks

Compression socks can keep your legs from getting tired and achy. They can also ease swelling in your feet and ankles. Some athletes, including runners, basketball players, and triathletes, wear compression socks and sleeves on their legs and arms. The theory is that, during activity, better blood flow will help get oxygen to their muscles, and the support will help prevent tissue damage. Afterward, the increased blood and lymph circulation will help their muscles recover more quickly. As a result, they will not be as sore, and they will not cramp as much.

According to Wed MD, studies show compression socks and sleeves have little to no effect on athletic performance. Nevertheless, some people swear by it. The evidence for faster recovery is better, but according to Web MD, it is still not enough to make a difference for non-competitive athletes. However, I am one of those people who swear by it. Why? Because when I run 26.2 miles with compression socks, my legs feel significantly better than when I run without them. My calves do not get as tight and I feel that I do not “suffer” nearly as much during the run. Is that a function of my training and not a function of the socks themselves? Maybe. But the bottom line is that when I am wearing compression socks, I perceive that I suffer less. And as a result, I can train more. And, therefore, my fitness improves.  The end result is that my performance during the run improves and I recover faster. And I recover even faster when I wear them to sleep after a long run. So, I am a believer.

I used to only wear compression socks for recovery because I was concerned that they would increase my body temperature and make me feel hot during the run. One day I noticed that a friend who is a competitive runner (the kind of person who actually wins races) was wearing them during her races and I asked her about that. It turns out, the socks designed for running breathe really well and you do not feel warmer when wearing them.  Ever since then, I have been a believer in wearing them for all my races and long training runs.

I also wear compression socks when I travel as studies have shown they do prevent blood clots. And again, traveling involves a lot of walking and often long hours on my feet. Why shouldn’t I be comfortable?

The good news about compression socks is they definitely do not hurt your performance. While the jury may be out on how much good they do, they will definitely not inhibit you. So why not give them a try for yourself and make your own decision? Here are some brands you may want to consider:

ProCompression: the basic, reliable, go-to sock that provides excellent graduated compression in a variety of colors. Sign up for their mailing list as they offer discounts all the time. 
www.procompression.com

Zensah: the fun, energetic and whimsical sock. These run tighter in the calf than ProCompression and the compression is less graduated. However, no one currently beats their selection of fun prints and patterns designed to accessorize any outfit! 
https://www.zensah.com/pages/limited-edition

Tiux: I recently tried these and I find them to be very comfortable with excellent compression. Another benefit is they are individually designed for the right and left foot. Not as many color options as ProCompression or whimsical prints as Zensah, but they did give me a discount code worth 30% off for all of you!  

http://tiux.refr.cc/carlaf

Stability in a Crazy World

According to Sakyong Mipham, “When people say meditation makes them calm, they are often referring to this stability of the mind. A stable mind creates the foundation for a happier and more contented person.”

Likewise, a stable body can create the foundation for a happier and more contented runner, hiker, and walker.

One of the best ways to ensure a stable body is to increase your core strength. A strong core will help you run, hike, and walk longer and faster and with less effort. Consider incorporating planks, sit-ups, pull-ups, and other core strength exercises into your workout routine. Searching for “core strength exercises” on Google or You Tube will provide a vast number of tutorials to help you get started.

But sometimes we need extra help. For example, for those prone to osteoporosis, walking (as well as other weight-bearing exercises), can be a very effective way to increase bone density. However, a fall could result in a broken bone. So, what to do? Should you walk for exercise and to improve your bone strength, but risk a fall? A single walking stick or a pair of poles could be the answer to allowing you to walk farther with less risk.

Hiking poles are also great for trail running and for…well, duh…hiking. If you have never used poles while on trails, you are in for a treat. Poles not only help with stability while climbing and descending hills and mountains, using poles gives your upper body a workout as well. Therefore, not only will you be able to traverse steep or rocky terrain more confidently, you will also get a full body workout while doing so. I used to hike without poles until a hiking buddy recommended them to me and I realized how helpful they really can be.  Now, I am much faster climbing mountains than I ever could have been without poles and much more confident descending.

I was recently asked which brand of poles I recommend (and no, I do not get a commission and this is not a sponsored post).  I personally have a pair of less expensive Leki women-specific poles that collapse (but do not fold up small). I use these regularly for hiking and they do fold up enough to fit in my suitcase when I travel. However, while they fit inside a carryon-sized piece of luggage, you are going to have to check your bag when flying because they are considered by TSA to be a weapon.  

I recently bought a pair of ultralight Black Diamond poles that do fold up very small for trail running. Obviously, the ultralight weight and small size profile add to the cost of the poles.  However, I cannot tell you how helpful these have been! They are featherlight and I do not even notice I am carrying them. They fold up so small that they fit inside my hydration vest.  And when I get tired toward the second half or end of a trail race, they easily pop out of my hydration vest and unfold quickly into a very stable and durable set of poles to help me in the final stretch. I am so happy I invested in a good set of trail running poles.

If you are buying the poles for walking stability on pavement, however, I do not think the weight and size features are critical. Poles that are not “ultralight” are still not heavy, so do not feel compelled to spend extra for these features unless you plan to use them for trail running or really want to carry them around in your backpack or purse all the time. 

If you are buying poles for walking on pavement (as opposed to hiking on trails), I highly recommend you buy tips to put over the bottom of your poles that will make them better suited to walking on pavement and more stable on sidewalks. Here is a link to the proper tips for walking on pavement:

https://www.rei.com/product/750119/leki-fitness-walking-tips-pair

Again, I don’t get a commission, so feel free to buy them wherever you would like. I have included the link so you can see exactly what I am talking about because I want you have the right stuff. One reason people are unhappy when they run/walk is because they are not using the right gear. The right gear makes all the difference. So, if concerns about stability have prevented you from going out for a walk, or a hike, or a run, I hope you will realize that there are tools that can help you. So, keep moving!

Finding Joy in Complaining

Before I head out on a hike or a trail run, I often look at a map of the area and try to plan out a route that I think will work for whatever I want to get accomplished that day. I usually plan based on distance, or elevation change, or something particular I want to see that day (like a waterfall or viewpoint). But sometimes, I come to a trailhead that I either did not notice on the map, or just looks more interesting than the trail I am on at that particular moment. So, I go off on a side route even though it was not part of my original plan. That is what I am going to do today. If you have been on one of our daily walks, you know I try to keep the conversation positive and energetic. Sometimes that is easier than others, especially during this unique and challenging time we are all experiencing. However, today I am going to talk about complaining.

Those of you who walk with us regularly know Meg Keehan as my neighbor in the floppy sun hat who is always ahead of me doing run/walk/run intervals during our walks. Earlier this week, I shared with Meg that the shelter-in-place was hitting me particularly hard this week. Later, she forwarded to me a blog post written by Esther Perel, author of the book Mating in Captivity. Coincidentally, Esther’s book is one of my favorites but I don’t subscribe to her blog. I am grateful that Meg took the time to share it with me.

According to Esther,

“Week by week, we’ve been going through phases. Mad hoarding and planning moved into high anxiety and stress, and now we’ve entered the stale phase. After weeks of watching delayed faces on Zoom, are we surprised we’re feeling stilted? Hasn’t it been refreshing to read all of these articles about how productivity in quarantine is overrated? How many of us made plans to take care of the never-ending project list? On the days we have managed to be productive, it has felt great. But, besides work—which I love—I struggle to self-motivate. And since I’m bored of hearing myself complain and feeling bad about complaining, I have shifted to full group accountability. It’s not everybody’s recipe, but I find it more motivating than anything I can do alone.”

Esther continues:

“I get up early for yoga five days a week because I know I have my friends waiting for me on Zoom. Even if I stayed up late and didn’t sleep well, I’m motivated to see my people who are waiting for me and who are themselves motivated knowing that I’m waiting for them. Yes, we do yoga, but we also catch up, share resources, and get a chance to complain outside of our own echo chambers. And, by the way, it’s okay to have some friends that you want to engage with a lot, others you want to engage with a little…

As my friend Guy Winch wrote in his book “The Squeaky Wheel,” there is actually a right way to complain that will get you results, improve your relationships, and enhance your self-esteem. I recommend you read his book if you want to develop the art of effective complaint. But my letter today is simpler: it’s just to give us all the permission for good old kvetching…” [Yiddish for “bitching and moaning”]

And finally, Esther says:

“We can be grateful and complain. We can be accountable and slack off. We can be peaceful and loving and we can talk shit and blow off steam. Kvetching is a survival tool. Use it wisely. It will help us cope during these scary times. Complaining is juicy. So, make your complaints good.”

Here are some tips Esther gives for productive effective, complaining within relationships and groups that you may find helpful during this difficult time:

  • Make space for other people to vent aloud. It often expresses their feelings of loss and longing. They know that they are powerless and they have to accept the situation; venting gives them the illusion that they have a say. It’s best to just let it pass and not try to reason with it. 
  • Have a little competition with whomever you’re quarantined or in touch with about your best complaints. 
  • If you have kids, create a house chart of complaints where they can let out their own. Display it on the fridge for all to see. We can’t only have stars for good behavior. 
  • If your complaints are more serious in nature, try Guy Winch’s tips for productive complaining, whether with a spouse, child, or friend. It’s not the same as venting.  
  • And be careful to avoid what Winch refers to as “the five mistakes we make when complaining.”

And now, with that slight detour, I’m going to head back to the main trail….

Join us for a virtual group walk or run Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30am PST/12:30pm EST and Tuesday and Thursdays at 5pm PST/8pm EST. Hope to see you there! Register here for the zoom link.

Safety First

A lot of you started running or walking regularly when the quarantine started. Conveniently during that time, there were not a lot of cars on the road. Now that it’s getting busier out there, I thought this would be a good time to talk about safety. First of all, you want to make sure you are visible to vehicles. My favorite running hat is neon orange. It may not be the most fashionable (and people make fun of me all the time!), but it sure does make me stand out on the road.  One day when I was on my weekly long run wearing a hot pink shirt, hot pink knee-high compression socks, and my trusty orange hat, the FedEx guy passed me on the road and yelled out that no one could miss seeing me. I gave him a thumbs up, since that was exactly my plan! If you are running out in nature (as we in Sonoma County are fortunate to be able to do regularly), remember that colors like blue, green, and brown tend to blend in with trees and shrubs. So even if you are not particularly fond of pink, orange, and bright yellow, those do make good colors for running apparel.  When running at night, be sure to wear a headlamp not only for your benefit, but also for the benefit of cars, bikes, and other runners you may encounter. Many running jackets and hats have reflective material that will also help keep you visible at night.

My second visibility recommendation is to run on the sidewalk against traffic. If you are used to cycling, you are used to traveling in the same direction as traffic because a bicycle is also a vehicle. The safest place for a runner to be is moving in the opposite direction of traffic flow so that you know what is coming and are not surprised when a car approaches and passes you. And while it is unlikely for a car to veer off the road and onto the sidewalk, it is not unheard of—especially in wine country. By running towards oncoming traffic, you will have more warning should you need to get out of the way.

Safety is not just about visibility, however. Sometimes, especially on a long run or walk, the unexpected happens. Always carry your phone. If the clothes you are wearing don’t have pockets, there are lots of products on the market that can help you carry your gear. A backpack works if you are walking or hiking. But if you are running, a backpack bouncing up and down on your back can cause chafing and be very uncomfortable no matter how light the contents may be. You may find something like a flip belt (or similar product) to be more comfortable, or an arm band that holds your phone. If you don’t want to be disturbed while you are running or walking, feel free to put your phone on do not disturb, airplane mode, or even turn it off completely. But it is a good idea to have with you just in case.

On the topic of ‘just in case”, you may want a Road ID. A Road ID contains your emergency contact information and other important medical information (such as allergies and medical conditions) that a first responder should be aware of in the event that you need a first responder. It can be worn like a necklace, a bracelet, or attached to your shoe. Road ID’s are good to have with you not only when you are out exercising but in other situations as well.  For example, I always wear mine when I travel, just in case.

Finally, I always carry a whistle. I have never had to use it, but it is lightweight, fits easily into my hydration vest (or flip belt or pocket) and is good for a variety of uses, especially since I am a woman often running alone along the road or on a remote hiking trail.  As you may or may not know, I volunteer for Sonoma County Search & Rescue. I hope you never find yourself at the bottom of a ravine unable to get out. However, if you do and have no cell coverage, having a whistle readily available can help alert passersby to your location.

I hope you will not let all this talk of the negative things that can happen scare you. I’ve been running and hiking regularly for more than 14 years and have not encountered any life-threatening situations. However, it is important to be aware, so that you can be prepared. Have fun, stay active, and be safe out there, folks!

Links to the some of the products* mentioned:

Flip Belt: https://flipbelt.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw2PP1BRCiARIsAEqv-pQfM8HsQKCPGTJAWWPgxtcDp5JO2kfVoR-3Nvt9AKDp9nCyFLM-6PIaApZgEALw_wcB

Armbands: https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/g24520820/armbands-for-phone/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=arb_ga_rnw_d_bm_hp_g24520820&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2PP1BRCiARIsAEqv-pRNpRgsDVG9EdDkhI3H_HQ_vlasFXWUmZMTa9G3vw67NgEEdQ3dDXIaAtJwEALw_wcB

Road ID: https://www.roadid.com/?referrer=60640&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2PP1BRCiARIsAEqv-pRkOq2Vv3h1wmU6evDgrBwVg8J0l2BGSzicBKMP4EfLYHStZNGJnAMaAjbJEALw_wcB

My favorite running hat: https://www.google.com/search?q=orange+headsweats&oq=orange&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57.1331j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

*Note: I do not receive a commission or any other benefit from your clicking on these links. This is not a sponsored post. These are products I use regularly and links are provided for your convenience and curiosity.

Things are heating up!

I hear it’s still snowing in Maine, but here in Northern California, it’s getting pretty hot out there. Temperatures seem to have gone from the mid-60’s to mid-80’s almost overnight. It’s 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”. And, 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 don’t like drinking water because of the taste, Nuun not only increases the electrolytes you consume, it can make the water taste more interesting.

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 cannot 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.

Confucius’s Thoughts on Running

Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” This has been my mantra ever since I started running.  Actually, I started running by walking, and then by walking a half marathon. And then I started running because walking was taking too long, or at least that was my opinion at the time. But who is to say that something takes “too” long? The Byrds sang “To everything there is a season, and to every time a purpose.” (well sort of, I’m paraphrasing here.) It was just a perception I had and I wanted to move faster. Now, some days I run faster and some slower. Some days I don’t run at all and just walk. And again, there are different paces of walking. Sometimes I walk briskly and with purpose, and sometimes I just saunter along smelling (or taking pictures of) all the flowers along the way. But the important thing, as Confucius said, is that I keep going.

Life is just like running. Yup, it really is!  Sometimes you find your life racing along at a blistering pace. Sometimes, things move more slowly. Sometimes you seek a change of speed—either faster or slower depending on your mood. See where I’m going here? In life as well, the important thing is that you keep going.

Almost all of us have been staying at home for more than a month now.  Some of us have been home close to two months already. Those essential workers who do leave the house have been working long hours under stressful conditions.  But it is important you keep going. Keep getting out of bed. Keep getting dressed (and showering!  Reminder: don’t forget to shower!). Keep preparing healthy meals. Keep shopping for healthy snacks to have around the house. Keep staying in touch with friends and loved ones. Keep working on projects that motivate you. Keep planning for the future. It does not matter how slowly you do these things, as long as you do not stop.

And, back to running, join me for a run or walk Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 9:30am PST/12:30pm EST and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5pm PST/8pm EST. Keep moving. Stay active. As Confucius said, it does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.