Be Strong!

Those of you who walk or run with me on regular basis know that I am not only passionate about running but also about taking care of my body. My plan is keep running until I finally win an age group award by default, because I have outlived everyone else in my age group! Running can lengthen the years in your life, but some people find that running can cause pain. Some of the painful injuries that regularly plague runners include achilles tendonitis, back pain, calf and hamstring strains, IT Band syndrome, shin splints and plantar fasciitis, just to name a few. So how can you avoid suffering from these and other injuries? A good strength training program can help not only decrease the risk of injury, but also the severity and recovery time if an injury does occur.

Running and walking not only requires strong legs but also a strong core and a strong upper body. Your posture affects your running and walking form. Bad posture can lead to increased energy expenditure while you are running or walking, which will cause fatigue to set in sooner. A strong core and upper body will keep you upright while you navigate the obstacles you encounter on the road or the trail.

Strength training can help improve control, coordination, and stability, which can improve the quality of your running and walking.  Strength training can help increase your push off every time your foot leaves the ground and can improve your posture.  It can also improve your body mechanics.  The more efficiently your body moves, the stronger your running and walking will become. Efficient body mechanics can allow your body to run or walk longer, faster, and with more stability and less pain.  And here’s fact many people who don’t regularly strength train may not know: muscles mass helps you burn calories faster.  It’s true!

So, what kind of strength training should you do? You can start with basic core exercise such as planks. However, starting strength training without the benefit of a trainer requires you to be personally diligent about your form. Try to workout in front of a mirror, if you can, to make sure you are getting the most out of your exercises. If you google “Yoga for Strength Training” you will find several poses in addition to the plank that will help you strengthen your whole body.

Personally, I am a big fan of Crossfit. However, during the shelter-in-place, crossfit may not be an option for you. And it requires you to find a crossfit gym that accommodates your personal needs, which not all do. However, I recently came across a community that offers live virtual workouts with a well-rounded offering of strength training exercises that can be done at home with little or no equipment. These workouts are suitable for people at almost all levels of physical fitness. Why join a live workout instead of one of the many pre-recorded options that are available these days? The accountability that a community offers not only helps you show up for yourself more regularly, it’s great for that fostering that feeling of “being with others”, just like our daily virtual walks do. Check out the She Shines group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/602969703098662/ for more information. And for those of you who don’t do Facebook, you can contact Raquel directly at raquel@raquelbarrios.com. Be sure to tell her I sent you and she will offer you a free trial period so you can determine if her workouts are good fit for you. Many of you are trying new options these days as the quarantine has forced us all to be creative. Please let me know what solutions you have found to stay fit.

Social Distancing from the Fridge

Facebook is full of jokes about people’s eating habits these days. We are all stuck at home with kitchens full of food.  First, let’s count our blessings that we have plenty of food during this difficult time. But just because we are so blessed, doesn’t mean we need to eat it all at this particular moment.

Food is the fuel that your body needs to keep going. You can’t drive your car without gas, right? And if you put leaded gasoline or diesel in a car that needs unleaded gasoline, it won’t run properly. If you are going to be walking or running regularly (and I hope you are!), you need the right kind of fuel to keep your body moving. Unfortunately, not all food creates an equal amount of fuel.  And I’m sorry to tell you that Doritos and Cheetos will only get you so far.

The building blocks of nutrition are the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Complex carbohydrates provide slow and steady fuel. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, whole breads and unrefined pastas, vegetables and potatoes will not produce the sharp blood sugar highs and lows that you often get with refined sugar. These highs and lows can leave you feeling depleted before the end of your run or walk or the end of your day.

Protein is essential for both tendon and muscle repair. Proteins are also essential for regulating your hormones. The more often you run or walk and the further distance you cover, the more repair work there will be for your muscles.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, flax seed oil, canola oil, and avocados are the healthiest fats to consume. Contrary to some points of view, you do need fat in your diet. Healthy fats helps you feel sated, which is really important. Eating healthy does not mean you need to be miserable or feel deprived. On the contrary, properly fueling your body makes you feel SO good.


Once you start running or walking long distances on a regular basis you will notice that your base metabolism starts to run a bit faster, which means that you will be burning up more calories. This is great news for those who want to shed a few pounds. Those who do not want to lose any weight will need to eat a little extra.

Nutritional snacks such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grain sandwiches, smoothies, nuts, eggs, yogurts, and protein or health-food bars can all help to alleviate the dreaded energy slump. Healthy snacks will also ensure that your muscles and liver are always ready for further exercise. In addition, you will have sufficient energy to get through your daily activities.

A doughnut may give you energy for five minutes (and then you crash!), but an apple with a tablespoon of nut butter can give you energy for more than an hour without the crash.  From a caloric perspective, you can have almost 3 apples AND 3 tablespoons of nut butter for the same calories as a doughnut. Try eating all that in one sitting! I bet you can’t even do it! So, instead of five minutes of energy, you could get more than three hours of energy for the same calories while still avoiding the dreaded sugar crash.

Eating smaller meals more often will also keep your blood sugar level steady and your metabolism running high. I prefer to have 3 small meals and 2 snacks a day rather than 3 bigger meals spread farther apart throughout the day. This way I have something to eat approximately every 2-3 hours during the day. I find the consistency of eating every 2-3 hours, even if it’s only a small amount, really helps me perform better not only physically, but also mentally. So, don’t social distance from the refrigerator. Food is your friend. Just make sure your refrigerator is stocked with the kind of fuel that will keep you going instead of the kind that drags you down.

Some of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… no, I’m just kidding (although I do like kittens!) This time I’m talking about Buffs. Buffs are multifunctional headwear that are indispensable for runners, hikers, and anyone engaging in physical activity. A Buff is made of a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and controls odor. Buffs can be worn more than 12 different ways from a cap to a balaclava to a hair tie and can also be used as a scarf and a towel. Here are some pictures of me wearing a Buff as a balaclava at the start of the Lake Tahoe Triple (when it was a mere 18 degrees Fahrenheit!) and as a scarf later in the day when it warmed up.  Yes, that’s me under all those layers with the headlamp!

As you can see from the photo…you can use a Buff to cover your nose and mouth. And it is SO much more comfortable than an N95 mask or surgical mask. The government is currently suggesting people wear homemade masks, scarves, or cut up t-shirts over their noses and mouths when they are out for necessities such as groceries. The Buff is such a better option than a cut up t-shirt and provides better coverage than a regular scarf. And it is much easier than making your own mask. It is machine washable, so you can easily disinfect it.  And even more good news: it is readily available at almost any running or sporting goods store. You can order one online, but I have one more suggestion.

Another one of my favorite things is the Healdsburg Running Company. If you are local to Sonoma County, I hope you are already aware of HRC. If you aren’t, you are missing out. Not only do they have the best products, they are awesome people who support runners in a variety of ways every day. If you are local, consider purchasing your Buff from HRC by emailing Skip Brand at skip@healdsburgrunningcompany.com. He may even be willing to ship if you don’t live here in Sonoma County. And, once this all this is over, I guarantee you will find a multitude of uses for your Buff aside from using it as a face mask. It truly is one of my favorite running accessories. So, please stay safe, stay home, and please support a small business!

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED

How are you feeling these days? Are you waking up each day excited to face the day and ready to get everything on your to-do list done? Me neither. Some days it’s just hard to get going. And with the changes in our schedules lately due to the shelter-in-place, it’s even harder.  Here are a few techniques I’ve been using to make sure I get my daily run/walk/strength training/business goals/other to-do’s done:

Get Dressed

I put my workout clothes on as soon as I get up. I used to wait until after breakfast, or after I walked the dog.  With the prevalence of sitting around in pj’s all day (have you seen all those Facebook memes about pajamas lately?), it’s important to set your intention by getting dressed for the day. It also helps to make sure you are ready to workout whenever the mood or the opportunity strikes.  When my dad was critically ill in the hospital a few years ago, I never knew when I would have time to work out. Every morning, I put on my workout clothes and took my crossfit bag with me when I went to the hospital. I was always ready—just in case there was a lull in the day’s schedule of meeting with doctors, tending to my dad, and helping my mom with errands. One of the nurses even told me she thought I worked out all the time because she always saw me in workout gear! If only!

Have a Schedule

If you can control your day (more likely with the shelter-in-place than it was when my dad was sick), make a schedule. Having a set time when you eat, work, and work out, helps keep you on track to get everything done. I keep a schedule on my Gmail calendar. If something unexpected happens (like a client calls) and I can’t get to something I have intended to do at that time, I move it to another spot on my calendar so I don’t lose track of what I still need to do.

Fight the Feeling to Postpone

Sometimes I have the urge to reschedule something on my calendar even if something unexpected doesn’t happen. Sometimes I just don’t feel like going out for that run or walk. When that happens, I lace up my shoes anyway and give it a try. I tell myself that if I am just not feeling it [after 30 minutes, after half a mile, whatever time period works for you], I can stop. But I give it a try. Sometimes you just need to start to get in the groove.  A few weeks ago, I talked about how running and walking is good for your brain and can help raise the levels of endorphins (feel-good hormones) in your body. [read my blog here: https://wimruntheworld.com/2020/03/15/how-running-affects-your-brain/ ] Once you start and the endorphins kick in, you will be much more likely to continue (and be happy that you did).

What If You Just Feel Too Tired?

Sometimes, the first three options just don’t work for me. In that situation, the first question I ask myself is “why am I tired?”  Because I’ve done hard workouts every day this week and my muscles are sore? Because I had an exhausting day of work? Or because I am just feeling down?

Having a good training plan, will hopefully prevent the first situation [see my blog on periodization here: https://wimruntheworld.com/2020/03/22/staying-injury-free/]  

In the second situation, just getting started often helps. The endorphins are usually just what I need to put the hard day of work behind me and move on both literally and emotionally.

Earlier this week, however, I felt too tired to run and I realized it was most likely the third situation.  I realized that I was feeling exhausted as a result of the “weight” the shelter-in-place was putting on my psyche. I just couldn’t get myself to lace up my shoes.  So, I decided to take a bubble bath instead (see my Instagram feed for a picture!). After the bath, my psyche and my body both felt better. But I still didn’t feel like going out. However, a few hours later, my energy was back and I headed to the track to do some speed work.  After a little self-care, not only was I motivated to get out of the house, I had the energy for a hard workout. And I felt great afterwards.

Be sure to take care of yourself! As my fabulous business coach, Caterina Rando, says “we can’t fill from an empty cup”. When your cup is empty, make sure you take some time to fill it up.

Do you have other tips to help yourself stay motivated? Please share them with me in the comments.

Staying Injury-Free

As you increase mileage, you may find that you start to experience aches and pains. Many people conclude at this point that running longer distances just is not achievable. If I had a quarter for every person who told me that running marathons would kill my knees, I’d be a multi-millionaire! I am happy to report that my knees (and the rest of me!) are just fine. However, sometimes your body just gets tired. Has your brain ever felt exhausted after a long work week? Are some work weeks worse than others? The same happens to your body, and a little extra TLC (tender loving care) is all that is needed.

First, make sure you are ramping up your distance prudently. The prevailing thought among running coaches is to not increase your distance by more than 10% each week. And for those of us who are no longer twenty-something or thirty-somethings  (insert throat clearing sound effects here), even that may be too aggressive. The important thing is to give your body time to adjust before forcing it to go further. For example, I usually run 3 days per week with 2 of those runs being “short” runs and one being a “long” run.  I also follow a periodization plan. During a given four-week “period”, I increase the distance of my long runs by 10% for three consecutive weeks and then take a “recovery” week on the fourth week when I scale back even more. And then I start a new “period” with three weeks of increasing distance and one week of recovery. It looks something like this:

Week 1: 2-3 mile run on Tuesday, 2-3 mile run on Thursday, 5 mile run on Saturday

Week 2: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 5.5 miles (increase 10% of 5 miles)

Week 3: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 6 miles (increase 10% of 5.5 miles)

Week 4: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 3 miles (recovery week)

Week 5: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 6.6 miles (increase 10% of 6 miles)

Week 6: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 7.25 miles (increase 10% of 6.6 miles)

Week 7: 2-3 mile run, 2-3 mile run, 8 miles (increase 10% of 7.25 miles)

Week 8: 2-3 mile run , 2-3 mile run , 3 miles (recovery week)

Does this mean that it will take you longer than 8 weeks to train for a half marathon if you are starting from scratch? Yes. Will your body thank you for the extra time to adjust? Definitely!

For those of you training for full marathons, I have found through trial and error (read: lots of error), once I get to 15 miles on my long run, continuing to increase by 10% causes me to be more injury-prone than I would like. So, I chose to limit my weekly increases to one mile each week.  I would rather plan in the extra time when training for a race, then have to drop out of a race due to injury.

However, even though you may be prudent in your mileage increases, sometimes your body gets tight. Shin splints and plantar fasciitis are common running “injuries” that are preventable and treatable with stretching, yoga, and massage. You may have noticed above that I only run 3 days a week. Does that mean I only workout 3 days a week? Nope. I also do 3-4 days of strength training, cross-training (cardio activity other than running/walking), and yoga.  Stretching, yoga, and massage are essential tools needed to keep your body supple, so don’t skimp on those. If you were looking for an excuse to get a professional massage on a regular basis, now you have it!

Built for Speed

Many of you are already training for Niagra Falls. Yay! We are going to have so much fun! And by now you have reached the part of the training plan that calls for speed work. In the plan for this week, it calls for a long run of “4mi with 2*800m”.  800 meters is equivalent to 0.5 miles. So you are going to run or walk a total of 4 miles. And within those 4 miles, you are going to increase your speed for 0.5 miles twice. In other words, one option would be as follows:

  1. Walk 1.25 miles 
  2. Walk faster for 0.5 miles
  3. Go back to the normal speed for the next 0.5 miles
  4. Then walk at the faster pace for another 0.5 miles 
  5. And then back to the normal speed for the remaining 1.25 miles. 

Just to check my math: 1.25 + 0.5 + 0.5+ 0.5 +1.25 = 4 miles. But you don’t have to do it *exactly* like that. The first important part is to warm up before you increase the speed (Step 1: walk at the normal pace for 1.25 miles) If you feel warm after 1 mile, it’s OK to start your speed work after only a mile. If you need 1.5 miles to feel ready, that’s OK too.  The second important part is to take a break between the 2 speed intervals. The break should be as long as you need to get your heart rate back down. 0.5 miles is just a suggestion, and any distance over 0.1 miles is fine. And the third important part is to finish with a cool down. 


If you do not have a way to measure 0.5 miles, that’s OK too. You can walk faster for 1 minute, or 2 minutes, or even just 15 to 30 seconds–whatever works for you. The goal is to increase your heart rate and train you body to go faster than you normally do. However, “faster” isn’t the same as “as fast as you can go before you stop breathing!” It’s just faster than you were going before.  So don’t worry; there is no need to go so fast that you drop. To walk faster, just increase the cadence of your steps. You do not have to start jogging (unless you want to). 

If you have any challenges or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. There are no “dumb” questions. We have all had questions along our journey to become more comfortable with running and walking. The only way to find out what you want to know is to ask, so don’t be shy!

Breathing Comfortably while Running

A few weeks ago, I spent the weekend in Tampa, FL at the Gasparilla Distance Challenge: a 5K, 8K, 15K and half marathon over two days for a total of 30.4 miles. The weather was perfect (50’s, not too humid, and sunny!) and the course along Tampa Bay was beautiful. We also picked up 5 different medals, 4 different technical t-shirts (best for wicking away sweat while running), a windbreaker, and 4 gym-sized towels. The weekend had a pirate theme and we got quite a lot of booty!


While I was running the half marathon, I was thinking a lot about my breathing. I was speaking with someone about breathing just before the race. She told me that her breathing becomes irregular when she transitions from walking to running. Believe it or not, you can control your breathing.  How? Don’t let yourself only breathe in only shallow breaths. Consciously think about breathing in for at least a count of 5. A count of 8 is even better, if you can. Make a conscious effort to expand your rib cage and visualize filling your lungs with as much air as they can hold. And then exhale for the same number (5-8) of seconds. Keep repeating that process until your breathing gets under your control. That will help you run more comfortably. You can control your breathing.  Don’t let your breathing control you. 


If you have any challenges or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. There are no “dumb” questions. We have all had questions along our journey to become more comfortable with running and walking. The only way to find out what you want to know is to ask, so don’t be shy!

Running is Good for your Brain

I don’t know about you, but the cancellation of all these events due to COVID-19 certainly is making me depressed.  I hope the measures our government is taking will help get the situation under control. In the meantime, do you know what is the best way to fight this depression?  Get outside and take a walk or a run. Seriously. I’m not making this up. Multiple studies have concluded that running:

  1. Decreases symptoms of depression
  2. Improves learning abilities
  3. Sharpens memory
  4. Slows cognitive decline
  5. Alleviates anxiety
  6. Improves sleep
  7. Increases creativity

I ran 16 miles this weekend. It was more than my training plan called for, but just what I needed for my mental health.  Running certainly helps keep me sane and lifts my spirits. Being outside in nature makes it even better, so of the 16 miles I ran this weekend, I did 13 of them at beautiful Lake Sonoma. If you’ve never been to Lake Sonoma in Geyserville, CA, I highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful place to hike or even just to have a seat and enjoy the view.

According to WebMD, improved self-esteem is a key psychological benefit of regular physical activity. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life.

Also, endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence. The runner’s high is real. I don’t personally experience it every time I run, but I do feel it often.  And in addtition, exercise also has these added physical health benefits:

  • It strengthens your heart.
  • It increases energy levels.
  • It lowers blood pressure.
  • It improves muscle tone and strength.
  • It strengthens and builds bones.
  • It helps reduce body fat.
  • It helps you stay fit and healthy.

So, wash your hands, keep social distance, and go for a run or walk!  And do you know what’s even better than going for a run or walk along? Joining our virtual run/walk group!

All About Shoes

Many of you have been training for more than two months now. How do you feel about your shoes? Are they comfortable? Do they give you enough support? I walked a 5K a few months ago with someone who was wearing a pair of Hokas that she had had for several months and she told me that after the first mile, her feet always hurt. Walking 5K (3.1 miles) shouldn’t hurt your feet. It turned out it was her shoes. Hokas are a great brand, but she was wearing the wrong size and  her toes did not have enough room. If you have never been inside a running store to get your feet fitted properly, I highly recommend it. Yes, I buy most of my shoes online (and preferably last year’s model so they are on sale!). But I can’t overstate the importance of consulting with a trained professional. Once you figure out your size and preferred brand, by all means, go stock up on them at an online sale. But don’t pick your shoes based on a picture on a website or even based on a recommendation from a friend. We are all different and our feet are different too. For example, I need to wear zero-drop shoes (absolutely no cushioned heel) because of an injury to my ankle more than 10 years ago that affects my ankle flexibility. Many people find those uncomfortable, but I actually find the cushion uncomfortable. Have a professional help you figure out which styles, brands and sizes work for you. And note that sizes can vary widely by brand.  In dress shoes, I wear a 6 or 6.5. In New Balance Minimus (my preferred road shoe), I wear a 7 or 7.5. And in Altra King MT (my preferred trail shoe), I wear a size 8! I never would have known that if I hadn’t spent some time talking with the team at Healdsburg Running Company (HRC) and trying different options. Who would have thought I need to buy a size 8???? But now that I know that, I am SO much happier with my shoes!


Some of you have mentioned that you feel intimidated to walk into a running store. Yes, many of the people who shop at HRC are hard-core ultra marathoners. But you know what? Many of their customers are just casual folk looking for a comfortable shoe. Just try it. I can almost guarantee that no running store will look down on you for not being “hard core enough” or “not fit enough” or not-being-anything-else-enough. On the contrary, they will be thrilled that you are getting started, and they will be happy to help. If they aren’t knowledgeable and happy to help, find a different store.  So take advantage of their expertise and give them the chance to welcome you. And if you live in Sonoma County, HRC is AWESOME! They have all the best gear and super knowledgeable staff. 


Once you have a pair of shoes that work for you…buy another pair. If 2 different types work for you, buy one of each. If there is one you love, buy a second pair of those (preferably in a different color so you can tell them apart). When you are training, alternate pairs each run. If on Tuesday you wore pair 1, wear pair 2 on Thursday. Why? Each shoe fits the foot in a unique way (even if they are the same style of the same brand) and this will help your feet not develop sore spots in one particular area. Also, shoes wear out approximately every 300-500 miles (depending on a variety of factors). Alternating between two pair will keep you from wearing out your shoes just in time to need new ones before that big race you’ve been training for (when you won’t have time to break them in). With 2 pairs, you will have 2 sets of “broken in/but not worn out” shoes come race day. 

If you have any questions about shoes or anything else, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Setting Running Goals

Greetings from San Diego! I am attending the Sought-After Speaker Mastermind Program retreat with my fabulous business coach, Caterina Rando, this week. And in the spirit of setting goals, I thought I would share some thoughts with you on setting running/walking/fitness goals you can actually achieve. 

Define your Goal


Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?  Do you see it clearly in your mind? Visualize exactly what it is you want.

Create a Plan


Once you know where you want to be, how will you get there? Do you have a plan? If your goal is to run or walk a 5k, half marathon, or even a full marathon, I can help you with that. Reply to this email for more info. 

Break the Plan Down into Incredibly Small Steps


Goals are just a string of tiny habits strewn together. Yes, looking up the whole staircase can be daunting.  But the staircase is just an accumulation of individual steps. Take one step at a time. 

Tell Others


Share your plan with friends. Better yet… recruit them to join you! The best way to accomplish a goal is to surround yourself with people who support and share your goal.

Be Patient


Sometimes you will get off track. Life happens. Don’t let that discourage you. Instead, work with it. Realize that the real goal is not this one race, but rather lifelong habits that will help you stay fit for the rest of your life.


What goals do you have for yourself in the coming year?