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?

Warming Up

You wouldn’t expect your car to just “take off” without giving it some time to warm up would you? You can’t expect your body to take off right away either. Take some time before your run or walk warm up your body. Warming up is different than stretching. Stretching is great after your workout to release any tension that has built up. Warm ups, on the other hand, are dynamic rather than static like stretching. In a dynamic movement, you do not hold the position as you would when you are stretching. Rather you move “through” the movement. Kind of like revving your car engine, this gives the body a chance to ease into movement rather than just slamming down on the gas pedal. Take a look at a sample warm up routine in the video below.

What to expect at our Virtual Workout?

Thanks so much for checking us out. Why should you join a virtual workout?

*Be safe! Someone is always with you

*Run/walk at the perfect pace for you and still stay with the group

*Get feedback on your form and tips to help you run easier and pain-free

*Get encouragement from new friends who share your interests and passions

*Have more fun!

We meet via Zoom, which is an app available for both Apple and Android phones, so look for it wherever you regularly download apps. I open up the call 5 minutes before we begin just in case people have technical issues with the Zoom app or the internet that need to be resolved before we get going. In order to get the link to our call, you can register here. Signing up is free, of course. You can find out the days/times we walk here.

We always start with a warm up. And then we take a 30 minute walk or run together. Since this is virtual, you can go at whatever pace makes you comfortable and you can not be left behind! Some people even call in from their treadmill. And as we walk, we chat. We encourage running and walking pain-free, so your running/walking form is important and I am always happy to answer any questions your may have. We also encourage everyone to do two more runs/walks during the rest of the week and before our next group meeting. So this is a great time to address any questions you may have thought of during those sessions as well. These sessions don’t have to be long, just something to keep your body used to moving. Consistency is the key. And by checking in with us on Mondays we will help you stay motivated and accountable. You can do this!


What should you bring to the meeting? 

*Your phone…so you can connect via zoom

*Proper running shoes (no dress shoes, flip flops, converse, keds, or vans!)*

*Clothing appropriate to your climate. Remember: cotton retains sweat, which will make you cold in the winter and hot in the summer. So you will want to wear something made of synthetic, wicking fabrics.

*A water bottle if you think you might get thirsty. If you don’t bring water, be sure to hydrate before the meeting.

Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out!