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: ] 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:]  

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?

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!