Showing posts with label Tuesday Topics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuesday Topics. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

9 Fun Things You Can Do to Help Manage Your Anxiety During Stressful Times

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. 

Do I even have to say that right now is the probably one of the most frightening times we've lived in since 9/11? The uncertainty, the lack of knowledge and mixed messages, and onslaught of bad news has sent even the calmest of folks into a tailspin. For those of us who are prone to anxiety, it has become very difficult to manage.

I could write a post about all the usual things you can do to help keep yourself calm: limit screen time and avoid the news, get outside for some fresh air, guided meditation and breathing exercises, phone a friend or video chat with a few, working out, limiting alcohol, and avoiding overeating--all things that can certainly help with managing stress. If you have anxiety issues, you know about all these things. You've probably tried some, if not all of them.

All my life, I've dealt with anxiety. Believe me, I've tried all kinds of strategies to manage my symptoms when they threaten to take over. Today I've got you covered with some creative, fun things you can do to distract yourself, make yourself smile, and maybe ease some of your anxiety. What we're dealing with right now isn't one bit fun, but taking a break from all the bad news and stress to do something different just might help ease the pain a bit.



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How To Do The Perfect Push Up

Recently, I was tagged multiple times on Instagram to participate in a 10x10 push up challenge. With everyone staying at home for an undefinite period of time, workout challenges and virtual workouts have become very popular. I was pretty excited about the push up challenge because I think the push up is the perfect exercise. All runners should be incorporating push ups into their cross training regimen.

There's a reason push ups are used as a benchmark of physical fitness. Push ups are one of the best body weight movements you can do. Push ups strengthen your chest and back muscles, as well as your arms. Done properly, push ups force you to engage your core to support  and strengthen your lower back. Your lower body is engaged as a stabilizer throughout the movement. Push ups can also strengthen the muscles that support the shoulders.

You need no equipment to do a push up, which makes it the perfect movement for a home exercise program.



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

10 Things Runners Can Do to While Waiting to Outrun the Coronavirus

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Coronavirus is spreading rapidly and people are being asked to curtail their activities. Social distancing is the phrase of the moment and means we have to avoid close contact with others. Bars and restaurants are closed. Handshakes-heck, even fist bumps, are out. Events are being cancelled. That includes races. The Tokyo Marathon? Cancelled. The Boston Marathon? The London Marathon? The Berlin Marathon? All postponed to September. Interestingly, 5 of the 6 World Marathon Majors will be held in the fall this year.

All of my spring races have been cancelled or postponed, except for one, which was a DNS for me. My running club has cancelled all of its group runs. My CrossFit box is closed for the next 2 weeks. What's a runner to do? I'm not good at sitting still and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a little directionless. No worries! I've got a list of 10 things to keep that running fire burning.


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book Review: Run to the Finish: The Everyday Runner's Guide to Avoiding Injury, Ignoring the Clock, and Loving the Run

Disclaimer: I received a prerelease copy of Run to the Finish from NetGalley and Hatchette Books in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links. 

Before I ever started blogging, I read running blogs. At the time, I was starting to run half marathons and while searching Google for advice, I stumbled upon a few running blogs written by women who were moms and/or 'regular' runners. Totally relateable, I ate up everything I read. I probably learned more about running from those blogs than from any technical books I had been reading. I enjoyed the camaraderie that developed with the authors when I left comments on their posts. Through this community, I developed a confidence in my running as well as developed an identity as a 'real runner'.

One of the first running blogs I ever read was Amanda Brooks' Run To The Finish. Along with some of the other runblogging pioneers like Miss Zippy, Marcia's Healthy Slice, Shut Up and Run, and the ladies at Another Mother RunnerRun to the Finish has been on my to-read list since then. Althought we've never met in person, over the years, Amanda and I have become blogging friends simply through commenting on each other's blogs. It's been a lot of fun and exciting to watch her opportunities grow through her blog. This month, Amanda released her first book, aptly titled: Run to The Finish.

Run to the Finish, in Amanda's words, is not a book "for the elite runners. It's a book for me and you and the 98 percent of us in the middle of the pack to know that its just fine to be the best runner you can be while juggling work, family, friends, and still enjoying that delicious slice of pizza every Friday night."



Tuesday, March 3, 2020

5 Things I Considered When Buying My First Pair of Trail Shoes and A Review of the Brooks Cascadia 14 XT

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I almost never post shoe reviews. Why would I? There are plenty of shoe reviews available online, right? Runner's World has become nothing but shoe reviews. I received the new edition in the mail yesterday and yep, 30 new shoes!

With so many reviews and so many shoe companies vying for our business, who can we trust for an honest review? When I was shopping for trail shoes, I came across so many differing opinions. One website gave the shoes I eventually bought 5 stars, another 2.5 stars. I was so confused and I didn't know what shoes to pick.

So, I turned to my running friends for advice. Marcia, who is my go-to expert for all things running and who runs trails regularly, told me to start with the brand of shoes I normally run in--solid, common sense advice. Another blogger, Shiastho, who regularly runs trails with her husband, shared on a blog post that her husband bought the Brooks Cascadia, the model I was considering, and was really liking them. Based on those 2 trusted opinions, I made my decision and bought the Cascadia, opting for the XT model, which is made with GoreTex and provides protection from water.



Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Can You Run When You're Sick?

Disclaimer: In my real life, I'm a nurse practitioner. As always, with any medical advice you read on the internet, it is always best to check with your personal medical provider. And just so you know, Dr Google is not your friend.

Influenza. Coronavirus. Norovirus. Rhinovirus. Enterovirus. 

If it seems like the whole world is sick, you might be right. Influenza activity remains high, with strains of type A and B still circulating. You can't turn on the news without hearing about Coronovirus and its imminent threat. Coronavirus is so widespread in Asia that the Tokyo Marathon announced it would be cancelling the race for everyone except elite runners and elite wheelchair athletes.

I guess elites are immune to Coronavirus? Not sure I understand that logic. Not sure I'd be traveling to Asia to run the Tokyo marathon right now. And now the Coronavirus is spreading through Europe, with an increasing number of cases in the US. It's enough to make you want to run away! 

If you've been lucky enough to escape illness this winter, count yourself in the minority. My clinic has been busy and I'm washing my hands like it's my job. I don't want to get sick and I'm sure you don't either. 

What if you do come down with something? Can you still run? Will you? How does an ailing runner know when it's ok to lace up? I've got some tips to help you decide if you should stay on the couch or if you can go.



Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Race Recap: CARA Honda Miles Per Hour Run

It has been many years since I attended the Chicago Auto Show. In the days before children, my husband and I went quite a few times with friends. We'd make a whole evening of it, going out to dinner after. It was always a lot of fun!

When the Chicago Area Runners' Association (CARA) announced they would be organizing a race through the Chicago Auto Show, I was intrigued! The race was going to be one hour and runners would be expected to complete as many miles as possible in that time frame. I had never done a race like that before and certainly, I had never run a race through an auto show.

I figured it would be different and it would be fun. Plus, I can do anything for an hour, right?



Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Race Recap: Universal Sole Valentine's Trail Challenge

What the what? Yep, you read it right. I ran a trail race. In the winter. In Chicago. Now, while our trails aren't what you might think of when you think of trails, we city people are pretty fortunate that about 100 years ago, civic leaders set aside land to create forest preserves, open land that everyone could use. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County is one of the oldest and largest in the nation. Regular readers of my blog know that I do a lot of training in the forest preserves. It's an opportunity to spend time in nature while living in a very urbanized area.

I wanted to run a race this past weekend and I was thrilled to see that Universal Sole, a race promoter in Chicago, hosts a trail race series in Schiller Woods, one of the forest preserves on the border of the city. I signed up 2 days before the race and at 8 am, arrived on-site to pick up my packet. It was 30 degrees, the ground was covered with snow, and I was wearing my new trail shoes.

It was pretty much a perfect day for a February trail run in Chicago!

The start/finish chute

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Spring Race Plans

Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for All Community Events and the Chicago Area Runners Association. I received comped entries in exchange for sharing their races on my social media accounts. All opinions are my own.

While most of you have already solidified your spring running plans, mine have been kind of in flux. I had a few loose ends to wrap up including that heavy lifting cycle. Now that I'm done with that, I'm ready to shift the focus back to running. I am especially excited this year because I am feeling good and ready to run the races I couldn't run last year due to that extended RA flare.

Fingers crossed that feeling good continues!

I've had a few spring races in the back of my mind. I'm returning as an All Community Events ambassador this year and will be running a few of their races! This year I'm excited to announce that I will be offering discount codes for some of the races I will be running. Stay tuned to the blog for that.

In addition to the ACE ambassadorship, I was selected to represent the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) as an ambassador. The details of my responsibilities are still unfolding, but I will be running the races that they sponsor.

In March, I'll be taking my annual Florida trip to visit my parents and I'm planning on running a trail race down there. Last year, I ran a couple of short trail races and really liked the experience. This should be interesting.



Tuesday, January 21, 2020

PRs and My First Powerlifting Meet

Followers of the blog know I've been working on getting stronger for a long time. I started strength training back in 2013 after a long stretch of running-related injuries. Long story short, I was evaluated by a corrective exercise specialist and was told that I had weak hips and my glutes weren't firing. Hey now! After working on getting stronger, I learned the valuable lesson that runners cannot live on miles alone. That coach, Becky, trained me for my PR Chicago marathon.

She had me at deadlifts.

When Becky moved to Las Vegas in 2017, I found a new coach, Sammy Jo, at the same CrossFit box. We have been working together for almost 3 years but it really wasn't until last fall that I really found my strong. Sammy Jo and I decided that for this strength cycle, I was going to go for some really heavy lifting. My prolonged RA flare from earlier in the year had finally resolved and I was ready to kick RA to the curb.

Over the past 4-5 months, Sammy Jo has pushed me harder than I've ever been pushed, outside of running. It was a new kind of uncomfortable and there were times when I felt overwhelmed and maybe even a little scared. She was right by my side and promised me I'd not get hurt lifting the heavy weights. I didn't.

When the CrossFit box announced a powerlifting meet, Sammy Jo wanted me to enter. My strength cycle was wrapping up and she thought it was the perfect time for me to push for some PRs. I was reluctant. Me, in a powerlifting meet? The new owners of the box also encouraged me to sign up. So I did.




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

How To Be a Good Social Media Steward: 14 Tips to Keep Your Interactions Positive

Disclaimer: This is an updated post from 2017.

As a run blogger, I am very active on social media. I participate in 2 sharing pods on Instagram and look at a lot of Instagram posts. While I love to hate on Facebook, I have an active presence there with a page and participation in several sharing groups. I use Twitter but still don't really get it. Pinterest is one of my number one referral sources and so I work really hard to develop pins that are attractive and likely to be repinned.

So you might call me fairly well acquainted with social media. I wouldn't call myself an expert. I play by the rules. I come by my likes and shares fairly.

Sometimes social media makes me cranky. Not only because people don't follow the "rules" but because they're posting things that maybe they shouldn't. Based on my observations, I've got some tips for playing nice on social media.



Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Not Every Race Has Bling: 8 Lessons Learned from Running 2019

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and my experiences should not be used for your medical decision making. I would refer you back to your medical provider. 

Coming off 2018, one my highest mileage years ever, the bar was set high. There was no reason to think I couldn't ride the wave through 2019, right? 2019 started off really well for me, with a half marathon in January, followed by an indoor marathon relay. The polar vortex didn't slow me down!

No, but rheumatoid arthritis had other ideas. In February, I received the shingles vaccine after which I had a reaction. For most people, the vaccine reaction is short--about 24-48 hours, but for this RA warrior, the vaccine triggered a prolonged flare of my disease. For the next 4-6 months, I battled severe fatigue, joint pain, and loss of endurance. While the flare slowly resolved, it was frustrating and I received very little support from my rheumatologist, save for multiple rounds of steroids.

Taking charge of my health, I changed my diet, reducing the amount of 'inflammatory' foods and eating mostly plant-based. I also learned about and started a medication that could help with some of the pain I had been experiencing. I sought out a second opinion from a different rheumatologist and switched my care to her. Time will tell if she's 'the one' for me.

As the year winds down, I am back on track and feeling really good. While I continue to have mild symptoms that remind me that yes, I do have RA, this is the best I have felt in a long time. Instead of doing a traditional recap of all my races--you can find all my recaps on my races page--I wanted to share a few highlights along with some of the lessons I learned over the course of the year. Because running is always teaching us old dogs new tricks.



Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Race Recap: Cocoa Classic 5k

Disclaimer: As an ambassador for All Community Events, I received a free entry to the Cocoa Classic 5k

What better way to celebrate the holiday season than by running a holiday-themed race? Holiday races are becoming very popular. Here in the Chicago area, we have quite a few options, both in the city and the suburbs. Last year, I ran the Cocoa Classic 5k and I really enjoyed it. So when it came time to sign up for a holiday race, I decided to run it again.

The real Cocoa

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

5 Reasons You Should Keep Running Through the Holidays

This is an updated post from 2017.

Who doesn't love the holidays? All the food, the parties, the gifting... all the calories, the stress, the rushing....

I don't know about you but if there's ever a time of year, I need to run, it's December! Every year I say I'm going to start preparing for the holidays much earlier but it never happens. Coupled with my job in healthcare where we work holidays plus it seems like everyone is sick right now, there's not a lot of downtime. Heck, here I am blogging when I should be putting up holiday decorations. I ran this morning when I should have been doing my last minute shopping. But I just know that if I don't move and get my heart rate up, something's going to suffer.

Here are 5 reasons you need to keep running through the holidays!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

10 Unique Holiday Gifts for the Runner in Your Life and Links to Other Gift Lists

HOHOHO! I'm hosting a Holiday Fitness Gift Guide Linkup now through December 24. Please feel free to link up your gift guides all month long! Excited to see what everyone is sharing. 
Fine Print: Fitness related gift guides only, please. All others will be removed. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

'Tis the season to be shopping...and running...

Pretty much all I want for Christmas is running stuff. I think I'm easy to shop for, but oddly enough, I rarely receive anything running related. It's as if my family and friends don't even know me. If only they read my blog...

This year I got smart and started shopping early! Maybe I've even already bought myself a thing or two off my list. Maybe I've received some of these things as gifts! Maybe you'll find something you want. All I have to say is---I love everything on this list!



Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How to Meet Other Runners

Recently on Facebook, a 'chain' post has been circulating. You may have seen it. It's called the '10 day Running Challenge' and runners are 'nominated' by other runners to share 10 days of photos from a memorable day in your life of running. I don't normally do these things but I thought it might be fun--at least for me, lol-- to share some memories from my years of running and racing. No one that I've nominated has taken me up on the challenge, though.

A friend of mine from high school, who I admire greatly and nominated for this challenge, sent me a message. She wanted to do the challenge but told me she doesn't know any runners to nominate to the challenge. She told me her New Years' resolution is to find some running friends.

It sounds so trite. But I totally understood where she was coming from. In the past, none of my friends were runners. I was used to running alone. I'd go to races alone and see groups of runners cheering each other on and celebrating together after the race. For introverted extroverts like me, meeting new people isn't easy. However, over the past 10 years, I've met other runners and have found a nice balance between my love for solo runs and the desire for socializing at races. Plus I needed people I could talk to about running!

How can runners meet other runners?

Marcia, Renee, and me spectating at the 2019 Chicago Marathon

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

9 Tips for Running Outside in the Winter

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

I can't believe I've never posted on this topic. Certainly, I've talked about running outside in the winter here on the blog many times. After all, I am the queen of running outside all year round. Last winter, when my treadmill died, I seriously contemplated not replacing it. I used the old one so infrequently, it lasted 21 years! Then the polar vortex hit and that reframed my perspective. Still, my new treadmill has only been used a handful of times. I frequently espouse the mental and physical benefits of fresh air and natural light. Besides, running outside in the deep of winter will earn you a reputation with your family and friends. Either they will call you "Crazy" or they will bestow you with compliments like "Badass" or "Diehard".

It's all good.

If you want to brave the winter and run outside, I've got tips for staying warm and upright in the cold. You might be cursing me when you start, but I guarantee that when you finish your run, you'll be thanking me. Running outside in the winter can be a pretty amazing experience! It can also be a challenge. Being prepared will keep you warm and safe.



Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Race Recap: Hot Chocolate 15k

Will run for chocolate.

As much as I love chocolate, I'd rather run for beer, but it has to be a good beer and that doesn't seem to be much of an option these days! I've run the Hot Chocolate 15k three times now. It's not my favorite race--there always seem to be some glitches--but I do like the distance and the swag is good. My friend Steph wanted me to run it with her this year. My endurance is returning and I thought the timing was right.

With a 7 am gun time, Steph arrived at my house at 5:15 and we drove to downtown Chicago for the race! Thank goodness for Daylight Savings Time. That extra hour of sleep felt good.



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Second Opinion: How Do I Know Which Way to Go?

Disclaimer: This post is not intended to give medical advice, but to share my personal experience. You should always consult your medical provider for any concerns regarding your health. In addition, I am pro-vaccine and am not advocating for anyone to avoid a vaccine based on my experience.

Last February, I developed a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flare that never seemed to end. Initially, I wasn't sure what was going on but my endurance was suddenly gone. Poof! It was as if I never had run a step in my life. My heart would beat into the red zone if I moved any faster than a walk. I was experiencing an uptick in joint pain and such severe fatigue that I could barely climb a flight of stairs without having to stop to catch my breath. Running became such a challenge that even the run/walk intervals I had used successfully in the past weren't helping me.

Was it the weather? Or something else? As the symptoms continued, I thought about everything that could have caused this flare. Then the light bulb went off. I had received a shingles vaccine week earlier-- could that have triggered an immune response that fueled my disease? Upon the advice of my rheumatologist, I held my dose of Humira the week before and after receiving the vaccine so that my immune system would properly respond to the vaccine. The day after I received the vaccine, I developed a fever and body aches. I figured it was just a typical vaccine reaction. I initially felt better but after a week or so found myself in a full-blown disease flare.

Unfortunately, this flare lasted for months. A course of steroids would tamp down my symptoms, but as soon as I stopped them, the flare would fire up again.

A long time runner, I have always used my runs to measure my health. I might wake up in the morning and feel bad, but if I have a run scheduled and it goes well, I know that I'm well enough to go to work and proceed with my day. I think most runners are in tune with their bodies and can read their symptoms pretty well. As a nurse practitioner, I joke that I have enough medical knowledge to be dangerous. The bottom line is that I have the ability to figure out what is happening with me.
If you have been reading my blog for some time, you know that I struggled with running and other endurance workouts for most of this year. I dropped down to the 5k in many of my planned races as well as DNSing races that didn't have a shorter distance as an option. It was disheartening as well as discouraging. In August, I wrote a post titled "Can I Even Call Myself a Runner". I was really depressed and frustrated. I thought I might not be able to run anymore.

My rheumatologist downplayed my symptoms. Among the other things she told me, she said that since my inflammatory markers were normal, my symptoms weren't due to an RA flare. Frustrated with her response to my concerns, I decided to seek a second opinion. Even though there was a 6 month wait for a new patient appointment with the rheumatologist I wanted to see, I was willing to wait. I knew that the flare would take time to resolve and that there was nothing magical to make it go away. I just wanted to find a provider who would listen to me.



Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Race Recap: Backpack Buddies 5k Run

On my recent trip to Alabama, my friend Holly suggested we run a 5k. After all, we are runners, right? The race just happened to be on my birthday. I was a little worried about the waterskiing we did the night before as well as the infamous southern heat, and maybe the wine we drank, but reminded myself that this was just for fun.