Write and Run Update: May 16, 2016 Week

Write Run Challenge Week Image 1This is my first week of my Write and Run Challenge. My kids have a track meet this coming Saturday so my runs this week will actually be lighter than a normal week since I run with my daughter. On meet weekends, the program eliminates the long run and I won’t run on the day of the meet. So, here is what I have accomplished so far:

Monday, May 16th – Run: 0.0 (I do cross training of spin bike and strength on Mondays).
Write: 1042 words

Tuesday, May 17th – Run: 3.2 miles (5150 meters)
Write: 2148 words

Wednesday, May 18th – Run: 0.0 (Cross Training with Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I did Level 2 today.)
Write: 1175 words

Thursday, May 19th – Run 3.0 miles (4828 meters…I’ll admit this is an estimate. My daughter made me switch watches with her because hers was about out of battery.)
Write: 1451 words

Friday, May 20th – Run 2.0 miles (3218 meters)
Write: 0 words (oops, that was NOT good!)

Saturday, May 21st – Run 0.0 (at my kid’s track meet for 11 hours – they smoked it this meet!)
Write: 0 words (I tried…but I fell asleep)

Sunday, May 22nd – Run 0.0
Write: 860 words

Grand Total for Week: 13196 meters run, 6676 words written. Ok, that is not what I was hoping for. Next week, I will do better!



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Today Begins the Write and Run Challenge

write run challengeI have a lot of friends that write for a living. Whether you write novels, blog posts, articles, technical report or even email. You use your writing skills on a daily basis. In fact, some of us write as much or more than we run. Over the next three weeks, I need to crank out about 50,000 words in order to finish drafts on my next three books, which are in various stages of progress. To push myself to meet the challenge, today I am starting a Write and Run Challenge.

The challenge is simple. For ever meter I run each week, I will write one word. For example, if I run 5000 meters (5K), I will write 5000 words. Trust me though, it is a lot easier to run 5000 meters then it is to write 5000 words so this is why it is such a challenge.

To meet my 50,000 word goal, I need to run 50,000 meters or 31 miles. That doesn’t sound too difficult. Last week I ran about 20 miles. For the running part, I feel confident. The writing is another story…or three. I will keep a tally of my daily runs and writing and report them on the blog. If you are a runner and writer, take the challenge with me and let me know how you do.


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Top 5 Things to Know about Your Kid’s First Track and Field Meet

Top 5 First MeetMy kid’s track club had their first meet this weekend. They had a great first meet and got a look at some of their competition for the season. Luckily, this is season number eight for us so we are well prepared for the day with tents, chairs, food, drinks and equipment. But when you are first getting started, it can be intimidating to see everything that is going on and to figure out the schedule of events.

I asked my kids to tell me the most important things for new athletes and parents to know for their first meet and this is what they said.

  1. The day is going to be long. Most track meets take seven to 10 hours depending on how many athletes are entered and what events they are running. There are two types of schedules that a meet may follow. Many meets run on a rolling schedule where the start time for the first running event and an order list of the following events which proceed one after another. Meets often assign a start time and age group for the first group at each field event with a list of subsequent age groups that follow one after another. Other meets are set to a specific time schedule with a time assigned to each running or field event.
  2. It is going to get hot. Spring and summer track meets can start off at a comfortable temperature but soon get blazing hot, especially here in the south. Do your best to keep cool between events by using cooling next cloths and wraps or misting fans. The cooler you stay, the easier it will be to run when it is time for your next race.
  3. You are going to get hungry but not want to eat at the same time. Running hard can make you hungry but the temperatures may make you feel like you don’t want to eat. I used to take sandwiches for lunch but the kids would never eat them. I switched to smoothies, which they like much better. I make the smoothies the night before and freeze them in Tervis tumblers. Once we get to the meet the next day, I sit them out to thaw and by lunch time they are ready for the kids to drink.
  4. You may have a running and field event at the same time, but don’t panic. Regardless of how long a meet takes, my kids almost always have a running and field event at the same time at least once during the season. The typical protocol is to check in at your field event and tell them that you have to go run. Most meets will let you leave, run and then come back to complete your field event. If the meet officials are not willing to do this, talk to your coach about the best procedure.
  5. It is going to be FUN! Track meets are fun. You will have great races and some not so great over the course of your career but you should always be having a great time.

If this is your kid’s first track meet, it will seem like chaos at times, but don’t panic. Most meets are laid back and they want the kids to participate in all of their events and have a great time.

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Aqua Jogging…It’s a Real Thing and Can Help Your Running

Aqua Jogging 2Aqua jogging…have you heard of it? It is a real thing, it is harder than it looks, you do feel like an idiot when you start but it can really help your running. Aqua jogging is running in water without letting your feet touch the ground.

Running in water is a great substitute for actual running on roads or trails when you have an injury or want to workout with no impact. The basics are pretty simple. You need a deep pool and a float vest. A cute little pool ring might work, too.

Getting Started
Starting an aqua jogging program is generally easy if you have a pool accessible. You need a deep pool, a float vest, and if you want to ramp up your workouts, water weights. Make sure that the pool is deep enough, at least, at one end, that you cannot touch the bottom. If you are going to a public pool, try going when the pool is not crowded so that you have a clear lane for running.

Good Running Form
The hardest part is learning how to use proper running form in the water. When I first started, I found myself leaning forward in the water as I ran. Try to keep your body is the same alignment and form as if you were running on the road or a track. Move your legs, feet and arms in the same manner as you would as if you were running outdoors. It will seem difficult at first, but give it a few laps and you will begin to feel more comfortable and will be able to gain speed.

Types of Workouts
When I started aqua jogging, I simply went up and down the pool for a specific distance trying to perfect my form. I grew up a swimmer so I often equate swimming distances with running times. In general, if you are a decent runner and swimmer, I find that a 400-meter run is roughly equivalent to a 150 to 200-meter swim. Of course, water running will be somewhat slower than a full swim.

You can design your pool running workouts to mimic your road or track workouts. You can do an easy or distance run by aqua jogging for a specific time period. Or, you could run sprints, tempo or threshold workouts by using the equivalent distances or the pace clock at the pool to keep track of your intervals.

Regardless of how you choose to aqua jog, it is a great way to add to your running workouts without additional impact to your joints or to rehab after an injury.


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Do I Have to Race to be a Runner?

Do I Have to RaceThere is a lot of focus these days on road races, trail runs, and runs with obstacle courses. But, do you really need to race in order to be a runner? I don’t think so.

There are a lot of reasons to go for a run that have nothing to do with racing or beating your best time. Here are just a few of the reasons why you might want to go for a run without worrying if it will help you PR at your next race.

  1. Explore new areas
  2. Control your weight
  3. Regular exercise boosts your health
  4. Endorphins boost your mood
  5. Running clothes are cool
  6. Running with friends or family can be fun
  7. Cheer for your kids at cross country meets
  8. Feel like you accomplished something
  9. Clear your mind and boost creativity
  10. Listen to podcasts or music 
    It’s true that running races can be a lot of fun but as you can see from this list, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to go on a run without wearing a bib number.
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Top 5 Reasons I Love 5Ks Road Races

Top 5 Reasons I Love 5KsWhen you starting looking at potential road races the choices can be overwhelming. There are so many different distances 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon and many more. At least where I live, you can’t pass a weekend without finding at least one run somewhere in town. Out of all of the possible races, I like the 5K the best. A 5K, or 5 kilometer, race is 3.1 miles, 16,638 feet or 196,416 inches if you really want details. Five kilometer races are my favorite for these reasons:

1. Reasonable training times fit in with work and family. If you have limited time to train but want to find a race length where you can complete and try to lower your time, you may like a 5K. Generally, your longest runs for a 5K are no more than 10 miles and if you are more of a casual runner, you may not even run that far.

2. Not too long for speed. If you like to get your speed up, a 5K is short enough to feel like you can push your speed without having to conserve too much for later miles.

3. No need to carry water bottles or energy foods. 5K races usually have at least one or two water stations along the route which is plenty for the distance. Also, I’ve found that unless I’m running more than five miles that I do not need water for training runs. (This may change when temps skyrocket in summer months.)

4. It’s the easiest distance to learn to run without walking breaks. Since a 5K is typically one of the shortest road races, it is the easiest to learn how to run the distance without needing to walk. If you are a beginner, it may take 12 to 16 weeks to work up to a full run for a 5K, but you definitely can achieve the goal.

5. They are fun! 5K races are fun. Most runs have a theme or a charity attached. Some people dress in crazy clothes and costumes to fit the theme. During Christmas runs, some races even give prizes if you run the race wearing antlers. Most races have awards and some bigger races have food vendors and music for an after party.

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How to Run with Your Child when they are Faster than You

Run Around PondsHave you ever tried to go on a fun, easy run with your kids but they are so much faster than you that they leave you in the dust almost instantly? That happens to me to a regular basis. By my calculations, my daughter is about 25% faster than me per mile. We have similar endurance so we can both run for the same amount of time without having to stop and walk but she can go farther in that time frame.

Run Loops

The easiest way to run with a much faster runner is to have them run loops around you. Choose a place with long open roads where we can see each other for a 100 to 200 yards at a time. Let the faster runners move ahead for a comfortable distance then have them turn around and run back to you. Keep running loops until you reach the end of the run. If your younger runners are not sure when to turn pick landmarks, such as every five houses or every 20 house numbers. Over time, you will each learn the best places to run the loops and make your turns.

Run Circles
Another great place to run with faster runners is around ponds baseball fields or on a track. When you are all confined to a similar small circle, it is easy to see each other and to stay close. Just don’t be shocked when your kids lap you over and over. 🙂

Run Hills
If you are really in for a punishing run, find a small hill and run laps up and down. Hills are a great place for fun runs because you can make a game out of who can complete the most laps or quickest time up the slope.

Where do you like to run with your kids or other running partners who are faster than you?

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Ice can be a Runner’s Best Friend

Ice with textNo matter how long you’ve been running – one day or many years, you are bound to have sore, tired or strained muscles. If you find yourself limping around or having trouble walking, I have one word for you: ICE. And lots of it.

You don’t need to have any injury to use ice to help your muscles recover between runs. Put a bag of crushed ice on sore or strained muscles for 20 to 30 minutes at least once per day. You can even ice up to every hour, as necessary. The ice helps reduce any swelling and pain in the muscle. Here is a great article about muscle strains that discusses the use of ice to help heal. When you are feeling sore or strained and ice does not make your muscles feel better combined with rest, see a doctor to make sure that your injury is not severe.

If you don’t have small ice cubes or crushed ice, bags of small vegetables like peas or corn work great for icing sore muscles. My kids prefer bags of peas. I usually buy large bags of peas and split them up into heavy-duty zipper bags. You can use these bags over and over (just don’t accidentally eat them!)

Sometimes I will use ice to prepare for a long run or a 5K race. I’m not sure if it helps me run faster or longer but it does make my legs feel good on the runs especially when I’m trying to keep up with a much younger and faster runner. Don’t forget that resting your muscles between runs or when you are feeling sore, tired or strained is also important to feeling your best.

So the next time your muscles feel sore, tired or strained, try sitting around with a bag of ice or frozen peas while you rest. You will feel better soon!

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Don’t Fear the Long Run

Running Trail Image w TextMost running programs have a long run one day each week. Try to pick a day for your long run when you have a little more free time like a weekend or when the kids are at school or a play date.

When you first start looking at some of these training programs as a new runner, the idea of running 5, 6 or 7 miles seems impossible. It did, and still does, to me some days. But one thing to remember is that your long runs don’t have to be that long. They should just be longer than your other training runs at first. There are several ways to increase your long run days so you are certain to find a method that works for you.

Slowly Increase Your Distance
When you start running, only increase your mileage about 10% each week. I’ve found that one of the easy ways to do that, especially when you have limited time for your workouts, is to add distance to my long run. When I started running, I increased my long runs by 0.25 to 0.50 miles each week. It wasn’t much but over time, I was able to add a couple of miles to my long run.

Slowly Increase Your Time
Another way to think about your long runs is by time rather than distance. Instead of telling yourself that you have to run five miles on your long run, think about running for a certain number of minutes. For example, if you run for 15 to 20 minutes most days, try to run for 30 to 40 minutes on your long run day.

The Walk-Run-Walk Plan
If running double the distance or time on your long runs days is too hard, add short bursts of walking into the workout. Just being up on your legs for the longer period of time will help increase your strength and endurance. You can add these walking sections by alternating a 30 second walk with a 30 second run. Over time, increase the intervals to a one minute walk and a one minute run. Eventually, you will find that you can increase your run time as you add to your distance.

Good luck and keep rocking your long runs!



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Top 3 Free Websites for New Runners

Top_3_Free_SitesIf you are anything like me, when you start something new you scour the internet looking for websites to help you figure out what you are doing. Over the past year, I have found three websites that I use a lot when planning a run. I think you will find these helpful too.

1. What to Wear from Runner’s World – This website is a must when you have changing weather conditions and you are a relatively new runner. I just love this site because you input the current temperature, wind and weather conditions, time of day, what type of run you are doing (long run, easy run, speed, etc.) and if you want to feel warm, cool or in between and the site tells you what to wear. I actually have this site bookmarked on my phone too. In my experience, the website is right on the money every time. You don’t realize how much you heat up when you run or just how cold that wind is on your skin so this web app is perfect.

2. Pace Calculator from Cool Running – This site is great after you race or go on a run. Especially if your watch doesn’t give splits easily or you, um, well, forget to charge it and the battery dies mid-race. Not that I would ever let that happen… Moving on, this site is very handy because you input your time and distance and it will calculate your average pace. It is also cool because if you are trying to lower your time and hit a specific pace target, you can use it to calculate your finish time at different paces.

3. Training Paces from Runner’s World – This simple calculator helps you determine what your pace should be on different training runs. All you do is input a recent race time and the distance of the race and it calculates what your training paces should be for easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, speed form, maximum oxygen and Yasso 800s. I haven’t tried maximum oxygen or Yasso 800 workouts but for the other four types of training runs, the calculator has been right on what I can hold during the workouts.

Give these sites a try and see what you think. If you have any other fun, free resources that other runners might like to know about post them in the comments below or send me a private message so I can pass along the websites.

Until next time, keep rocking your runs!

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