How to save money on running

How to save money on running

"Running is cheap; all you need is a good pair of sneakers."

Ummm ... no. 

"Need" is the operative word, here. Forbes reported that road racing is a $1.4 billion+ industry, and running shoes are a $3 billion industry. You can drop a lot of money on something that theoretically only requires shoes and clothing. Once you catch the running bug, you'll want more than just sneakers.

Want to enjoy running without running out of money? Try these tips...

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March Stride Box Review

March Stride Box Review

Time for another exciting monthly edition of StrideBox review. I hope you think it's exciting, because I sure do. Coming home and seeing my the smiling, cartoon faces adorning my StrideBox, and knowing I'm about to get a heaping helping of cool runner swag can make a sad day glad, not to mention make bills and junk mail a teensy bit more tolerable. This month's box was decorated with a St. Patrick's Day theme. 

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21-day Badass Adventure Cleanse

21-day Badass Adventure Cleanse

Almost time for spring cleaning – that seasonal ritual when we give everything a good scrub, clear out the dust bunnies, and discard items that are worn out or broken. Similarly, I like to spring clean my health habits and take inventory of my diet. To accomplish this, I do a version of Kris Carr's 21-day cleanse to get back on track with clean eating and self-care. Since I had been feeling a bit fatigued and have been having some trouble sleeping lately, I figured the universe was telling me it was time to course correct.

Come cleanse with me starting April 1. It's free!

Long runs are more fun with company, and so are cleanses. Instead of going this one alone, I decided to invite some friends. If you would like to cleanse with us, please just request access on Facebook to the Group "21-Day, Badass Adventure Cleanse" and I will grant you the keys to the lean, green castle.  It's completely FREE. Just a group of like-minded people supporting each other and sharing recipes, tips, photos, and encouragement.

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Race Recap: Shake Your Shamrock 5K

Race Recap: Shake Your Shamrock 5K

The weather has been bipolar the past few weeks here in Philadelphia. A few weeks ago, the daffodils and some fruit trees were blooming. Now, they're all frozen. One day, you're running in a singlet and shorts. They next day, you're freezing your assets off. You never know what to expect, and your body can't adjust either way.

I had been watching the forecast all week. Saturday, the day I was scheduled to race my first 5K of the season, the temperature was scheduled to be 22 degrees at gun time. Thanks to 15 MPH winds, it would feel like 17 degrees. 

More than anything in the world, I hate to feel cold and I seem to feel it more deeply than most people. I get cold very easily. I've even experienced body-shaking and shivers after snorkeling in 80-degree Caribbean waters – while wearing a long-sleeved rash guard. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to this bitter-cold race. I dreaded the icy temps much more than the burn I would feel while racing.

Because of the conditions, I knew I needed to adjust my expectations. I decided I would just use it as speed work and not worry about a fast time.

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You say "running fatigue" like it's a bad thing.

You say "running fatigue" like it's a bad thing.

Last week, I was super fatigued. Not a dainty, yawn-and-stretch-on-your-tippy-toes tired. I was so exhausted that even thinking about running felt difficult. 

I usually get by fine on 7 hours of sleep, wake without an alarm, and start my day fully energized, even before coffee (thinking barking Chihuahua zippiness). Last week, I was sleeping 10 hours, plus taking power naps, and I was still not waking feeling refreshed. I normally look forward to my runs, but I was dreading some because my legs felt like anvils. My long runs, usually up to 16 miles often including significant hills, normally leave me feeling energized, but last week I struggled through an 11.5-mile easy long run on a flat path. My glutes were sore for 2-weeks following a hard track session. My appetite was ravenous – think 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches. I could have easily out-eaten a linebacker yet I didn't gain an ounce. My resting heart rate was 10 beats above normal upon waking, 

These were all signs of accumulated fatigue. This means fatigue from previous workouts is basically carried over to the next one, and the next one, etc. until your body finally cries "uncle!" and remands quality recovery...

If you are training and want to become a better runner, a certain amount of fatigue comes with the territory. It's normal and necessary, even though it feels like neither of these things....

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how to make a buddha bowl: the ultimate runner recipe

how to make a buddha bowl: the ultimate runner recipe

A protein. A grain. A veggie. A sauce. A tablespoon or two culinary bling.

This is the humble Buddha Bowl. 

Buddha Bowls, or Dragon Bowls, are the ultimate, delicious no-brainer meal, and they're perfect for busy, health-conscious runners. I make them at least 3 or 4 times per week. I think most people love this combination because of the interesting array of textures and flavors: comforting carbs, chewy protein, creamy sauce, crunchy toppings.

Buddha Bowls are like the fartlek run of recipes, to draw on an analogy that runners will understand. You make them up as you go along. Several excellent Buddha Bowl cookbooks are available now. While they provide a fun intro to the "bowl" concept, I honestly prefer the pure, improvisational nature of these one-bowl wonders.  They are:

  • Easy to put together – Assemble. Dress. Toss. Boom.
  • Nutritious – You can enjoy the benefits of all major food groups in one handy bowl, assuming you start with healthy ingredients
  • Ever-changing. The ad-lib nature of Buddha Bowls means you'll never get bored, and it's unlikely you'll ever make the same bowl twice.
  • Versatile - Use what you have on hand. You can make Buddha Bowls using leftovers. Store-bought items. Or if you're feeling very inspired, you can follow a recipe and make one to the letter - from grain to dressing to protein to topping.
  • Economical – Restaurant Buddha Bowls usually cost around $10. Even the most extravagant DIY Buddha Bowls cost about $1
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10 ways to salvage a bad long run

10 ways to salvage a bad long run

Let's cut right to the chase: I had a shitty long run this weekend. It was only a 14-miler, but not not many of those miles felt great.

Yes, I ran a hard tempo workout the day before. Yes, the weather was in the 70s – in February in Philadelphia, when it is usually in the 40s so my body was not heat-acclimated. Yes, my long run included the slow-burn, 2;5-mile Ridge Avenue climb, since my friend and running partner Sloan, is prepping for Boston (I am a firm believer in running monster hills, Boston or no Boston).

Still, it was not a great run. And I was happier than usual to be done with it, get my shower and drink my protein smoothie...

Some days you have it, and some days you don't. This is a fact of life, especially if you are training hard, are hitting peak mileage or speed in your training cycle, have life significant stress, or are coming down from an injury or illness. And some bad runs come courtesy of zero rhyme or reason, thank you very much....  Here are some tricks that can help you get through a long run – or any run that you are just not feeling...

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February Stride Box: review

February Stride Box: review

This month's Stride Box contained some items I can really use but I must say, hands-down, my favorite is the star recovery tool. It's easy to hold and it has five little knobs that knead your muscles and really dig in to work out the knots. The weird thing is, it feels eerily like a hand massaging you! It looks kind of cheezy, but it works. My quads were so sore after navigating the Frostbite 5-Miler's hills. This little number helped speed up my recovery....

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Frostbite 5-Miler: Race Recap

Frostbite 5-Miler: Race Recap

Saturday, I ran the Frostbite 5-Miler with my team, the Philadelphia Runner/Puma Track Club. This year, the race was part of USATF's Mid-Atlantic Grand Prix Race Schedule, so the field was packed with serious competitive runners.  I had heard from friends about the course's infamous hills.

The first race of the season is always ... well ... a shock to the system, mostly the mental system. When you're racing often, your mind and body get into a rhythm. You know what certain paces feel like. How far you can push yourself. What suffering feels like. (Just kidding...sort of)...

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5 running myths, debunked

5 running myths, debunked

Given the current climate of unbridled, often-fantastical rhetoric, I felt inspired to embark on a fact-checking mission – albeit a running-related one.

Running myths are as old as running itself. Back in the 1970s, when Katherine Switzer became the first women to officially run the Boston Marathon, it was a commonly accepted belief in the medical community that running would cause a woman's uterus to fall out. Plop.

While uterine prolapse is a bona-fide medical condition, running is not a cause. Can you imagine if it were, considering that women sometimes outnumber men in road races? Jumping over a trail of prolapsed uteri on the course would be de rigeuer, pun kind of intended.

Anyway, let's nip some whoppers in the bud right now before they get as out of hand as my imagination...

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this week's workouts

this week's workouts

This week was a cut-back week for me. Most runners do 3 weeks of progression (more mileage and intensity) with 1 week of lower mileage and intensity, but my coach and I have found that as a masters runner, I do much better with 2 weeks on and 1 week off. My "on" weeks are hard – either in terms of mileage, intensity or both. My "off" weeks are less intense and provide my body and brain with a much-needed rest. It's super important to find what works for you. So far, this ratio is working for me.

Here's what last week's workouts looked like...

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the stinger: review

the stinger: review

The Stinger combines two of the most effective recovery tools- ice and massage. It's a clever idea. You pop the device in the freezer for a few hours then roll-roll-roll your niggly bits. The metal ball gets nice and icy, hence the name "The Stinger" while the plastic handle remains warm enough to comfortably grasp. It's about the size of your hand, so it's easy to grip and portable enough to take on trips.

You can also easily remove the base and use the metal ball solo to roll out your feet, etc. It's quite a versatile recovery tool, and somehow, it seems less daunting to me than than foam rolling. Foam rolling, though important and effective, often seems like such a production, whereas "Stinger Rolling" is easy and minimal. 

The Stinger also has several (non-sanctioned) non-running uses...

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Workout recap and my Boston Marathon decision

Workout recap and my Boston Marathon decision

Thanks everyone for your support, both here and on Instagram as I expressed having second thoughts about running the Boston Marathon in April. After much deliberation, I have decided to take a pass on Boston this year. As I mentioned, my heart just wasn't in training for it, whereas training for the shorter faster races makes my heart, soul and body happy. (According to my poll, 67% of you also thought I shouldn't run, while 33% of you thought I should.)

Once I made my decision last week, I instantly felt lighter. I looked forward to every workout this week. I signed up for some spring races. Bottom line: you cannot do everything or be everything, in running or in regular life...

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Confronting running-related fear

Confronting running-related fear

Whether you are a complete newbie runner or an elite Olympian, fear and running go hand in hand,  It's a weird conundrum. You desperately want to achieve a goal, whether it's to win a goal race, run your first mile without stopping, or enter your first 5K. At the same time, you know it's going to hurt and you dread the pain, even though you need to go through it to achieve your goal. This leads to fear and worse yet, anxiety...

Humans are hard-wired to experience fear – the unpleasant emotion we feel when we perceive a perilous or threatening situation. Fear feels awful, but it's useful. Part of our survival instinct, it helps us sniff out and avoid danger. While fear usually comes and goes quickly, its cousin, anxiety, hangs in there, trailing us 24/7 and eroding our ability to stay in the moment. 

In my estimation, a little fear-induced adrenaline is a good thing. But when fear or anxiety get out of hand, your performance can suffer. Fear can even prevent us from working out or from entering or running races.

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Second thoughts about the Boston Marathon

Second thoughts about the Boston Marathon

Last week, I did my long run with my much-speedier, 20-something teammate Kylie (and I survived). As is the case when you're running with someone, conversation topics morph from food to work to love life to friends to hobbies, but the discussion always circles back to running. As we finished the last miles of our run, we talked about marathons. I am slated to run the Boston Marathon again this April. Kylie has never done a marathon, but is in no particular hurry to do one...

After we parted, I finished my scheduled mileage solo. That's when the realization hit me like lightning: I am not at all excited about running Boston this year. I felt sad when I realized this, but I also felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders: I was finally able to put a name to the the "blah" frame of mind had been trailing me like dark cloud every time I thought about running Boston. By contrast, I am super stoked about running some of the shorter spring races (5K to half marathon) that I prefer...

I want to be transparent in this blog to help other runners who are facing similar quandaries. I'm also hoping that writing my thoughts will help me come to a decision, which I will need to do soon. Either I will decide not to run Boston, or I will somehow muster up my marathon mojo and get excited about running it.

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running mantras and why you need one

running mantras and why you need one

Running is may be a physical activity, but serious runners will attest to the fact that succeeding at this sport also involves training your brain. Running mantras can help.

Running mantras are not exactly new news. They are as classic and timeless as a Burberry trench coat. But much cheaper and more portable. You can use them to help transform sad, negative self talk (like "I suck") into happy, upbeat vibes (like "I'm a stud!") Before you roll your eyes, positive self talk is not all new-age woo-hoo. A study actually proves that positive self talk can quell the effects of perceived effects of physical exertion. 

The concept behind using running mantras is quite simple. You pick a motivational phrase or affirmation, and repeat it, as needed, to get you through a workout, to navigate spotty patches during a run, or to power you through racing. You use it in the same way that you take a drink of water when you're thirsty. 

Running mantras are as vast and different as the sea of runners you will encounter at the start line of any race. Some are stout. Others are minimal. Some are hippy-dippy. Others are more militant.

I am a huge fan of running mantras. I use them mostly during races but also as needed during speed work and long runs that seem like they will never end.. My method involves picking one or two phrases that are pertinent about a week before a race, then I will lean on that phrase during the race whenever I am feeling a niggle, fatigued or mentally exhausted...

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Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice review and recipes

Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice review and recipes

Press sample

It's not exactly new news that tart cherry juice is a must-consume superfood ... er... superdrink... for runners. Since my day job involves medical writing and rigorous scientific validation, one of my pet peeves is when companies make junk-science claims. This said, I love the fact that more than 50 scientific studies support tart cherry juice's numerous health benefits for athletes and the general population, including:

  • Decreased muscle soreness – Antioxidants release inflammation-causing enzymes
  • Faster muscle recovery – Antioxidants reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress 
  • Better pain management – Anthocyanins (the phytochemicals that give the juice its deep ruby color) fight pain and inflammation linked to arthritis and gout
  • Increased sleep time and quality – Melatonin helps regulate your sleep cycle, and melatonin and anthocyanins help you achieve more restful sleep
  • Reduced risk of stroke - Anthocyanins help regulate fat and glucose (sugar) in people with metabolic syndrome.

I've been intrigued by tart cherry juice for awhile, because of all of the above – plus the simple fact that I love the taste of cherry. So imagine how excited I was when the nice folks at Cheribundi sent me some sample love: an entire box of tart cherry juice....

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Running without a Garmin

Running without a Garmin

On Friday, I  had a 6-mile workout scheduled: 4 miles easy then 2 miles at 7:20-7:10 back home. I woke early and felt good about being on the trail before sunrise. I parked my car and was about to hit the start button on my Garmin.

Only my Garmin wasn't there. Nor was my heart rate monitor. In my pre-dawn, pre-coffee fog, I had forgotten to put it on. This rarely happens. I felt a sight panic.

The old, slightly more obsessive me would have driven back home to get the watch. Or I would have used my back up plan - the Map My Run app on my phone. But on the spur of the moment, I decided to run with no watch...

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January running wear sale haul and sale round-up

January running wear sale haul and sale round-up

I run 6 days a week and hit the gym 2 or 3 times a week for strength/cross training. I also live in Philadelphia, a city that experiences the range of temperatures that comes with 4 distinct seasons; year-round runners like me have to have to be prepared to run in every temperature. That adds up to a lot of workout clothing, and I go through a ton in a week.

To save a few bucks, I try to purchase most of my gear at the end-of-season sales. Here are a few items I picked up last week, one at Old Navy and the rest via the ASICS web site. I thought it would be fun to share my "haul" to show you that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to outfit your runs. Plus, it's voyeuristically fun to see what other people buy. 

Note: I purchased all of these items with no incentives. I have no ambassador ties to ASICS or Old Navy. I just like their running stuff and their prices, and I thought I'd share the love. 

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