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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Mix and Match Thai Curry (vegan, gluten-free)

Mix and Match Thai Curry (vegan, gluten-free)

Winter is biting down hard a tad early this year. As I write, it's currently 22 degrees in Philadelphia, with a wind chill of 8. I just returned from a long run and my hair froze. On days like these, the best impetus for my finishing kick is thinking about a steamy bowl of curry soup to refuel.

This Mix and Match Curry is a recipe I make often, especially during the colder months. I love it for four reasons. 

  1. It's easy to throw together. 
  2. It's modular. You can use whatever veggies and protein you have on hand. Fresh is always best but you can also use frozen. 
  3. It's versatile. You can enjoy it as is, stew-like, or thin it out with a bit of water or broth to make it into a soup. I sometimes eat it over spooned over noodles, like a sauce: think brown rice noodles, cellophane noodles or even plain old spaghetti. Or I serve it over a whole grain, like brown rice, farro, barley or millet. and four, 
  4. It's nutritious and is, therefore, a runner-friendly food....

Once you try this, you'll find yourself making it again and again.

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Shoe review: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

Shoe review: Nike Air Zoom Elite 8

This summer, I needed a new pair of running shoes. I have bad bunions from genetics, compounded by years of ballet dancing on pointe shoes, so I need shoes with a roomy box. For this reason, my teammate suggested the Air Zoom Elite 8. I had trepidations about another Nike shoe after swearing off the brand for a spell. But I tried them on and they felt like a slipper, light and roomy, so I bought a pair in Pepto-Bismol pink, the only color available...

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2016 running: year in review

2016 running: year in review

Is it just me, or has 2016 just flown by? I hope it was a great year for you.

We all have good years and bad years. I'm fortunate to say that 2016 has been good to me in terms of my overall health, professional life, personal life, and of course, my running. I've had my ups and downs like everyone but on the whole, I have much to be grateful for. 

Here's a quick recap of my 2016 miles and milestones – the good, the bad and the ugly...

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15 New Year's resolutions ideas for runners

15 New Year's resolutions ideas for runners

The time is almost here. The magical moment on December 31 when the clock will strike midnight, the slate will be proverbially wiped clean, and we can begin another year afresh and dive into reinvention mode.

The optimist in me loves this. I not only love New Year's Day but also new days, new weeks and new months. Every day presents an opportunity for a new beginning and a fresh start, as long as you remember you can't just erase the past. We can learn so much from our past successes – and even more so from our past failures – if we are open enough to see the lesson.

Whether you are a newbie or an elite athlete, I've listed 15 running resolution ideas below that you can use as you finalize your 2017 running goals...

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Review: Patriot's Day

Review: Patriot's Day

April 15, 2013 is a day that lives in infamy for Bostonians, Americans and runners world-wide. On that day, double bombings near the Boston Marathon finish line killed 3 people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 264 others, irrevocably changing their lives.

Last week, some lucky members oh Philadelphia's running community were invited to attend a screening of "Patriot's Day" at the Ritz East, a movie that details the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt... 

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what to wear for winter running: suggestions for every temperature range

what to wear for winter running: suggestions for every temperature range

Sweat frozen into mini icicles on your hair. Cold wind blowing on your face. Frozen tootsies.

Winter running is not for the faint of heart. But the above maladies only happen if you are not dressed properly. Wearing the right gear can make the difference between a good run and an uncomfortable run. It can also make the difference between going for a run or deciding to stay inside and eat bonbons instead of running.

In the summer, what to wear is pretty much a no-brainer: shorts and a running bra with or without a singlet for girls; running shorts and singlet – or not – for guys. Winter is trickier. I've been keeping notes for years about what to wear during the winter, mainly because I forget in the lull between seasons. Below, I've listed the running gear that works for me in every chilly temperature range.

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the 5 stages of a runner with a cold

the 5 stages of a runner with a cold

I was certain that after completing my Prehab Not Rehab week, my body would feel rested and rejuvenated. Only problem is, at the tail end, I came down with a nasty head cold that slowly and excruciatingly made its way down into my chest, teetering on the precarious edge of bronchitis. You know the commercial where the elephant is sitting on the man's chest? Yep. That was me.

Despite wanting to at least put in 20 quality miles this week, including a long run, I had no choice but to lay low. And drink tea. My body was not suggesting rest; it demanded rest. Following the old adage of, run if your cold symptoms are above the neck, rest if below the neck, I decided, after much deliberation, to cut way back and rest. 

Wait. "After much deliberation?" Not running when you are sick is ... well .... sane.

This got me to thinking that there's nothing worse than a sick runner.

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