Cheers to Spectators!

After months of training this past Sunday the BIG event had finally arrived … the marathon. My friend and I had both had a bit of a rough training cycle, so we had vowed to stick together through thick and thin. We both had our fears that the other would change the plan and decide not to run together. My friend thought I would slow her down, and after coming down with a cold a few days before the race I seriously questioned whether I could finish – and if I would have to tell her to leave me behind.

We had a plan to start slow and try to finsh strong. During the first few miles we were going a bit faster then planned but still slower than “race pace” so we felt pretty good. But over the miles things began to wear and we ran into a few challenges, and while taking a walk break I got a bit chilled and actually put my jacket back on.

I’ve always been thankful to the people who take time out of thier weekend to come and cheer for random strangers running by – but as I was feeling the chill in the air it struck me again. “Spectators are really awesome,” I told me friend as I looked around at the cheering crowds with colorful entertaining signs. “Keep going!”, “You’re doing great!” they yelled as we passed.

I’ve had the opportunity to cheer for others at races, and I have to say – it is no small task! To be out there for a few hours constantly clapping and cheering and shouting words of encouragement is DRAINING! During the colder months you are also enduring cold fingers and toes and faces! You expend loads of energy giving it to those passing by who snatch up every bit of encouragement they can to keep pushing forward.

As they say, energy is not created or lost, it just changes form. I’ve felt the boost from a cheering race fan or high-fiving kid! It can bring the smile back to your face and push you a bit further down the course to the next group of cheering supporters.

If you haven’t been to a race as a spectator I highly recommend you try it. It’s inspiring and uplifting AND you will make someone’s day as you make eye contact and tell them how awesome they are as the run by.

So to all the runners out there, respect and appreciate the spectators for all they do for us on race day!

And to the spectators, hats off to you! You ROCK!! The race wouldn’t be the same without you!

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Runners, Stay Motivated After Your Fall Races!

One of my favorite topics for my running training groups is motivation. We all struggle with motivation from time to time and the best way to boost your motivation is to inject some fun and inspiration into your routine!

I struggle the most with training through the winter months – I’ve run my fall marathon, the holidays are on the horizon, life gets busy, and the weather conditions get … er … I’ll just say less than ideal for me. I’m not the most graceful person and running when surfaces can be slippery is a recipe for disaster! Winter is when I often fall back on my back-up plan – the dreaded treadmill.

So with the end of summer in sight (*SIGH!*) and fall races soon to be history it may be time to start thinking about your winter training game plan. Use some ideas from this list to pump up the fun, keep you on track and keep you going while you’re out there!

1. Sign up for a race! I sign up for at least 1 winter race and 1 early spring race – I’m too stubborn to let the money go to waste so I have to train to be ready!
2. Schedule a run with friends – the camaraderie will give you a boost and you won’t want to stand them up!
3. Create a playlist with your favorite upbeat songs – add new songs in so you have new music to look forward to!
4. Be a mentor – run with a friend who is just learning to run
5. Buy a bright new pair of running shoes or some new traction gear like Yaktrax!
6. Read the Runner’s World “The Runner’s Body” – inspiration can come from learning more about the physiology or running!
7. Run for a charity you are passionate about
8. Use a mantra – good words to include are FAST, STRONG, POWER, etc.
9. Keep a running log and track your miles – try for a new monthly PR
10. Read “Once a Runner” and “Again to Carthage” by John L. Parker Jr
11. Buy a new running gadget – a watch, water belt, or pedometer
12. Volunteer for a local race – some may let you earn credit toward a future race entry!
13. Go for a run purely for fun – not for time or distance. If it’s snowing, enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of the falling snow!
14. Try a new route or have a friend drop you off a few miles from home so you have to run the distance to get back home!
15. Buy a cool new running outfit – winter means new running clothes!
16. Watch “Spirit of the Marathon” – inspirational stories from newbies to elites!
17. Try trail running – this can be very beautiful, but you’ll want traction gear for sure!
18. Run for those who can’t – be grateful for every run! We can take our running for granted so it’s good to remember how lucky we are to be out there!
19. Try a relay, triathlon, duathlon, mud run or obstacle run – winter is a good time to plan out your next season and determine how you need to train to be best prepared!
20. Make a funny sign and go cheer for other runners at a race!

And remember, it’s easier to continue running than to stop and have to start all over again. Use these motivators to remind yourself why you started running in the first place, whether it was to meet new friends, get healthier, improve your body, or just prove to yourself that you can do something amazing!

So keep being amazing! Now go lace up and have a great run! 🙂

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Help! I’ve Been Greenwashed!!

Have you heard the term “Greenwashing” yet?

I was talking with a friend and venting about my frustration with companies that present themselves as being very health conscious, and their products as natural, safe, and non-toxic only to find on closer inspection that either the products are loaded with chemicals, or they are unwilling to disclose the ingredients claiming that this information is a “trade secret”. My experience with ethical and truly Eco-friendly health conscious companies has been that they are proud to show their ingredient list because they know that their informed consumers will like what they see. When I brought up two companies in particular she directed me to one of her favorite bloggers, EcoFriendlyMamaUSA, and her Greenwashers page: http://ecofriendlymamausa.com/product-reviews/greenwashers/

This page lists many companies that either explicitly or implicitly present themselves as green, earth friendly, health conscious companies and provides honest feedback and information based on the authors research and personal experience. (Both companies I was expressing frustration with are listed here as a couple of the worst.) She also references a couple of websites for the Environmental Working Group for looking up household products and cosmetics:
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
These are both great resources to learn more about the products you may be using. Get familiar with these sites so you can do your own research!

Wikipedia defines Greenwashing as “a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”

The color green has taken on meaning, implying a product is natural, plant based, and Eco-friendly, and often this color will be used to best advantage as well as images of nature (forests, mountains, streams, prairies, you get the idea) banking on the hope that you will assume the product is safe and natural … because it looks the part! Unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth in many cases. Turn these products over and you’re likely to be assaulted with a long list of unpronounceable scientific mumbo-jumbo.

Did you know most people have ingested or applied over 200 chemicals to their body before their morning cup of coffee?? Between the soaps, shampoos, conditioners, shaving gels, body washes, lotions, creams, styling products, ointments, toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements, and cosmetics it all adds up quickly! Think about a nicotine patch. Why does it work? Because the nicotine on the patch is absorbed through the skin and into our bloodstream. The same goes for every other product you apply to your body! Read the ingredients of your body cream or your face moisturizer – would you be comfortable eating it? If not then maybe you shouldn’t be slathering it on your body.

Next consider your household cleaning products – cleansers, polishes, pest products, disinfectants, deodorizers – so many chemicals! These can leech into your skin through direct contact during use, contact with the item the product was applied to, and through the fumes you breathe during use and as they linger for hours or even days. Did you know that you have a higher risk of asthma if you regularly use spray cleaners in your home?

The EPA website states: “Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) [such as Formaldehyde] are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.”

With the advances of technology many of us are spending more time indoors, and we are breathing a steady supply of toxins from the gases of all of these products! Have you watched Chemericle yet?? Check out my review on Chemericle!

You CAN reduce the toxins you are exposed to on a daily basis – awareness is the key. In an earlier post I stated that my #1 health tip is to start reading labels. This doesn’t just apply to food! Start reading the labels on your personal care and household products, and if you’re not sure what something is, look it up. And green cleaning doesn’t have to be expensive – did you know vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are very effective and economical cleaners? There are many books and websites with tips and recipes to make your own cleaner – just search “make your own green cleaning products”. Remember, you have a voice and you can vote every single day with the dollars you choose to spend or not spend on these products. Use your vote wisely!

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Are you a Real Runner??

I started running 5 years ago and I remember it took me some time before I felt comfortable calling myself a “runner”. Others would refer to me as a runner, or even as a *gasp!* ATHLETE and I would sheepishly shrug and look at the ground and answer their questions or tell them about my training or latest race. I didn’t want “real” runners to think I was taking liberties with their hard earned classification so would tell people, “I’m not a runner, I just like to run”. I even searched through well known running websites online trying to find a definition for the term so I would know when I officially qualified! Crazy, right?!?

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.”
-Bart Yasso

Now that I am comfortable with the term (after completing all of the milestones I had defined in my head) I see others who, like I once was, are so reluctant to declare themselves as runners. You shrug off the term and say things like, “I’m not a real runner – not like you.” You may even feel like a pretender when you encounter another runner on the street – I know I did!

So for all of you who doubt your runner status here’s what I have to say to you:

Do you pick up your pace to that which is quicker than a walk and have less than 2 feet on the ground while doing so? HELLO RUNNER!! Welcome to the club!

Running is not about how fast or slow you go, about running X number of races, or even any races! It’s not about hitting a certain threshold of miles per week or about having all the latest gadgets and gear (although that is fun 🙂 ).

Here’s a bit of insight for you: when I’m out driving in my car and I pass someone running along the street, I think, “Runner!” (In fact I usually tag you out loud. Just ask my husband – he can confirm.) I AM NOT thinking, “that person doesn’t LOOK like a runner”, or “that person is too slow to be a runner”, or even “that person doesn’t know how to run”. I’m thinking about how lucky you are to be out there running, and I’m wishing I was out there too! (OK, and sometimes I’m checking out your shoes…)

So next time you’re feeling some doubt about whether or not you’re a real runner, put on those running shoes and head out the door and prove it to yourself once again that you ARE, in fact, A RUNNER!

Now get out there and run!

Happy Running!

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How can I be 40?? I’m not old enough!

Crazy thing – it seems that despite my best efforts to deny it, according to the calendar I’m 40 today. I keep thinking to myself, “But I don’t feel old enough to be 40!”

That’s the thing with aging – age really is just a state of mind. While we can take some measures to slow the deterioration of the body and mind, eventually we start seeing those signs – the crows feet, sagging skin, grey hairs, the “senior moments”… But it seems that the core of who we are, what some call our soul, is not necessarily on the same clock. You’ve heard the saying “young at heart” – a youthfulness that defies our chronological age. My husbands grandmother once said when she was in her 90’s “I still feel the same on the inside as when I was 18”. It is this inner youth that can make us feel at odds with what the calendar tells us.

So I officially vow to stop living by the calendar. Don’t tell me I’m too old for that – I will laugh at you and do it anyway! It was just 2 weeks ago that I was ziplining over Bootleg Canyon and in a couple more weeks I’ll be running my next half marathon! I’m a firm believer in the use-it-or-lose-it philosphy, so I’m going to keep on using my mind and body to accomplish amazing things as long as they will let me.

My birthday will not be the ticking timebomb that some people associate their birthdays with, but a day to celebrate all of the amazing things I have accomplished, a day to set new goals and dream new dreams, and a day to surround myself with all of the wonderful people in my life… or maybe I’ll just snuggle up on the sofa with my husband, my 2 cats, a slice of birthday cake, and a good movie like last year and do all that other stuff tomorrow… 🙂

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