Goal Achieved! Now What?

This is a bit of a #HumbleBrag post. Last year I decided that my New Year Resolution was to be more consistent with my running routine and to help raise more money for charity. I successfully ran more miles than any year prior and did it on a consistent basis. One of the main reasons I was able to achieve this goal was because I joined the Hogwarts Running Club. You can see my previous post about how virtual running clubs can help you achieve your goals, here.

Last year I tracked 635 miles on the charity miles app. That equates to $158.75 donated to Stand Up To Cancer simply because I used the app to track my miles as I ran. All of these miles I put in throughout the year also counted to the Hogwarts Running Club house cup. That was a little motivation to continue to get in miles week in and week out. I knew that running, even just a few miles, was helping out the team.

Throughout the year I also joined in on all the Hogwarts running club events and achieved #PerfectPrefect status. There were 6 virtual race, varying in distances, and a challenge event. All of these cost $25, with $20 of those entry fees going to charities. The charities that the club worked with last year were US Quidditch,  Limbs For Life, To Write Love On Her Arms, The Harry Potter Alliance, Mission K9 Rescue, Back On My Feet, and Antarctica South. All the names listed below were part of the Hufflepuff house team that I was on and were also perfect prefects. Between all of us we helped raised a combined $506,546.60 for these charities! On top of all these races, I also donated some race fees to the Luna Fund. That is a fund that allows runners, who cannot afford the registration fee, to sign up and partake in the festivities.

Perfect Prefect 2017

So I hit my goal last year, now what?! Keep going! This year I am continuing my moment and looking to hit a new goal. I’ve preregistered for all of these Virtual Races and will be a perfect prefect again in 2018. My new goal for this year is to hit 1000 Charity Miles. I’ve signed up for the 1000 Mile Challenge through I Love To Run and I’m already on a good pace to achieve the goal. It seems like a lot of miles, but when broken down, it comes out to roughly 2.7 miles per day. This should not be a problem for me as the shortest distance I run is 3 miles. The tricky part will be making sure to stay consistent throughout the entire year. I’m using a wall calendar and a running journey to help track my progress and keep me on pace. The key to hitting goals is to keep them attainable and to make sure you have a solid plan.

*\ Hogwarts Running Club /*

It’s that time of year again! New year starts and your fitness resolutions are going strong. You are hitting the gym, trails, or paths and getting in your workouts. Unfortunately, sooner or later you will most likely run low on motivation and most likely quit your new years resolution. Statistically speaking, only 8% of people will successfully follow through on their New Year Resolutions. So the question here is how do you make sure that you are part of that 8% of people who succeed? One way I’ve found success sticking to my fitness and running goals is by joining virtual running clubs. Our lives are always busy and it’s very easy to find excuses to skip workouts or meet ups. Virtual running clubs are a great way to be part of a motivational community while being able to do your workouts on your own time, when it fits your schedule. A few recommendations would be: Virtual Running Club, I Love To Run, Geek’d Out Running Club, Whovian Running Club, and Chilton Running club. All of these are great options, but my favorite one and the one I’m going to focus on is the Hogwarts Running Club!

Last year I joined the Hogwarts Running Club with the goal to run more consistently and it absolutely worked! I feel in love with running a few years back when I was in college and I found it increasingly difficult to consistently find time to run now that I had a fulltime job. I kept coming up with excuses like I’m too busy, too tired, the weather isn’t great, etc. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. The Hogwarts Running club is amazing because it’s not something you are doing on your own. You have house teams for support and motivation while also competing against houses and earning money for charities. Here is how it works:

The Virtual Races:

The Hogwarts Running club has 6 virtual races throughout the year. They are all Harry Potter Themed, so you can get your nerd on while running! These are very simple. They open up registration throughout the year for each race. You simply sign up for a small registration fee and they will mail you the race medal. All you need to do is run/walk the miles for the race. They can be completed all at once or spread out over a few days if the distance is to far. The medals are all amazing and definitely worth adding to the collection, but the best part of this running club is the registration fees are donated to a different charity for each race. Some Charities that the Hogwarts Running Club worked with last year were To Write Love On Her Arms and Back On My Feet.

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Mad-Eye Moody Constant Vigilance 5K – 2017

The House Cup:

In addition to these virtual runs that go on throughout the year, the House Cup is really a great way to keep all the members motivated to run throughout the year and not just during the virtual races. How the house cup works is you download the App Charity Miles and join the house team (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin) that you will be competing with throughout the year. I’m a little biased but I’d say team HRC18HUFFLEPUFF is the best! We might not win every week, but we definitely have the most fun. The house cup is a weekly competition that compares the 4 Harry Potter House Teams on Charity Miles and points are awarded based on how many miles each team put in that week. This is a really cool feature that, if you follow along regularly, can help you stay competitive and motivated.

Hogwarts Express – Platform 9 3/4K – 2017

Facebook Community Rooms:

The other great feature of this virtual running club community is that each house has a dedicated closed Facebook group. These groups are meant to be community for those with like minds to help motivate each other, ask questions without being judged, share funny memes and photos, and basically anything that is related to Harry Potter and Running. One thing that is great is that you will most likely identify with a specific house group and when you join that group, you will have thousands of like-minded people to help motivate you. I’m a Hufflepuff and absolutely love the community page. It’s full of fun people who are all trying to help each other stay motived, share their struggles, and post recipes of their favorite cookies! Each House group is different and I would recommend checking out Pottermore to get sorted into your house.

The main reason I like this virtual running club so much (besides the fact I’m a huge Harry Potter fan) is that you can do one part of the running club are all of it. It’s up to you and what you feel is the best for you. If Harry Potter is not your thing…….that is totally fine. I would recommend searching for other virtual running clubs out there that fit more of your interests and can help you reach your New Year Resolutions.

If you have any virtual running clubs that you are a part of that I didn’t mention, I’d love to hear more about them! Feel free to leave a comment and tell me more!

Running With a Cold?

If you are a runner, you are almost guaranteed to run into some circumstance that will cause you to have to take a break from your scheduled training. Whether it is an injury, work, vacation, family emergencies, and so on. I’ve recently been struggling to get over a cold and cough that just will not go away. It has really put a damper on my training routine that I have had planned. So it made me ask the question, when is it okay to continue training when sick and when should rest take a priority?

I absolutely hate to take breaks in my training because too long of a break can throw off the routines that take forever to get setup. At the same time, I’m extremely cautious and make sure I do not work myself into an injury. Avoiding injuries can be easy with proper stretching, preparation and mindfulness. The one thing that you cannot plan for is getting sick. Eating healthy, drinking plenty of fluids, getting enough sleep, and removing stress from your life are great ways to stay healthy. But even the healthiest among us will catch a cold from time to time.

The week I have been fighting a cold that involved a sore throat, upset stomach, and headache. As much as I wanted to get out and put some miles under my feet, I had to listen to my body and rest. Three days of medicine and extra hours of sleep and the headache and stomach ache were finally gone and my legs were screaming “LETS GO FOR A RUN!” Unfortunately, the cough had not subsided. So now I’ve got to make a choice, go for a run or keep resting?

running while sick

 

My rule of thumb (and what you’ll most likely see other runners mention) is that if the cold is from the neck up, then you are good to go and train. In the past I would go running while congested and by mile two, the sinuses are completely clear. Honestly, I swear a good run will work better then most decongestant medicines. Just be prepared to be wiping you nose every other minute of the run. The reason for saying “from the neck up” is because if your stomach is acting up, then you are risking getting sick while training and throwing up (or it coming out of the other end). It’ll be messy and you really should be focusing on hydrating and eating properly until your stomach settles down.

stop coughing

The issue I was concerned about this time with my cold was the cough. The problem with a cough and running is that at any moment a coughing fit can arise and breathing becomes difficult. Add that to the exertion that happens when running, and there might be some trouble. I decided that I felt well enough to go for a short run and at a comfortable pace. This way if I had to stop mid run I could walk back, and not exerting too much effort by simply jogging means that if my cough does pop up, I can at least slow down and catch my breathe before continuing. Ultimately, it was a great workout. I decided to go for a 3 mile run at a 9 minute pace (that being my half marathon pace). As I turned home, I felt really good and no sign of coughing, so I went one more mile just to get some more steps in for my legs to be happy. Afterwords, I made sure to drink plenty of water and loaded up on the electrolytes by adding in NUUN tablets to the water. After that water was downed, I brewed some green tea to help sooth the throat soreness that had picked back up after the run.

Lesson here that I’ve learned, listen to your body but do not be afraid to push yourself. You can certainly train while sick but be extra cautious and make sure you are prepared to have to stop and take care of yourself. Also, the other lesson here is that it is important to stick to your training plan to insure you hit your race goal, but taking a few days off could and most likely would help your over all training by not pushing yourself into an injury or extended illness.

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you approach training while sick or injured. Please feel free to leave comments here and let’s get a discussion going to help out the rest of the running community!

 

Finding & Replacing Running Shoes

Anyone who has ever trained for a race and or just runs for fun knows that finding the perfect pair of running shoes is close to impossible. There are so many options out there that it can make one dizzy. There are shoes for short distance, long distance, road running, path/soft surface running, track running, heel to toe landing, flat foot landing, pronation, supination and so many more. So when we runners find a perfect shoe for us, it’s the best feeling in the world and we never want to let them go! Unfortunately, the shoes wear out and most like the company that produced the shoe has changed the design or move on to a new model. This means back to the beginning. So here are a few tips on how to  find that perfect pair of shoes and how and when to replace them so you don’t cause an injury from worn down shoes.

Tip 1: Finding The Running Shoe For You

  • GO TO A RUNNING STORE! This seems pretty simple, but most people shop online nowadays for the convenience. While shopping online is great and I definitely do that, it’s not worth the injuries you can get from improper shoes. Most stores have treadmills where the sales associate can watch you run for a bit to see what your natural gait is and what your foot strike is like.
  • Don’t worry about the look/color of the shoes at the store. Most will be very bland and we all know runners need something will a little spark to them. After all, “look good, feel good” is one of the more popular saying for runners. The focus of this is to find the best shoe that is the most comfortable for you when you run. If the store doesn’t have the color of the shoe you want, they can most likely order you one or you can order them online. Just make sure you get the brand, model and size information.
  • Once you find the shoe you want, ask the store what their return policy is. Most stores will offer free returns and exchanges for 7 days. This will allow you to take the shoes for a few training runs and make sure the shoes are perfection. Do not be afraid to return them if they are not perfect. Running shoes should fit you so that you forgot they are there and you can focus on the important aspects of running.
  • Once you’ve got those bad boys, hit the road and crush some miles!

Tip 2: When to Replace Running Shoes

Continue reading “Finding & Replacing Running Shoes”

Workout Wednesday: Run, Run, Run

At the start of this year i was really into lifting weights and body weight workouts. I spent most of last year running and training for a marathon. It was great to finally get more muscle mass back, feel the after-workout burn and sore muscles. But the last few days I’ve got the urge to run again. So I sign up for a 5K this month and a half marathon next month. My goal this month is to get a sub 21 minute 5K (6:45/mile). I ran a 5k on Monday at 23 minutes (7:24/mile). So I’ve got some work to put in over the next three months.

Today’ Workout:

  • Bring Sally Up Challenge – Two sets of pikes and two sets of leg lifts
    • The goal here being to strengthen my core, back, and shoulders. All of which will help my overall speed and push off.
  • Run 4 miles – My plan here is run miles 1 and 3 at a 90% sprint. With miles 2 and 4 being recovery runs to control my heart-rate and breathing. Estimated pace will be 7:20/mile.
  • By sprinting and recovering, I’ll be able to push my body to a faster so that it is use to that pace when I run the 5k. The muscle memory from that pace will help me in the race as I start to feel fatigued.

Charity Miles

What’s Your Why? – One of the many questions you will get from friends, family and strangers when you are going through your fitness journey is “Why are doing this?” The journey to a fit and healthy life is different for everyone, which is why I try to give positive feedback, advice and encouragement to everyone I can. We all have different stories and are in different places along to this journey. I thought today that I would share what my “Why” is  that helps motivate me from day-to-day.

My main motivation to be healthy and fit comes from my Dad. Years back he was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer and when we were researching how to beat this particular type of cancer we found that healthy living, eating natural and clean food while exercising regularly, was the best way to prevent this cancer from forming. From that day forward, I promised myself that I would take care of my body and help motivate my dad to do the same. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago after battling and beating the cancer multiple times over the years. Over that time I developed a healthy lifestyle for myself and I’m motivated to keep that going and helping others as much as possible. I’ll be the first one to tell you that it is not easy staying on track with health and fitness. The temptations of Beer and Wings during sporting events and Netflix binge watching sessions are VERY real and I’ll fall into those routines from time to time. And that is okay. One key to healthy living is moderation.

One of the ways I keep my health and fitness motivation going is by using the App, Charity Miles. This app is awesome and I’ve been using it for years now (this is not a paid advertisement). I personally love giving back to my community as much as possible. Charity Miles let you give back to a cause that you care about by simply running an app in the background of your phone when you run, walk of bike. You will be doing all of those things when getting into a healthy lifestyle, so why not use the app for a great cause. Personally, I’ve logged 561 miles over 100 runs with Charity Miles. For every mile you run, they donate $.25 to a charity that you picked. This means by simply running and having the app tracking my distance, I’ve raised $140.25 for Stand Up to Cancer. Now imagine if we can get as all the runners, walkers and bikers out there to use this app. How much good could be done by simply using an app.

Here are just a few of the charities that are available to pick from on the app:

  • Stand Up To Cancer
  • Save The Children
  • Operation Smile
  • ASPCA
  • ALS Association
  • Feeding America
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • Special Olympics

If you are a runner, biker or even just walk your dogs after work, How would you feel about pitching in to help others in need by simply carrying around your phone with the app logging your miles?

Core Workout For Runners

Last year I finished my first full marathon. It was definitely a test of the mind and body, but I was able to finish within a respectable time. I’ll probably run another full marathon in the near future but for this year, I’m going to back to my middle distances. Next races for me will be a 5K and then a half marathon in two months. I know I can easily run those distance at respectable times. So training wont be the issue. My goal for these two races will be to improve on my time. Below is a core workout I’ve used in the past that will shed weight in the midsection and in your running pace:

Core Workout To Improve Race Time

1) Planks with Alternating Leg Lifts

3-5 Sets of 1-3 Minute Planks

2) Pike Crunch

3-5 Sets of 20-25 Reps

3) Russian Twists (with or without added weights)

3-5 Sets of 40-45 Reps