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Running Music (and finding new recommendations)

When it comes to the debate of whether or not to run with music, I am very much pro-music.  Music inspires me, motivates me, and can change my mood from bummed out and lazy to ready to take on the world.  Case in point: during the last mile of my long run this past weekend, I played Fort Minor’s Remember the Name and I finished it in 7:18 – for me, music is powerful.

I’m always on a quest to find new music.  Once I start rapping the words to Eminem, I know it’s time for a new song.  But music is something that is completely a personal preference.  Whereas I may like some rap to get me through long runs in the rain, someone else may like something a little more mellow.  Therefore, stalking out other people’s running playlists may give you a few ideas, but it might not always be the exact music you are looking for. I speak from experience.  This past Saturday I spent quite a bit of time in iTunes listening to the playlists of Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, Sara Hall, Josh Cox, and many other elite athletes.  I got a few ideas but still needed some songs that would get me through those last miles.  I don’t remember exactly how I came across it, but I found a pretty cool website to recommend some new music for the workout playlist. is a website that recommends workout music based on what you’re doing (running/walking/cycling) and how fast you you’re doing it.  For example, if you want to run a 9:00 min/mile, will suggest songs that are best suited for running at that pace.  If you are training in a particular heart rate zone, it will recommend songs that will keep you in that zone. You can also search songs for what’s new, what’s hot, and which songs are the most added.  The feature I like the most on is the ability to preview the songs directly from the website.  This avoids the time and energy spent going into iTunes and having to search for the songs.  There is also an app you can purchase for $2.99.  However, based on the reviews, your $3 are better spent somewhere else.   Apparently the app doesn’t work like it is suppose to and Pandora is a much better free option.  So if you stay away from the app and use the website as a way to get some new ideas to add to your playlist, you’re certain to find some pretty good music.  I would also like to add that some of the recommendations for target heart rates and paces seem a little off to me, but again, music is completely personal.  Redneck Yacht Club might work for you at 170 bpm, but I prefer a little Panic! At the Disco.  It’s just a pretty cool website to broaden your music library.

Good luck finding some new running music, and I always welcome any of your recommendations!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Eating for Healing

I’ve heard more times than I care to remember that running is bad for me, I won’t be able to walk when I’m older, and I’m ruining my knees.  Yes, I hurt sometimes, I’ve had a stress fracture, I’ve lost a few toenails, and chafing… well I’ll stop there.  But I also once heard someone say that we accept these things as minor sacrifices for a feeling and experience that just can’t be explained.  Running, biking, swimming – these are things we do not because it doesn’t hurt, but for our own personal satisfaction.  However, when we do get injured, there is nothing we wouldn’t do to make the recovery process speed up so we could get back out there a little sooner.  Injuries suck. Period.

During my 15miler last weekend, I got my weekly dose of Ben Greenfield and learned all about the role of food in our recovery process.  As I was listening to it, I was also cursing myself for not knowing this when I had my stress fracture a few years ago.  Instead of eating for recovery, I cut back on calories and probably prolonged my injury by a month.  Now that I better understand the role of nutrition in the recovery process, I feel like I have a little more control over my injuries.

So what are the foods we should be eating to get us back outside sooner rather than later?

In addition to  RICE – rest, ice, compress, and elevate, aim to include the following nutrients in your diet:

  • Vitamin A (spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, carrots) to increase production of white blood cells which help to fight infection
  • Vitamin C (strawberries, oranges, peppers and broccoli) to help flesh wounds heal faster AND to help with the production of collagen, which helps repair connective tissue and cartilage.
  • Lean Protein (lean turkey, sirloin, fish, and chicken) which can serve as a bridge between damaged tissues and helps to promote repair.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D (milk, eggs, and yogurt) to help repair bones and muscle. The vitamin D improves calcium absorption which heals bone and muscle faster.
  • Omega 3 (tuna, salmon, trout) which  is rich in fatty acids and can help with inflammation that slows recovery from tendinitis, bone fractures, and sprained ligaments
  • Zinc (Meat, seafood, almonds, sunflower seeds) which helps all of these other vitamins and minerals do their job.

Perhaps the most interesting fact I found was that turmeric is a better anti-inflammatory than cortisone!  Who knew? I think I’ll be checking here for my next post-run meal.

Injuries have always been a huge downer, but it’s nice to know there are more active steps we can take to get better sooner.

Here’s to the injury free runner!
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
My Delicious Vitamin A, C, and Zinc smoothie


Because if you do not quit, then you can not fail

Here’s to a Monday well lived.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Hydration for Endurance Sports

This marathon training season, I am experimenting with some new training techniques, including different nutrition guidelines and training regiments. When I came across Dr. Tim Noakes (author of The Lore Of Running) and his belief that endurance athletes drink too much, I was a little skeptical and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to incorporate his ideas into my training.  According to Dr. Noakes, athletes should drink according to their thirst and if they do this, then performance will be optimized.  As someone who often suffers from blue lips after a marathon and who believes it is due to the lack of liquids and sodium in my body, consuming less liquid is not on the list of things I want to change.  However, in looking at the research and listening to Dr. Noakes, maybe it’s not the lack of sodium giving me blue lips.  Perhaps it’s just really cold. =)

With regards to hydration, the recommendation that athletes are most familiar with is, if you wait until you are thirsty, then you’ve waited too long.  You are already in a state of dehydration.  Also, if you lose more than 2% of body weight, you are losing too much fluid and hence decreasing performance.  However, when Haile Gebrselassie set the world record for the marathon, he had lost 10% of his body weight, and it is common for those who finish first in long distance events, finish in a dehydrated state.  The people who tend to over-hydrate (hyponatremia) are those middle and back of the pack runners.   Dr. Noakes argues that the common advice to drink before you get thirsty and drink to prevent dehydration may sometimes result in over-drinking, with hyponatremia (when fluid intake exceeds your rate of fluid loss from sweating, resulting in low blood-sodium levels) as the consequence.

Throughout the history of hydration guidelines, there have been changes from not drinking anything, to drinking as much as possible, to most recently, drink when you are thirsty.  Certainly, there are times when we need to drink more than others – such as in high heat and humidity.  However, I am often of the mindset that I should drink at aid stations, regardless of the fact of if I’m thirsty or not.  According to the International Marathon Medical Directors Association’s (IMMDA) latest revision, this really isn’t necessary.  In 2006, IMMDA released its long-awaited hydration guidelines, which concluded that runners should, simply, drink when thirsty.

This weekend, along with my beet juice pre-race beverage, I’m leaving the handheld at home.  Instead, I’m leaving the water bottle in the car and running a loop where I can easily get to it when I start to get thirsty.

Here are a few other interesting articles I found on hydration from Runner’s World and

The New Rules of Hydration: Revisionist Drinking
The New Rules of Hydration
Revisionist Drinking

What are your thoughts about this approach to hydration? Do you drink when you’re thirsty or drink to prevent dehydration?

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Beetroot Juice

Ever since I came across Ben Greenfield Fitness, I’ve become a fountain of information just waiting to share it with someone. Enter you, the reader.

This morning, I learned about beetroot juice, and how it has been shown to improve endurance.  After a little research, I think it’s time I started training my taste buds to like this purple root in its liquid form.

Studies have shown that beetroot juice can improve endurance by 16%. This number may sound small and insignificant, but when Brock Skywalker said he incorporated the juice and actual beets into his diet and then PR’d in the marathon by 20 minutes, 16% sounded pretty good to me. Another study by Exeter University has shown improvements by more than 20% after the consumption of the juice. Ultrarunner Chris Carver introduced this root into his diet and won an ultrarace by running 8 miles more, for a total of 148, than he did the previous year (and keeping the training the same).

So why is it that this juice is able to improve endurance so much? Apparently beets are high in nitrate which turns into nitric oxide inside the body. This nitric oxide reduces the oxygen cost of exercise. In other words, you can exercise harder and longer with less O2. As stated in the Exeter study, “it reduces the energy requirements on your muscles so you can last longer.”

I couldn’t find an exact dosage recommendation, but it seems 500ml is what the previous study participants were drinking. It was also recommended by the Ben Greenfield podcast that you take a digestive enzyme supplement to help with the digestion of the juice. And apparently it doesn’t taste so great either. You may want to consider consuming your beetroot juice over the course of an hour so its not as unpleasant.

As endurance athletes, I think we put ourselves through a lot of pain and torture on a daily basis. Therefore, I am planning to add beetroot juice to my Friday evening pre-long run meal and see how it goes. I will definitely follow up with my thoughts (and hopefully my new fast running times).

If you don’t want to consume straight beetroot juice, here are some recipes that have beets and other veggies, and are apparently a little tastier:

Beetroot Juice with Carrot and Celery
Beetroot Juice with Cucumber and Pineapple

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

P.S.- If you have a moment, please vote for my blog for Best Running Blog for a #runchat award. Thank you in advance!  Click here for voting.

Looks yummy, right?

Garmin 405

This past summer I went to Mexico and made the mistake of packing my Garmin Forerunner 110 in the outside pocket of my suitcase.  Needless to say, when I returned home from the airport, it was gone. For two weeks I debated on spending the $200-$300 on another Garmin, but like a miracle, Amazon sent me a message saying the Garmin 405 was on sale for $150.  With one click shopping, the Garmin 405 was on its way to my house within 5 minutes. (Sigh of relief.)  Sure, there were mixed reviews, but this Garmin did more than my previous one and it was cheaper. I didn’t see the problem.  Maybe I should have paid attention to the reviews.

When I first got it, I opened it and started playing.  The first difference I noticed was how many more options there were than the 110.  I could set courses, have a virtual training partner, transfer workouts with the ANT agent, (which I LOVE) and easily view the history of my past workouts.  To this day, the only extras I have used are the history menu and the ANT agent.

I had read a few complaints about the Bezel and wasn’t quite sure what it even was until I received the watch.  Come to find out, the bezel is the round thing around the face of the watch that allows you to switch screens simply by sliding your fingers in a circular motion.  I keep my bezel locked because it’s too difficult to try sliding your fingers with the appropriate pressure while running.  Honestly, all I really care about is my pace per mile anyway, so it serves no purpose to me.  It’s a feature that I can keep locked, therefore, it really isn’t a big deal… until stuff starts to go wrong.

I’m currently on my second Garmin 405 and will soon be on my third.  I’m not exactly sure why it goes crazy like it does, but I’m almost 100% certain it has something to do with the bezel. About a month after I had the watch, it literally went berserk.  Beeping, blinking, off, on, you name it. Luckily the battery was almost dead so it didn’t last too long.  I’ve been on my second Garmin 405 for about three months and it was doing just fine until this past Saturday.  When I walked out into my living room at 6am and heard it beeping for no reason, I knew there was a 50/50 chance it wasn’t going to work for my run.  The moment I got the satellites to lock, it went from the “Bezel Locked” to “Bezel Unlocked” screen non-stop, and beeped every single time it switched. After a pause for some water, I couldn’t get the time to start back up (it was too busy deciding whether it was locked or unlocked), and it continued to beep every single moment of my run.  When I came home, the beeping continued and I was getting quite irritated.  There was nothing I could do, not even switch screens or start the timer.

When it’s working, the 405 is great, but the bezel opens you up to the possibility of so many malfunctions, it’s just not worth it.   If you’re a runner who relies on your Garmin (maybe a little more than you should), this is not the device for you.  You never know if its going to go a little bonkers and start beeping like its a watch with a vengeance, or if it’s going to function like it should.  Thanks Amazon, but perhaps there is a reason for that super discounted price.

Garmin, I will be contacting you about another replacement BUT I would love it if I could switch models.  I don’t want the 405 anymore.  I could care less about all of the extras and the bezel.  I want the reliability of my Forerunner 110.  It never once gave me any problems, and I’m still sad someone stole it.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Pace Per Mile – An Update (And Why I love the Running Community)

When I decided to write my first “critical” review of a website, I was a little nervous. Offering a review of a website that seeks to help the running community was uncharted territory for me, but I went for it.  Last night I posted about Pace Per Mile – what they did great and what needed a little work.  Well when I came home from an awesome run this afternoon and had a direct message from Pace Per Mile, I thought this could go one of two ways – thanks for the input or either some not so great feedback.

What did PPM have to say?  To my surprise and much excitement, they were writing to tell me they had fixed one of the kinks mentioned in the blog post. (Deep sigh of relief.)  I immediately wrote back to say thank you and that I really appreciated them listening.

The one thing they have fixed so far was my biggest issue.  Now, when you click on a link from @PacePerMile, instead of being taken to an archive of all of their news articles, you go directly to the article.  This definitely saves time and allows you to read exactly what you clicked on.  No more “control F.”   I tried the Race Calculator again and it still isn’t giving me any results for my pace per mile, but  I’m hoping this is something they are working on.  Runners love this tool because we always want to know how fast we’re going.  I’ll also be checking for some of their shows and hopefully the music will be put on pause while Kevin and Chris are talking.  Like I said previously, they have a lot of great information and great interviews that are worthy of a listen.

And on a side note, I would like to say I am thankful to belong to a community of dedicated and positive people who are always trying to grow and be better.  I think we all have the same goal in mind – to help people like us (runners and athletes), get the best information out there and to have access to the best possible tools.  Thanks Pace Per Mile for caring and being a source of information for us runners.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Boston Note: Training going well. Awesome easy 7.2 miler today @ 7:49 pace.

Pace Per Mile – A Review

Some of the older people in my life don’t quite get the importance of Twitter and all of the possibilities it offers.  I try to explain to them that it gives you the opportunity to converse, share, and learn from others, who you may never have actually come in contact with during pre-Twitter era.  I, personally, have learned so much from my fellow runners and feel like a better athlete because of it. I mean really, where else can I follow elite athletes and learn from their day to day training tips?

Recently, Twitter introduced me to Pace per Mile – the “1st Place for Endurance Radio.”  Cool, free things to listen to while I get ready in the morning AND lots of great articles to read.  Well… I haven’t found it to be the easy access to an endless supply of information I was hoping for.

First, let me explain what Pace Per Mile does well.  They have a staff of well educated athletes who know their sport.  Kevin Leathers and Chris Nicholas get great interviews with running legends like Bart Yasso and Scott Jurek.  There is a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be uncovered on their website.  Their news section covers all things running related, and you can even find people who report on local events in your area.  I submitted an inquiry to be a reporter for North Carolina back in early December and am still waiting to hear back.  (By the way PPM, I’m still interested.)

So why am I struggling with making Pace Per Mile my “1st Place for Endurance Radio”?  The first problem I noticed immediately from clicking on their Twitter links.  They share links about energy gels, upcoming races, shoes, etc., and instead of taking me directly to the article when I click on the link, it takes me to their news page where I have to in turn search for the article.  I don’t think I should have to use “control F” to find an article I already clicked on (or so I thought).  Which brings me to my second issue – organization.  The articles in the news section are not archived or tagged in any sort of way.  This makes it very difficult for me to search specifically for running gear, nutrition, or whatever it is I want to know about.

The endurance radio part of Pace Per Mile has been quite a struggle for me as well.  I haven’t made it through all of the shows, and maybe that’s because my ears couldn’t take it.  There was music playing the entire time in the background which made it INCREDIBLY distracting.  Yes, I am a woman and can multi-task but that was pushing it.  I did notice there were some interviews with Bart Yasso, Kristin Armstrong (who I love), and Amby Burfoot, and in fast forwarding through the episodes, they were mostly sans music (phew).  I’m sure these are definitely worth a listen, and as long as the music DJ takes a break, I’ll gladly tune in.

Perhaps my biggest issue with PPM comes from the fact that so many links, including the Race Calculator link, do not work.  The name of the website is Pace Per Mile and I can not even calculate my pace per mile with their race calculator?  Maybe it is a temporary malfunction, but I did try it in three different browsers and on three different computers.  Not cool PPM.

Pace Per Mile, I want to check in with your website daily. I think you have a lot of great information, but it’s just not easy to follow.  Make the links a one step process, kill the music during the radio shows, and please fix your race calculator.  It’s a must have with a name like Pace Per Mile.

Happy Trails and Happy Running everyone!

The Best Running Podcast (ever)

I’m a huge fan of podcasts – it’s a free way to learn about any and everything.  A few days ago I reached out to my twitter followers and asked what running podcasts are worthy of a download.  I had a few responses, not many, (come on fellow tweeters – help a runner out), and someone mentioned a podcast that led me to Endurance Planet.  I have found this podcast to be the most resourceful, informative, and helpful podcast ever downloaded on my iPhone. One of the main contributors is Ben Greenfield, a master so to speak, in the art of nutrition, triathlons, and personal training.  Mr. Greenfield literally talks about everything I have always wanted to ask a professional runner.  Although he is a triathlete (and a good one at that), his information can be utilized by anyone trying to achieve a fitness goal.  I must have already listened to five (I have a little drive to and from work), and I already feel like I could answer any question you threw my way. His stuff is awesome.  Let me tell you why Ben Greenfield and Endurance Planet are worthy of your 30 minutes:

1) I’ll start with an intro to his December 15, 2011 podcast-
Ben Greenfield answers your questions on: Drinking carbonated water, will it negatively affect performance?  How should fueling change for freezing-temp bike rides?  Not eating before a marathon unless it’s at least 3 hrs prior to a race?  Caffeine intake: What is the proper timing, formulation, dose, duration for endurance performance?  Maltodextrin and glucose in fuel?  And energy drinks: how bad are they, really?

Now clearly I am not riding a bike in freezing temperatures and I’m not too familiar with maltodextrin, but I can relate to eating before a marathon and energy drinks.  There are so many other issues that he, along with the other contributors, discuss, any person interested in health would find the information useful (artificial sweeteners, intermittent fasting, the best cardio machine at the gym – really just anything you want to know.)

2) The website offers archives of all previous podcasts as well as previous articles, so you are certain to find whatever you are looking for.

3) If you have a question, just send it his way and it might be the topic of discussion for the next podcast  (I’m sending in one about the Paleo Diet, so be sure to listen out =P)

4) Most of the podcasts are pretty short (20-30 minutes), so it’s a great way to start your day while you are having your morning coffee (or putting on your makeup).

I have been searching quite some time now for a good podcast to help me with my running and fitness goals.  I’m so glad I came across Endurance Planet at 5:00am this morning, because now I feel like all I ever wanted to know is right at my fingertips (or headphones).  Thank you iTunes.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Side note: Ben Greenfield has his own website with his own podcasts AND he owns Endurance Planet.  Both are incredibly helpful and well worth your time.


The Paleo Diet for Athletes

A few weeks ago, I posted about my first attempt at a Paleo Diet recipe.  Since then I’ve been doing quite a bit more research on the paleo diet, listening to some great podcasts (The Paleo Solution), and reading testimonials from other athletes who follow the Paleo Diet.  If I had to sum up everything I’ve read and heard so far, I’d say it’s the best thing since sliced bread (which paleo says is a no-no), and we should all jump on the bad wagon 10 minutes ago.  However, to actually follow the diet is another story completely, because it is hard (especially if you like wine, chocolate, and any type of bread products).  I recently read the book the Paleo Diet for Athletes, which is a slight variation from the original Paleo Diet. As an athlete and long distance runner, I’d like to share with you what I know.  In reading the book, I found there was certainly no shortage of scientific claims to back the diet and I’ve come across even more testimonials, from your average person to your Olympian athlete.  I’m beginning to think it just might be worth the 30 day challenge…

The Paleo Diet mimics the types of foods people ate prior to the Agricultural Revolution, and it focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and seafood.  It discourages the consumption of dairy and grains, as well as any refined sugars, saturated and trans fats, and processed foods (The Paleo Answer). If the caveman didn’t eat it, then you shouldn’t either.  The Paleo Diet for Athletes is different in that it breaks your day into 5 stages, all surrounding your workout.  Depending on what stage you are in, there is a little more flexibility with what you should and should not eat.  The five stages are the following:

1) Eating Before Exercise
2) Eating During Exercise
3) Eating Immediately after Exercise
4) Eating for Extended Recovery
5) Eating for Long Term Recovery

Stage I is that time period 1-2 hours before exercise.  During this time you should eat low to moderate glycemic index foods (not bagels with jelly but think nuts, seeds, berries and whole wheat pasta).  Stage II focuses on what you are consuming during long periods of exercise, typically longer than one hour.  During this stage, a sports drink works great, but be sure to focus on consuming enough calories per hour (generally around 200-400 depending on the athlete).  Stage III is perhaps the most critical.  This is what you eat in those 30 minutes immediately following exercise, and this is the food that will help your body start to rebuild itself.  Start refueling with foods that have a 4-5:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.  A good option here would be a fruit smoothie with protein powder.  Stage IV will vary, depending on the duration of the exercise.  If you exercised for 2 hours, then Stage IV would be the 2 hours following the completion of your workout.  The great thing about Stage IV is this is the time to replace those carbohydrate levels with delicious pasta, bagels, and sweet potatoes, which is a huge difference between the Paleo Diet for Athletes and the Paleo Diet.  Finally, Stage V is when you return to a typical paleo diet focusing on lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.

Here are some great guidelines to follow if you are interested in starting the Paleo Diet.  And did you know Amanda Beard, Olympic gold medalist, follows this diet?  Clearly there are many diets out there and we all want to be the best athlete we can, so what can be wrong with a diet that promotes such clean eating? Lean meats, fruits, and veggies with bagels and pasta after I’ve worked for it…. now if I could just put down those pretzels and hummus.  Well I think for Boston and dreams of a 3:20 marathon, I’ll give it a try.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

P.S. – If you are interested in learning more about the Paleo Diet, I’d be happy to give you some more info and point you in the right direction. We can go down the Paleolithic road together!

On a Boston note, my first day went very well.  Just and easy run to start out the week. You can check out the stats here.