5 Exercises You Should Add to Your Running Routine

Newsflash! My super-knowledgeable and talented brother, Daniel, happens to be a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a background in exercise science and experience in strength training & rehab. Daniel’s been my go-to fitness guru whenever I’ve experienced mild running injuries, had questions about strength exercises, or been utterly confused by a gym machine that must be a torture device. Fortunately for you & me, Daniel has agreed to write content for Always Running Latte, keeping us in the know about these topics and more! Read his first post below, and don’t forget to check him out at Breakout Strength!

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Thank you to Jackie for allowing me to write an article for Always Running Latte. I hope to do these more in the future.

 

Marathon and other long distance runners compete in races for one main reason: they love to run. When an athlete circles the date on the calendar for their next race, the planning begins. There are lots of running programs and apps available to help an athlete plan their training to peak perfectly for the next race. There is absolutely no denying that the best method of training for a race is, in fact, running. But what if there was another training modality that could be added to a runner’s program to help develop them into a better runner?

Strength training is a huge part of training for most Olympic sports. Any adult, whether a competitive athlete or not, can see huge health benefits from strength training. Strength training will certainly add an extra dimension to a runner’s training that may help better prepare them for their sport. I have compiled a list of 5 excellent strength training exercises for runners that can be done with little or no gym equipment. Keep in mind that these are in no particular order and this list is far from being exhaustive. Continue reading

How I Shaved 9 Minutes Off My PR

Exactly two weeks ago, I was carbing up (#1 reason I run, btw), double-fisting water and cherry juice like crazy, and packing my bag with all my race day necessities for Saturday morning’s Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon. Although my typical race-day-eve butterflies were up and at ’em, I was confident knowing I was going to PR. And not PR like I had in my past 3 half marathons, cutting 37 seconds here, 1 minute 2 seconds there. PR like I meant it. Shave off real, solid, meaningful minutes.

And I did. From 2:11:23 to 2:02:48. Almost 9 whole minutes! Wanna know how I did it? Without super-intensive speed training or questionable food supplements or wheelie sneakers? Read on, my friends. It’s simple. Pinky promise. Continue reading

Caribbean Salmon with Mango Salsa

Spring is finally here! And you know what that means? Time to finally say goodbye to all of those hearty, comfort food crock-pot recipes that have consumed your cold-weather months and hello to fresh ingredients and sweet, simple spring & summer dishes.

In honor of the first warm days of the year, I’ve already busted out my favorite warm-weather dinner recipe: Caribbean Salmon with Mango Salsa.

This dish is pretty much a weekly occurrence in my household. It just doesn’t get old! The salmon has a perfect, not-too-spicy kick to it, and contrasted with the sweet, juicy mango salsa? PERFECTION. Plus, aside from a little bit of veggie & fruit chopping to get started, it’s really pretty simple and quick. Read on for the step-by-step recipe deets and see for yourself! Continue reading

Best Running Fuel for Sensitive Stomachs 

Do you feel nauseous simply at the thought of lemon-lime Gatorade and GU gel mid-run? For whatever reason, these are the fuel stations of choice at nearly every race. However, I know I’m not alone when I say that these two particular products do not sit well with me when my runner’s stomach is all jumbled up and my body is focusing its energy elsewhere (AKA not on digestion).

In fact, anything but water sends my stomach into knots for the remaining miles. Oranges, bananas, raisins, pretzels, Dunkin Donuts munchkins (served at a stop during the Marine Corps Marathon- I was desperate, don’t judge me): you name it, I’ve tried it…and it’s been unsuccessful.

Of course, you need to practice your fueling strategy on long runs to make sure everything sits well with you prior to race day. But who wants to ruin their long runs on the reg, trying to continually force down GU or other suggested fueling strategies until your body learns to accept them? Not me! Fortunately, after lots of trial and error and long runs cut short, I’ve discovered the only 3 products that work with my super-sensitive runner’s stomach: Nuun, Clif Shot Bloks, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans. Continue reading

New fave product: Mantra Band

Personally, I have a really hard time taking the om that I practice on my mat and applying it to everyday life. During yoga, I’m positive, encouraging, forgiving, and happy with myself in the moment. The second I roll up my mat, though, I’m back to being a total stressball and my own worst critic.

This year, I’ve resolved to change my attitude once and for all. My goal is to learn to live in the moment, always, no longer dwelling on what such-and-such parent said to me yesterday or that looming half marathon I’m feeling oh-so-unprepared for.

While trolling Instagram recently, I stumbled upon the perfect yogi-esque product to help remind me to stay on track: Mantra Band. These adorable bangles come in silver, gold, & rose gold and have a variety of mantras inscribed on them, serving as a perfect little reminder to Choose Love or to Enjoy the Journey or that Peace Comes From Within (this one is inscribed inside the bangle. LOVE).

Cheesey as it may be, I’m hopeful that my new Live in the Moment Mantra Band will help me remember to do just that. No more stressball here! 🙂

And the best part? They stack beautifully with a watch and some Alex & Ani’s, which are staples in my day-to-day.

8 things you’ll be glad you packed for race day 

Spring race season is upon us! In preparation for this weekend’s Rock ‘n’ Roll DC half marathon (anyone else running?!), I’ve had a growing pile of my must-have race day items on the floor all week (one of the very few times such a thing is acceptable in my living space). Aside from the obvious necessities such as your bib & safety pins, shoe tag, and any gels or other fuel you know & love, here’s a list of the top things I’ve learned to always tote along to races.

For pre-race:

  1. A magazine you’re willing to part with. Depending on the size of your race & how well it’s organized, you could be waiting up to an hour or more between arriving at the start and actually hitting the course. Having something to read while you’re waiting helps take your mind off of the challenge ahead & eases anxiety, especially if you’re running solo. We all know running is as much mental as it is physical. Save your brain power for the course.
  2. Warm, cheapo clothes from Goodwill or Walmart. Stay nice and toasty while you sit, stretch, & wait for the race to start. When you’re ready to run- ditch the extra layer. Many races now also have goodwill or other clothing donation bins at the start for this exact reason.
  3. Tissues. There’s nothing worse than having to wait in line for 40 minutes to use the porta potty before you cross the start line. Oh wait, yes there is. Having to wait 40 minutes to use the porta potty that’s likely already been used by some 1,000 people, only to find it’s sans toilet paper. And you’re about to run some not-so-normal number of miles. Need I say more?

For post-race:

Have these things either in your gear check bag or with any loved ones (AKA pit crew) who’ll be meeting you at the finish line.

  1.  Chapstick. Trust me. You will not want to wait until you get home.
  2. A fresh shirt. You’ll be super sweaty (unless you’re one of those magical goddesses who just doesn’t sweat, in which case I’m uber jealous) and get chilly immediately.
  3. A jacket/hoodie. For the same reasons as above. Especially if you’ll be facing long lines for the metro/traffic or heading to a celebratory brunch, the last thing you want is another reason to be miserable. And cold makes me miserable.
  4. Face towelettes. You’ll clearly be taking obligatory post-race photos with your pit crew and/or other racing friends and selfies gnawing on your hard-earned medal (why do people do that? I’m actually not guilty of doing so, but I feel like it’s a thing?). You may as well look less sweaty and eliminate that horrible salty face feeling. And again, brunch.
  5. Deodorant. Self explanatory. 

Hope this helps to make you feel just a tad more prepared to show up and nail your race! Any other items on your must-have lists? Please share! 

What To Do With All Those Race Bibs?

We train. We race. We save our bibs. We’re too emotionally attached to toss these memories of races past, but what good are they doing stuffed in a drawer or filed away in some folder? Need a cute, clever way to display your bibs without being too obnoxious (AKA using them as wallpaper)? Read on, my friends.

I created a photo book on Shutterfly to not only display my bibs, but also to serve as a yearbook of sorts, documenting each of my years in racing. See my finished product below!

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To make your own race book, first create a Shutterfly account & set up the basics of your photo book. The 8 x 11 size is perfect for race bibs! I chose the hardcover version, matte finish for mine. Continue reading

Where to Find High-Quality, Affordable Workout Gear

If you’re anything like me, you’re always drooling over the Lululemon and Athleta catalogs that turn up in the mail, eyeing all the yogis’ adorable printed leggings on Instagram, and comparing your workout ensemble to everyone else’s on the trail. I know, I know, working out is not about looking cute, but you’ve got to admit: working out is a lot more enjoyable when you feel good about yourself. And there’s no better motivation to get your butt to yoga than having a brand new polka-dotted pair of leggings to show off. Am I right?

Here’s the problem. Motivational or not, a new pair of leggings for a cool $100+ or a fun, bright top for $50+ is just not in my budget, especially when I’m already investing in expensive yoga memberships, race entries, and new Asics twice a year so I don’t end up with club feet and my dad’s knock knees (sorry, dad).

Salar leggings

Ladies, problem solved: FABLETICS. Fabletics is Kate Hudson’s athletic apparel line/monthly membership program. It’s similar to Birch Box, Nature Box (another obsession of mine), etc. in that you sign up as a VIP member and receive monthly benefits. Continue reading

Find Your Perfect Race Training Plan

So you’ve decided to train for a race. You’ve done all the volleying back and forth (do I have enough time? can my body handle it? do I really want to give up my weekend mornings for the next 8-16 weeks?) and settled on YES (which, fortunately, is the best answer 🙂 ). You’ve picked out the perfect race based on your calendar, travel plans, and of course, a preview of the finisher’s medal (that’s why we all run races anyway, isn’t it?). Now, it’s time to pick a training plan.

Here’s where I save you hours of grueling internet research and temporary cross-eye from scanning a million tiny charts of numbers, squinting to determine what sets them all apart. Who has the best running training plans? Hal Higdon.

Hal Higdon is a trainer and former Runner’s World contributor who’s created a fantastic selection of training plans for anything from 5Ks to marathons. Finding one that works for you is like finding something you like on The Cheesecake Factory’s menu: with so many options, there’s got to be something perfect. Continue reading

Get On That Yoga Grind.  

Need an excuse to get back into your yoga routine? Or the motivation to start doing yoga on the reg? Or some new, challenging poses to spice up your practice? Three words: Instagram. Yoga. Challenges. 

IG yoga challenges are my latest obsession, and while my boyfriend groans at the thought of me having an excuse to spend even more time on Insta than I already do, I credit these babies with a renewed love for my yoga practice. I’ve tried (and nailed!) so many poses that I would’ve never tried on my own. You know, those intimidating poses that the instructor in your yoga class offers with little to no guidance: “and if [insert crazy pose here] is in your practice, you can take that for a few breaths now.” Like I’m going to try side crow/bird of paradise/headstand/eight angle/flying pigeon for the first time, right here right now, when everyone can watch me face plant into my lulu lemon mat…no thank you.

However, IG yoga challenges (I’m on my fourth one now) allow you to push your boundaries and try these fun new postures in the privacy of your own home, saving the face plants for your boyfriend/roommate/cat. They’ll still love you. Promise. 

This month’s #BalanceBums challenge. Hosts will usually post modified versions of tougher poses, too.

How it works: follow some of the yoga greats on Insta (a few of my personal faves are @jennifermartinyoga @robinmartinyoga @rebekahletch @shadesofjoy.co @yogagrams @beachyogagirl @kellymarie_yoga). Keep your eyes peeled for challenges- different yogis will host them and announce daily poses, along with tips and tutorials for each. Follow along and practice the poses each day, posting your attempt on IG with the challenge hashtag, tagging all hosts and any sponsors (automatically entering yourself for amazing yogi prizes, too- who doesn’t love prizes?). You’ll be inspired by all of the other participants’ posts with the hashtags, and you’ll impress yourself with your progress!

Taking one pose at a time and making it a daily focus is huge. Don’t get me wrong- you’ll definitely fall on your face and make a fool of yourself as well (stay tuned for a post of my yoga bloopers), but it’s worth it for that moment in class when your instructor says, “and if [insert crazy pose here] is in your practice, you can take that for a few breaths now,” and you nail it, sans public face plant. 

My eight angle pose for #BalanceBums day 5. I had never been able to get this one before this challenge!