The Perks of Running Without Music

When most people learn that I do most of my running without music, their response is something to the effect of WHAT?! But…WHY?? 

Well, here’s why…in a nice, bulleted list format, of course.

-Heightened attention to your body’s needs. Music is a great distraction, yes, but being distracted while running isn’t necessarily the safest route. It’s important to tune in to your body as you run and notice those little nuances- Is your stride getting funky? Your ankle bothering you? An old injury creeping up? Pay attention to your footfalls and let your body move with its natural rhythm, not the ever-changing rhythm of your fave Pandora station.

-Preserve music as a motivation strategy in desperate times. Because I generally don’t run with music, having a backup playlist on hand can serve as a great motivator during particularly long (read: 26.2 mile) runs or on those days when the last thing you want is to be left alone with your own thoughts. During my marathon last fall, I ran music-less until mile 17, at which point I switched on my badass “Awesome Jackie’s Marathon!” Spotify playlist (curated specifically for me by my college besties- I have the best best friends 🙂 ). This was the perfect energy boost to get me pumped up for the final 9 miles, when my internal drive just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

-Erase a context for timing. If you’re really looking to relax on your run and avoid counting miles/feet/inches as they crawl by, music may be keeping you from doing just that. You may be subconsciously (or consciously) counting songs and using them to calculate minutes run and minutes remaining. Stop! Enjoy the scenery! Which brings me to… Continue reading

Kick Off Your Training Season Right

It’s here, it’s here! The time we’ve been waiting for for months! No, I don’t mean Christmas or summertime or even daylight savings. I mean the challenging, exhilarating, sometimes anxiety-provoking days of race training.

If you’ve got a race or two (or five- cough cough race addiction) lined up for the fall, it’s about that time to buckle down and get your ish in gear. Here are a few tips to kick off your training months with the energy and drive you’ll need to succeed.

  1. Choose your plan (read about the best ones here) & have all pace deets lined up from the get-go. Jot down your different pace goals for each type of run (easy runs vs. long runs vs. race pace runs) so you can quickly glance each time you head out the door- it’s easy to get these numbers and times all jumbled up in your head. Keep these pace goals flexible, however; you’ll likely need to adjust later on.
  2. If possible, start your training plan a few weeks early. I’m just about to start an 18-week plan for a marathon that’s 21 weeks away, leaving me a nice 3 -week buffer. This comes in handy when you A) feel less-than-satisfied with how a week of training went and want a second go at it,  B) need a week of R&R to avoid turning a minor injury into a major injury, C) have a summer vacay and really, really feel that training will cramp your beaching & brunching style, or D) all of the above. No shame. I choose D. Every time.
  3. Find a way to stay motivated- any system that works for you. I like to print my training plan in a one-page table and highlight each day that I complete. The girly girl in me loves seeing all of the boxes turn hot pink, and the OCD in me hates seeing that one lonely, white box that marks a missed run. So simple, yet so motivating.  Or consider setting up a reward system, treating yourself to a massage, new running gear, or those cute new Ray-Bans you’ve been eyeing after every X successful training weeks. Just be careful not to let your prizes keep you from taking a break when your body’s about to crumble.
  4. Modify your training on a weekly basis. If you try to figure it out on the go, you’re more likely to miss some crucial runs and end up overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, sit down every Sunday and think about the week ahead. Swap days around, if necessary, taking into account your work schedule and other commitments that may make training on some days harder than others. Be realistic; you probably won’t feel up to that mid-week 8-miler on the same day that you have back-to-back-to-back meetings and a hair appointment. Don’t set yourself up for failure!
  5. Book some run-dates. Get the scoop on which of your runner friends are training for races too, and compare training plans. Set up dates to run together whenever you can- the more regular, the better! Have friends training for a longer or shorter distance than you? Work your schedule so you can run your easy runs on the day of their long runs, or vice versa. I run twice a week with two different friends, and this is by far the most fool-proof way to stay motivated and entertained ’til the end.

Most importantly, listen to your body and enjoy the ride! Celebrate every success, no matter how small, and take the time to truly appreciate the good you are doing for your body and mind. Happy training! See you at the start. 🙂

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!