Thursday, May 31, 2012

Energy Gels for Long Runs and Races

When doing long training runs and races (half marathon through marathon--ultras are a whole other thing entirely!!), my preferred energy source has always been gels, rather than drinks like Gatorade.  (Mostly Gu, but I did get into Hammergel for a while.)

I recently received a few samples of this new energy gel from Justine at Ignite Naturals.
Called Reload, it's made from 99% organic ingredients. The base ingredient is organic fig paste and, according to the literature I received along with the samples, is easily digestible and, as a natural form of sugar "contains quality minerals that enhance the delivery of glucose nutrients and oxygen to working muscles." You might want to keep it in mind for your upcoming long training runs and races!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Jill Bolte Taylor's "Stroke of Insight" on TED

On a December morning in 1996, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain, and over four hours had the unique experience of observing her mind's total deterioration in the ability to process information.  A few years back, I read her incredible and inspirational story in her book, My Stroke of Insight; I recently came across this video on TED.  Thought you might find it as fascinating as I do.. and maybe think about it out on a run!

You can get her book on

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I love this poem by Ernest Holmes...


You are as old as yesterday
As young as today
As new as tomorrow.

You are as old as last night's setting sun
As young as the dawn of today
As new as your interest in living.

You are as old as your fear of life
As young as your faith and hope
As vital as your enthusiasm.

You are as old as your memory of hurt
As young as your expectation of good
As buoyant as your joy of accomplishment.

You are as old as your doubts
As young as your dreams
As strong as your convictions.

So let the rising sun of this new day
Bring light and laughter into your life
And guide you to your heart's desire.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Barefoot Running Study - Blog Post

I came across this blog post from Don Stoner's, where he participated in a study at the University of Florida "to compare how many calories are used and how much force is produced when the feet make contact with the ground while barefoot compared to wearing cushioned shoes."

It seems to verify what I have thought about the value of barefoot running, which is that it's a great way to work on your form and strengthen your legs and feet, a tool you can use to improve your overall running.  And it's fun and feels good!  Interesting reading!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Am Running

Last weekend John and I were up in the Withlacoochee Forest in central Florida, tromping around in the woods and biking on the 46-mile long rails-to-trails path.  We see lots of wildlife in the forest--lots of birds, deer, wild turkeys, and gopher tortoises.  As we were biking we saw this tortoise who just wanted to get across the path to his home on the other side of the road:

Great weekend, lots of fun!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Affirmations or Mantras

You can use positive affirmations, or mantras, along with your visualizing to help you achieve your goals.  Affirmations are statements you make about how you feel in the present moment.  We are actually using affirmations ALL the time, mostly without realizing it. Think about it.. Whenever you're thinking, for instance, "What a great day this is! Everything is going amazingly well!" ...that's how the whole day goes. And then there are days when you're grumpy and say to yourself, "Nothing is going right." ...and nothing goes right all day.  So, really, you want to be thinking "good" thoughts all the time!

Positive affirmations will help you all throughout your training.  Affirmations should be personal, uplifting and easy to remember so that you can easily pull one out of your memory if you hit a bad patch during a race.  My "go-to" running affirmation is, "run tall, run relaxed, run easy."  When I first started running, I read that posture and form were important in how efficient you were as a runner, so that's what I said to myself during every run.  I then developed lots of different mantras as I trained for various races, such as:
  • Light and easy all day long
  • Faster, stronger, quick light steps
  • I am powerful, light and limitless
  • Running long, running strong
  • I breathe in, I breathe out
  • I am alert as I run relaxed
  • Happy and healthy as I run; happy and healthy, this is fun
  • I am free to be me; what a joy it is to be
  • I can run all day long
  • I run for fun in the hot hot sun (for running in the SoFL summer..  thank you, Dr Seuss!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Visualize YOUR Inner Champion

The summer Olympics are not that far away, and I LOVE watching all the events!  I found this video, which actually made me think of every one of us, not just Olympic hopefuls.  We all have dreams...

You can use visualization in any area of your life.  First ask yourself what it is you really want, then get a very clear picture of it in your mind.  See yourself doing exactly what it is you want to do.  Be there...  what does it look like, what do you hear and smell?  How do you feel?  What are you thinking?  Picture it exactly as you want it to be.  See yourself happily doing what you want to do.

Here are some ways to apply it to your training:
  • Every morning before starting your day (even before getting out of bed), take a few minutes to visualize..  see yourself running relaxed and strong, even-paced.. with seeming effortlessness.  As you visualize, breathe evenly, deeply and relaxed.
  • Write down your goal(s) on post-it notes and put them in places around your house where you will see them often... the bathroom mirror, your closet door, the refrigerator, the front door.  Confidently see yourself accomplishing those goals.
  •  If you have a specific goal race time, visualize yourself running your race at your goal pace with ease; see the finish line coming into view and marvel at how great you feel as you pick it up to run strong right through the finish with time to spare.
  • Visualize during your training runs.  If you know the race course, see yourself on the course, first at the start line, ready and knowing you have prepared well.  See the mile markers as you come upon them, a little surprised that you're there already... see the other runners around you, smile and give a nod as in, "Isn't this fun!?!"
  • Visualize just before you go to sleep at night; see yourself again running effortlessly, smoothly, light and easy.
Choose YOUR goal; know in your mind that you can, then do what it takes to get there.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

91-Year-Old Inspiration

I am a huge fan of yoga, either as one's primary form of exercise or as an excellent complement to running.  Like running, it can be done practically anywhere, any time and requires little in the way of equipment.  Most anyone can do it at some level. 

Here is Bernice Bates, 91 years old and teaching yoga at her senior center to 60 - 80-year-olds!  She has been practicing and teaching since 1960.  I love this quote from her:
"Yoga itself means yoke, that's to join.  We join our mind, our body and our spirit in everything we do.  Yoga gives you flexibility like you've never had before, and it makes you healthy because you're working on the whole body, inside and out."

Yoga studios are everywhere, local gyms usually offer yoga classes, and there are hundreds of good books about yoga.  You can even find apps for your smartphone to help you with your yoga practice.  I like the book Yoga as Medicine by Timothy McCall, M.D.  As a medical doctor, Dr McCall sees (and uses) yoga as therapy, a "yogic prescription for health and healing."  For runners, I recommend The Runner's Yoga Book by Jean Couch.  Jane gave me a handy little yoga book to take with me when I travel, The Athlete's Pocket Guide to Yoga:  50 Routines for Flexibility, Balance, and Focus.

You can get the books at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Going Barefoot.. and the Kenyans

To add to yesterday's post on going to a more minimalist shoe, I want to talk a little about barefoot
There's SO much controversy around this subject right now.  I am neither "for" nor "against."  (You can read all my posts on barefoot running by going to "Labels" in the right column and clicking on "barefoot.")  Whether you do or don't depends on your own history and if you want to or not.  For instance, if you don't even walk around your house barefoot, you should start there...   walk around the house barefoot.  Then you can start doing some barefoot walking outside, or walking with some kind of protection for the bottoms of your feet.  My preference is Steven Sashen's huaraches, his Invisible Shoes (see box to the right).  Or you can go with Vibram FiveFingers, which there are many different models to choose from now. has them:

Barefoot enthusiasts say to start by running on grass, which is great!  Except here in SoFL, where the grass is not really grass.  It's essentially what we called crabgrass in Iowa.  It is not soft; it is coarse and tough, and the ground is hard and bumpy...  has to be tough to survive the Florida sun, climate and soil.  So, here in SoFL, running on just any old grass, IMHO, is not really the way to start.  You're going to have to go to a golf course or something like that.  Now, walking (and eventually running) on the beach, yes.  But, there again, if you don't or haven't done much of it, you really have to start out very slowly, walking maybe 10-15 minutes and going from there.

A new book is coming out, I believe May 15 is when it will be available, about Kenyan running, Running with the Kenyans:  Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth by Adharanand Finn.  I was reading a review, can't remember where now, but it was saying that although the elite Kenyan runners all race in very minimalist racing shoes, they train in regular cushy trainers.  They get their perfect form from running barefoot as children growing up--which they keep, whatever shoe they are running in.  It's about form, a shortened stride, and landing mid- to forefoot, which is what barefoot (or minimalist shoe) running can help you with. 

I have pre-ordered a copy of the book from; you can too:

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