How to Make RUNNING Suck LESS!

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Running is hard. You know this, I know this, we all know this. You may have a super hard run where it feels as if your head and legs are not on the same page. You may try a new route that is filled with hills and be exhausted after. However, on the other hand there are great runs out there waiting for you, too! You gotta take the good days with the bad days, because with anything, they are bound  to happen. That being said, today I wanted to share a few ways to make running suck less.
1. Create a custom playlist OR listen to a podcast: I am a huge advocate for listening to music that you love while on the run. During the Victoria Half Marathon I tuned into a playlist I made on Spotify. If you are interested, you can check out my running beats playlist here. Alternatively, during a run is a prime time to check out a podcast to pass the time. A few favourites of mine are The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast and The Bitch Bible. Be sure to check them out – they will keep you thoroughly entertained!
2. Take walk breaks. Running for 20, 30, 40+ minutes can be hard whether you are a newbie runner or if you have been running for a while. Don’t be afraid to take walk breaks! This helps mentally break up the run, that way you can run for 9 minutes, say, and know that you have a 1 minute break coming up. I took this approach during the Victoria Half Marathon and it was an excellent way to give my mind and body a bit of a break. Plus I was able to refuel and rehydrate during this time, too!
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3. Find a workout buddy. Running is easier with a friend. That is, if you like running with someone else. Your running partner can help make you accountable, and there is nothing better than chit chatting and catching up with a friend (or family member!) while you are getting your sweat on. Time tends to pass by when you are sharing stories too, and if you are racing, you have crushed a goal together, too!
4. Buy some cute workout gear. No, seriously. Having nice workout clothing gets me pumped up. There are few things I love more than shopping for exercise clothes. If you had to choose between a baggy pair of old sweat pants and a new pair of Lululemon capris, which ones would you pick? I know the answer is different for everyone, but I’d reach for the Lulu’s and kill my run with confidence. Now, I’m not saying go by a new pair of shorts or a top every time you want to work out. No, treat yourself to something here and there to help keep you feel motivated. It’s all part of that feel good, look good plan.
5. Document your journey. For me, I like to document my running journey on this blog. For others it may be a journal, a planner, or in list form. Whatever it is, keeping track will allow you to visually see your progress, and you can always look back and reflect on your journey. It’s important to give yourself credit for all of your hard work, and seeing all the great things written down on paper will help you look forward to another good run later on!
For all the runners out there, what are some things YOU do to make running suck less?

Time to Hop on the Interval Train

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Hey, hey, party people!
I am here to chat about your new best friend when it comes to cardio.
No, seriously!
I know people think cardio is some grueling task, and yes, it certain can be, but this is something that will go by in a breeze and leave you feeling exhausted in the best way.
If you haven’t heard of high intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT, you are missing out! Never fear, though. That’s why I’m here to spread the good word ; )
High intensity interval training is exactly what it sounds like – you work at your maximum for a short amount of time, followed by recovery. HIIT has been my BFF for the last couple weeks on the days where I do not want to run or do cardio for longer than twenty minutes.
Yes, all you need is 15-20 minutes to complete a HIIT work out. Super short, sweet, and sweaty.
Before I chat about what my personal HIIT workouts look like, here’s the benefits. That’s most important. WHY the hell should I do this?
– Kickstarts your metabolism and burns tons of calories in a shorter amount of time when compared to calories burned during a long run
– Effective at burning fat
– Strengthens your lungs, heart, and legs (especially if you kick up the incline – oooh mama)
– Promotes weight loss, not muscle loss
– Time efficient: no need to set aside an hour of your day since you can get it done in 20 minutes or less!
– You can pretty much do it anywhere. Inside, outside, in your living room, whatever!
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That moody morning gym light at 5:30am, pre-HIIT madness.
This is what I have been playing around for my intervals:
Warm up: 2 minutes
Easy run: 1 minute
SPRINT ALL OUT! 30 seconds
Walk to recover: 1 minute
Repeat for 15 or 20 minutes. You will work up a huge sweat, your heart will be pumping, and you will feel amazing after. Yes, it’s hard, but start wherever is comfortable for you. If you feel it’s better to have a longer warm up, do that. If you want more recovery time, do that. Hell, sometimes after sprinting my butt off I stand on the sides of the treadmill for a good twenty seconds before I even begin my walking recovery. It’s all up to you!
You can also mix up your intervals with jumping jacks, skipping rope, burpees, mix in strength training moves. Lots of options to keep you sweating!
Note: I like to do my intervals after so I conserve my energy for strength training, but do what works for you. Sometimes we only have 20 minutes to get a workout in, and HIIT is perfect for that!
Let me know in the comments what your favourite HIIT workout is, or if you are a lover of HIIT as well!

So, What’s Next? My Running Goals

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The age old question. What do I want to do next?
I find myself asking this question at the end of every race. Upon crossing the finish line, instead of relishing in the moment and the accomplishment, my mind jumps to, What next? A million thoughts tend to swirl in my head once a run is over, though I am the type of person who is always thinking of the next step. So, I thought it would be fitting to chat about my running goals in the next few months and moving into 2017.
Of course, I do not have a set deadline for these goals. I just want them to happen. Although when it comes to goal setting, having a deadline helps, but these are general ideas of what I want in my running journey. When it happens, it happens, and I will be actively working towards a few of them (especially when it comes to timing).
First an foremost, I want to improve my personal best time in the half marathon. It has been years since I got a new PR (personal record), so I’d say it is about time. Ideally I’d like to push myself under the 1:50:xx mark, so I have some work to do – specifically speed and hill training!
On a similar note, I’d like to PR in the 5K and 10K distances as well. Basically: I want to get faster.
How will I do it? I will train hills and do speed work more consistently. My next half marathon opportunity will be in 2017, so I aim to run that faster than my Victoria Half marathon race a few days ago. Victoria is such a beautiful course and is a run I do every year. Until the next race though, I will keep my fingers crossed and continuously work towards that faster time. On that note, I will look for more opportunities in the 5K and 10K distances and really try to find that edge to make that personal record happen.
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Distance wise?
The full marathon will always be my goal. I have ran upwards of 12+ half marathons (I used to count, but now I can’t keep track *humble brag*), which has gotta count for something! However, the full marathon has always been that elusive goal that I have that just hasn’t happened. Why? I am scared of committing to it. I know that setting that goal and signing up is the first step, but part of me is so frightened about everything that could go wrong. I know, I know. This goes against my mentality with everything else I do in life. If you don’t know what’s going to happen, then why not focus on the good? Perhaps 2017 will be my year of the marathon. If I can get on stage in a bikini and have people judge and critique my body (does this sound crazy or what), then a full marathon is nothing compared to that! That’s what I will tell myself, anyway. Gotta put in that work, work, work (cue Rhianna).
I’m sure you guys could have guessed the full marathon as one of my goals from a mile away. For those runners out there, or for anyone reading for that matter, what are some of YOUR fitness goals?

Post-Run Recovery: 10 Tips for Running Strong

Hooray!
You’ve crossed the finish line, collected your medal and some goodies from the post-race refreshment tent, and now it’s time to head home (or perhaps go out with some friends).
However, before you get too far, there are a few things to keep in mind before you carry on with your day. While it is tempting to hop in the car and forget about taking care of your body post-race, there’s a few things I recommend doing.
1. You want to refuel. At most race events (even smaller, local races), there is almost always a post-race tent with food. Be sure to grab a banana or one of the granola bars they give out, as it is important to replenish your body after a hard workout. Some races offer chocolate milk, which has a good ratio of protein and carbohydrates to refuel with post-run, so keep your eyes out for that if you are a chocolate milk fan. There are usually a few options to choose from, such as various fruits, cookies, granola bars, protein drinks. etc. It may be tempting to load up on cookies, but beware of the dreaded sugar crash! Your post-race snack should be enough to tide you over until you can have a proper meal. One of my favourite race day traditions is going out for breakfast with Ryan once the race is over. I will choose something like a veggie omelet with whole wheat toast and fruit to refuel my body and get a healthy dose of nutrients in. This kick-starts the process of muscle repairing.
2. You will want to rehydrate. Always, always drink water. If your race offers an electrolyte drink such as Nuun, it wouldn’t hurt to have that either. As you run, you sweat out electrolytes and sodium, and it is important to replenish your body as they are vital components to your health. I prefer Nuun over Gatorade as it contains less sugar and doesn’t spike my blood sugar, but even watering down some Gatorade wouldn’t be terrible, just so long as you rehydrate your body. No, this doesn’t mean rehydrating with beer, either! However, that being said, a celebratory drink once you have eaten a decent meal is allowed, if you are into that! Remember, your pee should be a light shade of yellow, not dark!
3. Third, and one that I tend to skip out on is stretching. The atmosphere is buzzing on race day, and it is SO easy to just go through the food tent line up and continue walking along without paying any attention to your muscles. Stretching your major muscle groups – such as all muscles in the legs, and stretch out your upper body a bit as well as the shoulders can often become tight from running – will make the recovery process (and sitting on the toilet the next day) a much more pleasant process.
4. If you have access to a foam roller, DO IT! Your body will thank you. Be sure to roll out your hamstrings, quads, IT bands, and glutes, as the muscles of the legs can become very tight if you neglect stretching and foam rolling them after a run.
5. If your muscles are extra sore, be sure to ice them. When I was in the midst of training for back to back races, I would often ice my knees just in case. I would also ice my quads, and keep an ice pack under my leg to ice my hamstring. You can also sit in an ice bath if you are feeling extra brave – be sure to wear some layers on top and some shorts on the bottom – yes, it hurts as much as you’d think, but your legs will thank you!
6. Take some extra rest days. Usually after a half marathon I will take at least two days off of running, and ease my way back into my running routine. While I still go to the gym, I keep cardio at a minimum and only do easy cycling or walking on the treadmill if my muscles are still feeling a bit tender. I avoid heavy training on my legs for a few days post half marathon, but everyone is different so find a system that works best for you. Trial and error!
7. For the days following a hard run or race, consider taking an Epsom salt bath to further ease your achy muscles. Throw on some music and a face mask, pour yourself a cuppa tea, and relax! This can do wonders, especially if you are prone to sore feet or calves.
8. Take an easy yoga class. To further release any tension, look for a yoga class in your area that focuses on legs. In my city we have a class called “happy hips and hammies” which is geared towards athletes. I took this class once after cardio and leg day at the gym, and holy crap, did I ever need it! Yoga is great at not only releasing tension in your muscles, but tension in your mind as well to create harmony within your body.
9. Get a massage. Oh, yes. This is probably the best tip of them all, because it can be so relaxing and well needed, especially after a long training cycle! Whether you prefer a relaxation massage or registered massage therapy, massage is a great way to nurture your body and promote recovery.
10. CELEBRATE! Celebrate your accomplishments with your friends and family. Celebrate your race with your dog, your cat, your fish, whatever. Enjoy a glass of wine, reflect on your race, and get energized with a plan for the next one. It is important in your journey to keep the motivation flowing (motivation – not wine ; ), so be grateful for your race day and for what your body can achieve. This puts your mind in a positive place before the craziness of training starts again!
What are your post-race recovery tips?