My “Why” Behind Ultrarunning. — thedancingrunner

So I was watching this awesome Billy Yang documentary about THE WHY…why many runners venture off into the amazing sport of ultrarunning. It’s actually a great video and I am posting it here so you should take some time out of your day and watch it if you have not seen it. I thought today […]

via My “Why” Behind Ultrarunning. — thedancingrunner

Favorite Podcasts

When I feel like learning something new, I listen to a good podcast. I find a lot of motivation in learning, so podcasts have been great for that. I have also discovered that I personally learn and listen better when I am running.

I put together a list of podcasts, which I broke into three categories–Educational, Running, and Ones to Try Soon.

 

Educational:

 

This American Life This is probably the most popular podcast of all time. You probably already know about it. If you don’t, you should. It is so, so good.

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Invisibilia Invisiblia is about the things we cannot see, but shape us–science and medicine told in interesting, attainable clips that come in under an hour.

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Hidden Brain Like the title suggests, it talks about how our unconscious dictates human behavior, without us even realizing it. Most are about half an hour long.

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Radiolab One of my favorites, Radiolab connects science and storytelling. You will learn something new and be captivated the entire episode, no matter which episode you choose.

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Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History I absolutely love Malcolm Gladwell, so I am excited to dig into Season 3. The first two were great. He takes a closer look at some event in the past and analyzes it to see if we really understood it the first time. He makes the listener want to be better at thinking about what we have always been told.

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Stuff You Should Know This is another one that you can’t really go wrong with. From Genghis Khan to anarchy to bullfighting, you find out how pretty much anything you are interested in works. They do go on slight side tangents, which end up being rather funny to listen to.

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Criminal This one is great. My only beef is that they aren’t long enough at about 20 minutes an episode. They go back and look at crime that has happened in the past, some recent past some going back centuries, and discuss what happened, who was involved, and why it happened. They do a great job keeping it human, as opposed to sterile. I cannot recommend this one enough.

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Freakonomics Radio If you liked the books, you will like the podcast. It talks about current topics that you most likely don’t know enough about, like the Trump tax cut and smart cities. They also discuss age-old debates, like does doing good give us license to do bad or the hot gluten conversation that just won’t die.

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Serial (season 1 only) I seriously locked myself in my room and said don’t talk to me, the new Serial episode just came out. You will now have the luxury of binge listening to this because season 1 has been out a while. It follows a murder and the man accused of her murder.

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99% Invisible This one is about how various things were actually created, like the fortune cookie or churches. You will learn something new with this one.

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Love + Radio This one is winning awards for unique audio. It talks about the arts and sciences. It covers people and ideas. It is good, but a bit difficult to define because of its broad range of topics.

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Running:

Another Mother Runner  This running podcast is geared toward women, as you could probably glean from the title. They cover all kinds of interesting running topics and seem like genuine people.

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The Runner’s World Show This one doesn’t run anymore (see what I did there), but it is still good to go back and listen. They feature a lot of great runners on their show to hear their perspectives, but they also cover various running topics.

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MoJo for Running Mojo for Running covers practical running tips and advice for all running abilities. It seems to have motivation at its core.

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Run to the Top They are also for varying abilities. They interview experts in psychology, running, nutrition, science, and everyday runners to get advice and knowledge.

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Ones to Try Soon:

RFK Tapes This one reexamines the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

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Ear Hustle Stories from inside prison–sounds fascinating.

 

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The Joe Rogan Experience I have been promised this is funny.

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Trail Talk Examines ideas around running for both regular runners and ultra runners, with a focus on ultras, I think. Lots of training advice that appears to be for people who already know about running. I am putting it in my queue!

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What is your favorite podcast?

No-Bake Energy Bites

There has been an energy bite craze in recent history. I myself, have been susceptible to this craze. They are perfect for dense energy that you can eat before or during your run. They are easy to make, simple to switch up ingredients for when you want a change, small but full of fairly good calories, taste awesome, and are easy to take with you on a long run. I wrap mine up in a piece of plastic wrap to fuel my long training runs or for trail races where I have my hydration pack.

Ingredients that I already had in the house.

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Final product. Pairs nicely with black coffee.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup honey

3/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup chocolate chips

*I included cinnamon and chia seeds in mine today.

Optional: cinnamon, cocoa powder, dried fruit, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut flakes, Stevia, even a little protein powder
Cream together the honey and peanut butter Then mix the rolled oats into the sticky goodness. Lastly, add the chocolate chips. Eat a few bites for good measure before rolling into balls. You won’t regret it.

You can also freeze them to reduce any stickiness that might occur when running in the heat. I wrap mine in a little bit of plastic wrap, stick them in the freezer, and then am good to go for my run.

Stay energized, rad, and happy!

“Let Your Mind Run” by Deena Kastor

 A Review by Tara G

I think I may be hard to please when it comes to running books. With that said, I did walk away with two useful tidbits from “Let Your Mind Run.”

One, if you run downhill harder than your hardest you will improve your fast-twitch muscle fibers. This was of particular interest to me because I related to her discussing how it felt like her lungs and mind could go faster, but she couldn’t get her feet to turn over any more than they already were. Her coach gave her the advice of running downhill at 110%. I also have this problem and feel that it was really useful implementing this into my own running.

The second piece of advice was less practical, but more of an eye-opening thought about racing. She talks about how if you are pushing yourself hard enough, any race is difficult, whether that is a 5k, 10k, half, or full marathon. That resonated with me. I have started to feel very comfortable in a half marathon and after listening to her audiobook, it made me reconsider what that means.

I have to say that Deena Kastor has found what works for her as a runner. She set records, continues to challenge herself, and inspires others along the way, so I don’t want to be too negative about her. But, I think what inspires her, makes me roll my eyes. The focus on mindset, positive thinking, and her journey aren’t wrong, but they seem a bit cliche. It seems like those concepts are already pretty well accepted universally. Basically, the writing wasn’t anything to write home about, but her running is extraordinary.

If I am being honest, she lost me when she said her drink of choice is chilled white wine.

I think that this book is certainly worth reading for a runner who enjoys race recaps, but temper your expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Weekly Running Log Rundown

Hey, hey.

We flew across the planet and I have had jet lagged legs out there running this week. It has been so nice running Boise though. It may be the most outdoorsy city I have ever seen. There are paths that cover the city just for running or biking (read as me having no fear of getting hit by a car when on said path as opposed to other cities). There are also plenty of places to get your trail running fix.

Sunday: Running on a few hours of sleep in the last 30 hours this day, but it felt really good to get out and run my legs after being on an airplane for so long.

Monday: I still hadn’t slept much, but with all that free time I managed to unpack our whole life and get an early morning run done. I loved the fresh air and freedom I felt. I saw one beaver, one bunny, and three deer. Ah, Idaho. The wide-open spaces was just what I needed.

Also, I don’t always America breakfast but when I do, I regret it. My husband offered to make breakfast, so who am I to argue. The running gods forgave me and I felt fine this time.

Tuesday: I felt really good for this run too, until the last two kilometers. I should have brought water. I was loving being in my element without any time restraints, so ran farther than I had planned before leaving the house.

Wednesday: Why does running a kilometer up hill feel like it is three times longer than on flat ground? Never mind, I loved getting into the dirt trails of the Foothills and getting some elevation work in. I felt strong and sweaty in the southern Idaho sun. I didn’t break any records with my time, but was happy and felt accomplished nonetheless.

Thursday: It was time to switch out to new shoes after putting 900 kilometers (or 562 miles) on them. I absolutely loved the new Altras. I ran faster than usual. I am not sure if it was because of the shoes or I was just having a good day. I would have run farther, but I needed to get the kids to the doctor for their checkups, so was a little short on time.

Friday: I felt very Idaho today. I ran down by the Boise river on the trail that follows along it. Everyone was in their R.E.I. wear, walking their dogs, and smiling and waving to people passing. The trial was a nice break from pavement and it was well shaded by lots of trees.

Saturday: I went fairly easy today. I did find some trails and hills to run, which helped me clear my mind. I went sans headphones and just listened to the world. It felt good to do some reflection.

Happy running and stay rad, my friends!

Share Your Running Accomplishments

I would like to hear from my fellow runners!

There is a time to consider your failings and there is a time to celebrate your accomplishments. Let’s do the latter today.

It can be anything. You ran more days than usual, you ran farther, you did hill repeats, you did double run days, your pace has improved, you figured out what food works best for you for racing, you did your first race, you landed a PR. Anything.

I will share mine to get the ball rolling. I have been working on improving my pace and have found some success in the attempt. I have been running a long time and I got a little too comfortable in my pace. It felt like I wasn’t challenging myself enough anymore, that is why I decided to focus on my pace. It has helped me both physically and mentally to have a goal. Feels good!

Tell me about your running accomplishments in the comments below!

When to Retire Running Shoes

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As it is time for me to retire my old running shoes, it seemed like a good time to do a new post about it. The general advice is after 350-500 miles. For me, I run about 550-600 miles in three months, and that is when I start to notice that it might be time. Even if they don’t look like they need to be recycled on the outside, there is still a lot of internal wear and tear that happens and can eventually lead to injury. In fact, that is the first sign that I have telling me it is time to hang up the old and bring in the new. I start to get aches and pains in my knees, which I do not normally have any problems with. As soon as I start to get a twinge in my knee, I go back and check how many miles I have covered in my shoes. Thus far, switching out old shoes has consistently solved any knee problems I have had.

I vlogged about it. See below my transition from old to new–Hokas to Altras.

Whole Foods for Your Long Run

Why should you know about some whole food options?

I am the first to admit I like my gels. I use the word ‘like’ loosely here. The reasons I do use them–they are about a 100 calories per packet and contain a good balance of simple carbohydrates, calcium, sodium, and potassium. I like to take magnesium as well, so will bring additional magnesium supplements. They go down easy and get to your blood stream and muscles quickly.

However, gels don’t feel very real. They are a sticky, packaged mess designed in a lab. I am not entirely above this, but if you are interested in a more whole food approach, that is better for you and will create less waste, there are plenty of options. In my opinion, I like to use both as fuel, as I cannot imagine consuming only gels for a long run.

 

Things to remember when fueling your runs with whole foods:

  • choose low fiber and low protein
  • high simple carbohydrates
  • consider how you will carry it
  • remember to eat before (carbs) and after (protein) your run. Before for energy, after for recovery of your muscles.
  • everyone’s gut tolerates different things. Try out new foods before a race.

 

What are some whole food options?

You carb-load a few days or the night before by eating foods like a banana, oatmeal, rice, or pasta before your run so you have glycogen stores ready for the use. That’s good, because it will help you for the first portion of your run, but eventually you will use up those glycogen stores and your body will start trying to use your fat stores. This isn’t ideal because it is harder for your body to do this. During your run, you will need to start replacing your glycogen stores with some form of simple carbohydrate or you will eventually hit the metaphorical wall–basically, you will run out of energy. You need something that is quick and easy, not only to reach for, but also get to your blood stream and muscles as quickly as possible too.

Some popular high carbohydrate foods among runners:

  • bananas. I am yet to transport a banana without squishing it all over the place, so will eat one before my run and hope the race directors have them along the way, which they almost always do. I have known people to stick them in their hydration packs and just not be fussed about the squish.
  • watermelon (and salt if you are feeling it)
  • sliced apple
  • dried fruit (my favorites are dried mango and dates, but most will do)
  • homemade bars
  • homemade energy balls (oats, honey, peanut butter, chocolate chips)
  • potatoes and salt
  • mashed sweet potatoes (put into a reusable squeeze pack)
  • bagel
  • pretzels
  • those squeeze packs meant for babies. Yeah, those are a hit with runners. They are better than the gels in the sense of ‘realness,’ but still create more waste than the previous options.

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I try to eat something small about every 45 minutes, but often will go up to an hour and half even between needing something. It is best to listen to your body and know the signals telling you that you need to eat. This can be more natural for some people than others. It took me a lot of practice to figure out when my body was telling me to eat. I ran out of energy on some of my races a few times, but now I know that when I start to slow down, feel exhausted, or even dizzy, I need to eat about 100 calories. Within five minutes, I am back at it and feeling great. The wall averted.

Good post run foods high in protein:

  • homemade protein bars
  • boiled eggs
  • chia seeds
  • peanut butter
  • really, any kind of nuts and seeds
  • homemade hamburger (my favorite, but I rarely get it)
  • avocado

*coconut water is great for a natural electrolyte replacement

 

Other articles that you might find useful related to this topic:

Runner’s World Whole Food Alternatives

Run to the Finish Power Long Runs with Whole Foods

No Meat Athlete Fueling Your Run with Whole Foods

What are your natural, whole foods that you choose?

10 Tips for Traveling with Children

One might liken taking long-haul flights with children to endurance running. If you can endure pain for long periods of time, you can handle flying across the globe with your littles.

Okay, okay, it isn’t that bad. We have done it countless times and we have survived each flight, so far. We just made a 23-hour flight across the planet with a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old. As I write this, our home is jet-lagged, awake at 1 am, and slightly delirious.

Tip 1: Bring one or two small, age appropriate toys that are new to your child. Don’t go hogwild and buy expensive toys, just something that will distract them enough to get past moments of chaos. Do not allow them to procure said toy until your parent sense starts tingling and is telling you that you don’t have much time left before exhaustion meltdown is imminent. Unveiling the toy will bring enough excitement that you and all involved will most likely sidestep any emotional disasters.

Also, as far as stuff goes, bring any additional stuffed animals or blankets they are attached to, as it might coax them into sleep at some point.

And stickers. Their fine motor skills aren’t advanced enough to make stickers a quick process. If you are feeling especially fancy, invest in those puffy stickers. They can be reused and moved around longer, buying you more time and getting you closer to your final destination.

Tip 2: Ask for bulk head seating if you have a child under two. You will need that leg space for the diaper bag.

Tip 3: All your awesome parenting skills should be put on hold. You don’t let your child use the iPad except for special occasions? Well this is the moment, my friends. Let them reprogram it if it means you get to the other side. You don’t let them have lollipops? Be the magical unicorn parent they have never seen before by bringing at least three lollipops. Actually, don’t bother with any other kind of sweets. Lollipops provide the correct amount of time to sugar ratio you are seeking. You usually read books and play with hand made play dough on the weekends? This is the time for movies–as many as your child will watch on one long-haul flight. My son just watched three in a row. My daughter became mildly addicted to the iPad. They both possibly had sugar crashes and melting brains from the screen time by the time we reached our destination, but you know what? They were happy little humans on the flight and we all managed to survive with our sanity in check.

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Tip 4: Your child may be sensitive to the air pressure changes on take offs and landings, which can consequently make them scream bloody murder. Give them a lollipop. Or nurse them. Or binkie them. Basically, give them something to suck on so their ears don’t feel like they are going to pop their brains.

Tip 5: For long layovers, find a play area for your kids to run wild in. They have been cooped up on plane where they were told to put their seat belts on and sit for hours on end. They need to run around and get some energy out. You can curl up and sleep in the corner (don’t really, unless you have a partner that has had enough coffee to stay awake to watch the kids).

Tip 6: Bring hand sanitizer and multivitamins. Planes are nasty vessels of human microbes. No one has time to get sick.


Tip 7: Wet wipes.  All the wet wipes.

Tip 8: When they serve you food and you have a baby on your lap, put a napkin on your child’s head to prevent food from spilling on them.

That may just be something my husband does. I’m not sure. Either the napkin or just wet wipe them down when you are done.

Tip 9: Remind yourself that it won’t last forever. I repeat this to myself and it makes me feel better. Granted, I have also most likely had a plastic cup of red wine, so really it could be either one of those things that makes me feel better.

Tip 10: Ignore all the judgy judgers. Just do your best to be a decent parent and take care of your child regardless of the little beedy eyes that will undoubtedly squint at you like they got a little of your child’s strong will in their eyes.

To break it down–distract, bribe, and endure.

You got this. Godspeed, traveling families.

First Day of Summer Vacation

It is the first day of summer vacation.

Do you remember that feeling you had when you were a child and summer break just started? As a teacher, I still get that!

I absolutely love teaching, but I also absolutely love and need my summer vacation.

Today? Today, we pack.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow, we fly.

We will be making a 23 hour journey, not including taxi time but from airport to airport, across the planet again. I swear these little people we made have gone around the globe more times in their short lives than most will in a lifetime. When I was their age, the only thing that I had done that many times was watch the Care Bears movie.

But, back to today.

I woke up this morning, not to an alarm, but to my body’s natural fulfillment of sleep. It took me a minute to process what I was feeling. That feeling was rested.

I drank coffee. I read my book. Both for as long as I felt like. Then I played with my kids, packed a little, and got my running clothes on. I went for a little bit longer run this morning, because I could. I am not going to lie, one of the things I am really looking forward to this summer is putting in the miles. With no time constraints, I can improve my endurance and simply enjoy longer runs. I am going to run so much.

I am at peak summer vacation right now. The next few months will be spent recouping my mind and strengthening my body. I am really looking forward to finding and restoring that balance.

To all the other teachers out there, may you enjoy your much earned summer.

To all the other runners out there, may you find your balance on the trails.

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