Marathon Mama: How do I know if I should skip a run?

By Beth Gallini, mama of 2 and marathon runner

Every runner has times when they don’t feel like going for a run.

We all have times when we don’t know how to fit it into a busy day, we feel tired, we would prefer to sleep in, we think it’s too cold or hot outside, or we simply don’t feel like it.  In general, I’m a big believer in the idea that you’ll never regret a run and if you just put your shoes on and get out the door, you will come home in a better mood and be glad you went.

However, I’m also a big believer in listening to your body and that there are times when your body needs the extra rest and it could be best to skip a run, swap things around in your training plan, or give yourself an extra rest day.

Here are three reason to think about skipping a run:

skip a runYou might be injured. If you received a diagnosis of an injury and have doctor’s orders not to run, it’s pretty clear that you should not run.  But what about those times when you feel a twinge of pain or something hurts during a run?

We all have little niggles we run through, but it is a good idea to take one or two days off if you feel pain or something hurts during a run to see if the pain goes away.  Continuing to run through pain (especially if it is altering your gait) can make a minor injury worse and could end up costing you more time off in the long run.

You’re sick. The standby rule for runners to determine whether or not to run when they are sick is the “neck rule.”  It probably won’t hurt to run if your symptoms are minor and above the neck.

An easy run might make you feel a little better!  However, if your symptoms are below the neck, you should take some extra rest and focus on getting better.  Running when you have a cold with symptoms below the neck could make it harder for your body to fight the cold and you could end up being sick for longer.

You’re tired. This is a judgment call each running needs to make for themselves and there are times to go for the run and times to skip the run.  It goes back to my belief that you’ll never regret a run.  While that is usually true in my mind and a run will usually wake you up, sometimes your body might just need the extra rest.

This could be especially true if you are in the middle of a training plan and have had higher mileage or intensity recently, the fatigue could be a sign of over-training.  Other times we might need to skip a run and sleep in or spend extra time with friends or family to feel better.

If you still can’t decide, you can always start a run and re-evaluate after one mile or think about your goals.  If you are training for a race, remember the goal is to make it to the start line healthy and running when you ought to rest could put your training in jeopardy later on.

Beth Gallini, Marathon MamaAbout Beth: Beth is a mom, runner, RRCA certified running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband spend their free time chasing their two 2-year-old boys. Beth serves on the board for the *Hogeye Marathon and loves helping other moms with their training and answering any questions.  Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon

*The Hogeye Marathon is a non-profit organization that gives back to Northwest Arkansas. It’s celebrating its 40th anniversary on April 10th and offers something for everyone with a marathon, half marathon, 5K, 4 person relay, corporate challenge, and volunteer opportunities.

Marathon Mama: Is a GPS watch worth the investment?

gps watch

By Beth Gallini, marathon runner and NWA mama

In theory, running should be pretty easy and shouldn’t require much more than some comfortable shoes, right? Right…except that once you get interested in running, you learn about everything else that can help you on your runs or improve your training: technical clothing, better shoes, specific socks, fuel, and the list goes on.

One of these items is a GPS watch. GPS watches offer many features to help runners train more effectively, including:

Information: Depending on the model, a GPS watch will track your distance, pace, time, lap splits, calories burned, elevation, and heart rate.  You will be able to customize your watch so you can view the information you want to see.  At the end of a run, you will get a summary of this data and can view more detailed information, such as lap splits.  This data can then be synced with your computer, which will allow you to review and track your training online.

Convenience: Running apps will offer the same information as a GPS watch; however it is difficult to view your phone while running if you wear an arm band or keep it in a pocket or storage belt.  Having all of that information available to you on your watch allows you to make adjustments during your run, complete more detailed workouts, and simply gives you more feedback during your run.

Accuracy: GPS watch sensors communicate directly with satellites, whereas your phone receives location data from a tower that communicates with satellites.  Most watch sensors are also larger and of a higher quality than the sensor in your phone.  The GPS in your phone will not track your location continuously, but will take “snapshots” of your location and use averages of that data.  This means that the data on your watch will be more accurate than your phone.

Training tools: A GPS watch can be programmed to automatically pause if you stop running or to alert you at every mile split.  It can also be programmed with a workout if your training plan calls for intervals, such as 800s with a 400 recovery in between.  Some watches will be able to connect with satellites indoors or connect with a foot pod when indoors so you can record your training when using a treadmill as well.

Battery life: I think we have all experienced how quickly using the GPS function can eat up the battery in our phones!  GPS watch batteries can last for 5 or more hours, making a long run easy to track.  Most watches can be set in a standby mode and worn as a regular watch for a week or more before needing to be recharged.

Water resistant: Most watches are water resistant and can still be used if you are caught in the rain or snow.

GPS watches start around $100 and go up from there.  A GPS watch might not be necessary for a beginner runner, especially with the running apps available on smart phones.  However, if you have been running consistently for a while or if you want to improve your training, a GPS watch may be a worthwhile investment.

Beth Gallini, Marathon MamaAbout Beth: Beth is a mom, runner, RRCA certified running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen. She and her husband spend their free time chasing their two 2-year-old boys. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and loves helping other moms with their training and answering any questions. Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! #hogeyemarathon

*The Hogeye Marathon is a non-profit organization that gives back to Northwest Arkansas. It’s celebrating its 40th anniversary on April 10th and offers something for everyone with a marathon, half marathon, 5K, 4 person relay, corporate challenge, and volunteer opportunities.

hogeye 2016

Marathon Mama: 5 steps for building an annual race calendar

2016 running track

By Beth Gallini, Northwest Arkansas mama of two and marathon runner

hogeye 2016Welcome back, running mamas!  As we gear up for the Hogeye Marathon again this year, I am excited to be back here writing about one of my favorite topics – running!

As always, I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or if there are any topics you would like me to write about.

 Last year’s posts covered everything from a beginner guide, running in the cold, running on the treadmill, to how to add speed work, and more.

It is the beginning of a new year and that means many runners with spring races are preparing to start a new training cycle.  Planning an annual race calendar before you start training will help you be more focused on your goals at different points in the year and offer you a big picture of your training.

Here are 5 steps to planning your annual race calendar:

Start with your biggest goal – First determine what your biggest goal is and find a race where you can target this goal.  This will be your ‘A’ race.  It may be to run your first 5K or first marathon, PR at a specific distance, or qualify for Boston.  Regardless of what it is, this will be your main focus and everything else will be built around that.

Think about the phases of your training – Many runners have one or two racing seasons – a spring and/or fall season.  It is important to incorporate different phases to your training.  This includes rest and recovery, base building, strength, speed, sharpening, and peak.  These phases help runners prevent injury and burn-out.

Look outside of your “running box” – Take other things into consideration.  What personal goals do you have outside of running – are you in school, starting a new job, or having a baby?  What will your time commitment look like at different parts of the year?  What room does your budget have for race registrations and possible travel costs?

Pick a tune-up race – A tune-up race will be your ‘B’ race and should be planned around your goal race.   It should be planned far enough ahead so you are fully recovered by race day and it is important to remember that it may not be an opportunity to PR.  Your training plan will be built so you are ready to peak at your goal race, not your tune-up race.  You also do not want to miss valuable training time by tapering for your tune-up race.  If you have made gains in your training, you may be able to PR, but this shouldn’t necessarily be the goal.  Another good option would be to practice your pacing for your goal race.

Consider other races – Some runners like to focus on a few goal races a year, whereas other runners enjoy racing frequently. The training cycles and recovery time are shorter for 5Ks and 10Ks than they are for half marathons and marathons, so the distances you race will influence your options.  Regardless of how many other races you chose to run, these races are not your ‘A’ races and should be run more for fun than anything else.  They may be races you pick to support a charity, run with friends, or use as a reason to plan a trip.

Hopefully these tips provide things to consider as you think about your running goals, what goal races you want to identify, and how to plan around those goal races.  The Hogeye Marathon is a non-profit organization that gives back to Northwest Arkansas.  It is celebrating its 40th anniversary on April 10th and offers something for everyone with a marathon, half marathon, 5K, 4 person relay, corporate challenge, and volunteer opportunities!

Beth Gallini, Marathon MamaAbout Beth: Beth is a mom, runner, RRCA certified running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen.  She and her husband spend their free time chasing their two 2-year-old boys. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and loves helping other moms with their training and answering any questions.  Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon

Fitness: Video workout for lower body

Happy Wednesday, mamas! If you’re rushed and don’t have time for a full workout, you can always find a YouTube video that matches up to the amount of time you have available. A little exercise and toning definitely beats none at all.

The Blogilates channel on YouTube is extremely popular, and it’s a great way to fit in an at-home workout that you can do during the baby’s naptime or even while the kids are playing in the floor beside you. Be aware that some of the videos are very challenging, so we’d suggest starting with the beginner series of videos if you’re new to Pilates or it’s been a while since you’ve done it. Here’s one in the Beginner Series that targets the abs and booty. Enjoy!

Marathon Mama: What’s next, runners?

running people

By Beth Gallini, marathon mama of 2

With the Hogeye Marathon races just a few days away, you may have started to wonder what to do after the race.

If you haven’t started wondering about this yet, chances are you will soon! In my opinion, the two most important things to think about are your recovery alongside your post-race plans.

Recover:

How you recover from a race will have a huge impact on how you feel over the days following the race and how soon you will be able to get back on the road.  What you do immediately following a race and in the first few days is exceptionally important. 

Stay on your feet. While the instinctive thing to do may be to sit down, try to stay on your feet.  If you ran a half marathon or marathon, try walking around post-race.  If you ran a shorter distance race you may want to go on an easy run of 5 to 10 minutes.

Get something to eat and drink. It is important to get a mix of carbohydrates and protein (3:1 ratio) in your system within 30 minutes of a race to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness and to allow your muscles to begin the repairing process.  You’ll also want to be sure you drink some water or a sports drink.

Ease back into running and listen to your body. A general rule of thumb is that it takes your body one day to recover for every mile you raced.  The longer the distance of your race, the slower you want to ease back into running.  I always take a full week off with no running following a marathon and then do a reverse taper.   The amount of time required for a full recovery will differ from person to person and even race to race, so it is important to listen to your body during this time.  If you do too much too soon, you will set yourself back farther in the long term.

Get a massage. Getting a massage within 24-48 hours after a race will help reduce soreness.  Using a foam roller on any sore areas will also help you feel better.

Take a bath. Ice baths are the common go-to for runners, but I personally prefer Epsom salt baths (Epsom salts are sold at drug and grocery stores, are very inexpensive, and do wonders when mixed with warm water [and bubbles!]).  Regardless of which you opt for, taking a bath will help you to recover and reduce muscle fatigue.

Make a plan:

Runners are funny people. Many runners approach their first half marathon or marathon as a bucket list item – “one and done.”  And many runners will swear off ever running another race of “x” distance mid-race. But as something happens as soon as they cross the finish line and they start planning their next race.

Find a race. If you are searching for a full or half marathon, www.marathonguide.com is a great resource with a full calendar and reviews.  For local races, www.arkansasrunner.com lists races of all distances in Arkansas and some races in border states.

Don’t jump right back into hard training. Give yourself some time to run for fun without feeling as if you need to follow a strict training plan.  Go for a run without your watch, arrange to meet some friends, or simply run when you feel like running.  If you jump back into a structured training plan, you increase your risk for injury and/or burn-out.

Think about your goals. You may want to find a race of the same distance and see if you can improve your time or maybe you want to tackle a new distance.   Think about how your training went, where your fitness level is, how motivated you are, what life events you may have coming up, and give yourself time to make the decision.

Good luck to everyone running the Hogeye this weekend and thank you to all of the spectators and volunteers!  I have thoroughly enjoyed writing the Marathon Mama series and I always love receiving your questions. Keep them coming!

Beth Gallini runningAbout Beth: Beth is mom, runner, running coach, and the blogger behind RUNNING around my kitchen. She and her husband adopted two boys who are a month apart and are 1 year old. Beth serves on the board for the Hogeye Marathon and is interested in helping other moms with their training and answering any questions you have. Be social, connect with other Hogeye runners, and let them hear from you by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  #hogeyemarathon