I’ve gotten a number of questions about how and why I decided to run a marathon. Usually, when people are thinking about a marathon, one of their first comments is “oh I’m not sure if I could do that.” The thing is if you’d like to run a marathon, you can!
Here’s the thing about running a marathon. The race is hard (the hardest thing I’ve ever done) but it’s the training that is the biggest challenge. After running two (and a half, kinda) marathons, these are the things I think you should consider if you are asking yourself if you should run a marathon:
- Do you have the time to devote a few hours to running each weekend? This was the biggest challenge for me. I got used to it, but running double digit miles each weekend takes up time. And recovering from running double digit miles (especially when you are running 16, 18, 20+) takes quite a bit of time as well. I got used to waking up with the sun each Saturday morning to run.
- Are you prepared to change your social life a bit to accommodate your running? This looks differently for everyone, but for me, it meant that I pretty much didn’t go out on Friday nights during marathon training. I wouldn’t drink on Friday nights either (not that that was a huge adjustment, but it sometimes stunk) because I always wanted to be as clearheaded as possible before running for 2+ hours Saturday am.
- Do you have training partners? For me, this was huge. I never would’ve made it through this winter without my training group. You might not like running with others, but I would urge you to consider trying it for your long runs. Running for hours alone every weekend can be very taxing and it’s more fun if you have others to commiserate with! Plus, everyone gets a bit crazy during points in marathon training and having folks you understand your crazy is key.
Those are three things that I think everyone should think about before signing up for a marathon. Obviously you should examine your fitness level and all those good things (maybe get a physical, too!), but I imagine you’re all thinking about that already.
Ran a marathon? What else do you think folks should consider before they sign up?
Hi y’all! It’s Wedding Wednesday today on the blog and I’m linking up again with Jordon and Meredith. Make sure to check out their blogs (I particularly love Jordon’s post today) and visit other bloggers who’ve linked up.
Today, I’m hoping y’all will help me narrow down my shoe choices! As I’ve mentioned, we are going with a navy and yellow (with grey here and there) color scheme and as such, I want to wear navy peep toe pumps for the wedding. I’ve found a few options and would love some opinions — tell me what you love, hate or think should be THE SHOE!
- Choice 1 - for some reason, the color doesn’t change when I click on navy, but imagine this in navy. I like it because the heel is manageable, it’s cute but simple and I can easily see wearing these again and again.
- Choice 2 – if I was Carrie Bradshaw, I’d be saying “hello, lover” to these bad boys. Wow. Kinda pricey, but they are simply gorgeous. I LOVE them!
- Choice 3 – I like these but they feel more like a day at the office rather than a wedding, no?
Also, I’m debating whether or not I want to wear a veil. I’m leaning towards yes because to me, a veil screams bride. But I’m curious…did you wear a veil? Why or why not? Weigh in below
Blogger Tip Tuesday is back and this week we’re breaking down SEO for bloggers. If your first thought is “what the heck is SEO?” then you are in the right place.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What does mean for you? It means that SEO is essentially how people can find your blog in a search engine (i.e. google). It’s how you find different blog posts by searching things like “fried chicken recipe” “best bacon recipes ever” and “how to run faster.” (Oh, y’all don’t search for fried chicken, bacon and running? Weird.) How does this help you as a blogger? Well…if you want people to find your blog, then it needs to be searchable. That’s what SEO does.
Okay, so now you understand (kinda) what SEO is. But how do you utilize it? This is where being self hosted comes in. Are you self-hosted? If not, stop reading and go read this and then this. Then come back and we’ll get to business! Okay, everybody self-hosted? Great. Here we go!
The easiest possible way to integrate SEO into your blog is to use a trusty plugin! I use and recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is so simple to use that you’ll wonder why you are just now starting. After you go ahead and install the plugin, start drafting your next blog post. Below the post, you’ll see a section titled “WordPress SEO by Yoast” – you’ll want to go through this section (under the general tab) and create your SEO step by step.
See those 3 arrows? They each indicate things you need to attend to. First start off by choosing a focus keyword. You can see that the focus keywords for this post are “seo for bloggers.” This means that when someone types seo for bloggers into a search engine, this post will pop up as a result. The stronger your SEO, the higher your post will be in search results. You’ll also notice that you are given some things to ensure — make sure your keyword is present in your URL, heading, title, content and meta description (more on that below). The second arrow is your title and this will populate automatically, although you can change it if you like. Finally, the last arrow is that meta description I mentioned above. The meta description is what the little preview of your post would look like on google. Meaning, it’s those few lines of text that pop up under google search results. You can see what this looks like by viewing the snippet preview, which is the very first thing on the general page.
You with me? Wondering how you’ll know if you did all those things above correctly? Well, the plugin rates your SEO attempts with a little dot. That dot will be red, yellow or green based on if you’ve done a good job with SEO. You want that green dot! You can find the dot under the Publish section on the right side of your screen. You’ll also see the dot after your post is published (then it’ll be on the top header). If your dot is red or yellow, change some things around. I don’t ever write with the sole purpose of getting that green dot but I will change language a bit, if it works for the post.
I hope this makes sense! I’m certainly not an SEO expert and this post is really just scratching the surface but I hope it helps get you started in the SEO world.
Do you pay attention to SEO when drafting blog posts?
I am an avid tea drinker. I probably drink at least three cups of tea a day and I love it. When I first heard about FitTea, I was curious to learn more about the product. FitTea is an all-natural detox tea. What does that mean? Well, it means that in addition to tasting delicious (which is ALWAYS my first concern), FitTea helps give you energy, boost your metabolism, aid in digestive health and boost fat-loss naturally in problem areas (ahem, not that we have any problem areas, but just in case).
My second concern when I was checking out FitTea was what exactly is in it. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the ingredient list: Organic Green Tea, Oolong Wu Yi, Organic Rooibos, Ginger, Pomegranate, Guarana, Birch, Stevia, Corn and Honey Powder. That’s it. No other junk or unneeded items. Just good stuff.
These ingredients provide a fast-working and natural detox. These natural ingredients have other benefits besides detox, which includes weight loss, increased energy levels, suppressing the appetite, and natural antioxidants. I mentioned that the tea was delicious — what I didn’t tell you is that it’s all loose leaf but I couldn’t find my strainer during the days I was drinking the tea (read: I have no idea where my strainer is), so I improvised and man, it was yummy. You can see a bit of the ingredients made it through my homemade strainer, but as I mentioned, it didn’t take away from the taste!
Curious what others think about FitTea and want to see some results? Click here. Personally, it was very easy for me to just drink FitTea with my breakfast each morning. I did add a bit of honey to give me the sweetness that I craved and if you like your tea sweet, I’d recommend you do so as well.
FitTea’s motto is: “Give us a few weeks and we’ll give you a new waistline”. I’ve been drinking it every morning for a couple of weeks and while I don’t weigh myself (got rid of the scale years ago), I do feel lighter and have more energy. I think one of the main benefits of FitTea is that it’s easy to fit into your day.
If you really want to ramp it up, you should try the FitTea Pro Pack, which is the Tea plus Tea Pills. Another easy way to help detoxify! Finally, I should mention that there is a decaffeinated tea available if you’re into that
I have never done a cleanse or anything of that nature so this was my first foray into a “detoxifying” product and I enjoyed the FitTea so much that I bought some with my own money!
Tea or coffee? If tea, have you ever tried anything like FitTea? *Note: This is a sponsored post, which means I received payment and product for writing this post. However, I am very selective with sponsored posts and only endorse products I truly believe in, thus all opinions are mine.
Hey y’all, I’m back! Hope you enjoyed Guest Post week on the blog — I have to say, I missed y’all Seattle was amazing and exhausting and I’m happy to be home. I thought I’d finally get around to sharing my Cherry Blossom 10 Miler recap. I may have said this before, but I think that the ten mile distance is my clear favorite distance to run. It’s long enough to really get into your preferred pace but short enough that when you are at mile 5 you are half way done. Cherry Blossom is a lottery because it’s so popular but they have a great bib transfer system if you don’t get in the lottery.
Because I’m a Zooma Annapolis Ambassador (don’t forget to use code ANNAMB2 for 10% off the race – click here to sign up!), I volunteered to work the Zooma Booth at the Cherry Blossom Expo the day before the race. I loved working the expo table. I got to meet a bunch of fun runners (including a woman who recognized me from my blog — how cool is that!) and chat about Zooma. It was a fun way to pass the afternoon.
Race day dawned a bit chilly, but I stayed with my same outfit from my marathon the previous weekend. My Lesko Shimmel, stride shorts, arm warmers and calf sleeves were a great choice. I threw on a throw away shirt for the starting line and got ready to run. I started the race with my friend Tiffany. We picked a meeting place afterwards in case we got separated. We were planning to run together and I wasn’t planning on pushing it since I was fresh off a marathon. Best laid plans…
I felt great from the start. A little cold during miles one and two, but I felt strong and knew I could run faster than miles two and three.
mile 1: 9:56
mile 2: 10:35
mile 3: 10:31
mile 4: 10:13
mile 5: 10:01
Around mile five, I started to think that even though it wasn’t my intention, I could totally PR. I told myself if I could just hold my pace, I would for sure beat my Reston 10 Miler time.
mile 6: 10:11
mile 7: 10:09
mile 8: 10:16
At mile 8.5 I saw my coach from my winter training program. It was a surprise (although it shouldn’t have been) and really pumped me up for the rest of the race. I kept up my pace (basically) during that mile even though, I did stop to give her a huge hug.
mile 9: 10:07
mile 10: 9:40
Once I got to mile 9, I knew that I had less than 11 minutes left of running and just kept telling myself that I could push hard (what I like to call throw-up pace) for less than 11 minutes. So I did. There is a teeny tiny hill at the end of the race that doesn’t feel so tiny when you are closing in on mile 10. But even with that hill, mile 10 was my fastest.
I am proud of myself for not giving the race up when it hurt. I dug deep and pushed through the pain and was rewarded with a 3 minute PR! One week after a beast of a marathon. This race was confidence building and has me excited to start working towards a two hour half marathon!
As a total bonus, I saw SO MANY people I knew during / after this race. Jenny from Run Jenny Run found me after she finished and I was so pumped to meet her. Cyanne from Run Stretch Go also spotted me post race and it was awesome to meet her in person. My friend Tiffany managed to run the entire race — which was her #1 goal after not running much before the race. It was my friend Ally’s first ten miler and she absolutely killed it. I could seriously go on forever — such a great race!
Did you race Cherry Blossom? How’d it go?
Hi y’all! I hope you’ve been enjoying Guest Post week — I know I’ve learned a lot from the awesome group of bloggers that have visited Eat Pray Run DC. We’re closing out Friday with a post that is close to my heart. Jeremy at Confessions of an Amateur Athlete has written about running with your dog! I’m adapting the normal Friday Five for Jeremy’s post and so it’s a Friday Four today! Please still link up your posts — I’ll check them out after the end of my conference
I’m a big fan of running with friends. They hold you accountable every morning whether it’s a super early run to beat the heat, or a heavy mileage day on sore muscles. But sometimes there isn’t anyone around, or no one willing to hit the road with you. So I say, grab your pooch!
Now, keep in mind, not every dog is fit to run. But on those days when you’re lacking some motivation, and have a pup that can handle it…strap on a leash and go! Or if you’re on the fence about getting a dog… this is a great excuse to go to a local shelter and rescue your new running buddy!
Dogs need the exercise, and so do you, so why not enjoy it together? Before you do, there are a few things you should know about running with dogs.
Here are just a few:
- They need water just like you. If not more. They don’t sweat like us and so it’s tougher to stay cool. So if even on a 30 minute run, it’s best to carry enough water for both you and your pet. I take my camelback bottle or fuel belt and a small collapsible cup from REI.
- They need to train just like you. Most dogs can’t just go out and run 8 miles if they’ve never been running with you before. So make sure you start off small. They need to work up to longer miles just like you do.
- They will stop frequently. Besides all the smells, they will need to poop and pee and investigate EVERYTHING. So don’t expect to go run a PR. Just enjoy the company of your furry companion.
- They WILL frustrate you. That’s right. They will see a bird… another dog… a stick…and want to go play. It’s going to take time to teach them to run alongside you so you’ve got to be patient. Eventually they will learn to leave those things behind. And the payoff for your patience will be worth it!
My Janie loves to run. She seems me grabbing my running gear and can’t wait to get out the door! If I have a long run I run the first 3-4 miles with her for a “warm up” and then go the rest solo. Or if I just need a little recovery run I grab the leash and get some one on one time with my pup! We BOTH end up loving every minute of it.
Hopefully these tips can help you build a similar running relationship with your pooch. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so stop by my blog, find me on Twitter and let me know what you think! Happy Trails and Happy Tails!
We’re rolling with another great guest post today. Today Coco from Running with Perseverance is sharing about fit friends and I gotta say, this post is so fatntastic. Coco is another DC area gal and I’m thrilled she agreed to guest post today.
Greetings friends, fans and followers of Eat Pray Run DC! I’m Coco, and I blog at Running With Perseverance. You also can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @Got2Run4Me. Big thanks to Courtney for letting me guest post over here today, and even bigger thanks to you for sticking around and reading!
I actually “met” Courtney on Twitter, so I thought I would share my thoughts on how important it can be to have fit friends and to be a fit friend to others.
When I first started off on my fitness journey, I was a newly minted attorney working full time at a new job and trying to shed the unhealthy weight I put on during law school. My husband was supportive of my efforts to lose weight, but with two school-aged kids it was hard enough for us to squeeze in an occasional date night, let alone workout together. I found my first fit friends in an on-line weight-loss community, and was amazed at how motivating and encouraging it was to have a group of women to share goals, successes, and struggles with. I am still friends with these women 15 years later, and while we keep in nearly daily contact through social media, we also have taken our fit friendship off-line, and gotten together for weekend getaways filled with talking, laughter and a healthy balance of exercising and indulging!
I found my next core group of fit friends on Twitter, after stumbling across the #fitblog and #runchat hashtags. I started following and tweeting with people with similar fitness interests and realized that no matter how early I got up to exercise, I was not alone, and no matter how hot/cold/windy the weather was for my run, someone else was braving the same (or worse!) weather to stick with their training plan. (I’m pretty sure Courtney and I first bonded over DC weather woes! ed note: we did!) It is fun to come across new runners and offer them encouragement and tips, and cheer them on as they discover that they really are stronger than they think.
Thanks to Courtney, I also have a new group of “real life” friends, through Moms Run This Town (MRTT), which is a national running club for women (you don’t have to be a mom!). I joined my local MRTT group and discovered an amazing group of women who are willing to meet up for group runs at all hours and in all weather. I’m really not sure I could have made it through this winter without this group of fit friends!
The more I realize how important my fit friendships are to my own well-being, the more I realize that I need to be a fit friend to others. While it’s easy to go running or spinning with my fitness-fanatic friends, I also need to take the time to go walking, hiking, and bike riding with friends who are just starting out on their fitness journeys, or who are taking it at a slower pace. We’re all busy, but meeting for a walk through the park instead of latte and scone is an easy way to be a fit friend.
Do you have friends who support your fitness goals?
Are you a fit friend to others?
Hi y’all. As you know, this week is full of awesome guest posts. Today, we have an amazing recipe from Emily of Hudson and Emily. Emily blogs with her husband Hudson about everything from memories to marriage to motivation – as well as frugal living and healthy eating! Hudson and Emily are Christians, summer lovers, and adventure seekers. Y’all make sure to visit them over at HudsonAndEmily.com
This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It’s a great dessert AND a great breakfast :) The best part? It’s less than 200 calories per serving!
Chocolate Chip Cake
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 medium-sized ripe bananas
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Take butter out of fridge to soften.
3. In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. Mash bananas.
5. Add mashed bananas, yogurt, butter, and vanilla to mixture.
6. Beat until combined, then beat one minute more on medium speed.
7. Add eggs and beat one minute more.
8. Stir in chocolate chips.
9. Grease 9×13 pan and pour batter inside.
10. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
11. Let cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
ENJOY!! What are some of YOUR favorite low-fat desserts? Comment below, or come tell us at HudsonAndEmily.com
! Thanks so much for allowing me to post here today!! Ed. note: thanks so much for this amazing recipe!
Hi y’all! As you know, I’m on the West Coast working around the clock so today, I’m introducing y’all to Leigh Anne. Have fun!
Hi Everyone! Leigh Anne here from Live Fit and Run. I am a 30 year old lawyer/fitness instructor/runner living in New Orleans. In 2006, I moved to New Orleans to attend law school and I never left. In law school, I started running and since then I have run 7 half marathons and tons of smaller races. I am excited to share my love of fitness and healthy living with you!
While Courtney continues with her whirlwind April, I’m here to talk to you about something that scares the daylights out of me – triathlons! Not only do I seem to not know how to spell it (it should REALLY be spelled triathalon…), I don’t really know how to prepare for it. Other things that scare me about it – open water swims (yikes, Jaws anyone?!), biking, running after biking AND swimming… the list goes on.
What better way to conquer all of those fears than to, well, participate in a triathlon. A crazy friend of mine is competing in her first Half Ironman this April. She has been such an inspiration to me and, with a little convincing, she has convinced me to try my hand at one with the lure of free swim lessons and relaxing on the beach after the race.
It all started innocently enough. She sent an email that said something like “beach…August…fun…” and I said “sign me up!” Two years ago I got a similar email from her – “Sunday Funday… Lake Pontchatrain… great weather…” I ended up doing a paddle board race. This was my THIRD time on a paddleboard, ever. I should really learn to read emails from her more carefully.
So it looks like I will be participating in the Sandestin Triathlon in Destin, Florida in August, roughly five months away. That should give me plenty of time to back out train and conquer my fears! The Sandestin Triathlon consists of a ½ mile swim, 20 mile bike ride, and 4 mile run. Sounds easy enough, right? I have been told that my hybrid comfort bike will be good enough to get me through a 20 mile ride, so I don’t have the excuse of no bike to get out of this one.
First fear – an open water swim. Now I can swim. I grew up on the Tennessee River in North Alabama and spent every summer swimming, boating, water skiing, tubing. I am not afraid of water, or open water for that matter. However, I am fully aware that floating on a raft in the river is completely different than an open water swim in a triathlon!
Luckily my crazy triathlon friend is a former competitive swimmer and swim coach. She has assured me she will take the fear out of my swimming. She has also promised some group long bike rides together. The run I obviously have covered. But I am concerned that after biking AND swimming my legs will suddenly forget how to run…
Now all I need is a training plan. Bring on the Google searches! I have read that back-to-back bike-run training workouts (a.k.a. “bricks”) are essential—they teach you to run on legs that feel like jelly after hopping off the bike. I have about a month to figure out my training plan, but I can guarantee that it will include lots of bricks.
Finally, why a triathlon? Aside from my fears, I am ready to conquer a new challenge. I have run eight half marathons, but I am not quite ready for the full thing. Plus, I like the idea of incorporating some cycling and swimming into my routine. The added health and fitness benefits are simply icing on the cake. “Conditioning your body to plug away at three back-to-back disciplines builds muscle endurance,” says Lesley Mettler, a triathlon coach in Seattle via Women’s Health Magazine (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/triathlon-women). “When you focus exclusively on one sport, you often end up strong in some areas and soft in others. Triathletes get body benefits from all three sports and are lean and fit from head to toe, says exercise physiologist Shannon Grady, owner of Go! Athletics.”
Another added bonus? “A recent study in Radiology found that triathletes have larger, healthier hearts and a 17 percent lower heart rate (fewer beats means your ticker is so strong it doesn’t have to work as hard) than other athletes.” (http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/triathlon-women).
How beautiful does that water look?!
Follow along with my training and progress over at livefitandrun.blogspot.com. I am counting on you to hold me accountable and keep me from backing out of this race! Because now that I have said that I want to do the race out loud… err, I mean on the internet, there is no backing out! Hope to see you all at the finish line!
Hi y’all! I am off on a week long work conference in Seattle and am pretty much working around the clock so for the next week or so, you’ll get the chance to hear from some pretty amazing guest posters here at Eat Pray Run DC. I hope you’ll enjoy the change and pace and discover some new to you bloggers! I’ll be back next week and will be checking in as I am able on Twitter & Instagram.
First up this week, we have Michele sharing her five tips to help increase speed! Thanks Michele!
For a long time I ran the same 9:45-10:00 min/mile pace and never thought about speed. But whenever I increased my mileage, I’d get the same aches in my glutes and lower back. After my second child, I decided if I was going to run and stay with it for the long haul, I needed to do it right. I researched how to run more efficiently and realized I wasn’t getting the most out of my running because I was doing many things wrong. Here are a few things I’ve learned. I am not a personal trainer or a coach, just sharing things that have helped me. After implementing a few concepts, I’ve taken my pace down to an average of 8:00 min/mile.
1) Form: The biggest change I made was with my stride. I used take longer strides and have my heel land out in front of me. This is like putting on the breaks every time you hit the ground – all that force goes right up your leg. Instead, concentrate on your foot landing underneath or slightly in front of you. Think land, grip, and pull: pull the ground with your foot and kick your heels toward you butt. Here are 3 videos which I found to be helpful:
Short version: proper running form explained in 30 seconds!
Medium Length: 3 minute tutorial
Long Version: 5.5 minutes showing a comparison between heel striker and midfoot striker. This version gave me the best visual.
2) Cadence: To help with taking shorter but quicker strides, I sometimes run to a metronome. The ideal cadence is 180 bpm, which for me is pretty fast and not something I can keep up with for long distances. I’m closer to the 160′s or 170′s. The metronome forces me to think about my feet striking the ground at an even rhythm. I visualize bringing my foot back down to the ground quicker, and rather than taking too long of a stride. You can find many free metronome apps for your phone. Start at whatever cadence feels comfortable, and practice increasing that cadence slowly.
3) Terrain: I try to run on grass once in awhile. It’s not only better for your joints, but it also works your muscles in a different way and increases the overall strength in your legs. I tend to run lighter on grass and it’s a good way to wake up the muscles needed to land more on the forefoot. Just try and find a relatively even area and watch for holes and rocks!
4) Pace: One of the biggest mistakes I made was running the same pace all the time. I believe this doesn’t challenge your muscles, causing you to use the same ones all the time, leading to muscle imbalance and eventually injury. Running at a slower pace give your body a chance to recover and an opportunity to focus on form. More than likely, as you move into shorter,quicker strides, this may slow you down some at first anyway. By running with people a little faster than you, you are challenging your muscles and therefore strengthening them.
5) Strength Train: Another mistake I made was thinking more was better. I only focused on increasing the miles and thought that’s how I’d strengthen my legs. But runners need to strengthen the core, glutes, and hamstrings as well. Some favorite core exercises of mine are planks, plank ups, hollow rocks, and sprinter sit ups. I incorporate squats and deadlifts to strengthen my butt and hamstrings. Lastly, I can’t stress enough how important plyometrics are. These exercises really strengthen the “pushing off” motion you need for running efficiently. Plyometrics are jumping exercises like jump squats, 180 jumps, scissor jumps, or tuck jumps. Here is a tutorial on a few of these exercises.
Teaching your body to run efficiently will help you get the most out of the energy you put in, resulting in a faster speed. For me, this also helped me push past the weight plateau I was hanging on to for years. It’s important to consistently change your routine and change up the muscles you are working. This prevents overworking certain areas, which usually results in injury. Concentrate on your body as a whole. Strengthen it and make it more efficient. The rest will fall into place!
Michele is a married mother of two, runner, triathlete, aspiring yogi, Navy Veteran and blogger. She writes about how fitness isn’t just about your dress size at her own blog own blog, A Pace of Balance. Michele also contributes to the Family Fitness section of We Know Stuff, a parenting blog based on Long Island. Connect with Michele on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.