8 Running Lessons All Runners Need To Know

Generally speaking, running is pretty simple.

Throw on shorts and a t-shirt, lace up your sneakers, maybe press “Go” on a watch, and hit the road. Right?

But as “simple” as it is, if you’re aspiring toward reaching a certain distance or hitting a race PR, there really can be so much more to it. So much so that it can feel overwhelming.

8 Running Lessons All Runners Need To Know

I know because I was once a beginner who could barely run 1 mile and had no idea what I was doing. I ran myself right into excruciating shin splints and a pretty gnarly hamstring injury when I first started out. But then as I began to learn more about the sport, more and more it got easier and my training started to serve me rather than destroy me.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Running for Beginners

A few years back I read a book called “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” by Ben Kaplan. He was a writer at the National Post and had his own column about running there. Now he’s a manager at a Canadian running magazine.  At the time I read the book, I had already run a couple of half marathons and was gearing up to run my first marathon, so I felt pretty confident in my running abilities. But even still, I learned so much from reading this book.

Nearly every single page is filled with an incredible amount of knowledge about running, and it’s not just Ben’s own advice — he made a point to include insights from true running experts. He consulted everyone from some of the most elite runners in the world to the best scientists with their fingers on the pulse of the latest exercise and running research.

At the time I read it, I complied a list of what I thought were the best running lessons a runner — whether new to the sport or a veteran — could take away from the book. Finally, I have the opportunity to share them here.

I truly believe that no matter where you are on your running journey these lessons are essential. I even like to look back at them because often we forget some of the basic, important principles of our training. And especially if you’re new to the sport, you can pick up a few tips that many of us had wished we learned before getting started. In other words, we had to learn the hard way.

Here are what I found to be the 8 most important running lessons from the book.

8 Running Lessons All Runners Need to Know

8 Running Lessons All Runners Need To Know

Don’t Neglect Rest

If you love to run a lot, that’s great. But never overlook or ignore the importance of rest days for allowing your body to recover. This applies whether you’re just getting started or you’re training for your 5th marathon.

Training is essential, yes. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. When our muscles are resting, that’s the time when they actually rebuild and grow stronger, which mean its pretty hard to improve if you don’t allow your body that time to recoup between workouts, or when you’re feeling overly exhausted or like something is off.

“Rest will cure almost everything: rest and stretches and the occasional restorative Scotch,” says Ben Kaplan.

Respect the rest day.

Shoes Are Shoes 

Yes, sneakers are kind of fun to shop for and every brand claims they have the latest and greatest shoe “technology,” but there’s no need to stress too much about what kind of running shoe to buy. When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sneakers, Ben had 2 really excellent pieces of advice to share.

Number one, If you have an old pair of sneakers you’ve worn to run or even just walked a lot in, bring them to a specialty running shoe store so an employee can look at the wear and tear to gain more insight into your gait and what sort of support will be best for you.

Number two, do this in the afternoon.

Related: How to Find Running Shoes That are Right for You

“Feet swell during the bump and grind of a typical day,” Kaplan writes. Also, they tend to swell after running. If you can try sneakers on after your feet have essentially expanded a little bit, you’ll be able to get the most accurate fit and avoid purchasing a pair that’s too tight.

8 Running Lessons All Runners Need To Know

Fads Come and Go

New gear, tools and accessories are being introduced almost on a daily basis. But there’s a good chance that the next “game-changing” electrolyte supplement or GPS watch is not much different than the last.

“Stop buying into the hype and marketing about fads, footwear, nutritional supplements, or running styles. Follow the research, but trust your own common sense” Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary told Kaplan in the book.

Well said. Stick to the research and you’ll be golden.

Form Matters, But Don’t Worry About it Too Much

Yes, runners should pay attention to their running form — i.e., the way you’re holding your body and moving your legs while running. Their are certain things you can do to run more efficiently, but implementing changes probably shouldn’t come at the expense of feeling unnatural while running.

Related: 4 Ways to Improve Posture While Running

In his book, Kaplan says that proper form includes “landing on the balls of your feet, leaning your torso slightly forward, aiming for your feet to land under your hips, and keeping your elbows locked at right angles.”

That said, when it comes down to it we’re all different and we all have different bodies. Feeling natural and comfortable while running is probably more important than doing too much to try to drastically change your form.

“Form becomes innate; it’s relaxing, it’s rhythmic. It soothes. You just have to run a lot first,” says Kaplan.

Cross Training is Key

Runners can be very susceptible to overuse injuries simply because the act of running is such a repetitive motion. In his book, Kaplan consulted Dr. Jonathan Chang, orthopedic surgeon and professor of medicine at the University of Southern California. Dr. Chang suggested that best kind of cross training for runners is rowing, because it targets your shoulders, arms and back — allowing your upper and lower body to work in unison but without the high-stress impact that comes with running.

Cycling, swimming and weight training are also beneficial forms of cross training for runners.

“…Cross training will help you run more. It’s about not killing yourself in the beginning and strengthening everything, including your mind,” John Honerkamp, writer of the official online training plan for the New York City Marathon told Kaplan.

8 Running Lessons Every Runner Needs to Know

“Train Hard, Race Easy”

This is the Kenyan motto. And in case you’re unaware, Kenyans are some of the fastest runners in the whole world.

Basically, if you put in the hard work during training, when it’s time to race you should relax and place trust in the fact that your training will pay off.

“If you want to go faster, you need to spend some time doing drills. Pay attention to lifting your knees when you feel yourself getting tired, and remember to look in the direction where you want to be,” says Kaplan.

Reid Coolaset, an elite runner and the first Canadian male to qualify for the London Olympics had this piece of advice to share: “If you follow a program and punch a clock, mindlessly doing the same thing every day, you won’t reach your potential.” In other words, if you want to improve as a runner, you have to challenge yourself and get outside your comfort zone.

Pre-Race Relaxation

This may sound like common sense, but if you’re at the stage in your running journey where you’re ready to participate in races, make sure you don’t let your hard work in training go to waste by showing up to a race exhausted or unprepared.

This includes getting quality sleep every night the entire week leading up to your race and prepping everything you need for the race the night before so that you can get out the door on time and stress-free on race morning.

One thing, though! Don’t worry if you have a rough sleep the night directly before a race. If you’re nervous and/or excited and it keeps you up, don’t let it stress you! If you slept well the rest of the week leading up to the race, your body will be well-rested and prepared. The general rule of thumb is that two nights before the race is actually the most important time to get the best quality sleep.

Leading up to a race, it’s also a good idea to keep your stress levels as low as possible. “Deena Kastor doesn’t even look at her office computer the day before a big race,” Kaplan said of the Olympic runner and world-renowned track coach.

8 Running Lessons Every Runner Needs to Know

Abide By the Runner’s Code

This one is plain and simple. Be kind to other runners. We are all in this together.

Whatever the situation, give a fellow runner a hand if they’re in need. Give them a wave when you run past them on the trail. This is important because it keeps this wonderful running community positive and welcoming. 

“Whatever you do, that’s what runners do” Ben says. In other words, don’t give runners a bad name. Not just within the running community, but also for those who aren’t a part of it either.

One more smart tip on this note: headphones are fine to use while running, but they should never be an excuse to totally tune out everything else going on around you.

“Becoming oblivious is not only selfish, it’s dangerous too,” says Kaplan.

So those were my top takeaways from “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.” By no means is this everything there is to know about running — I don’t think anyone could or should ever admit to “knowing it all.” But it’s most certainly a comprehensive overview of some of the most important running lessons we should regularly keep in mind in order to do our best and feel our best while training.

Which of these lessons do you think is most important? Or, if you think there’s an important running lesson/tip missing, what would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

#ItsARunnerThing Q&A With Jennifer Kyle

Hello, hungry friends! Welcome to our December  installment of the #ItsARunnerThing Q&A series! This is a series on Hungry Runner where each month we’ll hear from a new runner to find out what makes them tick, what inspires them and what they love most about this crazy, incredible sport.

This month’s guest is Jennifer Kyle, a passionate runner and the blogger behind J Bird Runs. She lives  in Marin County, California, with her dog and her boyfriend, and feels  lucky to be able to run all over Marin and throughout San Francisco. She is a territory sales director for an insurance company professionally, but running and eating good food are her my favorite things to do (me to, Jennifer, me too).

If for some reason she’s not running or eating, she loves volunteering with Bennie The Dog at her local hospital in the pet therapy program, drinking a glass of excellent wine, doing some yoga, or taking a hike. Also, new activewear (for being active or for lounging) never fails to make her smile. Jennifer is also travel obsessed, and loves to run every place she visits.

Today, Jennifer is sharing more about how she fell in love with running  despite a doctor who told her she “just wasn’t made to run” — why it’s the “everyday” runners that inspire her the most, and her goals for sweet comeback at the Boston Marathon in 2018!

Jennifer Kyle

Q: Tell us the story of how you were introduced to running and eventually fell in love with the sport. Was it something you enjoyed immediately, or did it take some time for you to develop a real passion for it?

A: I honestly don’t really remember the first day I went out on a run. I was in college and I ran a lot for a lot of different reasons. I remember I hated running PE in junior high. Mostly I think I just hated junior high though. Anyway, in college I started running. I ran on the treadmill, and eventually started running outside around campus when the college gym would inevitably close for holidays or maintenance. Initially it was part of negative cycle of burning calories just to stay thin, and get thinner and thinner. I had to take a break from it (and any “cardio”) to get back to a healthy mindset. Eventually though, I learned that if you want to run well, you have to eat well, and that is something I’ll always be grateful for.
 
Q: Your story is unique in that running was there for you as a new pasttime when you decided that showing horses competitively no longer aligned with your overall goals. Can you tell us about that transition and how running played a role, and what it meant to you at that time? 

A: It’s funny because I was always “the horse girl.” Hahaha. I started riding horses when I was 4 years old and it was always the focus of my life. I liked to run, but I had a knee “thing” that would pop up every time I tried to run more than 6 miles, and I went to a doctor for it once and he told me that I just wasn’t made to run long distances, or even at all. But, my best friend convinced me to try to run a half marathon anyway. Once I overcame that, I was hooked. I ran this race (and several others) while I was still showing horses.

As an adult in the competitive horse-showing world, I realized just how much money and politics were involved. I think as a kid, you are kind of sheltered from those things a bit more. It was becoming more and more clear to me that I was going to have to work to earn a huge salary to afford the sport that I loved— and that was overwhelming to me. The more I ran, the more I realized that running and races were giving me a lot of the same things I looked for in horse showing. A community, a goal to work towards, a sense of achievement, an adrenaline rush when show day/race day finally arrived.

Saying goodbye to my pet was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I also knew that it was time to take a step back from the political and financial trappings of showing horses. Running just gave me the courage to actually take the leap.

Jennifer Kyle

Q: Showing horses and running are pretty different sports, but have you noticed any similarities between the two in terms of what you’ve learned as a competitive athlete? 

A: I remember going to the American Quarter Horse World Championship show about a month after my first half marathon and realizing just how similar the two disciplines really are. As runners, we know that a race is incredibly mental. When you are showing a horse, the horse is your partner. You spend hours together practicing, and because of this, the horse can read your emotions like a book. Horses take their cues from their riders, emotions included. If you can’t control your emotions and be in the right headspace for your horse, you are never going to get the performance you need.

I also noticed that the increased core strength and leg strength I was getting from running helped me be a stronger rider. And on the flip side, when I started running, I excelled at running up hills thanks to my strong quads developed from years of riding.

For both sports, preparation is key. You really cannot fake either one without the training. If you don’t put in the work, it is going to show. Showing horses has really taught me so much that I apply to all other areas of life — how to present yourself well in an interview, how to have patience, to have compassion, when to press, and when to rest. One of the most important similarities I draw between the two has been that there are going to be times when you just need to put your head down and keep going for the love of the sport. Sometimes your next big breakthrough is right around the corner.

Q: You ran your first Boston Marathon this past year. What drove you to aim to qualify for Boston, and what, if anything, did you learn from crossing the finish line?  

A: I think that the goal of qualifying for Boston really came as a product of training for my first marathon. As I started to train, I was looking at the times I was running, and seeing the qualifying standard times, and I just thought, “Why not me? Why not try?” I was training for this race on the heels of the decision to sell my horse and stop showing horses, and I think I kind of needed, or wanted, a goal to throw myself into.

When I crossed the finish line in Boston, it was really special. I don’t think that anyone can run that race and not feel that way. I would have never thought that I could run a marathon, and certainly not the Boston marathon. I’ve never been athletic, never was good at sports, and it taught me to never count myself out.

Q: You’re running the Boston Marathon again in 2018! What’s your goal for the race this time around? What are you most looking forward to about the race this time?

A: I am really excited for 2018! Last year when I ran, I had just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Which was honestly kind of a relief because it gave me an answer as to WHY I had been feeling so bad lately and running slower and slower paces. I found out that my thyroid was not doing its job about 2 months before the race, and it really wasn’t enough time to get back to feeling my best. It takes time to get the medication right, and 2 months just wasn’t going to cut it. So I went into the race with adjusted expectations. With that in mind, I planned to run a 26.2-mile victory lap on race day.

This year, I am hoping I get the opportunity to run MY race in Boston. The weather is always a screwy factor there, so we will see what we get. But I feel like I’ve got a much better handle on my health, and that makes me excited. I couldn’t be happier to be going back and to get the opportunity to give it my all again.

Jennifer Kyle
 
Q: What inspires you to keep running, especially on those days when you’re not feeling as motivated or as fired up as you normally do?

A: Running is as much a part of my routine as my morning cup of coffee. I don’t really know if it is so much motivation that gets me out the door on tough days, as it is habit. If I can get out for just 15 minutes, my mood always turns around and I am so grateful I did decide to go for my run today. And of course there are some days when I don’t hit my paces, or days when I just feel tired — but those days are par for the course. I would rather have a less than stellar run, than no run at all.
 
Q: If a beginner runner asked you for advice about starting to run but you could only offer them one tip, what would it be?

A: Let go of your expectations of how far or fast you should run, and just run.

Jennifer Kyle

Q: Who is your biggest running inspiration and why? 

A: It is so hard to pick just one person. Of course I love to follow the stories of the professional runners we have come to know and love. I mean, let’s be real here, I could start crying just thinking about Shalane [Flanagan] winning New York, let alone actually watching the race. But I think the everyday runners are the inspiration for me. These are the people getting it done amongst the pressures of career, family, ect. No one has time to train for a race, you make the time.

Q: Your blog is called “J Bird Runs” — what was the inspiration behind the title? 

A: My dad started calling me J Bird when I was really little. It was a nickname I always liked. I’m an only child, so I’m super close with my parents. They are so amazingly supportive of everything I do. When I showed horses, they backed me 100%. Now that I’ve started running, they talk about it as though I’m an Olympic athlete. My mom’s marathon spectating trick is to hold balloons so that I can spot her when I’m running by, and  I think I’d recognize my dad shouting my name anywhere. I even heard him at Chicago through all the noise there. Even though I couldn’t see him, I knew it was him haha! So when I came up with the name for the blog, I didn’t really put a lot of thought into it  it just seemed to click!

Jennifer Kyle

Q: What’s one thing — serious or silly — about running that non-runners will just never understand? #ItsARunnerThing 

A: I think the thing about running that I get the most incredulous looks about is the circumstances I will deal with, and the lengths I will go to in order to get my run done.

For example:

  • In Vegas for a work trip? Who cares about slot machines? You bet I’m getting up early to get my run in.
  • It’s storming outside? I have a good jacket.
  • Boarding a 6 a.m. flight for a full day of travel? A 3 a.m. run seems reasonable to me.
  • In Alaska for the holidays? They are called “YakTrax,” and no, I’m not skipping my run today.

———

Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

If ya’ll wanna follow along with Jennifer for her next Boston Marathon journey and beyond, you can find her on Instagram @jbirdruns, online at jbirdruns.com and on Facebook right here

And make sure you stay tuned for next month’s #ItsARunnerThing Q&A! There’s lost more inspiration and running advice coming your way!.

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The Best Gifts For Runners: Hungry Runner’s 2017 Guide

You know, putting this guide together for the second time (see here for more gifts that are still great for runners from last year’s guide) made me realize that shopping for runners is pretty damn easy. I was surprised at how simple it was to find  20 gifts in all categories and price ranges that pretty much any runner would be thrilled to receive.

Best Gifts For Runners - 2017 Guide

Of course, I did have some help this year! Last year, my list was completely made up of items that I have been using in my own running endeavors over the years. But this year I wanted to expand beyond that. Some of these items I do use and LOVE, some of these items have been on my radar lately, and some of these items were recommended by you, my dear readers! In particular, I asked y’all on Instagram what your favorite hydration packs and wireless earbuds are because these are two items I’m currently in the market for and I was curious what everyone else was using.

Some of you shared some really great recommendations, all listed here. And some of you reached out to say that you also wanted to know what other people recommended. So if you were in that boat, here are your answers. Thanks to all who messaged me with suggestions, you really helped to make this list great!

The Best Gifts For Runners: Hungry Runner's 2017 Guide

And to everyone else: Whether you’re a runner looking for items to add to your wish list this year or you’re a superb friend or family member shopping for a loved one who is a runner, well I think you’ll certainly find at least something that you’re looking for here.

Happy holidays, hungry friends! <3

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, but this post does contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission when you click through and make a purchase, which helps to support Hungry Runner. Thank you.

The Best Gifts For Runners: 2017 Guide

1. Nathan The Hipster  — $20

 

Nathan The Hipster Running Belt Pack and Fitness Belt - Best Gifts For Runners

This belt just caught my eye today. Right now I run with an armband but I’m not really a huge fan of it, except for the fact that I can slide my phone in and out of it easily while I’m running. So I’m on the hunt for a comfortable belt that also allows for easy phone access and room to carry one or two more small items and this looks like a promising choice to me.

2. BSeen (™) LED Slap Band Glow Bracelet — $8.99
BSeen (™) LED Slap Band Glow Bracelet - Best Gifts For Runners

The explanation for this gift is simple. Us crazy runners tend to run at crazy times and sometimes that means the sun isn’t up while we’re getting our workouts in, especially during this time of the year when daylight time is particularly limited. But running safely should ALWAYS be a priority and these LED slap bands are a simple way to increase visibility for running in the dark.

3. Sarah Marie Design Studio Tanks and T-Shirts (and more)  — Various Prices
Sarah Marie Design Studio - Run All The Miles, Eat All The Pizza -Best Gifts For Runners

A few weeks back I purchased this “Run All The Miles, Eat All The Pizza” tank from Sarah Marie Design Studio because well, why wouldn’t I want a comfy tank that reads my life motto? Anyway, if you’re a runner and you use social media, you’ve likely seen Sarah’s products at some point. And if you’re a non-runner, if you browse through Sarah’s shop, you’re bound to find something that’s perfect for the runner in your life. I promise.

4. Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack, Running Vest with 1.8L Hydration Bladder Reservoir, Women’s  — $144 – $180
Nathan Vaporhowe Hydration Pack - Best Gifts For Runners

As I mentioned above, I’m interested in investing in a hydration pack for my longer runs. I love my Nathan handheld bottle, but for runs over 8 miles, it can get tiring to hold on to. Ashley (@ariversrunsthroughit) suggested this pack from Nathan because it’s lightweight and comfortable. She said it’s “easy to use and has tons of storage. I hardly even know it’s there when I’m running … They used body mapping technology to design it to fit a woman’s body and it is made of lightweight and breathable fabric.”

5. CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Vest — $112
CamelBak Ultra 10 Hydration Vest - Best Gifts For Runners

The recommendation for this pack comes from Amanda (@runtothefinish). She noted that it makes hydrating easy and has lots of extra pockets. “I like this particular model because it’s snug to the body and the pocket placement makes it easy to grab my phone for those must have Instagram moments,” she wrote. Yes, she gets me ; )

6. HotHands Hand Warmers — $14.62 for 12 
HotHands Hand Warmers - Best Gifts For Runners

This gift is for winter running, but trust me, if you know a runner who loves to hit the road, even on the coldest of days, they will thank you immensely for these little babies that warm up quickly and can be slipped into gloves and pockets for some extra heat. Bonus: They are also great for skiing and other outdoor winter sports.

7. Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands — $11.95
Fit Simplify Resistance Loop Exercise Bands

And then for runners who would rather keep their workouts indoors for the winter, this resistance band pack is quite a nifty little gift. Plus, regardless of whether a runner likes to spend more time indoors or outdoors during the colder months, all runners should incorporate some sort strength training in their routines and these bands will make it easy and convenient to do so.

Here’s an example of one workout you could do with them. And if you’re looking for more, here’s a long list to choose from!

8. Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones — $149
Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones - Best Gifts For Runners

Katie ( @katie.croll) recommends these Bluetooth babies saying that they “fit perfectly” and have “great sound” but that they still allow you to hear what’s going on around you, which is really important for safe running. I have not tried these, but In my own experience, when it comes to sound quality, you can’t really go wrong with Bose.

9. Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes — $15.73
Run Fast. Eat Slow. - Nourishing Recipes for Athletes - Best Gifts For Runner

If you know a runner, and they love to eat (what runner doesn’t, right?), then yes, they will love this book. In fact, it’s is popular in the running community that I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t own it yet. But when I do get my hands on it, I absolutely cannot wait to try all the different recipes inside. Oh yeah, and yes, its’ co-authored by Shalane Flanagan. Yup, the same woman who crushed it and won the NYC Marathon earlier this month.

10. Believe Training Journal — $14.92
Believe Training Journal - Best Gifts For Runners

This item I do own and I’ll keep it simple by saying that I just love it. It makes keeping track of your training not only simple, but fun! There are inspiring quotes strewn throughout the pages and it’s also packed with lots of expert running advice.

11. 2018 Runner’s Daily Desk Calendar by Gone For a Run — $14.99
2018 Runner’s Daily Desk Calendar by Gone For a Run - Best Gifts For Runners

I don’t own this particular calendar, but I did use to have one like it on my desk and it made me smile every day when I got to work and turned the page. I used to post the daily quotes and jokes on my Instagram feed and I would always get questions from followers asking me where I got the calendar. I’d say that’s a sure sign any runner will love this gift.

12. Feetures! – Elite Light Cushion – No Show Tab – Athletic Running Socks — $15.99
Feetures! - Elite Light Cushion - No Show Tab - Athletic Running Socks - Best Gifts For Runners

I’m including these on this list for the simple fact that they are my favorite running socks because they are oh-so-soft and comfy. Socks seem like a boring gift, and that’s probably true … expect if they are nice socks and you’re giving them to a runner.

13. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir — $12.16
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir - Best Gifts For Runners

If you know a runner who also loves to read, they will most likely enjoy this book. Murakami’s thoughts on running and life are uplifting and insightful. Personally, I enjoyed this books so much that I do plan to eventually read it again.

14. Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Bluetooth Headphones — $74.39
Plantronics BackBeat FIT Wireless Bluetooth Headphones - Best Gifts For Runners

These Bluetooth headphones come recommended from an Instagram follower named Elizabeth. She said they are her favorite wireless earbuds because they are waterproof/sweatproof and have a decent battery life. She also mentioned that you can still hear cars and other surrounding noises with them on. “My dad is an airline pilot for a major airline and [this is] the brand that makes some of their communications equipment,” she wrote. “I’ve been using [the] same pair for three years and they’ve been through multiple moves/lots of travel with no issues!”

15. Reflective Vest for Running (+ 2 reflective safety bands) — $12.85 – 14.85
Reflective Vest for Running - Best Gifts For Runners

Georgia (@fitnessfreckle) wanted to know more suggestions for night time safety gear and this vest looks like another great (and lightweight) option for adding more visibility to dark, early-morning or evening running workouts. Again, I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t have one of these yet since I like to remind you guys about running safely, but this is the option I plan to go with. (P.S. If you have any more  safety gear suggestions for Georgia, leave them in the comments!)

16. CALIA by Carrie Underwood Women’s Essential Crossover Leggings — $94.60 – $102.10
CALIA by Carrie Underwood Women's Essential Crossover Leggings - Best Gifts For Runners

Full disclosure, I received a pair of these leggings from CALIA by Carrie over the summer, but I am sharing them here because they are just so, so comfy. They are high-waisted (well, at least for me and my short torso) and the  material is thick and soft, which actually makes them a good choice for winter running. I’ll be honest though, I mainly wear these for lounging because they are just that cozy. My only issue is that they are super long (I have a size small and I’m 5′), but they can easily be rolled up to fit properly, so it’s not a huge deal for me (I have to do that with most of my leggings anyway). #shortgirlproblems

17. Epson ProSense 17 GPS Running Watch — $99.99
Epson ProSense 17 GPS Running Watch - Best Gifts For Runners

No, I have not used this watch yet, but I couldn’t put together this list without sharing it hear because I have been seeing it EVERYWHERE lately  and a lot of runners have been saying they really like it. It has a lot of cool functionalities and super-competitive price point compared to a lot of the other GPS watches out there. If you’re looking for a GPS watch that’s on the more affordable side, I’d venture to say this is one of the best options out there right now.

18. LG Electronics Tone Active Premium Wireless Stereo Headset — $99.99
LG Electronics Tone Active Premium Wireless Stereo Headset - Best Gifts For Runners

Valentina (@valentinka80) recommended this wireless headphone option from LG. “I can wear them around my neck and the actual earbuds can be pulled out only when I want to use them, otherwise they stay in the ‘neckpiece’ … and don’t bother me!” she wrote. “It’s great for races when I only need music every now and again or when the battery dies mid-long run.” It’s also worth noting that this pair is waterproof.

19. Rise and Run Mug from Pace of Me — $25
Rise and Run Mug - Best Gifts For Runners

This mug, or any other item in the Pace of Me shop will not only put a smile on any runner’s face, but it will also help support a good cause. Jess and her sister teamed up to create fun, inspiring running-related designs on different products with the goal of supporting Team Drea Foundation – to help find a CURE for ALS. They also have t-shirts, sweat shirts, more super-cute mugs, tanks and hats!

20. Apple Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset for iPhones — $159
Apple Airpods Wireless Bluetooth Headset for iPhones - Best Gifts For Runners

OK, these are the last and final item on my list because I was surprised to find that two readers highly recommend them for running. If you’re like me, you’re extremely skeptical right now because Apple’s traditional, wire-connected earbuds don’t stay in your ears while running or working out. But both Carl (@captobie) and Laura (@nebraskarunner) say they work great, and yes even for running.

Carl said, “I used to mock them, said they looked ridiculous, said they wouldn’t stay in my ears, and they were too expensive. Then I tried them and ended up buying them. They pair easily, they sound great, I haven’t had any connectivity issues, and fit comfortable in my ears.”

What’s on your wish list this year? I’d love to know what else is on your radar and what your wishing for, whether running-related or not. Leave a comment and let me know!


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#ItsARunnerThing Q&A with Anna Wildman

Welcome to the very first installment of the #ItsARunnerThing Q&A! This is a new series on Hungry Runner where each month we’ll hear from a new runner to find out what makes them tick, what inspires them and what they love most about this crazy, incredible sport.

This month’s guest is Anna Wildman. Anna is a food and fitness blogger, podcaster, and marathoner. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, cooking or scoping out the newest vegan spots in New York City and beyond.

Today she’s sharing what motivates her (even when she doesn’t feel like running), what she wishes more people knew about vegan diets, and some BIG life changes she has in the near future. Read on to learn more!

#ItsARunnerThing Q&A With Anna Wildman

Q: Tell us the story of how you were introduced to running and eventually fell in love with the sport. Was it something you enjoyed immediately, or did it take some time for you to develop a real passion for it?

Anna Wildman: I HATED running until a few years ago. I always tried to make running a habit in high school and the beginning of college, but never did it consistently enough to make it happen.

Then I started dating a runner my sophomore year of college. He would take me on runs, which I never enjoyed. I felt like I was going to die on every run.

Then, the summer after my sophomore year, I was interning in Japan and I started to run on the treadmill every day after work just to get some exercise in. By the end of the summer, I was able to run about 3 miles comfortably.

After that summer I continued to run and eventually decided to sign up for my first half marathon my senior year. My love for running really kicked in during that training cycle, and I’ve been doing half marathons/marathons ever since.

Related: 5 Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

Q: What inspires you to keep running, especially on those days when you’re not feeling as motivated or as fired up as you normally do?

Anna: Honestly, I just love the feeling of accomplishment. When I wake up knowing I have to run and don’t feel like it, that feeling of accomplishment afterwards is what drives me to do it.

And if I really don’t feel like running, or if I’m not training for anything and don’t feel motivated, I’ll just do something else: a spin class, [Kayla Itsines’] BBG, simple walk to the grocery store, quick ab workout, etc.!

Q: You just made a pretty big life decision! Will you share what your upcoming plans are, and what inspired you to take such a big leap? 

Anna: Ah!! I know! I feel like a crazy person, but everyone has been SO positive and encouraging, which has been really helpful. So my plan is to travel Southeast Asia for a while: I’m starting in Taiwan, and then making my way south. I have no concrete plans yet; I want to travel based on other backpackers’ and the locals’ recommendations, my own experiences, and intuitions.

My decision to take the leap was initially sparked by my solo trip to Guatemala a couple years ago. I met all these backpackers taking long, months-long trips across South/Central America. I felt like a total loser — I was traveling for just 10 days and then going back to my desk job, while these people were on the adventure of a lifetime. I decided I wanted to do that one day, so that one day is now!

Anna Wildman

Q: Do you think running will continue to play a big role in your life as you travel around? 

Anna: It probably will not play as big of a role as it does now since I won’t be able to run as easily in some cities/developing countries. However, I do want exercise to still play a role, whether that means walking, swimming, surfing, biking, or hiking.

Q: What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you during a race?

Anna: Nothing especially crazy comes to mind, but the craziest race I’ve ever ran was the Staten Island Half Marathon last year. It was MISERABLE. It was rainy, windy, and cold … I never thought it would end. The finish line was in a baseball stadium, but the stadium was super muddy and we were all walking ankle-deep in gross water.

Plus, all the volunteers had canceled last minute due to the weather, so the event was majorly understaffed, and it took about half an hour to grab our checked bags (standing in the pouring rain). I am still scarred from that race.

Q: If a beginner runner asked you for advice about starting to run but you could only offer them one tip, what would it be?

Anna: Be patient. Running SUCKS in the beginning. It is painful, tiring and unpleasant. However, if you keep at it long enough, one day you will be able to run 10 minutes without stopping. Then 20. Then 30. And once you can run for 30 minutes, the rest somehow comes easier.

I’d also recommend signing up for a race, maybe a 5K to start. If you enjoy that experience of training and racing, then keep signing up for different races! They’re a ton of fun and a great way to reach a new goal.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Running For Beginners

Anna Wildman
Anna after finishing her first ever marathon!

Q: Up until recently your blog was called “Running Vegan NYC” and even though you’ve rebranded, you do still talk about your experiences as a vegan runner. What’s one thing you wish more people understood about veganism? 

Anna: Vegan does not mean gluten-free!! People always think that gluten is not vegan, but it very much is. Pasta and bread all day every day.

I’d also add that I wish people understood that we’re not weird alien creatures. We are normal people who never thought they would ever go vegan, just like you.

Q: Who is your biggest running inspiration and why? 

Anna: Probably Rich Roll… I still cannot fathom running 5 Ironman races in under a week like he did. He is just such an ambitious, articulate, kind and inspiring human being!! #1 fan girl here

Q: What’s your next big running goal, and why are you excited to work toward it? 

Anna: Honestly, with the marathon coming up this Sunday, that’s all I can think about. My big goal for this marathon is to beat last year’s time, hopefully by a lot (last year I finished in about 4 hours 35 minutes, this year I want to finish around 4 hours). After the marathon is when my travel adventure begins, so I probably will not be setting any huge goals for a while.

P.S. Anna ended up KILLING IT at the NYC Marathon on Sunday! 

A post shared by Anna (@annawildman) on

Q: What’s one thing — serious or silly — about running that non-runners will just never understand? #ItsARunnerThing 

Anna: Oh man I could think of so many!

The perils of a tempo run. Are they not the worst??!?

The empowerment you feel when you get negative splits … honestly some of my proudest moments.

That yelling “you’re almost there!” is NOT helpful.

The glory of the post-long run nap.

The selection of the post-race free food is almost as important as the race itself.

Side note from Katie: I very much agree with this final point. The selection of post-race food is VERY important.

———

Thanks for sharing, Anna!

If ya’ll wanna follow along with Anna Wildman as she begins her travel adventures and continues to share her journey, you can can read her work at annawildman.blog, follow her on Instagram @annawildman, and listen to her podcast “No Bull” on iTunes.

Make sure you stay tuned for next month’s #ItsARunnerThing Q&A! There’s lost more inspiration and running advice coming your way!

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5 Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

When I started running, I knew nothing except how to tie my shoes and put one foot in front of the other. And to be honest, I could barely do that. Finishing one lap around the track was truly a struggle for me.  I was a total newbie in every single way, but I decided that I would just get started and figure it out along way.

Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

And that approach is fine. I’m still here. I’ve finished 2 full marathons and I’m currently training for my 8th half marathon. But if I could do it all over again, there are maybe just a few things I wish I had known about before I got started. A few simple tips like the ones I’m about to share probably could’ve helped me avoid some mistakes, like developing super painful shin splints and sometimes feeling frustrated with my training.

If you’re a new runner or you’re thinking about getting started, these tips can help you jumpstart the process and avoid some of the unnecessary obstacles that pop up because of mistakes that are simple, but not oh-so-obvious to new runners.

5 Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid
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5 Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

Mistake 1: Overthinking Sneakers 

Yes, a good pair of running shoes is definitely important if you want to step up your running game. And yes, there are a lot of choices and opinions out there when it comes to running shoes. But if you’re a recreational runner and you’re simply here to have some fun, get more active, and run a few races here and there, it’s probably not necessary to spend a ton of time figuring out what sneaker to buy, or a ton of money on the latest and greatest pair.

In my own experience, if it feels comfortable for you to run in, then it’s probably a good shoe for you. For example, if you’re running in an old pair of gym shoes or sneakers that you just feel aren’t comfortable, it’s probably a good idea to invest in a new pair. But if you have a relatively new set of sneakers that you’re perfectly content running in, then you’ll probably be just fine sticking with them.

I have a detailed guide that can walk you through picking out a running shoe that’s right for you, but if you want the abbreviated version, it’s almost as simple as heading to any store that sells sneakers, trying on and running in (testing them out by running in them is the most important part!) a few different pairs, and choosing the ones that feel most comfortable to you.

I’ve run in many different sneakers of all different brands over the years and while there have been one or two pairs that were really just not right for me, I’ve found that most have worked just fine. So don’t overthink it too much, just pick a pair that’s comfy and get out there!

Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

Mistake 2: Skipping the Warm Up

I’ll be honest, I’m still guilty of this mistake, even 7 years into my running career. I get it as good as anyone else, when you’re trying to fit your running workout into your busy schedule, 5-10 more minutes for warming up sounds like an unnecessary inconvenience. But trust me, if you really want to enjoy your run to the fullest, it’s worth it.

If I don’t warm up, sometimes it takes me a full 1 or 2 miles to feel comfortable and like I’m not slogging through quicksand. When I feel like that at the beginning of a run I spend those miles complaining to myself and dreading the rest of the workout instead of just enjoying the fact that I get to run — which is the ultimate goal, right? But if I spend even just 5 minutes warming up before a run, I can usually avoid those “quicksand miles” and start from the beginning feeling as best I can.

I’m not saying that warming up is going to make every run an incredible run. We will all have workouts that are physically and mentally tough from start to finish, that’s an inevitable part of the sport. But most times it definitely does help, and it can also help with injury prevention.

Oh, and warming up should include dynamic stretches that will get some blood flowing to your muscles and loosen up your joints — not static stretches. Stretching is better for after your workout.

Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

Mistake 3: Training Without Progression

Once you’ve been running for a little while, you’ll become more confident in your abilities, and if you really end up loving it, you’re going to want to start running faster and tackling longer distances. That’s great! But don’t do it before you’re ready.

Any good running coach with tell you that doing too much, too soon is one of the most common mistakes made by runners of every level. Heck, I’ll admit that I’ve made this mistake myself at least a few times in the past.  What’s important to remember is that if you want to succeed at running,  the smartest thing you can do is start at a training level that’s appropriate and comfortable for your current level of fitness and from there, steadily work your way up. Taking breaks and reevaluating where needed.

As a general rule of thumb, new runners should keep their program the same for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. If you have a little more experience with running, most coaches say you can safely increase your mileage by about 10% each week. But overall, the amount you should advance your routine depends on how much you’re already running.

Mistake 4: Not Enough Recovery

Enthusiasm for running is great! If you do this right, you’ll end up feeling like you want to run every day and you’ll begin to understand why so many runners say they’re sanity depends on being able to run. But in general, running every single day isn’t such a great idea. Our muscles need time to recover after a workout, especially when running is new to our bodies.

To get super technical, exercising (e.g., running) causes microscopic tears in our muscles while they work. Rest allows the damaged muscle tissue to repair itself. But if you don’t allow for enough “repair” time between workouts your muscles won’t be able to get stronger, and worse, you could get injured. I’ve written a lot about the importance of rest and recovery in the past because this is another lesson that I’ve personally had to learn the hard way a number of times.

The bottom line: make sure you’re taking enough time between your workouts and, even more importantly, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s better to skip a planned workout rather than doing it just for the sake of getting it done only to find out that that tiny ache you felt yesterday now feels 10 times worse. One or two rest days to allow your body some extra time to recover is way better than having to sit out for weeks at a time because you overdid it.

P.S. Remember that racing is more stressful on your body than training, so plan for some time off after you exert that extra effort and cross the finish line.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Running for Beginners

Mistakes New Runners Should Avoid

Mistake 5: Expecting Immediate Change

This you probably already know, but it’s worth repeating because once you start running, it’s likely that you’ll get super excited. You’ll want to run all the races and collect all the medals, but if you have your sights set on that next milestone race distance or something even bigger like the Boston Marathon, don’t forget that you can’t get there without putting in the work.

For all the endorphins it gives us, running can also be  pretty frustrating because progress certainly takes time. So remember to be patient and consistent with your training. Take each workout one step at a time and eventually you’ll reach the finish line (literal and figurative) with a smile on your face.

If you’re a new runner, what has been your biggest challenge with getting started? If you’ve been running a while, what other advice would you give to those who are just starting out? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Honey-Roasted Almond And Honey Crisp Apple Salad Recipe

Honey-Roasted Almond And Honey Crisp Apple Salad

I have a love-hate relationship with salads. Do I always want to choose a salad at lunch or dinner? No. Do I usually end up enjoying them? Yes.

And I especially enjoy them when they have a lot of extra crunch and both sweet and savory flavors all mixed in, like this honey-roasted almond and honey crisp apple salad. Whenever I whip this recipe up for lunch, I’m always satisfied afterward. In fact, because of the combo flavor palette I even look forward to it!

But am I the only one who sort of feels FOMO or maybe even regret when opting for a salad? Whether it’s ordering while out to eat or concocting a meal at home.

Yes, there are times when I know I’m definitely NOT having a salad because I showed up for pizza or a burger or wings. But then there are other times when I’m in a “let’s eat healthier” type of mood and I know that I’ll feel my best after the meal if I choose a salad. But still, I think, “I know I’ll feel the best if I eat a salad, but it’s not necessarily my number-one choice and so many other options sound waaaay better right now.”

Yes, these are the inner musings of a hungry runner deciding what to eat. And I kind of hate how whiney this discussion sounds, because like, just pick something to eat already! Right? But if I’m being honest, then yes, I still think about these things when making food choices. In other words, it’s not always easy to make the healthiest choice, and it’s 100% OK when we don’t hit the mark 100% of the time.

In fact, it’s more than OK, because we can’t be perfect, and enjoying ALL of the foods we love is just as important as fueling our bodies with the healthiest, most wholesome foods.

And just to clarify, I’m not saying that salad is always the healthiest option. All other kinds of dishes can be just as nutritious. I’m just saying that in my experience, salad tends to be the option that leaves me feeling more energized and less “bogged down” or overly full after eating, so that my body and mind generally feel better overall.

Honey-Roasted Almond and Honey Crisp Apple Salad Recipe
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Anyway, now that I’ve jumped down a rabbit hole of ranting about salads and eating healthy, I’ll bring it back to the main attraction of this post, the honey-roasted almond and honey crisp apple salad recipe you came here for.

To put it simply, I don’t always eat salads, but when I do, this one hits the spot and totally satisfies all my hungry runner cravings every damn time.

P.S. If you’re wondering: Pictured here, I paired this salad with an avocado and “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning topped rice cake. The seasoning is from Trader Joe’s!

Honey-Roasted Almond and Honey Crisp Apple Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

2/3 cup iceberg lettuce, chopped

1/2 large honey crisp apple, chopped

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Honey-Roasted Almond Slivers

1/3 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed (sometimes I use grilled chicken as a protein in this salad instead of chick peas)

3 tablespoons feta cheese (or more if you love feta, like me)

2 tablespoons Annie’s Lite Honey Mustard Vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

Toss all ingredients together and serve. Recipe serves 1.

Do you ever struggle with what to make or order, knowing that a salad would be the more nutritious option but not wanting to miss out on something you might enjoy a little more? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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How To Get Motivated Again After A Break From Running

A few weeks back one of Instagram followers asked me a great question. How do you get motivated again after a break from running?

We’ve all been there before. Whether because of an injury or just because we needed some time off to figure things out, we’ve all needed some time off from running. And sometimes we feel totally enthusiastic and pumped about getting back in the game.

How To Get Motivated Again After A Break From Running

But other times, not so much. And getting started again, and getting back to that place of having a healthy, happy relationship with running, can feel really challenging. At times it might even feel impossible.

I can honestly say I’ve been there myself. There have been times where after a break, even thought I missed running and knew in my heart how much I love it, I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever get back to it.

But I can also honestly say that if you truly do have a love for the sport you’ll come back around to it eventually. It will have to be on your own time because I personally believe that forcing it won’t help the situation. But when you’re ready, you can use these simple tips to help make the process a little bit easier and a lot more fun.

How To Get Motivated Again

How to Get Motivated After a Break From Running
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1. Take it Easy

Just like if you we’re totally new to the sport, it’s definitely a good idea to take it slow and steady when you’re getting back in the game after a break. Not only will this help you avoid getting injured, but mentally it will make the process less stressful and more enjoyable.

Based on my own experience, I would suggest that you avoid putting any pressure on yourself. Just take it one run at a time and when you’re ready maybe set a simple goal. For example, running three times per week for one month straight. Once you achieve that and feel like you’re in a good place, then take another step forward.

The point: if you’re just getting back into running after some time off, there’s no rush to get right back to where you left off. In fact, if you try to do that, you’ll probably end up running too much, too soon. And that usually results in injury, which is obviously and most definitely a situation we all want to avoid.

2. Join a Group

How To Get Motivated Again After A Break From Running

I am all about the solo run. There’s almost nothing better than disconnecting and letting your mind relax over a few miles on your own. But at the same time, there’s definitely something to be said for running with friends, and especially if you’re in need of a motivational boost.

If you can’t join a running group, find one or two nearby running buddies to serve as your own run squad.

Running with friends will help you look forward to your workouts more since it will be a time to catch up (or if they’re new friends, get to know each other better) and it will also help your workouts pass by  quicker since you’ll likely be chatting the whole time instead of paying attention to how many miles you have left!

3. Treat Yourself to New Gear

It might sound silly, but a cute new workout outfit can go a long way in helping you to get that running bug back.

It’s pretty simple, and this definitely holds true for me: the more excited you are to get dressed, the more excited you’ll be to get out there and get your workout done (while showing off your new duds, of course)!

4. Write Out a Plan

I sort of mentioned this in tip #1. But I’ll go into a little bit more detail here.

While I do think it’s important to start off with no pressure and to just enjoy the simple joys of running when you’re working on getting back into the groove, I also think it’s important to have some sort of framework in place to help keep you accountable.

As I mentioned before, this can be a simple, small goal. Decide what’s right for you, write it down and commit to it. Once you reach this simpler goal, than you can think about bigger achievements ahead.

How To Get Motivated Again After A Break From Running

5. Try Different Workouts

Without taking on too much too soon, one of the best ways to get motivated again is to switch up your routine with different workouts to avoid getting bored.

You can try short interval workouts, Fartlek workouts, hill workouts, drills … there are so many choices and the more variation you throw in, the more fun you’ll have (at least that’s what I believe).

Just make sure you aren’t doing too many speed workouts, because your body does need time to recover from them and most of your running should be at a slow or moderate pace. I suggest 1-2 speed workouts per week, tops.

You can check out some of my favorite running workouts here

Bonus Tip: When you’re, ready, sign up for a race!

We all know that the prospect of a race ahead is super helpful when it comes to staying motivated to work out and run. When you’re ready and feel like you’re in a good place with running again — and you feel like added pressure won’t lead you back to the sidelines — choose your next race and sign up for that baby! Then, pick a training plan and get to work!

Have you ever taken a break and felt that it was hard to find your groove when you were ready to get back in the game? Let me know in the comments below!

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