What is going on?

via What is going on?


What is going on?

I have not written for weeks now…what is going on with my blog idea? I can’t even believe it is the end of July almost…I had so many big summer plans and here I am…not doing all of them.

But I am doing more things than I thought I would and different plans than I thought.

I started the summer with only a few plans and hoped my kids would still have a “fun summer.” I enrolled them in a million camps to replace my lack of vacation plans and to stay firm to the idea that we were going to save money.

I put my five-year-old in a camp every week (which was pure torture for me…AKA the chauffeur). But he loved it, for the most part. We skipped a few days here and there.

My son, Owen, is in yellow above at golf camp. He is everything sports at this point in his life—golf camp, sports camp, basketball camp.

Here they both are at swimming lessons—which was great for them, but sweltering hot for me for two weeks.

And we took a family vacation to Bismark, North Dakota (to watch my husband play softball) and another family vacation to Las Vegas, just for fun.

I didn’t run the biggest races in Billings–and I actually enjoyed that I was on my own run. I knew everyone else who was “a runner” was at these events. I even read the results and figured out where I thought I would have placed.

But I did not regret not being there.

I canceled the only run I really planned on doing (a half marathon). I jumped into a few smaller runs, and I ran more with friends. I even took my kids on a few stroller runs which I haven’t done since they weighed under twenty pounds.

And it was nice.

It was nice not having everything laid out and being able to do what I wanted when I wanted. It was nice laying in bed while I knew runners were doing the largest summer run on a rainy morning.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, sky, sunglasses, shorts, cloud, outdoor and nature

(Look at the background behind me—isn’t this a great place for a race finish?)

The point is–it doesn’t matter if you do not make a huge plan. It actually is okay that plans change.

My summer is not entirely how I expected–but it is going probably better. My races did not go as planned, but I am enjoying my runs even more. I am relaxed and happy with them.

And this is slowly changing my mindset from an ultra-competitive runner, to one that just wants to run for fun.

I have goals and things I want to do. I have not completely abandoned planning, because that is what I do. I plan. But I am slowly accepting the fact that plans change and the changes could be for the better.

For example, not running a half marathon in the middle of July allowed me to spend extra time with my family and friends. I ran a wonderful 20 miler (in preparation for a race I have planned…ironic, huh?). I spent the weekend golfing and going to dinner instead of anticipating the next day’s run.

Then, when I looked up results, I did not regret that I wasn’t there, but I looked for names I recognized and touted their accomplishments.

Or I  went to Las Vegas for a blazing hot vacation for the 4th, rather than running a run that I have every year in the past. I ran down the strip in 96-degree weather and laughed at myself when I was dying at three miles.

That is the great thing about this sport. We can have goals and things that we want to do—we can train for those things and try to make them a reality. And when we accomplish them we feel proud and great and set new goals to achieve.

But,  we can also find time to participate in the sport, but rather than keep up with the runner next to us, we can settle down and remind ourselves of why we run. Currently, I can relish the early mornings I spend with friends just chatting or the fun runs I have with my kids while they bike next to me.

So, as Target fills its isles with back to school notebooks, I think of all the things I still have planned and want to do this summer. Will I get it all accomplished? The important things I will–but I am sure that there will be some extra added unplanned fun as well.



Setting Goals for Running

Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to run your first 5k?

Setting goals for running is an important part of the progression. What do you want to do in your running career?

For me, it has changed so much. In college, I wanted to be fast. I wanted to set records, earn All-American and be even faster. What I did for training, reflected what I wanted to be: Fast.

I did intervals twice a week, hill runs, lifted weights, ran double days and raced almost every weekend. Running was my job–and I had time for it to be my job. I didn’t have kids, I was not married, and all of my friends were on my team. It is what worked for me at that time.


After I graduated and found a career in teaching, I had to refocus my goals a little bit. I still didn’t have a family, so I had time, but I also now had a job. I had other things to worry about as well.

My focus shifted to marathon training and running my fastest marathon times. I didn’t train quite as hard as I did in previous years, but I still had time to do several long runs and sacrifice sleeping in mornings to lift and get another run in.

However, now, my goals have shifted again. It has been a hard shift for me.

I still want to be fast. I want to be able to win local fun runs and still chase down the dream of breaking 3 hours in a marathon, but as I get older, busier, and more unfocused, I realize those goals have to go away and I need new ones.


Now, I push a stroller sometimes or I race my 5-year-old on a bike. I wake up early and run with other mom’s who are juggling the same time issues that I am having.

I also have to realize that I am not as fast as I used to be. This 37-year-old body may feel like I am still 21, but it doesn’t recover or move quite like it used to. I have nagging injuries and I can’t just jump in my car after a run. I need to stretch and move around or I will get painful cramps in my calves and tight hamstrings.

I know this is my reality–but why is it so hard to absorb?

I have changed my goals numerous times in the past few years. I am now in the walk-run marathon mode–and I have been trying to master Jeff Galloway’s art. I find that I have time for this plan and I feel good about what I am doing–even my times at the end of my running.

I also have found several websites that make me realize what is important and what I should be trying to value, over what I have in the past. In the past, I strove to be fast and didn’t care about other things.

Now, I must practice the art of gratitude and using my run to find the things I am grateful for and appreciate the time with others. Another mother running blogger, Life as a Running Mom focuses on gratitude and ends her posts with things she is grateful for that day.

Hungry Runner is another blog that I am a fan of that really puts things in perspective. She has three small children and is still chasing personal goals–and some of those are new personal goals.

Setting running goals are a part of running. Everyone needs to know why they are running to perfect workouts and to really find the passion of running. However, those goals often change and sometimes, especially for me, it takes a little bit to realize those.

What are your goals? How often have they changed? Do you reflect on your pass and still chase those goals?

Share with me your thoughts. I would love to know how others deal with this and what goals look like for others.

Finding Time to Run

How do I make time to run?

Summer is the busiest time of year. I dream about the lazy days of waking up, having coffee on the patio, and just reading a book just soaking up the sunshine.

Has that happened yet?

With July 4th right around the corner, I wonder what has happened to summer; what about all the things I wanted to? Will I fit them in?

Everyone has these busy times–no matter what your lifestyle, it is hard to add another thing to your schedule–and for some–running is the lowest on that priority list.


(Above is my daughter, Oaklie, who managed to get a race in this summer already! She wore some really great running shoes!)

For me, I have made running a priority and something I have to do before the day is over. This mentality makes me get it in. I do not go a day without some sort of run–but the quality of that run may differ based on my time.

I am an early morning runner, so most days I will get up and go before anyone else is up and get my run in before my husband goes to work.

If this would work best for you, it sucks to start but gets easier the more you get in the habit. Challenge yourself to do it for a week and do not break the challenge (I reward myself with skinny white mocha’s sometimes as an incentive to get out of bed).

Once you get into a routine, it really gets much better and pretty soon (sooner than you think) your body will naturally wake up and want to get out of the door.

Recently, I went to a softball tournament in North Dakota, and the game was at 7 a.m. So, I woke everyone up early to go to the game. I didn’t run before and I felt like death–even though I was used to getting up that early.

It really becomes a part of you.


(this is from an event we went to at the beginning of summer raising money for Relay for Life)

Another thing I try to do (I try to figure out how to do this once a week)- I try to do a fast speed workout. In my neighborhood, we have a little loop that is about 800 meters. I will try to do some quick intervals around that loop to squeeze in a speed workout.

Sometimes I push a stroller, sometimes I have my kiddos with me on the bike, and other times, I might have them time me (I can see them for most of the loop).

You can really fit this to any time frame, and it feels like you worked hard because you are incorporating some speed.

The last thing I might do if I am very short on time (or maybe I have no one to watch the kids) is I find a HIIT workout. There are so many great trainers out there. I follow several on Instagram and Facebook.  If you just youtube HIIT workouts, some great ones come up.

These can last any duration that you want them to but are full of high-intensity exercises. I like these because I hate lifting (even though I am trying to do more of it) and sometimes I can do one of these for ten minutes and have sore arms the next day.

That is the best feeling, right?

These are the things that work for me, and I am addicted to working out. I have to do something each day because I crave that feeling after. I do not want to go through my day without a plan of when I am going to get a workout in.

With these little things (HIIT workouts, intervals, and early morning runs), I feel like my days are less stressful and I can do the things that are more important for summer–like spending time with my family, and, maybe, before this summer is over, I will get to enjoy that cup of coffee on the patio.


The Best Apps for Runners

Running Applications that Will Make Your Run Better!

I feel like I choose to run because it is efficient. It is an efficient workout, I can pick the time frame  I want to do it in, I can decide how bad it will hurt, etc. It works for me.

Technology is the same way–we want things to make things more efficient.  So combining the two ideas is a win for everyone.

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I am going to share a few of my favorite running apps, and I want you to share yours too! I am always interested in hearing about something new to try! Please post what you use or have found in the comment section!

My Favorite Running Apps (in no particular order)


For me, this is Garmin Connect. 

I have a Forerunner 35 watch, so  I can easily sync my workouts to this app. The app will then spit out paces, heart rates, a map of my run, elevation, and more. It looks at my sleep pattern, my activity pattern, counts my steps each day, etc.

I might do an unplanned run where I go all over the place; when I look at the map of my run, it is fun to see all the zig-zags and then save that run for future use.

There are other GPS apps that I have tried that I don’t mind. Garmin is my favorite because it syncs with my watch. If I didn’t have my watch, I might try something else.

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Photo by Shane Aldendorff on Pexels.com

Nike+  worked with my previous Nike watch. I loved this app as well. This app gave you a trainer in your ear as well (if you wore headphones connected to your phone). The trainer would tell you to speed up, slow down, and also offer motivational phrases like “Good Job.”

The person talking to you is not a person though, it is a computer, which made it quite not as fun as another app I will talk about later (Aaptiv). I also wasn’t a huge fan of my Nike watch; it just wasn’t quite as efficient or easy to work as my Garmin. However, I did have a few people I coached love it and would never trade it.

Mapmyrun or Runkeeper or Strava

These are apps that will follow your run. You can run with your phone and they will follow you. Once you are done, you can retrieve pace information, route information and more details.

I sometimes go to one of these sites (usually mapmyrun) to figure out a route and distance before I run. I can pick points and know where each mile is and the total distance of a run.

Runkeeper is similar but you can find music to run to. You set the pace you want to run and it will find music to match that pace.

Strava has a community feel and allows you to compete with others. There is a ton of social media and ways to motivate yourself using this app.


This app is great if you are trying to make a life change and live healthier. It allows you to create a profile and track everything you eat and your exercise. It then will evaluate your diet; they tell you if you ate too many carbs or had too much sodium in a day.

It is motivating to see. If I feel like I need to lose a few pounds or if I just am not feeling well, I will track myself for a little while just to see what I am doing. I usually can figure out an unhealthy habit that I have adopted through this app.

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This is one of my newest finds. If you are trying to motivate to add some variety to your workouts or you get bored, this app helps. You can pick the duration, mileage, kind of workout that you want (they even have yoga, stretching, biking, spinning, running, walking).

This app is a trainer in your ear. I have my favorite trainers that I look for. The workouts are put to different songs that may have a theme as well (like all Brittney Spears or something).

Aaptiv is really helpful if you have lots of treadmill time or you want to change up your workouts. They really get you to do things that you would normally not do. It does cost money (I found a coupon and got a steal at $41.99 for a year). However, it is cheaper than a gym and like a real live trainer. You can try it free for 30 days. If you want to try it, use this free trial . I am not an affiliate of Aaptiv (I should try to be), so I am not making a cent if you try it. I really do love it that much!

There are tons of apps that I love. These are just a few. I think I might do another post soon after I check a few out. After writing this, I am thinking about some others that I have heard of but never tried. For example, Edomondo, Fuel my Run, Couch to 5k, etc.

Let me know what you like or if you try one of these that I have suggested!





Interval Training and Improving Speed

You have been running for a while now, but you want to be faster. You have tried a few different things to try to help, but nothing is working. So how do you get fast?

To get faster, you have to run faster.

That sounds easy but is actually hard to do. I have run for over 20 years and to make myself run faster, I have to really have set my mind to an interval workout or I have to have someone pushing me. It is even better if I have someone to push me in an interval workout.

Pace: To start, you should try to run a mile to figure out a base pace for yourself. What you run this mile (try to be as fast as you can) will help figure out what paces you should run for intervals. Coach and Legend Joe Vigil has come up with various pace charts that will help you develop a pace for your intervals.

Here is another pace chart example (this one is from Gulf Winds Track Club). As you can see, you need a mile time to figure out what sort of pace you should be at.

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When you start interval training, you should start a pace that you can run now. As you develop into a faster runner, you can decrease the paces because you will be in shape. You should not start at your goal pace, because that could be a big jump from your current fitness. If that doesn’t make sense, please ask me!

Now you know how fast you should run, but what is interval training and what types of intervals should you be running?

Goal: Before you start, you should also figure out your goal. What distance do you hope to be faster in? Interval training for a marathon is much different than a 5k. You also can do more interval training for shorter races.

Decide a distance that you want to be your goal (rather than just be faster). Once you know the distance, then use the workouts below to outline a weekly schedule for yourself.

You will get faster interval training for any distance–but be specific to start.

Long Intervals– Just like hills, you have a few options to get faster times. The first is long intervals. Your goal will depend on how long “long” intervals are.

When I train a 5k runner, they have long intervals maxing out at 1 mile. They do not do any longer for an interval. I even consider 800’s a longer interval.

These long intervals work on endurance and the slow twitch muscles (just like hills). They allow you to build up lactic acid in your legs and run through that until they do not burn as much anymore.

These long intervals are really to help improve pace.

An example of a long interval workout for a 5k runner would be 3 1-mile intervals at race pace. If the runner has run their mile in 6 minutes, then they should be trying to hit 6:00-6:20 for each mile interval.

After each mile, you get a break. I usually have people jog a little after (still working on the endurance), and then they get to take a breath. I vary the rest. One week it may 4 minutes. The next week I might give them an equal amount of time (if it took 6 minutes to run, 6 minutes to recover). Do not give yourself a FULL recovery at any time during long intervals.

You should feel recovered enough to run another one, but not so recovered that it is easy.

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Another common workout I do with 5k runners is 4-6 x 800 meters at race pace. The recovery is a 400 jog. This really works on endurance because there is no break at all to recover. You have to learn to recover while running.

For a marathoner, they might do 2-mile intervals at race pace with a five-minute rest. The pace is much slower so they will not require as much rest.

Short Intervals– These intervals should be more painful than the long. These should be run at a faster speed and more of them.

Even for a 5ker, the shortest interval workout I really do is 400 meters. I have my athletes run 6-10 400’s at a few seconds faster than race pace.

I might even have them do 6 all out.

The difference between short intervals is that you get a full recovery because your goal is to run fast. This is way easier to do with people who are faster than you. You want someone to push you or you could time yourself and try to be consistent with goals. Push yourself.

There are various short interval workouts online. Shape Magazine has a few workouts that can be done on a treadmill.

HIIT Workouts– This is another way to get faster, and considered interval training. High-Intensity Interval Training is the hottest craze. If you Pinterest workouts or just plain Google workouts, you will see a variety of 10-20 minute workouts.

These workouts are not necessarily running workouts. The may include short sprints, but they also include aerobic exercises that will make you out of breath. High knees, burpees, push-ups, planks, etc. They give you more variety.

If you are bored of running but want to incorporate some sort of training, you should add these HIIT workouts to your regular routine.

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Strides– Strides are crucial to getting faster. If you do nothing else, you should add these. They add about 5-10 minutes into a workout but make a huge difference.

After any workout (the more tired you are, the better!), find a place where you can run 80-100 meters. You can start around 75% but build up to 100% effort halfway through the stride. The last 50 meters should be at 100%.

After you are done, you should walk back to the start and repeat. You should do this 6-8 times. Remember your form as you go through these strides and remember to run as fast as you possibly can.

Just by doing this little stride 2-3 times a week, you will build speed, stamina, and mental toughness. This forces you to run hard when you probably would rather be done.

Intervals are crucial to getting faster. If you are stuck in a rut, or you just started and want to get faster, try to include 2 of these workouts per week. Ideally, you want to do one long interval session, one short intervals session (HITT workouts count as short intervals). Also, add strides to 2 of your days.

By doing all of these things, you are going to become unstoppable!

Do you already run intervals? What are your favorite interval workouts?


Running Hills: Are they important?

In a simple word: Yes.

Hills are not fun for anyone. Even the most elite runners probably dread a weekly hill workout. But they are so important for training in general. I know I mentioned yesterday I would talk about intervals and I will, but I think hills precede the intervals in training. I will talk about intervals tomorrow…I promise!

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Yesterday I mentioned the importance of strength training. Hills are a form of that strength training and also mental training. There are two different types of hill workouts.

Long Hill Intervals: When you run a hill workout, you are actually building muscles in your quads on the uphill, and lengthening hamstrings on the downhill. Repeats of hills are really great in training these muscles.

When running repeats, you want to try to run faster up the hill, then slowly stretch out on the downhill. There is no need to sprint downhill, as you will automatically pick up your pace.

Runners who have problems with hips and hamstrings should walk down the hills to try to alleviate some of the poundings on the way down.

It is important to remember good form on these hill repeats as well. You want to practice taking deep breaths through your nose, use your arms (I always tell the kids to use their back pockets), and lift your knees, even at the very top when you are dying.

I also try to do a short surge on top of the hill–which is the hardest part. This is mental toughness at it’s finest. You already are picking up your pace (or even keeping a steady race pace) up the hill, so deciding to make that even faster on top for a few strides is mentally draining. However, it works.

I would try to find a hill anywhere from 400-800 meters long for hill repeats. We have a great hill that is about 800 meters up. It starts very gradually and then gets steeper and steeper. We call it “Arrowhead” because that is the school it is near.

This workout is daunting to some of my high school kids, but after they feel amazing that they have accomplished such a feat. We will never race such a hill, but the physical gains they make, and the mental confidence from attacking such a workout is even more rewarding. I can always say that the race is easier than Arrowhead, and the kids agree.

It's A Hill. Get Over It.  Depending on the size of your hill, vary your reps. I usually start with 2-3, and I work my way up to 5. You do not need to kill yourself, but you do want your legs to feel like they have put everything into the workout. I would add warm-up and cool-down and stretch really well on these days as well.

I once heard some advice from a collegiate coach at a conference regarding repeats. His advice was to always change one thing when you do repeats–do not repeat the same workout. You can change the number of repeats, change length, change speed, etc. But don’t feel like you have to change numerous things. One thing is all you need to get better.

Short Hill Intervals-There are a ton of workouts to add short hill intervals to. You can complete a run and then add on a short hill repeat workout, or you can just make a short hill repeat your workout.

According to an article in Runners World, by Brad Hudson, hill sprints should be part of any runners regular training. I am not sure the “blogging” rules, but I want to include his smart, scientific explanation of what sprints do for runners.

  Hill sprints are an example of what I call “muscle training” — practices whose primary purpose is to stimulate neuromuscular adaptations that enhance running performance. They call for the nervous system to activate very large numbers of motor units, to fire these motor units quickly, to contract the muscles with great force, and to resist fatigue at maximal and near-maximal levels. They test the limits of the neuromuscular system’s capacity to generate and sustain running-specific speed and power, and thereby push back these limits. By engaging in regular, progressive muscle training, you will improve your brain-muscle communications in ways that increase your power efficiency, running economy and fatigue resistance. (Read more including workouts at Runners World

I usually do these on interval days with my team. We might do repeat 400’s, and at the end do a few short hill sprints. I find a hill that is 50-100 meters long and we race up the hill–so it is a dead out sprint up the hill. This makes your quads burn after a few of them.

If we have a course that involves several downhills, I might also have kids do a steady pace up the hill and then sprint down the hill (only on these short interval days), just to figure out footing and practice This really makes your hamstrings explode, so be sure to stretch them extra after trying this.

Another great hill workout is to find a 100-meter hill, time yourself going up and try to beat your time each time you go up. Remember that short hill workouts should be FAST. 

These short repeats are also mentally grueling because of the speed. They really allow your body to build some lactic acid into your muscles and you really have to train your brain to fight through that.

Here are a few more workouts that might be helpful at Active.com.

Hill Run– The other way to incorporate hills into your workout is to find a hill place and do a steady state run up and down the hills. I imagine this run could start at three miles and work up to more.

For the people I coach, I alternate these workouts at the beginning of the week. Mondays are hill days. It could be intervals or it could be the hill run (short intervals are usually on Wednesdays after another workout).

The hill run consists of going up Arrowhead and turning onto another hilly road, that just goes up and down for a few miles. Then, they turn around and come back.

We have another route along the main road, then turning onto a side street, running to the top, coming down to the main road, going to the next block, turning onto the side street, running to the top, and coming back down. This repeats for seven hills. Sometimes I might even have them do the entire thing twice to get more miles.

These hill runs are important as well because they work on endurance and, again, strengthen your muscles. The long runs help with slow twitch muscle fibers and strengthen them to improve endurance. The other workouts are working more on the fast twitch muscle fibers–thus, this long run is important as well.

You do not have to worry about running this run fast. This should be a steady run at a comfortable pace. Bring your friends and chat or listen to country songs. You will not get a benefit from running faster on this run.

Incorporate all of these hill workouts for maximum results. Each of these hill workouts helps build strength and give you strong benefits. The long intervals really work on both fast and slow twitch fibers. Your body has to figure out how to use each in the same workout. The short intervals target fast twitch muscles and fibers and then the long run goes back to the slow twitch muscles.

In addition, you are improving and strengthening other muscles as well. Improved balance, ankle flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic systems are all used when training hills. According to author and coach, Pete Magill, hill training is the best-kept secret.

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A few gentle reminders: Never do more than you can handle. You do not want to pull something; listen to your body and how it is feeling. You should feel tired and your legs might be jello, but nothing should be painful.

Also, only do one major hill workout a week. You might add short hill strides to a workout, but do not designate more than one day as hills your primary focus.

Start small and work your way up. Do not jump into a 10-mile hill run or 5 repeats of mile-long hills. Really pace yourself to get yourself in “hill” shape.

Please let me know if you have any great hill workouts or need any help designing workouts. I would love to help!

Strength training and Running

I have taken a few weeks off from the blog. The end of the school year is so busy! As a teacher and coach, I have a million things to wrap up and then a million things to get ready for next year and a summer to plan for cross country.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, child and shorts (This photo is a few kids from the running camp that we just put on. We had 65 kids participate, ranging from ages 3-14. It was a huge success! Lots of smiles)

Anyways, I am back and, hopefully, will have some laid-back summer mornings to write.

As summer starts, I am really focusing on strength training and running and how the two will help each other. I have a chronic injury in my hamstring (still undetermined what it actually is), but I have found the more I strengthen my hips the better it gets. So, weight training helps prevent injuries.

Many articles that I have read are raving about the benefits of strength training and injuries. As runners, we are stubborn and will run through anything. We also only like running so we strengthen our calves and our quads all of the time. But what about hamstrings and hips? These are important to our gait as well, but, if you are like me, we ignore these muscles completely.

More and more research is also proving that strength training helps with speed and endurance. Many runners, including me, believe that lifting will make us weigh more, will slow us down. We don’t want big arms; our goal is to be thin and light, right?

Wrong. More and more runners are turning to strength exercises to make their running even better. For example, one of the newest crazes in my area is Orangetheory Gyms. These gyms incorporate interval training (I will talk about those tomorrow) and strength training exercises. If you haven’t tried it, it is worth it.

Orangetheory incorporates three or four weight exercises, rowing, and running every workout. People are dropping times in every area of running. I have a good friend, who has dropped her half marathon time by over five minutes, and she has ONLY trained using Orangetheory. She might kill me for putting her photo on my blog, but she will never know 🙂 She looks great and deserves the recognition!


Another hot workout is hot yoga. In my area, we have a class called Shape , which is a yoga class that also strengthens. People are changing their bodies with this class and it is also helping them run faster. I work with a colleague who has lost thirty pounds doing this hot yoga shape class, toned up, and now has started running because he feels comfortable running.

I have been off and on with lifting. With my injury, I have been better about it, but I just do not like it. I meet people all of the time that would rather lift than run. I am the complete opposite. I would rather run 15 miles than lift for one hour.

However, during my last marathon though, I felt the lack of strength in my legs. I did not have it. And, maybe that is why I have a nagging injury now?

So, I am vowing to change it up for my next marathon in September. I am trying to lift a few exercises each day with dumbells or the 22-minute beach body workouts (Tony Horton).

I am also incorporating hills and interval training into my workouts (check out my post tomorrow), as this also counts as strength training.

If you Pinterest or even just google weight workouts for runners and you will get a plethora of results. Here are a few I found, just to check out.

Strength Training for Runners to get Faster

Runners World: Strength Training for Runners

20 Minute Strength Training Workouts for Runners by SELF magazine

Runners Blueprint

Spark People

What do you do for strength training? What workouts do you like?

Ogden Marathon

Race Recap: Ogden Marathon

Disclaimer: As a new blogger, and a reader of blogs, I have seen several that give race recaps. This is a great idea! So, I am adding a section of races that I have run…and sort of some expectations that you might be able to take with you…both good and bad! 

Back to the topic: The Ogden Marathon

My girlfriends and I were looking for a relatively close marathon that we could do on a weekend to try to Boston Qualify. We looked at Fargo, which many Billings residents have done before. I am sure I will try that one sometime, but I convinced my friends to run Ogden instead.

It is the third weekend in May, which is a great marathon for early spring training. We had some freezing cold long runs (Montana winter), and a few treadmill speed days, but,. for the most part, the training was cool in comparison to training for an early Fall marathon. So training wise, if you want something Spring, it is perfect timing.

It is on a Saturday—which for me is great. Most marathons are falling on Sunday’s I feel like, so the Saturday was a great change. We drove on Friday, went to the expo and picked up numbers, ran early on Saturday, and drove home that night We still had a day of our weekend.

Races are early. They all start at 7 a.m. They have a marathon, a relay, a half, and a 5k.

The relay looks interesting if you want something different. This relay, everyone runs a different length. It goes from longer to shorter. I am not sure on lengths, but if I remember correctly, the first runner ran close to nine miles, and by the end, the last runner ran a 5k. It seemed like a fun idea!

The price is relatively inexpensive. Right now, you could register for the full marathon for $65.

(this is at the beginning of the race)

The Race

So, I ran the marathon so I am going to pretty much go through it as I experienced it.

We woke up at 4 a.m. to catch the bus at 5 a.m. We took a yellow school bus to the course start. At the start, they had plenty of porta-potties to take care of business in a timely fashion. They also had fire pits to stand by to stay warm. It was genius! They had a place to drop off bags. If I have to complain, they had no refreshments at the start, which was fine because I packed things. But to someone who maybe was not as “experienced” maybe even just a water station would have been perfect. It is possible I did not see it too.

The race started on a paved road, and we went through various twists and turns that were covered in shady trees, long grass, and a babbling brook was next to me for the first few miles. It was serene and peaceful.

I am not sure how many ran, but I am sure they attract a few thousand people. There was always someone next to me throughout the race to run with or to offer friendly advice or encouragement. There were the crazy people in tutus (sorry if that is you…it seems nuts to me to run in that! I could never do it!), costumes, and even the men in kilts. It attracts the same sort of audience that most “big” marathons do.

Water stations were approximately every two miles at the start, and then they were every mile the further you went on in the race.

After following a windy road for about 12 miles, you turn and go up for pretty much the only hill in the race. It is very gradual, and nothing to be concerned about. It is not “heartbreak hill.”  The rest of the course is downhill. The race even advertises to be a fast course and one of the best courses according to Runners World Magazine (this is actually where I found it and starting researching it to run).

Ogden Video

After the hill, you turn and run into the half marathon start at Pineview Resivour. They have a huge banner, a huge group of cheering, and water and gel stop. This year Home Depot was the volunteer in charge (I don’t know if that is always the case), but they were so encouraging and energetic.


Image result for free photos of pineview reservoir

(this is where the half is…think of yourself running on the right)

From there, the marathon gets even better. It is even more scenic and beautiful. You run next to the beautiful reservoir for several miles, and then you drop into Zion Canyon. I heard from various people that they close the canyon just for the runners.

(I believe this is getting into the canyon..however, this is how most of the race is!)

The last half goes by FAST.

I was dying but found myself getting to mile markers quicker and quicker. They have more water stations as you get towards the end and other stations. They have a fruit station with oranges and bananas, gel station, gummy bear area, etc. They also have vaseline and medical care at stations. They really do have runners best interest at heart at these stations. At all of the stations, they also had smiling faces, cheering squads, and so many supporters. It was really amazing!

You are running into town the entire time,. but you know you are close when you get on a bike path. The path is beautiful and cuts right to downtown. You spend the last few miles on this path, and then turn and see the finish. You basically come out of the trees and see the finish line.

(this was the first male finsiher in 2018…you are coming into town from the mountains behind…but no worries…you do not climb those mountains!)

There are stands and a huge cheering squad to help you in. You can see it from about a half a mile behind, so that seems a little long, but it is also great because you can see the end.

Once you cross, you receive a finishers medal and various sponsors give you drinks and food and so forth. They have an expo at the end of the race in the park with different exhibits and sponsors. They have a live band, a beer garden, and massages.

(They also have a kid race and various other races that all use the same finish)

The other great thing about this race is the community. They love the marathon it seems. We got into town at 5 p.m. on a Friday night. We picked up our packet with no trouble and were greeted by volunteers, a live band, and various sponsors.

We checked into our hotel, the Hampton Inn , which I would recommend to anyone going for the marathon. It is directly down the street (maybe two blocks) from the marathon finish. The start busses were parked right in front. The location is prime. Additionally, they opened their complimentary breakfast early and really focused on runner foods for the breakfast. They offered bottled water in the lobby for the duration of our stay and even gave us a bigger room and extra beds if we needed them (rollaway). They were super friendly and would receive my highest review in their efforts to make our stay comfortable, but also our race a success.

We went to various restaurants on Friday night for a pre-race meal. We went to several places that were recommended, but all were full and had long waits. So, we stumbled upon a relatively new restaurant in the Bigalow Hotel.  I think it is called The Bigalow Grill 

It appeared to be remodeled. It had a great atmosphere and the staff was so friendly and helpful. They also were very supportive of our marathon goals and strived to provide the best service. The food was delicious, decent prices, and a great pre-race meal.

So, would I do it again? Definitely. I usually do “big” marathons (New York, Boston, Chicago, etc.) but this was one that I would run again.


If I am doing a completely honest review, I should include a few cons or things that I would change. Nothing is perfect, right? This race was pretty perfect, but just to be realistic, I will list a few things that I think could be little tweaks, but these might even just be personal preference.

My biggest complaint, if any, was on the bike path. There were people walking for fun (not race related at all), and it made it a little hard to maneuver around. I do not know if that path can be closed, but that would be the biggest hiccup in the race. I do remember having to maneuver around a double jogging stroller coming towards me, and I was tired and not wanting to break stride but had to go slightly off the path just to get around. This was only for the last few miles of the race.

This is really, my only complaint with the entire race. Everything else truly was great!

(One last disclaimer, I picked a mens small shirt when I registered and was glad that I did. The shirts were pretty small, especially the women’s. The women’s was cute (it was V-neck) but I would have looked like I was in shrink wrap in it. You can exchange shirts, but not until after your race.)

Has anyone else run this race? What do people think of St. George? I heard that St. George is the only rival to this race in terms of beauty and scenery.  Has anyone done both?




A Bad Race, Now What

It is the exciting moment when you are about to run a marathon.

You have trained relentlessly for three months. You have done a few 20-miler runs, maybe some mile intervals to prepare, or even some hill runs to prepare for the terrain.

Then you feel awful on race day and run a bad race.

Has all of the training gone to waste?

It is a complete letdown. All of the anticipation to get to that moment, and then to run, and seemingly fail, is a blow to confidence and to running.

This just happened to me. I trained for the Ogden Marathon and had a goal of running in the 3:30’s…maybe even the low 3:30’s. However, I showed up race day, feeling miserable even at the start, and then after pumping through 18 miles, pretty much gave up. I let me friends leave me, I turned on the sad country songs, and just coasted in for a 3:42.

Did I fail?

This is hard for me to come to terms with. When I was in my prime, I could run a 3:10 marathon like I know the back of my hand. I could run it with my eyes closed. Now, I am getting older, not training as much, and my times are slowly dwindling.

The last three marathons I have run have been in the 3:30’s. So why am I now in the 3:40’s? Am I a 3:40 marathoner? Should I just quit running forever? Find a new hobby? Golf?


I think these things run through any runner’s mind after they run a race they sum up as not their best. But why do we beat ourselves up over this?

For a good few hours, I didn’t want to talk about my race. I basked in the glory of my friends, two of who qualified for Boston and one had a 14-minute PR.

I tried to persuade myself it was fine that I was a few minutes back. It wasn’t too long.

After I got home, I reflected even more on the experience and tried to chalk up exactly what happened. Did I run too much? Did I not do enough? Did I not prepare correctly?

I think the answers to each of those questions I answered with a yes, with new ideas and new things I want to try for next time—yes, next time.

I ran a 3:41, 5 or so minutes slower than I probably should have run. But should I give up and dwell on it like I do so many times? Like many runners do so many times?

No. I tell the high schoolers all of the time that we all have a bad race every now and again. It is what makes us stronger and tougher for the future races. We learn from those mistakes and try to tweak a few things or change something to make it better the next time.

It is time I take my own advice. It is time I look at the accomplishments that I did have in that race.

First, I ran another marathon (I am up to 14 now). I also paced two other girls who had huge PR’s and qualified for Boston. Maybe I was part of that pacing. I also had a fun experience with girlfriends, in a new location, and saw beautiful Zion canyon.

These are things to reflect upon as well, and as hard as it was to figure that out, I had to. I cannot dwell on the time and drain my confidence because of a few minutes.

I wasn’t going to win the race and I didn’t get last. Isn’t that enough success? Can’t I just be happy with what I accomplished rather than what I didn’t?


I think this is the new attitude I need to have and I encourage other runners to also have. We all have ups and downs with our sport. Some days we are so happy and feel like we could run forever and other days we struggle–and we hope those aren’t on race day, but sometimes they are.

Sometimes it is weather, wind, sickness, tiredness, or sometimes it is just plain us.

However, we have to reflect on what did go well and use the things that maybe didn’t to help us when we try it again.

Yes, there is such thing as a bad race. But, we have to figure out how to take the bad away and make it something we can be proud of, despite what the clock says. That is what makes us stronger, dedicated and passionate about this sport of running.

When I run again, I am going to remember this post and remember what I have said and use that to my own advantage. I cannot sit and dwell on it and continuously reflect upon what I didn’t do. And, I certainly do not plan on quitting.

So, if you have just had a bad race, turn that frown upside down. Reflect on the good…and I am sure it was not as bad as you actually think it was. It could have been worse (it always can). And sign up for something else!

You’re due for a good run now.


The Power of Friendship and Running

I have thought about this blog post all morning. I knew I wanted to write a post about the power of friends, but I wasn’t quite sure how or what to explain…or even what advice to give.

Running with Friends.

What is that? Do they even go together?

How do people even talk when they run? That is impossible.

man and woman forming heart hand shape
Photo by juan mendez on Pexels.com

There is nothing I can say to make you understand what it means to have friends that run with you–or a group of women that will meet you at 5 a.m. every day to run with you or help train you for a race.

A group of women so reliable that you could probably just show up at the tunnel (AKA: assigned meeting place) at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, and see them with their headlamps and laced up shoes.

Or women that won’t complain when you want to run still–even though it is -10 with windchill and snow is starting to fall.

There are no right words on the power of friendship and the power that friends who run have in general.

Today, I woke up to the sound of my phone buzzing and wandered out of bed, still half asleep. This is my routine most mornings. 4:45 or 5:00 a.m. my phone beeps for me to put on running clothes and meet at the familiar place where my friends will be waiting for me (I am the late one).

There are no rules in this run.

They stop and wait while I use a restroom; we slow down in certain areas where someone is struggling (usually a hill), we speed up in others. We talk as a whole group and eventually settle into smaller groups (there are usually 5 or 6 of us there) having even more personal discussions.  We talk about the latest news; anything new in school (because they has kids in school and I teach at the school) or office, and any other family news that we need to go over or get off our chest.

Everyone listens, offers advice or their peace, and we continue on our way.

Then we settle into our pace–some are faster and some slower, but we always are within sight of each other. We try to regroup at certain points of the run–or if someone is having a serious issue and needs to talk, we stay one big pack on the dark, morning road.

These women are my family.  women I run with know more about me than my own family–that is because they are my family.

Running is our common bond and has created an avenue for me to develop close relationships with others who have the same passion.

I never know what to expect on these runs–pace, mileage, or what the discussion will hold. But that is the beautiful part of meeting this group day in and day out. That is what makes it so great.

When I started running, I ran alone. I didn’t know many people in my town. I made a friend at the gym, who was running the Boston Marathon that year and wanted a few tips since I had run it before. Her husband actually set us up.

We started running together and formed a facebook page trying to recruit other runners. I was a high school coach, she was a nurse, we had a plethora of people to reach out to join our group. We found several women, all in different stages of their life, wanting to run, and wanting to find friends to run with.

We ended up doing several little trips where a race was on the itinerary.


That was about twelve years ago.

That group has fizzled a bit as kids grew older, activities became more demanding, and lives have changed. But we still hold a strong bond that is irreplaceable–mainly because of those trips that we took together.

After the group fizzled,  I reached out to a few ladies that I knew were running and asked if I could join; these two women had been running by themselves for two years. They were quick to say yes, and now, I have been running with them for the past five years, and we have added more and more ladies to the group.

Together we have trained for marathons, run little races here and there, but more importantly, we have learned about each other’s lives and supported each other through thick and thin–which is why I need this group the most.

There are no opinions or judgments in the talks we have–there are only listening, caring ears that want to help.

Wee are all different ages and places in our lives. I have two young children, a solid relationship with my husband, and coach some of  my fellow runner’s children in cross country.

The other women in my group have been through every stage I am going through and now have college on the horizon. A few have had marital problems and need help deciphering what to do next; another is divorced and has used our group to help her through that. We have a doctor, accountant,  nurse, realtor and teacher. And it seems like the need for this group of friends changes constantly as we each encounter new obstacles.

But we know, if we can meet at 5 a.m..  we have a therapist, listener, and most importantly friend waiting to listen.

As I ran this morning with this group, listening to the latest gossip (or what we call gossip), and heard the breath of the women beside me as we puffed up the long hill we always do, I felt immense gratitude.

It may be corny, but as I recollected what has transpired in the past few years, the awful winter we had just came out of (weatherwise), and now just running with these friends on a beautiful spring day, it was a place of epiphany and gratefulness.

I was grateful for the ability to be in that place at that time with these people. Grateful that I have running as my outlet and as my passion, but even more grateful that I have people to share it with that care and understand.

Running is what brought us together; it also keeps us together and makes us stronger people. Physically, yes, we are strong and can run many miles. However, we are also strong emotionally, because we know we have people who care about us, trust us and respect us for who we are.

Running friends are different than just regular friends. A regular friend knows you and supports you, but a running friend has seen you at your worst and your best. My running friends have seen me at the most vulnerable times and through my most triumphant times. They tell me to settle down, and they tell me to pick it up. They are my motivation, my number one fan, and my strongest supporter.

I have seen the shirts that say “Running is my Therapy” and “Life is All About finding your kind of crazy,” and these are so true. I realize that now as I left my run with a full heart today, craving more and more. I can’t wait for the miles ahead of me.


There are lots of great blogs on this topic! Please check out the links below to see some other great ones!

What I Wish my Non-Running Friends Knew

The difference between non-running friends and friends

Running Friends are Friends with Benefits




Running Shoes: Which Shoes are the Best?

You started running. Now you need to find running shoes that fit your feet and give you the best support to make this new habit more successful. Where do you even start?

As a high school coach, I work with several newbie runners. They come in with their cool Nike’s that are colorful and cute, but are they great for running?

I often have parents ask me as well; I was debating between these Nikes and Brooks, and but found this other brand on sale, so picked those. That will work, right?

Unfortunately, no. It does not work. Running shoes are critical to success and critical to not getting injured. People who do not wear the proper running shoes are at risk to get injured more quickly and frequently.

For some runners, they can wear any type of shoe and be fine. I am lucky to be in that department for the most part. However, as soon as I feel something bothering me, I know that I need new shoes. I do not wait a few weeks either, I buy new running shoes as quick as I can; it is too easy to get injured in the wrong shoes.

A few things I have learned about running shoes that are important to consider:

  1. Running shoes are good for a season. Typically, shoes have a 300-mile wear life, which most runners use in a single season.
  2. Running shoes should be used for that–running. You should not wear your shoes around town or to your job or whatever. Running shoes should be used solely for the purpose of running.
  3. I rotate running shoes. Running is a fairly inexpensive sport, but it does get expensive buying new shoes every three or four months. To get a little more wear out of your shoes, I recommend rotating them with other shoes. My newest shoes I wear for the longest runs. The more worn shoes become my treadmill or my interval shoes. You want your best shoes for your longest runs; those runs are what impact you the most.
  4. Running shoe models change ALL OF THE TIME. I used to love Asics 2000 series, then I loved the Brooks Adrenaline because the Asics model changed. Now, I am into the Brooks Launch because the Adrenaline changed.  If you didn’t like it before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t like it now.


Now, finding the right shoe is the difficult part. I now have a few that I rotate (Asics and Brooks Running Shoes are my go to), which you will find too the more you buy shoes.

Your first time going shoe shopping, you should look at your footprint to get an idea of your arches. IF you step barefoot in water and step on the pavement, you can see your footprint. If you can fully see your foot, you have a fairly normal arch. The less of the middle of your print that you can see, the higher your arch is and that is important to know going in

. Os1st.com/running-shoe-type/ Image result for footprint of high arch



Another thing you can do before you go is to look at your current gym shoes, or shoes you have run or walked a lot in. Where is the wear on the shoe? If it is on the inside, you pronate (your foot turns in when you land). If it is on the outside, you supinate (your foot turns outward when you land).  Another blogger, StretchCoach , explains this rotation a bit more and the problems that you might have because of it.

Sometimes, if you go to a running store or sports specific shoe store, they might have the technology to help you see your footprint. However, if you can identify your arch and your rotation, you know exactly what the technology will tell you about your running form.

Back to shoes.

I have a few favorites. As I said, I am a very neutral runner, so these are mostly neutral shoes. However, through the years of coaching, competitive running, and personal relationships, I have found these are common favorites.

Brooks Adrenline :

I have always been a fan of Brooks. The Adrenaline is a heavy-duty shoe that has support for longer runs and mileage. I have found it not to break down too quickly, and it lasts a few months. I have not run in the 17 (the new version), but I have the two previous models and I like them both. They often sponsor major marathons and have some great designs that come out. I have the two below 🙂

Image result for new york city adrenaline  (This is from the New York City Marathon in 2016, I believe! It is a newspaper image)

Related image

This is the Berlin Marathon Brooks 🙂


Brooks Launch

The Launch is my current favorite shoe. I love the adrenaline for the long runs, but the Launch is my every day go-to shoe. I love how this shoe fits and feels. It is lightweight and a little easier to lift and wear. The adrenaline is more supportive, but the Launch is much quicker. I do not think you could run tons and tons of miles on a Launch without it breaking down. That is why I love rotating shoes.

This is my favorite Launch that I own. I love fun colorful designs, and the Launch makes great colorful shoes. I think their designs and styles can even compete with Nike designs.

Asics GT-Series

This used to be my favorite shoe of all-time. I ran in it every day in college and so did all of my friends. We lived and breathed Asics. Now, I am sold on Brooks, but I always try on Asics for good measure. I know several people still love Asics.

I have worn several models of Asics other than the GT-Series. The Kayano and the Cumulus are great supportive shoes. I just bought a new pair of Kayano’s because I liked the colors, and, so far, they have worked great. They feel like Adrenaline’s to me.


Aren’t these cute? I can’t wait to wear them! I have to wait for the mud to go away!

Those are my top three shoes, and I rotate between those when I buy shoes. I do buy others if they are cheap or on sale, but I stick with one of these three for my main shoes.

High school kids ask me about Nike shoes all of the time. I understand they look cute. Nike does win the creativity award for running gear in general, yet I would be leary of the shoes.

Nikes are normally made for runners with flat arches, from what I have heard, so they tend to not be comfortable for every runner. However, if you flat arches, you might only feel comfortable in that shoe. Most runners cringe at Nike for regular running shoes, but that is because it doesn’t fit them.

If I see a kid come to practice in new Nike shoes, I wonder if he tried them on or just liked the colors. It just seems more common than not that Nikes are not comfortable for runners.

It really is truly all about you. Many stores will let you run a few days in their shoe and if they are not working, take them back. It is an investment that will save you physical therapy and other costs along the way, so be sure to take your time and really consider the best for you. Equipment is minimal in the sport of running, so be sure to spend the necessary cost on shoes.

Feel free to use my discount at Runners Warehouse (a great running shoe resource). Go to Running Warehouse/ and click on the link to get 15% off most shoes. They have clearance models of various shoes which are cheap. They also offer free 2-day shipping. It is great and a valuable resource for my cross country team and me! Give it a try!

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