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Your Questions Answered!


Your Questions Answered!


It's YQA Friday (yes, last Friday was a no-show, we're back at it again today tho!) Here is today's question from Suzie.

Q: After 5 miles, my feet hurt pretty badly. I do have proper shoes. Will this go away, and if so, at what level of consistent running?

A: Hi Suzie! I'm not sure what kind of surface you are running on, but hard, unforgiving surfaces (like concrete) can be hard on the feet and the entire body. Try running on a soft surface like dirt trails or even pavement. These have a little more give and you won't pound your poor feet away. Also, if you have a high stability shoe, that might be affecting you too. Avoid wearing high heels, go barefoot often, if you sit at a desk get a golf ball and roll it with your foot. Your arches will love you!

Strengthening your feet is also another thing you can (should!) do. The feet have 52 bones (26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles and tendons) and many people don't pay enough, if any at all, attention to building strength in their feet and ankles. Some sample exercises are: scrunching up a towel with your toes, picking up small objects (i.e. marbles) with your toes, drawing the alphabet with your feet in the air, negative calf raises (place ball of foot on a stair step and drop calf) and one leg balance work. Use a wobble board!

A select few have foot nerve damage, sometimes it is also a nutritional deficiency.

As a friendly reminder, be sure to submit your questions about running, plant-based eating/fueling/training/racing or whatever else is on your heart! I'll answer as many as I can every Friday.


Photo credit: PJ



Your Questions Answered!


Your Questions Answered!


Have running questions? What about plant-based eating and running? What to eat before, during, after a run? Is Gatorade good for me? Leave a comment below and I'll answer them every Friday! This weeks question comes from Suzie in Oklahoma. She asks "What are the benefits of hiring a coach? Do you really need to hire one or can you go with an online running plan?"

Online plans are good for those who are already motivated and knowledgable about the different types of running workouts. Online plans are not the best if you need daily encouragement, accountability or are a new(er) runner. Online plans are great for those are experienced marathoners. Skip the online plans if you are a beginning runner. If you know you will put in the required work, go for the online plan!

Now to the second part of Suzie's question- a personal running coach.

A personal coach is great for all types of runners- beginner, intermediate or experienced. Of course a personal coach will cost a bit more than an online plan. But a personal coach will be able to answer your questions, find out your goals, your injuries (past, current) and be there to encourage you. If you find that you need the accountability, go with a coach. Of course, only you can put in the hard work! The benefits of hiring a good coach include running experience and knowledge, phone calls and emails, trouble shooting, goal setting and achieving and encouragement!

Another option- maybe the best of worlds?- is to join a local running group. You'll have a group coach, get to run with other runners of your ability and also make new friends! It's not quite as personalized as a one-on-one coach, but more than an online plan. When I was training for my first marathon I ran with a local running group and I made some fantastic friends that I still keep in touch with today!

Now, how to pick the right coach, online plan or local running group is another topic for another Friday!

Your turn! What are your questions about running, marathoning, ultramarathons, training, fitness, nutrition? Leave them in the comments below or use the contact form above to send them my way!


photo credit: the world according to Marty



5 Mistakes Runners Make


5 Mistakes Runners Make


I've been running for more than 20 years (I feel old, but look young!) and have many miles, countless marathons and ultramarathons under my feet. (I'm also a RRCA Certified Running Coach.) Needless to say, I've gained a lot of experience in this wonderful sport we call running. I've also had the privilege of coaching and helping many runners and marathoners over the years. Along the way, I see five common mistakes they make. No matter where you are in your running journey, there is always room for improvement! Have you made any of the mistakes below? Share in the comments below!

Mistake #1) I can eat whatever because I burned x calories

This is probably the number one mistake runners make. Especially if they are training for a marathon. Most people become frustrated when they don't see weight drop like they thought they would. Very few people will lose weight while training for a marathon. Running doesn't equate that you get to eat more or whatever. It actually means that you need to eat more quality nutrient-based foods. Skip the donuts and opt for a superfood protein recovery shake. You will feel so much better, increase recovery and help prevent injury.

Mistake #2) I will lose weight training for 26.2 miles

If you are trying to lose weight, lose weight first and then tackle training and running a marathon. Both are stressful events on the body and doing both at the same time will stress your body out even more. Now, yes, you've probably seen TV shows where people run marathons and lose weight. This is neither safe nor effective. There is no prize to forcing yourself to run 26.2 miles. The marathon will always be there. Lose weight first, then run the marathon.

Mistake #3) I run, why should I cross-train?

Running is only part of the game. Imagine if you never gave your car an oil change? What happens? The engine will eventually fail. The same with only running, you will eventually get injured. By incorporating cross-training (TRX, BodyPump, weights, Zumba, body weight exercises, burpees, yoga, Pilates, Barre) into your weekly running schedule, you will find that your running will improve greatly.

Mistake #4) Why do I always get dehydrated?

Hydration happens way before a run, race day or a long run day. Drinking water throughout the day and week keeps you hydrated. Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times and you will notice a vast improvement in your running. When you are dehydrated, you will actually slow down. Want to run faster? Stronger? Drink water! And please avoid toxic, disease-promoting sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, etc.

Mistake #5) I keep getting injured, what gives? 

Nutrition plays a huge part in staying injury free. What you eat will either help you build a strong body or a weak one. Enjoy a donut or a cookie once in a while, but remember you are what you eat. And you can't out run a poor diet. If you are eating a lot of processed food from boxes, cans, wrappers, take a step back and start incorporating fresh, real food into your diet. Quinoa, bok choy, sweet potatoes, avocado, coconut oil are one of my favorite meals. Plant-based foods are some of the best sources of nutrient-dense foods you can eat. Change what you eat and you will find huge improvements to your running!


Have you made any of these mistakes? Have you changed anything? Are you viewing nutrition differently? Would love to hear from you in the comments below!


photo credit: Shawn McCready 


Finish Line Wish List


Finish Line Wish List


FinishLine asked me to participate in their Wish List campaign this Christmas season. And I said yes! I created my Wish List with my passion of ultra running and my calling to help others. I run outside year-round so cold weather gear is essential (hence the neck warmer on the list!) I also wanted to get something for the children I sponsor in Africa. I'm sure they would appreciate some fun shoes!

Want to enter the contest and a chance to win a $300.00 gift card?

Find a product on the FinishLine website that is at the top of your wish or gift list and tweet that link on Twitter and use the hash tag #makinthelist.

Like this photo: Sarah Stanley FinishLine Wish List

Thank you and Merry Christmas!



Change Terrain For Better Results

As runners we often get accustom to daily habits and routine, rarely venturing out to explore different environments for training.   There is often the excuse of convenience and doing what is comfortable, but whether you’re a runner who prefers to pound the pavement, tear up the trails or trot on the treadmill, chances are you’re tied to your terrain.  Changing up your running surface and breaking up the monotony is not only good for your mind, but beneficial to your body and paramount to improving your performance.

By changing running surfaces you are working different muscles groups that lead to physical benefits. The changes in surface also improve mental alertness and lessen stress.  For the road runners – pounding the pavement day in and day can be hard on your knees, consider retreating to softer surfaces to give your knees and shins a break.  By utilizing softer trails, not only will you keep those everyday aches and pains to a minimum, but you’ll recover quicker, strengthen your ankles and develop your lower leg muscles more rapidly. Softer surfaces also makes you use a lot of little stabilizer muscles that you may not use running on roads and harder surfaces.  By retreating to softer surfaces like open trails and parks you may often find that you train longer because of the fresh air and scenic environment.

I understand you must run on the roads to prepare and train for races, but vary your environments and learn to give your muscles a little break.  Running races on the weekends and open roads isn’t the only way to work on speed and timing for runs - reverting to a treadmill can do the same thing.  Running on a treadmill doesn’t have to be boring either, by varying pace levels and increasing and decreasing incline, it keeps your running interesting.  Using treadmills also allows you to monitor effort levels continuously and track pace.

Regardless of where you run, take the monotony of your daily routine, and find a trail or park you’ve never been to reduce risk of injury and have more fun! Find a new running partner and go with him or her on their favorite trails. With summer half way over, take advantage of the time you have when the weather is pleasant and enjoy running on different terrains.


Happy Healthy Running!


photo credit:

Archi Trujillo coveringphotostream




Unorthodox Runs Taking Running Communities by Storm

So what do the color run, night time glow run series, mud runs, and zombie chases all have in common? -  sold out tickets and long waiting lists.  Whether a frequent runner or a newbie; fun runs are becoming increasing popular and creating a new interest in the art of running.   Race directors are constantly thinking outside the box to create fun and creative ways to keep runners coming back for more.

If you have strictly been running marathons for years and are unfamiliar with the concept of fun runs, they are simply friendly races that involve either road running or cross country running with participants taking part for their own enjoyment rather than competition.  Some of the most popular races are Glo Run series races, where runners wear glow in the dark T-shirts and plastic jewelry and run through black lights and strobe lights.  Others include The Color Run, where participants run through a blaze of color corn starch at each kilometer.

With the outrageous obstacles, outlandish costumes, and thousands of participants eager to race, and simply just have fun; who wouldn’t want to participate in a fun run? Although personally I have not participated in a fun run, I have definitely added a fun run or two on my bucket list and will participate once I find a partner that is just as motivated as me to do one.   As more races are added each year and more participants compete, it increases my desire to go for it.   Unlike the common marathon race where anxiety,anticipation and intimidation often occurs; fun runs strip that feeling away and allows participants to just go out and have fun.

Many may say fun runs aren’t really races and jeopardizes the real art of running, but not everyone wants to be a marathon runner or improve their running speed; they just want to run.   With the rise of fun runs, it is a great break from the avid marathon training and something groups, colleagues and friends can participate in no matter what their training background may be.   Who’s to say participants that join fun runs won’t want to become more serious about running and participate in triathlon or marathon.   Whatever your interest and desires, fun runs is a great component to the running community to bring out the inner child in all of us.

If you have participated in any the fun runs mentioned or any other fun run I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and views.   If you are interested in trying out any of the fun runs mentions check out their websites.


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7 Ways To Make Runners Happy (humor included)

SO..... Yesterday the New York City Marathon made the announcement that there would be no gear/bag check at the race taking place now in t-minus 71 days. The news was not well received by the runners and rightly so. If you haven't run NYC Marathon here is a little background. You get bused out to Staten Island at some ungodly hour and bide your time for up to 6 hours before the race actually starts. Do the math. Rather than hash out the obvious outrage the majority of runners had (myself included) here are 7 ways to make runners [at races] happy. Enjoy the humor and sarcasm ;) #1) Don't take away the givens. 

This should include but not limited to porta potties, bag/gear check, water & aid stations, race finisher medals, timing chip.  (Unless of course you are running an ultramarathon, the porta potty is a tree in the deep, dark forest with bears.)

#2) Make the course flat.

Because no one likes hills! Hills make people complain!

#3) Control the weather.

Not too hot, cold* and for sure no hint of precipitation. If a monsoon does happen all runners will be granted a personal best. Snow is an automatic reason to stay in bed.

*to each persons personal definition of cold

#4) PRA (Personal Runner Assistant).

Every race registration includes a personal assistant to tend to the runners every wish (cheer/cry/feed/prep ice bath/drag home).

#5) Include Twitter name on race bib.

Everyone wants their 5 minutes of fame, right?

#6) (Adult) beverage options.

Because some runners just want something other than H2O (although we beg to differ).

#7) Give them cupcakes.

Cupcakes always makes people happy. Always.


What would you add to the list (humor aside)? Share below!


Photo credit: Sheffield Tiger

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High Fat Equals Endurance?

Carb loading is a common ritual among endurance athletes for pre-race preparation; however a new study suggests eating rice, pasta and oatmeal might not be the best method after all.  A new study published in the journal Nutrients, led by Hiroaki Tanaka, Ph.D., claims carbs are important, but misunderstood when it comes to eating on race day.

Based on the hypothesis of Hiroaki Tanaka and his team, they hypothesized that high fat consumption would jump-start fat metabolism during exercise, thereby preserving the body’s carbohydrate stores for use later during a race or long run.

How they came up with their conclusion

The researchers had eight male collegiate distance runners carb-load for three days with minimal exercise in order to maximize glycogen storage. Four hours before a treadmill test, the athletes were randomly served either a high-fat meal (1000 calories of 30 percent carbs, 55 percent fat and 15 percent protein) or a high-carb meal (1000 calories of 70 percent carbs, 21 percent fat and 9 percent protein). Just before the test they took a placebo, which is an easily digestible carb commonly found in sports drink and gels.  The placebo replaced the carbs used in the four hours between the meal and the treadmill test.

Each athlete then ran 80 minutes at marathon pace and then at their highest speed thereafter.  Once running was complete, blood samples were taken and gas exchange measured to monitor fat versus carbohydrate metabolism.  The study consisted of three trials with a week separation between tests.

The final conclusion of the study revealed that the athletes who ate a high-fat meal and the carb jelly increased their endurance on average  by 10 minutes—that is, they sustained the faster segment after the 80-minute warm-up longer. Time to exhaustion for runners who ate the high-fat meal but the placebo jelly was not statistically relevant, but all but one runner prolonged endurance by two to eight minutes.

According to this study fats are good pre-race day with subsequent ingestion of carbs, which many athletes will find very pleasing.  This study is very interesting and intriguing. I might just have that extra scoop of almond butter on my next run. What are your thoughts and opinions on this study?

I must also note that the study suggests that high-fat meals are only effective if your carb stores are full. The study cites improper carbo-loading as one key reason several previous studies concluded that high-fat pre-race meals did not extend endurance. Adequate digestion time is also important.

To learn more about this study it can be found at


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How Frequent Should You Be Running

Frequency, duration and speed are the prime fundamentals of training, but exactly how often should we be practicing these key fundamentals?  Naturally, most would assume that the more you run the better progress you will see, however running everyday can result in more injuries.  Research shows a person needs to run at leasta couple of times a week to get any progressive benefit from it; about three times a week.  During those runs they should include tempo runs to build endurance, speed to build momentum and long distance runs to build optimum endurance. Ideally on the days not running, it is recommended to devote those days to a cross training activity such as biking, swimming or doing cross fit exercises.

Running every day, increases the chances of injuries and many simply can’t run every day because it is too hard on their bodies. If this sounds like you, it is best to stick to the minimum and run three times a week to give your body a break between runs with different forms of physical activity. If you are among the non-elite competitive runners and have no problem running everyday then you can make due with less cross training.

Every runner has different goals, preferences and levels that are all contributing factors when determining the right running frequency.  If you are among the elite runners and run more than seven times a week, by running twice a day or strive to become an elite runner, there is a common rule of thumb to consider whether or not to double. If you plan to consistently run more than 70 miles per week, double at least once or twice a week to be able to incorporate easy run into your training. If you are considering doubling, make sure to ease into it and gradually increase distance.

Cross training is key to improving running performance and is why it is recommended to incorporate into training. In a famous Norwegian study, elite runners improved their 3K race times by replacing 30 percent of their running with plyometrics—not adding plyometrics to the running they were already doing, but replacing a chunk of their running with plyos. If you train nine to ten times a week, it is advised to incorporate plyo’s and strength training into workouts no more than three times per week.  The most important thing to remember to gage how often you should run is based on your goals and listening and knowing your body to prevent injuries and rest your muscles.


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Improve Your Run Without Running

As kids we are always told practice make perfect, but when it comes to running, having a one track passion may not serve you well in the long run.  Yes the avid runner may love to pound the pavement, path or treadmill, but too much running can lead to burnout and cause injuries.  The best way to avoid injury is cross-training, ideally something that preserves your  fitness level, helps balance your body and provides some sort of pleasure.  For a runner, the ideal option is mountain biking because it creates less impact on the body and recruits various muscles, but still gives you a good cardiovascular workout.  By using various muscles it allows for less stress fractures; different use of leg muscles and increased strength if you incorporate hills and interval training.

Cross training is especially important as we age because our muscles have less shock absorption and our bodies require more recovery time.   Some other benefits for runners that mountain biking provides include:

1.)   great way to shed muscle toxins the day after a long race

2.)   Helps clear your mind

3.)   Helps build strength in running and biking

4.)   Helps in muscle recovery

5.)   Biking improves balance

Although biking is the ideal cross training option for a runner the differences are very vast.  If you have never biked before you should expect your muscles to be sore in different places than before and remember that biking can be extreme or easy as you want it to be.   An option for someone that is new to biking is to start with a spinning class at a local gym to get the proper form and alignment for your bike and get practice before hitting the outside trails.  Spinning classes at local gym allows you to ride on a stationary bike with music and an instructor that guides you through a series of intervals as if you were on anoutside trail that will provide the perfect practice for a beginner biker.   To become a better runner adopt a day to focus on cross-training whether  you try biking or another cross training activity the key is to find something you enjoy, uses a variety of muscles and provides a good cardio workout.



12x12 Project (Michelle Edition)

This is the fourth race in the 12x12 Project series ... and not just the fourth race but - drum roll please - this little project is now international! In case you are new here and wondering what the 12x12 Project is all about, read this for the story behind it! I was really excited when Michelle applied for a few reasons. No. 1) I've always wanted to visit Calgary and No. 2) She has similar health values. So I was delighted to make the trek to Canada and run her first marathon with her!

I was staying with friends, but Michelle invited me to stay with her that Saturday evening so we could get to the race the next morning without any hassle. After a fun trip to the Calgary Farmer's Market (where I sampled pretty much everything), we went back to her home where her husband grilled cedar planked fresh salmon (YUM!!) with grilled veggies and brown rice. So good!

We were both kind of tired (OK, I was exhausted) so we went to bed. I swear my bedtime gets earlier and earlier! Perhaps it is the falling in and out of planes ;). At any rate, morning came quickly - woke at 4:30 a.m. and we left the house at 5:45 a.m., but not before I became an honorary Canadian with maple leaf temporary tattoos! So much fun. (Note: Michelle also gave me a very sweet welcome bag and card. Thank you, Michelle, I really appreciated that!!) I pre-made my Gen UCAN and drank it on the short train ride to the marathon start.


It was interesting to me that I was the American wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt while the Canadians were bundled up :). It was about 4 degrees celsius, so a little chilly. After arriving at the start, Michelle and I dropped off our bags at gear check and headed to the race start. I always love the air of excitement race morning! After hearing the Canadian national anthem play it was time to run!

It was strange running in kilometers vs. miles - the markers come so quickly! And it takes a while for 42. I think I like 26 better. Michelle had also trained using a 10:1 method which was also new to me. (I usually run non-stop for marathons barring any serious issue.)  Run 10 minutes, walk one. I have to say I am not a big fan of this and as you read the rest of the recap you'll see why.

We hit the first kilometer right on target time. Pacing duties at their finest :)! The sun was trying to make its appearance, but not doing a very good job. I was really glad I had packed my beanie and borrowed gloves from Michelle! We talked as we ran (and walked) and the miles kilometers ticked by. By the one hour mark, I knew that making Michelle's goal time was going to be a challenge. I've been running long enough to know how a runner is feeling. Breathing harder is one classic sign as well as getting slower with each walk minute. I kept asking her how she was doing and encouraging her. Remember, this was her race, her pace!

Around Mile 10, my right calf began to act up but I kept mum on it (except for one brief moment). I focused my attention to other areas of my body that were not in pain (ear, mouth, arm, etc). It really does work. I also prayed that I would be able to endure the pain and keep Michelle going.

Another fun part of having me pace is that I was also her personal photographer. So I was taking plenty of photos! Which was great when she saw her friends, parents and husband.

The weather had not gotten warmer and I was glad I was running because it would be cold otherwise. The sun was nowhere to be seen and a few times it looked like rain would soak us. Thankfully it didn't.

We got to 30K and only had 12.2K left. Michelle was having GI issues so her C goal became our focus: finish - our pace had slowed considerably. I was enjoying seeing Calgary on foot and high-fiving people when and where I could. And oh yeah my calf was still in pain. I pushed on and kept focused on getting Michelle across the finish line. In one piece.

At this point I advised that we keep "running" because walking breaks were hurting her more than helping and with that advice we kept our heads up and our feet on the ground.

At one point it looked like she was really hurting so I told her "just so you know you aren't the only one hurting." Sometimes it can feel like we are the only in pain - be it in life or whatever. I hoped it helped her.

Her husband surprised her one more time at around 39k and I know that was a big boost for her. Soon we nearing the 42K mark and we could hear the stadium cheering everybody on. Always a great feeling! With .2 miles we pushed on and soon she crossed the finish line. Welcome to the 42.2 kilometers (or 26.2 miles for us USA folks) family Michelle! We got marathon finisher hats at the finish (seems to be the trend this year) and made our way down the stairs to find FOOD! I was starving. And cold. And in pain (later that night I noticed bruising on my calf. Not a good sign). We got our bags, hobbled down the stairs and to her parent's car. Where I tried to get warm. I was still so cold!

After getting dropped off at my friend's place, limped downstairs I took a nap and THEN got a shower followed by some food.

Running the Calgary Marathon should be on your bucket list! It was great!





12x12 Project (Knoxville, Tenn. Part Three)

As 2011 was winding down, I began to think ahead to 2012. I’ve always received many requests from other runners that they would like to run with me. I started brainstorming one day while running and thought about that. How could I run with people, make a giving back project and be a part of the community at the same time? So with a little more running and a little more thinking, I decided that I would run with 12 people (selected via application) and each of one them would have to help someone else finish a race of a lesser distance. And each person also had to have a cause they cared about. I primarily wanted to help first time half marathoners, marathoners or a 50K. I would run each step of the race with them and get them across the finish line. And thus the 12×12 Project was born.

Fast forward to April 1, 2012 and I'm running with Jay to help him finish his first marathon. If you haven't read the last two days recaps, you might want to do that :).

Once we crossed 13.1 mile mark, I gave Jay a high-five and we kept on running. The marathon course took us out into East Knoxville and past some rescue missions that made me grateful and thankful for what I have. There were a few more churches that I thought were beautiful and then another cute neighborhood. All of the people were super friendly. I love hometown marathons/races. We approached another water station and this one had oranges and bananas. Y.E.S. I was getting kind of hungry :). Jay started to slow down and I knew that the end of the race would be challenging (in a good way). I kept taking photos - so many things to show! A neat house, an antique truck, spring blooms, happy volunteers ... It's times like this I wish I had a film crew following me!

The sun was out in full force now and I kept checking in with Jay to see how he was doing. We were taking more walking opportunities and I wanted to make sure that we didn't walk too much on the easy parts because we still had hills to conquer yet. There was, of course, no shade on the course and I also wanted to make sure Jay stayed hydrated. We passed Mile 15 that included a water station. Some of the volunteers had fruit and I asked for some. It's amazing what a few bites of strawberries, grapes, bananas, and oranges can do for the body and soul!

Once we hit Mile 16, I told Jay "just a 10 miler left!" A few marathon manics were running near us and I struck up a conversation with them (shocking I know) and we were talking about what races were our favorites. While I am not an official Marathon Manic, I am one on paper. Today's marathon will make 35 (?) marathon or ultra distance. To keep Jay going I gave out different landmarks of where we would run to or where we would walk. It's always nice to have a little goal to work toward in the latter stages of the marathon game!

The course went through Old City and up a BIG hill around mile 18. We (gladly) walked it. Then we rounded a corner and ran past the Women's Hall of Fame basketball building. Up some more hills, a short stretch on the highway and then down along the river. There was a guy that had been at various points along the marathon route and at one point I finally asked his name so we could say hi the next time we saw them. Turns out his wife was running her first marathon was one of Jay's DailyMile friends! Small world.

Once we hit Mile 20, I told Jay "just a 10K left!" This was the last exchange of the marathon relay and this little girl sprinted out in front of us and took off flying down the hill. She was probably only 9 or 10. It warmed my heart to see her running and it was cool that the relay team gave her the last leg so she could finish in the stadium.

Once we hit Mile 21 I gave Jay another high-five. He had officially run further then he ever had! So exciting. The course took us back into another neighborhood called Island Home and this little community was SUPER friendly too. They even had cute, custom t-shirts made (I wish I had a photo) for young and old alike. They were welcoming and this section of the course was one of my favorites. A lot of fun. We only had a few more miles to go and I kept encouraging Jay.

Soon we were down to a 5K left. That felt good. And the course started taking us back into town. It was up another hill and over the Gay Street Bridge and then into Market Square area. This was also a favorite spot of mine. Families, dogs, music, last water station and just overall high energy made it awesome. I had been checking my watch the last hour and knew that a sub-five hour marathon was within reach, but I would really have to push Jay to get it. As with all 12x12 Project participants, it's their race, their pace. I'm just helping them cross the finish line (in one piece). HOWEVER, I knew that Jay would like a sub-five. And I wanted to help him achieve that. I kept him running and made the goals to walk/run a little longer. I told him he could curse me now, thank me later :). We ran back through where we started and I could smell the finish line as we approached Neyland Stadium. I was running a little bit ahead of Jay so he could follow my pace and I told the spectators that this was his marathon and they cheered even louder for him. We had one more hill to go and I pushed (encouraged) him up it. A sub-five Soon we could hear the sounds erupting from the stadium. We rounded the corner into it and soon we were on the field. 26.2 miles was almost done! And with that we crossed the finish line with hands in the air. Praise the Lord! I got Jay across the finish line in one piece and a sub-five hour marathon. Finish time was 4:58:43.

Jay found his family immediately after crossing the finish line and my job was done. After he had a little family time, I went over and gave him a hug and one last high-five and of course a congratulations.

When we crossed the finish line, we were given marathon finisher ball caps. A really nice touch to the race. Another cool feature was the the race bibs had QR codes so you could find your race results quickly. The Knoxville Marathon is a top-notch race and I highly recommend it!

I found my friend Jeff and we talked for a while before walking over to the post-race party where we talked some more. Then he took me back after stopping to get a few bags of ice for my post-race ritual ice bath. Love them.

All in all, it was a great day. A training run for me and a first time marathoner crossing the line. Eleven more races and 11 more people to help cross the finish line!



12x12 Project (Knoxville, Tenn. Part Two)

As 2011 was winding down, I began to think ahead to 2012. I've always received many requests from other runners that they would like to run with me. I started brainstorming one day while running and thought about that. How could I run with people, make a giving back project and be a part of the community at the same time? So with a little more running and a little more thinking, I decided that I would run with 12 people (selected via application) and each of one them would have to help someone else finish a race of a lesser distance. And each person also had to have a cause they cared about. I primarily wanted to help first time half marathoners, marathoners or a 50K. I would run each step of the race with them and get them across the finish line. And thus the 12x12 Project was born.

Hopefully you read yesterday's Part One. If not, read it so you are up to speed on things :). So this weekend is the first of 12 races I will be running with other runners.

Sunday, April 1, 2012. No April Fool's joke for me and all the other runners! It was time to run the Knoxville Marathon (and they also had a half marathon, marathon relay, and 5K). I didn't sleep all that great so getting up was a little challenging, but once I was up, I felt fine. I had my Gen UCAN, then got picked up at 6:30 a.m. and made our way to the race start line. It was a very foggy morning! I met up with Jay and tried to gage his race expectations. I remember my first marathon quite well and really wanted to put his nerves (if he had any) to rest. It appeared he didn't. His wife and kids were still sleeping so we hung out with all the other runners waiting to start. I've run a lot of races and I never get tired of the excitement in the air. So. Much. Fun.

Soon it was 7:30 a.m. and the waves started to take off for whatever race distance they choose. Jay selected a wave 4 (?) so we crossed the start line a little after 7:30 a.m. The race was chip timed (meaning that your time starts when you cross the mat), so we started our trusty and faithful Garmin's once we crossed the timing mat.

The race course started right off the bat with a nice little uphill. The University of Tennessee band got us up and over it. I cautioned Jay to take the hills easy. I knew we had a lot of hills left to conquer yet. But it's hard to so soon at the start of the race. You are excited and you want to run. The course ran through UT and it was beautiful. And let me just interject here that taking photos while running is not easy (I did it for the majority of the RnR races in 2011). I'm still trying to perfect this potential skill. Ha. We ran along the Tennessee River, up another hill (where I told Jay to take it nice and easy) and then past a record number of churches (remember we are in the south!) and by some lovely homes mansions. Then down through a neighborhood called Sequoyah Hills. This section was fairly hilly, but gorgeous and soon we passed the 10K mark.

It was awesome to have so many neighbors out cheering for us. I always try to give the kids (and adults) high-fives. It gives you a sense of energy and the kids usually enjoy it too. As we approached mile 9, we heard the music and people REALLY cheering for the runners that were in front of us. I knew without looking that we were approaching a hill. And sure enough, as soon as we rounded the bend, there it was. A nice big, ol' hill. I said to Jay "I highly suggest we walk this hill. I want to save your legs for the last 6 miles." Thankfully he agreed and we walked up the hill to high-energy music and soon it was over and we were running again. Just as we were approaching the top of the hill I saw my friend Jeff so we talked for a few brief seconds.

We then ran on the Greenway Trail and it was still foggy. Yes. Fog is good. Sun can wilt the best of runners. The hills were still a part of the course and I was seeing a lot of runners stop and complaining about their knees. Which meant their IT Bands. I asked Jay how his ITB's were and he said fine. Good answer. This section was also really pretty, we passed a little bridge and creek.

The course started to take us back into town which included a few more hills of course :). And the sun also decided to make its appearance. At least the first half was shady! Jay and I took the hills easy coming back to the World's Fair Park and soon 13.1 miles were down! 13.1 to go!

The water stations were well supported and all the volunteers were super friendly. I made sure to thank them all, including the police officers too. I only drink water on a marathon course plus Q Energy Drink at mile 13 and mile 20. And eat bananas and oranges if/when they are offered.

Jay was supposed to see his wife and kids when we ran back through the start area by World's Fair Park and Convention Center, but we never saw them.

I knew the next half would be challenging, so I put on my inspirational hat and kept Jay going. I also always like to encourage the other runners around me. You never know how a simple of word of encouragement can bring hope to someone! Part 3 and the final 13.1 miles tomorrow!


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12x12 Project (Knoxville, Tenn. Part One)

As 2011 was winding down, I began to think ahead to 2012. I've always received many requests from other runners that they would like to run with me. I started brainstorming one day while running and thought about that. How could I run with people, make a giving-back project and be a part of the community at the same time? So with a little more running and a little more thinking, I decided that I would run with 12 people (selected via application) and each of one them would have to help someone else finish a race of a lesser distance. And each person also had to have a cause they cared about. I primarily wanted to help first time half marathoners, marathoners or a 50K. I would run each step of the race with them and get them across the finish line. And thus the 12x12 Project was born.

Fast forward to April 1, 2012 and the first of the 12x12 Project participants - Jay Stancil. This was his first marathon and he was excited just like me! Although this was my 35th (? I've honestly lost track) marathon or ultramarathon distance, the love of running 26.2 miles is still awesome to me. 

I arrived in Knoxville, Tenn. Friday, March 30, 2012 and was greeted by humidity. Having just flown from dry Colorado, I wasn't used to this kind of moisture! The next morning I was pleasantly surprised by how GREEN everything was. March was the driest March in Colorado's history. In fact, when I left Colorado, vicious fires were claiming land, homes and lives. So it was a welcome change to see spring in full bloom!

It was so green, I was almost blinded by the brightness! I took a nice walk to the Knoxville Convention Center at the World's Fair Park. And my eyes found so many different things to take photos of. I love exploring and seeing new towns/cities!

Like this vintage bug. I have a 'thing' for them. This bug is a work in progress and will be used for a future article related to life. But I'm sure you already knew that :).

As I walked to the Knoxville Marathon Expo, it was a lovely, warm Saturday morning. It was great to be alive! The expo was great. Low key, quick bib pickup, fun music, friendly race volunteers everywhere and even a free chair massage. Always a great thing :). Afterwards, I wandered back outside and continued to explore the town. Did I mention it was a beautiful day?! I loved the park in front of the convention center, the flags (I have a 'thing' for flags too) and a kids park. I was searching for a pull-up bar of some sort, but didn't find any. The Tennessee Veterans Memorial was beautiful and sobering at the same time too.

The Market Square was cute and busy with people out and about enjoying the nice spring day. I was on the lookout for healthy food options and found it I did. I had a fresh spring greens salad with fresh red beets and salmon from Cafe 4. ANDI said no to the temptation (big, tall, moist cupcakes) :).

I was also on the lookout for some fresh veggies and after a few hit and misses, I finally found an adorable little market called Just Ripe. They had fresh, local, organic produce (and meat, eggs, dairy). I was delighted to score a sweet potato, kale, green beans, tomato, avocado (obviously not from Knoxville, but still fresh) and Applegate Farms turkey. I would have a fabulous pre-race dinner!

I spent most of the day walking around Knoxville and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Even hustling back in order to beat a heavy thunderstorm complete with vicious hail. There is nothing better than to explore a town/city then by foot. IMHO.

In the evening, my host and I went back to the Market Square and Old City and enjoyed watching the sun set behind the smokey mountains. Then it was time to hit the pillow. Knoxville Marathon and pacing Jay to his first marathon finish in the morning!

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Wellness Wednesday

Do you take your wellness seriously? Or do you have a give/take it attitude towards your health? Your health is something you can have a say in. Be it the food you eat (or don't eat), your ability to get your sweat on and of course, your perspective on life. All these things contribute to your wellness and overall quality of life.

According to, the definition of wellness "is the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort."

Wellness isn't about being skinny, it is about being healthy in body AND mind. Sometimes we get so focused on the body that we forget all about the mind. Our brain controls everything we do. It has the ability to motivate us or discourage us. To forgive or hold on to bitterness. To get up off the couch and be active or continue to sit and watch life pass you by. Life - wellness - begins in your head.

Wellness is more than just eating your green beans, it's putting on that positive attitude each and every day. A positive perspective can change not only your mood, but also those around you. No one likes to be around a negative, grouchy person - not even them! If you are having a less-than-steller attitude, why not start to change that? It might just change your life!

When you are happy, life can take on a whole new meaning and outlook. Being happy doesn't mean that we aren't affected by sadness and tragedy that is all around us, it means that we can be there for the people in the crisis. Happiness is a state of mind or so the saying goes. If that's true, you better make sure that state is the size of Texas and not Rhode Island. Wellness and happiness go hand-in-hand. If you aren't happy, figure out why and take action steps to change that.

Wellness starts in the head. What can you do for your wellness brain today? Stress less, breathe more? Chase away sadness with a happy attitude? Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you? Go spend actual time with friends? Remember we were made for human connection and interaction. The digital world is great, but it can't replace real-life friendships and connection.

Be well - in body and mind!

peace, sweat, love: life


photo credit: Harlequeen

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Travel Tuesday (Eating Up In The Air)

I travel frequently. Frequently, as in buying so many plane tickets, I'm an A-list traveler. Code for spending a LOT of time up in the air and in airports. Anyway, I always get a lot of questions on how I eat healthy while being a road warrior. Here are my secrets. 1) Prepare

The few days leading up to my trip (OK, more like a few hours) I plan my meals out, how many days will I be gone, will I have access to any health food stores, farmer's markets, Whole Foods Markets, will I have access to a kitchen? I use Google, store Web sites and Yelp to find and research stores/restaurants in the area.

2) Pack

I actually pack a lot of my food(s). The great thing about plant and earth-based food is that they are packable. Nut and fruit based bars (LARA Bars, KIND Snacks, Bearded Brothers are my standbys), Amazing Grass individual packets of Wheat Grass or Amazing Trio or Superfood.

The second secret are small containers. They are invaluable for chia seeds, my own nut/seed mix, hemp hearts, ground flax seeds and brewers yeast. These are all things I eat on a daily basis. They store easily in my carry-on (I don't check bags) and easy to use. You can even pack a spoon if you need to.

The third secret are small Ziploc bags. You can make individual servings of nuts/dried fruit/seeds or any of the above earth-based food items.

Little containers and Ziploc bags are a staple of eating for health while on the road.

3) Plan

Planning is critical to making sure you eat healthy (and I realize that is a loaded word) on the road. If you know you are weak in a certain area, admit that and only allow yourself to have it one time or if having it just one time causes you to have more, don't have it at all. Hold yourself accountable. When I eat out, I make wise choices. If I am by myself, I will pick out a place where I have options. If I am with other people and the decision isn't mine, I pray for a Hail Mary. Kidding. I just do the best with what I'm given. For example, the other night the others wanted pizza. How does a person who doesn't eat grains, dairy or most meat, eat at a pizza place?! I didn't know, but I was going to find out! I was BEYOND thankful that this place had some options. It just took a little asking on my part. I ended up with a fresh veggie salad with straight tuna. Now, the veggie salad wasn't iceberg lettuce (no nutritional value), BUT fresh carrots, red cabbage, red beets, romaine lettuce, sprouts and from a can/jar black olives and artichoke hearts and I asked for avocado. Always ask for avocado. It's a healthy fat and you can usually count on it being fresh. They will probably up-charge you for it, but that's OK. I asked for no cheese and no bread and a pitcher of water. (And keep in mind that I just ran a marathon too.)

The key with eating for health while up in the air is being being prepared, packing and planning. And of course will power and dedication and commitment. Visualize the body you are working for in your head. Keep that in memory when you are tempted to have that cupcake!

Don't use the excuse that eating for health while traveling is hard- it. can. be. done. You just have to want it!


(Now. Disclaimer. When I visit Italy (TBD), my healthy eating habits may be a bit different :))


photo credit: woodleywonderworks

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Fitness Friday (A Core Runner)

It's Friday, and Fitness Friday at that! If you're a runner, are you training more than just logging miles? Your core is important too. So here is a core routine for you to incorporate into your running training plan. And if you're not a runner, that's not an excuse to not train your core!

Your core is more than just a six pack, it's your glutes, hips, hamstrings, lower back. A strong core is essential to your running performance and injury prevention. So a good standard core routine includes working all the core muscles! Here is one that I like to do at least three to five times a week. If you are new to these exercises, start off with one to two times per week and then build up from there.

The exercises:

  • Plank
  • Side plank
  • Bridge
  • One leg bridge
  • Superman
  • Wall squat

The workout:

Plank: Get on your forearms, back level with hips and neck (no spiking the hips up!). Depending on your current level of strength, start by holding for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. If your form starts to break, stop. It is better to have correct form then to finish the move. You should be shaking and feeling your abs, legs, etc., work to keep you stable. Challenge: work up to holding for minutes!

Side plank: Get on your side, forearm parallel to your feet.  Don't let your hips sag! Depending on your current level of strength, start by holding for 30 seconds or 60 seconds. As with the above advice, if your form starts to break, stop and remember how long you did hold it for! Challenge: work up to holding for minutes.

Bridge: Lie on your back, feet flat on floor. Bridge up so that only your shoulders, head and feet are touching the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

One leg bridge: Just like bridge, lie on your back, feet flat on floor. Bridge up as with bridge. Lift one leg off the floor and while keeping hips level and not sagging, lift leg up and down (don't touch the floor) 10 times. Repeat on other side.

Superman: Lie on your tummy, arms outstretched in front you. Lift your upper body up and feet off the floor. Don't squeeze your butt! Hold for 15 seconds and work up to 10 reps.

Wall squat: With your back against a wall, walk your feet out so that your quads are in a table-top like position. Your knees should be over heels (not your toes). Your entire back (low back especially) should be flat against the wall. Put your hands above your head. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat up to 5 times. Challenge: work on increasing your time and reps.

You're on your way to a stronger core and running body!


photo credit: lululemon athletica


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What's In Your Shopping Cart?

Each Saturday, we try to give you tips, food suggestions and recipes for the coming week ahead. I've received a few requests on Brewer's Yeast recently so I thought we would feature that today. Brewer's Yeast is a real-food based nutritional supplement (not a pill form). It is made from a fungus (don't let that gross you out) called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Brewer's Yeast is recovered by the beer-brewing process. It should also be noted that Brewer's Yeast is not the same as nutritional yeast or baker's yeast. Brewer's Yeast is a fantastic source of minerals like chromium (helps body maintain normal blood sugar levels), selenium (antioxidant, helps immune system and regulates thyroid), protein and B-complex vitamins.

The B-complex vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and H or B7 (biotin). All of these vitamins help break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which give the body energy. They also support the nervous system, help maintain the muscles used for digestion and also play a role in keeping the skin, hair, eyes, mouth and liver healthy. It's also been used in studies to reduce LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol. And some studies have shown it has helped to reduce body fat and maintain a healthy weight. Talk about a supplement!

Depending on brand, its taste has a nutty flavor. I personally love the taste, but if you aren't used to it, it might take a little getting used to. I also like it that is great source of protein. I buy the Solgar powder brand. It has the best taste in my opinion. You can find the Solgar Brewer's Yeast at Whole Foods and other natural food stores.

You can sprinkle it on eggs, sweet potatoes, salad - any dish really. I would recommend that you use on a moist or liquid dish vs dry as the Brewer's Yeast is dry to begin with. Try mixing it with applesauce to start with. You can also mix with a little water. But I think it tastes better on food. Or you can try mixing it with Hemp Milk or Coconut Milk too.

And if you have a dog, Brewer's Yeast is also great for them. They also need vitamins and minerals just like we do. Brewer's Yeast also helps dogs to repel fleas.

The photo shows a little glass dish of the Brewer's Yeast, so you know what it looks like :).

Eat for health!

(And if you are reading this on Saturday, March 3, 2012, I'm climbing/snowshoeing/mountaineering/panting my way up FIVE 13ers peaks!)


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Fitness Friday (Brandi)

Every Friday, we feature a real-life person who has embraced a healthy lifestyle from a former sedentary, unhealthy life. We hope their story inspires you to start living and breathing a healthy life! Today's feature is Brandi Heinz who is training for the Wisconsin Marathon on May 5, 2012. She is also a participant of the 12x12 Project. We are so excited for her!

Sarah: When did you start running? Brandi: I started running in Junior High - thank goodness, because I did not have eye-hand coordination. I tried soccer, softball, volleyball ... no success there. I joined the track team and started out wanting to be a hurdler or sprinter, but I wasn't very fast. One day, the coach asked for volunteers for the 1600m run and no one raised their hand. I volunteered, and I believe I took third place in the race. I was hooked!

Sarah: What do you like best about running? Brandi: When I was younger, I liked running for the mid-distance and 5K races, then strictly for fitness. Now, it's a great outlet for stress and a very healthy hobby. I love having another race on the horizon to train for, and I look forward to Saturday runs with my running club. I like that it's something I can do alone or with people, anywhere. And I even sort of like that people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them how far I ran. :)

Sarah: You just ran the Austin Half Marathon this past weekend. What was that experience like? Brandi: The Austin Half Marathon is the biggest, toughest, hilliest half marathon I've run - yet I still ran my personal best. I really enjoyed myself during the race. They had live music throughout the course, and the fan support was amazing! The ninth mile marker was lined with Livestrong supporters: walls of yellow on either side, cheering and blaring Black Eyed Peas, high-fiving us. I ran this race with my two sisters, so it was really special to share that experience with them. We even met Bart Yasso during the expo. He was awesome - gave us some great advice for the race (like how to handle all those hills)!

Sarah: You live in Chicago; do you run outdoor or inside during the winter months? Brandi: This is the first year I've ran outside, and it has made a big difference! Joining a running club gives me people to run with at night and during the snowy days, so I always feel safe. Since I've continued running as the weather changed, I've never felt like to was difficult to get used to the weather. I never consistently ran during the winter months in the past because the treadmill was boring. I'm really proud that I've kept it up this winter - I love telling people when I've ran 10 miles in the snow!

Sarah: You are also training for your first marathon (YAY!), how has your training been going? Brandi: I feel like it is just starting, since I had my half marathon milestone that I've been working towards. On my way back from Austin, I mapped out my marathon training plan and realized it's only 10 WEEKS AWAY! I'm taking this week off, then next week I'll go right back into it with a 10 mile run. Over the coming weeks I'll run my farthest distance runs I've ever done, getting up to a 20-miler. I'm excited and nervous at the same time!

Sarah: Girls On The Run is a cause you care about. Can you share with us a little bit about what you do with them? Brandi: I've volunteered with Girls on the Run in a few different roles, but my favorite is being a running buddy. Girls on the Run is a non-profit organization that encourages young women to lead healthy, confident lives through an after school curriculum that culminates in a 5K run. As a running buddy, you run with a girl on a training run, then at the race. My first buddy was a 5th grader who was FAST! She kicked my butt during the race, I believe we were the first group from her school to finish, and it was amazing! She was so encouraging to every other girl out there, whether they were right behind her or walked most of the distance. My second buddy was a third grader who hadn't run before. She was very nervous and didn't want a buddy, but five minutes into our training run, she was chatting up a storm. We even Skyped a couple of times before the 5K. Again, it was amazing to watch her encourage her fellow runners and come out of her shell. Running one of the Girls on the Run 5Ks is like nothing I've experienced! Within five minutes I had my hair sprayed multiple colors, writing on my face and arms, and my race bib decorated. It's such a fulfilling organization to work with.

Sarah: And for fun, what is the first you want to do when you finish the Wisconsin Marathon? Brandi: Take a picture with my medal and share it with everyone on Facebook and Twitter! Then, maybe have some chocolate milk and an ice bath :). I love sharing my running journey online because I hope that it inspires other people to try something new. If you would've asked me a year ago if I would run a marathon, I would've looked at you like you're crazy! And now, here I am ... and I sort of think I AM crazy. But after talking to all the different people who have ran a marathon, I truly do believe anyone can do it if they have the right mindset and people around them.



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7 Ways to Have a Healthy Heart

Did you know that February is National Heart Health month (America)? If you did, congratulations and if you didn't, well now you know! Did you also know that heart disease is the number one killer of women according to the American Heart Association? More women die of heart disease than cancer! And both of these diseases can be prevented through the food we eat/drink (or don't eat/drink) and exercise.

Here are 10 ways to have a healthy heart - if you are a woman or a guy.

1) Sweat! Get out of bed and do something active! Run, swim, walk, yoga, Pilates, lift weights, CrossFit, Kickboxing. Something that will leave you feeling alive and ready to have a fantastic day!

2) H2O! Make sure your glass or water bottle is always handy. Drink water all day long. The benefits of hydration are huge. Clearer skin, less fatigue, naturally moisturizes, detoxes ... go drink up!

3) Eat Earth Based Foods! This is such an important one. Limit or avoid processed junk (I refuse to call it food) all together. Buy as fresh as possible (farmer's markets are a great option). The less chemicals, food dyes, preservatives and nitrates the better. Straight from the earth (soil, trees, water) are the best option.

4) Be Happy! This may sound like a pie-in-the-sky thing, but it's not. Being happy is good - no GREAT - for your heart. Your perspective can make or break you. Choose - decide to be happy!

5) Forgive! This might be the hardest thing out of the list to do. It can be easier to be angry, bitter, hurt or mean. It takes daily work to forgive those who have wronged us. And sometimes we have to forgive ourselves too.

6) Slow down! Life isn't about how fast you cross the finish line, it's about who you help along the way. Help someone.

7) Breathe! Take a chill pill! Smell the roses around you. Take a nap.

Go live with a healthy heart!

peace, sweat, love: life


photo credit: quilting2009

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