This is How We Do St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is my thing. One of my favorite days of the year and always has been. I’ve got all kinds of Irish ancestry and we like to celebrate it any way we can!  It was a big deal at my house growing up, I made it a big deal for my students when I was teaching, and now it’s a big deal for my own family!

We traditionally celebrate with lots of green, some Irish soda bread, and beef stew for dinner, but our St. Patrick’s Day festivities have evolved a little over the years.

The biggest addition has been the Irishman race the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day! It’s held in my hometown and involves 5 mile, 5K, and 1 mile races all in one day. This was my third year running it with my childhood best friend and The Hubby ran it for the second year this year! Of course, I get all decked out in my green for this race…


Three races in one day is a unique challenge and the Irishman is one of my favorite race days of the year! It is extra special because I get to experience with my hubby and my best friend!

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The weather could not have been more perfect! I finished with new PRs for the 5 mile {43:30} and 1 mile {7:50}, as well as an overall PR for the day {1:17:38}! The Hubby finished 11th on the day – out of 212 people! And we had some cute spectators waiting to watch the parade with us after the race!


As for today, actual St. Patrick’s Day, we’re not going with our traditional beef stew, but we’ve got lots of green going on!

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And I’m wearing my favorite Irish shirt along with my KraftyKash map necklace of Dublin!


Fifteen years ago, The Hubby and I were in Ireland on a band trip and we started dating on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. For this Irish girl, nothing could have been more romantic! I can’t believe I’m posting this, but here we are on that trip…

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Oh my, how we have changed…except I still make goofy faces in photos. That will never change. And I’m more in love with this guy than ever before – that part just keeps getting better!

One last thing: We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day big because of our ancestry. I mean, my family actually built a super famous castle in Ireland, for goodness sake. But St. Patrick’s Day is an important day for all Christians to celebrate because there is a lot for us to learn from the man for which this day is named! I share his story with our boys ever year and you can read more about it on the Tommy Nelson blog in my recent post called The Faith and Forgiveness of St. Patrick!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day from our family to yours!


I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

~The Prayer of St. Patrick

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Holiday Run List: Five Great Gifts for Active People!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

If you have a loved one who is a runner, I am here to save the day as you try to figure out what to get him or her this Christmas! There are lots of fun gift ideas to keep them healthy and motivated along their running journey!

Holiday Run List

Here are five great gifts I would put on my Holiday Run List!


Pro Compression socks

Don’t laugh. Compression socks are just for older people and pregnant women. As The Hubby once said to me, “They’re like a hug for my legs.” I wasn’t convinced until I was given my own pair of Pro Compression socks to review and pulled them on after my Thanksgiving morning trail half marathon. These things are magic. I had very little soreness in my legs the next day like I normally would after a race and I know the compression socks were a major reason.

Compression socks deliver maximum comfort and speedy recovery times. The science is complex, but benefits such as improved blood flow, stability and comfort are universally understood. Compression socks are also great for wearing during long runs! With all the fun colors and patterns, you can get compression socks for any personality! Use the code PINK2 to get 40% off on your order from Pro Compression through December 15th!


FUNKtional Wearables Fitbit Jewelry

Why did I not learn of FUNKtional Wearables a year ago when I got my Fitbit?! FUNKtional Wearables makes fashionable jewelry to hide your Fitbit tracker! That’s right – your favorite active woman doesn’t have to wear the black Fitbit band all the time in order to keep track of her steps! I have a fabulous silver cuff and a gorgeous gold bracelet both from FUNKtional that I just adore. And the prices are the best, with most items for less than $40!

Running & Being

A great running book

So many wonderful choices in this area! Here are a few suggestions:

You (Only Faster) by Greg McMillan

Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell & Sarah Brown Shea

Running & Being by George Sheehan

Race Medal Display

Race Medal Display

If the runner you love likes to do races, a medal display is the perfect way to celebrate their accomplishments! There a MANY choices for medal displays, including this great one on Amazon! There are also displays for race bibs or a combination of medals and bibs!

Runner's World Cookbook

The Runner’s World Cookbook

Being a runner doesn’t mean you have to eat healthy food that tastes like cardboard and The Runner’s World Cookbook is proof. It might be one of my favorite cookbooks ever. The food is delicious, the recipes aren’t too complicated, and each recipe is labeled with categories such as pre-run, recovery, vegan, and so on. Even if you’re not a runner, I still think you’d love this cookbook!

My holiday run list could go on and on, but hopefully this short list will give you quick ideas to please the runner in your life this Christmas!

What’s on your #holidayrunlist this Christmas?



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Ugly Sweater Run Giveaway!

I was given free entries to this run in exchange for sharing with you. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are 100% my own.

I love a good race for the motivation and community it offers, but themed races are extra fun, so I’m really excited about the Ugly Sweater Run coming to Omaha soon!

Sea of hats

The Omaha Ugly Sweater Run is Sunday, December 14th at 11:00 am and it is the perfect mix of fitness and fun this holiday season! The 5K run will start in downtown Omaha and end with free hot chocolate!

Selfie Elf

This is a great family event – inflatables, photo booths, snow blowers, and holiday music at the start and everyone decked out in the tackiest Christmas sweaters they can find! Lots of parents and children participate together and children under five can participate for free!


Each Ugly Sweater runner receives a custom vintage knit hat, a drawstring bag, unlimited hot chocolate, and more!

I’ll be running and I want you to join me there, so I’m giving away FOUR free entries today! Just leave a comment below telling me your favorite Christmas movie to be entered!

The giveaway ends Friday, December 5th at 9:00 p.m. CST and the winners will be picked randomly and notified by email on Saturday! Please enter only if you are able to participate in the run in Omaha on December 14th!

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Janji Projects: Runners Crowdfunding Clean Water!

I just love when two of my passions collide!

Today, we’re talking about running and clothing companies who use your purchases to make a difference. Let me introduce you to Janji

Janji logo

The co-founders of Janji are runners with a desire to help bring safe drinking water to people all over the world. Runners and water are a natural combination, so Janji exists to do something with that connection. That “something” is running gear that makes a difference…

Through Janji’s high performance apparel, runners fund solutions and raise awareness for the global water crisis in a lasting and meaningful way. Rather than racing for a cause on just one day, Janji lets runners give back through their everyday training.

The Hubby and I each have a Janji shirt and we love them! We wear them all the time, even when not running!

Janji tee

Besides being awesome because it is green {my FAVORITE color}, this women’s Kenya Acacia running shirt provides one year of clean water for a person in Kenya through! The Hubby wears the men’s Janji logo short-sleeve running shirt, which provides one week of clean water for a family in the United States!

Janji has short and long-sleeve running tees, tanks, shorts, capris, and tights, all which benefit a clean water project somewhere in the world! And today, they are launching something new!

Janji Projects is a new crowdfunded giving platform which allows runners to preorder a design from a country and, if the design is 100% backed, supporters fully fund the construction of a water point that gives 350 people access to clean water for life.

The first Janji Project launches TODAY! It will be the Uganda Run for Another shirt. Made of a silky performance blend of polyester and rayon, the shirt takes inspiration from Ugandan basket weaving.

Janji Campaign.Shirt.W Janji men's shirt

The Project functions much like a KickStarter campaign and lasts a maximum of seven days. If the shirt is 100% funded, production for the design project begins immediately while parallel construction of the water point launches. The waterpoint will give 350 rural Ugandans access to clean water.

Janji campaign.banner.5

I just love everything about Janji Projects and I hope you will jump on board to pre-order your Uganda shirt today to get this first water point funded!

Which piece of Janji running gear is your favorite?



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Join Me for the Miracle Marathon!

Before you run away because I mentioned the word “marathon,” take a minute to read about this unique and MUCH easier marathon that everyone can do!

I’m thrilled to share that I’m serving as a lead blogger for this fall’s Miracle Marathon, specifically in support of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska! Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raise funds for 170 children’s hospitals across North America. When a donation is given it stays in the community, helping local kids. Awesome, right?!

Miracle Marathon

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise that I would be excited about an event that involves running and helping children! I started running just over two years ago and it is a major part of who I am now. I love that the Miracle Marathon gives me a chance to use my love for running to benefit others! And I want you to come along with me, whether you’re a runner or not!

The Miracle Marathon is a 27-day virtual fundraising campaign in which participants run/walk (or achieve forward motion of any kind!) one mile per day at their leisure. The first 26 days are completed at your own pace—wherever and whenever you want. On Day 27, the final 1.2 miles will be started as a group at 2:27 pm EST. Get it? It’s a marathon, plus a mile, for the kids! And it’s perfect for those of us who like the idea of completing a marathon but would rather not complete all the miles at once!

Please join me and register to support Children’s Hospital & Medical Center or another Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, and tell your friends, too! And if you register as a Miracle Maker (you’ll receive fun swag!), you can use my special code MiracleErin to get a 10% discount off registration!

Did I mention we have a team?! I would love to have you join Team Home with the Boys, either as a Miracle Maker or as a donor, and help us raise $5,000 together! Just sign up here to join the team in one way or another and we’ll help kids together!

I’ll be sharing lots more about this as September 16th approaches, but let’s get the ball rolling with some donations and registrations for the kids this week!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Miracle Marathon.

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Personal Bests

I approached my last race weekend without a clear goal. After having run a sub-2:00 half marathon in the fall, I wanted to pace a friend for their own personal half goal, but that plan fell through and I was left running the half by myself and not really sure of my aim for this race.

The Hubby, on the other hand, had a very big goal in his marathon: to qualify for the Boston Marathon. As he would move up to the next age bracket in time for next year’s marathon, he needed to run a 3:10 marathon or less to qualify. This was just his second marathon, but he is the most dedicated, hard-working person I know, and it didn’t seem crazy to me at all that he would shoot to take 45+ minutes off his previous marathon time.


We chose to race in Fargo again because we love the flat course and the friendly people. And the weather that day added to the reasons we love Fargo – 45 degrees and no wind at the start. A runner’s dream weather.

Because of that weather, great crowds, and a healthy body, I decided to make another sub-2:00 half my goal for the day.



It was hard, but it was fun. It was all about me and Jesus. I was constantly praying and calling on His strength to get me through. And He got me there in 1:58:43! A new PR for me by 50 seconds! And I remembered to look happy as I crossed the finish line! {see this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about}






The best part about doing a half on the same day The Hubby does a full is I can be at the finish line when he comes through. Because of tracking, I could tell approximately where he was, and at the 20 mile update, I was worried. He was five minutes off where he wanted to be. I had no idea what he was thinking or how he was doing, so I just prayed – for God to give him strength and for him to know this race was a success no matter his finishing time.



I get super emotional at races, so when I saw him come around the corner with just a few hundred feet to go, I started crying and yelling a whole lot to cheer him on. And that’s when I saw the best sight: he was smiling. A HUGE smile. With arms flexed, he crossed the finish line after running 26.2 miles in 3:19:22. AMAZING. 36 minutes faster than his previous marathon. 36 MINUTES.





I couldn’t have been more proud and he felt the same. I think I was even more proud of him than I would have been if he had qualified for Boston that day because he trusted God + his training and listened to his body and did the very best he could do in those given moments. What could have been a great big disappointment was an overwhelming success for him because he had set more than one goal for the day, and he met two of those three goals – a new PR and breaking 3:20. He’ll have another shot at Boston. I just know it. But he wouldn’t have another shot at enjoying the accomplishment of that race on that day. I love how he latched on to the achieved goals and floated through the rest of the day on Cloud 9! I don’t think he stopped smiling for even a moment the rest of the weekend.

What did I take away from this day? Joy. A little stomach discomfort for the afternoon, but mostly lots of joy. An appreciation for setting several goals at different levels for one event, knowing some things just aren’t in our control. And the realization that we must always celebrate progress and personal bests.


It is such a bonding experience for us to share this love of running. These race weekends away are fun, but knowing that your best friend in the world really gets what you love is just the best. And celebrating personal bests together is even better!

Congrats, honey! I am SO proud of all the hard work you poured in to this marathon and your freaking awesome finish time! You are my inspiration + hero! I love you!


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Why Race? {4 Reasons to Sign Up}

The Hubby and I are about to tackle another race this weekend: his second full marathon and my fourth half.


In between all of those, we have done many other races of varying lengths – 5K, 10K, 10 mile, 15K, relays, and so on. Some people would say we are crazy to take on several races a year and keep paying race fees to participate, but we definitely have our reasons, and based on the turnout for most of the races we attend, I’d say a lot of people would agree!

Why Race? Final

If you’ve haven’t taken a step into the world of racing yet, let me give you a few good reasons why you should consider it…

My First 10K17

The Motivation

Having a date circled on the calendar for my next race is extremely motivating. When you pay a race registration fee, you’re probably going to be more invested in your training so that money is not wasted. There is also the motivation of telling others you are doing a race and then wanting to give it your best shot for accountability reasons. For internally motivated runners, the idea of setting a personal record at a race is more than enough to get them running faster and longer! I keep signing up for races to keep my momentum going!

Thanksgiving 2013h


The Gear

I’m not going to lie: I love getting race shirts and medals and all the other fun things that can come along with a race! And most of the big races have great expos the night before where you can check out the latest and greatest running gear and get lots of samples! Yes, we do have our race medals proudly displayed in our home! And yes, I LOVE dressing up for fun runs!

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Living and Active3

The Atmosphere

Everything feels alive and exciting on race day. There is such a buzz in the air. And I love that most of the races I have done are in fairly unfamiliar areas for me, so I’m experiencing new scenery as I run. The start line, the signs along the way, and especially the finish line are all special and unique at each race and often set the tone for a fun run!

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The Community

This is reason #1 we keep going back for more races. There is nothing quite like the running community. Chatting with other runners anxiously as you wait for the gun to go off, the people who cheer you on as they pass you or vice versa, people lining the course with hilarious signs and lots of encouraging words, the shouts and whistles as you cross the finish line…if you haven’t experienced the community that happens at a race, sign yourself up for one NOW. I have never attended a race where I felt judged or unwelcome – I’ve always started the race with the contagious excitement that surrounds me and left feeling like runners are some of the best people in the world. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking a charity 5K or running a marathon, the community that happens on race day is one of my favorite things ever.

M2M Team Photo Post-Race

And I can’t help but think of this verse when I am at the starting line of a race…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

I’m super excited for our race this weekend, but I know we are both feeling the nerves as well! If we come to mind, would you please pray for The Hubby and I? The race is Saturday morning and we would love prayers for healthy bodies + tough minds, great {cool} weather, a FUN race, and for God to be our strength + guide for every single step! Thank you SO much!

What do you love about races? Do you have one coming up?

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14 Miles

I ran 14 miles this weekend. In one run.

14 Miles 3

I might not believe it if it weren’t for the fact that God made me hyper-aware of everything I was feeling and seeing and hearing during those 14 miles. It’s like He didn’t want me to forget a single thing about my longest run ever, one that only He could get me through.

It was 36°, sunny, a little wind here and there, but nothing unbearable. Only a runner would think this was a great day to run, right? But it totally was.

Of course I needed to use the bathroom once I got to the lake but it was locked for the winter. No worries – a port-a-potty saved me just before mile 2!

From my very first steps, I was surrendering the whole run to Him. 14 miles is daunting, terrifying, not my everyday thing. I needed Him from step one. And I felt Him the whole way.

My lungs were not cooperating the first few miles. I have exercise-induced asthma so this is an ongoing battle with varying degrees of difficulty based on the season, weather, my health, etc. I needed to adjust to the chilly air and the wind in my face at times, but as I warmed up, they worked with me better, too!

I run at a beautiful lake in town when I can and there is always something new to discover. That day I heard lots of fun new bird calls, probably from birds just happy to see a little warmth and sun returning to the area!

The lake was still frozen, but ice and snow and thawing and refreezing had given it the appearance of white caps in the middle of a windy summer day. In the few thawed spots near the shore, geese were hopping in and out of the water and making all kinds of noise.

My plan was five easy pace miles to start, followed by five miles at my goal race pace, and then four “easy” miles to finish it out. The fast miles started and actually seemed to help my breathing a bit…and I ended up going a little faster than planned!

Halfway through my fast miles, I rounded the corner to my car to grab a drink of water and found my guys waiting there to cheer me on! They had left a note on my car in case they missed me! That was just the boost I needed to power through the second half of my run!

The last mile of my race pace miles was a little less…fun. My knees were feeling a little achy on any hills, and this last mile had a big hill followed by a long stretch across a dam…into the wind. As this was mile 10, I was not really looking for an extra challenge, but it felt GREAT to just tackle it!

When you run around a lake two whole times, you’re bound to cross paths with some of the same people out running or biking or walking, and in this case, some of them several times. I try to smile at everyone I pass at least, even saying hi if I can muster it up – I can’t help it, it’s that positivity thing in me – and at this point I was getting lots of “sympathy” and “empathy” smiles. You could probably tell I have been running for a long time and some of these people had been, too! I even got a “Hot damn!” from a guy running the other way around mile 11 – it seemed to be in response to how many times I had passed him running, but my hubby thinks he had other thoughts :)

Just before mile 11 was also when my FitBit told me I had reached my calories burned goal for the day! It was only 3 p.m.! That was a good laugh.

I try not to do much counting down during along run, but once I passed ten miles, this mentality was totally helping out: “I only have ‘x’ miles left! I can totally do this!”

Miles 11, 12, 13 felt GREAT! I was supposed to be back down to my easy pace but when my Garmin chimed for each mile, I realized I was never quite as slow as I intended.

Yes, I did look at my Garmin the very moment I passed 13.1 miles, my previous distance PR, and I couldn’t believe I was almost there. Every step now was the farthest I had ever run at one time. It seemed appropriate that an older gentleman that had walked past me once or twice passed me not long after and gave me a nod and a thumbs up.

I’m not going to lie. As great as 11, 12, and 13 felt, I was starting to feel the drag during mile 14. I just kept wondering why my watch hadn’t beeped yet and looking for landmarks that might help me figure out how much farther I had to go!

And then it beeped. 14.02 miles. 2:11:45. BAM.

14 Miles 2

And yes, my earwarmer was upside down the whole time.

I still had about a half mile to walk back to my car and my legs weren’t thrilled about that at first, but I was grateful for that cool down time, both physically and mentally – a little time to just savor the outdoors and the accomplishment of a new distance PR.

I ran the whole thing by myself, without music, and probably wrote 37 blog posts as I ran, of which only about two could be remembered worth anything afterwards. I prayed a lot and even talked out loud to God. I did not have one bored moment during the run – only peace and determination and a whole lot of dependence on the One who created this body and gives it every ounce of strength. It was all a very reflective time until…

I got back to the car and it wouldn’t unlock. I had kept the key fob in my bra the whole time and it got sweat in it. Well, this car needs that fob, because when I just used the key to open the door, it set off the car alarm. Let the embarrassment and panic ensue. It all worked out, but I will not be carrying a fob in my bra ever again!

I gulped down a bottle of coconut water to hydrate and headed home. I called The Hubby to tell him I was done and broke down in tears. Doing something you’ve never done before and never thought you could do can be pretty emotional!

In the past I’ve had trouble with stomach issues after long, hard runs, but since learning how to fuel and hydrate my body better, I’ve had very few issues. It was such a blessing to be able to scarf down a pizza after my shower, and then get right to work making a carb-loading dinner for The Hubby whose long run would be the next day. Sure, I was sore and tired, but I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse and that made the day even more of a win!

My longest run ever day ended just perfectly. Big J wanted to do everything he could to help me get comfortable – helping with a coaster for my smoothie, getting my ice packs ready, carrying things upstairs for me, volunteering to stay up all night massaging my legs! I took him up on everything but the all-night massage.

After foam-rolling and icing, I just soaked in the gift of this day and this life and drifted off for a really sound sleep.

14 Miles 1

I ran 14 miles. In one run.

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3 Ways to Become a More Physically Confident Runner

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I love talking to women about running. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you know running is a new passion of mine in the last two years. After years and YEARS of despising even the thought of running, this love snuck up on me out of nowhere and it is now part of me until God says I can run no longer.

In many conversations, I’ve heard women describe how self-conscious they feel when running. They are worried about what is “jiggling” or they feel like they are plodding along or they wonder if they look like Phoebe running through the park. Please tell me you get this Friends reference…

I totally get these feelings. I’ve felt all of them. And I want to tell you and every woman that IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU’RE RUNNING. What matters is YOU ARE RUNNING!

I’m going to make you all feel better for a moment. You’ve seen my triumphant photos from races, with hands raised, smiling from ear to ear. What you haven’t seen is the photos taken during those races where I look I will literally fall over and die any second. There are so many of these, but I didn’t purchase all of them because who wants to remember looking that way?! But this captures at least a part of my mid-race look of death…

Running Form Race

And the photos from the finish line of that race? This is one of the better ones. Oh heavens…

 Running Form Finish

I did actually collapse on a volunteer moments after this photo was taken and ended up overheated in the medical tent, but still. We don’t all look gorgeous while running and these pictures are Exhibit A!

That being said, there are a few easy things you can do to be a more physically confident runner. And these things will also help you run stronger, faster, and longer. Trust me. I’ve tried them all.

Running Form

Stand Tall

Running is a full-body workout. Yes, it is very lower body intensive, but what goes on above the waist is very important as well. When you hunch over during a run, you are impeding several functions of the body that could be helping you on your run! As someone with mild asthma, I am very aware of my breathing while running. Improving my upper body posture while running has helped me to manage my breathing much more effectively because I’m giving my lungs room to work! Standing tall also allows your core to be more engaged while you run – yes, running really will help strengthen your abs and a strong core will improve your running!

And have you ever ran in front of a mirror or reflective window? You might want to do it more often to train yourself to stand up straighter. I didn’t really notice how often I was letting my shoulders slump down during a run until the windows at our gym revealed it to me! Now I know what it feels and looks like to be running tall so I can correct it wherever I am. I’m keeping my head up more now, as well! We SHOULD hold our head high as we run! Plus, your mother always told you to stand up straight! Listen to her while running!

Arm Swing

The windows at the gym revealed something else to me: I looked a little ridiculous with the amount of arm-swinging I had going on. And I was also wasting a lot of unnecessary energy moving my arms wildly across my body hoping they would make me fly or something. I’m still working on this one, but when I focus on moving my elbows just from front to back at my side at a 90° angle with my hands lightly clasped, a lot of tension goes away and I can focus more on my stride. And I don’t have to worry I might accidentally smack myself in the face with an errant hand.

Foot Strike

If you feel like you’re plodding along while running, you just might be. During my second half marathon, it was very warm and humid and I was having trouble breathing. I was definitely plodding, even shuffling sometimes and it made the whole process of finishing the race even more grueling. I remember feeling like it was such work to pick up my feet and I forgot how to make my feet work FOR me in this situation.  There are many schools of thought on which part of your foot should strike first, so if you’re really interested, I would suggest reading more about it from Runner’s World or the ladies at Another Mother Runner in their books Run Like a Mother and Train Like a Mother {LOVED them both}.

But here is the important part: you should feel like your feet are helping to propel you forward. I think I tend to land more towards my heel and then roll forward and push off from the ball – a product of years of marching band – but I am wanting to study my strike more this year to see how it could improve all areas of my running. Having a good strike makes you feel more like you are running effortlessly and less like a horse! It also will help you prevent injury.

In focusing on these three things, I have noticed how strong and confident I now feel when running. Even in the midst of horrific speed work or hill repeats, I am reminding myself of the ways my whole body can work together to get me through and even improve!

If you’ve ever felt afraid to run in public, first of all, FORGET THAT because all those cars driving past you on the trail aren’t out there burning mega calories like you are! And then try these tips to show yourself and them that you ARE a confident runner, no matter the speed or distance you’re traveling!

One last note: If you have a running store near by, they are usually very helpful in analyzing your stride and foot strike if you’re having trouble with this or wanting more input on the topic! And they will give you great information on the types of shoes that will work best for your stride/strike/running needs!

How do you feel when you’re running?


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Five Tips for a Great Long Run!

If you’ve been running for a little while, but have stuck to the three or four mile distance, this is the perfect time to start upping your mileage! Before you know it, the weather will start to warm up and make outdoor longer runs much more bearable. We are hitting the prime season to start training for a half-marathon in my neck of the woods. You could find yourself knocking out 8, 10, or even 12 miles on a crisp, spring weekend morning!

Long runs aren’t exactly easy, and they do require some thought and planning ahead, but they CAN be fun and The Hubby and I wanted to share our top five tips for a good long run experience!

Great Long Run

1. Fuel Your Body

Your body needs fuel to function properly and that is even more important when you are running long distances. If you’ve only been running shorter distances, you probably haven’t had to eat during a run and eating before your run wasn’t crucial, but all of that changes with a long run!

Carbs the night before are a good idea, but don’t go overboard for every long run. The Hubby and I both prefer to eat a little something about an hour and half before the run – a half a banana or an English muffin with a little peanut butter. As far as during the run, according to Runner’s World:

Runners need to add in 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrate each hour that they are running longer than 75 minutes…Start taking in fuel within 30 minutes of hitting the pavement.

This past weekend, during my nine-mile run on the TREADMILL {blech}, I used fruit snacks and ate some at miles 3, 5, 7, and 8. That worked really well for me this time around! Sports Beans are my fuel of choice, but fruit snacks and Lemonheads have worked well in a pinch for me! The Hubby also likes Clif Shot Bloks.

2. Hydrate Well

I have learned this lesson the hard way. I have spent many afternoons post-race or post-long run sick because of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water is important on a regular basis, but even more so leading up to a long run. If I’m doing a morning long run, I drink water as soon as I get up.

Then there is the issue of hydrating DURING the run. The weather, the distance, and your body will determine how much water you need to drink during the run, but for me I always underestimated how much I would need. So how do you get that water in when there won’t be perfectly spaced water stations? I prefer to carry a small bottle that straps to my hand like this one. For longer runs and/or hotter days, drop water bottles along your route where you can grab them quick as you come by! Just don’t forget where you left them so you can pick up after yourself!

And drink well afterwards! You could also use Gatorade during and after to help replace lost electrolytes.

3. Take It Easy

Long runs are actually supposed to be quite a bit slower than your “normal” or goal pace. For example I was hoping to run my last half-marathon at an overall 9:08 minutes per mile pace. During training, my pace for my long runs {10-14 miles} was between 10:30 and 11:30 minutes per mile. It really feels like you’re crawling along, but it’s a great way to build your endurance and that’s the point of long runs! {And yes, with those slow long runs, I DID beat my goal!}

If you’re training for a race and trying to meet a time goal, you’re going to want to throw speed work into your plan as well. You can work on that even in your long runs, running 3/4 of your run at the slow pace and the last 1/4 at your goal pace. Most of the run is still “taking it easy” but you get a little taste of finishing strong for your race!

4. Plan Some Distractions

My distraction of choice is a running partner, but that is just not always possible. My next choice is great music. I’ve posted a few times about my running playlists here and here and they are seriously inspiring to me. Another great distraction is a good podcast. It almost feels like you’re running with a friend having a great conversation, but you don’t have to talk at all and can just focus on your breathing! Lately, it’s been a great “distraction” for me to run WITHOUT music. The Hubby has done so as well and says that enjoying the fresh air and nature around him is a wonderful distraction.

5. Mix It Up

Run somewhere different than you normally run. Do the first few miles at a slower pace, push yourself in the middle, and end at an easier pace. Don’t make your long runs the same old thing every time or you will get bored and being bored while running makes it much harder to push yourself!

I went from not being a runner at all to running a half marathon in nine months and these tips were very helpful for getting me there. Increase your mileage gradually and you’ll be running longer and enjoying {most of} it, too!

What helps you get through a long run? What questions do you have about running longer distances?


The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks eBook