Three Reasons Runners Should Do Planks

When it comes to core workouts, most people think about crunches. But Coach Scott Young says that instead of crunches, runners should do planks.

When we think about core workouts, we usually think about crunches. But Coach Scott Young says that instead of crunches, runners should do planks.

We do crunches all day, especially if we sit at a desk, says Coach Scott. “When you sit up from a chair, you’re doing crunches, and that’s why people get back problems because (only the front) muscles get a workout.

The plank works the “entire wraparound area” – all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, the external oblique muscle, and the glutes.

Here are three reasons planks are better than crunches for runners:

Continue reading “Three Reasons Runners Should Do Planks”

Running in the Dog Days of Summer

running in the dog days of summerHere we are in the dog days of summer. I assume they are called “dog days” because it is too hot to do anything else but lie around. It is arguably the hardest time of year for runners. Here in the high desert, the heat often couples with wildfire season (which is in full swing this year!). This can make it difficult to keep up with training and get in a good quality run.

My preferred way to deal with this is to beat the heat…by a couple of hours, anyway.  Early mornings are my favorite time to run any time of year. The best part about summer running, as far as I’m concerned, is the sun rises much earlier. It’s especially effective this time of year, when there can be a 20 degree difference between early morning and late morning. My dogs prefer it, too, since just about any other time of day is too hot for them.

But it doesn’t matter what time we rise to run if the air quality is unhealthy. Almost every summer there are wildfires in our area at some point. At these times, there’s no other choice…but to hit the dreadmill…er, treadmill!

Last weekend following a group run in the midmorning heat, Coach Scott Young gave us a little pep talk on treadmill running. “It’s a good way to get a high quality workout…in a controlled environment.” Running in the intense heat can bring on dehydration, which sets back your training while your body’s recovering.

The downfall, Coach Scott admitted, is that running the treadmill can be downright boring. So the best way to deal with that is to find a structured workout that will make it go by faster.

Just do a web search on your favorite search engine and you’ll find hundreds of ideas for treadmill workouts of varying lengths and intensity. I’m looking forward to giving this one a try:

What do you do to make sure you get in quality workouts during the dog days of summer? Please leave a comment.running in the dog days of summer

Running With the Masters

running with the mastersI’ve only been running for about five years. Yet I recently learned that I am a member of a particular class of runners. I am a Masters Runner.

That sounds sort of “elitist”, doesn’t it?

Well, it isn’t. It just means I’m a runner over the age of 40. Maybe even 30, depending on who’s doing the “classifying”!

It tickles me that from my very first race, I was classified as a “Masters Runner”. I’ve always associated the word “master” with (1) someone who was eminently skilled in their craft or profession; (2) someone who has excelled in their study or art; (3) someone highly qualified to teach others, or (4) someone who owns slaves.

I am none of these things. So if anyone had asked me “Are you a Masters Runner?”, I would reply, “Oh, no! I only just started!”

But apparently, I am a master, if only by virtue of my age.

It might have been helpful for me and my friend Jeff to have known this at a race earlier this year!

Before the race, we visited the various vendor tables. As we stopped to admire the display of medals to be awarded to the top males and females in each age category, it surprised us to note that the highest age bracket being awarded was age “46 and above”!

Now hold up. Most of the races we’ve participated in award age categories well beyond 46. We lamented that the years between that alleged “peak” of 46 and our own ages can mean a big difference in performance. It seemed unfair to the more senior participants…even those of us only five to ten years into the category!

Before runners were even making their way to the start line, Jeff had lodged a suggestion with the race director for next year’s race…in short, that they really should expand the upper register of age divisions so that all age categories have an opportunity to place.

I found the race itself quite challenging because trail running is not my strength. So I was shocked to find that I had placed second among females in my age group.

Yes, the 46 and above age group.

Jeff placed fourth among males in the same age group.

But here’s the punchline. None of the individuals who placed ahead of us in our age division were younger. Rather, every single one was in their 60’s.

Running with the Masters - Results

And we thought we were standing up for these runners! As we now know, these are the Masters.

So the moral of the story is this, I’m not, nor will I ever be, an elite or professional runner. But I can say I’ve always been a Masters Runner. And I’ll be able to hold on to that category for many, many years to come.

From the looks of it, it only gets better! And, that’s the goal!

“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”    – Unknown

Running with the Masters - medal

If 13.1 is half crazy…am I losing my mind?

losing my mind?

I’m no longer only “half crazy”.

Evidently my train has fully jumped its track. I’ve dropped my full basket. I’ve tipped fully off my rocker. And I’ve lost my full bag of marbles.

In other words, I just registered for my first full marathon.

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d do. I’ve been content with my 5k’s, 10k’s, 10-milers and half marathons. I was one of those who, when inevitably asked, “when are you going to run a marathon?” would just smile and shake my head. It was not on my radar at all.

Then earlier this year, I read an article about Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to legally run the Boston Marathon. I was just over six months old when she ran it in 1967, and I don’t recall seeing that famous photo until the last couple of years. This year, the 50th anniversary of that run, at age 70, she ran it again. She was quoted in the article as saying “If you can run a marathon, you can do anything.”

That really got me thinking.

When I started running, I didn’t even know if I could successfully finish a 5K. But I trained for it and I did it. Same with 10K. A half marathon wasn’t on my bucket list at all, until I was presented with the opportunity to run in one. So I trained for it. I actually finished it. And I loved it.

The reason I started this blog is to encourage others to try new things, even if they’re not sure they can. I feel that everyone deserves to feel that sense of accomplishment, knowing you’ve stepped out of your own “norm” and tried something you may have thought impossible.

For me, it’s not that I think I have to run a marathon…it’s that I believe I’m capable of doing so. And in a way, because I am capable of doing it, it follows that I should.

And there it is. Once the thought entered my head, it was only a matter of time.

I did some research and started asking around about the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento. It’s a popular one in my area and as it happens, many of my friends (my age, older and younger) are doing it. And for quite a few it is also their first marathon. Plus we all have access to local professional training through Fizio.

And first-timers have the chance to earn an additional first-timer medal when we cross the finish line. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that extra bling factored in to my choice!

Maybe I’m not crazy after all. Or, if I am, I’m in good company!

So, here we go! Official training doesn’t start until Labor Day, and I have a few races scheduled between now and then. I’m looking forward to doing the training with my friends and sharing our experiences – the bad and the good.

And I’m looking forward to really knowing that I can do anything.

____________

If you have experiences, ideas, tips, you’d like to share regarding stepping out of a comfort zone, facing challenges, etc., please share them in the comments!

Reno Tahoe Odyssey Recap 2017

Shelley's DiaryThis post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of these links I make a small commission.

It has been a busy couple of weeks since I’ve updated. The first weekend in June I ran my fourth Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, and the following weekend was a marathon of concerts with the ensemble I play with, Tintabulations. (check out our website and concert schedule here: we have a handful of concerts left before taking a summer break!)

RTO Recap

The RTO is a 178-mile relay which starts in Reno, loops through the Sierras around Lake Tahoe, into the Carson Valley, up the mountain into Virginia City, and ends a bit past the starting point in Reno. There are almost 300 teams competing (well, really only a handful of teams actually competing; the rest of us are in it for the fun of it!) The majority of teams consist of 12 runners, split up between two vans. There are 36 legs of the relay so each runner theoretically has three legs to run. Distances vary from a few miles up to 8, and range from very easy to very difficult.reno tahoe odyssey recap 2017

It was in training for my first RTO in 2014 that I really began to feel that running was no longer just something I did. Running became a part of my identity. Also, because of the RTO, a half marathon seemed do-able, seeing as how I practically ran one then (over a 24-hour period). Each year has presented its own set of challenges, triumphs, and firsts. This year was no exception!

Team Spirit

A big part of running the RTO is choosing a team name. Scroll through the team roster on the RTO website and you’ll see some very creative names. Ours this year has to be said out loud to be fully appreciated…Hoof Hearted. Let’s just say the name is descriptive of the RTO life in a van with five other people!

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Our teammate Kris designed our shirts. The design depicted a mechanical-looking flatulent unicorn breaking wind in colorful fashion, as one would expect from a unicorn! She also pulled together two sponsors for our team, Bison Construction and Port of Subs, who paid for our shirts.

Tutu Girl, and A First for Me

There had been heavy construction traffic getting to my exchange. By the time we arrived I barely had time to slap on some Body Glide and fill my water flask before our runner came in and I was off.

The first legs of this relay kind of set the tone for the rest of the race. You see what kind of van support you’re going to get and what kind of support each individual might want.

I feel like I’m a “clingy” runner when it comes to this race.  It was a hot day, so I requested team support about every mile and a half of the almost six-mile leg. And they complied, with water guns aimed and ready. Strangers in tutus were generous with their spritzer bottles, as well.  My team also helped support their teammate, nicknamed “tutu girl”, as she and  I leapfrogged each other the entire route! That’s what this race is all about!

Around 4 miles in, just after my teammates gave me support and went ahead to the next exchange, I started feeling the urge to pee. I became much more aware of forest and the large trees alongside the road and down a slight embankment, and I began to realize that I would not be able to make it two miles. By this point I didn’t see any runners coming up behind me, nor much traffic. A quick scan of the area yielded no signs of wildlife except the birds who seemed to be mocking me from above. So for the first time ever in my five years of running, I took advantage of mother nature’s outhouse and copped a squat behind a tree. I was so glad I did. I felt much better and able to run in strong to finish my leg.

Mind Games

I really hate the games my mind plays when I’m out there. I’m usually a confident runner and don’t worry much about my pace. But as part of a team, and the oldest on the team, it’s different. Seriously, some of my teammates are the same age as my children! So when I was out there tackling the hills in the heat, thoughts crept in. “yep, you can tell I’m the oldest runner on the team!” “I’m the slowest so far.” “I wonder how long these younger friends of mine will want to have home on their team?” “I wonder if this will be the last year?” “Maybe I should have taken the ‘princess’ legs” (this is how one of my teammates jokingly refers to the easiest legs).

Then I would see my van and speed back to a run while they cheered me on, cooled me off and called me a “beast”!  After my leg was complete, my teammates assured me my pace was strong and steady. Yes, I walked the uphills (no shame in walking!) but made up the time on the downhills and straight-aways.

In my rush at the beginning of the leg, I didn’t start my Fitbit until about a half mile in.

reno tahoe odyssey recap

After we had completed our first six legs and handed off to Van 2, we found a nearby park and gobbled down the Port of Subs sandwiches & chips provided to us. Turkey sandwiches and Cheetos never tasted so good!

Then we changed into fresh clothes, spread out some picnic blankets and relaxed until the time to venture the 30+ minute drive to meet up with Van 2 and run the next set of legs.

Round Two

This is perhaps the most beautiful part of the RTO course, with views of the majestic Lake Tahoe at  sunset, particularly around Emerald Bay. Lake Tahoe never ceases to take my breath away with its pure beauty. Although the legs running closest to the Lake are longer and in some cases, hillier, the scenery is worth it.reno tahoe odyssey recap 2017

My leg in this section was just over three miles. By the time I started running, it was dark. I began in a community called Tahoe Keys, running through upscale neighborhoods without much audible van support, as this was designated a “quiet zone” by race officials. The course then went down the main drag in South Lake Tahoe. Maybe it was because we had to be quiet, and maybe it was because the portion along the main drag was on a pseudo sidewalk and not well lit. It just wasn’t my favorite part of the course. Again, my teammates were supportive and we even hammed it up for some fun pics.reno tahoe odyssey recap

I felt bad for our final runner in this section. Sarah had requested little support, and that’s what she got! Our attentions turned toward discussion of which pizza joints were nearby, and whether we should eat in the van on the way to our sleeping destination! Sarah later quipped that she could have been taken by a bear and we would not have known. (I like to think we would have noticed sooner rather than later!)

We ordered pizza and planned to take it in the van. But the Pizza Hut was comfortable and quiet, and the bartender was very congenial. He brought us all ice water while we waited and invited us to sit at the bar. We were so comfortable that we ended up eating there.

The drive to our next destination was about 20 minutes. The parents of one of our teammates lives just off the route, minutes from the next van exchange point. They are SO hospitable; there were 4 cots with pillows and blankets, along with a double bed and a sofa . In the kitchen there were bagels and cream cheese, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, assorted granola bars, trail mix, and an ice chest filled with water and Gatorade! We thanked them profusely and sleepily as heads hit pillows. At least, I’m pretty sure we did!

Sleep Deprivation Motivation

We were a team of 12, but it sometimes felt like we were two teams competing to allow the other as little sleep as possible. Only a little over an hour after we had gone to bed, unhappy people were yanked out of deep sleep with the call that it was time to meet the other van.

We were highly motivated to finish our third legs as quickly as possible. The faster we moved, the sooner we could return the favor and wake up Van 2!

This leg for me was just over three miles, all uphill to Silver City (about halfway up to Virginia City). This time the only van support I wanted was “moral”. I didn’t want to stop for water or rest. I just wanted to push through and finish!

Somehow in my sleep deprivation, I started then paused my Fitbit for the first three-quarters of a mile. You can see the gap in the screenshot. But I pushed up that mountain!

Reno Tahoe Odyssey Recap

Speaking of sleep deprivation; it was here that I realized that our loss paled compared to the Race Directors’. They were at the Start Line. They were at the “Donner’s Downfall” exchange mid-afternoon when my husband volunteered there. We saw them at the Lake Tahoe van exchange at dusk and the Carson City exchange at dawn. As I ran up the mountain to Silver City, head-honcho Eric passed me and cheered me on. And they were at the finish line. I can only imagine how late they stayed after the finish line festival. Do race directors earn medals, too?

Run-Eat-Rest

It’s a rite of passage for Van 1 to celebrate completion of its portion of the relay at the Bucket of Blood Saloon in Virginia City, with Bloody Mary’s. We decided to forego this tradition at that early hour, and instead headed back down to Reno for a full breakfast.

Notice the recurring theme here. Run. Eat. Rest. We ran as well as we could have, I believe. The food was consistently the “best ever”. The rest could always have been better, or at least longer!

The Big Finish

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Our team was consistent and ran strong. We may not have had much sleep over the course of the race, but the trade-off was that we crossed the finish line before noon on Saturday! It was fun to watch for our final runner, then run into the park together and cross the line as a team. It was rewarding as Team Captain to hand out medals and reward stickers to teammates. We had our official finish line photo, post-race drinks, and enjoyed visiting with one another for a little while before heading home. Many of us had never met prior to this race. Now we have more running buddies, and you really can’t have too many of those!

Each year the RTO is a new and different experience. I think this one was my favorite so far. I’m looking forward to next year’s relay and wondering which legs I’ll be doing then!

Maybe I’ll go easy on myself and do the “princess legs”!

reno tahoe odyssey recap

Global Running Day

Happy Global Running Day!

Global Running Day 2017

The first Wednesday in June is Global Running Day, which is a day for people all over the world to celebrate running. The idea is to share your passion for running and to inspire others to keep moving.

Just Run

So how do you celebrate Global Running Day? How else … by running! Just run. Wherever you want. As far as you want. With whomever you want.

Global Running Day
Make a Pledge

If you want to be more formal about it and find out more information about the global initiative, you can make a pledge to run here. The only information requested is your first name, how far you plan to run and what is inspiring you to run. That’s it. You can even create a personalized bib if you want.

Fundraising Option

And although you are under no obligation, there are also links to fundraise for your favorite charities through Charity Miles and Crowd Rise. I am downloading the Charity Miles app as I write this, and plan to start using my miles to raise money for great charities such as the ASPCA, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more.

I’ll be celebrating Global Running Day by running about 3 miles with my pups. My inspiration is to stay healthy and keep moving.

What’s your inspiration? Who will you run with today?  Maybe today will be your first day of running? Or your first day back after a break? I’d love to hear about your celebration! Please share your Comments.

Happy Running!

Memorial Day Trail Run: Opt Outside

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through one of these links I make a small commission.

#OptOutside

This morning Desert Sky Adventures co-hosted the monthly Run & Brunch with Bighorn Racing. The theme was #OptOutside, and in lieu of the usual neighborhood run, this time we met at the trailhead for the Steamboat Ditch Trail. I think I’ve only run this part of the trail twice, both in times of severe drought. Last winter’s snowfall decidedly ended the drought, so this run of the trail offered a brand new experience for me.

Also, I ran mostly without music, as I’m trying to make more of a habit these days. It was a thrill to enjoy the sounds of nature around and below us as we traced the hillsides inward and outward. Even as the morning sun rose higher and hotter, a light breeze met us as we rounded the last switch back and accompanied us to the finish. It was blissful.

Discovering and Sharing

As I was taking it all in, it occurred to me how long I lived in Reno before I even knew – or cared – that these trails and views existed. That would be, oh, 19 years. And if not for running, I may still not know about them.  It made me a little sad to think that our lifestyle choices back then interfered with giving my family these types of experiences. But, hindsight is what it is, and there is plenty to be discovered and shared.

By the way, running is not a requirement for such adventures. I would encourage everyone, everywhere, to #OptOutside occasionally. Get out there and discover what your community, your area, your little nook in this world, has to offer.

Memorial Day Trail Run: Opt Outside

Here’s my Fitbit snapshot from today’s run. I forgot to start my Fitbit and actually put in 6 miles. My intention was to do 3 0r 4 miles tops. But nature enticed me and I was feeling good, although I forgot about the 20 degree rule and was regretting my decision not to wear shorts. It was overall a lovely morning with friends and the perfect way to spend the holiday!

What discoveries have you made in your area lately? Or, what may be holding you back from opting outside? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Fitbit Ionic