Tails and Trails 5K

•December 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A few weeks ago on November 6th, I ran my first real 5k race with my favorite running partner, my mom. The race, Tails and Trails, is annual; all proceeds benefit the Main Line Animal Rescue animal shelter. My mom and I are both dog lovers, so the race was an obvious match.

The course was cross country style, which I also love. It took place on the acres of MLAR’s own property right here in beautiful Chester County.

Unfortunately, being so in touch with nature turned out to pose a danger for my mom. She turned back to get a glimpse of my whereabouts (don’t ask why she was ahead…) and when she whipped her face forward, a pricker bush caught on to her nose! It was awful; she was bleeding the seemingly long remainder of the race. Clearly, she’s a warrior, because she only stopped once for a brief moment to catch some dew on her hand to wash the new wound.

Other than that, the race was huge success! Some of the dogs were even there to cheer on the runners! My mom let me sprint ahead of her in the end, but she nearly barreled in right behind me. I placed 5th in my age group- which was huge because my age group included girls as young as 14 and women as old as 29! We were 49 and 50 overall, from a crowd of about 90. Not too shabby.

Also, after we cooled down a bit, a spectator came up to us and gave me the greatest compliment. He said I was the only runner who was smiling! This made me feel so wonderful and really reinforced my love for running. I also just love that this is an activity I can do with my mom. Not many people get that chance; I love running with her anytime I can.

In fact, I’m currently trying my best to convince her to add a third, four-legged partner to the mix — a retriever or shepherd breed! 😉

Who is your favorite running parter?

 

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Winter Weather

•December 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In the winter season, it is easy to feel defeated, fatigued, or unmotivated in general. The cold, dry air and the minimal hours of daylight really make for a difficult body adjustment to the new atmosphere–whether you are running or not. That’s why it’s so easy if you are running to just start missing a jog here, then one there, and suddenly your whole routine is out of whack. 

If you’re like me, you run at night or later in the day. I can’t be bothered to wake up early to exercise.Sleep is precious, especially if you’re hoping to rejuvenate sore muscles and sore mind! Plus, it can be foggy, wet, or freezing outside at that time of day. I don’t run on a treadmill frankly because the gym is too far of a drive. I also don’t like to feel like I’m being pushed or compelled to run in any way. The movement is up to me! So I choose the pavement and other terrain of whatever town I find myself in. 

These days, in West Chester, the sun is going down around 5:30. This means I either need to get my run in before that time, or what is more likely, is to run in the dark. Of course this can be dangerous anywhere… but you haven’t seen the sidewalks in my town! One wrong step and you’ve got yourself a broken ankle. So, I’ve had to readjust my running style a bit. I bought a shirt with reflective bands, little lights for my feet (yes, like a toddler’s sneakers…), and I’m even considering a head lamp. Hey, they’re effective at a festival, why not for my every day run? 

The other element an outdoor runner has to consider in winter is the temperature and weather. I doubt I’ll be running while snow is pouring down (and oh how it pours in the Northeast..). And I can imagine the excuse of “too much ice” will help me talk myself out of a run a few times. But the cold can’t and won’t count as a viable excuse! So, I invested in a few pairs of running leggings. These babies are tight, warm, and protect my skin against the cold and wind. Awesome! 

Overall, just remember that you don’t have to stop running just because its getting dark and cold outside. With a few changes to your attire and additional safety measures, you can maintain your running routine. 

Cayuga Lake, Ithaca, New York

•October 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Last weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to the Fingerlakes with my mom. She is really into health and wellness, so we were very active on our trip. Hiking, biking, and of course, running. We stayed at the Taughannock Inn, situated inside the Taughannock State Park. The park features a 215ft. water fall and a number of trails. We ran the North Rim trail into the South rim trail. It was incredibly challenging! The diverse terrain, all the chipmunks, and of course the massive HILLS! Still, my mom and I agreed that our early morning run on the N & S Rim trails was the best part of the whole trip.

•October 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I remember there was a time I didn’t enjoy running. I used to come up with many excuses to walk slowly during the Presidential Mile in gym class. I cited shin splints,  lack of breakfast, or asthma I didn’t have. Now that I feel the benefits and even feel an itch to run I can’t imagine the activity ever being completely absent from my life. When I’m running consistently I feel so much stronger, I stand up straighter; I’m alert. I breathe deep.

I’m curious about the running attitudes of this reader community.

How many out there…

love to run and plan runs?

enjoy running but can’t find the time?

only run when you are forced to?

or avoid running at all costs?

 

I’ll publish the breakdown of responses in my next post, in addition to pictures from my latest favorite run–The North and South Rim Trails in Taughannock State Park at the FingerLakes!

Top Ten Tips for a Perfect, Personal Posture

•October 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

(This is a ‘List’ post.)

For a long time, I was running the wrong way. Sure, it came naturally for me to land heavy on my heels, take longer strides, and hunch my upper back. But recently, when I was on a trail run with a competitive runner and close friend of mine, I pointed out how quick her steps were when compared to mine. Normally I have headphones in and do not hear the beat of my steps. Although next to her then, it was painfully obvious that her feet were moving quicker than mine. I needed to fix this!

I quickly learned that proper running form isn’t just about your feet, though. To develop your perfect, personal posture you must start at the top of your body and really work your way down. (No relaxing here! You need total body consciousness and engagement!)

1. Your head needs to be gazing forward, eyes scanning the horizon (never your feet). Holding your head at a natural level will keep the spine aligned.

2. Make your chest open and high, as though you are proud. This will help your shoulders stay loose and away from your ears. Ever get a pain on either side in your upper back? That’s your shoulder telling you you’re holding your arms too high.

3. In that same area, be sure that your shoulders don’t dip side to side as you switch feet.

4. Your arms and hands should never be tense. I carry a keys and an iPod when I run. This helps my fists stay firm while avoiding clenching.

5. Breathing is important to posture. Be sure to exhale for more counts than you inhale. This way you are more likely to avoid forming a pesky side-stitch. Your breathing will be more efficient if you stretch your torso to its full length. Coaches call this “running tall.”

6. Your hips should be right underneath you, not inching forward or backward, but simply straight up and straight on.

7. As far as legs go, imagine moving only from the knee to the ankle. There is no need to overtly tighten the upper legs. This will help keep your pace even and your endurance high.

8. When landing, your largest section of your foot should be the first to hit the ground, then lightly followed by the heel (if at all). Running on the ball of your feet like this seriously engages your calves, but it will instantly make you faster.

9. Your stride should be have a light, springy feel to it. Try to push away from the ball of the foot and toes as soon as they reach the ground.

10. Your posture should feel contained but effortless, natural not forced. You’ll know you’ve got the right form when you feel your feet just barely catching you, as though your body is a half-step ahead.

I gradually made these changes to my posture. The foot-fall, as I mentioned before, was my weakest point. My calves burned for weeks, but now landing on my toes feels better and more normal than falling on my heels. As I run, I am always reminding myself to hold my chest high and proud, almost point my toes, and think about the movement and power from knee to ankle. Any time I pass a nice, reflective window I check my stance and try to correct myself if necessary. I still struggle with pains from holding my shoulders too high, but I can only continue to work it out.

 

My Town

•September 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today I went for a longer-than-usual run around the streets where I live. West Chester, a college town outside of Philadelphia, is historic, diverse, and busy. I love running all over these roads, through parks or along a crowded sidewalk. Each time I begin a run in town I decide which corner, or corners, of the grid I’d like to explore. On today’s run, I went straight up Church St. from my apartment building. This route takes me past shops and the community Library. Then I ran straight into the golf course, at the northern end of town. From there I run across High St. to the massive properties, which evidence the fact that Chester County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Sometimes, depending on my endurance, I’ll carry this route out to the Chester County Hospital, then curve back to pass Henderson High School. Here I am in a more commercial area, with Market St. WaWa just over the road. I run up Chestnut, past the townie tavern Square Bar and then zoom back down Matlack St. This particular area of Matlack is the opposite of the northern end. It’s funny how in a matter of blocks on the same street one can go from witnessing poverty to luxury. I ponder this as I coast downhill, towards campus. In 8 or so blocks I cut back West, mindful to skip the trap of a crowded campus. Then I was traveling up church st again. The streetlight by my apartment is in sight. It’s now time to sprint. I search within myself to delve out any existing energy. Somehow, my legs take over. I can feel my own momentum propelling through the air. I feel strong and weak, all the same. When I finally reach my door, 32 minutes after I began, I consider all that I witnessed and how it truly was just a short time to see so much.

Why Run?

•September 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I have decided to start a blog about running. I know it’s not a novel, brilliant, or high tech activity. In fact, most people typically loathe the exercise. But for me, running captivates both my body and my mind. It’s not about exercise, speed, or distance; I usually only run 3 miles or so at a time, and I have never raced. Instead, running is my meditation. I think so clearly, or not at all, as I propel my body through the streets of West Chester. I love seeing where my steps can take me–from the East side of town to the Northwest. I pass animals, people, gardens. In a 30 minute run I can see, hear, smell, feel wherever I am, from such an intimate perspective–from the pavement. So this blog serves to record the sights, inspirations, and general effects (whether physical, mental, or emotional) from each of my runs. Perhaps my insights will encourage someone else to hit the road.