Browsed by
Author: admin

Work/Life/Training Balance

Work/Life/Training Balance

Tips for finding balance amidst work, life, and training brought to you by Headsweats Ambassador, Linda Nguyen. @thelindamaily


Linda Maily

I’m jolted awake by a blaring alarm. I search for iPhone to hit the snooze button, only to realize it’s 6:00 AM and I’m already 30 minutes behind schedule. I rush out of bed and hurriedly finish a 5k, 2 miles shorter than what my training plan required. I make myself look somewhat decent for work, teach a handful of kids, grade a ton of papers, eat a lunch that I probably shouldn’t, sit in on a couple meetings with sugary snacks, and sit some more in traffic for 40 minutes to get to the gym. I struggle with the speed work out in the pool and my watch tells me I’m slower than my desired pace. Bummed out by my less than perfect training, I shower for the second time in the day, and make my way to the grocery store to grab something from the deli or to a “healthy” fast food restaurant. On my drive home, I call my boyfriend to tell him about my day, spacing out when he tells me about his. I get back to my small apartment and it’s already 7:30 PM. I’ve been awake for over 13 hours and I still need to prep my lessons for the next day, answer student emails, study for the GRE, and work on my grad school applications. It’ll be well past 11:00 PM before I get into bed to do it all again the next day.

I don’t even have kids, a spouse, or any other lives in my care – so for those that do, maybe you should be the ones writing this blog!

To say that our lives get busy is an understatement and to say that we might struggle with work/ life/ training balance is downplaying what it is we all really do. The truth is, life in itself is already difficult – trying to fit training into that difficult life requires dedication, self-motivation, patience, determination, and compassion.

Here are 3 simple tips on how to improve your work/ life/ training balance.

1. Minimize the number of decisions you have to make in a day. Even the smallest decisions can turn into a million questions and decisions that we can eliminate each day.

Here are some examples: What should I wear to work today? The blue dress? Oh wait, I have that important presentation so I should wear a suit. Which route am I taking to work today? Is there construction on that road still? Should I bring my own lunch to work today or should I buy? But if I buy, where will I go for lunch? What should I make for dinner for the family? Maybe we’ll just order pizza. Should I run or bike today? Or wait, should I swim instead? I’m so tired, maybe I can call this a rest day. Should I go grocery shopping today? I need to meal prep. It can wait until tomorrow.

These thoughts compound and the little stress that comes with each little stressor adds up. And when you’re stressed, the less likely you are to make the best decision. So plan ahead. Choose your outfit the night before so that it’s hanging up and ready to go in the morning. Pack your gym bag the night before and leave a spare set of clothes in the car. Meal prep over the weekend so that you can just grab it from the fridge before you leave for work. Have your training plan set up in a way that you do the same type of workouts on each day of the week (i.e., speed work, long slow runs, swim, long bike, etc). All of this pre-planning saves your brain energy to focus on the big decisions that you have to make every day for work and for family.

2. Rest. It’s a simple thing and yet it’s one of the toughest things to get out of our busy schedules. Being a millennial in West Los Angeles, I can confirm that working 12 hours a day during the week, and running into the office to put out a fire on the weekend, is not only a normal thing, but an expected thing. I’ve also witnessed it in friends with newborns and teens. Who is taking her to soccer? Her 16th birthday is coming up and you know she’s expecting a surprise party. Don’t forget to send a care package to the university so that he’s not the only one without it! And on top of all that, we expect our bodies to perform at 100 during training and races. Hit the pace. Get the time. Be at the top.

It’s easy to get lost in the rush of life. If you can make the time to be the extremely reliable employee at work, the best parent or guardian, and the best in age group, you can definitely schedule the time to rest. It’ll boost your mood, your attitude, and your performance. Plus, it just feels good.

3. Be kind to yourself. As a runner and triathlete that isn’t the fastest or the strongest, I can tell you how easy it is for me to get down on myself for being dead last in my age group more than once. I’ve always been afraid that if I show too much compassion to myself, that I’ll end up making it an excuse to slack on everything in life. But let’s be honest with ourselves – that’s not true. We have to show up for ourselves and be our number one cheerleader in all aspects of life. That includes giving ourselves permission to make mistakes as we figure life out. That means being patient with our progress. That means allowing ourselves to feel negative feelings, but never asking them to sit down for coffee. Life is a journey with all sorts of surprises on the way – be patient with where the turns take you, but never ever give up on yourself. Love where you are and when you’re ready to move on, take that leap of faith in yourself. Be 10% braver. I believe in you. You should believe in you, too.

So those are my little nuggets of wisdom that 26 years of life have given me. I don’t guarantee that they’ll make your life perfect, but I do hope it makes it a little bit more joyful.

Take heart.

The Best of Chicago: Where to Eat, Sleep, Run & Explore

The Best of Chicago: Where to Eat, Sleep, Run & Explore

Headsweats Ambassador Jill Monroe is preparing for the Chicago Marathon. If you’ll be there too, check out her advice on the best food, lodging and places to run in the windy city. And don’t forget to visit her blog (Travel.Run.Repeat) for more!


The 2017 Chicago Marathon is rapidly approaching. It’s time to start planning your trip if you haven’t already! Reservations for hotels have hopefully been made, but if not don’t panic! I have some suggestions for you. You should also start thinking about pre-race dinner reservations since the city of Chicago will be crowded with runners from all over the world with the same intention of eating the perfect meal. Don’t be stuck wandering around Chicago trying to find a place that has last minute availabilities for your carb-rich dinner! I wouldn’t want you to accidentally stroll into UNO’s Pizzeria & Grill, a chain restaurant, thinking you’re getting authentic deep dish pizza. Be informed and know what’s best in town!

The Chicago Marathon was my second marathon and first Abbott World Marathon Majors. I had the time of my life running this race. My husband is from the Chicago area, and my in-laws live there as well. I’ve combined my personal suggestions with that of my family and friends to bring you a very detailed and thorough list of places to eat, sleep and play in Chicago! Oh, and of course if you’re just visiting Chicago for business or vacation and need suggestions on places to run, I’ve got you covered!

EAT

LOU MALNATI’S FOR DEEP DISH PIZZA

In order to really experience Chicago, you’ll need to try deep dish pizza. My favorite is Lou Malnati’s. My father-in-saw says “Get the butter crust!” I don’t remember trying the butter crust, but I’ll have to go back just to try it. You probably won’t need more than one or two slices. It is very filling!

LA SCAROLA

Runners love their pre-race pasta meal, so if you’re planning ahead consider La Scarola and make a reservation. You will forget you’re in America when you eat here. This place has some of the best Italian food in the world.

MERCADITO

Craving tacos? Or want to try something different? Check out Mercadio’s. Here’s the best way to describe this place:

“Cocktails and upscale Mexican eats keep this popular hangout bustling with a hip, young crowd.”

duck.jpeg

DUCK DUCK GOAT

For creative Chinese fare from a celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, who won Bravo’s Top

Chef, check out Duck Duck Goat. Other restaurants from Chef Izard is Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner. All of these are highly recommended! Check out the Little Goat Diner for breakfast.

AU CHEVAL

Craving a burger after your race? For “the best burger in the city” try Au Cheval.

PUBLICAN

“An homage to oysters, pork and beerThe Publican’s eclectic menu is inspired by simple farmhouse fare in a space evocative of a European beer hall. Chef-Partner Paul Kahan, Executive Chef Cosmo Goss and Chef de Cuisine Jacob Saben have developed a network of purveyors to supply the restaurant with hand-selected and sustainably-raised fish, seafood and pork.” This place was highly recommended by several of my friends.

SLEEP

SHERATON CHICAGOSheraton - Chicago

I love the location of this hotel. It’s located right on the water (pictured to the right). You can access the Lake Shore Trail easily from this spot and you’ll have a great view of the city. There are plenty of restaurants you can walk to or ones within the hotel. They serve Starbucks as well (always a plus for me). You can even walk to a Whole Foods Market. And Michigan Ave is also easy to walk to. Click here for their website.

The following luxury hotels come highly recommended: 

PUBLIC HOTEL CHICAGO

Public Hotels website. This hotel reminds me of something I would see in Tokyo, Japan. It’s clean, refined, sophisticated and totally unique. I love how there are separate sections of each room for “work, sleep & relaxation”. Check it out.

PALOMAR

Another gorgeous luxury hotel located in the heart of River North. Check out the Kimpton Hotel Palomar.

LANGHAM

This came highly recommended and I was told it was one of the nicest hotels in the world. Judging by the pictures, this 5 star luxury hotel has it all!

“Majestic views of the cityscape, the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan. Legendary hotel hospitality established in 1865. All housed in a skyscraper designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe.”

THOMPSONS

Another gorgeous luxury boutique hotel with a fantastic view and location. Click here for more details.

The following hotels are more reasonably priced and still in a fantastic location: 

THE AISLE – STAYPINAPPLE

I love the look and feel of this hotel, and it’s location is also perfect. The price is reasonable for what you’re getting and it’s location. Click here.

LAQUINTA DOWNTOWN

I am a fan of LaQuinta Inn & Suites. This location is great and the rates are fantastic considering you’re staying in the heart of Chicago. Check this one out.

PLAY

CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE TOUR BY BOAT

One of my favorite things to do before the Chicago Marathon is to take a tour of Chicago by boat! This is a great way to see the city, but not do a lot of walking. Check out Shoreline Sightseeing, specifically their Chicago Architecture Tour.

NAVY PIER

Another cool thing to do before or after the marathon is to visit Navy Pier and take a ride on the Ferris Wheel.

WRIGLEY FIELD – CHICAGO CUBS GAME

Check out the famous Wrigley Field and watch the World Champion Chicago Cubs play baseball. There’s no better way to embrace the essence of Chicago than to watch a baseball game in the heart of the city in this iconic stadium. Try a Chicago hot dog too!

MAGGIE DALEY PARK

Check out Maggie Daley Park downtown, if you truly want to “play”. Activities here range from mini golf to rock wall climbing, tennis to skating and more! Just a word of caution: Don’t participate in any extreme sports BEFORE your marathon. Save these activities for a day or two after. Or perhaps suggest your family or friends entertain themselves here while you rest or run. Tip: Check out Cindy’s Rooftop Bar in the Chicago Athletic Association.

navy pier chicago.jpg

ETC.

GARRETT POPCORN

One of my favorite things about Chicago is Garrett popcorn. Try the Chicago mix. Take home a tin full of popcorn for your family or co-workers!

ARGO TEA

I am a big iced tea fan. Argo has some of the best iced tea I’ve ever tasted. They have a variety of drinks and cafe food, but I usually go just for the tea.  My favorite is the green tea ginger twist! Cafes are located all over Chicago, including one on Michigan Ave.

RUN

If you’re visiting Chicago for the marathon, chances are you won’t want to do a lot of walking. But if you’re there for work and need a place to run, check out these suggestions:

5 Places to Run in Chicago:
http://running.competitor.com/2015/06/features/5-places-to-run-in-chicago_130136

LAKEFRONT TRAIL

The obvious place to run is Lakefront Trail. “An impressive 18-mile-long stretch, Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is a paved path that extends from Ardmore Street (5800 N. Sheridan Road) on the North Side to 71st Street (7100 S. South Shore Drive) on the South Side.” When I was here for business I did my 14 mile long run along this trail. It was perfect!

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoy your stay in Chicago! I am very excited to be there for the 2017 Chicago Marathon. Follow me on social media (@travel.run.repeat) for updates on my training and reminders about this race and other Abbott World Marathon Majors. See you in Chicago!

-Jill M.

TRAIN WHILE YOU TRAVEL

TRAIN WHILE YOU TRAVEL

Headsweats Ambassador Jeff Stein proves it’s possible to maintain your training no matter where life takes you. 


When I learned I had been accepted to a three-month fellowship program in the West Stein 5Bank, I wondered what those three months would mean for my training. As an elite marathoner averaging 110+-mile weeks, I was worried that the unfamiliar routes, hot climate, and unavailability of energy and hydration products (not to mention prevalence of Israeli military checkpoints) would interfere with my training. At the same time, I was anxious that the time I would spend running would cause me to “miss out” on some of the experiences of living abroad. Looking back, the training I did in the West Bank was some of the highest quality running I have ever done. And, instead of detracting from the experience of living abroad, running actually enhanced my ability to sight-see, meet local residents, immerse myself in the culture, and generally enjoy my time living abroad. When done right, training and travelling can be mutually complementary. To maximize both the efficacy of your raining and enjoyment of your travelling, keep these three thoughts in mind:

  1. Bring the right gear. Whether cold or hot, you’ll want headwear. My Headsweats race hat shielded me from the oppressive sun in the Jordanian desert as well as it did from the chilling rain in Iceland and, before that, the ferocious flies in Nicaragua. You’ll also want some sort of race belt to carry a water bottle (I use a zippered FlipBelt), a passport photocopy, and some money. You don’t ever want to be stranded in a foreign country without those. Finally, wear a watch, ideally with GPS. When running through new areas, measuring distances can be challenging. A GPS-enabled watch will liberate you to wander and explore beyond a rigid, pre-mapped route, without undermining your ability to tabulate your mileage. Once you’re properly equipped, you can travel farther, faster, and more independently than walking or touring around by conventional means.
  2. Find a friend. Nearly every community in the world has at least some runners, even if running is not a mainstay in the local culture. Approach people and ask around about running groups and where (or where not) to run. You will be surprised how often you will uncover links to the local running scene. And, even if you don’t, those questions are conversation-starters. You may even end up making a local friend. If talking to strangers is not your style, you can try free online networks like Strava and MapMyRun, which have helpful information about routes that others have tried all over the globe. And, of course, there’s always Google.
  3. Use local fuel. One of my favorite perks of running is that it allows me to follow my stomach, wherever it may lead. Incidentally, my favorite part of travelling is trying local cuisines. Take advantage of training while travelling to fuel yourself with what the actual residents eat. It’s fine to bring some of your preferred energy/hydration foods “just in case” (I brought a few packs of Nuun tablets and Honey Stinger waffles), but virtually all societies have their own foods that will meet your in-training caloric and nutritional needs. In the West Bank, I lived off of fresh pita, hummus, eggs (with the most vibrant yokes I’ve ever seen), cheese, and locally farmed vegetables. During workouts, I downed dates. Afterwards, I rehydrated with copious quantities of watermelon. Local foods are not only cheaper—they are an excellent way to consume local culture.

stein 1

While training in the West Bank I accomplished some of the highest quality workouts of my career. I left the region healthier, more relaxed, and in better shape than I was when I arrived. Meanwhile, running opened up doors that would have been otherwise closed to me. I literally ran into a Palestinian athlete who became my training partner and ultimately invited me into his home for a Ramadan break-fast. My long runs through Ramallah familiarized me with the town and its environs to the point that I can now give directions like a local. During a mystical 10-mile run through the Lost City of Petra in Jordan, I saw more ancient ruins in a single day than would have been possible by simply walking through. And, perhaps most importantly, keeping up my training enabled me to devour as much delicious local food as my heart (and stomach) desired.

As I learned in the West Bank, you don’t need to sacrifice your training to travel. Do both. Life is too short to shortchange either one.

Stein 4

7 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

7 Ways to Beat the Summer Heat

Headsweats Ambassador Jill Monroe is training for the Chicago Marathon this summer. Temperatures are rising  – and so is her daily mileage! Check out her 7 tips for beating the heat below!


START EARLY

Ideally you should start running earlier than normal in order to beat the heat. It’s never easy to wake up earlier on the weekends than you do on weekdays, but trust me you won’t regret this decision.  Typically I will start running at 6:30 a.m. in the summer, or earlier if I’m really ambitious. If you start running at 9 a.m. you most likely will be running when temperatures are higher and the sun will be shining directly on you. The best way to avoid this is to get up earlier and start running. If that doesn’t work for you, consider doing some of your miles on the treadmill. If you’re doing a 10 mile run and the warmer temperatures are unbearable, consider splitting your run so that 5 miles are outside and 5 are on the treadmill. Or do all of your miles on the treadmill. Also choose a path or trail that is shaded if possible.

DRINK UP

Hydrate properly several days before your long run or race. The morning of and during your run, continue to drink up. Consider using an electrolyte supplement before or during your activity. You may want to also consider drinking an electrolyte beverage (like a sports drink) in addition to water. My personal favorite electrolyte supplement is Hammer Nutrition® Endurolytes®. In addition, I will sip on a Hammer Nutrition® Heed®, which is a sports drink. Hydrate properly even afteryou have finished your outdoor activity. Here is more information on how much you should drink when it’s hot out. Watermelon is usually what I will crave when I have finished a long run. Sweet, chilled watermelon is so refreshing. Studies have shown that watermelon helps relieve post exercise muscle soreness. It also will hydrate you and provide key electrolytes. More information on the benefits of watermelon here.

ICE ICE BABY!

If you have a handheld water bottle or even a hydration vest, consider adding ice cubes to your water or electrolyte drink. This will keep your water cold so it’s more refreshing and will help lower your body temperature. When I know temperatures will be high, I will fill my handheld bottle with water halfway and freeze it overnight. The following morning before my run, I pour more water into my bottle with the large ice block. Slowly the ice block will melt. The cold water bottle feels great and keeps my water cold for a longer period of time.

KEEP A COOL HEAD

I usually wear a hat when I run. My favorite brand is Headsweats®. I love all their products, but the trucker hat is my favorite kind of hat for running. Wearing a hat while running or doing any outdoor activity in the summer is beneficial in many ways. First the hat will absorb excess moisture from your head, and will keep sweat from dripping into your eyes. If you’re like me, my eyes burn when sweat drips into them. Hats prevent this from happening. They also cover your face and block the sun from your eyes. In addition, they will keep you from squinting and furrowing up your face which will prevent you from creating extra tension in your body and allow you to run in a more relaxed state. Consider also wearing sunglasses along with your hat. Another reason hats come in handy is if it starts to rain! You don’t have to worry about the rain getting on your face. For 25% off your Headsweats® order, use the code TRAVELRUNREPEAT at checkout

DRESS APPROPRIATELY

Wear light weight clothes made of moisture wicking fabric. Don’t wear all black for obvious reason. Consider light weight socks that will wick away moisture, but aren’t too heavy or thick. CEP makes ultralight no-show sock which are a personal favorite of mine. I also use the Headsweats® Ultraband or a headband type product around my neck. This product is helpful to wipe away extra sweat and can also help if you need to tie your hair back or keep the sweat from dripping into your eyes.

SLOW DOWN

Realize that in the summer months your pace will slow down. Generally you may be around 30 seconds to 1 min per mile slower with your pace in the summer months. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you notice yourself slowing down. The heat and humidity make it more difficult to train. Consider taking short walk breaks while you train to lower your heart rate. If you feel dizzy, sit down and call for help. Don’t try to keep running if you feel lightheaded, dizzy or weak. Here is an excerpt taken from an article in Runner’s World regarding the effects of heat and humidity on the body (full article):

Heat and/or humidity increase the physical stress on the body and therefore, increase the intensity or effort of the run, which results in higher heart rates. For example, let’s say your 9:40 min/mile in good weather elicits a heart rate of 120 beats per minute (bpm). Hot, humid weather can easily add 20 beats or more to a runner’s average heart rate. This means that the same run pace will now elicit a much higher heart rate. Your 9:40/min mile may now elicit a heart rate of 140 bpm or more. The higher heart rate makes that 9:40/mile run pace uncomfortable; hence, we are forced to slow down. The “slow down factor” varies from runner to runner, but in general, slowing down 30 to 90 seconds per mile is common in hot/humid weather.

If you’re interested in calculating how much heat is impacting your race and workout times, click here. This calculator will help you plan and account for exceedingly hot temperatures during workouts or on race day. It can be used to adjust your goal pace according to the weather outlook.

Here is another excellent article on how to train in the heat and what to expect with regards to your pace.

COOL IT

Here is another cool concept: cooling towels. Consider carrying one of these if you have a long race or event that takes place in warmer months. These cooling towels claim: “proprietary technology cools to 30 degrees below average body temperature when wet”.  To activate: soak the towel with water, wring it out and snap it in the air to activate the cooling properties. Place it around your neck to feel instantly cooler. For the best cooling towel products, click here.

Good luck with your training and stay cool this summer! Follow me on social media as I train for the Chicago Marathon!

-Jill M.

Stay Cool Under Pressure

Stay Cool Under Pressure

Andy Cohen-Wray

 

Headsweats Ambassador Andrew Cohen-Wray shares his tips for staying cool under pressure. You can find this and other insights on his blog, Athlete in Mind.


 

As the saying goes, “keep a cool head, whilst all around others are losing theirs.” It’s a useful thing to be able to do, especially when competing or racing.

#Keepacoolhead

The idea for this blog came about when I was getting ready to race last Saturday, it was an extremely hot day which we werent prepared for as the heat was suddenly upon us after a cool day before. Us Brits always moan about the weather, it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet, too windy, but it’s the one thing as athletes we cant control. Whilst waiting near the start line going through my drills so I was ready to race, all I could hear from the other athletes were excuses. Most were complaining how hot it was and they had already told themsleves they were going to have a bad race. This is where #keepacoolhead came in useful. I had prepared the best I could have, I was hydrated, I had stayed out of the sun as long as possible exerting the minimal amount of effort pre-race, all I had to do was push my body hard for 7minutes.

Internal voice

How we talk to ourselves internally has a massive impact on how we race and perform, if the language is negative this will only drive a negative performance. It’s this negative language that is often then spoken to others and this was very apparent waiting on the start line ready to race. I could have got involved in these conversations but I opted to focus on what I had to do, rather than worry about others.

The only thing I could control that day was my own performance, I had put my body in the best possible place by being hydrated etc. Worrying about things out of my control is a big no no, worrying about my competitors, the weather etc is a pure waste of energy, energy I would need to get me round a 2000m steeplechase race in 32degrees at 15:40 in the afternoon.

Running Reaper

As a Mental Performance Coach I have created a ‘Mind management’ tool called the ‘Running Reaper’ (www.runningreaper.co.uk) It is all around how that internal voice hijacks our training and performance, I teach athletes how to bring all that internal noise under control so they can focus on performing at their best with no distractions. Everbody has a voice inside their head and that is perfectly normal, the key thing is how to work with it, especially when the training and racing gets tough. If you fight the reaper it will win everytime, work with it and you will be amazed how much harder you can push yourself.

 

Mike McQueeney on the New National Parks Truckers

Mike McQueeney on the New National Parks Truckers

mikeHeadsweats President Mike McQueeney shares the story behind the latest collection of Performance Trucker Designs featuring national parks. 20% of sales from this collection go to support the National Park Foundation.

Vote for the next design you’d like to see included and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $100 Headsweats gift card!

What led to the decision to donate a portion of sales from this collection to support public lands?

As a Colorado based company, supporting public lands is a natural fit and we are excited to give back to such a great cause.  Having the beautiful Rocky Mountains in our backyard is the best motivation for bringing awareness to the importance of public lands, and Headsweats is proud to give a portion of sales from our trucker collection.

What drew Headsweats to the National Park Foundation?

Headsweats, as a company, supports outdoor activities.  Thus, when the opportunity presented itself, Headsweats was all in.  With the expansion of our Performance Trucker line to include some National Parks, it just made good sense.  Headsweats will expand upon the collection with up to four more National Park offerings to continue support of this initiative.  Headsweats will be donating 20% of the total sales back to the National Parks Foundation throughout 2017.  Public lands need to be cherished, supported and experienced.  Headsweats is honored to support this initiative and feels an obligation to do so.  It is in our DNA!

What’s your favorite National Park and why?

Yosemite National Park is my personal favorite.  Although there are many to choose from such as Lake Tahoe, Grand Canyon, Mt Rushmore and Yellowstone.  When I was in Junior College the cross country team would spend a weekend training up in Yosemite camping on the valley floor.  We would conduct training runs as a team.  I remember the big run was from the valley floor to the top of El Capitan (9 miles and 3000 feet of elevation).  It was epic.  The photo above was taken with a camera sitting on a picnic table after the run to El Capitan. This random, however captivating photo of Half Dome in the background was an accident, as it is one of the signature attractions at Yosemite.

Tell us about your first visit to a National Park.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and spent a lot of time in the Santa Cruz mountains, as my family had a cabin in the woods where there are an abundance of Redwood Trees.  These beautiful trees are only resident in Northern California and are a must see experience.  As a child I remember driving north of Eureka to Redwood National Park.  I thought the Redwoods at the cabin were big and tall, the trees in Redwood National Park were enormous and are the largest and tallest I have ever seen, many over 4 feet in diameter or more. The Redwood Trees have a life like air to them as they reach towards the sky and sway beautifully in the wind.  Visiting Redwood National Park was an experience that is etched forever in my memory.

Everyone knows Bigfoot needs space to roam. Which National Park do you think he currently calls home?

The mythic creature is very mobile.  From Northern California to The Pacific Northwest, many call this the home of Bigfoot with sightngs in Olympic National Park, Mt Hood,  Sequoia National Park and Six Rivers National Park in Northern California. He has been sightings at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and as far south as the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.  What this tells me is that he enjoys National Parks as much as we do.  He’s elusive, mysterious and loves the great outdoors!

 

Anti-inflammatory Turmeric Oats

Anti-inflammatory Turmeric Oats

This healthy, delicious recipe comes from Headsweats Ambassador Jessica Rhinehart. For more good eats and training tips, visit her blog Sugar Runs.

Jessica RinehartOats are a great way to start your day. They’re a good source of simple carbs – I tend to go carb heavy at breakfast and lunch because I do my runs after work and before dinner.  These oats are my favorite though, and I usually eat these after my long runs on the weekend or the day after a tough speed workout because of the anti-inflammatory powers of the turmeric.

For optimal absorption, turmeric needs to be combined with fat or piperine (a compound found in black pepper). This recipe calls for a sprinkle of black pepper because I usually use almond milk in my oatmeal, which has no fat in it. If you use a milk that has fat (coconut milk, for example), you can cut the pepper, but I think it’s great with it.

Turmeric has a distinct taste that’s more savory. To counter that, the recipe calls for cinnamon (aids in muscle recovery and regulates blood pressure) and all spice. You can use whatever milk you like in this recipe. The fat in coconut milk will help aid turmeric absorption. I prefer using Califia Farms Coconut Almond Milk, and the nutrition info reflects that.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup Califia Farms coconut almond milk (or any milk of choice)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1 scoop collagen peptides (optional, but adds protein and aids in muscle recovery and bone health)

Directions:

  1. Combine milk, turmeric, all spice, pepper, and cinnamon in a small sauce pan over med-high heat. I don’t measure the spices generally, but I’ve included measurements above if needed.
  2. Once milk is bubbling, add oats and collagen peptides and whisk well. Add in zucchini and mix well.
  3. Lower heat to medium and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until liquid starts to absorb.
  4. Pour oats in bowl once desired consistency is reached.

I love topping mine with a scoop of peanut butter and a ripe banana to add the perfect touch of sweetness.

Ambassador Spotlight: Smitha Arons

Ambassador Spotlight: Smitha Arons

Our lovely ambassador Smitha Arons is taking over! ….on Instagram, that is. Take a moment to learn more about her and be sure to follow along via @Headsweats for the weekend of adventure she has planned. We’ve heard mention of a Saturday sunrise you won’t want to miss!

What is your favorite Headsweats product/products?

I fell in love with Headsweats products starting from the purchase of my very first white visor. Now I have over 20 visors and 5 hats.  They make the perfect compliment to any stylish run outfit and most importantly, keeps the sun and sweat out of my eyes!

What is your sport/discipline of choice?

Running!

What is your favorite race distance?

The Half Marathon. Long enough to be a challenge but short enough to properly train!

Favorite race you’ve ever done?

Revel Canyon City. It has all the benefits of a trail race with the scenery but the organization and consistency of a road race.

Current favorite song to on your running playlist?

Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling

What’s your favorite motivational quote or saying?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

What/Who inspires you most?

My 7 year old daughter. She was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 18 months old and is the bravest person I know!

What are your biggest athletic accomplishments?

I went from being someone who couldn’t run for 1 minute at a time in 2013 to having run over 20 half marathons and 3 marathons. I am really proud of that!

What are your athletic goals for 2017?

To PR the marathon distance at revel Mount Charleston in April.

Ambassador Spotlight: Stephanie Franklin

Ambassador Spotlight: Stephanie Franklin

Headsweats Ambassador Stephanie Franklin (@running_the_425) has had a good week. She ran the Phoenix Marathon last weekend – the first 26.2 miles she’s raced since an injury threatened to take her out of the game two years ago – and Wednesday she learned she’s been included in the March issue of Women’s Running!

We connected with Stephanie to learn more about the two years of difficulty and hard work that led to these joyful moments:

Tell us about your experience with injury.

So, it’s been a really difficult two years, as far as my running story goes. It all started after I ran the full at Revel Rockies in Denver. I had a great race and never felt injured until I recovered for a few weeks and began running again. The story is the same again and again. It would start as tight calves, which eventually would lead to knots, which would lead to very, sharp pain in my shins and inner ankles. I tried, literally, everything: rest, deep tissue massage, supplements, foam rolling, dry needling, yoga, KT-tape, changes in shoes, acupuncture, stemming and ice, calf sleeves… you name it, I guarantee you I have tried it. I’ve spent two years in physical therapy, sometimes going four days a week, and countless hours strength training and working on my running form. Honestly, I’m still not 100 % recovered. But my pain is now on a much smaller scale.

Of all the products and therapies you tried, what finally helped your condition to improve?Franklin_Phoenix

I really owe everything to my physical therapists.  They believed in me and knew how important it was that I get back to running at the level I was before.  It was important to me, so it was important to them.  It took a team of PT’s backing me up, keeping me accountable, and encouraging me along the way, but I can finally say I’m slowly getting back to my old running self.  I feel so, so blessed to have crossed the finish line in Phoenix.  I cried… a lot, but happy tears this time!

Any words of advice to other runners that may be dealing with chronic pain?

I think the mental aspect of chronic injury is hardest to overcome, but I’m getting better at overcoming that negativity. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my inner dialogue and I’m learning the impact positive thinking can have on the body. I’m proud of myself for not throwing in the towel. One thing I can take away from it all is that I will never, ever take for granted what a gift it is to be able to put on my trainers and run.

Keep up the hard work, Stephanie! Next up:  Boston BQ!! 

Looking Back: 2016 Tokyo Marathon

Looking Back: 2016 Tokyo Marathon

I can’t believe that the 2016 Tokyo Marathon is now over, and I am sitting on my couch writing my race report. I found out on September 15th that I was selected to participate. I entered the lottery in August, not knowing what would happen. The odds were not in my favor. I remember reading an article months before that said the Tokyo Marathon was one of the hardest marathons to get into. I was shocked when the email came. I screamed when I read it. I prayed that I would get in, and I did! But of course actually pulling the trigger wasn’t an easy decision after that. There were multiple discussions like “Can we afford this?” or “Is this wise to do when we’re trying to save for other stuff, or pay other bills?” and “Do we have the time to take off from work?”

I naturally began to wonder if my goals of traveling all over the world to run marathons were selfish, and not in the best interest of my family. I made a goal after running the Chicago Marathon in 2011 that I wanted to run all of the World Marathon Majors. Getting into Tokyo would get me one step closer to my goal. So it seemed serendipitous that I got in. But still, I didn’t know if it was the “smart” thing to do. After many discussions and my personal consultation with my “crew”, we decided to go. My friend Susan told me that the timing will never be perfect, and to go now if we can. My husband is incredibly supportive. He loves that I have all these goals, and he wants me to achieve them. And he wants to be there with me every step of the way.

“One day, you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”

— Paulo Coelho

So there you have it! We booked our flights and headed off to Japan. I wrote a separate post on our travels to Japan (click here), along with pictures of where we went and what we did. I also give restaurant suggestions. I think that post will be beneficial for anyone traveling to Japan. It provides some travel tips, but this post is all about the race itself and my experience running the Tokyo Marathon.

PLEASE NOTE: There are MANY useful scanned documents located in the TOKYO MARATHON icon on my main home page. After you finish reading this report, please refer to those documents for more helpful information. These are the race documents for the 2016 race. The 2017 race documents will be different, as the course has slightly changed. But you will find important rules, and aid station information there. 

The Expo!

The Tokyo Marathon Expo and Packet-Pickup took place at the Tokyo Big Sight (where the race finished. ***NOTE: FOR THE 2017 RACE THE FINISH WILL BE IN A DIFFERENT LOCATION). Before we went inside, the Tokyo Food Festival was taking place outside. This was the best thing that could have happened to us that day. We went Friday afternoon to avoid the crowds, but we forgot to eat breakfast so we were cranky. Seeing the little vendors and smelling the perfectly balanced merge of Japanese cuisine was divine; it was a mini paradise. After we ate, we entered the expo in a better mood. We were now ready to enter a marathoners version of heaven. Runners were only allowed in the packet pickup area. I was asked to show my ID a couple times. Everything was very organized and secure. There were several volunteers who spoke English, so I never felt confused. There was also an “overseas runner” booth. It was a seamless process. After I got my packet I met my husband and we worked our way through the maze. I took pictures and grabbed a bunch of free products. I sampled stuff and played a couple games for coveted prizes that I didn’t win. The Tokyo Marathon official merchandise store was small, and a little crowded. I was surprised at how small it actually was. But little did I know there was more stuff on a different level. I bought Tokyo Marathon brand chopsticks and arm warmers. Other levels at the expo had more merchandise from Asics to New Balance and other top brands. My clear plastic bag for bag check was filled with my purchases and free items. It was a great expo to say the least. Tip: If you are running the Tokyo Marathon, go on Thursday or Friday and avoid Saturday if you can.

 

Starting Line

There were some words that were spoken in Japanese over the loudspeaker (I have no clue what they announced) followed by the introduction of the Elite runners and wheelchair participants. A song was sung in Japanese, possibly the national anthem? Then the starting gun went off. I believe it was 10-15 min before we were able to actually start.

Some key things along the course:

Bathrooms

The portable toilets are very frequent, and there is a volunteer holding a sign that announces the bathroom coming up and how far away the next one is. So the sign will say: “Exit here for the bathroom now, or next one is 1.2 miles away”, for example. Cool right? Every toilet area has a couple volunteers who will guide and place you in line. They manage the line and flow. Again, you will have to squat when using most toilets. There were “western style” toilets, but not as frequent. No hand sanitizer or soap/water to wash your hands is available. Near major sights like the Imperial Palace there were “real” bathrooms. So you can always divert from the course and use them if that makes a difference. The one thing that stood out to me was that every toilet line was always long. Some races you will find shorter lines eventually, but not at this race. We stopped twice to use the bathroom, and the lines both times were long. Expect a bathroom stop to add 10-15 minutes on to your time. I do commend this race on having volunteers stationed at each toilet area.

Course Fuel and Food

Pocari Sweat and water are the beverages offered along the course. Pocari Sweat I learned has MSG in it (I had no clue. I should have done my research ahead of time!) Read about it. Know what is offered before running just in case you need something else. Unfortunately you cannot carry your own water bottles in. I believe you can take in unopened commercial products, like bottled water that has a seal on it. Please check the official rules. I scanned the ‘course restrictions’ document and it is located in the Tokyo Marathon icon on my home page. We did see runners with Camelbak hydration packs on. I am guessing they put their empty hydration packs in their checked bags, went through security (metal detectors), and then filled them up later? I mentioned a product in an earlier post, the Salomon S-lab Sense Hydro Set (a handheld collapsible hydration flask). You can add your electrolyte tablet or powder to water and mix in this flask after the race starts. There also were bananas and tomatoes along the course. The bananas were full sized which was nice. You peel them yourself. Volunteers did wear gloves when handling food, for those health conscious individuals. I carried my own gels and chews in my SPI belt, so the only thing I needed was water and Pocari sweat.

Volunteers

There are volunteers everywhere! They have volunteers organizing the bathroom stops, and ones holding garbage bags along the course. The water stops have plenty of volunteers handing out water and cheering you on. They were simply amazing. They always had a smile on their face, and they were extremely polite. The volunteers make this race wonderful. Even at the family meet up/baggage pick-up area the volunteers would congratulate runners. I saw someone post a video of them clapping in sync as runners picked up their bags. I can’t thank the volunteers enough for all their help in making this an amazing and successful race. Volunteers wear different color jackets which mean certain things. I can’t remember what each color represents, but I do know the green jackets meant the volunteer could speak English. At the Expo you will see a display of what each color jacket means.

Volunteers. THANK YOU! They were so awesome. I spotted a doctor running as well. He was a medical volunteer on the course.

 

The Course

The course is very flat. There were a few bridges (near the end) with slight elevation. It wasn’t bad though. I think if you were racing, they would be slightly annoying since they are located near the end. But for my friend Brian and myself, they were a change of pace.

***UPDATED: The 2017 course is different than what I ran. Please click here for the updated 2017 course. More details on the 2017 course can be found here.

A view at mile 22-23. You can see how many people there still were on the course. And I was not running fast. I finished in 5:20? 

A view at mile 22-23. You can see how many people there still were on the course. And I was not running fast. I finished in 5:20? The course includes a couple “out and backs” which have the potential to mess with you if you’re racing. Running out when people are returning can get frustrating and play tricks on you. The turn-around seemed far away, but know in advance at what mile you will turn around and you’ll be fine. I personally didn’t find them to be terrible.

Brian and myself on the course. Cherry blossoms! Tomatoes that were part of the food offered on the course. I actually enjoyed them!

Brian (a fellow Headsweats Ambassador) and myself on the course. Cherry blossoms! Tomatoes that were part of the food offered on the course. I actually enjoyed them!

The course goes past the major sights of Tokyo including the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji Fish Market, Sensoji Temple, Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, Ginza Ave, Tokyo Museum, etc. (in no particular order). It really is the best way to see all of Tokyo by foot! I was surprised at how close the course was to Sensoji Temple (see picture above). We went to that temple the day before, but we didn’t even need to because it was right there on the course!

Course limit: The course limit is 7 hours and there are checkpoints along the way. Make sure to know ahead of time what they are.

 

Medical Aid: Medical aid was offered at various locations along the course. Please consult the runner handbook for where they will be located and what they offer, if you will be running the Tokyo Marathon. I did see medical runners (doctors wearing vests) along the course as well! I am a medical runner for a couple different local races, and it was nice to see this service being offered elsewhere!

Crowds

The crowds also were my favorite. There were people everywhere! I believe the runner handbook says 1.5 million spectators. And they cheered their hearts out. They even knew one or two phrases in English to cheer us on. And they LOVED high-fiving everyone. I ended up high fiving everyone because it was just fun and they got so excited. There were many forms of entertainment along the course as well. There were groups of dancers with music. I am sure there is a formal name for them, but I don’t know what it is. There were dancers with flags, children dancing, people banging on drums, everything! I’ve never seen anything like it. They took it so seriously and it seemed like they were so honored to entertain the runners. I practically stopped at every group to take a picture. It was beautiful. Simply beautiful. One reason I don’t listen to music while running a marathon is to soak it all in. Complete strangers come out on their day off to cheer me on. The entertainers are there to entertain. Why would I block all that out by listening to music? I love hearing the crowds and being aware of what’s going on, especially when I’m in a different country. You don’t need music on this course. Soak up the experience. Be present. Enjoy the gift of running. Tune-in to the music the crowds are making.

Many runners wore fun costumes, and that is entertaining as well. My favorite was a guy playing a Ukulele while singing to his “Bride”. We saw Super Mario, Waldo, Tomatoes, Pokémon, Winnie the Pooh, monkeys, and more!


The Finish

As stated before the finish is at the Tokyo Big Sight. After you cross the finish, you are given a towel (better than a foil blanket!) and a finisher’s medal. You are given a bag of food, water, and a Salonpas pain spray that was valuable! You have to walk a bit after collecting your freebees to get to the family meet-up and bag collection area, which always is exhausting after running 26.2 miles. But with over 35,000 finishers I don’t think they could do it any other way. I maybe walked a half mile back to the family meet-up spot, but it felt like 2 miles since I had a blister that popped and I was in pain. Everything is very organized as expected. Because the end is at the Tokyo Big Sight (like a convention center), there are normal bathrooms and showers inside. There is also a Starbucks inside for the coffee lovers. I saw people getting massages and I’ve heard rumors of acupuncture. My little toe had a blister and ingrown toenail, so I had a bloody shoe and needed to go to medical after I finished. I missed out on the massage. I also felt bad keeping my husband waiting. I quickly went through that area and met up with him. Ending at the Big Sight was nice because if the weather was bad (which it wasn’t), being indoors would be helpful. Luckily the weather was warm; it was in the 60’s.

You may want to change your clothes, eat a little something and rest before walking to the metro. Or even get a massage.

Enjoy the after party!

 

Dōmo arigatōgozaimashita, どうもありがとうございました

-Jill Monroe