Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why Smoothie?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Avoid Burnout for the Overly Determined Runner

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of being at the first annual Front Range Fall Running Clinic put on by Integrative Healing Acupuncture and Wellness. While I learned a lot of great things, one thing that really struck me is something all the elite athletes there had in common. Of course everyone had insane passion and drive and that led each elite to not only prosper, but also to burnout. Moreover, they experienced the burnout that could lead to months or years of bad races.

Feeling burnt out?
Before I go on, to give this post a little more value, I’ll list the athletes who spoke on this (I’ll give a quick background but I’m not going to spend all the time I could typing out their ridiculous amount of achievements):

Sage Canaday: 2 time Olympic Trials Qualifier, 2:16 marathoner, 2012 USATF mountain runner of the year, and winner of A LOT of ultras.

Trent Briney: 4th at the 2004 Olympic Marathon Trials, 3 time Olympic Qualifier, 2:12 marathoner, 5:37:56 50 mile time at JFK 2012, etc, etc, etc.

Jimmy Archer: Professional Triathlete  for 12 years. (I’m sure he’s done awesome at plenty of triathlons, but I barely know anything about the triathlon scene and I won’t pretend to.) Coached by some of the best running coaches of all time: Dr. Joe Vigil and Mark Wetmore.

I’m also going to reference some women who weren’t at the clinic, but have openly talked about their burnout:

Nikki Kimball: Elite Ultra Runner for the North Face. Tons of competitive ultra wins including Western States in 2007.

In her irunfar pre-race interview before Western States she said:

“In hindsight, I should have taken 2009 completely off, and I didn’t have the guts to do it. I think I’d be racing a lot better now if I would have. If I could tell that to someone that was starting to experience that slow down after eight to ten years of racing ultras, I’d say take the year off and you’ll come back way, way stronger. We’re seeing that like Dave Mackey took a bunch of years off and came back strong. You usually just see people when they start to slow down if they’ve been on the top quit and not stay with it. But I love the sport, I love the people in it, I want to stay with it. But I should have taken the year off.”

Lynn BjorkLund: In 1981 she won the Pikes Peak Marathon in record time. Lynn also had some major track and cross country wins.

 “I trained too much. It made for one exceptional race, but I spiraled into years of chronic overuse injuries that took away my ability to run, as well as the joy of it.” What ailed her after the 1981 Pikes Peak Marathon? “My ankle, my foot, my knee, nothing singular or specific. If I could replay race day, I’d give that record back in exchange for a life of healthy running. It wasn’t worth it.””- Legends of the Trail by Meghan Hicks, Trail Running Magazine

Back to the Front Range Fall Running Clinic.  

One woman, after hearing each elite athlete talk about burnout, asked “How do you listen to your body? How do you know when you’re overdoing it.?” GREAT QUESTION!

Most top athletes can look back and admit they knew they were overdoing it and should have backed off. While there is certainly a fine line between pushing one’s limits and pushing too hard, athletes, when honest with themselves know where that line is. It’s just all too easy to get focused on goals and not back off. However, the elite athletes had some great advice, and hopefully by hearing their advice you’ll pay more attention to your body and have the mental strength to back off.

The signs of (being on the verge of) burnout from the elites:

·         Being constantly tired. If you’re training hard there will be plenty of days where you’ll be tired, but if you’re fatigued on a daily basis and you’re getting enough sleep, there’s a problem. It could be completely from training, or the heavy training might mean you’re not absorbing enough minerals and vitamins, so get a blood test.
·         Crankiness. This can very well be your mind sending you a message that your body is saying to slow down. Triathlete, Jimmy Archer, said that when he finally let his body recover after experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome that his family and friends told him he seemed like he was back to his old self because he was smiling and laughing more. So if you don’t have any serious reasons to be cranky, check in with your body and your training to see if you’re overdoing it.
·         Compare the times of your standard routes/ workouts. This is (in my opinion) a great reason to have a training log. If you have a standard route, and you know how long it normally takes you to complete it, and that time starts getting slower or you’re working extra hard to stay around that time, it’s a good sign you need a break. Same with workouts if your tempo runs or intervals getting are getting slower or your working really hard to keep the same pace. (Of course, weather conditions need to be considered.)
·         Constant injuries. Some people may just get injured easy or experience injuries due to bad form, but constant or chronic injuries may also be a sign to slow down. It’s your body saying “I just need a break!”  I’ve seen to many great runners have a small injury that turned into a an injury that required them to take the majority of a year off. Better to just listen to your body and take some time off or lessen the training load.
·         Sleep problems. Sage pointed out that a sign might not only be having trouble waking up, but trouble falling asleep. It doesn’t seem to make sense that falling asleep would be a problem, but your body is a little out of whack and that can lead to problems falling asleep.
·         Motivation. Are you running and pushing yourself because you love it, or are you doing it because you just feel like you’re supposed to be? If it’s the second reason on a daily basis, you’re not only on the road to physical burnout, but your mind is telling you that you need a break.

Other ways to avoid burnout from the elites:  

                As I mentioned above, sometimes you just need to listen to your body and back off training. However, the elite athletes mentioned ways to avoid even having to back off peak season training by doing a few other things.

·         Winter cross training: Snowshoeing and skiing are great ways to keep your endurance and work on a few other muscles in the off season, while having less impact force on your body. If you enjoy playing indoor sports like basketball, hockey, etc., go ahead and play. You’re still staying active while giving some of your running muscles a rest.

·         Plan rest weeks. Many top athletes use the 3 weeks on, 1 week off rule, or something similar. For the 3 weeks on, your miles might be high and speed workouts might be hard. Then you take an off week so your body absorbs the hard training. During this week you lessen your miles and you cut down the intensity of your speed work.
·         Rest (seriously) after races. This seems like common sense, yet runners tend to start thinking about another race and then push too hard to soon. Yes, your body might feel good a week after a 50 mile race, but get 20 miles in a long run and you might start feeling like crap. I know some runners like to race a lot, but is there a price to be paid in the results or months or years down the road? (Look back at Nikki Kimball’s comment above.)

So that’s the end of my summary of what the elite athletes had to say. There are of course other ways to listen to your body so you don’t burnout and other ways to avoid burnout. This is where I, and I’m sure many others, would love to hear from you. If you’re not used to commenting, think of it as helping someone else avoid the hardships of burnout.

Run Wild, Run Happy,


In case you missed it:
I wrote a book called Beautiful Girl that aims to spread the message of what real beauty is:

Sage and I made a running form video that will hopefully benefit your running:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beautiful Girl (hopefully a beautiful gift)

Hello Beautiful People! 

Some of you may remember one of my blogs from last year about a short book I made for women of all ages. At that time it was just something you could print out from home, but now it's an actual book! It has also been updated a little since the online version.

The book is called Beautiful Girl and it's simply meant to help women young and old realize and remember what real beauty is, despite the messages we get from the media. The pictures (provided by some awesome people) show true beautiful women of all ages from all over the world.

Hopefully, you are thinking it would make a great gift for the beautiful girls in your life!
(It would be a perfect stocking stuffer for Christmas!)
I'm taking orders now until Dec.1st. I'll then order all the books to be printed at once.
The cost is $10 plus $2.00 for shipping, so the total is $12.00. (If you are out of the country send me a message) As always 7% of proceeds go to charity (I'll give more if I can). To buy, go to Paypal and send the money using my email address: You can leave a message saying it's for the book but I should know by the money amount. PLEASE make sure you include your address so I know where to send the book. :)

Additional info: 
size: 8.25 by 6 inches
30 pages

Rachel (not me) and her little sis

If you feel like this book will send a good message, please consider sharing this post. THANK YOU!

Much love,

Very special thanks to Sage for help making this happen. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Proper Running Form: Tips and Techniques to Run Faster

Sage and I have been working really (really) hard to put together another running form video. We wanted to bring together what techniques Chi, Pose, and Enhance Running have in common. These are pretty much also all the same things the fastest runners in the world have in common. Hopefully, you can get something out it that will help your own running. If not, I hope you at least enjoy the views in some of the shots. :)

Run Wild, Run Happy,


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It's Just Running... But It Isn't

I’m training pretty dang hard.

My weekly miles aren’t the highest I’ve averaged, but they’re starting to near the 3 digit mark.

I’m also doing the most speed work (intervals and tempo runs) I have ever done since I started running, by far, really far.

And you know what; I would happily do more if I didn’t have to worry about money.

Why am I running so much and doing lots of speed work? It would appear I’m training for some big race, but I’m not. (Although Sage and I will be running my sister Rachel’s 10k and that’s huge to me, but for sisterly reasons.) Besides my sister’s 10k, I have nothing in the foreseeable future. At first it was my choice, but now I honestly have no money in my budget to travel and enter races. But that’s okay I suppose.

I am just completely in love with running just for the sake of running. Even if I’m pushing hard on the pavement for a speed day, I’m absolutely loving it. I’d rather be making my heart pound inside my chest than be sitting indoors any day. Then, there are the days up to the summits of Green and Bear that I just can’t seem to get enough of. On weekday mornings I often have the trails to myself on the way up except for some squirrels sprinting across, beautiful blue birds flying ahead of me, and sometimes even the splendid but odd looking wild turkeys! Judging by the looks of the canyon that the trail is in, I’m guessing there are some mountain lions too, but I feel much safer in Boulder than when I lived in some small mountain towns where animal bones and carcasses were daily sightings. As I start up I’m always in awe of the huge rock slabs to my right and then embrace the shadows and the light that alternate in warming and cooling my body. Yesterday, as I turned the corner to top of the canyon, where the trails split to go up Green or Bear, the sun hit everything around me in the most perfect way imaginable. The much bigger mountains showed their white tops in front of me, and birds flew towards them. In that moment, everything was perfect. Every part of me was filled with peace and joy. At that moment, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Though I might not feel quite that level of perfection every day, I normally come close and I always feel I am where I’m supposed to be when my legs come as close as they can to flying.

                Sometimes when I’m not running, my head tells me it’s silly to spend so much time running. However, during these moments my heart suddenly screams “Running helps you follow me (my heart)!”  and I know my heart is right, I sometimes just have trouble listening.

                Running isn’t everything. There are obviously much more important things like friends, family and making the world a better place that my life should be (and are) focusing on. But, I believe running is more than just running because it helps me be a better person as my mind and my heart are both strengthened by my runs. Running is my anti-depressant (if even just for the hours I am running), it’s my way to experience the beauty of nature, it’s my path of learning to follow my heart, it’s my steroid for mental strength, it strengthens my connection to my highest levels of thinking, it’s a bond between me and similar souls, it’s all that and so much more. It almost seems crazy how the simple act of running can bring so much to me. Yet, my heart reminds me at this moment it is not. It is the gift that was given to me to help find all the beauty in myself and the world.

                So while on the surface, my miles and hard work seem pointless, I know in my heart that the miles are striving to point me in the right direction.

Run Wild, Run Happy,


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The POWER of Introverts

There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.

Let’s get this straight: Introverts enjoy being around people, are smart and creative, make great public speakers, are great listeners, are extremely passionate, are awesome leaders from business to social justice, and are just plain wonderful.

I used to not like labeling myself as an introvert, but after listening to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain while I was painting, I can’t help but be a little proud of being an introvert. In fact, I now really think a negative aspect of U.S. culture is that introverts can often have a bad rep. It gives the idea that introverts can’t do certain jobs or don't like being around people, which isn’t true. I love being around people, it’s just that I also need my alone time to think, read, meditate, write, paint, etc.

I first came across Susan Cain when I saw her Ted Talk (notice she’s an introvert but is also a great public speaker: 

I was inspired and intrigued and so I requested Quiet from the library. What a smart idea that was! I was happy to find out that I share some of the same qualities that some of the best thinkers who have ever lived had as well. Rosa Parks, Gandhi, J.K. Rowling (I thoroughly enjoyed my nights of reading the whole Harry Potter series), Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and Albert Einstein are just a few of the many famous people who would fall under the introvert category. Without their alone time to think, none of them would have had the success that they did.

While at some points during the book I think there is a bit of negativity on some famous extroverts (which I don’t think was intended), I think the book offers some much needed praise to the role of introverts in society. More importantly, it offers some very good advice that both extroverts and introverts should know such as relationships between extroverts and introverts, when someone should push their comfort zone and when they shouldn’t, things companies can do to improve the work of their employees, and introverted kids.

One of the last sections of the book is a must read for teachers and for parents who have kids with introverted qualities. As a kid, I remember often coming home from school often completely wiped out. Most schools are embracing “group think” even when research shows that this isn’t the best idea for any type of kid as it limits them embracing the power of their own mind before they share ideas. For introverted children though, it’s exhausting and frustrating. Sure, they need to talk out loud and share their ideas, but not all day long. They need time to think before they speak.  Introverted kids, just like adults, are often sensitive and feel strongly about certain things. This should be embraced and respected. These strong feelings will give them the motivation to speak up on things they deem important. I’m rambling, but the book gives great advice and ideas to parents who want their introverted child to be as comfortable and successful as possible.

"The next generation of quiet kids can and should be raised to know their own strength." -Susan Cain

I could go on and on about the great research in the book, but you’d get much more out of reading (or listening to) the book yourself.