What Makes A Coach?

Who said coaches have to run every single second they are coaching? Right?!

I was struggling with running even before I became ill, but I continued to coach as best I could after losing one of my greatest fans and motivators, my mother. I missed a lot of training runs and when I was out there with my group, I fell far behind or had to walk as a result of taking so much time off. There was nothing coach-like about my running and it started to wear on me. I was starting to think I couldn’t even train for my own race, let alone help others with theirs. I felt like I was a disservice to the ladies and gentleman that got out of bed early each and every Saturday to run the miles. I relied heavily on my co-coaches, but also felt like I was letting them down by not being able to help out with the mileage.

I went blubbering and sniffling to our Head Coach one afternoon after leaving work early to try on shoes – or plead for help, whichever you want to believe. And, as it turns out, one of the greatest lessons I learned that day was that it doesn’t necessarily take a great athlete to be a great coach. For me and many others I coach with at MIT the greatest characteristics of a coach in fact have nothing to do with sports technicalities. A great coach is educational, communicative, motivational and passionate. I started to think about all the coaches I had hear people talk about, but that I had never seen or heard of playing the sport itself.

It was American football coach Eddie Robinson who once said, “Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” I absolutely love the runners I coach. Perhaps it is because I can relate to them on the most basic premise of all: We all started running to change our lives one step at a time. I’ve stood in their shoes – scared, alone and unsure of me as a person let alone a runner, if you even wanted to call me that. I can relate to their setbacks, injuries, hesitations and fears as well as their victories, achievements and pure elation. I remember the first time I ran two, four, six, eight and ten miles. I know how important it is not to let them get lost in what become the basics to many runners. Every step my runners take is a success and I wouldn’t want to be on any other journey than that!

With the 2012 Olympics currently taking place, I’ve been spending some time observing and reading about the relationships between athletes and their coaches. In fact, there have been many studies conducted on the impact of the quality of the coach-athlete relationship on an athlete’s ultimate performance. One of the most recent and compelling studies was done by Penny Wurthner after the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the “Own The Podium” initiative of the Canadian Olympic Committee. The purpose of the study was to identify the factors contributing to a successful or even unsuccessful performance from both the coach and athlete’s perspectives.

After interviewing 27 athletes and 30 coaches, five key themes began to emerge from her research:

  1. Athlete self-awareness
  2. Strong coach–athlete relationship
  3. Optimal training environment
  4. Strong financial and human resources support system
  5. Excellent management of the Olympic environment (primarily by the coach and athlete, often with help from the high performance director and consultants in sport psychology and exercise physiology.)

The first three are of particular interest to me, especially the strong coach-athlete relationship, which participants in the study also viewed as the most crucial factor in winning an Olympic Medal or producing a personal best performance. Building a positive and encouraging relationship with the runners in my group is very important to me. It should be a mutual relationship built on open communication and trust. I want the runners in my group to feel comfortable coming to me with questions and concerns just as they are about personal triumphs and achievements. I care about them as individuals, not just as runners and athletes. Similarly, a number of athletes in the study also spoke of the open-mindedness of their coaches and their willingness to listen to what they each needed and thought. They pointed out that their coaches were also open-minded in the sense of being willing to bring other experts into the team, and that they cared for them as individuals.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I am not an Olympian, nor will I ever be. And I don’t foresee myself coaching Olympians either; but the fundamentals of coaching and the coach-athlete relationship is, in my opinion, the same for everyday runners as it is for elites. The goal of a coach should not only be to help an athlete attain their athletic goals and advance in his or her sport, but to make the athlete feel valued, unique and important, thus creating an optimal training environment. This is a critical piece to my coaching style. Every Saturday when we line up to run, sometimes even before the sun rises, I am there for the participants – to help them in their journey to become the best runner – and person – they can be. If I sacrifice my own training to help someone else then I am doing my job as a Coach, as far as I see it.

The study concludes by stating that while coaches must have superb technical skills and knowledge of their sport, it is not the end all, be all of coaching. The author even states in regards to technical performance on the coach’s part, “Is it enough? I would strongly argue that it is not. Competitive sport, particularly at the world and Olympic levels, is so emotional and competitive that athletes also need a coach to support them and care about them, both as athletes and as individuals. And that is what these coaches do. They care about the athletes they coach.”

At MIT we as coaches are motivators, cheerleaders, pace leaders and inspirational beyond compare. My job is to not only coach and manage participants, but to motivate and inspire them as well. And, with the network of resources that are available to me, I have no reservation about referring someone who needs help or specific medical or nutritional information to a readily available expert.

That is why I am proud and happy to announce that I recently became a Fleet Feet Training Program Certified Coach!



And this is not to say that technicalities in running and in other sports are not important. In fact, as part of our certification we also go to attend a good form clinic lead by 2004 Olympian Grant Robison.


Things like good form, proper gear, nutrition and conditioning are important for coaches to know and pass on to their athletes, don’t get me wrong – a good coach should know how to run! But, I don’t believe that is the only thing that makes an effective coach. It is persistence, motivation, passion and kindness most of all.

What do you think? Have you or do you run with a coach? What does or doesn’t make him or her a good coach to you? Is your coach’s ability to run of great importance to you?


Until the next mile marker,

Trying to Beat the Summer Heat? Don’t!

“I always felt that the biggest mistake people make is that they go by the watch when they’re running in the heat. If it’s warm and humid, you have to adjust. Early in the run, look at your pace, and if you can’t sustain it, back off. Within a mile, you’re going to know whether you can sustain that for the distance or the workout, or if you have to make an adjustment.”– Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World

It’s no secret that it is hot outside – enough to make anyone want to stay inside and kick out the miles on the treadmill. In fact, temperatures in Columbus, Ohio soared to 101 degrees today. At 11:30 p.m. it is still 88 degrees. However, just because it is hot does not mean you have to sacrifice time on the trails or pavement this summer. And, just because hot weather forces your body into overdrive, you still don’t have to stay home. I’ve put together some tips to keep you running safe, healthy and happy with us on the trails this summer.

The human body is in fact well equipped to handle heat. Working muscles generate heat, blood flows from your muscles to your skin and transports heat away from your body`s core. Then, evaporating sweat cools the blood before it returns to your muscles and internal organs. The human body can sweat as much as 2 liters (8.5 cups) per hour, enabling us to handle most exercise as the temperature climbs past 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yet, hot weather effects every runner – younger, older, experienced or not – we are all susceptible to heat illness and injury. And in fact, even though fatalities that occur as a result of a heart attack while running are currently widely publicized, many argue that heat is actually the single most dangerous threat to a runner’s life (Source: Ryan Shay in the 2007 US Olympic Marathon Trials and author Jim Fixx).It is important to understand why hot weather takes such a toll on your body. During a hot run, your heart rate increases, your body temperature rises and the decreased blood flow to your muscles gets in the way of them functioning properly. If you are dehydrated, your heart must work even harder to keep blood flowing to your legs and also to help keep your skin cool. Your heart rate increases greatly when you don’t drink enough fluids. Add in humidity and it could be a recipe for disaster. The drier the air, the faster the sweat evaporates and cools the body. Humid air slows down the rate of evaporation of sweat thus compromising the body`s ability to cool itself.  Heat from the working muscles builds up, causing your core temperature to continually rise (Source: Eight Essential Hot Weather Tips For Safe Summer Running © 2012 International Association of Women Runners).

Tips to Keep You Running in the Heat:

Run a shorter distance than you might normally run in cooler weather. You can always make up your miles on another day; or later or earlier in the day when it the temperatures might be lower.

  • Run slower than you would in cooler weather. It is okay to slow down in extreme heat. When I am running with my pace group, we often run 30 to 60 seconds slower than our average 13 minute per mile pace.
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE! I cannot express this enough. You should be consuming fluids before, during and after your run.

  • Before: Start drinking water regularly in the days prior to your long run. By the time you head out the door for your mileage, your urine should be clear to the color of weak lemonade so take a look! If your urine looks like apple juice (or even darker), you’re not properly hydrated.
  • During: Pay attention to your thirst and sip water (instead of chugging) when you are thirsty. Some runners take a sip of water every 15 minutes or so, or after every song on their iPod. Find what works to keep you from feeling depleted. But, be careful not to chug or drink too much water, which can also be dangerous by causing your blood to become too diluted. Drink more than water. On any run longer than 45 minutes or in extreme conditions, you need to be consuming a sports drink that has a combination of electrolytes and carbohydrates to sustain electrolyte-fluid balance and your ability to exercise.
  • After: Don’t stop drinking water just because you are done with your run. Have water (or a sports drink) that you can sip on your way home from a workout. Continue to hydrate throughout the rest of your day.
  • Run with a group or  if you are running alone, let someone know where you are running and when you plan to return. In case you suffer from a heat-related illness or injury, you can ensure you have help nearby to get medical attention, if needed.
  • Give yourself a week or two to acclimate to the heat, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your workouts. Your body will adjust by decreasing your heart rate and core temperature and increasing your sweat rate.
  • Run during the coolest time in the day (before or after sunrise).
  • Run in the shade if you can – on trails or tree-lines roads to avoid direct sunlight.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, loose fabrics and as little clothing as possible to encourage the evaporation of sweat. You may want to consider wearing a summer hat or visor to keep sweat and sunlight out of your eyes. You may also wear sunglasses to decrease squinting, which can fatigue facial muscles and potentially cause a headache.
  • Listen to your body! If something doesn’t feel right or if you feel ill, back off of your training or stop and seek shade, cool air and water. While it can be difficult to distinguish normal heat-related discomfort from a serious heat-related illness, be vigilant. In extreme heat, fatigue often sets in faster than normal or after exerting much less effort than normal.

It is also important to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses. And remember, most heat-related illness can be prevented by hydrating properly and following the tips above.

Heat-Related Illnesses:

  • Heat Cramps: Spasms in the abdomen, arms, calves or hamstrings; dehydration, thirst, sweating. Rest, stretch and massage the affected muscle. Be sure you consume a sports drink to restore electrolyte balance to your muscles.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, paleness, headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, decreased urination and decreased muscle coordination. If you experience these symptoms stop running, seek shade immediately, remove excess clothing and lie down with your feet elevated. Cool yourself with water, ice or cold towels and follow up with your doctor if symptoms continue.
  • Heat Stroke: Confusion, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, disorientation, irrational behavior and vomiting. If you or someone you are running with experiences any of these symptoms, stop running and seek emergency medical attention immediately. Get in the shade, remove excess clothing and submerse or cool yourself with cold water.

Stay safe, happy and cool this summer.

Until the next mile marker,

Could YOU Have a Blood Clot?

One of my running friends said it best, “It would be nice to know how to tell the difference between muscle pain and the type of pain you felt. Or maybe the really scary thing was that you couldn’t tell?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that. And yes, one of the really scary things was that I honestly had no idea the pain I was feeling in my calf and lung was anything to be that concerned about until it was almost too late. That being an acute blood clot known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a pulmonary embolism (PE), which developed as a result of a complete autoimmune meltdown. Why you ask? Because my immune system mistakenly produces antibodies against certain normal proteins in my blood, also known as antiphospholipid syndrome. You can read more about my hospitalization and diagnoses here and here.

The truth of the matter is we are all runners, cyclists, walkers, lifters – athletes – and we have learned through racing, training and pushing our bodies to the limit that pain is not only acceptable, but sometimes just the way it is. I know, I’ve struggled with Patellofemoral Syndrome (a.k.a Runner’s Knee and yes, everything really is a syndrome nowadays) all but the first year I ran. Knee pain for me? Completely normal, something I’ve had to live with if I want to run. It hurts worse at times, feels better other times and with no apparent rhyme or reason can totally make or break my run. And, I’m not alone. Most runners I know and run with seem to struggle with some sortof ongoing pain, injury or bodily malfunction.

We see each other in the Physical Therapists’ waiting room and don’t recognize each other because we are dressed normally. “How was your run?” becomes “How’s your PT going?” or “How’s that knee holding up lately?” We live with pain. In fact, some people might even argue it’s what makes us real. I thought that at first, Yes! My first running injury. I’m a real runner now! Um, no. That got really old, really fast and yet; we still run, bike, swim and tear up the gym with pain. Push through. Get over it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You can run 26.2 miles with pain, what’s stopping you now? You’re fine. Walk if off. Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. You know all the right things to say to yourself.

Given all of this, it only makes sense that when we have real pain that we need to be really concerned about, we shrug it off. We’re runners, right? We live sometimes everyday of our lives with an ache here or a pulled muscle there. We run long on Saturday and hobble around on Sunday and Monday (and maybe even Tuesday if you’re like me) until we’re recovered. Why are you walking like that? Someone asks us at the office. I ran 22 miles on Saturday (meanwhile we’re thinking, I bet you didn’t). And we go about our day, proudly displaying our battle scars.

Looking back, now? Yes. I should have known something was wrong. Really wrong. I blamed in on my knee.

The pain was different.

First there was the leg pain. I had been complaining about leg pain for a couple of weeks or so. I distinctly remember telling Duane, not only did my knee hurt, but my calf hurt too. I told him this pain extended down into my ankle and bottom of my foot. The thing that was different is this pain was not as a result of running. I had it even when I didn’t run. In fact, when I ran, I noticed it less.

I have always had a discolored left leg:

June 2012

You can see the brown, which now looks like freckling, but before this incident, it turned almost purplish. In fact, the other thing that makes my situation complicated is that I have had more than one doctor look at my leg for the discoloration. It had been discolored ever since college, from what I can remember. I even had a biopsy on the skin about two years ago in which a dermatologist determined it was a pigmentation issue and not cancerous or anything like that. Even my gynecologist was fascinated by the color of my skin and listened to my blood flow. No one ever heard a disruption of blood flow. Hence, no one assumed it was a clot. I didn’t have varicose veins, either, further indicating a blood clot was out of the question.

DVT Causes:

  • Slow blood blow (often due to lying or sitting still for an extended period of time – such as in the case of a long plane ride or car ride)
  • Pooling of blood in the vain often due to immobility, medical conditions, or damage to valves in a vein or pressure on the valves, such as during pregnancy
  • Injury to a blood vessel
  • Clotting problems due to aging or a disease
  • Catheters placed in a vein

Symptoms of a Deep-Vein Blood Clot (DVT):

  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Pain or tenderness in one or both legs, which may occur only while standing or walking
  • Warmth in the skin of the affected leg
  • Red or discolored skin in the affected leg
  • Visible surface veins
  • Leg fatigue

DVT can partly or completely block blood flow, causing chronic pain and swelling. It may damage valves in blood vessels, making it difficult to get around.

Half of all DVT cases cause no symptoms.

My Symptoms:
  • Swelling in one or both legs
  • Pain or tenderness in one or both legs, which may occur only while standing or walking
  • Warmth in the skin of the affected leg
  • Red or discolored skin in the affected leg
  • Visible surface veins
  • Leg fatigue

What I Felt:

Excruciating pain that extended from the back of my knee down to my ankle whenever I put any amount of weight on it. I was nearly dragging my leg by the time my husband and I went to the hospital. I have said it previously and I will say it again because it is the only way I can describe it: It felt like someone had the soft, fleshy skin behind my knee in a vice and just kept on tightening. Runner’s Knee caused me to hobble, caused me to scoot down stairs, sidestep curbs and grimace when getting in and out of the car. Runner’s Knee never caused pain in the back of my leg. Also, the side of my calf was tender to the touch, but not overly warm, now I know that soreness was primary along the femoral vein. I did not notice any swelling, especially in my lower leg. My knee is always slightly swollen to being with. I will note, remember Goofy when I was limping at Mile 4 of the full marathon due to my severe kneepain? It wasn’t knee pain. It was this pain that caused me to slow to the point of being pulled from the course and after a three hour plane ride and countless hours on my feet after that, I’m not at all surprised in hindsight.

I just wonder how long this clot had been building. It is terrifying to think about.

Then there was the side pain. I texted Judi on Sunday when she asked how my knee was doing, “Sore but okay. The weird thing is my left side. Hurts when I breathe like I can’t catch my breath. Slept propped up. No idea what the hell happened. Started mid-day yesterday.”


Symptoms of a Pulmonary Embolism:

  • Shortness of breath that may occur suddenly
  • Sudden, sharp chest pain that may become worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Coughing up blood or pink, foamy mucus
  • Fainting, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Signs of shock

Pulmonary embolism may be hard to diagnose because its symptoms may occur with or are similar to other conditions, such as a heart attack, a panic attack, or even pneumonia.

Also, some people with pulmonary embolism do not have symptoms.

My Symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath that may occur suddenly
  • Sudden, sharp chest pain that may become worse with deep breathing or coughing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Coughing up blood or pink, foamy mucus
  • Fainting, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Signs of shock

What I Felt:

I honestly thought this was a really bad side stitch. Only, it got worse over time. A pretty good indicator that it was not a side stitch was that it did not happen while I was running. It happened much later in the day once my body had a chance to relax. As time went on, the pain became nearly unbearable and not only that, it became hard to breath. I could not lie down at all – the pain was excruciating.I never really felt chest pains, but I did feel like someone was jamming their thumb into my rib cage. My breathing became shallow and I could only say two or three words at a time. The best indicator? I could not draw in a deep breath – very similar to when you are trying to catch your breath during a hard or hot run, but it doesn’t go away with rest or pain meds. One of my doctors told me, there should have been a moment in time when I realized I couldn’t breathe (when the clot entered my lung and obstructed air flow); however, I think this happened when I was taking my nap and I didn’t know the event had occurred. If I had been up, walking around or running errands, I may have noticed it as it happened and thought differently about it. Although this was serious, I am convinced my symptoms did not feel more life-threatening because thankfully my heart was not affected by the trauma to my lung.

The pain in my leg/knee/calf combined with the new pain in my side should have been an indicator that something was wrong and I needed immediate medical attention because a PE is most commonly caused by a blood clot that breaks off from a leg or pelvis vein and travels to the lung, creating a big problem.

(Now we know? I should have put the two pains together.) 

So there you have it. If you at all think you are suffering from a blood clot in your leg or lung, please do not wait to get emergency medical attention. Most people who are going to die from a PE do so within 30 to 60 minutes of the event, which is why I am so lucky (since I took well over 24 hours to go to the hospital). PE causes or contributes up to 200,000 deaths annually in the U.S. alone. One in every 100 patients who develop DVT dies, due to a PE. Immediate medical intervention is essential to reduce the risk of death to less than 10 percent. I’m still here!

As runners and athletes, we all live with pain, some of it more severe than not. We will probably always have to deal with pain. Its part of what makes us who we are – we push and workout and run until sometimes we just can’t go anymore and in those moments, we do sometimes find victory whether it be setting a new PR, going a new distance or achieving a negative split. But, listen to your body. If something doesn’t seem right, doesn’t feel right or just as even the slightest tweak to it, seek medical attention. Even if it is putting a call in to your family doctor. After all, I am convinced that is what saved my life. I wouldn’t be here had my family not been persistent in checking in with me and eventually calling my physician who then called me and told me to go to the E.R.

Until the next mile marker,

In Case You Missed It….

  • What the #$%! Happened. In June 2012, I was incredibly lucky to survive a pulmonary embolism (or blood clot in my lung) that broke off from a clot that had formed deep within a vein in my lower leg. Read my story here.
  • What the #$%! Happened: The Aftermath. What caused this, what my treatment entails and what the future holds for running, my job and life.

  • “That’s Why I Pray.” God is not finished with me yet – and that’s why I’m still here! Do you believe in the power of prayer to make a difference? Do you believe there is hope when all seems hopeless? Do you believe in better days? I do now more than ever! The lyrics and meaning of this song got me through some seemingly hopeless moments in the days after my discharge from the hospital.


Put a Running Spring Into Your Step

As spring makes a comeback and warmer weather  an official return, people everywhere will be ditching the gym treadmill and taking it to the streets. Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting a running program, but don’t know how. Maybe you want to lose weight, build your endurance, run a 5K or train for a marathon. Is running for you? Probably not. After all, the last time you ran a mile was in high school gym class and even that proved to be a struggle.

The truth is, anybody can run. It doesn’t matter if you are fast or slow; tall or short; heavy or thin; old or young; experienced or a beginner. If you’re not planning to do a lot of racing, running is an inexpensive, interesting and inspirational sport that can be done solo or with a group of your friends or family. You don’t need a gym membership, fancy clothes, or top of the line gear to run; all you need to do is lace up your shoes, get out the door and get moving.
Even more importantly, running offers a variety of  health benefits. By simply jogging for a mile or two a few days a week, you can begin to improve your health, prevent disease, lose weight, tone your muscles, build your self-confidence, relieve stress and alleviate depression. Running outdoors is even better because you can enjoy the scenery or weather, better prepare for a race, challenge yourself and expend more calories than while on the treadmill. Not to mention, time goes by quicker and boredom seldom strikes since you’re on the move. Try running in a local park or neighborhood this spring.

Follow these steps to get running right from the beginning:

  • Start with your diet! Make sure you well hydrated by drinking at least 8 ounces of water eight times a day and eating a small, quality, sugar-boosting snack 30 minutes before you head out the door. Start incorporating fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and lean meats or proteins (such as fish and chicken) into your diet. Cut out as much processed and pre-packaged food as possible.
  • Go to your local specialty running shop and get fitted for a pair of running shoes. All shoes are not created equal. A good running store will analyze your stride and gait and make sure you are wearing a shoe that will provide adequate support and cushioning helping to increase comfort and reduce injury.
  • Take it slow. Don’t increase mileage or speed too fast and listen to your body to avoid injury. If you can’t speak without huffing and puffing during your run or are doing so afterwards, you are running too fast. Remember, slow and steady finishes the race.
  • Begin with a run/walk strategy if you are uncomfortable. After you’ve warmed-up with a 5-minute walk, run for a short segment and then take a walk break. Beginners can alternate very short run segments with short walks, such as one minute running, three minutes walking. Keep repeating your run/walk pattern until you’ve covered your goal distance or time.
  • Baby steps are the key. Start making one diet change a week or commit to running for 30 minutes two days a week. Don’t try to change everything all at once or you may feel overwhelmed and give up.
  • Write it down. Keep a log of miles run, pace, weather conditions, food you ate beforehand, shoes and apparel you wore and how your body and mood felt. Review your notes frequently and you will begin to notice patterns in your workouts. This way, you can find out what works and what doesn’t. Keeping track of your progress also helps to keep you motivated.
  • Don’t get discouraged! It’s so easy to beat yourself up if you do not make huge strides in the beginning. Don’t worry, it will come! If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
  • Set goals for yourself. Run a mile with no walk breaks, set a mileage goal, or train for an upcoming 5K race benefiting your favorite charity. Once you achieve your goals, reward yourself with a new running shirt, an evening out or afternoon at the spa.

And don’t forget to have fun! Join a local running club or group; make a running date with a friend or spouse. Making plans and setting goals is not only enjoyable, it will help hold you accountable. Get out and get running this spring, your health – mind, body and soul – will thank you as you achieve what you once thought to be impossible.

Until the next mile marker,

Pace Points: Making Strides with Healthy Habits

One of the things I love about coaching is watching the ladies and gentleman I run with week after week, mile after mile, transform from someone who is “just getting some exercise” or “trying to lose a little weight” into someone who is a passionate runner. I watch as their thoughts, actions, behaviors and habits switch from something they have to do into something they want to do – and not just in terms of running. I watch as everything – from eating to sleeping to other activities to what they read, where, talk about and watch – begins to revolve around how they can be a stronger, healthier, sometimes faster, smarter runner. It is so rewarding and amazing for me to witness and is one of the reasons I enjoy coaching so much. This transformation happened with me over two years ago now; and now watching another runner experience what I did brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart that inspires me time and time again in my own running journey.

Me & Judi getting ready to run with our group!

If you have been running for some time or maybe training for your first race, you are most likely realizing that running is much more than just exercise for your body. It truly is a positive lifestyle that filters into all aspects of your life, which is one of the things that makes running so enjoyable to so many people. Have you ever had a great run and it keeps you smiling for the rest of the day or night? Your thoughts, actions, attitudes and thoughts are all transformed into something completely positive and infectious to those around you.

As you keep running, you may even find that you are developing healthy habits that keep you running strong and healthy. Suddenly, everything you do in your day-to-day life starts to benefit you, the runner. Below are some quick tips that will help you continue to make the transition from a healthy runner to a healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat lean and green. Start feeding your body the heart-healthy foods it needs on a routine basis. Center your diet on whole grains, fish, lean meats, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. These foods will not only meet your basic nutritional needs, but will help your body recover from exercise.
  • Eat in moderation. Watch your portion sizes and eat five to six small meals or snacks a day, instead of three large meals.
  • Hydrate! Make sure you drink at least eight ounce glasses of water a day, although most runners choose to consume water continually throughout the day. Don’t wait until the night before your long run to chug water! Your urine should be pale yellow to clear if you are properly hydrated
  • Change your shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Our shoes wear down over time and don’t provide the stability and support our feet need.
  • Stretch after every run. This is a habit we should all probably become more familiar with.
  • Take time to rest. Every training program should have a rest day in addition to two or three easy days (shorter, less-intense runs following harder efforts) each week. If you didn’t have a strenuous week, its okay to cross-train (go for a hike or swim, take a yoga class, or treat your dog to a long walk). However, if you’re coming off a high-mileage week, reward yourself with a day of total rest. Your body needs time to heal and recover!
  • Get sufficient, regular sleep. Most people need 7 to 8 hours night.
  • Seek medical attention. Don’t try to be your own doctor; if something hurts, feels out of the ordinary or is causing persistent pain, see a doctor to rule out a serious injury and develop a plan of action.
  • Set goals. Tell your friends, family and running buddies what your goals are. It helps hold you accountable and gives you a reason to celebrate as you achieve them.
  • Buy a new winter (or summer!) running outfit or a new pair of shoes or jeans. Treat yourself once in a while as you reach new milestones – a new distance, time, weight loss, etc.
  • Tweak your running schedule from time to time: Do one of your weekly runs on a different day than you normally do, or at a different time than you normally do. Run a new route, with new friends or sign up for a local 5K to keep things interesting.

Until the next mile marker,