Top Ten Tips to Make the Most of Your Workout

As featured in the January/February 2013 edition of 11Athletics Magazine in Columbus, Ohio.

Making time to get to the gym, workout or even take a walk isn’t easy; and it seems like a new trend emerges daily to aid in achieving weight loss, health or physical fitness – all guaranteed to work, but most likely to fail. Even if you have committed yourself to realistic expectations involving weight loss, dieting and getting fit, maintaining these goals or committing to them as a lifestyle can be daunting for just about anyone. Why not make the most of the time you spend working towards your health, fitness and weight loss goals? See the tips below for simple yet effective ways to maximize the time you spend working out.

  • Plan out your gym session. Make a list of what you plan to do, for how long and in what order. Keep track of your workouts and progress. If your plan goes awry for one reason or another, you will eventually build up a library with a multitude of options to keep you moving. Writing down your workout ahead of time will minimize time spent floundering at the gym trying to decide what to do next and lets you keep track of your progress – often the biggest motivator – in a simple, organized fashion.
  • Be fully hydrated before working out to avoid cramping and muscle fatigue, but don’t overdue it. Make sure you are drinking about 80 ounces of water continuously throughout the day.
  • Don’t eat sooner than 45 minutes before working out. Make sure you have a good mix of healthy carbohydrates and protein for your body to use as a fuel source.
  • Maintain an 80 to 85 percent maximum heart rate while working out. You can purchase a heart rate monitor with a calorie counter, which can also serve as a huge source of motivation when working out. See what you burn each time you hit the gym.
  • Mix cardio with resistance training to achieve the most benefits for your body. Resistance training helps not only decrease your body fat percentage, but replaces fat with muscle, which should be your ultimate goal. Adding resistance training can be as simple as holding a five or ten pound dumbbell in your hands while you are doing squats.
  • Do your exercises as circuit training so your body never stops moving. The truth is the human body does not like to change once it has become accustomed to one certain thing, even if that thing is exercise. Keep your body guessing by keeping variety in your workout, whether it is changing weights, exercises or the order in which you do things.
  • Use your own body weight as much as you can (squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, etc.). It helps build core strength and you can use it anywhere – gym or no gym! Gym machines should only consist of about 25% of your workout. By incorporating simple body weight exercises in your routine, you will end up burning more calories for longer periods throughout the day. Use your body – after all, it’s what you’re working on to begin with.
  • Utilize interval training. It is one of the most heart-healthy exercise methods because it involves periods of high intensity exercises mixed with low intensity exercises all completed at different time intervals. Interval training helps to increase cardiovascular effectiveness as well as your lactic threshold, when your muscles begin to fatigue due to lactic acid build-up in them. Intervals can be as simple as a three minute aerobic period at high speeds (i.e. on the treadmill), followed by a minute and a half or so at your regular level.
  • While some exercise is better than none, try not to break up your workouts. The ideal fat-blasting sessions should be for 30 minutes at once and not, for example, three ten minute sessions in a day.
  • Make time for rest. Resting is the most neglected part of any successful workout program. Your body does all of its work while you are resting – rebuilding muscles and re-energizing for your next workout. Get at least six hours of sleep at night and space out your workouts so that you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row.

What are your favorite tips for making the most of your workout? Continue sharing tips in the comments below!

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,

Refuel with Chocolate Milk and Vote for Me Too!

As runners and athletes, we know that it is important to fuel our bodies to for peak performance. We also know that it is important to refuel our bodies after our energy has been depleted after a long or hard run. In fact, it is important to replenish our muscles stored within 30 minutes of a workout.

After a workout, hydration is the main goal because a significant amount of water is lost through perspiration and not getting enough fluids can lead to fatigue, dizziness and headaches. In addition to hydration with fluids (I prefer water) your body also needs replenished with a carb-rich snack or meal that does demand the high-calorie and high-sugar counts found in many sports drinks. The key is to replace both carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during a workout and while whole grains, fruits and veggies are the best options, sometimes a drink or recovery smoothie is a perfectly good, inexpensive and quick fix.
Due to its carbohydrate to protein ration (about 3:1 or 4:1), Chocolate Milk has been found to be one of the best post-workout options to refuel muscles. It provides an optimal balance of carbs and protein and is recommended to help you refuel both after strength and cardio training. It also provides fluids and electrolytes to rehydrate and help replenish what’s lost in sweat. Choose low-fat Chocolate Milk to avoid excess sugar and fat consumption and drink no less than eight ounces to properly refuel. 
Do you refuel with chocolate milk? I love a tall glass of ice-cold chocolate milk after a hard run and it is my go-to staple for recovery and a quick snack when I am pressed for time. I especially enjoy it when Chocolate Milk is available at Finish Lines – it is the first thing I look for and it is not there, I rarely drink anything else besides water until I get home! 

The elite athletes, coaches and trainers of Team Refuel at Chocolate Milk know low-fat chocolate milk is nature’s premium recovery drink – a delicious and effective way to refuel your body after a hard workout. And they are looking to expand the Team with not only professional athletes, but everyday athletes like me!
I want to be a part of Team Refuel so I submitted my application and was selected to be in the contest this month! Each month, the five individual athletes who win the most votes will be invited to join the team.
I want to be one of those athletes. Please check out my submission HERE and vote for me! Search for me by name – Sara Wyen – my photo looks like this:

 You can vote once a day until September 15, when the winners will be selected, but I would appreciate any vote(s) you are able to cast.

If I am one of the winners, I will be invited to join Team Refuel and each receive a $250 grant. If I won the Refuel Grant, I would use the money to continue to train and run races – including Disney’s Goofy in January 2012. I will need A LOT of Chocolate Milk to take my training to the next level and accomplish my goal of running 39.3 miles in two days! With Chocolate Milk, I know I can take my training to he next level and inspire others to do the same.
These babies will be for you, Mom!
I am planning to run The Goofy in Orlando, Florida in January 2012 with some of my running buddies and if I win, I will be using the grant money to fund my training for the 39.3 mile race over the course of two days in the happiest place on Earth! This race is special to me because, as you may or may not know, my mother loved Disney and she would be ecstatic to know my sister and I are running the Disney races. Some of my happiest memories with her are from our family vacations to Disney World. I want to run the Goofy in her memory. She would be so thrilled. 
She made me a scrapbook of the last family trip we took to Disney in 2006 and this note is included on the last page:

We were supposed to go to Disney World the week after the Pittsburgh Marathon, but we did not go due to my mother’s sudden passing. I want to train as a part of Team Refuel to go to Disney World and run The Goofy in her memory. So please vote for me!
And thank you! 🙂
Until the next mile marker, 

And the award goes to…

I was fortunate enough to be named one of the Top 100 Running Blogs of 2011 by After recently gaining 100 followers (Don’t miss my $100 Strong Body Training GIVEAWAY!), this awards just seems perfect. I’m so excited – thank you!

Here’s what had to say about their selections:
From sprinters to long distance runners to the casual jogger to competitive racing, running takes many forms and can be performed at any level. Runners often turn to the internet for helpful tips, information and support, but the vast array of information can send your head spinning. Here at, our editors have been scouring the net for the best, most reliable sources of practical and informative information to help comb through the chaos. After much research and debate, we are pleased to present the following list of sites that we have deemed worthy of earning a spot on our list of the Top Running Blogs for 2011.

I am honored to be in this category with some of the blogs I admire most. Congrats to my fellow winners! And, with all of the blogs I am not familiar with, I have a lot of reading to do! I know many of these blogs already offer motivation, tips, advice, inspiration and guidance to both new and veteran runners alike – check them out!

And if that wasn’t enough, EAT RUN SAIL was kind enough to tag me for another Blogger award – One Lovely Blog! Thank you, Elle! If you haven’t stopped by her blog – do! She lives on a boat with her husband, The Captain, for most of the year and still finds time to run, work out and cook amazing things to eat – and blog about it all! Elle motivates me a lot when I am feeling down and just goes to show that there is no excuse for not being active and living the life you want to live. If she can do it from a boat – I just don’t have an excuse except for laziness! 

So, as part of accepting this award, here are seven random things about me:
My husband walked in the room and I said, “Quick! Name something random about me!” He said, “You have a dry sense of humor.” Oh boy, this is going to be fun.
  1. I have a dry sense of humor. I had to look it up to make sure it indeed descried me. Apparently this type of humor relies mainly upon sarcasm, timing, and wit. Check. And it is often referred to as a very good sense of humor or fun where the humor is not immediately obvious at first and is usually used by someone who appears to be serious at the same time.  Check. (Although, sometimes I just think I don’t realize I am being funny because I think I am being serious…..) Moving on –   
  2. My husband said (as he is working on a photography project) “You can be annoying,” I don’t like where this game is going….So, let’s say, at times I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. I like things to be organized, especially in my work. And, I can be compulsive when it comes to cooking, which I love to do, it has to be perfect! I get really upset when it doesn’t.   
  3. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Don’t ask me what I want to do with it because I don’t know yet. Sometimes I wish I would have studies Forensic Science instead. 
  4. I won a National writing award for a poem I wrote in Middle School. I forget what it was called (the award, not the poem) because who really cares when you are in Middle School? My 8th grade English Teacher let me skip basic English/grammar because she said I was “already too smart for that.”
  5. I have an addiction to hot sauce – the hotter, the better. I cannot get enough! I have been known to eat it right our of the jar. I crave spicy foods on a regular basis. I cook a lot of curries and super-spicy dishes for my husband and I. If it isn’t cooked with hot sauce or hot peppers, it gets some put on there!
  6. I studied Mandarin Chinese in college. Notice I did not say I speak it now. 
  7. I live in Columbus and I am not an Ohio State Buckeye’s Fan. I could care less about football (let the hate-mail begin).

So, there you have it, seven things you may not have known about me. Now for my seven lovely recipients. I run with these ladies every week, but don’t know the random facts! Let’s here it, girls!

Until the next mile marker,

$100 Training Giveaway for 100 Followers!

First and foremost – this post is for YOU followers! 
When I started this blog, I didn’t honestly expect to find so much love, support, friendship and knowledge in an online community. My bog is what it is today in part because of YOU! So, as promised, a $100 Giveaway for 100 (plus!) followers!
As you may or may not know, strength training is crucial to the success of endurance athletes, including runners. At first, I was not sold on the idea myself – I was already busting my butt to run, how could I possibly add on more work?! – but now, I understand that hitting the gym to lift some weights a few days a week is one of the most beneficial things I can do as a runner. Yes, ladies, even we need to ‘pump the iron’ regularly!
The benefits of strength training for runners are astounding – in fact, I was fortunate enough to attend an MIT seminar on it just last night!
Me and the Lucky 13’s after the seminar!
Strength training can improve body composition by helping you maintain or increase your lean body mass and can decrease your percentage of body fat, helping you look leaner and burn additional calories. Benefits of strength training for runners:
  • You’ll Be Leaner: Muscle burns more calories than fat. Fat burns almost nothing at rest, whereas muscle uses oxygen so if you increase lean muscle mass, you’ll increase the body’s ability to use oxygen and burn more calories. Your body typically uses about 4.5 to seven calories per pound of muscle every day.
  • You’ll Be More Efficient: Strength training can help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently. A study published last year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that runners who add three days of resistance training exercises to their weekly program increase their leg strength and enhance their endurance. Runners with better endurance can run longer—and burn more calories. You’ll also be able to recover faster from long runs because strength training makes your body more efficient at converting metabolic waste into energy.
  • You’ll Be Less Injury-Prone: If you increase your strength, you’ll also increase your joint stability, reducing your risk of repetitive stress injuries. Incorporating moves such as squats, single-leg hops, and ab work into a workout can not only prevent lower-body injuries, but improve performance as well. Leg exercises are particularly important when it comes to reducing injury: These exercises strengthen muscles around the knees and hips two areas that often cause problems for runners.
I also know that there seem to be a thousand things stacked against us when we are looking for a strength training program. 
  • It’s too expensive to hire a personal trainer or join a gym. 
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day to train with an intensive running (and sometimes swimming and biking too!) schedule. 
  • The gym closes too early and doesn’t open early enough. It can be daunting to try to figure out your own strength training workout. 
  • We ladies don’t want to get ‘big’. 
  • It’s too intimidating to lift weights around others. 
And the list goes on and on. For me, it boiled down to expense and time. It was too much and there was not enough!
As an expression of my gratitude to those of you that have joined me on this journey as followers, I would like to help you get started on a strength training program that works for you. It’s personalized, you can do it anywhere, and best of all (since I’m giving it away) – it’s FREE! So, what are you waiting for?! You’ve really got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Here are the details:
My friend and trainer (not-to-mention the nicest person you will ever meet), Rebecca Black, has graciously agreed to partner with me to offer one lucky follower a chance to win ONE FREE MONTH (that’s a $100 value!) of Strong Body by Rebecca Cyber Training!
What You Get:

The Strong Body By Rebecca Monthly Cyber Training Program consists of the following:

Rebecca Black
  • Initial Food Guide and Grocery list
  • Portion Sizes for each meal – this leaves flexibility for people to pick your own meals from the food in the guide instead of being tied to meals you won’t like
  • Resources on Healthy Eating
  • Monthly List of Rebecca’s Favorite things (newsletter)
  • Assistance with picking meals at restaurants
  • Initial Assessment Questionnaire – including weight, measurements, goals, and pictures
  • Month of workouts
  • Interval training and cardiovascular training ideas
  • Specialty ab and butt workouts
  • Functional workouts to do in parks, pools and even airports!
  • Weekly check-in with Rebecca via email on Sundays – includes questionnaire, updated measurements, weight and pictures
  • One 15-minute Skype session with Rebecca at the beginning or end of each month (your choice)
  • Encouragement and Support via email, Facebook and Twitter
What You Do:
Mandatory (One Entry each – that’s 2 entries!):
  • You must be a follower of this blog, of course! Let me know in a comment that you already are or become one (it’s not too late to get in on the fun)!
  • Tell me in a comment why you wish to make Strong Body Cyber Training a part of your endurance, weight-loss or fitness program. 

Extra Credit (That’s 10 additional entries!):
  • Follow me (@wordstorunby) and Rebecca (@StrongBodybyR) on Twitter and tell me in a comment that you are. (2 entries)
  • Tweet about this giveaway! Tell me in a comment that you did and include @wordstorunby and @StrongBodybyR in your tweet. (2 entries)
  • Blog about it in a post or on your sidebar and tell me in a comment that you did. (2 entries)
  • Sign up for the Strong Body Newsletter HERE and leave me a comment telling me that you did. (4 entries)

Please note, the contest runs from July 15th through July 22. I will announce a winner on Saturday, July 23 and get you linked with Rebecca right away to begin your free month of cyber training in August!

Still want more? Check out these blogs for inspiration, motivation and thoughts from ladies that are currently working Rebecca’s program. Way to go, girls!

That’s it, folks! Good luck to each and everyone of YOU – I can’t wait to pick a winner! 

Until the next mile marker,