Runner’s World run streaking that is.

I’m taking part in the Runner’s World third annual holiday running streak by pledging to run at least one mile every day from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.

Running to the Finish

Running to the Finish

This is the first time I’ve done the holiday run streak, and I’m really looking forward to it as I’ve taken a solid running break since my marathon. Too often the holidays get used as an excuse to put off getting in shape until the New Year. This is such a great way to stay fit – and maybe even get fitter – even through holiday parties and extra sweets.

I kicked things off with chilly runs in Maine the last two mornings. I’ll be tweeting my progress with the hashtag #RWRunStreak.

I’m also doing a core streak too. I figured since I started the year off with more than 100 consecutive days of my P90X ab ripper workout – why not end with a decent streak too?

Have you ever done a run streak? Are you joining the RW Run Streak this year?

Hitting the Hills

My February focus is all about getting my speed back, so I’m getting two speed sessions in a week as part of my half marathon training. When I think of speed workouts I immediately think track and tempo workouts, but my Hal Higdon training plan alternates each week between a track workout and a hill workout for the first month and a half. In a sick kind of way I actually enjoy running hills and love that they make me faster and stronger.

Earlier this week I did my first hill workout after a few mile warm up near the Iwo Jima Memorial running the hill next to Arlington Cemetery up to the Netherlands Carillon Bell Tower. My fellow Marine Corps Marathon alumni know this hill as the finish line. I like  using this hill for workouts because it reminds me of finishing my marathons there (although that race turns right half way up this hill), and will hopefully give me confidence to charge up it and finish strong when I tackle the marathon there this year. I took on the MCM hill six times before a short cool down and returning home to start my day. I was beat but also felt great at the same time.

When I run hills I focus on what’s right in front of me instead of looking up the hill at what I have ahead. I try to shorten my stride a little and lean into it. I love this Runner’s World video where Bart Yasso says to think about running with your “nose over your toes” so that you don’t lean too far back or too far forward. I also pump my arms to pull myself up and really focus on engaging my glutes as I crank out the repeats.

Check out this great RunWashington article on hill training for some more advice on how to use hills to improve your speed.

I tackled the MCM hill six times this week and am already thinking about my next hill workout. If you’re in the DC/NoVa area, do you have any good hills I should try and run? Do you use hill workouts as part of your race training?

I ran out of time after my morning workout, so I tried to get some pics after work yesterday. I got out later than expected and ran out of light so these aren’t the greatest shots, but here it is…

Healthy Through The Holidays

The Thanksgiving to New Year’s period is one of the toughest to stay healthy and stay on track with your workouts. There are parties to attend, beers to drink, cookies and other treats to eat, colder weather and less daylight hours to get a workout in. It can be really easy to just let yourself off the hook and say you’ll start up again in the new year. I’ve put together a few tips I use this time of year to try and make it easier for you to stay on track and give yourself a head start on those New Year’s resolutions to get fit and eat healthy.

Log It
Keep a food log. No one else ever has to see it, but having to log everything you eat has a way of holding you accountable. Studies show its a key technique for losing or maintaining weight. (Check out this study from the National Institutes of Health.) I hear people say they just can’t do this, but I think it’s more of a won’t then a can’t. There are so many easy ways to do this now with apps and websites that there really is no excuse. My favorite is LoseIt.com, which also has a smartphone app that syncs automatically with your web account.

I don’t use it all the time, but I think it’s a great tool to check in on occasion and get a clear picture of your eating and exercising habits. It lets you track calories in and out incredibly easily. You can choose from a database of food or enter custom foods in as well, so after a couple weeks you have most of the foods you eat just a click away. It also lets you log exercise as well so you can get a better look at the full picture.

If you do keep a food log, I think it’s really important to be honest, but also not be too hard on yourself. You’re going to have bad days and sometimes it’s OK to treat yourself. The thing a food log can help with is seeing if you’re doing this too much.

Make a Committment
Don’t wait until the New Year to start an exercise plan. It’s too easy to keep saying I’ll start tomorrow or next week, but then there will always be an excuse to keep putting it off. I love the idea of the Runner’s World Holiday Streak. It challenges people to run every day from Thanksgiving through New Years – even if it’s just a mile, just get out and run. If running isn’t your thing, try a similar streak with workouts at the gym.

Get It In Early
This is the hardest one on the list for me. I hate mornings…really hate them. This time of year more than ever though, things pop up and get in the way of plans to work out later. Despite my hatred for mornings, I always feel great when I have my workout done and out of the way for the day. It’s one less things for me to stress out about during the day.

I see these tips over and over again so I’m sure you’ve heard most of this before, but I hope it’s a helpful reminder. Good luck staying healthy and happy through the holiday season!

Book Review: Going Long

You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this book – just human. Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks & Adventures compiles the best stories from Runner’s World over the years. Fair warning: have a box of tissues close by, especially when you read the section on inspirations.

David Wiley, editor in chief of Runner’s World and editor of Going Long writes about the stories included in this book: “To land in these pages, they had to go long and deep, transcending running as mere sport in some way, connecting it to larger themes such as fame, faith, family, love, and even life and death.”

Thirty stories are included and are separated into five chapters including inspirations, legends, true originals, the runner’s high, and adventures and investigations. Inspirations is the section I think non-runners will connect with the most. Stories show people recovering from 9-11, amputation and getting crushed by a bus with running. There’s the story of the father-son running and triathlon team where the father pushes his son with cerebral palsy along the way as they complete marathons and Ironman triathlons across the country.

The section on legends talks about the runners who have made running what it is and shows why so many everyday people love to take part in this sport. True originals takes more of a look at some of the colorful characters to have graced the sport of running the runner’s section consists of personal essays from runners themselves about what it takes to be a runner. Finally adventures and investigations looks at going to great lengths to report on running whether looking to find the Tarahumara Indian runners made famous in Born to Run or trying to trace the route Terry Fox made in his attempt to raise cancer awareness by running 5,300 miles across Canada before being cut short by the disease that would soon take his life.

I’ve been reading Runner’s World for a few years now, but all of these stories predated my subscription to the magazine so they were all new to me and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every story. Runners that enjoy the longer stories near the end of each Runner’s World mag will surely love this compilation of the best – even if you have seen a few of them before.