Running with Earphones: Super Friend or Evil Villain?

Most people I know have an iPod or some other small musical listening device. Most runners I know have also gone for a run while listening to their favorite jams. In fact I had a friend in college who ran with her iPod on a regular basis along the roads and down the trails of our campus.

She often ran in the morning so as to beat the heat. One time she was very startled by another runner on the trail that she had not seen until he was passing her. She told me the story and we had a good laugh, but this also raises the question “is running while listening to music your super friend or a super villain to your safety?” Let’s look at several safety tips for the solo runner and see how the ipod fits in.

General Safety Tips for Solo Runners:
•    Let someone know where you are running and for how long
•    Make sure you are properly hydrated and fueled before you begin
•    Perhaps run with mace if you are running in an unfamiliar area or one with known stray animals
•    Be aware of your surroundings, including the ground (for footing), possible cars and cyclists, animals and other people
•    If running on the road, run against the flow of traffic

If Running While it is Dark:
•    Wear clothing and shoes with reflective strips
•    Invest in a vest with reflective strips on it

How Does the iPod Fit In:
•    It doesn’t fit into your safety
•    It is very dangerous not to be able to hear an oncoming car, dog or someone behind you
•    Cyclyist are also very dangerous to your safety
•    If you have to listen to your ipod then do so at a level that you can hear your own footsteps.  This might not be as loud as you want to jam to your music but this guideline could save your life

What do you think? What are your experiences running with an iPod?

7 Creative Tips from a Mom with a Toddler on Getting a Run In

jogging stroller, new mom runningAre you a parent with young a child who just can’t seem to get in your weekly mileage? I have a 1 ½ year old and found that being consistent with my training is very difficult…and we all know that being consistent with your running is really what makes us better at racing. Days, weeks, months and years of consistent running build our base.

So how do I balance the huge responsibility of being mom with a toddler and get my running done?  Well it hasn’t been easy, but here are several tips on how I have been able to get the mileage done.

  • Go to a gym where there is child care.
  • Ask a babysitter to meet you at the track so that you can run your workout.
  • Have a college student come to your house for an “exchange” – she babysits your child while you run and in return she gets to do her laundry for free (soap included) and have a home cooked meal when you get back. I try to do this for my long run once a week in the morning and then cook banana pancakes and eggs for all of us. The college students love it and I enjoy a yummy brunch after a long run.
  • Invest in a treadmill and run while the kiddo is sleeping.
  • Invest in a jogging stroller.  Take the little one with you for an easy run.
  • Ask your spouse to go with you to run at your favorite trail. Take turns running / playing with your child.
  • Ask mom or mother-in-law or another relative who wants to spend time with your child to come and watch her while you run.

Of course there are many things a parent can do to balance exercise and kids. These are just the ways that I have been able to do it.

Let’s add to this list. Moms and Dads: What are some other ways that you are able to get your run in?  Post a comment and let us know!

A Question to Our Master’s Runners

I recently ran I 5k where the days leading up to the race were not that great.  I was getting sick (my one year-old passed on a virus to me) but like most busy adults I was in denial and kept up my regular daily routines. In general I felt tired and unenthusiastic about running. I logged minimal mileage the week before the race. I considered not going but hey, I paid to be there so why not? The race was a large enough event to have several waves of start groups (It was the Atlanta Half-Marathon and 5k on Thanksgiving day).

I was in the first group, but not knowing how my body would react to running hard after not feeling well, I lingered in the back of the pack on purpose. My logic for this was as follows: if I am forced to run slower than normal then perhaps I won’t feel terrible at the end of the race even if I am getting sick. So that is what I did. It took me about 30 extra seconds past the gun to reach the start line. I had to weave in and out of people methodically and slow for about the first ½ mile.

My plan worked perfectly. I went about 30 seconds slower on the first mile than I normally would and then ran each mile faster. Despite an unsure beginning I had a great race. I did finish much faster than the other runners around me, probably because I held back at the beginning.

In my final push to the finish I passed several people, one of which was an older man. He was probably in his 50’s or 60’s. I could tell that he was kicking to the finish line. As I passed him our eyes met for a split second. The look on his face was awful. I actually felt kinda bad for going by him.

Several thoughts have rattled around in my brain since that brief encounter with the old man who looked so dejected by my kick. One thought was how would I feel if I were in his shoes. I hope that I would be glad to still be racing no matter how fast or slow I am. But then the competitive side of me doesn’t want anyone to beat me! So I ask our master’s runners out there, is being out-kicked by someone who is not quite a master herself and obviously has too much left at the end of a race okay?

My First Race Back…Just Like Riding a Bike

I raced a 5k last weekend and did pretty well for the amount of training that I’ve been able to do, 21:30 was the result. It had been 2 years since my last race. I found out that I was pregnant in November of 09′ and then my running just kinda tapered off to nothing for a long while. Thankfully I have been able to get in some consistent (but not high) mileage for the past 6 months. So I decided it was time to lace up the racing flats, even though I did not feel very prepared or speedy.

I went to bed the night before a little nervous. But I was confident that I could run about 7:00 minute pace. I did not loose sleep thinking about the race.  In fact I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. The nervous feeling that I had felt so many times before was not really present. But the lack of nervousness did not prevent my body from, how shall I say it, preparing for a race. I had to visit the restroom 3 times during the first 30 minutes of being out of bed.

Stomach empty?  Check. I then began getting really jittery like I had a double shot of espresso, but I had not yet drank my routine cup of Earl Grey tea. Adrenaline present? Check. When I got to the race and began my warm-up I had to purposely run slow because I felt like all the adrenaline was going to surge me into race pace before I even toed the start line. Controlled warm-up? Check. Then came the final strides before the gun. I felt fluid and ready to run fast. Muscles firing? Check. Then came the gun.

I got off the line in a good position, not in front but also not behind anyone slower than me. My race splits were pretty even which is good. But anyone who has run a race knows that the last half is always hard no matter how fit you are or how good you feel at the gun.

The first mile felt good but I soon began wondering “why am I doing this?” The second mile burned and I though about stopping several times. And then all of a sudden the focus came.  Just like riding a bike, all the years of racing came back to me and the mental toughness took over. I locked eyes on the lady in front of me and made it my goal to keep pace with her, stride for stride.  Poor thing didn’t know she was a pawn in my race strategy. I passed her before the 2 mile mark and found my next victim.

After passing 3 more people, the fatigue began to really set in. At that point the strategy switched from “who can I pass?” to “focus on your form and stride length” and “finish with a kick.” I was able to do just that, finish with a kick. My legs were jell-o after that final push to the finish line but I felt great. Being able to compete after so much time off was wonderful and I hope to lace up the racing flats again soon.

So now the question is, does anyone else have a similar experience of taking time off from running and then getting back into racing?  Or maybe you have a race that really stands out?  We are looking for guest bloggers.  If you have a story or training advice email us at

Running as a New Mom

jogging stroller, new mom runningAs a life long runner, I guess you could say that I enjoy the sport.  I started running in 7th grade, continued through high school and college and have run pretty consistently ever since.  That is until my husband and I decided that we wanted to expand our family and we got pregnant with our first (and so far only) child.  I was lucky and had a pretty easy pregnancy. I ran good mileage during the first trimester and then it tapered off to just walking by month 5.  I was able to walk several miles daily and lift weights twice a week up to the due date.

My labor and delivery was very fast (3.5 hours total) and very painful. I also delivered my breach (frank position) baby naturally.  Perhaps needless to say I had a long recovery ahead of me.  I always thought that I would be the woman who was able to go for a run in just a few days after giving birth. I was wrong. I had a good bit of healing and pain to recover from and I could not walk very well for about 2 weeks.  I did not go for my first run until 6 weeks after delivering my baby.  It was slow, short and painful, but at least I was doing it!  Since then, my training has progressed but slowly.

Mothers who want to exercise have so many obstacles to overcome; work, housework, meals, taking care of their children and along with all the other demands of life. I am a stay at home mom who doesn’t have family close by to help out on a regular basis.  Therefore I have had to be creative in how I get my running and other workouts done.  These are just a few tips that a new mom can use to help her get back into running.

Karmen’s Top 8 for Mom’s Returning to Running

  • Listen to your body…don’t force the exercise while you are still recovering.
  • Drink LOTS of water and other fluids, especially if you are nursing your baby.
  • Start with walking if running is too painful.
  • Walk fast uphill to get your cardio up.
  • Do your core exercises and kegels!
  • Join a gym that offers child care (the YMCA is great for this).
  • Be okay with cross training: walking, swimming, pool runs, elliptical, bike.
  • Invest in a running stroller.

Make up a weights routine that can be done around your house or check out one of our routines here. If you have a baby carrier, you can even wear your baby while doing some exercises like squats and calf raises. (Of course be very careful with balance while doing these!)

Don’t be discouraged if you have to “start over” several times before you get into a routine…that’s what I had to do.
Be patient with the weight loss. If you are nursing your baby, eating relatively healthy and doing even some regular exercise, the weight will come off. I noticed that my weight was almost back to “normal” between 6-9 months.

Have fun doing what you love!

This is definitely not a complete list of tips, but a good start.  Has anyone had a similar experience?