Humidity and Hydration


Hydrating properly is a huge issue for runners. Dehydration and heat stroke are just a couple of problems with being lax about your water intake during a run or other exercise. It’s pretty straight forward that you need more water when your running in the heat, but what about running in humidity. Maybe this is a no brainer for those who live in a humid climate.

For those of us who don’t (me), at first glance, it seems like maybe you don’t need as much since there is so much water in the air already. But, running in humidity actually requires more water than running in dry heat.

Our bodies cool themselves through sweating. In order to sweat we need water and electrolytes. The more we sweat, the more we need. Pretty simple. To complicate matters just a bit, intense exercise causes your body temperature to go up, which then requires more sweating. Remember the last time you had a fever? You didn’t even have to move to sweat.

When you are running (or sweating for any reason) in humidity, the sweat doesn’t evaporate, which is what allows your skin to cool. Because it doesn’t evaporate, it continues to produce more sweat to attempt to cool you down.

Prehydrating is important whenever you are going to run in the heat, but particularly when you combine heat and humidity.

Dehydration progressively decreases your pace by two to three percent for every one percent loss in body weight. Your blood volume decreases when you don’t have enough water. This makes it so your body cannot fuel your muscles properly and thus slows you down. Dehydration also slows recovery  because your body cannot get rid of waste products it produces.

Overhydrating can also be dangerous. Hyponatremia (low sodium) is a serious condition, but it’s easily avoided. If you are exercising for over an hour, make sure you are ingesting some electrolytes. Most of the time, I use salt tablets. They are easy to carry and take during a run. I will also use Heed if I’m struggling to maintain that balance. Cravings for salty things, a decrease in pace, cramps, a foggy mind, and sloshing stomach are good indicators you’re electrolytes are out of balance.

Like with any aspect of running, everyone is different. Runner’s metabolisms process water at different rates. In order to determine how quickly your body loses water make sure you are hydrated before exercise, weigh yourself before you go out, and weigh yourself again when you return. Drink water over the next few hours until your body reaches the weight it was before you exercised. This will give you an idea of how quickly your body metabolizes water.

Can running help with depression?


I’m not advocating going off your prescribed medication. Not at all, going off psychotropic medications must be done under the supervision of your doctor and never just a complete stop. Running should not be the sole treatment for depression, but it’s my firm belief that it is a necessary component of treatment. Also always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program if you have any chronic or serious health issues (see the lawyer in me showing). With that said, let’s see what the psychological benefits of running are.

Running boosts self-esteem because you’re body improves and you feel like you are accomplishing something as you improve in your times or your distance. Running also releases endorphins, which trigger positive emotions. The “runners high” is a real thing people. This feeling of euphoria can change your outlook on your day and if you run daily, it can change your life.

I know I’m talking about running specifically here, but any type of moderate exercise is going to bring up your mood. The difficulty is getting started when you don’t have any motivation and don’t even feel like getting out of bed.

If this is you, start with something light such as yoga and definitely get someone to go with you. Pick someone who can give you some tough love and really support and validate your feelings and accept where you are with an open heart.

Next think about activities you enjoyed in your past and whether or not you like group activities or individual. A class may be the perfect thing for one person, and individual tennis lessons may be better for someone else. You should pick something that fits well in your schedule and eliminate any excuses you see yourself coming up with when you are having a difficult day.

Start small with twenty to thirty minutes three days a week, and as you feel better, you can increase your duration and/or the number of days each week.

It’s hard and you are going to have to force yourself to get started, but in the long run you will be glad you did.


running is my passion

There are as many reasons to run as there are runners. People begin running to lose weight, to increase their cardio capacity, and to get out of the house. The people who continue to run are those whose reasons for running change as they achieve the initial goal they set out to reach.

Then there are the “addicts.” The crazy people who run because it’s fun. Countless people have told me how much they hate to run and how hard it is for them to do one mile. Here is a little secret, that first mile is the hardest mile. It’s hard to go from zero to moving. It takes time for your heartrate to increase to the point where you are comfortable. This is true for just about everyone. Once you get past the first mile and your body adjusts to the forward motion, it’s easier. It’s almost fun.

Even after running for eight years, it takes my body anywhere from one to three miles to find it’s groove, especially if I worked hard the day before.

Running makes your immune system, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems stronger and increases their efficiency. In addition to the well-known benefits to running and exercise in general, there are some “hidden” benefits to running, such as stress relief, increase in creativity, and making friends. The bottom line is running will make you a happier person. Twenty minutes a day is all it takes to establish a good routine and reap the benefits increasing your quality of life.

So, why do I keep at it? There isn’t just one reason that keeps me shuffling down the trail day after day and mile after mile. I run for all of the reasons above, but I also run to feel connected to the world around me especially nature. I love being out there. I love challenging myself and pushing through those challenges. Running makes me happy, and it makes me a better person.

And it Begins Again


Every year at this time gyms across the United States fill up close to maximum capacity (well not really, but it feels like it). It’s so crowded you can’t get the machine or weights you want to use. To people who have being going to the gym every day, it can be frustrating because many of those new members are not going to maintain their attendance. In fact, most will dwindle off over the next two weeks. The rest will stop coming in six to eight weeks.

I love to motivate others to begin taking care of themselves through physical activity. It would be a huge win for everyone if all of these people would continue with their New Year’s resolutions/goals of maintaining an exercise program. I think this is why it is so frustrating to the gym regulars.

What can you do to maintain the program you have chosen for yourself this year?

First, pick something that is do able; a program that takes into account your current level of fitness, even if that means you start with only fifteen to twenty minutes of activity three days a week. It doesn’t matter where you start, only that you keep going and find a way to objectively measure your progress. Watching yourself improve will help you continue to be motivated. Small improvements are still improvements, just as one mile is one mile regardless of how fast you run it.

Second, find someone to go to the gym with or at least a partner who will hold you accountable. If you can’t find someone who can go at the same time, it is helpful to have someone else who is just beginning and you can check in with one another each day about what you did and how you are feeling.

Third, don’t change too many things all at the same time. If you are beginning a new exercise program don’t make any other major changes to your life style for three or four weeks. Let your body adjust and get into a groove. If you change too many things, you will become overwhelmed or rebel against all the “restrictions” you have placed on yourself.

Finally, don’t penalize yourself for a missed workout. Go the next day and don’t try to make up for the missed workout. You need to let the missed workout go and forgive yourself for it. Making yourself feel bad about it is not going to help you continue with the program.

Remember it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Keep going and don’t give up.

Air Pollution


Aerobic activity is healthy and everyone should be doing it a few times a week, but what about all the air pollution? Running in air pollution has the potential to cause serious health issues.

I am fortunate to live in an area where the air pollution is generally low enough that there are minimal risks when running out doors. In the winter months, that changes. I live in a valley and the cold air traps the pollution down in the valley as shown in the picture above. Yuck!

I can see it in the air, a brownish yellow fog. I can smell it in the air, exhaust and dirt. I can feel it when I breathe, thick and irritating.

I cough up mucus. My nose is congested. My throat is sore.

Pollution consists of both fine particulate matter and ozone gases. Both are bad, but the particulate matter causes major problems because it settles in your lungs causing inflammation and irritation. It can also get into your bloodstream. When it gets into your blood vessels, it causes them to dilate blocking oxygen and blood from reaching your muscles. It also lowers your body’s ability to create a protein, which breaks up clots.

But what about running?

When you run you inhale more air, ten to twenty times as much air, and you pull it deep into your lungs. If you are breathing through your mouth, the air bypasses the natural filter of your nose. Which means, all that thick yellow fog is making itself at home in your lungs.

Those with asthma, diabetes, heart or lung conditions, or lower respiratory disease should avoid being out in the pollution and definitely should not be out exercising in it.

For the rest of us who are relatively healthy, you should think twice. Running in the pollution especially long runs, which put you out in the yellow fog for hours at a time, is probably not a good idea. It can damage your airways and increase your risk of developing asthma. Oh and there is the chance that it will increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease(heart attacks) and lung cancer too.

Experts in the air pollution area say don’t give up on exercising outdoors because the benefits to exercise outweigh the damage especially if you take some precautions.

So what do you do?

Monitor the air quality in your area. The internet is the best way to do this. Most areas have a website dedicated to reporting air quality and keep it updated by the hour.

Run indoors on a track or treadmill. I know it is not the most fun, but it’s better than cancer. On Sunday, I ran my second long run on the treadmill.

Run where the air is safe to breathe deeply. On Saturday, I went to a higher mountain valley to run where the air is clear. It was slightly colder than where I live, but at least I could breathe.

Reduce the time you are out there. If you must run outside, shorten your run and try to time it for when the pollution is at its lowest if possible.

Stay away from major roadways.

Take an extra rest day and hope it clears up the next day.

Happy Running!


It’s that time of year…

new years resolution 1

New Year’s resolution time! Woot!

It’s been one week, have you stuck to yours?

I think it is wonderful that we begin the year with so much desire to better our lives and optimism. It’s really a shame that many people are not able to stick to their goals. About fifty percent of people who do make resolutions stick to them through the six month mark and then through the end of the year.

A major part of sticking to your goals is making them achievable. Be reasonable with yourself. Look at where you are currently in your life. Be honest with yourself not judgmental. Facts only no emotion behind it and no labels. Achieving a small goal is better than failing at a big goal. Resolve to change one or two things at a time. Trying to make major life overhauls all at once is overwhelming.

new years resolution 2

Your resolution must also be specific. Such as lose five pounds a month, save 100 dollars a month, exercise 30 minutes five days a week, eat a salad every day, or spend fifteen minutes a day meditating. Whatever it is, make it as specific as possible.

Part of the reason you want to be specific is measurability. You need to be able to track progress. Nothing inspires a person like seeing the changes. Buy a notebook where you can write your progress down. Make it detailed and include how you feel. Sometimes we don’t anticipate how a change will impact our lives so in the beginning especially the more information you can write down the better. How is your mood? How is your relationship with others? How is your productivity? These are important factors to consider in addition to the numbers of weight loss, miles, speed, or money in the bank.

Once you have decided on an achievable goal TELL OTHER PEOPLE. By involving other people, you gain a support system and accountability. Make sure you tell people who are going to support you and advocate for you. Resolutions are hard enough to keep, having someone who doesn’t believe in your ability to accomplish it is definitely not going to help you. Voicing your goals makes them more concrete too. There is something about hearing them out loud rather than just inside your head. Write them down and post it where you can see it each day. Try multiple places: on the dashboard of your car, on your calendar, and next to the mirror in the bathroom.  Create a goal collage by cutting out pictures or printing them off the internet that show your goal tack them up on a pin board where it reminds you visually of what you are striving toward.

new years resolution

Be positive about the changes you want to see. Try to frame them in the most positive light you can. Use words and pictures that are positive and inspire you. Don’t use words that trigger bad experiences or failures in the past. For many people the words diet and exercise are loaded with negative feelings and pictures. Choose other words, fuel and training or gymtime and energy. It doesn’t matter, just something that doesn’t make your stomach turn into a pretzel every time you thing about it.

The final thing is to celebrate your success. Choose ways to celebrate that do not compromise your goal. If you have a goal of losing weight cookies and ice cream are probably not a good way to celebrate. But you could buy yourself a new outfit or have a manicure and pedicure done. Go for a massage if you would like. Think outside the usual reward box.

Best of Luck! I hope you all succeed in your goals.


Getting Going and Mantaining Motivation

4 weeks

People are motivated by different desires such as to be fit, lose weight, make friends, and finish a particular distance/race. Most people’s motivation is not fueled from just one source either, it’s a combination of various desires.

Underlying these desires are the core needs of people everywhere: to survive, be accepted/loved, and accomplish goals. These basic needs are what you are tapping into to keep your fire going.

The more of these underlying needs that are wound up in your motivation, the stronger your motivation will be and the less likely you are to become burned out.

You have to be able to stick to the program long enough to feel your needs being met. This usually takes about four weeks of consistent exercising especially if the need is survival AKA weight loss and other health benefits.

People who have never exercised or stuck to an exercise program start with goals, which are too big and they get discouraged when their progress is slow. Or they become exhausted and can’t keep up the program. Goals must be achievable and measurable to help maintain motivation. Start small, starting is better than not starting, so even if your goal is to run one lap at the elementary school without stopping it is better than doing nothing. You can’t start too small.

Find a way to track your progress. There are a million apps for smart phones that will help track fitness. You can also get a notebook and track your speed, distance, and weight. Watching these numbers change is encouraging.

Let go of any slip-ups. If you miss a day, don’t just give up. If you miss two days, so what, get back on the wagon. If you have a hard day, that’s okay everyone does. Guilt is not very motivating, progress and change are, build your foundation on progress.

Don’t compete with other people, only with yourself. That way you always win. Focus on doing better than you did the week before. This is critical in the beginning. If you start looking around the gym at the people who have been exercising for years, you will get discouraged. Let it go and be ok with where you are starting because at least you are starting.

Hang out with people who are supportive of your exercise program, your cheering squad. Stay away from Debbie downers. Your internal critic is enough to deal with, you shouldn’t have to deal with external critics too.

Exercising is hard. You have to find the fun in it one way or another. There are lots of ways to add to the experience such as finding a partner in crime, listening to music, playing games with yourself, and rewarding yourself when you have completed your weekly goal. Try to not make rewards sugary treats, instead go for a nice pair of socks, new songs from iTunes, or a sweatband with a funny saying.

Make exercising as convenient as possible. Eliminate excuses of being too tired or not having time. Twenty minutes is better than zero. There are a bunch of exercise videos for free online. Youtube has a bunch as well. It’s too cold/hot outside, stay in and do around of kick boxing or yoga. Too tired, get up a little earlier and go to bed at a reasonable hour. You have to make exercising a priority.

If you can do these things and stick to the program for four weeks, you will start to see changes in your body and your attitude. Exercising will become a habit and easier to maintain. Your desires for weight loss, fitness, friends, and running a marathon get closer. Your needs for survival, acceptance/love, and success/accomplishment begin to get satisfied.

Exercise becomes the best addiction you have ever had.