The September Miles Madness Competition: Team Cait vs. Team Ashley

Who’s ready to run their butt of this September? Scratch that, we already know your answer. But are you ready to run your butt of AND take part in a little September Miles Madness Competition?

Ashley and Cait have made a little bet, you see. Ashley thinks she can find more awesome runners to run more miles than Cait ever could. Cait strongly disagrees and is pretty sure Ashley must just be on an endorphin high. Get two runners with more than a smidge competitiveness together and you can’t really expect anything but Miles Madness, could you?

What’s the Deal?

  1. Pick a Team: It’s a miles war, people, are you Team Ashley or Team Cait? Pick a side by visiting your Team Captain’s website and emailing them that you’re running for them. Then get ready to log as many miles as you can to help make sure your team comes out the winner.
  2. Run: Need we say more?
  3. Report It: After you get nice and sweaty, email your total miles for the week to your Team Captains; then, be sure to check back to their September Miles Madness home pages for the update on how your team is doing!
  4. Tell Your Friends: Think mob mentality people, the more runners you get competing on your side, the better your chances of coming out the winners. Tweet it, Facebook it, bloggity-blog it, scream it at the person running on the opposite side of the street.

What’s in it for you?

  1. Running: Obviously the best thing ever, so really this is just the perfect excuse to get out and move it!
  2. Motivation: Buuuut, sometimes we know there are times when you’re feeling ‘blah’ and need a little push into those running shoes. Consider this your push.
  3. Your Best Running Self: The secret to running your best and improving is…well, it’s just hard work and consistency.
  4. SWAG: Okay, okay, yes, even runners get excited about swag and prizes. At the end of the month the winning team will be decided and then some lucky runners from the winning team will be scoring some awesome prizes!! But don’t worry, everyone on the winning team will have the satisfaction of knowing they kicked butt this September. And with all that awesome training, maybe a shiny new PR??

Prizes: The loot pot will continue be added to through the month…so keep checking back and if you like what you see, well, go run! Huge shout outs to our awesome sponsors so far:

BIC Bands
Oiselle

The Roster: As soon as you join one of the teams you’ll be added to the main page’s Team Roster so if you’ve got a website or blog you’d like to have linked up to your name be sure to include it in your first email to either Ashley or Cait!

While Ashley and Cait continue to smack talk, dang, they certainly have a lot of confidence in all of YOU awesome runners out there. They are sure that you’ll be able to ante up the most miles this month and finally settle the great debate.

Who will come out the winner?

Which team will prove to be the September Miles Madness Champions?

Which blogger will be left eating their words?

Who will score the SWAG??

Run your butt off and find out! :)

Team Captains

Team Cait
Cait:
(aka The Arty Runnerchick)

Favorite distance: Anything long…I have not a single fast twitch muscle fiber.
Favorite workout: Tempo run
Favorite refuel: Do Pop-Tarts count? S’mores
Favorite pump-up song: The Distance by Cake
Next best thing to do when not running: Art!
Person who inspires you: My younger sister, I’m constantly in awe of her.
Started running because…I stunk so bad at every other sport. So looking back, in that regard I’m thankful for my suckiness. For as long as I could remember my mom had run every day but it wasn’t until I was going into high school that I stopped thinking she was crazy for wanting to run…then I joined her. :)
I stay motivated to run even on those days when I’m feeling ‘blah’ by… remembering how much better I’ll feel after I’m done.
You should be on my team because… we’re going to win! And maybe if I say Pop-Tarts enough times they’ll sponsor us and give us freebies.
To Joint Team Cait: Visit www.CaitChock.com and send emails to captaincait@hotmail.com

Team Cait Roster:

Ali @ Running With Spatulas
Antonia
Kate @ Run With Kate
Patty
Amy @ Proud Patriot
Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner
Mark @ Running, Writing and Chasing the Dragon
Kathy
Missy @ Southern Girl Running
Staples
Christina @ The Athletarian
Katherine @ Neon Blonde Runner
Amy @ Raz-ma-taz
Brani @ Faith, Fitness and Laughter
Chelsea @ Chelsea Wanders
Melissa
Dennis
Morgan @ Running [Dharma] Bums

Amy @ Thoroughly Nourished Life
Steph
Julia @ Pain, Pride and Perseverance

Sabrina @ Sweet Southern Sweat
Janelle @ Mummy Loves to Run
Janneza
Runner For Life
Annie
Amanda
Lauren @ Food Running Cats
Heather

team ashley
Ashley:
(She Runs Strong)

Favorite distance: 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon. I’m not picky. I just want to run, and each distance comes with its own challenge.
Favorite workout: Intervals. I love me some speed.
Favorite refuel: Anything with calories. I typically run before the sun is up, so recovery food is either a smoothie or an egg dish.
Favorite pump-up song: ‘Till I Collapse by Eminem
Next best thing to do when not running: Playing with my kids. Unless they are driving me crazy – then I like to escape for a massage or pedicure.
Person who inspires you: Kara Goucher is my running idol.
Started running because… I originally started running to simply burn calories, but I didn’t enjoy it. Then after I injured myself and needed surgery on my IT band, my surgeon didn’t think I would be able to run again. Three months later I started training for my first marathon for the purpose of proving him wrong (seriously – don’t ever tell me I cannot do something!) and fell in love with it. So I owe my surgeon a big “thank you” for not believing in me. Now I cannot imagine ever NOT running.
I stay motivated to run even on those days when I’m feeling ‘blah’ by… Knowing how good I’ll feel after I’m done.
You should be on my team because… WE will win! And when we DO win, you will have the satisfaction of kicking Cait’s team’s butt. And I might have extra surprises for you, too…
To Join Team Ashley: visit www.blog.sherunsstrong.com and send emails to ashley@sherunsstrong.com

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There’s Miles and Madness About to Ensue and You Don’t Want to Miss it!

Runners, miles, smack-talk…it’s September Miles Madness!! Because all great things need to be hyped up to Twilight proportions (but please, everyone agree to like us more! hehe) Ashley and I present to you this Fall’s most talked about and by far most entertaining video preview…

That’s right. September it is ON!! Tomorrow morning come back to either this site or Ashley’s to read the full run-down on the Miles Madness Competition. Pick a team (obviously you’ll be choosing mine), dedicate your miles, get in on the fun and smack-talk too if you like! There will also be prizes…who doesn’t want prizes??

Get ready to run this war!!

1) Are you going to join??

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Lights, Camera, Action…Core and Flexibility!! Video demonstrations for your running and entertainment

Turns out this runner is taking herself to Hollywood to become a movie star! If you believed me even for a second then I’m sorry. However, to make it up to you I will let you point at laugh at me here rather shortly.

Yesterday’s post was all about runners and their imbalances; why we all have them, where common ones occur and exercises that can help you strengthening your weaknesses. I talked about one of my very favorite core routines, the Pedestal Plank Routine, and today I’ve got a video demo in case my wordage wasn’t quite enough plank awesomeness.

I also stressed how important stretching and improving your flexibility are for your running; both in preventing injuries and helping with your form and efficiency. Below I’ve demonstrated a quick flexibility routine you can do in just a couple minutes. No excuse for not being able to cram some quick stretches into your day at some point, preferably right after you finish running and are nice a sweaty. [Sweaty and your muscles are still warmed up!]

Check it out…I sure am sporting one crazy cool shirt, no?!?!? ;) Get Chicking peeps!

These videos are part of the accompanying media that I did for my latest article up now at Competitor: Improve Your Running By Becoming a Better Athlete. I’d suggest you all mosey on over there and take a read for more ways you can improve your running and get you some nice and shiny PR’s! :)
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Also, someone all about improving core strength and flexibility for runners is Coach Jay Johnson and he was an excellent resource for the article…so go check him out too!
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1) Video demonstrations, are you guys fans? Would you like to see more? I won’t blame you if you say no though…

2) How good is your balance and core strength in doing those planks; are you able to do the leg raises or are you sticking with the isometric holding for now?

3) In terms of flexibility, when do you tend to sneak in your stretching time? Don’t say never…hehe.

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The Imbalanced Runner: Pinpoint your weaknesses and avoid injuries

Every runner is imbalanced. I’m not talking mentally (although we’ve all got our quirks!) but physically; your body isn’t two perfect mirror images between right and left, some muscles are naturally stronger than others, some areas tighter and others looser.
girl on track
For the ‘normal’ person that’s not such a huge deal, but when, as runners, we are demanding that our bodies carry us for miles and miles in the same repetitive motion, those imbalances become glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses not just in efficiency and translating to potentially lost time, but more importantly setting you up for injuries.

A runner’s imbalances are the slumbering volcanoes for injuries. Interestingly, the injuries can manifest in some tricky to diagnose ways, as in you may be having problems with your feet but the culprit is a weakness in your gluets. [Actually, there was an excellent piece in the September issue of Running Times on just this.]

The best way to deal with an injury is to be proactive before you’re actually hurt; you can’t stop them all but you can do your best. Think of runner upkeep and care like the safe sex talk you get in high school. ;)

Your imbalances are going to be different from your running friends, but many common points of weakness center around the core or near it:
* hips
* hamstrings
* glutes
* back
* ankles
[not near your core, but one for five aint bad...lol.]
run happy
When it comes to the hips, adductors, abductors and glutes it’s like a minefield. So many people have issues: tightness here, weakness there, slacker muscles making other muscles pick up the work, you name it. This has the trickle down effect to knee issues and tons of lower leg problems. That’s why improving flexibility in the hip region and strengthening those small, intrinsic muscles is so important.

Here are some quick exercises and stretches that you can do to try to bring some balance to your imbalance:

Core
* Planks and leg raises: I did a whole post on probably my all time favorite core routine, it takes the plank and kicks it up a notch. You get nearly every muscle engaged, if you do it right, and as you get more balanced you integrate leg raises which is giving you a double whammy on working those glutes and hamstrings. Please read this routine, your life will never be the same again. ;)

Glutes and Hamstrings:
* Back Bridge:
Lie on your back, pressing the small of your back flat to the floor to engage the core, knees bent in the air, feet on the ground a fair distance from your bum. Then squeeze your glutes and lift your butt into the air until your body from your knees to your shoulder-blades are in a straight line. Lower back down and repeat, do sets of 10-15.
* Hamstring Ball Roll: Lie with your back on the floor, arms at both sides, legs straight ahead and place your feet on top of an exercise ball. Lift your torso up so that only your shoulder blades are on the floor and arms at either side for support. Bring your knees to your chest by rolling the ball inward towards your bum and then roll back out. Repeat for sets of 10-15.
* Toe Touch Balance: Stand up and then balance on your left foot. Keep your left leg straight and reach down to your left foot leading with your right arm, going across your body. The trick here is to keep your balance without that right leg on the floor. Raise back up to the starting position and repeat 10 times. Then flip and balance on the right foot.

Mobility:
* Hip stretches -
I did a whole post on that; strengthening is one aspect and improving flexibility and mobility is another.
* Leg Swings - Here’s my post all about those.

Ankles:
* Pillow Balance: Ankles are prone to rolls and you want the small muscles around the ankle strong and supple. Balancing on one of those Bosu balls or a pillow can really improve your ankle strength. Start by standing on a pillow, balancing on one foot and hold it there for a minute or two…you’ll notice that it’s going to be easier on one side than it is on the other, so you’ll see where your imbalance is between right an left there. Then when you’ve got that try doing the above Toe Touch Balance exercise on the pillow.
* Calf Exercises: THIS post about calf raises applies here and also helps with Achilles issues.
angry runner injured
The argument of sanity aside, every runner is imbalanced in a way unique to them. Sometimes it takes a little hunting around, or an injury, for you to find your’s but if you do all you can to get as balanced as possible before an injury strikes both your running and your sanity will be better off. We all know how beastly those injured runners can be!

1) Do you know what some of your imbalances are? Do you work on them at all?

2) Do you stay pretty diligent about runner upkeep and care? Are you really good about stretching?

3) Have you gotten an injury that is due to some kind of imbalance you have? How did you figure out what the culprit was, did it take a lot of searching to solve the issue? Do you have any specific exercises/stretches you now do to make sure you don’t get re-injured?

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The Legs That Cried Wolf: Learning to decide when to listen and when to tune out your body’s messages

I didn’t ask for your comments. This isn’t exactly a democracy here, sure you’re allowed to use your voice but don’t always expect that I’m going to be listening. Don’t you know who’s running the show around here?
like a boss
With running there are so many mixed signals we must navigate through and try to decipher. What do I mean? Roll the internal monologue, “I feel like I’m not running but kicking my feet in front of me and hoping they catch me. After yesterday’s workout I knew it would be a bit of a crawl today…but am I supposed to be this tired? Hmmm, tempting to cut the run short today…no, stop being a weenie, suck it up, keep going. When’s the next hard workout going to be? I was sort of flat yesterday…am I supposed to be this tired? Maybe. Probably. Stop being a weenie.”

The never-ending internal debate. The thing is with distance running and training, you expect to be tired. You expect your body to rebel and beg you to cut it some slack. Sometimes you need to tell your legs to stuff a sock in it, then other times you need to tell the dictator in your mind that the ‘smart’ thing to do is actually ease up and rest. Decisions, decisions.

Then there is the whole injury issue, when to push it, and when to pull the plug. When you’re a runner you’re usually a creaky mess to a certain degree, there’s always a tightness here, a niggle there. The running politically correct answer is, “Always err on the side of caution,” but let’s be honest, how many of us runner runners sort of roll our eyes at that and think, “Oh, you Runner’s World, if I took a day off at every squeak I’d be a jogger.”

NeURatic

All that yammering on in the brain makes you feel a little crazy sometimes, no? ;)


That said, the same runner runners have learned the trial by fire method and wound up stupidly running through points when they really should have stopped. So we’ve amended our RW barb to be, “I know my base level of ‘body squeaks’ but if there is suddenly something new I promise to really assess if I need to pull the plug.” From there any time something new DOES pop up, doesn’t everyone have a mini-panic attack fearing it is an injury? The rest of the day we kind of poke it, test it, massage, ice it, hoping it’s just some weird fluke thing that will go away as soon as it came.

Mixed signals, you see. How in the world are we supposed to get an accurate read on you, Body? Honestly…if you could just kindly shut up with all constant back and forth. If you weren’t constantly telling me you’re tired or you’re sore, and instead only dropped a comment in the box when I really did need to cut back I’d take you more seriously. You’re worse than the boy crying wolf, you’re the body calling mercy. Take your white flag and shove it.

The tug of war will always continue though. As we all age in runner years we get better at tuning out the white noise of complaining from our legs and do our best to pick up when a signal comes along that is worth listening to. Sometimes we miss them though, and other times we fall victim to the white noise fluff and should have ‘manned up.’

You live, you run, you learn.

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Side Note: One reason having a coach is so beneficial is that they can do a lot of the thinking and ‘radio listening, white noise scanning’ for you. An outside observer can generally assess the situation with a more ‘sane’ mind and make the right decision in the moment for the runner. Sometimes a coach needs to say, “We’re backing off, you’re not just being a complainer or a weenie,” and other times they can be the firm dictator, “You’re doing another repeat…shut up and go, your recovery jog is over.”
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1) There are tons of other back and forth instances where you have to tune out your body sometimes and learn to whip out the megaphone for others…what’s an example you have?

2) Opening the can of worms when it comes to runners and eating healthy; on one of the spectrum there are times when you’ve got to really up the energy consumption and go glutton on any form of calories then there is the other end where maybe that bag of extra cookie wouldn’t be doing you any favors. How do you try to stay on top of your running fuel gauge?

3) Do you have a coach, are you self-coached, or do you follow some kind of training plan online?

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A Runner: A beautiful blur

All those miles you ran…they’re all just a blur. Or rather, you were just a blur.

fast runner
Blur of motion, speed, power, strength. Endurance.
runner
A streak filled of exertion, perseverance, dedication.

Make your lines swift, movements efficient, cut through the air.
runner
A beautiful blur. A runner.

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Long run day with lots of miles? Check out THIS post for ideas there.

A need for speed? Work on that HERE.

Powerful, explosive movements HERE.

Dedication and motivation HERE.

Efficiency HERE.

RUN.
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1) What workout or run makes you feel fast? Can be a specific workout (ie: 200 repeats), can be the place you do it (ie: track), maybe a mindset, a song you listen to, anything.

2) What makes you feel powerful when you run?

3) What reminders do you give yourself to run efficiently?
Drop your right shoulder, control that wayward right arm.

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I’m One of ‘Them’, They’re Some of ‘Those: A runner amongst weight-lifters

“Dude, I was so pumped. Yesterday, I squatted 375 after eating a crap-load, not even warming up and yea…my PR is 380, I did 375, so I was stoked,” I was standing next to a trio of what were obviously fitness folks who used that ‘other’ part of the gym. You know, the weight section, where the plates runneth over and the shirtless mean grunt and groan.
track glasses
“Interesting,” I thought, “they use PR too. But I still think running PR’s are cooler.” I’m right you know, even though I hail from ‘our’ side of the gym. The one where treadmill belts runneth forever and the swift people pound on them until they short circuit.

There I was, in line to get some physio treatment, standing amongst the weightlifters feeling horribly out of place. I caught them doing those quick, side glances my way; I got the once over and they made the obvious assessment: she’s one of ‘those’ people.

We then had both come to the same conclusions and I smiled because the charade was too funny not to. We both thought that ‘our’ kinds of workouts were better and, if we’re being totally, brutally honest, think that ‘their’ kinds weren’t just boring but…lesser than our own.

Ouch. There. I said it. Hate me.
run fast
Squatting, maxing out on the bench press, dead-lifting, all that jazz burns, it hurts, the muscles scream for mercy. I get that, yes. I’m not saying it’s easy. Though, I have a hard time believing that doing milers, feeling on the verge of throwing up, and then heading into the fifth one is not on a deeper level in He**. One unwritten about by Dante.

A squatting PR may leave you feeling like you’re going to get a hernia, but a squat lasts, what, a second or so? How long do you have to wait out the pain in a 10k? A marathon? And you can bet digging for that 11th gear down the home stretch of a 1500 could leave a hernia feeling like a picnic. ;)

We both smiled at each other. We were allowing the charade to continue, but we both knew we were on opposite sides of the fence here and we clearly believed the grass was not greener on the other side.

“So,” he asked and shrugged in a slightly smug manner, “you, like, run or something?”

“Yup,” I answered back in my own, slightly smug, manner.

1) Do you find it funny when you’re standing in a group where everyone is into fitness, but you can clearly sense who the cardio junkies are and the weight lifting folk?

2) Would you ever even use the term PR in reference to a certain amount you lifted in the weight room?
Oh yes, I PR’ed the other day with the 30-pounders. ;)

3) While I’m a bit snarky, I do still toss those weights around, but not the same way they do. Runners still need a strong core and upper-body, but usually doing more functional type exercises are up or alley. What kind of strength or core work do you do?

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The Great Running Shirt Race!

It’s summer, we run, we sweat, but in an awesome running shirt even a drippy, sweaty beast like me looks cool. ;) This Arty Runnerchick has been working away on new designs and is excited to announce that I’ll be expanding on the line! You can check out my very first shirt, of the Get Chicking movement, in cased you missed it…or mosey on over to the store.

BUT…I need all of your help first! I want to know which designs you like, which ones you love, and which ones maybe not so much. You’ll be the ones deciding which running shirts will be the new additions. So if you could please take a few moments of your time and fill out my survey, I would greatly appreciate it. Also, it would be a huge help if you do like what you see to then pass this survey onto your friends…make sure the shirts YOU like the best make the cut!

Enjoy the SNEAK PEEK of what is to be coming soon!! :)
***I’m sorry for the technicial difficulties, the stupid javacode isn’t giving me the non-scrolling dimensions I want so if you find the scrolling annoying you can visit THIS LINK and fill the survey out there. Thank you for your patience!***

Happy Friday!! Go get your sweaty beast run on. ;)

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Finish Line Face: A runner’s grimace-smile as they head for home

You’re running toward the finish line, eyes dead ahead and your face is contorted into some kind of grimace-smile. You’re digging for that extra gear, the lactic acid feels about up to your eyeballs but you spot the line, incentive to keep going. Enter Finish Line Face.
finish line face woman running
It’s strange how the very last bit of your race, the bell of the last lap, the view of the finishing line is at both the most painful yet ‘easiest’ part of all. The end is in sight, you can taste it, the competitive drives kicks in and the desire to push it overrides the built up muscle fatigue.

Now, not all runners are blessed as ‘natural kickers’, or the ones who possess enough fast twitch muscle fibers and raw speed to easily find that extra gear at the end. However, everyone can work on their base speed; yea it’s unfortunate that tapping into that extra gear will take some more work (ie: searching)…but isn’t hard work what defines distance running?
finish line face man running
Speed sessions and short intervals aside, there are other factors that can improve you finish. You’ll probably still have a touch of Finish Line Face but next time you’re barreling for home remember:

* Relax: Don’t clench your jaw, make sure your shoulders are dropped, your arms are swinging front to back and are ‘loose.’ Holding tension in your face, shoulders, and fists is energy being spent, and it’s not being spent productively; it’s also doing damage to your form.

* Form Check: Nice segue, because your form can naturally start to slip as you tire. Working on your form, with core strength exercises and drills, ensures you’ll be able to stand up tall when you’re tired, like at the end of a race.

* Strides: Counting your strides, or thinking about your stride rate does two things: it makes sure you’re being an efficient runner but it also helps distract your brain from thinking of how much pain you’re in. A stride is counting on a single leg, as it makes a complete running cycle. Think strides, not pain. Aim for 90 strides per minute.

* Dead Ahead: Don’t lose sight of the finish, it offers motivation and by looking forward you’re helping keep good form too. Key in on runners you can pass at the line too and go after them!

Finish Line Face…so long as you’re not clenching your jaw, embrace those grimace-smiles and find that extra gear!

1) Do you tend to make a particular face while running or racing?
I’ve been called Popeye before.

2) How do you make sure to keep yourself relaxed when you’re trying to run hard?
I shake out my arms and make sure my shoulders are relaxed.

3) What’s your form pit-fall, the thing that starts to slip when you get tired?
My arms start to swing like a hummingbird. :P

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Hot Runner Deals!! Score at the Track and on the Cross-Country Course…but Beware of the Spit Zone

Have you checked out these signs lately, it sure looks like runners all over are getting offered some pretty sweet deals?!
track sign
Watch out who you line up against at the track…nevermind, I’m sure you’ll be the one offering up the free butt kickings rather than the other way around.
cross country running sign
Mud at the cross-country course is a given, but you decide whether the splattering will end up on your frontside or your backside. Same goes for all those trail runners.

But look-out for these hazard signs..don’t want to wind up in the Spit Zone when a rogue loogie flies your way.
runner spitting
man runner spitting
Stay safe and fast my runner peeps! :)

1) Which do you prefer more, track or cross-country? Or are you more in favor of trail racing, road racing?

2) Spitting zone, which shoulder do you typically send them loogies over?

3) If you had a sign posted after your last run, what would it read?

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