Running: Brought to you by dreams of pancakes and carbs

That long run brought to you by dreams of PaNcAkeS!!! Or insert your favorite post-run food there. Actually, you can swap out the long run for a race. Scratch that you can preeeetty much just swap that out for any run. Any distance…any food. #runners #workforit #reward #bait ??
run for pancakes
While us runners certainly can eat more than a football team, amongst those pancakes, Pop-Tarts, burgers, fries, milk shakes, etc…we DO know that in order to run our best we need to fuel our best.

The beautiful thing though, is that eating to PERFORM doesn’t mean you can’t have your cake and eat your apples too. It’s all about balance. There are some KEY elements that all runners in training should be mindful of:

* Protein: getting enough and timing that intake
* 30 Minute Recovery: eating protein and carbs within 30 minutes of finishing a run
* Healthy Picks: insert your fruits, veggies, whole grains, quality carbs here
* Vitamins and other nutrients: IRON is sooo important for runners and ensuring they get enough!
* Hydration: it’s crucial runners ensure they drink enough fluids and more than just water, replacing those electrolytes too

But it’s ALL about balance, and even professional distance runners are allowed their cookies and burgers too. Hey, when you’re burning all dem calories you earn those treats!

This post comes in step with my latest article over on Running Times: “The Power of Protein Timing”

Good luck to all those racing, and to everyone else go out there and get your run on…enjoy every sweaty mile!! :)

More posts all about how to eat to fuel your running and preform your best HERE!
Highlighting living in the real world and eating post: “How runners can stuff their faces at restaurants but still perform at their best”
More Cartoons and laughs HERE!
Tomorrow are the USA Cross Champs and here is one more recent article highlighting HTS Elite runners there tomorrow: RunBlogRun – Taking Boulder Back: HTS Elite looks to make this the distance runner’s power city once again

1) What’s your ‘drool dream’ food while running?
2) How do you keep track of your protein intake and ensuring you get enough?
3) How do you track your fruits and veggies and make sure you’re getting enough?

Please Don’t Lick the Merchandise

Don’t worry, if your local donut shop has an ‘You lick it, you buy it’ policy, CLEARLY they aren’t familiar with runners. We’ll lick it, we’ll lick ALL of them if you force our hand…errr, foot??
runner licking donut
It’s kinda cold outside, what with winter and all that, but get your run on, blast the heater, and crack open those pints…errr, half-gallons?? ;)
runner licking ice cream
Yes we’re runners, yes we’ve earned it, so if we want to lick at will…well, we will!! :)

Certainly we love to dream and drool about all the glorious tasty delights we’ll be entitled too after those runs, BUT we also make sure to fuel ourselves up right. Eat to perform, right!??! Tips on all that HERE

Motivation to get your run on HERE…then you can hit the donut shop.

More laughs? Cartoons and comics HERE

1) Are you a sweet or salty kinda person?
I dream in cakes and sugar.
2) Last food you ‘day dream/ran dreamed’, and looked forward to post-run?
3) Go-to healthy post-run snack?
Cottage cheese and a muffin.

How dehydration can be causing your GI problems while running

Runners get thirsty: drink. Runners get hungry: eat. But, as with most things that seem idiot-proof, the most basic of basics, two of the most rudimentary bodily functions can often turn into a runner’s nightmare. I just finished an article for Competitor providing the perfect example of this: “Got Stomach Issues? You’re Probably Dehydrated”.

What’s interesting, and as you will learn from reading the article, it’s often not FOOD wrecking havoc on your stomach and intestines during your hard or long runs. It’s the (not) DRINKING thing that’s giving you a GI nightmare! Talk about a whodathunkit moment, right? ;)
road runner
I’ve been a runner for years and years and still, learning that dehydration is the culprit to most GI problems, both the upward and the downward, came as a bit of a surprise. But if you think about it, it really shouldn’t be; let’s look at what happens when you run:

* Muscles working: Brain and body prioritize the hard-working muscles as the top-tier function at the moment.
* Body delegates: In moving the muscles to priority number one, the stomach, intestines, and anything digestive related gets bumped down.
* Blood to muscles: All the major blood-flow gets shunted to the muscles, leaving the stomach and delicate intestinal tissues simultaneously deprived of blood-flow. This lapse in blood causes slight damage. Aww, poor, intestines. ;)
* Dehydration: Now water is INSANELY important to the body, it makes up darn near most of it, so NOT having enough water content in the blood stream exacerbates the damage caused to the already weakened stomach and intestines.
* The Backlash: Need I say more?

Runners experience those GI disasters, up and down, because the stomach and intestines are already deprived of blood-flow while you’re running and then on top of that if there isn’t enough water content in the body to begin with, they stage a major revolt.

Bottom line: It doesn’t matter what kind of food you’ve got in your stomach or intestines, if a runner isn’t hydrated, that food can’t be digested so it’s coming out…pick a direction.

Solution: Duh, Runners, stay HYDRATED! ;) I jest, I jest, kind of…but the reality is, many times runners underestimate just how much fluids they need. What’s more, when I say fluids that includes more than just water: also electrolytes.
burrito pooping beans
The tricky thing with hydration is, once you’re dehydrated and experiencing the effects of it you’re already on a sinking ship. Kind of like it’s too late at that point; that’s why it’s IMPERATIVE you stay in a constantly hydrated state and remain that way through the duration of your hard workout or long run.

Staying hydrated during long runs, and marathon geared workouts, means taking in fluids and replenishing those stores at a steady rate. Read the article for some awesome tips from Molly Pritz and Krista Austin, Ph.D., on how to come up with a personal hydration regimen.

See, you think relying on those little “I’m thirsty” cues is enough to keep you hydrated. But the truth is, especially for runners, by the time you FEEL thirsty you are already in a state of dehydration. So go chew, err sip, on that. ;)

1) Had you been aware dehydration could be the culprit of you GI problems?

2) Especially in the heat GI problems become more common, how do you make sure to stay even more conscious of fluid consumption when it’s hot or humid?

3) An upset stomach after a hard or long run can be common too, and traced back to dehydration. What are some of your go-to ‘safe’ foods for restoring and repairing those muscles AFTER your runs?
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Runner’s Strip: Racing Weight

Oh what a difference running crazy amounts of miles in training makes. Come time for that post-race break those racing shorts…errrr, ‘shoes’ may be fitting a little differently! ;)
racing weight
Sunday morning deserves some running cartoonage! That being said, we can poke fun but one needn’t get TOO would up over some post-race ‘love’ weight, giving the body a chance to recover is incredibly important and your racing will be much better off in the long-term.

On the flip side there is a difference between recovery and gluttony…haha. As with most all things in running and in life, it’s all about balance. Now, pass this runner the Pop-Tarts! ;)
POST on fueling for races.
POST with tips on runners eating out.
POST on the importance of the 30-minute refuel window.
POST on timing your fuel to best support your running performance.

Get more Running Cartoons HERE! :)

1) When it comes time to break after a race or season, do you eat differently?

2) What are some of the things you do to give your body some TLC to recover after hard races or between seasons?

3) Favorite thing you treat yourself to after a great race?
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Running and the Science of Nutrient Timing: WHEN to eat to best fuel your performance

Running and fueling the machine. In my recent article for Competitor: Nutrient Timing is Everything for Runners I really like the bottom line to everything my go-to sports nutritionist Krista Austin Ph.D. professes, “Food is a performance tool.” She teaches her runners to “eat to perform.”
runner eating
Runners are human, of course, but at the same time it would be naive to ignore the fact that what goes into your body has a direct correlation to what it is able to give you right back. Thankfully, I also like that quick on the heels of that Austin also says, “However, my policy is that at least once a week every athlete should have a ‘fun meal’ where they don’t think too much about what they are eating and just enjoy fun food-the key is to watch the portion sizes.”

It’s all a matter of balance. Just as runners and training, balance, consistency, and the law of averages often wins out with their nutrition. That isn’t to say there aren’t times when the PERFORMANCE style of eating trumps the LIFE side of eating.

Case in point, the night before a race or the actual day of your race. Here is where, if you’re a runner, ignoring your taste buds and eating with your HEAD is the wiser choice. Austin has explained to me that Dathan Ritzenhein’s top pre-race meal of choice is plain, white rice. Is it his favorite tasting meal? Probably not, but you know what? He knows it sits well in his stomach, it will give him the non-complex carbs he’ll want in his system right before the gun goes off, and he knows it works. His race, his PERFORMANCE, is the priority. Taste buds can wait until after the finish line.

I’ve done numerous articles on runners and nutrition, a few you can revisit:

How Runners Can Stuff Their Faces at Restaurants But Still Perform at Their Best

Runners Going Gluten-Free: Could making the switch work for you?

The Post-Run Refuel: Why 30 minutes is your winning window of opportunity

run for cake

Dreaming of cake works as motivation…just wait until after the finish line! ;)

My latest one is on nutrient TIMING and just how crucial WHEN you eat is when tied to your running performance. Read the original article, but here are some more tips I’ve got from talking to Austin:

* Think long term goals AND short term nutrition goals: With nutrient timing there are macro and micro cycles; the macro would be your BIG training goal, think an entire season or build-up for a marathon. Tailor your food choices and nutrition goals for that, but within each multi-week/month macro cycle fit in 3-10 day micro cycles. An example- A macro cycle would be if you’re training for a marathon, a micro cycle IN that would be a week where you’re focusing on building your speed with shorter intervals. For the micro cycle your eating would be different than in your longer/base phase.

* A second recovery window: We’ve all heard that within 30 minutes of finishing your workout you NEED to get protein and carbs back into your system. What I didn’t know was that there is ANOTHER window of time that is particularly important to refuel your stores: just before bed. Aim to get 20-25 grams of protein, preferably in the form of dairy (cottage cheese, milk), with some carbs. It’s been found the muscles will respond to this, and it also aids with sleeping.

* Marathoners and carbs: Yes, we need carbs as runners, but a mistake many marathoners in training can make is just over-doing the carbs. Meb Keflezighi has become more strict with his carb intake as he’s gotten older; he’s moved up in distance but switched some of those carb calories over to fats and protein and they help keep him fuller. He’s a lot more picky about the KINDS of carbs he eats, WHEN he eats them, and WHICH training phase he’s in.

For more information on how to time your eating so that it’s best fueling your running performance check out the article.

Food is fun, one of the BEST perks of being a runner is we have way more entitlement to stuff our faces. BUT there are times when we must stuff our faces with our brains…because in fueling our bodies right we can fuel them to perform at their optimum level. Read as: Run PR’s! :)

1) What is something you learned from either this post or from the article? If nothing care to share a tidbit of your own?

2) What is your go-to pre-race meal?

3) What is your go-to post-race meal or ‘fun meal’?
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The GI Issue Cursed Runner: Tackling those great, poopy disasters

This runner has had burritos on the brain. That being said, tucking into a 5lb burrito bomb and taking off on a 5 mile tempo isn’t such a hot idea. Actually, going for any run after that may be iffy…
burrito pooping beans
I’m more than open in sharing my runner stories of GI distress, gut woes, and tales from the poopy trails. HERE is a previous post and with lots of tips to tackling your own GI issues. Though I happened upon an interesting interview with Dr. Barry Schlansky, specializing in gastroenterology and hepatology, over at FloTrack.

Go read the article yourself, but here are some settling, and not-so-settling things I took away from it:

* Blood Flow Bottom Line: The root of many GI issues is how the body is delegating blood flow through the body during and after exercise. When we’re running our butts off the body’s first priority is to send blood to the muscles in order to fuel our exertion. The intestines are the low-men on the totem pole here and when they are deprived of adequate blood flow there is a bit of damage being caused. Without the adequate oxygen from the blood flow the intestines start to stage their revolt.

* Post-Run Gut Revolt: Sometimes the worst pains and episodes happen AFTER a hard or long run…talk about being chained to the lou for the rest of the day. I’m sure many runners can relate to this feeling, and Dr. Schlansky states it as much, “Right, the longer or more intense the workout is, it will increase the symptoms during and after the workout.” In short it comes back to the intestines not having adequate oxygen/blood-flow WHILE we are working out; then, once we stop working out and blood begins to get shunted back to these organs it’s almost like opening a flood-gate and the intestines aren’t prepared to handle such a quick supply of blood/oxygen. So, they then stage their revolt. “The influx of oxygen to the vulnerable ischemic (damaged from earlier lack of blood supply) tissues can result in a chemical reaction called “oxidation,” which is thought to be the basis for additional injury to tissues after exercise has stopped.”
running after burrito
* Endurance and Effort: Not surprising is that over 80% of elite marathon runners complain of some GI issues; this is both the upward and the downward. Unfortunately Dr. Schlansky is blunt, “I wish I could tell you “why,” but to be honest, at this point the associations are unknown.” (unsettling) Most likely the fact that running puts our guts through quite a POUNDING has a strong link, and “Additionally, researchers have hypothesized that friction between the organs and the lining of the abdominal wall with pounding exercise may cause irritation that causes symptoms.” As for effort, I’m no doctor but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the fact that the harder we run, there’s got to be an extra level of ‘pounding/driving’ force shaking that sh*t up. ;)

* Females: This really stinks, Runnerchicks, but woman are more apt to GI issues than the runnerdudes. He’s not able to give us a reason, but it’s probably due to differing hormones.

* Eating and Food: Burrito bombs aren’t recommended (duh) and it’s wise to seek out ‘blander’ foods, not too high in fat, not too spicy, not too beany or cheesy, nix the dairy, and so forth. Learn your ‘tummy trigger foods’ and avoid them. Also, timing your last meal is just as important so you can revisit my post on that.

* Iron and Anemia: Any extra blood loss from diarrhea, especially if it’s on a continual basis, can lead to iron deficiency/anemia. “Yes, because it is also possible to lose small amounts of blood in the gastrointestinal tract that is invisible to the naked eye but can result in iron deficiency,” says Dr. Schlansky. If you’re having a lot of GI issues it’s important to keep tabs on your iron levels, I know that runners who later find out they have celiac disease and are gluten intolerant, that because of all of their GI problems they are then anemic.
runner eating
* Dehydration: Any kind of increased vomiting or diarrhea leads to fluid loss and dehydration, that’s why it’s so important to rehydrate yourself. (The issue there is if you’re running a marathon but aren’t able to take in any more fluids or gels…sadly, you’re kind of screwed at that point, that’s why it’s important to test out and try a bunch of different foods/supplements BEFORE your race to find one that works.) So with any kind of GI issue run make sure you’re extra mindful to replenish those fluid and electrolyte stores.

I’m a sucker for a good poop read, so you should read the full interview done by Danny Mackey. Who is actually a super cool guy in addition to being smart. He’s also married to one smoking fast runnerchick, Katie Mackey, so he gets extra cool points. ;)

1) What was your last GI disaster run? Can you link it back to one food in particular?

2) Do you have more GI issues going the up route or the down?
Down. I’ve never thrown-up actually during or after a run.

3) What foods have you learned are GI suicide for you? What is a ‘winning’ combo that’s worked?

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Super Secret, Amazing, Scientific Answer To Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain: RUN

Every year around this time I admit to getting up a little on my runner’s high horse and thinking, “Gosh dang, you people, shut up about all those ‘Avoid Holiday Weight Gain’ articles the answer is simple: RUN!”
no fat in running
I’m not shy and fully own up to being a neurotic runner who does run every day, the holidays are no exception. And you want to know a little secret? One of the BEST perks of being a runner = eating like a runner = looking like a runner and not a sumo wrestler.

There is a little thing called balance, moderation, and then license to grub hard. That last one also applies to special circumstances (ie: holidays) where you eat foods and amounts (ie: foods in trough-sized plates) you wouldn’t normally…but that also circles back to the law of averages and your nutrition for the entire year.

runner eating pizza

Eating steak pizza isn’t going to be enough iron, in addition to diet you should be supplementing.

So, Runners, I believe if we are then the kinds of runners who brave the weather, who don’t miss a day just because the gyms are closed (uhh, it’s called outside…hehe) or what the calendar says, let us all sit atop our little high horses and cringe at all those stupid article. Because the truth is we’ve solved the holiday weight gain conundrum…

Run. :P
My article on dining out for runners also touches on the topic of nutrition, balance, and license to indulge: How Runners Can Stuff Their Faces at Restaurants and Still Perform at Their Best

1) Do you do the eye-roll and head-laugh every time you read one of those ‘avoid holiday weight gain’ type articles or stories? Do you also realize that it’s usually rehashing the same obvious tips over and over again? :P

2) Do you adjust your running or dietary habits around the holidays? How do you keep balance?

3) What is your favorite type of holiday indulgence?

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Downing Donuts and Crunching Carrots: Runners balancing their nutrition

In case you needed an excuse to hit up Krispy Kreme, today is National Buy a Donut Day; please runners, by all means indulge, let’s just make sure it’s of the 100% whole wheat vareity. ;)
runner eating donuts
Let’s talk runner eats. I’m the first person to shout from the rooftops, “I run so I can eat like a Sumo-(wo)man and not look like one!” As runners we do carry license to do some damage when it comes to the grinding; but, at the same time we recognize that we are fueling those miles. If we want quality miles, then we should do our body the justice of giving it QUALITY fuel, right?

It all comes back to balance and moderation, isn’t it the truth with everything? Enter easy days and hard workout days. So while we can wolf down a pizza the size of our head, polish off the Entemenn’s coffee cake, that’s not ALL we eat, and we most of us don’t do that every day. Though no judgement if you do, trust me I’ve got runner friends who eat cleaner than a pro-body builder competing for a show and then I’ve got friends who eat their weight in Big Macs.

I’ve done a couple article on various nutrition topics for runners:
Going Gluten Free
Setting a Pre-Race Eating Plan
When to Eat High and Low on the Glycemic Index
Running and GI Issues
Post-Run 30 Minute Refuel Window

That last one is probably the one I’d force down all of your throats…it’s SUPER important for your muscle recovery to get that food into you system and start the refuel RIGHT after you run.
runner eating pizza
Today let’s talk about balance here. Food should be enjoyed, it should be loved, you can spoon with your Pop-Tarts at night if you need to. BUT I like this quote from one of my favorite sports nutritionists, Krista Austin, Ph.D., “Eating for performance.” Used in context she was referencing how Dathan Ritzenhein’s go-to pre-race meal is plain, white rice. It’s bland, but he knows it sits well in his stomach and because it is a non-complex carb it gets broken down quickly and is energy readily on tap for when he goes out to race.

Is it his favorite, most taste-bud tantalizing meal? Probably not, but he’s eating for PERFORMANCE. There are times and places when taste isn’t the prime objective; it CAN be the second you cross the finish line and take yourself out to a celebratory dinner, right?

The point is this, every runner is different and how much ‘junk’ they can get away with really varies. Krista Austin notes, “We can hope that going back to the old adage of ‘what you put in the fuel tank of the car is what you put out’, comes into play and if we put a higher quality of food in the body we should be supporting training better and enhancing the ability to create training adaptations…[but], I know many an Olympic athlete etc, in the sport of running that eat horribly and still get the job done (although yet to medal so maybe this is why?)-in fact they are the guys on top!”
fresh carrot
As a personal observation I would say that the people on top are the ones who know WHEN to indulge and when to ratchet down and be a little more strict in what goes in. The periods when they are in really heavy training they make sure to get in the QUALITY foods first (fruits, veggies, whole grains, adequate protein) but then if they need to make up for all their expenditure they will dig into the higher calorie ‘fun’ foods because, let’s be honest, if you run 20+ miles you freaking earned the right to! Conversely, when they are tapering and getting close to race day, they make a conscious effort to make sure they aren’t eating like they are running 3-times more miles per week.

The ‘junk’ food, and that’s not the best term but the foods that we logically know aren’t the ‘best’ options, are hard-earned and one of (I think) the perks of being a distance runner. The thing is though, those foods are not to be eating INSTEAD of the good stuff. Think of a house, set the foundation as the QUALITY eats and then if you’ve got room for an attic, by all means fill it with pizza, Pop-Tarts, and yes, donuts. ;)

1) What are some of the ways you ensure you get in enough QUALITY into your runner diet?

2) What are some of the foods that you fill your ‘attic’ with? Do you probably fill more than just the attic, maybe the second story too?? ;)

3) In ‘eating for performance’, what are some pre-race day foods that work for you?
I’ve done oatmeal, Powerbars, but will admit to some Pop-Tarts too. :P

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Is It Really That Bad? We’re runners but we’re humans too…are some of those ‘human bad habits’ really doing any harm to our running?

I’m a runner…not a nutritionist, I’m not a super scientific sports physiologist, I admit that the vast majority of what I know is through experience, what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned from others who are experts. I’m not ashamed to admit that, and I think one of the best ways to learn something is to admit your own brainiac limitations and seek out answers from credit-worthy sources.
running in forest
Now we are all runners here, but we’re also human; that human thing can offer up some battles of internal wills when it comes to our training. Being human means we have that brain of ours to wage the mental battle when the going gets tough. It also means that we have lives and other things that we do, indulge in, and want outside of miles, core work and sweating.

Balance is awesome and some of the ‘being human’ things actually help our running; focusing too much on a single thing leaves us much too one dimensional and over-thinking your training is another way to send it down the drain. On the other hand the human part of us can sometimes want things that may not exactly be the best for our training…we are human, we have weaknesses, but how bad are some of those ‘weaknesses’ really? Here are my thoughts on a few things…

* Soda. I don’t drink soda, I used to guzzle tons of diet but I had a really bad experience once where I think I must have downed darn near a gallon in a meal and I was gassy and bloated for so long after I kicked it cold turkey. Now there are tons of people saying soda is the devil, others that don’t care, and some that still think it’s totally fine. As for regular soda, I think it’s not doing any favors to the overweight masses, for runners though I still think it’s probably best to avoid because it dehydrates you and you could be drinking something far better for you. Diet, yea, the calories aren’t there but it’s still not an awesome beverage of choice. But I don’t think it’s the devil either.

* Coffee. If you’re totally frapa-macho-machiado’ed to the point where your drink is more like a sundae I think it’s like a dessert. But I’m pro-caffiene if done right, I’ve seen/know too many exceptional runners who swear by coffee not to be. I think that if you want the benefits it comes down to how much and when you drink it; if you build your caffeine tolerance to such a high level that you need an absurd amount to get any ‘perk’ then that’s not so good…caffeine may give you a little extra kick for your workouts but you don’t want to have to guzzle coffee to get in enough caffeine to get your ‘fix.’ So try to keep the intake moderate the rest of the day (if at all) so that when you do have that cup of coffee an hour or so before your workout you get the little boost.
pop tarts
* Junk food. This is opening up a whole can of worms, and I could argue back and forth for ages so I’ll try to keep it short. We’ve all read the Frank Shorter pizza and mayo combo, on the far other end we’ve got the vegans who only eat what they grow in their backyards. We all know cases of runners winning title on either ends of the spectrum, and elites too. The thing with distance running is that it takes up a lot of energy, and that takes calories; if you need some ‘empty’ junk calories to keep pace with your energy levels than I don’t see the harm in indulging with whatever. I’ve eaten through boxes of Pop-Tarts and know plenty runners who dig through the ice cream by the pints. The thing though is that for most of them they ALSO take in the good stuff (veggies, protein, etc) too…it’s all a balance kind of thing. Then there is the mental and sanity thing. That said, not every runner ‘can’ eat as many calories as others thanks to that little metabolism thing…it can be an unfair card but it’s the truth too and to not say it would be lying by omission.

* Sloth. I actually love this word and try to use it whenever I get a chance, so I did…hey, it’s my blog. Now you may think, “Me, lazy, never!” ;) For some that’s true, but there are some lazy runner habits that are running rampant. The warm-up skimper: HORRIBLE for your body and your performance, I’m not going to spend wordage arguing, do a real warm-up people. The cool-down avoider: HORRIBLE again, a bit less only because at least the race/workout isn’t sacrificed on that day but your next runs will be. Letting pools of lactic acid sit in your muscles is only going to make you feel worse and hinder your recovery process…move it no matter how tired you are. Standing during your recovery before the next interval: JOGGING is better in my opinion and I wrote on that HERE. Some may not share my opinion but the majority of top runners I know keep moving during their recovery.

There you have it…just a few things, and again my opinion. I’d like to hear from you guys, do you agree, disagree?

1) What are your thoughts on any of these?

2) What are some of your ‘bad habits’ that make you human; how ‘bad’ do you really think they are for your running?

3) Favorite not-so-’healthy’ food?

4) Own up, do you ever fall victim to the ‘sloth’ runner temptations?? ;)

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