My Favorite Post-Run Stretches

I was able to get in a solid 16 mile long run this weekend – 3 miles alone, 7 with my friend Brooke, 4 with Marcus, and then the last 2 miles alone. I can usually handle marathon training runs by myself in the winter, but the mental strength of the summer calls for back up! I was so happy to have a couple awesome people to keep me company for some incredibly humid, gruelling miles. After I finished, all I wanted to do was stretch in the A/C,  and cool off for a bit. Marcus came back in the house, and found me like this…

I’ve been having some issues with my right hamstring/hip area, and this stretch always tends to do the trick. I’ll put both legs up on the wall, and then let my left leg drop on the other side, as if I am just laying down. This really helps to isolate my hamstring and stretch it well, especially after my legs are fatigued from running for over 2 hours.

Another stretch that I really like to do is pigeon pose. It is the best way for me to get my hip stretched pretty well, and I can really feel the stretch in my butt – always a hard place to get!

I was attempting to stretch out my back a bit with cat, but that didn’t go so well. Winnie turned it into a game…

Her money shot, I know! I wish I knew the name of the next stretch, as I know there is a more technical term for it. I just call it ankle to knee, as I just cross my leg, and put one ankle on the opposite knee – pretty simple, right?

I do my best with that one to not round my back out too much. I feel the stretch significantly more in my hamstrings and glutes when my back is kept straighter. And I definitely like to get in a little stretching for my calves, and really try to elongate my muscles. It is amazing the effect that tight calves have on my body! They really crawl up my whole leg and leave them quite a bit more sore and fatigued than necessary.

The last stretch I like to get in before I wrap up my stretching is again, for my hips. I hold this pose for a bit longer, as I really feel my muscles need this one after long runs! Again, I have no idea the name of this! Any yogi’s want to help me out a bit?! Let’s not tear me up on my form – I know I need some work ;)

Are there any stretches that you like to do after you run for your hips, hamstrings, and lower back? Please share them with me! I need all the help I can get!

*** Remember, I am not a certified health professional (I only want to be ;) , so please do your stretching at your own risk. ***

The Non-Tempo Tempo-Run

Thanks so much for all of your support for Nancy from my last post! She really is that awesome, and now you all know! :)

On a completely different topic, I would love advice from all of you! I woke up Wednesday with a 40 minute tempo run on my schedule. Easy enough – I’ve done tempo runs so many times before. For some reason, Wednesday was different. I could not get my legs to move. My stride felt shortened and my breathing felt far more labored than usual. I was absolutely dying about 2 mile into this workout. Don’t get me wrong, I know tempo runs are supposed to be challenging, but this was not normal. I felt like there was no way I was going to finish this workout!

Each mile, I checked my Garmin to see whether or not I was working hard enough to hit my desired pace – I was shooting for 7:20′s-7:30′s. No such luck. I struggled to even get to 7:50. And I mean out-of-breath struggle. And that was only for a single mile! I ended up completing the workout, but nowhere near the tempo pace I needed. It was more so a goal pace run.

So why am I telling you all of this? I want to know what you would do in this situation. Would you have finished the workout, and have been glad you got in the mileage, and not have been concerned with the pace? Or would you have thrown in the towel on any kind of pace, and just turned it into an easy run?

I seriously contemplated making it an easy run after about the first 15 minutes, but then for some reason I decided to keep going. I am not one to quit something – not ever! I guess in my mind, by stopping the tempo (even thought it really wasn’t), I thought I was quitting. Silly – yes. True in my head – yes as well.

On a completely different note, the Brooks fairy paid me a little visit yesterday! And by paid me a visit, I mean I bought shoes online and they were delivered ;) Brooks introduced the new Glycerin 10′s, and it just so happened to be time for a new pair of shoes! I can’t wait to try them out this weekend and compare them to the 8′s and the 9′s – which I love!

I need your advice! Would you have knocked out the tempo or kept going?!

Focus On You: Take Control

It has been a few solid months since I have done a Focus on You post so guess what – it’s time to bring it back! Are you new to the blog and haven’t seen this mini series? Check out the other Focus on You Posts…

Focus On You: Massage Therapy

Focus On You: Hydration

Focus on You: Sleep

For this post, I am going to focus on taking control. A couple of months back, Marcus and I had his Aunt Nancy and Uncle Dave stay with us for a few days. They are runners as well, so of course we have that instant connection. However, they have not been runners forever. They actually got started running because Nancy realized it was time for her to take control. Nancy was nice enough to answer a few questions for me, so that she could share her journey to the world of running with everyone here. She didn’t start running because she wanted to, but rather because she had. Read on and see why!

When did you decide to start your running journey? What made you make that decision? 

I had been losing a battle with weight for years, but about 3-1/2 years ago my health took a sudden downturn. One day I woke up with pain and swelling in one knuckle. Within days the pain, redness and swelling started jumping from joint to joint.   I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. All of a sudden the struggle wasn’t just about vanity anymore. 



How bad were your symptoms before you started exercising? When did you start noticing a difference in your joint disease becoming more manageable?  

Within two months my hands couldn’t open a water bottle, stairs were excruciating on my knees, and my ankles were the size of baseballs. Every joint screamed “don’t move”, but my gut told me not to listen. Around this time I met a surgeon (for an unrelated issue) who was passionate about running and swimming. He inspired me to quit trying to lose weight and instead focus on getting fit. That simple attitude shift turned everything around for me. I started joining my husband Dave at the gym at 5am each morning. At night we would walk and eventually progressed to running. I also changed the way I ate. I noticed my symptoms decreasing within weeks, and by 3 months my swelling and pain were gone. I take medication, but exercise and healthy eating are key, as anytime I slack off, my symptoms return.

When you first started running, how far could you go? What is your longest distance to date? 

The first time I ran, I literally could only run sixty seconds at a time. I had asthma as a kid, and evidently my lungs were not as enthusiastic about running as the rest of me.  It took me 1-1/2 years to run one mile without stopping. To date I have completed many short races and four half-marathons.  Last month I finally ran an entire half marathon without any walking. To me that is a miracle.

Nancy and Dave before running entered their lives

How has life changed?

I’ve lost 50 pounds (I’m 5’2” tall) and have kept it off for 3 years. I stopped my joint disease in its tracks.  I have more confidence and I appreciate my health in a way I never had before (turns out pain is a great motivator).  My youngest son recently started an adventure tour company called Heart Pounding Adventures, and last weekend we went speed boating, glider plane flying, off-roading, and water skiing.  I would never have tried those things before (I wouldn’t have fit in the cockpit!).  I still have a long way to go to be truly fit, but I sure am enjoying the journey!!

These days, Nancy is soaring!

Nancy speedboating with her son, Danny

How has your running affected your family? 

I’ve been married for 28 years, and Dave is my rock.  He’s always been athletic, but wasn’t a runner. He took up running just for me. Now he loves it. Three weeks ago he ran his first full marathon, and is already signed up for another one, the stud!!  This is the first sport we can enjoy together even though we are at vastly different levels. Our two grown sons, Danny and Michael, are very proud of us. They are also more intentional about their own fitness. There is no down side. I am very grateful to have so much support.

The Baums after an 8 mile race!

What is your favorite race that you have run so far? 

My favorite race is the ET Moonlight Marathon, Half, 10K and 51K (I do the half). It is in Rachel, Nevada, in August, and starts at midnight! The weather is 65 degrees, the full moon lights up the tundra, there are shooting stars overhead, and it just feels great to do something that my colleagues think I am crazy for doing!  This year it takes place August 4.  You can find out about it at  

Getting Ready for the ET Moonlight Half Marathon

Did you ever think that when you started exercising, that you would be running half marathons!?

No way!!  Growing up I was the kid who was picked last for every team. I am completely inept when it comes to any sport. Believe me, I am not impressive when I run – I huff and puff, and most people can walk as fast as I run. But none of that matters. I can honestly say that because of my lifestyle changes my body now feels better, works better, and looks better than it did 15 years ago! Running is totally worth the time and effort.

What have you learned by taking up running? 

Physically I am capable of so much more than I had ever thought. Much of what we think is normal aging is actually a choice and we have a lot more power than we realize when it comes to staying healthy. It doesn’t matter that I’m not fast or “athletic”. It only matters that I keep at it and never give up. 

What pieces of advice do you have for others that are starting their running/weight loss journey?  

My life has changed in such a positive way that I wanted to pay it forward. So last January my surgeon, (now mentor and friend) and I partnered on a couple of motivational presentations to inspire others the way he inspired me. It was a blast and I think we did some good. Here are a few of the key points that came out of those talks:

  • Be the tortoise!! Remember the story of The Tortoise and the Hare?  Slow but steady gets results. This “tortoise” is 5 sizes smaller, pain-free most days, has avoided injury and is a much happier, healthier person. 
  • Pay yourself first – This rule is good for more than just saving money. Schedule your run or other exercise as a top priority each day.  Fit your other obligations around it, rather than vice versa.
  • Make being fit who you are as opposed to something you do.  If running is something you do, eventually you’ll probably stop doing it. When it is who you are, then it doesn’t matter if you are busy or traveling or tired. You will find a way to run because it is part of who you are.
  • Exercise in the morning. Get it done early. You’ll feel better and have more energy the rest of the day.
  • Figure it out – Don’t let lack of time and other barriers get in your way. We’ve all been super-busy at work when an unexpected top-priority assignment gets heaped on. You figure out a way to get it done because your eye is on the goal, not the barrier. Think of running that way. 
  • Find a buddy and find a mentor. A buddy is someone you run with and provide mutual support and encouragement.  A mentor is someone who knows more than you about the sport, to whom you report your progress, and who won’t “love you anyway” if you give up. You need both.
  • Be patient – the journey is what is important.    If your goal is weight loss, and you only lose 2 lbs. a month, that’s 24 lbs. a year. If you are going to be alive in a year, you may as well be 24 lbs. lighter!
  • Look how far you’ve come. Take notice of all of the ways that running is improving your life. Can you breathe easier? Take stairs without pain? Are your pants looser?  Have you met fun and interesting people? Looking at the big picture keeps you from getting frustrated if you aren’t going to win your division anytime soon.
  • Giving up is not an option. Let this be your mantra.

Nancy Presenting on her journey

What’s next? 

I’ve decided to start training for a full marathon. In my head that sounds scary and completely unrealistic. But 3 years ago that’s how I felt about a half, and these days I don’t let fear stop me.  So I’ll focus on how great it will feel when I cross that finish line, and set the goal of finishing before they pick up the porta-potties!  Running rocks!!!

Dave and Nancy after their first half marathon!

Nancy is such an inspiration to me, and I knew I had to share her story with everyone! Nancy is the perfect example of why you do not have to be a “so-called” runner to run. All it takes is believing in yourself, and knowing it is good for you, no matter how hard it may be in the beginning. And guess what – now Nancy is just as much a runner as you or I – she has the medals to prove it!

Thank you Nancy for sharing your story with us! Way to Focus on You, and Take Control! Leave a Comment for Nancy – I know she would love to read it!

Multisport Day

With only 2 more weeks until my first triathlon (!!!), it was time that I put it all together – all 3 sports that is! Marcus and I headed over to Ft. Desoto for the day on Saturday to participate in our first “multisport” day with the rest of our team, XP Multisport!

We were instructed to meet together at noon to head over to the beach. First off – I never have started exercise at noon, especially in the heat of the summer. Our coach, Felipe, mentioned that we would be spending plenty of time in between sports to refuel and hydrate, so the heat shouldn’t be a problem. I had my doubts about this one, but just went along with it. He is incredibly experienced in the world of triathlons, so I figured I would trust his advice. I brought tons of sunblock, fuel, water, and gatorade to keep myself strong for the day. I also ate a pretty good amount before we left, along with keeping myself incredibly well hydrated. You have to be smart in the heat!!

We got to the park, and all got ready for our first sport, swimming. I can only imagine what all of the onlookers were thinking as we made our way out to the water’s edge in out sweet one piece swimsuits, swim caps, and goggles. It wasn’t exactly a normal day at the beach. Felipe demonstrated how to both enter and exit the water in a triathlon, so we went ahead and practiced it as we started the swim. It was a bit strange feeling, but we all got the hang of it. Once we were swimming, we went south for 15 minutes, then turned around to start the trek back. I was able to swim the whole time without breaks, so I felt pretty good about it. It was first open water swim, and was definitely an experience! I am excited to get in some more open water swims!

After our swim, we were ready for the bike portion of our day!

We all rehydrated, fueled back up, and then headed out on the road. We set out to do 40k (approx. 38 miles), but the weather was definitely not on our side! Look at those nasty skies!

We were able to get in 20 miles of 5 miles easy x 5 miles hard before we had to stop riding. Once the rain starts, the roads get incredibly slick, which is very dangerous for riders. The extra mileage is just not worth the danger caused by reckless drivers and slippery roads! With the unplanned weather break, we all gathered for a quick transition clinic. Felipe gave us a quick demo, and then had all of us give it a shot. Saying I was bad would be a nice way to say it – I was terrible! It is incredibly hard to have your bike shoes already clipped into your clips, and then try to mount the bike while running. I was able to somewhat get it by the end, but I have a lot of practice to do!!

After our transitions, we headed out for the running portion since it looked like the clouds we staying pretty far south. We ended up doing a pretty easy run, with everyone at different paces/goals. I held my 7:50-8:00 minute pace, as that is my goal for the marathon. I really do not need to be pushing myself too hard during these multisport days on the run – mainly because I know I can run well, and the speed will hurt my training later in the week if I try to go too fast. The run was definitely no big deal, and I was even able to take my water bottle with me too! I was glad I had it because I was definitely hot! After our run, we were ready for the best part of the day… grill time!!

The park has grills that are free for public use, so we definitely took advantage! My friend Jess brought the burgers and hot dogs, and everyone else brought side items. The burgers were so, so awesome! Many thanks to our amazing grill masters!

We didn’t stick around too long after eating – we were exhausted! We got home close to 9pm, so we had an incredibly full day in the sun – not to mention we put in some pretty good mileage while we were there! Marcus and I had a great time at our first multisport day! I might even say we are looking forward to the next one!

Have you ever participated in a multiport day? What did you think? What about open water swims? Love ‘em or hate ‘em?


The Nathan Quickdraw Plus

A couple of weeks ago, I needed some advice on which water bottle I should buy to run with. Well, after so much amazing advice, I finally chose one!

I went with the Nathan Quickdraw Plus. I really like the size of the bottle, since it holds 22 oz. I have taken the bottle on 2 runs so far, and have not even been close to finishing the whole thing. However, it will be put to the test this weekend when I attempt my first long run! I’m excited to try it! The pocket in the front is perfect for fuel and a few keys or an ID – I use a Road ID, so I don’t need to worry about carrying an id in there.

One of the concerns that was voiced a couple of times in the comments of my inquiry post was that the bottle was actually too cold against the people’s hands at first. This is something that I haven’t minded at all. My hands actually sweat a bit, so being cooled down by the bottle was actually welcomed. And I really like how the hand strap is reflective, and completely adjustable.

It doesn’t rub at all, and really does stay in place. The mouth piece is easy to pull in and out, and I like being able to easily squeeze the bottle instead of having to suck on the mouth piece. The bottle easily goes in and out of the strap for cleaning, so there is no issue there!

I will say that my only complaint is that I am actually having to carry a waterbottle. I know, its silly, but wow – it really makes a difference in my arms! The first time I brought the bottle with me, I was doing a tempo run, and found my arms getting fatigued pretty quickly. I switched arms about every 1.5 miles, and it was much more doable. I found that yesterday it was even easier to carry the bottle, so I am sure that I will just get used to the weight in the next couple of weeks. I really just didn’t want to get a waist hydration system. For whatever reason, I wanted one to hold instead.

Did your arms get tired when you first started carrying a water bottle? Did it get easier with time?

 Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review. It was completely my choice to purchase this water bottle, and did so on my own accord. All thoughts and opinions are my own.