Month: September 2016

Mid-run fueling and my experience with gels

My friend’s sister ran the San Diego RNR marathon with a 7:30 pace, without any high-tech fuel, eating only oranges!! But I have heard from so many runners that gels can help.


When I ran my Radical 80s 5k, the goody bag came with a berry gu. I sure as hell wasn’t going to need it to run only 3 miles, and I had made pancakes for breakfast, so I hung onto it for awhile. A friend told my at the 5k to take a gu before the start of the half marathon. I have also heard from someone else to take it at the 6 mile mark.

3 years ago I almost choked on gu lozenges while walking/running a trail 10k. I ate a couple while running and instantly swallowed them. Back then, I didn’t know what I was doing! It’s amazing what you remember doing back then. I felt like I had instantly swallowed a cough drop and it was in my throat. I was hoping I wouldn’t choke, and it was kind of scary because I was all alone. It turns out trail runners are super elite athletes. They are a very different crowd than a local fun run I was expecting!

I remember wearing a long-sleeved shirt over my tank top for the start of the race. I know now that I overheat within a minute or 2. I know better now.

I thought I would need gu to run 6 miles back then. LOL.

During my half, I plan to stop and take a quick break to take a gu with some water. I have been running and working out a lot, but I know I won’t be running 13 miles without a break. The breaks will be brief but they will happen. I was also thinking of bringing a clif bar. I absolutely love the coconut almond butter filled bars.

I will eat a good breakfast and maybe take a gatorade gel before the race begins, consisting of eggs and toast. I bought Gatorade energy chews one day when I was hoping to buy gu. Safeway doesn’t sell Gu so I figured why not try these.

These are working well for me. So far I am a fan. I haven’t tried them mid-run yet, but I will try them mid-run soon. I’m a pretty big eater. Yesterday I had a big breakfast but I felt like too much time had passed before I went running, so I took 2 gatorade gels. I had plenty of energy to run. Maybe I’ll have a gatorade gel before I start and then have a gu at the half-way point. My plan is to not be hungry or tired, and I would rather start refueling before I feel exhausted.

I first tried gu a few weeks ago just to see if my stomach could handle it. I had a gu after 5 miles and had 5 miles left. I was mostly walking though because it was so hot. The gu didn’t bother my stomach at all, and I went to my local running shop to get more.

I also tried on a pair of Hoka Cliftons. Hokas seem interesting to me because they offer so much cushioning yet have a low offset from heel to toe. I was surprised how narrow they fit, and would need to get a half size up if decide to buy some. I might after the half marathon, but for now I don’t want to change anything.

How do you refuel while running?

Do you stick to gels or eat “real” food?

Why I’m training on a treadmill

I haven’t used a treadmill consistently in  over 11 years. Back in high school I used to run on it and loved it, but once I stopped running after falling off my horse and hurting my knee, I never got back to it. I find it really boring, hot, and unchallenging. I’ve never felt like running on a treadmill can firm up your legs as much as the good old outdoors. The treadmill feels softer than pavement, though.

That’s why I decided to change my ways and use it. I asked my PT about it a few months ago and he told me it won’t create the same metabolic burn. But I’ll tell you why it’s working for me these days.

I live crawling distance to an absolutely beautiful trail. It goes alongside a lake, to a mountain, and to the other nearby town. I think you can run 20 miles on it. But there are a few challenges for me on the trail. Most of it is relatively flat, but there are some down and uphill parts. Uphill doesn’t bother me at all, but I didn’t realize just how much of it was slightly downhill. There is enough downhill to feel like it bothers my knee. I only want to run uphill or on flat ground. I know that when you do a race you can’t pick the terrain, but I just want to build my miles on what feels good. My friend did a half marathon on this hill, and her legs were shredded.

Here are the reasons I decided to switch to running on a treadmill for the remainder of my half training.

Speed & incline

In terms of speed, you can’t beat the “set it and forget it” style of running on a treadmill. You really just pick a speed and go. I like not having to look down at my phone and check how fast I’m going. Sometimes I have felt like I was going fast and looked down to see I wasn’t, and vice versa (well, not too often;).

I set the incline to 1 or 1.5% incline. I was reading somewhere that a slight incline can help make treadmill running more like running outside.

Form: sound & mirrors!

When I run on the treadmill I think of the same things I think of outside, “land soft and quiet, take shorter steps, lift from the ankles, lean slightly forward,” I can go on and on. But on a treadmill it’s so much easier for me to hear my steps. You can hear if you are pounding the treadmill like a zombie, and make yourself run more like a gazelle. This is really beneficial to me as my running form has been my biggest challenge on my journey to my half and solving my runner’s knee. I have always been really heavy on my feet.

I’m not one to stare into the mirror or take selfies, but it is so awesome to look in the mirror and correct your form. Sometimes running upright just comes natural, but if I glance in the mirror I can correct it.



Breaks count, as Regina told me months ago. When I run on the trail and hit a downhill, instead of killing my knees and quads, I take a break. When I need water, I stop at the fountain. Too many things get in my way, and I have a hard time running for x amount of miles STRAIGHT when I have enough roadblocks to cause me to walk. When I run on the treadmill, I have a full water bottle with me, and I’m ready to go. It’s easier to keep going. I like having a water bottle on the treadmill and sipping as I get thirsty, instead of waiting until I see the next fountain. There is a couple mile stretch without fountains on the trail and that’s where it always starts to feel like the Sahara desert!


I do own pepper spray, but I would rather not have to use it. I know there are bad guys anywhere and everywhere, but I feel the gym can be safer than the trail. It’s very hot here still.. Monday will have a high of 97!!! In order to run I need to go early. Early mornings are not the safest time to be out on a trail all by yourself. After the two female runners were killed recently–one in Boston and one in NY–I am trying to be more careful.

I do believe running outside is a better workout, but I do think there’s a time and a place for a treadmill.

Do you use one?

Which do you like better?

7 weeks until my half marathon!

Everyday is one day closer to my half marathon! Lately I’ve been running around a 9:10-9:30 pace.


This is a good pace for me. It doesn’t feel like I’m out of breath or pushing myself too hard, which is good as I’m just trying to build up my endurance to run farther. I’m not sure yet if I want to set a goal other than finishing, but running in 2:15 would be awesome! I will definitely do a  slow warm-up (10 min miles for a mile or 2) and then try for 9 min mile paces after the first mile or 2. It is my dream to run a half in under 2 hours, but this is my first so I will just see how it goes. Races are usually really crowded in the beginning so it will workout nicely to go slow in the beginning. At my 5 mile SJ Giants race last year, my first mile was 11 mins. I had to dodge so many walkers and strollers and little ones running around. I finished in 44 mins, so I must have picked up the pace for the other 4 miles. My goal was 47 mins and I remember my excitement when I looked at my watch and realized I was going to beat my goal. I really didn’t imagine I would! Maybe I’ll surprise myself at my half marathon!

I took a few weeks off running when my ankle was sore, and I’m so glad I did. I have been running consistently again for the past two weeks.  I really had to do a reset. I was getting a little concerned about building miles but I knew that I would be better off taking time off. If any of you have battled injuries you know that running through things never helps them heal. I took some time off running and worked on strength training and running is a lot easier now. My cardio endurance/energy are my best strengths, strange considering I have pretty bad asthma. But I always feel like my lungs can go forever. It’s always been my muscles that needed more help.

The last time I went to PT I bought a new band, “Perform Better!” I got a blue one. It is much harder than green, and I wanted to challenge myself. It’s been fun using it at home and really helps you use your glutes when do kettle bell squats and lateral walking. The first few times I used it felt pretty difficult, but now it feels natural, well more natural. Maybe I’m ready for the black one now?! I highly recommend using these bands. They help you engage your glutes as you do squats and push into the band.

When I started running again, I high-tailed it to dirt hills to run. I didn’t record my miles and I know I didn’t run that many, but running uphill was fun! Running uphill always reminds me to use good form. After I could tell my ankle was strong again, I started running on the trail again.

I got a new pair of Nike Pegasus in black. I hope that I will be wearing these for my half, but they are so comfortable I find myself wearing them everywhere! This must explain why I wear out my running shoes so fast. I often times wear them even when I’m just baking cookies or grabbing a burrito. But hey you can’t beat the comfort, and I would rather walk than drive.

After having knee issues for years, I know that wearing comfortable shoes makes a difference. I don’t want to run for an hour in comfort and then walk around all day all over town in sandals. My knees and feet are much happier in running shoes.

Another thing I have done in preparation for the half is yoga. Incorporating yoga back into my life has made a big difference. Yesterday I went to a gentle yoga class and ran on the treadmill after. It really helped. I felt very limber while limber and for the rest of the day. I also woke up today feeling great, not stiff at all!

Today I went to the gym and jumped onto a step, single-legged squats on a bosu ball, one plank, (it felt like plenty!) and ran 3 miles on the treadmill. I am going to try to attend two yoga classes a week.


Does yoga help your running?

Have you ever had to take time off while getting ready for a race?


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