Dorsiflexion: Flex for speed

The need for speed We all want to be faster, regardless of ability or pace. There’s a part of me that wants to run another marathon only to run it faster. Not sure when I will, but I have a feeling another marathon is in my future. You can turn to a structured plan and…

Dorsiflexion: Flex for speed was originally published on Self Evolve

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The need for speed

dorsiflexionWe all want to be faster, regardless of ability or pace. There’s a part of me that wants to run another marathon only to run it faster. Not sure when I will, but I have a feeling another marathon is in my future. You can turn to a structured plan and training methods to help up your pace and efficiency, but one of the best places to start is with body mechanics. Focusing on ankle dorsiflexion, i.e. moving your toes towards your shins or flexing your ankle, during your next run is one tiny tweak that can yield big benefits for all runners.

Pretend to run through wet grass

Run like you just got a fresh pair of white kicks that you’re trying to keep clean while running through wet grass. This simple tweak immediately improves running mechanics. The idea is to decrease ground contact time. The lighter you are on your feet, the faster you run. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise compared elite and novice runners on different terrains and found that the elites exhibited more ankle dorsiflexion at toe-off when running at the fastest speeds. Another study showed that as you start picking up the pace, the body lowers its center of gravity by increasing flexion of the hips and knees and dorsiflexion of the ankle.

Less time on the ground = faster race times

It’s estimated that runners who pull their toes up spend 1 or 2 percent less time on the ground. This may not seem like a lot, but it can add up to seconds, even minutes, shaved off a race time. Rather than landing toes first, or forefoot striking, dorsiflexion favors a midfoot landing. Keep in mind it takes time to alter mechanics. It’s best to focus on a tiny tweak for a small segment of the run (i.e. 100 meters or two to five minutes), and gently increasing from there. Before you know it, you’ll be flexing without thinking about it.

What do you do to run faster?

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Dorsiflexion: Flex for speed was originally published on Self Evolve

2018 races: running season is here

Are you a runner? If so, then you’ve likely already started registering for your races this running season. Last year, I ran a few fun runs (i.e. Star Wars Half Marathon and the Hemingway 8K), but I mostly just trained for that marathon thing. This year I’m scaling back and hoping to use my experience…

2018 races: running season is here was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you a runner?

If so, then you’ve likely already started registering for your races this running season. Last year, I ran a few fun runs (i.e. Star Wars Half Marathon and the Hemingway 8K), but I mostly just trained for that marathon thing. This year I’m scaling back and hoping to use my experience and knowledge to help others with their marathon training. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still running a few races this year (Shamrock Shuffle, local Oak Park races, and maybe a half marathon). And today I’m going to review a few of my all-time favorite races in and around Chicagoland.

Shamrock Shuffle 8K

I may be biased, but Saint Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. And anything having to do with this magical day makes me happy. The Shamrock Shuffle is a great 8K that takes you through downtown Chicago. You start in Millennium Park and end in Grant Park, the same start and finish for the Chicago Marathon. But 5 miles is a lot more do-able than 26.2.

running season

Hemingway 8K

I just moved to Oak Park last year and I participated in this local race last summer. The locals call it Running with the Bulls, and many people dress up to fit the theme. It was so fun that I plan to run this race again along with the other local Oak Park races this year.

Forest Preserve Trail Half Marathon

running seasonThis one is a smaller half marathon that usually falls around the same time as the Chicago Marathon. It’s a great half on the trail up north in Lake County. I ran this one in 2015 and I’m thinking about running it again this year.

Hot Chocolate 5/15K

When I ran this race, it was so cold I was miserable. The route was great, my only complaint was the cold. But they’ve moved this race from end of November to end of October in order to avoid those frigid temperatures. The only reason I didn’t run it last year was due to that marathon thing. The hot chocolate at the end makes the 15K worth it! There is also a 5K option. 

Now that running season is here, which races are you registered for?

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2018 races: running season is here was originally published on Self Evolve

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run

 Are you crazy?! This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than…

Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

 Are you crazy?!

This is the typical response I get when I tell people I went for a run outside, in the dead of winter in Chicago. Lately, the temperatures have been well below zero and running outside has been kept to a minimum (treadmill, anyone?). But for some of us, there’s nothing better than a nice run outside. And if you’re crazy like me, you’ll need to know how to layer up for your next winter run.

Baby it’s cold outside

winter runKeep in mind that once you’re moving, your body heats up fast. Don’t overdress when you think it feels cold. The opposite is true as well: once you stop moving you’ll cool down quickly. Be sure to plan ahead to get out of your workout clothes as soon as you can after your run. Dressing in layers is key for winter running. They will keep you warm at the start, then you can shed some as you warm up. See below for a chart on how to dress according to the temperature outside.

50–59 degrees: short sleeve tech shirt and shorts (feels like 6079 degrees)

40–49 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves (optional), headband to cover ears (optional) (feels like 5069 degrees)

30–39 degrees: long sleeve tech shirt, shorts or tights, gloves, and headband to cover ears (feels like 4059 degrees)

20–29 degrees: two shirts layered—a long sleeve tech shirt and a short sleeve tech shirt or, long sleeve shirt and jacket—tights, gloves, and headband or hat to cover ears (feels like 3049 degrees)

10–19 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, gloves or mittens, headband or hat, and windbreaker jacket/pants (feels like 2039 degrees)

0–9 degrees: two shirts layered, tights, windbreaker jacket/pants, mittens, headband or hat, ski mask to cover face (feels like 1029 degrees)

Once we get below zero like in Chicago, be sure to pay attention to your local weather information and warnings. Use your best judgment to determine whether you should run outside or hit the gym instead. Also, beware of ice and be sure that you’re visible if running in the dark!

How do you dress for your winter run?

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Layer up: What to wear for your winter run was originally published on Self Evolve

Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it

Were you a part of the Chicago Marathon Lottery for 2018? You know, the system where you have to wait and hold your breath until December 12th to know whether you’ve been selected or not? If you entered the lottery and were one of the unlucky ones to not be selected, I’m here to tell…

Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it was originally published on Self Evolve

Were you a part of the Chicago Marathon Lottery for 2018? You know, the system where you have to wait and hold your breath until December 12th to know whether you’ve been selected or not? If you entered the lottery and were one of the unlucky ones to not be selected, I’m here to tell you how you can still run the Chicago Marathon in 2018.

Running for a charity

While Bank of America may have rejected you, there are still plenty of spots open with almost every charity out there that’s a part of the Chicago Marathon. Now I know what you’re thinking. “But Jen, I don’t want to fundraise thousands of dollars just to get my butt to the start line.” But fear not, for I have a solution for you!

Best charity ever

chicago marathon lotteryThe solution to your problem? Run for the best charity ever. I know, you’re likely thinking this is a stretch. How can I be certain this is the best charity ever? And, once again, how can I be certain I’ll fundraise to the minimum requirements? Well, running with the best charity will help you fundraise easier. What charity is this, you ask? Team World Vision. And what makes it the best? Well, several things. First of all, they bring clean water to those who need it the most in Africa. Kids and adults in Africa have to walk an average of 6K a day just to get water. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Team World Vision, they attempt to cut that distance to as short as possible by bringing clean water to communities and town centers.

Team World Vision also helps to build schools and bring supplies to those who need it the most in these same communities. They are transparent when it comes to the work they do; showing videos and even hosting the adults and children they’ve helped here in the US. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of the people we helped bring clean water to in Africa when they came to Chicago for a visit. Not sure how much better it can get from there.

Chicago Marathon Lottery

While you may be bummed to not have gotten selected at random from the 2018 Chicago Marathon Lottery, you should be happy to hear that Team World Vision has plenty of spots for you to run! And the cherry on top? You don’t have to raise thousands of dollars just to run. The charity asks for each runner to raise enough money to bring clean water to 26.2 kids. What does that look like? It looks like $1,310 ($50 brings clean water to one child for life).

The best part is you’re running for such a great cause. And say you don’t meet your goal (that last $10 can be a killer!), not a huge deal! Team World Vision won’t break your legs nor will they ask you to cover the difference. The only things you have to worry about are the entry fee for the Chicago Marathon, purchasing a Team World Vision jersey to run in, and hopefully chipping in a few dollars of your own for such a great cause.

So what’s stopping you from running Chicago in 2018?

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Chicago Marathon Lottery: Not selected and how to still run it was originally published on Self Evolve

Running and keeping track: Maps and more

Map Your Run As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is…

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Map Your Run

As a new or seasoned runner alike, it’s important to map out your runs so that you know how far you’re running. You can simply look at a map or utilize a device to keep track of your distance. No matter how you do it, running and keeping track of your distance is a good idea.

Running and keeping track

Back before there were smart phones or wearable GPS devices, runners were forced to use a paper map of where they were going to run in order to know the distance of their runs. If you didn’t plan ahead, you risked the chance of getting lost unless you were running a known trail or track loop distance multiple times. Being a runner meant that you had to know the areas where you ran pretty well. Over time, you learn how many blocks equates to a certain distance. For example, that two mile loop around your neighborhood that you run consistently.

Tracking devices

running and keeping trackNow that there are many different types of smart devices and running apps, you have more running freedom. Freedom to set out and run until you hit your distance (or rather half so you can run an out & back). Also, with technology, you have instant feedback in regards to your pace and timing. And sometimes, even heart rate. I wrote about tracking your fitness, but running is an exercise that you can improve upon with a proper tracking device.

The consistent and instantaneous feedback can help you learn how and when to change your pace and/or distance. Some runners focus on increasing their distance whereas other runners focus on increasing their speed. It’s important to choose either distance or speed to focus on since it’s difficult to work on both simultaneously.

Devices that help me run better

These are the devices and apps that I use to track my runs in order to run further. They also helped me get through Chicago Marathon training.
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What do you use to keep track of your runs? I also use the Nike running app in addition to the Garmin app to track my runs.

Running and keeping track: Maps and more was originally published on Self Evolve

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration

Marathon Hydration While the popular slogan is “Stay thirsty, my friend” you actually want the opposite when running a marathon. Even during training, while running those longer runs, you definitely want to stay hydrated (and not thirsty). The question is, how do you stay hydrated when running 15, 20, or 26.2 miles? Like how do…

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration was originally published on Self Evolve

Marathon Hydration While the popular slogan is “Stay thirsty, my friend” you actually want the opposite when running a marathon. Even during training, while running those longer runs, you definitely want to focus on running and Marathon Hydration. The question is, how do you stay hydrated when running 15, 20, or 26.2 miles? Like how do…

Chicago Marathon 2017: Hydration was originally published on Self Evolve

Chicago Marathon 2017: shoes

What started out as a light at the end of the tunnel I was in has turned into the brightest star in the sky for me. This past Sunday October 8th I ran 26.2 miles for the first time in my life. And not just for myself, but to bring clean water to those who…

Chicago Marathon 2017: shoes was originally published on Self Evolve

What started out as a light at the end of the tunnel I was in has turned into the brightest star in the sky for me. This past Sunday October 8th I ran 26.2 miles for the first time in my life. And not just for myself, but to bring clean water to those who…

Chicago Marathon 2017: shoes was originally published on Self Evolve