Shamrock Shuffle 8K 2018: The good and the bad

Not my first rodeo.. I ran the Shamrock Shuffle back in 2014 under a co-worker’s bib. Technically, since it was under her name, this year was my first real Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Going into it this year, I was so excited since I remembered all the fun I had at the expo beforehand and the…

Shamrock Shuffle 8K 2018: The good and the bad was originally published on Self Evolve

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Not my first rodeo..

I ran the Shamrock Shuffle back in 2014 under a co-worker’s bib. Technically, since it was under her name, this year was my first real Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Going into it this year, I was so excited since I remembered all the fun I had at the expo beforehand and the post-race after-party. And of course the race itself. But unfortunately, it feels like a few things changed over the past few years.

First of all, this shirt is awesome!

I must say the shirt greatly improved from the white shirt I got 4 years ago. The shirt from 4 years ago wasn’t green or anywhere close to being shamrock themed. This year, it’s black with a very cute shamrock design on it. The only complaint is the women’s shirts run short. Kind of small, but a short running shirt is never fun to wear. In addition to the awesome shirt, we also received awesome medals! I don’t remember receiving a medal last time I ran this, so must say this is also an improvement.

Chicago the beautiful

shamrock shuffleI love the course of this race as well. The start and finish are the same as the Chicago Marathon, so I did have a few flashbacks. But an easy 8K was much better than those 26.2 miles I ran last October. We still got to see some great areas of the city, and end with that Roosevelt St bridge that everyone hates. 🙂

Let’s talk about this expo..

In years past, the expo was bigger and had way more vendors. To the point where it was almost hard to navigate around the place. This year there were not enough vendors, and way too much visible carpet. Of the vendors there, it seemed like there wasn’t really that much to even buy. One of my friends said this was the first expo she ever went to and didn’t buy a single thing. Bank of America may want to rethink their expo strategy if they want to make money.

Brrr Shamrock Shuffle Icicles

sharock shuffleThe only other thing was the weather! But running a race in March in Chicago, you have to be prepared for the worst. And it could’ve been worse! It didn’t rain or snow, and the sun was definitely out. While running, I felt very comfortable. Beforehand and afterwards, I was freezing. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around long after the race. I got home quickly to take a nice warm shower after the race.

Overall, I had a great time running the Shamrock Shuffle 8K. I didn’t PR because I ran it with some of my awesome running friends. But I did feel great running, to the point where at the end I felt like I could’ve kept going. Makes me want to start running outside again, if only it gets a little bit warmer.

Did you run the Shamrock Shuffle?

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Shamrock Shuffle 8K 2018: The good and the bad was originally published on Self Evolve

Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside

Standard treadmills are so yesterday.. Gone are the days of boring treadmill workouts. With the latest and greatest, indoor workouts for runners are actually enjoyable. Not only that, they are also helpful for runners to train smarter, recover faster, and prevent injury. Even though the weather is getting warmer, you still may want to bring…

Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside was originally published on Self Evolve

Standard treadmills are so yesterday..

run insideGone are the days of boring treadmill workouts. With the latest and greatest, indoor workouts for runners are actually enjoyable. Not only that, they are also helpful for runners to train smarter, recover faster, and prevent injury. Even though the weather is getting warmer, you still may want to bring your run inside.

Sproing Fitness

Science shows that cross-training is a necessary component of any running routine. Sproing Fitness (Chicago) takes this to another level. They incorporate running, plyometrics, stability and strength work all into one 45-minute HIIT-style routine on an unique device. The Sproing is a treadmill-like machine that has an air bladder rather than a moving belt in order to customize the surface. You’ll cinch a waist-level harness which allows you to fall forward while running which lets you maintain proper form, land on your forefoot and avoid heel-striking. The class setup is intervals of 20 or 30 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. The workout transitions through a mix of forward and backward running, strength moves, and explosive exercises.

This adds up to a sweat-filled session that targets and builds the important muscles that runners rely on for faster splits and more power. The low-impact component yields rewards such as protecting the joints and back.

Precision Running Lab

Equinox (Boston) has a new Precision Running Lab where despite running on a treadmill, it feels like you’re running outside. David Siik, senior manager of running at Equinox, wanted to bring the outdoors in with this experience. Even the music is scientifically-backed in providing motivation but not distraction. The music is nonlyrical, with driving beats. A Precision class has 90 to 117 four-second light changes that cue runners as they go. And the treadmill saves your speed once you maintain a pace for 20 seconds rather than have you push buttons while running.

Another important factor? The oxygen. The studio has a filtration system that purges nitrogen and raises O2, helping to keep your lungs full and your head clear. The result is an immersive experience, focused on the workout.

Have you tried these fitness studios? Do you run inside?

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Enjoy the great indoors: Bring your run inside 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

Stronger arms, more speed

Are you trying to run faster? To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body…

Stronger arms, more speed was originally published on Self Evolve

Are you trying to run faster?

To be honest, runners aren’t necessarily known for their arms. It’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. Failing to train your upper body, however, can hold you back big time. It may seem strange, but a strong upper body is just as important as trained legs to run fast and easy. With stronger arms comes a faster running pace.

Stronger arms will pump your way to faster running

stronger arms

“Have you ever tried to run without your arms? It’s weird, inefficient, and hard as hell. Arm drive is a big part of running– when your legs get tired, you use your arms more because of the kinetic chain; you can’t have one without the other.” – Pamela Geisel, exercise physiologist.

Building a strong upper body will help you maintain good form as the miles tick by. Also, that stable, upright posture can increase your endurance by improving your lung capacity. In addition, your oxygen requirement will be reduced, leading to faster runs while using the same amount of energy.

Avoid injury

Not only will you run faster you’ll also prevent injury and create bone density while building muscular strength. And don’t go for the light weights, you have to be willing to lift heavier things if you want to prevent injury, improve your speed and last longer while running. Lifting light weights for a high number of reps achieves the same goal as running- building endurance, not strength.

Most runners skip the weights since they feel like they don’t have time, but it’s easy to break it into 10 minute increments. Taking 10 minutes off the duration of your run and doing a quick strength set provides more benefits than 10 more minutes on the road.

Is your goal to PR?

If so, save the hard-core lifting for cross-training days so you can focus on getting in a quality, high-intensity run. Otherwise, schedule a short circuit of strength training exercises pre-run: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that doing so can make you more likely to bust out extra reps and help you maintain proper form throughout. And if the weight room is intimidating, body weight can be more than enough. i.e. push-ups and TRX rows. Whatever you do, be sure to warm up with core exercises such as planks and side planks.

Do you workout your arms?

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Stronger arms, more speed 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 Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming

With the seasons changing, the length of daylight is getting less and less. In about a week we gain an hour as we “fall behind” but despite this, the days still get shorter! And if you work a first-shift job, you’ll likely be getting out when it’s dark already! Today I’m going to focus on…

Running Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming was originally published on Self Evolve

With the seasons changing, the length of daylight is getting less and less. In about a week we gain an hour as we “fall behind” but despite this, the days still get shorter! And if you work a first-shift job, you’ll likely be getting out when it’s dark already! Today I’m going to focus on…

Running Safely in the Dark: Winter is Coming was originally published on Self Evolve

Running with the runs

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of…

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve

If you’re a runner, you’ve likely either have heard of or experienced firsthand a case of runner’s diarrhea. I’ve been a semi-serious runner for about four years now and I can safely say that my running friends are the ones I know the most about in regards to their bowel movements. There’s a special level of friendship that you achieve once you spend hours running with someone. All modesty goes out the window.

I’m here to share some expert (or just witty) tips to avoid running with the runs. These may help you run further without having to pop a squat.

  • Pay close attention to what you eat before a run. Not just the day of, but also the day before. If you’re consuming a lot of fiber, expect a lot of poo to follow. Most runners learn what works best for them. For me, a light breakfast i.e. a banana and Clif bar does the trick prior to my long runs. Avoiding cheese, dairy, and lots of fiber the day before also helps.
  • Try your absolute best to poop before running, like when you first wake up. And for me, avoiding coffee until after the run helps me not have the urge to go.
  • You may be trotting along and get what I call bubble gut. Is it a fart? Or a poop? General rule of thumb: don’t trust a fart after mile 10. Some runners don’t trust a fart ever.
  • If you do have the urgency to go, please find a bathroom or port-a-potty. It’s not worth it to destroy your clothes and dignity just to get that goal race time. Just saying.
  • If you are gonna pop a squat and have no other option, come prepared with toilet paper or something similar to wipe the bum. No one likes chafing poo.

I hope these tips help you on your long runs and on race day. Let me know what works for you in the comments below! And happy running!

Running with the runs was originally published on Self Evolve