Monday, November 2, 2015 / ... comments / , , ,

Running for Gwendolyn: My Running Essentials

running essentials

This Saturday I will be running the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, which means I have been running all over town training like a mad woman. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been pretty. But I've gotten through my 12 weeks of training, and can't wait to run 13.1 miles with hundreds of inspiring people this weekend. I am once again running to raise money for the wonderful Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. I wrote about Gwendolyn here a few months ago just after she had passed away at 7 years old. If you would like to support the GSF's mission of changing the future of SMA (the #1 genetic killer of babies), and supporting families dealing with this horrific disease through my run, you can do so here. I am literally moving my body, so one day children with SMA can too. 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player Please take a moment to watch this moving tribute that was on our local news last night.

Running is hard, especially when you're just starting. But it is also powerful. I have friends who have gotten through anxiety and depression, addiction, eating disorders, and more through running. Running can bring people together for a greater good, as 120 of my friends are doing this week to support the GSF.

I get a lot of running questions when I post my running photos on Instagram, so I thought I would put together a post of my running essentials and tips and hopefully inspire you to get out there. 

First, a disclaimer. I am not a professional runner or trainer. You should always check with your doctor before beginning any workout regimen. If you have any heart issues running can be very dangerous, so please, get a check-up first! 

Here are my top essentials for great running. 

1. A postitive #nevergiveup attitude. 
Thoughts like, "I hate running. I can't do this. I'm just not a runner..." will hinder you. Instead, think, "I can and I will. Never Give Up. I'm grateful. I am strong and brave. This is hard, but I'm getting stronger every day."  Gwendolyn embodied this Never Give Up mantra her entire life - even though she was never able to walk, she focused on what she could do, and even had her dad push her stroller through half-marathons!  
running inspiration from my Instagram 
Remember, if you are able to walk, you are luckier than many, many people. If your legs get tired, think of how lucky you are to be able to work those muscles. If you've never run before, just start with walking and slowly add some jogging. Some weird things may happen like itchy legs, and tummy rumblings, but your body will adjust.  

2. Good shoes. 
I know it's hard to spend $100 on running shoes, but it's an important investment. The right shoes can prevent injury. Go to your local running store and get professionally fitted if you can. I have a pair of cushiony ASICS for long distances on the road.  I also use a lightweight minimal pair of Nike's Air Zoom Vomero for short distances, trail running, and everyday walking around. These are more flexible and allow a more natural toe-strike, rather than heel-strike running form, which some running experts say prevents injury. In general, you should buy running shoes 1/2 size larger than your regular shoe size. Oh, and good running socks are important too! 

3. Light comfortable running clothes.
Running leggings and shorts have awesome built-in pockets where you can store your keys, and won't restrict your gait. Pictured at top are my favorite Lululemon shorts in Butterfly Angel Wing (appropriate because Gwendolyn is our butterfly angel!). Dress for weather 10 degrees cooler than it is outside as your body will warm up quickly. This is tough since it's been 90 degrees here lately. Come on, Fall! 

4. Tunes and apps.
Music can be a major motivator when it comes to running. Pretend you're dancing in the club with your girlfriends. Yep, I'm the crazy lady singing and rocking out as I run down the road. I use Pandora and usually listen to the Today's Hits station. There are several apps for tracking your runs. Runkeeper, Map My Run, and Nike are all good ones. It's rewarding to see your miles add up. 
My friend at This Week For Dinner loves this "Couch to 5K" training app. 

5. Hydration. 
Dehydration will zap your energy. Drink plenty of water before your run. Although I ran my first half-marathon almost 10 years ago, it wasn't until last month that I finally purchased a hydration belt. I thought it was kind of dorky but let me tell you, it is awesome! I can finally run hands-free with my iPhone safely in the front pouch and water at my sides. I don't know how I ever ran without this. You can get them on Amazon here. I add a Nuun electrolyte tablet to my water - it doesn't have all the added sugar and artificial colors of traditional sports drinks. 

6. Fuel. 
This isn't necessary for short runs, but when I'm out for more than 5ish miles I will pack a few energy chews. Many runners like GU gel, but I prefer these organic honey Stinger chews. It will give you a little natural boost when your energy starts to drop. Please check with your doctor first if you are diabetic and before starting any new supplements. Before your run choose a high carbohydrate light meal as protein takes longer to digest and can leave you running with an uncomfortable heavy belly. 

7. Sun Protection. 
Hat, sunnies, and sunscreen. I always, always run in this inspiring hat from the GSF. 

8. Stretch it Out. 
Too much running too quickly is a recipe for injury. Balance it out with yoga, pilates, swimming, or another low-impact exercise. 

9. Be inspired. 
If you've never run before, just grab a friend and go for a walk. Slowly incorporate a few minutes of running and then make that run a little longer each week. It's exciting to see how quickly your body can get stronger. Training for a race is also motivating - it could be a 1-mile family fun run, 5k, 1/2 marathon, or full marathon! Using that training to raise money for a cause close to your heart makes it so much more meaningful. You could join me in raising money for the GSF or choose any cause that's important to you. Just set up a FirstGiving page and get started. Happy running! 

When I ran for Gwendolyn in this race four years ago, I didn't know if I would see the day that children with SMA (which is like ALS in babies) would be able to walk. But our fundraising is making a difference! There is still much work ahead, but there are therapies in trial now that are working to treat babies with SMA and it's because of fundraising like this for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. 

Thank you, Gwendolyn for teaching us to Never Give Up. If you would like to make a difference, please consider making a tax-deductable donation to the GSF here or buy some of their fabulous clothing here. No amount is too small. 

On my night stand: Born to Run
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

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