Running for Boston

Boston Marathon Memorial This past week was not a positive one for thousands of runners who thought it would be one of the best days of their lives. As we all know, the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy really hit home especially for runners. I think this affects me so much because I feel like “one of my kind” got personally attacked this past Monday, April 15, 2013. It was such a sad, sad turn of events that happened during one of the world’s greatest marathons. Instead of runners celebrating something they have trained so hard to achieve , they are mourning the lives and injuries of loved ones. It almost makes me physically sick to think of the tragedy many families are going through. Before I continue, I want to say that I am praying for the families and runners affected by the horrific day that just recently happened. Every time I run a  race, I will be thinking of the runners of Boston, and push myself a little harder just for all you heroes.

From a public relations standpoint:

After I heard about what happened during the Boston Marathon, I first thought of the families and runners, and then I thought about the next upcoming marathon, the 2013 London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, April 21 and has a record-setting attendance close to 35,000 runners. One thing that surprised me, is that the London Marathon’s website has nothing on it about the Boston Marathon bombings, or whether or not they are still holding this year’s London Marathon (which is one of the most frequently asked questions after the events at Boston). I was almost shocked that the social  media coordinators who deal with the London Marathon didn’t think to include something on the website about “Praying/Running for Boston,” or “2013 London race still being held.” Many people are worried to attend the event because of how recent the Boston Marathon events occurred, which is six days before the London Marathon. As a future PR specialist, I keep asking myself how I would handle this situation if I worked for the London Marathon.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not think they are doing a bad job, but I feel like they should have done something differently to show their condolences and to calm many runners’ nerves after the Boston bombing. I did read an article from BBC that said the organizers of the London  Marathon are working hard to increase security measurements for the race on Sunday. I think that is a great move on behalf of the London Marathon to show they are working efficiently to protect runners from any chaos or tragedy that could occur.

But what about the media? As an organization for runners, wouldn’t they somehow speak out about the Boston tragedy? I am excited to hear about any coverage the day of the race. Maybe they have something great planned for the runners who are getting ready to gear-up for 26.2-mile long race that takes place in two days…we shall see.

Boston StrongGood luck to all the runners on Sunday at the London Marathon, and remember to run your hearts out for Boston.

What do you all think? Will London do something in honor of the Boston Marathon?

Images credit: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://gamedayboston.com and http://www.google.com/url?

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Getting over the winter blues

Motivational Quote

Motivation. Probably one of the most important attributes a runner should have, yet always seem to be the one lacking.

Webster’s Dictionary defines motivation as “the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.”

And that’s exactly what it is. It’s not always as easy as good ole’ Webster’s puts it, though.

After these long, dreary winter months, it is hard to get back in gear and off your butt to go for a run. I have even been struggling with this for the past month or so, because Ohio’s weather never wants to cooperate with anyone’s running schedule. If I had it my way, it’d  be sunny and 75 degrees everyday. We all know that is not going to happen in Ohio. So, I have researched and figured out what has worked for me when it comes to lack of motivation. Always  remember that what may work for me, may not work for all of you. Find something that really speaks to you and makes you want to get up and go train– find your niche.

Beautiful running day

Ways to get motivated, and stay motivated:

  • Run outside— if it’s a perfect day outside, why would you want to stay crammed in a sweaty, over-heated gym when you can be out exploring the outdoors? My days are always better after taking a run outside, whether it’s a two-mile run or a 14-mile run. Another point of advice: change your running routes to avoid redundancy. I have my top five favorite spots near where I reside and switch it up every week so it’s always a change of scenery and I am not getting bored with the same run over and over again.
  • Reward yourself–although we all want to reward ourselves with a triple-chocolate hot fudge cake, try to reward yourself with something that won’t hinder your running performance. I have heard of runners putting a dollar in a jar for every time they run, and then at the end of the month going out and buying themselves a hot, new outfit to wear out. But hey, if a triple-chocolate hot fudge cake will keep you training for your race; more power to ya!
  • Register for upcoming races: This is vital in keeping the motivation going for running. Every spring, I sign up for about 10 races that last until winter to keep my motivation going. Whether it’s 5K’s or marathons, registering for races will keep you running because who doesn’t want to perform well in races? The most popular race series for Ohio is the Subway Challenge Series. It even has reward points for every race you do, and at the end of the season you can earn some really cool stuff for running your butt off (literally).

I am not perfect by any means, and I still have my days where I want to sit on my couch and “Pinterest” and watch Netflix all day (and I really do have days like that as embarrassing as it is to admit it), but try your best to motivate yourself to even running for twenty minutes on your “lazy days.” It’ll be worth it when your crossing that finish line, trust me.

What are ways you stay motivated? I’d love to hear your input!

Image credit: http://www.google.com/searchrunningpics

Most Popular Marathon Races

images

Most Popular and Memorable Marathons in the U.S.

If you click on the link above, this will show you an info-graphic I created to show the most popular U.S. marathon races according to the number of finishers.

The #1 Marathon race in the United States is the New York City Marathon clearing 43,000 finishers. That’s crazy! 43,000 people all gathered together to run 26.2 miles. It gives me the goosebumps just thinking about it. Can you image standing at the finish line and watching all the runners finish one of the hardest races they will ever run? I think it’d be an amazing feeling (probably more amazing to actually run the race).

The most rewarding concept about these races is that the majority of them (if not all of them) are qualifying races. A qualifying race means as a runner you have to compete in another “qualifying” marathon and finish in a certain time for you to be accepted into the “big boy marathon.”

For example:

If you want to run the Boston Marathon, you cannot register like all other races. You have to compete in a Boston qualifying marathon first and finish in a certain time. The Akron Marathon (close to my hometown) is a Boston qualifying race. Usually, the time to beat is around 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete 26.2 miles. The time you need to beat is according to your age. But, let’s be clear, 3 hours and 30 minutes is an extremely tough pace to keep for 26.2 miles (it’s about an 8-minute mile the entire race).  In other words, if you qualify for the Boston Marathon, you better be proud.

But always remember one of my favorite quotes:

“Whether it’s a five-minute mile or a seventeen-minute mile, you are still lapping everyone sitting on the couch.”

Has anyone qualified for one of the top races? Do you know anyone who has? If not, tell me about your “dream race.”

Using social media to promote races

From a public relations viewpoint, people wonder how and why certain races become more popular than others. One of the ways this happens is that race organizers are using social media to increase awareness about a certain race.

According to stasticbrain.com, 98% of 18-24 year olds are using social media everyday, and 56% of the world’s population is using social media. So, promoting via social media sounds like a great idea, right?

Say you want to spread the word about your favorite race, or you’re even organizing your own race for a benefit dear to your heart, here are some ways to get the word out.

Social Networking Tips

  • Twitter/Instagram: Not only are Twitter and Instagram the fastest growing social networks, but they has certain ways to promote or discuss topics that have something in common. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag! A hashtag is a phrase or word highly used on these social networks that is  prefixed with the “#” symbol that helps group together certain messages that a user can search to see who’s talking about that certain topic. When training for a race, or promoting a race, have your runners share their success stories by using common hashtags to help increase SEO (search engine optimization), popularity, and site traffic. For example, if you’re organizing a 5k run for Down Syndrome students in your community, have social network users post about training and race info and hashtag #DS5k or #5kforDowns to increase conversation about the race, maybe resulting in more registrants. That always sounds great, huh?
  • Revamp your Facebook: Facebook is an older, yet innovative social network that is still growing and has the highest user population topping out at 1.2 billion. Try to think of creative ways for people to follow your races’  page. Possibly set up a Facebook competition. For example, have a deal that if your organization’s page gets 1,000 likes, you will hand out five random free registrations to Facebook users on your page. And, if a user shares your page, it doubles their chances of winning. This will help increase traffic and increase awareness of your race, resulting in more registrants and better chances of having a successful fundraiser run.
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization is vital for public relations. It may sound like jargon to someone who isn’t in the PR field, but it’s simple. Make sure you’re using words that are searchable via Google, Bing, Yahoo, racing services, etc. when promoting a race. In social networking, blogging, or webpages make sure to use words that are highly searched. Examples for 5k’s would be: 5K, 5K training, couch-to-5K, Fun 5K’s in (hometown of the race), 5K for a cure, and many more. Find data of what users search when it comes to running, and use that to help increase the chances of your page showing up in search engine results. This will definitely help with awareness and getting the word out for your race. Do your research.

Those are a few tips worth noting when you want to create your own race. If you love running, and have a cause that is close to your heart, why not start your own race to raise money? It’s fun, and great if you use popular tactics to help reach your audience and objectives.

What events have you planned? What tactics have you done to help promote your event? It could be something as simple as birthday party, but, what really works for social networks and SEO? Feel free to comment.

Image credit from: http://howtomakemoneyfromtheinternet.net/social-networking/2012/09/social-networking-scary-facts/

Top three foods/beverages to consume after a long run

It’s an early Saturday morning and you’re pushing yourself to complete one of your long runs; maybe it’s six, eight, or three miles that you’re proud to have just completed.  You get home, take off your shoes, and your stomach is grumbling louder than the television. So, what gives?

After a long run, your body is craving for protein, calcium, and carbs. During running, your body is constantly moving and burning off calories and fat, causing your body to feel exhausted and hungry after a long run. Your first goal after a long run is to replenish energy as soon as possible.   Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding stored glucose within the first 30 minutes after exercise. If you eat soon after your workout, you can minimize muscle stiffness and soreness, according to about.com.

Now the question still remains, what should a runner eat after a long run? Well, I’ve done some research and came up with the best top three foods or beverages to consume after a long run to make your body feel healthy, and to be able to continue your training without injuries.

  1. Clif Bars: Clif bars are all-natural, whole grain, organic performance bars made for athletes who need key minerals an vitamins replenished. They have several delicious flavors and textures for runners with different taste. The best thing is they’re small and low-calorie so you can feel better without consuming too many calories.
  2. Smoothie, smoothie, smoothie!: Sometimes, nothing is better than a great, delicious smoothie to help your body recoup after a tough workout. A great one that I love is the Starbucks Vivanno smoothie. They have banana chocolate, strawberry banana, and orange mango banana. My personal favorite is the banana chocolate smoothie with a shot of espresso. Yum! And once again, the calories are low and the protein is high; that’s a great combo.

Chocolate horizon milk box

3. Chocolate milk: Believe it or not, chocolate milk is known to be the BEST recovery drink for runners. It has a great combination of protein, calcium, antioxidants, and carbs; not to mention it’s loaded with Vitamin B. My favorite kind, and go-to chocolate milk is the Organic Horizon chocolate milk. They have great on-the-go eight ounce boxes that is the perfect amount for a recovery drink. The best news? They only have 150 calories, but eight grams of protein.

If none of these tips work for you, then just remember the rule of thumb for recovery food: always consume a ratio of one gram of protein to three gram of carbs for the best recovery.

Now, drink up. Or, eat up.

What are your favorite post-run foods or drinks?

Shoes make all the difference

Probably one of the most important assets as a runner is obviously your shoes, right?

Well, believe it or not, many runners forget this important part of training. Runners are more focused on their mileage, fitting in runs, and how fashionable they look while they run (right, ladies?). Even though you look great wearing those Lululemon running tights with a cute, pink and glittery top to match; your shoes on your feet are more important than that outfit that might get attention from the men at the gym.

Finding the right shoes can be extremely overwhelming. So, I created three easy rules to help guide you find the right shoes.

  1. The cuter the shoes does not necessarily mean the better quality: This rule obviously applies to the lady runners. I am just as guilty as you in wanting to find the cutest, colorful shoes possible so I feel great running on that treadmill or track. In reality, you need to find the shoes that feel the best, not look the best. Instead of buying shoes because it attracts your eyes, try them on and walk with them for a while and see if your feet agree. Remember, your feet are doing the work, not your eyes. Don’t get me wrong, some really cute running shoes are also good for your feet, but be smart about your choice. 
  2. Find the right brand for you and be patient with new shoes: There are hundreds of brands for running shoes; some cheap and some really expensive. Start with researching top running shoe reviews. Runner’s World Magazine  shoe reviews are done really well, and explain each shoe type that fits the need of each runner. So, you went out and found the perfect pair of shoes, and they are killing your feet. Now what? Be patient with your new shoes. It takes time to break them in. If after about two weeks of running and your feet are still blistering up, it may be time to contact the vendor from which you bought your shoes for advice about what to do next.
  3. Know when to get new shoes: Most shoe brands last between 350-450 miles. So, this means if you are running an average of 20 miles a week (which normally with half marathon training, this is what you are running) your shoes will last you about five to six months. However, every runner is different. When I trained for my first half, my shoes became worn after about four months. You can tell when your shoes are worn if they are very flexible, losing the cushion, or are starting to tear. These are obvious reasons to buy new shoes. So, be aware of how your feet are feeling after a long run and how your shoes look. Observance is the most efficient way of knowing if shoes need to be replaced. 

Newton Motion ShoesFinally, my personal favorite shoes are the Newton motion shoes. I have tried about seven different brands and versions of shoes, and these have been my favorite. These shoes have cushioned rubber that bends out slightly around the mid-foot/arch area that forces your feet to run heel-to-toe, which keeps your feet from being injured in the long run (literally and figuratively speaking). These shoes are about $175-200, but are really well-designed shoes for runners. I got my shoes from Second Sole–Canton Branch. Second Sole is a small running store chain that has trained professionals working at each store to help you with your running needs.

So, go do your research and find the shoe that will help your feet perform at their best for all your training.

Happy shopping!

Top 3 steps to get started as a runner

Cleveland Half Marathon 2013

Everyone has time for running, right?

Wrong. Running consistently takes a lot of effort and time management. I found out the hard way when I signed up for my first half marathon while being a full-time employee and student. I found myself constantly on-the-go and never having time to rest. After running for a few years, I found out that I took on too much too fast. Luckily, I found some ways to slowly become a runner and to also not go insane at the same time. As I begin to train for my next half marathon, the Cleveland Marathon, I try to keep these steps in mind.

3. Sign up for a program: 

There are numerous programs designed specifically for someone who wants to start running but doesn’t have the time or energy. Make sure you research the programs first before you actually commit to them because some programs may be too much to take on right away.

Here are a few of the programs I found to be the most helpful, and are very popular so you can find other people who are following the programs as well to help motivate you.

  • Runner’s World training plans: Runner’s World is the most successful and popular magazine publication for beginning and advanced runners. This website has you personalize your own training plan so you can create your own plan that fits your needs and schedule.

2. Space your runs out according to your schedule:

This is important because some training programs may not fit into your schedule how you like it. The best advice I can give is to adjust your schedule and your runs accordingly. This means if you are a student and have class Monday-Friday and work your part-time job on the weekends, pick the day where you have the shortest hours of class and have that be your long run day. You only have ONE long run a week, so choose the day that you are the most motivated, or have the least to do. Everyone is different and everyone’s schedule is different so it is hard to follow a training program verbatim.

1. Rest, rest, REST!:

Rest days are the most vital days for a runner. Do not be mistaken into thinking that to be a “legit” runner you have to run 20 miles a day. That is definitely a myth that people usually believe. Rest days help your muscles heal and helps your body breathe after a long week of running. So, remember to always rest.