Saturday, December 29, 2012

Make 2013 "Your" Year

Post by Guest Contributor - Jeanne Goodes

Time to Set New Year Resolutions and Goals

The New Year has arrived, and with it, your resolutions for the New Year. High expectations, good intentions, will power, motivation, … and then the thought “Whose Idea was this anyway?” You can blame it on the Romans!! New Year's Resolutions date back to 153 B.C., when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome, was placed at the head of the calendar. Janus’ two faces could look back on past events and look forward to the future. King Janus soon became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans sought forgiveness from their enemies (for past events), as well as exchanged gifts (for future goodwill). Over the years, this symbolic act has transformed into personal reflections of the past and changing personal behaviors to positively affect the future.

How can you positively affect the changes you seek in your personal life?

  • Be specific about your resolution; make realistic, measurable goals and write them down.
  • Limit the number of resolutions you make.
  • Post your list in a visible place to serve as a reminder and to encourage  yourself.
  • Enlist the support of your friends and family.
  • Take action immediately!  Make important appointments with a doctor, dietitian, or counselor. Sign up for a gym membership or buy any equipment you need.
Practice those new behaviors that encourage your success. Want to stop smoking? Don't hang out in smoke-filled bars or casinos. Want to lose weight?  Don't bring desserts, junk food, candy or ice cream into the house. Limit your exposure to people who are likely to encourage resolution-breaking. Surround yourself with good, supportive friends, not people who sabotage or belittle your efforts.

Set incremental goals and reward yourself for partial successes. Lost the first 5 pounds? Celebrate with a massage.  Ran your first 5k?  Treat yourself to a new fitness outfit. Substitute a good habit for the bad one you want to break. If your goal is to eat less junk food, find a healthy food you love. If you want to spend more time with your family, establish a special time during the week when everyone is together.


Keeping New Year’s Resolutions is challenging. Had a setback? Be flexible and keep trying! Re-write your resolutions or break your resolution down into smaller steps. Look at your setback as a learning process in reaching your goals. Remind yourself why you made the resolution and what you have to gain by achieving your goal.  Make 2013 “your” year – you are worth it!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

End of Year Running Reflections

By Jannine Myers

Trying to piece together my life over the past year, specifically in terms of who I am as a runner, is much harder than I imagined. Running, it seems, has played a large role in shaping the person I've become. It isn't something that fits into a "piece" of my life, but rather it "fills" my life with many character-forming influences.

I came to this conclusion as my mind drifted back to the former part of this year, when I took some time off from racing and training. I had intended to use the extra time on my hands to sit back and relax a little, but instead I found myself quickly filling that time with other things that kept me busy, and sometimes too busy. And yet, I'm almost certain that I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Why? Because quite honestly, I like being busy. I like having deadlines to meet and goals to achieve; they give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction. I've always thought that my "need to run" is really an inherent trait that has me programmed to not just literally run, but to also be in a state of constant movement. I can't help moving in some form or fashion, whether it's running or fast-walking, or moving from one project to another and back again. Even if the constant movement requires little time to rest and relax, I'm okay with that.

My husband, on the other hand, would tell you that I over-task myself and consequently feel overwhelmed. And he's right of course, but I've realized that my natural, or comfortable state of being, is one which involves non-stop forward-movement. There are times obviously when I need to slow down and force myself to take a break, but those moments of rest are usually short-lived. Sitting still, or being idle, is counter-productive to my must-do/must-move nature; even my mind has a hard time slowing down.

As I reflected on this a little more, I began to see more clearly why and how running has shaped me. Since my days are always busy, failure to get up early and run, usually results in no run at all. In that respect, running has become a discipline.

The discipline of doing something that sometimes feels difficult or uncomfortable, is a discipline that I've learned to embrace. There was a time, in my younger adult years, where I hesitated to do anything that took me out of my comfort zone, but strange as it may seem, running has taught me to be much bolder, less afraid.

I read a blog post recently by Rachel Toor, a published writer and sponsored Athleta runner. In her post she talked about running in her 50s, and how age has made her a slower and less motivated runner, yet she still continues to run and she still sometimes wins or places in her age-group at some of the smaller, local races. In many ways I can relate to her, and especially to her added comment about recognizing the achievement in getting to the starting line. "If you don't get yourself to the line," says Toor, "you have no chance of winning."

Isn't that how it is with everything in life? If you never try, can you ever succeed? Last year I applied for the same Athleta scholarship that Rachel Toor successfully applied for, and although my application made it to the second round of selection, that was as far as it got. This year, I tried again, and this time my application made it all the way to the final selection committee. Should I apply again next year and risk further disappointment? Absolutely.

You see, running appeals to me not just for the obvious reasons of keeping fit and healthy, but more because of it's inclination to keep me moving forward, even in the face of challenges that threaten to disappoint or intimidate me. I want those challenges! It's the challenges in my life that build the kind of tenacity and spirit that I strive for.

Let's face it, it's easier to shy away from anything that seems too hard, but where does that get you? It takes you down a path of unmet goals and missed opportunities, and where is the satisfaction in that? Isn't it better to taste the bitterness of failure, than the bitterness of never succeeding because you never tried?

If running helps me to be that person who is not afraid of embracing all of life's challenges, then being a runner is who I want to continue being.

Looking forward to another year of running!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

WOOT's "Under $50" Christmas Gift Guide

Jannine Myers

Can you believe it's that time again already! Seems like just a few months ago that I posted last year's Christmas Gift Guide. I'm sure most of you have probably already done your Christmas shopping, but you never know - you might just see something in this guide that's worth adding to your Christmas list. And, to make it a little more tempting and easier on the bank account, I've deliberately kept the items in this year's list in the strictly "under $50" price range. So let's not waste any more time, let's go shopping!

1. Petzl Tikkina 2 Headlamp - from Roadrunnersports $19.95
Many of you are now running in the dark hours of the morning or the evening, and if you're like me and live in an area where some of the streets are not well lit, a headlamp is probably a good buy for you. I've fallen in the dark a couple of times, but I've never wanted to spend money on a headlamp - these Petzl headlamps are very affordable however and actually kind of cute.

2. Yankz Sure Lace System - from Runningwarehouse $6.95 (various colors)

Have you ever owned a pair of running shoes with laces that kept untying, even after you had double-tied them? I have! My Saucony shoes above! The Yankz Sure Lace System not only fixed this problem, but made it so much more convenient to slip my shoes on and off - I love them!

3. Pregnancy Running Belt - from Amazon $27.39

This is obviously for the pregnant moms out there, and it comes highly recommended from one of our own WOOT moms who is currently carrying her third child. Those of you who know Michelle Van Someren know that she is an amazing athlete who has managed to stay incredibly lean and fit through all of her pregnancies. Michelle suffers from lower back pain, specifically SI (sacroiliac joint pain), and she attributes her ability to keep running during her pregnancies to the excellent support of her pregnancy running belt. I wish I had known about these when I was pregnant with both my girls!

4. a) All Natural Energy Gels (Vegan and Gluten-free) - from IslandBoost $8 to $25

Looking for a gel that's not filled with artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives? Reviews of this product are promising for those of you with sensitive stomachs, and because it's more of a liquid than gel-like consistency, you don't need to chase it down with lots of water. Users of this product also feel that it hits the bloodstream a lot quicker than the thicker gels - some say they feel the effects in less than 10 minutes. This is probably going to go on my shopping list.

4. b) Glass Water Bottles - from BottlesUp $29.95

If you're into clean eating, you might also be into clean drinking - BottlesUp Glass is a company that's proud to sell water bottles that are made from 75% recycled glass. The bottles are free of known toxins and are a great option for those of you concerned about preserving our environment. Also, BottlesUp Glass donates 5% of the purchase of all pink bottles to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®.

5.  a) Asics Arm Warmers - from Amazon, a steal at only $7 a pair!

I know we've done arm sleeves before but these are just such a great deal that I had to throw them in - they also come in red, royal blue, and white.

5. b) Smartwool Arm Warmers - from Smartwool $25

For a really warm and comfortable (but more expensive) pair of arm sleeves, check these ones out at

6. SPiBelt - from Adorama $19.95

For those long runs where you need to carry extra items, the SPIBelt might be just what you need. It can expand to hold any smart phone, keys, credit cards, and even a passport. And if you're willing to pay a few extra dollars, you can buy the SPIBelt with gel loops (these cost $21.99, or $26.99 for the water repellent ones, and both can hold up to 5 or 6 energy gels).

7. a) Heatpacks - from between $8 and $25

For tired and sore muscles, these heat packs might help to speed up recovery. Here's what the manufacturer claims: "By applying Therapeutic Heat to an area of pain or stiffness an individual will experience increased blood flow throughout the tissue. This increases the blood flow while delivering oxygen and nutrients to the injured or sore muscle areas."

7. b) Vila Acupressure Mat - from Vilanow $40

Okay, this one really caught my attention! An acupressure mat that can potentially release muscle tension, relieve back and neck stiffness, and help you to relax and recharge - I'm sold! For first-time users, it's recommended that you start by wearing a tshirt and placing a thin towel over the mat, and then slowly graduate to bare skin and no towel. Start with just a few minutes, and lengthen the time as your body becomes more tolerant of the feeling.

8.  a) Asics Women's Compression Long Sleeve Shirt - from Amazon $30.64

Why a compression top, you ask? For some endurance runners, muscle pain is not limited to just the legs; it's often felt in the shoulders and upper back as well. Compression shirts supposedly help to reduce muscle fatigue, as well as assist in preventing injury by drawing moisture away and keeping the body warmer than the atmosphere's temperature.

8. b) Adidas Gal L Ti W 3/4 tights - from Adidas $24

While you're at it, you may as well get some tights to go with that compression top, and at the sale price of $24, you can't complain.

9. a) Functional Activewear - coverup skirts from MeSheeky; sale prices $29 to $45

Stevie Skirt - $32

Odette Skirt - $32


How fun are these! MeSheeky has just a handful of items to choose from, but I love what they do have available and I love their concept. Whether you need a skirt to throw on over your capris after a race, or you want to hang out in your comfy workout gear while running a few errands, then MeSheeky probably has what you're looking for.

10. As always, last but not least, a little something from WOOT:

WOOT Running Journal - comes in folder so you can take it with you wherever you go and keep it from getting torn and dirty. Just $12, and we'll throw in one of our new car stickers for free.

Contact Anna or Jannine:

NEW!!! Woot Car Stickers!

There you have it ladies - happy shopping!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Post-Race Blues

Anna Boom

Choosing Your Next Goal

The race is done. You never thought you'd get to the final day, and then to the finish line and then you did it! And it felt amazing, didn't it? No matter what your time, or the weather, or any of the other hundred external influences, YOU DID IT!!

Congratulate yourself and take a huge amount of pride in you. Indulge in something you always wanted for a little while: maybe a relaxing massage, a long bath with bubbles and candles (without or with your spouse), a nice ice cream sundae, that new Coach bag, a pedicure. The list goes on and on.

You may find that once you've indulged, that you find yourself a little down, sort of depressed even. Do not panic; this is normal.

For those other moms out there, remember your baby blues? That time after delivery when you had done your best in planning and growing this beautiful little human for ten months, then went through a considerable amount of pain and effort for hopefully a short time, and then it was over. Racing is the same feeling. It is the Finisher's Blues. You may find yourself feeling a little lost, like what next? Your daily schedule was set up before to fit your runs in; your weekends were all mapped out for the past few months.

To get past the Finisher's Blues, take a nap when you can. Rest and drink lots of water, or tea or what tastes good. Then go for a walk or slow run with no goal or purpose, just to be outside. Leave the watch and Garmin at home. Take it out on trail if you can. Enjoy the feeling of being free from a training schedule for a little while. This is what goes into a good mental recovery. You need to relax and accept the break happily.

Then ask yourself, what is next?

Nago Half Marathon perhaps.......

Or the Ie Island Half Marathon maybe........

Whatever your next goal or race is, enjoy this period of recovery!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Journaling Can Be A Great Training Tool

Anna Boom

Tip for any runner, including me:
Use a Journal every day!

Runners World had an article that I picked up on last month, “How to Learn From Your Race Experience: Analyze the details of your key events to improve your performance next time.” (

The title intrigued as me I thought of some of my past races and how I could take the bad and make it into good. The very first tip is to Record The Facts! That is a component I have lacked for awhile now. Right after I read the article, I began to use my WOOT running log to write what I ate and how soon before my run, the distance to run and the workout. As soon as I finish my run, I write down how far I ran, how I felt and how the workout felt. This has helped me tremendously to improve my training runs over just a few short weeks.

The article also recommends the week before a race, to write everything down including how much you slept, how and when you drank, what clothes you wore. Once you have all the data, you can separate out things you can control (give away that hat that keeps flying off your head!) and repeat the things that did work (eating early and light).

Other great things to note in your journal after every run is the weather. This has a huge impact on your pace and how you feel, along with how much water you drink. As we know the summers and humidity can be brutal here in Oki.

One of the contributors to the article, Tom Holland, author of The Marathon Method, comments that using a journal allows you to note your feelings and if anything brought you down and out. He says, “Stress is a choice. It’s a process, and it’s often unnecessary.”

When your Garmin dies, or your playlist gets messed up or somebody trips you, control your reaction. Instead of letting it blow your whole race, take that bad moment for what it is: a small hiccup in the life of a runner.

Remember all the work and effort you have logged in your journal that got you to the start line. And change your mind to be positive. And note the bad thing in your journal so that if it is something you can control (charge that Garmin the night before!), that you do the next time.

We all know how hard it is to remember what we ate for breakfast much less how all our training runs went over months of a training cycle. Writing it all down gives you the opportunity to put all the pieces together for a great race. 

Have a great run and write all about it!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Marathons and Muscle Cramps

Jannine Myers

In past marathons that I have run, I've experienced severe muscle cramping during the final few miles. The cramping has always been on one side of my leg, and has either affected my lower leg muscles, or my hamstring and/or IT band. I used to think that my cramping must have been due to electrolyte depletion, and with each new race, I would take extra care to ensure that I had a good fueling strategy in place. But, despite my efforts, I continued to be plagued by muscle cramps that forced me to drastically reduce my pace and of course, cause disappointment.

In pain after the Okinawa Marathon - hamstring and IT band cramp started around mile 21

In an article I read recently, I was surprised to discover that there may actually be another cause for my muscle cramps. The article cited literature published by the American College of Sports Medicine (Bergeron, 2008), in which the author suggested that another cause of muscle cramping, besides that of electrolyte depletion, is "skeletal muscle overload and fatigue."

This type of cramping is unfortunately, not easily remedied. In fact, it is often so severe, that even if an athlete is just a few miles out from the finish line and on target to achieve their race goal, it's highly unlikely that they will do so. The reason for this, is that the neuromuscular system, due to overload, essentially stops doing it's job and the affected muscles stop contracting the way they should. In this instance, there is little an athlete can do to reverse the cramping, except to cease all activity, or literally walk, hobble, or slow run (in pain) to the finish line.

A further point of interest regarding this type of muscle cramping is that only the muscles that are specifically fatigued are affected. Muscle cramping caused by electrolyte loss often results in the athlete feeling an overall sense of muscle cramping. And unlike the athlete who has fatigue-related muscle cramps, a dehydrated athlete with muscle cramps can often continue to run by stopping to re-hydrate (with an electrolyte drink), as well as stretch out the opposite muscles to cause a contraction in the pulled muscles.

So what makes me, and other runners, more susceptible to experiencing fatigue-related muscle cramps during the last miles of a marathon? Supposedly, such factors as:

  • older age
  • poor stretching habits
  • insufficient conditioning
  • cramping history
  • excessive exercise intensity and duration
  • metabolic disturbances
Note: these factors are different from those which are related to the type of muscle cramping caused by electrolyte loss

As I look at the factors above, I wonder if, apart from improving my stretching habits and ensuring that I train properly for each marathon, the onset of muscle cramps might just be inevitable for me, especially once I reach a certain level of exercise intensity and duration. And maybe that's the case for some of you too. 

While I'd like this to be one of those posts where I could easily leave you with some practical tips and advice, I'm not so sure I can. But I don't want to leave you feeling completely discouraged - let me add that not all of my marathon races have ended terribly for me. And, being hopefully optimistic, I still think that one day, I'll put my finger on that "magic" component of training and fueling that may directly determine whether or not I'll make it to the finish line free of cramps. When I do, you can be sure I'll share the secret with you. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Food For Thought - The Okinawan Diet

Jannine Myers

The festive season is here and with it comes an atmosphere of jubilant anticipation, or for some, reservation as they worry about how much weight they're likely to gain! If you happen to be among those in the latter category, then this post may be of interest to you. But before I continue, please note that I neither support or oppose the following viewpoints; I'm merely sharing with you some data that has been extensively researched and reported on.

Ever heard of the Okinawan Diet? The diet that promises to get you leaner, healthier, and add more years to your life? If you have, then chances are that you’ve delved into it a little (or a lot), in the hopes of learning how to eat like your much slimmer Japanese friends and neighbors. But if you haven’t heard of it at all, it’s essentially a commercially promoted weight loss diet modeled on the foods that were typically eaten by Okinawans before many of today's convenience foods were introduced.

Several decades ago, the Japanese Ministry of Health began to study older Okinawans, many of whom not only lived beyond the age of one hundred, but also lived relatively free of debilitating diseases. Intrigued by this phenomenon, a number of studies pursued, including one by researchers Bradley and Craig Willcox, and Makoto Suzuki. The results of their findings were eventually transformed into what is now known as the Okinawan Diet, or the Okinawan Program.

Adherents of the Okinawan Diet believe that they will be able to lose and maintain their weight, as well as improve their health and potentially add years to their lives. So what exactly is the Okinawan diet and how does one eat like an Okinawan? Check out the following Okinawa Diet Food Pyramid, and below that, some tips by

Compare with the USDA Food Pyramid to see how it differs

Step 1. Fill up on whole grains……such as brown rice bulgar, oats, barley and buckwheat. Aim to eat 8 to 10 servings of whole grains a day.

Step2. Try to eat a wide array of fruits and vegetables each day, choosing colorful ones that are rich in antioxidants. Popular fruit and vegetable choices in Okinawa are cabbage, sweet potatoes, watermelon, bean sprouts, bitter melon (goya), and carrots.

Step 3. Eat heart-healthy foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources include salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Other sources of omega-3s include flaxseed and walnuts. Monounsaturated vegetable oils are other good fats to incorporate into your diet. These healthy fats come from sources such as olive, flaxseed and canola oil - the latter of which is commonly used in Okinawan cooking.

Step 4. Say yes to soy foods. Soy has been shown to potentially lower one’s risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and breast and prostate cancers. 

Step 5. Include in your diet bone-building, calcium-rich foods such as calcium-fortified soy milk and tofu as well as leafy-green vegetables such as spinach, kale or broccoli. Orange juice fortified with calcium is another good choice.

Step 6. Get fluids into your system….drink plenty of water……Green tea, jasmine and oolong tea are rich in disease-fighting flavanoids. Miso soup is another good way to get healthy nutrients in liquid form.

Step 7. Adopt the “hara hachi bu” principle. It means that Okinawans stop eating when they’re 80% full, not stuffed.

So there you have it - the Okinawan Diet. Does it work? I don't know. But like the Mediterranean diet, it definitely offers some healthful tips and provides insight as to why some cultures have tended to enjoy longer and healthier lifestyles in generations past. And one thing is for sure, the Western diet is not doing any of us any favors when it comes to good health.

On a lighter note (no pun intended,) there is one final tip I'd like to leave you with, or rather a fun recommendation. Try taking the Blue Zones Vitality Compass test (

The Blue Zones represent five world-wide regions where people supposedly live the longest and healthiest lives (Okinawa is a blue-zone region). The Vitality Compass estimates how many years you can expect to live, as well as how many years you should live free of major diseases. I took the test myself, just for my own amusement, and even though I was neither shocked nor encouraged by the results, they have nevertheless given me something to think about, or should I say, more food for thought!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Running Form - Moving Your Body

Anna Boom

Moving Your Body:
Leaning tower of pizza :)

Years ago, I traveled through Italy. As goofy American tourists, we asked which train to take to get to the leaning tower of Pisa. The Italian train ticket person said indignantly, “Pizza?! No, no, no! We
have no Leaning Tower of Pizza.” And then laughed heartily at his own joke.

So nothing to do with pizza and everything to do with leaning, let's talk about running posture. Sometimes, I notice a female runner, very straight running up and down. I love that long lean look too but running this way may lead to back or other injuries. The force of coming down after pushing up may add extra stress on your joints. As runners, we want to avoid any extra stress on those important areas.

What is the correct form then? Looking at pros, you notice they glide along seemingly effortlessly. They all have straight back, shoulders back, big lungs, but are also leaning forward slightly.

Try this on your next run. Start walking. Then begin to lean your body forward and you pick up speed as your feet move under you to stop you from crashing to the ground. The amount of lean is up to you and what you feel comfortable with. As you begin to run faster, your lean will increase.

In CrossFit Endurance, we coach leaning from your ankles. You want your whole body going together, not bending at the waist. Your head should remain in the same plane, not bobbing up and down. You want to use gravity to your benefit to pull you forward and make you a faster runner. 

Try the lean on your next run. And don't forget the arm swing and cadence.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Running Form - Cadence

Anna Boom

Moving Your Body:
Pick up those feet!
Metronome - a device that produces regular, metrical beats or clicks , settable in beats per minute

Previously, I mentioned that as a running coach, I often get questions on running form. And now you know that I am hesitant to change another runner's form. It is because we each have developed our own style, unique to us as our personalities are. Running form takes in all the physical aspects: height, weight, skeletal build, that are you and only you.

Last time, I wrote about arm swing. I hope you got out and thought about your arm swing and that it will become a normal part of your form. This write up, let's talk cadence. This is one of the biggest pointers I work on with my clients.

Cadence is how quickly you pick up your feet. Pros are running anywhere from 180 footfalls per minute on up. Some have counts of over 200. From the beginning of their warm up all the way through the run, they maintain a fast, light foot and quick pickup.

For many of the rest of us, a quicker cadence will lead to faster times and possibly, fewer injuries: ( from )

...beginning and recreational runners typically have a cadence closer to 160, which Daniels says puts them at risk for injury because the longer strides necessitated by a slower cadence take runners higher off the ground. This in turn means that each footfall is harder, and many running injuries are associated with the shock of landing.

Faster times and less risk of injury, where do you sign up?! If you dare, take it to the tread mill. Yes, you may hate the treadmill. It may be the last thing you want to do in this glorious fall weather. But it will give you the opportunity to focus on one thing, counting foot falls. The track works too.

Set your timer for one minute. Then count the steps for your right foot. See how you do.

You strive for at least 90 right foot falls in that minute. This is a great tool to add to your warm up and cool downs. The more often you incorporate it into your training, the more comfortable you will feel, just as with the arm positioning. There are also music tracks you can find that have a BPM or beat per minute to help you keep those light fast feet flying.

Fast cadence, fast turnover, more ground covered in less time and waaalaaa, faster times. Yes, there are other components and it all works together so stay tuned, please!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Running Form - Arm Swing

Anna Boom

Moving Your Body
Swing those Arms!

As a running coach, I often get questions on running form. I am always hesitant to try and change another runner's form. Why is this? Because every single runner has developed her own style, her own running form and it is as unique as you are. It comes from the many different physical factors, such as height, weight, length of your legs and arms, skeletal build, etc. And it also started to develop from the moment you started running? Do you remember when that was? Me neither but it was long before I researched minimal shoes, which running skirt is best, or why to wear compression socks.
But there are a few pointers I wanted to share on how to be more efficient. Over the next weeks, I will write up some that you can take with you on your next run.
First, let's talk arms. Notice the picture I started with of Paula Radcliffe. Her elbows are bent about 90 degrees. Her hands are relaxed and lightly cupped ( I liken it to holding an egg, if you grip too hard, it's gonna break!). Her hands are high, near the bottom of her rib cage. As she begins running and her arms begin to swing, her hands should graze the bottom of her rib cage. As you run, to help propel your body forward, swing your arms. This momentum will help drive you forward. Your hands will lightly graze the bottom of your rib cage.
Notice this the next time you walk somewhere. As you walk, your opposite arm will swing forward (as long as you're not carrying anything). Use this natural body movement in your running too.
Keep from swinging across your body. You want to be moving forward, not to side to side.
On your next easy run day, try to think of this as you're running. It may feel awkward at first, as all changes do. This one small movement with help shift other parts of your running form too.
Let me know how you did!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Are you a Self-Competitive Runner?

Jannine Myers

Start of the Monster Mash Half Marathon - Oct 13th, 2012
Congratulations to all the Monster Mashers who got out there in the windy and slightly rainy weather last weekend! I'm not going to lie, that felt like one of the toughest half marathon courses I've done yet, although I'm not sure if it was because it was so hilly, or if I just hadn't trained well for it. Probably a combination of both.

My one consolation, thank goodness, is that I was already familiar with some parts of the route, having run all over Kadena Airbase on numerous occasions.  Also, I had done part of the course a few weeks earlier, to get some idea of what I might be in for. I remember thinking at the time that I would be a fool to run the race, given how I felt on that particular training day, and yet, there I was last weekend, standing at the start line wondering what on earth I was doing there!

What is it about races that they draw us to the start line, even when we are convinced that we'll stay away? I had been telling myself for several weeks that I would not run the Monster Mash Half Marathon - mainly because a) I hadn't been doing too well on some of my training runs, and b) I have only been logging on average, around 24 miles a week for the past six months or so (compared to previous training months where I would typically log a minimum of 30 miles a week).

So how did I end up at the start line then? Simple - I told myself I'd just run "for fun." Who was I kidding? Who runs a half marathon for fun? Or any race for that matter? Okay, okay, some of you actually do run races for fun, and I envy those of you who do. But there are many of you reading this, who like me, don't like to run a race without challenging yourself.

I don't see anything wrong with a little self-competitiveness, but when we know we haven't prepared well for a race, we need to be mindful of the potential to hurt ourselves if we set our sights too high. I'll be honest, I'm all about visualization and telling myself "I can....." but I also think that the scope of "I can" goals should be realistic. A good friend of mine helped reinforce that idea when she suggested that I treat the race as a "hard training run." It's funny how words can make all the difference, but somehow those few words appeased my A-type personality. Essentially, what she was saying, is that I could run hard without pushing beyond my current capability. But more importantly, I could still run hard without injuring myself.

Still, after much back and forth debating, right up until the morning of the race, it was a tough decision to make. Should I run, or should I not run? Finally, with the advice I had received, tucked away in the back of my mind, I made the choice to run, but not "race." Switching my goal from one which would have forced me to try and finish the race within an unrealistic amount of time, to one which instead allowed for me to run hard but finish comfortably, took an enormous amount of pressure off me. My adjusted goal still required me to "push myself," but within a safe parameter. The outcome, I imagined, probably wouldn't be great, but neither would it be disappointing.

My point, I guess, is that sometimes it pays to switch off the competitive button, and play it safe instead. With several other races lined up in the near future, was it really worth putting my body at risk just to try and chase another race PR that I already knew would not be possible? Definitely not!

Some races are worth putting out the all-or-nothing effort, but not all of them are. Practising a little self-restraint, and switching off that competitive button from time to time is not only good for the body, but good for a little character-building as well.

Waving to friends on my way to mile 5

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Road ID For Runners

Jannine Myers

It occurred to me the other morning, while running alone in the dark along some of the main roads near my home, as well as some of the narrowly-paved and unlit roads in my neighborhood, that it would be easy to trip over something unseen and seriously hurt myself. I think I may have considered this, because I had recently seen a Facebook post by a friend who, in the early hours of the morning, almost knocked himself out while shutting the hood of his car. I wasn't going to name names, but since you said it's okay Paul, I'll go ahead and tell your story.

Paul was in the carpark of the Foster Pool at 4:50am, ready to start his Masters swim workout, when he accidentally closed the hood of his car on top of his head. Anyone who knows Paul, knows that he has an unfortunate tendency to injure his head. But that's not where I was going (sorry Paul, couldn't resist); the point I was wanting to drive across, is that his injury (shown below), could have  been much worse. It's possible that an accident of this nature could have resulted in unconsciousness, and had that been the case, and no one was around to identify him, he would have been carried off to the hospital as "Mr Nobody."

My husband has often suggested to me that I carry some form of ID on me while running, and every time I have shrugged it off, with a sense of complacency that's fooled me into thinking I will never need it. In fact, the only time I ever carry ID on my runs with me, is if I know I will be running through one of the base gates. Otherwise it's either my water bottle and house key that leaves the house with me, or nothing at all.

But lately I've been thinking; would it really be so bothersome to carry some ID with me? Wouldn't it provide me (and my husband/family members), with a greater sense of security, knowing that I'll receive a much more expedient level of care if I did happen to wind up on the side of the road, in need of emergency medical attention?

So here's what I have decided - to purchase a RoadID wrist band:

If you think this might be a good idea for you too, please keep an eye on the WOOT/WOOP announcements, as the company, RoadID, has offered us a one-time 20% discount on any of their products. See the link below to their website:

Let's be safe out there on the roads!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Be Kind To Yourself - There's Only One You!

I received two great blog posts recently - one from former WOOT member (and previous contributor) Stephanie Ermel, and one from our regular contributor Anna Boom. The content and theme of both their messages is strikingly similar, so much so that I felt compelled to publish them together in one post.

Guest Contributor - Stephanie Ermel

As I go through this pregnancy, I’m constantly seeing how yogalosophy has taught me everything that I need to handle this period of growth and life in general. Today the importance of child’s pose was my lesson. In five years of being a yogi, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve taken child’s pose. I’ve never allowed myself to go there because it meant that I was tired, and tired was a sign of weakness and for quitters. How could I practice yoga and not honor my body – what yoga is 100% about?

Just because I can push harder, doesn’t always mean that I should. Throughout these early stages of pregnancy I find myself thinking about the mom who finished a marathon just hours before giving birth. “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I, all too often, allow myself to be robbed blind. Keep your eyes on your own mat – that’s one of the hardest lessons in both yoga and life and the reason why I often practice without contacts or glasses. If I can’t see others then I can focus on myself, the only person that really matters.

Not in a selfish way but in a self-loving way, I have to accept and love myself before I can honestly do the same for others and model that spirit for my future children. During exercise when I get tired, I push myself through it and as I grow this life in my belly, I find it challenging to listen to what my body is telling me. Yoga taught me that life’s not a competition, but then I channeled that competitive nature into making it a competition against myself. Now, I have to know that the person that I am today cannot be compared to the non-pregnant me nor the younger me. I will go back to who I was: strong, athletic, and competitive, after my babies are born - or maybe not. And if I never do, that’s okay.

I must learn to accept that maybe I won’t, maybe things won’t be the same ever again and ask myself, what will I think of myself then? Will I still love me, even if I “disappoint” myself? As much as life rewards aging with experience and wisdom, it also forces you to trade a few things in. I’ve watched some older women, who scrutinize every wrinkle and age spot, but fail to acknowledge the many wonderful attributes that they have gained in becoming older.

Competing with yourself may seem like a better alternative than competing with others but it’s really not that different because it too, can often lead to criticism. Criticizing and judging yourself leads to self-loathing and saying things to yourself that you would never say to others. There’s just not enough room or time in life to do that, and I must constantly remind myself that where I am and who I am right now is exactly right.

Setting higher goals and raising the bar are wonderful qualities to have but it is often a slippery slope to the misconception that perfection exists. It does not and if that’s your measuring stick, you will never be satisfied in life.

For another great read by Stephanie, visit the following link:

Anna Boom

When is the last time you hugged yourself?

In all our hard work: out running our daily workouts, logging the miles, training for the next race, when was the last time you were kind to yourself?

So many days, I find myself saying mean things about how I look or how I am running. Things I would never think, much less say, about anyone else. Have you found yourself in the same place, too?

I stumbled upon a good write up in Scientific American Mind magazine titled, Be Your Own Best Friend. It was light and easy and just what I needed to read at the moment.

Self compassion. It is treating yourself as you would treat a friend. When your girlfriend is having a rough time, would you take time out of your day to send her a kind email? Or take a moment to call her? Or even offer to go on a walk or run with her so that she can vent?

As we know, just a few words, a kind smile or a loving hug can make the difference in our day. So instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a hug, literally. That small gesture of compassion and support in a nonjudgmental way, will turn your heart around to be kind and help you achieve your goals.

Being compassionate to others is another way to promote it within yourself. When we help others, we get a jolt of feeling better about ourselves. Pretty amazing how that works, isn't it?

Contrary to what most of us believe, self criticism may give you the opposite from motivation. Think of you as a child; did you thrive on someone yelling at you and putting you down? It's more likely that when you were hugged and praised for trying, you would be willing to go out and try again.

The next time that mean little person pops into your head, give yourself a big hug. You can be your own Best Friend!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stress and Lack of Sleep May Contribute to Weight Gain

Anna Boom

How many days a week do you run or workout? How many calories do you burn during those runs? Do you ever wake up long before the rest of the house, or even the sun in order to get those extra miles in? Or maybe you stay up late, trying to get everything done before the next day begins.

Now, how many nights do you get adequate sleep? Currently that is set around 8 solid hours. And research is pointing to how sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.

What?! Seems unfair that waking up early so we can run can also be a reason that we gain weight, doesn't it?

Here is how it works: when we don't sleep enough, we put our bodies into a stress mode, in turn putting us into alarm mode, which makes us put out more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin (the enzyme produced by stomach lining cells that stimulate appetite). It also makes us decrease the output of satiety hormone, leptin (produced by fatty tissue and believed to regulate fat storage in the body) so we get hit both by being hungrier and also not feeling as satisfied.

There is also research into the taste of high calorie foods, when you are in alarm mode, as in they are tastier and you crave them.

And those late night fast food tv ads are just like the commercials they show on the kids channels--designed to bombard you with images that tell your brain how much you need that thing. A sleep deprived brain sees that and can't resist the high calorie quick energy fix. The average number of additional calories that sleep deprived people eat every day, compared to well rested is

So am I saying you skip the next 6AM WOOT run? No way! Instead, try and get to bed early the night before. Of all the work we put into improving ourselves, the easiest health improvement that gives huge benefits, is getting enough sleep. Dishes, laundry, picking up can wait til the morning. After our WOOT run, that is!


Anna raises an important point, and one which I'm sure has caused many of you to start calculating how many hours of sleep you're getting each night! Hormones are great, when everything's humming along nicely, but as you read above, they can also wreak havoc on our health (and weight) when we create scenarios that throw them off balance. And here's where the sleep-deprivation issue gets even drearier - add to that a life filled with excessive amounts of stress, and you're going to fire off yet another weight-inducing hormone; the stress hormone known as cortisol.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands when the body experiences elevated levels of stress. It's presence during stressful or dangerous situations is to provide extra energy (flight or fight response), and it does so by assisting other hormones in the breaking down of fats and carbohydrates. Energy stores are conserved through a loss of appetite, as our bodies enter a state of alertness.

Later however, when stress levels have returned to normal, cortisol appears again, but this time in an attempt to restore energy levels that may have been depleted during the threat response. The problem though, is that a noticeable increase in appetite will be experienced, even if little or no energy was expended. In other words, you may end up gaining weight that was never lost in the first place!

So, in summing up, the advice that Anna and I have for you is this:

  • Get a good night's sleep (as often as possible)
  • Continue to regularly exercise/run (with WOOT!!!)
  • Keep stress levels to a minimum (or at least, try to manage the stressful situations that you have some control over)

And one last thing to keep in mind - stress and lack of sleep also adversely affect how you look, feel, and act. Picture the mom who drops her kid/s off at school, still clothed in her pajamas, hair looking wild, and a clearly agitated look as she pulls away from the curb and glares at the driver who she just cut in front of. I don't know about you, but I kind of know that woman (I may even be that woman, occasionally) - and if I can help it, I'd like to stay clear of her!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shifting Goals May Be Necessary for the 40+ Female Runner

Jannine Myers

Years ago, when I worked as an administrative assistant at a fitness center, I used to admire the team of fitness instructors who worked at the center, and in particular, some of the older women who led and mentored the younger instructors. These women were highly motivated, incredibly strong, and extremely passionate about helping others to succeed. I loved these women, but secretly, I was also happy to be a young woman, still in my 20s, and still full of youth and vitality.

Today, in my, ahem, early 40s, I realize that I am now the "older" woman amongst my athletic peers (thankfully, I have several friends on my team - you know who you are!). I guess I never really thought about it before because I often feel like I'm still in my 20s. But regardless of how I feel, the fact remains that I am indeed in the middle phase of my life and whether I like it or not, I have to be willing to accept that a gradual decline in performance is inevitable.

In accepting that fact, I am also faced with one of two options: a) cry about it and be miserable, or b) continue to give my best effort and be happy with my results. Since I don't care too much for misery, I think I'll go with option "b" and keep slugging it out. And although it may be true that my best days (in terms of race PRs), are soon to be behind me, I'm happy to say that I have found another way to challenge myself.

Yale economist and marathon runner, Ray Fair, analyzed record running data to predict the rate at which our running ability deteriorates as we age. His research concluded that a steady rate of decline  occurs between ages 35 and 70 to 75, and a rapid decline occurs thereafter. The decline, according to Fair, takes place in the form of a decrease in time of  1% , for most people. For me, that equates to 2 minutes per year!

Curious to see if Fair's estimations have any shred of credibility, I entered my information in his online time predictor calculator:

And, sadly, his predictions seem accurate, at least in my case. I entered my best marathon time, and my age at the time of my PR, and according to his predictions, my race times would decrease by approximately 2 minutes every year thereafter. My second best marathon time, which was achieved just one year after my PR, guessed it, two minutes slower! Sigh.....

But that's okay, as I said above, I'm not one for wallowing about in self-pity. I can use this information in a positive way - here's how:

I read somewhere that many people tend to get a sense of satisfaction out of doing better at something than they are expected to. I can think of one example right off the bat which lines up with this statement. One of my running clients recently exceeded the requirements of a workout I had prescribed for her (she ran faster than the pace range I had set for her), and when she later gave me feedback, she said she saw the pace range set for her and couldn't help challenging herself to run just a little faster.

I think we all have an inherent desire to run "just a little faster," or run "just a little further." We're driven by a quiet but competitive spirit which urges us to continually try and beat the odds. And that's what I hope will push me to keep trying, rather than settle for mediocrity. Granted, I don't expect to keep beating my race times, especially since I'm no longer in that younger age bracket of runners, but I now have a time predictor model which I can use as a bar upon which to set my race goals. Or, if I'm daring, I can race against my predicted times and try to beat them.

But that's essentially my grand plan - the strategy I intend to employ as a means of warding off any negativity that aging tries to impose upon me. Yes, I may be past my prime, and my run times may in fact be getting slower, but I can still set goals and and I can still challenge myself. That's enough incentive for me to stay motivated and excited about running in my 40s and beyond.

And on a final and positive note, I also read recently that research conducted by the Cooper Institute revealed that a woman in her 40s who can run a mile in under 9 minutes, is considered "quite fit," and at less risk of developing heart disease in her later years. Conversely, a woman in her 40s who runs a mile in 12 or more minutes may have a higher risk of heart disease later in life. Fortunately for me, I fall into the former category - another reason to stay happy and excited about running!

Still happy to be running!

Incidentally, the research also showed that a woman in her 40s, who runs a mile in 12 minutes or more, can potentially improve her mile time and subsequently decrease her risk of heart disease.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Real Workout Starts When You Want to Stop

Jannine Myers

Last week Anna made some very valid points about forcing the body to keep going, even when your brain is screaming, "NOOOOOO!!!!" Recently, while out walking (and yes, you read that right, we were out "walking"), Anna and I talked about this whole concept of training the mind to "accept" new levels of pain and discomfort.

In Hokkaido, the extreme heat conditions caused Anna's brain to fire off a wave of warnings in a desperate attempt to shut down her body and force her to stop running. But, as Anna told us, she ignored the warnings and kept running. What happened? Did she pass out or collapse? No. Why? Probably because her brain was able to perceive a heightened level of tolerance and re-set it's danger threshold.

[Disclaimer: Before I go on, I just want to say that what Anna and I have discussed and what we have concluded in our own minds, is simply that! We are not offering professional or backed-up information, and nor are we saying that you should all continue running when you are in pain, or when you don't feel "right'." What we are saying however, is that we think it's possible to train ourselves to push through those really trying moments and come through successfully.]

I remember a friend once telling me, that in preparation for an ultramarathon she ran, she often went out on her training runs alone. She recalled one particular hike she did by herself, where she climbed the mountain behind her home and spent seven long hours doing so.

Some of you may have seen this picture already on our Woot Facebook page - this is the mountain behind my friend's home!
I asked her why she deliberately set out on long, solo runs and hikes by herself, and her response was, "Well, when you run an ultramarathon, you often find yourself running alone for long stretches at a time. If I don't train myself to feel comfortable in that type of situation, then how will I handle it on race day?" Of course, why hadn't I thought of that! Why had it not occurred to me that a well-rounded training regimen should also include some aspect of pyschological training?

While I'm no expert in "mind-training," and therefore unable to offer much advice in that area, I can however, provide for you some great insight on this topic, by four-time Kona Champion, Chrissy Wellington.The following is a compilation of some of my favorite excerpts (in no particular order) from her book, A Life Without Limits:

"You should maintain the same level of concentration in training as you would when racing. It’s no use imagining you will miraculously develop that focus on race day. It won’t happen, and you will have neglected a fundamental part of your program. You wouldn’t go into a race without any physical training, so why would you go in without any mental?"  

"There is a lot of repetitive activity in an athlete’s life…and you need to learn how to handle it. The best way of improving your capacity to endure boredom is to endure boredom. Spend time training on your own and challenge your mind to stay focused."

"In an endurance athlete’s life, pain is never far away. As pain is little more than conversation between your body and your brain, this is another reason why a fit mind is important. The brain is the master computer of the body. Even when we are working on the efficiency of the peripheral components - the legs, the arms, the butt cheeks - we can recruit the seat of all power to enhance the effectiveness of our work. It’s a question of testing limits. For a start, there’s the importance of keeping an open mind. The brain is programmed to protect us, and that can mean imposing limits on what it thinks we can or should do. Constantly push at those limits, because the brain can be way too cautious. Not too long ago I would have laughed if someone suggested I could do an iron man. Imagine if I had allowed that attitude to persist. It is up to each and every one of us to change the “I can’t” into “I can.”

"I am motivated above all by that little voice inside that urges me on to fulfill my potential. Everyone has that same voice in them somewhere, but many are too scared to listen to it, too scared to try, too scared of failure. That fear is immobilizing, but it is also our own personal construct and therefore doesn’t exist in reality. Never imagine anything is impossible, and never stop trying out new things."

"The brain is constantly trying to impose limits on what it thinks it can achieve. We should constantly question it, fight it. That means enduring pain. …Not the mechanical kind, which warns us that something has broken down - but the pain that is our brain’s way of telling us it doesn’t like how hard we are working. …This is not gratuitous masochism. This is a very real process of refinement going on. You are not just working your muscles and lungs, you are working your brain to learn to accept each new level of exertion as something that can be endured safely. The brain will try to dig it’s heels in. Eventually it will prevail, because of course, there ARE limits. Having a sense of what really is too much is always crucial. The key is to push that point back as far as possible. The interface between the conservative and ambitious impulses in the brain should be a front of continual struggle. And remembering the pain of previous sessions or races we have successfully endured gives us the confidence to go through it again, and the evidence to present to the brain that we are capable of handling it."

Remember ladies, the real workout starts when you want to stop!