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Category: BLOG

Challenge the Stigma: Why Medication-Assisted Weight Loss Unlocks your Optimal Health

Recently I’ve added medication-assisted weight loss to my practice as a Nurse Practitioner, which has caused a bit of a ripple effect as some perceive this treatment as “taking the easy way out”. Achieving and maintaining an ideal body weight is not just about aesthetics; it plays a crucial role in overall health and well-being.

With the rising prevalence of obesity and its associated health risks, it’s more important than ever to understand the benefits of a healthy weight and the tools available to help achieve it, such as medication-assisted weight loss and lifelong wellness tourism programs, such as We Run the States.

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While lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet and regular exercise are foundational for weight loss, medication-assisted weight loss can be an effective adjunct for those who struggle to achieve their weight goals through lifestyle modifications alone. I’ve heard all too many times as a provider, the individuals who have tried the diet fads, calorie restrictions and ‘all the things’ and still struggle with weight.

With all the benefits of an ideal body weight, why is there still such a stigma in utilizing medication? This stigma often prevents individuals from seeking help and achieving their weight loss goals. It’s time to challenge these misconceptions and recognize that medication-assisted weight loss is a legitimate, effective, and medically supervised approach to managing obesity.

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Medication-assisted weight loss involves the use of FDA-approved medications that help reduce appetite, increase feelings of fullness, or decrease the absorption of fat. These medications can make it easier for individuals to stick to a calorie-restricted diet and achieve significant weight loss.

For many individuals, combining medication with lifestyle changes leads to greater weight loss compared to lifestyle changes alone. This can be especially beneficial for those with a significant amount of weight to lose or those with obesity-related health conditions.

Here are just a few of the benefits of medication-assisted weight loss.

weight loss
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases
    • Excess body weight can lead to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and increased cholesterol levels, all of which are risk factors for these conditions.
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health
    • Heart disease being the leading cause of Mortality in the United States.
  • Enhanced mobility and joint health
    • excess weight causing joint and back pain, contributing to poor quality of life, particularly in the older adult.
  • Better Mental Health
    • Maintaining a healthy weight can boost self-esteem, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve overall mood and energy levels.
  • Improved Sleep Quality
    • Obesity is closely linked to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

By working with healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive, personalized weight loss plan, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being, leading to a happier, healthier life. Cultivating a culture of empathy and support is crucial. Understanding that each individual’s weight loss journey is unique can foster a more supportive environment, free from judgment and bias.

It’s time to recognize and respect the medication-assisted weight loss role in the fight against obesity.

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Clean Eating Articles

The last Baked Chicken Recipe you’ll ever need

The votes are in, this baked chicken recipe is hands down the most consistent, flavorful recipe you’ll ever find. Baked chicken is a low-calorie, high-protein food, which can help you feel full and satisfied without consuming excessive calories. Protein is known to increase satiety, helping to control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake. Incorporating baked chicken into your meals can therefore be an effective strategy for weight loss or weight maintenance.


The protein in baked chicken contains amino acids that are essential for the production of collagen and keratin, which are crucial for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Additionally, the selenium found in chicken helps protect skin cells from damage caused by free radicals, promoting a youthful and healthy appearance.

Easy and Versatile

One of the great benefits of baked chicken is its simplicity and versatility in the kitchen. It can be seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices to suit different tastes without adding unhealthy ingredients. You can pair it with a wide range of vegetables to create balanced, nutrient-rich meals that support your overall health.

Chicken is High in Protein, Low in Fat

Baked chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for muscle repair, growth, and overall body function. A 3-ounce serving of baked chicken breast provides about 26 grams of protein and only 2-3 grams of fat, making it a fantastic choice for those looking to build muscle or maintain a healthy weight.

Clean Eating Essentials

In addition to protein, baked chicken is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of B vitamins, such as niacin (B3), which supports metabolism and energy production, and vitamin B6, which is crucial for brain development and function. Chicken also provides important minerals like phosphorus and selenium, which help maintain bone health and support the immune system, respectively.

Our family uses this recipe almost weekly, and the kids devour it every time! So, next time you’re planning your menu, consider making baked chicken the star of your meal!

The last Baked Chicken Recipe you’ll ever need

Recipe by werunthestates


Cooking time





Tried and true, this recipe will give you consistent, moist chicken every time. Loved by the whole family, a variety of spices can also turn this recipe into any versatile meal your heart desires.


  • 4 Lean Boneless, Skinless Chicken breast

  • Kosher salt (for brine)

  • Olive oil for cooking

  • Assortment of Spices (salt, pepper, garlic powder)


  • Brine the meat- Don’t miss this step! It makes all the difference in the world. Even if just for 15 minutes, brine the chicken in lukewarm water and kosher salt, ideally for a couple hours.
  • Rinse and Pat dry. Brush with Olive oil and apply seasonings (SO many options of seasonings) salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika.
  • Cook on high heat at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. (making sure chicken has reached 165 degrees F)
  • Let chicken rest 5-10 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and let rest. This is a great opportunity to set the table or finish side dishes.
  • Enjoy! (Like & Share)
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Inspiring feat: Double the Distance Half Marathon challenge

For avid runners looking for an exciting weekend run the states challenge, running a back-to-back half marathon through the midwest offers a perfect blend of athletic accomplishment and travel adventure. This itinerary not only provides the thrill of completing two races in two different states but also the opportunity to explore the unique charm and attractions of both cities. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of this exhilarating weekend.

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Day 1: Holland, Michigan Park to Park half marathon

Race Day Highlights

Start your weekend in the picturesque city of Holland, Michigan, renowned for its Dutch heritage and beautiful waterfront. The Park to Park Half Marathon offers a scenic route along Lake Michigan and through the city’s quaint neighborhoods.

Where to Stay
  • Courtyard by Marriott Holland Downtown: Conveniently located near the starting line, this hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations.
  • Race Day Highlights

    Start your weekend in the picturesque city of Holland, Michigan, renowned for its Dutch heritage and beautiful waterfront. The Park to Park Half Marathon offers a scenic route along Lake Michigan and through the city’s quaint neighborhoods.

    Where to Stay

    • Courtyard by Marriott Holland Downtown: Conveniently located near the starting line, this hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations.

    Where to Eat

    • Deboer Bakkerij: A perfect pre-race breakfast spot, offering a variety of Dutch pastries and hearty breakfast options.
    • Butch’s Dry Dock: Ideal for a post-race meal, this restaurant offers an extensive menu with local and international dishes, along with a great selection of wines and beers.

    Things to Do

    • Windmill Island Gardens: Home to a 250-year-old working Dutch windmill, this is a must-visit for a taste of Holland’s heritage.
    • Holland State Park: Relax and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Michigan, or take a leisurely walk along the beach.
    • Tulip Time Festival (if visiting in May): Experience vibrant tulip displays and traditional Dutch performances.

    Day 2: Chicago, Illinois Lifetime Chicago half marathon

    half marathon

    Travel Tips

    After completing the Holland Half Marathon, head to Chicago, a bustling metropolis with a rich cultural scene. The drive from Holland to Chicago is approximately 2.5 hours, giving you ample time to rest and prepare for the next race. The road trip drive also gives you plenty of time to create a fun dance and car ride karaoke along the way!

    Race Day Highlights

    The Lifetime Chicago Half Marathon often takes runners through scenic routes including Lake Shore Drive, offering stunning views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline. The race is well-organized, with enthusiastic crowd support and plenty of hydration stations.

    Where to Stay

    • Sable at Navy Pier Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton: Staying at the Sable at Navy Pier ensures that you’re in the heart of the action, with easy access to the pier’s attractions, dining, and entertainment, as well as being close to many of Chicago’s other iconic landmarks.

    Where to Eat

    • For a dining experience with breathtaking views from one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, head to the Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock Center. Known for its upscale American cuisine and stunning panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan. One tip is to Make a reservation to secure a window table for the best views, especially around sunset or at night when the city lights up.
    • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: You can’t miss the Chicago deep dish pizza! It’s almost like a lasagna-pizza-gooey-cheesiness dish!

    Things to Do

    • Millennium Park: Home to the iconic Cloud Gate (The Bean) sculpture, this park is a great place for a post-race stroll.
    • Navy Pier: Enjoy stunning lake views, ride the Ferris wheel, or explore the various shops and eateries.
    • Art Institute of Chicago: One of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, perfect for a cultural afternoon.
    • The Magnificent Mile: Indulge in some retail therapy at Chicago’s premier shopping district.

    Tips for Back-to-Back Races

    1. Hydrate and Refuel: Ensure you stay well-hydrated and consume enough protein and fiber to sustain your blood sugar between races.
    2. Rest and Recover: Take advantage of the travel time to rest your legs. Consider light stretching or a massage to aid recovery.
    3. Pace Yourself: Remember, running back-to-back races is a test of endurance. Pace yourself accordingly to avoid burnout.

    Running back-to-back half marathons in Holland and Chicago is not just a test of physical endurance but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique experiences both cities have to offer. From the serene beauty of Holland to the vibrant energy of Chicago, this weekend adventure promises unforgettable memories and a sense of incredible achievement. Happy running!

    we run the states

    Sleep is the unsung hero of athletic performance

    Sleep is an essential component of our lives, yet it remains one of the most enigmatic phenomena of human existence. We spend roughly one-third of our lives asleep, and the quality of our sleep profoundly impacts our physical health, mental well-being, and overall athletic capabilities. While many focus on the miles logged and the intensity of workouts, the often-overlooked pillars of recovery and sleep play pivotal roles in achieving peak performance. After a grueling training session or race, your muscles need time to repair and rebuild.

    Recovery isn’t merely the period of time between runs; it’s an active process that allows your body to adapt and grow stronger. In Las Vegas, NV I had never practiced running a long run at night, despite signing up for “run the strip at night”! It never occurred to me that running 13.1 miles at 5pm would be any different than running 13.1 miles at 7am.

    Let’s delve into the intricate workings of sleep, exploring its stages, the role of brain chemicals and how lifestyle choices, such as alcohol and caffeine consumption, can influence our rest cycle. Moreover, we’ll discuss practical tools and strategies to enhance sleep hygiene, promoting better sleep quality and overall endurance running performance.

    Stages of Sleep

    Sleep is a complex process characterized by distinct stages, each serving a unique function in the restoration and regulation of bodily functions. The sleep cycle consists of two main types: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

    NREM Sleep:

    • Stage 1: This is the transition phase between wakefulness and sleep, characterized by light sleep. Muscle activity decreases, and brain waves begin to slow down.
    • Stage 2: During this stage, eye movements cease, and brain wave activity further slows down. The body prepares for deep sleep.
    • Stages 3 and 4: Also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS) or deep sleep, these stages are crucial for physical restoration, growth, and repair. Brain waves exhibit slow, synchronized patterns, and it’s often challenging to awaken someone during this phase.

    REM sleep is characterized by rapid eye movements and vivid dreaming. The brain has increased activity, often more activity than when you’re awake! This stage is essential for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation. The brain uses dreams to try to solve problems that you otherwise can’t solve during logical, awake hours. This is why you may get a ‘polka-dotted elephant wearing a tie’, or some other unusual scenario as your brain tries to solve puzzle pieces. Consider REM sleep your overnight therapy.

    the Circadian Rhythm

    The regulation of sleep-wake cycles, also called your circadian rhythm, is influenced by various factors, including sleep pressure and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as adenosine and melatonin.

    • Adenosine: Throughout the day, the build-up of adenosine, a byproduct of cellular metabolism, creates sleep pressure, signaling the body’s need for rest. Caffeine works by blocking adenosine receptors, temporarily counteracting this sleep-inducing effect. That morning cup of coffee is crucial to many runners, but beware not to consume caffeine afternoon, otherwise you may disrupt your sleep pressure.
    • Melatonin: Often referred to as the “sleep hormone,” melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in response to darkness, helping to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

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    How to Improve your sleep nightly

    Developing healthy sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene, is essential for achieving restorative sleep. Here are some practical tools to improve your nightly sleep ritual.

    1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock.
    2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities such as reading (on paper book if possible), meditation, or gentle stretching to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.
    3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to support restful sleep. Your body drops 1-2 degrees as you fall to sleep, so keeping a cool environment is crucial.
    4. Limit Screen Time Before Bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime.
    5. Be Mindful of Dietary Choices: Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime, opting instead for light, sleep-promoting snacks like herbal tea or warm milk.

    Improved recovery and sleep leads to faster adaptation, allowing you to increase training volume and intensity over time. So, the next time you lace up your running shoes, remember: the road to half marathon greatness is paved with equal parts sweat, rest, and rejuvenating sleep.

    The BEST itinerary in Bali: A Romantic Luxury Retreat

    Welcome to the enchanting island of Bali, where lush jungles, cascading waterfalls, and ancient temples await your exploration. Here’s the perfect Romantic getaway for a one week mesmerizing journey uncovering the hidden gems of this tropical paradise.

    For a quick rundown, check out this Youtube video of your week in Bali!

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    Ubud, Bali: Where Nature and Culture Collide

    monkey forest

    Our adventure begins in Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. Immerse yourself in the mystical ambiance of the Ubud Monkey Forest. Where cheeky macaques roam freely amidst ancient temples and towering trees. As you wander through the forest, be sure to capture unforgettable moments with these playful creatures. The monkey’s are welcome to come to you; however do NOT make eye contact with them! Definitely a bit intimidating.

    Next up, the famous rice terraces. The story of Bali’s rice terraces dates back over a thousand years to the 9th century; when the Balinese people began practicing wet rice cultivation. With the island’s volcanic soil and abundant rainfall, rice farming became the backbone of Bali’s economy and culture. One of the most iconic rice terraces in Bali is the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, located just north of Ubud. While the exact origins of these terraces are unclear, they are believed to have been built by the ancient Balinese Hindus; who developed sophisticated irrigation systems to harness water from nearby rivers and streams.

    Over the centuries, Balinese farmers perfected the art of terrace farming, carving intricate patterns into the landscape to maximize space and water efficiency. These terraces not only provided sustenance for the local population, moreover served as a source of spiritual inspiration. Many rice farmers incorporate rituals and offerings into their daily farming practices.

    rice terrace

    Ubud’s waterfalls and culture experiences

    Before we bid farewell to Ubud, we’ll pay a visit to a Bali’s waterfalls and traditional coffee plantation. Kopi Luwak coffee, also known as civet coffee, is one of the world’s most unique and sought-after brews. What sets it apart is its unusual production process, which involves the Asian palm civet, a small, cat-like mammal native to Indonesia, feasting on ripe coffee cherries in the wild. The civet’s digestive enzymes interact with the coffee beans during digestion, altering their chemical composition and imparting unique flavors to the beans; After being excreted by the civet, the beans are carefully collected from the feces, thoroughly cleaned, and then roasted to perfection.

    Bali Travel Essentials

    You read that right, you drink coffee from beans that have been eaten and pooped out by a cat! Although timid, I did in fact partake in sipping Kopi Luwak coffee. We had purchased nearly every coffee and tea to give as gifts to family and friends, because they were so incredible, but unfortunately left our bag of goodies along our journey somewhere! Along the road to your next stop, add an unforgettable sunrise hike to Mount Batur, and then continue to the best part of the trip, Sidemen.

    Sidemen, Bali: A Sanctuary for the Soul

    Leaving the bustling streets of Ubud behind, venture into the serene landscapes of Sidemen, a hidden gem nestled amidst lush rice terraces and towering mountains. I can’t repeat this enough, DO NOT MISS SIDEMEN when visiting Bali!!

    wapa di ume, sidemen

    THE. BEST. HOTEL we have ever been to, (and so far I’m convinced the best hotel in the world) is Wapa Di Ume, Sidemen. Retreat to this luxurious sanctuary where you can indulge in meditation classes and unwind in your private infinity pool overlooking the lush jungle canopy. Let the soothing sounds of nature lull you into a state of tranquility as you bask in the beauty of Bali. One million percent recommend.

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    Nusa Penida: A Paradise Untouched

    Our journey continues as we set sail for the pristine shores of Nusa Penida, a secluded island paradise just a short boat ride from Bali. Explore Angel’s Billabong and Kelingking Beach, where towering cliffs meet crystal-clear waters in a breathtaking display of natural beauty. Be careful, it’s a sharp cliff off the side (we lost our drone case and batteries to the cliff below!)


    For the adventurous souls, snorkeling with majestic manta rays awaits. Dive beneath the surface and encounter these graceful creatures in their natural habitat, an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the island.

    Canggu, Bali: Where Surf and Serenity Collide

    Our final stop brings us to the laid-back coastal town of Canggu near the airport, where surfers ride the waves against a backdrop of stunning sunsets. Spend your days soaking up the sun on pristine beaches, exploring vibrant markets, and indulging in delicious cuisine at beachfront cafes.

    As the sun sets on our unforgettable journey through Bali, we’ll bid farewell to this island paradise and make our way back home to the states, carrying with us memories of adventure, serenity, and the unparalleled beauty of Bali.

    Until next time, Bali. Terima kasih and safe travels!

    we run the states

    How to use brain chemicals to improve running and reduce anxiety

    Running a half marathon is an exhilarating experience that challenges both the mind and body. While physical training and endurance play crucial roles in completing this feat, another critical factor often goes overlooked: neuroscience. The intricate network of neurotransmitters in our brain greatly influences our performance during long-distance running and helps reduce anxiety. Let’s explore the impact of neurotransmitters on running a half marathon and shed light on how understanding their functions can enhance our training and race-day experiences.

    1) Endorphins – Our Natural Performance Enhancer:

    Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and mood boosters, released during intense exercise such as running. These neurotransmitters not only reduce pain perception but also create a state of euphoria, commonly referred to as “runner’s high.” Increased endorphin levels have been associated with improved endurance, decreased fatigue, heightened motivation, and increased tolerance for discomfort.

    2) Dopamine – Fueling Motivation:

    Dopamine is known as the “reward” neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation. During a half marathon run, dopamine helps maintain focus by rewarding small achievements along the way. By setting smaller goals throughout the race (such as reaching each mile marker), runners can trigger dopamine release to stay motivated mentally.

    3) Serotonin – Regulating Mood & Confidence:

    Serotonin plays an essential role in maintaining mood balance within our brain. As physical exertion increases during a half marathon, serotonin production is boosted significantly. My physical exertion was particularly high while pushing a double stroller in Vacation Race’s Grand Teton half marathon, but that race was the most rewarding to date. Higher serotonin levels contribute to elevated mood states that improve mental resilience against stress and fatigue while fostering self-confidence.

    4) GABA – Reducing Anxiety & Stress:

    Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for calming neural activity within our brains. During long-distance running events like marathons or half marathons, GABA helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, enabling runners to achieve a more relaxed and focused state of mind. This neurotransmitter aids in warding off negative thoughts or self-doubt, thus improving overall performance.

    5) Norepinephrine – Boosting Alertness & Concentration:

    Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with focus, attention, and alertness. During a half marathon run, norepinephrine is released in response to the physical exertion, heightening mental clarity and focus. This heightened concentration reduces stress by allowing runners to make split-second decisions necessary for maintaining pace and navigating the racecourse effectively.

    Understanding how neurotransmitters affect running performance can significantly enhance our approach to training for a half marathon. By tapping into the power of endorphins to boost endurance or utilizing dopamine as motivation fuel, athletes can optimize their mental state during training sessions and reduce anxiety on race day. Additionally, balancing serotonin levels helps maintain positive moods throughout the journey while GABA mitigates anxiety-inducing thoughts.

    To succeed in running long-distance events like a half marathon requires not only physical strength but also mental fortitude. Harnessing the power of neurotransmitters through proper training techniques can help runners conquer challenges that may arise during races. As we deepen our understanding of how these brain chemicals influence our performance, we unlock new avenues for personal growth both within sports and beyond.

    Next stop, Too cold to hold half marathon in Austin, TX!

    we run the states

    How Meditation takes the Pain out of hard running

    This blog post took me a long time to write, more than two months actually. From the start I knew exactly what I wanted to say- how important meditation is for running- but I couldn’t find the words. Like most Americans, meditative practice does not come easy for me. I wasn’t raised to routinely get out of bed, brush my teeth and meditate. It takes practice. And I think that’s why this post was so hard for me to write. As much practice and repetition as running has taken me to get a personal record, and as much practice meditation takes to quiet my mind; Writing for a blog takes a lot of practice too. So here’s my attempt. 🙂

    I think we’ve all hit that running pain threshold before. You’re out on a long run, with a set distance in mind. Half way through your run, you start to endure pain. For me in particular, it’s a sheering pain on the lateral (outside) aspect of my right knee. Ouch! This knee pain happens every run over 8 miles for me, and I’ve come to expect the pain, even after ten years of running! I know it’s not an injury because the pain passes shortly after finishing my run. But meditation has taught me to shift my focus and lessen the pain. Let’s start with how to practice meditation.

    group yoga and meditation in Bali

    Learning how to meditate

    I set myself up for meditation like a newborn novice always imagined this practice would go. By sitting in a still-water hot tub, with my thumb touching pointer finger, Legs crossed in a pretzel and gently close my eyes. I start the meditative practice with a humble “Oooooommmm” – long on the exhale- and chuckle. “I must look like a real hippy,” I think, “hopefully I don’t get caught. That would be embarrassing.”

    Although slightly embarassed, I continue meditating because I strongly desire the benefits meditation has promised for running improvements.

    I then start on breath work. Slow inhale, counting in my head to One. Slow exhale, sighing with my mouth slightly open. count to Two. Again, One…. two. It’s now that I finally notice how uncomfortable I am. My shoulders are slouched. This puts a twinge of pain between my shoulder blades. There’s a bead of sweat on my forehead from the heat. “Maybe this serene hot tub was not as ideal as I had imagined“, I think.

    Our newborn goats are bleating in the background and I wish they would be quieter. ‘Can’t they see I’m trying to meditate here?’ I peek one eye open, making the movement sly, as if I’m cheating in Jr. high science by glancing around the propped up folder. There’s nobody around to catch me, I’m only cheating my own practice. With a side glance, one eye open, I look at the clock. It’s been two minutes. A measly two minutes and my mind has already wandered. I feel like I’m failing at mediation entirely, and that I’ll never get it right.

    meditating in Bali

    Meditation snaps us out of autopilot and into awareness.

    I need more meditative practice, I think. Let’s try again. I close my eyes once more and start a slow, steady breath in. It’s very intimate to feel all of your senses. The goats continue to wail in the background, but I’m able to dim them. I hear the echoing of the black-capped chickadee bird whistling three syllables, which has an uncanny consistency sounding like “cheese-bur-ger”. The wind has a very soft rustle through the fir trees close to me that carries a breeze to caress my cheek and cool me down. This gently pushes that bead of sweat from my brow to my raised cheekbone.

    During meditative practice, this uncomfortable perspiration is no longer irritating, rather comforting.

    sweat is my body’s automatic protective measure to keep me cool. I am grateful for that salt-filled bead of sweat and resist the urge to wipe it away. I’ve always been dependent on sight as my primary sense. But during this meditation, my other senses flourish. The smell of fresh cut grass fills my brain, and although I know the grass was recently mowed, with this sense of smell I can now “see it”. The fragrance is clean, almost moist and reminds me summer is ending and Fall is drawing nearer. “Don’t forget to plant your winter squash”, my mind reminds me.

    The chatter from my mind has wandered back into my meditative practice. I smile, acknowledge the thought and push it right back to the background. This is normal, and my todo list can wait.

    I focus on breath work through the body. What is the purpose of breath work and it’s profound presence in the meditative practice? Slow, long inhale in, through slightly flared nostrils. The air is slightly chilled as the morning fog is clearing. I am deeply grateful for the hot tub water that warms me now. Inhale, One. My abdomen billows with air and my diaphragm expands my rib cage and my shoulders, that are no longer slouched. There is still a twinge of pain between my shoulder blades. The pain is neither good nor bad- simply present- like the rest of my body.

    meditation for running
    Meditation takes the pain out of running

    Recognizing the pain in endurance running

    During endurance running we anticipate pain. Whether you are pushing your pace for a faster personal record, or pushing for a further distance, pain ensures. Meditation allows us to snap out of running in autopilot and zoom out our perception of that pain. This gives us a ‘birds eye’ awareness into what you are actually experiencing. You are able to objectively tell yourself, ‘There is pain here right now’. This is the raw data that also assures you, ‘this pain will not last forever’.

    During both meditative practice and endurance running, a strategy to lessen your pain will be to use the acronym,


    Recognize the emotion.

    Running is hard, recognize that you are doing hard things! Pain is part of the living process. And It’s a normal process, to warn our bodies something may be causing harm. Recognizing you have pain allows you to tell yourself, “yes, you have knee pain, and this too shall pass”.

    Allow life to be, just as it is.

    After acknowledging that your pain is present during the run, accept this emotion is how you feel right now. Even if that feeling is unwelcome. Allowing your emotion towards pain gives you the space to create power over, and freedom from the pain.

    Investigate with self compassion.

    What does that running pain feel like? Narrow your focus. For me, my right knee generally begins to hurt after mile 8. This pain is on the outside portion of my right knee and has a dull ache. It will slowly radiate to my right hip and I am keenly aware how I could spend more time focusing on stretching my hips and foam rolling my IT band after my run. Thankfully this knee pain is not a prolonged injury.


    This is where your meditative practice is able to take the pain out of running. Pain is part of the living process, suffering does not have to be. When you’re able to view the pain in running as a passing event and temporary, it softly dissipates. My knee aches while running a half marathon, but all the other participants of the same race are also enduring pain as well. Perhaps in different locations in their body, but this pain is not fixed within you, and this pain shall pass.

    (*Knee disclaimer* I feel it’s very important to emphasize running does not cause ‘bad knees’ with age. This is a very common misconception. I have knee pain because I neglect other aspects of running that are so important, mainly stretching my hips. In fact, running actually strengthens the knees and prevents osteoarthritis. By regularly running, the weight bearing exercise brings more fluid to the joints to keep them lubricated. This benefits your joints and overall health. This post is a reminder to myself to incorporate yoga into my running practice.)

    Using RAIN during endurance runs has helped my mindset tremendously. My thought process has shifted from, “this hurts, I can’t finish” to an appreciation of how strong my body has become through training for half marathons. I hope you’re able to use this tool to improve your running performance.

    we run the states

    Well, after two months I’ve posted! Let me know any way I can improve the way I presented meditation, running endurance or my writing!

    Decade of glorious Running: How to travel each state racing Half Marathons

    Neural bias is the concept that, most people have a skewed idea of their accomplishments over time. If I ask you, How much do you expect to change in the next 10 years? Likely many will answer, ‘probably not much’. However if I reflect the same question, How much have you changed over the past 10 years? your answer will likely be, A LOT. In my case, 10 years from now, I still anticipate to be on a journey to travel each state racing half marathons, practicing as a nurse practitioner, and raising my kids; I don’t expect much to change. I originally read a decade of running from Runningtotravel. And what perfect timing it is to review, as I ran my first race exactly ten years ago…

    2012 San Francisco, CA

    I had zero experience running. The furthest I had ever run was the one-mile that was enforced in high school as part of the P.E. program. Even that one mile, (way back in 2004, may I add) was a slow jog walk. Still to this day, I don’t know what enticed me to run my first half marathon. My best friend was interested in the idea of running a race, and generally you tend to follow characteristics of those closest to you. So we both thought, why not?

    If other people could run a half marathon, we could too.

    So we signed up for Diva’s San Francisco half marathon. I don’t remember much else about that first race except, I never had any intention of signing up for another race ever again. That one run was supposed to be a one-time deal. Accomplish the goal, and then move on. Well we finished that race with a high five across the finish line! and the running itch began to travel each state.

    2013 Humboldt Redwoods, CA & Puerto Rico

    So what do you do when you feel on top of the world accomplishing your first half marathon? You got it, sign up for something bigger and better. Avenue of the Giants Marathon. This time we actually had intention of training properly for our endevour. This was before we had kids- or many responsibilities- so most of our time was centered around running. We trained up to 20 consecutive miles in Lake Tahoe elevation and felt pretty darn prepared to rock our first full marathon.

    Let’s put it this way, this was my first and Only Full marathon. The mind grows weary after that many miles. After mile 23 my body and mind were both exhausted and I stopped pushing. I did finish the race, coming in over 5 hours. But this full marathon taught me to travel each state for half marathon’s as they are more more my vibe.

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    Avenue of the Giants Marathon

    I haven’t written much about running Diva’s Puerto Rico half marathon, but it was definitely worth the adventure. I was 11 weeks pregnant with my first child and had a shirt made for the announcement. Unfortunately, my luggage didn’t make the connection flight and I was left running in somebody else’s clothing and shoes. Add some pregnancy nausea, vomiting every mile along the course, and a downpour of rain; needless to say this was not my favorite run. I ended up sleeping 36 hours straight after the race, only waking long enough to take a sip of water and vomit. Running a half marathon pregnant was a lot harder than I expected.

    2014 Las Vegas, NV Running the strip at night

    Running the Las Vegas strip at night is an experience like no other. It really is magical to feel like the center of attention in one of the most iconic cities in America.

    This happens to be one of my worst running experiences to date. I was definitely not used to running at night, and being sleep deprived as a new 5-month postpartum mom, I did not prepare accordingly. I had expected a hot desert night so I wore shorts and a tank. And to my surprise, the night started spitting out snow! I also had expected food options at the venue and there were none once you entered the gates. So I started this run after 12 hours fasting. I crossed the finish line nearly crying in pain and cold, and my husband had to carry me back to our hotel. There was no celebrating on the Vegas strip for us that night.

    2015 Sisters, OR

    Sisters, OR is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to go back and visit. I believe that is one of the most amazing parts of this We Run the States journey, to discover all the beauty America has to offer. Jenn and I made a road trip up to Oregon, belting 2000’s hits with the radio the entire way, of course.

    This was a trail run entirely downhill. I pushed my pace a little too hard in the beginning, hoping to break the under 2 hour mark that I had not trained for. The last mile was grueling and I planned to frown across the finish line.

    The announcer read my name, “Laura Orange…. Orange you glad you came to Sisters?” The innocence of the joke made me laugh and the photographer caught me smiling across the finish.

    2016 no travel to a new state

    Do you ever wish you could jump in the dolorian time machine from back to the future and do something over? I did not run a half marathon in 2016. (insert sad face here). I am quite disappointed this is the only year I did not run a half marathon over the past decade, (In 2021 I ran FOUR different states.) But this year also taught me a HUGE lesson, that running all 50 states is a JOURNEY. Reflecting back, it actually makes sense I chose not to run this year. I was pregnant, with a busy two year old, while also working as a labor and delivery nurse and finishing my graduate program as a Nurse practitioner. To say my hands were full was an understatement. Throughout this journey I have learned to give myself some grace.

    The next half of the decade in review coming shortly!

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    What to eat during a Marathon for a Strong Finish

    Avoiding the “bonk” during your marathon

    To set the scene, we’ve just run 23.1 out of 26.2 miles in the beautiful Avenue of the giants, redwoods of California, Marathon. We’ve trained for this day, and now our performance will reflect all our hard work. All that was left was 3.1 miles to finish. A 5K, (Which in marathon training) I was confident I could complete in my sleep.

    Throughout the course we’ve stopped at each aid station for a quick sip of water and even sampled an energy gummy pack at the aid station. Energy gummy’s that other ‘more experienced runners’ had raved about. But our fueling for this marathon was ill-prepared. We did not pack any water, electrolytes or energy supplements for the run. I “hit a wall” at mile marker twenty-three and had to walk the last three miles of my race. I did not yet know what to eat during a marathon for peak performance.

    Although I was extremely grateful to finish the race, I was disappointed in my performance. I had not anticipated that on average,

    Runner’s burn through about 100 calories per mile.

    That’s about 2,600 calories consumed in a marathon, and greater than the average daily recommended caloric intake! Although I thought we had prepared appropriately (with a carb loaded spaghetti and garlic bread dinner the night before) we needed much more fuel to sustain energy before, during and after our marathon for a strong finish.

    What to eat before marathon (1-2 hours before run)

    Half and Full marathons generally start at sunrise to beat the mid-morning heat. With an anticipated 7 am start time, you should be waking no later than 5 am to begin your fueling. Anticipate 1-2 hours before your run starts and focus on simple carbohydrates.

    Carbs are the easiest source of energy for the body to convert to glucose

    Glucose is needed to fuel your brain and muscles. Along with carbohydrates, add in a source of caffeine. Limit your intake of caffeine to what your body is used to before race day; but having caffeine enhances your mental focus for the race ahead.

    Most importantly before the race, focus on hydration! Say it with me now: most importantly, before your run focus on hydration! Maintaining hydration is imperative for performance, as it helps regulate our temperature, and enable our bodies to endure our peak performance.

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    Pre-Fuel Guidelines

    • Carbohydrates: Focus on simple carbs, low fiber
    • Protein and Fat: small amounts of protein for stability- main source of energy will be drawn from carbs
    • Caffeine- enhance mental focus and preparedness
    • HYDRATION: urine should be pale yellow

    Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

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    What to eat during your Race

    After completing our first full Marathon, my entire focus was on how I failed at the end of the race. I wistfully hobbled across the finish line at a mere five hour finish time. How did that finish time become so slow? We had trained for this. Our longest training run was 20 miles long, so it must have been the last three miles that ruined my goal time. Nearly a decade later I can assure you, I didn’t lose my goal time in the last three miles of my race.

    I lost my race within the first 15 minutes it began

    Hydration starts early. Within the first 15 minutes of your run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids, and continue hydration every 15 minutes. Along with fluids, bring at least 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of endurance activity. Consuming those energy gummies in my marathon was game-changing, but put into perspective, I should have brought at least five packets to sufficiently sustain me. Continue to adjust your hydration and carbohydrates based on your environment- (is it a hot day? are you running at altitude?)

    During your Run

    • Sustain energy levels. Avoid the “BONK”!
    • Aim for at least 30g of carbohydrates per hour for endurance
    • Hydration starts EARLY! Within the first 15 minutes of a run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids.
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    What to eat in Recovery

    Immediately after the marathon my body appropriately scarfed down a ton of food. Giving in to all of my cravings, I proudly consumed a sushi roll, a chocolate milkshake, chicken fajitas and a cheeseburger all while lying in bed! The key to recovery nutrition is to replenish all the nutrients and electrolytes you have lost during your endurance activity. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of protein for muscle repair.

    what to eat during marathon

    Recovery Run fuel (15-60 mins after)

    • Replenish the Nutrients and electrolytes you’ve lost
    • Protein: Eat at least 20-30g of protein for muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis
    • REST

    we run the states

    Mountain Living has a powerful presence on the human soul

    Mountain living was a passion I couldn’t explain, but had to follow. We are hard wired to affiliate with the natural world.

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    Cities in comparison are wonderful places full of excitement and energy. Today’s culture values busyness and productivity, yet it leads us to overwhelm and anxiety. Chatter in our mind from a constant list of ‘to-do’s’.

    Consider, we are not ‘human thinkings’, rather ‘human beings’.

    And yet there is no medication we can take to just be still.

    Experiencing the grandiosity of nature let’s you live in awe. This puts back into perspective how small we are and thus how small our chattering mind is. Nature lets us be a part of a greater purpose.

    So go outside, travel in nature and live in awe. Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing!

    With the covid vaccine readily available, travel has become a part of our daily lives again. This summer our family traveled to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, which reignited our passion for nature and exploring. This sparked a spur of the moment trip to Zion National park in September for a half marathon through the night. I had never really had Zion on my list of places I wanted to see, but after seeing it’s beauty, I Highly recommend the adventure. Waking up at 3 am to run through the night jumping over boulders gave a definite runner’s high!

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