this is a page for

Category: Running

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.

Latest Products

Running Training plans, created by RRCA coach, to hit peak performance


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.

YouTube player

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.

we run the states

Clean Eating Articles

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.

YouTube player

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.

    Latest Products

    Running Training plans, created by RRCA coach, to hit peak performance

    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.

    15 of the Most Inspiring Running Quotes

    I am so Thankful to be able to run! Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner, a casual jogger, or someone just lacing up their shoes for the first time, there’s something undeniably transformative about hitting the pavement or the trail. With that being said, there are many times where I lack the motivation to just get up and go! Here are 15 of the most inspiring running quotes to help keep you motivated!

    In this post, we’ve curated a collection of 15 inspiring running quotes that encapsulate the essence of why we run, the challenges we overcome, and the triumphs we experience along the way. From world-renowned figures to everyday enthusiasts, these quotes serve as reminders of the resilience, determination, and joy that running can instill in us.

    Looking for a Half Marathon training schedule? Got ya covered!

    • “Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles”
    • “The race always hurts. Expect it to hurt. You don’t train so it doesn’t hurt, you train so you can tolerate it”
    • “There will be days when I don’t know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing that I have”

    In essence, running quotes serve as catalysts for inspiration, motivation, and reflection, empowering us to push past our limits, embrace our potential, and find joy in the journey, one step at a time.

    • “There is something magical about running; after a certain distance it transcends the body. Then a bit further, it transcends the mind. A bit further yet, and what you have before you, laid bare, is the soul”
    • “The person who starts a race is not the same person who finishes”
    • “That’s the thing about running; your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is”
    • “While I was running today I heard someone clapping, it was just my thighs cheering me on”.
    • “Wake up and go to work on yourself, before you go to work for anyone else”.
    • “One day I won’t be able to do this. Today is not that day.”
    • “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run”. – John Bingham.
    • “Run the mile you are in”

    Running quotes offer a source of motivation during challenging times. When the miles seem endless and the finish line feels out of reach, a well-chosen quote can reignite our determination and push us forward.

    • “Years ago, women sat in kitchens drinking coffee and discussing life. Today they cover the same topics while they run”.
    • “Running is a grownup’s lost link to playing outside”

    So, whether you’re seeking motivation to tackle your next race, looking for a push to start your running journey, or simply in need of a dose of inspiration, we invite you to join us as we explore the profound impact of running through the wisdom and words of others. Lace up your shoes, hit the pavement, and let’s dive into these uplifting running quotes that remind us why we love to run.

    BONUS: “Do not regret getting older, it’s a privilege denied to many”.

    These 16 inspiring running quotes keep me motivated, and I hope they motivate you as well!

    Looking for a Nutrition plan to Fuel your running? This Whole 30 Meal plan is complete with grocery List!

    we run the states

    Run to the Stars: Boston bound, NASA unbound

    Hey fellow running enthusiasts! Lace up those running shoes and get ready for an out-of-this-world adventure in Huntsville, Alabama. This charming city is not only a haven for avid runners who are Boston bound, but also home to the iconic NASA Space and Rocket Center. This makes it the perfect destination for a weekend full of fitness and cosmic exploration.

    Location: Huntsville, Alabama

    Date: September 11, 2022

    Distance: 13.1 miles

    Lace up for the “Boston or Bust” Half Marathon

    The Boston or Bust Half Marathon is not just your typical race; it’s a celebration of determination and the pursuit of personal goals. The fast and flat route winds through the picturesque trees of Huntsville. But beware, the humidity was pretty intense and took time to adjust to. Another race that guides you through the overarching trees that I highly recommend is the famous Idaho potato half marathon. This run offers runners a unique blend of southern charm and urban beauty. The camaraderie among participants with the small intimate race created an uplifting atmosphere that fueled my every step.

    As I approached the finish line with the iconic Boston Marathon qualifying goal in mind, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Although I am nowhere near a Boston qualifying time, I still completed race through the tough humidity and continue on the Boston bound journey. The support from both volunteers and fellow runners made the experience unforgettable.

    NASA Space and Rocket Center

    Exploring the NASA Space and Rocket Center: No visit to Northern Alabama is complete without a trip to the NASA Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Just a short drive from the marathon venue, this iconic space exploration facility offers an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. From awe-inspiring rocket displays to interactive exhibits detailing the history of space exploration, the center provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of astronauts and the marvels of outer space.

    Travis in his Astronaut suit

    Highlights at the Space and Rocket Center:

    1. Space Shuttle Pathfinder: Get up close and personal with the Space Shuttle Pathfinder, a full-scale model used for astronaut training.
    2. Saturn V Rocket: Marvel at the Saturn V Rocket. The iconic vehicle that carried astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions.
    3. Interactive Exhibits: Engage with hands-on exhibits, simulators, and educational displays that make learning about space exploration a fun and enriching experience.

    Soak in the local experience

    Huntsville isn’t just about running and space exploration; it also boasts a vibrant local scene. After the race and museum visit, unwind at one of Huntsville’s charming local eateries or craft breweries. The city has a burgeoning food and beverage scene, offering a variety of culinary delights that cater to all tastes.

    Huntsville, Alabama, provides a unique blend of physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and local charm. Whether you’re conquering the Boston or Bust Half Marathon, exploring the NASA Space and Rocket Center, or savoring the local flavors, this destination promises an unforgettable experience for runners and space enthusiasts alike. So, lace up those running shoes for your last opportunity before the Boston marathon cutoff. Get ready for a stellar adventure in the Rocket City!

    Looking for more Out of this world runs? The Zion at night half marathon, Great Ferry Race and Happy Girls Run are all beautiful, highly recommended runs along the West coast. Check ’em out!

    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,

    R.A.I.N.

    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.

    Non-identification.

    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.

    YouTube player
    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!

    we run the states

    What To Do When Half Marathon Is Derailed With Unexpected Injury

    Training for a half marathon is a commitment of time and energy to yourself. With 12-weeks of preparation, your training can be derailed with unexpected injury or illness and have such an impact on the outcome of the race. I’ve alway considered myself a particularly healthy individual. With an education in healthcare, I write about endurance running & form, clean eating, and how traveling the world improves your mental health and creativity. During my training for the Idaho potato half marathon, I was diagnosed with a new autoimmune disease that shocked my core to the very being.

    How in the world did I end up being admitted to a hospital for a week with extreme gut pain? How could this happen to me? Then of course the subsequent self-doubt mind chatter follows. Did I cause this autoimmune disease? Did I eat too much sugar? Was this caused by recent stress during the pandemic and moving my family to a different state, or lack of sleep being a full-time mom and working?

    According to national Institute for health, more than 7% of the American population suffers from Autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising. Triggers of autoimmune disease include stress, diet, exercise, insufficient sleep, and yet again I’m angered with this diagnosis wondering,

    ‘I thought I was healthy, what the heck happened?

    Moving forward, learning to control my symptoms of autoimmune disorder I appreciate the wealth of knowledge regarding clean eating and food to nourish my body. To gain perspective on the healing effects of clean eating for our bodies, let’s begin with the most underrated organ of our body, our gut. Here are a few facts that absolutely blew my mind about our gut’s amazing abilities.

    • One ounce of our stool (poop), has more microbes than there are people living on this entire planet! Wow! Each one of us holds our own ecosystem within our gut.
    • Your Genome has the potential to grow over 400 million different ecosystems. That translates to, if you’re not happy with your body‘s performance now, go and build one of the other 399 million options your genome has potential of. You’re microbiome changes every three days!

    You can focus on changing your gut ecosystem from sedentary lifestyle to Elite athlete with proper clean eating nutrition.

    Meaning, There’s Hope for you and me!

    • 95% of serotonin originates in your gut. Serotonin is a neurochemical in your brain that controls mood, which is why when you’re feeling loved you can get ‘butterfly’s in your tummy’. Also the use of an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is the mainstay medication used to treat anxiety and depression. This means what you eat determines whether you have anxiety, depression, fatigue, fear, guilt.

    With building entirely unique gut ecosystems, we literally become the phrase “you are what you eat!”

    With more knowledge on gut health, let’s begin to provoke change. Finding a problem is liberating as it helps lead to a solution. The walls our our digestive tract are extremely thin, less than one cell in diameter. With certain foods the lining will become porous letting “bad bacteria” slip through the lining causing chronic inflammation.

    Signs of chronic inflammation include:

    • Fatigue
    • abdominal or chest pain
    • mouth sores
    • fever
    • rashes
    • joint pain

    (I have definitely experienced ALL of these symptoms personally, *and if you have, you should speak with your primary care provider*)

    So what do we do about the rise of autoimmune disease, and how does this affect my running?

    I had been training for a half marathon in Idaho. I highly considered cancelling my race after two separate admissions to the hospital to control my gut pain. Life had thrown me a curveball; just as it had done at the Grand Teton half marathon, when I unexpectedly had to push a double stroller for 13.1 miles.

    But running a half marathon in each state is a journey within itself. The road trip across states with my best friends was be pivotal to my soul, and laughter I desperately need. Traveling to different states gives my body exposure to different microbiomes. And people with the ‘healthiest guts’ tend to have the greatest diversity of bacteria in their microbiome.

    Plus, I have now given myself permission to walk the entire race with rest and bathroom stops as often as I need to.

    This upcoming race will challenge me, even if I only walk the course. and that’s ok.

    I can create one of the other 399 million potential microbiomes my genome is capable of creating. So I continue upon this clean eating lifestyle, and continue to learn and share my knowledge with you in hopes you can excel to your athletic potential as well.

    For additional knowledge, I recommend taking Outside’s Learn “the gut health fix”, with Seamus Mullen. This master class has been pivotal in my understanding, and I highly recommend this course.

    I write to you as a running coach to make suggestions to improve your performance. But YOU get to make the decisions. Choose options that honor your body and your practice.

    I went on to start the famous Idaho potato Half marathon as planned, and I FINISHED the RACE STRONG!

    we run the states

    Avenue of the Giants Marathon

    I’ve always been a runner, and haven’t spent much time on the sidelines cheering others on. This past weekend at the Avenue of the Giant’s 50th anniversary, I got the opportunity to cheer my brother-in-law on to finishing his first marathon. This accomplishment was absolutely huge! Both for Jav, as well as celebrating a decade since finishing this very same race for my first marathon. I almost preferred the race on the sidelines, but events like this have me excited to jump back in racing!

    YouTube player

    California hosts many, many, many great opportunities to run a half marathon, including Avenue of the Giants. So California may become my largest category of runs. (Of course that isn’t a bad thing as there are many things to explore on this beautiful west coast).

    If you ever get the opportunity to run anywhere, choose here. Located in Northern California, this run is absolutely perfect. https://www.theave.org

    Avenue of the Giants was my first (and hopefully only) full marathon. To be honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better location or weather. I think fate was in place on that day, because if the conditions weren’t as perfect as they were, I don’t know if I could have finished those 26.2 grueling miles. And yes, that many miles in my experience is definitely considered grueling. I remember by mile 21 my sister and I were throwing pebbles at the beautiful redwoods, as we spitefully yelled “stupid tree! I’m here running these terrible miles and all you’re doing is growing and photosynthesizing!” Let’s just say your mind grows weary after 4+ hours of physical activity. Best advice is train for your run!

    THE RUN- Avenue of the Giants

    This is a double out and back run on paved roads that is covered by redwood trees providing stable shade the whole course. Since it’s an early run, the temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but as you can see in the picture, I wore shorts and a tank top and never once remembered being cold. One of the perks of this run is how remote and beautiful the location is, but at the same time somewhat of a downfall as there is not a whole lot for lodging or food. The run is located about 5 miles from Sacramento and San Francisco.

    THE SIGHTS AND FOOD

    You actually can’t miss the sights of this race, as the Humboldt Redwoods surround you as you drive to and run this course. But please take the opportunity to stop and appreciate just how BIG these redwoods are! It’s an absolute amazing experience to stand underneath a forest of trees. Most of which are over 300 ft tall and over 1000 years old! As for recommendations for food and wine, uh pack a lunch! There aren’t a whole lot of options that I even remember. But if you head up highway 101 you can find a good chocolate milkshake within 30 miles or so.

    Overall recommendation: This race is for you if you’re looking for a run to appreciate nature or a pretty flat course with stable weather. This may not be the best choice if you’re looking for busy city life with lots of food choices.

    Verified by MonsterInsights