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.

Apparel & Accessories

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!)

Bali

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

The Dynamic Impact of Micronutrients: How to Achieve Peak Performance

Running isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other; it’s a holistic experience that requires proper nutrition to reach peak performance. Macronutrients– carbohydrates, proteins, and fats- often steal the spotlight. It’s the lesser-known heroes, the micronutrients, that play a crucial role in supporting a runner’s journey. Let’s explore the importance of micronutrients in running and how they contribute to overall performance and well-being.

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients encompass a variety of vitamins, minerals and organic acids that are essential for various bodily functions. These include vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, and carotenoids. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and organic acids such as lactic acid, citric acid, choline and taurine. While they are required in smaller quantities compared to macronutrients, their importance should not be underestimated.

Vitamins role on Running Performance

Vitamin A

Vitamin A’s role in bolstering immune function ensures runners can maintain consistent training without succumbing to illness. With muscle repair, promoting bone health and acting as an antioxidant, vitamin A aids in minimizing the risk of injuries. Also, vitamin A reduces exercise-induced inflammation, contributing to enhanced endurance and faster recovery times.

B Vitamins

B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). whew, those are a mouthful! Let’s refer to these as the B complex vitamins. These vitamins act as coenzymes in various metabolic pathways crucial for energy production. They play a synergistic role in macronutrient metabolism, ensuring a steady supply of fuel for our running endeavors. Moreover, B6 and B12, are involved in red blood cell production, contributing to optimal oxygen delivery to working muscles. Incorporating a diverse array of B vitamin-rich foods like whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, legumes, and leafy greens into your diet can help sustain energy levels and support peak performance.

Vitamin C

For runners, maintaining a robust immune system is paramount to sustaining consistent training and performance. Enter vitamin C, a potent antioxidant renowned for its immune-boosting properties. This vitamin helps protect against oxidative stress induced by intense exercise, reducing the risk of illness and promoting faster recovery. Additionally, vitamin C supports collagen synthesis, aiding in the repair of connective tissues and minimizing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis. Load up on vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli to fortify your immune defenses.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Beyond its well-known contribution to bone health, vitamin D influences various physiological processes crucial for endurance and recovery in runners. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with improved muscle strength and coordination reducing the risk of injury during runs. Its impact on mood regulation and mental well-being further enhances running performance by promoting motivation and resilience. As such, ensuring sufficient vitamin D intake, whether through sunlight exposure or dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods, is essential for runners seeking to maximize their potential.

Vitamin E

As runners push their bodies to the limit, they generate oxidative stress, leading to muscle damage and fatigue. Vitamin E swoops in as a potent antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals and reducing exercise-induced inflammation, ultimately promoting faster recovery. Moreover, vitamin E supports cardiovascular health by protecting against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to plaque buildup in the vessels. Enhanced blood flow and reduced muscle damage translate to improved endurance, enabling runners to sustain higher levels of exertion for longer durations. To harness the benefits of vitamin E, incorporating sources like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and vegetable oils into the diet is essential.

Carotenoids

Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in various fruits and vegetables, and wield a notable influence on exercise performance and recovery. By scavenging free radicals generated during physical activity, beta-carotene aids in protecting cells and tissues from damage. Moreover, certain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, have been linked to improved eye health and visual acuity, enhancing coordination and agility during exercise.

Minerals

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral involved in muscle contraction, enabling runners to move efficiently as well as regulating nerve impulses, ensuring proper communication between the brain and muscles. Additionally, calcium contributes to maintaining electrolyte balance, supporting optimal hydration levels and preventing muscle cramps during prolonged workouts.

Iron

One of the most crucial micronutrients for runners is iron. This mineral serves as the cornerstone of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Adequate iron levels are paramount for maximizing aerobic capacity and staving off fatigue during long runs. Without sufficient iron intake, runners may experience decreased energy levels, impaired endurance, and even symptoms of anemia. Incorporating iron-rich foods like lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and fortified grains into your diet can help maintain optimal iron levels and support peak performance.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a micronutrient that often flies under the radar but plays a pivotal role in energy metabolism and muscle function. As runners, we rely on magnesium to convert carbohydrates into energy, regulate muscle contractions, and maintain electrolyte balance. Deficiencies in magnesium can manifest as muscle cramps, fatigue, and impaired performance. To ensure optimal magnesium intake, incorporate magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens into your diet, and consider magnesium supplementation if necessary.

Quercetin

Quercetin

Potassium

During exercise, potassium works alongside sodium to regulate fluid balance and hydration levels within the body. Potassium is also involved in nerve signaling and muscle contractions, including the contraction of the heart muscle, which is essential for maintaining a regular heartbeat. Potassium also plays a role in supporting kidney function by aiding in the elimination of waste products.

Zinc

Zinc plays a role in immune function, helping to support the body’s defenses against infections and illnesses that could sideline training efforts. Involved in protein synthesis, zinc aids in the repair and growth of muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Furthermore, zinc contributes to the production of testosterone, a hormone important for muscle growth and strength.

Organic Acids

Organic acids, such as citric acid and malic acid, are involved in the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, which is a central pathway for energy production in cells. During exercise, organic acids help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. organic acids can help regulate pH levels in the body, buffering the acidic byproducts produced during intense exercise. While organic acids are naturally produced in the body, certain foods and supplements, such as citrus fruits and tart cherry juice, contain high levels of these compounds and may offer additional benefits.

From providing energy and oxygen transport to supporting immune function, bone health, and muscle repair, micronutrients contribute to every aspect of a runner’s journey. Ensuring sufficient intake of micronutrients through a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, as well as supplements when needed, not only optimize running performance but also promote longevity and overall vitality.

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Transform your Health: Ultimate Whole 30 Meal Plan with Recipes!

With Grocery Lists and Recipe Links!

Truth be told, I failed my first attempt at Whole 30 two years ago, (eek, shamed face). Now you may be asking, why in the world would I start by saying that?! That’s not encouraging at all! But that’s just the opposite. We are all on our own Whole 30 journey at different stages. For some this is your first try too, and if you’re in that category I am so happy to share what mistakes to avoid. Some of you have completed several Whole 30’s before and you’re here for the most simple and elaborate whole 30 menu with grocery list and recipe links from start to finish. No matter your reason, I’m glad you’re here!

The Whole 30 Recipes

There are SO MANY amazing Whole 30 recipes! So I’ve actually spent the past few months taste testing dozens in preparation for my next Whole 30. That leads to recommendation #1 for success- plan your meals! My first attempt at Whole 30, I planned only a few meals, and then thought I could just ‘wing it’ for each additional meal based on what I felt like eating. Well what I felt like eating was Dr Pepper and sourdough bread, duh! haha Lucky for you, I’ve done all the hard work for you with this complete Meal plan.

This Whole 30 meal plan is unique in that it doesn’t have you cooking every night. Which leads me to Recommendation #2- set your expectations realistically! Ideally, I’d love to make a home-cooked meal with fresh diced vegetables and slow cooked meat everyday. But that time-consuming plan doesn’t exactly fit in my daily Full time work and two busy kiddos schedule! This Whole 30 meal plan focuses on prepping wholesome delicious meals every 5 days, with grocery lists to accommodate every 10 days. I know that every 5 days is a bit odd and will land on some weekdays of meal prepping, but as a Nurse Practitioner working 12 days on and 9 days off, making three meals every 5th day is doable for everybody! (even on a weekday). So without further ado,

A Complete Whole 30 Meal Plan

Click on each meal for the recipe link!

Know that you won’t be alone on this journey, there are so many wonderful resources out there to support you, myself included! I am starting my second attempt at Whole 30 in TWO days, eek!! I’ve signed up to run a Half Marathon in March and this time around I’m dedicated to Whole 30 for that ‘TIGER BLOOD!’ Which leads to Recommendation #3- know that Whole 30 is temporary! The first time around my goal was to quit sugar, (primarily my addiction to Dr Pepper). And although quitting sugar for good is an honest goal, it was not a goal I could sustain for the rest of my life. So I figured, what’s the difference of no sugar for 30 days vs the 16 days when I quit.

Look at this Whole 30 adventure as a new discipline

Let me explain. Ever since my two year old first tried Halloween candy he asks me daily, “I wan canne mama” and most days I have to tell him “No” and endure the 10 minute temper tantrum to follow. But when was the last time you or I told ourselves no? If I want Halloween candy, I eat it. This upcoming 30 days we get to enjoy delicious food that nourishes our body, but that comes with discipline for our mind! So help yourself out just a bit more to ease your mind, Recommendation #4- Eat food you normally eat! Our family eats Tacos and spaghetti (Yum!) nearly every week. So that’s what we get in our Meal plan, delicious Spagetthi squash with meat sauce and Taco Salad!

The Grocery Lists

How the Meal plan works

As mentioned above, we’ll be meal prepping three meals every fifth day, and then making one dinner in between. All the meals on the plan have a link to the recipe if you click on them! (That’s my favorite part of the simplicity of the plan! 🙂 The grocery lists are broken down so you’re only going shopping 3 times during the 30 days- that way your veggies are still fresh, but you’re not spending all your time at the store. The first ‘Stock your pantry’ day I’d like you to CHECK your pantry first! I had nearly every one of these spices already in my cabinet, so please don’t spend the extra money if you don’t have to. And if you happen to have a deep freezer, make one big trip to Costco before you get started and you can have all your meat ready to go also.

So here we go! God give me the strength to be mindful of what I eat and drink and enjoy this journey of Whole 30!

I’d Love to hear your comments on which recipes you enjoyed and tips to your success of Whole 30 below! Also Be sure to subscribe and follow our journey as We Run the States!

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!

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Fuel your run: Everything you need to know about Macronutrients

The most common question I get asked as a rural healthcare provider is, “Why am I gaining so much weight?”. This question is then followed by their definition of their ‘healthy lifestyle’. Unsurprisingly, this definition differs greatly between each individual and is often accompanied with a high total cholesterol level. These two topics- gaining weight and high cholesterol- sought me to dive deep into research of nutrition and macronutrients; so here’s my Nurse Practitioner spiel. Let’s start at the core of nutrition, macronutrients.

What is a healthy diet?

You may have heard people “counting macros” before for weight loss, but what is a macro? Macronutrients are the three components consumed daily in our diet to provide us energy. There. That wasn’t so hard 🙂 I’ll bet you can even name a couple of these macros. Some of you may have guessed protein, as you should. Protein serves a vital role in strength and structure. Most people think of the bodybuilder image, but we all consume protein daily for vital functions. Another macronutrient is carbohydrates. “Carbs” are the most easily converted source of energy consumed in our diet. Then of course, there’s the final third macronutrient, the ‘dreaded’, Fat. By the end of this discussion I hope to provide the knowledge you deserve to no longer dread fat! But how?! Hear me out.

healthy fats including Avocado and eggs

Fat

I’m an 80’s baby, so growing up I’ve been bred on the ‘All-American-Healthy-Low-Fat-diet.’ I’ve been taught from an early age to seek out non-fat milk or low-fat cheese. It made theoretical sense, right? If you want to lose weight (fat), then consume less fat. By the 1980’s low fat diets became mainstream; recommended by doctors, supported by the federal government and heavily advertised by the media and food industries. But think of that year, 1980- in reference to how many hundred of thousands of years humans have been around, we’ve only been consuming ‘low-fat diets’ for 40 years.

Let’s look back a bit further to the 1960’s when the leading cause of mortality in the United States was Coronary artery disease- a heart attack. Many studies were performed to analyze what was putting us Americans at risk for a heart attack, and strong correlation (as in the Framingham study) related cardiovascular risk to cholesterol and saturated fats. Notice that emphasized word, Saturated. There are many “good for you” fats. In fact, Fat is ESSENTIAL to include in your diet to be broken down into fatty acids that make cell linings and hormones. Our body requires twenty amino acids, and although our bodies can make amino acids, NINE essential amino acids need to be consumed daily. So let’s explain this easily,

Your body is either ‘Fat-Storing’ or ‘Fat-Burning’ at all times.

Now let’s get back to this new 1980’s philosophy of a ‘healthy American low-fat diet’. If we are consuming a low-fat diet, (Fat being essential for amino acids improving memory storage, controlling inflammation and regulating hormones) do you think our bodies are going to use that fat for energy or store it? Ding, ding, ding! That’s right, our bodies have been storing the limited amount of fat we’ve allowed it as a mechanism of survival. unsurprisingly, the prevalence of obesity from the 1980’s being about 8% of the population to today 42.4% of Americans are obese! Geez that’s 530% fold increase in obesity!

There are four types of fat, and they all relate to the length of carbon atoms or associated hydrogen atoms attached; in other words, just a bunch of science-y stuff. I’ll make it easy to remember, GOOD FAT: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. BAD FAT: Trans fat (now illegial in the US). FAT TO ENJOY IN MODERATION: Saturated fat. Take away point: eat high ‘good fat’ often. Two essential sources of essential fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6. Food examples include nuts, flax seed, whole grains, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs and FATTY FISH- salmon, mackerel, tuna.

Protein

This macronutrient serves a vital role in many functions in our body, there’s only one catch: we don’t store protein for energy like we can with Fat and carbohydrates. Protein gives our tissues strength and structure with collagen, elastin, actin and myosin. Think beautiful, firm skin with strong muscles to run with… yep, I’ll take some of that! Protein also synthesizes enzymes and hormones, transport substances across cell membranes and defends against foreign pathogens. So eat your protein!

Carbohydrates

Carbs are the easiest source of energy for our bodies to convert to glucose. In fact, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of your total daily calories. This is based on the minimum amount of glucose utilized by the brain being about 130 grams. Here’s the page turner, In the absence of carbohydrates the body will use fat as a source of energy. Yup, mind=blown. Here Americans are trying to sustain a ‘low-fat diet’ for weight loss when we’ve had it backwards the past forty years. Eat high (good for you) fats, minimize your carbs and our bodies will use our own stored energy! As you may have also noticed in the diagram above, we get 9 kcals of energy for every gram of fat we consume as opposed to 4 kcal of energy per gram for protein and carbs. That’s double the amount of energy!

  • Fun Fact! Our bodies have stored fat, and for many of us in excess abundance. One pound of fat equates to about 3,600 calories of energy! When I run a half marathon my Runkeeper app says I burn about 1,000 calories, which means I theoretically could run 45 miles on just one pound of fat, and I have a few to spare! 😉

So that’s my spiel. I hope you join me in eating Clean food to fuel your run!

As always- Run strong, Travel and Eat. Real. Food. -We Run the States

The Content is not intended to be a substitute for your professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Top 5 reasons you haven’t Run a Half Marathon and how to overcome them!

1) You’re not a “Runner”

I’ll tell you my secret, I’m not a runner either. Whew! Glad we got that out of the way! I’ve completed 7 half marathons, one full marathon, many fundraiser 5K’s, and started a running blog, yet I still don’t consider myself a “runner”. I think I set my expectation of a runner too high. I see on social media these really fit icons, and hear my friends talk about how easy running a 9 minute mile is; well that’s not me.  I consider myself a ‘participation medal’ type of girl 🙂 I sign up for a race for the adventure and travel opportunity and keep a goal to cross that finish line!

2) There’s not enough Time

Well that’s true, there really isn’t enough time for all the tasks we have in a day! Between getting kids ready for school, trying to get them in their darn carseats, working full time, (maybe working a little overtime), picking kids up, making dinner, piano lessons, then there’s dishes, laundry, pajamas and bedtime routine, and if you’re lucky maybe a little bit of sleep! (That may have been a run on sentence) but hey, It seems the American dream is usually an over run life! So where is there time to run? I hear ya. Well there’s 1,440 minutes in a day, find 20 minutes for your health 🙂 done. (We’ll work up from 20 minutes a day).

3) Kids

yes, this deserves it’s own category. This section is similar to above, not having enough time, yet there’s also the dilemma ‘who will watch the kids while I take 20 minutes a day to myself’?? And here comes the solution that I still cringe at, wake up a bit earlier. If I am up and out the door by 6am then I can take one hour of uninterrupted time for myself on a run. Although getting out of bed early does not sound appealing lying under my cozy down comforter, the surge of energy I get after my run is well worth it. If you’re the only one home in the morning and evenings to watch your kids, I would definitely recommend a gym with a daycare or perhaps go for a run during school hours. Everybody needs “me time!”

4) You don’t have the energy

As you read above, my day is jam packed with errands, to do’s and work and by the end of the day I am TIRED! Why would I want to go for a run after work or set my alarm clock earlier for a morning run? But as you may have heard, exercising gives you more energy than you can imagine! Running releases the hormone endorphins which trigger a euphoric feeling as well as acting as an analgesic, thus diminishing your perception of pain. Hence, a 30 minute run literally rewards your brain and tells you that it didn’t hurt! (Notice that I increased your 20 minute run per day to a 30 minute run very slyly. I just added one mile to your long run to prepare you for that half marathon 🙂

Another way to increase your energy is to eat well. Use food to fuel your body. I struggle with good food choices daily also, but Skinnytaste and Clean Eating magazine have helped me make delicious recipes even my kids crave!

5) Money

Let me explain. I’ve made running a half marathon an extravagant event. I pick a new state for each run, book a flight and a hotel for the weekend; then there’s the half marathon entry fee, paying for the best food in town and the bill quickly adds up. But this adventure is worth every penny!! I would love to see every state in this beautiful country regardless, running just gives me the excuse to actually book it! Plus, what better way to see the country then to actually run across it! 🙂 Anyhow, yes you’re right, running is FREE! you can leave from your front porch and run 13.1 miles and not spend a dime, I just prefer the fancy medal. haha

There you have it, all my excuses for not running a half marathon. Make the  TIME for a FREE run that will give you the ENERGY to love on those KIDDOS who will be proud of their mama who (even though may be slow) is a RUNNER! (I suppose I could have just shortened this whole post with that one sentence haha)

Join our adventure as We Run the States, Subscribe now! We’d love to hear from you on your favorite runs and best US destinations to visit! Here’s a list of half marathon’s in each state for 2020.

I use these cookbooks daily, and I’m so excited to share them with you! But for complete transparency, As an Amazon Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

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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!

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    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.

    Authentic Thai Coconut Chicken Curry over Jasmine rice

    In a world where dietary trends come and go, there’s one culinary delight that stands the test of time: Thai Coconut Chicken Curry. Not only is this dish a feast for the senses, but it also happens to be a champion of clean eating. Let’s delve into why this iconic Thai dish is a perfect addition to your clean eating repertoire.

    At the heart of Thai Coconut Chicken Curry lies a treasure trove of wholesome ingredients. Fresh vegetables like mushrooms, carrots and peas provide a rainbow of nutrients, while lean chicken breast serves as a high-quality source of protein. The star of the show, coconut milk, offers a creamy texture without the need for heavy creams or oils.

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    Good Fats, No Guilt:

    Coconut milk, a staple in Thai cuisine, is celebrated for its rich flavor and creamy consistency. While it does contain saturated fats, they’re predominantly in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known for their potential health benefits, including supporting heart health and aiding in weight management when consumed in moderation. Plus, the absence of heavy creams in this recipe keeps unnecessary saturated fats at bay.

    One of the joys of Thai Coconut Chicken Curry is its versatility. Whether you prefer your curry mild or fiery hot, you can adjust the spice levels to suit your taste buds. Additionally, feel free to swap in your favorite vegetables or protein sources to make the recipe uniquely yours.

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    Gluten-Free: For individuals following a gluten-free diet, this recipe fits the mark (*Omitting Naan side*)Thai jasmine rice is a safe and delicious option. It contains no gluten, making it suitable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Clean eating involves choosing foods that are as close to their natural state as possible, and jasmine rice fits the bill perfectly without any added gluten or processing.

    Coconut Chicken Curry

    Recipe by We Run the StatesCourse: MainCuisine: Thai
    Servings

    4

    servings
    Cooking time

    40

    minutes
    Calories

    332

    kcal

    During nurse practitioner school, I had a mentor who worked diligently. I swear the woman never stopped to eat. Late in the afternoon after working in the ER she noted, ‘Oh, you might be hungry!’ That was an understatement, I was starving. She took me to the hospital lounge and the only thing left was chicken curry. My bias told me that I hated curry, but I was I hungry, so I ate it. And I ate seconds and thirds! Since then I’ve recreated a recipe to match this hospital gourmet recipe that I fell in love with that day.

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

    • 1 tablespoon butter

    • 1 red onion, finely chopped

    • 3 cloves garlic, minced

    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

    • 2 tablespoons curry powder

    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)

    • pinch of cinnamon

    • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

    • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

    • 1 cups mixed vegetables (such as mushrooms & peas)

    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    • Fresh cilantro, for garnish

    • Thai jasmine rice and Naan bread, for serving

    Directions

    • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat.
      Add chopped onion and sauté until softened about 3-4 minutes.
    • Add minced garlic and grated ginger, and cook for another minute until fragrant.
    • Stir in curry powder, cumin, chili powder and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices, stirring constantly.
    • Stir in diced Roma tomatoes and cook for another 4-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Use immersion blender or food processor to make a smooth curry paste and set to side.
    • Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-6 minutes.
    • Pour in the coconut milk and curry paste, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
    • Reduce heat to low and let the curry simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
    • Add the mixed vegetables to the curry and continue to simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
    • Serve the chicken curry hot, garnished with fresh cilantro, over delicious Thai jasmine rice wrapped in warm Naan bread!

    Notes

    • Thai coconut chicken curry is a harmonious blend of tender chicken, vibrant vegetables, aromatic herbs, and creamy coconut milk, creating a rich and flavorful dish with a perfect balance of sweetness and spice.

    Embracing the Benefits of Clean Eating: A Nutrient-Rich Journey

    In a world filled with processed foods and tempting indulgences, the concept of clean eating has gained significant traction among health-conscious individuals. Clean eating involves consuming whole, minimally processed foods that are rich in nutrients, providing the body with the fuel it needs to function optimally. This approach to nutrition offers a myriad of benefits, ranging from improved overall health to increased energy levels. Let’s delve into the advantages of clean eating and explore a delicious recipe that exemplifies this wholesome lifestyle.

    Benefits of Clean Eating:

    Nutrient Dense

    One of the key benefits of clean eating is the emphasis on nutrient-dense foods. Whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support various bodily functions. These nutrient-rich foods contribute to overall well-being, boost the immune system, and promote optimal organ function.

    Weight Management

    Clean eating encourages a balanced and sustainable approach to weight management. By choosing whole foods over processed options, individuals can maintain a healthy weight more effectively. Whole foods are often lower in calories and higher in fiber, promoting satiety and reducing the likelihood of overeating.

    Increased Energy Levels

    The nutrient-packed nature of clean foods can lead to increased energy levels. Unlike the temporary spikes and crashes associated with processed sugars, clean eating provides a steady release of energy throughout the day. This sustained energy helps improve focus, productivity, and overall vitality.

    Improved Digestive Health

    Whole, unprocessed foods are rich in dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion. Fiber aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, preventing constipation, and supporting a balanced gut microbiome. Clean eating can contribute to a healthier digestive system, reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues.

    Enhanced Mental Clarity

    The connection between nutrition and mental health is gaining recognition, and clean eating plays a crucial role in supporting cognitive function. Nutrient-rich foods, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and nuts, have been linked to improved concentration, memory, and overall brain health.

    A Wholesome Recipe: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing

    Now, let’s explore a delicious and nutritious recipe that exemplifies the principles of clean eating: Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
    • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • 1 bell pepper, diced
    • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

    For the Lemon-Herb Dressing:

    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions:

    1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked and water is absorbed.
    2. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.
    3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the Lemon-Herb Dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
    4. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetable mixture. Toss gently until well combined.
    5. Serve the quinoa salad chilled, and enjoy a nutritious, flavorful meal that embodies the principles of clean eating.

    Embracing a clean eating lifestyle brings numerous benefits, from improved nutrient intake to enhanced overall well-being. By choosing whole, minimally processed foods, individuals can nourish their bodies with the essential nutrients needed for optimal health. Incorporating wholesome recipes like the Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Herb Dressing can make clean eating not only beneficial but also delicious and satisfying. So, take a step towards a healthier you by making clean eating a part of your daily routine.

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    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!

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    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!

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