Beauty for Busy Active Women

We’ve all had those days when we’re too busy running around to stop and properly go through our full skincare routines. What happens if “busy” is your default way of life? If you are a woman with a very active lifestyle, here are some tips on how you can still take great care of your skin without having to come to a halt:

Nourish Your Skin from Within

Beauty companies like Well Within Beauty believe that great skin is the result of an overall healthy lifestyle. What you feed your body and how you treat it are just as important as the products you use. As an active woman, you probably already know that eating a balanced diet and taking vitamins affects your body in several different days, not just one.

Besides high-quality organic skincare products, Well Within Beauty also offers nutritional supplements keep your skin healthy and glowing from within. These plant-based supplements are packed with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants that renew, strengthen and protect your skin while boosting your overall health as well.

Master the Art of Cleansing

Proper cleansing is one of the most important steps in skincare. If you have a busy, active lifestyle, chances are you accumulate a lot of dust, sweat and excess oil on your skin when you come home at the end of the day. You need to cleanse your skin properly to keep it clear and healthy.

Master the art of the double cleanse. Double cleansing means that you first go in with an oil-based cleanser (you can choose from cleansing oils, cleansing balms, or straight up facial oils) to remove your makeup, sunscreen and all the grime that is sitting on the surface of your skin. You would then follow this up with a water-based cleanser (your favorite foaming or non-foaming cleanser) to get rid of any lingering traces of oil or dirt.

Why an oil-based cleanser first? The idea is that oil mixes with oil, so an oil-based cleanser can do a better job at breaking down the natural oils that gather on your skin at the end of the day than plain water can.

When it comes to your second cleanser, choose a gentle cleanser with a pH level of about 5 to 6, so that it mimics the natural pH level of the healthy skin. Anything too basic or alkaline can cause dryness or irritation and compromise your skin’s natural protective barrier.

Moisturize Religiously

As a busy, active woman, you probably don’t have the time to go through a complicated beauty routine. A lot of the steps in an elaborate skin care routine are aimed at targeting specific concerns, so if your skin is already in pretty good condition, you can skip these to save time.

One step you should never skip, however, is putting on moisturizer. The healthiest skin is the type that is well hydrated and moisturized. Healthy, hydrated skin does an excellent job of maintaining itself, so if you keep your skin well moisturized, it will do the rest of the work for you.

Never Skip Sunscreen

Lastly, you should remember to wear sunscreen daily. This is especially important if you are active woman, as you may be more exposed to the sun’s harmful rays in your day to day activities. Sunscreen is the single most important anti-aging product you can add to your skincare routine, so if you’re wearing sunscreen every day, you can skip all those other fancy creams and serums that promise to delay signs of aging.

These are some quick, easy tips on how you can enjoy great skin even with a busy, active lifestyle. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to have good skin—our skin is already pretty good at taking care of itself, we just need to support its natural abilities and avoid irritating it.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Las Vegas Travel and Entertainment Guide

If there is such a thing as the most exciting place on Earth, Las Vegas is surely a serious contender. Known for its thriving gambling and casino industry and theme attractions, Las Vegas is, in fact, much more than that. This heart of American entertainment is home to an incredible number and variety of shows, performances, concerts, events, conventions, and shopping streets.

Vegas is so firmly resolved to entertain you that it stops at nothing to provide you with whatever you find worth your money. From the passionate gambler to the casual sightseer, everyone can have the time of their lives in the Silver City. Here is a brief guide to travel and entertainment in Las Vegas to help you make the most of your visit.

Travel tips

Vegas is a popular destination, and the flights are almost constantly booked. Besides that, the plane tickets can get very expensive if you aren’t careful enough to schedule on time.

There is a number of ways you can score cheap Vegas tickets, though. Most of these rules apply for any kind of plane tickets, except that with Vegas, the challenge is greater due to the huge demand.

First of all, you should organize your trip well ahead, so that you can buy your tickets while the prices are still low. Ticket prices tend to fluctuate a lot, but some say that the best time to buy tickets is 47 days before the flight. There is really no way to know for sure how airlines handle their business, but many have reported success with this method.

Nowadays, no one really goes to an airline office to buy tickets. Instead, people do that online. However, you should be careful with online booking because the website will attempt to trick you. For instance, if you select the same flight more than once, each subsequent time you will get a higher price. You can avoid this by clearing your browser cookies so that the website doesn’t know you’re revisiting.

Most people prefer to fly to Vegas from Friday to Sunday. However, those are also the most expensive days when it comes to flights. Instead, opt for a Saturday to Monday trip if possible, as you can save a lot of money that way.

Nightlife and entertainment tips

Nightlife in Vegas is spectacular and often very expensive. You can find clubs, casinos, and other similar venues all around the Strip. However, unless you bring a decent amount of cash with you, it really pays off to do some research in advance.

Concerts and performances happen all the time in Vegas. If you want to see a particular show, it’s best to find out about it as early as possible. That way, you will be able to purchase a ticket online from a third party. Otherwise, buying the tickets on the spot is much more expensive.

Casinos

Casinos in Vegas are among the best in the world but do not go there if you aren’t prepared to lose money. It’s important to have the right attitude and to be aware that losing money happens all the time. If you are passionate about gambling and have enough money at hand, you will have the time of your life in Vegas.

However, if you live overseas and dream about visiting Vegas, you should check out online casinos instead. That way, you can have a bit of Vegas glamour in your life regardless of your location. You can find some of the world’s best online casinos at New Zealand CasinosBeste Nettcasino, and GemSlots Welcome Bonus.

Clubs

When it comes to Vegas clubs, expect to see much higher prices than in other places. For example, in most clubs, the price of a single drink can be as high as $15. That’s not all you’ll be paying for since you usually have to pay for entry. You can be exempt from that rule if you are a lady because many clubs offer significant discounts for women if you come at a specific time. Men will have to pay more in most cases.

However, you can still save some money by finding a promoter instead of entering on your own. A promoter’s job is to get as many people to the club as possible, and they can let you in with a discount or for free. Keep track of all the fliers and promotional materials you get during your stay. The key to saving money in Vegas is keeping track of happy hours and discounts.

A final tip

Hopefully, you’ve learned something helpful from this guide. However, there is one more thing to keep in mind when visiting Vegas – you should know the rules of conduct.

Some tourists see Vegas as an opportunity to behave rudely and berate the staff in local venues or act as if they owned the place. Avoid acting out and treat others with respect, and you will see a significant difference in how they treat you. The employees in Vegas know the difference between a VIP and a rude guest. Do yourself a favor and leave the best possible impression, and you will have the time of your life.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

How to Improve Your Cadence

When it comes to cadence, we’ve all heard that the magic number is 180 – why is this though? At the 1984 Olympics, famed coach and running researcher Jack Daniels counted the strides of distance runners as they raced, and discovered that nearly all of them took at least 180 steps per minute. Many experts have cited Daniel’s work in suggesting to minimize overstriding, lessen impact forces on the legs, and maintain forward momentum, runners should always aim to hit that number. However, your cadence is hinged on your pace. Even Olympians take fewer steps per minute when they run at a slower speed. As a matter of fact, your easy and 5K paces may differ by up to 20 steps per minute. With that being said though if your cadence at 5K pace is below 180, it needs a boost. Here’s how to improve your cadence at every pace.

Take Notes:

First, establish your baseline cadence for all of your training speeds. On a treadmill, begin at warm-up pace and increase the speed by one minute per mile until you’re at 5K pace. As you reach each training pace (easy, marathon, temp, etc.) give yourself a minute or so to adjust to the speed, then begin counting your steps for 30 seconds. Multiply by two, record the number, then accelerate to your next pace. You should see that as your speed increases, your cadence increases. You can also do this on the track using intervals of 800 to 1200 meters.

Set a Target:

Add five percent to each of your recorded numbers. This is your goal cadence for each pace. According to biomechanics researchers, five percent is an attainable target that is still big enough to significantly reduce impact. So for example, if your easy run cadence was 160, aim for 168; if your tempo was 166, strive to hit 174.

Practice it:

One of the easiest ways to quicken your step is to run with a metronome (there’s an app for that!). You can also use things like JogTunes to find music with beats that match your desired turnover. Otherwise, monitor your progress with a 30-second cadence check every couple of miles. To accelerate the transition, schedule a workout like downhill sprints (Check “Get in Stride” below). If you’re struggling with the new target, lower it by two to three percent. Practice that revised cadence for three weeks, and then bump it back up again.

Get in Stride:

Here are some weekly workouts to train your legs for a faster turnover:

The Workout: Downhill Sprints

Details: After an easy run, do five accelerating sprints (strides) down a gentle grade of 150 to 200 meters, reaching top speed at the bottom. Walk back up for recovery.

The Workout: Fast Feet

Details: Using short, quick strides, take as many steps as you can in 10 meters. Keep your ground contact as short as possible. Jog for 10 meters. Repeat five times.

The Workout: Race-Pacer Tester

Details: Run fartleks of 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minute, and 1 minute at 5K pace. Jog one minute between reps. Do two sets. Count your steps or use a metronome during each rep of the second set.

 

Get Your FREE Guide to Improve Your Cadence

Want an easy way to refer back to this information? Get our FREE guide!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Five Tips To Staying Fit In Summer

As we all know, there is oftentimes a tendency to “let go” during the summer. That letting go and having fun, however, doesn’t mean that we should let go of our waistline as well!

There are many ways that you can stay fit during summer. and the five tips that we’re going to be introducing today are both easy and fun. It won’t feel like you’re cutting off the festivities by spending hours and hours away from your family and friends by missing out on the great summer days and nights! In fact, it will even add to your summer adventures!

Looking to stay fit in a fun and easy way? Here’s how!

1. FUN — Summer’s All About Having Fun

The best part of summer is the freedom! Sure, it’s nice to just relax and stay at home — rest your tired bones and just watch a good movie. But even that gets dull after a while! That’s why our first tip for you… is to have fun! Try something new, like going out and having a swim at the beach. Maybe try out the new water park or heck, try out some skydiving. Whatever you want to try, just make sure to keep yourself busy and your body moving! Even a couple of hours spent window shopping at the air-conditioned mall is a lot better for your weight than doing nothing at home.

2. COOK — Eat Your Favorite Meals

Again, part of the beauty of summer is having that free time. Even if cooking is not your forte, you can try your hand at some home-cooked meals. This will help you stay away from eating out greasy and fattening processed foods. If you don’t like the waiting time involved, drag someone along with you and make it a fun activity. Control everything that you’re eating to help keep some of those infamous summer pounds away!

3. WATER — Stay Hydrated

This is less about having fun and more about making sure that you keep having fun! Summer days come with a stifling heat, and it can dry you out. Make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day. It’s been proven in several studies to help suppress one’s appetite and it’s even said to support the burning of fat. Summer opens up chances to try out activities or classes that you can’t normally do throughout the year. Sign up for something fun and exciting, like a swimming class or surfing lesson.

4. PREP — Prep Your Mind and Body

These tips are pretty good on their own, but if you want to take things further, then you’re going to have to think outside of the box. The key thing here is making sure that you get yourself ready. To do that, try warming up a couple of minutes a day, maybe even go as far as energizing yourself with some pre-workout supplements!

Just make sure that you’re planning everything out and staying away from injuries. The biggest thing here is making sure that you actually do something. To do that, you’re going to have to take control of your plans and stay motivated. Happy summer!

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Tactics to Help you For Your Next Exam

They say that if want something underneath you must stoop. The saying applies in all life situations include academics. Passing exams is not easy if you do not do your part as a student. Most students feel pressured at the last minute when the exam timetable appears on different boards of the school. Those who are not prepared for exams look for ways to pass them without struggling. While others sneak in phones to surf during exams, some spend the evening before an exam trying to cram everything under the influence of drugs.

Studies show that last-minute rush can never make you achieve better than studying earlier. Even if it is normal to be anxious over a paper, proper preparation reduces such anxiety so that your mind remains focused. Some common signs of distress include inattentiveness, feeling blank, headache, increased heart rate and nausea. The following strategies will help you know how to handle such symptoms during a test so that you can maintain high performance.

Come up With Useful Study Habits

Avoid being the deadline student who gets confused about what course to prioritize at the last minute. With so many courses in one semester, you need a plan on how you should revise for each session as the semester begins. Instead of idling around the school compound enjoying life, find constructive friends and create a study group. Form a schedule for you and your study buddies to meet for group discussions regularly. This will help you understand something that a teacher may have rushed on in class.

Sharing ideas will also help you put concepts in real life scenarios so that you can have relevant examples in a test. You can also form a habit of taking notes in class. Even when the teacher uses slides and leaves class notes on the class email, there are some things that he might say that you won’t find in the notes. Jot down what you feel is important so that you can refer back later.

Avoid Cramming

Reduce stress by preparing early enough for your exams. Your brain cannot accommodate everything all at once. Cramming brings uncertainty and tension since you are likely to forget even the concepts that you were sure about. Spending a whole night cramming affects your nerves thus increase stress in the morning. Even if you are a bright student, take some time to read outside class so that your exam does not make you sweat.

Come up with ways of improving your memory so that you won’t feel the need to cram. Create mnemonics to help you remember concepts that you forget quickly. Regular reviewing of your notes prevents you from forgetting so that you don’t have to cram.

Stay Focused

Being in school comes with distractions from your friends. You may find it hard to concentrate on your studies while there is so much to do. Remember that the primary goal in school is to pass exams. Therefore, know how to prioritize your studies above everything else. Be the lady who sits in front in class so that you can concentrate during lectures. Do not feel intimidated to ask your lecturer questions if you don’t understand something. Your friends may find this weird but learn from you at the end of the semester when you beat them in exams.

Do Not Hesitate to Get Help

If you are the kind of student who believes in drugs to pass exams, you are ruining your life. Save yourself from addiction by visiting https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/local-rehab-resources/colorado/castle-rock/. This center will help you find better ways of dealing with anxiety as you detox from drugs. When you get back to school, avoid peer pressure from friends who try to sell you pills for you to stay focused while studying. Talk to a counselor if you are too anxious to sit for a paper and let them help you prepare better for exams.

Learn From Your Mistakes

Man is to err and no matter the pressure to succeed, sometimes we fail. Take failure positively and correct your errors so that you can do better on your next test. Instead of feeling sad, find answers where you went wrong on a test and take criticism positively. Let every situation be a learning experience for you.

Remain Relaxed

Taking a hard test is not the end of life. Ensure that you have everything ready a before your exam. Get to the room early so that you can get a spot that makes you comfortable. Avoid being late to an exam room since rushing makes you more nervous. Learn to relax by breathing before you start your paper. Switch your thoughts to something different so that you can calm down. Once your mind is refreshed, you can now turn your paper and start. It is time to focus without getting anxious as you avoid anything that might distract your thoughts. Avoid fellow students who show more panic and concentrate on keeping calm.

Join a Team

Every student should be a member of at least one team. You can teach yourself baseball, handball or basketball. Such sports make you keep busy after classes so that you can improve the functioning of your brain. Ensure that you spend an evening playing your favorite game before your exam. This will give you a clear mind so that you can wake up feeling rejuvenated for your test.

Eat Something

Taking an exam while hungry is not healthy for your mind. Ensure that you eat before entering an exam room. Take fruits such as a banana to reduce stress and tension. This does not mean that you take stuff such as fries or sodas. Such foods are known to increase anxiety levels, thus, avoid them.

Final Thoughts

Every student is bound to feel some level of anxiety. What differentiates these levels is how prepared one is. Quit looking for unhealthy shortcuts to pass exams and find ways to reduce test anxiety so that you can comfortably sit for a paper without sweating excessively. Implementing the strategies outlined above will not only help you as a student but also prepare you for life challenges in future.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Review of The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Let me begin by saying “The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World” is the wake-up call, not just millennials need but everyone. For most millennials when we hear the term referring to our generation; we cringe a little because of the negativity that is associated with it. I personally, can’t think of the last time I heard “millennial” in a positive way. Here’s my review of The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World.

In Alison Lea Sher’s debut book she writes in a real and relatable way. This comes from the facts, her life experience, and the overall drive to share her thoughts on what’s wrong with society, the world, and everything in between in the most real and honest way. However, she doesn’t stop there. She also offers real advice for what we, millennials, can do to change things.

I highly recommend this inspiring read. You can find it on Amazon through this link. You can also check out Alison Sher’s website: http://www.millennials-incorporated.com

Sher sums it up the best by saying this book isn’t just for millennials, but also for the baby boomers are trying to understand us, the forgotten Gen X’ers, and the Gen Z’ers who might be trying to figure out what their future looks like.

Let me say it a little for those in the back, this book is NOT just for millennials. It’s to help bring a common understanding between the current generations that are attempting to coexist on this planet.

Once I began to read this book I was like, “wait… that’s me!” Sher discusses how millennials are struggling with finding purpose in a society where a traditional lifestyle looks like education, stable job, marriage, house, children, etc. But, millennials are most often seeking higher levels of education than the generations that came before us. Despite that, we still face an extremely competitive job market that leaves a percentage of us… screwed. This leaves most of us having to push off the traditional lifestyle, if not possibly walking away from it altogether.

Times are constantly changing, and the millennial generation alone is changing the way things are done. There are people making careers on YouTube and Instagram. You’re reading this on my blog, something I rarely tell people about because of the raised eyebrow I know I can expect in response due to currently seeking a degree. Then there’s the fact our generation is one of the most aware generations and has a desire to make a difference in the world. We want to feel like we have a purpose and fulfill it.

Honestly, this book made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It somewhat reinforces the idea that I’m not alone in stressing about my purpose – common for college students. Sher includes a multitude of interviews with millennials who are doing various things. Real stories from real people giving a dose of reality to anyone who reads this book. Sher includes stories of people with identity struggles finding themselves, the ones who are still struggling to find themselves, the ones who are already making a huge difference in the world, and the ones who are just trying to survive. These stories are all important.

A point that Sher emphasizes is the idea that everything is connected. Meaning, everything we do and every choice we make influence our environment which, in turn, then affects us. That’s why there is this overwhelming need for change. As millennials, we have the resources and power to make a difference… and that’s what we need to do.

“The Millennial’s Guide to Changing The World” is the book our world needs right now. Sher manages to touch on everything from politics, relationships, our environment and gets real about what’s wrong with us (ALL of us). Her humorous approach is what makes this book an enjoyable read, but she shows that change is possible with little perseverance.

So if you’re looking to change the world, or maybe just make a difference, I highly recommend checking this book out. It’s one of those books you can truly read over and over.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

My Journey to Self-Love as a Runner

Can I get a little personal today? Some of you may know that I started this blog as a freshman in high school… at the age of 14, I knew I wanted to help empower women (men are welcome too!) on their fitness journey. Part of helping empower people is by helping them feel more confident which means learning to love yourself just the way you are. With that, today I wanted to share my personal journey to self-love as a runner.

I grew up running around a track, some of my biggest goals are running based. Running is a sport I’ve fallen in love with, but it’s been a rocky road with running. Even though I love my sport today, it wasn’t always so simple.

Despite growing up running, I wasn’t always thrilled about having a “runner’s body”. When I began to truly focus on improving in my sport, instead of focusing on improving my time, I could only focus on how my body looked. To me at that point, it didn’t matter that I could keep up with and beat others my age. It only mattered that I had larger quads and calves, strong arms, a defined back and core, but none of the other girls did. That for some unknown reason I was a distance runner with “thunder thighs”.

These thoughts weren’t limited to my early teenage years either; they were there up until I ran my first half-marathon just a few months ago – roughly 5ish years. It was at this point I was pushed athletically to limits I partially didn’t know existed. My entire life I was a 5,000-meter runner, with an occasional 10K thrown in, but it never occurred to me that it was because of my strong body, including my “thunder thighs” that I was able to quickly run these distances comfortably.

It’s been almost a year since my mentality of hating my muscular thighs, arms, back, etc switched to learning to love it. It’s because of my muscles that I can run.

My “thunder thighs” have helped finish numerous 5 and 10Ks and two half-marathons; plus running however many miles in each training cycle. Have pushed through however many 200, 400, 800m repeats. Lightly danced up a hill at the end of the race when you have nothing left in the tank. Somehow manage to keep pushing through even though your mind gave up a half mile ago.

I grew up not liking the way I looked because it wasn’t normal in my sport to look strong. Despite all distance runners being strong, it almost felt as though everyone else on the track could look strong but we couldn’t. The acceptance we see today is very new, but I’m glad that our sport is evolving. However, this acceptance goes beyond our sport. It’s becoming more prominent in other areas as well such as the fashion industry. A prime example is True & Co. who’s goal is to create bra’s that help women feel confident in their own skin.

Hopefully, with the evolution, our sport is going through, it will help give confidence to those young girls (or boys) coming up in our sport to love the way they are built even if it isn’t like their teammates. Despite the importance of that, I also hope it helps any of you out there whether you’ve grown up running or just picked it up a day ago, that no matter where you start you’re a runner. I see so many women constantly put themselves down in our sport.

Either because they have strong runner thighs, or because they “don’t look like a runner”. The beauty of our sport is the true diversity in it. I’ve toed the lines at many 5k, 10k, and a couple of half-marathons; I’d say 90% of the people there didn’t have what you would consider a “runner’s body”. It doesn’t matter how you look if you love running, yoga, powerlifting, whatever. Quit beating yourself down for not looking a certain way, learn to embrace your body.

Embrace it and learn to love it by understanding that without your “thunder thighs” you couldn’t properly perform in your sport. Without broad shoulders, keeping yourself balanced would be tougher. The list could go on, but you see the point I’m making. Your body is built the way it is because it adapts to the stress you put it under whether it be running, cross-country skiing, etc. I know it’s tough, but you can do it; you can learn to love your self just the way you are. Just takes looking at what you consider “flaws”, in a different light.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Importance of a Dynamic Warm-up

Bye-bye-bye static stretching, and hello dynamic stretching! If you’ve read a few of my posts then you probably know how I feel about static stretching. Considering it can reduce performance and increase injury risk while presenting few benefits to runners, I’m not a fan – I’ll cover this more in-depth in an injury prevention series coming soon!

So, if you’re not supposed to stretch before a run, then what do you do? Well… it’s simple: a series of dynamic warm-up exercises that prepares your body to run.

Which if you think about it, static stretching doesn’t even accomplish what a good series of warm-up exercises should, like:

  • Increased heart rate and respiration (prepping your body for work)
  • Improved range of motion and lubricates joints
  • Increased capillary activation (fancy way of saying it’s delivering oxygen to your muscles)
  • More elasticity in your tendons and ligaments (reducing chance of tears)
  • Enhanced performance

That last point is what I really want to stress; I mean a simple series of warm-up exercises can help you run faster? Sign me up!

For some research behind this, in 2015 the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research published a study showing that male runners who were well-trained, run faster after a dynamic warm-up

Maybe more importantly, after years of evidence from runners (myself included) who have simply felt better after a dynamic warm-up, I’m a big believer in these types of dynamic warm-up exercises

Which brings me to share my favorite dynamic warm-up with you:

The Dynamic Sole Warm-up

This routine requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.

Since the routines in the Easy Injury Prevention for Runners (Coming Soon!) are all plays on the blog name, so is this warm-up.

Most of these exercises are done standing, so if you’re running a muddy trail, or from your car in the rain, just skip the first couple of exercises (Also, Q&A below!)

Below are instructions on how to complete the warm-up exercises in the routine (PDF w/ photos and instructions coming soon!).

#1. Hurdle Mobility:

In a table position – hands under shoulder, knees under hips – lift your leg so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and shin is at a 90-degree angle from your thigh. Make a circular motion with your knee like you’re moving your thigh over a hurdle.

The next movement is exactly the same, except in the opposite direction.

#2. Cross Over:

Lie in a supine position (on your back) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your torso up to your left hand. The goal is to keep your shoulder and chest as flat against the ground as possible. There will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg toward your hand. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.

#3. Scorpion:

Lie in a prone position (on stomach) with your arms out to your sides and swing your right leg across your back up to your left hand. Keep your shoulders and chest as flat against the ground as possible. Like Cross Over, there will be a good amount of rotation in your torso and hips as you swing your leg over. Repeat the same movement for the left leg.

#4. Squat:

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. It’s okay if your toes are pointing slightly outward. Sit back with your butt like you’re sitting down in a chair until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Drive your heels down and return to the standing position, ensuring your lower back stays in a neutral position.

#5. Walking Lunge

Step forward with your right leg, flexing the knees and dropping your hips. Descend until your left knee almost touches the ground. Drive your right heel into the ground and push yourself back to a standing position while taking a step forward. Repeat with the opposite leg. Maintain a tall posture, and ensure your knee does not go too far beyond the toes while lunging.

#6. Walking Leg Swings (Zombie Walk)

With your hands straight out in front of you (like a zombie!), swing your right leg up toward your right hand. Keep both knees as straight as possible, and repeat on the opposite side.

#7. High-knee Skips:

Skip forward and drive your right knee up so it’s about parallel to the ground and drive your foot back down to the ground. Alternate each leg. Keep you back ball with an exaggerated arm swing and make sure you don’t slam your feet on the ground.

#8. Side Leg Swings

While standing in front of a wall or pole for suppost, swing your leg parallel to the support so your foot comes up about hip level. Make sure to swing your leg fully extended but not forcefully locked.

Dynamic Warm-up Q&A

To help get you started, I answered some of the most common questions you have asked me regarding dynamic warm-ups, stretching, and when you should do these exercises.

When Should I do This Routine?

This is dynamic warm-up so it’s done before you run, preferably right before running.

If you are traveling somewhere to run (like so many of us do) and won’t be able to get on the ground to do the first couple of exerises, just do the floor exercises at home and the standing exercises when you arrive right before you start running.

How Many Times Per Week Can I do This Routine?

Personally, I consider this an “easy” warm-up routine, so it’s best used before short, easy runs.

For faster workouts, long runs, and other challenging runs (like races), I suggest a more standard warm-up (coming soon!)

Is The Order of Exercises Important?

Absolutely! The sequence goes from general to more specific (floor to standing); simple to complex.

One of The Exercises Causes Pain – What Should I Do?

Skip it. None of these exercises should cause any discomfort, pain (especially sharp or stabbing pain), or hurt in any way.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

How to Perform Strides

A top question I get is, “What are strides, why are they important, and how do I do them?” So I thought, I would answer all three of those questions today, because strides are one of the most important drills that should be a part of every runner’s training plan. Here’s a quick answer guide for one of the most essential running drills, and of course an explanation on how to perform strides.

Strides – AKA accelerations – are a staple of just about every high school and university track team. However, the majority of recreational runners never do them despite a long list of benefits. What makes this shocking is that it only takes a couple of minutes to knock out some stride after a run. In turn, this helps improve your training and best of all they can be done anywhere – not just on a track.

What are Strides?

Strides are roughly 100m accelerations where you start at a jog, build to roughly 95% of your max speed, and then gradually slow to a stop. A single stride should take around 20-30 seconds.

To begin, start with four strides and after 3-4 weeks increase to six. Take about 45-90 seconds of walking or standing in between each stride to catch your breath. Running strides is NOT an aerobic workout so don’t rush them – you get ZERO additional benefits by shortening the recovery period! So make sure that you’ve recovered properly before moving on.

Also, keep in mind that strides are very short and you’re only running really fast for a few seconds, so they shouldn’t be too difficult. Remember to stay relaxed during a stride – at no point should you be straining or racing.

Where Should I be Running Strides?

Anywhere! I’ve done them in parking lots (be careful!), sidewalks, roads, fields, and of course on the track. If your yard is big enough you can even do them there.

My favorite way to intelligently use barefoot running in a training plan is to incorporate barefoot strides 1-2 times per week. It’s best to do these on a synthetic turf track where the surface is predictable, plush, and free of debris.

When Should I Run Strides?

There are two situations that they are best used:

#1: After an easy or base run

In this scenario, think of strides like a dynamic stretch. They’re helping to increase your range of motion, increase your turnover, and subtly improving your form. By helping shake out some of the tightness you might feel after miles of running at the same pace, strides can help you feel better for your next run.

#2 Before a workout or race

In this case, strides are preparing your body to run fast. They serve as your transition to sustained, harder running.

In either situation, strides should be run at about the same distance and pace. However, if you’re preparing for a very short, fast race like a mile on the track, you might want to do shorter, faster stride. The opposite holds true as well: if you’re running a half or full marathon, a few longer, slower strides can help you warm up properly.

Why Should I be Running Strides?

Well… there’s a lot of reasons why they should be in your training plan.

  • They help you loosen up after a slow distance run
  • Serve as a transition to faster workouts – especially for beginners learning how to start running
  • Increase your running economy by reinforcing proper form (i.e. they make you more efficient)
  • When done barefoot, they develop foot and lower leg strength with a small risk of injury
  • They prepare you to run fast before a race or hard workout
  • They only take a few minutes

Many runners say they’re able to run faster (with less effort) on their distance runs after adding strides in their training regime after a few weeks. Give them a try for 4 weeks, and let me know how you feel!

Here’s a graph showing you a rough idea of how your effort should look when running strides:

Most of the runners I’ve helped coach tell me that they’ve learned to love strides and they make them feel better. Since they’re short, strides don’t require too much effort and they’re actually easy for most people.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

Breaking The Pain Barrier: How To Overcome Pain For Good

This post is sponsored by Lewonde

Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the US. Did you know that at any given time, around 30 million Americans are suffering from back pain? If you have a bad back, and you feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to banish pain, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some suggestions to help you hopefully overcome pain for good.

Determining the cause

There are myriad factors that contribute to back pain, and the first thing to do if you suffer from chronic pain or pain that is getting worse is seek medical advice. When you see a doctor, they will examine you and ask you some questions about your symptoms. It may be that pain is associated with underlying causes, in which case, treating the cause could help to alleviate pain.

In other cases, lifestyle changes may be recommended. There may also be causes related to your job. If this is the case, a doctor may be able to recommend safer techniques to try and offer some tips to help you feel more comfortable at work. If you have severe back pain, your doctor may recommend further tests, such as an MRI scan. This will enable them to see if there is damage to the spine or the surrounding muscles or bone tissue.

Correcting your posture

Poor posture is a contributing factor in most cases of lower back pain. Your posture relates to the position of your spine when you’re sitting or standing. If your spine isn’t in an ideal position, this can increase pressure and strain on your muscles, causing discomfort. In this day and age, we tend to spend more time than ever sitting down, due to the prevalence of office jobs.

If you do spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk, it’s essential to make sure you understand how you should be sitting to prevent back pain. Your spine should be straight, your shoulders should be relaxed, and you shouldn’t have to crane the neck to see the screen properly. If you’re reaching for the keyboard or the screen isn’t level with your eye line, adjust the height of your chair or desk. If you don’t already have a specially designed ergonomic office chair, ask your employer to provide one. It’s very important that your spine is supported properly while you’re in a sitting position.

Maintaining good posture is not just important when you’re sitting down. You should also pay attention to your posture when you’re standing, especially if your job involves standing for long periods of time or lifting. If you do have to lift items as part of your job, use machinery for heavy loads and make sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight. When you’re standing, try to avoid stooping or slumping and keep your shoulders back.

Finding the right mattress

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated. If you suffer from back pain or you’re prone to bouts of discomfort, it’s particularly beneficial to find the right mattress. If your mattress isn’t perfect, this can cause back pain or make existing symptoms worse. Therefore, if you’re looking for a new mattress to help with back pain, try some different styles and brands and avoid going for the cheapest option. You often get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability when you’re shopping for mattresses. If back pain is an issue, look out for products that have been ergonomically designed. These mattresses promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension, and they provide support for the spine while you sleep.

Choosing the right forms of exercise

Most of us are aware of the benefits of doing regular exercise for our health and wellbeing. Living with pain can make exercising difficult, but you don’t have to give up on working out if you suffer from back pain. You may not be able to do certain activities, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be active.

Aim for low-impact exercises and avoid anything that involves jarring movements. Lifting weights and jumping aren’t ideal for people with back pain, for example. Swimming is often recommended, as the water supports your body weight. If you want to stay active without risking injury, speak to your doctor or a qualified personal trainer before changing your exercise regime or embarking on a new training program.

Conditioning your back

They say that prevention is better than cure, and conditioning can help to reduce the risk of recurrent pain. Conditioning involves strengthening the muscles to make your body resistant to injury. You can do this with a physical therapist or by doing specific, targeted exercises at home. These exercises are not focused solely on the back. They also help to increases strength and suppleness in the hips and the core.

Examples of exercises include McKenzie stretches and dynamic lumbar stabilization. The aim is to stretch the back, build muscle, and improve flexibility. You may also find that exercises like those found in yoga and Pilates routines effective. If you’re new to these activities, it’s best to go to a beginner’s class. Once you’re familiar with the stretches, and you’ve honed your technique, you can then practice at home.

Posture

Back pain can make life a misery, especially if you have periods when pain intensifies or you have prolonged bouts. If you suffer from back pain, it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice. In some cases, there may be an underlying cause, and treating this should be a priority. Many cases of back pain are linked to poor posture. If you slouch when you’re standing or you tend to sit slumped in your chair at work; this can affect the alignment of your spine and increase tension in your muscles.

Due to most of sitting during a large portion of our day, it can lead to muscles being tight and pulling us into a position that leads to poor posture. To help release these muscles and let your spine relax and decompress, you can use a lumbar stretcher like the Lewonde Back Stretcher (pictured above). By stretching your spine, you allow it to decompress, which allows it pull in nutrients, oxygen, and fluid back into the discs. Therefore, alleviating your back pain, and hopefully letting you overcome pain for good. Plus you can use it to stretch your spine, or put it in your office chair to help you maintain proper posture while sitting. I use mine everyday and have noticed a real difference in the tightness of my back.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

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