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The Honest Guide to College

I’m not going to lie, sometimes college can be a lot. After my first year, and befriending quite a few upperclassmen, I’ve learned some helpful trick that has helped keep me sane and on top of things. So I thought I’d pass them on! Also, I essentially consider this part one of the honest guide to college, this one will be all about scheduling classes, going to them, and homework. I’m sure part two will come soon!

Scheduling Classes – Take a full load, but remember to keep it balanced.

Don’t schedule all of your tough classes in a single semester
I learned this hard way in the spring of my freshman year when attempting to tackle Human Physiology and Human Kinesiology (which had a lab). I then received amazing advice from my physiology professor in the summer when I re-took the class after dropping it in the spring. He shared the advice: “Science is like liquor, you don’t mix your -ology’s just like you don’t mix your liquors”

Try to schedule it so that you have a variety of homework.
Nothing’s worse than being bogged down by a bunch of writing heavy courses, it’s best if you can have a mix. Some writing, tests, and worksheets are best to help break it up and not burn you out.

Speak to your advisor before scheduling classes
They’re there for a reason, to help guide you and make sure you stay on track. Plus, they also know if a class is easy, hard, writing-heavy, etc.

Keep in mind you WILL NEED time for homework and online classes when making your schedule
Which might mean choosing not to have classes on certain days, putting a two-hour break in between classes, or having all of your classes in the afternoon so you can study the mornings

If possible, keep your personality in mind when picking times
Sometimes it’s not possible to avoid 8AMs, but if you’re not truly a morning person and can schedule the class later in the day, do so! Due to my major, I had 8AMs both semesters freshman year, and I had friends who either fell asleep in class, were late, or missed because they just weren’t morning people.

Be sure to have a plan for eating meals!
Some professors will allow you to bring your lunch into class, but I prefer to have a break during lunch so I can relax while I eat.

Classes

Never go to class without a bottle of water and a pen and notebook
It’s amazing how much water you will drink throughout your day. Between walking around campus to class, all the time spent in class, etc. It’s good to have a bottle so you can get a drink without missing class. Plus, despite being a person who types all of their notes on their laptop, the number of times I’ve had a professor require us to take out a pen and piece of paper is amazing! So before leaving your dorm/apt before heading to class, ensure you have a water bottle, notebook, and pen!

If it’s a workday and you’re given the option to leave class and work elsewhere, actually use that time to work.
Freshman fall semester, my 8 AM was a class that was worksheet heavy, and my professor would give workdays, and I never took them, and would sleep in and would do it later – on Tuesday it was my only class, and on Thursday I had a night lab. But I wouldn’t have been able to do that in the spring.

Sit wherever you’re comfortable!
Most posts say to sit up front, but I where I sit depends on the class. If it’s a major related course, I sit closer to the front, but if it’s a block/gen ed class I sit further back. Also if you fidget or get up during class, sit further back to not distract others!

After the third class (usually), seats may as well be assigned
After the third class – roughly first week – whatever seat you’ve sat In is now yours. Don’t move and throw everyone else off unless you absolutely have to. Keep in mind this may not always be the case. My freshman evolutionary biology class constantly moved around even when we took our final.

Always be respectful and kind to your professors, TA’s, and classmates
Professors and TA’s are there to help you, and truly want you to succeed in the class, and there’s no reason to not be nice to your classmates. You could possibly make a friend, or just have someone to help you out with notes if you miss class.

Make at least one friend in every class
You don’t have to be BFFs, but chat with the person you sit beside every class so that you have someone to study or share notes with if you need to.

Homework

Unlike high school, you really can’t skip homework!
Homework in college piles up quickly and tends to be worth a decent percentage of your grade. Plus, they tend to be a bit bigger projects or papers, that consume quite a bit of time. It’s best to stay on top of it!

Break larger projects up into smaller deadlines
By doing so, it makes it easier to work on and helps prevent you from leaving it until the last minute

If a class has a lot of worksheets as homework, start a study group!
This is really helpful in math classes, especially if you get stuck on a problem cause then you have others who may be able to help.

Try to start homework as soon as you get it!
This is a big help! Try and start your homework once you get back from classes for the day, to ensure it gets done and doesn’t get pushed off till the last minute.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Whether it’s from your professor, TAs, tutors, or classmates. Don’t be afraid to go to them and ask for help.

Don’t ignore the syllabus!
As soon as you get the syllabus, enter all of the due dates into your planner. If you want to go the extra mile (hint: you do), go ahead and add in dates to start working on projects, too.

Work ahead, so you have flexibility in your schedule
– Work ahead, so you have time to hang out with your friends at the last minutes instead of being stuck in the library working on a project that’s due first thing in the morning.

NEVER PLAGIARIZE!!
I can’t stress this enough! It’s the fastest way to get kicked out of class, your program, or even school. If you’re not sure if it needs a citation, it needs a citation.

Number one rule
Do all of your work and do it the best you can. As long as you follow that, you’ll be golden.

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.

Staying Fit as a Digital Nomad

So you’ve taken the jump and are now living the life of your dreams, good for you!

You don’t have to tie yourself to a desk, you never sit in traffic, and you choose when and where you work. Could there be a sweeter way for a woman to make her way in the world? Well, how about the downsides? Granted, there aren’t all that many, but if you want to get the most out of it, you need to take a few simple steps to stay in shape and feel great.

Ditch the Junk Food

An extra bit of cake in Starbucks or some Thai noodles as a last minute takeout are both fun things to do; no one’s pretending they’re not! But you want to do it in moderation as with all good things. The trick is to remember that if you want to enjoy your newfound nomadic freedom, you need to give your body the energy that it needs to really thrive. You can’t really snooze at your desk because you don’t have one, and if you’re always run down, you’ll just end up working from home. And that’s pretty boring, right?

Cut out the junk food by making a few healthy choices throughout the day and healthy eating will become the one habit you never want to break before you know it. Starting the day with a smoothie is awesome. Have a light lunch with a salad and some lean protein like chicken or raw fish, and then make dinner a real event.

Cooking is Fun. Don’t Forget it!

The great thing about cooking is that the more you get into it, the more fun you’ll have doing it. If you want to be able to stick to your new healthy lifestyle, then making sure that your kitchen is always stocked up is the perfect way to get the ball rolling.
Anyone who’s always out and about or loves a bit of freedom throughout the day will love to come home in the evenings and relax. By having a fridge bursting full of healthy choices like organic meat and fresh fruit and veg, you’ll be the girl that your friends envy in no time as you show how easy it is to stick to a diet when you make it fun.

Try a dozen or so different recipes and tweak your favorites so that you can put your own spin on things. Before you know it, you’ll have a home menu that is to die for. Just make sure you have enough in for the friends you meet along the way as they all make a path to your door.

Stay Active: Embrace the Nomad Life

The great thing about being a nomad is that you don’t have to follow the crowd and sit in traffic at the same time each day. Doing that is just no fun, which is why you decided not to do it! Make sure you never lose sight of that by always making the best use of your time and working up a sweat at least once a day.

You could have a set time you work out in the local park if it’s sunny. Or you could join the gym and get through some work before and after at the nearby juice bar. Life as the nomadic woman everyone else envies is all about making time for everything life offers you. If you put aside half an hour a day to work out, you’ll feel the difference in no time at all.

Make the Most of Your Flexibility

People who are chained to their desks in offices all year round wait for those magical two weeks of summer holiday every year. You’re not like that, so make sure you make the most of your hard earned freedom and flexibility by taking yourself away for plenty of week-long breaks and long weekends when you can.

A great way to chill out and get back in touch with the real you is to take a walking holiday every couple of months. By exploring a new country and culture you’ll be able to meet a whole host of new people, enjoy great food, and see some amazing sights along the way.

The Camino de Santiago is a great candidate for your next trip as it boasts hundreds of miles of intertwining trails that can be walked by people of virtually any fitness levels. Ideal if you want to sample some Spanish delights and stretch your legs without burning yourself out.

Anything Else?

Just remember to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’re someone who’s taken a chance and shaped the life that you want to lead, rather than following the crowd.
A true digital nomad should be out there in the world, exploring anything and everything that takes her fancy.

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.

Taste and Lose Your Waist

Speeding up body metabolism has a positive impact on your overall health. Removal of toxins that settle down in the body will help you to throw away these extra kilos easily. Detoxifying regularly or even seasonally will help in enhancing health. There are many easy and natural ways to detox our body. Find the list below, just pick the best one that suits you to slim down and stay fit.

Orange with Berry

Water does wonder to our body. Proper intake of water will always have ample healing benefits. Blueberry with vitamin C is an amazing combination to detoxify your body. Berries are rich in antioxidants, orange with vitamin C makes the blend perfect and tasty. This is super for everyone with a rigid fitness regime.

Green Juice

Amazing balance of fruits and veggies. Apple, Celery, Cucumber, Kale, Lemon, Ginger and mint (for flavor) together is a perfect juice cleanse. Try experimenting with all the ingredients for different tastes that you will never be bored with detox juices. Fruits added to the juice are natural sweeteners so you can avoid additional sugar if you have serious plans for weight loss.

Smoothie

Replace your meal with a glass of fresh detox smoothie. These are weight loss smoothies that are tasty when you fill it with all your favorite ingredients. Kiwi, Banana, Pineapple, Celery, Spinach, and water – just blend and enjoy. This is going to be yummy and a treat for your taste buds. Easy drink to flush away the toxins and lose weight fast.

Organic Teas

Teas are organ supporting herbs that improve the function of natural filtration by helping the body to naturally detoxify the system. Helps to lower the risk of stroke and heart disease, blood pressure keeps energy high and weight low. Basic green and black teas are rich in antioxidants that boost your natural cleaning processes. There are many combinations to choose from like dandelion, lemon jasmine, green tea, ginger, lemon ginger with herbal infusions for healthy living.

Detox Yourself For Clear Skin

Staying hydrated is the best way to detox naturally. Add sliced cucumber, lemon, a strand of mint leaves to plain water and drink it in regular intervals to bring out the clear skin you love. This is working out perfectly, easy and inexpensive too. Lemon water is really good for morning hydration.

Perfect diet at the right time plus little body moves will always keep you stay on the fitness track. There are no hard and fast rules on detoxifying and dieting. Try enjoying balanced food including all your favorites, keep it organic, take varieties, divide your intakes and enjoy.

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.

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.

Guest Post: The Best Time, Surface, and Distance to Run (According to Science)

What is the best time to run? What about even the surface or distance?

These are three biggest questions you probably have as a runner. Is it the predawn or afternoon? Grass or sand? 5k or 10k? Setting all personal preferences aside, is there scientific evidence to choose one option above another?

Let’s see what science has to say about it.

1) Best time to run:

It is hard to pinpoint a time that ticks all the right boxes. The optimal time will differ based on your goals or what you are trying to achieve. If you are concerned about performance, running in the evening will be a better option. If you are looking for a healthy lifestyle, running in the morning is what I recommend.

Benefits of running in the evening:

It is not easy to get up early in the morning and go out for a run. If you are not a morning person, you will find it hard to get out of bed, let alone running the miles. It’s relatively easy to keep up a running routine in the evening.

Second, you are more likely to achieve performance-based targets like better speed or distance in the evenings.

Our circadian biological clock has an effect on our energy levels. It decides when we are more alert or sleepy. Most of us have the highest energy levels around 6 PM in the evening. So, running at this time will yield much better results.

Similarly, our body temperature increases as the day goes by. High-temperature results in more blood flow towards lower extremities. Not only that, but our body produces more testosterone in the evening. The lungs are also functioning better at this time.

Keeping all these factors in mind, it is safe to assume that most of us will perform better in physical activities like running, cycling, or swimming in the evening. This is confirmed by several studies. For example, this study observed that swimmers improved their timing as the day progresses. They were significantly faster at 10 PM compared to 6:30 in the morning. Another study found markedly better performance in the evening.

Benefits of running in the morning:

Ever wondered why running is an integral part of military life? Because waking up early and going out to run is the most effective method to cultivate self-discipline. A very recent research suggests that morning people live longer than night owls.

It is not easy but that’s the main point. You must get out of your comfort zone.

A morning run means that you are done with the most important (and probably the hardest) part of your daily routine (i.e. physical exercise) even before others leave the bed. You will start your day with a great sense of achievement.

Waking up early will drag you to sleep early. It means that the relatively unproductive nighttime will be replaced with the more productive time in the morning.

Running in the natural environment is good for your mental health as well. Going out for the run when the sun is rising will help your body produce cortisol. It’s the hormone that keeps you alert. With all this extra time and energy, you will achieve a lot more during the day.

If you are living in some hot and humid region, early morning is usually the coolest time to run. There’s not much traffic and the air is relatively fresh. I couldn’t find a sizable body of research but this one suggests that the air quality is the best between 5 am to 10 am.

You are more likely to choose healthy diet after long bursts of running. So, a morning routine can be an ideal start to a healthy lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean you will have to compromise on performance. Your body will gradually adjust to your exercise routine and you will be able to perform better. Remember, most marathon or half marathon races take place in the morning. Your body will be better prepared.

2) Best Surface to run

Running is a convenient form of exercise because you can do it at any place and at any time. You can run on concrete, find a jogging track, or do it on the beach. Heck, you can run on mountains if you want.

The only concern is the impact or injury risk with different surfaces. Let’s see if you should really be concerned.

Hard surfaces vs. Soft surfaces:

You might think that there’s a greater chance of injury on the harder surface because of the impact.

Right? Actually not.

Our muscles and ligaments are more capable of adjusting than you may have thought. What actually happens is that we alter the stride and force according to the surface. When we are running on a hard surface, we will be gentle with our stride. And when we are running on softer surfaces, we will hit the ground harder.

That resonates with the findings in our meta-analysis of 150+ studies about arch support. It was observed that runners hit the ground harder when wearing shoes with extra cushion. Not only that, but we tend to land on rear-foot while wearing cushioned shoes, which is not the most efficient way of landing.

It means that choosing a soft surface will usually not result in reduced injuries. This is what scientists found when they observed 291 runners. More than half reported overuse injuries or anterior knee pain. However, different types of surfaces didn’t make a considerable difference to injury rates.

It’s not that the surface doesn’t make any difference. A softer surface like the grass is gentle to your feet and less likely to cause feet or ankle injuries. Stiff surfaces can result in a greater load on Achilles tendon. However, the overall injury rate will stay the same. You might avoid injuries in specific regions like ankle or foot but the load will shift to another part.

In fact, running on relatively hard surfaces like road or asphalt have certain advantages.

First, it is smooth and there’s no chance of injuries caused by an irregular surface like an ankle sprain. Second, you will better prepare for long distance races that usually take place on roads. You will also be able to maintain and improve your form over time.

3) Best Distance to run:

They say, too much of a good thing can be bad and running is no different. Question is, how much running can be considered too much?

The answer will differ from one person to another. It also depends on your age and fitness level. Many competitive runners can run more than 50 miles a week. You don’t need to run that much if you are just looking for the health benefits.

Moderation is the best policy:

There are studies that suggest running just 5 miles a week will give considerable health benefits and significantly reduce the risk of death. The same study found that mortality rate starts to increase as the runners go beyond 20 miles a week.

However, this is not conclusive and there are studies refuting this claim. For example, this one found that health benefits do not exhibit a point of diminishing return at less than 50 miles a week.

Truth is that you shouldn’t be too concerned about the miles. If you are just starting, don’t look at anything more than 1 or 2 miles. Don’t push your body too hard and stop before you feel totally exhausted.

Think of increasing the distance after some weeks. It should be a gradual process. Go for longer distance just once or twice a week and see if your body is coping well. If you feel good after the occasional long runs, you can make it a daily routine.

Remember, it’s better to run 5 miles on a consistent basis than trying to run 10 miles and breaking down. There are exceptions of course. You might have to run much longer distances in the peak weeks when preparing for a marathon. It all depends on your objective, fitness, and stamina. The sweet spot is something between 3 – 6 miles for an average person.

Now you know what science tells us about the best time, surface, or distance to run. Even if you can’t get to run at a time or surface of your choice, don’t use it as an excuse to not run.

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 Eat Your Way To A Healthier Weight

Food means different things to different people. To some, it’s seen as a means to an end, to others an enjoyment, and to a select few an obsession. Although food is there to give us energy, the impact it can have on our bodies has meant that it’s easy to become obsessed over. Whether the obsession is taken to the extreme with weight gain or weight loss, it can often mean that an unhealthy view can be taken. However, food also does a lot of good in the world. It keeps us going, it keeps us happy, and it does have the power to transform a negative obsession into something more healthy.

Whether you want to be able to boost your weight loss or gain to get yourself to a healthier weight, you can do it with food. But, there are a few processes that you will need to put in place. First of all, you’re going to want to adjust your mindset. And secondly, you need to be able to see and use food in new ways. By gaining knowledge and happily adjusting your thought habits, you should be able to eat your way to your own healthy weight range using four simple techniques.

Clean Up Your Diet

Purge The Processed Stuff

The first thing that you need to be able to do is to clean up your diet. Because if you’re trying to reach a goal weight, the foods you eat will matter. You will find that filling up on processed foods will not help you here. So you may want to pinpoint the processed foods you can easily remove from your diet, such as salad dressings. As well as some of the most obvious choices like frozen foods or ready meals.

Cook From Scratch

Following on from this, you should also aim to cook from scratch as often as you can. When you’re eating processed or convenience food, you don’t really know what is in the food you’re eating. So you could be eating more calories than you need to be. Likewise, when you eat out a lot or order in, you could be consuming unhealthy calories that you can easily cut out.

Go Green

Then, you should work on filling up on greens a lot more. It’s important to have more fruits and vegetables in your diet and with your meals. This way, you’re getting enough nutrients in and helping to keep yourself full. So work on adding more leafy greens to your diet if you’re looking to make healthier changes to what you’re eating.

Read The Labels

You will also find that reading the labels on everything you buy will help you to clean up your diet too. Sometimes, there’s a lot more in the food that you eat that you realize. But when you make a habit of reading the labels, you’ll be able to figure out what products you should drop from your diet, as well as getting to know what is in the food that you eat.

Focus On The Macros

Get The Balance Right

The macronutrient makeup of your meals is important. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, or get there, you’re going to need to monitor your macros and ensure that you have the balance between carbohydrates, fats, and proteins just right. If it’s fat loss that you’re after, you need to ensure that your macros work towards fat burning to help you get on the right track.

Play With Your Portions

However, you may realize that not every piece of advice you get on macros and the right balance will work for you. So, you have to be able to play around with your portions in order to find out what works best for you. Because everyone’s body will respond differently to different macro make ups. You need to be able to work with the right percentage of each in order to get your body to respond well.

Switch Up The Ingredients

But you’re also going to want to think about the actual food choices you’re making for each macro. You need to be able to choose good combinations between carbs, fats, and proteins that will work well together, without sticking to the same meals all of the time. So make sure you alternate between ingredients if you’re hoping to get the best results.

Food For Fuel

See Food Differently

However, the way that you’re going to be able to ensure that you can make the right changes to the way you eat is also in your mind, and not just with your food choices themselves. If you’re wondering how long does it take to lose weight? you’re going to need to work on your mental state as well as your choices. To do this, you should try to see food as fuel, rather than an indulgence, to help yourself get on the right track.

Time Your Meals Well

To do this, you should ensure that you’re working with timing when you eat. If you want to be able to get the most amount of energy out of your food, it’s important to eat the right things at certain times of the day – especially when you’re exercising. And you’re going to want to tailor your macros to this too. You may find that low carb evening meals will help you here, depending on your overall goals.

Listen To Your Body

A huge part of making this work for you is to listen to your body. It’s easy to see food as a pleasure source as well as fuel, and cravings can often control this. But you need to be able to identify emotional hunger vs. real hunger. Real hunger can be satisfied by any food and will come on gradually, so try to weed out emotional cravings and focus on fuel.

And Don’t Forget The Snacks

Then, you’re also going to want to work with some energy boosting snacks. When it’s an energy boost you’re after, things like bananas and nuts are great. You will often find that snacking smart can also ensure that you eat well and make healthier meal choices.

Be Smart With Your Habits

Portion Size

Sometimes, it’s not the food that you’re eating that’s the problem, but the portion size. When you’re looking to lose weight, you should bring these in, and if you need to put on weight, you should focus on larger portions. But it’s all relative. You just need to learn to be smarter with the size of your portions.

Eating Environment

Next, you should think about your eating environment. This is one of the most important areas of how your mind and body connect. Because where you eat can affect how much you eat, and your digestion. So always try to eat at a table and focus on your food, rather than mindlessly eating while doing another task, as that can cause you to overeat.

Eating Mindfully

To work with that last point, and not against it, and to really ensure that you can eat your way to a healthy weight, you should work on eating mindfully. By eating more mindfully, you’re more aware of how you eat, your habits, and how to ensure you have a healthy relationship with food. To do this, you will find that eating in silence helps, so does chewing a certain amount of time, or using your other hand to hold the utensils. The aim is to be more aware of yourself eating so that you can stop when you’re full, enjoy the meal, and take a healthier approach to eating in general.

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.

You Shouldn’t “Walk Off” An Injury

While often used as a comedic device, the idea of being able to “walk off” an injury is nevertheless a persistent one. Trip and fall while out running? Walk it off! Stretch too far during a yoga class? Walk it off! However, here are some reasons you shouldn’t walk off an injury.

The whole idea is based on a fundamental lack of understanding about the human body. While there are some injuries which are temporary – momentary spasms of pain that will recede on their own – there is a huge threat caused by trying to “walk off” an injury that can’t be walked off. Of course, you have no way of knowing if the injury you have sustained can be walked off before you try it – but what happens if you give it a go, and what harm are you doing if you’ve calculated incorrectly?

Think About R.I.C.E.

You’re more than likely aware of what “R.I.C.E” means in an injury capacity, but if not, let’s be clear – it’s not this:

What it actually stands for is the way that you should handle an injury:

R – Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation

While you might think you will always know which injury needs the R.I.C.E. treatment and which doesn’t, you’re probably incorrect. R.I.C.E. is not just for those sudden, sharp injuries like turning your ankle – it should also be used for gradual stress injuries, that you might not even notice are building up.

As a rule, if you feel persistent pain – no matter how mild – in any area of your body, it needs to be R.I.C.E-d.

Strength Through Rest

You might think that because you work out regularly, use supplements like AlgaeCal, and have done your research, then you know best. You know that resting an injury can sometimes be worse for it than anything; back injuries, particularly, have a tendency to get worse rather than better if you cease all exercise.

However, learning about the AlgaeCal plant calcium side effects and researching the latest exercise techniques does not mean that you have the power to see into the future. How do you know the pain you’re experiencing in the moment is the kind that won’t benefit from rest?

Put simply: you don’t. It’s great that you have educated yourself on the supplements you should be taking if you exercise regularly and know your way around dealing with workout aches and pains, but you can’t predict the future. It’s far better to stop the moment you feel pain and make a clear-headed assessment of what’s happening to you.

Pain Isn’t Embarrassing

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the “walk it off” line is often used in comedic terms – i.e. someone walks into a door and is told to “walk it off”. This suggests that pain is an embarrassment, the fault of the person who is feeling the pain.

This isn’t the case. It might be embarrassing to trip over while running, but the pain itself should never be a cause for shame. Bodies go wrong. We make mistakes, miscalculate, and hurt ourselves – it’s completely natural. What is embarrassing is trying to carry on when your body is telling you to stop, thereby inevitably making life worse for yourself. Don’t fall into this trap; if something hurts, stop, evaluate, and then make a decision on how to proceed – no matter what anyone else thinks.

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.

Take The Pain Out Of Getting Trim and Toned

Anyone who says losing weight and getting in shape is painless is a liar – or are they? The fact is that often the process of shedding those extra pounds and building up our fitness levels is a long road and one that takes a lot of time, hard work and effort. However, just because taking your body from doughy to trim and perfectly toned can be painful; that doesn’t mean it has to be. The fact is, you can get in much better shape without the stress and hard work that comes with a lot of programs; it’s just a case of knowing what steps you need to take, that’s all. Don’t believe that it is possible to take the pain out of getting trim and toned? Then prepare to be proved wrong – read on for all the best hacks for getting in shape without the pain.

Stand and work

The more you are on your feet each day, the more calories you will burn. If you have a job where you tend to sit for most of the day, it is worth considering swapping to a standing desk. Admittedly, this will only equate to burning an extra 20 calories or so an hour compared to sitting, but over time, it all adds up. If you work for six hours a day, five days a week, using a standing desk will mean that you burn an extra 600 calories per week. Plus, standing will help to tone your legs, bum, and stomach, so on top of burning the extra calories, standing while you work will also increase your body’s toning.

Cooking from scratch is so last year

While cooking from scratch is all well and good, in today’s hectic world it’s not always doable, is it? That’s why it’s easier to opt to follow a diet and fitness plan provided by a specialist company that offers ready made, healthy, calorie-controlled meals. This will make eating healthy (and consuming fewer calories) much easier. Obviously, before you sign up for a certain diet plan, it’s worth looking online for an in-depth diet review of the company and their products, to ensure that it will meet your dietary needs. Cooking from scratch can work well when you’re on a diet, but it’s just too time-consuming for most people.

Tone here, there and everywhere

Don’t leave toning up for the gym, instead aim to tone wherever you are, whatever you are doing. When you are cleaning the house (a task that can burn hundreds of calories each time); tense your stomach and buttocks muscles, to help improve how toned your body is. To tone up your legs and buttocks, always take the stairs at speed, and never use an elevator or escalator. Tone your biceps at your desk by doing bicep curls with a water bottle while you are at work – do this for just a week and you will notice a difference. While watching your favorite TV shows workout – whether that’s with toning pilates exercises, weight lifting, or planking, it doesn’t matter, just make sure to take advantage of this time to tone, instead of being a couch potato.

The fact is that getting trim and toning up is never going to be easy. However, you can take some of the pain out of it by making the process easier to do and simpler to fit into your daily routine.

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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