Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run training blog


Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run training blog Live

Follow along as Sarah Beth Hensley trains for and runs in the Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile race on April 8, 2018.

    About this blog

    Follow along as WTOP's Sarah Beth Hensley trains for and runs in the Cherry Blossom Ten-Mile race on April 8, 2018. In this blog, she'll detail her training and nutrition plans, share her obstacles and ask questions that may help anyone planning to run the race. Sarah Beth is a race ambassador and senior digital editor at
    Have a question, comment or training experience to share? Click "Make a comment" on the gray bar below or email Sarah Beth.


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    I’m a finisher! Cherry Blossom Ten Miler race, training recap

    Wow! What a training season this has been! I tried something new, faced some fears, overcame some trials and worked hard. And it paid off!

    I finished the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday and got my best time yet in that distance -- and got some of the better splits of my running career. On top of that, my adoration for this city and this race bloomed like the flowers overhead. I had such a great time -- and that's considering the frigid temperatures on race day. I'm not one for cold weather!

    A race performance I was proud of was the cherry on top of a taxing training season and a difficult week emotionally. Here's a look back at my week and the lead up to the Cherry Blossom race:
    Monday: I found out over the weekend that my grandmother passed away at 94 years old. It was difficult news for my family. She was tough and brilliant; forthright and nurturing; humorous and mysterious. I'm quite sad about her passing. The fact that her death was somewhat expected didn't make it much easier.
    With that news, training was one of the last things on my mind as the week began. Still, I knew I would spend a lot of the week traveling for her funeral arrangements, so on Monday morning I aimed for an easy workout and did 30 minutes on the elliptical.
    Tuesday: Thank goodness the workouts were shorter this week because I didn't have a ton of time between planning travel to get home, packing and entertaining out-of-town guests staying with us at the time. Some may have called it tapering ahead of the race, but I called it just doing what I had time for. With that in mind, I woke up early to get in five half-mile sprints on the treadmill. My last track workout for this training plan was in the books.
    Wednesday: I had an 8 a.m. flight out of Baltimore before family and funeral events in Southern Kentucky. I knew there was a small likelihood I would get in a run upon arrival, much less the rest of the week, so I laced up for an unbelievably quick run at about 4 a.m. I did about three bleary-eyed miles before getting ready and rushing to the airport.
    Thursday: I took the day off for many reasons. I needed rest. I didn't have time. Also, as much as I love running, it came way behind an important family moment.
    Friday: I convinced my family to join me for a chilly morning run near my sister's house in the Frankfort, Kentucky, area. It was a quick about three-mile jog, but it was nice to get out and breathe in the cold air after a few emotional days. I was grateful I could combine running and family time.

    Saturday: I returned to the D.C. area and had a restful morning before heading to the expo! Full disclosure: I LOVE expos. It’s where excitement for an upcoming race and my run nerdiness combine.
    I love to check out new running gear, learn about fun races around the country, buy some new stuff and get pumped up for the event! Much to the chagrin of many of my expo companions, I could spend all day at the events. 

    On Saturday, I wandered around after getting my bib and t-shirt, purchased a new headband and soaked in the ambiance of an excellent expo! I was ready to go!

    Sunday: RACE DAY!!! It was an early wake up call, but I got out of bed with a smile! I was excited, nervous and ready for this run! After some breakfast, stretching and last-minute layering, I headed to the starting line.

    I must admit, I grinned as the race started — I knew I was prepared, and I had almost no expectations for how I’d like to do, so I was aiming just to go out and have some fun and push myself.

    There were times along the course where I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with happiness. It was a sad week, but I was doing my favorite activity in a beautiful city with nothing but positive energy and nature’s beauty around me. No joke, around mile eight in Hains Point I said out loud, albeit breathlessly, something to the effect of “This is gorgeous. I love running. I am so lucky. This is the best.” Ha ha! I’m sure people around me found it quite odd.

    I finished in a little more than 1 hour, 20 minutes — a pace of about 8:04 per mile. I was really quite pleased with that.

    I adored every moment of this race, and I have loved getting to challenge myself in a new way, both in training and in blogging as a social media ambassador. I have cherished this opportunity and I thank those who have followed along! I hope others enjoyed the race and had fun too.
    I will, as always, continue sharing my running journeys on social media. Check back there for updates in my running life and stay tuned for Marine Corps Marathon training blog posts in the next few months!

    Keep running, folks!

    See more race recaps on the race's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: Technology's place in running

    I have a love-hate relationship with technology -- especially when it comes to running.
    There are times I feel like I can't fathom running without my GPS watch, wireless headphones and smartphone loaded with a few days' worth of music and podcasts. There are other times when technology betrays me and I feel like my reliance is borderline embarrassing (anyone ever had their watch/app not track their run? I've fumed, cursed and darn-near cried when it has happened to me!)
    Also, some of my best runs have been tech-free experiences. I've left tech behind on runs to chat with friends, take in nature or run the pace my body is feeling -- not what my watch challenges me to do. I've chronicled my case for a tech-free run before, for those interested.
    However, with that said, I've loved getting to use new technology and embrace its upsides during this training season!
    I try to cut out technology in at least one of my runs each week, but c'mon -- I'm a social media ambassador! I can't do that without technology! It's ingrained in me to tweet, Instagram and Snapchat my way through training. I can't blog without sharing pictures of technology and talking about what tech works for me. That's just how it is. We live in a tech-reliant world, and I am more often than not, a tech-reliant runner.
    So, in addition to my weekly training recap, I'm including the technology I'm using and what works for me!
    Monday: It was an easy elliptical day after, as usual, I did a long run the day before. My tech use? I tracked the workout on my Apple Watch and used my sweat-proof headphones to plug in and watch TV at the same time. Some days I listen to music on my cellphone using Spotify if there's nothing good on TV.
    Tuesday: I did my track workout on the treadmill early Tuesday. While I hated to go indoors for it, I wasn't really interested in heading outside in the cold. I ran 1.5 miles at race pace followed by four quarter-mile sprints with a two-minute jog between each. One exciting element of my Tuesday workout was a new toy -- a Garmin Forerunner! I've never played with a real Garmin before, so it was fun to try it out! Garmin is a tech sponsor for the Cherry Blossom races and gave the social media ambassadors the watches to test out. It's going to take some getting used to, but I think it has some cool features.
    Wednesday: I took my run outside on Wednesday. I did about 5.6 miles with two one-mile segments at race pace. I went out a tad faster than I had intended, but overall it turned out to be a beautiful run, albeit pretty chilly outside.
    On my outdoor runs, I bring my iPhone so I can listen to music through wireless headphones. The headphones are pretty nifty! Sometimes they are ill fitting, but the audio is amazing! Also, I run with a watch that tracks my mileage, pace and time.
    Any GPS watch is a pretty new development in my life. Up until this past year, I wore only a Timex that clocked my time, so I'm pretty big into mile split times and tracking my improvement now. Technology can be fun -- and make me a more-informed runner!
    Thursday: It was another easy elliptical day. I typically take Thursday as a rest day, but with Easter plans Sunday morning and visitors heading to town Friday, I figured it was best to squeeze in one more day while I could. Since it was just another simple, easy elliptical day, I merely listened to the TV while I worked out. No major tech advancements here!
    Friday: Rest day! While I took the day off, that doesn't mean I'm took it off from technology. I track my steps and try to get my heart rate up even on days that I don't run. While my step counts are usually distressingly low on days I don't exercise, I still try to get more than 10,000 steps!
    On this particular Friday, I took the dog on a long walk thanks to some warmer weather, which helped bump me to more than 10,600 steps.
    Saturday: I moved my long run to Saturday since I planned to attend Easter sunrise service, which interfered with my typical Sunday long-run schedule. I did a tad more than 8 miles at a decent pace. I felt great, and managed to stop to snap some photos of the beautiful blooms around town.
    For this long run, I decided to listen to a new podcast downloaded onto my iPhone, and I tracked my run using my GPS watch. For part of the run, I ran in silence. I'm so used to doing my long runs with other people that I like to unplug a bit and chat. If no one is there with me, I'm OK to be alone with my thoughts and listen to the pounding of my own feet. It can be kind of therapeutic.
    Sunday: It was another day off -- and one with very little technology, too. I celebrated Easter and spent the time with family. Although technology can improve so many aspects of life, it's important to recognize there are days when it's best to unplug and unwind with loved ones.
    We are less than a week away from the race! How is your training going?
    If you're training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler too, share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: Snow my goodness

    This week marked three weeks and counting until the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race, the first few days spring and the not-so-seasonal occurrence of inches of snow!

    Snowy sidewalks on Wednesday -- the first day of Spring?!?!
    I was not in the mood for the snow this past week. It’s March — I think Mother Nature missed the memo that we are all ready for shorts and sunshine. Instead, I’m pulling out my snow boots and ice scraper.
    This week’s snowy, chilly and windy weather certainly interfered with my running plans, but I rolled with the punches … er, wind gusts? … and made the best of the situation.
    Here’s a look at my workouts from this past week:
    Monday: It was an easy day of 40 minutes on the stationary bike after I ran more than 10 miles the previous day. My legs were pretty sore on Monday morning, and I had been traveling Sunday evening, so I was OK to take it easier.
    Tuesday: I did a ladder track workout on the treadmill instead of braving the cold outdoors. I ran 1 mile, followed by .75 miles, .50 mile, .25 mile all with three easy minutes in between. It was a challenge!
    Wednesday: OK, I told myself I would go do my hill workout slated for Wednesday outside. The plan called for four-six hill runs; hard up, fast down — and that’s kind of a workout you need to do outside, right? However, on Tuesday night, meteorologists called for up to 12 inches of snow in D.C. and when I woke up Wednesday, there was already plenty of snow on the streets and more coming down fast. I wasn’t quite committed enough to want to run several hilly miles in those conditions, so I went for the treadmill again. 

    While I feel like my workout wasn’t as good as had I done it outside, I still ran more than 5.5 miles and did four hills using the incline on the treadmill. That’ll do!
    Thursday: After two hard running days and snow/slush/ice still clinging to my neighborhood sidewalks, I was elated to have this day off!
    Friday: Should I run outside? Should I run on the treadmill? I woke up Friday going back and forth. I put on my pants to run outside, and then chickened out, switching to fewer clothes for an indoor run. I just wasn’t in the mood face the cold. Plus, I told myself, these miles are supposed to be easy, and I tend to take things easier on the treadmill. 
    Still conflicted, I jumped on the treadmill. I actually had a really nice run of seven miles that seemed to be done in no time.

    Saturday: Another day off! I spent it running errands and resting my weary legs.
    Sunday: There was no backing out of this outdoor run! I do the Potomac River Running group on Sunday mornings, and it happens no matter the weather. So I bundled up for mid 30-degree temperatures in the morning. 
    While it wasn’t too bad, the wind was no joke and made my nine miles more difficult. It was still a great long run to finish out a week I wasn’t quite expecting!

    If you're training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler too, share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: Running on the road

    I love traveling, in case this weren’t already evident from my numerous destination posts. I love traveling about as much as I love running — and I’m happiest when I can combine running AND traveling.

    That was one of the best parts of this week. I went to Florida over the weekend to visit my family where I got to walk, hike, play outdoor games and got in one excellent long run. Running - check; traveling - check; sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and 80s - check!

    Here’s a look back at of my build-up to Florida and a look at how my week in workouts went:

    Monday: It was an easy bike workout for me on Monday. I ran my best time ever in the half marathon just two days before, so I was still pretty sore. After the about 35 minutes on the bike, I knocked out some abs, did some stretching and rested.

    Tuesday: I’ve really grown to enjoy my track workout days! I took to the treadmill to do seven half-mile repeats with a one-minute jog in between. I was supposed to do between four and eight of the repeats … and I’m pretty sure I was at seven. I lose count so easily!

    Wednesday: I had intended to do my run outside, but Wednesday was a particularly chilly, windy day, which deterred me from wanted to head outside at all. So, being the wimp that I am, I ran on the treadmill and did about 5.7 miles with two 10-minute segments at an up-tempo. 

    I felt pretty good during the run, but was trying to be cognizant of my recovering body and tired legs after the half marathon. Still, I finished the run feeling strong.
    Thursday: I would usually take this day off, but I was traveling on Friday and knew it would be tough to get a run in once I arrived at my destination. So I opted to do about 45 easy minutes on the elliptical.
    Friday: I headed to Florida first thing Friday morning… and I do mean first thing! I got up around 4 a.m. so I could get to the airport around 5 am. Packing for a trip where I plan to run can be challenging — I take way too many running outfits. I belabor if I need pants or shorts; long sleeves or short sleeves; particular headphones; new running shoes or old ones (you never know if the airline will lose the whole bag!); a hat, scarf or gloves. I wind up packing it all and find myself with more running attire options than day-to-day wear.
    With alllllll the running clothing secure in my bag, I headed to Florida … where I promptly wore none of it on Friday. Pool time took precedent. Now, if only I had packed more than one swim suit …
    Saturday: I spent the day traveling around Florida with my family. We enjoyed some amazing seafood and visited De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, Florida. At the national memorial, we hiked and took in some beautiful beach scenes.
    The view from a beach at De Soto National Memorial.
    Despite all the hiking and outdoor time, I never managed to go on a run. There’s nothing like waiting until the last day of the week for a 10-mile run!
    Sunday: Procrastination helps with motivation, right? I put off my long run until Sunday -- not because I necessarily wanted to, but because sometimes it’s hard to get up and get it done when you’re traveling. With that said, I had a lovely 10-mile run through my parents’ community in Florida. While it was a hazy, humid run, I couldn’t have been happier to break out the shorts, T-shirt and sunscreen for this one! (OK, I guess I didn’t need long sleeves and pants.)

    I cooled down and joined my family for pickle ball and bocce ball in their community.
    Post pickle ball congratulations for the winning team.
    It was so nice to run, hike and play games outside in Florida’s warmth that I wasn’t quite ready to come back Sunday night to D.C.’s chilly temperatures. And with more cold, snowy, blustery weather in the forecast, I’m not too excited about bundling up for my runs again this week.
    I missed my =PR= running group this week, which makes me sad, but I’ll be there for the next few weeks as my travel schedule winds down. 
    I can’t wait for the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile race and for the challenges it will bring — no matter the weather!
    Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler as well? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: When hard work pays off

    I know it sounds cliche, but hard work pays off. That maxim cycled through my head as I ran the Rock ’n Roll half marathon this weekend — and finished with a personal best.
    I ran feeling fresh and energized. I pushed myself and was surprised when I still has some gas left in the tank in the last 5k. It didn’t hurt that the weather was pretty favorable, albeit chilly, and the sunshine was a welcome sight. Still, I attribute a new personal record time (!) to hard work, a structured training plan with some speed work and coming to know myself as a runner.
    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m training with the Potomac River Running group and have found the workouts to be challenging. The training plan pushes me outside my comfort zone and encourages me to run harder and faster than I would otherwise. It’s rather easy for me to mindlessly go out and run six miles on the treadmill or around my neighborhood; this training plan asks for that, but adds in hill workouts, sprints and surges in the middle of the runs. I think a lot of my success this weekend is because of those trials.
    Also, at this point in my life and running career, I know myself. I’ve run about 15 half marathons and I’m aware of my capabilities and I know when aches and pains are more likely to slow me down or sideline me. I’m practiced at when I need fuel along the course and I know the value of water stops. I’m positive I can finish races, but I know when I need to pull back if it’s not my best day. I certainly don’t have this whole running thing figured out, but I have learned to listen to my body, understand its limitations and embrace what it’s capable of.
    All of these things combined with a little bit of tenacity helped push me to my best half marathon ever. And it makes me that much excited to do the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler!

    Here’s a look at how my week in training went leading up to Saturday’s race … hint: it required some tapering and resting — score!
    Monday: As with most other Mondays, I took it a tad easier after a late Sunday evening long run. It was a 30-minute elliptical kind of day. Nothing too fancy to report here.
    Tuesday: Track workout time! I followed the =PR= program’s suggested workout and did one mile at race pace and then five quarter-mile sprints with a two-minute jog in between each sprint. I did this one on the treadmill, and boy did it kick my butt! It was tough. Also, I spent a lot of time trying to remember exactly how many quarter-mile sprints I did … does anyone else lose count as much as I do?
    Wednesday: Sometimes it’s tough for me to do back-to-back running days. I’d prefer to do some other type of workout between my running days, but I felt like I couldn’t push it off because I wanted to leave myself enough time to taper and rest before the race. With that said, on Wednesday morning I took to the streets to knock out my first hill workout of this training program. 
    It called for five to six miles containing four to six hill runs that last about one minute each. To make it more onerous, the workout called “hard up, fast down” and a one-minute rest in between hills. Just when you think you’re done after you charge up the hill, you have to turn right around and run fast back down the hill. “Greaaaaaat,” I thought. In reality, it wasn’t so bad! I chose the only real “hill” in my neighborhood … the actual Hill, or rather the sidewalk that surrounds the Capitol building. I did five hills and ran a tad more than six miles.

    Thursday: With two days until the half marathon, and pretty sore legs, I went back to the gym for an easy workout. I did about 40 minutes on the elliptical to help me taper for the race. This day also included a lot of stretching, drinking plenty of water and mindful eating.
    Friday: It was a rest day, but an exciting one! I went to the Rock ’n Roll Expo where I picked up my packet, race gear and shopped around too! A fun fact about me: I love expos. I’m a pretty big running nerd, so this is my scene. I love to learn about other fun races, peruse new gear options, snag free samples, test new foods, scope out the course and get pumped up for the race ahead. I’m a kid in a candy shop (sorry to borrow another tired cliche). 

    The rest of Friday evening was spent laying out clothing options for the morning, finalizing a playlist and resting up for the big day!
    Saturday: I was up early and getting ready for the race. Again, the race itself went great, and I felt better than I have in years running that distance. I’m so glad to have another 13.1-miles in the books and feel really proud about how I did.

    Sunday: You better believe this is a rest day. I’ve spent it icing, stretching and relaxing. And I’ve earned it, I like to think.
    With this goal behind me, I’m setting new ones for the Cherry Blossom race based on my pace and looking forward to another chance to challenge myself. Hopefully more hard work yields even better results!
    Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler as well? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.


    Running for the weekend

    Another week of training is in the books! This week was filled with travel, friends and not-so-healthy food. I got in my workouts, but that doesn’t mean it was easy! I ran hard for the first part of the week to make up for an entertaining weekend out of town.
    I visited a friend in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the back half of the week. It was lovely to spend time visiting and exploring a new city – yet I pay a price with travel. More on that later…
    With that said, here’s a look at how things went this week:
    Monday: I did 40 minutes on the stationary bike. My body was quite sore after I ran 12 miles on Sunday afternoon with my Potomac River Running group. While it wasn’t a workout of the highest caliber, it was nice to get up and move my aching legs.
    Tuesday: Track workout day! I’ve really come to enjoy the track workouts that are part of my PR training program. On Tuesday, I turned to the treadmill to do five three-quarter-mile runs with a quarter-mile jog in between. I like the variation of these track workouts and find that they really push me. Typically, it’s so easy for me to jump on the treadmill and jog for several miles. I space out; I focus on the TV; I forget to challenge myself. The track workouts, whether outdoors or indoors, lead to me pay attention to mileage, speed and timing.
    Wednesday: It was a chilly morning, but I laced up and did six miles around town. It’s a funny thing: what I always anticipate will be tough, too-cold-to-run miles turn out to me wonderful, peaceful, enriching runs. This was no exception. I did about six-and-a-half miles, stopping to snap a sign that spring is on the way.
    Thursday: I normally take Thursdays as a rest day … a much-needed reprieve after a few days in a row of running. However, I planned to drive to Charlotte very, very early Friday morning, so I didn’t want to pile too much on for Friday.
    So I added a 30-minute elliptical workout on Thursday. It wasn’t great – I was feeling pretty wiped, and I was a tad stressed thinking about all that I needed to get done before heading out of town. Massive mental checklists don’t make for thoughtful workouts, I find. Still, I was pleased to get a half hour in before leaving town.
    Friday: I woke up around 4 a.m. to get ready and hit the road for Charlotte! It was a long travel day, and filled with excitement by the time I arrived. I visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame shortly after arriving. Now I barely know a single thing about NASCAR, but I’m ALWAYS down for a good museum – and this one didn’t disappoint. It was interactive, engaging and a ton of fun.
    Oh yeah, I took the day off. All that NASCAR knowledge can leave a girl with an empty tank. Get it? Empty tank? (sheesh.)
    Saturday: Another day in Charlottesville meant brewery tours on tap and go-kart racing full speed ahead. A day jam-packed with activities (and some light day-drinking), meant my run didn’t happen. Another day off? You won’t hear me complaining.
    Sunday: With all that fun and fried food behind me, I headed home. But not without a traffic-filled drive back from North Carolina. I finally arrived home Sunday night, and squeezed in a six-and-a-half mile run in on the treadmill. I didn’t feel great after a weekend of less-than-stellar food and drink choices, so it was a bit of a struggle. The only redeeming quality of this run was that the Oscars were on … the perfect distraction for this movie lover.
    So with that, another week behind me and less than a week until the D.C. Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon. I’ll start tapering for that mid-week – all with an eye on the forecast. I’m hoping for a dry race day!
    Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: Every day counts

    Another chilly and rainy Sunday long run with the Potomac River Running training group.
    This week was a steady one for me. It was one where I got all my workouts in and felt pretty good during my runs. The miles came easy, and while there were fewer miles since it was a recovery week, I was reminded that every day counts and every mile matters.
    Sometimes it’s easy during training to feel like I need to push myself every mile and every workout needs to be at 100 percent. Often I get a no-days-off mentality where I need to train hard to do well. After years of running, I know that’s not the case for me. My rest days can be as important as my running days.
    This week reiterated that every workout can forward my progress and every rest day is meaningful.
    A mentality that each workout is a demonstration of progress can be rewarding and help get me out the door to run. It helps me savor the good runs, and helps me bounce back from the bad runs.
    Here’s a look at how my week went:
    Monday: I did 45 easy minutes on the stationary bike to ride out some soreness my tired legs were feeling after my 10-mile run on Sunday with the Potomac River Running group. It was a no-brainer — I woke up, strolled to the gym and knocked out the time while catching up on news. Easy — even by Monday standards. Even though it was common sense to do a lower-key workout, it was progress to take an easier, lower-impact route to help with recovery and amp me up for the week ahead.
    Tuesday: OK this is where things got tougher. Tuesday was my track workout and, as you’ll recall, the start of a warm stretch in the D.C. area. I woke up and wanted to run the workout (mile repeats) outside, but was flummoxed over what to wear — it wasn’t warm enough for shorts, but could be once I got started. I belabored my clothing options (as I’m often known to do), before settling and heading out the door. I was a tad warm, but I nailed five mile repeats. The first two were at race pace with a two-minute rest and the remaining three were at a 10k pace with a three-minute jog in between.
    It was a difficult workout, but again, an attitude that every mile is movement toward my goals helped propel me forward. Oh yeah, and the sunshine didn’t hurt.
    Mile repeats day! I knocked out a few of the miles in Lincoln Park in Northeast D.C.
    Wednesday: I ran three easy miles. They were slow, which was needed after the more strenuous track workout. Nothing too exciting to report. While three leisurely miles may not seem like much, it was advancement — these miles mattered.
    Thursday: I took the day off. And while it felt like I wasn’t doing anything, I recognized how important it is for my body to have the day off. My legs need to rest and I had other things that deserved time and attention. I focused on stretching and walking my dog. These activities were not only rewarding physically, but also mentally. Every day matters — even the ones you take off from exercise.
    Friday: It was another round of easy miles. I did four on the treadmill, and while my legs were still heavy and tired, I reminded myself about the importance of following the plan and keeping my miles slow and steady. There was nothing to be gained from going out and killing the miles; even slower miles count and keep my body ready for longer weekend runs ahead.
    Saturday: It was another day off, and with errands and projects, I was bustling about through the afternoon. Still, a mindful dinner and relaxing evening helped me appreciate the time off from running.
    Sunday: I met up with my Potomac River Running training group and saw the value of rest, hard work and building from the previous day. I ran 12 miles; seven of which were with the group, and the remaining by myself. I felt great — which I credit to a balance of knowing when to push and when to rest. I’m running the Rock ’n’ Roll half marathon in D.C. in two weeks and I wanted to add one some extra mileage to help prepare for that, but I know these miles will help me finish that race, and help me work toward Cherry Blossom 10-miler goals, too. These miles, and all the ones preceding them this week, mattered. 

    So if I ever feel like workouts are pointless or I’m not in the mood to do them, I remember that I will feel better with each passing day of hard work. I know that not every week will be easy, but I hope these weeks of challenges and time spent pushing myself will lead to meeting goals and rewards beyond running.
    Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Weekly training recap: How do people do it?

    Balancing work, life, exercise and hobbies can be trying for everyone -- and this past week, I got a taste of just how difficult it can be for most people.
    I work at WTOP, a 24-hour-a-day news station, where the newsroom can be just as bustling at 9 a.m. as it is at 9 p.m. In contract with many jobs with more conventional hours, our newsroom staffers maintain some odd shifts. While I don't work a particularly "odd" shift, I don't work a "normal" one either -- meaning I work afternoon hours into evening hours. I have just about all morning to do as I please.
    This week, my hours were shifted from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. to train some of's newest employees. It was a thrill to do something different and perhaps get to enjoy some of the luxuries of available evenings with family and friends. But with that, my usual slower-paced mornings where I typically spend an hour or so running or at the gym, were transformed into a full-tilt sprint to get up and out the door in time, only to face hoards of other commuters. In my normal shift, I saunter home in the evening and relax. The 5 p.m. rush-hour crowd is ... well ... cut throat.
    Needless to say, my week of living like just about everyone else was eye-opening -- a wonderful, shocking and tiresome change. I really don't mean to be dramatic; I know people make sacrifices and make life work. I enjoyed working "normal" hours, but it's interesting to see how one minor change in life -- even in the short term -- can impact other parts of life.
    So with that said, my workouts took a little bit of a hit -- I had to fight more crowds at the gym, more traffic on my outdoor runs and eke out any motivation to work out in the evening.
    Here's a run down of how a this week's workouts went:
    Monday: I set my alarm to get up to work out before heading to the office. When my alarm went off at 6:15 a.m., I hit snooze, of course, then turned it off. A back-up alarm rang at 6:30 a.m., which I promptly snoozed ... and then snoozed again, and once more for good measure. By the time I woke up, I barely had enough time to shower, inhale some breakfast and head out the door. Awesome. I managed to head to the gym in the evening, but I felt gross after dinner and had to wait in line to get a machine ... All. The. People.
    Tuesday: I promised myself I wouldn't screw this up a second day: I woke up early ... like 6:15 a.m. (!) to do my track workout on the treadmill (because it was cold outside and we've already established I'm not a fan of freezing weather.) When I got to the gym, all of the treadmills were taken. I paced, waited for a machine, stretched (to stop from tapping my toes) and contemplated bundling up and taking this run outside as the minutes ticked by. I kept thinking, "I better get a treadmill soon because if I wait any longer, I won't be able to do more than half of my workout and then it will all be worthless." So dramatic, I know. 
    Finally, about 10 minutes later, someone finished using the treadmill and I was up next. I had enough time to knock out seven .50-mile repeats with a one-minute jog in between. I had wanted to do eight reps, but there just wasn't time. I had wanted to jog a little longer in between reps, but I couldn't budget that much time either. I could already tell I was going to be late to work.
    Wednesday: OK, by Wednesday I had an idea. A way I could get in my workout, not have to get up super early, and hopefully avoid the nasty rush hour -- a run commute! So I packed my bag of clothes, took the Metro to work, and ran home in the evening, a roughly five-mile distance from my office. It was wonderful! It was one of those runs that made me love running as much as the fact that I was escaping traffic. I was feeling the love; it's no coincidence it was Valentine's Day too.
    Read more about my tips to run commute here.
    Thursday: It was my day off. But also, by this point I was in no mood to get up early or force an evening workout.
    Friday: "OK, Sarah Beth. You will get up early and run, you will get up early and run." It was the phrase I repeated to myself late Thursday into Friday morning. I got up early, but not early enough. (Dang snooze button!) I was supposed to do between five and seven easy miles, and I had wanted to do seven. Time only allowed for five. It is what it is, I guess. How do you people do it????
    Saturday: Another off day, but I spent it getting new running shoes at Potomac River Running! I'm so, so excited about the new shoes and I had the best experience ever. I had gone through the running analysis at specialty running stores before, but admittedly it had been years since my last one. It was awesome to have my gait and running style analyzed and pick shoes that fit my running form and foot. Bonus: my shoes (Brooks' Ghost 10) are what I like to call "cherry blossom" pink!
    Sunday: It was time for the PR Running group run! I did 10 miles from Georgetown onto the mall and around Hains Point. It was a chilly morning, but a peaceful one. Overall, I felt great and it was an excellent cap to what had been a slightly more trying week.
    I'm back to my regular work life Monday, so thanks, D.C. for allowing just one more commuter on the roads, one more runner on the sidewalks, one more body on the Metro and one more grumbler about routine order.
    Are you training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler? Share your journey and see others on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.
    I hate the cold, but I think I hate the treadmill more. I would rather run outside in the wind and freezing temps than be stuck inside on a dreadmill. 8 miles on the treadmill?! I'm super impressed!

    Weekly training recap: I'm a cold-weather wimp

    Cold-weather running isn't my thing. I mean, I get it -- it's very, very few people's "thing." But I truly detest it ... until I get started.

    Going outside for hours when it's freezing and windy is not the most welcoming workout. And this past week wasn't even that cold -- in fact, this rainy Sunday was down right balmy. Yet cold weather makes it tough for me to get motivated and head out the door. Each time, I yearn for warmth as I add what feels like a dozen layers, stretch my tight, chilly muscles and bundle up for a brisk air bludgeoning. And then I start running, warm up and immediately forget about my aversion to running outside. The frigid air jolts my body in a refreshing way.

    Overall, my hatred for running in the cold isn't about motivation. I love running! I'm just a weather wimp ... and perhaps this past week was difficult in contrast to my warm, sunny runs from last week.

    Not running outside is pretty easy for me too. There are treadmills in my apartment building. The treadmills are pretty nice, almost always available and connected to a television -- hello "House Hunters" while I run! So sometimes it's a no brainer to log indoor miles.

    All this to say that this week's workout recap included a lot more treadmill runs than I would have preferred. While I love the treadmill, I'd much rather include a nice mix of treadmill and outdoor running. This week heavily favored the indoor workouts.

    As it warms up, I'll head outside more often -- I think I get a better workout when I run outside; I tend to push myself a bit more and disconnect from the phone and TV. Running outside, whatever the weather, is a chance to clear my mind and let my legs carry my down the street. And with more than a month until the first day of spring, here's hoping I buck up even if there's not a warm up.

    Here's my workout recap from this past week:

    Monday: Elliptical for 40 minutes. It was a late-night, squeeze-in-before-I-went-to-bed workout after I returned from a weekend of traveling.

    Tuesday: Track workout: 1.5 miles at race pace with a 3-minute jog; 6 x .25 mile with 1-minute jog.

    Wednesday: 4.5 miles (on the treadmill). It was another days of rushing to get in some morning miles before a busy day.

    Thursday: Elliptical for 45 minutes.

    Friday: My lone outdoor run -- 6 miles in 29-degree weather. Brrrrrrr. In reality it was super nice once I got started and I was glad I took my run outside. I took the miles easy and relaxed and it was a beautiful start to the weekend!

    Saturday: Rest

    Sunday: 8 miles on the treadmill. After another weekend of traveling -- this time Philadelphia to visit friends, I waited far too long in the day to start my miles. By the time I made it back home Sunday, unpacked, ate a quick bite and relaxed a bit, the sun had set and my motivation for a outdoor run had dwindled. Even through I resorted to the treadmill, it was an excellent opportunity to catch up on the Olympics! Now that's some cold weather!

    Check back for future weekly training recaps, and see others who are sharing their training adventures on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    What happens in Vegas, gets posted on the internet

    One week down in official Cherry Blossom Ten Miler training ... and what a week it was! I spent part of the past week on vacation in Las Vegas -- a city that has the potential to throw anyone starting a training plan off course.

    But as with any trip, it’s all about balance and prioritizing healthy habits. I never said it was easy ... but it can be done.

    Instead of constant casino time or booze guzzling, I opted to spend time hiking Red Rock Canyon taking in nature’s beauty. I went for a run near downtown Las Vegas, enjoying the sights as much as the day’s warmth.

    Hiking in Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas.
    At this point in my running life, my friends and family know I’m going to make time to run. Late nights out in Vegas don’t make it easy, but it’s known I will move mountains to get my runs in. Read more about tips for training on the road here.
    Side note: I’ve been to Vegas many times  — in fact a few years ago I went there to run a half marathon on the Strip — and done it up big. So I’m not bothered to skip “traditional Vegas” for something a little different.
    One thing that is tough for me when traveling no matter the destination — not eating like garbage. Airport Chick-Fil-A can be hard to turn down when you’re hungry or tired (or let’s be honest, it’s hard to turn down anytime.) Vegas buffets, In-N-Out Burger, pizza and pancakes called to me this week ... and I succumbed. You know why? Because it’s a vacation. I’m human and I have cravings and healthier food seems hard to come by on some trips. 
    I think, once again, it’s all about balance. Eat healthy when you’re able and be conscious of what you’re using to fuel your body. But don’t be delusional and think you’re heading to Vegas and eating celery and tofu the whole time. It’s not realistic. (Unless you have severe dietary restrictions and in that case, I’m sorry.) I’m no dietician, but indulgence is one of life’s necessities.
    So I’m headed into this next week of training with some sunburn, dehydration, jet lag and tighter-fitting pants, but that’s life. Run happy and enjoy travel.
    Here's a quick recap of my (less-structured) training plan from this past week:
    Monday: Elliptical for 40 minutes
    Tuesday: 5-mile run
    Wednesday: 4-mile run at race pace
    Thursday: Elliptical for 45 minutes
    Friday: Flight to Vegas in the early morning, hike
    Saturday: 6-mile run
    Sunday: rest
    Check back for future (and more detailed) weekly training recaps, and see others who are sharing their training adventures on the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler's Link Up page.

    Let the training begin …

    The group run on Sunday morning through a foggy, misty Capital Crescent Trail. I'm the one in the white jacket and turquoise hat. (Courtesy Laetitia-Laure)
    Today marked the first day of officially training for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler! 

    While I’ve been out for trudging through some cold-weather runs for the past few months, I haven’t been officially in training mode until today. I am training with the D.C. Potomac River Running group in Georgetown on Sunday mornings, and today’s training run was both informative and fun!

    I have never trained for a race with a training group before, and although I haven’t invested too much time in the experience yet, I can already tell it’s going to be exactly what I need.

    Throughout my running career I’ve been very intrinsically motivated to get up early, put in the miles and compete my hardest. I love running, so it’s not difficult to convince me to pound the pavement. But training solo has its downsides — there have been times I have run exactly what an online training plan calls for regardless of weather or how I was feeling, or I run too slow or even too fast. 

    Running groups bring accountability for those who lacked the motivation, I thought, so I didn’t need to pay to join a group. I tended to relish that I didn’t need others to help me reach my goal — “what a waste of money,” I said to myself.

    Now I realize that running groups are a way to get involved in the running community, meet other runners and work toward a common goal. Additionally, the coaches — a wealth of knowledge themselves — can help me tailor my plan if weather, injuries or illness interfere. Also, they have tips on nutrition, stretches, recovery, running style and so much more to help me run my best race.

    I’m looking forward to picking my coaches’ brains on things such as injury prevention, race strategies and gear.

    So while I’m just in the infancy of my training, I’m going to be looking forward to group runs on Sunday morning! I'm sure it will be the focus of many more blog posts to come.

    The training group stretches before taking on in Georgetown Sunday morning. (Courtesy Laetitia-Laure)

    My journey as a 'race ambassador'

    Here we go! I was selected to be a race ambassador for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, which will take place April 8, 2018.
    I’m so grateful to have been chosen for this – I love running, springtime in D.C. and cherry blossoms! This is a super fun race, and I’m delighted to be training for it again. And, let’s be honest, I love any outlet to talk about running.
    In this blog, I’ll be writing about my training plan, the obstacles I face, nutrition, apparel and more. I’m happy to field and questions readers may have about my endeavors or approaches to running. I hope I can be helpful to runners of any level!
    A little bit about me as a runner: I’ve been running distance since I was about 12 years old and ran cross country and track through high school. After that, I was a recreational runner, putting in miles when I wanted and competing in 5K or 10K races ever year or so. I ran my first half marathon in 2012, and I was hooked on longer-distance races after that. Since then, I’ve competed in about 15 half marathons and five marathons.
    This will be my second Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile race.
    A post-Cherry Blossom race photo with my husband in 2014.
    But even though I’ve been through this song and dance before, I learn more about myself and what works for my body all the time. I recognize I’m not the runner I was even a year ago. Sure, running is one foot in front of the other – but my journey has developed far beyond that simplistic approach.
    I'll officially start training in a few weeks, so stick around, check back often and feel free to follow my social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram) for the latest, too! 
    And don't forget to add this to your calendar -- the race's lottery opens on Dec. 1 and extends through 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 11 on the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler's website.
    Happy running!

    Mission accomplished

    Finisher medal for the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    It’s all about perspective. I have to keep reminding myself of that. I finished the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday – but it wasn’t my proudest performance.
    I felt great ahead of the marathon, and I started out feeling wonderful and strong. I ran some of my fastest splits for the first 13 miles. But then around mile 14 muscle cramps set in.
    Burning, painful charley horses crept up my quads, into my calves and feet as the miles mounted. I was forced to walk, setting me off pace and causing me to question if I would finish.
    The last 10 miles were the most difficult I’ve experienced in my running career. But I finished.
    I was disappointed with how I had done. But I finished.
    Did I let the heat get to me? Did I start off too fast? Did I not drink enough water or Gatorade? Did I not stretch enough? The questions pelted me as I ran, and linger well after the race ended. But I finished.
    I finished about 10 minutes later than my goal time; it wasn’t my best time, and it wasn’t my worst. I grimaced as I approached the end. But I finished.
    As I lamented my performance after the race, upset with my race strategy and pain (which I had never experienced in any of my other four marathons, nor during training runs), my husband, family, friends and coworkers reminded me about an impressive accomplishment: I finished.
    Some days you beat the race, and other days the race beats you. But, again, it’s all about perspective. I wasn’t pleased with how I ran, but I still was able to cross the finish line of a truly inspiring race.
    Where do I go from here? You better believe I will be back to run the 43rd Marine Corps Marathon. I may not have had my best race on Sunday, but I still love running and I still adore the Marine Corps Marathon race. I still cherish my time running and value my interactions with so many people in the running community. Between now and then, I’ll be running other races around the country and the D.C. area – let me know if you have any recommendations! Follow me on Twitter to get more information about those adventures.
    To all the other Marine Corps Marathon runners, congratulations! You have a lot to be proud of. Let me know how you did and what's next on your race calendar. But for now, relax, indulge, stretch and rest. Mission accomplished!
    Miss any of WTOP's coverage? Check out our Marine Corps Marathon page with photos, details about the day and a follow up about how runners spotlighted on WTOP finished.
    I was quite exhausted after a less-than-stellar marathon performance, but Mission Accomplished nonetheless. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)

    Tips to calm pre-race nerves

    Getting nervous about an upcoming race? Here are some tips to quell your anxieties. (Thinkstock)

    Here is comes! Race day is almost here -- and I can already feel that pit in my stomach. 

    Pre-race anxiety can be overwhelming and perhaps crippling. The pre-race jitters get to me. It happens to me sometimes days before races I have already run. My anxiety tends to be even higher if it's a course I've never run or a town I don't know well.

    Being nervous before a race is totally normal -- it signifies that you're excited about the event; but don't let it get the best of you. Here are some tips that I use to get through those pre-race nerves and have a good run.

    1. Check out the course. Knowing what to expect out of the course can help reduce nervous energy. It's great to get out and run part of the course ahead of race day. If you can't do that, you can try to drive it, bike it or walk part of it. If all else fails, study the course map on the Marine Corps Marathon website.

    2. Trust your training. You put in the miles. You got up early. You earned the blisters. You nursed the sore muscles. You trained like a beast -- now trust the plan and know that your body is ready. Conversely, if you didn't train the way you should have, trust that you need to temper your expectations.

    3. Give yourself time to get to the starting line. I'm most stressed out when I feel rushed. I'm more likely to be frazzled on mornings that I slept in too late or didn't give myself enough time to get through my pre-race routine. Know how long it's going to take to get to the starting line and add extra time you may need for things like wardrobe changes, gear check, stops at the bathroom, security and stretching.

    4. Have a plan. Visualize what you're going to do on race day and know what your goals are and the best way to achieve them. Do you need to start at a certain time or with a certain group? Do you need to be at a certain pace at the beginning of the race, or are you trying to hold back for the first few miles? Coming up with a race-day plan can help you map out the strategy and be less anxious leading up to the race.

    5. Study. Know where gear check is before the race, know where food and water stops are along the course, figure out what to wear based on the weather. Doing some research and study the details before the big day can help you know what to expect and can reduce stress and pre-race nerves. (FYI -- get information about where food, water and aid stations are along the course here. Find information about gear check and other frequently asked questions here.)

    6. Breathe deep. Getting in a few deep breaths and focusing on the mission can help you relax and ease some tension.

    Now knock down those nerves and run your race! You can do this!

    The case for a tech-free run

    I'm a sucker for running gadgets. I just got a GPS watch after weighing the purchase for years; I run with music, apps and what promise to be sweat-proof headphones (they aren't.) As someone who works in the digital sphere, I fancy myself a tech-savvy person -- and take full advantage in my running life, too.
    But this past week, I went on my last (!) long, long, long run before the Marine Corps Marathon and ran tech free for most of it. And I loved it.
    I usually bring my tech with my on all runs -- arm band, phone, GPS watch. Music helps push me; and I've already shared about how comedians can take my mind off the harder workouts. Still, there is something to be said for unplugging in running as mush as there is in real life. It's a time to step back, refocus and enjoy what's in front of you.
    This past weekend, going on a tech-free run helped me run at a comfortable pace instead of fretting over what my GPS watch said to me. Running without music or podcasts helped me focus on my breathing, absorb nature's beauty and appreciate what my body is capable of.
    Beyond those benefits, running without technology can be a safer way to exercise. Tech-free runners can better hear cars, bikers and pedestrians around them and be more attuned to their surroundings. Distracted running is a thing -- and it can be dangerous.
    So as you head into the last few weeks of your Marine Corps Marathon training, consider running without your music or GPS watch. It may be the breath of fresh air you need!

    Running motivation: Passion + miles = success

    How “enthusiastic�� are you about running, and training, for a marathon? It can be really tough and time consuming -- it’s easy to get down on yourself as race day approaches. But it’s that fire-in-the-belly feeling – that zeal for running that motivates us to accomplish this impressive feat.
    It’s something Marine Corps Marathon Race Director Rick Nealis reminded me of. I interviewed him for a story I’m working on and what he said really stuck with me.
    “You have to be enthused about running … some people say it could be boring… it’s an individual effort,” Nealis said.
    “If you’re going to run a marathon, you’ve got to get out there every day and run and get that mileage in. You’ve got to take the initiative. No one else is going to put you through your running pace, except yourself.”
    It’s so very easy to do nothing. Sleeping, brunching with friends, binging Netflix, reading a book – all of these alternatives seem more attractive to me than running from time to time. However, a passion for running, an ardor for the sport and an appreciation for what the human body is capable of fuel me through the harder days.
    There are days so many runners get discouraged, but putting in time, miles and a dash of enthusiasm can go a long way, Nealis said.
    Running is different from so many other sports, too, he pointed out.
    “It’s the only sport that the elites and the back-of-the-pack are on the same course on the same day. It doesn’t happen in baseball – you wouldn’t be able to get in a Nats game and take a couple of swings at a Major League pitcher because that doesn’t happen -- but in running it does,” he said. “I’m able to get on the same start line as an Olympian, and compete on that day and think that I’m as good as him.”
    Lately, I’ve been getting a little lethargic and dreading some of the longer runs. This message from Nealis hit home at a time when I needed it. I hope it helps push anyone else who needs a little bit of motivation.
    Thanks, Rick Nealis!

    Tales of a traveling trainer: Tips for running on the road

    Up early to log morning miles during a recent trip to the beach. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    My calendar is a little booked these days. The last few months have seen a flurry of visits from friends and family, trips to the beach, flights to visit my parents and quick weekend getaways.
    I’m not complaining – I’m quite grateful my summer has been filled with guests, entertainment and sunshine. And I’m blessed to have the means to travel. It’s just that often my voyages come at the expense of my marathon training.
    Each time, I promise myself I will get up and go run before my 6:30 a.m. flight; I’ll carve out an hour or two to run when I have visitors in town; I’ll convince my traveling companions to incorporate running into the agenda. Alas, these things rarely happen.
    Still, it’s not impossible to coordinate training and travel schedules. Here are a few tips when it comes to running while you’re on the road or entertaining guests.
    • Plan. This sounds obvious, but actually going out and running is much easier if you’ve planned which day you’ll do it, where and how long you have to run. Know which days you’ll have the energy to run and what time of day works best. And be prepared to get up early. That seems to be the best time for me to actually do my run and get out ahead of what can be busy days.

      Also, if I’m in a new city, I try to research places that are runner-friendly such as trails or parks in the area.
    • Pack. Make sure you take your running shoes, socks, GPS watch and any other appropriate apparel when you’re traveling. Think about an extra layer too – just in case you’re visiting a chilly destination.

      And be realistic – don’t take four running outfits if you’re only going to (truthfully) run once. No need to pack more than you’ll use. (Although I’ve never applied that to any other aspect of my packing technique – I’m away for three days? Better bring half my closet.)
    • Communicate expectations. I’m often guilty of this when I’m traveling or entertaining guests – I want to go out for a six-mile run, but my companions have a different idea of how the day should go. A museum visit, dinner reservations or “quality time” may overlap with the time I intended to run. It’s best to let your fellow nomads or visitors know what day and when you will be unavailable. I don’t think it’s an unreasonable request – and it may even motivate others to get out and run with you!
    • Consider safety. If you’re in a new city, be mindful of safety always. Run in well-lit areas and consider recruiting a buddy.
    • Utilize hotels. Check if your hotel has a fitness center and a treadmill. No fitness center? Running stairs can be a good workout, too!
    • Make running part of the destination. Try a run-cation! There are tons of wonderful cities around the world that host races – so plan your trip around a race, or scope out if there are any 5Ks or 10Ks with available registrations scheduled for the time you may be there.

      I’ve planned loads of trips around fun half-marathon races. I find it’s a wonderful way to see a city and log some training miles, too.
    • Do long runs before you depart. It’s OK to adjust your training schedule and push your long run to before or after you leave. I’d rather get in a long run a day or two before than not at all.
    • Be realistic and enjoy your vacation. Training for a marathon is a commitment and should be taken seriously, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not training exactly by the books. Run when you can, and remember to enjoy yourself.

      I’ve had a few too many instances where I got down on myself for not running as many miles or days as I should have during a trip … but I enjoyed an experience instead. I’d rather have memories of that than logging treadmill miles in a dingy hotel by myself.
    What tips do you have for traveling and training? Share them with me – and bon voyage!

    When to buy new running shoes

    My running shoes may be ready to bite the dust. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    As Marine Corps Marathon training chugs along, my once-sturdy running shoes are wearing down. The tread is wearing and the magenta fabric is fraying. The shoes feel fine, but is it time to ditch them for another pair?
    Admittedly, I am not a fan of buying new shoes – I’m rather particular and I’ve been known to buy new shoes, run in them, fret that they “feel weird” and then return them. I mean, of course they “feel weird” – my foot hasn't imprinted into them.
    To quell my new-shoe queries, I turned to a D.C.-area shoe expert about when to get new kicks. Pacers Running Brand Specialist Stephen Laico offered tips, tricks and advice for the shoe-buying process.
    When should runners get new running shoes?
    Runners should typically get new shoes when they have put between 300 and 500 miles on that pair, Laico said.
    However, it is also dependent on the duration and frequency, he added.
    “Someone running five miles a week is going to go through their shoes a lot differently than someone who is training for a marathon and is putting in 25 to 50 miles a week,” Laico said.
    The runner’s form matter, too.
    “[It’s] going to vary based on how people strike – someone who has got a light, efficient gate is going to be on the higher end of that mileage. Someone who has got a really heavy foot strike or kind of scuff their foot when they land, wear through that quicker and be on the lower end,” he said.
    What helps extend the life of running shoes?
    Running on a treadmill absorbs some of the impact on the shoe. Laico said runners can get a little bit more life on shoes by running inside.
    Still there is one major way to give running shoes more time: Keep running shoes strictly for running.
    “Sometimes people come in and saying ‘I’ve barely run in these shoes and they have pretty much broken down.’ But they are also walking in those shoes every day and spending their day wearing them. So all the time on your feet is going to add up – it’s not just the time spent running in those shoes that adds to the wear,” Laico said.
    How many pairs of shoes should runners have?
    An average runner should have at least two pairs of shoes to cycle through, Laico recommended.
    Alternating through two pairs will give more life to each pair. Also, it can help to switch between runs if, during the summer particularly, shoes get wet or sweaty.
    Before a shoe is completely dead – when there is about 25 percent of life left – set it aside and save it for the times when you need to turn to the back-up pair, Laico recommended.
    Where and when should runners buy shoes?
    Laico recommends runners stop by a specialty running store where trained staff can examine your stride, shoe size, running style and more.
    Also, runners may want to consider stopping in to buy shoes after a longer run to see what their shoe needs are when their legs are tired.
    “How you look in first couple minutes of a run when you’re really thinking about it and your legs are fresh is different than how you look further down the road,” he said. “So if you want a better sense of how you are after a six-mile run, come in after a six-mile run.”
    The staff can look at your gate under stress.
    “So if you’re training for a marathon, maybe after halfway you need more support than what you did at the start of the run  -- it might be a better gauge of where you are at that point.”

    Return of the ‘run-mute’

    Taking off from WTOP for a run-mute home. (WTOP/Sarah Beth Hensley)
    Getting tired of the same old run? It’s easy to do. I find that sometimes I can’t will myself to get out and run when I’m growing weary of my same old routes, or watching the same old shows when I take it to the treadmill.
    That’s why I decided to change things up this week and run commute, or “run-mute” as people (OK, maybe just me) call it. I live a few miles from the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center, so on Tuesday, I packed my running clothes, took public transit to work and then opted for a run commute home.
    There are some major perks with my return run-mute: I’m traversing the city when the weather has cooled off and forcing myself to run a fixed distance. Beyond that, it’s good for the environment!
    There are some crummy aspects. It takes some planning. Also, putting my run off until later in the day leaves me ruminating about my looming run: did I have too much coffee before this run? Did I eat enough? Did I eat too much? Where can I stretch? What if my coworkers see me running and I need to pick a wedgie? What if it rains? What if it’s still too hot out? What if it gets too dark?
    (For what it’s worth, these are pretty baseless fears. It’s just a normal run and I need to get out of my head.) Still, here are tips to have a good run-mute:
    • Remember to bring all your clothes/running needs. You don’t want to run to work, only to realize you don’t have pants. Or on a return commute, realize you don’t have your running shoes. Hobbling home in heels doesn’t sound like a good run to me.
    • Anticipate the smell factor. Let's face it, running to work can come with stinky consequences. I'd recommend not running to work if you don't have a shower. If you choose to do so anyway, there are waterless shampoos and body washes that can help remedy the situation. Tolerant coworkers help.
    • Bring extra food. On run-mute days, bringing extra snacks is crucial and I try to get them in about an hour before I plan to run home. Every runner is different, but I can’t run on an empty stomach, and I’m even less productive if I’m hungry – which is often the case when I’m finishing up my day.
    • Plan and organize what you need and when. If you're running to work, try bringing your clothes for the week to the office, or at least the day before, so you're not forced to haul your work clothes with you while you run. When I run-mute home, I Metro with my running gear, change at the office and stuff my work clothes and other belongings into lockers we have in the newsroom -- then I retrieve it all the next day. Also, I pack light on those days to make sure I'm not leaving too much behind at the office.
    • Be a safe runner. If you're running when it's dark, make sure you're equipped with reflective materials, headlamps, bright clothes, etc. Running with a buddy on well-lit streets is wise, too. I have a clipable reflective, blinking light I got at a sporting goods store for a few dollars that works well for me.
    • Make adjustments. Commute too long to run-mute? Try taking public transit part of the way and running the rest.
    Run commutes can be a great way to feel energized in the morning, or help clear your head in the evenings. Do you run-mute? Share what helps your run-mute.
    Read more of Sarah Beth's Marine Corps Marathon blog coverage here.
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