Marathon Blog

Fuel Up for Long Runs

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By Laurie Lasseter, Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers

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In my June blog post, we discussed proper nutrition for shorter runs. But now your training runs are getting longer and your body likely needs more nutritional and electrolyte support than it did before. It’s time to incorporate my top tips for fine-tuning your long run fueling to help tackle long runs like a pro:

Staying Hydrated

  1. Every day: Approximately ½ ounce of water for every pound of body weight per day (includes the liquid in food).
  2. During runs over 60 minutes: 7 to 10 ounces of a sports (glycogen + electrolyte) drink (such as Gatorade) or electrolyte-only drink (such as Powerade Zero or Nuun Active) every 10 to 20 minutes.
  3. During runs over 90 minutes: 7 to 10 ounces of a sports (glycogen + electrolyte) drink every 10 to 20 minutes.
  4. Post long-run: Replace 120-150% of fluid loss in water or 100-125% of fluid loss with a sports (glycogen + electrolyte) drink – use the fluid loss rate that you learned to measure in my June blog post.

Fueling for Top Performance

  1. Two hours before runs over 60 minutes: Eat a simple carbohydrate, low fiber, low protein snack – such as a bagel with a small amount of peanut butter. You’ll need to experiment a bit with the pre-run snack to see what works best for you and your digestive system.
  2. During runs over 60 minutes: Ingest 30-60g carbohydrates per hour via a sports drink (glycogen + electrolyte). See detailed hydration recommendations above.
  3. Within 30 minutes of a long run: Refuel with a protein and carbohydrate rich snack, such as such as a fruit and yogurt smoothie or a bagel with peanut or almond butter.
  4. Daily macronutrient balance: Strive to maintain a diet consisting of 55 percent carbohydrates (mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains), 25 percent lean, high-quality protein and 20 percent healthy fats.
  5. Avoid digestive upset during long runs: It is best to avoid sugar, high-fiber, lactose-containing dairy and fat prior to your runs, at least until you understand how your digestive system responds to these foods. During your run, keep your tummy happy by avoiding caffeine and excess sugar (beyond sports drink recommendations).
  6. Smart caloric increase: You do need more calories per day to fuel your marathon training, but not as many as you might think. Depending on your size, your 40-mile per week marathon training program will probably allow you to eat 600 to 800 additional calories per day above what you would eat if you were not running at all. If you ran regularly before embarking on your training, the additional calories needed are even less. Make sure those added calories are in the form of lean protein and nutritious carbohydrates (including vegetables, fruits and whole grain foods). And, monitor your weight – the suggested calorie range is a guideline. Added body weight will hinder you from achieving your marathon training goals!

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Laurie Lasseter

Marathoner

ACE Certified Personal Trainer

RRCA Certified Running Coach

Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers

www.edward.org/fitness

 

Course Talk – Part 2

By: Tom Minichiello, Course Manager

Healthy Driven Naperville Marathon & Half Marathon

Welcome back for Course Talk, Part 2!  Great news – the marathon and half marathon courses are now USATF certified! So, in addition to the course map  on our website, let me talk you through the exciting new route for 2015.

We start in grand fashion on Eagle St., between Jackson and Aurora avenues, where Naperville’s famed Riverwalk crosses Eagle St. The quarry and the Carillon are to your right and City Hall is on the left. You begin running south towards Naper Settlement, turning left on Aurora Ave. Your view here will include the sunrise above Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium at North Central College.

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The course heads south on Washington St., passing Edward Hospital. You’ll hit Mile 1 just past Osler Dr. and then Mile 2 just before Hobson Rd. A left on Hobson Rd. and a quick left on Hobson Mill Rd. takes runners through neighborhood streets, passing Mile 3 on Honest Pleasure Dr. and Mile 4 on Hillside Rd.

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On Brainard St., we run by Highlands School leading to an impressive view of NCC’s Athletic Complex from Prairie Ave. Then another stretch through neighborhood streets, passing Mile 5 on White Oak Dr. and Mile 6 on Pembroke Rd. This leads to Chicago Ave., where runners are treated to a marvelous view as the course heads west toward Downtown Naperville!  Runners are treated to a long decent to Mile 7 before heading into Naperville’s celebrated Historic District and the NCC campus.

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At Ellsworth St. and Chicago Ave. is the fine-looking Wentz Concert Hall. We turn right here and then left on Jefferson Ave., running past Quigley’s Irish Pub and crossing over Washington St. into the heart of Downtown Naperville! Runners pass the downtown’s many shops and restaurants, including Naperville Running Company, consistently voted one of the top running stores in the country. The course turns right on Main St. and then left on Benton Ave. and we pass Mile 8.

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We head north on Mill St. to the sprawling NNHS grounds, running through and around the school, passing Mile 9 on Naperville North Dr. and Mile 10 on 5th Ave. Then it’s back south on Mill St., and a right on Spring Ave through neighborhood streets, including Mile 11 on Douglas Ave. and the section of Jefferson Ave. where it crosses over the DuPage River.

Then back east on Aurora Ave., passing Mile 12. The half and full marathon then split at the intersection of Aurora Ave. and West St. Half marathoners stay on Aurora Ave, passing NCHS and Naper Settlement on the right, and the Millennium Carillon and Rotary Hill on the left, all while enjoying a nice smooth decent past Mile 13, and left to the finish on Eagle St.

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Full marathoners head south on West St., passing Mile 13 and the halfway point and Knoch Park, before entering the Hobson West neighborhood, where West St. then traverses in a southwesterly direction. After passing Mile 14, runners turn right on Rickert Dr., passing Mile 15 and reaching the western most part of the course at Book Rd.

We head south on Book Rd., cross over 75th St., and pass Mile 16, which is flanked by Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve. Then just beyond 87th St., we pass Mile 17. A left on Leverenz Rd. begins another stretch of neighborhood streets, passing Mile 18, crossing over Plainfield-Naperville Rd., and then a left on Gateshead Dr., passing Mile 19. After a left on Modaff Rd., we loop around Avena Cr. where we pass Mile 20, then we begin our way back north.

We turn right at 87th St., passing Mile 21, to Washington St., where runners head north, passing Mile 22. At the Bailey Rd. intersection, runners hop on the DuPage River Trail and continue through the 75th St underpass. Then a left turn through the tunnel under Washington St, takes runners to Mile 23. A right on Clyde Dr. and a quick left on Tupelo Ave. begins the final stretch through neighborhood streets, including Mile 24 on Laurel Ln. and Mile 25 on Emerald Dr. A right on West St takes runners to the “One Mile To Go” point at the corner of Osler Dr. The course continues past Knoch Park to Aurora Ave.

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A right on Aurora Ave. takes full marathoners past Mile 26 with NCHS and Naper Settlement on the right, and the Millennium Carillon and Rotary Hill on the left, all while enjoying a nice smooth decent, and a left to the finish on Eagle St.

Wow!  What a course! The landmarks, scenery, schools, miles of picturesque neighborhoods with beautiful homes and parks, and of course BEAUTIFUL Downtown Naperville. What a town! Can’t wait to see you out there on November 8!

And here’s an insider tip…if you’re out on the course for a training run, keep an eye out for light green painted numbers at each mile (see exact locations below) and arrows at every turn.

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I’ll be back again closer to race day with more course information, including convenient ways for spectators to cheer on runners at multiple points!

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About Tom:

Tom Minichiello is Finisher #52 of the 50sub4 Marathon Club – a group of about 300 runners with the goal to not just run and complete a marathon in all 50 states, but to run each marathon in each state in under 4 hours.  Currently, there are about 65 runners or “finishers” who have accomplished the goal.  For more information about the 50sub4 Marathon Club, visit www.50sub4.com. View  a video about Tom’s journey at www.vimeo.com/85624446. Contact Tom at tom50@naperville26.com.

Mile Marker Locations:

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Half & Full Marathon

1 – on Washington St, 185 feet south of the Osler Dr traffic light

2 – on Washington St, 0.1 mile north of Hobson Rd

3 – on Honest Pleasure Dr, at the second Cavalcade Cir intersection

4 – on Hillside Rd, in front of 417 Hillside Rd

5 – on White Oak Dr, 63 feet south of the Kings Park sign

6 – on Pembroke Rd, just south of Jane Ave, 50 feet north of the fire hydrant

7 – on Chicago Ave, between Julian and Columbia streets, at 726 Chicago Ave

8 – on Benton Ave, 73 feet east of the Stop sign for Eagle St

9 – on Naperville North Dr, at the far end of the northwest parking lot, 21 feet south of the crosswalk

10 – on 5th Ave, in front of Naper North Car Care Center at 600-602 5th Ave

11 – on Douglas Ave, 37 feet west of the sewer grate at the corner of Parkway Dr

12 – on Aurora Ave, 160 feet east of the sewer grate at the corner of Berry Ct

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Half Marathon

13 – on Aurora Ave, 123 feet west of the traffic light pole at the corner of Eagle St

Full Marathon

13 – on West St, north of Martin Ave, 22 feet south of the fire hydrant

13.1 “Halfway” – on West St, south of Martin Ave, 3 feet south of the Corporate Partners sign

14 – on West St, 190 feet north of the second Merrimac Cir intersection

15 – on Rickert Dr, 0.1 mile east of Flat Iron Dr

16 – on Book Rd, 0.48 mile south of 75th St

17 – on Book Rd, 0.05 mile south of 87th St, in front of 10S049 Book Rd

18 – on Leverenz Rd, in front of 1350 Leverenz Rd

19 – on Gateshead Dr, 32 feet east of the driveway to 712 Gateshead Dr

20 – on Avena Cir, at the fire hydrant by the corner house, 340 Avena Cir

21 – on 87th St, 50 feet east of the corner at Countryside Cir

22 – on Washington St, 0.08 mile south of Harbor Ct

23 – on the path, west of the tunnel under Washington St, near the end of the canyon

24 – on Laurel Ln, 40 feet north of the sidewalk on Basswood Dr

25 – on Emerald Dr, at the Robin Hill Dr intersection

25.2 “One Mile To Go” – on West St, at the northeast corner of Osler Dr

26 – on Aurora Ave, in front of Rotary Hill, 53 feet east of the crosswalk to NCHS’s main entrance

Community Spirit

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Community Spirit

By Laurie Lasseter, Edward Health & Fitness Centers

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There’s no denying the benefits of a running community. They’re almost too numerous to count! Here are a few of my favorite reasons for lacing up with friends instead of hitting the road on your own:

Commitment. The most important aspect of your training is consistency. You’re more likely to get out for your run if you feel you’ve committed to others and they expect you to be there. Even if you run in a group, be accountable to one or two specific individuals for each run. The thought of letting someone else down will make it hard to sleep in or skip your run.

Camaraderie. Sometimes, when we run alone, the time can just drag on and runs seem to take forever. The camaraderie and distraction of being with others can really help. As your runs become longer, the “we’re in this together” feeling becomes even more important.

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Safety.  We’ve all heard that’s there’s safety in numbers, and it’s true for runners, too. If someone gets hurt, others are there to get help. Larger groups ward off wildlife visitors or humans up to no good. Groups of runners are more likely to spot trail hazards – like obstacles or holes in the road – and warn others. And lastly, your group is less likely to get lost while together, but if you do, you have each other to develop a plan to get back home.

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Creative stimulation. A running community is helpful outside of actual runs, too. It’s super helpful to have others to discuss ideas with or work through a creative solution to a training issue.

Motivation. Having others to run with makes it hard to quit mid-run. You’re more likely to finish and reach your goals in a group. Being with others makes you feel that if they can do it, so can you!

Performance. A little friendly rivalry or competition can be a good thing and improve your running performance. Just make sure you don’t make every run a competition. Remember to keep your easy days easy!

Networking. You never know whom you’ll meet in your running group – they just might end up being contacts that will help you with other personal, career or philanthropic goals.

Social/friendships. Some of my best friends over the years have been my running friends. Long runs are a great opportunity to really open up with someone and get to know them on a deeper level.  I have had running friends that have retired from running years ago that I am still in close contact with. Running friends are friends for life!

Laurie Lasseter
Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers
www.edward.org/fitness

Back to Basics is Key to Mindful Eating

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Back to Basics is Key to Mindful Eating

By: Angela Dennison

Healthy Eating Specialist at Whole Foods Market Naperville

Good health requires a combination of good habits and we should never underestimate the power of healthy eating. Exercise although very important, seems to reign supreme in the mentality of good health. But did you know that healthy eating is more than half of the battle? The food we consume plays a much larger role than we think and maintaining a healthy diet is crucial.

Focusing on these principles are a great foundation and contributing factor to a healthy lifestyle no matter your dietary path.

Eat close to nature

Eat foods that are closest to their natural form and decrease your processed food intake. Processed foods add a significant amount of processed sugars, processed grains and salt into your diet and are typically void of important nutrients.

Eat your greens first

When sitting down to a meal, eat your vegetables first. This will ensure you are packing in the nutrition at every meal. If you always save your vegetables until last, you might be too full to squeeze them in!

Make your grains whole

Whole grains are loaded with fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins. When they are processed, they are stripped of their naturally occurring nutrients and are sometimes chemically added back in.

Focus on nourishment

If we focus on foods that are truly health promoting, we will naturally have a very healthy diet. When you sit down to a meal or snack, ask yourself: How is this nourishing my body? Focus on fiber, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

By focusing on these four principles, you will be on the right path to good health. Dieting and healthy eating are not the same thing; be careful not to confuse those terms. Healthy eating is a lifestyle and it centers on healthy habits. Diets are temporary and focus on calorie restriction and deprivation. After we see results, we end the diet and go back to our old habits and that is not true progress. True progress takes real change and a new outlook on food.

We live in a society where we take new information to heart without further researching it ourselves and sometimes fall into the gimmicks and fads. Know that healthy eating is basic and simple and can be successfully done by anyone. It’s hard to give up the foods we love. Food is not just fuel for us; it’s comfort, tradition and has a strong emotional tie to us all. You can still enjoy the foods that tickle your taste buds but mindful eating is key. That’s why it is important to follow these four principles in order to maintain a daily focus on healthy eating.

 

 

Run, Stay, and ENJOY Naperville!

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Run, Stay, and ENJOY Naperville!

Submitted By: Naperville Convention and Visitor Bureau

 

Welcome to Naperville! Whether you’re a Naperville resident, live nearby, or traveling in from another city, state, or country, be sure to run, stay, and ENJOY the city’s events and attractions over the race weekend. Here are just a few things for your Marathon weekend “must do” list:

  • Naper Settlement, one of Naperville’s most beloved attractions, is an outdoor history museum filled with interactive activities for all ages. On Sunday, November 8 at 4p.m., catch the Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century, part of the History Speaks Lecture Series. Learn about some great art! http://napersettlement.org

  • Rotary Hill will host Naperville’s 2015 Healing Field of Honor, November 6-12. Thousands of U.S. flags will be posted to create a sea of red, white and blue that will form an inspiring and lasting memory as the residents from Naperville and surrounding communities unite to honor our veterans. The theme for this year’s event is “50 Years of Healing” commemorating the Vietnam War. http://healingfield.org/naperville/

  • Take a relaxing stroll on Naperville’s Riverwalk! Enjoy the pleasant sights and sounds of Downtown Naperville as you walk through the lovely, greenery-filled pathway.

  • North Central College, located in Downtown Naperville, has a phenomenal theatre arts program. Unwind before your big run by seeing the acclaimed musical, Light in the Piazza on Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. https://finearts.northcentralcollege.edu/theatre

  • Dine Naperville! There are over 250 outstanding dining choices in Naperville! You can count on this city to fit any and all the needs of your taste buds! Treat yourself to a delicious and well-deserved feast after a long run! http://www.dinenaperville.com

  • Shop Naperville! Naperville is filled with quaint shops as well as large stores. There’s an abundant array of shopping options in Downtown Naperville and along the Route 59 and Ogden Avenue corridors. Have fun shopping in celebration of an accomplished weekend! http://www.visitnaperville.com/shopping

  • For the youngsters, stop by the DuPage Children’s Museum during your weekend in Naperville for some educational fun. The whole family will have a blast watching them discover a world of learning! http://dupagechildrens.org

  • See the city’s sights through the popular Naperville Trolley & Tours! Schedule a trolley ride around the city, and sit back and relax as you are driven to the major historic marks! https://napervilletrolley.com

Naperville has a variety of hotel options to make your stay with us enjoyable. Learn more and book accommodations at http://visitnaperville.com. Good luck with your training and we’ll see you in November!

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Fill your tank with the right fuel

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FILL YOUR TANK WITH THE RIGHT FUEL

By Laurie Lasseter, Edward Health & Fitness Centers

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At this point, with about five months before the marathon, most of your weekly runs are pretty short – less than 60 minutes – and preparing your body with smart, sustaining nutrition is a cinch.  In my Marathon Training Workshop, I talk about nutrition for shorter and longer runs.  Here’s what you need to know to coast through your runs over the next couple months:

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Hydration.  Water, as opposed to sports drinks, is your best bet when prepping for runs that are less than an hour.  Two hours before each run, drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water.  About 10 minutes before you head out, drink another 10 to 12 ounces.  During shorter runs, I advise clients to simply drink when they’re thirsty.  The typical runner needs about seven to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes to stay hydrated.  For a more specialized approach, you can replace fluids based on your own fluid loss rate.  In order to calculate, do a 60-minute run, weighing yourself before and after.  Subtract any fluid you drank during the run (16 oz. = 1 lb.).  The remaining loss is water/sweat loss.  Now that you know your rate of sweat loss per hour, replace lost fluid, in ounces, within 30 to 60 minutes following each run.

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Drinking before, during and after your run isn’t the only important consideration.  Ongoing daily hydration matters, too.  A great guideline is to drink a half-ounce of water for every pound of body weight per day, which includes water obtained from foods.  By doing this, you prepare your body with the hydration it needs for optimal function.

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Fuel.  I like to refer to food as fuel – I think it’s the healthiest way to think about the quality of what we put in our bodies.  For shorter runs, it’s OK to skip pre-run food, as it can be easier to run on an empty stomach.  If you prefer a snack beforehand, keep it small, simple and low fiber/high carbohydrates, think half a bagel or a slice or two of toast.  Whole grain is more nutritious, but you will need to experiment to see if pre-run whole grains upset your stomach.  Within 30 to 60 minutes after your run, grab a protein- and carbohydrate-rich snack, such as skim milk and fruit or an apple with almond butter.

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Just like daily water, what you eat over the course of each day prepares your body for the demands of marathon training.  As a guideline, about 55 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrates (mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains), 25 percent from lean, high-quality protein and 20 percent from healthy fats.

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As run lengths increase, I’ll share more dietary tips to help you reach training goals.  Stay tuned!

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Laurie Lasseter
Marathoner
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness Centers
www.edward.org/fitness

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Don’t Let the Weather Deter you from Running

Don’t Let the Weather Deter you from Running

The Right Gear for Every Weather Challenge

By Amber White

Buyer, Naperville Running Company

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With the violently changing weather of the Midwest, it’s a wonder we have runners at all in this area! Yet, I am proud to say I live in one of the most concentrated areas of runners in the United States. I think we take it as a challenge – the wind, rain, sleet, snow, hail, etc. can’t stop us!

You may see people out there running in the worst weather and wonder, “how on earth do they survive that stuff”? Well, I believe that anyone can run comfortably in any kind of weather as long as they have the right equipment. The key is to know how to dress!

Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years to make running in the Midwest a more pleasurable experience, no matter what the weather!

HEAT

At 5am it’s already 82 degrees and 100% humidity, and I have my long run! 

  • Get a hat or a visor. Keeping your face and head covered protects against UV rays, helps keep you cool and keeps the sweat from running down into your eyes.
  • UPF rated clothing will help repel the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. A number of brands sell UPF clothing; you just have to ask your running specialty shop which styles have it.
  • Wear a top. I know, guys, in hot weather it’s an impulse to wear as little as possible. In reality, we actually stay cooler when we have a barrier between our skin and the sun. It helps absorb sweat and keeps our body cooler. Some tops even have “cooling” properties that give off a slight cooling effect once you start sweating.
  • Get a good pair of running sunglasses. This helps to keep the sun out of your eyes and reduce your chances of getting a headache, not to mention they’ll prevent the gnats from making you blind!
  • NEVER wear cotton – EVER. It absorbs moisture, doesn’t dry quickly, and doesn’t breathe very well. It will become scratchy and abrasive and almost always leads to chafing. If you do chafe, Bodyglide is your new best friend!
  • Use sunblock – it actually helps keep your skin cooler too.
  • Bring a water-carrying device – handheld, backpack, belt, etc. There are a variety of alternatives, but it is crucial to stay hydrated while training through those hot months. Start practicing your nutrition from the beginning so you are prepared by race day.

 

Rain

it’s getting dark, there’s a 99% chance of rain, and my training schedule says I need to run! 

  • Get a hat. A hat will help keep the water out of your face and it’s amazing how much better you will feel if you aren’t being pelted with raindrops.
  • Invest in a packable, rainproof jacket. These are great at also keeping the moisture off your skin and keeping you from getting chilled without overheating. If the sun happens to come out, or it never actually rains, you can pack it up and carry it or tuck it in your belt/shorts with little inconvenience.
  • Keep a light pair of gloves on hand. Even if it’s in the 40’s you will be amazed at how much better you feel when your hands aren’t chilled to the bone
  • Wear shorts with sweat-resistant pockets to help keep electronic devices, gels, etc. dry. Shorts with a 2in1 tight short liner inside will help keep the muscles secure, warmer, and dry as possible, giving you another layer of protection from the rain.
  • Again, never wear cotton! See above.

 

Wind

40 mph winds and I wanted to do speed work. Maybe I’ll just run with the wind?

  • Wear a hat! It will help cut the wind and keep your face covered.
  • A windproof vest will help keep the wind off your core without compromising your warmth. You can wear as little as a t-shirt underneath it if it’s hot and go up to a thermal base layer or full jacket if it’s chilly. They are often also packable so in the event you warm up you can tuck it and keep cool.
  • Do smaller loops. It can make the wind more bearable. 3 loops of 2 miles against the wind and 2 miles with the wind is much more do-able than 6 with and 6 against it at all once. So, you may want to adjust your route and run in areas with taller buildings or trails to offer more protection.

 

Dramatically Changing Temperatures

I am running my longest run ever! But it’s only 36 degrees right now and will be 72 degrees when I finish! 

  • Wear layers! A light jacket or half-zip with a good zipper is great since the zipper can almost act as a thermostat. Once it really warms up you can take it off completely and tie around your waist.
  • Capris or longer bottoms help with temperature regulation without overheating once it warms up.
  • Wear compression socks or sleeves. Not only do they increase recovery of muscles and allow you to feel better during the run, they also keep you a little warmer without having to wear a long tight or pant.
  • A light hat and glove set will also keep you warm for those early miles and are easy to tuck away once it warms up.

 

Here’s my list of a few must have items no matter what the temperature:

Ladies, a good fitting sports bra is a MUST! If you haven’t been measured lately, it’s beneficial to update those measurements as our bodies are constantly changing. A sports bra should not have a birthday, meaning it should never get to one year old. I recommend having 3 sports bras in rotation: one on, one in the wash, and one in the drawer ready to go at all times. Take the time to get properly fit and you will be amazed at how much more comfortable running can be! Naperville Running Company offers private bra-fit sessions where you can work one-on-one with a trained bra fit specialist to help you obtain to proper fit.

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For both men and women, synthetic running socks can make or break your training program. As stated above, cotton is BAD! To prevent blisters, pick synthetic or wool socks for running. They won’t stretch out or slip down and they will dry faster and eliminate rubbing/blistering. Wool socks are actually good to wear year-round because they absorb moisture in the vapor state; so before you even start actually sweating they are already working to keep your feet dry. They also help regulate body temperature in both cold and warm temperatures.

You can find all of the items mentioned in this article at Naperville Running Company. We can’t wait to help you round out your running collection with the necessary tools to have a successful season of running no matter what the weather conditions. Hopefully, the right wardrobe will help you successfully train for your half or full marathon and accomplish your goals. At the very least, you will have one less excuse not to get out there and get moving!

 

 

Why running boosts emotional health

By Ross Sweeney, Linden Oaks Behavioral Health

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Congratulations, you’ve committed to running a half or full marathon this fall! The Healthy Driven Naperville Half Marathon & Marathon are just six short months away and I’m sure your training is well underway. But while you busy yourself making plans, setting goals and doing all the hard physical work that comes with training, don’t let the impressive emotional benefits long distance running offers go unnoticed.

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As the chronic care coordinator at Linden Oaks, I’ve seen firsthand how consistent exercise, like running, can positively affect people’s lives and emotional health. As a therapist and dad, running has been invaluable to my own personal health and stress management. I’m happy to share that I’m training right along with you as I prepare to run my sixth Chicago Marathon this fall.

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Most people know the many cardiovascular benefits of running for our bodies, but have you considered the emotional benefits running offers? Here are a few you can expect:

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A better mood. Running assists the body in producing neurotransmitters in the brain that literally boost one’s mood. Increased dopamine and serotonin simply help improve outlook and mood and, in some cases, can offer critical relief to those dealing with symptoms of anxiety or depression. Many runners also experience a rush of endorphins, chemicals that help the body deal with pain and stress, during a challenging run. For many, the good feelings running produces can lead to a healthy routine and a naturally therapeutic way of counteracting life’s obstacles.

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Increased self-esteem. An ongoing physical fitness plan of any kind leaves participants feeling more fit, which on its own raises self-confidence. Running allows tangible results and successes to be realized quickly, which can be especially motivating for new runners. Setting and achieving goals feels pretty great and offers an even greater lift in self-esteem.

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Improved mental focus. Studies show the oxygen-rich blood the act of running pumps to the brain may result in long-term improvement in mental processes. In addition, it also helps focus attention on the here and now. Being present—or living in the moment—is necessary during longer runs and helps runners set aside past regrets and future worries.  In essence, quieting the chatter in our minds and ceasing rumination over things beyond our control gives much needed time away from concerns and decreases overall stress. Who doesn’t need that?

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Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or lacing up your first pair of running shoes, congratulations again. The road ahead will be challenging, but the numerous rewards are well worth your effort and commitment. See you on the trails!

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Ross Sweeney, LCSW

Marathoner and Chronic Care Clinic Coordinator

Linden Oaks Behavioral Health

www.lindenoaks.org

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