Don’t let Runger Run Your Life: Running Hunger Recovery Plan

Do you have increased weight? Irritability? Mood swings and a intense peanut butter cravings?

You too may be suffering from runger {running induced hunger}, also related to, but not the same as hanger {anger induced by hunger}. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can get help.

9 out of 10 Paleo coaches will tell you to eat more protein and 9 of out of10 Plant Strong athletes will tell you to eat more green vegetables and 10 out of 10 runners will tell you they run to eat cookies.

Runger is a very real issue and one to be taken seriously. Side effects may include:

  • Moodiness
  • Heightened sense of smell in food courts
  • Increased awareness of sugary foods hidden in cabinets
  • Obsessive meal planning during runs
  • Daydreams of pizza, ice cream and other fatty foods

This is not to be confused with HANGER…that is a whole different post.
Runger is real - FInd out how to manage your hunger during marathon trainingTESTIMONIAL
It’s true. I used to suffer from runger.

After completing a 20 mile run, my husband would find me in the kitchen with one arm deep in a box of Lucky Charms the other in Power O’s, a green smoothie mustache and a wild look in my eyes that caused him to back out of the room slowly. Don’t anger the beast.
How to manage the post run munchiesHere I was blasting thousands of calories and watching the number on the scale go up. Runger was making me cranky on a lot of levels and I had enough. I wanted a solution, but was tired of the answer “run less”.

There had to be another way…and there is another way to manage hunger during marathon training.

Please beware that depending on the runner an episode may occur directly after a hard effort or possibly 2 days later!! Now, I’m happy to say by following a few simple rules I’ve largely eliminated runger episodes.

It’s not just about calories to refuel, the right calories will help tamp down hunger by giving your muscles exactly what they need to repair and signaling to your brain that you are stocked up on nutrients.  Yup, sorry but the pizza or cookie might just be prolonging the hunger.

If you aren’t hungry right after a long run it’s still a good idea to slurp a green smoothie with protein powder. While you might think you are “saving calories”, this usually causes stronger hunger and cravings later in the day when you might be less likely to make a good choice.

According to Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N:

Eat small amounts frequently through the rest of the day and the next day to prevent extreme hunger. If you wait until you’re ravenous, it’s too easy to make bad choices, eat too quickly, and end up overeating. Make sure you include carbs and protein in your meals and snacks for lasting energy.

I love the nutrition of my smoothie, but chewing helps me feel satisfied and full.

So here is my post long run refueling plan:

Immediately post run: Green Smoothie with 1/2 apple, 1/2 scoop Vega Protein, 1 cup spinach, 1 cup kale + whatever veggies I have on hand from celery to broccoli to sliced beets.
Get more ideas here: 17 Protein Packed Post Workout Smoothies >>Proper hydration during and after runs can prevent hunger - more ways to manage marathon training hunger1-2 hours post run I’m ready to eat. This could be overnight oats or 2 eggs scrambled with veggies and slice of sourdough bread.

After that I try to let hunger guide me and maybe I eat less that day because I’m not hungry and a little more the next day when runger peaks. It’s a balance and a good way to practice listening to hunger instead of trying to beat it down.

You’ve heard it before, but being dehydrated can trick your body in to thinking it’s hungry. Since long runs, especially in the summer, are going to dehydrate you no matter how on top of things you are remember to keep sipping water and electrolytes for the rest of the day.
Read the ultimate guide to running hydration >>

Shoveling down too many gels during your workout can first lead to stomach pains, but later to possible hunger because of sugar swings. Another reason to try moving towards whole foods to fuel your run or at least ensuring that post run you get the fiber and protein noted above to help stabilize blood sugar.
Fueling your workouts with whole foods to help manage marathon training hungerIf you love your gels {they are convenient} try doing what I do which is spreading it out over a few miles. Instead of taking in all the sugar at calories at once, consider it a slow drip. Science has actually shown just a bit of the sugar taste in your mouth will stimulate the body as much as taking the calories, so you may get a bigger boost by spreading it out!

Ideas for fueling your workouts with whole foods>>

Wait aren’t we trying to stop weight gain?! Yes, but if you aren’t eating enough calories to fuel your endurance training it’s going to blow up in your face. As stated by Nancy Clark, RD CSSD:

Hunger is a request for fuel. If we did not get hungry, we would waste away to nothing. These active people feel hungry all the time because their bodies ARE hungry. They have not eaten enough food to accommodate their needs.

Ideas for fuel:

  • Apple with nut butter
  • Banana ice cream with protein powder
  • Cottage cheese with berries
  • Hard boiled egg with sourdough bread {sourdough helps digestion}

Instead focus on eating more at your meals with a good balance between protein, carbs and fat. This is going to stave off the cravings for sugar. The body needs carbs to fuel your activity and without them cravings arise.
Ideas for post run foods that will help to control post workout hungerIMPROVE FUEL USAGE
Your body can either use fat or carbs for fuel. Most runners don’t spend enough time building their base to teach the body to use fat, which helps to lower your reliance on carbs during the run and sugar cravings after the run.
Learn more about this in low heart rate training >>

Emotional hunger is something we’ve all experienced…maybe it’s reaching for chocolate during a stressful workday {why do people keep candy on their desks?!} or it’s a lack of hunger during turmoil at home.  You could also be playing this game with your running…you worked hard, you deserve a reward right??
The plight of being a runner - learn to control your cravings during trainingWell that’s not totally wrong, it’s ok to enjoy the cookie or the pizza or the cake or whatever your food of choice might be, but maybe not a serving meant for 6 or on a daily basis. Check in with yourself before indulging to see if it’s hunger or an emotional reward and then it’s a practice of deciding when it’s worth the calories and when you might just need an apple.

Read 10 more tips for managing hunger during marathon training >>

In all cases, please avoid WebMD where your symptoms will likely point to a deadly virus or cancer, instead of to your kitchen. You don’t have to suffer from this terrible ailment.

Do you suffer from runger?


How do you prevent over eating during heavy training?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

What every runner should know about running hills: How, Why and When to do them

Have you ever altered your running route just to avoid a hill? Admit it, we’ve all done it at some point.

Maybe you’re 18 miles in to a long run and just don’t have the umph or you’re hitting a killer pace and don’t want to see it drop or you do it all the time.

Bad news, you gotta hit that hill, especially when you don’t want to.

You’ve heard the benefits of adding hills, but let’s recap them along with how to run them properly and how to add them to your training plan to get the maximum benefit! Running hills tips for everyone!
What every runner should know about hills - running hills tips for uphill, downhill and benefitsBENEFITS OF HILL TRAINING
Doesn’t matter whether you are training for a 5K or marathon, hills are an important part of the process. Here are just a few of the reasons that every running coach will put some hills in your plan and why some of the fastest runners you know make them a regular part of training:

Your muscles learn to contract with more force and power.
Your stronger quads allow you to pick your knees up.

You begin to fatigue less as you improve muscle elasticity
You use a variety of muscles, which gives others a moment to recovery
Increased cardiovascular abilities to due harder efforts

Injury prevention:
It’s impossible to heel strike running up hill
Shorter strides both up and down
Stronger muscles to hold form when fatigued

Calories. Let’s be honest I love that hills burn more calories too because one of my favorite things about running…is eating.
Benefits of hill running and how to do it the right wayNow let’s talk about running hills the right way to ensure they really are injury prevention, not creation.

I’ll never forget the moment I started running at 12,000 feet in Jackson Hole…first I thought someone was squeeze my lungs like a balloon, but second I was having a minor panic attack looking at the steep downhill incline we were about to tackle.

While downhill seems like it should be the easy part, it’s often the most painful for many runners because it creates more pressure on the knees and legs with a continuous breaking effect. Here are some tips to do it right:

Forefoot – The most important thing about your stride is to stay focused on forefoot landing. As soon as you land with your heel it creates a brake effect, which jars the entire body.

Stride – Experts vary here and some say by striding out you’ll be less likely to heel strike, others say the shorter stride and faster turnover will get you there. The goal in both is the above mentioned heel strike prevention, so play with it and see what feels best.

Land light – Still think about landing on the mid to forefoot and not pounding in to the ground. Speed up – Let your foot turn over increase, it happens naturally so let it go.

Arm swing – Keep your arms lower, still 90 degree bend, and swing a little faster. Your legs will usually follow the pace of your arms!

Relax – Gravity is going to do the work here, so try to take a breather by relaxing and letting it flow.changeCross Training – Low weight, high reps on the leg extension machine can also help to strengthen quads and knees for those training for a long downhill event.

No hills available? Don’t think you can just skip downhill training, it will hurt you on race day. Coach Andrew Kastor recommends plyo drills that focus on the down movement. i.e jumping down off boxes and running down stadium stairs.

One of the most common mistakes runners make is incorrect form when tackling a behemoth of a hill.

Stride – Rather than extending your stride as if trying to power up the hill, shorten it. It might feel even awkwardly short at first, but this will increase foot turn over and requires a great deal less effort. Think about picking your knee up.

Conserve – Stop attacking hills, unless you are doing a hill interval workout. Charging up hill is just wasting energy that you could be using to gain speed on the down or maintain pace later. Instead, maintain the effort of your pace prior to the hill. In fact, one of the keys to good downhill speed is not being exhausted from the uphill.

Arm SwingChiRunning says to imagine that you are punching someone in front of you with an upper cut. This is to say your arms stay at your sides, but punch up instead of just forward to help propel you.

Pictured here Killian Jornet doing the upper cut, lifting his knees and landing on forefoot…yeah he’s kinda of an amazing runner.
Example of excellent running uphill formPosture – When we get tired, we look down and our shoulders start to slump…this is not going to make getting up the hill easier. In fact it’s going to make breathing harder and slow you down, so pretend someone is at the top and a rope is attached to your hips and pulling.

Fuel – Hills increase your heart rate, at which point your body switches from fat to carbs for fuel. Ingesting some carbs prior to hitting steep or hilly portions of a longer training run can be beneficial.

Cross Training – Cycling and stairs are going to increase quad strength and endurance for all hill running.

Great now you know the why and the how, so let’s talk about the when.

Start small – If you haven’t been doing hills, then start with short hills that have a very small incline. Get used to the feel of both up and down before tackling bigger hills.

Hills early in training program – Doing this will build quality leg strength and has been shown to help with injury prevention per Matt Fitzgerald. It’s a key for the runners I coach and I think has kept many of them injury free.

Early in the program you can simply end any of your weekday or long runs with 5-10 hill repeats. At first just get used to running up and walking down, after a few weeks start increasing the uphill pace and over time increase the duration.

Weekly – If you can find a path with rolling hills, start adding it in to your weekly runs. If you can do it up to 3 times a week, you’ll quickly reap the speed and strength benefits.

Pace or effort – Learning to focus on effort over pace can make conquering hills easier. As you allow your body to slow conserving energy on the way up, pick up speed on the way down and even out in the flat areas.

How often do you run hills?

Hilliest race you’ve done?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Can you run on a broken toe?

These were the words I found myself Googling Monday morning…

Things started off so well, it was the perfect recovery Monday with a nice little recovery yoga workout and even a photo that caught the light in a way to show how seriously ZEN I was feeling.
Restorative YogaComing home the frentic energy that is my creative mind began and I was bouncing from computer to kitchen to make my smoothie, when SHWACK. I nailed the chair with my toe and let loose an expletive {which science has proven to help with pain} then I went back to work because seriously, who hasn’t stubbed their toe.

About an hour later I hoped up, then promptly pulled my foot up because it hurt…and was purple…and swollen. Now that was unlike any stubbed toe I’d ever seen and by the time David came home we were both convinced it was broken.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook saw this frantic message {priorities right?!}
Broken Toe QuestionLucky for me, I have amazing readers and those with experience started to hop in with the following basic tips:
1. It’s going to hurt, so run to your pain tolerance
2. Tape your toes for support

Now by day 6 I was able to put on a shoe and I’m convinced it’s not a break…maybe there is a hairline fracture, eh maybe it was just one of the most ridiculous toe stubs ever. I’m not about to pay a doctor to tell me since there were no bones protruding or toes going in the wrong direction.

Days 1-5 by no means could I put on a shoe and walking on hard surfaces wasn’t too comfortable. However, I found on the carpet I had pretty free range to move around, so I did DailyBurn, T25, Pilates, Yoga, whatever struck my fancy.  I had been on a seriously good roll with training and I wasn’t happy at the interruption, so I made it work.

Step one I knew was to do everything I could to combat inflammation and get the swelling down.

  • First few days I did take ibprofen which I never do.
  • Iced a few times
  • Took more Vega Chlorella tabs
  • Added tumeric to my smoothies
  • Avoided all shoes
  • Applied a blended essential oil twice daily << I swear this had the biggest impact. I have never had a bruise look better so quickly or swelling drop so fast.
  • Did Cryotherapy on Day 5 {details on this coming soon}

Day 6 – We have lift off! I could put on a shoe, BUT had to make a couple adjustments for it to be bearable and I think these are key! See below for what made a run bearable.What helped me run through toe pain - shoe lacing to relieve foot painSHOE LACING
For me taping the toes together hurt worse because of the increased pressure. Instead, I found that pulling on some Injinji Toe Socks provided additional padding and space between my toes which felt tremendously better.

Second I felt much better on a treadmill. Outside any little angle of the ground requires your toes to work harder to keep you balanced and after a mile or two I felt my toe beginning to scream.

Possibly most importatn was relacing the shoe to reduce pressure around the toes. I couldn’t leave the shoe on until I’d made this change. There are a lot of great lacing techniques out there which can make an average shoe your favorite shoe, so don’t feel like you need to keep it exactly as it comes out of the box!
Shoelacing to help relieve foot pain - read more on running with foot painHere you start by threading up through the first hole on the bottom with a ladder to the next hole. This pulls up the toe box, which can create additional space and prevent it from pushing down on the toes.

Lace as normal and then at the top, utilize ALL the available holes. Usually there are two holes on the top of the shoe and we only take advantage of the front one, but you want to prevent any heel slippage as that could allow your foot to move forward crushing the toes {HINT could be why you loose toenails!}.

Instead — lace through the first hole to the back hole creating a little loop through which you will thread the opposite lace before tying the shoe.
Shoe lacing to prevent heel from slippingCAN YOU RUN ON A BROKEN TOE?
Back to the original question of whether or not you can, or more accurately should, run on a broken toe. As I understand this is a situation many other runners have found themselves in.
Can you run on a broken toe? Find out what to do for a toe injury and when not to runClearly I’m not a doctor and I’m not even sure my particular toe was broken, so the above techniques are what got me back to running. I have talked with a couple PT’s and the consensus is this:

If it’s crooked or pain spreading up the foot or pain that wouldn’t stop, go see a doctor. You likely need to identify where it broke because that could make a difference and you don’t want to run making things worse.

Try taking 2-3 weeks off for swelling and pain to subside. Or like me, keep testing it until you decide you can run without pain and evaluate your toe post run. If the bruising returns, you may have torn a tendon rather than broken it and need more time off {plus a doctor!}.

Your big toe is likely going to be a bigger problem than my small toe. If you are altering your gait STOP. This is going to lead to a host of other injuries.

Don’t try to mask the pain with drugs and run. If it hurts, stop…again you don’t want to make things worse or prolong healing.

Seriously if it hurts, stop…there will be those who have it happen prior to a race and the truth is yes you could probably force yourself to tolerate the pain, but you will likely also change your gait creating pain in other areas and prolonging the healing of your toe. You certainly aren’t going to  PR, so put it in perspective… one race or months on the side lines?

Have you ever broken a toe?

Have you ever tried lacing your shoes different?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Hip Stability Exercises to prevent ITBS and Runner’s Knee

Every year, I receive a lot of questions about recovering from IT Band Syndrome and I understand why…it sucks!

There is the moment when you first think you can run through it because hey sometimes running is uncomfortable, then the final moment where you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake.  While it can feel like recovery is never ending, I’m hear to tell you it’s entirely possible to 100% recover from IT Band Syndrome.

My initial injury knocked me out for months, then I spent years with off and on pain. As soon as I committed to strengthening my hips that cycle stopped!
Hip Stability exercises for runners to prevent IT Band and Knee painLearn from my mistakes and get those hips strong with PRE-HAB before you ever need RE-HAB. Every runner with knee, hip or IT Band issues receives news from the Physical Therapist that they need to strengthen their hips.

The image below shows how the hip misalignment due to weakness can cause problems all the way down your leg and results in IT Band Syndrome or runner’s knee by rotating the leg, changing your gait and shortening muscles.
Exercises to correct pevlic imbalances that cause IT Band painHOW TO TELL IF YOUR HIPS ARE TWERKED?
Hip rotation is a common occurrence and many resolve it by going to the chiropractor. However, this is usually just one part of the formula, to ensure that you don’t need to go back weekly it is important to also perform exercises that strengthen the muscles around our pelvis and continue daily hip stretches.

Compare your left and right side: is it harder to balance on one side? Is one side is weaker, more painful, tighter, or stiffer? If any of this is true, your pelvis may be rotated.

Another test is to lie on your back on the floor, bring your knees to your chest, and then slowly stretch them straight on the floor or against a wall. Ask a running buddy to see if one leg is longer than then the other {I can often tell this on my own with legs up the wall}.

They can do this by holding a broom stick or other rod across your feet, then across your hipbones while you are still laying face up and then face down. Most often, the right hipbone appears to be higher than the left one, if the pelvis is rotated.
Hip Alignment Test you can do at home and how to correct any imbalanceImage source

After being assessed or seen by a chiro, here are a few at home exercises to help continue creating hip strength to prevent pelvic rotation. These should be done in conjunction with the hip stretches!! As always I am not a doctor and you should consult one before starting any routine, but have found these to be helpful myself.

Isometric Holds
Lie on your back with both legs on the ground, bend your right leg and pull in to your chest.
Place hands around your thigh, creating light resistance, push away with your leg for 10 seconds.
Place your hands in front of your knee, creating light resistance, and push your leg towards your chest for 10 seconds.

90/90 Hip Rotation
Lie on the ground with knees bent at 90 degrees and a block or pillow in-between.
Begin to drop your knees to the right, keeping both shoulders on the ground. If your shoulder comes up you have gone too far.
Return to center and rotate to the left.

Leg rotation Leg Lifts
There are two exercises here which can be used to continue working on hip strength
Lay on your stomach with arms down by your side
Bend right knee to 90 degrees
Slowly rotate the lower portion of the leg out to the left, keeping the leg on the ground
Return to center and rotate right

The second exercise is done laying on your side.
Lift the top leg and simultaneously rotate the knee towards the ceiling
As you lower rotate the knee down (keeping the leg fully straight)

Scorpion Stretch
Lay on your stomach with arms stretched out to form a T.
Begin to left your left leg in the air and rotate it across the mid-line of your body, touching the ground on the right side of your body.
Come back to resting and repeat on the opposite side
— This is also wonderful for the low back, but go slow to start.

If you need a visual of the exercises, here is a quick video demonstration, as well as videos for the other recommended moves linked below.

Hip rotation is not the only cause of IT Band or Knee pain, weak hips and glutes are equally to blame.
The key is to find a few moves, you will commit to doing consistently and make them one’s that you can really feel.

For example, on of my favorite moves shared here How I almost overnight resolved my knee pain works for me because the very first time I did it I could feel my glute activating in ways no other move had. Try out a few of the different moves in these posts to find stretches that feel good or moves that are HARD enough.

Hip Extension and Mobility for Runners
The lunge matrix used by many PT’s for IT Band recovery
Exercises for Runner’s Knee recovery
3 Dimensional Exercises for hip flexors {needed for those who sit all day}
Strengthen your glutes {often underactive in IT Band sufferers due to quad dominance}

What’s your favorite (least) way to strengthen hips?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin

Half Marathons Worth Traveling For

Racecationwhy isn’t this word in the dictionary yet?

Mini-me and muggle have been deemed dictionary worthy words of our lifetime, so I think it’s time to begin a pursuit of expanding the world’s knowledge of a racecation. I’ll get right on that…after I go run.What is a racecationRacecations have become a staple around here, much to my husbands chagrin as it always means a few days of not seeing much, followed by a few days of hobbling around…none the less it combines my two favorite activities of travel and running so he humors me and we continue to roam!

If you haven’t done one before, I highly recommend it! Training for a race in another state seems to add a little more umph to many people’s training because of the additional cost involved and the excitement about exploring a new place. Unless you are going for all 50 states, try to plan a little extra time around these races to enjoy the sites…that’s half the fun of a racecation.

A few tips to planning if this is your first:
Tips for a successful travel race
Selecting the best race for you
Half marathon packing list
76 of the best free online resources for runners
Tips to break the 2 hour half marathon

While I certainly have a list of races I enjoy, this is not simply from my brain alone…it’s from yours too! I gathered your answers, consulted my marathon maniac friends, investigated what Runner’s World and a few others had to say and voila a list was born.

The key to a race worth the travel:

  • scenery (let’s enjoy the race from start to finish)
  • PR friendly (helping you hit that big goal on the road!)
  • crowd support (cheering from friends, family and strangers)
  • great vacation spot (post race fun!)

Half Marathons Worth Traveling ForAlaska:Mayors Midnight Sun Half Marathon

Arizona: Grand Canyon Half Marathon

Arkansas: Little Rock Half Marathon

Napa To Sonoma
Santa Barbara Half Marathon

Space Coast Half Marathon
13.1 Fort Lauderdale

Georgia: Tybee Island Run Fest {we got married here, it’s a super cool island!}

Hawaii: Really any race here seems to be a winner, though be prepared for heat

Illinois: Fox Valley Half Marathon

Louisiana: Rock N Roll New Orleans

Massachusetts: Zooma Cap Cod

Bayshore Half Marathon
Great Turtle Half Marathon {trail}

Missouri: Rock The Parkway

Nevada: Rock N Roll Las Vegas
{super crowded and can be cold, but running the strip at night is pretty amazing}

New York: Wineglass Half Marathon

North Dakota: Fargo Half Marathon

Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon
Runner’s World Half Marathon Festival
Philadelphia Half Marathon

Utah: Thelma and Louise Half Marathon
{You’ll be shocked at how pretty this state is!}

Virginia: Yuengling Shamrock Half Marathon

WashingtonWhidbey Bay Half Marathon

West Virginia: Hatfield McCoy Half Marathon

Wisconsin: Madison Mini-Marathon

SeaWheeze Canada
Niagara Falls Half Marathon
Puerto Rico Half Marathon
Great Wall Half Marathon
Luxembourg Nights

What’s the best race you have ever traveled for?

What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

Instagram: RunToTheFinishRunning_motivation_thumb

Facebook: RunToTheFinish

Get new posts via BlogLovin