JUNE 2017

How to Stay Motivated Through the Dog Days of Summer

I live in Texas and make no mistake, the triple digit temperatures of summer have officially arrived. It's hot y'all. (I'm from Pennsylvania but I can say y'all because I live in Texas now. My y'all only comes out when I talk about the heat.) The heat can make us feel sluggish and lazy. It can make us want to watch a Netflix marathon (or three) rather than train for a real one. 

The dog days of summer are here. It's hot. The heat and humidity can wreak havoc on our best intentions, but our motivation can rise with the temperatures with a little summer planning.



As the temperatures rise it is a great opportunity to focus on weightlifting, group fitness classes, swimming and other indoor activities. I use the summer to focus on strength training, since I can take advantage of the cool air conditioned comfort of the #shredshed, our backyard gym. I limit runs to early morning, late evening or on the treadmill. It's a good idea to alter our workouts with varied training cycles and the weather gives us the perfect opportunity to shake up our regular exercise routine. 


Summer can mess with our regular schedules. School's out, kids are home, vacations are planned and hotdogs are on the grill. Our best defense against summer slacking is establishing a summertime routine. Take the kids for a walk every morning or get your workouts in after lunch every day. Our schedules may be a little more varied than during the winter months, so establishing exercise and healthy eating routines can keep us on track. 


When you really don't feel like you have the energy for a workout, follow the 15 minute rule. Commit to doing a 15 minute workout. The hardest part of most workouts is getting started. After 15 minutes, you can stop if you want, but most likely once you get going you'll want to keep going. Even if you stop at 15 minutes, it is better than not working out at all. 15 minutes every day is still 1.75 hours of workouts for the week, not too shabby. 


Whether your workouts are indoors or out, hydrate early and often. Dehydration can make us feel lethargic and fatigued. Drink up to eight glasses of water a day and add more if you working out and are spending time outside in the heat. No, a cold brew doesn't count. Hah.

Ready to run! ha ha

Ready to run! ha ha


Avoid cotton clothing and socks in the hot weather. Cotton absorbs water (aka sweat) and can cause blisters, rashes and embarrassing sweat stains. Stick to technical fabrics that wick moisture away from the body. When out in the sun wear light colored, loose fitting clothing and of course, plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin. Nothing kills motivation like a blisters and a sunburn.


If you're getting up early to beat to the heat, make sure you are going to bed earlier as well. Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, so you're not doing yourself any favors if you get up 2 hours earlier to run and lose two hours of precious sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours per night of sleep to ensure proper recovery from those summertime workouts. When you're properly recovered you'll feel more inclined to get in that next workout.

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Fit to Run: Run for the Hills

Welcome to the latest edition of Workout Wednesday, when each week I share a new running or strength training workout. This week we are doing hills! Every runner's favorite workout is a hill workout, right? (Crickets). OK, so maybe they are not the favorite, but I assure you hill repeats are some of the most effective interval workouts for runners looking to improve running strength and increase speed. What's not to love about that?

I put together this hill workout that you can try on a treadmill. It is only 19 minutes long, but you'll get in a great workout during a short period of time. 


Always warm up before beginning any workout. 

Start by running for two minutes at 0% incline
Increase the incline to 2% and run for one minute at a hard effort (RPE 7-8)
Recover by jogging at an easy pace for one minute at 0% incline
Increase the incline to 4% and run for one minute at a hard effort
Recover by jogging at an easy pace for one minute at 0% incline
Increase the incline to 6% and run for one minute at a hard effort
Recover by jogging at an easy pace for one minute at 0% incline
Increase the incline to 8% and run for one minute at a hard effort
Recover by jogging at an easy pace for one minute at 0% incline
Decrease the incline back down to 8%, 6%, 4%, 2% with a one minute easy jog recovery between reps at 0% incline.
Cool down for two to five minutes


This is a short but challenging workout. Allow your body adequate time after this workout to properly recover. Most athletes will need two to five rest and/or recovery days between hard workouts. You can do easy runs or lower impact activities during this time. Adaptation (getting faster and stronger) happens during rest, not during the actual workout. Be sure to allow your body the proper time for recovery from intense workouts in order to reap the benefits of your hard work. 

Never blindly follow a workout on the internet. Listen to your body. If you need more recovery time between reps, then take two minutes (or three). If 8% incline is too hard, then only go to 6% or 4% and work to increase it in the future as you get stronger and fitter. If one minute intervals are too much, start at 30 seconds. Always work according to your own fitness ability. Pushing beyond your limits will only lead to frustration, burnout and injury. Start small when necessary and allow yourself the space to grow. Need help? Have questions? I'd love to help. 

Interested in hill workouts that you can try outdoors? I wrote a post last year about running hills that you may find helpful.

I am putting together a strength training for runners program and this hill workout will be in month two of the program. You can catch up on the first month of the strength for runners program here. Stay tuned for new strength workouts coming in the next couple of weeks.  

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52 Healthy Habits: The 5 Minute Habit

Welcome to the latest edition of 52 healthy habits! Each week we tackle a new healthy habit because habits are the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle. If we try to rely on willpower or motivation to meet our goals we won't get as far because well...we're human. The secret to success is building healthy habits slowly over time. Once a healthy behavior becomes a habit, it's just something we do without having to think about it, no willpower needed.

Focusing on daily habits is a much more sane and sustainable approach to healthy living. We don't have to change all our habits all at once, just one thing at a time slowly over time. It doesn't matter if you are brand new to healthy living or have been at it for decades, there is always room for incremental improvements. I know I am personally always looking for ways to improve.

If you've been following along you know we've been tackling new habits for the last 20 weeks. (Wow, time flies when you're having fun.) This week I'd like you to come up with your own five minute healthy habit to work on. The beauty of a five minute habit is that it takes so little time there will likely never be a legitimate reason to miss it. However, five minutes a day of consistent action can be just what we need to develop a new habit. It's less about what you choose for your habit and more about developing the habit of developing habits. (hah). A five minute consistent action for two weeks can be the catalyst to real change. Five minutes a day can lead to long term success. What are you willing to tackle for five minutes a day?

What to choose? When I first did this, I chose flossing my teeth. It was one of those things that even though the dentist lectured me every six months, I only did sporadically. A healthy mouth and healthy gums are a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. It is important and it takes less than five minutes a day. Need some ideas? Here are some ideas to get your brain churning and turning. Choose one of mine or choose something that is meaningful to you and your goals. Brainstorm some of your own ideas then choose one.


Run for five minutes a day
Walk for five minutes a day
Do bodyweight strength exercises for five minutes a day (one minute squats, one minute push ups, one minute lunges, one minute tricep dips, one minute plank. BOOM!)
Spend 5 minutes writing down what you're thankful for every day
Take a multivitamin or fish oil with a tall glass of water every day (takes less than five minutes!)
Read for five minutes every night before bed
Spend five minutes a day connecting with a friend in real life (on the phone or in person)
Chop veggies for five minutes every night to prepare snacks for the next day
Floss your teeth
Five minute meditation or prayer practice
Five minutes of Yoga
Five minutes of stretching or foam rolling
Five minutes of journaling
Drink two bottles of water a day

The possibilities are endless. Choose whatever you like. What do you want to improve on? Start with five minutes. You have the rest of your life to build on it. 

My new habit is five minute of ab exercises every day. It's so easy, but five minutes a day is 35 minutes a week! 

If you've never worked out before and want to start, then making exercise your five minute habit increases your chance of long term success over committing to hitting the gym for an hour six days a week for the rest of your life. It doesn't mean you can't do more than five minutes, of course if you want to do more, then do more. The idea is that you're only committed to five minutes. You can't fail.

When you're successful, you build confidence. When you build confidence, you feel ready to take on a little more. When you take on a little more you continue to progress forward. Your five minutes a day, eventually turns into 10, then 15, then 30 minutes a day. You build up slowly over time. It works for exercise, it works for almost any new habit you want to develop. It sounds counterintuitive, but focusing on less can help you achieve more. 


  • Choose one habit at a time. One thing only. Master it, then build on it or choose something else.

  • Make it so easy that you can't fail. Success builds confidence.

  • Choose something measurable. You should easily be able to tell if you did it or not. Check the box every day.

  • Be consistent. Do it daily.

  • Expect setbacks. $hit happens. Move on. Do the best you can.

So what five minute habit will you chose to better your life, five minutes at a time?

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10 Essential Safety Tips for Runners

Running safety has been on my mind a lot lately since I started the Runner's World summer run streak and I've been running outdoors a lot more. It's the kind of thing we tend not to think too much about until something happens to us or someone we love (or we see those scary news stories).

I had a long stretch of time when I did not run outdoors alone at all, because out of nowhere I had a weird feeling about it. I think it's important to trust our intuition. These days I run with hubby when possible and take precautions to run as safely as possible. If I feel unusually uneasy one day, I'll run on the treadmill or take a rest day. We don't need to be afraid to run, just be aware of the risks and take safety measures.


This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on a link in this post and make a purchase, I make a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. No one is getting rich here, it just helps with the running (pun intended) of this blog. 


There is safety in numbers. If possible, run with a partner, even if that partner is your dog (hi, Ollie!). I run with my husband a lot which makes me feel safer out on the streets. When he runs faster than me, I yell at him from behind to slow down or else I might get murdered back here. All joking aside, team up for safety.


Let someone know when you are going on a run alone. Advise them the route you intend to run, when you are leaving and when you return. If could be someone you live with or just a text to a friend. If nothing else it gives you a legitimate reason to #runbrag. 


I love running to music, especially my beloved White Stripes, but running with headphones can be dangerous. It's important to stay present and aware of our surroundings. If you can't hear that barking dog, distracted driver or possible predator approaching, you're less likely to be prepared to defend yourself. Save the headphones for the treadmill or track.


It's probably best to limit runs to daylight hours, but I know that's not always possible, especially during the winter months. When running in the dark, wear a headlamp or shoe lights and reflective gear. You may look dorky with a headlamp, but safety first, right? Right.


Always carry your cell phone so you can make a phone call in case of emergency or get too tired and need a ride home (wink). I use a FlipBelt that holds my personal items close to by body while I run. 


We are creatures of habit and it can be easy to fall into a regular running route at the same time every day. It's a good idea to change up your route or the time of day. Run an hour earlier or an hour later, or on a different day than usual to change it up. Try running your regular route backwards or on different streets. 


It's an easy thing to overlook. You think that you'll be back in 30 minutes, you don't really need your ID, but if something happens, having identification and/or emergency contact information on you is crucial. You can slide your driver's license in your running belt or wear a shoe ID


Run on low traffic streets facing oncoming traffic. It may sound counterintuitive, but when you run against traffic, you can see the traffic coming towards you and will be able to react quicker than if it was coming from behind you. 


When running alone, avoid isolated and unfamiliar areas. You can could easily make a wrong turn and end up in an unsafe part of town. When you are out of town, ask for route recommendations from hotel staff, running stores and local runners. Know in advance who to contact in case of emergency. 


Consider carrying pepper spray or a personal alarm with you on your run or taking self-defense classes. 

Do you take these safety measures on your run? Any other safety tips you'd like to share? Trust your intuition, take safety precautions and run safe!

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Hi, friends! Welcome to the latest edition of workout Wednesday! If you've been following along, each week I have been unveiling my strength for runners program, a little bit at a time. 

Goal Setting
Nutrition 101 for athletes (yes, that means you)
Rest and recovery
Fit to Run: Easy Run + Strength Training A
Fit to Run: Interval Run
Fit to Run: Easy Run + Strength Training B


The first month is an introduction to the program. If you have been running regularly but just beginning to incorporate strength training into your program, this is the perfect place to start. 

There are two rest days each week, four easy runs (30 minutes or less) + four 20 minute strength sessions and one interval run. You can learn more about each component of the program by clicking on the links above or downloading the PDF calendar and printable workouts below. The words on the PDF calendar have clickable links (once you download) that will also take you to the blog post that describes the workouts in more details. 

If you already subscribed to the blog then entering your email below will not cause you to receive duplicate emails. If you would rather just email me and I can send you the PDF, you can send the request to leagenders(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Stay tuned for month two of the program. We will progress to a different format of strength training, will start incorporating weights as we get stronger and introduce some new running workouts. If you have tried the month one workouts and would like to provide some feedback, I'd love to hear it. 

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Stay strong runners!