Category Archives: running gear

10 ‘Tips’ for Trail Running & Racing [Newbies]

For my first ‘race’ of the year, he found a group of distances happening on a trail conveniently close to our Monterey Bay digs (led by Inside Trail Racing). Contrary to most of the trail runs we’ve done in the past seven months, this wouldn’t require a 6am departure, or even more than 25 minutes in the car. We’d even get a view of the wilderness not-so-hidden in the backyard of our quaint city. Win!

10 tips for trail running_DOTR

He went for the 25K, while I kept it safer with the 10k option. And after a 3+ month hiatus from the trails, I had to remind myself that this trail-running game reads from a very different playbook! So far, this is how I get by, with a little help from the aid stations & color-coded flags:


If you’re a poor race planner, like myself, this one really needs to be in all caps. It’s almost a given that you’ll have to walk up/down at some point, but strategize and be ready for those moments. Know what’s coming and when– it will matter.  For example, this particular 10k course looked like this:


Thankfully he plans ahead, and handed this to me for review on Saturday morning as I munched on my pre-race banana. Well…that’ll be interesting. It’s the total opposite of how 99% of trail races’ elevation rides, but it allowed me to just barrel down those first 3 miles, because I knew there’d be some walking in the last 3 miles, either way.

On that note…

2) Be humble with your distance of choice

My first soiree into this world was a 10-miler (the first sentence of that post is basically this lesson learned). The course wasn’t too challenging, so we lucked out. But those 10 miles felt like 13. And the half we did last Fall? That felt like 20. If you’re just starting out, note that your road-racing PRs mean nothing on the dirt!

3) Bring Hydration. ALWAYS

Would I normally carry water for a 10K race? Nope. But you never know how long those trail miles will take – they seem about twice as long as a road mile, and the aid stations usually seem way too far apart. You will need hydration, either way, so make sure you bring your own.

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My drink of choice: OSMO, for always.

4) Assume you’ll Overheat

I have started many a trail-race in long sleeves, only to curse the decision with gusto as I climb my way up the first major incline. Yes, you can usually count on some tree cover to cool you off here n’ there. But you can also count on some bare, uber-sun-exposed, sections. And your cardio system working overtime to help you climb. Also see: hydration!


No shade. No water left. Not close enough to finish line. So hot right now.

5) Protect your precious skin

Sunscreen and a hat = must-haves! Take it from the girl who just doesn’t think January weather warrants sunscreen (unless you’re on the slopes – in which case, of course you have sunscreen! Why does this logic not translate??), and didn’t have a lick of SPF on Saturday. But I did have a visor! 1 for 2.

6) Invest in trail shoes

I run in the Mizuno Hayates, but prior to that would just destroy my road-running shoes (and feet) on my inconsistent adventures. Trail shoes aren’t all stiff and unrelenting; the Hayates move and shake similar to my Wave Riders, but they’re ready for more challenges. See: rocks, (slippery) dirt, creeks and climbs.

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7) Embrace the downs

In road races, you run a fine line between barreling down hill to gather some speed and gain some cushion on a goal time, and/or destroying your quads. But out in the woods, muscles pretty much get destroyed anyway. You have dramatic ups and downs, you will probably walk (unless you operate in full-on beast mode), and when you do get a downhill? You will want to fly.  

This does go back to point #1 – know what’s coming and when! I’ve even had a few down-hills so steep that I walked, because otherwise gravity would have wreaked havoc.

On the downhill: shorten your stride to avoid killing your knees; stay light on your feet (as much as you can…); don’t fight it; know your (speed) limits. (Of note: this tip comes from someone who hasn’t run more than 13.5 miles on a trails – any full / ultra runners out there? Chime in!)

8) Walk…but not for long

As I’ve now mentioned multiple times, the likelihood of walk ‘break’ is 10x higher on the trails vs. the road. A few reasons for this: the inclines are so steep that you’ll waste too much energy trying to run them all, you heart may explode if you do, and sometimes you just flat out cannot run certain sections (for various reasons of nature’s choice).

BUT! Don’t walk for too long. It’s just as dangerous out here as it is on a road – you give yourself too long a break, and it becomes exponentially more difficult to get going again.

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Photos never do justice to the up, up, UP.

My rule: if I’m walking uphill, I have to start running the very inch in which the incline starts to flatten out or give.

9) Leave the tunes (mostly) behind

Again, I can’t speak to the experience of running anything over 13 miles here – maybe after 3+ hours you’re just flat-out done with absorbing nature’s magic – but I am strongly in the no-trail-tunes camp. For safety, and for bliss. There is so much to take in, no matter what trail you’re running.

10) Wipe your PR (expectation) slate clean

Have no expectations. Just as with road races, every trail is oh-so-different and the challenges you’ll face will never be the same twice (even on the same trail). You never fully know what you’re in for, and there’s a lot of fun to be had with that.

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Seriously. The post-race spread is unbeatable. They really know how to feed a runner’s appetite.

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For Californian’s in the Bay area looking to branch out to enjoy one of these many adventures, check out:

Inside Trail Racing

Brazen Racing

West Coast Trail Runs


Calling all trail experts and enthusiasts: anything you’d add to the list?

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Filed under Races, running, running gear, trail running

Blazing New Trails: Running the Bay Trails with Mizuno

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Mizuno & Fitfluential. #blazenewtrails


There’s a pedestrian trail down by the water; it takes you right along the Bay in either direction, providing blissfully flat terrain, no stop lights and a lot of people who nod, wave and say hello. It requires no thinking, no planning, and no fear that a hill may pop up outta nowhere!

Then, in our ‘backyard’, there is this:

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Trails, galore!

Trails that will take you up hills and around parks and to the a crest that spoils you with a view. I mean, checks it…

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The way my HR currently responds to said hills and trails makes them an enemy to most training runs, but that’s just fine. They give me an excuse to take an afternoon break, lace up my new Mizuno Hayates, and go explore – blaze new trails around our new digs.

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I’ve hesitated to invest in ‘real’ trail-running shoes, despite my recent forays into this aspect of the sport (exhibits A, B & C). They’re usually chunky, stiff, heavy, and not appropriate for the everyday-walk. I prefer versatile footwear. And now I know, I prefer Mizuno’s approach.

They took the road-runner into account with their new line of trail-running shoes. Specifically, these shoes boast a light weight (7.2 oz), a “low, light and highly adaptable” design that can take you right from trail, to road, and back.  I need just that! A shoe that goes from your front door to the summit is a friend of mine.

This shoe stays true to the Mizuno Wave, providing a stable shoe and smooth transitions. Check out the grip, the look and the eagerness to GO:

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On the bottom you see the “X-lug” grip, which any who have slipped and slid all around dirt (or concrete, we’re not judging here) know to be crucial. Keep me on my feet! Last but not least, these are designed to make the trail-seeking-runner happy – the lightweight approach means you “feel the trail, not you feet!”. No stomp-stomping here; just speedy, soft-landing bliss.


Their true test is coming up, with our first {10K} adventure in
California off-road racing!


Filed under running, running gear, trail running

RW Festival & Icon Fitness Finds

Backtracking: Our first day of the full-on RUN weekend in Bethlehem, PA.

Related posts: Day 1 (the RW Tour), 5 & Dime and the Half-marathon.

During our first full day of the RW Festival weekend, Miss L. Beachy booked our itinerary with the best kind of run-nerd activities. We were in the company of the Icon Fitness + Altra team, Bart Yasso, Summer Sanders, RW staff & of course each other (i.e. 20 run-loving bloggers!).

Things started bright n’ early with a shuttle to the Steel Stacks and a shake-out run with Bart along a similar route that the 5K would take us the next morning.  RWF_shakeout Steel Stacks
Quiet today, ready for the runners to come!

RWF_Shakeoutrun groupRWF_shakeout SusanRuns

Bart led us up to the Bethlehem library, which provides a most beautiful overlook of the self-proclaimed Christmas town.

Group Run_Friday_SM

Photo credit: StuftMama

Three miles was actually just the warm-up. Next on our activity agenda: RunningSkirt Olympics! And don’t think the boys skipped out. Check this video, for your daily dose of entertainment.

RWF_Runskirt olympics

During our post-run+Olympics breakfast, Golden Harper (Co-Founder / Brains)  & the Altra team got us prepped and ready for the Zero-Drop run clinic:

RWF_Altra Zero Drop shoesRWF_Altra clinic

Golden started his running career at a young age, helping out the ‘rents in their family-owned running shoe store while snatching up marathon PRs at the age of 12 (ahem, 2:45…no big deal). He walked us through some mid-foot strike exercises with and without shoes, reviewed proper posture, efficient ways to use your arms while running (hint: it’s not by swaying them dramatically across your body as you run. Noted.), and a trick for doing a posture-check when you get tired during a run or race (reach for the moon!).

I’d hang out with the Altra team any time, any day. They’re passionate about their shoes for any type of runner, and spread the love of RUN all day…


…which was obviously just fine by all of us.


Now we’re all shaken out and warmed up, so we got in a good stretch with the Icon Fitness Lotus Yoga goods and resident expert trainer, Melanie.

RWF_Lotus Yoga
RWF_Lotus Yoga Bag goods

Top: 3-in-1 Massage Roll (perfect tool to have for a hat-trick race weekend!)
Left: Grip Block
Right: Xfinity Resistance Band (which has already joined me on a work-trip for in-room hotel workouts)

When we sat down to eat again, it was straight from the new Runner’s World Cookbook. And once again, our tastebuds were spoiled in the best way.

RWF_friday lunch

 On the menu: Caprese Farro Salad, Simple Green Salad (Dressings: Mustard & Cumin Vinaigrette, Nutty Olive Oil), Mushroom Tacos al Pastor (gluten-free), Spicy Fish Tacos with pineapple slaw and Banana Oat Energy Bars (dessert).

All straight from the RW Cookbook pages, and all simply delicious. We all went back for seconds (thirds?) of the banana oat bars. We did need plenty of energy, after all.


Our next agenda item definitely topped my list of favorites for the whole weekend: Summer Sanders came to chat with us about her Olympic accomplishments, life as an athlete and now a mother and (speedy) runner, and just, you know, life. You can’t be in her presence without smiling, and you can’t listen to one of her stories without thinking you’d love to be her neighbor and/or running buddy. She ran all three races throughout the weekend, starting off with a family-affair 5K and finishing up with a fast half-marathon!

If you ever get a chance to meet her, jump on it. Until then, pick up the latest Runner’s World (November) and let her stories inspire you.

RWF_Summer Sanders RW COVER_Summer Sanders


By this point it’s 3pm and we headed over to THE EXPO for a ProForm iFit treadmill demo and packet pick-up.

RWF_Expo Entrance

ProForm’s iFit treadmills were set-up and ready for testing, ooh-ing and awe-ing right you walked onto the Expo vendor area.

This is no ordinary treadmill…

RWF_ProForm Treadmill 1RWF_proform remoteRWF_Proform iFit

First of all, it has a remote that fits right on your finger, allowing you to change your speed while you run without doing the awkward reach/lean right into the front of the machine. You simply tap and go/slow. GENIUS.

Secondly, it takes you wherever you want to go! The screen on the front shows you anywhere from the Grand Canyon trail to the course of the Walt Disney World or Boston Marathon. The treadmill adjusts the incline to mimic where you choose to run, as the screen takes you for a virtual outdoor run. A friend of the treadmill I am not, but this thing? Well, this could convince me otherwise.

It syncs with tablets, smartphones and fitness trackers. They’ve also partnered with the Runner’s World training programs so you can pick your race distance, personal preferences and paces…and bam! Personalized program? All yours.

We were impressed.

iFIT group_RW 3


We were also pretty overloaded with gear, shoes, yoga accessories, Larabars and race goods. It was a day full of all things running, and an amazing way to kick off the weekend!

THANK YOU to Icon Fitness – specifically Altra, Lotus Yoga and ProForm – and your energetic, knowledgeable and welcoming team of experts and run-lovers!

Full Disclosure: RW provided hotel and food accommodations and race registrations for the weekend. Icon Fitness provided Lotus Yoga accessories and Altra Zero-Drop shoes. All opinions are my own.


Filed under running, running gear, travel