Our Own Worst Enemies – Well, Us And Playboy Bitches

“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.”

On this weekend’s long run I did something that, in my 10+ years of running, I never had done before. I ran without a shirt.

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Ironically, this was the tank I started out wearing.

In semi-related news, there’s a chance a photo of me coupled with a nasty, bitchface comment is out there on Snapchat – yes I’m passive-aggressively pointing out your awful behavior, Dani Mathers. Or perhaps a passerby or two pointed and laughed at me, then talked smack about me for their own enjoyment – my friend, Ann, saw this happen last weekend in Minneapolis and shared her disgust of it on Facebook.

Hopefully neither of those two things happened but if they did, whatever. Nice waste of your time, people. My reason for running shirtless wasn’t some kind of non-skinny-girls-unite protest to Mathers and her despicable behavior nor was it in response to what Ann saw and posted on Facebook.

Quite simply, the temp was in the 70s with about 90 percent humidity by 5 a.m. when I went running. I was screaming hot, just dripping in sweat. So, in the dim light of the wee morning hours, I peeled off my tank. I instantly felt cooler. Plus removing my tank after mile 2 made for a handy sweat towel.

Maybe this doesn’t seem like big deal but, for me, it kinda was. I’ve always been self-conscious about running in public without my shirt, to the point I’d never done it.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed about how I look. I wear a bikini at the lake. Now, that’s around my family and friends, and in a setting where it’s expected one will be in a bathing suit, but still. It’s not in the middle of the busy intersections of south Fargo where I live and run. My stomach isn’t flat and it for sure jiggles when I run – not like, Santa-Claus-jolly-level jiggling but enough that it’s noticeable.

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Yep. This happened.

That being said, I can’t imagine anyone else would care enough to notice me running with my shirt off or make any effort to think, say or post anything nasty about me. People have better things to do. Yes, I’m again passively-aggressively talking to you, Dani Mathers.

Clearly it’s more in my head. I, like many women, can be my own worst enemy. As happy as I am with my body, fitness level and mental outlook of it all, I’m not immune to feeling insecure and judging myself. I have fat days and bloated days and I’m always my own worst critic.

So, yeah, maybe hearing the Mathers and Minneapolis stories hit a little nerve. But there was also something else that happened recently, another story that I thought about when planning to rise before 5 a.m. to try to beat the heat and humidity.

Over Fourth of July weekend, my friend and fellow runner, Kristin and I went for our annual holiday weekend run at the lake. By 8 a.m. it was already superhot but I figured a light tank and shorts would have to do. Kristin, on the other hand, had a different plan. A couple minutes into our run, she said screw it, and ditched her shirt.

I told her I would too but that’s one thing I’ve never been able to do. I just can’t do it.

She went on to tell me how, two kids and almost a decade after her college running years, she looks back on photos of herself, admires her six-pack abs, and thinks about how she should have owned it more back then. And now, thinks to herself, “When I’m in my 60s, I’m sure I’ll look back at photos of me in my 30s and think ‘Damn, I looked good!’”

As she said this, I couldn’t help but notice her tiny stomach and general athletic-ness – then it hit me: What if not everyone is looking at you, and being a stupid, judgmental hag? Yes, again, I’m passively-aggressively calling you out specifically, Dani Mathers.

What if everyone’s looking at someone else, thinking they look great? Not seeing the “flaws” we all see in ourselves, but instead seeing the good things? I mean, I’m sure no one was checking out my jiggly belly while I was running and thinking, “Daaaammmmnnnn!” But maybe they were admiring my bravery – or at least my good sense to run sans-shirt in such sweltering weather. Maybe I could give myself a little break and not be my own worst critic. And my stomach’s.

Do you find yourself to be your toughest critic? What’s a small – yet significant – moment of bravery like this you’ve experienced? Share it in the comments or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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5 Of My Best Blog Posts

“Playing favorites”

People have told me they’ve gone back weeks or even months to read my old blog posts that they may have missed or re-read ones that stood out to them. I love when that happens.

In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my most popular blog posts from the past few months – and one that’s nearly a year old but continues to show up in my analytics (so I guess I did something right if people are still reading it!).

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These are all you need.

June – 5 Reasons to Run Without Headphones
From deep thoughts to simple safety, these 5 are just a few of the great reasons to ditch your iPod and run outside, sans-headphones.

 
May – 5 Tips for Your First Half Marathon
Fall race season is coming fast so if you’re on the fence about running your first half marathon, this post may help. And anyone in the Fargo, Detroit Lakes or Minneapolis area, I’m pacing four half marathons in August, September and October, finish-time paces between 1:50 up to 2:15 – so if you’re still a little nervous, know you can run with me or one of my supercool Twin Cities Pacer peeps!

Boston

Earned. Every step of the way.

April – Runner Banned from Boston Marathon Deserves Her Punishment
I worked so hard and took so much pride in how I got to the Boston Marathon, it really pissed me off to read about a woman who tried to cheat her way in, then went looking for sympathy when she got caught. Not cool.

 
March – Marathon Training and Taper Time
For someone who hates the taper phase of race training, no one was more surprised than I was to read this entry.

August 2015 – Why Your Body Type Matters – Endomorph, Ectomorph, Mesomorph

One of the hardest things I’ve encountered in my health and fitness journey is my natural body type. I used to hate it, try to fight it – now I embrace it and am proud of it. Find out which of these three is your natural body type and how to love it.

 
If you like any of these throwback posts, please share them on Facebook or Twitter. And – as always – if you have questions or something to say, I encourage and love comments on the blog. I also enjoy connecting on Twitter so please find me there, @runlikeagirl311.

 

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Healthy Foods to Always Have in Your Kitchen

Eating is a necessity, cooking is an art

A few weeks ago, I was discussing food (one of my favorite topics) with my sister-in-law and discovered something shocking: she told me she eats out at least 75% of her meals.

I was floored. As someone who considers one Jimmy John’s lunch per week a splurge, this first hit the overly frugal side of me. Then I started thinking about how hard it was to stay on track when I used to travel because it’s tough to make the best choices when eating out.

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I’m not much of a cook – I get spoiled by my husband who’s a really good cook.

She further explained, as much as she really wants to cut down on eating out, she’s never been much of a cook (I can totally relate). Furthermore, going to the grocery store overwhelms her; she’s just not sure where to start (oh, can’t relate on that one – I feel right at home at the supermarket!).

I tell this story, not to pick on her or shame her habits but to use her as an example that not everyone knows how to meal prep or come up with new dinner recipes; how to pack a lunch or make time for breakfast every morning. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s not out of anyone’s reach to learn all those things.

In the spirit of helping her find a starting point, I offered to put together a simple list of must-have foods. The basics that should always be in the kitchen in order to have options for breakfast, a packed lunch, satisfying dinner and, of course, plenty of snacks.

Below is a list of 25 foods to always have in the kitchen. A great starting point for your first grocery shopping list, allowing for some wiggle room to adjust for your own personal choices, including vegetarians (like me!) and vegans.

Protein

Tons of meat for him, prepped pasta meals for me.

Proteins
1. Chicken, fish/tuna, or hamburger (always have one staple)
-Lean, plain versions (not breaded, packed in oil, etc.)

Note: one serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards

2. Eggs or Egg Beaters

Note: if you like hardboiled eggs, they last awhile, are easy to make and can be used in sandwiches, salads or as a snack

3. Greek Yogurt
-Low-calorie/high-protein like Chobani 100 or Light & Fit

Note: if you like sour cream, plain Greek yogurt tastes exactly the same and is a much better choice

4. Cheese
-Shredded and/or thin sliced

Note: lighter-colored cheese is generally the better choice but full-fat cheeses are fine too, just use less

5. Beans
-Black, kidney, chickpeas, etc.

Note: use for Mexican dishes, sandwiches, wraps, or mixed with some veggies for a simple salad

Starches
6. Potatoes
-Sweet or regular (reds, whites, mixes)

7. Brown rice
-White is okay to use too

8. Oats/Oatmeal

9. Wraps, tortillas or light wheat bread (or all, depending on what you like)

10. Wheat pasta

Note: mix a ½ cup of pasta with a whole zucchini, sliced into ribbons/noodles, for a lower calorie, lower carb pasta dish

Veggies
11. Frozen
-Bagged or single-serve; plain or mixes

Note: Variety is good; try to have a few different kinds

12. Bagged spinach and/or head of lettuce

13. Zucchini
-See above, for use with pasta

14. Tomatoes, Cucumber, Peppers, etc.
-Whatever you like; what you’d use on sandwiches, in salads, pastas, etc.

Fruit
15. Berries
-Black, Blue, Rasp and Straw – all are great

16. Apples

17. Bananas
-If you like them on toast or in oatmeal, a half banana is great for breakfast

18. Cherries, oranges and pineapple
-Rotate in, when in season

Fats
19. Peanut Butter
-Go with the natural varieties or a full-fat vs. reduced fat version

20. Avocado

21. Olive Oil

22. Light butter/margarine

Extras and Snacks
23. Soup
-Cans of light and low-sodium versions of your favorite soups
-Mixes (you can make a batch in the crock pot and add extra veggies/protein to it)

24. Rice Cakes
-Flavored ones to snack on instead of chips
-Apple or chocolate flavored for sweet snack (add peanut butter)

Bars

Always have plenty of these in my pantry – and at the office – and whenever I go anywhere.

25. Protein Bars
-Pure Protein or Quest, ideally

Note: be very cautious when choosing protein bars; many don’t have much protein and they’re closer to a candy bar

Finally, add and adjust so you get some of your own personal favorites. For example, Chris and I love cereal, both as a snack or sometimes for dinner, so we always have at least one box (simple options like Honey Nut Cheerios, Corn Flakes or Special K) and milk.

What foods are your must-haves? Any advice you’d give to my sister-in-law or others who aren’t pros in the kitchen? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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IronDad? IronHusband? Ironman – Jake Greenstein

“You don’t have time. You make time.”

It’s that time – a new interview in my series of awesome fit folks on the blog.

Fair warning: If you ever try to use the excuse of “I don’t have time to work out,” stop it and read this. Blog pals, I’m pleased to introduce you to: Jake Greenstein!

L: Tell me about your fitness background – did you compete in a lot of sports growing up?

J: No. Not at all, actually. I mean, I took swimming lessons as a boy, but nothing intense. I started wrestling in elementary school and did that all the way through high school but that was the only sport I competed in.

L: So no running then? I’m surprised; you seem like such a strong runner. I assumed you had done it forever.

L: (says silently to herself, “I’ve seen you run – you’re wicked fast and make it look easy. That doesn’t just happen accidentally.”)

J: Now I love running! I’ve been doing it about five years, races from 5ks to marathons. But before I got into it, I was like a lot of people out there – I thought running was stupid.

L: (says silently to herself, “Yep. Been there.”)

About five years ago, my sister dared me to run a half marathon. I didn’t want to but I couldn’t let her beat me. So I did, then I was hooked. Half marathon is my favorite distance now too.

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Loggin miles training for Ironman Boulder

L: I know you’re training for an Ironman triathlon, but it can’t be your first triathlon ever…right?!

J: I’ve done a handful of Sprint and Olympic triathlons, and four half Ironmans.

L: So, what made you decide to take the leap to the full Ironman?

J: The winter after I ran my first half marathon, a buddy and I were having a few beers while watching the Ironman World Championships on TV and we decided that it would be a great idea to someday do an Ironman.

L: Yeah, things tend to ‘sound’ like a good idea on the couch. In sweats. With a beer.

J: True! But the next day, it still seemed like a good idea so that was the start of a dream obsession…

L: You said you’d do an Ironman ‘someday’ – that ‘someday’ is coming up pretty soon now!

J: Yes, August 7. Ironman Boulder.

L: So we’ve gotta talk about the training – you have a unique training plan I hear?

J: The training plan that I’m following is based on time not miles, which is a first for me. I started officially on February 22 and so far I like it.

L: What’s an example of an easy week and a harder week?

J: The easiest week was 1.5 hours of swimming, 5 hours of biking, and 2.5 hours of running. The biggest volume week is 3 weeks before the race and will be 3.5 hours of swimming, 11 hours of biking, 5.5 hours of running.

Then I try to fit in strength training and I have one scheduled rest day per week, but I usually do yoga on that day.

L: People who don’t know you might think you don’t have a full-time job, a wife or kids – but it’s pretty much the opposite! 

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Fitting it all in

J: Yes, I’m a designer at a manufacturing facility that builds large tillage equipment. I have an awesome wife, Emily, and two boys. Kaden is five, Noah is two.

L: One of the things that bothers me is when people complain they don’t have time to work out. Clearly, you don’t ‘have time’ – you make time.

J: Absolutely. Emily is a gym rat too so it’s part of our lives, and we work together to fit it all in. We both get up around 5:00 every morning. If I have to swim, I go to the gym and she stays home and runs on the treadmill. Other days, I will stay home and bike or run so she can get her gym time. A couple of days a week, I have a.m. and p.m. workouts. Luckily, our gym has a daycare so we drop the boys off and can get some training in after work.

L: (Feeling lucky her husband is supportive of all her running and fitness goals. Loves hearing about other couples who are supportive of each other like that.)

L: I have to think Ironman will be the biggest accomplishment of your athletic life but what has been your biggest thus far?

J: I have placed in my age group in a few smaller races but I’m more focused on some bigger goals after Boulder. I want to qualify and race the Boston marathon; I’ve been thinking about that for a couple years now. And someday, I hope to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.

L: Time for my most important question: What is your favorite food? 

J: By far my favorite is Buffalo Wild Wings – traditional wings with honey bbq and blue cheese. Followed by a little birthday cake ice cream. Good to reward yourself every now and then!

L: (Is no stranger to #TreatYoSelf moments.)

L: Do you have a personal “slogan” or quote that you really believe in?

J: We have a chalkboard at the top of our stairs that we write inspirational quotes on. My favorite: Relentless Forward Progress. Some dude had it tattooed on his arm. I love it!!

L: Lastly, the part I’ve been calling “Anything but the Obvious” – what’s something totally unrelated to fitness and all the obvious stuff that you’d want people to know about you?

J: About seven years ago I started a repainting fishing lures to pass the time during the winter. It has grown from a hobby into a part-time job, and I now have my own bait that I designed being produced and sold in some stores.

 

So, a part-time job. A full-time job. A wife. Two kids. And training to be an Ironman. Feel like I need to go take a nap now…

Follow Jake and his journey to Ironman glory on Instagram @runjakerun70.3

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Fitish, Food and the Fourth of July

“Fitish. Loosely translated: Someone who likes the idea of being fit but equally likes food.”

If you’re like me – and many of you are! – you share my love of food. Yum, food! Many of you also share my love of fitness. Yay, fitness! And hopefully all of you share my love of bringing it all together to achieve balance. Ah, balance.

Jess

Simplybyjess.com

My good friend, Jess is on the same page with us all and has begun her own blog. Simply by Jess is dedicated to #fitish foods. From steak tacos (I use tofu) to spinach and kale pizza crust, she’s off to a delicious and healthy start. Great for anyone looking for new, yummy meal inspiration that keeps in line with fit goals. I can’t wait to have her guest star on the blog with some special recipes!

Until then, check out her blog and feel free to tweet at her @simpybyjess16 with ideas, thoughts and general fitish conversation. You can also find her (and some tasty looking photos) on Instagram @simplybyjess2016.

Food

A good lookin’ red, white and blue breakfast – and waffles. Mmmmm.

And now in honor of the impeding Independence Day holiday and throwback Thursday, an oldie but goodie blog – in fact, good and old are in the original title…#mindblown. The Good Old Red, White and Blues.

Enjoy your holiday weekend! Be sure to come back on Monday for my latest interview in the series of awesome people on the blog.

As always, if you have questions or something to say, please leave a comment or tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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Health, Fitness & Family – How To Have It All

“If it’s important, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

This week, I had the opportunity to guest blog for a health and fitness related website, Seek Health. Giving you all a sneak peek of said guest blog this week. Enjoy! And as always, let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @runlikeagirl311.

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Guest blogging – brought to you by my Mac & coffee

To be fit and to be healthy. It means something different to everyone. For some, it’s seeing a number on the scale, for others, it’s making it to the gym five days a week.

Regardless of our personal definition of fit and healthy, it’s something we all want, right? Then why is it so hard? Why don’t we all just have it?

The blame often gets put on many things. Work, friends, personal interests, the fact that every time an iHop commercial comes on, we eat pancakes for days.

And then there’s the one that’s the biggest saboteur of them all: family.

It’s a common misconception that a dedicated fitness lifestyle is something only single people can have. Those with no spouse, children, pets or family obligations. While our families need and deserve our time and attention, they don’t have to be an excuse that keeps us from achieving our goals – in fact, they can encourage it.

There are four strategies I’ve found that are key to a fit and healthy lifestyle and how family can be incorporate into them.

Strategy #1 – Mindset
Perhaps the most crucial piece of the health and fitness puzzle isn’t an exercise fad, a new diet or finally trying CrossFit. It’s about finding the right mental state.

Start by changing your mindset about fitness and health. Don’t look at exercise as dreadful, and don’t think of balanced eating as missing out on “good” food. Positive association goes a long way to creating good habits.

You can instill this mindset in your family too. Before settling in for family movie night, take a walk together. Don’t just make it a point to gather three times a week to eat dinner together, get everyone involved in healthy meal ideas, prep and cooking.

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Cut up fruit for a healthy, easy & tasty snack

Strategy #2 – Meal Prep
Speaking of food prep and cooking, have healthy meals and snacks ready to go so it’s easy to make the right choice when the week gets busy. “No time” is one of the biggest reasons people make unhealthy snack or meal choices.

Plan a grocery list and go shopping on Sunday. Then, take time to cut and wash fruits and vegetables, hard-boil eggs, cook chicken, rice and sides in bulk and portion them out. Involve your family by choosing the healthy foods they like but would skip for an easier option. This one just takes some effort to plan and time to execute – and a lot of tupperwear.

Strategy #3 – Schedule
Treat workouts and eating like everything else in your life – a shower, a meeting, a dentist appointment, and watching your favorite TV show. It’s simply part of your daily life that needs to fit into the schedule.

When it comes to workouts, even the most motivated person has things that interrupt their day and may push their workout off the schedule. As best you can, plan your week to make sure you’ll get in workouts. If you usually work out in the evening but your son has a soccer game at 6:00 p.m., switch your workout to an early morning one that day.

Same with healthy eating. Planning to make spaghetti tonight for your daughter’s favorite meal? Choose a high-protein, low-carb lunch to balance things out.

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The mother of all my goals – running the Boston Marathon

Strategy #4 – Goals
This strategy is my personal favorite. Nothing keeps that healthy, fit furnace burning like having a goal to work towards. Whether it’s finishing a 5k, being able to squat more than you weigh or feeling comfortable in shorts this summer, find a goal.

Involve your family by telling them your goal and why it matters to you.

When you achieve it, be pumped and let that motivate you for the next goal. If you fall off and don’t quite make it, get over it and learn from it. Failure isn’t a bad thing; it means you’re trying something outside your comfort zone. Maybe it was too ambitious to lose 20 pounds a month after having your first child. Perhaps training for a half marathon in just six weeks while trying to balance a wife, your golf league and full-time job was too daunting. Figure out why things didn’t work out, then re-evaluate and set something more realistic.

The Power of Family
Finding ways to involve and consider your family as part of a health and fitness lifestyle can be a game-changer. I’ll use myself as an example and why family doesn’t impede me from staying fit and healthy – they encourage me.

First, there’s my husband. Such a wonderful guy he is. We’ve worked out a plan where he goes to the gym early so he can come home for our dogs after work and I get my workout time. I go shopping twice a week so we have fresh food and everything he needs for weekly meal prep. Basically, he respects and supports my goals, and how important my lifestyle is to me, and I do the same for him.

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Oh, hi – have you met my running partner, Burton?

Then there’s my dogs. I know it’s nowhere near the same commitment as children but they are creatures that I’m responsible for keeping alive, disciplined and happy. The best way I’ve found to spend quality time with them and stay on track is taking them running with me. Anyone who’s familiar with my blog or social presence knows how huge a role my dogs play in my running life. Even days we don’t go running, they won’t let me relax until they’ve gone for their walk. That little bonus cardio adds up!

Let me repeat: I do not have children and I know dogs are not an equal comparison to children. My point in bringing them up is the concept of finding ways to involve kids in your workouts.

Let your baby entertain him/herself in the pack-and-play while you do a 30-minute HIIT workout. If you have a toddler, get a jogger stroller or pull-behind bike cart. Encourage the older kids to hit the gym and shoot hoops with you or challenge them to keep up with you for a one-mile jog.

The bottom line: we all have obligations and someone who depends on us – if it’s not a spouse or children, it’s a demanding boss or needy friend – and temptations are everywhere. Being fit and healthy isn’t something you just achieve one day and then everything’s great. It’s an ongoing process that first takes mindset, planning, scheduling and goals – and then the work to actually do it.

It’s true some days suck and your lifestyle takes a detour. That’s okay! Tomorrow is always a new day and a chance to make it great.

Have you found strategies to achieve your fit and healthy – balancing work, family and all of it? Or are you still looking for your own strategies and ideas for making it all work? I’d love to hear from you! Share your fit and healthy with me, and let me inspire you too. Find me on my blog, or on Twiter and Instagram @runlikeagirl311.

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Intro Yoga for Runners and Beginners

“Yoga. Because punching people is frowned upon.”

I’ve said it before, I’ve said it again and I’ll never stop staying it: Runners need to stretch after a workout. I know all of you runners out there have been, and using my 5 essential stretches for runners as a starting point. Right? Right! And even you non-runners, I hope you’re discovering that stretching can further your workouts too.

Now, I want to take you all one step further: yoga.

I hope I didn’t lose half of you. I know the word itself can cause visions of chanting, annoying hippies and switching to a vegan diet. But, to me at least, yoga is really just deeper, more focused stretching that’s great for recovery and furthered athletic performance. Not only that, it forces you to focus on balance and breathing, a naturally calming and meditative state. Who couldn’t use more peace and mindful time?

If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve put together 5 simple, intro yoga poses for runners. These yoga poses build off my 5 essential stretches for runners and add in a couple staples that are great for beginners advanced yogis. For best experience, do the first three on one side, then switch sides. Warrior

1. Warrior Pose
Start your yoga stretching session with Warrior Pose. It allows for focused breathing, gets you into the right mindset and offers a nice stretch for the hip flexors.

Focus on a tight core, strong shoulders and a proud chest. Find a focus past your front hand and lock into it as you breathe and hold the pose. Triangle

2. Triangle Pose
You’ve been doing the V-stretch, now take on the Triangle Pose. It deepens the stretch and adds an element that opens up your chest and improves balance.

Place your bottom hand on the ground, your foot or shin, depending on your flexibility level. Your gaze can be straight ahead or up at your hand. Lunge

3. Lunge with Quad Stretch
This pose builds on the runner stretch and the basic quad stretch. Take this one slow – you’ll really feel it!

Gently grab your foot or ankle. Slowly pull until you feel the stretch. You can also go further into the lunge to feel a slightly different stretch. Downward

4. Downward Facing Dog Pose
This is another fairly basic pose that encourages focused breathing and balance, as well as shoulder strength. Bonus: it feels great for the calves.

The closer your hands to your feet, the more it will stretch. So find the placement that feels best for you (and your hammys will allow) then dig in your heels to feel the deep calf stretch. Ragdoll

5. Ragdoll Pose
A standing form of the seated hamstring stretch, the Ragdoll is a great way to relieve the hamstrings as well as loosen your lower back and shoulders. Because of it’s simple, relaxing nature, it’s a perfect way to cap off your yoga sesh.

Remember: Like stretching, yoga should never be painful. Only take the pose far enough that you feel the stretch yet in a comfortable way.

If you like this post, please share it with fellow runners on Facebook and Twitter. And let me know! I plan to continue to build on my stretching and yoga blogs with more so I’d love to know people are interested, trying them and enjoying them. Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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