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Perhaps it’s a scratchy throat that signals you’ve caught a bug. Or maybe a pounding headache is your first clue that something’s not quite right. Whatever it is that indicates you’re starting to get sick, it’s never a welcome sign.

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As people who tend to be goal-oriented, we runners are understandably frustrated when we come down with something. Taking a sick day can throw off your racing plans. On the other hand, trying to train when facing a serious illness can leave you even worse off.

Deciding between running and resting is tricky. How do you know if you’re really too sick to run? While every scenario is slightly different, there are some clear signs that indicate it’s time to take a break. Here’s an overview:

5 Signs You’re Too Sick to Run

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of all the appropriate situations for taking a break, but they’re among the most common.

1. You have a fever

You might know what a fever is, but do you know why we get them? Scientific American explains a fever results from our body’s immune response, often to help fight infectious agents.

Having a high temperature indicates your immune system is already working overtime. Adding running to the equation is only going to stress your body more, which isn’t going to help you recover. You also run the risk of getting dehydrated if you try to run with a fever. Take a break. Your body needs it.

2. You’re coughing

This symptom is probably the most debated in the run-versus-rest debate. Should you risk heading out for a workout? Most experts would say no. They often mention the above-the-neck rule, meaning you’re only safe to run if your issues are limited to a runny nose and other similar symptoms. Having a cough means it breaks the rule. You’re probably safer taking some time off.

3. Your body aches

As with a fever, body aches signal your body is fighting an infection. You release more white blood cells and chemicals to fight the illness, which results in aches and pains. Your body is already stressed if your muscles and joints hurt, so you don’t want to make it worse by adding a workout to the mix.

4. You have an upset stomach

The obvious issue of running with an upset stomach is that it will very likely result in a pit-stop. You could even wind up with gastrointestinal distress. Many runners deal with stomach and GI issues regularly as is, so starting out feeling queasy isn’t going to help. And if you do end up becoming sick during a run, you also run the risk of dehydration.

5. You feel dizzy

While feeling dizzy might seem safe given the above-the-neck rule, it’s an exception. You could be experiencing an ear infection, a drop in blood pressure, or something more serious. Regardless of the cause, you could have trouble balancing. That means you’re more likely to trip and hurt yourself. There’s even a chance you could lose consciousness. Taking it easy is the way to go.

A few other considerations

You might recognize there are a lot of instances when you’ll feel less than great, but you’re still safe to hit the pavement. Maybe it’s just a sore throat, a stuffy nose, or a tiny bit of fatigue. Going out for a run might actually help you feel better in these cases. Moderate cardiovascular activity can help relieve sinus congestion. I know I personally feel better if I go for an easy run, just as long as I don’t go overboard. I keep the distance reasonable and the pace on the slow side.

Even if you’re well enough to run, you might want to lower your expectations. That might mean cutting out a few interval or hill sessions. And if you have a race coming up soon, think carefully about whether it’s a good idea to compete. Research has shown that runners who choose to race despite falling ill in the days leading up to the event are twice as likely to drop out. You certainly shouldn’t be aiming for a personal best.

You should also keep in mind that your training has implications for health beyond your athletic capabilities. One 2017 review confirmed what many of us have long suspected: You’re more susceptible to sickness when intensifying your training. That doesn’t mean you should avoid challenging workouts. Just be particularly mindful of hygiene if you’re ramping up your efforts. A little extra time washing your hands is a small price to pay.

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I’d like to preface this recipe by letting you know that I am a Minnesotan. This is not a recipe handed down from Cajun grandmother to Cajun mother to Cajun daughter. It certainly is not traditional. But I do use the Cajun Trinity and some of the traditional jambalaya elements and I can promise you that it is both easy and delicious!

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I love the taste of jambalaya and the dish has a ton of potential to fit nicely into a runner’s diet. There’s a lovely saute of vegetables, a spicy kick, and usually some form of protein (smoked andouille sausage, shrimp, and/or chicken). The sauce is then cooked together with white rice which allows the rice to soak up the delicious stock and absorb in the flavor.

Related: The Best Meal Planning Guide for Runners

My runner-friendly updates to this jambalaya recipe include adding more (nontraditional) vegetables and cooking the rice separately. Cooking the rice separately sacrifices some flavor but it allows you to easily make a healthier brown rice or quinoa substitution without adjusting the amount of liquid or the cooking temperature. It will also allow you to get this recipe on the table quicker since you can cook the brown rice and the sauce at the same time.

Easy Jambalaya for Runners

Time: 45-50 minutes active + any extra time your brown rice takes to cook
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

6 tbsp Emeril’s Essence Seasoning*
Salt, to taste**
Black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter
1.5-2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
12-15 oz andouille sausage
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
2 sweet potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice
1 zucchini, cut into a ½ inch dice
1 bag frozen cut okra
2 28 oz. cans crushed red tomatoes
Brown rice, for serving (recommend enough for 6-7 cups cooked brown rice)

*Emeril’s Essence seasoning can be purchased online or you can make it yourself easily (and for far less money) because he posts the recipe online!
** Emerils Essence seasoning blend contains salt already. I highly recommend using the seasoning first, then tasting for salt and adding a small bit at a time. If you are substituting a different cajun seasoning blend, keep in mind that many of them are extremely salty.

Directions:
  1. In a rice cooker, prepare brown rice according to package instructions.
  2. Season the shrimp with 4 tbsp of the cajun seasoning, seal them in a ziplock bag and let sit in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the sweet potato and zucchini with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp black pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are slightly soft. You will not want them done all the way or the vegetables will fall apart in the sauce. When the sweet potatoes and zucchini are done, remove them from the oven and set aside until needed.
  4. While the vegetable are roasting, in a large, deep sided saute pan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Slice the andouille sausage, and sear both sides, which should take about 5 minutes. Remove the andouille sausage to the side with a slotted spoon.
  5. Add 1 tbsp butter and the shrimp and saute until the shrimp are completely cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon.
  6. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft, around 7 minutes.
  7. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  8. Lower the heat to medium, then add 3 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp flour and cook, stirring very frequently, until the flour has a slight color (about 3 minutes). The flour will coat the vegetables already in the pan.
  9. Add the 2 cans of tomatoes with their juices, and the additional 2 tbsp of cajun seasoning. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently.
  10. Add the shrimp, sausage, sweet potato, and zucchini (and any juices that are on the plate they were on). At this time, taste the mixture- if you want even more flavor, try adding an additional tbsp of cajun seasoning or more salt. The salt is tougher to control when you are using a pre-made blend, so be sure to add the cajun seasoning first before adding additional salt. Let the mixture simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  11. In the last 2 minutes, add the frozen okra and bring back to a simmer.
  12. Serve by spooning the mixture over brown rice, and enjoy!

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Editor’s Note: This post is written by Eddie Phillips, one of our 2017 Breaking B.Q. Project participants. In 2017, Minneapolis Running followed the journey of five runners striving for a 2018 or 2019 Boston Qualifying mark. We covered their training, tracked their progress, and cheered them into the finish line with the hopes of lining up in Hopkinton the following year. Below, Eddie shares his story of continuing to pursue the BQ dream and his results.

Related: An Introduction to the Breaking B.Q. Project

In 2017 Minneapolis Running chronicled the Breaking B.Q. attempt for four runners attempting to qualify for Boston. For myself, it did not go well missing my 3:10 goal at both Grandma’s and Twin Cities marathons.

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After my 2017 B.Q. attempt, I was not done; I had made a commitment to myself that I would qualify for Boston, so I went into winter training reinvigorated after running the New York City Marathon for fun. Winter 2017/18 was not kind to most of us in Minnesota and it was particularly unkind to me when I slipped on ice and sprained my ankle at the end of the Stone Arch Bridge. This effectively put me out for 4 months, with countless sessions of physical therapy and an MRI to get to the bottom of what happened.

Related: How I Got Over Missing the Cutoff for Boston

Cheering on my teammates from Mill City Running at Grandma’s this year was full of mixed emotions. The perfect – once in ten-year conditions meant so many friends crushed their goals; I was delighted for them and so frustrated I couldn’t be out there.
I resolved that I would double down on training and with a much-improved ankle I spent time with my friend Coach Barrett and adapted his plan from 2017 to fit the Chicago Marathon and the California International Marathon that I had signed up for in 2018. My logic was that Chicago would be a fun long run and CIM would be the goal race. On the outside chance I would be ready for the BQ at Chicago, I’d give it a go. It was a 22-week plan, 13 days out of 14 on, two-speed workouts per week, and long runs with a mixture of goal marathon pace thrown in.

In the build up to Chicago, my training was going well, the dog days of a Minnesota summer meant aggressive heat and humidity for long runs and workouts – a poor man’s altitude training! With the ankle injury mostly behind me, I was clocking 55-65 mile weeks and feeling good.

I was shocked when the 2019 Boston cutoff was published, also with the wording of the BAA’s announcement which implied a change would come to the 2020 standard. I think it was 10 days before Chicago that they announced the change in the qualification standard. I had to reassess if I could run faster than 3:10. I decided to attempt a 3:07:30 at Chicago based on how the training had been going. If I felt it was too aggressive I told myself I could slow down enjoy the day and try again in December at CIM.

Race day arrived, rough conditions at the start with wind and rain blowing in off the lake. I managed to see Sir Mo Farah warming up, took that as a good omen, and headed to the corrals. About 20 minutes before the start, the rain eased off and things were looking better. I had been told by friends who had previously run Chicago that watches don’t work due to the tunnel and skyscrapers at the start. They were right. In essence, I ran the race without GPS and just looked at the last mile split time on my watch. It was an old-school way of running, it was different and definitely something I will try again rather than looking at my watch every minute. The half came quickly and I felt good. By mile 18 I was nervous that I was feeling good and something would go wrong. I can’t remember much about miles 19-24. I know I slowed about 10 seconds per mile, but I had banked some time in the first half. Finally, as I ran on to Michigan Avenue, I knew I was going to do it. I emptied the tank, nearly died on the “hill” over the freeway at mile 26, and finished in 3:07:31, a second off my goal and a whole 1 hour 2 minutes and 20 seconds after Sir Mo!

Will it be enough to make the cut with the revised qualifying standard, I don’t know – I guess I have to wait until September next year to find out.

Related: On Squeaking into Boston

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Editor’s Note: This post is written by Indriyas Wahyuni and has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minneapolis Running.

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Exercising at the gym is one of those activities that can easily become monotonous and quite boring over long periods of time. This repetitiveness can lead one to stop exercising altogether as they slowly get caught up in the same old drills and patterns they have been doing for weeks and end up questioning the value of the activity itself.

It’s not that gym routines aren’t useful – it’s just that they aren’t that exciting to repeat day in and day out. This makes quite a difference because we all know how difficult it is to do something when we perceive it as boring and tedious and only good for us in the long-term.

The mind, and not just the body, plays an important role in exercise. You need to be disciplined, yes – but you also need to enjoy it, because if you don’t enjoy it you just won’t do it; and you probably won’t be able to reach your goals by doing the same three drills over and over and over.

In this post, I share five main elements of fitness and then share a list of 55 useful exercises you can implement in your workouts to make them more fun. Gym Hut has also created an infographic that outlines each exercise. By diversifying your workouts, every day can turn into a surprise – both for your mind and for your body. Furthermore, if you do the same routines repeatedly, your body gets used to them and chances are your fitness levels will eventually plateau – in other words, your gains will stop.

Related: Why Runners Should Hit the Gym

Five Main Elements of Fitness

Research shows that keeping a varied routine actually makes your body work harder as it adapts to different challenges over time. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should try all of these in one go – the human body has its limits, and over-exercising can result in injuries; so don’t get too excited, especially if you are still a beginner! Still, you may find it useful to know about the various elements of fitness and how you can best diversify your routine to cover them all.

These elements are stretching, aerobic exercise, core exercise, balance training, and strength training. By focussing on all of these elements rather than just one you can decrease the chances of your fitness levels plateauing in just a few weeks.

Stretching

Stretching is one of the best things you can do to your body. Doing so consistently helps your muscle fibers stay strong and healthy and your joints keep a decent range of motion.

If you don’t stretch, your muscle fibres can become short and tight, and when it’s time to use your muscles there is a higher chance that you’ll get injured. It’s important to highlight that one day of stretching is not going to cut it. To see and experience the benefits, you need consistency.

Aerobic Exercise

Also known as cardio. Working on your cardio bears all sorts of benefits: it improves your heart health, increases your metabolism, facilitates your circulation, reduces blood pressure, reduces the risk of certain cancers, improves your lung capacity and can even boost your mental health!

Cardio is essentially any activity that makes you breathe a little harder and increase your heart rate – of course, there are different levels of intensity; the good news is that even a little bit counts!

Core Exercise

Core exercise is all about working on the muscles in your stomach, pelvis and lower back to improve your overall balance and stability. Core exercise is also what you would focus on if you wanted abs – very important stuff.

In all seriousness, working on this set of muscles is one of the other best things you can do to your body, as doing makes it easier to carry out most physical activity – from playing golf to picking up something from the top shelf to tying your shoelaces. If you don’t do this – especially if you never do this, you may suffer from back problems or back injuries over time. Not recommended.

Balance Training

Now, many people tend to overlook this element of fitness, and that is probably because balance is one of those things that becomes more important the older you get, and most of the people who are interested in fitness are more likely to be drawn towards other types of activity.

While it is true that balance becomes more important with age, that doesn’t mean that we should only start thinking about it in our forties. Maybe you don’t need to include balance training in all your workouts, fine; but do yourself a solid and have a go at it once every few exercise sessions, I guarantee you will not regret it.

Strength Training

If you want to reduce body fat, increase your lean muscle mass and burn more calories, strength training is one of the best ways to achieve these objectives. It is an essential component of fitness and is potentially the most important of the elements we are discussing. Of course, they are all crucial – but there’s just something about it that makes it way more attractive.

As you get older, you are going to have to work progressively harder to preserve your lean muscle mass, which is one of the reasons I would suggest starting on this today, right now! By working on your strength, you can help your body preserve and enhance its muscles, keep your weight in check, strengthen your bones (also something very important when it comes to ageing) and, of course, keep your mind sharp. Indeed, research shows that strength training as well as aerobic exercise can help maintain and improve thinking and learning skills in older adults.

55 Gym Exercises

Now that you know a bit more about the essential elements of fitness, here are some useful exercises you can use to diversify your workouts. There is quite a nice variety in this list that makes it accessible to different people at different levels of fitness.

Abs
  • Flutter Kicks
  • Dumbbell Side Bend
  • Plank
  • Single-Leg Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Bicycle Kick
  • Crunches
  • Knee to Elbow Crunches
  • Exercise Ball Crunches
  • Exercise Ball Crunches High Legs
  • Incline Bench Crunches
  • Abdominal V-Ups
  • Leg Raises
  • Lying Side Leg Raises
  • Bird Dog
  • Knee Tuck Push-Ups
  • Standing Trunk Rotation
Back
  • Pull-Ups
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Wide Dumbbell Row
Biceps
  • Hammer Curls
  • Seated Concentrated Curl
  • Seated Dumbbell Curl
  • Barbell Curl
Calves
  • Toe Raise
  • Rocket Squats
Chest
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press
  • Bench Press
  • Push-Ups
  • Knuckle Push-Ups
  • Pac Deck Machine
Core
  • Superman Lower Back Exercise
Gluteus
  • Pointed Butt Lift
  • Hip Raise
Legs
  • Bench Lunges
  • Barbell Squat
  • Lunges
  • Running
  • Sumo Squat
  • Lateral Goblet Lunge
  • Leg Extension
  • Front Squat
Shoulders
  • Upright Row
  • Shoulder Press
  • Shoulder Shrug
  • Lateral Raise
  • Standing Barbell Press
  • Front Raise with Dumbbell
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Trapezius
  • Standing Dumbbell Reverse Curls
Triceps
  • Barbell Triceps Extension
  • Seated Triceps Extension
  • Bench Dips
  • Triceps Dumbbell Kickback

I hope this list gives you some good ideas in terms of diversifying your gym workouts so that whenever it’s time to get down to work you have something positive to look forward to. The mind is just as important as the body when it comes to fitness. Good luck!

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching 
https://www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/cardio-exercise
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/core-exercises/art-20044751
http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/balance-exercise
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670

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If you’ve been thinking about jingle jogging, reindeer running, or freezing your gizzard off, it’s time to register for your December race now!

December can often be a quiet time for road racing, especially in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean you should hang up your running shoes! While there are fewer races this time of the year, the holiday season still brings us plenty of excuses to dress up, join family and friends, and get outside. Whether you’ve accomplished your big audacious goals, are learning to embrace failures, or are mapping out big plans for 2019, a fun December race is a great way to reset after a long season of training and racing.

Below are just a few of the races in December that can be found in Minnesota.

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Gallop into the holidays at the 31st annual Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run on Saturday, December 8th around Lake Harriet. Race options include a 10K, 5K or 15K Yukon Challenge.

December 2018 Minnesota Race Guide!

Your December Races

Which races will you run in December? Share in the comments below so we can cheer you on!

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I vividly remember the first time I ever saw a teammate fall victim to overtraining syndrome. A few of our track relays had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina to compete at the national level right after my junior year. This particular teammate was a hard worker and incredibly talented. She could kick butt in every event from the 400 meters to the farthest races.

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We continued training after the state meet and even after school had ended in preparation. As our season got longer, this teammate’s performance started to slip. I watched her labor through interval sessions that had been standard just a few months before. Things weren’t any better when it came time for the meet.

To be fair, none of us ran particularly well at nationals. I just remember being especially surprised to see our usual clutch athlete struggle as much as she did. I’ve had some of my own bouts with overtraining, but nothing nearly as extreme.

If you’ve ever found yourself dealing with overtraining syndrome, you know how frustrating it is. The good news is you can prevent it from happening in the first place. You just have to know how.

5 Strategies to Prevent Overtraining

There are likely more things that can help prevent overtraining syndrome, but we’ll need to wait for more research and recommendations. Experts often point out it’s tough to diagnose in the first place. That said, these strategies can help.

1. Incorporate enough recovery time

Recovery is the best medicine for treating overtraining syndrome. It also happens to be one of the best preventive measures you can take. A review composed by the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine identified adequate recovery as one of the most important factors for preventing overtraining. The authors recommend athletes allow themselves at least one rest day per week.

You should also make sure to allow yourself easier workouts that enable your body to recover. Trying to stuff too many hard efforts into a week is going to lead to problems even with a weekly rest day.

2. Prioritize sleep

Some might categorize recovery and sleep as the same thing, but I think it’s important to separate the two. The same review from above even singles out adequate sleep as an important way to avoid overtraining. I’m also a firm believer that getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to prevent running injuries. If catching some more Zs can help you avoid both overtraining and getting hurt, why wouldn’t you make it a priority?

As for the exact amount of sleep, it depends. I aim for 7 hours per night, but you may be different. Sleep needs vary based on a variety of factors, but 7 to 9 hours is pretty standard for adults.

Related: Simple Reminders of the Importance of Sleep for Runners

3. Eat enough carbohydrates

Good news for runners who are pasta fans: eating enough carbohydrates is essential. Most experts recommend consuming a mix of carbohydrates and protein after a run to help prime your body for the repair process. Carbs are also essential for preventing overtraining.

One study found runners who consumed a higher carbohydrate diet were able to maintain performance and avoid the effects of overtraining better than a control group with a lower carbohydrate intake. Just keep things under control. You still need a well-balanced diet with plenty of produce and protein.

Related: Does Carb Loading Actually Work?

4. Vary your training

I’ve been a huge proponent of cross training for years. It’s one of the best ways to avoid running-related injuries. But even if you don’t opt for regular cross-training, consider adding some more variety to your typical running schedule. You’ll avoid straining the same muscles repeatedly, and it can also be a nice break for your brain. Perhaps this is why varied training is often recommended as a good way to prevent overtraining.

5. Proactively manage stress

I alluded to this earlier, but overtraining syndrome is somewhat of a mystery to those who’ve studied it. It’s hard to define, which also makes it difficult to diagnose, treat, and prevent. One thing many researchers do agree on, though, is that there seems to be a correlation between psychological stress and overtraining syndrome.

Some research suggests effective stress management can help individuals recover from overtraining syndrome. There’s reason to believe the same strategy could work for prevention as well. If you don’t already have some go-to stress management techniques, now is the time to figure out what works for you.

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If you think you may already be dealing with overtraining syndrome, getting some rest is really the best thing you can do. Listen to your body and give it the break it needs.

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In the spirit of full disclosure: I am a bit of a gear nerd in all aspects of my life. I enjoy feeling like I am keeping tabs on the latest and greatest to make my limited recreational time as efficient and enjoyable as possible. I work multiple jobs and try like crazy to be a good dad to my young son, which means that a lot of my runs end up getting squeezed into the corners of my waking hours – and because I live in Minnesota, this often means I am hitting the road/trail in the hopes that the sun will be up soon (or that it won’t set too early into my run). This means that lightweight, long-lasting, and easy to use lighting solutions are near and dear to my heart (skip back to our article here for a good review of the benefits of both seeing and being seen).

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Review: Kogalla RA Adventure Light

As I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram yet again, I stumbled across what promised to be an intriguing offering – the RA adventure light system from Kogalla. After a quick chat with the VP of Business Development (per Dick, apparently I do have the Minnesota accent down…), a sample was on the way for us to play with.

While anxiously watching the tracking information refresh for a few short days, I did some more digging around on their website. What had initially impressed me about Kogalla’s product offering was the versatility: the lighting system itself is relatively straightforward (5 LEDs placed behind precision lenses offering 120 degrees of uniform light distribution, using a standard USB connector to mate the light to its power source), the mounting options are very well thought out (included velcro strips, a D ring strap, or even use the included magnet plate to hang it almost anywhere else you can imagine), and the included battery pack options cover a range (allowing you to decide on acceptable weight versus lifespan). There are even red and green lens covers, should you choose to take your RA along on some non-running excursions.

Putting the Kogalla RA Adventure Light through the Paces

The package arrived and it was time to put the light through its paces. First and foremost, one strip of lights is bright! Run on full power, the first thing that jumps out at you is the even light distribution. The lenses offer warm, consistent light from edge to edge, meaning no annoying hotspots (and not the nausea-inducing bounce common with so many singular light sources).

The seemingly limitless mounting options also cater to a diverse crowd – attach them to the straps of your hydration pack or vest, use the embedded magnets with or without the MagBak backing plate to hang the light almost anywhere (a personal favorite for traveling light is to attach the Kogolla light to something like a FlipBelt with the battery pack safely tucked away in the back pocket), or whatever else you can imagine (the light strip itself also has some flexibility, so you are not constrained to truly flat mounting surfaces).

The battery pack options also deserve some discussion. Starting from the ground up, Kogalla decided to use their own proprietary battery pack for a few reasons (stay with me here, this was interesting to learn). Most typical portable battery packs are driven by draw – as your phone or other device reaches a fully charge state, the battery pack itself shuts down. Run your RA on low power or flash mode, and your off the shelf battery pack will assume that charging is done…and shut off. Step up from the BatPak 1 to the BatPak 2 or 3, and additional USB ports are added – with the nice benefit that all ports put out at least a full 2 amps (whereas most common portable battery packs only offer 2 amps on one port, and lower amperage for additional ports). Another reason that we like the external battery pack option – for longer runs in colder climates (think the runs you are preparing to do now), having the flexibility to mount the light outside (where it actually shines somewhere useful) while insulating the battery pack itself somewhat (like stashing it in an internal pocket or other slightly warmer spot) helps extend useful battery life. Stash extra batteries in drop bags (yes, the Kogalla RA has been to the Moab 240, among other high profile ultra distance races), or pair your system with their Solar Storage Bank for extended run times. Incredible versatility in a well thought-out package – notice a theme here?

Fair warning for those of you who either enjoy taking full advantage of the plentiful recreational opportunities that our fair state affords us year round (or who have partners/friends/roommates who do) – this is not just a running light. Hang a couple of RAs from your backpack straps, and go for a hike. Add the red and green lense covers, and go for a midnight fishing expedition by kayak. Use the included velcro strips to mount the light to your bicycle handlebars, and tuck the battery pack in a frame bag. If you are anything like us, you will start to imagine all kinds of creative uses for a lightweight – yet durable! – lighting system with numerous brightness settings, even light distribution, and a multitude of useful accessories.

Kogalla RA Adventure Light Technical Details

If you have made it this far, and are hoping for the technical details, here is a bit more to satisfy your cravings:

  • One RA puts out about 800 lumens of warm, natural light (but cycling through the brightness settings will toggle between 800, 400, 200, 100, and 50 – with your last brightness setting remembered the next time that you power it on). Hold the power button on the light itself to toggle through the settings, with three short flashes letting you know that you hit either the brightest or dimmest setting.
  • Battery life is relatively straightforward. The BatPak 1 (which we tested) is advertised at lasting from 3.5 to 63 hours (based on brightness setting selected), and then each step up is an obvious increment (a BatPak 2 will power one light for twice as long as a BatPak 1, or power two lights just as long as a BatPak 1 will power one light). Obvious caveats apply here, as battery technology is influenced by climate (e.g., leave the battery exposed in -20F, and don’t expect the advertised run times to apply).
  • The lighting unit itself measures a little over 7”, with around 40” of reinforced cable from the light to the USB plug. Depending on which BatPak you choose, the options range from around 4”x2”x1” to 6”x3”x1” (see the website for exact measurements, if needed).
  • Ordering options and accessories range from the most basic (one RA light, one BatPak 1, and one basic accessory kit with lense covers, d-ring strap, velcro strip, and magnet backing plate) to a kit for outfitting an entire Ragnar team (yes, you will find Kogalla well-represented at your favorite relay race series as well!).

If there is anything missing from the Kogalla RA adventure light system, it is likely this – remember our previous discussion about seeing vs. being seen? The RA is an amazing option for seeing where you are going, complete with user-customizable brightness levels…but you are only going to be seen as a dark silhouette casting crazy amounts of light in 120 degrees from your chosen mounting point. Reflective outerwear is always recommended, and your neighborhood cyclist (and the rulemakers at Ragnar headquarters) just might be onto something – when running where encounters with people and varying modes of transportation are likely, some rear lighting (like this clippable blinking light from Nathan) goes a long way towards helping you be seen as the miles slide by.

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What are you using for low-light running?

Are you looking to see better on technical trails and snow-covered paths? Or just need to be able to pick out the potholes a bit better on your neighborhood streets? Is long battery life important to you, or do you want the astronauts to be able to cheer you along on your morning run? Drop us a comment below, we would love to hear more about your experience – or help you pick out some great options to be safer and better able to enjoy your runs, no matter what time of day you head out!

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It’s that wonderful time of year again! After suffering through all of the hot summer miles, runners everywhere are crushing their fall goal races, followed by enjoying the relief that comes with cooler temperatures and reduced mileage. Part of my personal post-marathon recovery always includes indulging in the things that I try to limit during training. This means comfort food, more social events, and the ability to enjoy a glass of wine on a Friday night (no long run in the morning)!

Related: How to Plan Your Running Off-Season

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I created this recipe as part of my annual attempt to embrace pumpkin without the pumpkin spice and sugar, which almost always comes out in the form of a pasta (see my recipe from last year for Pumpkin Lasagna). Combined with the fact that I am in a total indulgence mood, this became quite the comfort food recipe! If you love pumpkin but are getting sick of sweet pumpkin desserts, this is for you!

Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta with Crispy Bacon and Sage

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

½-¾ lb pasta of choice* (see notes)
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 tbsp butter
10-15 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half and half
1-1 ½ cup pureed pumpkin** (see notes)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for serving
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

*This recipe makes enough sauce for ¾ lb of pasta, however, if cooking for two people you might have leftovers.
**If using canned pumpkin puree, use 1 cup. If using fresh, use 1 ½ cups.

Directions:
  1. Get a pot of water boiling for the pasta, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente according to directions. Reserve about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid then drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. While water comes to a boil, in a separate saute pan, saute the chopped bacon over medium-low heat until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Discard all but 1 tbsp of the bacon grease. Add the butter to the saute pan. Once the butter is melted, add the sage leaves and fry until they are crispy, about 2 minutes. Remove the sage leaves and set aside. During this process, the butter should be starting to lightly turn brown- be careful that it does not burn.
  4. Add the garlic and saute for about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Increase the heat to medium then add the half and half, pumpkin, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer, whisking frequently. Simmer for about 5 minutes (the pasta should be just finishing up around this time), until the sauce starts to thicken.
  6. When the pasta is finished cooking, add the pasta and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously until the pasta is coated and the cheese is melted. If the sauce is too thick or the sauce is not adequately coating the cheese, add a small splash of the pasta cooking liquid.
  7. Top with crispy bacon, crispy sage leaves, grated parmesan, and freshly ground pepper and enjoy!

Note: To make this recipe vegetarian, eliminate the bacon completely and use 2 tbsp. butter instead of 1 tbsp.

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‘Tis the season for chilly temperatures, festive fun, and a holiday challenge for the entire family! This year, carry your fitness through the holiday season at the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run Minneapolis. There’s a distance for everyone and enough holiday cheer to last all season long.

Related: Tips for Running Through the Holidays

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About

Now in its 30th year, the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run Minneapolis takes place on December 8th around beautiful Lake Harriet. Challenge yourself in the 5K race, 10K race, or run both races for the ultimate Yukon 15K Challenge. Whether you’re looking for festive holiday fun, a chilly winter challenge, or a speedy new PR, there’s something for everyone.

Psst…act fast! Prices for the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run increase on November 16 at 11:59pm.

4 Reasons to run the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run Time-honored Tradition

What are the holidays without tradition? The Xperience Fitness Reindeer run is a classic Minnesota tradition. In fact, Minneapolis runners have been kicking off their holiday seasons with the Reindeer Run for over 30 years!

C-c-c-chilly Challenge

Most anyone can complete a 5K or 10K race, but how about both races back-to-back? If you’re seeking a challenge this holiday season, the Yukon 15K Challenge is for you. Race the 10K first, take a break with some hot cocoa or coffee, and then line up to race the 5K. Yukon Challenge runners will receive a chip time for both races and an overall 15K race time. Plus, all Yukon finishers will receive a high-quality lapel pin (so you can brag all year long!)

Yukon Challenge Lapel Pin Generous Goodwill

Did you know the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run benefits charity? Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army are the beneficiaries of the race and ensure a holiday celebration for children all over. Participants of the Reindeer Run are also encouraged to bring toys to donate at the race.

Seasonal SWAG

You’ll never be without a festive running shirt again! All participants of the 5K, 10K, and Yukon Challenge will receive a holiday-themed, high-quality Storm Creek long sleeve t-shirt.

See you there!

Kickoff your holiday season at the Xperience Fitness Reindeer Run and we’ll see you there! Register now before race registration prices increase on November 16 at 11:59pm.

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Editor’s Note: This post is written by special guest contributor, Malia Freeburg, wife of Minneapolis Running owner & creator, Nathan Freeburg. Enjoy!

I run but I don’t consider myself to be a runner. I am married to a runner, and I get to watch first-hand the dedication and passion he has for the sport. For him, it’s a near addiction, and nothing is more exhilarating than a great race. For me, running is about being active and feeling good.

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In August, professional runner Shalane Flanagan announced to the world that she was running the NYC Marathon in 2018, and she launched her second cookbook, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. which she co-wrote with her friend and natural foods chef, Elyse Kopecky, the same day.

Shalane Flanagan (right) with Elyse Kopecky (left) at the launch of their book, Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. in Bend, Oregon.

At the time, I was just over six weeks postpartum, and I was very slow. Still, my husband and I jumped at the chance to celebrate the launch of their new cookbook at a local event. When one of us had the option to run in a “Fun Run” with Shalane and Elyse, he and I both knew that this was my “race” to run. He cheered me on with our infant daughter strapped to him in the Ergo baby.

As I watched Shalane fight for her 3rd place in last weekend’s New York City Marathon, I found myself reflecting on that August “fun run” and what it meant to me.

Related: Running After Having A Baby – An Exercise In Adjusting Expectations

Run Fast… but Mostly Cook

I initially bought Run Fast. Eat Slow. as a birthday gift for my runner husband in January, 2017. As I continued to read the cookbook, I was so inspired that I found myself “sneaking” to read it and make the recipes for our family to enjoy. Finally, I came clean and the book has been sitting on our kitchen countertop ever since.

During that icy winter in Portland, I was up multiple times a night nursing our six-month-old twin daughters. Run Fast. Eat Slow. became a new way of living for us because:

  1. Trying new recipes with things like miso and teff that we had never cooked with before providing us with fun ways to learn and grow while we were stuck inside.
  2. It transformed the way we ate because the food was so delicious and so healthy.

A couple of months prior, I had gone in for my annual physical and shared with my doctor how ravenous I was at night. I was already back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I was so hungry from nursing twins that I was devouring food at night because I wasn’t getting enough calories during the day. My doctor advised me to snack on some almonds on the way home, and while that is a good idea, I was burning roughly 1,200 extra calories per day with the amount of milk that I was producing (and working out regularly on top of that)! A handful of almonds wasn’t going to cut it.

As we discovered new RFES recipes, I began incorporating more healthy fats and ancient grains into my diet that satiated me while also being nutrient dense. I stopped inhaling any food that I could find in the evening and found that I had more energy during the day.

Run Fast. Eat Slow. Get Pregnant?

Initially, I thought Elyse and Shalane had changed my life because of how I was eating, but I’m pretty sure they had an impact on the fact that I got pregnant with our fourth child, naturally.

We had done extensive hormone therapy to get pregnant with our first child, and our twin daughters were conceived via IVF. I was shocked when I went in for a mono test because I was feeling “off” and walked out with a positive pregnancy test. When I shared that story with Shalane and Elyse in August, I learned that my story was not unique. They have talked to many other women who have shared similar stories. In both books, Elyse speaks to her own experience with athletic amenorrhea and how that was a driving force that led her to quit her career in marketing to pursue being a chef.

Malia (left) with Elyse Kopecky, Shalane Flanagan, and husband Nathan with their newborn baby.

On that “fun run” last August, as I huffed and puffed running in my postpartum body, it was a full circle moment. As Shalane breezily passed me after the first mile, I tried to pause to remember that moment for forever.

Following Simple Nutrition Advice

It’s been just over four months since we had our daughter (our fourth child), and while I am still not as fit as I was pre-prepregnancy, I did lose all of my pregnancy weight without counting calories or limiting certain foods. I simply followed the guidelines from Elyse to focus on providing nutrient-rich food for my body and stayed relatively active as my body recovered.

Related: The Best Meal Planning Guide for Runners

As I think about my maternal grandfather, a physician who died of Lou Gehring’s disease and followed a fat-free diet because he thought it was best for his body at the time, I am aware of the emerging research that demonstrates that eating healthy fats could have potentially slowed his disease and given us more time with him. I also look at my own daughters and how they’ve likely inherited the PCOS that I have struggled with throughout the years. I am grateful that they are born in a time where people like Shalane and Elyse are leading the way to understand nutrition differently. While every pill, syringe, and procedure was worth it because it gave us our children, I do hope for a different experience for them if they desire to become pregnant someday.

This past Sunday, as Shalane mouthed the words “I love you” to her fans as she crossed the finish line, our family enjoyed her Italian Sausage Spinach Frittata and Pumpkin Spice superhero muffins. We celebrated with gratitude for the family and the lifestyle that she and Elyse helped build. Thank you, Shalane (and Elyse), we love you, too.

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