How to Transition From Road to Trail Running

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

Running is running, right? Well, yeah, kind of…Most of us started out either road or track running, so the transition to trail running can be intimidating for some people. Below are four tips when transitioning to trail running.

1: Get the right gear. It’s important to make sure you have the right shoes and a hydration pack when trail running. The shoes made for trail running have more of a grip to help with the terrain. You won’t find any water fountains or hydration stops on top of the mountain; be prepared with enough hydration and fuel to get you through the run and back to the car. You can find a list of my favorite trail running goodies HERE.

2: Forget your road pace. Trail running takes more energy than road running, so your pace will be slower. When starting out, it’s best to pay attention to total running time. You will most likely have to climb more hills than your normal road run. Although this is great exercise, it often kills your pace in the beginning. Be kind to yourself and just ignore it until you get comfortable out there.

3: Be safe. There are less people on the trails, but more wild life. Just yesterday my dog got into a fight with a racoon. (No one was injured, thankfully!) But you have to be prepared for all kinds of scenarios. I always carry my cell phone and share my location using a free app called, Glympse. It allows you to share your exact location for up to 4 hours, and later you can add time if needed. I share mine with a family member and let them know what time I plan to be done. This way, if they notice I’m not moving (injured) or if I get lost, they can get help. You need to have any emergency medical aid you may need in your pack. My sister is allergic to bee stings, so we make sure she has what she needs in case she ever got stung. Help could be hours away. Plan accordingly. It’s always better to be prepared and not need it than not be prepared and need something.

4: Soak up the scenery. This is one of the main reasons I love trail running. I can’t explain the views you will see from all levels of the trail. The mountaintops come with a sense of accomplishment and looking out over a vast area never gets old. When standing at a stream bed, it is amazing to see how regardless of the season, the water finds a way to still flow through the creek beds. Something as simple as a fallen tree covered in snow can be absolutely beautiful when the sun rays shine down upon it. I always have my camera ready. I love looking back at the pictures (which never seem as beautiful as the real thing) and remembering the run from that moment. It’s what keeps me coming back for more!

I hope these tips help you find your way to the trail. Feel free to add a few of your own in the comments below!

Weekly Running Log – Feb. 19

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

Running log totals: I hit all my runs this week. Not on the scheduled day, but I still got them all in!

Weekly mileage: 31.4

Weekly elevation:  2,743ft

Year to date mileage: 131

Year to date elevation: 14,790 ft

My favorite products for trail running are the Nathan VaporAiress Race Vest, Cockatoo found HERE, and my all time go to trail shoe Salomon Speedcross 3 found HERE. Additional 125 ft in elevation from setting the treadmill to incline. I use Strava to track my running log; you can’t add elevation to treadmill runs. How is your training going?

5 Easy Ideas to Reduce Spending

Anyone that knows me has heard me say time and time again, “It is not what you earn that matters, it’s what you spend that makes the difference.” I believe too many people focus on making more money; instead they should reduce spending to expand the money they already earn. Last week we reviewed how to tweak and make a budget that fits your lifestyle. If you missed that post, you can read it HERE. Today, I want to focus on the expenditures. I want you to take a moment and really look at how much money you are spending in each category. Does this spending represent the lifestyle you wish to live? Most individuals have some type of financial goal. Whether it be to stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, or just get to a place where they have an emergency savings so they are not worried about the “what if” that could happen.

Financial freedom, to me, means being able to sleep well at night, knowing you have a plan for your money, and understanding where your money is going. Increasing your income is always one way to help your overall budget, but some individuals are already working two or three jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. They do not physically have the time or energy to add another job to their day. This post is to try and help those of you in that situation. I remember a time when I would eat dinner only three nights a week because I had to choose between gas money to get to work or groceries. Below are some tips I used to cut expenses and reduce spending.

1-Get away from the large rent or mortgage payment. There are several ways to handle this. If you have an apartment with an extra bedroom, check into getting a roommate to share the monthly rental fee. If you have a large house, you can either downsize, or again, think about renting out a room to cut costs.

2-Cut all unnecessary monthly bills. I canceled the TV cable and home phone. I did not have gym memberships or anything like that to cut, but if you do, nature provides an amazing gym for FREE! I read books for free from the local library instead of watching TV, and chalked it up to another time I was able to reduce spending.

3-Reduce utilities.
a. Heat / Air: It is nice when the heat is set at 70 degrees, but I promise, you won’t notice if you set it at 65 and throw on a sweater and socks. If you are lucky enough to have central air conditioning, you can set it at 75 and still won’t be uncomfortable. All while saving money!

b. Electricity: Be sure to turn off the lights for as long as possible and always when you are not in a room. Do you have any natural light that you can use instead of turning on the house lights? Are you unplugging things when they are not being used? Even if they are off, they are using electricity if still plugged in.

c. Water: This may not be popular, but try to shower every other day instead of every day. Of course, if you have body odor issues, adjust as necessary, but if possible, try it and see if it works. When you are in the shower, time yourself to 4 minutes. Focus on getting in, getting clean, and getting out, and cut down how long you are in the shower. Same with brushing your teeth (do not skip a day!) but you can turn the water off while you are brushing and only turn it on while rinsing. Are you making sure the washer is full when you run a load of clothes? If you have a dishwasher, are you making sure it is full before running a cycle? Is there a way to capture rain water to use for watering plants?

4-Car pull or walk / ride a bike when you can. Do you have two vehicles? If so, do you need two vehicles or is it more convenient? Are you making payments on both vehicles? Is your vehicle more than your needs? Just like your home, downsize if your car is more than your actual need. You don’t have to have a vehicle that seats 7 if there are 4 in your family. Gas for your vehicle is an expense most people chalk up to being necessary. You can ask around at work to see if there is someone willing to pick you up and drop you off, or if you are within 10 miles, you can ride a bike for free. Remember, anytime you don’t drive the car is another time you can reduce spending!

5-Use coupons and grocery bonus cards. I never really got the hang of coupons until my 30s when I had to feed a family of 4. It was different when I was alone and could skip meals. The first real success story was at a local CVS store. They have deals each week and offer bucks back on certain items. I would pair those deals with the weekly coupons and get almost all our hygiene items for free. Talk about a great way to reduce spending! I treated it like a game, and I loved the feeling of walking out with free stuff. One trick I learned – you don’t have to wait until your next trip to use your bucks back. I would checkout all the items that get bucks first, then have a second order and use the bucks to pay for that order. For me, it was easier because I wasn’t losing the bucks or forgetting to use them the next week.

These are just some ideas to think about if you need to reduce spending. Feel free to share what has worked for you in the comments below.

Benefits of trail running

Lately, I have heard a great deal about the healing powers of nature. I have even heard stories of doctors prescribing nature walks for individuals suffering from depression. I am not a doctor, but can attest to how trail running helps me both mentally and physically.

1: Overall easier on the body. When I was in school, I ran track and as I got older, I often took to the roads. I always had issues with shin splints and felt like my body was taking a beating when I ran. It was not until my mid 30s when a friend asked me to go for a hike that I discovered trails. The impact of running on the trails is not as hard as hitting the pavement. Because trails are rocky and uneven, your body benefits from increased core strength, balance, and stronger ankles. You get a full body workout with the terrain changes and hills you are bound to come upon. I feel like the chances of injury are lower when trail running versus road running, but again, I am no doctor!

2: Sounds of nature. When I run the road, I always put on the headphones, cranked up the music, and hit the streets. Running the trails, I leave the music at home. Instead of hearing traffic, I enjoy hearing the sounds of nature. Sometimes that means I hear nothing. I soak up all the silence I can get. Have you ever stopped and realized how much noise goes on around you? All day long. Whether I am at work where the phones are ringing, people are asking questions, or in the car where my kids are talking; there is rarely a moment of silence. For me, the trails allow me the time to be quiet and really think.

3: Shift in focus. When road running, you must watch for cars, people, stop signs, etc. On the trails, your focus shifts to rocks and tree limbs. You can allow yourself to focus on the trail while falling deep into the trance of the woods. I can’t explain how this feels, you just know when you hit it. You’re in it. You are flying down the side of a mountain, watching about 15 feet ahead for any trail obstructions, breathing the fresh air in and out, and your body is full of energy. It’s a feeling I never experienced on the road due to being interrupted by the focus of trying to stay aware.

4: Less harassment. I am not sure how often men get harassed on runs, but I can say as women, it happens almost every time I head out on a road run, alone. It does not matter the time of day or the area I choose to run. I remember getting a quick run in over my lunch break, down town, along our riverbank. Two men chased me until I got off the dike, and ran up the main street back to my office. I just do not understand why people can’t leave other people alone. Sorry, that is a whole other topic for a separate post. My experience on the trails is different. I find most people are there for the same reasons and just want to run and be alone. I have not met too many people willing to follow someone to the top of a mountain just to harass them. This is not to say the trail is danger free; my personal experience has been less harassment on the trails, and for me that is a huge benefit! It makes for an overall better run.

5: Spiritual connection. I try to get my long runs in over the weekend. This often times means Sunday morning. For me, I am happy to spend my time connecting spiritually on the top of a mountain. I love getting to the top, looking out over the view, and giving thanks for the ability to do what I can and appreciate the body with which I have been blessed. I am not a top finisher in trail races, but I do not do it for that. I do it because it feels good to reconnect with nature and myself in those moments. To remember to take a minute and be grateful for the life I get to live. I do it because sometimes when I am in the midst of climbing that mountain, the struggle is comparable to situations I am struggling to work through in other areas of my life. Just getting to the top gives me the strength to continue pushing through in my daily life. It reminds me: I am worthy. I am strong. I am not alone.

Weekly Running Log – Feb.12

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

Running totals: I missed my long run this weekend. Sometimes life happens and we move on…..

Weekly mileage: 15.7

Weekly elevation:  489ft

Year to date mileage: 100

Year to date elevation: 12,047 ft

My favorite products for trail running are the Nathan VaporAiress Race Vest, Cockatoo found HERE, and my all time go to trail shoe Salomon Speedcross 3 found HERE. Additional 255 ft in elevation from setting the treadmill to incline. I use Strava to track my running; you can’t add elevation to treadmill runs. How is your training going?

Living Through Your Budget

Last week we reviewed 3 simple steps to create a budget. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Now that you have a budget, let’s talk about how to actually live with it.

1: Track your spending. The best way to see if your budget is accurate is by tracking your spending for the first month. You can do this several ways. Choose a way that is easy for you and does not create a lot of work for yourself. Remember, SIMPLE is the name of the game. If it feels like added work, you are more likely to give up. Also keep in mind, it has been said it takes 21 days of doing something before it becomes a habit. Keep at it for at least 3 weeks. To track your spending you can use your online banking system, or a notebook and a pen. Again, whatever works best for your household. Be sure to write down every expense. If you are using your online banking system, make note if you take out cash, where did the cash go? During this first month, it is all about tracking, not about changing behavior.   You have to first understand where your money is going before you make any changes.

2: Compare to your budget. Once you have a full month of spending tracked, you want to compare it to your initial budget. Break out the detail by each line item you assigned a budget to and name that column “Actual Expenses”. This way you can review each line item and see where your money is actually going. This step is shocking to most people. They don’t realize they are spending more on entertainment or allowances than they think. For most, it is the small expenses that add up at the end of the month. For the items on your budget that you don’t pay monthly, i.e. doctor visits, you should have zero spending for the month, but should also have that cash in the bank. For most, it is not in the bank because it disappeared at the local coffee shop or that night out with friends.  In the example below, you can see the amount spent in the month was $4,905 out of the monthly budget of $5,500. There should be $595 in the bank to make up the difference, but when you start to look at each line item, you notice the household is over spent for the month. There are items they did not pay that month. If every line item was due in that month, they would be in the red by $265.

Expenses Monthly Amount Actual Expenses Difference
Mortgage 1 1,400.00 1,400.00
Student Loan 1 150.00 150.00
Student Loan 2 50.00 50.00
Car Payment 1 300.00 300.00
Car Payment 2 350.00 350.00
Credit Card 1 50.00 50.00
Credit Card 2 50.00 50.00
Bank Loan 1 25.00  25.00
Bank Loan 2 75.00  75.00
Life Insurance – 1 30.00 30.00
Life Insurance – 2 45.00 45.00
Heat/Gas 280.00 280.00
Vacation 200.00 200.00
Christmas 150.00 150.00
Savings 100.00 100.00
Car/Insurance/Reg. 50.00 50.00
Emergency Savings 50.00 50.00
Allowance 80.00 120.00 (40.00)
Groceries 700.00 500.00 200.00
Garbage 30.00 30.00
Cable 200.00 200.00
Cell Phone 200.00 200.00
Electric 125.00 110.00 15.00
Vehicle Gas 200.00 250.00 (50.00)
Dry Cleaning 75.00 50.00 25.00
Hair / Clothing 75.00 100.00 (25.00)
Entertainment 200.00 350.00 (150.00)
Water / Sewer 80.00 80.00
Doctor 100.00 100.00
Pets 50.00 50.00
Recycling 30.00  30.00
Total 5,500.00 4,905.00 595.00

 

3: Make some decisions. When analyzing your budget to actual expenses, now is the time you have to decide what you want your money to go toward. Do you have a goal of getting out of debt? Do you want to have cash available when you need heating oil or when your annual car insurance is due? What are your goals? If you don’t have a plan for your money, your money will disappear. It is ok to have long term goals, but when you are starting out, it’s best to start with something small that you can accomplish in a short period of time. Usually people aim to reach a goal within the first year. This allows you to see progress and stay motivated. Maybe your goal is to have $1,000 in an emergency savings account. You already decided to budget $50 a month toward that goal. It will take 20 months to reach $1,000. If you want to reach that goal in 10 months, you need to decide where you can cut spending by $50 a month and direct $100 a month to the emergency savings account. Remember to be honest with yourself and make decisions you feel you can live with. This is not supposed to be painful or feel like you are punishing yourself. Start small and keep it SIMPLE.

4: Tweak the budget, again. Remember, a budget is a living document. It is supposed to change and represent your life. It is ok to change your mind and tweak budget line items. Emergencies may happen before you have the $1,000 saved and you may be forced to tweak line items. Don’t get discouraged. Make the adjustments and start over. That’s the glory of budgeting, you can always start over. You will change your budget every time you pay off debt or acquire new debt. (I am not a fan of debt and prefer to pay off versus get more, but sometimes life happens and it is out of your control.)

Today is Your Day! Goal Setting and Planning

Today I 
By Julie Hebert

Today I have decided,
That it's time to take control. 
There won't be anymore sitting,
And waiting, this is my goal.

Today I see it so clearly,
I am all that I have.
If I want to get something done,
It's up to me to pave my own path.

Today I will set my goal,
And work to see it through.
I'm tired of being afraid,
It's time for my dreams to come true.

Today I am quite happy,
And confidence has made its way too.
I as a person have grown,
From now on, to me I'll stay true.

As women, we often set ourselves aside to ensure everyone else’s needs are met. When I saw this poem, it reminded me to take time for myself first. To make sure I am setting my own goals, working on my own journey, and acting on my own passions. Goal setting is often treated the same as setting a budget. We just don’t do it. We think we know where we want to go and we think we are working toward that goal every day, but when you take the time to evaluate your goals versus your actions, sometimes they are not on the same path. The one theme in everything I do is to keep it SIMPLE. Life is difficult enough. To be successful in reaching our own goals, the plan must be simple and not take a great deal of time to set up, check up, and tweak. Below are some quick steps to get you started:

1: You should set three layers of goals: short-term (within 12 months), long-term (5 years), and daily. When thinking about each type of goal, I like to refer to Stephen Covey’s theory of “Begin with the end in mind.” You must first know where you’re going to understand how to get there.

2: Make a list for each type of goal. What types of things do you want to do each day? One of my daily goals is 5 minutes of quiet meditation. This does not seem like much, but that 5 minutes can save my day and my sanity! A short-term goal is to turn this blog into a financial stream, regardless of how minimal that stream may be, I want to figure out how to grow and be successful in this arena. Last, one of my long-term goals is to have one of my student loans paid off. (They have been haunting me for years and I want to get serious about getting rid of them!)

3: Give each goal a category. Different categories could be: financial, personal achievements, family, career, etc. I try to set multiple goals in each category but be careful not to overload yourself. This is not a setup to fail; this is a setup to achieve! If you are questioning whether you have the time to invest to reach a goal in 12 months, you may want to move it to the long-term goal column. Be kind to yourself. The goals should keep you motivated, not discouraged.

4: Take the time to review. Did you hit all your goals you set for today? Are you headed in the direction to cross off those annual goals? What changes do you need to make to get back on track? Are your goals still in line with where you want to end up?