Staying Safe When Running Alone

     Since spring is finally making it's appearance, I thought I would post this as a helpful reminder, since many of us at times will be hitting the pavement alone.  I haven't posted this on my blog before, this is actually an article I had published in a newspaper last summer.

     We love putting on running shoes and heading out the door. When our feet hit the road or trail, we breathe in the fresh air and take in our surroundings. An enjoyable run clears our heads and helps work out stresses, and we enjoy the miles. Running helps relax our minds. We push our bodies for fun, health or goals. For the time we are out running, we are as free as we want to be.

     The last thing we as runners want to consider are dangers we might be running into. However, in the world we live in, this is sadly something we all need to think about.

     It’s important for any runner to keep this in mind. Just because you are not hearing about people being harassed or attacked doesn’t mean it isn’t going on. The fact is, unless a serious crime is committed most encounters go unreported.

     Veteran runners understand when running alone the possibility of dangers increases. For safety reasons running alone should be avoided. However, for those who love to run, there will always be times when you may decide to go solo. For women, the hazards of running alone are much higher than that of men. A few precautionary steps should be taken to help reduce your vulnerability.

* First, consider your options. Join a running group, invite a friend, have a family member ride along on a bike or have someone follow you in a car or if possible take a dog with you.

* Only choose streets, neighborhoods or populated trails that you are familiar with, and make sure you always tell someone where you will be running and when to expect you back. Try to run where there will be plenty of people around at all times.

* When running alone, never wear headphones, which prevent you from hearing people, vehicles or even a stray dog coming up behind you.

* Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to places an attacker could be hiding. Keep a thought of who is in front of or behind you. Consider what an escape route would be if you were to be attacked. Run around and keep your distance from parked vans, bushes or other areas an attacker could be lurking.

* Take a cellphone with you. If you run into any problems, you can always call for help. Also some apps will map your route for you. You can have the information sent to a friend or family member who can track your run.

* Look strong and confident. Be on the lookout when running through a bad area or when you see people acting oddly hanging out on a trail. No matter how tired you are, hold your head up high and appear strong and alert, and speed up if possible. Don’t let yourself look like an easy target; instead, look like a fighter.

* Carry mace, pepper spray or tear gas. When in questionable areas, pull out the unit and make it obvious you are carrying it. Make sure you test it out beforehand, so you will know how it sprays, the distance it sprays and the accuracy necessary. But keep in mind, if attacked the unit could also end up being used against you.

* Alter your routes and mix up your schedules — even in your own neighborhood areas.

* Don’t go running at night. If it does start to get dark, stay in well-lit areas.

* Trust your senses. If you sense danger, get out. Don’t dismiss an intuition!

* If you are on a trail and do sense danger, pick up a large stick that you can carry with you until you are safe. You may look ridiculous, but you’ll look like less of a target to an attacker if you appear prepared.

* Last, if you feel like solo running is going to be your thing, it wouldn’t hurt to take a self-defense class to pick up a few techniques, which will help you out if you should ever need them.

     Don’t take chances — they aren’t worth it. If you are attacked or harassed, make sure you report it. By doing so, you may help save someone else. Always remember, just because you are in shape, healthy or fast, doesn’t mean you are invincible. Be smart and take precautions, so you can always enjoy the thrill of being a runner.

Visit and find other Fitness Friday blog posts on Jill Conyers blog.

FINALLY Back into Running Again

     Finally after a couple of months off and only light treadmill running the past couple months before that, I am BACK into Running Again!!
This tendinitis forced me to take off more time than I would have liked, but hopefully that is all in the past now, and I can continue the recovery process by slowly building back up the miles again.
But regardless of how few miles I am able to run right now, its better than nothing and going back into it slow is the smartest approach!

     I was going to start running last weekend, but I had a last minute wedding come up and I decided to wait until Monday.

MONDAY - 1 mile, with minimal pain...  Yes I know that is not much, but I had to test the ankle and foot carefully and see how everything acted after.  I only made one mistake on that run, I ran in my neighborhood.  All the corners, hills and little things like sidewalk or road cracks that normally go unnoticed.  Well they made things twist a little too much.
     I hate to admit it, but man a few months off sure made me out of shape.  Only 1 mile, and I had my first side ache in about 8 years...  Until then, I had really forgotten how it feels to run when you're out of shape.

TUESDAY - No running, decided to let the twists heal a little before getting back at it.

WEDNESDAY - Still no running:(

THURSDAY - I went to the high school track this time, much easier controlled surface to run on, and it beats my treadmill!!!
I was only going to go 2 miles, but I was feeling SOOOO good!  I had very minimal pain in my ankle, and at one point it even felt like it left a bit.
     Around the time I was about to hit the 2 mile mark, the sun was beginning it's decent.  It was around 38 degree's, cold but at the same time perfect for running.  I was enjoying my run, and surroundings.  We'd gotten a few more inches of snow and the mountains were all even more freshly covered.  The sun was hitting them with that pinkish white glow, and glancing out toward the lake the sky was shades of pink, orange, purple and blue.  Everything was just so beautiful, this is one of the reasons I love to run, to be in nature and see beauty like this.  So I couldn't help it, I decided to keep going.
     About the same time a teenager showed up at the track to run going the opposite direction as me.  I got carried away, we'd cross path's twice each lap, and I couldn't help pushing a little to make sure I was not going slower than him.  I know probably not good for the injury... But on the plus side, he wasn't going all that fast (thankfully). By the time I hit mile 3, I noticed he'd crept up a little on me, but then shortly after, it donned on me.  He was in lane one, I was in lane four.  So doing the math, he should have been gaining a little each lap even if we were going the same pace.  That thought put a smile on my face at this point.  I said to myself, okay I am going to stop at mile 3.
But of course then he stopped around that same time and I couldn't let him think I could only run a short distance too, (yes that is my competitive nature kicking in, and I know he probably didn't even give me a second though:)  But regardless I kept going a few more laps.  Finally he left and I decided to stop at 4 miles.

     It felt so good, reminded me how much I absolutely LOVE this sport!  My mind is so ready to get back into it, I think even my body is craving higher mileage.  But for now, slow and steady:)

     To be on the safe side, I'll only go 2 miles Friday (really) and probably only 3 Saturday.  I've been off for a while, so it's going to take a little time to build back up the muscles and strength correctly anyway.  (I have of course left out how huffing and puffing my lungs felt while running.  You know it's amazing how long it can take to build up the endurance, but yet how quickly it can leave ya!  Doesn't seem fair, just saying:)

     Also, I think I"ll stick to the track for a few more weeks.  It's a flat surface I can control my footing and know I won't twist my ankle on a crack or dip.  Playing things smart, as well as starting a really good stretching routine to keep injuries healing and any others from coming is the plan!

     I know I am only running a few miles right now, and it's going to take some time to build back up to 26.2.  But the future is looking bright, and sure it's going to take a little time, but it's going to happen!  That thought alone will keep me going through this slow building the mileage and getting back into shape period:)

Visit other Fitness Friday Blog Posts at:  Jill Conyers

Simply Enchanting Event: 2013 Wedding Trends

Simply Enchanting Event: 2013 Wedding Trends: This is the 1st post in a series of 2013 Hottest Wedding Trends Today we will tackle colors.  It's well into March and the colors ...

Mistakes Runners Make

I am ONE day away from, *fingers crossed* finding out if I can start running again.  I can't wait to head out Saturday morning even if it's only for a mile or two at the most and see how things are feeling.  I have been wearing a foot and ankle support boot for a solid week now, and before that compression wraps.
If things go good, I can begin some physical therapy and slowly start building up my mileage again.

January 28th, I remember that date, it was the last time I was able to go out on a good run.  It was also the day I realized something I'd been trying to ignore was wrong, and what I was doing to help it heal was not working.

I wish I could say injuries are a new thing to me, but that would be a lie.  Honestly, I have had more than my fair share of them over the past year.  I've made many a few mistakes along the way, and hopefully I am finally learning from them.
Because of all I have been through, I thought I'd share a few tips to hopefully and possibly prevent others from making the same mistakes.

Most importantly and if you only follow one rule, follow this one!  Listen to your body.  You know your body better than anyone else.  If you are an experienced athlete in any sport event, you should know the difference between a good pain and bad pain.  Sometimes a bad pain will come along, and a day off is all that may be needed to set things back on track.  Other times longer time off may be needed and a doctor visit may be required. But that initial warning sign, don't dismiss it!  It's your bodies way of saying something is wrong, so pay attention!  If you do, you may be able to prevent much worse case scenarios.  If you don't listen to it, well you might end up in my situation.

Last fall I tore my hip flexor, it put me out of running for about 6 weeks.  How did I get it?  Well I ran a marathon, and then right after jumped into a car and sat in a passenger seat for a few hours while I was driven home.  Made the biggest mistake ever because I was in a hurry, I didn't stretch after.  You would have thought with 30+ marathon's under my belt, that this wouldn't be a mistake I would make... Wrong!  (Yes I admit, at times I'm an idiot!)
It was horribly painful, and I really couldn't run even if I wanted to during that time.  But I did one very smart thing.  I had a Dr. and then Specialist diagnose, then I rested and took the weeks off needed to let it heal and I started physical therapy on it to stretch it back out.
I was able to come back quickly and fortunately because of my pre-injury fitness levels even after 6 weeks off running I was able to jump right back into 26.2 without continued training and finished one marathon and then managed to knock off 3 more a few weeks later to finish out the year. (Do not try that yourself, I would never recommend taking the marathon lightly!)

All was good again, and I THOUGHT I learned my lesson and I was being a smarter runner.  (Apparently NOT!)
I began working a job that dealt with me being on my feet, a lot.  I assumed using a minimalist (heel to drop) shoe might be a better way to go, than regular shoes or high heel dress shoes for my job:)
The problem with that is, when you spend a lot of time on your feet walking around, switching up shoe types all at once is NOT a good idea.  Long story short, peroneal tendinitis began.
At first I'd run and walked through it, I mean I am a runner I hoped assumed it was a regular foot pain that would eventually go away.  Well it didn't, instead it got worse, much worse!
A few mistakes I made, I switched shoes without slowly breaking into them.  (yes even for work.) Second, my job requires a bit of physical strength and movement.  After the hip flexor injury I always stretch after running (always, lesson learned.)  But I didn't comprehend that stretching at work was a necessity too.  I think if I hadn't made those two mistakes I may not of had to take a couple of months off running!

So the point of my story is, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!  The biggest mistake a runner or any athlete can make is not doing so.  So many things can be prevented just by listening and then being proactive and smart about handling it.
I enter a lot of races, and I know it is beyond hard to have to say "I shouldn't run this one", especially since they cost so much these days.  But if you want to run for life, you HAVE to pay attention to what is going on with your body.  Don't forget stretching, and don't forget to add new activities, shoes, fitness goals into your daily life gradually.

My wish would be that you might never have an injury, but although I do believe some people can be injury free or just lucky, it's unfortunately not likely for everyone (no one is perfect:)
So, have you ever had an injury?  Was it one you might have been able to prevent, or heal faster if you took action immediately?  Or are you an amazing lucky athlete who (unlike me) never makes stupid mistakes?

I am participating in Jill Conyer's Fitness Friday.  Visit her blog HERE to see hers and other fitness posts.

Purple & Silver Wedding

    When I am not running, I am decorating and planning weddings for brides.
This weekends wedding pictures.  The brides colors were Eggplant Purple & Silver.  We used silver as an accent, and the main colors on the cake, refreshment, book sign-in tables - leaving all other tables in eggplant colors.  The bride picked my Roman Pillar Backdrop, with the extra centerpiece topper.  We used ourWhite Gazebo for the cake area and satin linens and sashes for the rest.

Roman Pillar Wedding Backdrop - Eggplant Satin Swags

Close-up view of Wedding Backdrop

Wedding Cake Area

Floral Arrangements

Wedding Reception Room View

View of Wedding Reception Tables

Full Room View

Room View

Table View - Eggplant Overlay - Silver Runner - Centerpiece
White Base linens, White Chair Covers & Eggplant Sashes

Room view

Centerpieces - Lighted Glass Cylinders with floating  purple & white flowers
2 Bride and Groom pictures per table

Wedding Cake Gazebo Full view

     Wedding decorations by a Utah based mobile wedding decoration company.  If you are interested in our services please visit our website: to learn more.
If you are outside of Utah and are just interested in wedding tips or would like more information on how we did something, just email me directly, I enjoy responding to all my followers:)

Injury, Recovery... It's just LIFE I guess!

Visit Jill Conyers Blog for more Fitness Friday Blog Posts

    It's been a rough 6 weeks for me, being unable to run.  (Peroneal Tendonitis)  But I have very high hopes that in one more week I will be able to get back into running again and slowly work on getting my body conditioned and ready to run marathon's again!

     I have been doing everything the Dr's and others have told me to do.  Ice, Naproxin, elevation, compression wraps.  I even own a home ultrasound machine and did a little low frequency therapy.  When I did have to go out, I broke out the heel's, 3" high heels seem to hurt the least, and oddly enough actually helps it feel like its healing.  Of course spending several hours standing or walking in high heels, has it's other tender feet issues.  But I did what I needed to do!  Now I will be wearing a foot boot for another week and hopefully if everything goes right, I might be able to go out for a short few miles next weekend...

     Originally I wanted to run 19 full marathon's this year and finish my 50 states & D.C. goal.  But that quickly turned to 16 when I missed the deadline to enter a few I wanted to run in.  Then the injury basically has me hoping that at this point I'll be lucky to get 10-12 in, most of which will be later this fall.
They say everything happens for a reason, so I hope that in the end it will all work out for the best!

     So what have I been doing in my free time?  Well I have worked really hard on eating healthier, even have dropped 16 pounds.  (Guess we'll see when I start running again, how much of that was muscle loss...  But either way the weight loss is a good thing!)
I've done a little strength training, and mini workouts that haven't required me to put too much strain on my injury.

     Last I have been working a lot!  Working is great for me, I absolutely love my job.  Decorating weddings and coming up with new and creative idea's for brides.  I have a big wedding today that I am really excited about, it should turn out beautifully, I just know the bride is going to absolutely love it (that's the best part of the job, seeing their faces and hearing how much they like it.)

     Doing weddings is generally an amazing workout in itself.  People always thing decorating for weddings is all easy and fun.  Well the fun part is right, but they forget a lot of the equipment is 50-100 pounds.  Each table linen weighs about 10 pounds.  So you get some great strength training just carrying 5-10 linens across a room:)  There is a lot of running around, carrying things, repetitive squatting, lifting and stretching.  So I guess because of weddings I have been able to stay a bit in shape:)

     So since I can't post great pictures of races I have been in, or gorgeous trails I have been training on.  I thought I'd share a picture from a small wedding last weekend that I just designed a backdrop for.  I have done this backdrop before, but generally I like it up against a plain white wall, this time it was against a dark wall.  I also had to do a rush set-up, I didn't have much time that day.  But even with being short on time, it turned out not too shabby if I do say so:)

Well here's to a speedy recovery and the hopes of being able to begin running again very, very, very soon!!!!

All Diets Work

  Visit Jill Conyers Blog to see more Fitness Friday Posts.

All diets work!  I know exactly what many of you are thinking "no they don't, I've tried many of them and they didn't work for me."
All diets do work, but not any one plan is perfect for everyone.  The truth is you have to find the one that works for you.  Not only that, but find one that you can live with and turn into a healthy lifestyle change.

Even though I run 40-60 miles a week (in full training mode).  I still have a few extra pounds that I've wanted to drop for years.  I have attempted several fad diets in the past.  I lost weight on all of them, but it all came back because they were just a fad, not a lifestyle change.

A healthy diet and lifestyle change incorporates both healthy eating and exercise.  For me I already had the exercise, and it is in the form of something I love, Running.  But leaving town a lot, eating out (way too much) adds up.  A day or two of healthy eating wasn't enough to overcome the 4-5 days of non-healthy eating.
So I had to find a new healthy eating lifestyle that I loved and would worked for me.

First I needed motivation, something to get me started and push me to find the right diet and eating plan.  I found it in the form of, well watching The Today Show of all things.  It was a week or so into January and I saw them do a segment on Dietbet.  For some reason it stuck with me so I decided to go online and check them out.  

I have always been a person who is motivated by money, and I consider myself my best competition.  So Dietbet sounded like the ideal thing for me to try.  (In short, your betting your own money against yourself, that you'll lose 4% of your body weight in 28 days.  If you don't, you lose your money.  If you do, you split the pot evenly with all the others in the contest.  You get your own money back as well as a cut of everyone who didn't make their weight loss goal.)

I have entered a few different games now.  I have even won $41 to date, and I haven't lost a penny of my own money!  But the best part is, I am down 15 pounds and still dropping.  My clothes are fitting better.  My stomach is getting flatter and I feel so much better about myself!

Unfortunately due to a recent injury I haven't been able to do any running for the past 4 weeks.  Which means, I have had to really push myself onto a new healthy eating lifestyle.  My healthy eating alone has everything to do with my 15 pound weight loss to date.
However, I won't lie I have done some anaerobic exercises like crunches, arm weights, squats and lunges.  Low impact strength training types of mini workouts throughout my day, that I can do without making my injury worse and let it heal.

Now I am not perfect, I love my Pepsi and still enjoy a great burger or pizza.  But I have inserted them into my life on an occasional basis.  If I told myself, no more Pepsi until I loose 20 pounds.  I know me, all I would do is crave it. 
So if I want a drink, I have one.  I don't keep them in my home anymore, if I want one I have to force myself to go out and get one.  I went from drinking 1-2 a day, to now only having 1-2 a week if that.

I also like to reward myself with food I love.  If you cut out everything you love, your never going to make your new eating style work for you the long run.  In my opinion it's impossible to say, I'll never have (insert your food of choice) again.
So, I eat smaller portions, my personal general rule of thumb now is: only eat half of what I used to eat.  Once a week I do go out to dinner or lunch and order whatever I want.  But I make sure to only eat half of it.  Truth is, now that I have been doing this for almost 2 months now, my stomach gets fuller quickly anyway.  Eating only half a burger or 1 slice of pizza is just as satisfying and filling as it used to be for me to eat more.

To help curve most if not almost all of my snacking, I have added a little trick.  For me I HATE the taste of peppermint before I eat.  It's like brushing your teeth and then going to drink orange juice, it just makes things taste gross.  
So I chew a lot of gum!  If I feel like a snack I pop a piece of peppermint gum in, and chew it for a minute. Then if I still want a snack I'll have one.  But generally the left over peppermint taste of the gum is too strong and makes the snack taste gross, so one or two bites is about all before I loose my appetite for more.

I am eating healthier foods, more fruits and vegetables in my diet.  I am more aware of calorie counting when planning meals.  I try to stay away from foods and drinks that are too sugary.  But that's okay, I LOVE cold water!  So I try to fill up on a glass of water before each meal.  (I guess that is one great thing about this never ending cold winter!)

That's it, nothing major.  I haven't paid hundreds of dollars to try the new, newest and greatest thing.  I picked something that I knew would work with my personality and habits and went with it.  I'm using more common sense when eating, and to be honest I know I can keep this up for life.  
I'd like to drop another 30 pounds, but I will still be thrilled if it's just another 15.  I'm keeping my weight loss expectations realistic and I have NO desire to be a size zero.  I'll be perfectly content with a healthy and fit size 6 or 8.

I look forward to getting back into running again in the coming weeks, and to be honest I am really excited to see what this extra weight loss does for that.  I have a feeling because of the lower weight I will be able to shave 20 minutes off my overall marathon time without any extra effort.
Oh, I am also REALLY excited to take all my Dietbet winnings and put it toward the purchase of a few cute new running skirts for spring and summer.   

So if your someone who wants to, or struggles to loose weight, have you been able to find something that works for you?  Or are you someone who has already found a way to drop weight and live a healthier and more fit life?  If so please share!  I think aside from finding something that works for you, hearing other's stories can be a great motivational tool!!!