Yearly Archives: 2015

Gift Ideas For Runners (that are actually affordable)

Happy Holidays!! I am NOT a big shopper.  I dread malls, and shopping, and can barely tolerate Amazon.  I am asked through out the year by various people what do they get a runner for Christmas, birthdays, anniversary’s, or just because?

Over the years, I’ve come up with a few things most runners would like- because I do like them.  🙂  I think this time of year to share my gift ideas, if you have a runner in your life, and are looking for a nice gift they would really like that is also affordable.

One of the reasons I started Running Free Blog was to highlight and encourage anyone to run, if they want to, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  That applies to gift too.  You can rest easy, I’m not going to be suggesting a $300 running vest, or expensive gear that costs an entire month’s salary. I also want to let my readers know that I’m not being paid  for these gift ideas- this isn’t a “sponsored blog post”  where the vendors are paying me to mention their items. I reference Amazon mainly because that is where I do the majority of my shopping these days, as do many others, so I hope that assures you I’m suggesting the best items as a runner myself, another runner would like.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

My number one gift for a runner is:

  1. Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen:  by Christopher McDouglall, on Amazon for $10.08, or $11.99 Kindle edition.

born to run

This is by far the BEST running gift I’ve ever received. I received it as gift myself for my birthday. If you have been reading my blog, you know this book completely changed my entire running attitude and the way I run. I’ve even given this book to several NON RUNNERS, who loved the story and the writing.  I’ve given it to a few people who claim they hate to read.  I tell them to read the first chapter, and if they aren’t interested, fair enough.  But if it catches their interest in the least, keep it around, keep it in the car, to read when stuck in traffic, waiting at the doctor, or for a few minutes before going to sleep.  I’ve not had any of these people not finish it and, they tell me they loved it too.  It is a masterful book on running, and the human spirit.  If the runner in your life hasn’t read this book, you just can’t go wrong with giving it. I think it is the best “under $12 gift” you could ever give a runner.  That’s why it is the top gift I give to runners and anyone who is even the slightest interested in fitness or exercise, or just likes a good story!  There is just no way, any runner wouldn’t thoroughly enjoy this book!

2. High Density Foam Roller:  on Amazon ranging from $8 and up (link is example)

foam roller

Sometimes running can hurt.  Even when we are careful and just taking it easy with running, we get sore body parts.  It’s not always practical or affordable to be able to go in to a massage therapist to work out the sore muscles.  When I had terrible shin splints a foam roller really helped eliminate the pain and I still use it when I have those sore and tight muscles.  The denser the foam, the more intense it works the muscles.  I didn’t know this when I bought my first foam roller and it was good to start with, but I like denser rollers because it really works the muscle more.  But if someone can’t tolerate a lot of pressure a lighter density will be good.  I suggest one over 12 inches, usually 18 or 24 inches, so you can work various muscles and spots as you need too.  The runner in your life will thank you- when the time comes to work out some sore spots on the foam roller!

3. The North Face Arnuva Running Quarter Socks: $15 on The North Face linked site

NF socks

I debated putting these in, as I’m not sure they are available right now.  The North Face site says they are sold out.  So it may not work as a Christmas gift, but they deserve the number 3 spot in my list, because these are by FAR the best running socks I’ve ever owned. I bought three pairs on sale for about $7 at the time, back in 2010 when I started running.  I basically only alternate these three pairs when I run, and since I have done the majority of my running with socks, and even now in the winter, these three pairs of socks have logged about 1,000 miles each, and they still look and feel as good as they did back in 2010. That is almost 6 years, and they are still in excellent shape.   I haven’t had to even think about replacing them, because they hold up so well.  I can run in extreme cold, to extreme heat, and my feet feel great in them.  My toes never get too cold, and my feet never get too hot. They never stink or hold odor, and they kind of cushion your feet too, without it being over bearing or “too much.” If North Face has these in stock again, and you can sign up to be notified when they are in stock, grab a few pairs for gifts.  Your runner will never need or want another type of running sock again!

4. YakTrax Pro, or YakTrax Run Traction Cleats for Snow and Ice: $14.99-$39 on Amazon (depending on make, size, and color)


I live in Colorado and it snows.  It is icy at times too, but I don’t want to run inside on a treadmill every time there is snow and ice.  I bought a pair of YakTrax Pro’s, again, back in 2010 and have used them a lot, and have never fallen, or even so much as slipped when running on snow and ice. They have held up well with street running.  Only recently have I had the wiring spring out of place, but I was hiking and had a lot of rocks.  It is an easy fix though with pliers, to put the wires back in place, should this happen.  Had the YakTrax Run Traction Cleats been out when I bought my original pair, I likely would have bought those as I do think they would be great for running.  But the original ones do the job just fine.  Any runner who likes to trail or street run in the winter will thank you many times over for these, and the peace of mind that comes from running with the confidence you aren’t going to fall in the ice and snow, is priceless!

Before I list number 5, it really is in the top 3 for me, but it is definitely women oriented only. So in the spirit of these items being available for men and woman, it is “last” on my list, but far from least.

5. Danskin Classic Wire Free Sports Bra, High Impact: $11.94 on, or Walmart stores

danskin sports bra

As a female runner, a good sports bra is essential.  Believe me, I’ve tried them all for good support.  From very expensive ones, to this.  Danskin is actually the least expensive sports bra I’ve ever tried, but it’s the BEST support with out any pain or binding, or unwanted “bouncing.” It’s the only one I ever buy or use now.  They hold up well, and only after several years of use, rotating between a few, have I noticed it’s time to replace them.  I’ve been amazed this bra isn’t five or six times what it costs, because it is worth it. Even Amazon sells it for $35.  It’s my best kept secret.  Walmart stores always have a version of it in stock, in different sizes, and colors.  Just make sure it’s the High Impact version, if you are looking for incredible support.  I’ve had bra’s from all the fancy sport gear companies- their high impact versions, and they are a joke compared to Danskin’s.  I told a friend about it who played soccer who was complaining about not being able to find a good sports bra, and she had been trying all of them too- very frustrated.  I told her I know it sounded funny to go get this $12 bra at Walmart, but she did and she said she could not believe it- everything I had told her was true for her too, and she got all her teammates to go get this bra- and they all loved it as well.  The woman runner in your life, if she doesn’t care about fancy brands and labels, will never want another bra for running, if she needs high support. She’ll never go on another run without it!

6. BONUS!!  I know I only said my top 5 gift ideas,  but since 2 of these gifts are really geared towards women (#3 & #5), I felt compelled to add in another item I LOVE.

Deep Blue Rub: $39  (4oz) from doTerra.

Deep Blue Rub

This is an amazing muscle rub containing pure essential oils including wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, blue tansy, German chamomile, helichrysum, and osmanthus. This isn’t “Ben Gay,” but it  works fast in most cases to relieve sore muscles naturally.  It’s not greasy, but moisturizes skin, and it smells wonderful.  Deep Blue Rub has been used by top massage therapists and trainers in NCAA programs on their athletes. They’ve reported excellent results, but I’m saying that so you know if college level athlete’s trainers like it, most runners will too.  For me personally, it’s cleared up sore muscles over night.  A little goes a long way, and for the money, it’s a great buy.  Runners would enjoy this to soothe and relieve tired, sore, and fatigued muscles.

As a disclaimer, the link I provided would credit my personal doTerra account. I would get a small credit if you order through this link, but you are free to just order it at the doTerra site. I’m not a doTerra consultant, or work it as a business, but I do like their essential oils, and Deep Blue Rub, and order from them.

So there you have it!  My top 5, make that top 6 gift ideas for runners without spending an arm and a leg!

Running is such an amazing sport, and it really doesn’t have to cost so much to enjoy it.  But some of these items can make it more enjoyable and make great gifts too.

I would love to hear feedback if you get one of my gift items, and what the runner thought of it.

Regardless, thanks for checking out my gift post, and Happy Holidays to all my readers and runners!

Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day Motivation

One More...

Happy Thanksgiving to all my United States readers!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and not just because of the food.

I enjoy the time with family and friends, and having an entire day to think about all the blessings in my life.

I know we all do it from time to time- we get bogged down in what is wrong, and what isn’t working, rather than what is.  While no one’s life is perfect, every day we have is a miracle.  If you wake up in the morning, that is pretty good.  If you have people you care about in your life, that is even better.  If you can run, or engage in some type of physical activity, that really is a gift that is sometimes not realized until it’s gone.

That is one of the things I’m so thankful for- having had cancer, and not knowing for a while if I would ever be able to have my physical health back. During those hard runs, when I’m not “feeling it,” and I wish I wasn’t running, it instantly snaps me out of that mode, back to when I couldn’t– and my entire perspective and attitude changes. Instead of wishing I wasn’t running, I am so incredibly happy I am running, and most importantly, that I can.

I’m not a super, or a professional athlete. I have my good days and bad days with exercise just like anyone else. I do find even if I get out and do something- a short walk, a short run, some yoga, I always feel better and am so grateful my body allows me to do the perfect amount of exercise whenever I want.  It is an amazing thing, when you think about it.

In that spirit, with Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season (unless you count Halloween 😉 ), it is hard to find time to be active and stick to your health goals.  On top of that there is all the delicious, once-a-year food, baked goods, candy, drinks, on and on, with many chances to engage in these foods.  I don’t believe any food is bad for you, as long it is in moderation, but the holidays makes it hard to keep things in moderation.  I don’t think you have to forgo holiday treats either. Life is about enjoying these things. Another plus for exercise though.  When you are active, you can indulge in things like holiday treats and not gain a lot of weight or feel guilty for indulging.

So with this in mind, I’d like to extend a motivation to all my readers starting today, Thanksgiving Day (yes today) to New Year’s Day, that you will set a physical activity goal to accomplish in the next 37 days. (#becauseWEcantdaytonyd)

I’m personally going to get a total of 37 miles in of running, hiking, biking, or walking.  That averages out to just a mile a day.  You can choose any goal you like, with the point being to extend yourself somewhat.  Maybe get up and walk 10 minutes on your break at work, instead of checking your email.  Go for a 15 minute walk after work.  Do 10 minutes of stretching and core work in the morning, or before you go to bed. Like the picture in this post says, try to do something more, even just one more minute of exercise than you normally would do.

It can be a family affair and with co-workers too. I’m going to encourage my family and my friends to do this with me, so we can motivate each other.  I am going to post what I did a few times a week on Running Free Blog’s Facebook page, and I’d love it if you do this, if you’d post too, and you can even track your progress there.  I’d like to see what activities readers are engaging in- we never know when something we do, can inspire someone else.  You could have had the worse day, and if you post you just got back from a mile walk, and the sunset was amazing- that could help someone you never met, to be motivated to go on their own mile walk.

Not only will it help with burning calories during the holidays, it will help manage the stress and the faster pace that comes with the holidays.  It will force you to slow down and appreciate you, and your body. It doesn’t have to be hard or be “work.” I guarantee you will have a different mindset if you do this e between now and New Year’s Day, and you will most likely start to look forward to this time, you’ve carved out.  You can walk a fast minute in about 15-20 minutes.  You may think you don’t have time for that, but how much time do you spend on Facebook, or playing a game on your phone, or texting? You can find 15 minutes a day for yourself and physical activity if you want to, and I hope you will want to- you are worth it!

I hope you join me- no better time than the present.  So maybe now is a good time to shut down your computer or close this on your phone, even though I do appreciate you reading, and start your TDay to NYD fitness motivation!  I promise in 37 days, if not sooner, you will be so glad you did!  🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!!



“Slow Is Another Word For Endurance.”
~Human Potential Running

Recently, I was able to attend the documentary, Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco. If you have read, “Born To Run,” you know who Caballo Blanco was. It was a great and inspiring documentary, and I highly recommend it.

Before the movie started, one of the hosts of the documentary, from Human Potential Running, was giving away an entry into one of their ultra marathons- most were 100 miles. There was a rising of groans from the crowd but he said something I’ve been thinking about since.

“Slow is another word for endurance.”

It made me think about how many times perspective is the smallest thing that can make a difference but often the hardest thing to shift.

How many runners don’t want to be “slow?” I know many people who want to try a 5K race, but are afraid they will be too “slow.” Yet, with just a few words: that entire mind set can shift.  But we don’t hear too many runners say they are happy they can endure.

I’ve noticed since, how many times people put a negative spin on something that really could be a positive.

We’ve all heard the “glass is half full or empty” analogy.  There is something to that though- no matter what your goals are, or what you are trying to achieve. Like most people, I have thought things like “that isn’t good enough,” or “I’m never going to get faster.”

This quote though has gotten me to think, what if, I shifted my perspective slightly, on these things- how would I see and perceive the situation differently?

So I decided to try it. Not just with running but with life situations too.

My older son, Ryan, was really sick last week.  Having a sick kid is hard. I don’t like to see my kids sick, they are miserable, and it changes the routine of the day for work and school.  During the few days he was sick, I consciously worked on thinking things like “I’m so fortunate to have a flexible job, where I can work from home when my kids are sick,” rather than something like, “I’m getting so far behind at work.” I also thought, “I’m grateful we have a nice home where Ryan can rest and get to feeling better,” rather than, “Another sick kid?”

I can’t say that this made him get better any faster, but I did notice I wasn’t as stressed or worried about things as I normally would have been.

Because of this illness, and the time change with it getting darker earlier, I didn’t get to run as much as I would have liked last week. But rather focus on what I couldn’t do; I focused on what I could do.  That was still better than doing nothing.

It is a matter of being aware of your thinking and making sure what you are thinking, is positive, rather than negative.  I think we all know this on a basic level, but actually doing it consistently- that isn’t always easy to do.  In fact, it can be very difficult at times.  I do believe your thoughts pave the way for your experiences.  If you are thinking positive thoughts- that is going to be your reality. Obviously the same applies for negative thinking. This carries over into running and exercise goals.

I have personally been working on this though for a while.  I am happy to say, I’ve completely changed the way I think most of the time.  I can see where it’s helped me with running and other goals I’ve wanted to achieve.  The way I did this for me, is pretty basic.

I’ll share more of how I shifted my perspectives in my next post.  But until then, here’s a little hint: notice this next week where your mind goes automatically when less than ideal circumstances come up.  What are the first thoughts that come to mind, and how do they make you feel? Good or bad? Happy or sad?

It’s interesting to become aware of how our thoughts are making us feel.  The only thing we ever have full control over, is our mind and we always have the power to think something different, in order to change how we are feeling.

That is how perspective shifts.  Then you realize, you aren’t thinking you are “slow,” and feeling bad, but instead you feel amazing and happy, because you have endurance.

Setback: Time to Quit, or Keep Going?

Hip pain 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

This week, I’m writing “live,” as I’ve posted all the blog posts I was writing and saving, while I was designing Running Free Blog.

I’ve had a setback, the past few weeks in that I developed hip pain again.  The furthest run I’ve done was 7 plus miles.  After that, my hip started hurting again and would hurt no matter what distance I was running.

I immediately cut down to 2 miles.  But my hip was still sore.  It was discouraging. It feels like I’m just so close at times, and about to just break it out wide open, and then pain is just there again one day, forcing me to back down, once again.

However, I’m not one to have a pity party for too long.  I had been able to run with no pain whatsoever in my hip. I know I had the answer in all this- somewhere.  I wasn’t sure why the pain was starting again, but I was going to find out.

So to find my answer, I tuned in to my running method. I went on a few short runs, and was trying to pay attention to what I was actually doing, while running, and if I could feel hip pain while running, or if it was only after I was done running.

It took me a few weeks and many short runs, to discover what I was doing.  I was starting to notice something and piece a few things together.  The first being, when I was running on pavement, I perceived the shock and force to be greater, so I would definitely always run striking on my forefoot, and even more than I have. I didn’t feel hip pain, but would feel it in my calves- as it should be- the calves absorbing the impact- not my hip or any other body part.

I realized though, when I was running on grass or on a trail, where I perceived the landing force not so great, I wasn’t landing on my forefoot- and in fact, I had gone back to a mid foot and even heal strike.

It clicked that I was doing this because it was easing the pain on my calves. My calves were hurting running the longer distances totally on a forefoot strike, so my body and brain, was doing what it needed to do, to ease the pressure off my calves, and that was putting it back to my feet, which in turn was making my hip hurt.

I concluded even though I was increasing my distances, it wasn’t all with the minimalist method.  So the only thing I could do was start again- from the distance my calves weren’t hurting and start running EVERY step landing on my forefoot and start building up the mileage.

That was 2 miles.  I ran a few times 2 miles.  Then 2.25, then 2.50.  The first time I ran a 5K, 3.2 miles- my calves were burning at the end of it, but I had no hip pain, and I knew I was on the right track.

A few days ago, I ran 4.25 miles, every single step, landing on my forefoot and had zero calf or hip pain.  I’m amazed how fast the calf muscles do get stronger.  But my body had been “cheating” and not allowing them to properly accumulate to running this way.  But the gig is up- I’m consciously aware of this now, and I hope to be continually building my mileage back up, with it all being forefoot landing.

This has been very frustrating for me.  I think about it sometimes- quitting.  I certainly have had many successes running, and achieved more than I ever thought I would.  If I stopped running now, I certainly would have nothing to feel bad about.  But I would have regrets.  And I would always wonder….“what if?”

So I don’t let setbacks be a reason to quit or give up. It makes me realize how much I really do love running, because if I didn’t love it- really love it– I wouldn’t be trying to figure these things out.  I would have just stopped running.  I’m not giving up on my dream of running a marathon, and more importantly, I don’t want to.

I don’t think you have to work so hard at something to the point it exhausts you, or you don’t even like it anymore to have success.  But I do believe you will never get to where you want to go if you stop.  Even for me, just running 2 miles at a time, while I was figuring out- that is the difference.  I never stopped.

I think that is a point for anyone, no matter what you are trying to achieve.  You can’t just stop.  Even one step forward, and two back- eventually that one step forward will get you there, if you don’t stop. This applies to running or anything you are trying to accomplish.

If you want to run, but don’t feel you can, run half a block, or 1 minute on a tread mill. If you want a new job, send in one resume a day to your “dream jobs” even if you don’t think you are qualified.  If you want to eat healthier, start with one thing in your diet that helps you with that.  When you have done that, start doing a little more than you did, and keep adding to that- even if you have setbacks.

The quote at the top of the post today from Mark Twain, I’ve drawn on it a lot with running, because it’s true.  You can get out and do what you dream of doing, and one day achieve it or come close- or you can talk yourself out of it before you even begin.  I never wanted to be thinking back one day, wishing I had just gone for it, but didn’t.  What is the worst that can happen? You try and don’t make it, or that you never tried at all? If you decide it would be that you never tried at all, than you have the power today, to get started!

What are you waiting for? Find your “2 mile” beginning point, and get going! You’ll never regret you did. 🙂

I’d love to hear if you want to share, what goal you are trying to achieve. Leave a comment and let me know!